Saturday, October 13, 2018

Plundering the Egyptians (just for fun, no message)

Greetings, friends, neighbors, and family out there in Internet Land!

I just utterly misread / conflated two emails.

I'm not sure what was THERE, but what I SAW was the Bank of America offering me a free Bible if I opened up a savings account with them.

But that got me to thinking....WEIRD stuff.

Such as: if religious groups were also in the business of running financial institutions, would they do business with pagan/heathens or not?

Could you have a First Fellowship Savings and Loan of Sodom and Gomorrah?

The only precedent I could find for this:

The children of Israel borrowed gold from the Egyptians right before they bugged out.

Now the sons of Israel had done according to the word of Moses, for they had requested from the Egyptians articles of silver and articles of gold, and clothing; and the Lord had given the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they let them have their request. Thus they plundered the Egyptians. (Exodus 12:35-36, NASB)

But then I remembered, it's DEFINITELY not intended as a regular course of action,. Mostly, you take stuff you ain't supposed to, and not only do YOU get smatched, all your people get smatched as well.

In Joshua 7, there's the story about a guy named Achan, who took some stuff he wasn't supposed to, and got away with it.

Until the army of the children of Israel got smatched by a smaller force. That was their first clue there was a problem.
The story ends with Achan being smatched: stoned to death, and then burned, along with the stuff he took, and his family, oxen, sheep, donkeys, tents and everything else he owned as well.

Upon re-reading about the Great Smatching of Achan and Company, I stumbled upon this notable fact: it doesn't appear that Achan looted the goods because he was poor; if he was, there would have been no talk of livestock.

Draw whatever conclusions you wish; I'm gonna eat a late lunch. And after a while, I will attempt to review Mackey Chandler's "Neither Here Nor There," which I have had for two months now.
(TIP: it's gonna be five stars.)

Peace be on your household.


Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Last Night, I Flew to Macon to Meet My Dad

In my dream, he was still alive and vital, and I was looking forward to showing him that I had gotten my pilot's license. He flew commercial for decades, and when he made the Final Take-Off, on a Wing and a Prayer, he had 28,000+ hours in his log-book.

For some reason, I was transporting two unruly children to a facility near his house, and I  planned to go by and see him after dropping them off. It didn't work out, though; you know how dreams go.

Ralph & Bebe Wedding Day, 1958

It was good to think about seeing my dad again. He wasn't my bio-father, but he took up those duties when I was five years old.

Perhaps it's because I'm now 65, and he passed shortly after his 67th birthday, but I've had occasion to think of him recently. His last few years were not healthy; that's what genetics will do for ya. His own father was 56, I believe, when he passed.

Would you want to have that information available to you before choosing a mate? The dating websites ask for some information, but it seems to me that family medical history would be a nice thing to know, before walking down the aisle together.

NOTE: the sole purpose of this blog post is to see if I can get a few comments.

Peace be on your household.


Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Food For Thought, or Maybe For A Nap

This is what is sitting on the table, waiting for the
kids to get home.

Since I got a flour mill a few months back, I have been milling my own Hard Red and Hard White wheat, and making various breads out of that. Without exception, they have all tasted WONDERFUL, and the only adaptation I had to make was to realize that without all the processing done to commercial flour you buy at the store, I'm probably not going to be making light and fluffy biscuits. 

I had a recipe for Banana Yeast Bread, and it was GOOD, but it really didn't have much banana taste. So, I just took a conventional recipe for banana bread and modified it. The results, you can see above. I had just a smidge, and it is YUMMY! It's so soft & moist, it reminds me more of pudding than bread.

Since I ground my own flour, substituted honey for sugar, and used lard in place of vegetable oil, I'm gonna claim this as a recipe that might have been presented at my birth home on the dirt road in Macon, GA, where I spent the first six years of my life.

