Who Said Pixies Are Rational Creatures?

Name:
Location: The Pixie Home Forest

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Dangerous Deeds

Pixie with Knife

Pixie Plotting

Dragon Teasing

Monday, July 28, 2014

Breathtaking

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Letter Home - Back of the World War Postcard with Flags


Trip to New York - 1927


I don't know the name of the ship. However it was a Hamburgh-America Line ship.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Nature Spirits, Bad Attitudes, and a Cranky Pixie


            No one comments on this blog, but, long-suffering pixie that I am, I continue to write for it.

            I see that someone who read Separate Identity was especially impressed with our biography of Storrs. I know it’s brag, but I think ours is the best out there. Apparently the person who quoted from our book does too. It’s nice to be appreciated.

            Roberto, let me know your status. Are you really okay? I’m sorry about your accident, and I hope you’re well.

 

            I’m going to terrorize another room. In my house that is. I’m still nesting, even though I’m not at all pregnant. I have a huge pile of things to donate to the thrift store. I’m going to get it all out of the house this afternoon. I’m not checking the girls’ closets. Those are their responsibility.

The south bathroom is next. I found a shower rod exactly like what was original to the house. It’s grungy. When I walk away from my computer, I’ll sit on the patio with chrome polish and make it pretty. K. Knees will install it when he returns home.

I looked at bathroom cabinets, but I haven’t found one that I like or that fits the space. I’ll keep looking. Most of the houses on our street were all built in the late 1930s or early 1940s. Returning this house to a modern version of 1940 has been difficult. I found one of the original kitchen cabinets used in most of these houses. It needs refinishing. I’m using it as-is in the laundry room. But I have plans for it.

I can’t find the small ceramic tiles, usually pastel colored, that were used in the 1940s and 50s. I want them for a utility room and the laundry room. I can be patient with this. There are many other issues to address. The wrought iron railings need paint for one thing. That’s messy but not a hard job.

 

We’re at the “okay we have tones of things to read” stage with two chapters. I’m reading Respectable Folly by Clarke Garrett. I’ll read this book twice, parts of it more than twice. None of the history Garrett narrates is directly relevant to our book, but his approach is – and indirectly some history is.

No one really cares. I don’t know why we continue to write this stuff. But we do. For now.

I feel so disliked. If you don’t like what I post here, don’t come here. Lurking on this blog (I have a whole list of lurkers, some of whom aggressively dislike me.) is not welcome. You may have noticed that “Crompton’s” posts are gone. He won’t be back. There is no reason for further visits from him, his friend in Seattle or any of those associated with them.

You may pick your own friends. I would never try to choose your friends. But I have the same right. If you are friendly to someone whose goal in life is to kill my husband, rape and murder my children and then me, I will not keep you as a friend, and the decision is final.

 

I’ve been discussing Nature Spirits with some in my coffee group. [We need an name. Dangerous Virgins! Mothers of Destiny! Erratic Females! Needs more thought, obviously.] So Nature Sprits and Elementals fill fantasy fiction. They’re also an element in some fringe new-age religion. They are a hold-over from pre-Christian folk belief. Perhaps they’re demoted local gods turned into fairies or water spirits or tree spirits.

Our last discussion centered on the question: “Would God use nature spirits?” It was a lively session. More so since not everyone in our group believes in a god, and two aren’t Christian in belief or heritage.

The Bible’s version of nature spirits is vastly different from folk-belief. Elementals (always an ill-defined term.) are immortal. In the Bible spirits used to control nature are created, mortal. And they’re usually a symbolic force. In the Revelation it is angels who hold back the winds of destruction. However literal that may be, in context it is a symbolism. The book says so. The Angel who brought death to 185,000 Assyrians fills the roll folk-belief gives to some types of nature spirit.

One type of nature spirit mentioned in the Bible haunts deserted places. It is mischievous, apparently malevolent. I think the ‘shaggy ones’ deserve more research than I’ve given them. One Bible translation calls them “goat-shaped demons.” This does not seem a good translation, but I don’t have anything better to suggest.

Probably I’ve insulted all angels by comparing them to the nature spirit mythology. This really isn’t a comparison. It’s a contrast.

One of our coffee group turns to fairies and such when she writes. But her paranormal creatures make me uncomfortable. Some things are dangerous. Some places are dangerous. She goes where I will not. Do I sound superstitious?

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Soldier's Mail - No Date ... but after April 1917


Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Treasure, puzzled readers, and children


            I went treasure hunting, and found stuff. Good stuff. I’m always amazed that people pay significant money for a book and leave it unread. But that they do means they books come to me in like-new condition and for significantly less.

            I bought three history books:

            Goodwin’s Lord’s of the Horizons

            Errington’s A History of Macedonia

            Chronicles of the Crusades, a translation of Joinville and Vllehardon’s narratives.

            New they would have cost me about eighty dollars. In new condition in the thrift store they cost $4.50.

            I also found one of Rick Riordan’s young adult fantasy books. I’ll take that one to school with me start of next term.

 

            I found a really nice silver plate serving set. We don’t entertain as much as my mother used to, but we do on occasion. I also found an electro-plate basket. This is English from the 1880s by the marks. It shows some wear in the bowl, but is otherwise very presentable.  Oh, and a small pottery bowl by one of the California potters. It’s only marked U.S.A., so I’ll have to research this one. I like small bits of pottery.

 

            I’ve debated explaining The Video. I’ve decided you can all stew over it. It’s up to about 90 views. Not all of them Harry’s, I’m sure.  I’m mildly sorry if you’re shocked, but I did warn you. As for the thought behind it, it is simple, and I think obvious.

            One of my older friends has mild dementia. She does puzzling things. She has trouble discarding things to her husband’s distress. I’ve been trying to help. But she resists making a decision on things. I found maybe 50 purses. We coaxed her into deciding on which to keep. A bunch of them went away – except when I checked on her this morning, I found all of them stuffed in a storage closet. She’d moved them from one place to another. I ignored it for now. With her. I sent a text message to her husband.

            I miss Ton’s daily – sometimes several times a day – emails. I miss him.

           

            Liz and Isabella start their senior year at the end of August. I feel old. Isabella wants a career involving children. She’s very good with them. It’s a good choice. But she’s not more specific. Liz says she wants to be a teacher. This is new. And somewhat surprising. I hope they choose one of the local universities. I’m not ready for them to move away. Kat joined a choir sponsored by the library. They’re surprisingly good.

 

            I’ve started collecting Central Powers soldier’s mail from World War I. I intend to use this material in my history class next term.

I thought my post on ...

