Thursday, April 30, 2015

The Pet VII


If you're going to record classic literature ....

You should at least know how to pronounce the names. This recording butchers a classic poem. The reader can't pronounce the Native American names and he never bothered to find the correct pronunciation of Michigan. This is a fail.

Americans can successfully read aloud English and Scots poems. Englishmen almost never get American or Canadian poems right. Shame!

Monday, April 27, 2015

Older Crime TV with Doctors

Canadian, sometimes insulting to an American audience, but usually good. Australian. Sometimes the characters seem improbable. But uniformly good nevertheless. American. Overly dramatic, has not held up well. Some are good, some just obnoxious.

No so good. 9 seconds under 'average time.'

Click to Mix and Solve

A historian I admire



Skip the boring introductions.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

From Harry



To Rachael and others the Great War was WWI. Here in the South it was the war between the states - the Great Civil War. I am not going to defend the South here. Slavery was and is an abomination. But at a gathering of my high school classmates yesterday, I became aware of a song that tells the story of one soldier from my home. I want to share it with y’all. - Harry

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Working at Home; Pie, Shoes and Socks


So … I had Thursday off. But not really. I completed by class descriptions for next Fall’s catalogue. This is a time consuming and stressful project. It’s become more complex over the last two years. It’s not a fun task. Knobby Knees was home too. He abandons his office for work at home when a major project is due. He says he is less distracted at home, which maybe be true sometimes. Anyway … he turns off his cell, won’t answer emails, and uses me to block calls to the home phone. I never answer that anyway. It all goes to voice mail. Anyone who’s important has our cell phone numbers.

We slept in some – I slept longer than he did. I made coffee and took it up to his office area. He had his nose nearly pressed to the computer screen, and he was frowning.

“Here,” I said, setting the cup on his desk.

He didn’t look up. Now lack of attention can make a pixie flutter her wings. I fluttered mine, kissing him on the cheek.

“Thanks,” he said, still not looking up.

“Have you eaten?” I ask.

He nods. “Toast and strawberry jelly,” he says.

“I’ll make some bacon and eggs,” I say.

He nods again, finally looking away from his work. “You’re very distracting,” he says.

I blink. My hair is un-brushed; I’m in my old ratty bathrobe, I’m wearing my ratty terry slippers. My eyes are blurry from sleep. “You’re blind and a pervert,” I say.

He chuckles.

 

0-0-0

 

I shout up the stairs. The eggs are done; the bacon is prepared as he likes it. I’ve toasted bagels and spread cream cheese. He clumps down the stairs. “Kiss first,” I say.

He obliges.

“I won’t get anything done if you distract me,” he says.

“Okay,” I say. I won’t distract you. I have work of my own to finish.”

 

0-0-0

 

So … It’s about an hour later. I’ve sent my course catalogue entries off to the appropriate secretary and read my personal and school emails, one of which is a nagging email about lesson plans that aren’t really due for a week. I’ll have them done by Monday.

I look at the ceiling. Knobby Knees is up there, quiet, immersed in architectural designs and such. He probably could use a break and more coffee. I know I needed both. But I should probably get dressed first. So I do. Sort of. Maybe.

I carry a tray up the stairs. On it is a small carafe of coffee, a mug for me, the last two pieces of apple pie and two forks. I have to kick at the door because my hands are full and there’s no convenient spot on which to rest the tray. He opens the door and steps back to let me enter. I place the tray on his work table and smile.
 
 
Pie with Intent.

“Lass,” he says. “Just what I needed. …. Are you trying to distract me,” He adds.

I shake my head and pour the coffee. He’s already nabbed a slice of pie.

“Pretty shoes,” he says.

“Thanks,” I say.

“Did you plan on wearing anything else?”

“I’m wearing socks,” I say.
 
 
Shoes and Socks

“So you are …” His eyes drift upwards. “And a bracelet.”

“Yes,” I say.