PAPA PAT'S DIRT-ROAD HOME-STYLE BANANA BREAD

This makes some DELICIOUS banana bread. It's almost like pudding with a crust.almost like pudding.
The best bananas will be so over-ripe that they have started to leak.
Prep time, using the food processor, is next to nothing, particularly if you have milled the wheat ahead of time, or if you use store bread flour. THEREFORE, start pre-heating your oven as you begin to assemble your ingredients!

Ingredients

2 cups flour (I milled Hard White Wheat pastry-fine for this, bread flour will work)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup honey (or sugar or brown sugar)
4-8 very ripe bananas 
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup lard. (Original recipe calls for vegetable oil. I've used olive oil, but lard is best)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup raw nuts


Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Dump all ingredients in a food processor, with puree blades.
Run it 4-5 minutes on puree setting to get totally homogeneous mix.
Pour the batter into a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan. Bake for about 1 hour.

You're really gonna love this; the ONLY really limiting factor is that you have to get the bananas far enough in advance that they are very ripe. My grocer doesn't let any kinds of spots appear on his bananas, or he pulls them the shelf, so I have to get the bananas at LEAST a week in advance.

Peace be on your household.

Monday, October 8, 2018

A Father-Daughter Moment With Alicia Ann

Howdy, to all my friends, neighbors, and family out there in Internet Land!

Shortly after school started at the beginning of August, I re-formalized (again) the chore duties for 13 year old Kenneth and 12 year old Alicia. In addition to the individual stuff (cleaning their rooms, etc) they each have ONE biggie whole-house job: Kenneth is in charge of trash & yard, and Alicia is in charge of dishes.

Kenneth on the left, Alicia on the right.
School walk-through, 7/31/18

Kenneth and Alicia change a tire on the Suburban
8/16/18

I gave both of them a specific deadline by which the chore was to be accomplished. And I offered to negotiate with them for compensation. Kenneth opted to do the trash for free, and to spot-negotiate for specific yard-cleaning tasks.

Alicia Ann, however, was in a snit, and didn't want to get paid, because she preferred to regard herself as horribly put upon: Cinderella, child slave labor, all that stuff. It's impossible to maintain that attitude when cash is coming your way.

I told her I was okay with that. I've told the kids before that when I give them an instruction, I do not require them to like it; I only require them to do it. And I also require respect, which is a requirement on EVERY person in the house, not just them.

So, Alicia came home every day from school, and did the dishes. At first, she found it necessary to bang the pots a little harder so that I could see that she was awfully mistreated (my man-cave is right next to the kitchen), but that was okay; I didn't require her to like it, only to do it.

After a few weeks, I heard her fussing and crying at the sink one day. Not being an absolute ogre, I checked it out, and discovered that she was frustrated at having to clean out some crusted-on goop someone had left on their plate, instead of scraping it into the trash first. From the looks of it, it had also been sitting in someone's room for AT LEAST 24 hours, too. In my opinion, that was an abuse of Alicia's responsibility for the dishes. So, I cleaned that dish myself, then drafted a 'Kitchen Courtesy' letter that addressed proper protocol, and posted it on the sink. Problem was fixed, immediately. Alicia went back to doing the dishes every day when she came home.

Until Tuesday of last week. Somewhat sheepishly, she asked me if she could get paid for washing the dishes, and IMMEDIATELY, I said YES!!!

And then, we negotiated about price. She asked for $5; I told her I had been thinking about $2. She countered with $3. I gave it some consideration, and then told her that if she did the dishes EVERY SINGLE DAY when she came home from school, without being reminded, I would pay her $3; but, if I had to remind her, even ONCE, then her pay for that week was $2. She agreed.

And then, she was WONDERFULLY co-operative. Every day, without fail. And, on Friday AFTER she had done the dishes, she approached me for her pay. I cheerfully paid over $3 (sort-of, some additional story, but not now), and then I told her:
"Alicia, the most important part of my life is my relationship with God. The second is my role as a husband, and the third is my role as a father. The best moments in a father's life are the times he sees his children make a mature and responsible decision, because it shows they are really progressing to becoming responsible adults. You have given me one of those moments. On your own, you decided to ask for pay, because you had gotten over your snit; you did an EXCELLENT job of negotiation; and then, you followed through. Thank you, for giving me such a wonderful Father moment."
And she shyly smiled, and said "you're welcome," and then she headed off to do whatever she wanted to do.