I thought my post on irrational belief deserved more than one comment.

Stupid Repairmen! Pole Dancing. O. R's RandR and health


From Harry

Well, how do I start? The AC guy came back today. Not the AC guy who came the past 3 or 4 times. By our count this is the tenth visit since May. This was a new AC guy. My wife had to give him the most recent history of the other guy’s visits.

Wife: “He replaced the fan motor last time, but it was drawing too many amps, so he said he would have to order another one.”

AC Guy: “He didn’t put that in the work order. We haven’t ordered a new motor. Let me check this one.”

He turns on the unit. He and my wife watch as the motor starts producing smoke.

AC Guy: “Hmm, that’s not good. I’d recommend that you not run the unit until we fix it.”

Exasperated Wife: “You think!”

AC Guy: “I need to talk to my boss about this. His wife is having a baby today, so he’s kind of busy. We’ll schedule another call soon.”

——————————————

I am still trying to decide how to respond to Rachael’s little anime video. On one hand it is a poorly created animation using computer generated avatars. On the other hand the main character is, shall we say, pole dancing on a very short pole. I know Rachael is not a prude, but sometimes I don’t have a clue into her thought processes. Let me just move on to another topics. My mind is still blown.

——————————————

OC mentioned in his last posted comment that it looked like we were starting a new thread about the medicinal effects of Rock-n-Roll. Here is probably the earliest example from the immortal Chuck Berry in his 1956 hit Roll Over Beethoven.

I got the rockin' pneumonia,
I need a shot of rhythm and blues
I think I'm rollin' arthritis
sittin' down by the rhythm review
Roll Over Beethoven rockin' in two by two

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Pixie Attitude



Dancing, Cute Shoes, Toes.
Keeps a Scotsman Happy

Never Peeve a Pixie.

Toe Wiggling Does Funny Things to Knobby Knees

Irrational thought and naughty blog readers


Well … I didn’t get any comments on my naughty dancing video, but there were about sixty views. At least one of you ignored my warning.

 


On to other things …

The nature of belief eludes me. While I focus on religious belief, I puzzle over the nature of belief in general.

Belief differs from learning, especially if learning implies rote, reason and fact. Charts, repetitious study of dogma (often divorced from fact, reason or question), restatement of dogma, defective reason, including pseudo syllogisms, sometimes characterize belief.

Both belief and learning imply confidence in their foundations, but the foundations of belief are often flawed. We seldom seek the rational, logical or reasoned. We seek the comfortable. Freud’s wish-fulfillment theory probably fits belief systems better than dreams.  

I’m not pleased by theories of knowledge. One that piques my interest is found in Genesis. The book of Genesis postulates full, complete knowledge belongs to God. This is similar to Plato’s ideal, perfect expression. (N. F. Carter suggests that Plato was familiar with Hebrew thought.) God teaches his children. If he made humans with rational potential, it was not fully developed at creation. Eve was deceived.

The Genesis writers leave us with the problem of why people believe what they do. They do not tell us why Eve preferred to believe the serpent. The serpent’s claims are irrational. Eve believed them. Why? This question makes me feel inadequate. I can say with those more brilliant than I that humans believe what they want to believe, but I still don’t know why.

New Testament knowledge theory is an extension of that found in Genesis. Genesis presents God as a parental instructor. His voice walked the garden daily. They heard it, conversed with it, and were familiar with it. In the New Testament, knowledge from God is a gift to which few are privy. He gives it to his children. Some endlessly pursue learning but reach false conclusions. This is so even within the church. The implication is that not all who meet in Christ’s name are God’s children.

“Knowing,” the intimate discourse with God that brings with it identity as God’s own, is Apostolic doctrine, but as a general theory of belief it holds true. It is better than most. Jesus’ words were obscure to some. His disciples sought clarification. The rest did not. Those who were outside refused to be challenged by contrary belief. (“This speech is shocking.”) The foundation of correct knowledge is reason and logic. (“Proved logically that he was the Christ.”) Knowledge and belief must have a solid foundation or they fail. (“Hay, stubble.”) Those who believe irrationally do so because it rewards them. (“ears tickled”) Useful belief is based on reliable evidence and derived form accurately appraised observation and solidly grounded teachers. (“From what persons you learned.”)

Much of this – all of it, really – satisfies me. But it still leaves me with the question, Why do people believe what they do?

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Harry and the AC man

The Air conditioning repairman, henceforth to be known as the ‘guy’ came back today with a new fan motor to replace our old motor that first was spinning backwards and then, when that was corrected, stopped spinning at all. It seems that it was, in the guy’s technical terms, pulling too many amps (amperes of electricity) and overheating.
 
 
He came out today with the new motor. He installed it, turned it on, and turned it off. He adjusted the belt tension, turned it on and off again. He repeated the process several times.
 
 
Finally I heard him put the access panel back on and gather up his tools. It is a good thing that there is a polar air mass that has descended from Canada over our region. If not, we would be experiencing 100+ degree (Fahrenheit) days like our dear Pixie in the Northwest has had this past week or so. The guy was puzzled. The new motor was drawing too many amps as well. It was wired correctly. The correct voltage was going to the motor. He was stumped.
 
 
So here I am again, still without central air conditioning. The guy is ordering another new motor and may bring his boss back with him next time.
 
 

How a Pixie Seduces her Pet Scotsman


A frankly pornographic dance video. Don't watch it. Fair Warning.

I wrote this huge, long post about Knobby Knees and myself. It got really personal, and I deleted it all except for this video. Make of it what you will. I advise against watching it. It will make most of you uncomfortable.

Hamburg - 1905


S. M. S. Hamburg - Commissioned March 1904


Pixie Child by ElenaDudina

Found on Deviant Art

Friday, July 18, 2014

I can't think of a snappy title so this is ...

From O. Reader

ROCK ON

When quite seriously unwell recently, courtesy of the blue tail fly or something similar, I spent several days lying in bed feeling rather sorry for myself, with my thoughts a mass of disjointed projects – like some weird document I wanted to put in order, but couldn’t find the beginning or the ending to do so.

My daughter in a phone conversation with Mrs O, before dropping everything to come and assist with my care, asked if I was watching rock and roll films yet? That apparently was viewed as the litmus test of impending recovery.

And it was true. As I came back to life I didn’t feel like work. I didn’t feel like reading anything or writing anything. But all of a sudden, I wanted to watch...rock and roll films.

