Fellowship Of The Blog – Episode Five

 

Day 2/Part 2 – Wheeling To Wheeling

When we last left our hero and heroine, they were dashing west, across the New York Turnpike, towards Erie, PA. Safely reaching there, they quickly turned south, for another 3 ½ hour drive, just past Wheeling, WV.  Being at the top of the rapidly narrowing panhandle, Wheeling is a place where you can be in three states in under a half-hour.  We did the same kind of thing a few years ago, on our way to Front Royal, VA, coming out of PA, across 18 miles of Maryland panhandle, and into Virginia.

Traffic was light, so I was running on autopilot. Soon though, we came up behind a minivan moving erratically – slow down, speed up, trouble staying between the lines.  I thought maybe someone was drunk or stoned, but it had a fish-shaped plastic sticker on the back, indicating that it was owned/operated by a “Good Christian.”  Drugs apparently are a big problem.  Signs all along the highway urge anyone with concerns, or information, to call #799.

When I finally felt it was safe to pass, I found it driven by a big-haired blonde, with a cell phone jammed in her ear. Way to go, bitch!  Obey church rules, but ignore State legislation against distracted driving.  It would have produced a very non-porn meaning to the phrase, “Oh God, I’m coming.”  I just didn’t want to be around for either version.

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St. Clairsville, OH, where our Red Roof Inn was located, is at the western edge of the Appalachian Mountains, and the motel is perched almost at the top of a steep little hill. I missed the easily accessible, but unmarked side driveway, and had to drive down the hill, and turn and climb back up to the aerie.  At the bottom of the hill, I gunned the engine – and blew the entire back end off the exhaust system.

The wife was mortified by the roar, but the locals, in their Ford F250s and Dodge Rams never even noticed. They probably thought I was there to compete in the tractor pull.  You know you’re staying in YeeHawville, when the young man, carrying a baby, in front of you in line at the WalMart, adds a six-pack tube of Copenhagen snuff to his order, and the most often-shown ad on TV is for an on-line dating service – FarmersOnly.Com.

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We checked in, and the room clerk told me that there was a Meineke Muffler shop somewhere in the plaza across the street. I said I’d walk over to check out opening times, after supper.  “Oh, it’s too far to walk!”  I could have seen it, if I knew where to look.

With roads hanging off the sides of hills, I walked a block down the hill, to the main road, and a block back up a hill, to the plaza entrance, then a block back down, into the actual parking area. I could have hit it with a thrown stone from the motel, but it was the best part of a mile to actually get there.

A clerk at the Kroger didn’t know of any Meineke shop, but one at the WalMart told me that it was really a Monroe Muffler shop, located in the farthest corner. The sign in the window said they opened at 7:30 AM, and I was there as the mechanic arrived.  Sadly, there were cars left for service, overnight, and people with appointments.  They would get to mine as soon as possible, perhaps by noon, perhaps by closing.

I barely had time to walk back to the motel, when the phone rang. The guy with the 7:30 appointment hadn’t stopped in.  They had looked at my car, and he rattled off a list of items which needed replacing.  For the mere sum of $358.79US ($400 Can), I could have the car back in time to attend the knife show.  Did I wish to proceed? Did I have any choice??!

But, these are tales of tomorrow, to be told in the next episode, when the car moves much faster, not having to drag all that heavy cash around. Y’all come back now!   🙂

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Spamalot

Spam!  We all get it.  Many of us have done at least one post about it.  I haven’t yet, so it’s my turn.  I intend to make fun of some of the sillier ones I’ve received.  Not as technically proficient as many of you, I can’t cut and paste, so we’ll see who gets laughed at most, the spam, or me.

All spam is designed to sell something.  The sender wants you to go to his site, and usually spend money.  Some are sent only to increase the number of hits on the site so that the site-owner can charge advertisers higher rates.