And she was happy, and I was happy, and my gift-from-God, happily-ever-after trophy wife Vanessa, the elegant, foxy, praying black grandmother of Woodstock, GA, was happy when I told her about it.

And, I hope it makes you a little bit happy, too.

Peace be on your household.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

A Lovely Trip to the Range with Moose

Greetings, to all my friends, neighbors, and relations out there in Internet Land!

Background. I have previously written of range trips with my youngest and largest son, the Moose, so named because his real name is Mickey, and he was 10 lbs. 9 oz. at birth, and we knew we had no Mickey Mouse, but a Mickey Moose. He now TOWERS over me at around 6'5" and it's a strange sensation for me, at 6+ feet, to hug someone and have my head only come up to their shoulder.

He diligently and gently cares for his Papa, as do all my children and grandchildren, and all of that is a great comfort to me and to my gift-from-God, happily-ever-after trophy wife Vanessa, the elegant, foxy, praying black grandmother of Woodstock, GA.

Purpose of the trip. This range trip actually had a distinct purpose, other than the sheer joy of punching small holes in pieces of paper. I had acquired two firearms I'd not yet fired, and had another non-functional firearm returned to me from the gunsmith I needed to do a function check on.

Firearm #1: A Polish PPS-43C, the civilian version of the best submachine gun of WWII, firing the bodaciously delightful fireball 7.62x25 Tokarev cartridge. The folding shoulder stock has to be welded to the receiver in the closed position to allow import to the US as a pistol, since the barrel is only 10 inches long.


Firearm #2: A Springfield Armory XD-40, a sub-compact pistol in .40 S&W. I purchased this from my late brother-in-law's estate a few months back;
Here's a helpful hint for all of you out there who are over 18 and/or have people you care for: make a will.

I've had no experience with either Springfield Armory nor the .40 S&W caliber, although I was VERY familiar with published reports on both. If I use this, it will be as a concealed carry in an ankle holster. I've worn it that way, just to get a feel for it, and it's invisible and comfortable.

Firearm #3: a Smith & Wesson 5906, a stainless steel 9 mm I bought myself as a reward for winning a Student Advocacy Award in 2005. Liked the gun, but hated the trigger. Both of my bio-sons had sequentially made this their primary carry piece, until Moose admitted that some unknown defect had made this a single shot pistol. It languished on the shelf for several years; I could not, in good conscience, sell it, even disclosing the problem. However, Deercreek Gun Shop in Marietta came highly recommended, and I decided to give them a chance.

The other Big Boy toys: I have a .45 ACP High Point carbine, designated as my back-up home defense weapon. It hadn't been fired for at least a year, maybe two or three. I also wanted to run a familiarization exercise with my daily carry piece, a 9 mm Browning High Power  bought surplus from the Israeli Defense force; my Zastava M57 pistol in 7.62x25, and finally, my precious, my darling, that flower of the genius of John Moses Browning, my Rock Island Armory 1911. Mickey chipped in with his sho-nuff AMT Hardballer 1911, a lovely, rare smooth-functioning beast of a pistol that I stumbled upon at a pawnshop a few years back, and bought immediately. (For the uninitiated, unless otherwise designated, a 1911 is .45 ACP.)

Bonus event! And while we were there, shooting and chatting with neighbors, we were given the rare privilege of examining up close a pre-WWI Winchester 1894 in .30 WCF (later known as the .30-30), and of FIRING a 1942 Luger (9 mm), which I have never held, much less fired.

Pictures, or it didn't happen, right? I've got some videos on my Facebook page, but if blogger supports inserting video clips, I can't find the documentation.


