That's what, Dolly?
The 'spression torties get thatcha c'n never figger out what they mean. Are they pissed? Sad? Curious? They're just bein' solemn.
That's what, Dolly?
The 'spression torties get thatcha c'n never figger out what they mean. Are they pissed? Sad? Curious? They're just bein' solemn.
OR TOO BUSY to Google. First in a series. Maybe. If I can sustain the interest.
Today's bit of ennui.
WTF is Twitter, why should I care, and who gives a flying fark?
ISRAEL SHOULD TELL the UN to go piss up a rope.
"Disproportionate" my ass!
Apparently, some Palestineans think so, too.
Why the disclaimer?
It should be noted here that the difference between Hamas and Fatah is cosmetic at best.
WHAT I SEE when I encounter one -- such as the one used to illustrate this post at Sippcan Cottage -- is that they look nouveau riche. Designed and built by someone with no taste. They think they want to appeal to people like themselves, so they take a white trash 50's rambler and update it to today. As Sippcan says, Don't Do This. The first sign of beer taste, champagne pocketbook is the garage in front. No. No. No.
But the other thing that bugs the frak out of me is the horrible scale of the things. They're almost always too big for their lots. They're almost always built in clusters like metastatic granulomae, cheek-by-jowl, hypercephalic monsters on steroids, too close together, and all out of proportion to the persons or lives of their occupants.
It's a wonder the damned things ever get sold.
Um... cluebrick: they're not. The housing market is in crisis.
But that's not because the houses are too big... OK, maybe it is -- square footage and wasted space costing money.
NOT MUCH GOING on to blog about. Christmas morning, Toni and I had breakfast together and exchanged gifts. Early afternoon, we trundled over to Number One Daughter's dodge and wound up the grandkids. Number One Granddaughter is displaying sassy attitude that would do Beyonce proud -- considering she's all Now We Are Six and everything.
'Cept she's more into Barbie than Pooh.
Dinnertime, Jesse stopped by for roast beast and smashed taters and the House marathon. I see Tam has discovered the good doctor. Heh. ::evil grin:: Oh, snap! Careful, Tam. A holiday marathon was how I got addicted to Xena, and look what THAT netted me.
HEY! Are you talkin' stuffin' about me?
You? ::butter wouldn't melt:: The Gabrielle Dolly? Nah! I wouldn't. Trust me.
Sunday evening, we took Number One Granddaughter out for her birthday. She's officially six and everything. Because it was her birthday, and because she got shafted by being born so close to the OTHER major gift-receiving holiday, she got to pick, so of course, we ate at Big Boy. Yum.
Quit with the faux sarcasm. I know you loved it.
Yeah. I did. Takes me back to when that used to be my lunch. Two Big Boys, fries, coffee, and a good, thick book. I'd go late so the waitress wouldn't get pissed about me taking a four-top up by myself for forty-five minutes during the lunch rush.
THE REST OF the time, I spent trying to get up steam and work on the bookshelves. Although I didn't get a lot done in any absolute quantitative sense, I did reach a couple-three major milestones. I finished the post-sealer sandup on all of the boards for the middle-course bookshelves. (That's how I'm mentally referring to the sets of shelves that go in between base and overhead cabinets -- as opposed to the floor-to-ceiling variety, which will be going in on the north wall and between Toni's desk and the hall door.) I also got all of the pocket-hole drilling done.
And on the last bit, I got to use a couple of my Christmas presents. I got a really trick story pole -- what ought to be an award-winning creative use of t-track -- and a K3 upgrade kit for my Kreg pocket-hole kit, which brings my lashup to the Master level. Next step would be the automatic power thingy, which I don't see anytime soon. As always with really useful tools, they made me more efficient and able to accomplish more in less time.
The story pole has sliding stops which allow me to make, pickup, and transfer measurements from one piece of stock to another. Since I'm doing a lot of all of those in situations where repeatability is a major factor, this is critical. And this thing makes the process run on rails, so to speak.
Get it? T-track? Rails? Heh.
The K3 jig is a bench-mounted viselike affair that holds a drill guide for pocket holes. It has a cam-type clamp -- similar to the locking action of vise-grips, but in a vise-jaw kind of shape. You put a piece of timber -- that's Australian for lumber -- into the slot, clamp it down, and drill your pocket screw holes. There's an outboard stop. You can screw the whole thing down to your workbench -- or, as in my case, your Work Mate -- and away you go. It also has a dust attachment, which makes the cleanup sinfully easy.
I ALSO DECIDED to bag the dovetail on the file drawers. At least, this time. The jig I got is really inappropriate for this design. I don't want to spend the kind of money the right jig would cost, and I'm getting tired and depressed with the mental gymnastics I've been going through to try to make it work. Nor do I feel confident enough to wing it. So I'm using a different kind of joint and over-engineering it. It may turn out to be ineffective. And if it does, I'll burn that bridge when I get to it. Meantime, I figured out how to re-size the boards for those drawers and started to work on those as well. Once I get them up to a certain level of finished-ness, I'll be able to carry on working on both the file drawers and the bookshelves and possibly have them all together at the same time.
I REALIZED that, as I have no more need for lumber out of my Chinese plywood buy for the bookshelves -- having all of the needed pieces cut to-size and in the finishing process -- that I may have enough of that plywood left over to build myself a toolbox. I'm thinking something face-framey with full-extension KV slides, and fairly shallow drawers. For things like chisels and files and small hand saws and suchlikes. And, if there's still enough left after that, I may make a clamp box. I seem to have acquired a critical mass of clamps now that they may start reproducing. And, hey, you know ... they might want some privacy.
I can guess that Og is going to remind me of the tribulations I've had with this stuff. But it's worlds away better than A/C softwood ply, so I'm not really going to complain. That is to say, I've worked with worse. (Like the CDX we used to use for waterbed decks.) And if it fails immediately, I'll still have learned something from building the boxes. Since I've got it, if I can make it work, it'll save me a good chunk of change.
I MAY HAVE REACHED a startling conclusion over this weekend as well. I think I may actually like tung oil as a finish better than I like polyurethane. I need to think about that. My main objection is that I hate the way the tung oil feels on my hands, and I hate to work in gloves. But it seems a lot easier to work to a fine finish. I just need to work with it a bit more and figure out how it likes my sanding practices on hardwood. I'm a bit pickier, (read: more anal), than a lot of people seem to be, so there isn't a lot of advice around. And if there was, I probably would ignore it and make my own decisions anyway.
I TAKE NOTE in the fact that there seems to be this ongoing battle between the bigendians and littlendians in the Republican Party, with the bigendians seeming to have inferiority complexes,judging by the harshness of their rhetoric. It's almost as if big government Republicans such as Bill Kristol and Mike Huckabee can read the handwriting on the wall and don't like what it portends for their strain of anti-conservatism.
Bill Buckley is barely cool in his grave and these putzes are again with the revisionism. Of course, your grass roots commoner won't stand for it, thus further weakening the Republican Party. I can't help wondering if a true conservative party wouldn't be stronger. I keep hearing that you can't fragment the movement like that. But then we keep also hearing that conservative values and positions are what wins elections -- even for Democrats. So... why do we need RINOs? Would somebody 'splain? Seems to me that the reason the Republicans lose elections is because they run RINOs, and they force conservatives to truckle to RINOs.
AS FOR THE FOOD fight going on in the blogs between minarchists and anarchists, I'd love to tell you-all that I'm here to represent the Way, the Truth, and the Light, that I have the answers to everything because I'm right and y'all are wrong, but... I know better.
Me, I'm ecumenical. A minarchist, because I know you can trust all of the people some of the time, and some of the people all of the time, but you can't trust all of the people all of the time. An anarchist because I understand that man's reach must exceed his grasp, else what's a heaven for? If you never shoot for par, then your whole life is going to be sub-par. Ideals are to be striven for, and it's not a sin to fail to reach them. It is a sin not to try. All of us on the right agree that government is evil. The degree of necessity to the evil can be argued over, but that it is necessary is inarguable.
Christmas morning, first light
Even though she was not a morning person, Dolly was up at dawn, showered and snug in her footy bunny rabbit pajamas and pink quilted bathrobe. She entered the kitchen from the back stairs, the non-skid soles of her PJ feet scuffing on the warm vinyl-tiled floor.
She went to the pantry and took down several foil packets. She stood by the junk drawer under the counter next to the fridge and cut the packets open with a pair of orange-handled Fiskars.
As she worked, she inhaled deeply of the rich aroma of Arabica beans being brewed in the under-counter pot. She knew by that that her lover had been through and started the coffee brewing for her. (He didn't drink coffee, but was always looking for ways to pamper her, so customarily made her a pot of coffee on his way out for his run.)
On the counter near the coffee maker, there was a small silver tray laid out holding her favorite cold-weather mug, a pitcher of condensed milk and a crystal cup holding packets of aspartame sweetener.
Once she got the foil packets all cut up, she raised her voice to call, "Kitty, kitty, kitty, kitty, kitty, kitty, kitty, kitty, kitty, kitty, kitty," in a falsetto trill that drove Drummond nuts because he couldn't emulate it. There was a thud of a small, four-legged body hitting the floor upstairs and the drumming pitter-patter of little cat's feet racing down the stairs. In short order, a furry flood of feline flesh was pouring through the kitchen door. Six cats magnified in size and number by their eager movement.
Dolly emptied the opened foil packets one at a time into her palm and deposited a small mound of the moist treats in front of each of the cats. She worked quickly to make sure everybody got some right away and the slow ones didn't get into fights with the more forward ones, who got theirs first.
By the time the first ones were looking around for seconds, Dolly was ready and doled out the remainder of the treats with a quick, sure hand, all the while singing, "Merry Christmas, kitties!" in her own inimitable voice, with its husky tone and its unerring pitch.
She stopped to stroke each one and assure him that he was loved and was the most charming fellow, (or the sexiest lady), on the planet, and she made those disgusting baby noises that people will make with pursed lips when they think they're alone with their pets. Her best bud, Orange Jell-O (a.k.a. Jelly), of course came in for the most loving. He fell over on his back and miaowed for a belly rub, which Dolly indulged him in.
She straightened and brushed a wisp of her burnished copper hair out of her face with her hand, then puffed air out of her mouth to try to blow it aside, and finally gave it up. She'd have to go brush her hair again and put it up properly, instead of the half-assed job she'd done of it on finishing with the hair dryer.
"So whattaya think, guys," she said, addressing the assembled cats, who continued daintily powering down the moist kibble treats while no doubt hanging on her every word--because cats are like that. "Is Mommy gonna get lucky again today? Think I'm gonna have to jump Daddy's bones if I wanna get some before everybody shows up? He's awful thick that way, sometimes. Like this morning. I practically had to shove my... well. You guys are too young for the gory details. Anyway: trust me, it worked. But Mama Dolly is feeling randy today. Must be all that fine winter air, or the snow outside and the fire, or somethin'. Cause I wanna fuck something." The last was spoken with a heavy TV-western prospector's accent and punctuated with a loogie shot at an imaginary spittoon. But then she ruined the effect by giggling.
She poured herself a cup of coffee and carried the tray to the table in the breakfast nook and sat at "her" place. There was an envelope with her name written on it propped up against the centerpiece. Dolly contemplated it while she mixed white and sweet into her coffee. When the mixture was seasoned to her taste, she picked up the card and slid a thumbnail under the flap to open it.
Then she noticed the flat black velvet jeweler's box that had been hidden behind the card. Ever the acquisitive sort, she widened her eyes and reached for the box, which had a bow of gold satin ribbon tied around it.
She got the ribbon off and, trembling in anticipation, flipped open the lid. She gasped and set the box down, holding her other hand weakly over her fluttering heart. Her greedy, jewel-loving heart whose favorite colors were platinum and emeralds from Tiffany's.
At least the box said Tiffany's and New York. And if she knew Drummond, he wouldn't cheat on something like that. He'd consider it beneath him. If he bought her a gift from the orange kiosk in the mall, he'd present it in the orange kiosk gift box.
When had he found the time to fly to New York? Even though there was a Tiffany's in Cincinnati, it was also like him to go to the source, to interview a top jewelry designer, possibly have the thing custom-made.
