Silver Medal

I am desolate and devastated!  The Superhero of MY generation,

Lone Ranger

THE LONE RANGER

has been proven to be a fraud, a sham, fake news, with feet of…. well, not silver.

The story always was, that the cave that Tonto found him holed up in, turned out to be a silver mine.  The Lone Ranger used the silver to buy supplies, and make his bullets from.  Just how he found time to dig out and smelt the silver, when he was so busy ridin’, and shootin’, and generally saving the west, was never explained.  Perhaps he had Tonto’s undocumented relatives do it for minimum wage.

Tonto

Recently, I was ambling through an online science article, maintaining a brisk pace so that not too much of that learnin’ rubbed off on me, when suddenly I was stopped in my tracks.

Melting point of silver:  961.78°C (1,763°F)

WAIT!  WHAT??

The melting point of lead, to make bullets with, is only 327.50°C (621.50°F).  Hell, that stuff is so soft and ductile that you can almost mold it with your hands on a warm, sunny day.  Silver though, requires nearly three times the heat.  It’s not something that you just warm up like a skillet of beans over a campfire.  It requires somewhat sophisticated equipment, often more than merely a rustic, frontier forge.

How could I have missed that??!  Even the writer for the Canadian group, The Five Man Electrical Band understood it.  In their song, Werewolf, a father must melt a tiny, silver dinner bell into a musket ball, to kill a son who has gone Loup.  The lines of lyric read:

We went down to the blacksmith,
Got him out of bed, said, “Get your fire hot!”
We gotta close all the doors, shut up the shutters
We’re gonna need all the heat we got.

Even after you get it melted, this stuff don’t take to being cast in molds none too well.  The surfaces all have cavitations and spalling, making any bullets so non-aerodynamic, that he’d be more likely to shoot a passing buffalo, than the gun out of the hand of some cattle rustler.

I never saw him and Tonto, sitting around the fire at night, singing away, like Roy Rogers or Gene Autry.  Maybe because they were busy polishing those bullets smooth with their socks – if Tonto even wore socks.  😯  Aagghhh, he was probably just some rich dilettante from back East, who had his ammunition shipped to him, c/o Sitting Bull, by pony express.

A major portion of my childhood is/was not to be trusted.  😳  What’s next??!  Somebody will tell me that Aquaman can’t actually talk to sharks and whales?  😕  😀

’19 A To Z Challenge – Y

AtoZ2019Letter Y

Yahoo, cowboy! Saddle up that magnificent steed, and…. plod off into a cloud of dust and tumbleweeds. Today’s yewsless…. uh, useless word is

Yaud

noun Scot. and North England.
a mare, especially an old, worn-out one.

1350–1400; Middle English yald < Old Norse jalda mare

Don Quixote

It is matched with another, taken from Spanish, rocinante.
Rocinante is Don Quixote’s male horse in the novel Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes. In many ways, Rocinante is not only Don Quixote’s horse, but also his double: like Don Quixote, he is awkward, past his prime, and engaged in a task beyond his capacities.

Perhaps, between failing mental abilities and failing eyesight, Quixote winds up tilting at windmills, thinking that they are dragons, and that he is protecting the populace. Since he is a minor noble, like the problem of the ‘Emperor’s New Clothes,’ no-one tells him, or tries to stop him.

Bay

The original Spanish term was rosinante, (rosy) a red-colored horse, what in English, would be called a bay.

Abaddon's Gate

It is because of the above description, that the authors of both the books, and the TV series, The Expanse had the captain rename the “inherited” space cruiser, Rocinante. While formidably armed, it was a bit past its prime, and the small crew desperately used it for tasks that should be beyond its capabilities, tilting at interplanetary, and eventually, interstellar windmills.

Distracted

If I have been successful, most of you will have been so distracted by horses, TV space series, and classic literature, that you will not have noticed that 95% of this post is not about its stated subject. Instead, I have veered off at a strange angle – just like my favorite Y-shaped bridge in Zanesville, Ohio.

Y-bridge

On The Ball

Selectric

The wife and I are not ‘Retro,’ we’re just old fogies.

