“Fiction is the art of telling entertaining lies for money”
Stross, Charles. The Rhesus Chart (Laundry Files Book 5). Penguin Publishing Group.
Happy Birthday George Dreaper and Niccolo Reffo. Happy Mother’s Day to all. Have a pleasant Ramadan.
TODAY FROM AMERICA:
A. MENDOCINO ON MY MIND:
On Tuesday morning, I emptied my room and packed up the car. I drove HRM to school. It was a sad parting for both of us. I have no idea when or if I will return to my part-time job as dedicated Uber driver for the Scooter Gang. He said that in my absence he would do his best to arrange transportation for himself and his cohort to the various skateboard parks and fast food restaurants, but I knew he was worried. I said, “I know you can do it kid.”
He stood for a moment on the sidewalk in front of the school, put the decal laden crash helmet on his head and hopped on to his tricked out scooter. I watched for a moment as he one-legged the scooter up the path to the school and then, I drove off.
I stopped in Sacramento for breakfast and stories with Naida after which I set off on the long exhausting drive to my sister’s house in Mendocino.
After a great dinner of tuna-burger covered in pickled cucumbers and ginger, I went to bed and slept fitfully. The next morning, I sat with my coffee and exhausted myself staring out at the yellow-flowered lawn and the sea and so, went back to bed and took a nap.
The Morning View from the House on the Mendocino Headlands,
But for some walks along the bluffs and through the town and eating, I spent the next few days mostly asleep. Tomorrow, I pledge myself to either hike through the hills above Big River or visit the Rhododendron exhibit at the Botanical Gardens.
So, off I went for my stroll along the bluffs above the Big River Estuary. I walked further than I planned. I kept walking along a path that appeared to climb constantly upwards. I thought I would walk to the top of the hill hoping I would have a great view of the river from there. But, I never got there. I walked and walked and still, the path climbed upwards, Finally, I gave up. I turned around to head back and noticed the path behind me also curved upwards. How could that be I asked myself? I then realized the upward slope was an optical illusion. All the way back, I would trudge up the hill and after struggling for about a hundred yards or so, I would turn around and see the path behind me also climbing upwards and I would start giggling. And so, I made my way back exhausted but in high spirits (It takes very little to amuse me now).
Pookie at the Big River
On Friday, I rushed back to Sacramento. A close relative of Naida’s had died in Oregon. I expected to either accompany her to the memorial service or to dog-sit her dog, Boo-Boo. For reason too complex to relate here, neither occurred and so, I spent Saturday in Sacramento. It was one of the happiest days of my life. I have entered it on my calendar as Joey’s Happy Day so that now I will remember and celebrate April 21 for as long as I live.
On Sunday, I returned to Mendocino. On that same evening, we had some friends of Maryann and George over for dinner. I enjoyed it very much. We ate Harissa chicken and talked a lot, told stories, laughed, discussed Mendocino art, politics, and gardens, the benefits, and evils of economic development on rural lifestyles, books we liked and politicians we didn’t, and reviewed the obsessions of our youth.
George, Maryann, Marilyn, Bill, Nancy, and Duncan.
In many ways, coastal Mendocino County, by virtue of the coastal range making transportation difficult and separating it from the rest of the State, is as remote a community as a village on the Asian steppes. It has developed its own interests and obsessions, cultural identity and way of life. As a result, it resists change to that way of life, its environment, and its beliefs. I have seen this before in other communities and have found that often change is something best done slowly.
The next day I strolled through the town, shopped, took pictures had lunch at the Good Life Cafe with George and Bingo the dog and generally lazed around for most of the day.
B. SACRAMENTO AND SAN FRANCISCO ODYSSEY:
An Odyssey is generally considered a voyage or the travelogue that accompanies it— usually including some extraordinary adventure. There is also an odyssey of the mind where the mundane waxes magical like in Joyce’s Ulysses in which the humdrum became enchanting. Then, of course, there is the made-up odyssey, like the one I wrote about in a past issue of T&T where bandy-legged freak Ulysses has to explain to Penelope why he disappeared for twenty years and killed all her boyfriends on his return. As the goddess, Athena said of that short, sly, hirsute Greek, “He is odd I see.” (https://papajoesfables.wordpress.com/2013/10/02/a-lengthy-digression-on-traveling-and-old-greeks/)
Anyway, I intend to approach the next few days as a mini-me-odyssey. Whether, it will be adventure filled, mundane or simply made-up, I am oddly eager to see. (If you cannot see that I had fun writing the above two paragraphs, please skip them.)
