Wednesday, September 30, 2015

What is wrong with people?

September isn't even over yet but the ridiculous memes about "Don't say Happy Holidays!" or "I will say Merry Christmas!" have begun to flood Facebook. What the fuck is wrong with some people? Just how unbelievably tone deaf do people have to be to not realize that all they're accomplishing is pissing people off and sucking the joy right out of the holiday season? Do they seriously believe that somehow "Christmas" is under attack?

Please, idiot acquaintances who fall prey to the temptation to share those annoying memes or to lecture the rest of us on the need to "keep Christ in Christmas," if Christmas is somehow in danger of being neglected explain to me why Walmart already has Christmas merchandise on display? I noticed that last time I visited the Evil Empire there was a humongous display of Xmas crap  sitting right next to the Halloween candy. The only war on Christmas being waged is the one you over-sensitive paranoid Bible-thumpers are fighting in your own heads.

For what it's worth, every time I see or hear someone getting worked up over the phrase "Merry Christmas," I tend to think, holy wah, they really don't know their Bible, do they? They may thump the Good Book a lot, but apparently quite a few of the nominal Christians never bother reading it. 

Monday, September 28, 2015


Ever since we started thinking about buying an RV, we'd been hearing about "boondocking at Walmart." Until we decided to invest in a motorhome, we didn't worry much about the details that boondocking might entail, although we did notice an occasional travel trailer or motorhome positioned at the edges of parking lots at the Evil Empire. Once we acquired the Guppy, though, the notion of finding places where it would be possible to spend a night for Free moved way up the interest scale. So I researched it online, looked at various blogs to see what other RV-ers had to say on the subject, and more or less decided it would be doable on an occasional basis, like while in transit from home to Missouri. 

Boondocking, for the uninitiated, refers to camping where there are no amenities such as electricity, running water, or a sewer hookup. Until I started hearing about spending the night at Walmart or in an Eagles Club parking lot, I tended to think of boondocking as heading out into a national forest or some other remote area. You know, doing basic camping. Rustic camping. Not pulling into a huge parking lot and sleeping there. A Walmart parking lot definitely strikes me as being the antithesis of the boondocks.

Anyway, I did the research, checked out the various web sites that explained the protocol for boondocking at Walmart, and then looked at the lists of Walmarts that do or do not allow the practice. I noticed in my online wanderings that some people seemed to believe you can park at any Walmart. Not true. There are whole bunches that say No to boondocking. However, there are also whole bunches that say Yes.

There are established protocols, of course. If you want to boondock, even if there are other RVs already parked on the periphery of the parking lot, you should go to the service desk to confirm that it's okay. If they say yes, you park in the area the service desk tells you to. You live with your RV being lopsided -- no putting out jacks or dropping landing gear to level the trailer or motorhome. If your equipment has slide-outs, they stay slid in. No digging out the lawn chairs and rolling out an awning, no setting up the barbecue grill. In short, no camping behavior.

 We got directed to the far side of the parking lot, about as far as possible from the entrance doors, which meant it was the part of the parking lot that would naturally have the fewest cars wanting to park there. Because we had a vehicle in tow, we had to straddle a row of angle parking spaces on the west edge of the lot. This particular Walmart is one that also welcomes semis (not all stores do); if you look in the background in the photo to the right, you can see two of them lined up in the background. There was a third semi parked to the east of us. There was also a large sign on every light pole saying no truck parking allowed, which was an interesting contradiction.

There were also a couple other RVs in the lot, one pretty close to us and one that was far enough away that we figured that either they were just passing through (i.e., not planning to spend the night) or not familiar with the rules. It didn't surprise me that other RVs were in the same general class as the Guppy, which is a polite way of saying sliding into Randy Quaid territory and appreciating a low budget space.

So what was our first boondocking experience actually like? Well, among other things we figured out that we need to get a ceiling vent cover. We'd been talking about it anyway -- getting a vent cover that would help keep the Guppy warmer in cold weather -- but realized Saturday night that it would also be nice to be able to block the glare from parking lot lights. I could read a book by the light from those parking lot lights; they did not make it easy to sleep. We have good blackout curtains on the bedroom windows; I never thought about doing a blackout for the ceiling vent, too.

