New Year’s Resolutions

Taking a lead from Mike over at Cold Fury, I’ve decided to post a list of my own for the new year…

1. I will endeavor to be more entertaining in general and more lucid in my political rants. Even I bore me sometimes.

2. I’ll be a quieter neighbor - I won’t use unsilenced weapons when dispatching those so richly deserving of being removed from the gene pool.

3. I will be less intimidating to members of the opposite sex in general…and more intimidating to everyone else, particularly politicians and those who have the mistaken belief that they know what’s good for me better than I do. No more Mister Nice Guy!

4. I will be more ecologically aware – I will grind my victims’ bodies into a fine meal and spread it around the forests, thereby returning nutrients to the soil and spurring better growth of forest plants. It will be a far better thing for them than taking up space better used by others.

5. I will stifle the urge to strangle damfoolidjits if it is their first offense. After that, it’s open season on ‘em.

6. I will help the anti-nuclear power protesters see the error of their ways, even if it means forcing them to live in unheated caves over the winter, dining on nothing but pemmican, tree bark, and the occasional bit of venison jerky. I might even let them wear something from L.L. Bean or Land’s End, but nothing with polar fleece.

7. I will help the ‘peace-at-any-cost’ lefties get a first hand look at life under a brutal dictatorship, where they will not have the right to free speech, cable TV, double mocha decaf cappuccino, bottled Poland Springs water, nor be allowed to sing the blues.

8. I will help those same lefties realize that all cultures do not have an equal right to exist. Some are just too fucking evil and want nothing more than to see the rest of us dead.

9. I want to win the PowerBall jackpot, dammit!

10. I want to meet Vicky and Matt.

11. And I want to meet Dawn Olsen, too!

12. I want to win the PowerBall jackpot, dammit! (Oh, wait. I already said that, didn’t I? Well, it can’t hurt to list it twice, can it?)

13. I shall endeavor to move this blog off of Blogger and retrieve our here-again-gone-again archives.

14. I want to be able to fit into a size 8. Something with a nice plunging neckline and some nice new heels to go with it….uh.…oops. Umm, wrong list…..

15. And I still want to win the PowerBall jackpot, dammit!


More Underpants and Rubber Bands

Somehow I thought that any comments in regards to Brendan Smith’s last post might have gone directly to him. However I found this e-mail waiting for me when I got home today and I figured I’d best pass it on to him. Then I thought you folks out there in the blogosphere might enjoy it, too. I’m posting it here just as I received it.




Ah theah she goes. Now then I spose your lookin for more natural input for what goes as underneaath clothin. By the way this thing aint part of some foolish colage study spendin tax money to find out nothin nobody needs to know.

I tell you, since it was you bakkin it I did my best to find out what you needed to know. First I kind of hinted to Burt and Yancy who have kind of moved in for the snow months that I needed to know what they was wearing for underneath. For the next few days they kind stuck to there side of the cabin and scuttled out of the way if I got too near. But I finally reasoned with them. I'm a might bigger and I just kind of held them down while I peeked. Just like me and that Scotsman in the song, there aint nothing there but me.

We had a good laugh about that, but then Yancy had to ask, 'what about gals' and all we knew was Sally M, did I ever tell you about Sally. Well we knew when we was just little ones, that there was nuthin but Sally under her skirts, but since then she run off over to Vermont or may be Nyork any ways some where out west. But she come back last year. We grab a couple paelts and went callin, and we can tell you she aint changed enough to hamper her style if you get my drift.

Tell that Beasty guy that's all we can add, but maybe he better get a real job.

PS - nerver heard the rubber band, What do they play? If it has good banjo I might try to get a record. And as far as elastics go we stay of them trendy drugs and stick to our own skweezins. Nobody gone permanent blind from that, yet.”


Thoughts On a Sunday Afternoon

Despite the title of this post, I really started it Saturday afternoon. Between bouts of working on two different novels, some housecleaning, making and returning a number of phone calls, massaging some digital photos for an evaluation report for work, and just plain goofing off, I didn’t finish writing it until this afternoon. The title should probably be changed, but I’m too damn lazy to think of a new one.

And it’s not like I’m being paid to write this, am I?


The plumber finally showed up Friday afternoon. After scratching his head a lot, mumbling and grumbling, poking here and there, and climbing over and under various detritus in the basement, he came to the conclusion that the Three Stooges had indeed plumbed The House. I haven’t checked with Eddie yet to find out when he’ll be starting the work, but I can say I’m looking forward to being able to take hot showers for durations of longer than ten minutes. Every so often I like to soak myself under the spray for a good twenty minutes or more. It certainly helps smooth out some of the kinks on those very rare days when I’ve found a new and interesting way to overdo it physically. It doesn’t happen often, but I’d certainly like the option of a lengthy shower when the situation demands it.


I was supposed to go out with a friend of mine Saturday night, but she had to beg off. Unfortunately she managed to hurt herself at the Attitash Bear Peak ski area that afternoon.

When I talked to her on the phone, she sounded embarrassed to admit she’d gotten hurt, considering she’s an expert skier. It wasn’t until a few minutes after trying to convince her to tell me the sordid details she fessed up – she hadn’t hurt herself skiing, but while bending over to pick up her car keys.

She’d dropped them while trying to fit them into the door lock. When she bent over to pick them up, she slipped and landed face first on the icy pavement. Though her injuries weren’t life threatening, they were painful – a broken nose and a laceration on her forehead. The cut on her forehead took seven stitches to close.

After her little adventure through the emergency medical system, she had no desire to show her injuries to the rest of the world. Instead, she decided to go home and self-medicate with a glass of Southern Comfort and a mushy novel.


I spent part of Saturday evening with Eddie, Kim, Eddie’s mom, Eddie’s kids, and Kim’s brother, sister-in-law, and their kids. Eddie was doing his usual culinary magic with a nice smoked turkey, sweet potatoes, corn, and so on.

We had a chance to regale each other with tales from our respective childhoods, Downeast Maine and N’Hampsha stories, as well as more recent adventures of our travels and travails. I promise that I will relate some of the less personal stories here sometime in the near future.


I spoke with Dad Eddy last night, trying to convince him to join the effort here at WeekendPundit. As good as my dear brother and I can sometimes be at commentary, Dad Eddy is better. He has a true curmudgeon’s outlook on things political, religious, and economic.

He takes no prisoners.

He also has some great family stories that still make me laugh out loud even though I’ve heard them dozens of times. Of course he might have to sanitize them a little bit to protect the guilty, but it’s a small price to pay.


It’s official - The National Weather Service reports that 19 inches of snow fell here at Paugus Bay during the Christmas Day Nor’easter. That’s a pretty good start for the winter. Surprisingly, the heaviest snowfall was here and to the west, while there was very little north of the mountains.

The snowmobilers have been having a ball now that many of their favorite trails are finally open. I’ve seen quite a number of SUV’s towing snowmobile trailers here and there. There were even some snowmobiles parked outside some of the restaurants around here during the evening.

Let’s hope Mother Nature will provide a bountiful snowfall over the winter.


It has come to my attention that all of the great plot lines for novels, TV, and movies have all been used up. Actually, I think we can safely say that William Shakespeare cornered the market, creating the basic plots for intrigue, mystery, romance, comedy, action, and so on. Everything else since then has been derivative. I don’t know how many times I’ve read, watched, or written something that turns out to have been done by the Bard first. Even science fiction is based upon concepts first penned by Shakespeare. It’s only the settings that are different.

But I don’t mind. I have no qualms about plagiarizing from the Bard of Stratford. At least if I’m going to steal something, I’m going to steal from the best.


Today is Do-Or-Die day for the New England Patriots. They’re playing the Miami Dolphins in Foxboro and if they don’t win today, they’re done for the season. And that would just plain suck.

UPDATE: The Patriots beat the Dolphins 27-24 in OT!


The cross-country skis have been pulled out of the basement and I hope to get a chance to do some skiing over New Year’s Day. I haven’t had as much of an opportunity to do much skiing over the past couple of years.

Last winter the snowfall was inadequate, making cross-country skiing difficult. The winter before I was still recovering from the results of an experiment taking in to account the effects of gravity, aluminum ladders, decreased coefficient of friction in relation to the coating of ice on a wooden deck, and the lower portion of the human musculo-skeletal system. In other words, I shattered my right ankle after taking a nasty fall off of a ladder after shoveling almost 2 feet of snow from the roof. I still have two plates and 12 screws holding my ankle together.

This summer was the first time in almost three years that I haven’t felt any pain or stiffness from my injury. Everything is still feeling great. So it’s time to break out the skis and have some fun!


“One man’s ‘magic’ is another man’s engineering. ‘Supernatural’ is a null word.” – Lazarus Long

“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” – Arthur C. Clarke


Equality Of The Sexes

It was while working on another post for the blog that I realized I might not finish it in time to post it sometime today. So as a backup, I’m going to grace the blog with a little more wit and wisdom of my favorite ‘philosopher’.


“Whenever women have insisted on absolute equality with men, they have invariably ended up with the dirty end of the stick. What they are and what they can do makes them superior to men, and their proper tactic is to demand special privileges, all the traffic will bear. They should never settle merely for equality. For women, ‘equality’ is a disaster.” – Lazarus Long


This Is Too Much

This cartoonist looks like he’s had just about enough about all the protests claiming that ‘The Two Towers’ is all about hate speech.

(Link via Spleenville)

America Was Mean To Me!

A discussion with a friend of mine in the UK some time ago came to mind today after reading the post by Bill Whittle (see below).

He had a difficult time with the idea that the US would bother wasting its time and effort in Afghanistan.

