Pre-dawn October Monday

Jack wrote this in October, 2005:

Morning Blogsters:

Hope your reality’s going just gaaaaaroooovy this morning. (There’s a word you don’t hear much anymore, grrrrrroovy)

Outside and down in the Rio Grande valley there are balloon firing off the occasional burst of glow.  I suppose they’re the ‘scouts’… balloons that go up to see which way the wind’s aloft are going to carry all the Albuquerque Balloon Festival folks after daybreak.  700 of those things down there waiting to inflate this morning.

Brings to mind the first time I ever knew about the Balloon Festival.  I was in the midst of writing Hell Bent for Santa Fe, at least doing the research for it.  I’d been several days on the road from Round Rock, Texas, following the trail, examining the route and the bivouacs of the Texan Santa Fe Expedition of 1841, camping out of the back of a Ford Pinto.

I was listening absently to the radio as I got into New Mexico, and the balloon thing was going on.

Then things changed.  A balloon basket accident happened, something exploded while the thing was on the ground ready to lift off, maybe four people in it.  Balloon lifted afire…. people hurt, maybe a couple jumped out when it was about 100 feet, which was a bit high, then I think maybe the fire drove another one out several hundred feet high, while the last guy dropped down on a rope and hung there out of reach of the flame, a quarter-mile up in the air.

That went on for some while, the radio announcer telling what was happening each stage of the thing, the guy swinging off that rope, the balloon lifting and disintegrating above him.  Suspense, listening to that.  Reminded me of seeing old newsreels of the Von Hindenberg crash.

Anyway, finally the rope broke and the guy dropped however far he had to to get out of all this.  Fairly spectacular way to leave the vehicle, as such things go.  Most people are content just to lie down in a bed and have a heart attack, or get themselves wrapped up in a territorial dispute over highway space.

Nowadays, I think, they probably make them carry parachutes in those balloons at the balloon fest, but I don’t know it as a certainty.

In those days I was doing a lot of flying of fixed wing aircraft, might have been tempted to think ballooning might be fun, but hearing the description on the radio of what happened with that guy broke me of sucking eggs in that regard.  When an airplane comes out of the sky it does it fast and honest, which is how I prefer things.

Anyway, the balloon festival’s tuning up.  Whoopteeedooo.

Have a great one, blogsters.

Jack

An Apology

Jack wrote this the day following the previous entry, Sept. 2005:

I owe you blog readers an apology for the last blog entry.  It was inexcusable, and I’m sorry.

That blog entry was a symptom of a pent-up fury I thought I had successfully obliterated.

I sincerely apologize.

For many years I’ve watched the deserts of western New Mexico and eastern Arizona ripped to shreds by strip mines for coal fired power plants to supply energy to satisfy the needs of Phoenix, Tucson, El Paso, and elsewhere on the grid.

They’ve torn up a piece of country dear to my heart, and the people who are responsible, city residents, haven’t any idea what’s being sacrificed for their hair dryers and air conditioners.  They wouldn’t care, if they knew.

It’s just empty country anyway.

I suppose what bothers me most is that the same people who find nothing objectionable about making molehills out of my desert mountains to serve their energy needs are so often frenzied in their objections to nuclear power plants near them, or anywhere.  They fear the cost of their energy indulgence might fall on their own heads.

But I’ve intended this as an apology, and I’m trying.  But now I feel my gorge rising again.

So, I’ll quit with my original statement.  I’m sorry.

Jack

Rational Risk Assessment and Fuel Prices

Jack wrote this in September, 2005:

America’s had a fetish with avoiding risk-taking for a couple of generations now. They don’t want to take any, no matter how minuscule, and they want to go into hysterics when they discover one out there they hadn’t thought of.

I’m sorry, bloggers, but Americans are (selectively) pure, yellow, lily-livered cowards about doing things that might shorten their attention spans this lifetime.  Those red-white-and blue ribbons you’ve got sticking to your fender ought to be pure yellow, not because you support your troops, but because you are a disgusting, craven, sniveling coward.