It’s not that we’re technophobic. Lord knows, we embrace technology to the limits of our non-Electronic Age brains. In our house, there are 2 PCs, a laptop, 2 tablets, 3 Kindles, 2 Kobos, 2 Smart Phones, and a Smart TV that’s smarter than both of us together. Still, sometimes we like to relive The Good Old Days, in The Good Old Ways.

The QWERTY keyboard was originally developed when early typists got faster than the rudimentary machines, and jammed letter strikers against the platen. It put the usual letters in unusual places, to slow typists down, and prevent jamming. It was touted by its proponents as, “More efficient,” a lie with a bit of truth in it.  It reduced the words per minute typed, but almost eliminated having to stop and unjam the machine, resulting in more total words typed at the end of the day.

The development of the electric typewriter smoothed out the jamming problem somewhat, and also eliminated the need to manually move the heavy carriage with the left hand/arm.

Selectric Ball

In 1961, IBM re-invented the wheel – actually, a ball. They produced the Selectric, a typewriter with no keys to jam. Instead, it had a little ball with all the characters on it. The smart machine rotated the ball – nicknamed a ‘Golf Ball’ – to the right position before smacking it against the paper. Different balls, with different fonts could be quickly snapped in and out.

Several models, with different features were developed, including one with a rudimentary 40-character memory. If a typist noticed a mistake while typing, (s)he could hit a special ‘Hold’ key, back up in the memory, change the error, and free the machine to continue.  There was no more heavy carriage to move back and forth. Instead, the ball and ribbon moved smoothly and quietly across the platen. This was the precursor to the computer word-processor.

Sadly, because of that, they didn’t last long, and soon became extinct – but not before over 2,000,000 of them were sold. The wife worked on one, in one of the offices where she was employed. She loved it. Recently, she had a couple of typing projects – recipe cards, and knitting patterns – where a computer and printer just didn’t work out well.

She found one offered for sale on Facebook Market. The woman wanted $40 for it. I asked where I had to go to pick it up. She’s had me drive 10/15 kilometers locally, for other items. This one, she said, was in Oshawa, the other side of Toronto. I told her that it would cost another $40 in gas, to drive there and back. Without any other offers on it, the price reduced to $35.

Driving completely across metro-Toronto, on Highway 401, is not the worst traffic in North America, but it’s definitely in the top 10. When I checked the location with a map program, the actual mileage (Canadian kilometrage) wasn’t all that high, but the program warned that, at the time that I checked, based on current traffic conditions, estimated trip time is 2 hours and 8 minutes.

We planned the trip for the middle of the morning, after the get-to-work onslaught, but before the lunch-time rush, and made the 160 Km/100 Miles in 1Hour/40Minutes. We waited till 2:00 o’clock to start back and, aside from some slowdown from the ‘memory of an accident’ we saw on the way there, we got home in 1Hour/40Minutes again. We immediately stopped at Costco, and put $45 of gas in the car.

The wife wanted some proof that the machine worked, but the woman getting rid of it was a young Real Estate agent, charged with disposing of an estate. She was so young that she’d never heard of or seen such a contraption. She plugged it in and turned it on. It hummed. She hit a couple of keys, and it clacked a couple of times.

Since she’d still not had any other offers for it, and since we were coming from so far away, she reduced the price to $20, which she may have quietly pocketed. When we got home, the wife plugged it in and turned it on. It hummed! She tapped a couple of keys…. but the little carriage didn’t move. She sat down and pored over the included owner’s manual – to no avail. A part may be broken/missing.

Mennonite

With the existence of so many Mennonites within a 50 kilometer radius, it is probably easier to locate a Ferrier (one who shoes horses), than to find a local typewriter repair shop. There was one, but the old gentleman who ran it was 83 in 2015, and the website is dormant. The wife has located one in the city of Hamilton. It’s not quite so far away, and in a different direction. It should only cost us $35 for gas – TWICE – once to drop it off, and again when we pick it up, plus the charge for Barney Rubble to fix it.