I explained it thus:

Picture a lion dozing in the warm summer sun. Now add to that picture some people from a nearby village who sneak up on that lion every so often and poke it with a stick or hurl a pebble at it. The lion will probably put up with it for a while. But then someone jabs at the lion with their stick and draws blood, the lion lashes out with its claws, pulling the hapless idiot into range of its jaws. There is a ‘snap’, and the idiot is dead.

The rest of the people run away, screaming that the lion just killed someone. Everyone gets in a tizzy, saying how mean the lion was to kill someone. That is, until someone wise in the way of lions asks what caused the lion to kill.

“We were poking it with sticks and throwing stones,” says one of the surviving idiots.

“Did it just lie there, unmoving when you did this?” asks the wise one.

“No. It would rumble and snarl at us every once in a while.”

“And still you kept poking it and throwing at it?” asks the wise one.


“Then you got what you deserved. Smart people know you don’t provoke lions. Dumb ones learn the hard way. Your friend died because he was stupid,” says the wise one.

“He didn’t deserve that! The lion was mean to us!”

The wise one walks away, knowing that the same people who provoked the lion would do so again at some point and die like their friend.

And so it is with America and its enemies. Al Qaida poked the lion (the US) so hard that it drew blood. The US struck back with overwhelming military might. Then the Taliban, Al Qaida, and their followers cry “America was mean to us!”

American Imperialism, Hegemony, Or Whatever

Bill Whittle has an incisive look at claims made by America’s critics that we aspire to an American Empire, or failing that, American hegemony over the world. His response to all such claims: Are you nuts?

One of the best opportunities the US ever had to create an American Empire was at the end of World War II.

Bill writes:

“At the end of World War II, America stood astride the world as the unchallenged military and economic power. The terrible might of Germany and Japan lay crushed in smoldering ruin. Great Britain, bled white by the near-total loss of two successive generations of their best and brightest, was in barely better shape. China was a collection of pre-industrial peasants fighting a bitter civil war, and nowhere in the rest of Asia, Africa and South America did there exist anything more than local defense militias.

Only the Soviets remained as a potent military force – and that force was essentially tactical, not strategic, in nature. While strong in tanks, artillery and men, it had no navy to speak of, and an air force consisting mostly of close support ground-attack aircraft such as the Il-2 Sturmovik. While effective against ground targets, the Red Army in 1945 had nothing resembling US heavy bombers such as the B-17, the B-24, or the magnificent B-29.

On the other hand, the United States not only had what was far and away the world’s preeminent Navy; we also had large numbers of long-range strategic bombers and swarms of highly-seasoned fighter escorts. We had a Marine Corps flush with victories: battle-hardened men who had invented through blood and horror the means to go ashore on enemy beaches and stay there. We had an Army whose courage and skill in battle was unsurpassed, and whose critical supply and ordinance staffs were, by far, the best in the world.

And, of course, we had the atomic bomb, and the will to use it.

History has never, and will never, record a time when such power existed in the hands of a nation, nor of a time when opposing forces were so weak and in such a state of disarray and abject surrender.

And these feared and ruthless Americans, a people who had incinerated cities in Europe and Japan and whose ferocity and tenacity on island jungles and French beaches had brought fanatical warrior cultures to their knees – what did these new conquerors of the world do?

They went home is what they did. They did pause for a few years to rebuild the nations sworn to their destruction and the murder of their people. They carbon-copied their own system of government and enforced it on their most bitterly hated enemy, a people who have since given so much back to the world as a result of this generosity. They left troops in and sent huge sums of money to Europe to rebuild what they all knew would eventually become trading partners, but also determined competitors. Then they sent huge steel blades through their hard-earned fleets of ships and airplanes and came home to get on with their lives in peace and quiet.”

Is that any way to run an empire? Hell no. And as if to prove the point that the US has no plans to build an empire, we did something very much like it again in the aftermath of the Persian Gulf War.

“After handing [Saddam] the worst defeat in modern history, and once again with vast numbers of battle-hardened and victorious troops in place, the United States could have simply claimed the Iraqi and Kuwaiti oil fields as spoils of war. It was clearly the Imperialist thing to do.

Furthermore, it was a fait accompli – already done. There was no further risk to us. The Republican Guard was running as fast as their stolen Mercedes-Benz’s would carry them. We had achieved such a total and spectacular victory that our pilots – men called baby-killers, sadists, murderers and worse – refused to drop their weapons on legitimate military targets because the victory was so one-sided that they in their decency could no longer continue to do what they were ordered to do.

And so what did these American Imperialists do with the spoils of such victory, with the precious, precious oilfields completely and totally ours? We sent our best people over there to put out the fires. And then we came home. Again.”

That’s the screwiest way to build an empire that I’ve ever seen. But Bill makes the point so simply that even the Euroweenies should be able to understand: We don’t want to build an empire. We’re too damn busy with our own problems and our own businesses to get tangled up in that kind of mess.

“How many times will we have to do this before our critics are able to discern a pattern? How many provocations and taunts and slander will we have to endure before anti-Americans wake up to the simple truth that brings us home time and time again, which is simply this: For the first time in history, a nation powerful enough to rule world has simply refused to do so. It is a moral and ethical choice we make as a people. More than that; it is data. It is evidence.”

Bill also gets into the idea of American hegemony. That is somewhat more likely than empire, but not in the fashion that many anti-American critics believe.

“We are widely criticized among Europeans for what they call our cultural and economic hegemony. They decry our pop culture as vulgar and commercial, and in fact, it often is. McDonald’s are now everywhere on the European continent, and we are reminded what horrible, fattening food it is. Agreed.

What doesn’t seem to get through their anti-populist, anti-American blinders is that basic economic principle of supply and demand. I suppose we shouldn’t be too shocked to hear this. The birthplace, intellectual home and last bastion of Marxism has always had a tough time with economic reality.

They also have a tough time with democracy, and the idea of people – you know, the masses – making their own decisions. And the thing that breaks the heart of every European elitist is the inescapable fact that McDonald’s and Cheers are huge in Europe, because their own people can’t get enough of it.”

I won’t bore you with further quotes. Go read it for yourself.


“To stay young requires unceasing cultivation of the ability to unlearn old falsehoods.” – Lazarus Long


Flatlander News

It’s Thursday, and that means it’s time for guest blogger Brendan Smith to grace us with his words of wisdom.


Underpants & Rubber Bands
by Brendan Smith
The Weirs Times

To some of you, the title of this column may make you cringe, perhaps a thought of a bizarre combination that, if not used together wisely, could cause a great deal of pain - or maybe just a lot of embarrassment. To others it may simply be two strange words that make no sense whatsoever. It all depends (no pun intended) on where you come from.

This whole idea came to pass one evening a couple of weeks ago when I commented to a woman I know that one of the items mentioned in the title above was riding a bit out of place and was uncomfortable and needed some adjusting. This comment produced a large, unending laugh. I would have understood the joke if I had been wearing the rubber bands that day, but I wasn't. It was the other thing I was talking about.

“Underpants?" she said, giggling uncontrollably, "What are underpants?"

“These are underpants," I said, pointing to the top part of my boxers which were showing from under the belt line of my jeans. If I was sixteen I'd have been right in style. At forty-seven I only looked like a messy old guy.

“No one calls them underpants,” she said. “Those are underwear.”

Being the liaison between the New Hampshire native and the Flatlander for the past eight years; Having thought I had figured out all there was to know about the unique differences that take adjusting to after moving here, I now realized that I had come across a new stumbling block. I saw I wasn't yet ready to dance cheek-to-cheek (so to speak) with New Hampshire natives until I took time to understand the language barrier in the great "underpants/underwear" controversy.

Before I get myself in any trouble I have to make it clear that the woman I was discussing this with was my wife. I know that her mother is a reader of this paper so I thought I'd make that clear right now before I have to undergo more than a few questions over Christmas dinner. My wife is a true New Hampshire native so I respected her remarks but, being from New York, I was sticking by my "underpants" story just the same.

Where I grew up it was pretty clear. You had pants and then the things you put on underneath were, logically, underpants. It goes without saying that the obvious extension of this was the shirt you wore under your shirt was an undershirt. Together, as a set, they became “underwear.” I decided to ask the next logical question.

“If this is underwear,” I defiantly said, pointing to the exposed boxers, “Then what is this?” I asked now pointing to my tighter-than-it fit-last-year undershirt.

“That’s a T-shirt.” she said without any hesitation.

I didn't argue that fact. I called it a T-shirt also, but only if I wore it with no shirt over it. A bit confusing? I don't think so.

After a long argument and no giving in by either side it was decided that the next day we would quiz our respective friends and associates and find if the majority wore "underpants" or "underwear." I didn't hold out much hope for my end considering that the deck was stacked with natives.

Most I talked to said "underwear" and only one or two said "underpants" but I think now that they felt compelled to only because I was asking them this odd question in the middle of the work place and they may have been frightened by what I might do next if they gave the wrong answer. I went on the Internet and found as many "underpants" sites as I could and noticed that they were mostly from clothing stores in the New York and New Jersey area. This was definitely a cultural phenomenon.

My one saving moment (or so I thought) in all this came when my wife and I ganged up on her unassuming sister-in-law who had no idea when she came into the house what lie over the threshold. Standing on either side, eyes glaring, tensions mounting we asked her the question: “Underpants or underwear?" “Underpants or underwear?” With only a moments thought, and probably thinking about the best escape route she said "underpants."

I shouted loudly, jumped up and down, did tumblesaults in the living room (actually, I found out later, I only knocked over a salt shaker into the living room). I thought I had won one small battle in the war. My victory was short-lived when after a longer reflection, and realizing that she was married to my wife’s brother she said: “Actually, I say both.” (I should also mention that my sister-in-law is from Tennessee, but that just encourages me in thinking that “underpants” does extend beyond the New York area.)

