Incommunicado

 

Bible Dictionary

 

 

 

 

 

Is there something about religion, especially Christianity here in North America, which warps reality, halts comprehension and communication, defeats logic, and fans the flames of paranoia? There’s definitely something which fertilizes the feeling of entitlement, and encourages complaints about the expression of any unwelcome facts or opinions.

After my Dazed And Confused Op-Ed post, letters kept trickling in from Christians, dismayed and defiant, about things that were not said, and claims that were not made.

I was away on vacation, so I’m not familiar with what led up to the last letter about prayer. But two thoughts come to me in reading it, the first is that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing.

The second thought I have is that Christianity and its beliefs seem to be fair game these days for skeptics and pundits alike. We would not tolerate a public discussion of another religion’s deity or its practices in the glib and derisive way the writer does. Irreverently speaking or writing about God amounts to blasphemy, and I for one am offended by it.

So, you don’t know what’s going on, but you’d like to add your 2 cents worth anyway. I don’t see how you relate ‘A little knowledge is a dangerous thing’ to the previous letter, but you prove that it applies to your own.

Christianity is not the only religion these days which is fair game for skeptics and pundits, but it’s the one closest to (your) home. When you publicly broadcast your blind faith and belief without any proof, you create skeptics in job lots.

There’s no glib and derisive treatment of any other religion? Really??!  There’s even a word for it – Islamophobia.  Perhaps you’ve noticed some other ‘Good Christians’ doing it.

Speaking of ‘a little knowledge’ – a pundit is a learned person, not merely some street yob, spray painting anti-religious graffiti.  Scientific studies prove that most Atheists and Agnostics know more about Christianity than most Christians, often including priests/preachers.

Merely writing about what God (allegedly) does, or does not, do, is a statement of fact, not an irreverence. It is not blasphemy.  (See ‘little knowledge’, above)  Other people have faith and belief that your ‘God’ does not exist.  Respect their opinions.  I am offended that you worked so hard to be offended.

Pray? What For?s writer does not realize that those of us who pray do not need to justify it to him or anyone else, for that matter. Prayer is simply a relationship with or a conversation with God. He must know this, but for some reason seems to need to attack those of us who pray. And to attack people because of religion or because we pray for those affected by Irma is a new low. Perhaps this says more about him than it does about anyone else. He is free not to pray but those of us who do are doing just fine. Who is he trying to convince that prayer does not work, him or me? He should remember the saying that, “There are no Atheists in foxholes.” and it seems to me that someday he will realize this.

Despite your fevered, misplaced paranoia, the writer – Did not ask or expect anyone to justify their praying. – Did not attack anyone, especially for praying, or for their religion, or praying for the victims of Hurricane Irma. – Did not suggest that anyone must stop praying – though I doubt that he’ll join you.  You even admit that it’s “simply a conversation with God,” not actually productive.  What he did, was point out that, after all your self-congratulatory, self-satisfied praying – the Southern U.S. is still a mess.

Much of it is still flooded. Hundreds are dead.  Hundreds of thousands are without homes, food, water, and clothing.  Billions of dollars of property damage has been inflicted.  A National Day of Prayer has been held, and your God is throwing another hurricane toward Florida.  Aside from making yourself feel good – YOUR PRAYER CHANGED NOTHING!

Even if, somehow, some Southern victims were aware of your prayers, they might still give you the evil eye and ask why you didn’t donate – money, food, clothing, your time and energy to drive or fly down and help clean up and rebuild. Organizations like Red Cross and FEMA are doing that – without all the useless, feel-good prayers.  (Your perhaps imaginary) God helps those who help themselves – and others.  Get off your prayer beads and actually do something – besides whining about how attacked you feel.

An Atheist in a foxhole might strongly wish that there were a God, a Heaven, and a life after death. If wishes were horses, then beggars might ride.  Faith is when hope replaces reason.

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Oh G.O.D.!