They destroyed an entire Washington apple crop once because there was a one in 500 buzzillion chance the red dye used on the fruit might give someone cancer (turned out it didn’t)

They indulged in hysterics, first over people smoking in work places, then restaurants, and now almost anywhere because of the risk of cancer from second-hand smoke.

They put airbags on the steering wheels and hired men with guns to make certain everyone fastened his seat belt to keep him safe and reduce risk and run the price up on cars so high a steadily decreasing number of Americans can afford one.

Fretted something awful about motorcycles ridden by guys they hated the looks of (me) riding around without helmets. Even tried to force motorcycle riders to wear seat belts, knowing that would be a sure killer. Finally they all got old and affluent enough to buy full dress Harley’s themselves, and really didn’t care for the idea of being handcuffed to a scooter in the event of laying it over.

And so, ad infinitum.

Somewhere, lost in all that trying to live forever and create a zero risk reality for, not just themselves, but for everyone, they shut down the only near-zero-risk, cheap source of energy this country had.

Nuclear power plants.

If you wet your pants at the thought of nuclear power of the US variety you might find you’re more frightened of the consequences of gasoline at $5 a gallon.

One’s only about a zillion-to-one risk, whereas the other’s a lead-pipe cinch.

 

Jack

Friday Morning

Jack wrote this in October, 2005:

Morning blogsters:

Several thousand balloonsters from all over the world are twiddling their thumbs this morning.  This was to be the morning for the ‘Special Shapes’ liftoff….. hundreds of balloons in the shapes of everything from Smokey the Bear to the Yellow Submaroon, to the good ship Santa Maria, to a two-hundred foot tall parrot, to a milque-cow-holstein heifer with an udder the size of a barn have lifted off during these events, drifted thither hither and yon across the city or countryside, and occasionally tangled themselves in highline wires.

All the events of the balloon festival hinge on the special shapes.  At least for the spectators.

But not this morning.  Nature said, you puff up those balloons this morning, I’magonna blow you off to Texas before you even leave the ground.  I’m not gonna let this happen, balloonsters.

So the balloonsters are probably sitting in coffee-shops in ABQ and the surrounding towns telling one another balloon stories, recovering from the last-night partying, and hoping it’s better tomorrow.

No mention of wind there, but those bags can be unfriendly if you don’t treat them with respect.

Even on a good day those big ones can rear  up on their hind legs and whinny despite the best efforts of humans with all their planning and designing and thinking up ways to get up in the air without dying.

We’re smart, but not THAT smart.

Ah well.

Trying to make up my mind here whether to talk about numbers, or civility.

Maybe civility would be best to touch on.

Some of you blogsters might have noticed long ago that there appears to be a middling amount of competition between forum users over whether this or that system’s best, particularly on Pick 3 games.

Lately the focus has been on a particular one method of trying to win, which evidently diminished the focus on the one that was drawing the cheers a few weeks ago.  All of which is interesting in its own right, but not nearly so much as the human interactions and strong feelings involved, along with a certain amount of bluster in both camps.

Before the most recent hopeful system emerged the next-most-recent method threads were worth keeping an eye on just to watch the preening, sulking, and down-talking to the folks who were trying to figure it out.

However, I’ll confess it usually stops short of name-calling.  When the leader of one pack gives the best imitation of a shout, calling the leader of the other pack a stale loser and stupid fluck, demanding that the other pack members stay off the new-pack threads, you gotta admit things have degenerated to lows rarely seen here.

It’s sometimes surprising how much a person, completely anonymous in the beginning ends up revealing about all manner of personal traits on a bulletin board made up of electrons on a computer screen, just by having the ability to let it all hang out without fear of consequences.

Civility and civilization emerge from the same root in language.  They’re both the result of an agreement we humans, some of us, have made with ourselves and others about how we’re going to treat one another.