Today this whole issue still lies undecided. Is “Underpants’ just a New York thing or is “Underwear” only heard here in New Hampshire? I am asking you, the reader, to weigh in on this subject. Where are you from and what do you say? Is it “Underwear” or “Underpants“, “Undershirt” or “T-Shirt”. Do you care?

And while we're on the subject of what is called what. It's time to also settle the hullabaloo on the “rubber bands or elastics” issue. I always said “rubber bands” till about two years ago. I only switched because it was tiring always having to explain myself amongst the snickers of those natives who insisted that the word “elastics” was the only way to say it. (Go down to any office supply store and see what it says on the box...that's my only argument.)

“Underwear/Underpants?”,“Undershirt/T-Shirt?”, “Rubberbands/Elastics?” Only you can help settle this issue once and for all. Send your answers to me at brensmith@metrocast.net and I’ll print the results here in a couple of weeks.

I apologize to those of you who were expecting to see a last-minute gift guide for the Flatlander on your Christmas list as I mentioned last time. Sometimes other issues just come up that need to be addressed immediately, as in this case. I can only make one suggestion with the space I have left this week. If they ask for "underwear" this year, make sure you throw in a couple of “T-shirts” too. That’s what they'll be expecting.
By the way, I do admit to saying “elastics” once in a while, but only when I'm talking about the thing that holds up my “underpants.”

Merry Christmas!!

Brendan Smith can be reached by email at brensmith@metrocast.net


By the way, Brendan, I say ‘underwear’ or ‘skivvies’ and ‘elastic’ rather than ‘rubber’ bands. -DCE

The Aftermath

According to the NWS boys, the Lake Winnipesaukee area received between 14 inches and 2 feet of snow. Here on Paugus Bay, I have to agree with the 2 foot amount. After all, I just spent a couple of hours shoveling my car out. I needed to do that before the plow guy showed up so I could move the car out of his way.

Mind you, I spent 2 hours clearing out the four feet just behind my car so I could pull it out on to the street. With the help of the local Department of Public Works, I had a snowbank over four feet high behind my car. If it had been just regular snowfall piled there, I could have had it dug out in less than half an hour. But this was the snowplow-packed-heavy-as-all-get-out kind of snow. It is also the kind of snow you want to shovel out before it freezes into a solid mass that will be as hard as granite and about as easy to move. ‘Waiting until later’ is a mistake many new residents without winter skills make.

Once I got my car out, the plow guy was able to clear enough snow away to allow Eddie to pull his pickup out. Then the plow guy got to work. In less than 15 minutes he had the parking area next to and in front of The House cleaned out. He pushed it back far enough to leave room for more snow in the future. Obviously he’s an optimist, figuring that there will be plenty of snow for him to move before the winter’s over. Then he plowed out the driveway running around back of The House to allow us some limited access to the garage.

Then it was turn for Eddie and me to go back out with our shovels to clear out the plow guy’s leavings. All in all, it looks pretty good. At least Kim won’t have to climb over any snowbanks to get in to The House when she gets home from work, unlike this morning when she headed off to work.

And to top it off, I didn’t win the $316 million PowerBall jackpot.


Let It Snow

It’s a little before 6 p.m. as I write this. I managed to make it back from my sister’s home about 2 hours ago, just ahead of a Nor’easter. As I crossed the state line from Massachusetts in to New Hampshire, the rain that had been falling turned to snow. The change was dramatic, almost as if there was a line drawn across the land. South of the line would be rain. North of the line would be snow.

By the time I made it 40 miles up the highway to Concord, the snow was accumulating rapidly, though the snow still wasn’t falling all that fast. By the time I reached Lake Winnipesaukee the winds had picked up and shifted from out of the west to out of the northeast. Up here in New England that’s usually a bad sign during a snowstorm. It means we're going to have a Nor'easter.

As a storm moves along the coast, the low pressure area that is the center of the storm moves along or just to the east of the shoreline. The counterclockwise spin of the weather system means that the leading edge of the storm picks up moisture from the ocean, twirls it back towards land, and dumps back on land in large amounts. The winds dumping all that precipitation from the ocean come from out of the northeast, hence the name Nor’easter.

Though this storm had quite a bit of precipitation through the Midwest, it’s now refueling itself from the Atlantic Ocean.

The weather forecasts warn of blizzard and white-out conditions. A blizzard is defined as winds of 35 mph for more than 3 consecutive hours with visibility of less than a quarter mile due to falling and/or blowing snow. A white-out occurs when the snowfall is very heavy, usually with high winds, and it becomes impossible to distinguish landmarks only a few feet away. White-outs can occur during blizzards, but are usually experienced during snow squalls (think ‘thunderstorm’, but with snow rather than rain).

The National Weather Service boys came through and are giving us a white Christmas. Here in central New Hampshire they’re giving us between 10 and 20 inches of white Christmas! (I think they overdid it a little.)

The only downside to all of this wonderful snow is that yours truly will be stuck doing all of the shoveling to clear the sidewalk and driveway. *sigh*

I can almost feel my sore back now…


Merry Christmas!

Posting by yours truly will be light to non-existent until Thursday, December 26TH. Too much will be going on for me to even think of sitting down in front of the computer to compose yet another bit of witty prose. It's possible my brother may have something to add while I'm off doing Christmassy things.

On Thursday, guest blogger Brendan Smith will have some new words of wisdom from the Flatlander's point of view.

A very Merry Christmas to all!

A New Viewpoint

Bill Whittle has a new blog and a new viewpoint to add to the blogosphere. I became acquainted with Bill by way of Rachel Lucas. His writing reminds me very much a mixture of Steven den Beste, Stephen Green, and…umm…me.

To give you a small taste of Bill’s commentary, I offer the following:

“Me, personally, I'll take the spirit, ingenuity and passion that can plant the American flag on the moon over pre-paid health care. I can buy health care. Thirty three years after watching the event as a ten year old boy, I’m still trying to go to the moon. (Some of us in the Mojave Desert may still have few tricks up our sleeve on this one. We're still free to build airplanes and spacecraft from our garages and fly the goddamn things. Try and keep up with a nation that builds working spacecraft in the garage. As a hobby. Out of pocket. For FUN.)”

Bill’s blog will be added to the links at WeekendPundit as soon as I get around to fixing the template. Again.


“Always store beer in a dark place.” – Lazarus Long


I’m Alive!!! (And Other Fascinating Almost True Stories)

I can’t believe it. I survived it. Everything is where it belongs – no severed appendages, no gushing blood, no concussions, no eviscerated entrails.

It’s a miracle!

Once again I have battled my way through the crowds to make my holiday purchases (well, most of them). It was necessary to use my highly modified and rewired cattle prod only twice in order to clear a path through the throngs. I have only two more gifts to pick up and I’ll do that after work Monday. There’s no way I’m going anywhere near a retail outlet on Christmas Eve. I’m not that much of a masochist.


Looking out at the lawn from the porch on The House, I wonder whether we really will have a white Christmas. If you had asked me a week ago I would have said ‘yes’. But now I’m not so sure.

The warmer temperatures and two days of rain late last week have melted away the snow cover and the skim of ice on Paugus Bay. The only hope for a white Christmas in central New Hampshire is some snow forecast for sometime late Christmas Eve. Let’s hope the boys over at the National Weather Service in Grey, Maine can pull it off.


I paid a brief visit upstairs to Eddie and Kim to get a look at how their unpacking and decorating are going. What a difference a day makes!

The living room looked luxurious. All it lacked was some new curtains, and I know Kim will be getting to those sometime soon. The dining room was divine. And the master bedroom was…was…um…masterfully marvelous. (I’ve really got to watch my attempts at alliteration.) All that’s left is the guest bedroom and the kitchen. It’s going to be smashing!


Tomorrow the plumber comes to eyeball the plumbing situation. He’s got a lot of work ahead of him to de-Stoogify the plumbing.

One task I do not envy him is removing the showerhead in my bathroom. A previous tenant (or one of the landlords) used some kind of glue in the threads and now it’s impossible to get the existing head off. I wouldn’t mind using the existing showerhead except that it uses too damn much water (one reason why we run out of hot water) and it doesn’t let me aim the spray.

He also has to fix the hot water temperature on my furnace (all I get is lukewarm water at best), putt the two halves of the house on to separate water meters and water heaters, and install new water feeds for Eddie and Kim’s washing machine. The first and last ought to be easy. I don’t envy him the others.


“Yield to temptation; it may not pass your way again.” – Lazarus Long

A Christmas Carol - Blog Style

From a blogosphere god to Scrooge in the space of one day. Poor Glenn Reynolds.

Here’s an interesting parody of A Christmas Carol by PontifexExMachina.

State Budgets And Deficit Spending

It looks like many states in the US are having budget problems and quite a few of them are showing deficits that will need to be taken care of before finances get totally out of whack. The Group Captain links to a New York Times story about California’s deficit and the fact that it’s bigger than most other state’s entire budgets.

My home state of New Hampshire is one of those states dealing with a looming budget deficit. Various state agencies were requesting average budget increases of 13% for the next biennium. (New Hampshire’s state budget is for two years. All budgetary items are voted on during the first year of each two-year legislative term.)

Governor-elect Craig Benson has told all state agencies to resubmit budget requests, limiting them to a figure 95% that of their present budget. The downturn in the high tech industry has lowered state revenues and neither the governor-elect nor the legislature are willing to increase taxes. Instead, the governor-elect wants to slash state spending and make running state government more cost efficient.

Taxes were the big issue during the gubernatorial race in November, with Democrat Mark Fernald wanting to impose a state income tax and Republican Craig Benson vowing to veto any state income or sales tax. (New Hampshire has no state income or state sales tax.) Benson won in a landslide.

