Lutefisk and Pickled Herring

A man had a problem with a family of skunks that lived under his porch.   He tried everything to get rid of them but nothing worked.   He went to the local hardware store and asked if they had any ideas. 

Put lutefisk and pickled herring under your porch,” the clerk said.  “That should clear up the problem.” 

So the guy went to the market, bought a few pounds of lutefisk and pickled herring and put it all under the porch.  The next morning, the guy ran downstairs and looked under the porch.  The skunks were gone.  But a family of Swedes had moved in. . . . .

Favorite Websites

You ought to see the list of “Favorites” on my office computer.  I have an abbondanza of favorite websites.  Literally hundreds of them.  To keep them all straight, I have individual “files” in which I pigeonhole them:  Humor (a biggee), Law, Language (and Translation), Magic, Music, Publications, Religion, Cooking (apparent from prior posts), Family, Autographs, Telephone, Calendar/Clock and Travel.   Within each of these files, I may have dozens of sub-files.  Then I have a host of miscellaneous files on restaurants, movies, chess, genealogy, motivational quotations (I’m partial to John Wooden), knots (yes “knots” – remember I was an Eagle Scout), financial information, maps, art, Sudoku. . . . and I’m just touching the surface.   I find that by creating folders and then “organizing favorites,” I become more organized and favorites are easier to locate. 

I organize emails the same way.  For emails (and I am not exaggerrating) I have literally thousands of folders.  Why?  Because as a lawyer, for each client I work with, I have a file.  Then for each matter I have a separate folder.   Sometimes subfolders will have dozens of sub subfolders.  And so . . . . Ta dahhhhh!  Thousands of folders.   When I get a call from a client about a matter from 2002, I can find it in seconds.  Big advantage. . . . .  I also have the obligatory email folders for Humor and Great Fun (for the really good stuff), Family, Autographs, Religion, Art, Politics, Art, Food and on and on and on. . . . .  Perfectly organized. . . .

My desk?  That’s another matter. . . .

Decline and Fall . . . .

Between 1776 and 1788, English historian (and Member of Parliament) Edward Gibbon published his classic 6 volume work The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.   It is interesting to examine the causes of the decline – and fall – of the grand Roman Empire which expired in about 476 A.D. — not with a bang but a whimper. . . .

Ongoing wars and heavy military spending

Failing economy and high inflation — and high unemployment among the working classes

Declining morals, ethics and values

Demand for blood and violence in entertainment (Gladitorial “games”)

Antagonism between the Emperor and the Senate

Political corruption

Hero worship of athletes and actors

Dilution of the Roman language

George Santayana’s comment “Those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it”  in The Life of Reason comes to mind. . . . .

Bicycle Helmet Laws. . . .

I penned a letter to my local community expressing concern about a proposed bicycle helmet law.  I had read that my community is the only one around with a “Bicycle Safety Commission.”  And that the Commission was considering a requirement that anyone who rides a bicycle in the village must wear a helmet. 

I live in a nice community where most people are reasonably intelligent.  With a reasonably intelligent populace, I question why they can’t make determinations for themselves as to whether they or their children will wear a bicycle helmet — or not.   Do we really need another layer of regulation (and cost) dictating rules on an already heavily-regulated, crushingly-taxed and ordinance-saturated community.  With a reasonably intelligent populace, most will likely make good decisions.   And most will require their children to wear helmets and wear them themselves.

We do, however, need strict laws that require all children who step outside the door of their home to be fully bubble-wrapped from head to toe.  You can never be too careful and heaven knows that most parents are not smart enough to discern potential risk to un-bubble-wrapped children. 

The Turtle in the Tire Track

In 1969 I was in Tucumcari, NM.   I was interested in Indian artifacts so I took a drive to “look around.”  Outside of town, I took the long road of the Chappell Spade Ranch along the Canadian River.  I pulled up to the ranch house where a man was standing.  I asked if there was a place one might find Indian artifacts and was told “Mr. Griggs” might help but he was out walking.  “Out there” the man pointed.   I was driving my 1964 Ford Falcon Sprint – ragtop.  Top down.   So I headed off into the desert — driving on a two tire track “road.”

I bounced along and found Mr. Griggs about 2 miles out.  I asked about artifacts and he shrugged.   “You just have to look.”  Big help he was.    He asked if I’d drive him back to the ranch – so I said “sure” and he hopped in. 

