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Tuesday, May 28, 2013

In defense of the eradication of squirrels

Squirrels are nasty, disgusting, disease infested critters. They are rats with tails. They are the rodent version of a pigeon. They chew everything.  That being said, I could have ignored them. BUT THEY MESSED WITH THE PEAR TREE.

We have a pear tree that some friends gave us after Lisa's Mom died. We planted it in the back yard, and it grows delicious juicy pears. I would have let the squirrels eat a few. I mean, it produces hundreds every year. But, no! The damned squirrels eat the buds before the pears grow. Stupid rat things. Two years ago, we got exactly zero pears. That is when I declared war on them. Last year, we captured 17 of them, and released all of them into the woods, many miles away. This year, we've gotten 4, including our nemesis, "Red". We lured him into the trap with a partial ear of corn. The biggest coup though, was last year when two of them came into the trap at the same time, one right after the other. The lead squirrel tripped the latch before the second could turn around. I guess they are living together in the country now. Just stay out of my yard! (Picture an old man, shaking his cane at the neighborhood kids, and you've got me.)

Proof of The Coup (also, my Facebook cover photo):

It is getting harder and harder to entice the little devils into the Cages any more. They are canny creatures, I'll give them that much. I do have an old BB gun that belonged to my brother in law. It is probably 40 years old and has very little power. I take it into the back yard when the little bastards run along the fence and shoot at them. I nail them about every fifth shot. Problem is, when I nail them, they just look annoyed at me and jump into the nearest tree.

Artists rendition of me hunting squirrels:

We've got three or four that still have the mistaken impression that our yard is their yard. One in particular likes to run along the fence from the enormous hackberry tree in the back, all the way to the front of the house, and then onto the maple tree in the front. From there, it walks the power line like a furry Karl Wallenda, and then on to Starnuts Starbucks, I guess.

This is Karl Wallenda, btw:

Yesterday, I received distressing news from a friend who lives a mile or so away, that his bird feeder is under attack by - you guessed it - a squirrel.


So, pull together pear tree owners.  Bird feeder owners.  Attic owners. Break out the Daisy Air Rifles.  Arm your traps with ears of corn or tiny yet delicious peanut butter crackers (plain or crunchy, doesn't matter).

Let's get em.  And then ship them off somewhere else. I'm not mean enough to kill them. Yet.

Monday, May 20, 2013


(Standard Disclaimers:  I often throw in commas where they are not needed, and leave them out when I should have put them in.  Also, sorry:  No refunds on time wasted reading this.)

In 1974 President Nixon resigned from office in disgrace. You know, Watergate.  At that time in my life, I parroted the family line "He didn't do anything that everyone else wasn't doing, he just got caught".

(Not Dan Aykroyd)

 I realize now, that that was not a proper response.  Nonetheless, I wasn't really old enough to have formed my own opinions.  I am now old enough, and not surprisingly, no longer share the exact opinions of my parents.

On the national level, I voted for the Republican presidential candidates through the first George W. Bush election, then voted for the Libertarian candidates in the next two elections, because I liked their ideas about personal freedom without a "Nanny State" watching over us all.  Since then, I've come to believe that the Libertarian ideal would not work in practice, mainly because we DO need government, some of us more than others, and that it seems mean to me that a country as great as ours would not help the less fortunate.

In the last election, I voted for Barack Obama, not because I think he is the greatest man out there, but because I found him to be better than his opponent. Frankly, I was also well sick and tired of the outright lies being spread against the man, instead of actual logical discourse about policy disagreements with him.

But that's not the point of this post.

A week or so ago, I self identified as a Liberal (ooh, the horrible "L" word.  Doesn't hearing it just send shivers down your spine?  No?  Me neither).  I started thinking about it though.  I'm really not liberal.  Probably slightly left of center, but certainly not liberal.  In my opinion, what has changed is the definition of Liberal, and the definition of Conservative - maybe not the definition, maybe more like the connotation.

It seems to me that the Republican Party, or at least many of those who speak for the Republican Party, have shifted and distorted its message so much as to make it unrecognizable.  I despise the meanness that comes out of the mouths of people like Sarah Palin, Sean Hannity,  Glen Beck, and (throwing up in my mouth a little) Rush Limbaugh.

Don't get me wrong.  I don't care at all for the smug, self satisfied, puffed up folks in the media who feel that everything the President does is wonderful, and that anyone who disagrees is an idiot. I will say that the level of outright meanness and bald faced lies that come out of the Fox Network eclipse that of its mirror image, MSNBC.

Anyhow - I take back my label of being a "Liberal", and replace it with my new label of "Old School Moderate."

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Good times

When I was about 5 or so, my family moved from Liverpool, England, to Duluth, Minnesota - 743d Selfridge Drive (I may have misspelled the name of the street. It was a long time ago).  My Dad was in the Air Force and we moved fairly regularly.