California is facing a $34.8 billion (that’s billion, with a ‘b’) deficit over the next 18 months. That’s enough to run the state government in New Hampshire for almost 18 years. It’s going to be interesting to see how much money Governor Gray Davis is going to pick from the California taxpayers’ pocket this time round.

The Internet’s First Scalp

It’s now official – Glenn Reynolds is a god.

At least that’s what Jon Podhoretz of the New York Post implied on NPR’s On The Media this morning. (See ‘Blogging Lott’. There's no link available yet.)

The topic of the report was how bloggers were a big force in bringing out the story of Trent Lott’s remarks at Strom Thurmond’s birthday party. Podhoretz’s December 13th op-ed piece goes into some detail about the power of blogs. During his appearance on NPR he challenged the notion that only ‘legitimate’ journalists have the power to influence public opinion. More than once he named Glenn Reynolds as one of the driving forces in the blogosphere.

Keep up the good work, Glenn.

We’re (Not) In The Money (Yet)

Christmas might be very merry for someone. The multi-state PowerBall lottery jackpot for the December 25th drawing is up to $280 million (that’s million, with an ‘m’). If the winner decides to take a lump sum, the payout will be $151.4 million. After taxes that still totals a tidy sum of $88 million.

That’s one heck of a Christmas bonus!


Too Many Things

I don’t know how many times I sat down in front of my computer today, hoping to comment on something of great importance. But as sometimes happens, everything I thought I’d write about turned out to be rather trite. Maybe too many things have happened over the past 24 hours, making it impossible to focus on just one. Not that there have been any major events requiring my not-so-humble commentary.

Maybe it’s the holidays so close upon us now. I find myself being less in control of my emotions around this time of year. I’ve never understood that about myself. But then again, as I get older I see emotional connections to people, places, things, and events that I failed to see before. Whether it’s wisdom or a long delayed awakening of something else is unknown to me. There are times when that newly awakened awareness takes me by surprise and I’ll end up crying at the end of some story on TV or at the movies.

As you can see, even my writing is rambling around from sentence to sentence. This is not a good sign.

I think that’s my cue to hang it up for today and get a fresh start tomorrow. Who knows, I might even write something worth reading.


“Money is a powerful aphrodisiac. But flowers work almost as well.” – Lazarus Long

Blogger Problems

Over the past week or so my brother and I have been having problems with Blogger hosing our template and losing our archives. Over the past few days either he or I have had to rebuild the template and republish our archives every day.

So if things disappear and reappear at random, you’ll know that Blogger has struck again.

John and I have been looking in to moving this blog to a new site. We probably won’t go the Movable Type route (We’re both hearing reports on other blogs about MT being a real resource hog.).

So please bear with us until we can resolve these problems.


An Evening With Friends

Warning: Bunny-huggers or Bambi-lovers should read no further. Don’t say you weren’t warned!

I just got back from upstairs at Eddie and Kim’s. I believe I was their first ‘sit-down’ dinner guest in the new digs. Dinner was marvelous – a nice pasta with a great meat sauce and grated parmesan and romano cheese. And when I say meat sauce, I mean meat sauce!

There are meat sauces, and then there are meat sauces. Eddie’s started with some nice venison chops (take that, Bambi!), portobello mushrooms, tomatoes, and spices. The Bambi-chops were marinated for a week before Eddie made the sauce.

It was worth the wait.


Ramblings On A Dark December Evening

Normally you’d be seeing Brendan Smith’s Flatlander column here today. But as he doesn’t always write one every week, there will be times when his regular Thursday contribution will be missing.

Unfortunately, this is one of those weeks. However, he will be back next week.


It’s been quite cold during the nights here in central New Hampshire. Already I can see the ice forming on the water behind my home.

I know it’s going to be a doozy of a winter because last year at this time there was no ice on any of the lakes anywhere around here. Normally Lake Winnipesaukee is totally frozen over by the end of January, even the widest part of the lake known as The Broads. Last winter The Broads stubbornly remained unfrozen. The water behind my home also remained unfrozen except along the banks. There wasn’t much snowfall, either.

This year we’ve had more snow at the end of fall than all of last winter. That’s got to be a good sign.

And the National Weather Service boys are saying we stand a pretty good chance of getting some snow starting late Christmas Eve.

Now that’s my kind of winter.


I haven’t started my Christmas shopping yet. I won’t until Sunday. Maybe.

I’m one of those shopping procrastinators, waiting until almost the last minute to start my Christmas shopping. It’s not that I dislike the shopping. My dislike is for the people.

No, not the people out there shopping the same time I am. It’s the people that started shopping back in September that I can’t stand. By Thanksgiving all of their Christmas shopping is done and they have this smirk on their faces. And they never let you forget that all of their shopping is done. Ever.

I don’t know how many times I’ve been tempted to pull out my highly modified and rewired electric cattle prod and give them a dose of 30,000 volts. It would be worth it to see the self-satisfied look on their faces be replaced with a look of surprise just before they fall to the ground, twitching.

Why do I have a cattle prod? Don’t ask. You really don’t want to know.


Eddie and Kim are getting settled in upstairs. Though it still looks like a bomb went off in their place, they’re slowly getting it all squared away.

One big difference between the old neighbors and Eddie and Kim is the noise. Or rather, the lack of noise. I don’t know if it’s just because Eddie and Kim are more cognizant of noise in general, or if they’re just quiet people. Either way, I win.

I did call them and ask them to make a little more noise. The silence was starting to creep me out. The fact that I was getting creeped out because of the silence creeped me out even more. I like quiet. This tells me I might have been living here far too long.

Now if we can just get the plumbing problems squared away.


The House has a small, slight, quirky plumbing problem. It wasn’t until last summer that I really came to realize that it was a problem. Well, actually two problems.

The first is that there is only one water shutoff valve. What I mean is that there are no shutoffs underneath the sinks. If you want to replace a leaky washer in a faucet you have to shut off the water to the entire house. It also means that if I need to replace a washer on a first floor faucet, I have to drain the water from the upper floor of The House before I can even attempt such a thing.

The second came to light when a hot water valve failed and started spraying water all over the laundry room in the basement. In the process of trying to shut off the hot water I found that the water heaters to the two halves of The House are connected together. Both heaters feed both halves of The House. It is just plain weird.

It makes me wonder who plumbed this place. The Three Stooges?


“People who go broke in a big way never miss a meal. It is the poor jerk who is shy half a slug who must tighten his belt.” – Lazarus Long


Thought For The Day

I wish I had more time to write something witty tonight, but unfortunately I’m in the midst of going over environmental surveys and whatnot for work, one of those end-of-the-year annoyances that must be endured.

So as always, when time doesn’t allow, I fall back on my old pal Lazarus Long to fill in the gap.


“ ‘No man is an island-’ Much as we may feel and act as individuals, our race is a single organism, always growing and branching- which must be pruned regularly to be healthy. This necessity need not be argued; anyone with eyes can see that any organism which grows without limits always dies in its own poisons. The only rational question is whether pruning is best done before or after birth.

Being an incurable sentimentalist I favor the former of these methods – killing makes me queasy, even when it’s a case of ‘He’s dead and I’m alive and that’s the way I wanted it to be.’

But this may be a matter of taste. Some shamans think it is better to be killed in a war, or to die in childbirth, or to starve in misery, than to never have lived at all. They may be right.

But I don’t have to like it – and I don’t.” – Lazarus Long

New Plans For Ground Zero

While I was listening to NPR on my way home from work this afternoon, I heard a report that new plans for the site of the World Trade Center had been unveiled today. After taking a look at the nine different concepts, I have to say they are a damn sight better that the original five unveiled earlier in the year. A couple of them are a bit extreme, but there are at least three that look simply marvelous. To me, these designs seem to say to Al Qaida and the other Islamofascists, “Up yours! We’ll build ‘em bigger and better than the originals.”

Go take a look at them. I think you’ll like what you see.


Guns And Freedom

Rachel Lucas has an interesting post derived from a comment she received about an earlier post. It is well thought out, lucid, and gets to the point about gun ownership, freedom, and the price that we willingly pay to remain that way. It’s rather lengthy, but well worth the time.


“Get off a shot fast. This upsets him long enough to let you make your second shot perfect.” – Lazarus Long

No Gore In ‘04

It’s official. Al Gore won’t be running for president in 2004. Though he gave no specific reason for his decision, he did say he gave it a lot of thought and talked it over with his wife, Tipper. Many people have speculated why he decided not to run, but I know exactly why he chose not to run.

Saturday Night Live.

That’s right. Saturday Night Live.

Though I am not a fan of Al Gore, I have to admit he was pretty damn funny during his stint as guest host last Saturday night. And that brings us to why he decided not to run.

He’s going to become an actor.

He could be the next Leslie Nielsen.

For all we know, Lorne Michaels, producer of SNL, has signed Al on as a cast regular for the next season of Saturday Night Live. Why would Al want to become President of the United States when he could be a big hit on national TV?

Besides, wouldn’t all of you readers out there in the blogosphere prefer to see him on the tube making us all laugh rather than see him on the tube from the Oval Office making us cringe?

I know I would!

Remember, you heard it here first.


“Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open one’s mouth and remove all doubt.” -- Benjamin Franklin

(Sorry, but I really couldn’t find an appropriate Lazarus Long quote for this post.)


Relationship Retrospectives

Normally I wouldn’t indulge myself in this manner, but I feel that one should be allowed to wallow in a little self-pity every now and then. Personally I think it helps maintain a somewhat more balanced view of life in general. By now you’re probably asking yourself, “What’s his point?”

Frankly, when it comes to relationships with members of the opposite sex, I am a total loser.

A friend of mine once dubbed me “The Stood Up King” because I’ve been stood up on dates so many times that the number far exceeds that of ‘successful’ dates. Pretty sad, huh?

It’s not that I don’t get along with women. Quite the contrary. The number of my female friends is far greater than that of my male friends by a factor of two to one or better. And maybe that’s the problem.