You may never get a hand-written letter from me – for which you should be thankful. With my essential tremor getting worse, the doctors’ scribbles that I mentioned in my Griffonage post, seem clear and legible, compared to my handwriting. I’ll tell you whether we are successful at this technology resuscitation project, and you may get a hand-typed letter to prove it.

Flash Fiction #183

Retirement Village

PHOTO PROMPT © Jean L. Hays

RETIREMENT VILLAGE

Wuz anybody famous ever born here? Y’alls gotta be jokin’! We wuz gonna have Thoreau Theodore, thuh weather-forecastin’ prairie-dog, but thuh little varmint wouldn’t come outta hiz hole. Wouldn’t matter if’n he seen hiz shadow or not, we’d jest git ‘nother six weeks of whatever’s outside.

Some Eastern dude retired here. Place useta be called Nowheresville – motto, “Civilization’s Thataway ->”. Folks renamed the town after him. Think he wrote a book – sumpin’ about fishin’ at some pond, ah think. Doan know why ennybuddy with a pond ta fish in, would come to a place like this, drier than a popcorn fart.

***

Click to hear ‘Wild Horses,’ Canadian Gino Vanelli singing about parts of the US where the population density is so low, that you can be, “a hundred miles out of town.”

***

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

Friday Fictioneers

Starvation Wages

Horses

A beggar walked up to a well-dressed woman
shopping on Rodeo Drive and said,
“I haven’t eaten anything in four days.”
She looked at him and said,
“God, I wish I had your willpower.”

***

A blonde bought two horses and could never remember which was which.

A neighbor suggested that she cut off the tail of one horse, which worked great until the other horse got his tail caught in a bush.

The second horse’s tail tore in the same place and looked exactly like the other horse’s tail.

Our blonde friend was stuck again. The neighbor then suggested that she notch the ear of one horse, which worked fine until the other horse caught his ear on a barbed wire fence.

Once again, our blonde friend couldn’t tell the two horses apart.

The neighbor then suggested that she measure the horses for height.

When she did that, the blonde was very pleased to find that the white horse was 2 inches taller than the black one.

***
A man and a woman who have never met before find
themselves in the same sleeping carriage of a
train, after the initial embarrassment they both
go to sleep, the woman on the top bunk, the man on
the lower.
In the middle of the night the woman leans over
and says, “I’m sorry to bother you but I’m awfully
cold and I was wondering if you could possibly
pass me another blanket.”
The man leans out and with a glint in his eye,
says, “I’ve got a better idea … let’s pretend we’re married”
“Why not”, giggles the woman.
“Good”, he replies, “Get your own fucking
blanket!”

***

A couple are rushing into the hospital because the wife is going into labor. As they walk, a doctor says to them that he has invented a machine that splits the pain between the mother and father. They agree to it and are led into a room where they get hooked up to the machine.
The doctor starts it off at 20% split towards the father. The wife says, “Oh, that’s actually better.” The husband says he can’t feel anything.
Then the doctor turns it to 50% and the wife says that it doesn’t hurt nearly as much. The husband says he still can’t feel anything.
The Doctor, now encouraged, turns it up to 100%. The husband still can’t feel anything, and the wife is really happy, because there is now no pain for her.
The baby is born. The couple go home and find the postman groaning in pain on the doorstep.

***

How many Witches does it take to change a light bulb?
It depends on what we are trying to change it into.

***

How many gorillas does it take to screw in a light bulb?
Only one, but it sure takes a lot of light bulbs!

***

I asked my friend why he walked away from his last job.
He said the pay was so poor that he couldn’t afford a car

***

 

The Queen’s English

Queen

The Queen’s English.
Yes, I’ve heard that about her!  😆

If only more of the English people would speak the English language. Some of them think that, if a word is good enough to be said once, it should be slightly changed and said twice.  Sometimes this doubling-up is done to emphasize the meaning, but I am sure that sometimes it is done just to confuse those who don’t speak the local dialect.