Having an English Mother, I was saddled with the name Ian (there's a good story about the mechanics of how I got my name - remind me to tell you later).  Now, the name Ian was not a common name in Minnesota in the mid 1960's and I suffered mightily for it. I used to run with some older kids - I think I was a first grader (at the Julius P. Barnes Elementary School, no less) and the older kids were second or even third graders.  We used to run around the court playing war.  At one point, we all had plastic GI Joe bazookas with red plastic rockets. We would pump air into the chamber and then shoot the rockets.

This is probably me and my gun:

Anyhow, being younger than the other kids, having an English accent and an English name, I would get picked on sometimes.  I remember one time after school a whole pack of us were running around the court playing war - yeah, back then you would go home from school and then run around - unsupervised - until supper time, when the Moms would yell from the kitchen. In my case, since we had been in Japan a couple of years prior to Duluth, my Mom would bang a gong that they had picked up over there.  Point being, we played until summoned for dinner.

Where was I?

Oh, yeah - so we were running around the court playing war, when one of the meaner third graders, (a budding poet, I guess), came up with the brilliant idea to start chasing me. The other kids joined in and they chased me around the neighborhood, shooting red plastic rockets at me, all the while chanting "Let's PEE-on Eee-on".  This amused them to no end and really had no detrimental effect on me (except that I still remember it 47 years later. Hmm).

Ahh, good times.

Another time, I'll tell you about how we would run behind the DDT trucks every Friday and play in the pesticide fog. Minnesota mosquitoes are honkin' big!

Thursday, May 9, 2013


Regarding the news:

I don't care about Jodi Arias.  I'm sorry that her ex was murdered, but I don't know why we are so captivated by all of the details of her trial.

CNN, how far you have fallen since I used to run to you to find out what was going on in the world.

Oh, and this disgusting woman, Nancy Grace...well, that was my whole comment about her.
 Let's move on to the next sensational thing. Speaking of which....I'm glad I live in Cleveland, TN, not Cleveland, Ohio..

But you have to love Charles Ramsey.  The guy who saved Amanda Berry (one of the three kidnapped women who had been held captive for 10 years!  How can a person do that to another human?  The kidnapper, not Mr. Ramsey).  Charles Ramsey appears to be a funny, caring person - I think he was very aware that he was on the national stage, and knew he was funny.  Watch this autotuned clip of his interview,  (also, watch the reaction of the bald guy to Mr. Ramsey's right):

 Dead Giveaway   
What do you guys think about the controversy over where to bury Boston Bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev? As you might imagine, the people of Boston didn't want his remains to be buried in their city. I bet his grave would have been quickly defaced if he had been buried there.  Looks like he has been buried though, in an undisclosed location.


Oh, did you notice that while the entire country was keyed in on the Boston Marathon bombing, something happened in West, Texas?  The news networks barely mentioned it, instead camping out in Massachusetts  hoping to catch a shootout on live TV.

I guess this is what happens when you've got several 24 hour news organizations trying to hold on to our short attentions.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Gore Vidal, Rutherford B. Hayes, and Henry VIII

I learned more about 19th Century US history by reading Gore Vidal novels than I ever did in any history class.  Granted, I spent 5 years in the English school system, so I can probably tell you a few things about the Monarchy that I learned while at Cangle County Primary School, in Haverhill, England. During that time, I didn't learn any American history, nor did I learn how to play basketball (much to the chagrin of Coach Lou Underdown, later while at Arnold Junior High School), baseball, or American football.

Anyhow, several years ago, I picked up Gore Vidal's book "1876" - which is an historical novel set in, you guessed it, 1876.  The backdrop to it all is the presidential election of 1876, between Samuel Tilden and Rutherford B. Hayes (my favorite, useless, President). Tilden won the popular vote, but Hayes wound up winning the Electoral College, and thus the Presidency, after Florida's (and Louisiana's and South Carolina's and Oregon's) leaders initially declared Tilden the winner of the State, only later to change it to Hayes.

WHOA, that sounds familiar!!!

So, this led to the "Compromise of 1877" , effectively the end of Reconstruction, and four years of a useless Presidency (WHOA, that soun..... - never mind).

Not trying to bore you with useless facts, instead I'm just saying that I love learning history when it is set out in an interesting way, the way Gore Vidal did when he wrote those types of novels.  Sure there was a fictional story in the forefront, but the historical facts he wrote about were accurate.


My wife and I have been watching "The Tudors" lately - we are almost finished with season one.  Looks like it is going to end with Henry VIII's divorce from Catherine of Aragon, and his marriage to Anne Boleyn (apparent harlot). Also, he was craaaazzzyy, and a horndog.

It's pretty interesting, but some of the historical facts didn't ring any bells with me. So, I did some reading, and am finding that a bunch of the facts relating to ACTUAL HISTORICAL FIGURES are pure, made up crap.  I guess they are just used to make the series more exciting?  I don't mind them playing loose with a little obscure history, but they are making up relatives of Henry who didn't exist, historical marriages that never happened, and events that never took place - relatively important events.

I think Gore Vidal would be shaking his head. "smh" is what he would tweet, probably followed by "lol".

Sorry, no refunds on the time spent reading this.