Sweat socks, milo maize and microwaves

Jack wrote this in December, 2005:

Evening blogsters:

Some of you are too young to remember why microwave ovens and electricity were invented.  It’s a fact worth knowing.

The pioneers, when they invented this country, lived mostly in dugouts.  Dugout canoes in the summer, dugout houses in the winter.  Those winters tended to get them cold on their backsides and necks.  So they started growing wheat, milo maize, rice, to try heating up and putting in some warm container to throw around their necks to try to keep warm.

They tried all manner of containers, those cold-natured ancestors of ours.  Tried skinning rabbits and sewing up grain inside the hides, but it didn’t take any time at all before the only benefit they were getting from it was the smell of burning hair.  So they invented sweat socks to put it in.

But they needed a way to heat it up without burning it, so they invented microwave ovens.  Trouble was, the microwaves sat there for generations full of sweatsox waiting for electricity to be invented.

Then along came Nicoli Tesla Edison with the solution.

So nowadays all you have to do is plug that mama in, that microwave, shove in a sweat sock full of grain, run it about five minutes, and you have a thingamabob you can drape around your neck when it’s cold, or stiff, or for when the old shoulder’s reminding you of a motorcycle that wrapped itself around a tree 40 years ago, and you can toss in another one for putting at the foot of your blankets to give the cats a place to get hacked off when you throw them off it and go to bed.

Got two of them in that microwave right this very moment.

Thankee universe for nicola tesla edison and joseph h. microwave and their yankee ingenuity inventions.  And thankee universe for joseph cotton’s development of sweatsocks.  Also Horatio Milo, the developer of Milo Maize.

We lucky to have this universe to provide such blessings.


Casino’s shut down for Christmas

Jack wrote this December, 24, 2005:

Hi again blogsters:

Went back down there for some more blackjack and didn’t get in more than a few hands before a pit boss announced they were shutting down the tables, the casino, and sending everyone home to spend time with their families.

Surprised me, but a worthy cause I wouldn’t have expected of them.

Fact is, all those gamblers who aren’t aware that blackjack’s a spiritual experience needed to be off somewhere else, anyway.  Which is to say, pretty much all of them except me.

So, I smiled to meself with a warm red glow that a casino would let the employees go home to be with their kinfolks instead of staying there making a lot of money for the mafia.  Swung over by Taco Bell on the way back out of Bernallilo and picked up three bean burritos and three crispy tacos to celebrate a victory for those employees over casino management.

Brung those tacos and burritos back up to the village and capped the hill looking down into Placitas…. looked as though something awful had happened here….. flashing emergency lights copcar style all down on the main road.  Sheriff with a flashlight was waving me to take a back road.  I rolled down my window, “Accident?”

“No.  Most of the roads are shut down.  People in groups in the middle of the roads singing Carols.  You’ll have to take this road.  Be careful.”

Happened ‘this road’ was the very selfsame road I needed to take to trip my young arse home as fast as safety allowed to lock the front gates and turn off the outside lights before any carol singers could catch me unawares and make me listen to Christmas carols.

I don’t so much mind people singing carols.  I think it’s kind of cool, actually, especially if they were to go a step further and listen to the words they’re singing.

On the other hand, I honestly don’t want to listen to the words, the music, nuthun do do with Christmas carols.

I figure if I can go through an entire presidential term without knowing who’s president, and go through Thanksgiving to New Year without hearing a single Christmas carol (most especially ones involving Santy and reindeers), it will be okay to die.  I’ll know I’ve lived right, at least one period of my life.

Anyway blogsters, if you’re reading this blog you need to get your young arse off the computer and go spend some time with the family.

But if you don’t have somewhere else to be, don’t have someone else, why heck, amigos, rejoice.  Luxuriate in the beauty of being alone with yourself and any cats you might have.

If you don’t have any cats, nor any particular self you can bring yourself to rejoice about, heck.  As Sonny and Cher used to say back when everything was supposed to be pretty well straightened out by now,

You got me, babe.


The price of happiness

Jack wrote this in November, 2005:

Hi blogsters:

Over the T-day feasting someone was telling me about a movie they said I’d enjoy.  The name almost turned me aside, being “A Christmas Story”, which sounded a lot like a class of movie a lady-friend of the past used to insist I endure with her every Xmas season.

But this one, I’m told, is about a boy with a BB gun.

Brought to mind my first BB gun.

I was living on that small farm in the picture above….must have been 5-6 years old.  I was fairly sure I should get, and that they owed it to themselves to get me a .22 calibre rifle for Christmas.