I got one spam which told me that I was brain-dead, which was why I didn’t get more and better followers.  If I would just sign up and pay for this blog-writing course, I would get a much better grade of riff-raff visiting my site.  It might have been the same spammer, but soon after, I got another, accusing you, my faithful followers, of being brain-dead and leaving dumb comments.  If I would just sign up and PAY – well, you get the idea.  Thatta-way Genius, insult me and my friends and expect us to flock on over to your site.  Well, flock you!

certainly like your web-site but you need to check the spelling on several of your posts. Several of them are rife with spelling problems and I in finding it very troublesome to inform the truth nevertheless I will definitely come back again

This one irritates the shit out of me.  My spelling is better than 95% of the population.  It’s often better than Spellcheck, which I run on the word program, and then again on WordPress before I post, after I proofread at least three times.  Rife??!  You said rife?  One word per post – maybe.  Stick *rife* up your asterisk.  By the way Kettle, Pot called and said your spelling, capitalization and punctuation leave something to be desired.  What I desire is….wuzzat?  I can’t post that word?  Physically impossible??!

Hi there, i read your blog occasionally and i own a similar one and i was just wondering if you get a lot of spam remarks? If so how do you protect against it, any plugin or anything you can recommend?  I get so much lately it’s driving me insane so any support is very much appreciated.

You “Own” a blog?  I got mine for nothing, but mine came with a shift-key so I can capitalize “I”.  I get a few inane spam comments, often from winners like you.  I let Akismet sift them out, and then I flush them down WordPress’s toilet.  The only protection or plugin I got, came from The Stag Shop.  I don’t think spam is driving you insane.  It’s more like a short putt.

Nice weblog here! Also your website quite a bit up fast! What web host are you the usage of? Can I am getting your associate hyperlink on your host? I wish my web site loaded up as quickly as yours lol

I am quite a bit up confused as to what you’re asking, and apparently I’m not the only one.  Look at my web address and you’ll see what web host I am the usage of, quite a bit up fast.  Perhaps there’s an English textbook that you could be the usage of.

Maybe if you include more photos and videos your article would be more understandable

Maybe once you put down the crayons, graduate from Kindergarten and learn to speak and write the language, you won’t need photos and videos.

I seriously love your website.. Great colors & theme. Did you make this website yourself? Please reply back as I’m hoping to create my very own site and would love to find out where you got this from or just what the theme is named. Kudos!

Really?  Great colors & theme?  On my site?  When did that happen?  Yes, I made this website all by my little self.  I carefully crafted it out of bellybutton lint and cat hair, held together with cobwebs pulled from my own skull.  Tip your skull down and read the theme at the bottom of the page.  Are Kudos those African antelope things?  You could use their fur and horns to build your site.  😕

I got an advertising spam from a furniture store specializing in sofas and chairs – in Sussex England.  They do realize I’m on another continent, don’t they?!  I wonder if they deliver, or if I’d have to borrow a dory from Ted at www.sightsnbytes.wordpress.com .  That would be a long row back.

I once got a two-page spam once urging me to purchase Viagra – so that some of the purchase price could go to a fund to save Asian tigers.  Yeah, right, that’s what I buy Viagra for, to save Asian tigers.  I got enough performance anxiety, without having to worry about dead tigers.  My own little tiger is dead.  😦

Several times recently, I’ve got one offering to help me save my possessions during a divorce – in French.  Since I don’t plan on being divorced in French, I think I’ll give that one a pass.

Search terms are almost as much fun.  I mentioned Mennonites in one post, and got the inevitable “Mennonite porn” search term.  I got “South African asteroid” one day.  I didn’t realize they had their own special asteroid.  I had used the word asteroid in a post about eight months ago, but that’s not the one the search term locked on to.  I had spoken of an asteroid which had come inside the orbit of the moon, now we have one which will arrive Friday morning and pass closer than the geosynchronous communications satellites.  Hopefully it doesn’t have any Mayans on board, and disappears back into the void.

End of silly rant!  Insert thunderous applause here!

Let Me Think About That

I recently took my daughter, and one of her friends, to a Free Thinkers luncheon.  One of the male attendees had on a tee-shirt imprinted, “You never see a bunch of atheists stoning a gay to death.”  The president of the local association came fifteen miles down from the town which is the center of the area Mennonite community.  He brought with him a thirty-ish Mennonite female, dressed in a floor-length, shapeless, dull-patterned cotton dress and veil-fabric, hair-modesty, yarmulke-like snood.