Fishing Boat

So a girl brings her new fiancé home to meet her parents. Boy looks like a hipster (scarf, big bushy beard, etc.) Understandably, her father would like to know the boy better and so he takes him to his study for a private conversation.
Dad: “So, John. What do you do for a living?”
Fiancé: “Well, I’m an artist.”
D: “So you’re doing well?”
F: “I paint, and God provides me with all I need to live.”
So the dad is a bit confused.
D: “And what will you do when you marry my daughter? Will your art provide for the two of you?”
F: “I will paint, and God will provide for us.”
D: “And when you have kids?”
F: “I will paint, and God will provide for my family.”

The dad nods and walks out of the study. Outside, his daughter is anxiously waiting for him. Daughter: “So, daddy? What’d you think of him? He’s great, isn’t he?” “Well, sweetie,” says the father, “I don’t like his job choice. But, on the other hand, I LOVE what he calls me!”

***

A young guy from North Dakota moves to Florida and goes to a big “everything under one roof” store looking for a job.

The Manager says, “Do you have any sales experience?” The young guy says “Yeah. I was a vacuum salesman back in North Dakota.” Well, the boss was unsure, but he liked the kid and figured he’d give him a shot, so he gave him the job. “You start tomorrow. I’ll come down after we close and see how you did.” His first day on the job was rough, but he got through it.

After the store was locked up, the boss came down to the sales floor. “How many customers bought something from you today?” The kid frowns and looks at the floor and mutters, “One”. The boss says “Just one? Our sales people average sales to 25 to 30 customers a day. This is gonna have to change very soon if you’d like to continue your employment here. We have very strict standards for our sales force here in Florida. One sale a day might have been acceptable in North Dakota, but you’re not on the farm anymore, son.”

The kid took his beating, but continued to look at his shoes, so the boss felt kinda bad for chewing him out on his first day. He asked (sarcastically), “So, how much was your one sale for?” The kid looks up at his boss and says “$124,548.88″. The boss, astonished, says $124,548.88??? What the heck did you sell?”

The kid says, “Well, first, I sold him some new fish hooks. Then I sold him a new fishing rod to go with his new hooks. Then I asked him where he was going fishing and he said down the coast, so I told him he was going to need a boat, so we went down to the boat department and I sold him a twin engine Chris Craft.

Then he said he didn’t think his Honda Civic would pull it, so I took him down to the automotive department and sold him that 4×4 Chevrolet Suburban.” The boss said “A guy came in here to buy a fish hook and you sold him a boat and a SUV???” The kid said “No, the guy came in here to buy tampons for his wife, and I said, ‘Bro, your weekend’s a mess, you should go fishing.

 

 

 

A To Z Challenge – R

april-challenge

U R here.  U R lost, but U R here.  U R outstanding in your field, and that’s where you should be – out standing in a field.  In case you hadn’t guessed, in this post, I’m gonna talk about Pirates – aRRRgh….no I’m not, just about the letter

letter-r

REMEMBRANCE, REFLECTION, REMINISCING

During my work career, there were several times when I was not employed. Because of my learning disabilities and restricted education, when I was employed, it often could not be charitably described as ‘gainfully.’

With careful financial planning and saving however, we have been able to see and do some interesting and enjoyable things. Did you know that you can spend an entire week at a Red Roof Inn, or Microtel mini-suite for the cost of one day at a posh hotel, if you don’t need to be fawned over?

We can’t afford to fly, and rent a car when we arrive. All trips have been by car, including three Le Mans trips to Florida with my brother.  2400 kilometers (1500 miles) in 24 hours.  I have swum in, and enjoyed the magnificence of the Atlantic Ocean, and the beauty of the beaches, at Clearwater Florida, just after a storm, down at the tip, at Key West, on a warm, sunny day, Daytona Beach, Charleston, and Myrtle Beach, S.C., where I found some singing sand.

When the wife and I were stronger and more mobile, we walked much of historically preserved Old Charleston, and visited Fort Sumter, seeing frolicking dolphins and fishing pelicans. We have driven the Great Smoky Mountains, the Appalachians, and the Shenandoahs, where we took a hundred-mile trip along the Top Of The World on the Skyline Drive, seeing Stony Man Mountain.

