Boycott the Boycotts

#BoycotttheBoycotts

Oh my, Ben and Jerry’s has squatted and fallen backwards onto a political cow patty…they have stepped in several over the years, but this is the one I’m sure will soil their starched khakis forever.  This time SOME members from the Right has called for a boycott.  This was a podcast chat or YouTube video with Jane Fonda.  Ole Hanoi Jane strikes again.  What did they discuss? I have no idea. #BoycottAllVideos

More food wars…more calls to boycott something.  Nascar, football…ice cream.  I say #BoycotttheBoycotts.

I’m really sick of calls to boycott.  It’s like listening to the greatest music hit of 2020. (As if there is any great music in 2020.) The ditty is good the first time, maybe the tenth time, but it gets so much air play, it gets old.   Calls to boycott because football players joining arms or wearing a “unity” or BLM sticker on their helmets?  That gets old.  Really unity? #BoycottUnityBoycott

When attempting to find a place to eat or a substance to eat how many of you Google, “What is the local ‘choke and puke’s’ political stance?”  No one right? Do you really?  Let’s see, boycott a bowl of “Booots on the Moon” because of a stand on Global Warming or White Supremacy?  I see, #BoycottBenandJerrys.

I don’t know if I’ve ever eaten Ben and Jerry’s ice cream but it has nothing to do with a boycott or a political stance.  I’m sure someone just shook their head in disbelief.  I don’t remember eating it, but I assure you it’s not because they are soooo liberal.  I mean I will eat at Chick-fil-a if I can’t get to Bojangles or Popeyes. Nothing to do with their conservatism…I just like my chicken spicy. More on that later.

Firstly, Liberals can make ice cream.  Secondly, when you are so far right, everything in the center looks radical. 

When I’m not making my own ice cream, I’m a Breyers or a Blue Bell guy, OUT OF HABIT…not politics.  Guess what?  I have no idea who makes Breyers or what their political slant is.  Same with Blue Bell.  I…COULD…CARE…LESS! 

As long as they aren’t serial killers, rapist, or abusers I…DON”T…CARE! Well there was Blue Bell’s  2015 listeriosis outbreak and Breyers cutting their milk content to the point some of their offerings were called ‘frozen desserts’ rather than ice cream.  #BoycottListeriosis, #BoycottFrozenDesserts! 

Boycotting is as ridiculous as the chicken sandwich wars from a while back.  God’s Chick-fil-a sandwich versus Satan’s Popeye’s sandwich.  I just heard Chick-fil-a is going to offer a spicier version of their chicken sandwich.  Does that mean they have gone over to the dark side? #BoycottGodlessSpicyChickenSandwich!

We’ve had some pretty effective boycotts over history.  Stamp Act’s “Taxation Without Representation”, The Montgomery Bus Boycott, Gandhi’s Salt March and Boycott, US sanctions against South Africa to end Apartheid and free Nelson Mandela.

Yeah, the Ben and Jerry’s Boycott of 2020 fits right in with those.  That will stop all their liberal shenanigans, supporting Black Lives, calling out White Supremacists, videoing with Jane Fonda.  A real travesty.  #FreetheChocolateChip…#BoycottJane #BoycotttheBoycotts

Most boycotts are pointless and harmful. Have you considered what a successful boycott might entail?  LOST AMERICAN JOBS!  You know those athletes you are grinding on?  They are already rich.  They probably didn’t start out rich, but they are now.  The owners are rich.  The networks are rich.  They can outlast you. 

What about the towel guy, or the court sweeper, or the Zamboni driver?  The guy that runs out to mop up sweat from LeBron’s brow? What about the janitorial staff?  The equipment guys?  What about the guy in the paper hat that scoops your chocolate chip mint into your cone?  They are the ones who will pay for your stupid boycott. #BoycottProSportsBoycotts

#BoycotttheBoycotts!  If I don’t like the pregame political statements I’ll wait until it’s over turn it on or put my hands over my ears, close my eyes and yell “La, La, La, La” at the top of my lungs until it is over.  I suggest you do the same. I won’t turn it off and walk away.

If my ice cream is made by a right-wing wingnut, I’ll eat it if it is deliciously sweet and creamy.  I won’t eat it but once if it is not. 

If a protest for social justice is so reprehensible you wish to boycott it…you should boycott me.  #BoycottMe

Well, I’m going to prepare brunch for my bride now.  Guess what I’m not going to do?  I’m not going to worry about the political statements made by the chicken that laid the egg, the corn that grits were ground from, or the pig who gave its all for my sausage.  The farmer who supplied them?  We’re good regardless of what sign he puts in his field. 

I’m not going to worry about the stance of the workers who picked the broccoli, mushrooms, and spinach that will make up the filling of my omelet.  I don’t care if the cheddar cheese maker is a liberal or a conservative, a libertarian or a flat earther. 

I may have a bowl of ice cream later while watching a football game…it may be Ben and Jerry’s…it may not.  #BoycotttheBoycott!

***

The image is from Aaron Fooks, Protest Pointless Boycotts, The Chimes. https://chimesnewspaper.com/23827/opinions/protest-pointless-boycotts/

Stop by Don Miller’s author’s page at https://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM?fbclid=IwAR0G7zFoynNmQ5cF2WE-usnYnFgJUY_9NjLXDIRhTJmS5F_ipFre6D0NGOk

When Football Comes Back Again…

 

…and it will…someday.

It is the middle of the second week in August and there should be sounds, sights, and smells associated with the religion that is football.

There should be the scent of freshly cut grass, the visions of early morning mists rising off the practice fields and sharp white lines gridded on dark green.  There should be the “thump” heard ‘round the world when leather shoe meets the leather ball.

There should be aromas of Cramergesic ointment or Atomic Bomb…and ammonia from sweat-drenched athletic wear left to dry overnight and smelly athletic socks.  There should be grunts and pops, and a groan or two as large bodies running fast make contact with each other.

From a parking lot or distant practice field, the shouts of band directors, trumpet blasts, and drumbeats should be piercing the heavy, humid air.  They should be the clarions of the upcoming season.  There should be a rattle of equipment as they rush to their spots before the silence of parade rest.