We came to the top of a rise.   Below, the two tire track ruts were full of water from rain the night before.  He said “you better gun it or we’ll get stuck.”  So I did.   Whoosh!  Down the hill.  And then I suddenly jammed on the brakes – skidding and splashing to a stop with water up to my hubcaps.  He said “what the. . .”  I got out of the car and about 20 feet in front of us a big turtle was cooling himself.  In the water.  In the tire track.  If I’d continued, I would have crushed him.  I held up the turtle to show Mr. Griggs.  I set the turtle on the side and got back in the car.  He stared at me.  I looked at him somewhat defensively and said “I didn’t want to kill the turtle.”  He nodded and thought a moment “You did the right thing.  You want Indian artifacts?  Go that way” – he pointed and we peeled off across the desert in another 2 tire track “road.”  And we stopped, climbed to the top of a butte and found an Indian burial ground.  He told me the story of the Anasazis who had lived there.  I found some neat things – some of which I took.   Today, I have in my office a well-used mano (corn grinding stone) – one of three I found that day along with a metate (the stone on which corn was ground).  Every time I walk in my office – and glance at the mano – I think of the turtle in the tire track . . . . and that very special day. 

Haiku

A haiku is a short form of Japanese poetry characterized by three qualities: 

1.  There are three stanzas of 5, 7 and 5 syllables;

2.  In this highly abbreviated poem, there are two well-defined images (with a kireji or “cutting word” between them); and

3.  The subject is usually drawn from the natural world (often seasonal).

The most famous composer of haiku poetry was Matsuo Basho (1644-1694).   He was the grand poet of the Edo period and his poetry has achieved international renown.  His works frequently appear on Japanese monuments and at traditional Japanese sites.  Basho’s most famous (and probably the best known example of) haiku was “The Old Pond.”

Fu-ru-i-ke ya

Ka-wa zu to-bi-ko-mu

Mi-zu no 0-to

The translation?

Old pond

A frog leaps in

Splash

I tend to think that haiku can be a poignant teaching tool for students since it requires structure, thought, concentration and result.  Face it — if the three elements of haiku are present, how can the haiku be bad? 

Winter Squirrel by Renaissance Hombre

A squirrel sits still

His tail begins to move

And away he goes

Move over Mister Basho. . . . .

Harry

Speaking of Camp Napowan, a year or two before I was on staff, there was a chap named “Harry” who was on staff at the camp for a couple years.   Harry was from Park Ridge (IL) and attended Maine East High School.  Good guy from all accounts.  As I recall he worked in the camp store.   After graduating from Maine East, Harry attended Ripon College for a year or two but he dropped out and moved to Los Angeles where he had some minor acting roles and worked as a carpenter.  

While doing some carpentry work for filmmaker George Lucas, Harry was asked to “read” for a role for a new film that was in the works.  So, Harry read for the part – and he got it.    Harry played the part of Han Solo in Star Wars.  Yes . . . “Harry” who worked at Camp Napowan was Harrison.  Harrison Ford. . . .  

A Lifebuoy Lesson

When I was 12 years old (1959), I spent part of the summer at Camp Napowan — a great Boy Scout camp in Wild Rose, Wisconsin.  One hot sunny afternoon, I was loping back to my campsite when I saw a fellow camper named “Wiley.”  I looked at him and called him a “______.”   It was a highly offensive and nasty slur.  What prompted my outburst, I don’t recall but from the moment the words left my lips, things began moving verrrry quickly.  And with great and lasting impression. 

The Senior Patrol Leader, Bill B. – age 14, heard my comment and yelled an order to other Scouts.  They grabbed me and dragged me shouting and struggling to the wash stand.  Bill took a well-used cake of Lifebuoy’s finest and pushed it into my mouth.   Then – with a word from Bill – I was released.  I ran back to my tent on the verge of tears – spitting soap shards.   When I emerged, the matter was forgotten.

But you know what?  From that time on, I never used an epithet like that.   I learned.  Some might say “the hard way.”   But I disagree.    I wish other young people could learn like this — from their peers.  I look at this lesson (and others I’ve had) as being key to my development (see posts of 8/16/11 and 11/23/11).  I’m glad I learned.           

Oh and Bill B.?  He and I went on to become Eagle Scouts.  We worked together on staff at Camp Napowan for the next 3 years.   He became one of my two closest friends (along with my great pal Col. “Ox” – another Eagle Scout).   Bill was best man at my wedding.  And we talk frequently.  Today, he’s the finest veterinarian in the State of Kentucky.   And to this day, I’ve rarely heard Bill utter anything stronger than a (usually appropriate) “doggonit.”