Tuesday, September 30, 2008

A visit to the thrift store

Today we visited the thrift store down on main street. If you're from Valdese, you know the one I'm talking about. If you aren't, then just imagine.

It's been forever since we've been to the thrift store downtown, but they were having a 50% off sale, so Patti Anne says hey, let's go. So we went.

I don't really like the thrift store. It's depresssing. I always feel better going in than I do coming out.

The nicest part of the place is a landing (the thrift store mezzanine, I call it) where they have books and pictures on the wall, and places to sit. There's a downstairs, this landing, and an upstairs. And one of these places is not like the others, one of these places doesnt belong. Because it's not packed and cluttered, and there's room to sit and look at a book.

Books and pictures. The pictures first. I've bought some interesting pictures from thrift stores and none of these were interesting. Its like they were trying too hard to be nice. When I buy a thrift store picture, I'm not looking for nice, I'm looking for odd. Perhaps these people are into socialist realism, I don't know. Anyway. The books were a mixture of hardbacks & paperbacks, and I spent some time looking. I walked away with James Michner's "Alaska", and another kind of humor book who's name I can't remember. The Michner book looks like about 2,000 pages of small print, so I guess I'm in for it for awhile. 300 pages to him is a short story. Any story that starts with the shifting of continental plates is gonna have some detail. I think the two books together cost 75 cents - so can't beat the price.

But the place was soooooo depressing. It's really hard go get me to go there.

Don't get me wrong. I don't think of myself as being above shopping a thrift store, not at all. Sometimes you can find some nice and interesting things thrift stores & sometimes you can get a heck of a bargain. But this particular one, down on main street, is just bad for my mental health. I'll have to think about exactly why.

** the passage of about 2 seconds time **

Ok thought about it. It's the colors, lighting, the displays, the generally old clothes and stuff (and not old in a good way), a slight claustrophobic feeling, the cheap and old children's toys piled in boxes, nothing in the place is fun or interesting or even remotely nice. Except (for me at least), the books. If you're lucky, you can find a good book pretty dog gone cheap.

Monday, September 29, 2008

OK More Language.

This concerns the use and/or alternate meanings of some words that I grew up with. At least one of these words I never hear anybody use anymore, except back home, where it's fairly common. So we'll start with that one.

And that word is nary. Nary is a great little word, its just a negation. It can mean not one, not any, none, nothing, things along those lines.

"I brought home these books but I aint read nary one"
"He brought his camera, but didnt take nary picture".
"Not nary one of 'ems any 'count".

It's perfectly acceptable to add 'a' after nary, though it can change the meaning slightly: "He didnt git nary a dime from me".

English has this stupid stupid rule that a double negative is somehow logically a positive. That does not pertain to nary - it just makes it stronger. I know for a fact that Russian grammar allows for, indeed encourages double negatives, and "not nary one of 'em" is confused about it. I wonder if that rule was invented by some aristocrat who thought English grammar should conform to the rules of mathematics, as well as Latin.

Law: law is a perfectly common word in English, but back home (and other places too), it has the meaning of police or sheriff.

"The law dont never come down to these parts".
"Best be careful, the law'll be after ya".
"The law knocked on the front door and he went out the back".

I've heard law used this way in other places, but it's very common back home. (Eastern Kentucky)

Country: another perfectly common word in English, but frequently back home it has a much smaller scope.

If someone were to say, "The law got after him and I reckon he left the country", that does not mean this particular person packed his bags and headed to Havana. He just might have headed out to another part of the county. He might hiding out in his Uncle's house up the holler somewhere. When "country" is used this way, it just means they don't know where he is. He isnt home.

Here's another usage: "That's mighty rough country". In this instance they're most likely talking about topographical features.

"I aint familiar with this country", simply means the speaker is somewhere he's never been before.

So, nary, law & country.

Pop quiz: What's "They aint nary law in this country" mean? (in this instance, if you put the 'a' after nary, that would really change the meaning. "nary law" and "nary a law" are two different things.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Per Ms. o. d.'s request, - bookcase # 2.