Somewhere a chunky kid with a sousaphone wrapped around his chubby body should trip and fall on his way to his spot.  Laughter should reign before the silence of concern.

Spinning flags should be cutting through the air as flag lines practice their half-time routines.  Twisting school colors flying toward the morning sun.  Instead, there is the silence of the Covid-19 Twilight Zone.

Cheerleaders would be joining the band’s spinning flags with flips, cartwheels, and tumbles of their own as they practice their cheers and their routines.  “Two bits, four bits, six bits, a dollar, all for ‘so and so’ stand up and holler!”  Unfortunately, like London Bridge, their human pyramids have all fallen, the little girl at the top has crashed and burned.

There are no sounds, sights, or scents…at least near my little piece of heaven.  Football season is on hold for a bit longer, maybe the beginning of next month…maybe not.  “All activities shut down until further notice,” due to corona concerns.  The powers that be may make another decision this week.

At Hardee’s, the weekly meeting of old men wearing high crowned baseball caps should be discussing the chances of the local high school having a winning season in between bites of sausage biscuits and sips of coffee.  If it weren’t banned, Marlboros and Salems would send smoke from their fine Virginia tobacco skyward.

Instead, they are discussing the chances of having a season at all along with pontifications of, “They just ain’t as tough as we’s used to be.  We’d uh played through the Bubonic Plague if in we had to.  You remember when ole Roger played an entire season with two broke lags and his helmet knocked bass-ackwards.  Yeah, these coaches and players ain’t nothing but a bunch of wussies”.  Says the equipment manager from 1968.

The local universities have begun “teeing” it up, giving us hope, as smaller colleges await word as to whether their seasons will even take place.  Entire conferences have canceled seasons or pushed them back to the spring.  Telling a player to check his facemask takes on a new meaning in the anything but normal environment of Covid-19.

I miss football.  Not just the “I played it and coached it for so long, there seems to be something missing” missing football.  This year is different.  Every year since my retirement I’ve battled myself, attempting to silence the little football voice in my head that whispers this time of year.

“Go on up to the local high school.  I’m sure they could use your expertise and experience.”  As I’ve gotten older and creakier, the voice has been easier to silence but the little worm is still there.  There still seems to be something missing.

The voice I hear today is a different voice.  This is the low bass rattle of James Earle Jones telling me football will be canceled for this year.  It is as bad as the Beatles telling me “God is dead”.

Bordering upon sacrilege, Southern football is akin to a religion with its sacraments and cathedrals.  We have our revered gods, Bear, Pat, Vince, Bobby, and Danny.  Yes, I know Danny is still among the living and Bobby is Bobby Dodd, never Bobby Bowden.

One hundred thousand seat sanctuaries sitting empty.  The choirs of bands and cheerleaders silent.  Tailgating prayer meetings canceled, stadium parking lots noiseless and unoccupied.  Sacramental beer and pulled pork barbeque abandoned for another year…maybe.  “My Dabo, my Nick! Why have thou forsaken me?”  Will “Go Tigers” or “Roll Tide” be heard at all this year?

I have hope but my hope is tempered with concern.  If football is played someone will come down with the disease…maybe entire teams.  Even with a fatality rate of less than one percent, are we willing to sacrifice less than one percent of our athletes for a football season?  Are we willing to sacrifice our children to football gods?  Was that blasphemous?

Football is a dangerous sport.  It is something that I lived with when I played and when I coached.  You are one wrong step from a career-ending knee injury or an illegal hit away from permanent brain damage.  Some would say you are brain damaged just playing the game.

My greatest fear as a coach was losing someone to a bad hit or heat issues.  We have done much to reduce the possibility of injury or death, but it is still there.  Football is a sport that requires contact in close quarters.  I don’t know how you reduce the contact and contact is what transmits the disease.

1968 equipment managers and ‘wannabes’ are chastising those who opt-out of this season.  I don’t chastise.  I understand the fear.  If I had a son, I don’t know if I would push him toward football even in the best-case scenario.

Football teaches lessons I don’t believe can be taught in other sports.  I just don’t know if those lessons are worth ‘acceptable losses’ and I don’t believe my desires have to be those of my son or daughter.  Except for the desire for them to be safe.

Despite what I once thought, football is not life or even a reasonable facsimile. It is a distraction for most of us, a diversion, and I don’t believe our distractions should cost even one person his life.

***

Don Miller was primarily a high school teacher for forty-one years and a coach for forty-five years.  Twenty-nine of those seasons were spent coaching football in what is a football Mecca…the Deep South.  His author’s page is at  https://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM?fbclid=IwAR3H6APy6s1iIg6N1Cz5-RgcsnXmdrL3L47f2X_zzO1dKChLRG-NShnjbsk

The image is from Pinterest.  Clemson QB Jimmy Addison handing the ball off in the late Sixties.

 

If It Feels Illegal, It Must Be Tater Tots

Oh Cassie, Cassie, Cassie!  Cassie posed the question on a media post, “What feels illegal but isn’t” and my mind immediately went to tater tots.  Tater tots?  Anything that feels illegal but isn’t…probably involves food but tater tots?  Where did that thought come from?  Why is my mind a runaway train derailing because of thoughts of tater tots?

“All the good things in life are immoral, illegal, or fattening.”  There are many variations of the saying originally attributed to Frank Rand but tater tots?  I don’t know the last time I’ve had tater tots.  It has literally been years.  A side order at a local restaurant…with a southern pimento and cheese dip to go with it.?

Oh pooh!  I want them now, with or without the pimento and cheese, and in copious amounts.  The power of suggestion is strong and I am so weak.

I’ve reached that GPS location on my pathway of life that suggests immoral or illegal probably…probably aren’t going to happen.  Illegal is possible I guess, immoral?  I should look up the definition for immorality just to make sure.  Wickedness, evil, debauchery, perversion…okay…fattening as in gluttony, I got that one, but tater tots won’t be illegal or immoral unless I steal them.

Is there some way I can steal the tater tots and combine it with debauchery?  That would be the trifecta.  An orgy of debauchery involving stolen, fried tater tots.