Too many times I’ve heard the four words dreaded by every male on the planet – Let’s Just Be Friends. Better that women should cut my heart out and devour it before my fading eyes than to utter those words. It would be kinder.

Am I being overly dramatic? If you had asked me that twenty years ago, I’d probably have said yes. But this has been going on for too damn many years and I’m tired of it. I’m tired of being the odd man out at family gatherings or when getting together with friends. There are times when such gatherings have been damned uncomfortable.

I look at my siblings and see their families and I’m a bit envious. Despite what troubles some of them have had, I’d trade places with them in an instant. I now know that it’s highly unlikely that I will ever have a family of my own. What saddens me is the knowledge of my own mortality and knowing there will be no one to carry on after I am gone. I will never hear a child say "Daddy" and know that he or she means me.

What’s caused me to be stuck forever in the ‘single’ state? I. Don’t. Know. The friends and family that know me so well are as puzzled as I. I am not an ogre. I don’t mistreat people. I bathe daily and wear clean clothes every day. I have a regular job. I am no Adonis (I really need to start exercising again, in earnest), but I’m healthy and have all my own teeth and all my own hair. I am affectionate and something of a romantic. (This last is not my opinion, but that of others whose judgement I trust). I have a twisted and perverse sense of humor (think Monte Python).

I’ve heard more than once or twice that women are intimidated by my intellect. My intellect? Hey, ladies, I’m not that smart. I just have a quirky memory that allows me to remember all kinds of useless, though sometimes fascinating, facts. That’s not intellect. That’s just an ability to regurgitate facts that I read somewhere or saw on TV during an idle moment. If I were really all that smart, would I be working as an underpaid engineer for a small company in central New Hampshire? Hell no. I’d be Stephen Hawking.

All right, I guess that’s enough wallowing for now. Maybe later I’ll let you all in on why I’m feeling this way. Right now I’m just too pissed off, and in that state it’s not wise for me to reveal what triggered this spate of anger and self-pity. Fortunately it happens rarely, but every so often I’ve just got to vent.

We now return you to our regular program, already in progress…..


Thoughts On A Sunday Afternoon

Winter fooled us again. A nice 4 to 8 inches of new snow (albeit wet and heavy) and now a lot of it has melted away because of rain and temperatures in the 50’s. What caused it?

I had the snow tires mounted on the trusty Neon. That’s what did it. *sigh*

Mea culpa. Mea maxima culpa.


The old neighbors are out from upstairs. They moved the last of their things out Saturday afternoon and left the keys with me this morning after doing some last minute clean up. Soon enough Eddie and Kim will be moving things in. Maybe the wet weather arrived to help get some of the snow out of the way for the move?

Ah-hah! That’s it! It’s all Eddie and Kim’s fault!!

I feel so much better now we’ve gotten that squared away.


This weekend was of the kind that I don’t particularly like.


Because I had to work in the lab both yesterday and today. It was one of those
‘end-of-the-year-gotta-get-this-to-the-customer-by-Tuesday’ kinds of things. Was there someone else that could have taken care of it?

Nope, just me. And I have the distinct disadvantage of living only a few minutes from the lab. At least it’s a disadvantage when something like this happens. But there are compensations. In this case I get to have a couple of extra days off during Christmas week.


My house is a mess. It’s not that I’m a slob, but I just haven’t had the gumption to do the vacuuming, dusting, or picking up for the past few weeks. I’m also too chea…uh…frugal to hire someone else to do it for me. It must be the genetic Yankee frugality in me. It might also be that if someone else cleans this place I’ll never be able to find anything. To quote Val Kilmer in ‘Real Genius’, “All my filth is in alphabetical order. I filed this under ‘H’ for ‘Toy’.” Someone else cleaning up after me would screw up my filing system.


My ISP hasn’t been in evidence today. I have a broadband connection with my cable company, but you wouldn’t know it by the lack of connection to anywhere. No e-mail. No web access. No nothing. In case you’re wondering how I posted this, I did it from work. It wasn’t like I was doing anything else this afternoon.


I’ll have more later, assuming the cable company gets its act together.


Ideology – Reality Versus Fantasy

It seems I can’t keep away from politics despite my best efforts. Normally I wouldn’t presume to comment on a topic covered by someone better versed at revealing the ridiculous by pointing at the offending person/opinion/idea/action and saying in a loud voice, “How stupid!

In this case, Steven den Beste linked to a column by Lee Harris over at Policy Review. Harris pretty well demolished the image of Al Qaida, showing them and their Islamofascist pinhead admirers for what they are – twisted ideologues needing constant reminders that they are the Chosen of Allah. Of course they are the only ones who believe it and have to prove it to themselves by performing acts of evil that have been condemned worldwide. It is the classic case of fringe groups reversing the meaning of words and deeds to justify what they have done or about to do. Nothing is forbidden to them, even those actions expressly condemned in the Quran.

Harris lays out the fallacy of Al Qaida’s ideology, one step at a time:

“It is a common human weakness to wish to make more of our contribution to the world than the world is prepared to acknowledge, and it is our fantasy world that allows us to fill this gap. But normally, for most of us at least, this fantasy world stays relatively hidden. Indeed, a common criterion of our mental health is the extent to which we are able to keep our fantasies firmly under our watchful control.

Yet clearly there are individuals for whom this control is, at best, intermittent, resulting in behavior that ranges from the merely obnoxious to the clinically psychotic. The man who insists on being taken more seriously than his advantages warrant falls into the former category; the maniac who murders an utter stranger because God — or his neighbor’s dog — commanded him to do so belongs to the latter.

What is common in such interactions is that the fantasist inevitably treats other people merely as props — there is no interest in, or even awareness of, others as having wills or minds of their own. The man who bores us with stories designed to impress us with his importance, or his intellect, or his bank account, cares nothing for us as individuals — for he has already cast us in the role that he wishes us to play: We are there to be impressed by him. Indeed, it is an error even to suggest that he is trying to impress us, for this would assume that he is willing to learn enough about us to discover how best we might be impressed. But nothing of the kind occurs. And why should it? After all, the fantasist has already projected onto us the role that we are to play in his fantasy; no matter what we may be thinking of his recital, it never crosses his mind that we may be utterly failing to play the part expected of us — indeed, it is sometimes astonishing to see how much exertion is required of us in order to bring our profound lack of interest to the fantasist’s attention.”

This is the first of a series of clues that Al Qaida its leaders, particularly Osama bin Laden, look upon everyone outside their ‘circle’ as merely filling a role they want everyone else to play, to see that they are indeed great men, great spiritual leaders. The ‘infidels’ are there for the killing, destined to make the Islamofascists great in the eyes of their followers.

“To an outside observer, the fantasist is clearly attempting to compensate by means of his fantasy for the shortcomings of his own present reality — and thus it is tempting to think of the fantasist as a kind of Don Quixote impotently tilting at windmills. But this is an illusion. Make no mistake about it: The fantasist often exercises great and terrible power precisely by virtue of his fantasy.

This power of the fantasist is entirely traceable to the fact that, for him, the other is always an object and never a subject. A subject, after all, has a will of his own, his own desires and his own agenda[…]. And anyone who is aware of this fact is automatically put at a disadvantage in comparison with the fantasist — the disadvantage of knowing that other people have minds of their own and are not merely props to be pushed around.”

So to an Islamofascist fantasist everyone else is nothing but an object to be used, a stage prop. Not human. Therefore they can be sacrificed without a thought, without remorse. The only reality is their reality.

But what happens if the individual fantasy is replaced by a group fantasy? The power of the fantasy is multiplied and feeds upon itself. We’ve seen this effect before.

“There must first be a preexisting collective need for this fantasy; this need comes from a conflict between a set of collective aspirations and desires, on one hand, and the stern dictates of brutal reality, on the other — a conflict in which a lack of realism is gradually transformed into a penchant for fantasy. History is replete with groups that seem to lack the capability of seeing themselves as others see them, differing in this respect much as individuals do.

A fantasy ideology is one that seizes the opportunity offered by such a lack of realism in a political group and makes the most of it. This it is able to do through symbols and rituals, all of which are designed to permit the members of the political group to indulge in a kind of fantasy role-playing. Classic examples of this are easy to find: the Jacobin fantasy of reviving the Roman Republic, Mussolini’s fantasy of reviving the Roman Empire, Hitler’s fantasy of reviving German paganism in the thousand-year Reich.”

The last two we saw played out during the middle of the 20th Century. The group fantasy led to the creation of the Nazis, just as it has led to the creation of Al Qaida and other Islamofascist organizations.

One of the common factors that all of the fantasy ideologies share is that the creation of the so-called ideology is only then followed by the search for facts and examples that will bolster the beliefs put forth by that ideology rather than the other way around. Any facts that disagree with or disprove the belief system are discarded, ignored, trivialized, or conveniently buried. Sometimes this means eliminating whole peoples that have become an embarrassment to, or a thorn in the sides of, the ideologues by their mere existence.

“In reviewing these fantasy ideologies, especially those associated with Nazism and Italian fascism, there is always the temptation for an outside observer to regard their promulgation as the cynical manipulation by a power-hungry leader of his gullible followers. This is a serious error, for the leader himself must be as much steeped in the fantasy as his followers: He can only make others believe because he believes so intensely himself.”

We wonder why Al Qaida and the other Islamofascists have come to be. If it were just a few disaffected Muslims ranting and raving, there would be no problem. But a collective fantasy ideology has sprung up, led by charismatic leaders telling the followers that all of their dreams will come true once they take on and defeat a great enemy. For lack of any better scapegoat, the finger is pointed to the West, and more specifically, the U.S. We have become “The Great Satan”. But it is they, rather than we, that commit great evils, murder innocents, and twist Islamic religious beliefs until they bear little resemblance to reality.