And they were so exquisite! Perfect dangles, each made of three absolutely huge emeralds in the traditional rectangular cut, set in platinum, (it said so on the backs), hanging side-by-side, with white gold wires. She got teary-eyed as she inserted them in her earlobes and stroked them against her neck for an instant. Then she tore open the envelope and extracted the card.
The outside was a traditional-looking Christmas card that said simply, "Merry Christmas, My Love." There was a snow scene on the front that, even though this was her first Christmas and she didn't understand much of what was going on, made Dolly wax nostalgic. She opened the card. The inside was blank except for a note in Drummond's hand... neater than usual, obviously written with great care. It said:
"Merry Christmas, Gabrielle. I love you more than life itself. I pray that we will have many Christmases together, and that we can grow old and naughty together. Go ahead, put them on."
And she knew it was going to be a great day.
They were expecting a large contingent of loved ones later on that morning, and had agreed to exchange some gifts that morning with others to come that night after the others had gone home. The expected guests included Drummond's ex, stepdaughter, and grandson, his mother, Aphrodite and Hephaestus teleporting in from Greece (air Olympus, of course), all of Dolly's sister and brother dollies--Xe, Cally, Vel, Ma, and Auto. And Terry and Maxie were coming down from Groveport in a caravan with the dollies. It promised to be a crazy and hectic--yet hopefully joyous--occasion.
When Drummond got back from his run, he headed upstairs to take a shower. Dolly, having already showered, stayed downstairs and prepared them a simple breakfast that they could eat casually in the living room. She didn't want to wait to open presents any longer than she had to.
Drummond, although he masked his anticipation better, was also eager. He was very much looking forward to seeing Dolly's reactions to certain gifts and he hurried through his shower.
By the time he was back downstairs, dressed in soft tan slacks, a sky blue pullover, and loafers without socks, Dolly was just getting into the second stage of breakfast preparation. She demanded--and got--a kiss, then shooed him off to the living room.
She saw him filch a strip of bacon but said nothing about it. She smiled softly as he padded through the swinging door to the dining room and then down the steps into the living room.
Once Dolly had joined him in the living room, Drummond began playing Santa, picking out presents for her from the pile under the tree, while she played elf, looking particularly elfin in her green vest, shorts, and stocking cap, although had Santa had such skin-baring minxes around him at the North Pole, he would have been divorced from Mrs. Claus and probably not gotten much work done, either. Every time they brushed past each other, their hands roamed over each other, touching, stroking, teasing. They stopped for kisses many times, each time reminding each other that they had to finish before the others got there.
Dolly was as excited as a kid. Her acquisitive nature was encouraged and inflamed by the rich haul of presents, some opened and played with, some yet to be opened. She vibrated like a tuning fork with unconcealed and infectious joy.
Finally things wound down to two packages. Both for Dolly. Bits of ribbon and wrapping paper littered the huge living room and the cats were having a field day executing rustling hunting maneuvers through the underbrush of foil wrapping papers and boxes.
One of the packages was huge. Eighteen inches thick and almost four feet long. Dolly had prodded it and shaken it and could not figure out what it was. She took it up several times, could not suss it out, and had set it aside to come back to later. Now she was down to the end and had to admit defeat. She could not guess what was in the big box.
The other present felt suspiciously like another jewelry box. She was so obviously torn between the two that Drummond told her:
"Do the big one first."
She looked at him quizzically.
"Yes, I do have an ulterior motive."
"And that would be... ?"
"Open the package and find out."
"OK," she said happily and set about destroying the wrappings that concealed a box from: "Kotsovos?" A furrier in a northeastern suburb.
"Open it," Drummond prompted her impatiently.
"Omigod!" she gasped when she lifted the lid. "A--a--" she lifted out of the box and held it up. "What is that? It's not mink, right?"
"No. It's ermine. A relative of the mink. A winter coat, if I'm not mistaken."
"Wow! And it's full-length, too!"
"Now there's two rules that go with this," Drummond intoned.
"Yeah?" Dolly's lips twisted into a now-what expression. He always did this.
"Yeah. First, you're not allow to wear it out of the house. Second, you're not allowed to wear anything under it."
Dolly's sudden grin washed out the Christmas tree, the candles, the fireplace, and the sun outside. "Now, that I can get behind. I just love getting' nekkid." And in less time than it takes to tell, she shucked out of her clothes and was eagerly holding the coat preparatory to putting it on.
"Stop!" Drummond commanded.
"What?" Dolly asked, puzzled.
"I just want to look at you."
Dolly smiled at that and did a slow little dance for him. All the different parts of her jiggled, bobbled, flexed, flowed or swayed according to their individual nature, and yet they all worked together into a movement that was pure poetry.
Then Drummond stood up and helped her put the coat on, and she snugged it around her, luxuriating in the feel of the smooth lining against her body, the tickling of the fur on her soft skin.
"Wow!" she enthused. "This is mucho sexy!"
"Muy," Drummond corrected absent-mindedly. There were tears in his eyes, but he had no trouble seeing her. "God, I love you, Dolly. And yes, I know it's a lot physical, but--Geeze--how can I help myself?"
She dimpled at that and took him by the upper arms and walked him over to the padded piano stool that stood by the white Baldwin in the bay window. "Sit down," she instructed him, lifting her hands to his shoulders and pressing down on them. Then she opened the ermine coat, accepting as her due the sharp intake of breath that betrayed Drummond's reaction to the sight of her naked body.
"So. What do you think of your coat?" he murmured as he dived into the valley between her breasts, bestowing the soft, firm flesh to either side with lingering kisses and teasing nibbles.
"I love it," she said, kicking one leg free of the encumbrance of the fur and lifting it to rest her knee next to Drummond's hip on the piano stool.
Drummond shuddered and ran a hand up her thigh to tease at her snatch with his fingers.
"Mm!" he grunted, pulling away from her.
"Hey!" she protested. Her mood evaporated suddenly, and she began to pout.
"You have another present," he said with a husky rasp in his voice. "I want to see... I want you to open it. Now. Please."
He stood up and made as if to step over to pick up the last present, but she stopped him.
"Only if you apologize for what you just did."
"I'm sorry," he said instantly and without prevarication.
"Kiss me, dammit!" She actually stamped her foot and pouted. He leaned down to kiss her, but she turned her face away from him. He drew back an inch, hurt, unsure...
But she couldn't maintain her mask of disapproval. She laughed and pulled him to her, devouring his mouth in hers, draping her body against his in a manner calculated to arouse--and it did.
He took two quick steps to where the box lay on the floor and snatched it up, thrusting it at Dolly and hoarsely ordering her to open it.
Dolly suppressed her smile and meekly unwrapped the present. She had an idea it was jewelry from the shape of the box, but even so, she was almost totally unprepared for the positively decadent necklace she found therein.
It was clearly a one-of-a-kind designer piece. It matched the earrings she'd put on earlier. Or rather, they matched it. The workmanship was clearly superior, the design exquisite, the effect of the piece en large and in detail was simply stunning. It was large enough to cover her entire upper chest and yet was surprisingly lightweight for the quantities of emeralds, diamonds, platinum, and gold that went into its construction. It was the kind of things that kings and queens might envy. That a billionaire's wife or daughter might expect as a gift.
But... She looked up at Drummond from under her bangs. "This is a kind of a wifey gift. Are you sure you want to give this to your doxy girl?"
"That's redundant," he said with a chuckle. "A doxy is a girl. And as for you, miss hot pants nineteen ninety-nine, the only reason I haven't made an honest woman of you is because you won't let me. Any time you want to get married, just say the word and we'll look up a Justice of the Peace or something. Heck, Xe is ordinate in the Universal Life Church. She could do the dirty deed. At least then we'd be keeping it in the family."
She looked up from the box with tears of joy in her eyes. Now she had some inkling of what it was that made Drummond liken loving her to a religious experience.
The prettiness of the bauble wasn't in it. The high cost of it wasn't either. It was that he placed that much value on her as to--just--give to her a pretty thing that cost as much as or more than his house.
At that level of things, it didn't matter that the cost was nothing--pennies, one might say dismissively. What mattered was why he did it. Truly, is was the thought that counted.
"Let's put it on you," he said softly, picking up the necklace from the box. "Turn around."
She did as he instructed and stood quietly while he lovingly arranged the necklace on her chest and fastened the clasp at the nape of her neck. Then he bent and kissed her there, tickling the flyaway hairs that had escaped the scrunchie around her ponytail.
She could feel the shudders that ran through him as he handled her, tasted her. The power of her sex flowed through her, a heady mixture of ecstatic madness and joy with abject surrender and self-abnegation.
He slid the coat down her arms and planted kisses on her collarbone and shoulders. He slid his hands up her body, spreading the front of the coat open and stroking her belly. His big hands cupped her heavy breasts, and she felt a tremor run through her that started in her lower belly and shook her entire body, making her muscles watery weak. She melted into his arms with a moaning sigh and reached up to guide his lips to hers.
Drummond caught sight of Dolly in the glass of a picture frame, naked in all her glory, clothed in barbaric splendor of jewels and furs, though none of it could match, let alone surpass, the natural radiance that was the bare fact of Dolly herself.
It made Drummond feel all primitive in wanting her, needing to plunder her, to take her and wholly own her, and yet to worship the occupant of this temple--this perfect vessel of naked girl flesh in his arms. The spirit within.
Stop thinking, Drummond. You're not making sense. Just deal with loving her.
The coat hit the floor and Dolly's eager fingers began tugging at Drummond's belt. She bounced a little on her toes and wrinkled her nose in a smile. The girl was happy. She was going to get lucky.
Merry Christmas, Dolly.
He crooked a finger under her chin and bent to kiss her. When she realized what he was about, she closed her eyes and parted her lips a little.
"Ah-ah-aah!" came the admonition in a friendly feminine voice. "None of that here!"
Drummond straightened and Dolly opened her eyes. "If not here, then where?" Drummond asked.
"Why in one of my temples!" Aphrodite quipped in answer to Drummond.
Dolly gasped in surprise and blurted out, "Nana! Papa!"
And, of course, it was. Aphrodite and Hephaestus, dressed a tad formally, but appropriately nonetheless.
"What are you doing here?" Dolly asked.
"Here in Cincinnati, or here at a Christian festival celebration?" Hephaestus answered Dolly's question with another.
"Yes," Dolly answered. Drummond just smirked at his god mother.
"Well, we're in Cincinnati for the festival and we're at the festival for you, my little munchkin."
"Pour moi?" Dolly said, pressing her fingertips to her chest in mock-surprise.
"Pour vous," Aphrodite replied.
"But won't Jehovah, like, strike us dead or something?"
"Why," Drummond interrupted. "Because we know for a fact what most Christians take on faith? I don't think so." He turned back to Aphrodite and Hephaestus. "Could you two go on in and find us a pew?"
Taking the hint, Aphrodite nodded, a mischievous glint in her eye, and dragged Hephaestus off into the church.
"OK. Real quick, 'cause it's getting close to time. You're gonna be expected to kneel and cross yourself, and sing along with hymns and participate in call-and-response prayers and catechisms."
Dolly's jaw dropped. "I don't even know what half of that stuff is."
"It's OK," Drummond said. "I don't either. I was raised a Protestant. But the form of the service is pretty similar across sects. What I was gonna say is just watch everybody else and follow their lead. Since you can sight read music and have perfect pitch, you're light years ahead of the rest of us, who can only mumble the words and sing the tune really bad whilst trying to fake it. Don't worry. The important stuff is in the hands of the pros.
"But before we go in, I want to try to get you into an open frame of mind. Try to empty yourself. Let it wash over you."
"Not in your case," he said dryly. "But do try to keep yourself open to the experience. It won't hurt you."
"OK." She centered herself remarkably quickly. Within a minute or two, she was breathing lightly and evenly and her vibrations had damped to nil. "Let's go," she said.
And then Drummond had to spoil it by keeping up a running commentary all the way into the church.
"I picked this church because they're doing an all-Bach service. This should be great. The music Bach wrote is mathematically precise, but is nevertheless some of the most spiritually moving music ever written. The boys' choir is going to do a special arrangement of "Jesu Joy of Man's Desiring."