“Our naked bodies dripped with Crisco and stolen tater tot crumbs as the light danced across our distended bellies. We were fat and finally satiated in our prison cell, joyously burping from our tater tot stoked revelry.”  An incarcerated, naked, Rubenesque crowd dripping in oil is not the mental picture I need this morning, yet, there it is.

I admit, there is something about crispy fried, perfectly salted tater tots that makes me feel like I might be getting away with something illegal…but done right, they are tasty. Tasty but a killer.  My arteries are closing just contemplating them.  Oh nooooo!  Now I’m visualizing them smothered in sawmill gravy.

I don’t know when to quit so it is easier not to begin.  I lied, I do know when to quit…”You mean that’s all of them?  I’VE EATEN THEM ALL!!!  OH, THE HUMANITY.”  I truly have no willpower.

I’m the same way about ice cream, specifically milkshakes.  Something else that feels illegal.  I keep my addiction controlled by not keeping ice cream in the house.  I’m a thirty-minute drive from the nearest emporium of gluttony, an ice cream parlor, so if I don’t have it in my freezer, I’m pretty safe.  I admit to opening the freezer door and gazing longingly at the empty space reserved for butter pecan or chocolate chip mint…peach?  Vanilla? STOP IT!

When I break down and buy a half-gallon…it calls to me.  I can literally hear its seductive Marilyn Monroe voice calling from the fridge, “Eat me…eat me…ARE YOU DEAF!  COME EAT ME!”  That’s while I’m already eating a thick, chocolate chip mint milkshake and as you can tell, it starts out like a siren’s call, but it finishes as a screaming banshee.

Left to my own devices, I will eat the entire half-gallon at one sitting.  My wife is now tying me to my recliner and looking for beeswax.  She knows I’ll end up on that “Rock Candy Mountain” quicker than you can say, Odysseus.

Good food is my “What feels illegal but is not” Achilles heel.  Who am I kidding, it doesn’t have to be “good” food.  I’m sorry Linda, I did eat the last…fill in the blank.

I hate to admit it, but Cassie’s media post has old Paris of Greek Mythology limbering up his bow and arrow…I just don’t know why instead of an arrowhead there is an old fashioned, red and white checkerboard, paper boat filled with tater tots covered with sawmill gravy.

No sense walking to the fridge, there are no tater tots or ice cream…but tomorrow is a shopping day.  I just have to figure out some type of Trojan Horse to sneak them past my bride in.

Americans consume nearly four billion tater tots yearly.  That’s thirty-five thousand tons of tater tots.  The average may go up if I have my way.  Thank you Ore-Ida.

***

For more of Don Miller’s meanderings, https://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM?fbclid=IwAR0veH8Qsf0rEMd5TiBmn6Zd0vMtZABIY8cRxLHaDbc5yLMSzy4PNFCDl-g

The Art of Lookin’ Busy

 

A big for his age youth sporting a lint covered flattop staggered through his first day at the Springs Mills White Plant.  Staggered because in the first hour the man tasked with teaching the youth the art of ‘takin’ up quills’ attempted to crush the youth’s skull with one of the metal quill cans.  It was the youth’s fault, not the young man’s.  The youth was bloodied and staggered, and it was the beginning of a series of the first day on the job accidents, but that is a story for another time.  Clumsy much?

(In textile parlance, a quill is or was the wooden part of a bobbin the thread is wound on.   The bobbin would seat into a shuttle running perpendicularly to the warp threads. When the thread in the shuttle ended or broke, the bobbin was kicked out into a metal ‘can’ and replaced automatically from a magical gizmo called a battery.  I’m a bit short on the science of it all and you aren’t here for a lesson.  A battery with bobbins is shown below.  The wooden portion of the bobbin is the quill.)

I was the big for my age, crew-cut sporting youngster.  Tall for my age, and I got no taller, I was immature by anyone’s standards at any age.  Big for my age and dumb might have been a requisite for the job I was doing.  A spare hand, I did the jobs regularly employed folks were glad they didn’t have to do or filled in where needed.

I understood hard work having grown up on a farm and having been hired out as farm labor since I had turned eleven or twelve.  Farm labor is hard, but cotton mill labor is a horse of a different color as the old farmers might say.

I had worked at Springs for a week and was worn to the bone…battered and bruised, to the point of tears at various times. The narrow alleyways between the looms left my shoulders marked with scrapes and abrasions.  My body was a skin covered sack of pain.  It was a Saturday and all I could think of was the day off on Sunday…except it would be followed by a Monday when it all would begin again.

When I ran into a much older cousin in the water house I received a life lesson I didn’t know I needed. The water house in mill parlance is a combination bathroom, smoking area, and an escape from the noise and heat of the mill.  An oasis of relatively cool, quiet, and stinky aromas.

As I started to walk out, Charles, a much older cousin who had grown up just below my home, stopped me and put his arm across my sweaty, lint covered, bruised shoulders.

“I been watchin’ you boy,” tapping me on a sore arm with his pointer finger.  Charles was what was called a warp hand who worked out to the tie-in room.  It seemed to me warp hands had a good bit of time for watchin’…or playing practical jokes.  Charles, and his buddy Tommy, were masters at playing practical jokes, “Go down to the parts room and get me a loom stretcher, will you?”   It was the first of many practical jokes endured by the young group of spare hands.  I wasn’t singled out any more than anyone else.

The man in the part’s room cocked his head giving me the side-eye, “Loom stretcher, huh?  Charles sent you down, didn’t he?”  Got me.   

Northrop Loom - Wikipedia

Loom with visible battery and warp.  The warp is the big spool of thread.  A quill can is seen below the battery.  Image https://www.timetoast.com/timelines/industrial-revolution-1750-1900-f8002b6a-a164-4f2c-bea9-a0d54908556d

Back to Charles in the water house.

“You work hard but you got to learn to work smart.”  What Charles really meant was “learn to not work if you don’t have to.”

Beings Charles was an elder I decided I was supposed to listen intently…plus he had a scholarly look going…in a Howdy Doody kind of way.  I really felt I needed to learn how to work smarter.

“This ain’t no horse race and you ain’t learned the art of lookin’ busy when you ain’t.  You got to slowwwww things down.  Shifts are eight hours and you doin’ more than your buck sixty-five an hour.  Whatchu’ do after you finish your quill job?”