But there’s every reason to believe both run contrary to human nature, that both are more a matter of how we’d prefer our fellow-humans treat us, as opposed to how we’d treat them if we could do so without there being any cost, except the internal rot of the soul that commences when we allow ourselves to do so.

That’s a small price to pay for the tension release that comes with just doing what comes natural.

Jack

Cataclysmic Doggerel

Cataclysmic Doggerel

A schoolmarmish lady in Zuni

Had canines subversive and loony;

Her Communist felines

Made neighborhood beelines

With doctrines both outworn and puny.

The KGB cat was a lean

And speckled-nosed beauty serene

In appearance alone

For her countenance shown

Multi-faceted plots as she preened.

Her Weathercat history was tops:

She sprayed on dozens of cops

With a Commie aroma

But joined Sertoma

Cavorting with phonies and fops.

The ringleader hound was a red

And curly haired rascal it’s said

Whose Trotskyish leanings

And Maoish gleanings

Were pondered curled up on the bed.

Princess Redfeather, they tells

Of this curly red bitch of the cells,

Forsook her fine lineage

To sip of the vintage

of Lenin, and Gulags and hells.

The worst of the felines, Bearboy:

Striped and cross-eyed and coy;

Politically weak,

Had claws that could tweak

Bourgeois carpet, and bedspread, with joy.

The Uncle-Tom dog of the hut

Was Ernie, the gray-bearded mutt;

Dog-tired, and dogmatic,

He thought, “Problematic:

dog-eared dialectic and glut.”

The Uncle-Tom dog she called Ernie

Began as a dog-pound attorney

Commuted from gassing

He pondered in passing

Discretion’s demand for a journey.

A calico hound lying dormant,

Most likely a police informant:

A capitalist clown

Took his food lying down

Resisting the commie allurement.

The Stalinish kittenish spies

Spread foment and torment and lies

To Indian curs

And mutts that were hers

And War-Gods high up on the rise.

Princess and Ernie and, Spot,

And Chester, the narc-dog; the lot:

For half a piaster

Would bring a disaster

To Zuni, once called Camelot

From Poems of the New Old West

Copyright©2002 Jack Purcell

What makes for an `unlucky’ prez?

Jack wrote this in September, 2005:

Someone’s asked me to define ‘unlucky’ as it pertains to a US President. A legitimate question.

In general, I’d call a ‘lucky’ prez one who doesn’t have to take the historical rap for his mistakes and misjudgments. I’d call an ‘unlucky’ one a prez who does what other prezes have done, but gets caught, or takes the rap for historical processes already moving along when he took office.

Probably it’s best to use examples from history.

Herbert Hoover .. awfully unlucky

Was probably a middling good prez. But the Great Depression, a worldwide event, took place on his watch. The result was that Hoover was remembered during the lifetimes of the citizens who experienced the Great Depression, as a curse. Then he vanished from the national consciousness.

Franklin Roosevelt lucky

Made some of the most devastating errors a prez could make during his three-plus-some-change terms in office, but he managed to hide some of the worst ones behind the veil of national security. He successfully mobilized the population for a war it thought it didn’t want, and when that war brought the country out of Economic Depression, Roosevelt got to ride high in history and living memory as having presided during a ‘good’ war and ending the depression. A lucky prez.

Truman probably qualities as lucky.

He inherited the baggage left by Roosevelt, agreements with the USSR allowing them to occupy Eastern Europe. The Marshall Plan, agreeing to rebuild the industrial capacities of Japan and West Germany. General Douglas MacArthur hanging around as a popular hero with time on his hands. A Communist revolution in China, French Colonial war in Indo-China, and the dust not yet settled on WWII. He made a lot of mistakes, engaged in an undeclared war in Korea, which lost the 1956 election for the Democrats, but all in all, he came out okay, unvilified by the history books. A lucky prez.