I have a very large collection of these, starting with films from the early 50s up to generally the 70s, with a few "old singers benefit night" revivals since then. My collection includes all the exploitation films knocked out in a couple of days to capitalise on new fads. One of the first was of course Rock Around the Clock – a quickie designed to get teenage bums on seats, or rather jumping about while ripping up seats, featuring the questionable charms of Bill Haley and his Comets. Haley was an unlikely star, middle aged and pudgy, complete with kiss-curl (He means spit curl. Forgive him. He doesn’t speak American. - Pixie) and denture, thrust into the limelight when the film Blackboard Jungle suddenly became a hit, and his Rock Around the Clock was on the soundtrack. (It was initially promoted as a novelty foxtrot). Haley was soon blown out of the water by Elvis and the like.

There were scores of these pictures, and when "the twist" came in, and "beach parties" came in, the whole cycle (including the same threadbare plots) started all over again.

Then there are the TV performances that have survived in shows and compilations. Some are just lip-synching to the recordings; others feature live performances that worried the parents of Middle America – and ultimately the whole world. Their fears and the market’s reaction to them can be summed up by the brilliant introduction to the film Let the Good Times Roll. This was based on a rock revival show from the 1970s.

After the opening credits we have some scratchy black and white film. A middle aged DJ smashes records – "rock and roll has got to go." An American evangelist with wild eyes and improbable hair starts getting worked up into a lather. He "understands" – he knows how it feels – he knows what it does to you – he knows the evil it does to you – it’s...it’s the beat – that’s what teenagers say, the beat, the beat, the beat... Then suddenly – WHAM, BAM – we are in huge widescreen in full color – Chuck Berry at his leering best – Hail, Hail, Rock and Roll.... Yeah. No contest.

Anyhow, as I recovered, my first foray into rehabilitation was to watch a compilation of two programs from British TV from the 60s – featuring Gene Vincent, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Little Richard.

Vincent was always associated with motor bikes. He had a smashed up leg and a leg brace from a motor bike accident when in the merchant navy, and impresario Jack Good dressed him all in black leather. It may seem tame now, but in those pre-heavy metal days, it was iconic.

A motorcycle gang roar through the streets of London – the UK’s version of Marlon Brando’s The Wild Bunch. Eventually they motor through large doors into a TV studio where they come to a halt – and Vincent, complete in black leathers, launches into Be Bop a Lula. In retrospect, there are several better performances preserved of Vincent performing this number – he was a little the worse for drink on this occasion – but he still managed to smash the stand microphone into the ground during the song, as we had come to love and expect.


Mr and Mrs O Rockin' and Rollin'
Back in the day ... mind you.

One of my proud accomplishments as a teenager was doing a Vincent impersonation. Years after Vincent’s early but not unexpected demise, I was sent with another young gentleman, who we will call P, to work for a charity in a city with a large and very respectable group of people.

They organised a party – but not a party as you might know it. It was a very staid affair – perhaps a gentle game of Bible charades was the daring highlight of the evening with a little light music thrown in. And then we came in – P started pounding the piano – I gazed into the middle distance with one leg straight behind the other and a broom handle doubling as stand mike and straight into "Weeeeeeelll" For the 99.9% of the world who haven’t a clue what I’m on about check out Vincent on

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q9-ZQ9owbU0

Even if I say so myself (because no-one else is going to say it now) it was still rather a good impersonation. Jaws dropped. Of course, the teenagers loved it. We were human! We were also mad – but hey, what did that matter?

Of course, I grew up. Vincent got forgotten. Hopefully, my impersonation of Vincent got forgotten. And at least in those far off days there wasn’t something like YouTube to come back and bite you when you were old and grey and respectable.

So that was Vincent on my DVD.

He was followed by Little Richard. Flamboyant, Outrageous – every so often giving up the Devil’s music to sing Gospel. I have never ventured inside a Pentecostal church, but he gave one the impression of what might happen in a rising collective experience. And Little Richard was fun. His performance – backed by a group called Sounds Incorporated – holds up very well today.

I saw Richard in person on his very first tour of Britain. They had booked him with Sam Cooke, but had no idea what he was going to do. Would he sing gospel and lose them all their money? Fortunately for rock and roll, he suddenly reverted and rolled back the years.

I wrote it all up on this blog a couple of years ago in a scholarly post called AH WOP BOP A LOO BOP A LOP BAM BOOM!

I remember Richard throwing a shoe into the audience – causing scuffles for this sacred relic. Then another shoe. Then a jacket. It looked like the shirt would be next. How far would this maniac go? Then suddenly, while jumping up and down on top of the piano (as you do) he collapsed in a heap. The musicians whimpered to a halt. The compere ran on – "is there a doctor in the house?" Then from flat on his back – Gonna Tell Aunt Mary ‘Bout Uncle John – up and away into Long Tall Sally.

His TV performance was of that – er – standard.

And then the third was the really bad boy of rock. Jerry Lee Lewis. Lewis came from a poor family in Louisiana. He had been sent to train as a minister (TV evangelist Jerry Swaggart is a cousin) but was quickly expelled from the college for playing "the Devil’s music." Apart from the lyrics, outsiders would find it hard to tell the difference sometimes.

I remember a documentary on the history of popular music. Lee was interviewed in some honky-tonk dive. He was rambling, likely drunk, as he outlined all his troubles in life, all his ups and downs and car crash relationships. "But" he ended on a maudlin note, "Jerry Lee just keeps on rocking..." Then he paused – squinted into the camera – "you’re not still filming this are you..?" Cut.

Lee’s first visit to Britain in 1958 was brief. He got deported when it turned out that his new bride was only 13. She was also his third bride. He was still only 22. A further complication was that a divorce from bride number 2 hadn’t actually been finalised when he tied the knot with Myra.

By the 60s attitudes had changed. And Myra – they were still together at this point – had grown to a more acceptable age. Lewis made several tours that lasted the distance and this memorable TV show on my DVD came from one of those. As with Richard, the audience was filled with minor celebrities. It is fun to spot them now, including the much reviled Jimmy Savile. (I once ran past Savile at a charity marathon, but that is another story). Dancing by this time had morphed into a kind of abandoned thrashing, and if people saw themselves on the TV monitor they would up the odds and do an impersonation of someone having an epileptic fit.

Lee pounded the piano – whisking his right hand back and forth without missing a beat around the stand mike. He grabbed the stand mike and stood on the piano – his slicked down hair refused to stay in place and got wilder and wilder, as did Lewis’ performance. Whole Lotta Shaking Going On? Lewis gave a text book illustration of what he meant. Great Spherical Objects of Fire? Yup - Lewis delivered.