I will consider this part of my stuff around the house series, which may or may not go on forever.
This picture includes the shelf below the the picture I posted last time. Ms. o. d. wanted to see what was on it. Well, here it is. Starting from left to right.
The first book is "Genesis" by Bill Moyer. Sometime back in the 1980's, something possessed me to join a book club, and this is one of the many books I got that I did not want, before I figured out that I really shouldn't join a book club. Personality wise, I'm just not rigid enough to send in a card every month saying I don't want something. I'm terrible with routine maintenance also, for the same reason. Anyway I read it, but I can't remember what its about.
The next is "The Human Form in Art" & that's a Patti Anne book. I can't draw very well.
Next is "Cavalier in Buckskin", is a biography of George Custer. I found it hard reading, but maybe I just wasn't in the mood when I read it. The same author also wrote a biography of Billy the Kid, which I have somewhere. I found that one more interesting - learned a lot about the history of Lincoln County, New Mexico, as well as about the west in General.
Next is a series of books by Harry Turtledove. This series of 10 or 11 books is an alternate history of North America. People have been playing this game for years - what if the south won the civil war? Well Harry Turtledove is the only one I know who wrote 11 books about it. The first book, "How Few Remain", takes place in 1881. The preface of the book explains how Lee won the battle of Antietam (or Sharpsburg, Md) and pushed on toward Harrisburg, PA. At that point the British & French intervened and force Abraham Lincoln to offer peace terms. Lincoln was not assassinated (and George Custer didn't die in 1876 - he was in Utah and Kansas instead), Stonewall Jackson still lived, and the United States was split into two countries. In 1881, in this history, there was a second war between the states, when Mexico sold the Confederate States (James Longstreet was CSA president) their two Northern States in order to pay off their debt. This made the CSA a continental nation, the USA felt threatened and a war ensued. The British were allied with CSA, and attacked from Canada, so the USA invaded Canada. Abe Lincoln was an old man, he walked out of the Republican party taking about 1/2 its members with him and joined the American Socialist Party. The two party system in the United States became Democrats and Socialists, and to me it seemed much more like a European party system than what we currently have. (It reminds me of the Christian Democrats and the Social Democrats in Germany). The Democrats were pretty close to reactionary, and the Socialists make Barak Obama look down right conservative. In real history, Lincoln emancipated the slaves in 1862 (or 1863, I forget). He freed the slaves in all the areas where he did not have control, so the initial impact was more propaganda than anything, but propaganda's important. In this history, the south manumitted the slaves in 1881. There is a huge difference between emancipation and manumission, and that is a big part of the entire rest of the series of books. So that's the first book.
The next book picks up at WWI - trench warfare in the USA, with the USA supporting Kaiser Wilhelm. And on it goes. During the series, the USA takes Canada away from the British, not a popular move with Canadians, Quebec becomes a country, a pawn of the USA, fascism arises in the Southern states and so on.
My favorite character in the series was Scipio. I think he shows up in the 2nd book, and plays a role all the way through. He was born a slave, but was manumitted, and was unique. He was a house slave in a South Carolina plantation, and was educated so he could play the role of a high class sophisticated butler. He spoke two dialects - that of the educated elite, and that of the former slaves along the Congalese River, and nothing in between.
Harry Turtledove weaves complicated plot and sub-plots, and kills off a lot of major characters. Sometimes the characters run into each other, but usually there is a whole lot of different but parallel stories going on. It can become wonderfully complicated. Some of the books are more interesting than others.
I'm from the south, I grew up in eastern Kentucky. I've lived all over the United States, and I've spent 8 years of my life in Germany, so I've seen a fair amount. No matter how much my Eastern Kentucky accent mellowed throughout my life, whenever I opened my mouth in Maryland, Minnesota, New York, Indiana (near Chicago-land), Colorado, California or most anywhere else I lived, people knew that I came from somewhere south of the Ohio River. Heck, my paternal grandfather was named after James Longstreet, Lee's 2nd in command after Jackson died. Anybody who does not think Kentucky is a Southern State, has never been there. Now I live in North Carolina, where there is no confusion at all. I identify with the south, much more than I do with the north - its culture is much more what I'm used to and comfortable with. Harry Turtledove (from California) feels it would have been a terrible fate for North America if the south had won the civil war, if you can believe his voluminous fiction writing on the subject. I'm very much inclined to agree. For a century, southerner's thought a bolt of lightening would shoot out of the heavens and strike them dead if they voted for a Republican. Abe Lincoln, considered a great man in most of the country, was despised in the south. Well the veterans of the confederate army are all dead now, and so are their children, and most likely their grandchildren are dead and their great grandchildren don't remember, so the war is good and over. I'm glad it turned out the way it did. I think Harry Turtledove probably got it right.
I bought all these books off of Amazon, for anything from a penny to a few dollars. Plus shipping, of course.
In the midst of the Turtledove books is a stein I bought in Germany, a souvenir of where I was stationed & used to work when I was in the Army.
After the Turtledoves is a little blue book called "The Moon is Down" by John Steinbeck. This book came with Patti Anne & it is a first edition. I've not read it yet.
Then comes "A Walking Tour of Harper's Ferry", which I bought in Harper's Ferry.
I read "Destiny", tho I can't remember the name of the author & I'm too lazy to look right now, and I also read "Revolution in Russia". I havent read the others.
So that's it. Another part of the book case.