It has brought us a bunch of word-pairs like; holus-bolus, okie-dokie, hurdy-gurdy, hunky-dory, hurly-burly, lovey-dovey, argy-bargy, hinky-dinky, rinky-dinky, hanky-panky, razzle-dazzle, willy-nilly, fuzzy-wuzzy, namby-pamby, itsy-bitsy, (t)eensy-weensy, (t)eeny-weeny, higgledy-piggledy, mumbo-jumbo, roly-poly, and tittle-tattle.

Cuckoo Clock

Why ‘Tock-Tick’ does not sound right, to your ear

Have you ever wondered why we say tick-tock, not tock-tick, or ding-dong, not dong-ding; King Kong, not Kong King?  It turns out that it is one of the unwritten rules of English that native speakers know, without even knowing.

The rule, explains a BBC article, is; “If there are three words, then the order has to go I, A, O. If there are two words, then the first is I, and the second is either A or O.”  Mish-mash, chit-chat, dilly-dally, shilly-shally, tip top, hip-hop, flip-flop, Tic Tac, sing-song, ding-dong, King Kong, ping-pong.

There’s another unwritten rule at work in the name Little Red Riding Hood, says the article. Articles in English absolutely have to be in this order: opinion, size, age, color, origin, material, purpose, noun.  So, you can have a lovely, little, old, rectangular, green, French, silver, whittling knife.  If you tamper with that word order in the slightest, you sound like a maniac.

That explains why we say “little green men”, and not “green little men,” but “Big Bad Wolf” sounds like a gross violation of the “opinion (bad)- size (big)- noun (wolf) order. It isn’t though, if you recall the first rule about the I-A-O order.

That rule seems inviolable. “All four of a horse’s feet make exactly the same sound, but we always say clip-clop, never clop-clip.”  This rule even has a technical name, if you care to know about it – the rule of ablaut reduplication – but then life is simpler knowing that we know the rule, without knowing it.

Play it by ear.
If a word sequence sounds wrong, it probably is wrong.

If Wishes Were Horses

manure

If wishes were horses….there’d be a big pile of manure around any significant discussion. We are a strange species, willing – anxious – to deny, or argue what others among us regard as perceived truth.

On my recent, A View Of Islam post, it was all going so well, seemingly, until I got the following response to this paragraph:

‘In the U.K, the Muslim communities refuse to integrate and there are now dozens of “no-go” zones within major cities across the country that the police force dare not intrude upon. Sharia law prevails there, because the Muslim community in those areas refuse to acknowledge British law.’

What a load of ****. There are absolutely NO ‘no-go’ zones of any description in the UK. British law applies and is enforced throughout the UK, without exception.  Donald Trump had to apologise after making a similar, and untrue, statement about the UK city of Birmingham. I appreciate that you are only quoting from someone else in your blog but to give publicity to a totally untrue statement is demeaning to your blog and yourself.

I snidely protested;

Enforced the way it is in the barrios of East L.A. or Little Cuba in Miami? In my quiet, well-behaved city of Kitchener, Ontario, Canada, two blocks from my home, is an enclave of 75 houses, full of people with beige skin and head coverings. In 15 years of living here, I have never seen a police car enter or patrol it.

That earned me this reply;

 In the UK, British law applies to everyone. ‘No-go’ areas that police do not enter just don’t exist. I cannot comment on Canada, I have only been there twice.

He reminds me of a militant atheist, desperately trying to ‘prove that there is no God.’  He knows what he wants, what he feels should be, what he believes, and what he wants others to believe, and just ignores any evidence to the contrary.

I especially liked his ad hominem attack on Canada, and his implied claim that he is well enough off to have travelled here a couple of times, to set us Colonials straight.

He’s right that British law applies everywhere in the country, but if he truly believes that there are no areas where policemen don’t bother to go, his ass is in the air, right beside the ostrich with its head in the sand.

I recently read a post from a young female who attended Catholic Church, but disagreed with almost everything the priest propounded as Church tenets – no gay marriage, hate and fear homosexuals, no divorce, no birth control, and no married priests.

I congratulated her on her independent thinking, and asked her what she was going to do about her contrary beliefs. Other than her blog, was she going to go public, to the priest, to her family, to the congregation? Would she leave the Church?