The only unusual note that I picked up on this time was that the piano was surrounded by boys. Not girls – boys. Boys with long sweaty hair. Boys reaching out. Boys who wanted to touch and stroke their icon. Lewis looked slightly disconcerted – this did not appear to be his scene.

Do you know – just watching Vincent, Richard and Lewis for an hour – I felt such a whole lot better. I think all doctors should prescribe it.

Yeah. Rock on.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Pixies Go to Sea .... Again

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Coffee


I’m sweat soaked from the heat. I usually don’t tan much, but I have one on now. However, the yard is looking good. It’s too hot to work long periods outside; I do this in spurts. I’m back inside, sucking on a peppermint candy and sipping hot black coffee. Try it; you’ll like it.
 
Cooling Down With Hot Coffee

O.G.  (not to be confused with our own O.R.), one of the friends of our research, ran into a persistently moronic troll on one of the controversial sites. (I’ve been there. Usually it’s populated by the terminally stupid. So this is no surprise.) The ‘troll’ raised some issues about a Pittsburgh cemetery. I wrote to Michael. Michael is an archivist who’s been helpful in the past. He located the original organizational papers. They’re not expensive, but we’re counting pennies right now. I’ll send for them soon.

There are only four pages in the document, but, in his usual semi-cryptic way, Michael says that I “will find the document valuable.”

People like Michael are special. They make my work easier. Their desire to help leads us to places we would not find on our own.


Coffee as an Aid to Thought

Harry and I talked about wild things and wild places yesterday. I like to listen to the world as it is in the very early morning. I like the sounds the river makes. I like the early morning bird calls. I like the pre-dawn, nearly secret sounds the deer make, or the distant braying of a farm-yard hound. The wind blows urgent opera. The gentle breeze hums a morning welcome. God smiles at the earth through pink clouds.

I don’t like snakes.

I don’t like spiders, though I find them interesting.

I found a box of arrowheads I picked up along the Columbia River. I thought I’d lost it, but it was misplaced, not lost. I’ll use them in my early grades US history class.

KK set up the camp tent in the back yard. Annie and Kat have had friends over to sleep in it. Way too hot as far as I’m concerned.

We’re still struggling with the last chapter. We’re writing it out of order, so it will change no matter what we do now. But it is by far the most difficult to write and research. We need a nearly finished version to move this project forward in other areas. So, though we know this is very rough, it is a necessary task.

I tried to put together a meet for coffee group for this afternoon, but no one can come today. I’m mildly depressed. I like my coffee group discussions, even the edgy ones.
 
 
The Coffee Group
 
I can'tfind a way to add the most interesting coffee photo, because it is so complex that I can't censor it in any meaningful way. Think of it as coffee and cream come to life. Just look at what Anthony is missing by camping out on Facebook instead of visiting my blog.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Stratigic Fanning - Harry's AC Woes

The AC Man Calls Twice… er Thrice… Oh, For God’s Sake!

By Harry

We had a delightfully warm, but comfortable spring this year. Some springs have been very hot in recent years, while others have been extremely wet. This was one of those perfect springs that we all think we remember from our youth. We enjoyed opening our newly replaced windows to cool breezes during the day. As I drove to our county refuse facility with a load of trash bags in my pickup truck, I could drive down the road with the windows down and inhale the soft fragrance of honeysuckle growing along my route.

But by the end of May we had a hot streak of days. We closed the windows and turned on the AC (air conditioner for our European friends). Something was wrong. The air barely came out of the vents and was not very cold.

My wife calls the home warranty company. They sent a AC guy out in a couple of days. The AC guy checked the coolant and added a couple of pounds of the expensive gas. He took my check (or cheque for occasional readers) and left.

"Hmm… It’s still not working." We call the AC guy back. He says the coils are frozen. Turn off the system, but leave the fan running and he would come back in 24 hours.

A different AC guy comes the next time. He says that he thinks there is a leak and tells us to schedule an appointment to search for the leak. He leaves without doing anything really. It’s a good thing we don’t have to pay for each visit. The warranty is good in that respect.

The first AC guy comes back the next time. We could be on a first name basis now if I had bothered to learn his name. He spends quite a deal of time examining the system this time and announces that there is a broken valve on the unit outside the house. That has caused a blockage in the coolant line, which is causing the unit to freeze up. Of course he doesn’t have the part in his truck. He’ll have to order the part and schedule yet another visit.

By this time May is a memory and June is coming to an end. Three window units strategically placed in the dining room and two bedrooms keep the house tolerable, but July is approaching. We describe midsummer in Central Virginia with the 3 H’s -- Hazy, Hot, and Humid.

The AC guy comes back with the new part last week. It’s a hot day after the Fourth of July holiday and he is using a torch to remove the solder and replace the valve. It’s hot work and he complains about burning himself. He recharges the system with coolant, starts it up and leaves.

The trouble is that it doesn’t do any good. We still don’t have cool air. We request yet another service call. He comes back two days later. AC guy is puzzled. The cooling coils are still trying to freeze up, but why? He examines the ductwork for blockages. He checks the fan assembly.

"Hmm… your fan motor is spinning backwards." He explains that it is a reversible motor and sometimes they reverse themselves. Reviewing all I know about physics and the laws of electricity, I can’t imagine how that can happen unless some idiot mechanic on a previous visit crossed some wires, but I hold my tongue. AC guy calls the shop and talks to another AC guy. He switches the wires and "All blessings be to the Lord" cold air begins flowing from our poor tortured air conditioner once again.

We all cheer. The AC guy, who now can find our house as well as he can find his own, is happy. The system is working so well that I spend the next two days adjusting the thermostat upward so the house won’t be too cold.

So here we were on Sunday. My wife, my son, and I are in the den watching Germany and Argentina battling it out in the World Cup Final. It’s a heated match. Argentina’s offense is sluggish. Germany’s offense can’t penetrate the Argentine defense.

"Hmm… does it feel warm down here to you?" I go upstairs, thinking that I might have to bump the thermostat down a degree or two.

"Gott im Himmel!" It’s broke again!

 
 


Hiding in the Bushes. An Edwardian Era Post Card


Sunday, July 13, 2014

On the beach. June 25, 1950


The Bow


Sandy Olga


Summer by Lyamin Yuriy


Saturday, July 12, 2014

The Boys. Scotland - About 1890


Some of you know ...

that this pixie is short. I'm 4' 10" to be exact. Harry found this:

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Garden Pests, Plotting and writing stuff


I’m frittering away my day off by working in the yard in short spurts. (It’s obscenely hot today.) When I overheat, I sit at my desk and ponder the world, or I work on the family room. I’m nesting without being pregnant. Imagine! It’s much less terrorized than it was. I’ll take some boxes of junk to the thrift store later today.  
 