They got inside the door and had to wait at the rear of a crowd backed up trying to get into the sanctuary from the hallway. Dolly was entranced by the tiers of votive candles, each in its own tiny glass cup. Drummond made a way for her through the crowd and showed her the tapers and the collection box.
He put a bill in the box and whispered to her, "Think of a prayer."
"Like what?" she whispered back.
"Oh, blessings for the soul of a departed loved one are really common. Good fortune for some endeavor, like a new business or a charitable organization."
"What about that clone that the aliens killed and you thought it was me?"
That, as Dolly was able to do to Drummond several times daily, rocked Drummond back on his heels. The theological arguments about whether the clone possessed a soul aside, it was... "A very good idea. For the girl we never knew." And he handed her a taper, then took her hand in his as he helped her light two candles.
"So, Jehovah watches all the candles and filters the requests and like that?"
"Well, no. Not exactly. There are a lot of reasons for this. Some of it is seeking help from God; although direct intervention is never seen as likely, it's believed that God can influence events in ways that a perceptive person can take advantage of. There's also the aspect of sharing the emotional burden...
"But you, you little scamp! No more questions until after. Understand?"
She tried to pull off a pout, but couldn't. She stuck out her tongue in a saucy gesture admitting defeat and then blessed him with her megawatt smile.
As they were waiting to go in, Dolly was watching those ahead of them in the crowd at the door. Genuflecting, crossing themselves, dipping fingers in the font.
"What's all that?" she asked.
"You genuflect as a gesture of respect. That's the kneeling thing. You cross yourself or not, according to your own beliefs. It marks you as a non-Catholic if you don't, but nobody really cares, especially if you leave money in the collection basket. You do not touch the holy water unless you are eligible for communion, which you are not. I'll explain later. Trust me."
Dolly nodded confirmation. She genuflected at the door, but did not cross herself. As Drummond, who was behind her, went through his own ritual, she located Aphrodite and Hephaestus and waved to them. Drummond stood and she took his hand and pulled him along in that direction.
Now it came to pass in those days, there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be enrolled. This was the first enrollment made when Quirnius was governor of Syria. And all went to enroll themselves, every one to his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, to enroll himself with Mary, who was betrothed to him, being great with child. And it came to pass while they were there, the days were fulfilled that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son; and she wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
And there were shepherds in the same country, abiding in the field and keeping watch by night over their flocks. And an angel of the Lord stood by them and the glory of the Lord shone round about them and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, "Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you good tidings of joy which shall be to all the people; for there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior who is Christ the Lord. And this is the sign unto you; you shall find a babe wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, "Glory to God in the highest. And on earth, peace among men in whom he is well pleased.
Dolly didn't understand it all intellectually. It would be years before she did. But that night, she finally understood the simple truth of faith. It is noteworthy that she became a more tolerant individual thereafter.
Love and Peace from both of us.
Merry Christmas to you and yours.
Drummond and Dolly, 12/24/99
To be concluded...
Mt. Adams, approximately 11:47 PM
Dolly was silent and thoughtful for the remainder of the trip to Mt. Adams where the Church of La Immaculata stood on a height overlooking the River. Drummond found a parking space on St. Gregory Street--no mean feat, considering how much of the on-street parking had been eliminated by development on The Hill over the years. They walked the last couple of blocks arm-in-arm, Drummond slowing his steps for her sake, she stretching her strides to the limit for his.
They came to the corner of St. Gregory and Pavilion, and Dolly stopped him when he would have gone on across the street. Foot traffic was heavy, all heading toward the church. She pulled him out of the flow with a tug on his hand and backed him up against the wooden fence that surrounded a beer garden. In his day, the place had been called Yesterdays. It had a different name, now.
"I'm sorry, Babe," she said. When he began to protest, she held up a hand to forestall him. "I'm not saying you're right, but you do want the best for me, and I should remember that. If you say you think I should do something, then... I probably should. At least--" she grinned at him. "You've never steered me wrong, yet."
He gazed at her with tears in his eyes that threatened to freeze in the cold air. "I love you, Gabrielle Dolly."
"And I love you, Mitchell Cary Drummond."
"Come on, or we'll end up in the first pew."
"And the downside of this is...?"
"Yeah, well," he gave a rueful grin. "People don't like to sit down front in church for some reason. I guess they feel guilty so close to the preacher."
She got the joke immediately and chuckled, a rich, throaty sound that made his heart skip a beat. "I guess that's an acknowledgment of the truth, then, when those Baptists say that we're all sinners. People know it and don't want to be reminded of it."
"And the little lady is right in one!"
Dolly dropped his hand and did a Gene Kelly number around the street sign at Pavilion and Belvedere. The effect of the mantilla, the diamonds, and the glitter on her golden-red hair in the glow of the gas-burning street lights was nothing short of numinous.
They crossed Pavilion Street in the middle of the block between St. Gregory and Guido, past Pia's Sandwich Shoppe opposite the end of Fuller and the short row of private houses, then into Guido Street, the narrow cul de sac that led to the church.
One side of Immaculata's sanctuary faced Guido Street, and the lights from inside backlit the stained glass windows. The sound of the high, piping voices of a boys' choir and a stirring organ reverberated through the old stone wall, setting up a rumbling sympathetic vibration in Dolly's chest. An excitement began to build in her that she could neither define nor determine its cause, although she was sure it had something to do with the music.
They reached the turnaround at the end of Guido and, when she would have gone straight to the church door, he pulled her aside to the top of a set of steps. There was a waist-high steel railing around the landing and down either side of the steps, which stretched away out of sight down the hillside.
Drummond struggled to say something. Dolly had the sense to simply wait.
"What there is. No." He sighed, impatient with his inarticulateness. "What you are about to experience is something numinous. Do you know what numinous is?"
"Sure. Carl Sagan said it was like, what you feel when you contemplate the universe in all its grandeur."
"Right. Except that that's not what he meant. He borrowed the term from religion. Numinous is what you feel when you contemplate God."
"Why are you doing this? You know better. You've talked with Jesus--excuse me--Eliahu. You of all people..."
"Two reasons. First, my lack of faith is no reason to denigrate the faith of others. Second, even absent the faith, the contemplation is still numinous. Just because we know that Jehovah is a hairy thunderer whose worshippers had delusions of grandeur, just because we know the man called Hephaestus or Vulcan and his wife Aphrodite, a.k.a. Venus on a personal basis, does not give us the right to diminish or talk down the faiths of people who don't have our special advantages. It is, I think, in the manner of a sin. A very big sin."
"But aren't Christians supposed to prospect--er--what's that word?"
"Right. Them. Isn't that a way of talking down somebody's religion? I mean, if you think they'd should convert to yours...?"
"Yes. You're right. I said it was my belief, not theirs. I figure, so long as they don't use force, then they can try to convert the heathens all they want. And they know that forced conversions are meaningless.
"But you've gotten me off-track again. You're good at doing that, you know?" He smiled gently at her.
He noticed that she was beginning to vibrate. And for once, he welcomed it. For the first time in over half a year, he didn't shiver with fear for her when she started dancing in place, jogging one knee, making subtle little shifts in her stance, tiny swaying movements of her hips, dancer-like postures of her hands, the expressions on her face like poses. It was palpably obvious that she was happy, whereas before, it had always manifested fear or anger or frustration or rage. He stretched out an arm across her shoulders and pulled her to him.
"Settle down, little one. The service will take over an hour. Pace yourself or you'll wear out."
"OK." With a conscious effort of will, she damped her oscillations until she was almost still. "Numinous."
"Right. Numinous. You understand the word or the concept within your own frame of reference. What I want you to try to do tonight is try to see this ceremony from the frame of reference of the celebrants in the congregation."
"Wow! All these new words."
"I know. And I won't be able to explain them to you as we go. You're going to have to trust me on some stuff, but remember your questions for afterward. OK?"
"OK," she said. If it had been anyone other than Dolly, he would have sworn she said it shyly. But Dolly was never shy.
To be continued...
En route between Hyde Park and Mt. Adams, approx. 11:35PM
Cincinnati's December weather is deceptively mild. Later in the winter would come the bitterly cold, subzero, biting wind, blowing drifting snow of a real winter. That Christmas Eve, however, there was only an inch of snow on the grass--streets were for the most part clear. When Drummond backed the Cherokee out of the garage and thumbed the garage door remote, their brick-paved drive was only slightly damp.
"I still don't understand why we're attending this ritual," Dolly protested on the ride to the church. "I mean, these guys are a bunch of fanatics."
"Some Christians are fanatics. Drummond is a Christian. Ipso facto, Drummond is a fanatic. Name that fallacy."
"Reasoning from the particular to the general. But..."
"No buts about it, my dear, darling girl. I will grant you: there have been fanatic Christians. Even those who perverted their religion for temporal power--an egregious sin in the eyes of the early Christians.
"And, of course, we don't have our own fanatics. Men who openly moved against their neighbors and sought to extend the influence of the Olympians by force of arms. None of that in our home camp. We pagans are pure of heart and..."
"OK, OK! I get the point. But that stuff happened a long time ago."
"So there's a statute of limitations on venality? If you're going to excuse barbarism on the part of one, you have to excuse it for all."
"Even for communism?" She had him there.
"OK. Granted that... I will contend that Marxism does not deserve the same consideration. However, that argument will get long and boring real quick if you insist on having it. And since you," he glanced over at her and smiled, "oh Best Beloved, are anything but boring, I foresee that you will not insist on having it."
"Not fair!" she protested.
"Why? Baby Doll, you're the one with all the degrees in history, archaeology, anthropology. I'm just a bit jockey. Emeritus at that. My degree is in electrical engineering, not computer science."
"But I didn't grow up in a religion..."
"Exactly, my dear. I did. So will you trust me that this is an important thing for you to know--to experience? Nobody's trying to get you to convert to Catholicism. Hell, even I would have a problem with that. But the service is open to all, and it would be a good thing for you to learn to respect the beliefs of others. To experience their rituals in their time and place and maybe--just maybe--begin to understand what drives them."
Dolly was silent for a bit.
"Listen, Gabrielle. I don't mean to lam into you. It's not your fault. You are as you are because of choices that were made. The best choices, we thought. Except for that thing with your limbic system going out of whack (not your fault), everything's worked out pretty well so far. But this is something I think you should do. And if I can get this word in edgewise, I think you'll enjoy it."
"OK," she conceded.
"Can you agree that all people who do not share your beliefs are not fanatics?"
"That's not to say, however, that none of them are."
She turned and looked at him. His face was lit from below by the dashboard lights and the headlights of oncoming cars. "I think I knew all of that. So why this...?"
"Why are you resisting it so much?"
"Because everything I know about Christianity..."
"Is probably wrong. Not to fault the Center faculty, but the deconstruction of Christianity began long before any of them were born. It takes a particularly strong mind or a devoted heart to overcome that kind of perversion of the truth. And you have to know that the truth is being twisted in order to resist.
"And to be fair, it isn't just Christianity, it's all religions. What would you do if Prof. Clotho tried to tell you that Rama or Krishna didn't exist. Or Nana or Hephaestus."
"Well, that's ridiculous. I know those people."
"Are you sure? You could be the victim of an elaborate hoax. I could be in on it."
"But me. I mean--my very existence proves that the gods..."
"Not to bust your bubble, Baby, but it proves bupkis. It proves that you believe what people have told you happened--how they said you came into existence. That has about as much evidentiary value as the stories about the stork's bringing babies."
Drummond couldn't believe that Dolly hadn't considered all this long ago. But it made it easier to credit her resistance to attending Midnight Mass.
"OK, so there's some things you can't see or touch or feel and you have to accept what people tell you--you just have to take them on faith."
"Exactly, my dear. And you are about to participate in a ritual--a celebration of transcendent faith with a capital 'T F'."
To be continued...
Christmas Eve, approximately 11:05PM
Dolly crossed her wrists behind Drummond's neck and chinned herself up his body, making sure to rub all her soft parts against him. When she was standing on one fully-extended toe, the other knee hooked around his hip, the heel pressed into his butt, she got to within reach of his mouth and put her face up to be kissed.