This is strange!  The more intense a religious sect is, the less likely they allow any thinking, much less free thinking.  Mennonites are strict.  There are many sub-sects, some much stricter than others.  She explained that she had developed free thinking on her own, but kept her opinions to herself, so that she could continue to associate with her friends and family.  Like the Catholic Church’s *excommunication*, where the faithful were not allowed to speak or deal with a heretic, the Mennonite faith has *shunning*.  She had heard of the Free Thinkers, and found that the local teacher was a leader, and convinced him to bring her to the freedom of a meeting.  I don’t know how she explains not being at church with her clan.

Like every other religion, there are divisions, and sub-divisions, and sub-sub….until there are tiny little groups, all convinced that they, and only they, are correct.  There are Old Order Mennonites, who use horses and buggies.  They will not allow zippers, or even buttons on their clothing.  It is all tied closed.  They refused to put the glass-crystal, triangular, slow-vehicle signs on their dark buggies, because they eschew any adornment.  It took several late-night, coming-home-from-prayer-meeting collisions before the government convinced them that they were not *adornment*, but legally required safety devices to keep them and cars and drivers safe.

New-Order followers buy black or dark cars and trucks, but painted any chrome black, until the government again convinced them that this was another visibility/safety feature.  New New-Order buy colored cars, but still wear black hats over zippered and buttoned clothing.  I worked with a young new-new-new….whose worship group was about fifteen people, meeting in some guy’s warehouse, because they couldn’t build, or even rent a meeting-house.

It’s like a child’s game of How Much Can I Get Away With?  Many of these people are businessmen, building and selling furniture, equipment, farm produce, etc.  They shun the secular world, but are forced to interact with it for commerce.  They have preachers who tell them that they cannot be connected to the fallen.  (That’s you and I.)  Yet they must buy and sell goods, arrange shipments, check specs, etc.

When I worked at the steel warehouse there were three farmers who also ran a fabricating shop.  Two of the farms were side by side on one concession road, and the third butted against the common border over on the next road.  They built a little weather-proof box, and paid Bell Telephone to install a phone where the three farms met.  Any one of them could give the horses a rest and make a call, but the phone wasn’t in any of their houses, so it was allowed.  If you had to call back with information, you were given a specific time to call.  One would be waiting by the phone at exactly 10:00 AM.  If you missed your call, you missed an order.  I wonder how they tell time.  Are watches prohibited?

The mullahs can’t keep up with technology.  Cell-phones don’t “connect” them to the secular world, so half the Mennonites have them.  Similarly Wi-Fi computer connections from outdoor posts or the nearest urban hot-spot are not specifically banned so Mennonite boys can get porn just like the rest of us.

I recently took the wife fifteen miles out to a Mennonite butcher in a village.  As we drove into town, the wife spotted some plants near the edge of the road, with a for-sale sign.  We stopped on the way home.  The wife was interested, but wanted to ask some questions, and wondered if we should knock on the door or if someone would come out.  The answer to both was, no.  I spotted an Honor Box.

They put various items out at the side of the road with prices marked, and it’s up to the honor of the customer to leave money.  Some even leave money out in the open.  You can make your own change if necessary.  This one was a large, heavy (?) aluminum box with a slot in the top to insert cash.  It would be possible to walk away with the entire box, but probably not un-noticed in the village full of nosy neighbors.

Farmers on the highway put out corn, potatoes, apples etc. and an honor box.  Farms where you have to drive in to the house have signs saying, “No Sunday sales”, but the honor boxes can sit out seven days a week.  If you wish to stop and remove some produce and voluntarily leave some cash, that’s your business, but if they’re not sitting there accepting filthy lucre, they’re not Doing Business, so it’s moral.

