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So have you noticed that the closer we get to impeachment votes, the crazier everyone gets? Is this the end of the world, people? I don’t think so. We know how all this will end, so why the drama? It reminds me of that video where all the North Koreans are wading into the water, chasing after Kim Jong Un, or the young’un as I call him..they are trying to show how much they adore this crazy dude in order not to be sent to a re-education camp. It’s the same way with Republicans..a question of fealty to Tsar Donald. It’d be sickening, if it weren’t so ludicrous. I feel the bad karma building for all of them – when it arrives…damn!

But that’s not what I came to talk about – I want to talk about exercise. I started doing Silver Sneakers when we lived in Vero, and learned to sort of like it .. nah, that’s a lie..I learned to recognize it’s good for me, but I will never like it. What I don’t like – beyond just about everything else – is falling down and becoming incapacitated. So Silver Sneakers is my method for trying to stay upright.

Robin & Colter at the Spartan Race

Then there’s my daughter Robin and her husband Colter and granddaughter Kiernan. They all participate in radical sports events – like the Savage Race and the Spartan Race. Here Robin and Colter are participating in the Spartan last weekend. Do you see the look on their faces? Yes, they look happy! I don’t think I will ever achieve that level of happiness with Silver Sneakers. But if it keeps me vertical – that’s good enough.

327

Wow – haven’t written since the 1st. Been busy finishing up book 5 and I was ill with a sinus infection and upset stomach the last few days. I know – no excuses! Well, I’m back.

The impeachment is well underway with all the sturm und drang that accompanies such political theatre. Everyone is playing to their constituencies, who are either filled with indignation (the R’s) or indignation (ha ha – D’s). Geez, will it ever end? It seems like we’re spawning investigations to investigate the investigations that investigated the investigations. Stop – enough already!

A bunch has happened in the past twelve days, but y’all already know about it, so let’s talk about something different. Book 5 will be out on Christmas Day, and there’s some method to my madness. Christmas is about the birth in Bethlehem of a Jewish baby boy from Nazareth named Jesus. His 33 year life spawned a religion that claims 2.4 billion followers, at the moment, the largest group of faithfuls, followed close behind by members of Islam at 1.9 million. Islam is growing faster than Christianity, so it may catch up some time in the future. I used quotes from the Hindu Bhagavad Gita for Book 5, as the two Bible testaments and the Koran were used in Books 1-4. I thought the Hindu book appropriate as the title involved Karma. The last quote is from a book about the Hopi prophecy of the demise of America.

So what have I been working up to? Once you’ve ready book 5, you’ll have a sense of it. And beginning in the spring, I will write a sequel that will involve many of the characters left over from the first series. It will pick up where Book 5 leaves off, so no need to be discouraged, as Mathew indicates. Life will go on.

Clemmie with his trumpet

In the meantime, my assignment from Clemmie is to find everything there is to know about trumpeting; the history, mathematics of the acoustics, and techniques; then match all that up with samples of outstanding trumpet solos – all in video format. Sound like a challenge? I think so too. We’ll see how it ends up. Always good to learn something new, eh?

340 & 339 & 338

Thanksgiving was lovely; the food was great; the company was marvelous. What can I say? A good time was had by all.

But is it now time to get back to the real world? Must I? Aw gee, living in holiday mode is nice..just requires running the dishwasher more than normal.

Okay, back to the real world. Let’s talk about guns. I could post all the statistics about how much greater gun violence is in the US… okay, I will post them, if you insist.

Nope – changed my mind. If you look at statistics, they are all over the map, and most are misleading. But looking at CDC data, it’s clear that most deaths from guns in this country aren’t from mass shootings, they’re from suicide. OK, now we have that out of the way.

The AR-15 originally made by the Armalite Corporation

My family has always been involved with guns and shooting. It was my grandfather’s pet project to teach people how to safely use guns. The NRA of today would appall him. But here’s the thing – and what I want to really talk about – there are some guns that just don’t belong in the hands of regular citizens. They belong in the hands of soldiers fighting in wars. The AR-15 comes to mind, because it seems to be the weapon of choice for mass murderers. Should civilians have access to what knowledgeable people call “a perfect killing machine”? I think not.

