Tuesday, April 23, 2013

April 22

I really hope this is my last driveway plowing photo until next fall.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Simple solutions

One of the benefits of moving back to the tundra and semi-detaching ourselves from the grid has been that we're no longer news junkies. The S.O. has figured out how to live stream MSNBC so once in awhile we'll catch a little of "Hardball" or "PoliticsNation," but we don't do that often. I've even managed to kick my C-SPAN addiction. The news we get tends to come from NPR or from reading various newspapers online. End result? Our reaction to a lot of the MSM bloviating tends to be "They've got to be kidding" or "Do people really take that shit seriously?" It's hard to get too worked up about something if you're just hearing an occasional sound bite.

If, however, you hear the same crap over and over and over. . . the mainstream media have been blathering on about the supposed threat posed by North Korea and its nuclear weapon (does anyone with a brain truly believe they have more than one?) for many weeks now. End result? When a friend who lives in West, Texas, heard the explosion from the fertilizer dealership located a couple miles away, her first thought was "well, that little asshole North Korean does have a bomb." She was caught off guard. She's a smart woman who knows that quite logically West would not be a strategic target for anyone -- it's a nice little town but skunk eggs and kolaches aren't exactly high value targets for any foreign powers or terrorists hoping to knock the U.S. to its figurative knees -- but when you hear a piece of propaganda repeated enough times you internalize it. You may not believe it on a conscious level, but it's lurking back there along with a whole lot of other internalized garbage. We've been getting told for months to that North Korea has a bomb so what's your first thought when there's a really big bang? Shit, the North Koreans actually did it.    

Of course, now that we're (or at least those of you with 24/7 cable news) are being blessed with all Boston, all the time, the next time something weird happens, you're going to look around for one of those Chechen fanatics who have been terrorizing the Russians for the past decade. Kim Il Un has become yesterday's news.

Friday, April 19, 2013


Ice fishermen on Keweenaw Bay near the L'Anse waterfront, April 18
They're still ice fishing on Keweenaw Bay, they're predicting about a foot of snow is going to fall locally during the next 24 hours, and I'm thinking I'll celebrate my birthday (15 days away at this point) by digging out the red wax and going skiing. A friend keeps channeling Laura Ingalls Wilder and muttering about The Long Winter. Personally, given the way things seem to be going in general with the world, I'm voting for this being a sign of the fimbulvinter, the prelude to Ragnarok. Not actually likely, but at this point a battle between the gods and the giants strikes me as more interesting than the prospect of another month of slush and mud.

We've had Springs like this one before, of course. It's just been awhile. The last one I recall clearly was 1996. That was the year we had close to 3 feet of snow fall during the last week of March, it kept snowing the nasty, wet, slushy kind of snow well into April, and the driveway was such a sea of mud we parked out on the county road and walked in for most of May. The Older Daughter decided to surprise me with two mountain ash saplings. She arrived thinking we'd be able to plant them immediately and discovered the snow was still knee deep in the yard where they'd go.

The good news is that the trees did eventually get planted. That gives a person hope that although it may be a late Spring it should get here eventually.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Road trips

We just got back from a 9 day road trip out to Grand Junction, Colorado, and back. The impetus for the road trip was a quasi family reunion to gather multiple generations in the same spot to enable a five-generation photo of my mother, myself, my daughter, her son, and his kids. Eight people, four generations, two cars, approximately 1400 miles one way. What could possibly go wrong?

The good news is we got the photo, my mother was happy to see everyone, my grandson is happy, and we all survived the experience with nothing worse than a few hurt feelings. 

The bad news? I'm not sure my sister who lives in Grand Junction ever wants to see any of us again, at least not en masse

Much ado about nothing

Haven't been paying much attention to the news lately, but on the rare occasions when I did in the past week, it seemed like North Korea and its one or two nuclear warheads and its one-step-above-an-ox-cart delivery system were the main topics of discussion. Listening to the professional bloviators and fear-mongering politicians, you'd think that North Korea and its figurehead of a leader, Kim Jung Un, posed a global threat akin to the alien spaceships in the movie "Independence Day." If you believed the bloviators, you'd believe all Kim has to do is push a button and most of the West Coast will be transformed into smoldering rubble.

The truth is, of course, that if Kim pushes a button, it's far more likely that North Korea (or at least its launch facility) will be the site smoldering. North Korea doesn't exactly have a lengthy track record of successful launches of anything. Their long range missiles are more likely to blow up (or fizzle out) on the launch pad than they are to make it off the ground, and when the missiles do launch successfully, they don't seem to go where they were supposedly aimed. If North Korea decides to bomb Seoul, odds are they'll accidentally nuke Pyongyang instead.

As for North Korea posing a threat to the United States, pshaw. There's been a lot of blathering about a North Korean missile hitting the west coast, but when you listen closer, it turns out the "west coast" is actually western Alaska. As in the Aleutians. Somehow I find it hard to believe the North Korean military would waste one of its handful of warheads by trying to bomb Tanadak or Ugidak Island. Wiping out a seal colony wouldn't seem to have much propaganda or tactical value. Besides, the North Koreans, isolated and nuts though they may appear, are aware that for every nuclear weapon they have, the U.S. has 3,000 or more. They know that if they were stupid enough to ever use a nuke, they'd be utterly annihilated in less than an hour. The posturing and threats are bizarre, but they're not real. They're theater designed to help keep the Kim family in power

Still, I can understand why the Japanese and South Koreans would be nervous. There's always the possibility that the ongoing puppet show that's designed to make Kim Jung Un appear as militaristic and batshit crazy purposeful as his father and grandfather could get out of hand and a missile aimed at Seoul or Tokyo could be accidentally launched. But given that all the actual experts on North Korea are pretty much in agreement the whole build-up to "war" is designed for internal consumption as a way to shore up the Kim family's position, I don't see any reason for the media in this country to spend as much time obsessing about the non-threat as they do.