Plotting in the Garden!

I have three baskets of clothes and that I pulled out of the closet. They need a good sorting, but pinning the owners (assorted young women) down to the task is difficult.

I changed out a picture. I may replace another with two smaller lithographs. But I haven’t made up my mind. The television is going out today. It’s older and no one watches it. So away it goes. Yesterday, I took all the board games the girls have outgrown down to the thrift store. I almost have the closet back in usable condition.

I’ve used a rustic cupboard that I salvaged from an old building for a bookcase. I’m a bit tired of it, and it is now out of place. I could refinish it and put a new door handle on it. Or I may just replace it with a better book case. 

The south stairs go up from this room. I’d like to replace the handrail. The one there was installed in the 1970s. In older photographs I see that the original was curved oak. I’d like to find something similar, but I don’t know where to look. I’ll keep my eye out for one.

 I’m working on what will be the last chapter of Separate Identity. Progress is slow, but the research is interesting. One disturbing thing was finding an article written in 1999. Oh … the article isn’t disturbing. It’s about 40 percent good, 20 percent indifferent and the rest just wrong. It’s not outstandingly bad or bad in any unexpected way. But parts of it read so much like what we’ve written that did I not know we wrote before seeing this, I’d wonder if we copied from it. I’ll edit away the overt resemblance.  

I’ve never had anything quite like this happen before. The closest I’ve come to it was when writing Pixie Warrior. I used dragon’s milk as a healing agent. It seemed like a good idea. After PW was published I ran across another book entitled … you guessed it … Dragon’s Milk. I may self-publish PW now that it’s out of print.



How to Remove Garden Pests
 

After I finish my part of this chapter, I’ll return to a nearly completed one and add bits we’ve found since. That chapter makes me happy. We did good work. It will need edits and re-writes, of course. But the contents are good. The research is good.

I’m missing everyone. One of my readers is sickish. The rest, except for a couple that feed me comments in person and not on the blog, are quiet.

 

 

Feeding Chickens - About 1900


New Hampshire - About 1893


Monday, July 07, 2014

Harry's Pixie Experience


Independence Day, the Fourth of July, America’s birthday. It is one of my favorite days of the year. This year was a new experience for Jayne and I. We spent the Fourth together without our kids for the first time in so long, I can’t remember.

We packed a couple of camp chairs in the car and got down to the park early enough that we able to park less than a kilometer away from the event. Richmond’s Dogwood Dell is an open-air amphitheater. It is a great venue for Independence Day. We found space to setup our chairs near the top of the dell. From there we had a good view of the stage as well as the sky for the fireworks.

It was perfect. The sun was hot when we first got there, but there was a wonderful breeze. As the sun set at the beginning of the concert it was so comfortable. There was good music, good food, and I was looking forward to the fireworks. But before all that I saw what made the night perfect. There in front of the stage was a pixie, a tiny little pixie. She was dancing to the music, wearing a pretty blue dress. Pixies are such elusive creatures. I asked my wife if she saw her too. My wife smiled and said she did. I took a photo. After watching her dance and giggle and laugh down there in the bowl of the amphitheater, the fireworks were almost anticlimactic.

Fornication, Fraud, and Mr. Jones


            So … with this morning’s mail I received a pile of legal papers from 1889-1890. Most of them are irrelevant. They’re notices of filings and legal advertisements. If you’ve read through things like this, you know what I mean. But there are a few interesting details.

            We have a bit of painful testimony from W. H. Conley who wished he wasn’t involved in the case. He continued business relations with a Mr. Jones long after their bonds of common faith dissolved. When I can decipher all of his testimony (the original and the copy made from it are very poor), I’ll probably post it on our history blog.

            The court record proves some things we only suspected. Most are mere details, though we shall use them. They tell us about his house, who his business partners were and whom he knew in Pittsburgh. We learn when Carrie Jones met Albert, who married them, and something about their social status in 1878, the year they were married. For a brief period Jones was prominent socially and politically in New York City. We see from Conley’s deposition that his social peers didn’t like him.

            Because this issue was settled in front of a court commissioner and Albert failed to show, there is no transcript. 

Saturday, July 05, 2014

The Trip


The Potty Ladder

This comes from the Life with Kids blog. Probably it doesn't much interest those who read this blog, but it does me. I wish they made this when my girls were little. What a good idea!

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

America! Happy 4th of July

Pixie Doing Serious Work


Monday, June 30, 2014

They were babies once ...

 
Hubertus Karl Wilhelm von Hoenzollern (1909-1950)
Friedrich Franz von Mecklenburg-Schwerin (1910-2001)
Cousins

We won ... YOU lost! Happy 4th of July!

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Here is Love, Vast as the Ocean ...

Thursday, June 26, 2014

From Harry

POTTY HUMOUR

Recently Occasional Reader was writing about his efforts to speak to an American audience that might not appreciate his British humour. I for one enjoy the British wit when I can cut through accents that are hard to understand on television programs I watch on our Public Broadcasting System (PBS) or BBC America. Then, in another post, I found myself explaining a piece of American slang to Roberto.

On top of this confluence of events I was reading an article on the BBC News website titled “Oldest human faeces show Neanderthals ate vegetables” http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-27981702 and I found myself laughing at the remarks made by the scientists being interviewed.

One explained… Poo is "the perfect evidence," said Ms. Ainara Sistiaga, a PhD student at the University of La Laguna on the Canary Islands, and the study's first author, "because you're sure it was consumed".

She went on to talk a particular sample of fossilized poo.

The faecal matter came from the very top layer of the fire remains. Ms. Sistiaga explained this probably means it was left behind after the fire was extinguished, perhaps on the periphery of another nearby campfire.

"The fire was not active at the moment of the deposit - it makes sense," she said with a chuckle.


Dr. Stephen Buckley, an archaeologist at the University of York, had previously reported evidence of plant matter in the dental tartar of Neanderthals and went on to say…

"The start point, the teeth, and the end point, the faeces, show the same thing," Dr. Buckley told the BBC. "The evidence is clear at both ends, if you like."

This is funny stuff. I have seen comedians who didn’t have jokes that good.

So I wonder, where does Winnie pooh in the Hundred Acre Wood?

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The World as it Should Be

Sex in the Big Woods


            So, my post-surgery follow-up went well. I’m healing just peachy, and I can mostly see again. I will need surgery on the other eye sometime next year, but right now I see better than I have since I was a child. I do most things without glasses, though I’ll need a pair for distance and extreme close up.