Friday, September 26, 2008

No Gas In Valdese

Well this is an interesting situation. All of a sudden, there is no gasoline to be had in Valdese, North Carolina, at any price. Another good reason not to mow the grass. It's not an issue for me at the moment, since my daily commute consists of walking the dog around the neighborhood. I do drive to the post office, but if it came to it, I could walk, especially if the weather stays cool (it wont). It'd take a couple hours out of my day, but I could drop in & say howdy to the folks at Cornerstone afterwards, and by folks I mean Eugene the dog, then drop in Mrya's for their hot dog basket & make a day of it. Maybe I could buy a whitlin' knife from Albert and get a basket somewhere, and sit down on one of the benches on Main Street and watch the world go by. I could become a street person, that'd be cool. Just walk around, cross personal boundaries and say weird things to people. I really should branch out.

Personally, I won't feel the effects of no gas in town unless it goes on a month or so. And by that time, the grass is gonna look pretty bad. And I wouldn't worry about that so much, except snakes like tall grass & this is a snaky place and I don't like snakes. I'm not sure when snakes finally head underground in North Carolina. They need their hoodies today 'cause we're getting soaked with a cold rain.

Now, this, seeminly out of the blue, coupled with banks failing all over the place, and it makes ya wonder. I wonder if PayPal's in danger? Maybe we could move all our money there........

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Stuff around my house # 2 - on a bookshelf

Here are some items on part of one shelf in a book case. There is no rhyme or reason why these particular things are there, except that's where they got put - most likely when we unpacked after moving from Hickory.
I've actually read some of these books. I read "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" many years ago. I picked it up and read the first few pages and decided I didnt want to read it again. T.H. White's "Book of Merlin" apparently goes along with "The Once and Future King". I've read both, and liked them. Steve Martin wrote "Shopgirl". What I remember about that is first, Steve Martin wrote it. And 2nd, she took lexapro and created artwork on 3 X 5 cards with crayons, I think. Oh, and she sold gloves in a fancy department store, located in Southern California, where no one needs gloves very much. I've not read "Korean Karate" and have no idea why it is where it is.
The mug, or stein, is something I bought when I was in the Army in Augsburg Germany. Charlie Held ran a couple of Bierfests - nice carnival atmosphere & large beer tents. He ran the first and last of the Bierfest season, which ran in Bavaria from after Lent until sometime the following Lent. Anyway, that's him on the stein, he walked around looking just like that. The Barenbergl Bierfest, I have fond memories. A word of warning - the dark beer is very smooth and very strong.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Walking the Dog, a Comparison

As I took Pickles on a walk around the neighborhood this morning, I was noticing. I manage to keep her under control, but I have to keep a constant vigil about it. I basically shorten up the leash & make her walk with me & if she starts to head out on her own I give a tug to get her back. On these walks, which are business walks (no not that kind, unless it happens), she doesnt get to stop and smell the roses. She doesn't get to run ahead or lag behind. Its a constant effort though. If I were to let her have the length of the leash, she'd jerk me all over. As it is, she does pretty well. She's heeling, even though she doesn't know it. When we get back to our property, then I loosen up and she can smell things, explore a bit and relieve herself if needed.

Here's the comparison.