“I have to strip quills.”  Nothing provocative, I had to remove the leftover thread from the bobbins so the quills could be reused by the spinning room.

“An what do you do when you get through strippin’ quills?”

I pondered a moment wondering if this was a test, “I don’t know, I’ve never gotten through.”

He popped me on the shoulder as if I had had a major philosophical breakthrough.

“There you go.  You ain’t nevah gonna get through.  You could work a month of Sundays an’ you’ll nevah, evah get through.  The only time you’ll be through is when you die.”

So profound, I pondered too long on his words and Charles began again.

“Pretend you do get through.  Whatchu’ think gonna happen then?”

“They’ll find something else for me to do?”

Shooting me with his pointer finger and thumb, he exclaimed, “Bingo!  You nevah get through or if you do, ole Coley Spinks is gonna come along and give you something else to do.  You got to learn the art of lookin’ busy while doing nothin’, boy.”

Just then, as if to add an exclamation point, Coley Spinks, the second hand walked in.  Folding his Popeye sized forearms sporting the Marine Corp ‘globe and anchor’ tattoo across his ample chest, Coley gave us a head jerk which translated to, “You’ve spent too much time in here, get out and earn you wage.”

Charles scooted out the door with me behind, but Coley planted a flat palm against my chest, jolting me to a stop, “I don’t know what line of bull Charles was spouting but don’t listen to a damn thing he says.”  The age-old disagreement between management and the workers?

“Yes sir, Mr. Spinks.” 

But I did listen to Charlie and endured his harmless practical jokes even if I never quite mastered the art of looking busy or falling for practical jokes.  I practiced a great deal and ran into many fellow workers who had truly turned it into an art form.

I am more of a “git er done, git er over with” kind of guy and I guess it served me well.  Mr. Spinks came to me on my last Saturday before the school year began and proposed, “We’d like you to work Saturdays during the school year if you are a mind to.”  Eight hours of hell for $13.20 before taxes.  “Yeah, okay.  Thanks.” 

I’d work there for three more summers and Saturdays during the school year.  Later, I would work part-time in a cotton mill during my college days.  I never did get done. whether it was stripping quill or some other grunt job, and I ain’t dead yet.  Instead, I moved on to another vocation I never finished until retirement.

It was the mills themselves that died at the end of the last century…something I find saddening.  I would never want to return but I do appreciate the lessons I learned.

***

For more of Don Miller’s shenanigans, visit his author’s page at https://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM?fbclid=IwAR3EyTJntrwvN_Yq4p_rpDH3Ynurn688xmdNvzJhe_fH7NSBku3Zen-6yb0

The image is of belt driven looms take from one of the Lowell Mills.  https://www.newschoolers.com/news/read/The-List-Newschoolers-Member

Buck Nekked in the Bean Patch…Revisited

It is that time of the year.  The corn is high and filled out, and the raccoons and deer have not devastated it yet.  Green beans are producing more than I ever want to eat.  My zucchini is doing what it normally does, nothing.  I may be the only person in the world who can’t grow zucchini.  I have had six plants produce exactly five zucchini squash.  The tomatoes were put in late and I’m still waiting for my first BLT with a home-grown tomato.

Butter beans need to be picked and the flying, biting, stinging critters are so thick you “can’t stir ‘em with a stick”.  The thick, moist air is suddenly filled with a droning and it’s not a passing motorcycle or airplane.  The big-bodied hornet drones by, ignoring me this time, but I am reminded of a time when I was not so lucky…and neither was the church bus.

Buck Nekked in the Bean Patch…With Apologies to the Church Bus

My apologies.  There are times when it is okay to show your naked, lily-white derriere. Taking a bath or shower, weighing oneself, sleeping in the buff, skinny dippin’, or participating in faire l’amour…which I guess the last two or three could be related.

I would say, unless you are in a nudist colony, baring your butt outdoors in your bean patch ain’t one of those times.  ‘Specially if your bean patch is adjacent to a well-traveled highway.

My apologies are for the three carloads of ‘tourons’ and the loaded church bus passing by while I was attempting to get out of my shorts and skivvies.  My intent was to run and get behind my small stand of raccoon ravaged corn before I actually stripped.

I was em-bare-assed because it is hard to get out of your shorts if you are not trying to get out of your boots first.  There just wasn’t time and I didn’t quite make it.

I was em-bare-assed because there were no cheers emanating from any of those vehicles as I displayed my butt and other body parts.  I guess it could have been the shock.

I was also em-bare-assed by the face and head plant into the crooked necked squash plants when my boots became tangled in my shorts.  It could have been worse; the cops could have shown up or the bus might have wreaked.

In a previous post, I admitted weed-eating while wearing shorts because I found myself to be less susceptible to multiple yellow jacket stings that way.  Well…to be honest I wear shorts all the time this time of year unless I am picking blackberries or raspberries.

One of the devil’s stinging minions decided my pant leg would be a great place to fly up and into.  Note to self, when wearing shorts and working in the garden, choose jockey style underwear and not boxer style.  With the little bastard zeroing in on my soft inner thigh, just under my dangling body parts, one might understand why I was not too concerned with em-bare-assing myself.

Sometime later, as I was readjusted my clothes and inspected body parts behind the stand of corn, I remembered a childhood experience.  At a young age, four or five, I had followed my grandmother into her garden.  As I did whatever four or five-year-old children do, I noticed my grandmother’s movements suddenly becoming reminiscent of a body being possessed by some devilish spirit.

Her gyrations were quite violent and featured a lot of slapping and yelling.  Suddenly, to my surprise, she began stripping off her feed sack dress in the attempt to rid herself of what we called a Russian hornet.  It had flown up her dress and was in attack mode.  Her revelations did not scar me for life, but I was momentarily struck blind by her whiteness.  “Them” body parts ain’t never, ever seen the light of day.

Oh well, in case you were wondering, I avoided major injury or a hornet sting to my physical person.  I do not know how but assume the Lord took mercy upon my bare assed, lily-white soul.