On Wednesday morning, I set off for Sacramento. After a brief stop for cheap gas at the Pomo Pumps at the Robinson Rancheria near Clear Lake, I turned onto Route 16 through Cache Creek Canyon (Scylla and Charybdis?) a two-lane road to Woodland that I had never taken before. The road passes through a narrow valley running parallel to California’s great valley. Cache Creek, a pretty little stream, and the canyon it runs through, although not as dramatic as some in the Sierras is pleasantly attractive. The road passes through several tiny towns ( Ramsey, Guinda, Cadenasso, Capay, Esparto) — a few random buildings that would not qualify as a hamlet anywhere else (actually they are officially called, “Census-designated communities” whatever that means).
At its lower reaches, the canyon broadens into a small valley about a mile or two wide. There amidst the bucolic landscape of farms and ranches looms the monstrous visage of Cache Creek Casino an edifice that would not be out of place in Las Vegas (Cave of Cyclops?). I quickly passed by the giant structure not brave enough to explore the riches that may exist within.
Cache Creek Resort
I arrived in Sacramento, strolled along the river, listened to some Cole Porter, enjoyed a sleepless night of contentment and delight (Circe?) and left the following morning for El Dorado Hills (The Land of the Lotus Eaters — or is that San Francisco?). After a thoroughly frustrating morning and an afternoon shuttling the Scooter Gang around, I set off for San Francisco and Peter’s house where shortly after my arrival I went to bed.
The next day, Barrie, Peter and I joined my sister and George at the French Restaurant at which Peter and I usually have lunch when I’m in town. My sister had just received news that her cancer had not spread so we celebrated a bit.
Then back to Sacramento, a trip that took more than four hours.
A week of bliss passed — as could be expected memories of those times melt together into an indistinct mass. Joy is a timeless blur, anguish a distinct pulsing image.
After receiving a positive doctor’s report on my cancer recovery, I slipped back into the Golden Hills later in the week to resume my chauffeur and parenting duties, stealing off now and then to assist Naida in the production of her memoir.
The school year is coming to its end and the Scooter Gang members are busily planning their summer vacations as am I.
On Saturday, I attended the Cinco de Mayo party at Campus Commons. I did not speak with the ex-spies who were there, but I did have an interesting conversation with a retired executive of Blue Diamond and managed to down two Margaritas without burning my throat.
One day, I strolled through Capitol Park with Naida. I love it there. We sat on the bench dedicated to B.T. Collins, a friend I had known since we were classmates together at Stepinac HS in White Plains NY. As a Green Beret in Viet Nam, he lost an arm and a leg. Returning to the US, he became Governor Jerry Brown’s chief of staff. He eventually was elected to the legislature. He was a lifelong Republican that every Democrat could support. While we sat there some tourists asked me what had he done to warrant a memorial in Capitol Park. I told them.
Time passes, I do not recall how long or what events transpired other than I have been deliriously happy. This morning the air was delightfully warm as I walked around the lakes at Town Center. It was that time of year where the flowers were the brightest and the leaves of the trees viridescent. It is the time just before the hills turn golden and the heat of the day rises from the ground forcing one to seek the shade of an oak or magnolia tree or an air-conditioned coffee house.
Morning at Town Center Lakes
I do not know whether or not the spate of Terrorism, sectarian violence and ethnic and racial bloodshed of the last decade is greater then it was in the past. I suspect modern communications make it appear more immediate and wide-spread than it actually is.
Two questions arise in my mind. One is how much support and these individual terrorists getting from organizations who claim or endorse their actions? And the second is why do these individuals seem to buy into the particular ideology they seem to espouse?
As for the first, terrorists are mostly self-funded or have limited access to significant funds. Other than for travel, equipment, and rudimentary training, ISIL rarely funds those that shoot up a group of people in the name of Islam in some country remote from their main military bases. Similarly, the right wing and nativist killers here in the US and other countries who blow up government buildings, assassinate children in camps or schools, or gun down people at prayer usually have armed themselves even if pledged to some group or ideology.
So why do they do it? In fact, ideology is not particularly important in dissent, even when it escalates to mayhem. People pledge themselves to radical groups when they become, often for good reason, emotionally alienated from the society in which they live. People join radical groups because they wish to demonstrate their alienation. Sort of like teenagers who choose dress styles to mark their difference from the fashions and mores of their parents’ society.
MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:
As I have mentioned in the past, one lives several lives: the day to day slog through your personal timeline; the life one tells oneself in the running comments in one’s mind while passing through that slog; one’s dreams; and for those who read a lot of fiction, the life of those tales as, over time, they meld into their own narrative. I read a lot of fantasy fiction so my narrative is often more like a steampunk fairyland than mundane life as we know it. I do not need to play VR games to experience that life. It has become part of me. For example:
October 15th— It has been ninety-three days since I last saw Marya vanish into the underwear bazaar, and forty days since I shook hands with Goll. The burn on my hand has healed, though it looks like a splot of candle wax dried upon my palm. It is strange to look at, strange to think that I will always have this mark with me now. When I consider the scars my friends have accrued, Edith’s malicious branding, Tarrou’s carved scalp, and Adam’s undone eye, I feel fortunate. Now, the port and weigh station tick along like two clocks. The station house is tidy as a library, and the autowagons run as regularly as the tides. I have Goll fairly convinced that I am Port Master Tom Senlin, a reliable man who is satisfied with his salary and his lot. He believes that I have forgotten my old crusade.A ship arrived today with a miraculous cargo. The captain himself escorted to the station the four waterlogged crates. He opened one, and showed me layers of straw packed about a crust of ice—ice!—which he had harvested himself, from the horn of a mountain, before flying to a port, not a sky port, but an honest oceanic port, where he took on his precious cargo: five hundred oysters. He pulled one of the horned shells from the ice pack to prove the oysters were still tightly closed and redolent of the sea. He deftly cracked it open with a pick and offered me the shimmering morsel to sample. What had always seemed peasant’s food to me before now was a capsule of a lost home and an old life … I have never tasted anything so wonderful.That captain walked away from the port with a king’s purse, which the port coffers quickly recouped and doubled after selling the treasures to a private cantina. But more importantly, that unpolished, unremarkable captain left me with the clear revelation that a man with a ship is capable of all sorts of miracles. If five hundred oysters, those most perishable of creatures, can be plucked from the sea and carried to the heart of a continent, unspoiled, is anything impossible with the advantage of a ship? What good is money? It can be skimmed and extorted, taxed and burgled! Tickets will strand you. Customs will rob you. I do not need money to buy passage upon a ship. I need a ship entire and my own. Let Goll think I have lost my resolve! I am determined. I will find her.I am going to take a ship.Bancroft, Josiah. Senlin Ascends (The Books of Babel) (pp. 242-244). Orbit.
A. Tuckahoe Joe’s Blog of the Week:
The Passionate Olive. http://thepassionateolive.com/about/
This is a blog about Olive Oil. Everything you would want to know and some things you would not think you would ever want to know. For example:
There’s something so thrilling about the Olympics that it’s hard not to be a huge fan. I’ve attended several Olympics in LA, Barcelona, and London. While extensive media coverage dominates the airwaves, I don’t recall any of the reporters mentioning the importance of olive oil to the Olympics and the athletes. Olive oil and the Olympics is a fascinating story with a deep history dating back to the beginning of the first games in Greece. In fact, the Olympic flame is still ignited using a mirror and olive oil.Quick olive oil facts of the early Olympic games:Athletes competed naked.Wrestlers used olive oil on their skin to reduce their opponent’s grip.Runners were often massaged with olive oil before their race in the belief that the wisdom, power, and strength of the Goddess Athena would be bestowed upon them.While women could not participate nor attend, it was the duty of the priestesses to light the oil lamps in the temple of Zeus with olive oil.Victorious athletes were crowned with wreaths of olive branches and were given an amphora filled with the finest precious and expensive olive oilWhile athletes today strive for a gold medal, early Olympians competed for victory and “liquid gold
B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:
Western Europe during the Middle Ages was the only society in history to prohibit their brightest minds from reproducing by forcing them into celibate religious orders if they evidenced the slightest curiosity or passion for knowledge, while at the same time encouraging the most sociopathic and violent to rule and breed at will.
It was this, along with cold weather, coal and an indifferent attitude toward personal hygiene, and not any pretense to superior intelligence that enabled their descendants to terrorize most of the rest of the world for the next 500 years.
C. Today’s Poem:
This poem by Ossian the Bard, written (and sung) during the High Middle Ages (about 1200 AD,) tells of the poet’s grief upon growing old.
The author of this is Ossian:Long are the clouds this night above me;The last was a long night to me.This day, although I find it long,Yesterday was longer stillEach day that comes is long to me,Such indeed was not my wont.Now is no fight, or battle-field,No learning noble feats of armsWithout maiden, song, or harp;No crushing bones or warlike deeds,No studious learning any more,No hospitable heart or board,No soft wooing, and no chase,In both of which I took delight.Without the battle-march or fight,Alas! how sorrowful life’s close;No hunting of the hind or stag,How different from my heart’s desire!No trappings for our hounds, no hounds.Long are the clouds this night above me.No rising up to noble feats,No mirthful sport as we would wish,No swimming heroes in our lakes.Long are the clouds this night above me;In this great world none is like me,So sad, how sad my case!A poor old man now dragging stones.Long are the clouds this night above me,The last man of the Feine am I,The great Ossian, the son of Finn,Listening to the sound of bells.Long are the clouds this night above me.Find, O Patrick, from thy GodWhat our eternal state shall be.Freed may we ever be from ill.Long are the clouds this night above me.