The Islamofascist apologists look at 9/11 and ask, “What are the root causes of the attacks? We must have done something to drive them to this extreme!” But what if the attacks had nothing to do with what ‘we had done’? What if the attacks were meant to bolster the fantasy that Al Qaida and the others live in?

“To be a prop in someone else’s fantasy is not a pleasant experience, especially when this someone else is trying to kill you, but that was the position of Ethiopia in the fantasy ideology of Italian fascism. And it is the position Americans have been placed in by the quite different fantasy ideology of radical Islam.

The terror attack of 9-11 was not designed to make us alter our policy, but was crafted for its effect on the terrorists themselves: It was a spectacular piece of theater. The targets were chosen by al Qaeda not through military calculation — in contrast, for example, to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor — but entirely because they stood as symbols of American power universally recognized by the Arab street. They were gigantic props in a grandiose spectacle in which the collective fantasy of radical Islam was brought vividly to life: A mere handful of Muslims, men whose will was absolutely pure, as proven by their martyrdom, brought down the haughty towers erected by the Great Satan. What better proof could there possibly be that God was on the side of radical Islam and that the end of the reign of the Great Satan was at hand?”

But wait, there’s more!

“But in the fantasy ideology of radical Islam, suicide is not a means to an end but an end in itself. Seen through the distorting prism of radical Islam, the act of suicide is transformed into that of martyrdom — martyrdom in all its transcendent glory and accompanied by the panoply of magical powers that religious tradition has always assigned to martyrdom.

In short, it is a mistake to try to fit such behavior into the mold created by our own categories and expectations. Nowhere is this more tellingly illustrated than on the videotape of Osama bin Laden discussing the attack. The tape makes clear that the final collapse of the World Trade Center was not part of the original terrorist scheme, which apparently assumed that the twin towers would not lose their structural integrity. But this fact gave to the event — in terms of al Qaeda’s fantasy ideology — an even greater poignancy: Precisely because it had not been part of the original calculation, it was therefore to be understood as a manifestation of divine intervention. The 19 hijackers did not bring down the towers — God did.”

One way to keep the Islamofascists in perspective is to call them what they are: evildoers. President Bush has used that exact term when referring to Al Qaida and he was lambasted by those who thought it simple-minded and childish. But he was right. They are evildoers, not warriors, regardless of what they call themselves. And it is this we must keep in mind when dealing with them.

In war, there is the possibility of negotiation and an eventual cessation of hostilities. With evildoers, no such thing is possible. They will continue to murder, torture, and poison the minds of generations with their blandishments that evil in God’s name is good. There are only two ways to end hostilities with evildoers. One is to surrender to them. The other is to kill them.

Given the choice, I prefer the second option. No negotiation. No trying to find the ‘root causes’. None of the ‘all cultures being equally valid’ crap. Let’s face it, these are evil people who will think nothing of killing you, me, or anyone else in order to spread their poisonous ideology. We must do as we did to the Nazis in World War II – root them out and kill them. Only then will we see the end of the twisted fantasy the Islamofascists have created for themselves.


“A brute kills for pleasure. A fool kills from hate.” – Lazarus Long


More Flatlander Tales

The snows came and piled up, though I must admit my disappointment to find that the snow that fell was the heavy wet stuff, not the fine powder those of us that ski look forward to. Despite plenty of advanced warning, a few folks were still caught off guard.
With a very few exceptions, schools were open today. You have to give credit to the highway crews for keeping the roads open. They do a pretty darn good job of it up this way. But then again, they get plenty of practice.

It’s Thursday, and that means it’s time for something new from guest blogger Brendan Smith.



FATSO Meetings
by Brendan Smith
The Weirs Times

It definitely took us by surprise.

My friend Vinnie from Queens, NY and myself have been the organizers of the annual first meetings of F.A.T.S.O. (Flatlanders Adjusting To Solitary Oblivion) ever since its inception in the late 1980’s. Its purpose is to act as a support group for newly transplanted Flatlanders adjusting to their first winters in New Hampshire. We always hold the first lakes region meeting the day after Thanksgiving. We take our show on the road the following weeks.

The last few years have been rather mild, weather-wise and so when we arrived for those meetings there was never more than a handful waiting, if any at all. None of the new Flatlanders really took the whole idea too seriously when it was 50 degrees outside. It was always when the first big snowfall or cold spell came that we would become flooded with phone calls for those now insisting that we help them out. Vinnie and I, while on our way to this year’s meeting, were in such a mindset that no one would be there that we were thinking about blowing the whole thing off. But, after careful consideration, we realized if we didn't perform our duty and even one potential member sat outside waiting for us and we didn’t arrive, then the terrorists would have won...or something like that.
We had rented an empty storefront on N. Main Street in Downtown Laconia to hold our meetings this year. As we turned off Court Street and into the downtown section we were shocked to see a line of people stretched from near our headquarters all the way down near the bank. I thought one of two things, either someone was giving away free food or this new Main Street program was really kicking in. It definitely took us by surprise, as we moved further down the street we realized that they were waiting for us.

“I don't think a box of munchkins and four coffees'll take care of this crowd,” said Vinnie in his ultimate wisdom. "I'll drop you off to get the place open and I'll go back for some more."

I saw the fear in his eyes and wondered if he'd ever really come back. He was a hard guy to argue with so I silently stepped from the car and watched as he high-tailed it to the light and made a left to heaven knows where.

The crowd eyed me suspiciously as I headed to the front of the line and to the door. I sensed their apprehension so I held my key up high and shook it lightly. The crowd in front parted for me and for an odd instant I felt like some bizarre, and very chilly, Moses.
That's when it hit me. As I was unlocking the door and felt the heat of the crowd closing in around me, pushing for the warmth of the inside, I realized that this early snow and cold had really forced the issue of winter survival early this year. There were a lot of concerned faces in the crowd. I knew I had my work cut out for me this day.

Fortunately Vinnie did make it back with about eight dozen more doughnuts and a few of those “Box O' Joe” things. So after everyone got settled and their bloodstreams were racing with caffeine and processed sugar I decided to get the meeting started.

“I'd like to welcome you all to the first meeting of the season for F.A.T.S.O.,” I said. And with that about half of the crowd got up to leave.

“Is there something wrong?” I asked.

As the group pushed their way out the door one of the women came over to me and whispered. “Actually we thought we were waiting in the line for the hobby store, we wanted to be first in to take advantage of the day after Christmas sale.”

After they were gone and the room had returned to normal I surveyed the remaining crowd. I saw now that I recognized some of the faces. I realized upon further inspection that I had seen most of them walking around the streets of Laconia for years. Those were the ones chatting happily around the donut boxes and the Tub O’ Coffees.

I cleared my throat loudly to get their attention. I wasn't going to kick them out; I just wanted them to be quiet. With their faces full of powdered sugar they sat down.

Even though the crowd had thinned there were still many more attendees than we were used to seeing the first meeting of the season. I figured that the best way to handle the meeting was just to take questions from the crowd of which there was no shortage of: “What’s the best way to avoid Cabin fever?” “Does Pepto Bismol help get rid of Frost Heaves?” “Can you offer any tips on Winter Driving?” “Are snowshoes actually made out of snow and if so what kind of socks do I need?” Can lawn rakes be used for the roof and what’s up with that anyway?” “Are there any more Boston Kreme donuts?” The answers to which were: “By buying a house or living in an apartment.” “I don’t think so, but we’ve never tried.” Yes, but not right now.” “I think I ate the last one.” “What a stupid question.” (Though not necessarily in that order.)

Our session lasted for well over two hours, a record for FATSO meetings. When all was said and done I believe me and Vinnie had answered most of the questions satisfactorily and when we didn't know an answer…we lied. After collecting the annual dues from everyone who wanted to become a member we treated ourselves to a nice late breakfast.

Over the next several weeks Vinnie and I will be bringing F.A.T.S.O. to your neighborhood. If you're a recent transplant to New Hampshire and you are concerned about the upcoming winter months and how to deal with them drop me an email and I'll send you a schedule of where we will be next...weather permitting.


Brendan Smith can be reached at brensmith@metrocast.net


Winter Weather Driving

Light snow is just starting to fall outside and the folks up at the National Weather Service office in Grey, Maine say we’ll probably see 4 to 8 inches before it’s all done. It’s getting to be time to think about putting the snow tires on the trusty Neon. That’s when I really know that winter has arrived – the snow tires need to go on the Neon.

While a lot of folks around here seem to be driving SUV’s, I’ve stuck with my tried and true front-wheel drive 1995 emerald green Neon. You’d be surprised how many SUV’s I’ve seen stuck in the snow, all four wheels spinning and spitting snow every which way while I motor along in my humble, low-tech, two-wheel drive, 5-speed manual, paid-for Neon shod with four Nokian Hakkapeliita snow tires. I’ve never been stuck in even the heaviest snowstorms, yet all of the folks with these 4-wheel drive behemoths have a tough time getting out of their own driveways.

There’s an art to driving a 4X4 during the winter. The problem is that not too many folks owning four-wheel drive vehicles realize that it’s more than flicking the switch or moving the shift lever on the transfer case to select 4-wheel drive. There’s that small matter of physics they seem to overlook. There’s something called ‘inertia’ and ‘coefficient of friction’.

Even though 4-wheel drive might get them moving when 2-wheel drive won’t, 4-wheel drive won’t help them stop any better. They mash on the brake pedal and after half an oh-no-second they realize they aren’t going to stop, at least not until they hit something. That’s what happens when the coefficient of friction goes down while the inertia remains the same. And what makes it worse is that many of the SUV’s driving around have all-weather radial tires on them. They might do in a pinch, but honest-to-god mud and snow tires are the only thing that will give them halfway decent traction when the snow starts piling up.

