Saturday, March 20, 2010


OK, it barely made it to the news; a mere 2.7 earthquake on the Richter scale, 60 miles east of me. Yawn. I didn't feel it... it was after all early in the AM on a school day, and I was busy getting the bulletins out to the kids and teachers, filling out the paperwork and making the class advisements, getting everything ready for next Monday which will be a half-day and a pain in my rear. Too many people get overexcited about the damnedest things where, if they would just take a breath, they would realize that accomplishment isn't dependent on the panic principle.

I have made a friend with a retiree from the USGS; a funny and friendly older gent who hides his engineering knowledge and voluminous skills under a 'hail fellow well met' kind of attitude. He is going to be loaning me a book about the area and its faults and earthquakes; a voluminous research with pictures. I like that kinda thing. I like learning things I didn't know before. I may have to cruise down and check out the fault line - or is it a fold line? - west of us.

No, I don't operate on the Panic Principle. Never have. Don't like drama queens and kings. Believe everything can be handled with reason, understanding, preparation, and a calm approach. I love it when the NOAA warning system goes off, telling me that a tornado may be approaching. I figure that everything I can tie down has already been tied down, I can only do so much - and then clean up afterwards if necessary. So I go outside with my camera and get kewl pics of the skies and clouds and rainbows, and wait to see if there will be any damage. There rarely is.Like most fears, when they pass, you get to realize how little good panic and hysteria really do. Even though some people need that constant upheaval in their lives, I don't.

I have always liked the quote, the Litany Against Fear, from Dune. "I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
Only I will remain."

Fear is overrated. Experience, now. Experience is key. So even when one has a fear, the only way to overcome it is to attack what one fears, educate oneself about every tiny fact of it, let the fear become understanding and accomplishment instead. Then one has a wealth of knowledge or experience on which to draw.

It isn't that I am fearless. I am a reasonable human, though, who can gauge levels of potential and determine all possible and likely outcomes, then act (or not act) accordingly. So no I don't fear earthquakes or tornadoes, any more than I feared hurricanes or floods or mouth-breathers. I simply gauge appropriate defenses against them before they occur, and responses to them afterwards. Only I remain.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

The Kleptocracy

There are people whom many call 'products of the entitlement mindset' - people who honestly do believe that the world owes them a living. They are catered to by the bleeding hearts who say, "But look their children are starving!" or "Everyone deserves a home!" or other fatuous and ultimately self-serving platitudes. We have now evolved into a whole generation of people who see absolutely nothing wrong with taking other peoples' earnings, profits, and property, even their lives, to suit their own demands and requirements.

The cashier at Wal Mart who rings up her friends' groceries, only charging for one out of every 5 items. The door-greeter and security guards who look the other way as people carry unpaid-for items out of the store. The clerk who takes things home from the job. The person who doesn't use their real name or address to seek medical care. The purchasing agent for any bureaucracy that adds items onto a purchase order that never get used at the bureaucracy, but instead get taken directly to his or her home - sometimes even shipped there. The judge who goes into a high-end car dealership to 'test-drive' a vehicle - and doesn't bring it back for over a week. The politician who superciliously informs people that they "owe" him and his wife vacations, or the use of public property for his own private interests. All of these are real people, all of these things happen all of the time, all of these things cost everyone by raising prices or using tax dollars to pay for their stealing. Because, call it what you like, it is stealing.

What happens in a disaster, like in Haiti or Chile? The kleptocracy steps in, just like they did in the aftermath of Katrina, taking whatever they need - or sometimes, all too often, things they don't need, just to have, or to trade or sell. And everyone makes a joke or turns the other way - or excuses them - "They don't know any better." "They needed it." Or my personal favorite - "Let them have it! They can't help themselves!" - yes, they can help themselves. And they do, to everything that isn't nailed down or red-hot, or protected by highly armed, highly criticized owners of that property. "Why don't they just give it to them?"

I always note that the ones who exclaim the latter are NOT the ones who are being invaded or assaulted; those who, in fact, think that it can never, will never happen to them. The shopkeeper snatching an hour of sleep here or there, his shotguns by his side, probably thought that, too. Yes, the exact same thing that those beat-up or heavily-armed people thought, six months or a year ago.