“Can I finish my pie first?” he asks.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

From Harry


I have sent Rachael several posts recently that she has not put on the blog for whatever reason. Some were funny, at least to me. Some were personal. I am a proud grandfather of adorable twins. {Yes, I'm neglectful. I repent. - pixie.)
 
Anyhoo, I will try once more with a story of terror and unspeakable acts. I give you…

THE TUNNEL OF TORTURE 

I walked down the hall with a sense of trepidation as well as a feeling of cold air flowing over my nether regions under the hospital gown I wore. They were waiting for me as I entered the room. 

“Here, sit on the table.”

“Lay down please.”

“Slide back a little please.”

“He’s pretty big. Is he going to fit?”

“Raise your arms up. Back more, please.” 

I feel the examination table rise and then move forward into the maul of the giant machine. Further and further I go. My chest is constricted as I breathe in the tightness of the tunnel. 

“It’s tight. Are you okay? Can you breathe?”

“It should work. Pull him out.”

Now things start in earnest. Unspeakable things. 
 
Friendly Technicians


“Roll over on your side. Relax, (pause) just a little lubricant. Deep breathes now. You’ll feel a little pressure.” 

GREAT JOHN PHILLIPS SOUSA! She calls that a little pressure! But wait… there’s more.

“Now we’ll just pump up the ball a little to hold it in place,” she says with a soothing voice, which is not helping as the pressure increases. 
 
 
The Wicked Coil!

MY AUNT SALLY’S KNICKERS! Somehow I believe there has been a miscommunication as to the actual size of the “small coil” to be inserted next to my prostate. I grimace as I roll over on my back again. The inquisitors… er, I mean technicians, position me again. 

“You’re going to feel a little prick…” (I’ve heard that before.) After several intense jabs in my left arm, she moves to the right and starts an IV. Headphones are put in place and I’m given a bulb to squeeze if I need to escape my prison. 

And now it begins… 

As I listen to the soaring strings of a Mozart concerto, the table moves relentlessly into the mouth of the great machine. It stops with my head just inside the opening. 

BARRAPP, BARRAPP, BARRAPP, BARRAPP, BARRAPP. The machine screams in my ears, only slightly muffled by the headphones which are now jammed hard against my head by the tight confines of my prison.

BARRIPP, BARRIPP, BARRIPP, BARRIPP, BARRIPP. The sound pulses rise in tone. The thought of listening to music as I while away the time is now a distant dream. 

I hear an indistinct voice. I push one headphone from my ear. “Is everything okay?” I hear the voice through a nearby speaker. I raise a thumb in assent. 

A technician is beside me to adjust the position of the headphones. I tell him to take them off. They replace them with foam earplugs. Back into the tunnel of torture again, deeper still, more loud sounds blaring in my head as I feel the table jerk and shudder.  

Oh no. I feel an itch around my left ear. I try to ignore it and, of course, it grows more intense. I try counting the number of times a pulse of sound is repeated before it changes tone. I can’t. The ear itch has now been replaced by one in my right foot. I realize I am grinding my teeth and will myself to relax. My right arm seems to be comfortably positioned, but the muscles in my left arm are aching. 

I had kept my eyes closed for the most part, but open them from time to time. I am close enough to the tube to see the lines and scratches in the plastic shell and wonder how they got there. My nose starts itching and I stare at the small microphone above me. I am curious how the paint has been peeled away in places on its surface. The noise shifts in pitch again and rises in intensity. A distant voice tells me that the ‘contrast’ has been added to the IV. Eleven minutes to go. 

How do you count the passage of time when you have no watch? Let’s see my normal respiratory rate is 22 breathes per minute. In. Out. One. Two. One. Two. Oh no, I am counting one breath as two and then repeating myself. I can’t count. 

BARRAPP, BARRAPP, BARRAPP, BARRAPP, BARRAPP… silence.