Besides the parking lot lights, the other annoyance turned out to be the Illinois Central Railroad. We knew there'd be some noise in the evening -- we were spitting distance from a Taco Bell, close to a highway, and it was Saturday night -- but figured once it got to be after midnight, things would be quiet. We were wrong. I don't know how many trains Illinois Central runs, but it did seem like the noise from one set of cars would just be fading away when we'd hear the locomotive whistle from another train. I like trains, but there are limits.

In any case, it was a good experience even if it wasn't the most restful night we've spent in the Guppy. Live and learn -- I worried about parking lot noise; it never occurred to us to worry about trains.

Explain to me again how the Obama presidency has ruined the country

Back in 2008, the final year of the George W. Bush administration, the S.O. and I did a road trip. We traveled from, if memory serves me correctly, from Atlanta, Georgia, to Hemphill, Texas, where we picked up Charlie the Snowbird Dog, and then north to the Upper Peninsula. Gasoline prices were, by contemporary standards, horrific. They hovered right around $4 per gallon, with a Petro station in Rochelle, Illinois, topping the charts at something like $4.39 a gallon. I could be wrong about the reasons for the trip or the direction we were traveling, but for sure it was Rochelle, Illinois, in 2008.

Well, we stopped in Rochelle on Saturday. We had our initiation into boondocking in a Walmart parking lot there -- something I may elaborate on in a different post -- and then Sunday morning refueled the Guppy and continued southward. Gasoline was $2.32 per gallon. It's been over 7 years since we paid that $4.39, and we have never seen gas prices as high at that $4.39 again. In fact, for a while gas was going for less than $2 per gallon -- I have vague memories of paying something like $1.59 here in Missouri in March (and we noticed it's under $2 at some local stations now). The most we paid on the trip down here, the 745 miles from our place to the Younger Daughter's, was $2.44 in central Wisconsin. And, given that the Guppy guzzles gasoline as fast as the proverbial wino sucking down Ripple we had lots of opportunity to compare prices along the way. Most expensive gas was in Wisconsin, least expensive here in Missouri.

Which brings me back to my original question, more or less. If Obama's been so bad for the country, why are we able to refuel the Guppy so cheaply? 

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Another canning binge begins

I thought I was done preserving foods for this year. I made a gazillion batches of pickles of various types, having made the mistake of buying a bushel of cucumbers from the local fruit stand -- I cannot grow enough cucumbers in our glacial till garden soil to count on having enough to do anything with -- so filled a lot of pint jars with cucumbers, vinegar, and various spices. I pressure canned a couple dozen pints of green beans. I made 3 batches of pickled beets. The S.O. reminded me last week that the plum trees actually had plums this year so I made plum jam. And I thought that was it.

Then I noticed the tree that has really good pie apples had a fair number of apples this year, so now I'm giving serious thought to canning apple pie filling. The tree next to that particular tree yields fruit that is quite good for jelly and applesauce. . . so, yep, there's now a whole lot of jelly jars sitting on the counter waiting to be washed.

And then there are the green tomatoes left in the garden. This was not a particularly good year for tomatoes -- we had major issues with blossom end rot; apparently our garden suffers from calcium deficiency -- but there are enough green tomatoes out there for at least one batch of green tomato pickles. The other day I stumbled across a recipe for green tomato pickles that includes jalapenos. So you guess it. I'm contemplating making green tomato pickles sometime in the next 48 hours.

Why does it have to be within the next 48 hours? Because in the midst of the canning binge, I'll also be prepping the Guppy to hit the road. The S.O. has the bunk-over-the-cab area done -- insulation in place, a new sheet of paneling tacked up to replace the one that was there (that cheap paneling doesn't survive being pulled off very well) -- so I am now free to finish packing various supplies and making sure nothing's going to bounce around too much when we pull out of here on Saturday morning. Today is Wednesday. That gives me basically 3 days to indulge my atavistic desire to fill a metaphorical pantry. I may have to make another trip to the produce stand, though, because it just hit me I haven't made apple marmelade in a long, long time. I think I need to buy some oranges.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

The culling has begun

I see the inevitable thinning of the herd of Presidential hopefuls has begun. It's a little early this time around -- usually it takes a dismal showing the Iowa caucuses for a would-be nominee to recognize he or she doesn't have the proverbial snowball's chance in Hell of getting to the White House (except on a guided tour), but then again the public fantasizing and open campaigning began way too soon. A few campaign cycles ago folks like Rick Perry and Scott Walker would have remained in the rumored to be running category until there was snow on the ground. They might quietly cruise around Iowa or New Hampshire, glad-handing the locals and making their ambitions plain, but the national media wouldn't be in a frenzy this far in advance of anything substantive happening. Hopefuls had more time for dreaming, for doing behind the scenes fund-raising, forming exploratory committees, and generally figuring out if they had a shot at it before having to step visibly on to a national stage.