“Oh, no,” she replied, “I’m going to keep going to Church.” But she’s not! Now she’s just attending a social club – and there’s nothing wrong with that – if she, and others like her, have the integrity to admit it.

If your cat has kittens in the barn, you can call them horses; just don’t try to ride them.  If wishes were horses, beggars might ride.  These buggers are riding the hobby-horse of their own imagination.

A blonde, who has always wanted to ride a horse, decides to try it one day. She carefully mounts, clutches the reins, and they’re off.  Not used to the powerful motion, she has trouble staying in the saddle.  Suddenly one of her feet comes out of the stirrup, and she falls forward onto the horse’s neck.

She holds on desperately, but begins to slide off the side of the horse. Lower and lower she hangs.  Her other foot is now jammed in the stirrup, and she winds up hanging almost upside down.  Finally, her head touches, and the horse’s strong movements begin to bang it against the ground.

She feels pain, and begins to see stars. Just when she fears that she will lose consciousness and die….the manager of the Wal-Mart rushes over and unplugs the horse.  😉

Half A Millennium

Caveman

No! That title doesn’t refer to my age. That whiny rant will be coming up later this month. Stay tuned for your chance to legally stick it to the old Archon.

This is my 500th post. Yay! 😛 Believe me; no-one is more disappointed surprised than me. Stuff just keeps leaking out of my head and falling on the keyboard – and people read it, and like it, and comment about it. BrainRants is right. This is very inexpensive therapy.

I’ve dumped out memories of my childhood, some cooking posts, stories of trips and suggestions for places for my readers to try. I’ve railed about politicians, religion, and just assholes who should get along with the rest of humanity better.

I’ve given a glimpse (well, more like a full-length motion picture) into the slightly off-kilter life of the crazed Archon, and his slightly off-kilter family – a little weird, but basically harmless, often with photographic evidence.

I slowly plod along, from post to post, dropping the occasional clot of keystrokes, and enjoying the warm glow of those who visit and read. I’ve appreciated finding those out there who are just as ‘non-standard’ as I am, possibly more so, and sometimes in surprising ways and directions.

I have a love/hate relationship with the status quo. I like stability, but feel that everyone should have the right to be as individualistic as they want – as long as they don’t frighten the horses or small children. I hope I’ve shown some who are hemmed in by family, employment or religion, that being a bit different is okay, and not evil.

This has been a most enjoyable voyage of discovery, and I hope I’ve given, nearly as well as I’ve received. I’m still not sure about even getting to post number 600, and One Thousand, the full millennium, seems a looonng way away.

Nun

I am a creature of habit, even though I’m not a nun. (Mental image of the Pope having a stroke, and nine Cardinals having simultaneous heart attacks) I’m gonna keep doing this until I can’t, and I thank all of you who have made it fun, and a real learning experience.   😆

500 Posts

Flash Fiction #6

It’s Only Natural

copyright-erin-leary-2He stood at the fence, looking at the little stream, enjoying the beautiful morning.  The sun was well risen, but not yet really visible, as it burned the fog from the valley.

The red-winged blackbirds held chirpy conversations.  A few dragonflies darted here and there, importantly.  The occasional frog made a political statement.

It had been a lovely summer, and the autumn was still warm.  He loved being able to come here and stand in the shade of the trees, enjoying communing with nature.

He’d better get back to the barn.  His young owner would want to saddle him soon.

Go to Rochelle Wisoff’s Addicted To Purple blog, and use the weekly picture as a prompt.  Write a 100 word complete story about it.

 

Horse-Drawn History

I’ve done a few “Remember When” posts about growing up Oh-so-long-ago, and in a small town at the end of the universe.  I’ve written a post about the development of roads, and if I don’t get my numbering mixed up, it will already be published.  What I haven’t put together is the horse and buggy combination.  Anyone want to go for a wagon ride?

I’m still a long way from being a suave, sophisticated, city-dweller, but, as a kid, I was far more urban than rural.  I don’t know if my little town helped make me so, or if I was just of that bent, and lucky to be born where I was.  When I got old enough to visit the next little town down the road, I was quite dismissive.