Eisenhower, I’d consider neither lucky, nor unlucky. He was a prudent gambler, never pushed his luck, which didn’t give him much opportunity to be declared unlucky in any meaningful way.

JFK, luckyluckylucky

I’d consider the luckiest prez of the 20th Century. Despite his best efforts, he didn’t get us into a nuclear war, didn’t get called for his incorrigible tactics for the 1960 Presidential Campaign, kept the Bay of Pigs invasion debacle generally out of the public eye, didn’t make the headlines for his womanizing, and got himself dead without having to face any consequences for being one of the sorriest, most arrogant, most self-serving presidents in the history of the US. Made love to the woman almost every adult male in America fantasized about. Came away a legend and a hero. Lucky prez.

Lyndon Johnson.  Unlucky, generally

He inherited a presidency he’d never have occupied without the death of JFK. Lucky. He inherited the urban wars of the late 1960s. Unlucky. He initiated the War on Poverty, which most Americans, including me, believed would immortalize him, but which became the Welfare State. Lousy judgment. We all should have known better, including LBJ. He cranked up Vietnam without asking Congress for a Declaration of War. Bad choice combined with bad luck. Created the Gulf of Tonkin incident under wraps of National Security, which seeped out and was unveiled for the fraud it was. Bad luck. Had to face the choice of a probable loss of the presidency and Congress, because of the Vietnam War, or not running for another term. Unlucky, overall.

Tricky Dixon.  Bullgoose unlucky

Maybe the unluckiest prez in the history of the US. Not nearly so bad as JFK and Johnson, but couldn’t do anything they did without getting caught at it. Rode into his first term with a promise of peace with honor in the war he inherited, Vietnam. Didn’t succeed, because it couldn’t happen without a formal declaration of war against North Vietnam by Congress and making it a war of military strategy, which it was already too late to do. Even though he was a flawed man who was dealt a lousy hand and played it poorly, I have a warm place in my heart for Tricky Dixon. Unlike JFK and Johnson, he wasn’t incorrigible, but he got cashiered from office in their stead because he assumed if they did it, he could do less and get by with it.

Gerald Ford, neither lucky, nor unlucky.

Jimmy Carter. Unlucky

Good man, good intentions. Squeaky clean, blessed with the protracted Iran Hostage affair. A really lousy piece of luck that cost Carter his place in history as a good prez.

Ronald Reagan. Not particularly lucky, nor unlucky

I’d have to put Reagan in a class all his own, a prez with a lot of the attributes of Franklin Roosevelt, but minus the guile, wearing a Republican hat. He might have been wrong on many occasions, but he did what he did because he believed it was the right thing to do. A rare trait among presidents. I disagree with many things Reagan did, consider some of them paramount to a National Disaster, but I tip my hat to him with respect. Not particularly lucky, nor unlucky. Just a flawed man like the rest of us, muddling along doing the best he could do and sometimes doing it badly.

George Bush I. Luckylucky

Almost as lucky as JFK. Rode in on the popular legacy of Reagan. Indulged in an amazingly popular presidential war with Iraq, utilized overwhelming military force, lightning strategy, acceptable casualties. Then stopped short of victory. Never had to take the rap. It’s impossible to fathom such ineptitude, but his luck is even more incomprehensible. Never had to stand up against the wall for what he did. If he’s alive today, people aren’t blowing raspberries at him, yelling jibes, calling him what he is, the way people used to treat the village idiot. We’ve grown more tolerant these days.

I ain’t going into wossname, the guy before this one.

In a later blog entry I’ll tell you why I believe this prez has the makings to be the unluckiest prez since Tricky Dixon, (other than being his father’s son) along with the near certain whys, potential hows, and unfortunate for all of us outcomes.

Jack

Pre- or post-disaster road observations

Jack wrote this after the previously-mentioned Mexico trip, Sept. 2005:

Gasoline:  $2.97, Albuquerque.  $3.09, Deming.

