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Monday, May 29, 2017

Building the Tribe

There are some personal parts of my life that rarely if ever make it into this blog. If I'd wanted everyone to know everything about my life I'd be on Facebook. However, I feel it's important to share a few lesser known details.

Over the holiday weekend we had a house warming party for one of our friends. She bought a place not that far from my lovely wife and I. It's nice to have another friend so close. Actually, we've been building more than a circle of friends and family. In these troubled times, we've been building our tribe.

A more traditional tribe is basically an expanded family group. Our tribe is more like a modern blended family. We aren't necessarily born into this tribe, we join it. It's good to have people to depend on. We support each other.

Survival is much easier if you are part of tribe rather than a lone wolf. If you want to live more than a subsistence existence, you need other people. Even if you have a vast array of skills and encyclopedic knowledge, there are only so many hours in the day.

To help bind our created tribe together, I did something I rarely do. I preformed a sacred pipe ceremony. The pipe ceremony is perhaps the most important ceremony in Native American culture. Ceremonies vary, and mine was somewhat tailored to our group. My pipe came down to me from my teachers. I have such respect for them that I was hesitant to step up and do a ceremony. Then it occurred to me that the pipe was given to me so that I'd use it. Having it sit on a shelf somewhere does not honor it.

My tribe was respectful and understood the importance of what we were doing. I believe we are all tied together just a bit closer.


Friday, May 26, 2017

Something should be done

What can we do about a Middle Eastern country that invades its neighbors, promotes radical Islam, and suppresses woman's rights? What should we do about another country that just sold that Middle Eastern nation hundreds of millions of dollars worth of advanced weapons?

The Middle Eastern country in question is Saudi Arabia, of course. It's committing war crimes in Yemen and suppressed democracy in Bahrain. Women are basically their husband's property and aren't even allowed to drive. The royal family supports Wahhabism, a very strict form of Islam in where all non-believers are considered enemies. This is the country that the United States just made a major arms deal with.

Do they sound like our friends? To me they are using us to further their aims and that's all. If any Muslims should be banned, it should be members of the Saudi Royal family and their government officials. Obviously, they exercise undue influence on American politicians.

Something should be done.

Should we do something about that Middle Eastern nation with a secretive advanced nuclear weapon program? You know, Israel?

My point is that the Middle East is a complicated place. Should the United States be involved there at all? How many American lives are any of those places worth? Darn few in my opinion. Any of our efforts there do long range good? Isn't it about time we figure out if there is anything at all in that part of the world worth our trouble?


Thursday, May 25, 2017

One more hole in my head

It took weeks to get in to see the oral surgeon about my broken tooth. The local dentist didn't want to try to pull it. He was afraid due to my “massive jaw.”

The closest oral surgeon was over an hour away. They scheduled me for a consultation and were very clear that it would cost $150 just to be examined. I drove over and the surgeon thought he could pull the tooth without too much trouble. After weeks of dealing with a tender tooth, I was more than willing to let him try.

Before anything else happened, I had to pay an additional $205 on top of the consultation fee. Only then would he pull the tooth. Seemed a bit cold hearted to me, but I've no dental insurance so it didn't surprise me.

Fortunately, the guy did a great job with the tooth and got it all in one go. Smoothest bit of dentistry I've ever had done. He wasn't cheap, but he knew his stuff. Usually my roots break and I'm spitting out bits of tooth for weeks. That's one reason the local guy didn't want to touch it.

My grandfather was both tough and cheap. He pulled all his own teeth with a pair of pliers. When too few were left, he pulled the rest. Back then you could cross the border into Canada and get good quality dentures at a steep discount, so that's what he did.

Bad teeth run in the family. My dad had dentures at age of fourteen. At least his dad paid for them to be pulled. My father was determined I'd get decent dental care as a kid. I hated it, but I've still got most of my teeth. The loss of one back molar won't bother me much.

I'm glad that's over with, even though it cost a pretty penny.


Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Good weather for projects

The day started cold, but by the afternoon is was nice enough for outdoor projects. A friend had a half dozen of pallets to get rid of. The veggie van was set up for camping. It took about 20 minutes to roll up the mattress and to remove the tables. That gave me room to haul things. All the pallets fit in perfectly.

Re-configuring the van gave me a chance to see just what was left in there. Since the van had not been used all winter there was plenty of time to forget. I like to keep some emergency supplies in the van at all times. It has two camp stoves, cookware, chairs, a folding table, sleeping bags, a spare tent, saws, water and 60 freeze dried meals. There's everything needed for bugging out, including books and playing cards for entertainment.

Then I finally climbed inside the Oday 19 sailboat. Since my leg is still a bit gimpy I made sure to use a really good heavy duty stepladder to climb in. The new registration was swapped out with the old. The emergency gear is all there, and the flares are still good for another year. No cabin leakage was detected, only a small bit of normal condensation.