My pride might have been damaged a bit…and I do not think some of the crooked neck squash plants will recover…hope the folks on the church bus survive without any major mental distress.

The original Buck Nekkid in the Bean Patch is contained within the book “Cornfields…in my mind”  which may be purchased in paperback or ebook at https://www.amazon.com/Cornfields-My-Mind-Don-Miller/dp/1980783926.

The image is not of my bean patch, it would have been better if it was, I could have hidden behind it.  The image is from http://fxcuisine.com/default.asp?language=2&Display=265&resolution=high

Don Miller’s author’s page may be found at https://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM?fbclid=IwAR2xCJfJ2g8EJ67nGS7i5lqp0QZqicUuyk0rNLM0jkfbhMdhUCie0ws0p_M

Echo Chambers

 

“An environment in which a person encounters only beliefs or opinions that coincide with their own so that their existing views are reinforced, and alternative ideas are not considered.”

After three rousing interactions on my Facebook page, more than one person questioned, “Why do you allow this person on your Facebook page?  Block them!  Unfriend them!”  In defense of my rightwing friends, it was not the same person on all interactions and I have a very right-leaning friend’s list.

The three though, had a very clear message, “Don’t confuse me with the facts, my mind is made up.”  Granted, they were arguing with someone whose mind was also made up and sometimes stumbles over “the facts”.

One of the many voices in my head points out, “That doesn’t answer the question. Why is this person on your wall?”  The voice is shrill and edgy…fingernails on a chalkboard ear-piercing.

It is painful to deal with derision, contempt, and  humans with “a cranium harder than a brick, one he or she has managed to stick up their ass.”  Somehow they were able to fit their square peg of a brickbat head into their round hole.  I guess my head is hard and square too.

Such encounters are painful.  I feel I am attempting to referee a game I do not understand.  “The rules, the rules…are what?” shouts my real head voice.  A game between large monsters with sharp teeth and claws.  It is impossible to argue or officiate without suffering wounds.

One more time, a different voice commands, “Answer the fracking question.  Why?”  He sounds like my highschool football coach who would never have used fracking.

Again the real voice in my head answeres, “I don’t know.  I am trying to write my way into understanding.”  Let’s try this.

I do not think it serves me well to only communicate with people who think like me.  As much as Dennis Praeger, Rush Limbaugh, Tucker Carlson, and now, conservative darling Candice Owens, turn my stomach at times, I force myself to listen to them.  There are others, some local, and I spend a great deal of time shaking my head in disbelief…but I listen or read, and I attempt to understand.  Hopefully, those who don’t normally watch CNN are doing the same.

I cannot listen to them for an extended time, but I like to know what “friends” who identify with the far-right, I hope far-right, are thinking and why.  As much as I disagree with their closed and reactionary minds, sometimes they stumble over an acorn of truth, no matter how far they twist it to fit their message.

You can be against abortion and still vote Democrat, or be for stricter gun control and vote Republican.  Can’t you?  The echo chambers would tell you no.

“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”  Sun Tzu.

The Gandhi voice in my head asks, “Do you really look at the other side as enemies?”

My real head voice stomps its foot like an elementary school girl, “Why do you keep asking me more questions? I haven’t answered the first one yet.”

The far-right and far-left…they are enemies of us all…enemies of “truth, justice, and the American way” to quote Bill Kennedy, the narrator on the old Superman TV show, the one with George Reeves as Superman.    See that is a lie. It was coined on the original radio show, “The Adventures of Superman”.  Now all of the voices in my head sound like Kennedy.

I digress.

The far-right and far-left are enemies of fair and truthful American political discourse.  They are enemies of all I hold dear; truth, justice, and what I thought was the American way.  The radical left and reactionary right seem to be the only ones talking…screaming.  They provide us with worse case scenarios or outright conspiracy theories.  Truth and justice mean nothing.  Their American Way is not mine.

I feel alone in my little spot, slightly left of center.  I am sure there are people who feel the same way who are slightly right of center.  For some reason, I not hearing from either group.

I fear our political bell curve more resembles a Bactrian camel than a dromedary and the two humps are being pulled farther and farther apart depending upon which conspiracy is being presented.  Like a slow moving glacier, I feel both sides drifting farther and farther apart and the ice under my feet becoming thinner and thinner.

“That is just not true,” says a voice who sounds like the Daily Planet‘s Perry White.  His might be the voice of logic, “The middle is not thin, just quiet. “

From what I have read there are about forty percent of us feeling we are standing on thin ice.  Forty percent of us who are political party orphans.  Forty percent who have not been helped that the Republicans have shed their liberal wing and the Democrats have shed their conservative wing.  Choices should be blurred not stark.

To the original question, Clark Kent queries,“Why do you allow them to ramble on and on?  Why do you engage with a symbolic broad sword and chain mail?” 

Shaking my head, “I fear locking myself into an echo chamber and why don’t you find a telephone booth and help me.”

Clark hangs his head, “There are no telephone booths anymore, only echo chambers.”

Echo chambers present us with either perfect reverberations of our own cognitive dissonance or creates noise distorting or covering up the message we are attempting to hear.  It depends upon which surfaces the sound bounces off of.

Neither is productive. One provides undeserved comfort and a feeling of righteousness, the other, manipulate the message because we can’t hear it for the noise.

So…that is why I don’t block people unless they are threatening.  That is why I allow locomotives to run out of control until they derail.  Maybe Superman will come along to save the day.

Stepping out of the echo chamber is at best as uncomfortable as jockey itch or at worst, as painful as an unnumbed root canal.  Seeking truth can be painful that way.  Echo chambers twist the truth.

Stepping out of the echo chamber and listening intently will help you determine if your agenda is “built upon shifting sands.”  Open the door of the echo chamber and step out.

“Everyone who hears these words of mine (Jesus), and doesn’t do them will be like a foolish man, who built his house on the sand. The rain came down, the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat on that house, and it fell—and great was its fall.”

***

Just for the heck of it, the 1951 opening sequence from Superman.  Thank you YouTube.