Traffic:  Truck traffic light.  Lots of deadheads moving, other traffic mostly tankers, UPS, FEDEX, Walmart.  Automotive traffic relatively light also, except lots of brand spanking new government vehicles on the road.  Lots.  New.

Roadkill:  Not much.  Three fresh coyotes and a badger, one mangled skunk and a mangled rabbit.  Number of coyotes high, especially with such light traffic.  Probably an epizootic, probably rabies or other distemper in the coyote population.

Behind the visor in the rental car:

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is mvc-439f-1.jpg

Short people who ride in automobiles might want to keep this in mind.

Overheard in La Cochina Restaurant, TorC:

Middle aged waitress to younger waitress on smoke break talking about hurricane victim refugees:

“It’s sad when people don’t use any common sense and end up costing the rest of us so much money.”

Gas Station between Deming and Columbus:

Old guy about my age, eccentric looking with underside of hat brim painted black to keep out the sun glare, face furniture’s a handlebar about like mine.  He’s driving a recent, small Toyota, bragging he got 400 miles on 8 gallons.  Says on flat highway driving he’s gotten 78 miles to the gallon a couple of times.  Says he doesn’t care how high they go with gasoline prices.

That’s about all for the moment, folks.

Jack

Mexico held in abeyance and a poem

Jack wrote this in September, 2005, after the previous post.

I figured on blogging tonight to tell you blog readers a few anecdotes about some interesting things happening in Palomas, Mexico, Columbus, New Mexico, Deming, and points northward…. gas prices, talk overheard in restaurants about hurricane victims, border guard stuff, all manner of scintillating monologue to excite opinion and pondering.

But now I see I’m gonna have to say a few words about Communists, instead.

From May, 1917, until 1990, the US spent unimaginable treasure, countless lives, stupendous energy ‘saving the world’ from Communism, seeing them behind every tree and bush.  Meanwhile, the Communists collapsed under their own weight, packed their tents and went home.

In America, the Communists of Marx and Engels today call themselves Democrats and Republicans.  Not Greens.

That dog won’t hunt anymore.  At least not with me.  If someone else wants to fret about pinkos, someone else will have to.

For me, here’s the great Communist threat to America:

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is img_0001-1.jpg

Cataclysmic Doggerel

A schoolmarmish lady in Zuni

Had canines subversive and loony;

Her Communist felines

Made neighborhood beelines

With doctrines both outworn and puny.

The KGB cat was a lean

And speckled-nosed beauty serene

In appearance alone

For her countenance shown

Multi-faceted plots as she preened.
Her Weathercat history was tops:

She sprayed on dozens of cops

With a Commie aroma

But joined Sertoma

Cavorting with phonies and fops.
The ringleader hound was a red

And curly haired rascal it.s said

Whose Trotskyish leanings

And Maoish gleanings

Were pondered curled up on the bed.
Princess Redfeather, they tells

Of this curly red bitch of the cells,

Forsook her fine lineage

To sip of the vintage

of Lenin, and Gulags and hells.
The worst of the felines, Bearboy:

Striped and cross-eyed and coy;

Politically weak,

Had claws that could tweak

Bourgeois carpet, and bedspread, with joy.

The Uncle-Tom dog of the hut

Was Ernie, the gray-bearded mutt;

Dog-tired, and dogmatic,

He thought,.Problematic:

dog-eared dialectic and glut..
The Uncle-Tom dog she called Ernie

Began as a dog-pound attorney

Commuted from gassing

He pondered in passing

Discretion.s demand for a journey.
A calico hound lying dormant,

Most likely a police informant:

A capitalist clown

Took his food lying down

Resisting the commie allurement.
The Stalinish kittenish spies

Spread foment and torment and lies

To Indian curs

And mutts that were hers

And War-Gods high up on the rise.
Princess and Ernie and, Spot,

And Chester, the narc-dog; the lot:

For half a piaster

Would bring a disaster

To Zuni, once called Camelot

From Poems of the New Old West

Copyright 2002, Jack Purcell

Let this be a lesson.  Don’t try to get me talking about Communists.