Not this year. Thanks to the news media, if one can refer to Fox and CNN that way, the occupants of the clown car found themselves forced to appear in a format where the public was able to do side-by-side comparisons. Granted, one can't be 100% certain that those side-by-side comparisons were responsible for Rick Perry bailing out last week or Scott Walker hanging it up yesterday. Then again, Scott Walker went into the process with high poll numbers and a lot of blathering about him being the presumptive nominee -- not long ago he was viewed as a stronger candidate than "Jeb" Bush or Marco Rubio. Two appearances on the debate stage and his poll numbers plummeted to where he's now at a statistical zero. Not good. One can only assume his fundamental unlikeability came shining through because he certainly didn't say anything dumber or stranger than any of the other candidates.His poll numbers dropped, and I have a hunch he got an unpleasant phone call from one of the Koch brothers letting him know they'd decided to go shopping for a more electable puppet.

So who's going to be next? I'm not going to speculate. I have trouble remembering who all is in the Republican clown car at the moment, let alone whose campaign might be floundering. 

Sunday, September 20, 2015

How did we all survive?

The grandson and his family were here recently.. Justin came to help the S.O. re-roof the Woman Cave; AnnaMae and the little barracudas accompanied him to have a "relaxing" weekend at the farm.

I'm not sure just how relaxing it was -- just observing the kids in action from the sidelines can be a tad exhausting. The 3-year-old seems to have only two settings: totally wired or unconscious. Well, not quite totally wired because she doesn't bounce off walls like some preschoolers I've seen. Ziarra's just in constant motion. She's also got a tendency to disappear with no warning. You turn your back and she's vanished, which can be a little disconcerting. Piper seems a little more laid-back. Then again, she can't walk yet. She can, however, crawl remarkably fast and also has a knack for finding the one thing to put in her mouth that she really shouldn't. I hope she has a robust immune system because she taste-tested a lot of rocks and weeds this weekend. Piper would be set in the middle of a blanket on the ground, AnnaMae would turn around to get something from the stroller or out of the diaper bag, and Piper would immediately be a blur of motion heading for the grass and weeds. I am moderately amazed humans managed to survive as a species given the propensity of infants and toddlers to shove every strange object they encounter into their mouths.

It also had me wondering just what my kids got into when my back was turned. What kind of strange stuff did they manage to ingest, how many pounds of cat hair, dead bugs, and miscellaneous gravel samples did the two of them chow down on while I was reaching for the graham crackers or retrieving a toy one of them had thrown? They both made it to adulthood, though, so I guess the rocks they ate didn't hurt them. . . although I do still recall my mother  freaking out a little when changing a diaper and seeing the colorful evidence that the kid had somehow managed to get into my seed beads without me realizing it.It had been enough years that she'd forgotten my sisters and I eating crayons.

On a previous visit, Justin, AnnaMae, and the kids test drove the guest cabin. It doesn't have heat, though, and it was a chilly weekend so this time around they stayed in the Guppy. We figured out a way to block access to the cab and found a sheet of OSB to put over the stairwell so Piper was free to roam the floor, what there is of it. The bunk over the cab wasn't usable because the S.O. was in the process of figuring out how water's been getting in, but Ziarra is still too little to sleep up there anyway.

After finding all that rot in the guest cabin when we started pulling paneling in it, we were a little apprehensive about what might get uncovered when the paneling came off the right front corner in the Guppy. This time we got lucky. Water stains, but nothing important  actually rotted. As long as Justin was here to help, the S.O. pulled the window -- something we'd been talking about doing, but were a little nervous about with just me to help (I have a tendency to drop things). They put a butyl seal around it, which should help considerably with keeping water on the outside. We did discover there was some actual insulation in the walls of the Guppy (at least in the front end). It must be all of a 1/4-inch thick -- tokenism at its finest. It would have an R value of what? 2 maybe? Perhaps 3? In any case, with the window back in place and the various leaks sealed, we can continue prepping the Guppy for its next road trip. (The chains shown in the photo are used to hang the television when we're parked somewhere.)