“Okay, you’re done. Let’s pull you out.”

WHRRRR, clank. CLANK!

 “He’s stuck.”

“Push him back. (Pause) Alright, now pull.”

“There we go. The rail was stuck.”

“Okay, lift your knees up. I’m going to remove the coil.” 

GODFREY DANIELS! MOTHER OF PEARL! The (REDACTED) thing feels larger coming out than it did going in. 

The MRI technicians sit me up and help me off the table. They all tell me how well I did throughout my fifty-minute ordeal. As I leave the tunnel of terror I am just thinking of two things. I need my pants and I want a stiff drink!

Austria - Long-Service Soldiers - February 1918


Monday, April 20, 2015

Don't annoy one of these ...

"Pretty? Of course I'm pretty. Continue to annoy me and I'll feed your gizzard to the frogs."

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Children Playing on the Beach - 1914


Note how they drew their skirts between their legs and tucked them in the front. You can find similar images as far back as the 1500s.
 
This image is from a French soldier's post card mailed in October 1914.
 
 

Pittsburgh PA - 1910-1915


Thursday, April 16, 2015

Little Rabbits


I haven’t written about my daughters in a while. At their age they need some privacy. But I’m going to tell you about Annie. Anastasia isn’t the child of my earlier posts. Oh, she’s not all grow up, but she’s a maturing young ‘lady.’ She’s in between, I guess. She can still find pleasure in playing dolls with my baby half-sister. But she has developing intellectual and personal tastes.

            She likes to dress nicely. Of all my daughters, she is the one who will spend an hour with me looking through clothes at the Goodwill store. With patience, we find nice things. She found a like-new pair of Italian-made shoes. They sell for nearly two hundred dollars at Macey’s. These do not seem to have been worn.

            Annie is still attached at the hip to me and her sisters. She’s very social, a chatter box sometimes. She has definite beliefs, often at odds with some of her sisters. And she’s discovered tea. I prefer coffee. But she likes tea. Her grandmother collected tea cups and saucers. Annie has adopted a Copland set as her own. She boils her water, pours it in her cup and brings the cup, water and a tea bag into my work room to chat or read.

            If any of my children will turn to writing, it is she. I sent off some of her writing to a friend who is also a literary agent. Friend agent said that Annie was “immensely talented.” I agree.

            There is still much left of the little-girl Annie. She likes to snuggle. She can still annoy Isabella and will do that on purpose. Isabella in turn has always been Annie’s ‘protector’ and nag. But there is less need for that now, and their relationship is changing. Annie is not as impulsive as she was. Isabella isn’t the scold she was.

            Annie coaxes me into a cup of tea some days. Once she got out her grandmother’s silver tea set and made ‘high tea’ for us all. It was fun. We don’t make blanket ‘forts’ under the table or behind the couch unless my baby sister is staying over. Then the expert tent maker in Annie takes over. I still find Annie wandering the house at night, looking for a non traditional place to sleep. She’s done that always – well, at least since she could walk. Today she does it because (she claims) Kat ‘snorts’ in her sleep. Oh dear LORD and little rabbits!

So .... I have this secret formula

 
So … I bought this ratty stamp. A nice example would cost about forty dollars. I paid about two dollars. No one else bid on it because, as you can see, it’s really ratty. But … its condition is curable.
Notice that it’s on a paper fragment. My best guess is that this is a fragment of an old album page and that the stamp was glued to the pages with mucilage. The glue accounts for the stain. Without the stain and the paper fragment, this is a nice stamp. So when it arrives I will soak it in warm water with a tiny amount of dish soap added. This will remove the paper and some of the stain. If it is a mucilage stain, I’ll add a drop of my secret, super-duper chemical and rinse it in clean cold water. The stamp will be stain free.
My secret is a bit of pre-wash stain remover. Don’t tell anyone. It is a secret.


Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Germany - Official Stamps from Inflation Era


This is a messy page, and eventually I'll reorganize it. Some of these are very scarce. Two of them may not be what they seem. I'm still working on that issue. The two billion mark stamp might have a faked overprint. I've compared it to others I know to be genuine, and I have unresolved questions. I'm watching an authenticated one at auction. I have similar questions about the ten billion mark stamp. The Dienstmark overprints seem to be too thick, the final 'e' misshaped and the cancellations seem to be washed out. The problem with these concerns is that I can find similar problems on authenticated examples. It'll give me something to do on days I must vegetate.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Televison as national personality

Two mostly contemporary television shows. I think they show national personalities. What do you think?

From O. Reader or the trials and tribulations of ...


AN EXPERIENCE 

Many years ago when I was young and sweet and innocent I spent some time in the Royal County of Berkshire working with a group of like-minded people and attended gatherings three times a week. The man who presided over the group used to have a special ritual each week – he would always conclude one particular meeting by relating what he called an “experience”. This was basically an anecdote about the work that had been done that past week with a good encouraging result. But this night the meeting ran late. It wasn’t my fault, but I had the misfortune to have started late and been on just before he rose to conclude. He scowled at me and the audience in general and in sonorous tones (and broad Berkshire accent) announced: “I was going to have an EXPERIENCE to-night – pause – but there isn’t time so I’ll have an EXPERIENCE on Sunday...”  I can still see people stuffing handkerchiefs into their faces to conceal their merriment.  

Which is nothing to do with this post really – it just came back to me through the mists of times – except that you could say that I had AN EXPERIENCE this week – involving my automobile – what we Brits always call a “car”. (So do we Americans – ed.) 

Finally Out of the Car.
 

I am rushing out to get to two patients and am already late. I quickly press the button to open the central locking on the vehicle and clamber inside. But somehow, in fumbling with the key in the steering lock I inadvertently press the same button again. The central locking system promptly goes CLUNK and locks up the car. DRAT I think, how on earth did I manage to do that? So I press the button again to unlock it, so I can drive away as planned. Total silence. Nothing happens. Huh? What? I press it again, and again. Zilch. I am now locked in my car. I can’t manually open it from the inside. The door won’t budge.  It could be opened with the key in my driver’s door of course, but – er- the key is with me – locked inside the car. We never got round to getting a spare. 

This cannot be happening I think. But it is. It has.  

How do I make my escape? A cellphone call to my local service garage yields, along with general hilarity, the thought that the rear doors can be opened by hand, as long as you can manually deal with the child safety lock inside. So I phone Mrs O who comes out to the car and we conduct a conversation by semaphore through the window. I then clamber from the front of the vehicle, headfirst with bottom in the air, to get onto the back seats. I tug the child lock handle and Mrs O tugs the outside handle – and eureka – I am free.

I am also about an hour late for two patients. Somehow in jiggling the vehicle around, things have started working again because the alarm now goes off big time and summons half the village to see what vehicle we are stealing. Fiddling around with the key finally stops the alarm and starts the car.


All seems well. I nervously visit my clients, do unspeakable things to their feet, and come back to the car. I press the button to unlock the car. Silence. Nothing happens. Aaaagh! I am now OUTSIDE the car. It starts to rain. I forget for a moment of extreme distressed dampness that I can at least get into the beast with the key in the door. I manage this, and give up – and call my rescue service which here in the UK is called the RAC (Royal Automobile Club). An hour later a nice man in a patrol car comes and makes an extreme effort to not sound like he is talking to a five year old.

And what was it dear reader? A clasp on the battery had come loose, and so power to work everything was intermittent. As in – working when you didn’t want it to, and not working at all when it was essential. One quick turn of a spanner – my no claims bonus for not calling them out this year is now shot to pieces – but I am mobile again.

 Cars, cars.

Still it used to be worse. It made me think of other vehicles our little family owned in the past – now all safely gone to that great scrap heap in the sky.  