Many years ago I was in the Army, stationed in Augsburg, Germany. I don't know where Germans get their dogs, but they are, over all, extremely well behaved. I'm sure there are strays in Germany, but I don't remember seeing one. The one scene stays with me. I lived in Barracks on Sheridan Kaserne, and the quickest way to the PX was a walk through a German residential area. Once I found myself walking down one side of the street, and came upon a middle aged woman, walking her Boxer dog, and 3 boxer pups, without a leash. We were all on a residential street, and the dogs all stayed on the sidewalk. Some small children were playing across the road and they ran across to pet the puppies. I remember one saying "Er so klein ist", and I was proud of myself because I actually understood it. The dog stood there, and the pups were pups. Looking back on it, I'm sure the dog was training her pups to a certain degree, maybe as much as the woman was. The dog was extremely well trained & well behaved, and the pups were well on their way.

This was not an isolated incident - I saw unbelievable numbers of well behaved dogs during my entire tour of duty there. And I still dont know how, as a nation, they do it. I traveled a bit while I was there, and one of the cultural difference I could see between countries like France & Germany, were the behavior of the dogs.

If I had Pickles in Germany, I suspect the Hundpolizei would be knocking at my door. In France, I don't think they'd care.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Stuff around the house #1

I've decided to do a new series of posts, at intermittent times (i.e., when I feel like it), of stuff around my house. This is the first one.
I have two pictures of the same thing because I couldn't make up my mind. One is with natural light, and the other is with flash. They both have things going for them. I prefered the natural light one at first, but now I'm not sure. The color's are brighter in the flash picture. Any thoughts?
In this picture is a signed figurine which we bought an an auction a year or so ago. Usually we'd resell something like this (it's what we do), but I like it, so we kept it, for now anyway. We bought the plant from a grocery store in Hickory, NC, and I'm not sure where the old planter came from. They are sitting on a wooden tray, which we also bought at an auction. The chest (or is it a dresser - kinda small for a dresser), is another auction item.
It's a stark little scene. I like it. This scene no longer exists, a few hours ago we moved a few things around. The plant and figurine are still together, but in a different location.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Another Food Lion Trip

Patti Anne said she'd give me a dollar if I went to Food Lion and picked up some chicken and potato salad. So off to Food Lion I went, glibly, no thought to what may happen.

What may happen at a grocery store? A supermarket, really. Let's call it what it is.

Ok, I walked in and was hit with bright flouresence, and an old E.L.O. song on the audio system. The song was pretty cool, and next thing you know I was lost in it, and it wasnt even interrupted by any kind of weird announcement. So I walked around, pushing a cart, lost in the song, remembering times past, forgetting for an instant where I was, not to mention the chicken and the potato salad, and then it began.

I began to notice that at least half the people were half crazed. Now, by my calculation, that means at least 1/4 of the total amount of people in that store were all crazed, and that is just to many for my sense of safety. People stood where I needed to go, and would not leave, no matter how long I paced back and forth. I almost bumped into people. I looked up and caught a huge man, like a cross between a brick wall and a tele-tubby, glaring at me. When I looked out into the parking lot I could see a half dozen zombie like creatures approaching, in dishelved corporate casual clothing, and it was kind of frightening. When I checked out, the teenager who rang up the groceries told me how much it was, then pretty much forgot I was there. That was interesting, I can't remember that happening before.

I'm no holier than thou, if you want to take a couple of tokes before going to work, that's up to you, but at least remember to put my groceries back in the cart. Oh, and take my money. The transaction is not over until the groceries are in the cart, and you take my money. In fact one may argue that taking my money is the most important part of the transaction. That can be debated, there are several parts to a transaction, they all have to happen, so how can you put more weight on one part than on another. That might be what they call an individual decision. Anyway. As a cashier, you'll find your life is easier if you let the customers pay.

(That reminds me, one time I pulled up to a McDonald's drive in, gave the gal my money, got my change, then left.)

Food-Lion in Valdese is just a strange experience. But I hope I'm the one that is strange.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

My First Postcards From Postcrossing

These are the first two cards I received from postcrossing folks. The first one is an automobile museum in Finland, and the second is an aerial picture of a section of Hamburg, Germany.
I like the randomness of this & it's a fun way to get postcards from all over the place.
Check it out if you're interested: www.postcrossing.com

Monday, September 15, 2008

To Paraphrase The Preacher.............

Better to be rebuked by the wise, than hear the songs of fools.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Pickles the Dog Update

It's September now, so we've had the dog for just over 5 months, and shes' about a year old now. Time for an update.

The picture is Pickles at one of her favorite past times, running with a stick.