           Knobby Knees walked funny the day after he came home. It was totally my fault. … Anyway, I’m back in the battle, though I can’t do anything that might strain my eye. That means no work in the garden, especially lifting heavy bits of petrified wood. That’s okay. It can wait.
 
Back to the Battle!
 

            I awoke exceptionally early, as I often do on my days off. The house was quiet; Knobby Knees was snoring lightly, and I couldn’t sleep. So I ate a bowl of raisin bran and looked out the front window for a while. That did no good. I left KK a note, and drove out to feed the goats and check on the irrigation system. We’ve slowly replaced bits so it’s not as finicky as it was two years ago. But we still check.

            Goats are affectionate creatures, especially if they’re hand raised. We have three that are especially so. I’ve mentioned them before I think. There’s a mixed breed goat we took in when he was found straying down a country road. No one ever claimed him. We call him Bad Boy. There’s a reason for that. But he’s a good pet. We keep him away from the French Alpines. No making mixed babies I can’t sell! And he would. He’s mostly Nubian by my best guess. He has a very high opinion of himself – I think.

            The other two are the new male and our oldest doe. She’s nearing old age, but she still births sound kids. She stands next to me whenever I’m in the pasture. She loves to be patted.

            I think somewhere in a past post I mentioned the female deer that used to show up in the early mornings. She’s gone missing. I think someone killed her, but I don’t know. We get other deer, but most are skittish. This morning I spotted a new one, a young buck. We eyed each other from a distance. Understand these are wild creatures. They don’t domesticate, and I think were not meant to be domesticated. There’s a law prohibiting keeping them as pets, and I wouldn’t try anyway. But some wild things (including a now domesticated pet Scotsman) aren’t afraid of me. I have a bird – a magpie – that brings me bugs and tries to stuff them between my toes. A red fox used to follow me from about twenty feet. I never try to feed these animals. But they don’t run off either, though some keep their distance.

            Anyway, the young buck seemed to have no fear. He probably had some friendly human interaction before. He should have read Bambi, and he’d know better to trust a human. He came right up to me and let me pet his neck. He is, in no uncertain terms, a pervert deer. But I brushed him off. Isn’t species confusion interesting?

            We leave saltlicks around, and wild wheat grows along the back of the pasture, blown in as seed from farmers’ fields. That attracts the deer.

            Our worst experience with wild animals was a limping Cougar (Mountain Lion to you.) that hunted that area, killing some calves on a neighbor’s pasture. Fish and Game had to kill it … which was both sad and a relief.

            So I returned home to find everyone still asleep, except KK who was just rousing. I made coffee and we sat in the living room gossiping about everyone he saw on his trip. I have to coax events out of him. Sometimes he’s not a good story teller. I wish I had gone on the trip. But I can’t travel now.

            A few kisses and cuddles and he was out the door. I wish we’d have time for more.

            The girls made pancakes, actually cleaning up their own mess. They’re all off to my cousins’ to ride horses. I’ll see them sometime tonight I suppose, though this sometimes turns into an over night thing. Did I mention that horses intimidate me?

            I went back to bed for an hour or so. My artist/illustrator friend and one of my coffee group showed up about the same time. We drank the last of my coffee and looked at she-of-the-long-legs' sketch book. She’s really good.

            I’ve spent the rest of the day doing odd bits. This includes filing research papers, cleaning the kitchen, taking out the trash, paying a bill, and vacuuming. I put my own eye meds in. I have three kinds of drops, one of which is just artificial tears.

            I’m non-writing writing today. Not that I haven’t actually typed things. I’ve added a few sentences. But mostly I’m thinking about one magazine article, trying to sort out the implications.

            On my list of must do things are:                                                                                   

1. Figure out nature spirits.

2. Decide whether or not I know any fertility goddesses.

3. Buy a new sprinkler.

4. Scold one of my sisters for being a twit.

5. Buy ice cream.

From O. Reader

POORLY BAD

There was a famous radio program that ran for over fifty years – Alistair Cooke’s "Letter from America." I decided that I would rival this for my more than two weeks in the States with Occasional’s "Letter from America."

Then I got sick! Now I have always boasted to the world that I have extremely good health. That I hardly ever get sick. Huh – I’ve well and truly blown that line. I came to America, and did I get sick – as we sometimes say in the UK "sick as a dog, sick as a parrot, poorly bad..."

It started on the train to Pittsburgh. I feel asleep feeling good and woke up feeling like death warmed over.

There followed two days of hectic travel around four graveyards (Sha’el will have to work out why it was four) and numerous other historical sites. That did not improve my condition. In a state of delirium I interrogated my increasingly concerned hosts while scrabbling around a pyramid and filling clipboards with pages of notes, which I only hope I can understand when I can get back to them. What helped research was that two of my companions actually owned graves on the key site in question, so I got the real story. The big downer was that the cemetery owner – who apparently comes from Britain – was not there! He has seen off inquiries in the past, but I was going to try a fellow countryman’s charm offensive... As you do. And he wasn’t there. Six thousand miles to see him and he was out! So I will give my cohorts detailed instructions on what to say when they see him, and try another letter. He didn’t respond to my last one. Anyone would think that all he wants to do is make money by selling graves and monumental masonry, and is sick to death of dodgy historians...

And then it was time to give a talk to about 150 people, as already mentioned on this blog. That write-up was completely honest, but just omitted the awkward fact that I had to cling onto the rostrum for support throughout and whisper into a closely positioned mike. Since they had no idea what I might have sounded like – alas, they will never now hear my Judge Rutherford impersonation – and since the soft delivery (a polite way of putting the problem) suited the subject, it was OK. A certain anonymous poster has described elsewhere on this blog his sympathy for Mrs O who has to hear this stuff time and time again... Actually, I will have you know that much was specially prepared for America, and her main concern was that I didn’t entertain the audience by taking a header into the front row in mid sentence.

It didn’t happen.

But things didn’t improve when I reaching New Jersey. For a start Brits and Americans take their medication in different packaging. At home I might have had dinky little tablets, in America I was offered what appeared to be a suppository for a rather large horse. This apparently was to be taken orally. Yeah. Sure. And I then I compounded my problems by coughing loudly while navigating a particularly unfriendly escalator with an oversize suitcase at Newark and the result was – well, er, painful! For the next two days there was a standard four-move ritual interminably replayed.

Cough.

Loud yelp of pain.

Occasional does impersonation of dance move made famous by Michael Jackson.

Mrs O says quietly "try not to do that...."

