Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Trading the Big Dragon for the Little Dragon

I recently read a book called "One Second After" by William R. Forstchen.  This author is highly credentialed and has published more than forty books, at least two of which are best-sellers.  That being said, I wasn't overly impressed in the beginning from an editor's point of view.  The meat of the story was okay, but the delivery was lacking in structure and format.  There were whole multi-line paragraphs comprised of a single sentence about a run-on.  And being a run-on was rarely the only problem.  The mega-sentence was usually fraught with multiple mixed tenses and conflicting conjugations.  Ugh!  I spent too many years as a technical writer and editor myself not to notice them, but I grew numb to them as I got into the story.  Anyway, by the time I finished the book, I found that I had a much bigger bone on contention with the author.

The main character in the story is a middle-aged professor in a small college town in North Carolina.  The professor is a widower, having lost his wife to cancer a few years back, who lives with his two teenage daughters.  The story begins a few hours before an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) is detonated over the United States.  It is not clear for several chapters that an EMP is what caused the disruption of power, and the enemy is never clearly identified in the book.  The story is less about the attack itself than it is about the struggle to survive in the aftermath ... the crippling effects of the instantaneous and long-term disruption of communication and transportation, the inevitable shortages of food and clean water and, ultimately, the breakdown of civilized society.

I don't have a problem with the author's conjecture about what the population would face in such a crisis.  What I do have a problem with is my impression of what the author sees as a solution to that kind of crisis. 

Within days after the EMP, the townspeople begin to organize.  Several high muckety-mucks such as the mayor, the chief of police, a physician and the professor get together and start having closed door meetings.  Even the first day, there is talk of 'the authorities' (now defined as these few) commandeering resources such as the few vehicles that still run and food supplies ...for the good of the whole community, right?  

The professor happens to be driving his mother-in-law's old Edsel which, of course, is among the vehicles that is still functional after the EMP.  He immediately objects on his own behalf, making it clear that he will not willingly part with the keys to his own transportation.  The committee reluctantly agrees to let him keep it.  Special privilege?  Some more equal than others? 

Ration cards for food are implemented.  After a bit of discussion, it's decided that no one will be forced to participate in the ration program.  The implication was that there were some whacky 'survivalist types' on the outskirts of town who the committee felt might be difficult to bring into the fold.  But they decided that any who did choose to participate would have to agree to a search of their property and confiscation of any food stores found there ...for the communal coffer, of course.  Redistribution of goods? 

The book chronicles the town's struggles over the a period of about a year.  The story ends with the (new) military coming to the town, bringing food and medical supplies and the promise that more help is coming.  In comparing notes with the military officer in charge, the professor learns that his little town has fared far better than some areas of the country.  And, you guessed it, this is attributed to the 'organization' and 'decisive leadership' of the professor and his committee mates.  New nanny gov steps in to save the world (township) when big nanny gov goes away? 

Does anyone else have a problem with this?  We are currently fighting an overgrown, self-righteous government that believes we are incapable of taking care of ourselves and seeks to take over every aspect of our lives.  If the proverbial sh*t ever does hit the fan, we will be facing a lot of the scenarios portrayed in the book.  But if we get to that point, I will not be looking for a new master to rule my destiny.  I will take care of me and mine.  Alliances may be formed but they will be mutually desired and mutually beneficial ...or they will not happen.  In my opinion, it is foolish to trade a big dragon for a little dragon ...because little dragons will only grow over time.

Labels: , ,

Saturday, March 20, 2010

In Like a Lion, Out Like a Lamb

Isn't that how March is supposed to be?  The weather here has been gorgeous for two weeks now.  We've had lots of sunshine and daytime temperatures in the mid-sixties to low seventies, nights in the mid-fifties.  We've had rain too, every four or five days, but always a soft, gentle rain.  The vegetable seeds we planted in the garden a week ago poked their little heads through the soil just yesterday.  We are anticipating a good harvest this year.