The wife worked for an insurance company for ten years.  I find that Scotsmen and Jews have nothing on Mennonites for being cheap.  They want everything that’s in the contract, whether they qualify or not, and then they want some free candy off your desk for giving you the business.  The young lad I worked with must have asked at least six times in disbelief, if I was sure I wanted to give my excess foreign coins to his immigrant wife for her collection, at no charge.

I think it’s silly to worry about violating, not God’s rules, but some narrow-visioned man’s rules.  They think they can remain religious hermits, and still be business-men in today’s society.  I think the mental and moral gymnastics are silly and amusing.  They think up new ways to circumvent the lifestyle they claim to revere.  Look out!  Here comes the future!

Happy 100

This is my one-hundredth post.  To some of the bloggers I follow, that would be ho-hum.  The way they pump posts out, that could have been accomplished in a couple of months.  It has taken me ten months to get this far.  I started slow, then tapered off.

I knew I wasn’t ever going to set the world on fire literately.  In fact, when I started, I wondered if I would attract any readers other than the few bloggers I had been bedevilling with comments on their posts.  Like other aspects of my life, I later found that I was doing the right things by instinct, to attract readers and followers.  Seldom able to keep my mouth shut, or my fingers still, I went further and further afield and made comments on a variety of blogs.  I later read from WordPress, that this is a good way to attract followers.  I’ve never actually been told to mind my own business, although there have been a couple of curt and dismissive responses.

I try not to antagonise anyone on their home turf, even when I disagree with them.  That’s not a problem with my core group.  For as much as we are all different, it is intriguing, how much we are the same.

I sit safely in the *average* slot, as far as bloggers go.  I visit other sites which have only a couple of followers and often several consecutive posts, before anyone makes a comment.  I’m not a Byronic Man, a BrainRants or a Madame Weebles, with hundreds, or thousands of followers, and a comment thread like a papyrus scroll.  I have managed to acquire almost 60 followers, a small cloud of *likes* on each post, and intelligent, insightful and supportive comments from a nice bunch of folks.  More ho-hum, but I’m closing in on 4000 hits.

I only post every two to four days, so my normal daily readership runs from ten to forty.  My best day was 71 hits, and that was for a little throw-away acceptance speech for a blog award.  I’m not worried by it, but I am perplexed that, after ten months on the WordPress scene, I recently had two days, just over a week apart, when no-one came to visit.  I’ve had onesies and twosies, but I really got lonely a couple of times.  I had to go bug some other bloggers.

Bloggers disappear from the scene all the time.  I’m sure some of them are like me; they have a limited number of things they wish to post about and just run out of ideas.  My wife recently commented that the number of letters-to-the-editor I submit has dropped.  Of course, six to eight op/ed pieces a year don’t add much when the blog count hits a hundred.  I still write down potential post themes when one penetrates my thick skull.  I know I’ll get to my anniversary blog, but may have to space my posts out a bit more.

I’m not a rabid numerologist.  I get a kick out of catching my digital watch at 3:33:33, or 11:11:11, or 12:34:56, but I’m enough of a realist to know that blog number 100 really is no more special than number 99 or 101.  It is a small milestone that I am happy to have reached, with the support of my select little cadre of readers and followers.

I’m typing one-handed right now.  No!  Not because I’ve been viewing porn.  I think I pulled a muscle in my shoulder, patting myself on the back for getting this far.  I’ve had four blog awards thrust upon me, but that’s like contracting mono.  There are so many awards drifting around at any one time, you’d have to be a blog-virgin not to get at least one, but it is nice to know that I am noticed and appreciated.

I just visited aFrankangle’s blog, and was treated to a large dose of reality.  It was tempered with a small platter of pleasure.  I got to Frank’s site just in time to see his 1000th post.  I have got soooo far to go.  Frank also revealed that my grumpy American curmudgeon counterpart, the much respected, and until now, blogless, John Erickson, slipped and has finally fallen into the blog pool.  It’s thyme to visit the sage of Ohio at www.windycitywonderer.wordpress.com.

To all who have tolerated me, taught me, led me, and even encouraged me, I give again, a huge thank-you.  Since I have to live so much inside my head, it is pleasant to have such nice neighbors.