Jack

Mexico tomorrow

Jack wrote this in September, 2005:

Every few months I make a trip to Mexico for some medications I take daily, because they’re dirt cheap down there compared to getting them in a pharmacy here. Prislosec use to run me $3 per tablet here and I was taking a couple per day. In Palomas, Mexico, they cost about 75 cents per tab. Now that it’s over-the-counter here they’re about a quarter per tab, compared to a buck here.

So it’s time to run down there again. I like Palomas because it’s a tiny burg, mostly pharmacies with lines of US oldsters stocking up on medications. It’s like the Powerplay option in reverse, stepping across the International Border into Mexico to buy prescription meds.

So, you parks the car at the border, walks across a couple of blocks, pays in gringo dollars, and walks back to the Border to be questioned and sometimes searched and hassled by US Border guards. They worry a person will pick up some antibiotic for a friend, or anti-inflammatory for a rheumatoid arthritic acquaintance. So they like to ask what condition you’re taking the medication for while they thumb through the book and see if they can catch you out.

I’ve never had the body-cavity search, probably because I’m not female, but maybe just because I’ve never caught them on a boring day.

Sometime I’ll tell you an amusing story about a Japanese Jew pharmacist I used to buy from in Juarez who had an Israeli flag on the wall behind him, didn’t speak English. But it’s a long story.

Anyway, I go down through Deming to Columbus, the US town Pancho Villa raided in 1912, and got the US Army chasing him all over Mexico. That’s where General Blackjack Pershing won his fame. There’s still a lot of ruin from the raid all over Columbus, so it’s worth poking around the bear grass, usually.

(Pictures below are all that remains of the bank vault of the town after Villa’s raid).

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is mvc-006f-2.jpgThis image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is mvc-007f.jpg

I like to stop at this little shrine in Columbus, also. I’d guess the folks who built it in the 60s have grown old… I’ve never seen them there, but when I first saw it during the early 90s someone was still taking care of it, putting out palm branches every day. Now the place is showing a bit worse for the wear.This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 3.22.03-and-back-ups-095.jpg

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is perfect15.jpg

I also usually stop and scrutineer a little airstrip north of town with a windsock model of the airplane Pershing’s troops used to help chase Villa.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 3.22.03-and-back-ups-966.jpgThis image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is windsockssc.jpg

Everything goes well I ought to be back tomorrow night.

Jack

Ask Old Jules: Misc. ?’s, Scientific method, Using the Holocaust to promote decency, What will the 21st Century will be known as?

Mandala Back Up CD2 238

Old Jules, how happy is your life?

My life is happy. Tough, but fair, I smilingly tells myself frequently.

Old Jules, what is your purpose in life?

Getting through it. Life’s come close to killing me dozens of times during the last 70 years and if it keeps up it’s liable to get me.

Old Jules, how do you use the scientific method in your own life?

Experimenting with various recipes for bread Experimenting with different varieties of plants in the garden most suited to this soil and these climate conditions Experimenting with sound, mainly music, as a method of confusing target identification for owls to keep them off the guineas sleeping in the trees and the cats. Experimenting with various breeds of poultry to find the hybrids most suited for free ranging, egg production, survival and reproduction Experimenting to find ways to prepare prickly pear cactus for feeding to poultry to reduce feeding costs. to name a few.

Old Jules, how can we use the Holocaust to promote decency?

We can recognize from the context of the times and the aftermath that governments are vulnerable to succumbing to genocide for many reasons. Some are ethnic, some are criminality, some are political. The French Carib death camps until the beginning of WWII, the USSR gulag, the German Holocaust, the Cambodian genocide, Nigerian genocide, the Armenian genocide and others of the 20th Century are all a piece of the same fabric.

Old Jules, what will the 21st century be known as?

The Century of Asian Emergence and World Dominance