It was a demand no sane male could possibly deny. Drummond wrapped his arms around her ribs and lifted her off her feet. He bent his head and captured her sweet lips with his. Dolly felt a shudder run through his body as their lips met. A wave of heat rolled over her in response.
They stayed in the clinch for long moments, coming up for air several times, but diving right back into the warm salty ocean of each other.
Finally, Dolly let herself slide back to stand on her own feet. She looked up at her lover with a sleepy-eyed expression. "Mmm," she purred. "I think that one works."
"Good," Drummond said. "That's all of them then." He craned his neck and did a final visual check on the sprig of mistletoe hanging in the center of the doorway.
As Dolly'd put it, they'd been field testing the installations. Had to be sure they all worked properly. There would be guests in the house and it would simply not do to have inoperative or faulty mistletoe.
Or so they told themselves. If pressed, they would have vehemently denied any contention that they were just using the excuse for a little snogging.
"OK," he said, smacking her on the butt, eliciting a mock pout from Dolly that morphed into a naughty grin. "You've stalled long enough. Time to get ready for mass." He put his hands on her shoulders and turned her around, giving her a gentle shove toward the stairs to the second floor.
She was wearing a sexy little La Perla number consisting of a strapless bra, spaghetti-strapped camisole, and loose under shorts, all in champagne silk. It was obviously not suited for outdoor wear. If they were to make it to midnight mass at La Immaculata, she'd have to get dressed and quick.
Dolly stumbled a bit, her bare feet slapping against the hardwood floor of the passage as she reluctantly headed for the stairs. Drummond paused for a moment to watch her go, the little jigglings of her well-muscled body being so enticing. He sighed and followed her.
"I don't understand why we have to go," Dolly was objecting. "I mean, it's not like we're Christians."
"No, we're not. But if we're going to celebrate their second most important festival, then you, young lady, should have some understanding of what it's all about."
"I hate it when you call me young lady." She stopped halfway up the stairs and started to turn to face him.
"Would you prefer," he asked as he stepped up behind her and gathered her diminutive form in his arms, "I called you little girl?" He lifted her off her feet and carried her giggling, wiggling, and kicking the rest of the way up the stairs.
"No. I prefer you ask me before just assuming I want to go to this heathen ritual."
"Why? Did you ask me if I wanted a Christmas tree or a house full of guests on the 25th?" He set her down on the floor in the upstairs hall and brushed past her into their bedroom suite.
"No. But that's different," she said, following.
"How's that?" he asked from the bathroom, where he inspected his hair and beard then moved on to the closet.
She got into her closet before he got to his and her voice was muffled by all of the clothing close around her. As she selected a pair of white jeans and a cashmere sweater, she explained. "I'm a woman. I'm allowed to do things that don't make sense."
"Cheap shot!" he protested. "No fair playing the sex card."
"Why not? You play it on me all the time!"
"Like just now, when you carried me up the stairs."
"That wasn't about sex. It was about size. Besides, you were in the way." Drummond was sure he'd scored a telling point on the little doll. He grinned to himself as he pulled a denim pullover on over his skivvy shirt and tucked it into the waistband of his jeans.
"Yeah, but," Dolly would not give up. "The difference in our size has to do with the different sexes being bred for thousands of generations to be the size we are."
"And your buddy Xe is...." six feet tall, But then again...
"Well, we don't count, 'cause we're all artificial people. But you aren't. You're a natural-born and you're humongous."
"Naw. Shaquile O'Neil. Now he's humongous. I'm merely above average." He padded barefoot around the doors and into her closet, a piece of fabric held behind his back in one hand.
"How's it coming?" he asked, grateful that Dolly was one of those women who could dress quickly and looked like a million bucks no matter what her condition.
She smoothed the sweater down her body and inspected the effect in the full-length triple mirror mounted on an amoire in the middle of the closet. "Just finishing up," she said, leaning in toward the mirror and picking at loose threads and bits of fluff--both real and imaginary.
"Not quite," he said, bringing his hidden hand out from behind his back. "As a woman, it's customary for you to keep your head covered in church.
"What?" Dolly leaned back and glared at his reflection in the mirror. Then he smiled and melted her heart. He did that kind of thing, she thought, never realizing that she did the same to him.
"Oh, let it go," Drummond scolded gently. "It's harmless and it's a chance to wear a showy scarf."
Dolly goggled at him. He wasn't one to bow to convention like this. He must have some other motive. Then she felt a feather light touch on her hair and a confection of white lace appeared on top of her head.
"Most of the women there will be wearing wool scarves and suchlike. But you, my dear, are so angelic that I thought only a mantilla made of the finest white Irish lace would do." He settled the lace on her golden-red hair, arranging it and pinning it in place with hairpins he must have filched from her dressing table. They had little diamond chips mounted on them and they glistened like starlight where they clung to her hair.
She had to agree that it not only looked angelic and fetching and all that, but it was cute. She would wear it. But he would not get away with this shameless manipulation of her. She'd have to figure out some retribution for his sins. Meantime, she smiled and road-tested the mantilla, making sure it would stay in place by wrapping her arms around his neck and climbing up him for another kiss.
Suddenly inspiration struck. Breaking away from Drummond, she hurried to her dressing table and picked up a spray bottle. She sent a cloud of its contents into the air and stood in it, until droplets of the mist collected on her hair and skin. Then she picked up a small glass vial and poured some of its contents into her hands. She stoppered the vial and threw her hand up into the air. Like a cloud of fairy dust, little specks of glitter drifted toward the floor. Dolly ducked in under them and caught the cloud on her face and hair. Where the glitter met the water it stuck to her.
She turned to face him, eyebrows lifted in question. His appraisal was positive; he stood there admiring her, slowly clapping his hands together. She looked like a fairy-angel from some children's story. The very essence of the moment.
"Shoes," he pointed out. "Then we have to go." Dolly already had heavy white woolly socks and white leggings on. She pulled on a pair of white and silver slouch boots and grabbed her white rabbit-lined jacket from the coat tree. She pronounced herself ready to go.
Drummond stomped his foot the rest of the way into his boot and bent to smooth the leg of his jeans down to above his ankle. Then he straightened and lifted his leather bomber jacket down from the same coat tree and gestured for Dolly to proceed him out the door.
To be continued...
FINALLY TOOK MATTERS in-hand and cleared the detritus, flotsam, jetsam, and impedimenta off the mud bench by the front door of the study. I cleaned the area of dust and cobwebs, preparatory to polishing it up and finishing it off.
Understand, now, that this particular task has been hanging fire since... oh, since the last time Og was here. (When was that?) I've been putting if off because, 1) I was busy with other stuff and B) I wanted to do all of the woodwork at the same time (applying tung oil finish), which meant first I had to fill nail holes with carpenter's wood putty, sand that down, and apply tung oil.
Speaking of which, anybody have any idea why the stuff comes in a squirt can instead of a regular paint can? I get the rag application thing, I really do. (And after having gotten tung oil all over my hands in the waterbed days, I'd rather not.) But it says on the can, you CAN (may) brush the stuff on. Are you supposed to squirt it onto the brush? Any notion of what kind of a mess THAT can make? OK, so you use a a little paint pot. Got those. Works OK. But then, when you're done, what do you do with the excess? I've never seen a funnel small enough to fit in that little squirt nozzle. So do you pour it down the drain? (I think not, Einstein.) Or dump it on the lawn?
You could be conservative about how much you pour out into your paint pot, so there isn't any excess.
Yeah. Right. Dishes me, Dolly. Can't estimate time, weight, distance, age, volume, quantity, or cup size fer schniessen. Point of fact, that's what I did, but it's annoying to have the job made harder by the packaging of my constituent parts.
So I tung oiled the wood bits -- first coat Tuesday evening, second coat Wednesday -- and hung the hooks. Vacuumed up the umbrella stand, put in it the umbrellas which have been cluttering up an inconvenient corner in the bedroom for the past ... ZOMG! hasitreallybeenthreeyearscomeFebrurary?!
You have really got to finish this project.
Working on it.
Anyways... Merry Christmas, y'all.
FROM VANDERLEUN (Here.)
Setting up a new computer is like getting ready to French Kiss an elephant; you know it will be a new experience, but you know it won't taste like veal cordon blue.
I LOLed. I ROFLed. I peed my pants. (No, not really.)
Yeah, that is good. Right up there with your line, "Sharing a personal computer is like sharing a toothbrush."
Aw! See? Now you've gone and ruined the impact!
Well exsqueeze the fuck outta me!
TALKING POINT OF THE DAY is (and I quote) "No Bank was EVER forced to make a loan to an unqualified borrower because of the CRA."
Just as no battered wife is ever forecd to stay with her abusive husband.
Exactly like that.
Like ACORN is a public-spirited community organization, pure as the wind-driven snow, honest as the day is long, as patriotic as you, dedicated to looking out for the little guy. They wouldn't use pressure tactics to terrorize loan officers into dodging libelous charges of racism.
Lemme know when the bullshit gets too deep for you.
TAKES NOTE OF A promising phenomenon. The whole redlight/speedtrap camera thing is so troubling in so many ways, not least of which plops down when the citizenry, in the form of a ballot initiative or referendum, voices a resounding "HELL NO!" ("!!!") to the concept, and the lords and masters at City Hall try to figure a way around the prohibition...
Why is that?
What? That busybodies can't take "NO!" for an answer?
Yeah. Din't their moms teach 'em not to ask fer somethin' if yer not pr'pared to hear, "No!"?
I believe that question answers itself when you reinforce the notion of: check it out -- busybodies?
Yeah. I can see that. But, anyway, Ol' Mostly?
Mostly takes note of a phenom in the People's Republic of Montgomery County, Maryland, wherein some bright sparks at the local high school have taken to revenge speeding. They'll forge the license tag of some social enemy -- well enough to fool the cameras, it appears -- and speed past a known spybot station. Trips camera, et, voila! (mirable dictu!), one ticket is shortly forthcoming to enemy's house.
Gotta love the social symmetry. A lot of us have wondered if the things could be brought down, (short of the practice of necklacing, as they have instituded in Blighty), by challenging them on Fifth Amendment grounds -- you know, the right to face your accuser in court. Hale that camera into court. OK, the operator, or an employee of the operating company. Make it not-worthwhile and maybe they'll go away.
Of course, there's a cost to that.
True enough. But you gotta wonder if some smart boy with a law degree might figure out a way to chase that ambulance to everyone's profit.
But these kids have figured out an even more nifty-neato way -- render the things effectively useless.
Ahhh. American ingenuity at its finest.
Now, as Insty suggests...
They should do it to some prominent local politicians and see how long the cameras last...
In fact, I would urge adding that to the Official Redlight Camera Resistance Handbook: punk the politicians.
</johnnycarson> -- although I did suspect it.
Dr. Tim Ball, in an article at Canada Free Press, examines the evidence and, as usual, the warmista's case falls apart like wet cardboard.
In my kitchen today, the temperature gauge on the space heater read 42°F. The gauge on the thermostat in the living room next door, meanwhile, read a balmy 65°F.
When one of the cats farts downstairs, we may smell it eventually all over the house, but the hydrogen sulfide gas does not instantly appear in the same concentration everywhere, nor is it ever at a uniform concentration.
So why should one assume that, in a far larger system, conditions should be much different? What temperature is my house? What temperature is the planet? Assuming you can give an answer to either question, why should one assume it makes any sense? How much fart-gas is there in my house in parts per million? How much carbon dioxide is there in Earth's atmosphere? How much was there in 1750?
Given the nature of the earth's atmosphere, it would seem a reasonable assumption that the concentrations of any trace gas would vary by some percent. I would even expect that there would be regions in which none would appear, and still others in which concentrations would approach 100%, albeit only briefly, and in limited volumes. For the rest, one would expect at least a 50% variation from an average -- assuming an average could be calculated.
Within the last year, there was released an image, a chart of CO2 concentrations globally as measured by satellite observations. The scale on the thing ranged from concentrations roughly that of the purported pre-industrial level to a maximum of the level purported (by the warmistas) to be todays average.