This morning,we woke up to the sound of heavy winds and pelting rain.  Temperatures were in the low forties with windchill making it feel much colder.  So I borrowed Furt's big slicker and his hat to go down let the horses out.  The horses were having none of it though ...they were all adamantly opposed to leaving the shed.  A slow-paced but serious game of keep away ensued.  I was feeling the chill and I had only been out there a few minutes, so I decided to let them have their way.  Normally, these guys don't mind a little rain, especially if it means they get turned out on the big pasture.  But not today, so I left the pasture gate open for them and went back in the house.  I happened to look out the window about noon and noticed that the rain had let up and the wind had died down.  It was still chilly but the horses had finally wandered out and were munching the spring grass.

I went down to shut the gate, then stopped by the chicken coop on my way back to let the hens out.  Only two eggs today, one of the hens must be slacking.  They were eager to be let out though.  They were the picture of 'happy' ... three fluffy feathery butts charging up the hill, their wings half extended and flapping, as if to boost their acceleration. 

I checked the garden on the way back up the hill myself.  All appears to be well.  The new little seedlings did not appear to be battered or displaced by the hard rain and I'm sure I counted even more little sprouts than yesterday.  It's going to be a good year for the garden.

The temperatures will drop down to thirty-six tonight, but with windchill, it will feel like twenty-seven.  More of the same tomorrow but without the rain.  Then it's back to glorious spring weather by Monday.  This is typical March weather for this part of Texas. 

The rest of the day was spent chipping away at the mess I call my office.  Paperwork, dreaded paperwork.  I need a new filing system that requires, well ...less filing.  After the taxes every year, I have been in the habit of putting all the year's receipts in one of the expandable envelope type pendaflexes, labeling it as to the year and then storing it away.  But do I really need to keep all those receipts?  Receipts for things I've deducted off my taxes, yes ...I'll keep those.  But why would I need to keep utility bills, phone bills, water bills?  I use Quicken on my computer so if I need to know what I spent in the past on any particular area, I can look it up on Quicken or just call the company, right?  Yup, changes are definitely afoot for my filing system.  It's going to be a good year for my office too.

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Who Are We Kidding?

I don't know anyone who likes Daylight Savings Time.  But I know quite a few people who are very vocal about the fact that they don't like it.   I know, I know ...there was a method to the madness when it was first implemented.  It was the brainchild of none other than Benjamin Franklin who believed it would allow us to take advantage of more natural daylight cycles and thereby save candles.  At the time old Ben came up with the idea, people used mostly blankets and sometimes a stove to keep warm at night and they opened their windows to cool the house on a hot afternoon.  These days, central air and heat is the norm.  At least one study (!-Daylight-Saving-Time-will-cost-me-money)  claims that daylight savings time costs individual states millions of dollars in higher utility consumption and associated pollution costs.  

I received the following in an email from a friend today.  I think it explains the value (or not) of Daylight Savings Time perfectly. 


Sunday, March 14, 2010

A Time to Sow

Yesterday morning, we planted the spring garden.  There's a special satisfaction to those first seeds of the year going into the soil.  Our labor in preparing the beds for the last few weeks paid off.  The soil was light and easy to work and the weeds were small and few.  Sadly, the lemon tree seeds we planted a few weeks ago never sprouted.  I did some research on starting lemon trees from seed this morning and found out why they didn't sprout.  Apparently, they have to be planted as soon after they come out of the lemon as possible.  If they are allowed to dry out, their chances of sprouting are less than half.  The seeds I planted (and the ones I mailed to Fatkat) had been drying for over a year.  I emailed the information I found to Fatkat yesterday, but the email bounced back today.  So, if you're reading this, Fatkat, my apologies and here's the link ...

The lemon tree seeds were a disappointment but no lesson learned is ever a waste of time.  I'm expecting great things from the vegetable garden though.  We planted corn, green peas, green beans, cucumbers, tomatoes, and Kennebec potatoes yesterday.  Two weeks from now, I expect to see everything sprouted and on it's way.   Two months from now, I expect to have a bountiful harvest.