As just a reminder, we got Pickles unexepectedly back in early April. She was stuffed in a cage (literally, she could not move) at the Jamestown Flea Market. The guy just wanted to give her away, and the rest is history. She is a part blue tick, and supposedly part Lab. I can see the Blue Tick in her, just from her appearance, not so sure about the Lab. Maybe in her ears.

At the time she had never been inside a house, and had never worn a collar, had probably never been in a vehicle except when she was squashed in that cage. I don't know if she had been physically abused or not, I bet she was ignored. I'm also fairly certain she missed some socialization along the way, with other dogs and other people.

So after 5 months, the pros and cons of Pickles.

  • She is housebroken. As housebroken as a dog can be. Pretty good for a dog that had never been in a house for the first 6-7 months of her life.
  • She doesn't bark at random things anywhere near as much as she used to. She'll still bark if a dog (or a person) comes into the yard, but she doesn't seem to bark at the squirrels and birds and things like that as much. As long as they move along, and don't cause any trouble....
  • She can sit & stay very well, especially if treats are involved.
  • She does very good on walks, as long as I keep control. We can walk past other animals and she doesn't go crazy - its a different story if she's in the house or out on the porch and a dog comes by, but when she's on a walk out of her own territory, on a leash, she's pretty cool.
  • She's crate trained - lots of times she goes in and lays down on her own
  • She plays with the Rottweiler across the way
  • She's learned a couple of games
The games are:
  • Sit-Stay; she sits, I'll place half a dog biscuit across the room, or on my knee if I'm sitting down, and she stays until I say 'ok'. Then, it's gone.
  • Guess which hand: She sits, then I put a dog treat in one hand, hold out both hands (closed) and say 'guess which hand!'. She always gets this on either the first or 2nd try. It's funny. If she guesses the wrong hand and I open it, she stares at it in disbelief for a second before going to the other hand.
  • Catch Bread / Eat Dirt; She sits, then hold out a piece of bread (or dog treat) a few inches above her nose. Drop the treat, she should catch it in mid-air. If not, you get to say, eat dirt. She think's its great fun, and either way, she wins.
  • Roll over; In this game I throw a dog toy, usually across the room, she runs, grabs it and brings it back. She doesn't like to give, so rather than fight her for it, I just flip her over. She gets up and comes back for more. Eventually she lets go, I grab it and toss it, and we do it all over again. We do this till she gets tired - she expends a bit of energy in this game.
  • Sometimes Pickles acts like an autistic ADHD teenager with shotgun.
  • Pickles has a lot of fear, and I don't know why. But you can see it. She barks at dogs and people because she is afraid of them. She's also afraid of little children, much more so than older people. However, if she actually goes nose to nose with a dog, or a child, or an older person, she's generally pretty meek.
  • Loud noises scare her.
  • She bites while playing. I've actually never seen her bite anything in anger, but she definately bites when she plays. I don't know how to stop that. I have a couple of small scars and some torn clothes because of it.
  • She is extremely exciteable when people come over.
  • She jumps on people, I'm not sure how to stop that either.
  • She grabs random things and piles them up somewhere, so you have to be careful what you leave laying around in dog reach. The TV remote is still functional, but that's about all you can say for it, it has been thru the Pickles mill. Paper, telephone books, cloth, rugs, you name it, if she takes a notion, it's gone in a flash.
  • I can't trust her to come when called. The best she usually does, is come close.
  • She will not leave the cat alone. Our pore ol' cat is 16 years old or so. So we've fixed a place where the cat can go but Pickles can't. The cat has the run of the house, Pickles does not. Over time, maybe that will change, but for now, that's the way it is.
She's a work in progress.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

1 million people ordered to evacuate in Texas

When I read this headline, my first thought was man, they're gonna need a hell of a lot of toilet paper.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Hell's Laundromat

I can't think of anything to write about but I feel the NEED - know what I mean? So I'll submit for your consideration a poem (I use the term loosely) I wrote a long time ago. It's short so I can remember it. I think.

Hell's Landromat

This is just a place
Where the damned wash their clothes.
We are not responsible
For Lost, Stolen, or Damaged Souls.

That's it. It kinda flows I guess.


It's raining tonight. I took the dog out for one last walk of the day, and she shook off twice in the rain, once on the porch, and once in the house, then laid down. Sometimes I wish I knew what goes on in her dog brain. I read a Science fiction book once "Ender's Game", and minor character had a dog who had evolved to the point where he could speak simple 3 word sentences. He used his gift to try to mooch food, so I figure that's probably what's going on in Pickle's little brain.