After that I installed the new battery and hooked it up to the solar panel. It's a great feeling when the charge controller lights came on all green, showing everything is working normally. There is only one thing left to do before launching it in the lake. The tiller spent the winter exposed to the elements and could use sanding and fresh varnish.

That can wait until tomorrow. Then maybe I can get back to my long neglected motorcycle project. That is, unless my wife asks me to do less fun projects like mowing the lawn.


Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Can't resist getting into trouble

Okay, it's no secret that I've never been a fan of Trump. His poor treatment of everyone from women to contractors is well documented. Personally, I'm not fond of rich, loud-mouthed louts from New York.

In spite of that, I really hoped he'd be good for the country. After all, we elect human beings to office, not saints.

So for those of you who supported Trump, any regrets? Any problems with heath care getting worse and more expensive for the average person? Are you fine with an Education Secretary who's only qualification is being a big money donor? How about the Russia scandals? What if there really is something there? Any problem with there being almost daily scandals?

Now if all your news comes from Fox, you probably have no idea what I'm talking about. If you listen to news from just about any other news organization from anywhere in the world, you'd be exposed to a different viewpoint.

It is possible that Fox is right and everybody else in the whole world is “fake news,” but that's not the way to bet.

You get no points for claiming what Obama did or Clinton would have done is worse. That's just trying to change the focus.

Now some people I've talked to forgive Trump for all those things because they really hate Liberals, Mexicans, and Muslims. Since Trump is attacking those people, he's fine in their book. Fear and hate are powerful forces.

I'm old enough to remember Nixon. For months I thought he was being attacked unfairly. About the time he fired Archibald Cox I realized he really was a bad character after all. It was tough to admit I was wrong about him.

Do I want Trump to be impeached? Not particularly. Just being a nasty character isn't enough. He has to be found doing real crimes of a serious nature. That, and a Republican Congress has to decide to impeach him. Even if he was guilty, most lack the stones to do it. If he was removed from office, would the country be better off or worse off? The turmoil would be intense and any replacement could be even worse.

I don't even know what to wish for.


Monday, May 22, 2017

Do you laugh or get upset?

One of my granddaughters had a gymnastics performance. Of course, she had her own cheering section of assorted relatives.

After the event we all decided to go out together for a late lunch. A new burger place opened up nearby, one of those high quality specialty places. They charge more than I'd normally pay for a burger, but the food really was great. Since the weather was pleasant, we decided to take advantage of their outdoor seating.

Most of us were done our meals and had reached that point where we were nibbling at “just one more hand cut herb encrusted fry.” At that point there was a popping noise. The automatic lawn sprinklers sprang out of the ground and turned on. At first they pointed away from the tables, but soon they rotated to where we were sitting.

There was a hilarious scramble as we grabbed the remains of our meals and hot footed it out of the spray. The owner of the burger place ran out and tried to shut down the sprinklers, only succeeding in getting soaked in the process. He never did figure out the shut down procedure.

He was hugely apologetic and obviously worried we'd be upset. I'm proud to say my people could only see the humor in the situation. We all had a good laugh, pleased to have a new story to tell. I'm sure at some point we'll be at another family gathering and someone will say, “Remember the time when . . .”

Then we will have another good chuckle.


Sunday, May 21, 2017

Ticks, the Devil's Little Minions

As a kid growing up in the 60s and 70s, I didn't even know what a tick looked like. They just weren't a thing here in northern New Hampshire. I thought our vast array of biting insects were bad, but I didn't know what bad really was.

Lyme disease is pretty nasty. In the early days of the disease a coworker got infected. He picked up the disease while training with the National Guard in Massachusetts. Back then nobody knew what the disease was or how to treat it. It almost killed him. He missed months of work and it was years before he received a proper diagnosis and treatment.

In all our travels, my lovely wife and I have not had to deal with Lyme,but our dog had to be treated for it. One time my lovely wife and I were on a camping trip. We picked up so many ticks that we spent a long long night searching for them with headlamps and tweezers. Not only did we have to pick them off our bodies, we had to go through our clothes and everything in the tent. We never camped there ever again.

This year they are particularly bad once more. It seems all we have to do is to walk outside and they find us. Of course, the dog excels at bringing them into the house. I just refreshed her flea and tick medication so hopefully that will be less of a problem. At least most of the ticks we've found are the common wood tick, not the deer ticks that carry Lyme.

Lyme is the big concern here in New England, but we travel all around the country. Ticks carry some other nasty diseases in other regions. To me one of the weirder tick born diseases is Alpha-gal allergy. I know someone who came down this disease. He is now allergic to meat from mammals and is basically a vegetarian because of it.

Yes, ticks are just plain evil.