Tuesday, October 20, 2009

quote of the day

From time to time, in some moment of peril or anxiety, a statesman appears on the scene promising to eliminate tyranny, ensure the triumph of liberty, and achieve permanent peace. For a moment, the statesman achieves the status of prophet, one who in his own person seemingly embodies the essence of the American purpose. Then reality intrudes, exposing the promises as costly fantasies. The prophet's followers abandon him. Mocked and reviled, he is eventually banished--perhaps to some gated community in Dallas.

--Andrew J. Bacevich

war eagle

This weekend Dorothy and I went to the War Eagle arts and crafts fair in Arkansas. Dorothy always likes to look at the stuff for sale. What attracts my interest is this:
This is the War Eagle mill. The mill is still grinding corn and wheat. There's a gift shop inside and a restaurant on the third floor.

Looking down to where the water runs into the sluice and pushes the wheel.

The big wheel on the far wall is being driven by the external water wheel.

This grain mill is being turned by those large leather belts which are being ran by the water wheel outside. The power is transmitted by a series of gears. The grain is fed at the top of the red box and is ground by two round vertical stones. The meal or flour falls into the plastic bins you see at the lower left of the photo.

This is the view from the Bean Palace restaurant on the third floor of the mill. We had two orders of corn bread and beans and ice tea for $17.00 I figure the ingredients were worth about a dollar and so we payed another $16.00 for the ambiance.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Sami asked her grandma to make a cake for a friend's baby shower. The friend had made a sketch showing all the elements she wanted. Dorothy enlisted my help to do the art work and this is the result:

I cut out a cloud shaped paper stencil and held it to the side of the cake while Dorothy sprayed the sky blue. When the stencil was taken away, voila! Clouds. I used my pasta machine to roll out several colors of fondant icing then cut the shapes of the boat, sails, locomotive, etc. with a pizza cutter, then pressed them into the icing. Marley, Hunter, and Jenna helped by taking turns at the pasta machine crank. They also grabbed any scraps of fondant to do their own sculptures.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

deliver us from the bureaucracy

I went to the local DMV (in Oklahoma it's called a tag agent) to renew the tags on my truck. While I was there I checked my driver's license and discovered it was expired. I was five days past the grace period. When I told the agent she informed me that I would have to show a certified copy of my birth certificate in order to renew. This is a small town. She knows me by sight. Yet, I couldn't renew without proving my identity. That afternoon I returned with my birth certificate. No good. It has to be a certified copy. I explained that what I had was the original, not a copy. What I held in my hand got me enrolled in school, entered into military service, hired by every employer I had ever worked for, secured my civil service retirement, and got my social security checks started, and now it's no good for renewing my driver's license? That's right.

The next day I left early and made the 1-1/2 hour drive to Tulsa to get a certified copy. Although I was unable to renew my license with the original birth certificate, I easily obtained a certified copy of my birth certificate with my expired driver's license. The copy has a lot of features that the original was missing, such as numbers, bar codes and a watermark, things that are very important to a bureaucracy.

That afternoon I was back in the agent's office ready to renew. I sat in front of this computerized technical wonder that would electronically take my picture, signature, and finger prints, and then produce a new license. We started the process and then we had this conversation:

She said, "Uh, oh".
"What?", I replied.
"The computer compares the just taken photo with the one from your old license and it's saying 'identification failed' ". She turned her screen around so I could see it and both photos were identical. I hadn't changed in four years. I hadn't even lost any more hair. So she started the process over and had the same results. She called someone in Oklahoma City who could pull up the photos on her computer and authorize the resetting of the local computer in order to proceed with the issuing of the license. After conversing with the woman on the phone for a moment she turned to me and said,
"She said you have a nice beard".
"Tell her I said thank you", I replied.
"She said all the good ones live too far away or are taken," she informed me. My face began to feel warm. The other customers in the office laughed. Well, to make a long story short, I got my license.

I told my 21 year old grand daughter, Tara, the story about what the woman in Oklahoma City said. She said,"When grandma hears that there's going to be a smack down in Oklahoma City." But when Dorothy got home from work and I told her the same story, she just smiled, patted me on the back, and walked away.

Monday, October 05, 2009

what i'm reading now

Rick Shenkman is an associate professor of history at George Mason University. He is the editor and founder of George Mason University's History News Network, a website that features articles by historians on current events. In his book Just How Stupid Are
We - facing the truth about the American voter he states that
just as the American voter is wielding more power than ever the
voter is less informed and more easily manipulated than ever.

Here are some nuggets from the book:

  • About 1 in 4 Americans can name more than one of the five freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment. But more than half of Americans can name at least two members of the cartoon family, the Simpsons.
  • In January 2003, three months before our invasion of Iraq, a majority of Americans falsely believed that "Iraq played an important role in 9/11", according to a Program on International Policy Attitudes survey.
  • The majority of American could not answer these question that were asked in polls over the last three decades: What happened in 1066? (the Norman Conquest). Who said the"world must be made safe for democracy? (Woodrow Wilson). Who was Plato? Just 34 percent knew. Which country dropped the nuclear bomb? Only 49 percent knew it was our own country.

"......How ignorant are we? Ask the political scientists and you will be told that there is damning, hard evidence pointing incontrovertibly to the conclusion that millions are embarrassingly ill-informed and that they do not care that they are. There is enough evidence that one could almost conclude--though admitted this is a stretch--that we are living in an Age of Ignorance.

Another quote from the book that struck me was: "If an idea cannot be expressed on a bumper sticker you can probably give up any hope that it will ever attract much support. It likely will be ridiculed to death before it ever has a chance to be seriously considered. At the moment of its introduction somebody will be sure to cast aspersions on the intellectuals who dreamed it up in their ivory towers, and that will pretty much be the end of it."

Sunday, October 04, 2009

quote of the day

We have grown literally afraid to be poor. We despise anyone who elects to be poor in order to simplify and save his inner life. If he does not join the general scramble and pant with the money making street, we deem him spiritless and lacking ambition. We have lost the power even of imagining what the ancient idealization of poverty could have meant: the liberation from material attachments, the unbribed soul.

--William James

Friday, October 02, 2009

entertaining the grand kids

Today I picked up all three grand kids after school and took them out for ice cream. They had coupons for free soft serve cones at MacDonald's so we went there first. That's what Hunter (6) and Jenna (3) wanted. Marley and I wanted a cone from Braum's. It took no time at all for Hunter to finish his cone and Jenna had enough after a couple of licks so Hunter ate the rest of hers. Then on to Braum's. Hunter was full and didn't want more so I ordered a mint chocolate chip and Marley the peanut butter cup. Jenna said she wanted what Marley was getting, but when I handed her the cone she refused it. She wanted something different. OK, Hunter agreed to eat Jenna's cone and then Jenna decided on a birthday cake flavored concoction. So we sat at the table as contented as can be as we licked away at our frozen delights.

Before we left I bent over to tie my shoe. I heard Hunter and Jenna laughing and when I sat up they were not only laughing but their faces were lit up with pure joy.
"What's so funny?", I asked.
"We saw your butt crack!" they replied in unison, loud enough for all the customers and crew to hear. Even the kid in back flipping hamburgers looked up.
Hunter, being the sensitive kid he is, must have sensed my discomfort because he whispered in my ear, "It was hairy".
It gives me a sense of fulfillment when I can bring, even in some small way, merriment to my grand children's day.