The Featured Image used is from https://countercurrents.org/2020/06/echo-chambers-post-truth-era-and-the-fear-of-missing-out-a-millennials-tale/

Quote by Sun Tzu, The Art of War

Biblical quote  Matthew 7:24–27, World English Bible

Don Miller’s author’s page my be found at https://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM?fbclid=IwAR153Ecvm-S8rh39n1zuxHHUQPrep-MkKu21vMvRFIGr84Zg2lrqopw4ICQ

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mojo, Blivits, and  the Space-Time Continuum

 

♬Oh, where or where has my Mojo gone, oh where, oh where can it be?♬

It’s early summer and the days are long, the sunlight abundant.  I am not suffering from SAD. I am not depressed.  If anything, I’m manic…something I never am.  Downright squirrely.

John Phillips just reminded me, “The Mississippi River runs like molasses in the summertime.”  I don’t live near the Mississippi but I’ve been outside and the humidity is sticking like molasses in the summertime and it is not July yet.

I shouldn’t be running around sweating like this looking for my metaphorical gris-gris bag while searching for my juju.  Another way of saying, I can’t get my poop together?    And if I were able, I probably couldn’t pick it up because my hands are sweating too much from the humidity.

What mojo I had has galloped over the horizon into the distant sunset I am still waiting to light up from the Saharan dust storm.  Clouds, clouds, clouds.

As you can tell, my thoughts are fragmented and muddled, dancing about like Looney Tunes’ Tazmanian Devil.

I can’t get anything done.  My life is a nasty “blivit”, ten pounds of poo in a five-pound bag.  I flit from project to project while adding others, staring off into space, tapping my toes, contemplating, ruminating, and completing nothing.  COMPLETING!  I’m not even starting.

I sit knowing I should be doing something but doing nothing.  Maybe I should make it my goal to do nothing.  One can’t foul themselves with a “blivit” if you don’t touch it.

Some of you may think I’m speaking metaphorically or allegorically about irregularity…I am but it is more than a couple of failed bathroom trips although all of my problems may center around constipation rather than the time-space continuum I am contemplating.  I just don’t know.

There are four storylines waiting to be finished, waiting for most of a year.  They aren’t finished because they suck largely.  A garden that needs extreme weeding and a yard that resembles an Amazon rain forest, a porch needing repainting, a home we’ve turned into a hoarder’s paradise…and today is my anniversary.  I have lost all control over my life, my yard, my mojo, and possibly my bodily functions, but I did not forget my anniversary…I think my bride did but she recovered nicely.

And the virus…and the protests complete with looting, rioting, teargas, and downright nasty social media arguments.  I’m not going to wish my life away because there is no guarantee 2021 will be any better.  I just going to wish for a little movement…and soon.

Well, it is raining…dripping would be a better descriptor.  I see the sun trying to punch its way through the overcast. “Ole Sol” seems to be winning but the dripping gives me an out.  Instead of heading to weed my tomatoes, I sit writing this…This…whatever THIS is.

I have a theory.  Want to hear it?  You’re going to.

Writing is a way for me to face what is disturbing me.  The problem is I don’t know which disturbance has caused my mojo to run screaming into the day?  I have a plethora of disturbances.

The way my thoughts bounce around something must have happened to the time-space continuum.  There must be a rift in time.

In my head, a calm Picard orders, “Make it so, Number One,” while Commander Scott, the Scottish engineer implores, “But Captain, The engines won’t take anymore.”  In the background, I hear Benjamin Sisko’s father saying, “The soufflé will either rise or it won’t, and there’s not a damn thing you can do about it.”

I know, I just combined Star Treks serieses, and unfortunately, in my condition, the Sisko quote makes perfect sense.  I told you, time and space are funky as is my colon…I mean my brain.

There must be some magic charm, some talisman, some spell that will make my mojo come back.

Maybe I’m looking in the wrong venue.  Time to appropriate someone else’s culture.  Surely there is a wise, old, New Orleans, Hoodoo priestess willing to cast good luck juju upon this humble soul.  What do you mean, Voodoo dolls aren’t used in Voodoo?

Despite the facts, I feel I must have a hat pin jammed deeply into my head…or parts south.

I can’t seem to concentrate on any one thing for any period of time if that period of time is longer than seconds.  I do a little research, a little writing, a little reading, pop up to watch a bit of a DVRed episode of The Kitchen, oh wow, grilled fish tacos, a little checking of social media, walk to the refrigerator, open and close the door without retrieving anything, head down to the garden, forget why I went down there, then out to the yard and find only ten minutes have passed despite my head telling me it has been hours.  IT IS a run-on sentence and it fits perfectly with the way my brain and colon are not working right now.

Okay, so Voodoo is out.  Maybe my mojo IS lost in the space-time continuum.  Captain Kirk, lost between dimensions in The Tholian Web, came back.  Data died in one movie only to return in another series.  Spock died in one movie and came back in another, he even lost and re-acquired his brain in the same episode, Spock’s Brain.  So maybe my mojo will return!  More than likely it will be my “chickens coming home to roost” first…or maybe I should just eat more fiber.

John Phillips sings Mississippi on YouTube.

According to Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia,

A gris-gris bag is a Voodoo amulet originating in Africa which is believed to protect the wearer from evil or bring luck. It consists of a small cloth bag, usually inscribed with verses from an African ancestor containing a ritual number of small objects, worn on the person.

JuJu is a spiritual belief system incorporating objects, such as amulets, and spells used in religious practice, as part of witchcraft in West Africa especially the people of Nigeria.

Hoodoo is a traditional African-American Spirituality created by enslaved African-Americans in the New World. It is specific to the distinct African-American lineage in North America. Hoodoo is the product of enslaved people and was a rebellion against absolute mental and spiritual domination by Europeans. Also known as Lowcountry Voodoo in the Gullah Lowcountry of South Carolina, Hoodoo is an amalgamation of spiritual practices, traditions, and beliefs that were held in secret away from White slaveholders. In some cases, Hoodoo was accompanied by Catholicism or Christianity.

Don Miller writes in different genres when not constipated and his author’s page may be found at https://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM?fbclid=IwAR1-nlM-kc0EFF7g5-W4Vtkeary-O49oUk3PF_i7Z615YELZdIoxgnvCezk

The image is from Quora.com

***A Master of None

 

That’s me.  A jack of no trades and a master of none.