So it should come as no surprise that, when someone goes back and examines the raw data on CO2 observations down the years, that the pre-industrial levels -- according to direct contemporaneous observations -- vary across a range from between roughly a third and a half of the supposed average to something well beyond any level observed over large areas today.
My conclusion should come as no surprise to anyone who has been following along at home. Yet another leg of the CAGW case is revealed to be standing on empty air. Temperature records, the effects of warming, and now carbon dioxide levels. Once is accident, twice is coincidence, three times is enemy action. Once is stupidity, twice is incompetence, three times is a deliberate pattern of lies.
I have often said I do not care about motives. By the fruits of their actions shall you judge them. This is a textbook case. We've known it all along, now we have even more proof.
The panic-merchants' vision of catastrophic anthropogenic global warming is a fraud. A hoax.
When she and Dolly were seated in the next area down from where Michael sat on the planter, Callisto pulled out her cell phone and placed a call to the Center van outside.
"Nasty, honey," she said. "I need a favor. No, it's not for me... NO! It's not that. You wish, short boy. No. I'm sorry. Look, Nasty, it's Christmas and there's this kid. He's just heartbroken. Could you come in and meet us in the concourse in front of the Warner Brothers store... Nasty! Look, I'm not responsible for all of the stereotypes. But you are an elf, and you look like a hip version of the elves on the kids' shows about Santa Claus, and we need to... OK. Here she is." She handed the phone to Dolly. "He wants to talk to you."
Dolly's skin flushed as she accepted the phone. She turned away from Callisto and murmured into the mouthpiece. After a lengthy exchange that grew quite heated at one point, Dolly closed up the phone and handed it back to Callisto.
"And?" Callisto demanded.
"Yeah. He's coming in. You better hope this works and it's worth it, 'cause you owe me big time for that, sister."
"What? He just wanted to talk to you!"
"Ever hear of phone sex?"
Callisto's jaw dropped and she started to laugh. "Ho-ho-ho! You didn't!"
"It's not anything I'm proud of. In fact, if it gets back to me, I'll deny everything. But... yeah."
Then Dolly grinned. "It's kind of a neat feeling of control to know that, not only can I get men hot and horny and get them off in person, I can even phone it in!"
The two sister dollies broke into merry peals of laughter.
"I can just picture him out in the parking lot," Callisto giggled, "whacking off while he's on the phone with you! Tee-hee! What a sight!"
"Hope he didn't get caught by Mall Security," Dolly put in. "Dunno how they'd explain that."
"So what about Xe?"
"Do we need to...?"
"Well, if Gabrielle and Callisto and an elf are convincing, how much more convincing would it be to have Gabrielle, Callisto, an elf and Xena?"
"What if this kid doesn't buy any of it?"
"Well then, that's just too bad for him. He's gonna grow up and be a bitter and disappointed man."
"Thus speaks Auntie Callisto."
"Knows all, sees all, tells all. I'm nothing but a big blabbermouth."
The two of them put their foreheads together and clasped each other's shoulders, rocking to and fro in their shared merriment.
In a few moments, Nasty showed up. He was dressed smartly, as always, in tight black chinos, a silver Tommy Hilfiger wind cheater, and black leather ankle boots. Pitifully inadequate in the chill winds of the season. But Gods forbid he should sublimate style for comfort. His long, jet black hair was slicked back into an Elvis pompadour, with locks of hair strategically placed to cover the tips of his pointed ears. He was short, something under four feet tall, but exuded such an air of confidence that nobody seemed to notice.
"OK," he said truculently. "Let's get this over with."
"Not yet," said Dolly. "We've got to wait for a couple more people."
While they waited, Callisto filled Nasty in on the plan. The elf agreed only reluctantly until Dolly threatened to tell the Trolls what he'd done on the phone. Knowing their overprotective feelings toward the little doll, Nasty got smart fast and amended his attitude.
About fifteen minutes later, with Nasty getting more impatient by the second, Xe showed up, carrying a single store bag, but with tell-tale bulges as from small parcels in her coat pockets.
"What's up?" she asked. Callisto explained. By the time she was finished, Xe's expression had morphed from the suck-cheeked "Impress-me" scowl that was her weekday expression into the carnivorous, vulpine Sunday grin she got when she was contemplating the laying low of the ungodly. To her, it didn't matter if the sinner was an adult or a child. It was the act of retribution that gave her such a thrill. She readily agreed to the plan and collared Nasty, telling him to behave or the Trolls couldn't get there in time to save him from her.
Then a gang of kids sauntered up to Michael and began the same dominance dance that has gone on between and among pre-adolescents from time immemorial. One or the other would invade Michael's space and poke at him, or give him a sucker punch on the shoulder. To his credit, Michael stood his ground. Finally, the group was done with that ritual and the apparent leader stepped in. This, the dollies agreed, would be Tommy.
"Time to do our thing," Dolly said.
Xe, Callisto, and Dolly did their patented Dolly swirl, wherein the three of them surrounded Michael, doing a dance of attentiveness that was definitely too sexual for the young boy, but certainly got the attention of the kids in the gang. They kept up a running patter about all manner of things, including the agog and wonderstruck boy in the conversation, for all he could barely muster an "uh-huh" or "Yeah!"
One by one the dollies were recognized, and there were hushed whispers of "Xena!", "Gabrielle!", and "Callisto!" from the tiny mobsters.
Then Dolly said, "Oh, and Mickey baby--Guess who we found?"
One of the girls in the gang shrieked at that and whimpered, "Mickey?" like--a goddess just called this goober-worm by a totally cool name and she couldn't believe it.
Just then, Nasty stepped around the corner of a planter into the midst of the crowd of children. "Hey, Mickey," he said. "How's it hanging?"
Somehow Dolly managed to smack him on the top of his head without anybody noticing. But it didn't matter.
Michael took one look at Nasty, a genuine elf, and blurted out, "You came!"
"Sure enough," said Nasty, pretending to a modesty he didn't feel and speaking with a brogue he'd only heard on television. "All the way from the Pole. Busy time of year for us, but for a bud... Hey! What are friends for?"
"Well, since it is two days 'til Christmas, and all," young Tommy Pilesko said with all the youthful sarcasm he could muster, (which wasn't much, but remember these are eight-year-olds we're talking about), "What are you doing in Cincinnati?"
"Well, we're takin' a survey. Y'know? Makin' a list and checkin' it twice? This is part of the checking process. So tell me, lad--" he moved toward Tommy, boldly stepping into the boy's personal space. "--what's you're name? Have you been good?"
"Thomas Pilesko, s-s-sir. And I've been good. Sir." Nasty lifted a dubious eyebrow. There was a general titter from the boys and girls in the miniature gang. Dolly had a feeling that there would be a shift in the power structure of that little group sometime soon. Perhaps that very afternoon.
Then Callisto stepped in. She was standing behind Nasty. She cupped her hands together at her own waist level and about at Nasty's shoulder blades. Very shortly, Nasty began to glow. Or that's what it looked like. And little streamers of fire began to emanate from Callisto's cupped hands--appearing to come from Nasty's shoulders--and fly in sparkling arcs to touch the tops of the heads of the children.
And suddenly the dollies, the elf, and the boy were alone again. The fleeing backs of a gang of junior grade thugs could be seen weaving in and out of the adult foot traffic along the mall concourse.
Callisto started laughing so hard she had to sit down. "Well. That certainly wasn't what I had in mind, but I think it will do."
Dolly was down on one knee again in front of Michael. "Better now?" He nodded.
They were joined just then by a slender woman with light brown hair and a harried air about her. She was approximately somewhere between twenty-five and thirty-five and obviously somebody's mother. Obviously Michael's mother.
"Michael," she said, pushing through the group of adults clustered between her and her child. Then she looked up at Xe and did a double-take. "You! You're..."
"Yes, ma'am," Xe drawled. "But we'd kinda prefer it didn't get announced to everybody in the mall."
Michael's mother looked from one to the other of them, taking in Xe, Dolly, and Callisto and then settling her gaze at last on Nasty. Then she turned back to her son and noted the beatific expression on his wide-eyed face. "But what are you...?"
"Just talkin' to a friend, ma'am," Dolly said. "Just talkin' to a friend." She turned to Michael. "Well, Mickey--it's been real. But we gotta go. Gimme a hug." And he did. A very good and manly hug it was, too.
"You OK?" Dolly whispered. "Did that help?"
"Do you think he'll believe?" Dolly asked.
"Nope. People like him, they never believe. But... Thank you anyway."
"You're welcome. Glad I could help you believe." Dolly pinched his cheek and grinned when he rolled his eyes.
"That's not it," he whispered. Dolly raised an inquiring eyebrow.
He was quiet for a moment and the sounds of the mall intruded, the shuffling feet, the burruburrub of muted conversations, the announcements and alarms of the stores. Then he answered her question and the answer filled her heart with joy.
"I'm not afraid any more," he said.
To be continued...
Wednesday, December 22, mid-afternoon
Kenwood Towne Center's public address system wound down the seventeenth playing of "Silver Bells" by the Undead Orchestra. The odors of compressed humanity, shuffling along the brick and terrazzo in dour lines, beat against the sense of smell like a tsunami on a rocky shore. There wasn't a smile to be seen within a city block. The place was hot, muggy, and a definite drag on the spirit. It was, in short, two shopping days before Christmas.
On the hardscaped island in the middle of the mall concourse, a small boy sat on the edge of a brick planter near a fountain and cried his heart out. He looked to be somewhere south of eight years old. He might have been eight, but if so, he was small for his age. He was dressed warmly, too warmly for the interior of the mall, but in well-kept, if not entirely modish, clothing of good quality. He had his head in his hands and was crying and sniffing and wiping snot on the sleeves of his parka, and generally being miserably unhappy.
"Hey, little fella," came a cheery greeting in a husky female voice.
He looked up and saw a tiny young woman, her face framed by a leonine mane of waist-length golden-red hair, a brilliant smile on her face and a naughty twinkle in her emerald green eyes. There was a spatter of freckles across her nose and upper cheeks that gave her a mischievous air. She was dressed all in white, white platform boots, skin-tight white leggings, and a short white jacket lined with ermine fur. The jacket was open to reveal a white tee shirt with a Swiss army crest, a white cross on a red shield, embroidered across her full breasts.
Standing next to her was another woman, somewhat taller, but slender like a willow branch. She looked a little like an elf, except she didn't have pointy ears--but then again you couldn't see them under her hair, so maybe she did. She was wearing a jeans jacket, an embroidered logo sweatshirt, and skin-tight Levi's 504's. On her feet were a pair of blue-gray slouch boots with soft, flat soles. Her hair was like spun cotton, pure white and so fine and soft. Her eyes were warm and brown, friendly--her skin a deep, tropical tan.
The red-haired lady dropped to one knee in front of him, setting her packages on the floor, while the other one sat next to him on the brick wall of the planter.
"You OK, Baby?" the red-haired lady said in her smoky voice, reaching out a hand and brushing the hair out of his eyes.
He jerked his head aside, resentful of her attentions. "'M not a baby," he muttered.
"She didn't mean it like that," said the other lady. Her voice was smooth and pretty, like his mother's. "She calls everybody Baby."
A look passed between the two women that the boy observed, but did not understand.
"What's the matter?" said the red-haired lady, her rough voice beginning to sound to him more and more like comfort. "Did you lose your mom?"
He shook his head. "She told me to wait here. She'll be back to get me. I was just getting tired and wanted to sit down."
"Mm-hmm," the red-haired lady prompted. She got up off her knee and sat down next to the boy, on the opposite side from her companion. "So what are you crying about?" she asked, leaning toward him as though to shelter him.
"'M not crying!" he insisted, perhaps overloud. Several adults nearby glanced in his direction with knowing and sympathetic smiles.
"Oh, sorry," said the white-haired lady. "Of course you're not crying. Must be something in your eye, huh?" She produced a tissue from somewhere and wiped his nose, instructing him to blow, which he did without thinking. "Now, tell Auntie Callisto what the problem is," she said quietly. He didn't really notice that she held her hand out flat, palm-up, and the tissue went up in a flash and a puff of smoke.