Food and procreation. Food and procreation and barking. 'Cept she better not be procreating anytime soon, if she does then we need to get our money back.

Bye now.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The Dogs of South Avenue, an update

I posted an entry awhile back about the dogs of South Avenue, (only two of whom actually live on South Avenue) and this is just an update. I know a little more now than I did then about these creatures.

Lets see, theres Black Dog, Ol' Black, the dog that looks like Black Dog, Mean Dog, the Rottweiler, snack dogs, etc.

Black Dog's name is Polly, and she is 12 years old. She barks at Pickles Anne (our blue tick/lab mix), but who can blame her? She's fairly mellow, part of that I'm sure comes from being old. Polly's house is right on the corner of South Avenue and our road & we have to slow down to make that turn. She's usually lying in the yard, being all mellow and all. Well, one day when we were returning from our sojourn to the post office with me, Pickles & Patti Anne in the front seat of the truck, windows rolled down, I slowed to make that turn and Pickles Anne the dog jumped out of that window. We couldnt believe it. She was on a leash, which Patti Anne bravely held on to, the truck was still moving (I stopped it quickly - but smoothly, I must say), and this crazy dog just jumps out of it. Polly, who I'd never seen move before, jumped up and started barking. Pickles, who for some reason was unharmed, stood there and barked back. Lord what an idiot. But Polly's pretty cool.

Now when we approach Polly's house, Patti rolls her window up, and Pickles sits down and stares intently, looking for black dog.

I think I know where Black lives now, and sometimes he wonders are around the corner of one of our neighbor's sheds and barks at us. He'll never come any further tho.

I don't know too much about the dog who looks like black dog (black dog, who is really back and brown, is Polly). The dog who looks like black dog, really does looks like black dog, but isnt.

Mean dog isnt really that mean. I think he's just crazy.

The Rottweiler's name is Skipper, and his owner's back yard collides with our back yard. Pickles has regular, almost daily play sessions with Skipper now. Skipper the dog is good natured, which is a good thing cause he could eat Pickles up and have plenty of room for dessert. He weighs 110 lbs, Pickles maybe weighs 50 or so. Anyway they have a large fenced in area where they can play, and tho Pickles is more manueverable, Skipper is definately the stronger of the two, and much more dominant.

There are a couple of other dogs that come roaming thru our field every now and then. One only has 3 legs, the other looks exactly like him, except he has 4 legs. I'm not sure if they are friendly or not, and I'm not sure its a good idea to let a couple of large dogs roam the neighborhood.

Oh, gray cat's name is Emma Lou, still don't know Basset Hound's name. One of the snack dogs (Yorkie's) name is Rocky, can't remember the other. Pickles likes the other one, but Rocky's a tough guy, for a snack dog.

There are other quadropeds in the neighborhood - white dog, Huffman's dog, a couple of cats that live in the basement next door (we could use a good barn cat).

This is the extent of my knowledge to date. I'll keep ya posted.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Leprosy, an 1893 view

I sell stuff on eBay and I just posted a listing for a book written in 1893 by William Tebb, called "Leprosy and Vaccinations". Click on the title to go to the listing, if you're interested.

Once again, I'm going to review a book I havent completely read. And I REALLY didnt completely read this one, so be warned, everything I say in here is based on incomplete knowledge. I think that's true for most of what anybody says anywhere, but at least I'm up front about it.

I suppose William Tebb was a smart man. He wrote very well according to the writing conventions of the time. 19th century writing seems to be a bit wordy and round-about, lots of clauses, long sentences and very, very passive.

Here's an example of how passive. This book has a hand written & dated inscription on the title page, "presented to ........ with the author's kind regards, January 17th, 1894, N. Cape Town, S. A.". He never signed his name. It was convention of the time for authors to refer to themselves in the 3rd person in their writings, and he was very true to that. I'm sure he wrote it, but there is no way to prove it, unless there was some other known sample of his handwriting & I wanted to go to the trouble to hire an expert to compare the two. I think not. A note to authors: Sign your name!