James Fallows wrote a most interesting piece in The Atlantic about a decade ago about the AR-15. That’s where the perfect killing machine quote came from. It was the weapon used by special forces in the early days of the war in Viet Nam, and the soldiers loved it. Sadly, army bureaucracy did not. Mostly through custom rather than graft, they totally bolloxed up this weapon and it became that most-hated rifle, the M-16, which tended to jam in the heat of battle. Per the article, many soldiers died with a jammed M-16 in their hand. But AR-15’s are still around and here’s my point: I can buy one online for less than $700, ready to fire lethal bullets at a host of individuals, should I so desire. They can ship anywhere – except California. Hooray for California for at least attempting to put some sanity into this madness. So the army changed a perfect killing machine into one that malfunctioned and led to the death of many American GIs in Viet Nam. Isn’t it ironic? Mass murderers get the good stuff; guys sanctioned to kill get the garbage.

So what’s the answer? Stop online sales of perfect killing machines. Teach children gun safety. Develop and utilize better ways to keep people from killing themselves with guns. Then maybe the stats will look better, and the opponents of gun control can stop putting useless comparisons out to confuse people into inaction. That’s about it.

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Happy Thanksgiving. May all your dishes come out tasty and at the right time. May the table be set by someone else, while you’re trying to get the smoke out of the kitchen from stuff dripping down in the oven. May you have a glass of wine and not care one way or the other .. you did your best. Love your children and grandchildren so much they never doubt you.

342

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. That makes today the day to eviscerate the turkey, in preparation for the Julia Child method of cooking. Last year, I had to get Colter to do the deed, because I managed to cut my finger using the mandolin slicer to make pickles. Sadly, the bird was still frozen, which made the surgery rather difficult. We captured it all on video, including the cheerful (more or less) banter about the task. This year, no pieces of finger went into the slicer, so I’m on my own to perform the delicate task of cutting and deboning.

Colter lit the baby green (red) egg charcoal ceramic cooker to make sure it was going to work for cooking the lamb. It got up to 450 degrees in rather short order, so we have to adjust the amount of charcoal to keep it at 350. I like to season the lamb with garlic and rosemary; then instead of mint jelly (who ever came up with that incredibly stupid idea), I like to use horseradish sauce or chutney – or both! You still get the flavor of the lamb, but with a little kick from the horseradish or a savory taste from the chutney.

Kiernan’s Sand Art

Today will be devoted to making a cheesecake, an apple galette and tonight, two pumpkin pies, one for Erik and one for everybody else. We got into a cleaning frenzy yesterday, with everyone helping except Kiernan, who hates to clean her room. She’d rather be making her art – or playing Minecraft and making puppies and horses for her houses. I can’t say I blame her – wouldn’t you rather be playing than cleaning? Yup – thought so.

We expect 16 for dinner, so it’ll be a houseful for sure. But I say, the more the merrier – love to catch up with kin I haven’t seen in a while – or talk with new guests I’ve not met before. It’ll be exhausting, but great!

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Two more days ’til Thanksgiving, and I actually succeeded in making creme fraiche. That is always an iffy proposition; sometimes it works very well; often it does not turn into anything but the sour milk it started out life as. But I love creme fraiche on apple pie, so that will be a plus for the meal.

Amidst cleaning house and preparing pickles and pickled onions (oughta be good as a side for the leg of lamb), I’ve been thinking about where to go from here in my writing. I guess I mentioned this before, but in the not-too-distant future, I’ll have to commit to something. I tried going back to my original three part opus called Matryoshka – just to put it in book form to get it published. But you can’t go backward in writing, I find. The dialogue is stilted and just downright annoying. So I’m considering picking up The Algorithmic Brain – a story about a very lifelike android that gets his inventor in trouble by his actions. I got stuck when I had to write a sex scene for that one, and I was having some trouble doing that; I was concerned about my granddaughter reading it and going, GRAAMMMAA! (Trying to imitate her voice). But she’s 16 now, so she probably knows more about the topic now that I do. I might just give that one a go.

So, dear readers, want to weigh in on this? The outline for The Algorithmic Brain is here on the blog, and the finished product (all three parts) is here for Matryoshka. Give me some feedback on which way to go!

Later..gotta go mop the kitchen floor.

347 & 346

May I recommend a book? The Condition of Man, by Lewis Mumford. Published in 1944, with a new preface in 1972, he has become a source of knowledge and inspiration to me.

Mumford referred to himself as a social diagnostician. That conjures up images of doctors and machinery. But he is the diametric opposite of that. He takes us back ten steps to see history, politics and culture from a deeper and broader perspective.

But don’t take my advice if you work full time and come home to have domestic chores. It’ll just be annoying that you can’t find the time to savor the book’s complex wisdom. Don’t read it if you want easy answers to life’s hard questions. This is no I’m OK, You’re OK. Finally, don’t read this if you’re a cock-eyed optimist. You’d likely be offended by his perspective on this modern life.