Our town had all the interesting, up-scale social amenities that they didn’t.  We had a movie theater, a bowling alley, and a pool-room.  They had none of these.  They did have a United Co-op farm supply store, and a Western Tire store, even back here in the east, not even a real Canadian Tire store.

Back when I was knee-high to a grasshopper, it was not unusual to see horses pulling wagons around their town.  Local farmers hauling hay, bringing milk to the dairy, or stopping in to that Co-op store to pick up seed or fertilizer.  My town was not exempt from horse and wagon combos though.

When I was a kid, we still got milk delivered to the house by horse and wagon.  I don’t remember seeing milk taken to the little dairy in my town by horse; it was picked up by truck from farmers who set it by the side of the road in five-gallon pails.  It sat out in the winter cold and summer heat until it got back to the dairy.  Thank God for Pasteurization.

This was all back when every little town had its own little dairy, before the economies of volume caused all the milk in North America to be controlled by a dairy-products company in Italy named Parmalat.

The milk guy delivered right to the door.  If it sat on the porch in the winter, it froze, and expanded.   Milk wasn’t homogenized, so an inch or two of cream would raise the cardboard cap out of the glass bottle.  The frozen cream would have to be cut off and saved, or it would melt and run off.

Later, the delivery schedule changed, and the wagon didn’t arrive till just after lunch.  Sometimes I would ask my Mom for a nickel to get a half-pint of chocolate milk.  The deposit on the glass bottle was another nickel.  We could have paid it once, and just kept exchanging bottles, but it was far more fun to climb into the delivery wagon and ride a couple of blocks while I sipped it finished.  Then I’d walk back home.

Townie boy learned a little about driving horses.  “Gee” meant turn right, “”haw” meant turn left.  I’ll leave “giddy up” and “whoa” to your imagination.  “Gee” was a crossword puzzle solution to the clue, “right to a horse,” last week.

We didn’t have an electric refrigerator for a number of years.  We had an icebox, which sat in a shed, attached to the back of the house.  Every couple of days in the summer we put a twenty-five pound block of ice in a top compartment.  The ice would melt, so there was a hole bored in the floor, where the melt water ran out.

Each winter, a businessman and his assistants would go to a small cove of Lake Huron, and cut blocks of ice out by hand, using large human-powered saws.  When the cove refroze, they would come back for another harvest, and another, until they filled a barn-like warehouse.  The ice was covered by a thick layer of fine sawdust, which reduced thawing during the summer.

The ice was delivered to most homes in town by horse and wagon.  Their blocks were about fifty pounds, and had to be hacked in half with a trowel-like hand-tool with a toothed edge.  I would often run out and grab a large sliver of ice, and suck on it like a no-cost Popsicle.  Occasionally I got to ride along for a couple of blocks, as I did with the milkman.  It takes a village to raise a child.  Since I was almost the only child in my neighborhood, these village men protected, entertained and educated me before I went to school.

The third horse and wagon for many years was the garbage-man’s.  The town’s work-crew was small and, immediately after WW II, trucks, and the money to buy them was scarce.  The garbage-man seemed ancient to a small child, but he was probably in his fifties.  He and his patient horse would make the rounds, and he would dump loose garbage from metal cans into the wagon.

When the wagon was full, he would take it to the south edge of town, about a half-mile from the lakeshore.  He would have the horse back the wagon into an open area, and then pry up the loose boards which formed the bottom of the wagon, and stand them on edge, dumping the garbage.

About the time the old man, and his horse, retired, and town employees using a truck took over, a real estate developer wanted space to build more cottages for the burgeoning tourist trade.  Suddenly all the garbage was compacted with a bulldozer and covered with clean fill, and the site was sold.  I wonder how many of the cottage-owners know what’s under their summer palaces.

Horses and wagons….as Benzeknees’ quiz proved a while ago, I am older than dirt.  At least this tale of long ago and far away didn’t contain any dinosaurs or woolly mammoths.  Be careful as you walk away from the wagon.  Don’t step in that stuff!