But the instant he heard and comprehended the words "Auntie Callisto," his head whipped around and he gaped at the white-haired lady. It was--it couldn't be-- "It's you!" he said breathlessly. Then his head spun around and he pinned the red-haired lady with his gaze. "And you! You--you're--Gabrielle!"
Dolly chuckled deep in her throat. She reached out and ruffled his hair.
"Wow!" he said, looking from one to the other. "Where's Xena?"
"Oh, she's around, somewhere," Callisto said casually, pretending to search the crowd for the tall woman with raven hair.
"Wow!" the boy repeated. "Wait 'til Tommy Pilesko hears about this!"
"Whoa! Whoa! Whoa!" Dolly protested. "Not so fast, little man. We're kinda traveling in-cog-nito. Y'know?"
"Then where's your sunglasses?" he asked smartly.
"Right here," Dolly said with a grin. She whipped her mirror shades out of her jacket pocket and instantly the boy was looking at a reflection of himself in her eyes.
"Cool!" he said.
Dolly removed her shades. "So who's this Tommy Pilesko?" she asked, folding the shades and sticking them back in their pocket. The boy had to agree that her green eyes were a lot prettier to look at that those old silver sunglasses.
"He's a friend of mine. Well, not a friend. Not any more. He lied to me. He told me that there's no such thing as Santa Claus!" He looked from one to the other of them, desperately searching their expressions for confirmation of his beliefs.
"I'd think old Saint Nick would be mighty surprised to hear that!" Callisto exclaimed. She gave Dolly a tight, pursed-lipped grin that was returned behind the boy's back.
"You know," Dolly said, "there's something sad when a boy falls off the sleigh. When he doesn't believe any more."
"But it ain't true, right? There is a Santa Claus... Right?"
"Oh, yeah," said Dolly like she was singing the last line of a blues tune. "There is a Santa Claus."
"Wow! I can't wait to tell off that butthead Tommy Pilesko!"
"Wait a second, now!" Callisto cautioned. "What are you gonna tell him? That you know for a fact that Santa Claus exists?"
"Yeah," Dolly chimed in. "Isn't that what you told him before?"
"Oh, yeah." The boy's face dropped until he was back in the dumps again.
"But," Dolly went on, "What if you could find somebody he would believe who could vouch for you? For Santa? Who knows Santa real well, 'cause he... works at the North Pole!?"
His hope and faith in the rightness of the world restored, the boy looked up at Dolly with a magical light in his eyes. "Could you do that?" he asked eagerly.
"Wow! If I could show Tommy an elf..." then the crestfallen expression avalanched across his face again. "But I can't leave here. If I do, then my Mom will get worried..."
"Mmm," said Callisto, pondering the situation. "Where's this Tommy guy now?"
"Oh, I don't know. He just likes to--to--just run around the mall and hang out and pick on littler kids. Him and that gang of his friends."
Callisto nodded wisely. "So he just told you there's no Santa Claus and then went off somewhere?"
The boy nodded miserably.
"And he hasn't been back?"
Dolly was looking puzzled. She lifted an eyebrow at Callisto.
"We're talking the gloat factor," Callisto replied to the unspoken question. "He's only made one pass. He's little our young friend stew in his own misery for awhile, but he'll be back to do some bomb damage assessment."
Dolly nodded comprehension. "So what do you have in mind?"
"What's your name, guy?" Callisto asked.
"Michael," he replied.
"OK, Michael. Do you think Tommy will come back here sometime soon?"
"Oh, sure. Those kids all like to hang out at the Warner Brothers store. They'll be here any minute now."
"Alright. Suppose we leave you alone and wait--" Callisto looked around, "--over there, so nobody can see we're with you. Then we'll wait until Tommy shows up and we'll prove to him that there's a Santa Claus."
"How are you gonna do that?" Michael asked.
In answer, Callisto held up her right forefinger. Floating in the air above the upraised tip was a tongue of flame. "I'm magic," she said. "Remember?"
Michael's widened and his mouth got very small. He nodded eagerly in agreement with the plan.
To be continued...
IN KEEPING WITH CHRISTMAS TRADITION (all of four years old) here at BTB, the Apocrypha story "A Dolly XMas," originally written in 1999 on the Center for Xena Studies mailing list, will be posted in seven parts between now and Christmas. The chapters will be appearing at the dates and times they represent, so that the story can unfold in "realtime" as it were. The chapters are already uploaded and scheduled to appear. Watch this space.
Meanwhile, the old saying "If you would have peace, prepare for war." has a corollary: "If you would have honesty, prepare for fraud."
No, it wasn't.
It was on the front porch at Roseholme Cottage.
Oh. Well, technically. But who's telling this story?
So you think it's OK to deceive your audience?
There is such a thing as poetic license. AND... "time" can encompass all the lesser events of the day, subsumed in the larger, overarching event of the Blogmoot. These things are at the discretion of the storyteller in fiction, as you ought to know...
WHAT IS IT WITH YOU AND THIS FICTIONAL THING! SHEESH!
Oh. ... Keh. You done?
::straightens clothing and brushes hair into loose array:: Mostly.
Good. We'll discuss this later.
Last time I saw Mike, whom I find a thoroughly delightful person, was in the long room at BRBP, and he was posing the question, "Who's your favorite Founding Father?"
And that's supposed to be brilliant? Seems kinda simple to me.
Most brilliance is. I found the question incisive and, yes, brilliant. Perfect for the occasion.
Three: Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, and Ben Franklin. The smuggler, the libertarian, and the entrepreneur. To me, they seem to encapsulate the American spirit.
Fair enough. That was a month-and-a-half ago. What's the occasion?
Hmm? Oh. Mike. He's a blogger, for all he blogs in the shadow of his superstar wife. And he's a thoughtful one -- thus the point of the anecdote about the incisive question. He's on my daily rotation. I click through to his blog to check and see if he's posted something new. Usually, not, and I click out again. It's gotten to be a habitual action. Click in. Glance. Click out. Saturday, it was: click in; glance; oh! there's something new!, click out. ... DAMN!
::titter:: Sorta like the Bugs Bunny cartoon.
Where Bugs is in a gun fight and his opponent blows the smoke away after every shot. BANG! (poof!) BANG! (poof!) then he looses the rhythm and goes POOF! (bang!). Usually because Bugs has thrown him off by -- like -- yelling BANG! at the wrong moment.
Sorta like that.
No. Not really.
Swennyways. Mike's post?
Oh, hell. Go read it for yourself.
ABOUT THE WHOLE so-called "right-to-die" movement that, like a lot of leftist brainfart pipedreams, that it's a lot more a "right-to-extort-the-grudging-cooperation-of-a-purposive-life-saving-institution-in-killing-yourself-because-(after-all)-it's-really-about-destroying-western-civilization,-isn't-it?" movement. But that won't fit on a bumper sticker.
But while I've been silently screaming it from my mental rooftops because, you know, I wondered if anybody'd listen, this guy has been working the heavy bag and doing the roadwork.
Many of the "rights" which are being promulgated and promoted by today's secular culture are in reality straw men, fine-sounding proxies for demands and desires far less salutary than they sound. Thus, gay marriage is not about gays getting married (hence the lack of enthusiasm among gay rights advocates for civil unions which provide all the legal benefits of marriage), but is instead an effort to destroy traditional heterosexual marriage as normative in culture, thereby removing not merely legal but cultural restraints on all forms of sexual and relational deviancy. The high standard -- heterosexual marriage, with its enormous advantages in the raising of children and establishment of societal self-restraint, morality, and relational stability - must be brought down to the lowest common denominator of any two (or more) people getting "married" - with the sole purpose of muting societal condemnation for self-gratifying, dysfunctional and heterodox partnerships. Unrestricted abortion, a.k.a. "freedom of choice," is about the uncompromising (albeit delusional) demand for unconstrained sexual license without consequences - especially for women, but also for their sperm donors who want no responsibility for their casual hookups: dispose of the unplanned pregnancy, move on to your next "partner," and you have achieved the perfect "zipless fuck."
Just so, the so-called "right-to-die" demands we subvert and pervert the life-maintenance mission of the medical professions.
Talk about your slippery slopes...
Really. Like a levee in January, coated with a foot of glare ice.
AND YET THE watermelon Left bitterly clings to its obsolete brainfart carbon pipedreams -- all evidence to the contrary not withstanding.
Hey, Alger. You know the plural of anecdote is not data.
Sure. Which would be cuttingly witty of you to say if the anecdotes weren't reinforced by -- you know -- the actual data.
Point taken. At least... here.
(Hat tip: Tom Nelson.)
OVERREACHES. While the Federal Government is constitutionally supposed to be the creature of the states, it is made to be over them in some regards to prevent the kind of internecine trade warfare that marred the period of the states united under the Articles of Confederation. It is for this reason that there is a line in Article I, Section 9: "No Tax or Duty shall be laid on Articles exported from any State."
This is in a section placing limits on Congress, yes. But at the head of the section, it reads, "All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives." Meaning that the power to lay such taxes would ordinarily belong to Congress, but it is forbidden to it. Also, please note that the clause does not say, "Congress shall lay no..." Oh, no. It says, "No tax or duty shall be laid..." That's an absolute proscription, placed on ALL parties who might think on the subject.
Including, I might point out, state governments.
But, the statists in Albany might object, what's being exported are not articles, but electrons.
I suspect atomic physicists might argue that point with you.
But let that lie for the nonce. You statists are always the ones saying we should update the Constitution to adapt to modern times. Nest paw? So, here's your big chance. The intent was that interstate commerce should not be hampered by barriers to traffic placed by state governments. Thus the power to tax it is forbidden -- not only the states -- but ALL government players. So let's update that from "articles" to "goods" and we're done. Obviously, an MP3 is a good, for which Apple (et al) are charging American dollars. State governments don't have the power to tax that unless the transaction has both ends -- buyer and seller -- within the state in question and the product at no time ever leaves the state.
Given the nature of the Internet, that last is never going to happen.
And the statists in Albany will whinge that they'll have to forgo billions of dollars in taxes.
And the liberty-loving folk out here in the country reply: That that is not a bug; that's a feature.
AUSTRALIAN WATERMELONS throw shoes at PM Kevin Rudd, in (no doubt) conscious imitation of the Egyptian Baathist provocateur who abused Iraqi hospitality to fling his footwear at Dubya here recently. Puts me in mind of the urban legendary origin of the term sabotage -- to throw your sabots (shoes) into the works. (I think it's been debunked, but it still makes an interesting metaphor.) Those would be the followers of Ned Ludd, the original anti-technology witling. We memorialize his idiocy with the term luddite today.
Of course, his followers claimed to be benefitting the commonweal in their call for a return to the goodole days, pre-... well, pre-industrial revolution, which signified a departure from millenia of subsistence farming as a lifestyle choice and a mass migration toward what we today know as urban sophistication. Indoor plumbing. Heat. Light. Clean living. Public health nazis.
OK, so it's not all unalloyed good.
It's becoming increasingly clear that the whole catastrophic anthropogenic global warming thing is pretty much a wet firecracker -- not to mention a massive hoax. The science is pretty clear.
And, yet, we still have these luddites attempting to influence public policy with spoiled-brat monkeyshines.
Who, exactly, is it choosing politics over science?
SOMETHING LIKE THIS article at Carbon Sense...
“Moreover, a bit of warmth would vastly increase the land suitable for growing food and fibres. On the other hand, a slight cooling would take much of the farmlands of Canada, Northern Eurasia and New Zealand out of production, and parts of Tasmania and Victoria may have to convert from producing wheat and dairy products to farming caribou or reindeer.
“Warm eras also provide more rainfall because of the additional evaporation from oceans, lakes, snow and ice.
“When warmth and moisture are combined with more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, the beneficial effects on plant life are multiplied. A doubling of the CO2 content of the air would have insignificant effect on global warming but would have marvellous effects on plant (and then animal) life:
Growth rate of herbaceous plants would increase 30%
Growth rate of forest plants would increase 50%
All plants would be more tolerant of drought and heat
Food production would need less land and less artificial fertiliser
“All of this magic can be achieved by allowing man’s activities to recycle more CO2 and water to the atmosphere. Why then are politicians taxing carbon and encouraging people to waste money on foolish schemes such as trying to bury valuable carbon dioxide in artificial and expensive carbon cemeteries?