Anyway, this book is a summary of studies of Leprosy occurrence and such during the 19th century, and the author has written it to support his agenda, which is to ban vaccinations. It's his theory that vaccinations are spreading Leprosy, and they should be banned entirely. Of course there may be some truth to what he was saying - it is possible that leprosy and other diseases were spread through the use of un-sterile needles. So like his failure to autograph his little inscription, his vaccination theory may have had some truth to it, but was ultimately somewhat askew.

Starting on page 350, there is a neat summary of the book. It makes a very logical 10 point argument for the elimination of vaccinations. It 10th point is a 50 to 60 word sentence which basically says: Leprosy is the most terrible disease known to mankind, it is spread by vaccinations, we need to end vaccinations.

In 1893, I don't think anyone knew what caused leprosy, and there was certainly no cure for it. Left untreated it can be horribly disfiguring. Now they know its caused by a "bacilus", and its completely curable, and if caught early enough, there is no damage or disfiguring. What a difference a few decades make.

So William Tebb was on the losing side of history in this little battle, and all in all its a good thing. Because now, I dont have to worry about things like small pox.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

My Preparations For Hurricane Hanna

My preparations for Hurricane Hanna consisted of mowing the yard. Yep, that's pretty much it. If anyone has read a previous post, they may get the idea that I don't really care to mow the yard, and they'd be right.

In fact its really a mistake to call Patti Anne & I have a yard. It's more like a field. In fact it is a field, a large field and I mowed the stupid thing last week. It was just getting back to the point that a resonable and prudent person may consider that it needed mowing again. I generally like to let it go another week or so after that point. But not this time. If Hanna hits where they think its going to hit, we're going to get a lot of rain - like from Friday to Sunday. The grass is going to love it, soak it up, and grow and grow. And, in humidity ridden North Carolina, it will never truly dry out, at least not until December or so. So I will end up having to mow a wet field. It's tricky enough when it's not wet. I have to dodge some large trees, keep from rolling down some steep hills, and try not to get into places I can't get out of. It's enough of a technical challenge without adding the possibility of choking the old John Deere to death into the mix.

So I sucked it up and mowed. Looks pretty nice, actually.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Why I like postcards

I buy & sell postcards as part of my business, I don't really collect them. But I look closely at every one. I'm forced to consider a lot of technical things about the condition and era of the card, and I have to look at it with an eye to what I think its likelyhood of selling is. I have to store them, retrieve them, manage them. That's part of my job, the job I tell myself I do so I wont have to get a real job. I've handled thousands of postcards, just this year.

I really like them, and here's why.

I don't know if they are social history, but they sure are social commentary. The subject of the card itself immediately tells you what someone considered important - sometimes you wonder why, but there is a reason for it. Its a structure, or art, or a beautiful scene, or an animal, or something funny, or maybe patriotic. But its your first clue to what someone, or some group considered important. These things were made to sell, so they had to appeal to potential buyers.

The caption on back (if there is one) gives more clues about the times. The way its written - many older ones are verbose, and written passively. Many cards, especially older ones, will tell the cost of whatever is on the picture, or the speed or the height or some statistic meant to impress people. I had once had an old postcard of the Woolworth Building in New York City, which made sure you knew how tall it was and that it was the tallest building in the world at the the time.

Some of these cards are used - most of the people who wrote or recieved these cards are long gone. Sometimes a group of cards come form the same batch, and you can follow the family along for a spell, sometimes years - watch the son's travels, his marriage, his carreer, as he sends postcards back to his parents. And I realize the reason I eventually ended up with them is because someone, most likely the person the cards were sent to, has died. It makes me wonder.

I recently sold a group of old cards - the oldest I've had yet. They dated from 1886 to around 1908, and they were blank Pre-Paid postcards. No pictures, you wrote an address on one side, and your message on the other. All these cards were going back and forth to the same people in New England - Vermont and New Hampshire. When I was groing up, there were lots of people alive who were born in and remembered the 19th century. They were quite old, I was quite young, and I reckon I thought they were born old. Well this group of 20 cards or so drove home to me that these 19th century people had feelings, not too different than mine or anyone elses. They loved their parents, wrote to their grandparents, worried about their children, and struggled to get by. In one card, a mother was worried because her daughter, who had recently been exposed to the measles, was not feeling well. This was in 1886 (or maybe 1892), and was a serious thing. On another card, some one wrote that she could hear "Papa in the kitchen cracking nuts". Were they walnuts? If so they were black walnuts, very, very flavorful. She didnt say, but when I read that, I could hear it too. I could imagine it, I could see it plain as day. Another was worried because they needed to get the hay in and they couldn't because it was raining and had been raining for a couple of days. There is a bit of despair in that one, because it was probably quite serious to them if they could not get the hay in. And in another the writer was worried because they wanted to go pick up their daughter (I think), but couldn't because "the horse is lame yet". The people who wrote these messages, are dead. The people they worried about, cared for, loved, are also dead. Their concerns & problems no longer matter. There's a good chance that everything they were familiar with has changed. But these little cards brought it home to me that they were real, they were very human, they existed and struggled with their fortunes in life, and had feelings and problems just like I do, and everyone I know does. And that too, makes me wonder.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