But that’s perhaps another story.

Harry, Anthony ...

Coments would be nice. Go read 'stuff'.

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Roberto's stamp question


Roberto asked how I bought my stamps on the cheap. Harry said I used a coupon from Stamps R us which made me giggle. But now for the serious answer …

            I buy most of my stamps online. There are many stamp dealers and auctions online. The largest and easiest to use is ebay. As with anything sold on ebay, it takes patience and persistence to find the good stuff at a good price. While I find some things by just browsing, I hunt for specific stamps. That more than any other search takes patience. Remember the official stamp I posted about earlier. Finding that was the result of a persistent search. I searched for it by Scott and Michel numbers, by date, by a combination of search terms. I found it by searching “Germany pages.” I see lots of junk that way, but I also see stamps the seller failed to check.

            Many dealers start their auctions at ninety-nine cents or some similar amount. If it’s something I need or want, I’ll put it on my watch list knowing that it will probably go for much more than I want to pay. But sometimes they receive no bid. I have the entire set of the ‘snake’ over print German officials. They are listed for hundreds of dollars each. The most I paid for any of them was five dollars, because I found them in mass lots that no one wanted or bought them from the dealers with low initial listing price when their items received no or few bids.

            If the item is really scarce, even rare, I will take a stamp with minor flaws, sometimes more than minor if it is still presentable. A flaw drastically reduces the value. But the stamp can still look nice on a page. Below is a page from my Germany collection. These are the Thurn and Taxis North District stamps. The princes of Thurn and Taxis had the mail contract with most of the German states. You see I still miss some. If you look closely you’ll notice that many of these are flawed in some way. Some are cut close on the margins, or even into the margins. One is heavily canceled to the point where the ink bled into the stamp. It would be hard for me to find nicer examples at a price I can afford.

 
Some of these are really good, some so so, a couple are badish. But its how I found them and I probably cant afford better. Sometimes I find something really supperior for nearly nothing. 

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Early Saxony ... Now mine

I've been looking for a copy I could afford for a long time. Found this one with minor faults for 4.00 including postage. Not bad, huh?

I have a headache but I wrote this anyway ....


I’m about to run off to teach my morning class. I don’t want to go. I want to stay in bed and sleep. Mostly all I want to do these days involves a pillow and closed eyes. But I forge on. The WA state Department of Education people are coming this month. They want to interview me and a few others about our program. They like us and use us as a model which is pleasing and intimidating.

 

My writing partner and I are reworking the outline for the chapter we’re writing. We had a major miscommunication. He thought I had material I did not. He was going to use it in chapter one. Nonsense! So a contributor to our history blog sent it along to me. Big surprise! I’ve griped, moaned, complained and now it will show up where it belongs.

 

Some days everything makes me unhappy. I know it comes from declining health and as a side-effect of my current medication. But knowing doesn’t make it better.

 

Oh … they’re doing major upgrades to our school over the summer. So we have to pack up everything. They’re basically building us a new building. Everything must move out in the interim. Fun huh? Not so much. Nice new stuff will be good. Packing stuff won’t be.

Thursday, April 02, 2015

Can you solve it?

So I went 'treasure hunting' today. I found a book and this picture. It's on modern photopaper, and it's not a print from a digital camera. It's been in the frame long enough that most of the color has washed out. I don't know which castle this is, nor do I know the broad location. I suspect this is Scottish because of the bulky square tower. It could possibly be Irish. I do not know. Can you find it?

 
 
Okay, so I solved it myself ... It's Eilean Donan Castle, Scotland
 
 

Silly Poem - Written for a Child


I Wonder
By B. W. Schulz
 
Do little fishies have to bathe,
Or are they washed in the waves?
 
Do their mothers lick them clean?
Do they look into a mirror and preen?
 
Do they wash their hands before they eat?
Before at the table they take a seat?

At night, when everyone else is sleeping ....