Some people should not be turned loose with a screwdriver…or hammer.  Some people should not be allowed to open a circuit box…or change a washer, or make any household repairs no matter how simple.

Simple?  There is no such thing.  As you can guess I have odd jobs to complete.  Maybe I won’t burn down the house or flood the bathroom.

When in doubt, call the plumber.  Call the electrician.  I should always be in doubt.

Some men are born without the “jack of all trades” handyman genes.  I am one of those men.  I am not a handyman.  I am lucky to still have all of my fingers.  I am also stupid because I still try to lose them.

I know my way around a screwdriver, hammer, or wrench…even a drill.  I know which end to use and after that…I’ve found I’m pretty much useless…worse than useless.  A disaster looking for a place to happen.

“How to” YouTube videos suddenly become Godzilla movies in real life as I wreak havoc on unsuspecting circuit boards or faucet valves and innocent pieces of wood.  Can you be arrested for “wood slaughter” or nail bending?

I should have thought of my shortcomings before moving into a house that is a century and a quarter old…well…the older home does seem to be better put together than the newer edition.  They really don’t make things like they used to…I’m a walking example of that.

Wood?  It was made to burn.

I think I got my destructive gene honestly.  My dad fixed looms in a cotton mill but when he got home…not so much.  To his defense, we had no looms at home.

The memory of my Dad is not being too much of a “handy guy.”  Like me, maybe replacing a washer or pull cord on a lawnmower, but Ernest also ruined more lumber than he ever put up.  I have turned a lot of good wood into kindling over the years.

I can’t drive a nail or cut a board straight with a nailgun held to my head.  Well, I can drive it straight if it doesn’t matter what it looks like but just as soon as I try to put that tee tiny finishing nail in…I find not only have I ruined the nail but the board I’m trying to put it into.  Trim work?  Surely you jest.  They ain’t made enough wood filler yet.

There is a certain amount of pressure to perform.  Do the “manly” things of life.  My wife standing by, watching my every move.  Patting her toe, her fists clenched and resting on her hips does not help.

“So, you really want me to use this pipe wrench?  Do you have the plumber’s telephone number close by?  You know, just in case.

It is her dad’s fault.  Ole Ralph Bolt would try anything right up to microsurgery.  No job too hard or too complicated.  Not that he was any more successful, he just knew how to hide his catastrophes better than I do.

He reminded me of an organ grinder’s monkey…not in looks but actions.  He was small and light on his feet…and fearless.  Scrambling up and down ladders or across the roof.  Even into his eighties, he was willing to climb up scaffolding or step over to the edge of an overhang to drive a nail.

Banging away he would pause after miss hitting, eyeball the nail before exclaiming either, “Shi…” and reversing the hammerhead to draw the nail out or giving it the side-eye, “Well, that’s okay for ‘gubmint’ work.”

Maybe that is my problem.  I’m trying to be to pleasing…too perfect.  It just needs to be good enough for ‘gubmint’ work.  I don’t know, I think not.

I have nightmares about whether that switch I replaced is just waiting to short out and burn down our house or the valve on the water tank will fail, causing the flood of the century.

From YouTube, The Talking Heads, Burning Down the House.  Released in 1983 on the album Speaking in Tongues.

Don Miller writes at https://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM?fbclid=IwAR0wlB0DlAkqvTEshPUaqSmD10vEAKU1T70bzCJ6nhfEgrOqh3J-TAFTvNs

The image of the burning house from Photo by kolyaeg via Pixababy.

The Curse of Chapter Fifty-Two

Hemingway

…or cursing Chapter Fifty-Two

I sit with my fingertips poised over the keyboard waiting for divine intervention.  It is not forthcoming.  Divine or any other type of intervention does not seem imminent.  It’s not writer’s block.  I know it is not the accursed writer’s block because I’m writing this.  Right?  Okay, it’s writers block.

I’m one chapter from finishing the first draft of my latest ‘great American novel’.  It’s not even the final chapter, I’ve already written the finale.  Tied up everything with a nice red bow except Chapter Fifty-Two.  I’m not gnashing teeth and shouting, “I can’t get it right.”  I’m shouting, “I can’t get it started.”  I’ll settle for getting it wrong.

Since divine intervention is not coming to my aid, maybe I should be working out a deal with the devil.  I read about someone doing that and if memory serves, it didn’t work out well for the author.  Do they have Voodoo priestesses near my little bit of heaven?

It has been a month or more since I first decided to skip over Chapter Fifty-Two and go ahead and write the end of my historical novel. My thought was, “I’ll just come back to it.  It will come.”  It hasn’t.  Blank pages from an even blanker mind.

The yarn is not exactly a western unless you consider the setting is in western Louisiana during the later days of Reconstruction.  It was a “wild and wooly” time in our history on the Texas-Louisiana border.  There needs to be gunplay but for some reason my stalwart hero, Allen Kell, is having problems dispatching the villainous Amory Hache.  Can I write it without killing off Hache?  I want to kill off Hache.

I’ve tried my normal go-to.  Getting slightly bleary-eyed with a couple of Jack Daniels.  Jack seems to soften and unfocus my mind leading to unexpected breakthroughs. Being unfocused can be a good thing unless you are out driving around. The idea, I become unfocused, write what I need to write, and then edit out all the useless meanderings the next day.  “Write drunk, edit sober” but wait until the hangover subsides.

After editing out all my useless meanderings in Chapter Fifty-Two, I’m left with a blank page except for the heading…Chapter Fifty-Two.  I even went back and deleted the heading but to no avail.  IT seems I have wasted a perfectly good buzz.

As April ended and May began, I decided to put my novel down and pick someone else’s novel up.  Maybe I can get a trigger from someone who is actually good at writing.  Twelve read novels later I’m still waiting for the firing “pen” to fall on something other than an empty cylinder.

This past Sunday I suspended all reading, writing, and drinking for a Scify series on Amazon matching a series of novels I had read during my month of May reading blitz.  Ten hours later my bride was checking to see if I had a pulse.  Like a silver-gray alien hand, the series had grabbed my attention.  Wow, was that as bad as it sounds in my head?  Maybe I should rethink writing anything.