Moose with the PPS-43C. 
That's his AMT Hardballer on his left hip.
Me, first shots with the PPS-43C
Moose shooting Luger
Me with the Luger

Results.
The PPS-43C functioned flawlessly, except when I tried rapid fire. As it had never been fired before, not a big deal.
The Springfield XD40 will do what it is supposed to do: hide away, and then knock people down. It's one of those guns that will make me decide 'do I really want to shoot this guy, or just give him my car?' I might just hand him the keys, and ask him if he needs money for gas.  That's what happens with the combination of tiny guns, big hands, and snappy calibers.
The S &W 5906 was better than it had EVER been. It ran so well, so sweetly, we shot up EVERY BIT of the 9 mm we brought with us, and we bring LOTS  of ammo when we go to the range. My only REAL dislike of the pistol before was the incredibly long take-up in single action mode, with a mushy break, and a gritty re-set. No idea of what the guys at Deerfield did, but it is a totally different firearm now.

As I mentioned in my April 17 post, Moose is now out shooting me with EVERY firearm. It doesn't embarrass him any more; I scolded him for not using more of the target we had paid for. I used the whole target, because I value diversity, you see, but Moose seems constrained by 9-10-X rings. Makes me proud, y'all, because I taught the boy how to shoot. 

And I'm still able to empty the magazine of my High Power into a 3" head shot Shoot 'N' See target at 30 feet, rapid fire.  

And I got a senior citizen discount: half-price!

Peace be on your household.





Friday, October 5, 2018

A Brief Vacation in Ringo Land: Prince Roger's Story

     
Greetings, friends and families and neighbors out there in Internet Land!

If you have a ad-blocker running, you won't be able to see them, but there are clickable graphics at the top of this page that take you to "Empire of Man" and "Throne of Stars" on Amazon.  (And I'm going to write reviews at some point, but not yet.) I do not wish ANYONE to miss seeing a lovely graphic, so here are a couple of non-clickable graphics that won't take you anywhere, except possibly to the place where you say
"Aww, that's so CUTE/SWEET!"


These are two of my favorite people in the whole world:  my gift-from-God, happily-ever-after trophy wife Vanessa, the elegant, foxy, praying black grandmother of Woodstock, GA, aka GRANESSA(!!!) holding grandson Eliott, and Eliott having lunch.

Behold, I shall not lie to you (this time): the past several weeks have provided me with numerous opportunities for personal growth. Or, at least that would be the case if I hadn't already had all the growth in those areas I cared for, thank you very much, but still, we strive to be truly grateful for what we receive. And, in fact, I have commented to myself and to others that I never had any idea that it was going to be this easy. I may expound on this topic at a later date, but for now, I shall disclose to you ONE of my coping strategies: Read an old friend.

John Ringo's books qualify as old friends. I have spent quite a few moments over the past week trying to isolate the moment of my discovery of his work, and I THINK I have it pinpointed to April 2002, because I've read all of the books in that monthly bundle; all I can prove, though, is that by the summer of 2003, he was one of the authors I'd buy, just based on the name. That was rather early in his career, fortunately for me, as I have often had the sad experience of stumbling on to an author only after they were dead, and could no longer expect new material from them. 

I'm relatively certain that the books that hooked me were the Posleen invasion stories. I live just a tiny bit south of where Mike O'Neal, the main character lived in the Georgia Piedmont, and some of the principal events in the series take place  in areas I'm familiar with. I was still working as a middle school counselor at the time, and I played around with writing a story of a middle-aged middle school counselor reporting for work with a Mossberg 500 12 gauge pump to defend his school. Never got beyond that stage, though, at least partly because the time for invasion stories was over as "When The Devil Dances" came out in April of 2002.

Even so, it wasn't the stories of the Mighty Mite and the ACS that I returned to this time; it was Prince Roger and the Basik's Own I wanted to read. And, although the links I have posted are for the combined series, I re-read them in the order I had originally purchased them: March Upcountry; March to the Sea; March to the Stars; We Few.

Here's what I sought: first, the story of the petulant brat, dressed like a fop, who gets shattered out of his cocoon, and becomes a man, and then a leader, and then a son with a heart. Second, I wanted the story of a company of Marines with the job of guarding a despicable whiner, with the highest-tech, most lethal weapons available; who slowly lose the tech advantage as they gain respect for the person who emerges.