As the economy bottoms out, as schools close and more and more people are laid off, as things slowly fall into an economic mire, I wonder just how long all of those self-righteous people, living in their safe and gated communities, think they can hold out against the kleptocracy that they encouraged and pitied last year and this year. Do they really think that unarmed security guards will fight and die to protect them and their property? Do they really think that, in the event of a hurricane, massive flood, power outage, earthquake, pandemic, or any 'natural' or unnatural disaster, that they are safe? Or will they be crying out, "Where am I going and why am I in this handbasket?"

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Here is my Whole Cloth

Almost two years here.

Things are getting pretty intense; and no I don't mean politically or socially. They are intense for me, because doing what I've always wanted to do was a scary jump into a void. Not of knowledge, I had that. Not of experience, because I've had that, too. But of occurrences. When single threads start coming together to make a whole cloth, the cloth sometimes has colors that one does not expect. The challenges of weaving together a life from different threads are, in a word, multitudinous.

Who, after all, believed that this was what I really wanted? So many folks came up to me and said, "If I'd'a known you were like THAT..." and "You can't be SERIOUS!" and even "You'll be back!" - the folks who obviously didn't know me at all, of course.

I have things on my webpage and blog now that would interest no one in Beaufort or Jasper County, certainly no one whom I used to hang out with. How many of you would want to view the graphic pictures of my boss cow, Billy Jean, delivering her first calf? To me it is a miracle, and not just of birth, but of life and future and hope and change that matters personally, not in some unreal fantasy or phony political promise. How many of those folks who used to buy my eggs back in Hardeeville could relate to the fact that here there are no ordinances to ban my chickens, that my cows can be seen from the road in front of my house, that my eggs are the biggest and brownest and most sought after in town? How many of you would marvel at the progress of my reversible quilt, with the summer fruits on one side, the Christmas colors on the other, and the ruffles all around? Would you want to hear of the fourth snowiest season ever recorded that occurred this year, of what fun it is to whisk through snow-covered streets and skid into turns on ice, or to watch the snow drift down like tiny cellophane flakes?

Would you want to see pictures of the day-old calf gamboling happily around his mom, or the way the other cow and even the bull babysit him, or the way they all lay together in the afternoon sun, a happy and content family? Do you want to hear how we bake our own bread, fill our woodbox for the next snowstorm, take out the ashes and put them with the manure and kitchen scraps to compost? Do you care how we clean out the coop and corral, sludging through manure that we see as glorious and full of natural fertilizer and mulch, good for our growing things, an endless circle of life? Do you care if we steer the newborn bull for processing later, or keep him whole to sell his semen to promote good breed traits? Do you want to know if we will band or use the paste to dehorn him, do you care if he appears to be a successful production of homozygous traits?

Do you want to know that my lupus lesion has quit splitting open and has stopped oozing and bleeding, and that my body is actually starting to clean itself out and correct all the damage done by fast foods and a faster lifestyle? Do you care that my DH, whom so many were so interested in insulting and trashing just for being married to me, has found a quiet joy again in building things and working on engines, and working with animals who do not judge him, who do not scream at him and curse him as most of his patients did, who appreciate what he does for them - and who are fond of him and show it? Do you care that he no longer has to work a 60-hour work week, but can take his time as his pain levels dictate, and work at his own speed, and still be respected and included in a comfortable and friendly lifestyle?

I am happy to have left the WalMart and Starbucks world behind. I am content in what I have chosen. Folks say that I should write a book about what "really went on" the past 20 years, but you know what? None of it was important, as much as they like to think it was. Mean and angry and perpetually cruel people banding together to tear each other apart have no interest for me - or, now that I'm gone from their sights, in me, either. Any book I write will be about the joys, the hardships, the overcoming, the successes, even the failures; the building of my life the way I choose, not fighting those who choose different paths and want to drag me vociferously with them, or down if I do not agree with them.

Here I am, weaving the threads of all of my knowledge, all of my experiences, and all of my desires into a whole cloth, something to last, something to remember, something that is real and able to be felt, held, and used in a good clean manner. Something that all of the naysayers and eternally self-involved can never take away. Here is life. Here is joy. Here is hard work and success and achievement, sweat and dirt and tiny green plants poking their way into the sun, tiny newborns growing to full and heavy production. Here is blood and bone, feather and fur, knife and axe and fingers separating meat from skin, nitty and gritty and hay and manure, life and death in its most definite beginnings and ends. Here are long silent nights and endless silent days, with nothing but the cackling of an egg-laying hen or the indulgent moo of a mothering cow, or even the gobbling of the wild turkeys or the far-off howls of the yotes being hunted once again. Here is my whole cloth.