My first two "Postcrossings"

These are my first two cards I've sent out in the "Postcrossing", where people more or less randomly send cards to other people, world-wide. The card above is a multi-view continental sized card that I bought a while back in a local drug store. It's going to a person in Austria who likes cards of the area in which the sender (me) lives. These are scenes around Valdese, NC, so it fits the bill. The card to the right is a 50 year old standard/chrome of Rock City on Lookout Mountain near Chattanooga, Tennessee, and it is off to Findland. I'm not sure if the person will like it or not, but she said she liked landscapes, mountains, geographic features, so maybe this counts.
The way I understand it to work (we shall see), is you have to register at www.postcrossing.com then request and address. An address is displayed along with a registration number. You write the registration number on the card, and send it to the address. When the person receives it, they log on & enter the registration number. At that point you're put on the list to receive a card, and when your name comes up, someone sends you a card. We'll see how it works. I've always liked postcards, it appears to my visual nature. It was a long time before I ever read an article in National Geogrpahic - I'd get too involved in the pictures.
I found out about this on another blog - A Postcard A Day, which posts a postcard every day. Its an interesting site - check it out at www.apostcardaday.blogspot.com.

Monday, September 1, 2008

The "Mother Tongue" Indeed

Well I've just about finished reading "The Mother Tongue: English & How It Got To Be That Way", by Bill Bryson. I'm close enough to finished that I can make some comments on it, if I want. I have a fine history of reviewing books I havent read, movies I havent seen and bands or musicians I havent listened to, so that fact that I have a few pages to go before finishing it should not worry anyone.

This is a "popular" history of English, meaning that the author explains any big words he uses. Its not a text book, and tho you may be able to find useful tid-bits to flesh out a college course, you probably would not be required to read it or buy it or even know about it. The book does assume you have basic (perhaps slightly more than basic) knowlege of English grammar. But even if you dont, you'll be ok.

I have a degree in history (minor in political science, so why am I so apolitical? Thats another post) and I enjoy reading histories of things. Now I have to warn anyone studying history in college, even at the graduate level, be careful of "History of" courses offered by other departments. History of the Language, offered by your local English Department, is not a history course. It is a language course, and the fact that the language is English does not make it any easier. It is HARD. You need something other than a social studies background before you tackle that one. I was cruising along getting A's & B's and suddenly I found myself struggling to get a C, and was happy that I got it. I'm a slow learner, because then I tackled History of Philosphy - a course you could take as a senior or grad student for crying out loud. I remember with fondness the 4 or 5 minutes of actual history taught in that course. I felt so comfortable & right at home. But then it dissolved right back into electrons and dark matter (before people knew what to call it), and I thought, Albert Einstein would be comfortable in this class. It was nature of the universe stuff, not ideas espoused thru the centuries. I dropped it. I was lost, I would have failed it. So be careful about "history of" courses. Except Political Theory - I ate that stuff up.


Mother Tongue is more a history of words in English and how they got that way, (to paraphrase the title) as opposed to the course I struggled with back in college. I remember chapters on Spelling, the differences between American & British English, Meanings, Dictionaries, where words come from, swearing (I swear), pronunciations and so on. Its a very good book if you like words and usages. Tons of examples, anecdotes, humor, and a much greater amount of History than there ever was in that History of the Language course that about ate me up. If nothing else, you'll find out how it came to be you arent supposed to split an infinitive in English, or end a sentence with a participle.

So if you had proper scientific instruments, instruments sensitive enough, after reading this book you'd almost certainly notice a slight increase in the amount of knowlege you store in your brain. And that has to be worth something.