I'll plant some pepper seeds today in a tire garden we prepared and some flowers seeds in buckets around the patio.  I have narcissus, daffodils and lilies of several varieties already blooming in the yard.  But I want to plant marigolds around the edges of the vegetable garden.  I'll start them in buckets and transplant them to the garden when they're well started.  Marigolds are a wonderful addition to backyard vegetable garden.  I happen to think they're pretty flowers but, more importantly, they are very low maintenance, heat tolerant and offensive to most of the bugs that would damage your crops.  They come in several shades of yellow and some have crimson edges on the petals.  A splash of color is a nice addition to the backyard garden and the bees attracted by the blooms will improve your harvest.  I will be planting sunflowers along the fence by the garden too.  When the sunflower blooms are spent, they can be hung up and dried, then hung out for the birds to enjoy.

Before we went out to work in the garden, Yeoldfurt started a load of whites in the washer and I started a batch of pepper bread in the Breadman Plus.  I use the dough cycle, so I had to come back in the house at varying intervals to move the first batch of dough to a bread pan for the final rise and start the second batch, then later to bake the first loaf and set the second batch up for the final rise.  By the time we finished our outside chores, it was noon and the house smelled of warm bread and fresh clean laundry.  We had accomplished a lot for the morning.  The rest of the day was pretty lazy by comparison but that's okay.  We had a good day. 

Labels: , ,

Saturday, March 6, 2010


We finally got the garage cleaned out, swept out and purged of extraneous junk!  We moved everything outside on the driveway first to see what we had and what was worth keeping.  Then we swept the floor.  We ended up with a big box full of old hay, dry leaves that had blown in, and a whole bunch of plain old dust.  We even swept the walls and windows where cobwebs were accumulated.  Has anyone ever SEEN a cob?  I'm thinking they're spider webs and somebody just thought cobwebs sounded less creepy!  Anyway, they're gone now and it looks much better!

Before we moved stuff back, we sorted it according to it's function.  Everything to do with yard maintenance went in one area, chemicals and pesticides in another are, then horse equipment in another and so on.  When everything was sorted into categories, we looked at the available space to decide where each category would best fit to be both accessible and logical.

While sorting for function, we tossed anything that was not worth keeping in the back of the pickup parked on the driveway.  Three and a half hours after we started, we were finally finished.  We were dusty, dirty and just plain tuckered out.  But the pickup truck was full of junk ready to be hauled off, the items we had moved back into the garage were cleaned up and arranged in an organized fashion.  Amazing how much floor space we gained by this exercise! 

We don't have garbage service out here but there is a local collection station about four miles from our place.  For a mere $15/year, county residents can make as many trips as they want to drop off their garbage.  Household garbage goes in a special bin that has been fitted with a compactor and general junk (as in our case today) goes into a large metal roll-off bin.  Metal has to go in a separate pile, but other than that, there's not much sorting.  It's really a good deal.  What we hauled off today would have filled at least six or seven standard garbage cans and most residential trash services won't pick up that much at one time.  So we would have had to dole it out over several weeks.

Cleaning out that garage has been on the To Do List for a long time.  Even being tired and knowing I'll be a little sore tomorrow is worth it knowing it's finally done!


Friday, March 5, 2010

Circle of Friends

A little over a year ago, I didn't know anything about blogging.  I had heard of it, but it was something other people did and I never gave it much thought.  It was filed away with the other modern marvels that I knew existed but didn't really know anything about ...don't laugh ...Twitter and Ipod and MP3 players.  I mean it now, stop laughing!!

My husband started his blog about a year ago and encouraged me to start one of my own.  So here I am and I must say, it's been a rewarding journey so far.  I have gained knowledge and shared knowledge, met new people (both in cyberspace and in real life) and tried many new things.  My life is definitely richer for this experience.

I still don't 'tweet' and cassette tapes and CD's are plenty good enough for me, but blogging has become part of my daily life. I look forward to reading new posts from my blogroll and finding new blog sites along the way.  When I discover something new or have something I want to share, I look forward to putting up my own post and reading the comments that come in.  To all of my readers and followers, present and future, thank you for taking this journey with me.  You have all made my life richer.