We’ve gone down into the Skyline Caverns, and later, the Luray Caverns.  We stopped to tour the awesome Lewis Ginter Gardens.  We even trekked into the Middle Of Nowhere, Ohio, to find the only slightly lost John Erickson, and we did it all on a shoestring budget.

Of course we took photos, at first, the old, printed type. Later we used a digital camera, and ignored the pix on the computer.  Lately, as both the bodies and the wallet grow weaker, we have the memories of better days to keep us warm and happy, with our REMEMBRANCE, REFLECTION, REMINISCING.   😀

Leftovers

In my recent My First Time post, I showed pictures of a little three-finger skinner knife I won.  My chiropractor also has an interest in knives, especially the expensive Art Knives.  I let him read my Knives Illustrated magazines after I am finished with them.

He also regularly reads my posts, so I knew that he had seen the photos of the knife, but the next time we went to see him, I took along the knife and sheath for him to handle.  When I went to put it back in the night-table drawer it came out of, I took a close look, and realized how many odd knives I had tucked away over the years.

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This is a hunter/skinner made by Queen Cutlery of Titusville PA.  Knowing of my interest in knives, my Father picked this out at random at a flea market in Florida one winter.

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Walking through a small park one day, I came upon this cheap Pakistani dagger just lying on the ground with no-one anywhere near.  Ensuring that there was no blood on it, indicating that it wasn’t involved in a crime, I picked it up and brought it home.

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This is the little kitchen/paring knife that the wife purchased at the Fall Knife Show in Detroit about two years ago.  It came with the sheath, which hides in the drawer, but it resides in the knife block.  Its blade is made of 5100 tool steel – the alloy that many ball bearings are made from.  This one started as a 1 inch diameter ball.  The extra-thick handle which helps the wife’s weak grip is Rosewood, and the belly of the blade makes cutting easier.

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This knife is Japanese-made for the North American tourist trade.  The brass handle is molded to show Indians hunting wolves from a canoe with a bow and arrow on one side, and a white explorer shooting moose on the other.  Heavy as original sin, I wouldn’t want to carry it in a pocket, and it won’t take or hold an edge any better than the piece of Paki crap above.

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This was sold as an ‘Airport Knife’ after 9/11.  Made from rigid thermoplastic, it will not set off metal detectors.  It has a flat ‘grind’ on one side only.  One edge is plain, while the other has serrations.  The circle at the haft has thumb-ridges to prevent slipping and increase control.   While not razor-sharp, it will inflict a lot of damage.

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This is a bartender’s knife, with a bottle opener, a lid pryer, a corkscrew, and a small blade for opening boxes and cutting seals and corks.

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This is a small two-blade, advertising, pen knife.  While this type of knife holds no interest for me, I have seen people’s collections with hundreds of brands on these things.

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This is a trick knife.  You can’t open it unless you know the secret.  The blade has no thumb nick.  Where the blade joins the handle, there is a small indent and a ball bearing.  The blade closes as far as you see in the photo, then you invert it and squeeze it closed.  The ball bearing rolls into the slot and locks the blade closed.  Even if you can grasp it tightly enough, it will not release.  Turn it up the other way and squeeze again, and it pops open.

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This is a small box-cutter type knife.  I should have photographed it next to a ruler, to show size.  It’s about as big as your little finger.  It has a plastic snap at the end of its lanyard, indicating it may have come on a carry-bag or piece of luggage, but after 9/11 it can’t fly on airplanes, even though it’s dangerous only to creatures smaller than a bumblebee.  I think someone disconnected it and dropped it.  I found it on a floor.

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This is the smallest knife I own – even though it’s the wife’s.  She got it at a Detroit knife show about five years ago, the first time we took the grandson with us.  I was smart enough to photograph this one beside a ruler, and the Queen hunter, to show size, about an inch long, closed, with a chain and ring for wallet or key chain.   This one is factory made.  Some makers build miniatures, both straight knives and folders like this.  They can be made from scrap pieces, but the amount of labor is at least as much as with a full-sized knife.  They can cost as much as their big brothers, so there’s a small market for small knives.