By next summer, the little barracudas will be big enough that in some ways they won't be quite as much work. Piper will be walking and she won't be quite as interested in eating gravel. On the other hand, with both of them mobile, getting some tracking collars like bear hunters put on their hounds might not be a bad idea.

The Guppy's next road trip will be to Missouri and back to Montauk State Park for the month of October. The S.O. and I had talked about just continuing on from there, doing some wandering around the southern U.S. and maybe volunteering at a federal site or two in Texas or Arizona, but changed our mind. After the past couple of months of dealing with the museum siding project, we realized some time doing close to absolutely nothing would be nice. No schedules, no obligations, just watch it snow and plan for next summer's Alaska trip.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Intimations of mortality

Alternate title: Holy wah, that's my grandmother's hand!

I was wandering around the ranch recently, debating whether or not I wanted to pick some snow peas (they refuse to give up; the vines keep growing and putting out new blossoms), when an insect landed my hand. My first reaction was to freeze -- I thought it was a yellow jacket. Except it wasn't. It was something I'd never seen before: a fly that had coloring like a wasp. So I took a picture.

Downloaded the photo to the PC a little later in the day, and it was, like, omigod. That's my grandmother's hand. Age spots. Wrinkled. Definitely not something I should be thinking about asking the manicurist to enhance with hot red nail polish or glitter (not that I do either of those things now). When did I get my grandmother's hands?!

The reality is they probably arrived right about the same time I looked in a mirror and saw my grandmother staring back. I never had the experience of looking in a mirror and seeing my mother -- I do not take after my mom at all; she's 100% Finn and looks it. I got my father's Cornish genes and bear a real strong resemblance to his mother, except I started off as a blonde and she always had dark hair. She was already in her 60s when I was born so my earliest memories of her are of an old lady who looked a lot like I do now. And, yep, I had one of those holy wah moments then, too. Where does the time go?

We went down to Eagle River yesterday to visit the Older Daughter. It's one thing to recognize intellectually that she's old enough now that she's a grandmother herself. It's another to have it sink in that your kid is bitching about hitting menopause and having hot flashes. How did we manage to go so fast from talking about Girl Scout merit badges and homework to discussing Miracool neck towels? It's at moments like that it sinks in that I really am sliding into that older than dirt category. The jokes about not buying green bananas aren't sounding as funny as they used to.

As for the fly that has a color pattern really close to that of a yellow jacket wasp, it is (no surprise) a bee fly, a species of fly that lives on the nectar of various flowers and has apparently evolved to have a physical resemblance that discourages predators. According to Wikipedia, the Bombyliidae are a family of flies that includes hundreds of species, most of which are "poorly known," which is geek speak for "We caught one, named it, and have never found another." They are, however, considered to be important pollinators. No doubt there are zillions of them around that I'd just never noticed because unless one lands on my hand, if I see something buzzing around flowers that looks a lot like a yellow jacket, I'm not going to try to get close enough to get a real good look at it.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

A project update

As of yesterday, here's where we're at with the siding project at the museum.

We probably could have finished installing the siding -- the west wall is essentially done, most of the front is done, and the east end has been started -- but the minion got sick and had to leave at noon, the weather turned hot and sticky, the S.O. had stuff to do at home, so we decided to hang it up when the museum closed for the day (and the 2015 season) at 3.

It is looking like I did good at estimating the amount of siding needed for the 3 walls. I ordered 10 squares and at this point it appears we're going to come pretty close to finishing without having to order more. Which would be nice, but we're probably not going to be that lucky. More likely, because weirdness always happens, we'll end up slightly short -- which is better than ending up with a surplus. It's much, much easier to order an additional 40 or 50 linear feet of siding than it is to try to figure out what to do with leftovers.