As one of the old proverbs around here says, “All 4-wheel drive means is getting stuck deeper in the woods.”

End Of The Year Rush

It’s the end of the year and work is getting busy. All of those companies out there needing to spend the last of their allocated cash under the ‘Use It or Lose It’ principle are definitely in the ‘Use It’ mode. Lots of year end orders coming in and everything has to be delivered before the end of the year. That means a busy time for yours truly as some of the work I’d normally do at the lab I’m now doing at home. Just like now.

So no profound thoughts or light-hearted stories today. All of that will have to wait until Thursday.

But I will leave you with the profound thoughts of my favorite philosopher.


“A ‘practical joker’ deserves applause for his wit according to its quality. Bastinado* is about right. For exceptional wit one might grant keelhauling. But staking him out on an anthill should be reserved for the very wittiest.” -- Lazarus Long

*Beating the bottom of the feet with a baton or stick.


Political Commentary

Despite the heading, this post has no political commentary. After looking over many of my previous attempts at such commentary, I realize that I do not have the frame of mind to do it every day, nor do it all that well. Quite frankly, my dear brother is far better at it than I. Not that it has ever stopped me, nor shall it, but it appears I am better at writing about my observations of every day life. It’s also easier for me than trying to write something profound and earth shattering. Steven den Beste I am not. So while the title of this blog is WeekendPundit (and goodness knows my brother and I post far more often than just weekends), I will endeavor to amuse you, if nothing else. I will be far less of a pundit and more of a raconteur.

I still have plans on finishing my posts about existing U.S. military technology, it being one of my few areas of expertise. I will also, from time to time, offer political gems. And who knows, one of them might actually be profound and earth shattering. You can never tell.


“Only a sadistic scoundrel – or a fool – tells the bald truth on social occasions.” – Lazarus Long

Getting Ready For The Move

This weekend is the big move for Eddie and Kim. They’ll be leaving behind the hustle and bustle of Weirs Beach and escaping to the relative peace and quiet a few short miles away on the other end of Paugus Bay on Lake Winnipesaukee. They’ll be moving in upstairs from me.

Little do they realize what they’re getting themselves in to. He-he-he-he-he

In one of my earlier posts I mentioned that Weirs Beach is the ‘happening place’ during the late spring and summer months. It’s a nice place to be if you’re one of the summer people renting a cottage or a room somewhere on the lake. But it’s a drag to the year round residents like Eddie and Kim. They live one street over from the main drag and the traffic making the circle along the boulevard use their street to return to the boulevard in search of elusive on-street parking. It doesn’t help the situation when the largest off-street parking area is only two doors over. It makes for a noisy home. Eddie and Kim have had enough of it and they’re gettin’ out while the gettin’ is good. (Don’t you just love those old cliches?)

They are moving in to the second floor of the old Victorian house I live in. On one or more occasions I’ve talked about this place, so I won’t bore you with too many details. The house is on the water, the back yard ending with a number of boat slips and a boathouse. It has a wrap-around porch that is such a delight in the summer. Though it’s not the quietest of neighborhoods, it’s a damn sight better than the Weirs.

This is a particularly attractive feature of the house during the annual Motorcycle Week every June. Then the noise at the Weirs is continuous, 24 hours a day, for nine days. Even though Eddie and Kim are bike enthusiasts like yours truly, too much of a good thing gets old pretty quickly. At least The House (as it will now be known) is far enough away so the motorcycle traffic is a distant rumble. But we’re still close enough to make it to the Weirs in 10 or 15 minutes if we desire to join the crowds.

One thing about the move I am definitely looking forward to is Eddie’s cooking. He, being of Italian descent, is one heck of a cook. I’ll probably be mooching meals now and then since they’ll be so close. Of course, I’ll probably work a deal with them giving them total access to my part of the porch over the summer months. It’s such a small price to pay. (Of course, now Eddie and Kim will know my real motivation for pointing them towards the soon-to-be vacant apartment upstairs.)


Interesting Sites

It's not often that you'll see me recommend blogs, but there are two I've come across that are quite interesting – Fragments From Floyd and Methuselah's Daughter.

The first thing that struck me about Fragments is how many of Fred's posts remind me quite a bit of places up here in northern New England. At leasts his post about the possibility of getting 'shellacked' by 6+ inches of snow brought a smile to my face. We hardly even bother to plow only 6 inches of snow around here.

I posted a comment to Fragments and that prompted Fred to visit this blog. It turns out that he has his own version of Cadillac Man - “BTW, we have Cadillac Man down here, too, but he is usually driving a truck; and on our road to town, there is only ONE place to pass in 15 miles!”

I think Fred and I are going to get along famously.

Methuselah's Daughter is an unusual blog. I found it purely by accident. Oh, heck, I'm not really sure how I found it. But it's intriguing. To give you an idea, its header states “Musings of an immortal being.” Is this for real?

When I last checked it there were 4 posts, so it is a very new blog. Is MD really an immortal being? Is the URL really telling us she's been around for 3500 years?

If she has, then she's got to have some interesting stories to tell. If not, it's still going to be an interesting trip.


“It's amazing how 'mature wisdom' resembles being too tired.” -- Lazarus Long


Thoughts On a Sunday Afternoon

It’s been an interesting weekend, so far.

My dear brother and I made it to one of the smaller computer shows on Saturday to pick up some odds and ends – I was looking for a hard drive and floppy drive for my new Linux box, and John hoped to find one of the older Pentium 200 MMX processors to upgrade his Linux box. We both managed to find what we were looking for.

Did I also mention that Saturday was his birthday? Yes, John was born on the 20th anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor. So the trip to Manchester for the computer show was my rather lame effort at celebrating his 41st year on planet Earth. He was underwhelmed, to say the least.


On my trip down to Concord Saturday morning to pick up my brother for the trip to the computer show, I ran across an old acquaintance – Cadillac Man. (At least that’s what I’m going to call him from now on.)

You may remember I’ve written about him before and his propensity to pay attention to everything except his driving.

This time was no different.

He was puttering along at 35 miles an hour (the speed limit along that stretch of highway is 55) having a grand old time. Of course when anyone tried to pass him he’d swerve slightly towards the centerline to discourage such a move. And when someone did successfully get past him he’d flip them the Hawaiian Good Luck sign. A couple of times he also honked his horn and flashed his high beams at the vehicles passing him.

When it came my turn to pass Cadillac Man, I admit I felt intimidated. But I didn’t want to be late reaching my brother’s home. So I backed off a little distance, dropped down two gears, and gunned it.

He saw me coming.

Just before I pulled even with him I saw the window on the driver’s side of his car roll down. As I pulled even with him, he stuck his arm out and flipped me the bird big time. Maybe it was because I was a repeat offender in his eyes, but no one else passing him got the up close and personal touch. I’m not sure whether to be pleased or offended that he considered me a special case.


A discussion with my friend Dawn reminded me of some of the advice I’d given to her and her husband Tim when they first moved to New Hampshire from San Diego. This is advice she passed on to some other friends – Tom and Kelcey – who made the move to New Hampshire from California not that long ago.

“Ninety percent of town business is discussed, debated, and handled at the town dump. It may be formalized at Town Meeting in March, but for the most part folks hash out the issues at the dump on Saturdays and Sundays. The dump is also where you can find out just about anything about what’s going on in town. That, and sometimes you find pretty nifty stuff at the dump that you can make use of.”


This is one of those old Down East Maine kind of stories that everyone likes to hear now and then, the kind where everyone groans at the end. I first posted a version of it over at Liquid Courage because Vicky was in a bit of a foul mood. I hope you get a smile out of it, too.


Stumpy Gilman and his wife Martha attended the Maine State Fair just outside Bangor every year. Every year there was a fellow there that gave airplane rides for the tidy sum of ten dollars.

And every year stumpy would say to Martha, "Mahtha, I think I'd like to take a ride in that young feller's aeroplane."

"But Stumpy," Martha would say, "that ride costs ten dollars! And after all, ten dollars is ten dollars."

Every year Stumpy would express his desire to take that aeroplane ride and every year Martha would tell him, "But Stumpy, that ride costs ten dollars. And after all, ten dollars is ten dollars."

Now Stumpy was getting along in years and he felt that if he didn't get his aeroplane ride this year, he never would.

It finally came to a head as Stumpy and Martha were standing at the fried dough stand at this year's Maine State Fair.

"Now Mahtha, I ain't gettin' any younger. I'm 71 years old and by gum, I'm gonna to a ride in that there aeroplane!"

"But Stumpy, we've been over this year after year. It costs ten dollars! And after all, ten dollars is ten dollars!"

Their arguing went on as they ate their fried dough and then their french fries (with vinegar) and their barbecued sausages. As their argument was getting heated, they happened to be passing by the fellow giving aeroplane rides. He could help but overhearing their argument and decide he should step in.

"I couldn't help but hearin' your argument, so I tell you what I'll do. I'll give you both a ride for free, but with one condition. If I hear a peep out of either one of you while we're flying, you'll both owe me ten dollars."

Well Stumpy looked at Martha, and Martha looked at Stumpy. No words were needed.

"All right, young feller, you got yourself a deal."

Martha and Stumpy climbed in to the fellow's aeroplane and strapped themselves in. The engine started, they taxied out on to the grass, and the next thing they knew they were flying over the State Fair.

Now the young fellow wasn't about to let the opportunity to earn twenty dollars slip by, so he proceeded to do all kinds of aerobatics, trying to get one of his passengers to say something. But they remained silent.

He did loopty loops, and swoopty swoops, barrel rolls, and even flew upside down.

But there wasn’t a sound from Martha or Stumpy.

Realizing that he wasn't about to get any money from the old couple, he gave up and headed back to the fairgrounds and landed.