I got that, along with some other stuff I had forgotten. I had forgotten the restraint that Roger showed in his refusal to act out on the attraction he felt for the most gorgeous female in his command. I admire Ringo for writing that; it's NOT a feature I see exemplified in anything in the popular media (when I expose myself to it, which is rare). And on this read, I directed myself to pay closer attention to the battle sequences, so I could really appreciate what was going on. 

As to that, I think I was successful, with the land battles (and the very limited sea battle sequences). However, I fear I am NEVER going to appreciate the space battle tactics.
NOTE: These books are jointly written by John Ringo and David Weber, and I'm not sure how THAT came about. Weber was already a well-established writer, whereas Ringo could ONLY have one book published by the time they started the collaboration. Although they don't signify which sections of the book are the product of which author, I am 100% convinced that the climactic space battles come from Weber. Reason: I'm also lost in Weber's other space battles. I make it through those sections by nodding my head and smiling.
So back in the 50's and early 60's, singing was a regular part of the elementary school curriculum, and I learned this song:
Make new friends, but keep the old;
One is silver and the other, gold.
So, here are a couple of NEW John Ringo friends coming our way. Alas, these are also non-clickable links, because you can't BUY them yet. You CAN, however, purchase the first 3/4 of the November item on the Baen website. I will leave the solution of that process as a problem for the reader.

In November, another Black Tide novel, "The Valley of Shadows":


 And, in March of 2019, a collection of short stories in the Black Tide universe, featuring work by some of The Usual Suspects, "Voices of the Fall":


 It is entirely possible that I shall now return to my regularly scheduled activities. I love having a schedule, as it assures me of certain things that I know I will not do, yet gives me a goal.

Peace be on your household.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

"As You Wish," by Cary Elwes, and Our Love Affair with 'The Princess Bride'

Greetings, to all of my friends and relations out there in Internet Land!



Today, I want to talk to you about one of my favorite books and movies, using the opportunity afforded me by reading a book by one of the main characters discussing the filming.

My exceedingly brief review of the book 'As You Wish' ONLY is posted on Amazon; this blog post is mostly about my family's love for the source material. If you DO check out my review of Elwes' book, give me a 'helpful' link if you find that possible.

I was handed this book by my firstborn son, IMMEDIATELY before I was drafted to another reading/reviewing commitment (DRAGON!) that consumed all of my time. It required a GREAT deal of discipline to set this aside, until other work was done.

In 1988, living in a rented house with a pregnant wife and a five year old son,  dollars for entertainment were hard to come by. I don't even know if cable existed in the little country community of Coal Mountain where we lived, but if it did, we couldn't afford it. Every entertainment dollar had to be spent very wisely.

And, we discovered "Princess Bride."

We all fell in love with the movie immediately;  my son and I fell hardest. We fell SO hard that we scratched up the money to rent the VHS tape as well as rental money for a player, because we couldn't afford a VCR in those days. I really couldn't tell how many times we watched it. Eventually, we were able to afford a VCR, and when (oh, delight, happiness!) 'The Princess Bride' was broadcast on TV, we made a grainy, skipping, dragging copy (lousy color, skipped scenes) and watched that until the tape eventually died. And finally, as our family persevered, we bought our own copy, first on VHS, later on DVD, and I'm gonna guess there are all KINDS of formats such as BluRay located wherever movies are scattered in our homes.

Recently, my son rejected a movie subscription service because they didn't have the rights to 'The Princess Bride.' The fact that he owns multiple copies of the film on DVD is irrelevant. A professional service would know that only an ignorant fool would accept a service without PB; my son is not an ignorant fool, so he could obviously not accept the service in front of him.

