Jul 23, 2014

Sky blue; grass a shining green; birds melodic; mood sad

The morning is too beautiful to waste with worry, but it's too late for me, and I invite you to share my misery.

During coffee cup #2 I was wandering through the bizarre world of political journalism, sort of getting ready to plan my contribution to the art with periodic reports on the state of Iowa's caucus  circus. That's where we tell you the names of acceptable presidential nominees.

The brute demographic ugliness engenders the worry.

The resulting practical advice is this: Keep buying .22s, even at $50 a brick. Don't be afraid of stressing out your Visa account, even to the point of using plastic to buy plastic, Glockenpoppers,  LCPs, SR9s in recall-often calibers.

Because she's the Queen Apparent. Hillary, of course, the pants suit who promises to take things away from everyone except successful Arkansas cattle-futures traders for the common good. I personally believe that to be the only political promise of the century which she will strive mightily to fulfill.

In a walk Hillary Rodham Clinton beats every Democratic name the pollsters can fish out of the slimy rain barrel. Nominated, she beats one Republican after another, though by an apparent fluke Rand Paul betters her by a point in one poll.

So tell me it's too early to make judgments like that. You say that in politics, anything can happen? Thank you. I didn't know.

However, let's add one more sad molecule to the festering mix. At this moment, more than four out of every ten polled Americans believe that another Chicago  ("You didn't build that!")  pol is doing a great job of administering American affairs.

Could be you could go to $75 a brick and still find relative future happiness, 2017 through 2025.

Jul 18, 2014

Taking a selfie? Put your pants on.

Ed Snowden has told the Guardian that your Officer Friendlies in the NSA just love your private parts and spreading them.

All day they whiz through your emails and PMs and Facebook offerings. Mostly boring stuff like your bank account, potitical contributions, stock investments, family troubles and so forth. Sometimes, though, they find something risible.

Snowden: During the course of their work, (NSA employees) stumble across something that is completely unrelated to their work in any sort of necessary sense, for example, an intimate nude photo of someone in a sexually compromising situation. But they’re extremely attractive.

So what do they do? They turn around in their chair and show a coworker who says, ‘Hey that’s great. Send that to Bill down the way.’ Then Bill sends it to George, who sends it to Tom, and sooner or later this persons whole life has been seen by all of these other people.

The NSA denies such a thing is possible because all their thousands of snoopers are Eagle Scouts who sing in the church choir,

Jul 15, 2014

James. Clean Up Your Room RIGHT NOW

.. .and do a good job!

The threatened punishment for outright disobedience or a slap-dash effort was severe and credible.

"Or I won't buy bananas this week. "

(Can nine-year-olds today imagine a time when a banana was a special luxury? Of course not. It would come as a shock even to their parents that once upon a time all the United Fruit Company ships were commandeered by Roosevelt to carry war stuff to Churchill and Stalin.   The bananas were left to rot in the jungles, and the supply didn't become dependable until a couple years after the war.)

So I cleaned my room. In the process came joy. Under a  big pile of something in the closet I found my almost-new first baseman's glove, a treasure lost weeks before.

That didn't change my casual attitude toward housekeeping, but it implanted a valuable lesson. When you notice you've lost a few important things, start tidying your place.

Like yesterday. I noticed I was missing my Buck 501, a favorite little flashlight, the check book, and the old "Eversharp" pencil which, somehow, seems to improve my spelling.  (I do not fully reject either animism or a more generalized magic. That pencil harbors a spirit.)

I recalled the results of Mom's banana threat and set out to act like a normal, responsible adult human being. An hour or so later these things were neat and well-organized: The truck cab. A butt  pack, nerdy looking but useful as a go bag. The computer bag. The hard-side brief case. Two drawers.  All was found, and as a bonus the Ruger RST4 is back where it belongs, locked in the everyday van in case of an irresistible urge to do a little plinking on my way home from town.

This is the place where a guy should specify the moral of his story, which I suppose is "a place for everything and everything in its place, every hour of every day."

But screw it. Compulsiveness is for nerds who think butt packs look cool.

Jul 12, 2014

The Guns We Need

By "we" I mean Dick Sommers, my grandpa's Uncle George, and me. Maybe you, too, but not necessarily. As Dick told the preacher, some thinks one way, some another.


Dick went early to the upper Missouri and crossed the Divide to the Seed-skee-dee and beyond. He trapped his plews, bedded his squaws, and drank his whiskey until he began to gray. He returned to Missouri, married up white, and farmed his plot until he buried her. Then he allowed himself to be talked into guiding an early emigrant train to the Oregon Country.

Except for the kitless preacher,  who mooched, Dick's plunder was the slimmest of the lot, barely a burden for two pack horses on the six-month trek. Indian trade truck, kettle, a robe or two, and "a couple of knives, his Hawken, and an over-and-under  double with one barrel big enough for bird shot." And a small keg of whiskey.

The best modern analogue is found elsewhere, in good writing about equipping for a serious north woods canoe trip. The better authors remark the primitive red man who set out for a season with his bow, quiver, knife, and maybe a sack of pemmican. "Our equipment is a substitute for his knowledge," they write.

 Dick Sommers knew; his main arsenal lived in his head.


"Uncle" George lived and killed about a century later. He is my only known ancestor to fall low, a lawyer and incessant  office seeker who got hisself elected mayor of Madison, Missouri, twice, and justice of the peace in his old age, a time when he got an idea. He would sue a passel of his relatives to get his legal paws on a small dirt farm northwest of Madison.

The merits of the case are murky, probably lost forever. The larger points are that Leslie, 40, died, George took poison in prison,  and the large extended family -- a whole raft of us infested those parts then -- factionated itself  like a pack of Sunnis and Shi-ites. All over 111 acres of miserable ground which wouldn't have brought $25 an acre.

Leslie shared a surname with  George and was probably a nephew with some "removeds" and "greats" tossed in. He was 40 to George's 68.  He was on the other side of the law suit and pissed off, and aggressive, and, family lore holds,  on familiar terms with strong spirits.

On November 13, 1926, they met in downtown Madison.  A scuffle happened. George told the jury that being old and weak he was forced to shoot.  Two quickies and finisher.

 Within a month George was convicted of manslaughter. He appealed, lost, and in 1928 went to prison. Two years or so later, in the infirmary, he found a jar of potassium-something and drank.

So, back to the point. Then as now the media were awful light on interesting details but did report the gun George needed was

"a .32 revolver of the blue steel variety."

Therefore we are certain that whatever his other character flaws, my  ancestor George wouldn't be caught dead carrying no whore-house special colored chrome or nickel or some two-tone Brucie gun. A sure-nuf man's man. That's always been a great comfort to me.


Me? I figure that the only guns I actually need to face the wild world, including the wild civilized world called cities, are two: A 1911 out of John Moses Browning for carry and an old Savage .22LR over and 20-gauge under for pot meat and general pest control. With an especially sturdy pack mule I'd add a .30-06 to reduce the need for careful stalking, but we're getting pretty close to effete foo-foo-raw here.

I have other stuff, of course, but they're mostly fashion statements, unless I miss my guess.

Ain't no harm in that, I reckon, but, as I may have mentioned, some thinks one way, some another.


(Dick will be familiar to A.B. Guthrie readers.)