The overgrown junipers are gone now, too, although the stumps and a small amount of brush remain to be hauled away. We've already filled an 8-foot pickup box with two loads of branches from those junipers -- calling them overgrown was a bit of an understatement.  In the spring we'll figure out what to put in that space, if anything. I lean towards doing a native shrubs and flowers garden, i.e., some wild high bush blueberries, black-eyed susans, daisies, etc. No exotics, just stuff that grows naturally around here, complete with little metal name tags to identify the plants. It would tie in with the teaching mission of a museum. We shall see. . . it's quite possible that by next May I'll be perfectly happy to let that space revert to lawn. 

I think my next endeavor in grant-writing is going to be trying to get funding to enclose our front entry or at least replace the existing double doors. They no longer fit quite right, probably from the combination of the slab moving when the ground under it freezes and thaws each year and the wood building warping and shrinking over time, so we lose a lot of heat through them in the winter. They're also a little quirky when it comes to locking and unlocking. We volunteers have learned to always keep the key in our pocket because the doors have been known to re-lock themselves for no apparent reason -- people have stepped outside to sweep the sidewalk or wash windows and found themselves locked out of the building. It would probably cost about $1500 to replace the front doors -- we have to have a double set with no center post just in case we need to bring in large objects and the doors  have to open out to comply with fire codes for commercial buildings, two factors that up the cost of doors considerably. I've also been thinking that turning that front porch into an airlock entry would be a good idea, too,for multiple reasons (reduced heating costs, better climate control in the museum, a little more square footage for display space). We shall see. . . .it can be tricky finding grant money for construction. Most of the funding sources for nonprofits like museums want to underwrite programming and events, not improvements to buildings. We got lucky with the KBIC funding but having gotten money from the tribe this year it's not going to be our turn again for awhile. Oh well. . . who knows? Maybe one of these days we'll come across something stashed in the attic or hiding in the storage that doesn't fit in with our mission but can be sold for a small fortune on Ebay. Stranger things have happened. 

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Deconstructing social media

I noticed yesterday that suddenly Facebook was filling up with memes with the common theme of "blue lives matter," including one that encouraged me to share a blue balloon honoring the heroes in blue for being willing to risk their lives doing an amazing job. I did a rather snarky thing, totally forgetting for the moment that the friend who had shared it has a daughter in law enforcement. I asked "Where's the balloon for the garbage men?" Seriously. Trash collectors perform a vital service, too, and die on the job more often than cops do, so where's their balloon?

Needless to say, my friend -- who is an actual friend, not just a virtual one -- was a tad upset. I can understand why. On the other hand, the sociologist in me is super suspicious of this sudden proliferation of cop worship on the Internet. It reeks of reactionary racism. The Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors hate groups, has been warning for years about the danger to law enforcement from right-wing nutjobs belonging to various militia, Christian Identity, white supremacist. and sovereign citizen groups. There have been a number of shootings perpetrated by whites in the past decade, most of which get barely a mention in the main stream media and are ignored by the general public.

Then a black man shoots a deputy in Texas. Holy fuck. Facebook blows up with blue balloons, Blue Lives Matter, and a zillion other memes all reminding us what an amazing job the police do every day. Give me a break. Where was the concern when a father and son sovereign citizen team shot a cop in West Memphis a few years ago? Or when that rightwing nutjob ambushed state troopers in Pennsylvania? Or several white supremacist rednecks killed some cops in Louisiana?

Crickets. When those shootings happened we got crickets. The Pennsylvania case got a little more attention because the shooter was a survivalist so the manhunt to find him dragged out a little longer than usual, but the cynic in me says it stayed in the news only because it happened during a slow news cycle -- nothing else pushed it off the figurative front page for awhile.

In my humble opinion, the primary reason we're seeing all the blue lives matter memes isn't because police work has suddenly become more dangerous -- it hasn't. The latest statistics show that the number of cops who die on the job has been dropping in recent years. We're seeing the blue lives matter for the same reason there's a lot of pseudo-patriotism being shoved down our throats. It's to distract us from the real problems. We're pressured on a continuous basis to "support the troops" and told that if we question the military's ginormous budget we're being unpatriotic. Somehow asking why the military needs as many high tech, overpriced toys as it wants is tantamount to spitting on your local National Guard members.

Similarly, we're supposed to support law enforcement, back them up, uncritically applaud everything they do, because if we don't, we're anti-police. Tell cops they should wear body cameras and suddenly we're all a bunch of anarchists who hate law enforcement. Pshaw. No one (except the hate groups mentioned above) is anti-police. People are anti corruption and anti brutality, not anti law enforcement. We're all fine with the police issuing speeding tickets, busting meth labs, and generally promoting social order. We'd just like a little more reassurance that we're not going to get shot because we're not polite enough when we get stopped for a burnt out tag light . . . or for jaywalking.