As he started climbing out of the cockpit, he said to Stumpy, "Well, old fellow, I though I had you after that last bit of loopin' around. But I got to hand it to you, you didn't let out so much as a squeak!"

Stumpy finished climbing out of the airplane and turned to the young fellow.

"Well I almost spoke up when Mahtha fell out of the aeroplane, but after all, ten dollars is ten dollars."


The skiers have arrived. It’s one of the earliest starts to the skiing season in northern New England in some time. Some of that is because of all the snow that has fallen down in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and New York. It sounds contradictory, but unless there’s snow on the ground south of the border, the skiers down there won’t be thinking of the snow up here.

The ski areas up here have been making snow for some time and Mother Nature has been adding her own white stuff to the slopes as well. Even Gunstock, the local ski area near me, opened November 30th. That’s their earliest start in five years.

While out on a few errands this morning I saw quite a few SUV’s with skis on their roofs heading north. Almost all of them had out-of-state plates.

I can almost hear the cash registers ringing now.


And speaking of snow, it’s just started to do that here on the shores of Lake Winnipesaukee. Is it a snow squall, or something more? I wouldn’t mind a few inches by morning.


Something else I saw while out this morning – Ice fishermen. Some of the lakes and ponds are sufficiently frozen over enough to allow ice fishing. While Lake Winnipesaukee is nowhere near ready for anything like that, the smaller lakes and ponds have ice thick enough to support people walking on it.

I’m still waiting for some eager beaver to make the mistake of trying to drive his car or truck out on the ice a little too early in the season. Imagine the surprise when the ice breaks away underneath it and they'll get to watch their car or truck do an impression of a submarine. It happens almost every year.

I expect this year to be no different.


The New England Patriots beat the Buffalo Bills!


“Little girls, like butterflies, need no excuse.” – Lazarus Long


WeekendPundit Thought For The Day

It’s been a busy busy busy day for good ole DCE today. I’d hoped to have something more substantial to post this evening (like Part III of the U.S. Military stuff, but it’s still in the works), but other commitments have allowed me very little time to put together anything substantive. So allow me to lean on my old pal Lazarus Long and forward to you, our loyal 5 or 6 readers, some of his timeless wisdom.

I’ll have something of my own tomorrow (I hope).


“There are hidden contradictions in the minds of people who ‘love Nature’ while deploring the ‘artificialities’ with which ‘Man has spoiled Nature’. The obvious contradiction lies in their choice of words, which imply that Man and his artifacts are not part of ‘Nature’- but beavers and their dams are. But the contradictions go deeper than this prima-facie absurdity. In declaring their love for a beaver dam (erected by beavers for beavers’ purposes) and his hatred for dams erected by men (for the purposes of men) the ‘Naturist’ declares his hatred for his own race - i.e., his own self-hatred.

In the case of ‘Naturists’ such self-hatred is understandable; they are such a sorry lot. But hatred is too strong an emotion to feel toward them; pity and contempt are the most they rate.

As for me, willy-nilly I am a man, not a beaver, and H. sapiens is the only race I have or can have. Fortunately for me, I like being part of a race made up of men and women - it strikes me as a fine arrangement and perfectly ‘natural’.

Believe it or not, there were ‘Naturists’ who opposed the first flight to Earth’s Moon as being ‘unnatural’ and a ‘despoiling of Nature’.” -- Lazarus Long


Acclimating To Living In Northern New England

Quite a few times I’ve written little bits and pieces about what life in northern New England is like. In some cases I’ve described the quirks and foibles of summer people, leaf peepers, and the totally clueless out-of-state visitors. I have, from time to time, given advice on how not to do things if or when someone moves here from somewhere else. (In this case, ‘somewhere else’ means anyplace except Maine or Vermont)

While perusing the always delightful Weirs Times, I came across this column by a former New Yorker still in the throes of adjusting to life here in the Granite State. You have to give folks enough time to adjust to the new paradigm. In the case of Brendan Smith, he’s been at it for only 17 years. (He confessed to me that he’d “been accused of holding a hammer incorrectly.”) With this bit of information and from my own observations of others going through the transition, he’ll need another couple or three years before the process is complete. By then you’ll have a tough time telling him from the rest of us northern New England yankees.

After a brief e-mail discussion with Brendan, he has agreed to let me post his column in its entirety with only a few conditions. So I guess this will make him a regular guest blogger here at Weekend Pundit.


Our Little Secret
By Brendan Smith
The Weirs Times

Psst!! Yes you!

Listen, I've got a secret to tell you. It’s a secret I've been holding on to for years and I just need to tell someone. I figured since you were the only one reading this, I could tell you. I just hope that I can trust you to keep it a secret.

If you think you know anything about me at all then you’ve probably come to the conclusion that I am the inept Flatlander who moved here from New York 17 years ago and has been searching and trying to come to terms with the New Hampshire way of life ever since. There is much more to the story than that, for you see the person that appears on these pages is really only my alter ego...my secret identity. The rest of the time, whether it be by day or night, whenever the call comes up near or far, I become the champion of the downtrodden Flatlander, the defender of the Big City transplants. You've probably seen me running here and there with a roof rake or maybe stopping a fellow flatlander of making a fool of himself by rushing to save the day at a smoking sugaring house. Yes, it is me. I am Flatman.

But don't stop and think for one minute that all this superhero stuff is any fun. After 17 years of secretly saving flatlanders from totally embarrassing themselves I've been getting pretty tired. Middle Age is no fun for any superhero.

At first it was great. I was a young 29 years old when I was sent from the crumbling foundation of an overcrowded and stressful New York suburb. In order to be saved I was stuffed inside the back seat of a rusted Ford Pinto and sent hurtling at speeds reaching over sixty-miles per hour until I landed in the heart of the Lakes Region of New Hampshire. I knew right away that things were different for me. Just a breath of that fresh, clean air in my lungs gave me the feeling of a power far beyond those of mortal flatlanders.

After living here for a couple of years, so much time was spent dealing with my own assimilation as a suburban city Flatlander trying to come to terms with the many, many things I had to adjust to, that I never really stopped to understand my own powers. It was when I witnessed, one winter, a "new" flatlander in my community risking his fragile limbs trying to actually shovel snow off the roof of his one-story cape. I'm not sure what came over me, perhaps it was a deep force overpowering my mind coming from some far greater power directing my life to its real purpose.... or maybe it was just the Burrito I'd had for lunch, Anyway I knew that I had to help, but I also knew that I had to do it without being known. So I went home, quickly fashioned a makeshift costume out of a soup colander, my New York Mets comforter, a pair of long underwear and a pair of work boots. I slipped together my roof rake (only took me twenty minutes this time) and whisked over to the Flatlander’s house, New York Mets cape blowing in the wind. When I arrived he looked down upon me suspiciously, told his wife to get the kids in the house and then in his best New Jersey accent asked: “Whaddyawant?”

Realizing the growing suspicions in any Flatlanders mind, I raised up the roof rake, pulled down one patch of snow from the left side of the roof, and then, amidst his wide-eyed stare, I left the roof rake on the ground and started to leave. As I turned I saw the small form of the Flatlander’s daughter race from her mother’s arms, come up to my side and ask. “Who are you, masked man?” That was the turning point. I looked down into the sparkling crystal of her shimmering blue, innocent eyes and said. “I am Flatman.” And with that ran across the front lawn, tripping over a snow shovel left in the driveway. Getting up and cleaning the snow from my soaked costume, I continued as fast as I could back home, the snow that had fallen down the front of my longjohns feeling very cold and already working its way to a very itchy rash.

The next day standing on line at the grocery store deli department waiting for my turn to buy some horrendous New England Potato Salad, I heard two women in front of me talking. “They say he called himself, Fatman.” One said. “Strange name,” said the other. I must admit I was a bit peeved. Here I had risked my neck and my reputation to save a fellow flatlander and this was what I got...Fatman??? I knew that I had to now continue on my quest, not just to save fellow flatlanders everywhere, but to clear my own superhero name.

I waited for opportunities. Watched folks actually bringing junk to the dump. I would throw on my costume and run after their vehicles and stop them before they made such a social goof. I would steal out in the dark of night and attach red ribbons to the antennas of flatlanders cars before they drove their cars out of their driveways after giant snowstorms, I’d even watch as they entered hardware stores, stepping in to suggest certain things that they should and shouldn’t purchase. In each case I would let them know that they were being helped by “Flatman.” (I soon found it safer to wait outside the hardware stores since the owners weren’t taking too kindly to my costumed presence bugging their customers.)

Soon I had become known. And soon I had become depended upon greatly, perhaps more than I could have imagined. And soon I had become sick of the whole thing. But here I am today...faster than a speeding Segway, more powerful than a Lionel Train set and able to leap small snowbanks in a single bound and there’s nothing I can do about it. I’ve made this bed, now I have to eat it too…or something like that.

At 47 years old my knees and back hurt a little more and my costume doesn't fit around the waist like it used to. Sometimes, I must admit, that I see a new Flatlander moving in and doing something that could use my help but I pretend I didn’t see it and I go home to watch “The Sopranos.” I'm not proud of it, I just don't have the stamina I used to.
I do spend more time in my Fortress of Solitude, which is actually just the bathroom door shut with a couple of good magazines, but I’m trying not to feel too guilty over the whole thing. It’s not like I’m giving up entirely. I’m just cutting back a bit...downsizing if you will. I’ll still make the big moves when I see something that really needs my help but some things will just have to go as they are. Maybe I can use this time to bring along a younger partner. After all Batman had his Robin, but we’ll see.

So there it is. Thanks for listening. I really had to get this off my chest. I hope you won’t spill our little secret. I know you better than that. That’s why I decided to tell you.


Brendan Smith can be reached at brensmith@metrocast.net