I’m two episodes into the second season of The Expanse but I’m no closer to finishing…nay starting Chapter Fifty-Two.  The third episode of the second season of The Expanse is calling to me but so is the workweek.  Good thing I’m retired.

An idea?  I’ll skip Chapter Fifty-Two and make it Chapter Fifty-Three.  I’ll have to change the headings of the chapters that follow but I’ve got to rewrite anyway.  Or, under the heading Chapter Fifty-Two I’ll simply write something witty like, “Go to Chapter Fifty-Three because Chapter Fifty-Two is cursed”…or accursed.  That’s what I’ll do…right after I finish episode three of season two.

***

A reminder.  May is ALS Awareness Month.  Proceeds from purchases and downloads will be matched and donated to ALS research.  Don Miller’s author’s page may be accessed at https://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM?fbclid=IwAR3iBSWAqMGAmDe6L-iNMNwIituOo73IuMxudgo7jClvOl7dEjoqfcKEq50

***

The cute Voodoo Doll is from Learning Religions https://www.learnreligions.com/breaking-curses-or-hexes-2562588

Image of Hemingway with famous quote from PrawfsBlawg https://prawfsblawg.blogs.com/prawfsblawg/2018/03/write-drunk-edit-sober.html

 

Honeysuckle Spring

Honeysuckle Spring

This is my favorite time of the year…If Mother Nature takes her meds and decides it is going to be a mild spring or a hot spring.  We seem to be yoyoing just a bit.  I can take either just not both during the same week…or within the same twenty-four-hour period.

We may have just finished “blackberry winter” with morning temps dipping into the thirties, but I’m not sure…we’ve been fooled before and the forecast is for cooler temps after this weekend’s dose of summer.

This is the time of year between tree pollen season when my hemlock trees coat everything with a fine, yellow-green powder that hardens like a coating of concrete after a heavy dew and the peak of mosquito and stinging insect season.  I say the peak of mosquito season because mosquito season in my part of the world lasts from January 1st through…through…forever.  It peaks during the sultry, moist, yeast filled days of summer but never really going away.

We are not celebrating or decrying summer yet despite the weather forecasts of near ninety temperatures this coming weekend.  The weather guessers have now backed off a bit saying mid-eighties.  The low seventies are forecast later in the week.

Summer heat and humidity will descend soon enough with thunderstorms followed by clouds of mosquitoes, gnats, “no see ‘ems” and yellow jackets erupting from holes in the ground.  We have already had several thunderstorms with hale and tornadoes but no huge clouds of mosquitoes…just little clouds of mosquitoes rising from the soggy earth looking for a bite.

This time of year is filled with wonderful scents should my allergies calm down enough for me to savor them.  My nose is running like a criminal from the scene of a crime, but at least my sinuses are not slamming shut like a jailhouse door.

Like mosquito season my allergy season is a year-long affliction.  My allergies peak in early spring with the yellow blossoms of forsythia and the green-yellow pollen from my hemlock trees before receding slightly before peaking again in late summer or early fall when the ragweed ramps it up again.  I wish winter would end the allergies and the mosquitoes…but no.  One more reason to hate winter.

Today seems to be the one day my allergies have ebbed enough for me to actually stop and smell the roses…or honeysuckle, multiflora roses, jasmine, and privet.  All are putting off their heady perfume and reminding me why my bride doesn’t let me cut them back, especially the honeysuckle.  The sweet smells allows me to travel back in my mind to a much simpler time.

The perfume of honeysuckle and privet dominated my childhood home, despite my grandmother’s best attempt to eradicate the honeysuckle.  Not that she didn’t like it or the hummingbirds it attracted but like the wisteria vine she also grew, honeysuckle had to know its place.  Its place was somewhere “out there” along the woodline, not “in here” near the garden.

I remember inhaling the aroma of honeysuckle blossoms before picking and carefully pulling out the style through the bottom of the blossom and treating myself to the small drop of nectar that came out with it.  A small, sweet treat I cheated the hummingbirds out of.  I’m still cheating the hummingbirds out of it.

My grandmother was an avid gardener, both in the fields she and my grandfather toiled in and the rock gardens she created from the stones she pulled from the rock-filled ground she tried to farm.  Milky, white quartz stones were highly prized and displayed prominently among the roses, iris, lilies, and hollyhocks she cultivated.  Except for the roses, none were as aromatic as the honeysuckle or privet hedges that surrounded the old farmhouse, she lived in.  None take me back to the days of playing alongside the dusty, dirt road I lived on like the sweet smell of honeysuckle and privet.

As I welcomed the dawn from my backdoor this morning, a sweet fragrance hung heavily and welcomed in the still air.  Honeysuckle with hints of privet hedge and jasmine…the multiflora rose is too far away but if I turn my back for a minute it may cover my drive.

It seems to be a perfect morning with Goldilocks and the Three Bears temperatures and a beautiful crescent moon showing clearly in the southeastern sky.  A bird roosting in the camellia bush sings loudly in agreement.

My little piece of heaven has honeysuckle and privet galore, out of control on fence lines and creeping toward my garden, threatening to overrun my home.  Like a good general, I pick my battles where I can, battles I can win against my memories and my wife.  My goal is not to win the war on honeysuckle and privet, just to continue to keep it stalemated.

Who am I kidding? I am losing but the sweet scents soften the blow.

Tomorrow I will arm myself with a weed eater and chainsaw while girding myself with a floppy brimmed booney hat, face gaiter, goggles, boots, and leather work gloves.  Blue jeans will replace my work shorts protecting me from the blackberries which are also in a war of dominance with the privet and lest I forget, the emerging kudzu.

The scent of Deep Wood’s Off and Banana Boat SPF 100 will briefly blot out the scents of honeysuckle and privet…but only briefly.  I will create a line in the sand, “Cross at your own peril!”…and the line will be ignored.   Deep down, I am glad.  The sweet smelling war will continue.

Further writings by Don Miller can be purchased and downloaded at https://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM?fbclid=IwAR2xADU9Tanwff98vrukeigPx7fK6H1brWnklDG5Od_95wYn1PEpniUDvMQ