So when she is finally sure I am not likely to die on her, off she goes on entertainment packages with the friends, and I stay glumly in someone’s apartment, trying to sleep and watching American TV. American TV – that’s another subject! My experience obviously is limited but it seems to comprise of numerous advertisements for strange medicines to deal even stranger diseases, with a list of contra-indications so long and so severe that no one in their right mind would ever try the stuff. And they all ended with the potential finality of "sudden death." For variation there was the other side of the coin - advertisements for firms specialising in medical negligence claims! Yup – you could sue, sue, sue, or if a recipient of "sudden death" perhaps your relatives could.

And on occasion, slipped in between the ads, was a rare slither of program.

Anyhow, I recovered sufficiently to struggle to my convention, which was great, apart from spending the whole time in the "Elderly and Infirm" section. That’s not a rite of passage I aspire to. And then finally, in the last two days, our friends in Manhattan hired a vehicle and we did all the things I’d missed the week before, before unloading my remains at JFK airport for the return home. That really rescued everything – although I still don’t currently feel like leaping tall buildings at a single bound, or changing the course of mighty rivers...

The biggest bummer of being sick is being left with no voice. I croak at Mrs O and she says "Pardon?" And I am coming back to the UK to spend a weekend in a muddy field and sing at a folk festival. As you do, As I do. Well, perhaps as I did.

I can see me having a really merry weekend just thumping a bodhran.

Whoopee...

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

An observation on writing ...

A friend of our history research passed on to me comments made by a self-described Apostate. He claims a PhD. (He wrote a dissertation rather than a thesis. To Americans that means PhD.) He complains that our writing is not academic because it's not 'reflexive.' Reflexive writing may seem academic and it afflicts British Universities, but it is just passive voice. To an American eye, passive voice is bad writing. It is an attempt to put distance between the writer and his opinions. It is bad grammar no matter where you live.

His comments are full of piddling complaints, none of them to any point. My surmise, and I think it is a good one, is that we quoted from  his work and refuted it. And he didn't like it. My friend - let's call him O. G. - defended us bravely! {giggle here} But he didn't point out that reflexive writing is poor work. So I'm doing it now.

Soft Landing - More or Less

My eye surgery was yesterday. It wasn't nearly as awful as I expected. But I am having some post surgery problems. I may be off this blog for a day or so.

Monday, June 23, 2014

I notice

A freind to our history research copied my ramble on 1881 and its significance to the groups we research, pasting it on a controversialist website. This drew a rather stupid reply from someone who hasn't read our books. My post, the one below, was not meant to be exhaustive history but only my personal "agony" over current research. If you've come to this blog expecting top notch research, you're on the wrong page. Go to our history blog: truthhistory.blogspot.com

To the person who trashed our research without having read our book, I can only say you should be glad you were never in any of my classes. You would have failed them.

R. M de Vienne

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Straining my Brain



            I continue to probe at the mysteries of belief. At thirty-six I’m no nearer to unraveling them than I was when I was twelve and first puzzling over the questions of why people believe the improbable and why people reject the obvious. I wish I could answer those questions. I can’t.

            I’m researching the widely spread but improbable end of the age beliefs centered on 1881. We will present a wider view of apocalyptic belief than we usually do. It will put the beliefs of the groups we profile in context. Belief in the religio-scientific nature of the Great Pyramid led many to expect great events that year. A faked Mother Shipton prophecy added to the concern, and Haley’s comet led to predictions of doom. The failure of prophetic expectations that year marked the high-water of predictive prophecy. Oh people continue to speculate about the prophetic numbers found in Daniel and Revelation, but those who do so are seen as kooks, and they are in the minority. Before 1881 there were naysayers, but many were inclined to believe

            A lecturer in Omaha suggested Christianity was to blame, saying that it was the sole source of apocalyptic expectation. This is stupid. Many non-Christian cultures have end of the world beliefs. A final judgment of all souls is part of many religions.

            When we approached this chapter, we believed the 1881 expectations centered primarily in the English speaking world. This is wrong. I found a newspaper report to the contrary:
 

Great excitement is caused by the number of pamphlets now published prophesying the near approach of the end of the world. In Paris some thousands of brochures are sold every day. The credulity of mankind has ever been agape to swallow the dire foreboding of self-constituted prophets. Seasons like the present make the fortunes of the Zadkeils, and, in a higher sense, play into the hands of well-meaning divines. [A 19th Century astrologer used the name Zadkeils.] 

Interesting stuff, no? We’ll pursue this some. I’d at least like to see what German speakers were thinking about 1881.

             The three groups (I first typed gropes. I’m such a bad typist! Or maybe I’m thinkin’ ‘bout my pet Scotsman. He returns home this evening.) … The three groups we consider in this chapter approached 1881 in similar ways. Important differences brought differing results. For the Barbourites, it brought final irrelevance. By 1885, except for some minor irritation, they stopped being relevant theologically.

            Differences existed between adherents of the Watch Tower movement. A man named A. D. Jones was drifting into Josephitism. He read pamphlets that came from the fringes of the One Faith movement and was persuaded. A major weakness in our research is the apparent loss of all issues of his magazine published in the first three years. We rely on quotations from it made by others. This is not satisfactory.

            Polemicists focus on Russellite (Not meant in the pejorative sense) adaptability. Some of the Bible Student brethren still see 1881 as significant. I don’t. But we don’t argue theology; we just tell the story as it happened. Russell allowed a wider discussion of probable 1881 events than was within the scope of his personal belief. This caused him some trouble. With the passing of 1881, he found himself still seeing the date as biblically significant. So he had to find new explanations for it. He wasn’t alone. A writer in England pursued the same course.

            The problem I find with most comments on Russellite expectations is that they are inaccurate or out of context. Context and detail are everything.

            This chapter will be harder to write than the one we just finished.

           

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Pixies sail the ocean blue

Beach Babes

Probably Austria or Germany.
 

Mystery Photo.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Michael Parks - Magician's Daughter


Pixies Sail the Seas

Eight Hundred Eighty Eight Questions, Cont.


21. I think the male brain is broken from 11 to 31 at least. What do you think?

22. Do you shop yard, tag and garage sales? Why?

23. Is your desk as messy as mine?

24. Your fairly God Mother shows up and says that a mistake was made at your conception. You were supposed to be something different than what you are. Being rather fond of your humanity, you squint in disbelief as she says, “I’ve come to fix it. Would you like to be a donkey, a duck or a gold fish?” Which would you pick, assuming you do have to pick?