Turned out it was a Daisy Pump BB gun, instead.  A PUMP!  Now anyone with any savvy knows the only BB gun an in-the-know kid would own is a Daisy Red Ryder lever-action.  Kids our size could take that Red Ryder and lock the butt behind their knee strain upward stopping short of a hernia, and get that thing ready for action in a New York minute.

But a pump was a different matter.  You had to put the butt on the ground, grab the pump with both hands tight, lift your feet off the ground and it would slide down far enough to pinch a blood blister on each of your little fingers, but it would be ready to go.

But it beat not having one.  Wasn’t any time after that Christmas we were all over creation having BB gun fights.  They’d usually last until someone chipped off a piece of tooth or went home crying.

My mama went through a ritual with that Daisy pump taking it away from me and giving it back after a while, always with the admonishment:

“You aren’t really going to be happy until you put someone’s eye out with that BB gun.”

I never put anyone’s eye out with it, but I never was really happy, either.


Have you ever seen a UFO?

Old Jules, have you ever seen a UFO?

I’ve seen a lot of UFOs but only two couldn’t possibly be explained away one way or another.

One with a lot of other witnesses on California Avenue in Socorro, New Mexico.

The second,  long-lasting and relatively close.

I was in the only telephone booth in Pie Town, New Mexico around midnight,early fall of 1999. I’d driven in specifically for the purpose of using the telephone because there was no telephone at the cabin where I lived several miles outside town.

The town only has a couple-hundred people and there were no lights in town. Low overcast, 500 feet or less. It appeared above me and stayed there while I told the person on the phone what was happening. It stayed maybe 10-15 minutes and gave me the willies badly enough I got thinking I was the reason it was there. I told the person I was talking to adios and went to the truck, took a .45 out from under the seat and racked in a round.

It moved a bit about then, not much but some, while I stood there pointing a pistol at it waiting in the dark. It moved a little more, seemed to descend — at least it got larger, and stopped again.

I decided to just get the hell out of there if I could. Cranked up the truck and drove about a quarter mile and pulled off the highway to make sure it wasn’t following me. It sort of drifted or glided off to the north and vanished into the overcast.

Edit: Pie Town’s located about 30 miles west of the VLA almost atop the Continental Divide, an isolated community in the middle of nowhere. The experience motivated me enough to try to find out whether objects of that particular description and configuration were common, because I’d never heard of one. I occasionally would research various UFO sighting archives on the web.

Turned out years later I found that within a few days of my own sighting an object of almost identical description upset a lot of on-duty military personnel by behaving almost the same way at White Sands Missile Testing Range near Alamogordo, New Mexico, a couple of hundred miles SE from Pie Town. White Sands is an extremely high security area and they take it personally when something intrudes into the airspace over the place, more personally yet when it hangs around and isn’t scared.

There was (maybe still is) a squadron of F117s stationed at Alamogordo [Luftwaffe] at the time, and they scrambled. But the object removed itself before they arrived.

As for my own experience and the times involved — I’m having to best guess. The person I was describing it to on the telephone and I took a stab at it toward the end of our conversation before I decided to evacuate. But things seem longer and it mightn’t have been that long. Afterward, while I was standing there watching and pointing the .45 it’s anyone’s guess. Might have been as little as 5 minutes, but it seemed a lot longer.

Future shock

Jack wrote this in July, 2005:

Went down to Bernalillo a bit ago to get my tickees for tonight… found myself talking with a guy about my age sitting outside with a bicycle… two wheel thing with pedals… with a pack and all manner of water jugs.  Guy had a helmet shaped like a horizontal teardrop he wears… point facing backward, along with a stretchy black short legged suit made of something that might have been a tailored wetsuit.  Distracts from the conversation a bit, talking to a likeable sort of person wearing something like that, wondering what the hell THAT’s all about.

He’s gearing up to ride that two wheeler from Newfoundland to Mass in a couple of weeks… old guy.  Put some chin whiskers on me, take away my cavalry whiskers, make me a bit uglier and longer winded, hell, the guy might have been me.

Anyway, I’ve wandered off the purpose of this entry.  Coming back up the hill leaving Bernalillio I was stopped at a red light…. car on my left had it’s window down….(incidentally, that car resembled a 1947 Dodge sedan scaled down to maybe 2/3 size…. we used to call the trunk of the car the ‘turtle’ because of the looks of those post WWII sedans)… A spanking new futuristic looking 1947 Dodge sedan is how I’d have described it if the guy turned out to be some kind of whatchacallit, drive-by shoe salesman and I had to give a description to the law…. anyway threads of music coming out the window nearest me sounded to be strangely familiar, though it had a chipmunks ring to it.