For the past 35 years, we have been greeting each other with such phrases as "My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to DIE!" Our good-byes were often 'Have fun storming the castle!" Food was compared to a MLT, mutton, lettuce and tomato sandwich. And to this day, I often respond to my gift-from-God, happily-ever-after trophy wife Vanessa, the elegant, foxy, praying black grandmother of Woodstock, GA, by saying 'As you wish."
As an aside: when I was courting my gift-from-God, happily-ever-after trophy wife Vanessa, the elegant, foxy, praying black grandmother of Woodstock, GA, there were two movies and one one book that I told her she needed to absorb if she was to understand the values of my family, and the way I fit into it. The book was 'Starship Troopers,' and I had to read that to her, because her reading tastes were elsewhere; the movies were 'The Big Leibowski,' because I am quite a bit like the character John Goodman plays, 'Walter,' and 'The Princess Bride,' because we all tend to live in Florin, a little bit, when we aren't sailing the seas as Dread Pirate Roberts.

But, flashing back to 1988: Being the sort of person who is convinced that movies from books can NEVER be as good as the original, I IMMEDIATELY set out to the library to get a copy of the book. ALAS! All I could find was Goldman's version, NOT the original work by the immortal S. Morgenstern! I looked in the libraries of two large counties, as well as the resources of a major research university; the Morgenstern could not be found. I held off as long as I could; perhaps a year or more; then I grudgingly surrendered, and accepted the bowdlerized version that hack Goldman had put out.

And I was transported once again. This time, it wasn't only the giants, and the sword fights, the torture, and the kissing that captivated me.

Instead, I began to care deeply about the little boy Billy, who couldn't find the game on the radio, over and over again, and was thus discovered to be running a fever due to an inflamed appendix. I was entranced at the story of his teacher, who had to keep coming up with new authors for him to read as he burst from his infatuation with sports to a true love affair with books. I was on tenterhooks as he related how he put on hold a beautiful young girl who was clearly signalling her availability, while he negotiated cross-country with a wife, an agent, an operator, and an irascible book dealer to obtain a copy of the book for his 10 year old son.

I felt deep compassion for the boy, at Goldman's insistence that he MUST enjoy the book, during a homecoming meal in which he berates the boy for eating too much; and simultaneously, I felt Goldman's frustration, bordering on a feeling of betrayal, when he learns that his son has NOT been able to enjoy, or even READ the book his father had loved so much as a boy.

And I was SHOCKED, SHOCKED, when I discovered that S Morgenstern's Classic Tale was so full of boring, irrelevant details that it would NEVER be popular. I wondered at the long-delayed discovery of the wisdom of the barber, who had simply bypassed those passages, so he could make the magic appear for his son. And then, later on,  I shared with the young Goldman the feeling of liberation when he realized, for the very first time, that LIFE ISN'T FAIR!

That's all back-story which is only hinted in the movie, and it's lovely, and is a good enough reason that owning the book as well as the movie is a good investment.

I actually had to do some research on Goldman to discover that NONE of the personal stuff in the book is true. Yes, the stories about his screen-writing problems could have existed, but he was not married to the brilliant doctor, and he had no obese son. I was rather pleased at that, as I really HAD felt bad for the boy when Goldman was giving him a hard time over the amount of mashed potatoes he was putting on his plate.

Even after reading the book a few times, I never got my act together enough to send a letter to the publisher, requesting the Reunion Scene between Westley and Buttercup.  Goldman mentions it as being available upon request, and urges readers to demand it from his cheap, penny-pinching publisher. HOWEVER, when the 25th anniversary edition was published, the internet was in place, and while not able to generate the enthusiasm to find an envelope and a stamp (it's a non-trivial activity), I WAS able to write an email, asking for the Reunion Scene; and, eventually, I received a reply including the chapter "Buttercup's Baby," as well as some dithering about legal issues, Stephan King, etc.

It was interesting, but hardly compelling; and the only reason I would want any more of the story would be so I could see how it all came out happily-ever-after at the end, because being sucked into a whirlpool leaves very few good outcomes.

Elwes' book is NOT an extension of the story; it's just the behind-the-scenes of the filming. Definitely worthwhile for fans.

But for me? I'm gonna watch the movie again.

Peace be on your household.