SDC10800

This is a railway spike knife, and a spike like the one it was made from.  They are sold as paperweights/letter openers, because the percentage of carbon in the steel is so low that, like the crap above, they won’t take or hold an edge.  These weren’t hidden in the drawer.  I keep them out on display.  I have several other knives on display but….perhaps another day.

#452

My First Time

 

No, no, you nosy deviants!  That happened when I was 17.  What I’m talking about is knives – and magazines about knives.

While never needing or wanting to actually use them, I’ve always had a fascination for all types of weapons – how they’re built, how they’re used.  Early in 1991 I’d been noticing a particular magazine among others on the sales rack, Knives Illustrated.  Finally, in the summer, it was my first time to purchase a copy.

Chugach Dragon

It carried a story about a $20,000 sword, inlaid with gold, and adorned with jewels.  I had discovered Art Knives.  I was hooked!  Soon, I was sending away money to ensure a year’s worth of these printed treasures.  This was my first time that I’d ever subscribed to a magazine.

For the first several years, they had a contest where you could send in a postcard to be put into a draw to win a hand-made, donated knife, from a maker looking for some cheap promotion.  Every issue, I faithfully sent in a card, even if the featured knife was not to my taste or use.

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Suddenly, in my third year of trying, back before the Internet, I received a real letter.  I had been chosen to receive a little three-finger skinning knife, made by a cutler in Orlando.  All I had to do was send a letter to the magazine, lauding them and proving the contest was real, and a letter of thanks to the maker.  Done and quickly done.  Soon a package arrived, and it was my first time to own a handmade knife.

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The letter from the magazine said that it was worth $35, a ridiculous claim.  The handmade leather sheath alone is worth that much.  Somebody slipped a zero; the package is worth $350.  Note the grooves milled into the top and bottom, to control the blade, and prevent slipping.

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I told the maker that, if I ever got near Orlando, I’d stop in and personally thank him – and forgot about it.  A couple of years later, my brother had bought a trailer in a park in central Florida, and needed to go down to get it opened up and ready to rent for the winter season.  Would I like to accompany him on a whirlwind, 9-day trip.  Oh boy, my first time going to Florida!

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The brother’s trailer park was close to Orlando.  I tried to call the maker, but later found that the phone was in his wife’s name.  After about 4 days, when the brother could spare both me and the van at the same time, I drove over to his address, fuelled by hope.

I was fortunate.  He was at home, and gave me a couple of hours of his morning.  I got to see his neighbor’s lovingly restored 1963 Chevrolet Corvair Monza; he gave me a tour of his workshop, showing me all his tools, and different styles of knives he built.  While the Internet might have existed, this was before I even had dial-up connection, much less high-speed.  I couldn’t just research him.

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Since he couldn’t research Ontario, he didn’t know that most residential, and all farming is below the Great Lakes, with mining to the north.  He had a map with pins stuck in it, of all the people who’d received one of his knives.  He had my pin in the muskeg, somewhere off Hudson Bay.  I moved it.

His wife was some kind of medium-sized wheel at the University.  Several years later, she accepted a more prestigious position at the University of Connecticut, and he quietly loaded all his tools and moved north.  His production may have gone down a bit, because of the need to shovel snow.

This knife is well designed and built, though there’s not much of it.  I’m not a hunter/skinner, so I have no actual use for it.  It languishes away in a drawer, with several other of my acquisitions.  I keep it because it was a first, accompanying several other firsts.  Perhaps one day my heirs can get a little money for it.

Flash Fiction #40

Sunny

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SUNNY DISPOSITION

Wendy didn’t begrudge Bob’s monthly poker night with the guys, nor mind that he had a couple of beers, but last night he had overindulged.  She’d need to have a word with him about that when his head stopped pounding; they had a young child now.  Hung-over Bob was as petulant and demanding as the baby.

Ah, Sunday brunch on the deck – sunshine and fresh air.  Who demanded fried eggs as a sober-up meal??!

“I don’t like sunny-side-up!  I wanted over-easy!”

Wendy extended her hand toward the fence and inverted the platter.