So check it out – then, when you’ve absorbed all the wisdom Mumford has to offer in these books, check out The Myth of the Machine, Volumes I and II. That’s his recommendation – not mine. I haven’t even begun to absorb all the wisdom from TCOM. All I know is, when I write about the dissolution of America, coming up in Book 5 of the Suffer the Children series, the origins of the knowledge were greatly influenced by Mumford in this book. So…take the plunge and find it, probably used on Amazon in paperback for a couple bucks. It’ll be an eye-opener.

348

The number 348 seems so tidy – so divisible and well behaved. Nothing prime about it. And it was a calm day, starting to tidy up the house and shopping for nearly all the Thanksgiving provisions. My brother John was kind enough to pass on a gift card to help defray expenses. Given that we’re expecting a lucky 13 number of guests, we’ll need to put forth a heap o’ food!

The Land Down Under

Ok, enough about that – tomorrow I’ll tidy some more and keep thinking about the task of writing the fifth and final installment of STC. I got a notice from Amazon that I have a royalty payment coming again from…wait for it…Australia! That just curls my toes with happiness – for two reasons. One – it’s Australia! And two, if there’s another royalty payment, that means they’ve kept reading. Like catnip to a cat.

So no, I don’t want to talk about Sondland or the impeachment, other than to say the lack of civility in the proceedings is a deadly signal. It’s 1856 again…just waiting for the signal for somebody (Texas? California?) to say enough is enough – we’re leaving the union. When that happens, the rest may let whoever wants to go do so without putting up a fight. Wouldn’t that be a kick in the head – are we so sick of one another that we would welcome dissoution, which begins the end for the concept of these United States? We’ll be the disunited countries, formerly known as America. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

351 & 350 & 349

Next time I embark on a writing project, I’m gonna set more reasonable deadlines. I have until Christmas to finish book 5, which may end up being the longest, most detailed episode yet. And what with holiday activities, I’ll have to have loads of self-discipline to get it done. Having said that, I am motivated to finish so I can move on to something new! Or maybe finish a couple I started and set aside. We shall see.

Moving on to the topic du jour: finished watching The Crown, Season 3 last night. Olivia Coleman was, as always, a delight to watch, as was Tobias Menzies as Phillip and Josh O’Connor as poor, sappy Charles. Ann was a livelier character than I imagined, having been carnally involved with the guy Camilla ended up marrying – and then divorcing for poor, sappy Charles. Of course, I still cannot get past Josh O’Connor as Larry Durrell, but that may pass with time.

Cecil King, Editor, the Daily Mirror

But here’s the point of this piece: in the episode titled “Coup”, Cecil King, the editor of a powerful media company and board member of the Bank of England, hatches this idea which amounts to a coup d’etat against Harold Wilson. He and some of the others try to drag Dickie Mountbatten into the scheme, and according to the story, he went along with it and was dispatched to ask Elizabeth to support it. But Wilson heard about their shenanigans in the meantime, and alerted the Queen, who seemed to think Harold was good company. Also, she knew he always had her back. So when Dickie finally got to her, he didn’t even get the chance to ask, which likely saved his reputation, from an historical perspective. Cecil King lost his job over the whole thing.

Which brings me to the real point – there are analogies to our current times with DtheT/crazier. I think impeachment may feel good, but it’s the wrong thing to do. Have your hearings, you Dems; then the Rep’s will say what he did does not rise to the level of impeachment, and then let’s get on with life until November, 2020. Then, if he gets turned out, all well and good. If he’s re-elected, in spite of all the garbage being revealed at these ‘inquiries’, then God help us. My plot may come to pass sooner than expected.

353 & 352

SNL did exactly what I’d have done if I was one of their writers – turned the impeachment “inquiry” into a soap opera – As the Impeachment Turns which equals as the stomach turns. It was pretty well done; I always enjoy Kate McKinnon’s send up of Rudy. It’s precious.

So this will likely drag on into January, which is when the real process begins..that will take another four or five months, and by then, we’ll all be begging for it to end. Why? It’s not that the hearing is replacing anything else worth watching. So do we really care if it goes on or ends? Actually, we do. As SNL pointed out – the only thing at stake is democracy. But many of us think democracy went out the window after 9/11, with waterboarding, stop loss redeployments, black sites in Poland and that wonderful place called Guantanamo. That’s not how democracy works, at least not American democracy. Remember when we were the good guys? No..me either.