D. Charlie Stross on Bureaucracy:
“The five stages of bureaucratic grieving are: denial, anger, committee meetings, scapegoating, and cover-up.”Stross, Charles. The Rhesus Chart (Laundry Files Book 5) (p. 159). Penguin Publishing Group.
E. Giants of History: News from the Old Sailor.
I received the following from my friend Eric the Old Sailor/Pirate. I assume it is an email from a friend of Eric’s reminiscing about the old days when they were young and could bring down mountains:
Hey doc-tor I downloaded Skype just for you, you part man part sea creature MOFO. I’ve been telling Adoracion about some of the outrageous things you’ve done like fixing the bottom of cruise ship in port or placing eleven ton jacks to inter lock — I mean I watched that mountain come down. I would sit on the deck of a friends house on the side of the other mountain across from all the work Had good binocs. Without them those trucks looked like toys going back and forth but get up close to them and the tires would be twice my height maybe more. The chant among our gang was “What’s Eric do???” and every one’s answer was “I don’t know”I know a little about you and family having had dinner with your cousins in Bermuda I asked them “What does Eric do” and they said,”I don’t know.” I think we agreed Eric was a Pirate.We are going on vacation May 4th. Atlanta, Knoxville Las Vegas Home Adoracion has a filipina friends so if it’s sitting in the kitchen listening to the ladies yaking away in tagalog, I’ll have to figure out how to take a short trip. Bobby’s gone, Louisa can hardly talk and there’s no one else there. SST same way, Sylvia is busy with her boyfriend. I don’t feel comfortable driving on the highways, I can drive around the neighborhood, go to the store etc., but uneasy on busy highway.We are alright. carry on roller bag and small back pack. that’s it, I told A, “We ain’t tourist honey — travelers, buy there or mail it back.”I’m not as excited as I’d like to be. I alway’s got excited about going anywhere. Pretty nice here. but I think once you get on the road it get’s interesting. We are visiting a friend in Tennessee with a ranch and flys his plane off the back fortySo it just dawned on me that Sukavit sits on water so it’s like you’re on a very big boat. Just the once I was there it rained hard and I saw big fish swimming in the street. So Amigo, it’s time to have a cookie, YEAH YEAH!
F. Xander’s Ruminations:
The scar I have with the best story is…actually two scarring episodes — first, two tiny scars from my awful vasectomy, done without waiting for anesthesia to take effect (OW!) and three days after which I spent days hiking for miles through Idaho Great Basin desert, doing bio/archaeo. surveys for testing a nuclear-powered rocket engine (!!) icing myself every chance I got; and the other, collecting rocks.I was out in the Mojave Desert, miles away from even roads, when while whacking on a boulder to free a chunk of opal, I had a piece fly off and hit my left leg. After telling myself I was stupid, I kept on harvesting the opal when my leg began tickling. I looked down, and my sock was soaked in blood, as was my leg just below my knee, on my left calf.Hobbling over to my car, I got out my first aid kit, only to find over a dozen empty Band Aid wrappers, thanks to my kids having played doctor with toy animals. The only thing usable was a needle and some black thread for making emergency repairs to my tent. Didn’t think I’d have to use it for emergency repairs to ME.I held the cut together and stitched a lock-stitch at one end, tied off the knot, and did a second one at the other end. As I was doing the third, in the middle, it really began hurting like hell, and as for the other two stitches I was going to do, I said to hell with THAT, and left it at three. You can still see where that middle stitch broke a week later, when horseback riding with my kids at Rosarito Beach in Baja. But I survived. Actually a really nice scar and a pretty good job of sewing myself up.You think that was easy? YOU try sewing yourself back together . . . and KNOWING you had to!
“As one of the people very much involved in the economic policy debates that followed the global financial crisis, I can vouch that Farrell and Quiggin’s description of the interactions between policymakers and economists rings true. As they say, policymakers often feel the need to find high-profile economists to defend their choices, even if they’re using these economists as a drunkard uses a lamppost: for support, not illumination. Meanwhile, the prestige that comes from having policymakers who appear to be taking one’s advice is an important motivator for economists, and can tilt their (our) judgments toward telling people with influence what they want to hear.”Paul Krugman