“You want over-easy??  Okay Bob, you got over-easy!”

 

Go to Rochelle’s Addicted to Purple site and use her Wednesday photo as a prompt to write a complete 100 word story.

 

My parents used to winter in Florida, renting a trailer from a farming family.  They had three children.  While never drunken, the husband could occasionally become exasperating.  It was always quickly nipped in the bud by a ‘mother’s’ steely stare, and the words, “I didn’t take you to raise!”

An Apple A Day

Recently, we had a batch of tech-nerds/fanboys go door to door through the neighborhood, extolling the virtues of the Apple Corporation, and trying to convince people to buy Apple computers and gadgets.  They called themselves I-Witnesses.

They claimed that Apple was a great company to work for.  Employees still got paid after they lost their Jobs.

Steve had been concerned with childhood obesity, and had developed a pogo-stick-like device with a mini-computer which was supposed to urge kids to keep exercising.  The project had to be cancelled when it was found that they were promoting breakfast pastries instead.  Jobs had unfortunately named the device I-HOP.

Just when I thought the neighborhood was safe and sane, we had another batch of young ones go door to door, promoting healthy eating through pancakes.  They were Jemima’s Witnesses.

***

In my freshman year in high school, our class took a school trip to a small hobby farm.  Mrs. Olsen introduced us to her favorite cow, Landescog, and showed us how to milk her.  We added rennet to the milk to get it to separate into curds and whey, and pressed the curds into a cheese mold.

Near the end of our year, we were again allowed to visit the farm to see what had happened to our “cheese.”  Mrs. Olsen had made up a big batch of linguine, and most of us sprinkled our shredded cheese on it.  Since the farmhouse was crowded, I took my plate outside, and stood at the fence, under a tree.

Landescog, the cow, wandered over and, perhaps attracted by her contribution to lunch, stuck her head over the fence and mooed loudly, so I had Swedish meat bawl on my pasta.

***

Middle Managers’ Lament

Amtrak Style

 

I am not allowed to run the train.

The whistle, I can’t blow –

I am not allowed to say how far

The railroad cars can go –

I am not allowed to let off steam,

Nor even clang the bell –

But let it jump the goddamned track,

Then see who catches Hell!

***

The Farmer Learns Fast

A farmer bought a new car, after spending a lot of time pricing them.  By coincidence, a few days later, the dealer who sold him the car appeared at the farm, and said he would like to buy a cow for his small country place.  The farmer quickly wrote up the following, and handed it to the dealer:

Basic Cow  ………………………..  $200.00

Extra Stomach  ……………………..  75.00

Two-Tone Exterior  ……………….  45.00

Produce storage compartment.. 60.00

Dispensing Devices – four spigots

@ $10.00 each  …………………..    40.00

Genuine Cowhide Upholstery . 125.00

Automatic Flyswatter  …………    35.00

Dual Horns  ………………………..    15.00

Plus Taxes and Delivery  ………  595.00

 

Total Charge  ……………  $1,190.00

 

***

 

A Child’s View of Retirement in a Mobile Home Park

 

After a holiday break, the teacher asked her class how they spent the holidays.  One little boy’s reply went like this.

We always spend our holidays with Grandma and Grandpa.  They used to live here in a brick house, but Grandpa got retarded and moved to Florida.  Now they live in a place with lots of retarded people.

They live in tin huts.  They ride big three-wheel trikes.  They go to a big building they call a wrecked hall, but if it was wrecked, it is fixed now.

They play games and exercises, but they don’t do them very well.  There is a swimming pool, and when they go in it, they just stand in the water with their hats on.  I guess they don’t remember how to swim.

My Grandma used to bake cookies and things – guess she has forgotten how to bake.  Nobody cooks there; they all go somewhere to eat something they call an Early Bird.

When you come to the park, there is a doll house with a man sitting in it.  He watches all day so they can’t get out without him seeing them.  They wear badges with their names on.  I guess they don’t know who they are.

My Grandma said Grandpa worked all his life, and earned his retardment.  I wish they would move back home, but I guess the man in the doll house won’t let them out.