...And I can't help but conclude, as did Steven Milloy at Junk Science (to whom a tip o' the tam o' shanter), that the whole CAGW scheme is... "anti-life and against the interests of mankind."
HANNITY can focus on the pettiest shit.
But, OK. I'll play.
So Barack Hussein Obama, the son of a Muslim, was named in part for a companion of the prophet. Sort of like Mexicans naming their kids Jesus, or Episcopaleans naming theirs Mark or Matthew.
Well... There's other issues there...
But the reason that the Democrats chose to make an issue of it has to do with their own bigotry. They assumed that swing voters included a significant number of bubbas who, on hearing the name Hoosane would immediately go straight to Saddam. Or that there was a lesser risk that they may assume The Guy is an undercover operative for Osama bin Liner.
Like... they wouldn't know anyway.
Now. ::shrug:: He could show up in the white night dress and the hat that's had a rimjob, kneel in the Rose Garden, facing Norfolk, and start the bobbing and weaving and it wouldn't matter.
Not that there's anything wrong with that.
OF WEB SITES for entertainers.
1) Do not assume that your readers are as eager as you are to see all the bandwidth-sucking bells and whistles. A site that loads slowly is a site that might as well be dead. Sure, you may have brazilians of hits, but, unless your product (CDs, MP3s, DVDs, merchandise) is flying off the shelves and your concerts are selling out, that slow web site isn't doing you a lot of good, now, is it?
2) Keep your site up-to-date. There's nothing so disconcerting to the fans as to find "THE OFFICIAL SITE" for their favorite act, only to learn that the most recent item on the News page is from four years ago.
3) Put every tour date you have up there. Don't show only this month. People plan concert attendance months in advance. If you don't have your dates out there, they don't know you're coming, they won't buy your tickets.
4) Include professsional contact information on the site, or links to managers, booking agents, record company, etc. Don't assume that those awful, grubby fans are the only people viewing your site.
AT THE PATCH FACTORY -- double digits per minute, in fact. Over the three-day weekend (5PM Friday to 8:30 AM Tuesday), I got 1,200 pieces of spam that didn't trigger my already extensive spam-and-twit filtering. It kept the pace up all through the day Tuesday. I shudder to think what I'll face Wednesday morning.
There ought to be a special circle in Alighieri's hell for the senders of spam. They send and they clog the pipes of Internet commerce.
And they keep doing it because somebody told them it was a great way to make money. I mean -- sombeody told them. It can't be true, can it? Can there be that many suckers to be bled?Can there possibly be someone so un-savvy, so situationally unaware, so fraud vulnerable as to even OPEN a spam message? Let alone read it? Let alone... buy something from it?
THIS BLOG IS SUPPOSED TO BE all about -- Baby Troll, my fictional character, Gabrielle Dolly.
Hey! Hey! Hey! Whatch who you're callin' fictional, Buster!
Sorry. Say, "Imaginary."
That's better. Marginally.
Somewhere in the collection of clippings I keep for reference and inspiration when dreaming up Dolly's stories, there's an old IBM magazine ad from the late '90s. It's a picture of two young men on the top deck of a house barge on the Seine. Think Duncan McLeod's barge in the Highlander TV series. They're sitting down and sharing a drink. One of them is holding up a sign, the headline for whatever IBM was plugging that day. In the foreground is a redheaded toddler in a jumper dress, white tights, and black patent leather shoes. She's running and laughing, the prototypical happy child. There's no sound, but you can just hear the peals of her laughter ringing out over the water.
In Double Switch, Mitchell Drummond (Dolly's lover) has an exchange with the lesbian biker poet Sappho Tarkasian. Sappho asks him, in effect, both where Dolly gets it from and how she gets away with the outrageous things she does and say. Drummond's reply is, "I think it's because she never was a girl."
Dolly was created as a grown woman out of the anima of an ancestress of the East clan and a cloned body grown from recombinant DNA. Although her makers took considerable pains to ensure that her body developed normally during its accelerated growth, providing Dolly with the muscle memory and physical toning for such diverse activities as fencing, playing guitar, and engaging in sexual intercourse, Dolly never went through most of the experiences that form young girls -- competition with an overbearing mother, rough-housing with siblings and peers both male and female, sexual importunings from each and every male around her from the moment her body first began to betray her in puberty, and all the rest.
Although Dolly's unique genesis was not devised in order to provide me with this device (it was, in fact, invented as a matter of necessity -- having to explain how a plastic toy could become a real person within a given time frame), I would nevertheless have to be utterly unaware of the human condition (and therefore unsuitable as a writer of fiction) not to recognize the golden opportunity Dolly's creation presents me for comment on that condition.
Although you'll never catch me addressing it head-on, and God forbid I should do something so kack-handed as Stapledon or McDonald a character (like Travis McGee's buddy Meyer) to lecture the reader on the subject, nevertheless, there will always be this theme in Dolly's stories.
What is it about modern society -- even American society, where women are the most liberated they have ever been -- that takes that fearless little toddler, ready and able to take on the world, and turns her into a mincing little mouse by the time she's ten? Is the world really that hard on kids?
And it does bug me when women speak too softly to be heard, when they permit themselves to be used and abused because they don't want to make a fuss, when they give undue consideration to miscreants taking advantage of their better natures. When they won't even stand up for themselves against their own abusive peers.
Of course, Dolly is none of those things. She's bold as brass and loud as a Marshall amp on eleven. Her customary method of locomotion is the strut, and you always know where you stand with her. She dives into life headfirst like Charlie Hustle sliding into second base. Her motto is, "Get some on you. More usually does the trick." She loves like she's never been hurt, and will risk her own life without hesitation to protect anyone within reach, whether she knows them or not.
And, I am glad to say, that every single, solitary trait grafted onto her busty, redheaded frame comes from a real-life woman of my acquaintance (more than a few of them lovers). So the generalizations I'm reacting to are, like all generalizations, possessed of exceptions. And, as we saw in the current war, the American female soldier, seaman, airman, and Marine can more than take care of her self. I call them the Kickass American chick, and my heart swells with pride just to know they're out there.
I have also noticed -- or think I have, anyway -- that younger women are driving more assertively than they used to. Granted, assertive driving can sometimes equal asshole, but you gotta take the bad with the good.
I found it amusing when, before the War on (some) Terror, some European metrosexual ranted that we Americans allowed our women so many undue liberties because we're afraid of them. I just had to laugh at how badly wrong he got it. No, you do not "allow" the descendants of Molly Pitcher, Abigail Adams, and Laura Ingalls Wilder to do anything. If she's of a mind to, an American woman will take on any challenge, and there's no "allowing" to be involved. And -- far from being afraid of our grrls -- we're oh, so very proud of them.
A certain librarian of my acquaintance relates her treatment of a pushy asshole. We are so very, very proud of you, Breda. Good on ya, kid.
I HAD TO PUT the brackets back up on the east wall of the study in order to have some place out of reach of the cats in order to dry boards. However, I managed to get a coat of sanding sealer on all of the boards for the south wall bookshelves and on five sides of the shelves for the east wall bookshelves. The sixth side goes on tomorrow, and then we start sanding. I sand the sealer up to 600 grit, then do the final drilling and cutouts. After that, there'll be anwhere from one to three coats of polyurethane on everything before final assembly. Won't make it by Christmas, but maybe by the end of the year.
THAT THE AUTO BAILOUT thing flopped? D'ya wish somebody would tell Harry Ried that the choice between two evils is still evil, no matter if one is greater and one lesser?
Like Og said, here, you ought to thank your Congresscritters for voting down this pile of schniessen. All the more-so if they didn't.
ANYBODY CATCH THE live Rickroll in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade?
NUKES so-called Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming. No Evidence to Support Carbon Dioxide Causing Global Warming! Now, one might think that having an exclamation point in the title of a scientific paper (albeit one written by and for a layman) would tend to diminsh its gravitas. Please allow for exasperation, however. Some of us have been arguing against this since right about the time the idiots first proposed it and are getting heartily sick and tired of beating on this same dead horse.
Trouble is, the warmistas keep propping it up and waving the legs around, trying to pretend there's life in the old nag yet.
For those of you who are late to the game, here's the score.
In the early '80s, James Hansen of NASA proposed that the earth was experiencing a period of global warming and that catastrophe could result. Massive climate shifts, animal and human migrations, coastline erosions due to rising sea levels from melting ice caps, drought, increases in severe weather, famine, disease run rampant, war as a result of struggles over increasingly scarce resources.
At the time, the planet had been in a cooling period since prior to WWII. Hansen's landmark testimony before Congress came at a time when there had been perhaps three or four years of warming to indicate a "trend." Since about 1998, all available data indicate yet another cooling phase is being experienced and, indeed, average temperatures -- as measured (keep an eye on that concept for a moment or two) -- have dropped enough to cancel out all of the warming experienced over the last 100 to 120 years. In other words, we're not quite back where we started, but we're damned close.
Oh, and by the way? The delta they were talking about to begin with was under one degree Fahrenheit. Depending on the time-scale you chose, it's even under a half-degree. This is important because, up until very recently, thermometers were incapable of measuring more precisely than +/- .5 degrees. Not only that, but until the advent of digital thermometers, temperature records were kept in whole degrees. The fractional degree changes in averages are entirely the artifacts of statistical manipulation.
Further, of the temperature records even kept, the overwhelming majority are concentrated in developed countries, of those over half are in the continental United States, the vast bulk of those being in or near cities (guaranteed to have artificially elevated temperatures, thus skewing the putative global "average"). Close examination of individual stations by Anthony Watts' Surface Stations initiative has revealed that a significant number of the stations in the U.S. (40%-plus) do not yield data of an acceptable precision for anything but coarse-grain weather forecasting and tell us nothing about global temperatures whatsoever.
It should also be noted that there is virtually no long-timescale temperature record of any reliability over 70% of the earth's surface -- the oceans. I have also gotten the impression that there is woefully inadequate coverage at high latitudes (above 70 degrees north or south). This latter is important, as a large part of the claimed effects of global warming are on the polar ice caps.
I submit that this shows that we do not even know the global temperature. I further argue that we cannot know the global temperature in any meaningful fashion, that even if we could construct a network of recording stations of sufficiently high resolution and reliability as to allow us to get an accurate record of global temperatures, the sampling would still be inadequate for determining with any degree of certainty a global "average" temperature, and that, still further, as such the very concept of such an average is thermodynamically meaningless.
As for carbon dioxide, the supposed villain of the piece. Yes, it's true. There is carbon dioxide in the earth's atmosphere. The amount is approximately 3% of 3% (CO2 is 3% of greenhouse gasses, which are in turn about 3% of the atmosphere). That number is 0.0009 or 9/100s of one percent. This doesn't quite fit the definition of minuscule, (it'd have to be a couple more decimals to the right with the jiggy digits), but it's damned close. Even so, this tiny amount can have a disproportionate effect. It works about like this:
Starting from between 250 and 300 parts per million of CO2 at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, if you double CO2 concentrations, you'll get about .7 degrees F increase in global temperatures -- absent any negative feedbacks. (A negative feedback is one that has a damping effect.) However, that only works in that one case. If you double again, from say 500 to 1000, you don't get a tenth of a degree. You have maxed out the effect CO2 can have on the system.
But even that is assuming that there's no negative feedback. Such as... increased warming causes more evaporation of salt and fresh water, increasing clouds in the upper atmosphere, which have the paired effect of reflecting sunlight back into space (increased albedo) AND providing the release of stored heat energy from precipitation.
Now, it's claimed that, at the moment, (some 250 years on), the global concentration of CO2 has risen to about 385 parts per million. But a global concentration map published this past year tells a different story. That 385 ppm figure is a maximum, recorded in a handful of spots around the globe, and large swathes of the atmosphere show little or no increase in CO2 at all.
Oh, and by the way? The principle source-of-record for CO2 values? On a volcano in Hawaii. In case you missed it, volcanoes release enormous amount of CO2. Way to measure that stuff accurately, guys.