Then it struck me…. this song was popular during the Berlin Crisis of 1961 when I was a bootcamper at Fort Jackson, SC……. no chipmunks in those days…..”I’mmmmmm just a soooooldier…A loooooonely sooooooldier, so far from home with no something of my ooooooown, etc”.

Whew.  I haven’t heard that song in 40 years or more, haven’t even thought about it.  Coming out of a brand shiny new 1947 Dodge sedan.  The chipmunk sound made it even eerier.

I’m enlisting next week in a parallel universe.


Hooooookay — some puzzling human behavior

Jack wrote this in June,  2005:

A friend and I down in Las Lunas were chewing the fat outside a car wash business he owns next to a convenience store a while back.  A pregnant woman who works at the convenience store came outside and plopped down out of sight of the front door, smoking a cigarette, sitting on the concrete and leaning against the building.

We’d discussed this woman before…. a real nice young lady with a life a person wouldn’t wish on anyone…. last time I’d seen her she was sitting in the same spot crying, which is how I came to ask my bud about her story.

Anyway, seeing her brought her into the conversation again.  Most recent weirdness in her life:

The lady is 20 years old.  She went into Isleta Casino a while back with a friend, began feeding her paycheck into the slot machines.  Now, it was illegal for this woman and her friend to be playing the slots, minimum age being 21.

So what happens?  She hits a $5000 jackpot on the machine she’s playing.  It lights up like Times Square on New Years Eve, making all kinds of commotion, people coming from all directions to see.

She knows she’s going to have to show an ID to get the money.  So what does this poor lady do?  She and her friend beat feet out of there, leaving the jackpot.

I suppose the first thing that comes to mind is this:  What the hell was she doing putting her money into a gambling machine if she couldn’t accept a payoff, supposing she hit?

But, she ought to have been able to get someone legal to accept the payoff and split it with her, thinks I.

But she knew she was breaking the law, and what do you do when you get caught red handed?

Why hell, you run if your knees are still good enough to allow it.

That’s what’s called thinking on your feet.



Jack wrote this in June, 2005:

Splosh splosh.

I wash my clothes in the bathtub here.  Got a pretty fair system worked out that I’ve been using since the cabin days and Y2K.  I run water into the tub, soap, and use a commode plunger dedicated exclusively for the washing of clothes to agitate them until I’m tired of doing it.  Then I put them into a couple of five gallon buckets with holes in them and let them drain off most of their water while I haul buckets of soapy water out to the front flower bed so the water isn’t completely wasted.

Then I pour them back into the tub and run a rinse, repeating the process.

Worked pretty well, until tonight.

I first sensed there was a problem when a cat came from the the back taking a step, shaking a paw, taking another step, shaking another paw, licking the tops of feet, making faces, shaking the paws some more.

Then I remembered I’d started running rinse water into the tub of clothes an hour or so ago….. jumped into the kitchen and fell spang on my arse as I tried to mount the two steps leading to the back of the house….kersplash my trousers hit half an inch of water and I skid feet-first up against the steps.


I ease back there barefoot, wincing as I splash through the water submerging the makeshift electrical cord I run into the bathroom to get lights there because the 75 year old wiring inside the adobe walls shorts out on the ceiling wires…..  but I don’t get the satisfaction of electrocuting my carcass and having the neighbors discover my body when the water gets out to the street along about July 20.

Yep.  Those clothes are good and rinsed.

Water running under all the bookcases, melting the adobe interior walls that were already crumbling.

I’m wondering do I need to give all those trowsers, shirts, shorts and socks another rinse.

Meanwhile, got Mexican rugs, saddle blankets, old torn but still good enough to wear to work outdoors shirts soaking the water off the concrete floor, but I’m thinking most will soak through the cracks if I give it a while.

Come morning I’ll hang out all those rugs and saddle blankets and give it another shot at a rinse.


The Great Escape

3.22.03 and back ups 941

The Great Escape

Call yourself a cop

I’ll call myself a robber

Corner me in an outhouse

Call in your backups

Talk to me through bullhorns

“Come out with your hands up

We know you’re in there

Watching flies strafe dust particles

In sunlight shafts

Savoring the odor and the old news

“Come out or we’ll come in after you!”