25. Do you mountain climb? (KK talked me into it once pre-children. Thankfully it was a fairly gentle climb.)

26. One of my relatives got lost in the big woods once. (We’ll leave him un-named, though I can tell you he teaches and writes history.) I get lost easily. Have you ever been lost? Was too much sugar involved?

27. Do you have hairy toes?

28. Would you rather be a Star Ship captain or a train driver? (Personally, I’d love to point forward and say “engage!”)

29. Did you ever steal a cupcake?

30. I don’t like most perfume and never use it. Do you like perfume? Why?

Aggravation


I hurt so badly I can’t stand myself. I’ve been trying to remake the back garden. This time of  year we are invaded by three kinds of local weed. And my neighbor’s big tree decided to seed itself in my yard. I sprayed the yard and back garden, spending most of the day weeding and raking. I took out most of the old plants. I left a lilac bush, two small trees, and a climbing-crawling vine that my grandparents planted way back when. I pruned that back though.

 

The garden is covered with small-sized river rock and decorated with petrified wood. I shouldn’t have moved the rocks by myself. I finally had to quit. When K. Knees returns home, he can do that. Right now my muscles hurt, especially my shoulders and back muscles.

 

The tree that seeded itself in our yard is a pestiferous thing. It stinks. It grows very quickly too. The smell reminds me of bad marijuana (not that there is good marijuana). And it’s almost impossible to get off your hands. It’s just nasty.

 

We also had a cut worm infestation last year, so I’ve got to patch replant part of the lawn. I hate those things. They proliferate about every seven to ten years. It’s hard enough to keep a nice lawn without them showing up.

 

Someone took my bucket of arrow head bits and flakes. I’d collected them from our pasture and along the river for over ten years. Now they’re just gone. I have no clue who did that. I hope they feel guilty. This is just one of a number of thefts since we acquired this house. A lovely quartz crystal set was taken from our porch. We found that near Fredonia Pass when I was little. Not only was it rare and beautiful, but memories of my grandparents were tied up in it.

 

Other things missing are a Native American mortar and pestle and assorted stone tools. This is just aggravating.

 
I liked Harry’s story. I don’t know why no one’s commented on it.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

From Harry


 
The Unicorn

 

She glances at the caller ID as she reaches for the phone. Good it is not another call from a well-known tract society trying to sell her another subscription to their publications. How did they get her number in the first place she wonders? She picks up the receiver with a smile.

“Hello my sweet goat boy,” she purrs. “How is your trip? How are the girls? How much Belgian chocolate are you bringing me?”

“Everything is fine. The girls are fine. Your sister is fine. The chocolate? Er… if I can hide it from the girls you might get a half of a box,” he says cautiously, waiting to hear her reaction.

“That’s why you buy two boxes, you cheap Scotsman!” She fired back.

“Ah, uh, I did. So how’s the weather back home?” He quickly tries to change the topic.

“Hot, miserable. My allergies are acting up,” she whined. The little blue fae are playing in the air conditioning ducts again. The goats are being real frisky, and then there is the unicorn…”

“Unicorn?”

“Yes. It’s a small one. It showed up in the yard the other day, and I thought it looked so cute.”

“Victoria Louisa Gabriella Henriette Rachael Michelle, what did you do?”

“Well, I sort of fed her. She was so thin you see, and she was so cute. I just couldn’t resist.”

“Didn’t you learn anything when Annie brought home that Mogwai? You just can’t go around feeding magical animals, especially after midnight!” So what happened?

“Feeding her wasn’t a problem. They like hay and oats. She’s real sweet.”

“And…?”

“Well at first she didn’t want to leave.”

“Not surprising. You fed her.” There was a long pause at both ends of the line. “You are not telling me something. What happened?”

“You know that new young goat we have? The one that thinks I’m his mother or something?”

“Yes.”

“Hmm. How do I say this? He kind of jumped the fence the other night and got into the pen with the little unicorn.”

“Oh no. Was she hurt? Is she alright?”

“Actually, she seemed to enjoy it, but now I need to look up the gestation period for unicorns.” She waited a moment for his reply. “Hello? Hello?”

“Hi Mommy. Daddy dropped the phone. He just dropped it and walked away muttering something about where does Uncle hides his scotch. So what’s new Mommy?”

Monday, June 16, 2014

Remember the strange earthworks on the Welsh coast? Prolly not. but I do.

Herewith explained:

Pixies go to Sea

Brain Block

Is there a single word that expressed the thought of an expectation of impending doom? My mind is broken today.

From O. Reader


Humor vv. humour

I was invited to give a talk at a Sunday meeting in one of the historical centers I visited. It was an interesting experience, and ultimately pleasurable.

I spent a lot of my time trying to translate in my head what expressions used by Brits would be complete unintelligible to many Americans. And I had to navigate the murky waters of humor – or as we Brits would say – humour.

I like using a bit of humor in such talks, if it fits. I am not there as an entertainer, but in its place it can keep people awake, and they may remember humorous illustrations that hopefully allow them to remember the serious point being illustrated! Hopefully.

I had been told by Brits now living in the States what to do and what to avoid. I found that broad humor went down very well – whereas understatement and “dry” humor went over many people’s heads. I am forever getting into trouble with American correspondents who cannot always understand British humor. We use exaggeration and hyperbole, and perhaps even more so – the converse, understatement. Some people have been known to take me literally and then get cross! And I hadn’t meant to sound unpleasant. Honest. 

I think the Brits understand American humor better. That’s because of the onslaught of Hollywood. We have been deluged with America culture for rather a long time. It doesn’t need translating. We understand it.

However, whenever a hit British TV series takes off, it has to be remade for America because the original would be unintelligible to swathes of the population. And before any American reader leaps to the defence, that is not meant as a criticism. Americans are entitled to use words as they wish, as are the Brits – it is just that we sometimes use the same words, er – differently. It is just a fact. I learned it by hard experience.

So I did the anecdote about the logical conclusion of what would have happened if the apostles Paul and Peter had joined the military of the day – Paul joining the Roman army (as fellow countryman Josephus more or less did) and throwing a spear up to the battlements, where – dodging the spear would be the apostle Peter – ardent Jewish nationalist – let’s kick all the Romans out – dodging the spear while thoughtfully pouring boiling oil all over the apostle Paul... Was that the audience’s mental picture of the apostles? That went well. I did the one about getting mugged in the city of “brotherly love” – for those who know their Greek, that’s “philia” and “delphos” or Philadelphia. Perhaps not the best choice when speaking in Pennsylvania, but hey - I got out alive.

Anyhow, they “loved my accent.” And some of it was quite serious and spiritual. Really. But this blog is not the platform for it.

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