I still want to know when the garbage collectors are going to get their balloon.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Getting my life back

The siding project is inching ever closer to completion, the "on" season for the museum now has a mere 4 days to run (our last regular open day for 2015 is September 5), and we just acquired a new member who is enthusiastic about genealogical research. I could be close to getting my life back.
The overgrown junipers have been dug up; with them gone, the museum should be much more recognizable from the highway, especially once we've got the foot-high letters saying "Historical Society" back up on the wall. The bushes had grown so tall that signage was no longer visible. I'm a little surprised the bushes grew as big as they did; junipers must like sand because the dirt they came out looks like it belongs on a beach. 

Don't get me wrong. I do like volunteering at the museum. I love doing the inventorying and cataloging. I also like grant writing and doing an occasional press release. I just don't like dealing with people, hence, being a docent is the least favorite thing I do. I'm also not real keen on being the person who serves as the liaison with the Chamber of Commerce, Village of Baraga, Baraga County government, etc. I got a phone call at the museum the other day that gave me cold shivers. One of the local insurance agents called and asked me if I was "Nancy, the person who's running the museum." Definitely a Harlan Ellison moment. I do not want the museum linked that closely with my name by anyone. It could also be one of the reasons the S.O. and I are now talking about taking a very long road trip next summer with the Guppy -- we want to go to Alaska while we're still young enough to do it, which in turn means blocking out a month or more in the warm weather months. The Guppy is not exactly a speed machine. And if I am not physically around, someone else is going to have to step up to fill the gap. At least in theory.

This is the type of research I like: figuring out who made this wrench, when, and what for. It's a tractor wrench and was most likely made by Case.
But I digress. I'm also not real fond of doing the genealogical research, probably because I've never understood the fascination some people have for family history. I think a bit of appreciation for family heritage is good, especially when accompanied by some moderately amusing anecdotes -- we always refer to the one bad piece of fruit in a bag of fruit as the "Cohodas orange" thanks to a story my Old Man liked telling about his experiences working for Sam Cohodas back in the 1930s* -- but I really don't care much about how many siblings one of my great-great-great-grandfathers may have had and where they all wound up.

Still, someone had to be doing it. A significant chunk of our budget comes from the fees people pay us to do the stuff they can't track down online, like finding copies of ancient obituaries in the L'Anse Sentinel (the paper is not digitized). Our deceased past president, the guy who died in 2013, loved doing genealogical research. It fascinated him; he was quite happy to put in many hours trying to track down lost branches of people's family trees. I'm really hoping our new member who says she's interested in genealogy turns out to be as much of a fanatic as Jim. I get bored after about the first 15 minutes, and for sure I have no desire to make trips up to the Michigan Tech archives, other historical societies, or a Mormon history center. There are local history topics I'd like to do some in-depth research on, but they're slightly more macro than one family tree.

Anyway, the fact our newest member seems enthusiastic about both local history and genealogy has me hoping we'll be able to slide a few of the research requests we get to her. If she actually likes doing it, she's bound to be both better and faster at it than I am.

As for the siding project, we now have building wrap up on two sides of the building, it should get wrapped the rest of the way tomorrow, and then it's on to doing the siding. We may, in fact, be able to start siding tomorrow, too. We ordered the siding last week; it should come in on a truck today. I can hope. 

*At the time, fruit came on railcars in huge crates; it got bagged locally. The Old Man, a teenager at the time, was bagging oranges for Cohodas. Whenever he spotted a rotten orange, he'd toss it to one side. Cohodas, who went on to make so much money he's got a building named for him at Northern Michigan University, stopped him. "No, no, no. You don't throw the bad ones away! You put one rotten orange in with eleven good ones in the bag. No one will complain about just one bad orange when the others are all good."  Cohodas gets remembered now as a great philanthropist because he donated a lot of money to NMU, but every time I see the name I think about him being willing to screw people over the price of an orange during the Great Depression. Yet another example, I guess, of the old saying that behind every great fortune there is a great crime. . . or a whole lot of little ones.