And now. Temperatures have, as I said, dropped below what they were at the beginning of this panic, indeed, below what they were at any peak in the 20th Century. As far as we know, anyway.
But I keep hearing James Hansen and Al Gore lauded as prophets of global warming, and it sometimes seems that the entirety of western civilization has been turned to in a bootless attempt to ameliorate a warming trend that... is over.
So please excuse a little exasperation. Will you?
And go read that paper.
Cross-posted at Eternity Road
MOSTLY BECAUSE he's on. I was really pissed at WKRC when they dumped Laura Ingraham. My favorite lineup would NOT include Beck, but WOULD include Laura, Bill (the Czar) Bennett, and G-Man Gordon Liddy.
::sigh:: Put that on the "someday" list. Someday, I'll be working in an office where I can plug in speakers and listen to my choice of talk radio off the Internet instead of having to accept what I can get over the air.
So Beck this morning says something just so stupid as to induce terminal flabbergastion.
He's ranting about Blago's moral turpitude and the general corruption destroying the country. And he says, "They're still playing the Democrat/Republican game. I DON'T CARE what his party is!"
Doubleyew. Tee. Eff?!1!!eleven?
I mean, if it weren't palpably obvious that, like, 99 and 44/100 percent of the corruption is Democrat in nature, he might have a point. Something died in the country when we stopped tarring and feathering corrupt pols, and Blago is the epitome of the type.
PLEASE, PLEASE TELL ME Just what is the difference between Robert Mugabe and the Democrat Congress in this country as regards destructive behavior directed at the economy. Is it one of kind? Or merely one of degree?
WOULDN'T WANT MUCH. Doncha just feel sorry for Blago's lawyer? Yes, it's true: a lawyer who represents a Democrat under indictment generally has a scumbag for a client, but -- as the old punchline from the '60s goes -- not so damned shaggy.
In a slight degreasion, how about running some dozens on Blago's name. Rod Blowjobovitch. Or... Rod Blackguardovich. (Give it the Brit pronunciation -- BLAG-gard-o-vitch.) OK, it's sophomoric. Sue me.
PUTTING THE SAT back in Saturnalia.
Um, wouldn't a festival to the god Saturn be -- by definition -- kinda... not atheistic?
Is that maybe why all their whingeing about Christmas being a stolen holiday a bit... disingenuous?
But isn't their point that pretty much every culture has a winter festival?
It might be. But then... what's their point? So what? This is a Christian culture, and Christmas is our winter festival. And the great part is you don't even have to be a Christian to celebrate. How ecumenical is that?
TOO DAMNED true? As da Doll has said fer the longest, Congress lawin' economy stuff is the real-world parallel universe of making a law that pi's gotta be equal t' three-point-zero. Or that whole, Abe Lincoln if-you-call-a tail-a-leg-how-many-legs-would-a-dog-have thingy-whatsis... Jus' sayin' don' make it is.
GRIPE WITH MY LOCAL Kroger. When they won't carry something I want -- a preferred brand, flavor, or package size -- their excuse is, "It doesn't sell very well."
To which I reply, "Well, of course not! It's never in stock!" You can't sell it if it isn't there to buy.
Of which I am reminded when I encounter this at Uncle's place:
Machine guns are not in common use by law-abiding citizens for lawful purposes and therefore fall within the category of dangerous and unusual weapons that the government can prohibit for individual use.
Of course not, you feckwit! They're illegal! Of course law-abiding citizens won't use them!
What part of "shall not be infringed" is beyond your comprehension?
I must admit to a small amount of flabbergastion.
OVER PAT FITZGERALD'S rousting of the doubtless guilty Governor of Illinois...
Like I'm going to pollute the jury pool?
... smacks of hypocrisy. Who was it wanted to see Libby and Rove frog-marched out of the White House?
I mean... isn't it about the seriousness of the charges?
Not that I have a problem with hypocrisy, mind. Be a hypocrite all you want. Just don't hurl the stone at others from within your own glass house.
POSTING OVER AT 4WWs, states succinctly why I -- for one -- refuse to dismiss the whole Obama birf sertiffiket flap out of hand.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch...
OF HIS ALLEGED mind?
Referring to what?
This item at NRO, entitled "Obama Derangement Syndrome," in which he asserts that the drive to force Obama to demonstrate his bona fides as a "natural born citizen" is a "fringe effort," "tantamount to... seditio[n]," and argues that "64 million voters be [would be] disenfranchised."
Well, in a word, no.
Now, I understand that David is a red diaper baby and had his Road to Damascus moment relatively recently. But I would submit that he has a bit farther to go in his conversion to conservation-of-liberty principles and the understanding thereof if he thinks that, because a man may have cheated to win the presidency, it is illegitimate to demand that he face the charges of cheating. And this isn't even a matter of a trumped-up charge. The Constitution lists among the qualifications for the office of President, one must be a "natural born" citizen. There are various codicils to this in the statutes, I'm told.
Children born of full citizen parents (two) born overseas (while FCP2 are there in the service of the country -- military or State Department folk, mostly) are grandfathered in. Children of FCP2 born in American territories (but outside the states), such as the Panama Canal Zone (or, for that matter, Hawaii pre-statehood), are grandfathered in. Qualifications for dual-citizen parents are a bit trickier. Obama's mother did not qualify at the time of his birth -- she had not been a citizen long enough (the requirement is ten years as an adult). His father was in no way an American citizen. So, if Barry was not, indeed, born in Hawaii, as he asserts, he is not qualified.
Them's The Rules, they say.
And that's what conservation-of-libertiness is all about: you gotta follow The Rules. We just fought a major court battle, with many more to come, in an attempt to force the various government entities in this country to play by The Rules. Why, then, should this provision of The Rules be tossed aside on anybody's say-so? Especially when all that's necessary to dispose of the canard -- if such it is -- is for Barry to throw down with an authentic birth certificate (or reasonable facsimile thereof)?
I mean ... who was it that said, "It's never the crime, it's always the cover-up?" Trying to hide what ought to be made public as a matter of course only raises suspicions that there's a there there. Lay. It. To. Rest. Pony up.
As for the witless assertion that, should Barry's bona fides be found insufficient, that would amount to those insisting on the following of The Rules amounts to a disenfranchisement of all those folk who voted for Obama...
Who do -- who do you think you're fooling?
Seems to me that the guilty party here is the one who committed the fraud in the first place, not the ones who caught him at it.
Gib mir ein break!
I really don't think there's much to this. Or, at least, didn't until all the hysterical arm-waving started up. Now, my spidey sense is tingling to beat the band, and the more this is resisted, the louder it tingles.
FROM MY MOM AND her sister. (They live together in Idaho.) Bunch of news, some of which I already knew, some that comes as some surprise.
BEEN KINDA QUIET around Casa d'Alger the past few days, which I find pleasant. I'm not big on the notion of retirement. A lifetime of nothing-to-do strikes me as a death sentence. But I might like a more relaxed work schedule. If only I could arrange an income at that rate.
BEEN A LOT OF WHO-STRUCK-JOHN lately in the gun blogs by way of a debate between the so-called Three Percenters, who think it would take only 3% of gun owners to tip the scale in one direction or another -- if you could get them all to agree on a course of action, and the Pragmatists, (Color me surprised to find this claimed as a technical term of some art or other.) whose position seems to me to be based in the notion that the state has all the power and it's hopeless -- even suicidal, not to mention irresponsible -- to resist infringements and outrages on the part of its agents.
I can't help thinking of the line from Tolkien -- and exchange between Pippin and Merry: "When friends fall out, enemies step in to widen the gap." My mother (that's a callback) used to say to us kids, when squabbling (we kids, that is), "Stop it or I'll knock your heads together." Please to note: we generally stopped it. Rodney King said, "Can't we all just get along?" But he's probably a liberal weenie -- no sense paying him any mind.
Maybe Ben Franklin will get people's attention: "We must hang together or surely we will hang separately."
I've started more than my fair share of flame wars, going back to UseNet days. In all this time, I've finally learned this. If you're so het up on your position that you can't refrain from flaming your interlocutor, what are you so dubious about?
I suspect that, when it all shakes out, we'll discover that there is right in both positions.
So much for the absolutists.
... er... yeah.
If you accept infringements, it only stands to reason you're going to get more. If, after a certain number of precedents are set, you try to resist the overreaching state, there will be tears. I'm not sure where the argument lies. Are these positions really mutually exclusive? Isn't this a bit like that STTOS episode where Frank Gorshin and some other guy played people who painted their faces black on one side and white on the other and had religious arguments -- fought wars, even -- over their preferences?
No, I'm not endorsing Gene Roddenberry's United Nations One-World view of the universe. But the observation about internecine conflict seems apposite.
GOT A BUNCH OF sanding done on the bookshelf boards and am now -- finally -- in the position I wanted to be in a couple of months ago, where I can start applying sanding sealer to the lot and start drilling for pocket screws, and sanding up to 600grit and applying multiple coats of urethane.
ABOUT STUFF LIKE this (Farmers Up in Arms Over Cow Fart Tax) is that, instead of every intererest group whingeing, "Oh, please Mr. Gubmint! Don't gore my ox!" everybody should be going -- like -- "What the fuck are you doing going around goring people's oxen?"
WHAT'S THAT? Which one? Oh, alright. This one.
Anyhoo, one of the rotating banners caught my eye. "Lollyphile," it read. Being a fan of comics and animation, I immediately thought... "Oh. Another comic site."
I bet there's lots of folk around who'd like this, though.
THIS REMINDS ME of Dolly pre-sobriety.
IN THE OLD POGO STRIP THERE WAS a story arc in which Porky Pine went around the swamp asking everybody to tell him the mushmelon joke, 'cause it made him laugh somethin' terrific.
I'd put this joke in that category.
You say that like you think it's something I'd do.
THINK!? I've SEEN you do it!
Oh. Yeah. Right.
AS DID THE (MOSTLY) Cajun... An Open Letter to a Democrat Majority. I pile on just because some might have otherwise missed it. Don't. Miss it, that is.
GUNNIES TOGETHER and talk will almost inevitably turn to the right to keep and bear arms. Makes sense; it's one thing they all have in common, pretty much.
And there seems to be somewhat of a divide in opinion between the, "Better judged by 12 than carried by 6" crowd and the "If you're really law abiding ... and anyway, your opinion of the second amendment doesn't carry any weight in a court of law."
And you have to say that, pragmatically, both groups are right. You can't argue your rights in court if you're dead. And the point of a gun, in the final analysis, is to defend your life -- either way you look at it. At the same time, you can yell all you want about your rights -- and sing a chorus of "ATTICA! ATTICA!" while they're dragging you off to the Big House, so it might be the better part of valor to be discrete and follow the laws, as wrong as they may be.
But. In accepting that the state has the power -- if not the lawful right -- to demand you beg permission of it to exercise a God-given and constitutionally guaranteed human right, are you not breaking the law by allowing your right (and, it seems it must follow, the rights of those who come after you without a chance to protest in any meaningful fashion) to be infringed?
Not claiming to have the answer, though I suspect you can tell from the way I've couched the question which way I lean.
The "reasonable regulation" crowd want to frame this as though licensing gun ownership is just like licensing car ownership. Or, at any rate, drivership. Which might be fine if gun drivers were as common as car drivers, and the activity could only take place in a state-owned venue. And it might be fine if cars were proven means of resisting state oppression and there had been a history of would-be tyrants dispossessing citizens of their Fords and Chevies just prior to or just after a coup. As a means of solidifying power.
But the equivalence falls down right about there.
And everybody seems to want to claim that there is a compelling public interest in maintaining good order.
Perhaps, though it must be said that the very notion of a "compelling interest" which can override the rights of the individuals ought to be anathema to a free people. And the notion of a compelling state interest (Surely you can apprehend the difference between public and state interests?) shouldn't ever even be on the table.
Even so, none of this can withstand the facts: denial of the right of self-defense, and the right to keep and bear the means to exercise the right, is in and of itself contrary to good public order, and to the law.
If you abide by and in the law, what the state may say to the contrary is immaterial. A free man can do no other.