Tension builds.  No answer.

Anti-climax hero cop makes a perfect photograph

Eyeball peeking through a knot hole

Too late.

I’ve escaped

Down the hole

Into the real world.

From Poems of the New Old West

Copyright 2002 Jack Purcell

A Few Reminders for a Serene Existence Among Hostiles

I have a couple of boxes of Jack’s papers (some going back to high school days) and I’ve been going through them as time permits. I do NOT know when this was written or who the person was that caused him to write it, but my gut feeling is that it was about a certain manager at a Dollar General in Grants, NM. I could be wrong– there’s no date on it. He certainly never meant to share it with anyone. I think he was simply reminding himself that he knew how to deal with a difficult person. But his turn of phrase really amuses me and I thought you might enjoy it, too. Jeanne

  1. Don’t allow yourself to be provoked or lured into any involvement strong enough to be called a confrontation. Ignore.

    2. Keep in mind that her potential as a human being has probably already been achieved, except in the still-developing malignancy of her personality. Being her is not something you’d care to experience. Remember that her decision to be pond slime is her own and has nothing to do with you. Her leprosy surrounds her like a cheap perfume. Don’t inhale.

    3. Her bread-crumb evil is indiscriminate and contagious. Steer clear of her physical proximity, her written words, and the venom that trails in the wake of her passage, manifested in subtleties smouldering in her tracks. Ignore, and beware. There’s nothing about her that’s worth one increased pulse beat per hour.

    4. Don’t lose sight of the fact that she’s nothing new or different. She came off the same assembly line as scores of others you’ve known one way or another. She’s just the economy model–not as smart, not as cunning, not as pretty, and not as dangerous.

    5. Remember that all she has to look forward to is getting older, fatter, uglier, and emptier. She’s never been anything more than she is now, never been anywhere, never had the imagination, most likely, to visualize herself and anything more than a pacing, ass-biting animal. She’s only beginning to grow her wolf-teeth. Just be glad she’s nobody you have to care about or are forced by circumstance to be around much.

    6. Remember she has no power to drag you into her witless snares unless you give it to her.

Ask Old Jules: Anti-war activities, Individual importance, Most important decade of life, Evidence of genocide, Survival of humanity

Harper, TX 2010 123

Old Jules, how did those who opposed U.S. involvement in Vietnam challenge or undermine the premises of Cold War thinking?

We threw rocks at cops, smoked a lot of jade and loved promiscuous sex and rock and roll. When we weren’t doing those things we wrote for underground newspapers, marched, rioted, occupied public buildings, talked a lot, and wondered why that damned war wouldn’t end.

Old Jules, what is the healthiest philosophical perspective on our own individual importance in this world?

The healthiest perspective would probably be that we aren’t at all important in this world except to the people who know us personally and care about what happens to us, and to ourselves. We’ve got to earn our self-respect and if we don’t nobody else is going to respect us (which is unimportant except by implication).

Old Jules, what decade is the most important in a man’s life?
The decade that will determine whether he looks backs on his life and he is a success. The decade that determines not only his career but the happiness of his personal life. Or do you think that all is lost by the end of the teenage years?

Whichever decade he learns to question all his own certainties might well be most important in a lot of ways. Or the one during which he comes face to face with his own mortality, provided it motivates him to carefully examine his own life.
The teenage years don’t have much to do with anything.

Old Jules, what do you think are the responsibilities of the U.S. when faced with strong evidence of genocide?
Despite a lot of hand wringing and rhetoric to the contrary, the US traditionally doesn’t interest itself in genocides and does nothing to prevent them unless they happen to already be at war with the perpetrator. Tradition is the determinant since there’s no cause to believe otherwise.

As a practical matter it’s demonstrated with the Armenians, the Ukrainians, the Kurds, the Biafrans, the Cambodians, the French death camps in the Caribbean prior to WWII, anywhere besides Germany. The relatively recent Israeli participation in a mass killing in Lebanon is no exception.

If you can find an exception to this you’ll have yourself a unique piece of detective work.

Old Jules, would you care whether or not humanity survives beyond your own lifetime?

Not in the least. For that matter I don’t care if we all die together before my lifetime ends.
Humans die. I don’t see an advantage to all those alive today dying over 100 years as opposed to all dying in a single day. They’ll have all lived and all died, same as every human before them. They all had their individual shots at living their lives.
Whether any human being walks the face of the planet at any given time being something of value seems to me to be a humanocentric concern, which I don’t share.