What a Bunch of Sickos

In the struggle against Islamic fundamentalism, I don’t have to discredit the other side; they do a fine job of discrediting themselves.  I gave two examples in my message on June 13, 2007, where two fatwas were issued in Egypt.  One recommended that women breastfeed their male co-workers, the other claimed that a woman who drank Mohammed’s urine was blessed.

Now we have another example.  Egypt’s Islamist-dominated parliament is trying to pass two new laws affecting women.  One lowers the minimum age of marriage to 14, the other allows a man to have sex with his wife if she has been dead for less than six hours.

Egyptian Woman Appeal Sex-After-Death, Teen Marriage Laws



I don’t think I need to talk about how disgusting the latter law is; the narrator of the above video does a good enough job on that.  In my message from December 10, 2011, I said that I hope the US never fights an enemy that practices necrophilia, because one thing I have learned from history is that when you fight the same enemy long enough, you will come to resemble him.  Well, now it looks like that’s going to happen.

And in a worst-case scenario, I have an idea how necrophilia could become acceptable here.  Liberals will promote it as an “alternative lifestyle,” just as they did with homosexuality.  Read this piece I posted four years ago on what an e-mail promoting that lifestyle, if you can call it a LIFE-style, would look like:

Equal Time for Necrophiliacs!

Getting Adjusted to Life in the Bluegrass

Last time I wrote about my trip home from Connecticut to Kentucky; would you believe that the temperature back in CT has been in the 30s every morning since I left?  Now it is time to catch the readers up on what I have been doing since my return.

The T-shirt:  First, you will remember I missed the fun, when March Madness became April Madness at the beginning of this month.  Now I finally have the University of Kentucky champion T-shirt I wanted (see my message from April 4).  I was so busy with taxes and preparing to come home that I had forgotten about it.  Then on Friday afternoon I visited the local Meijer store to get a few things, and found the shirts near the entrance to the store, discounted from $15 to $10.50.  You’d think they would sell the shirts until next basketball season, at least, but it looks like they are now getting rid of the last of them.  I’ll have to go back and get one in Leive’s size, and maybe I’ll drive to the UK campus this week to see if they are still “celebr8ting.”

The Buick:  I told you I have had car trouble since Thursday, so on Saturday morning I took the Buick to our mechanic friend in the family.  The spark plugs were fouled, and according to my records they were installed in 2003, so he replaced them.  However, that only helped a little.  More disturbing was the discovery that air compression in the front central cylinder is low.  That could be from a bad valve, a bad fuel injector, or a bad piston ring.  Either way, it means the engine is wearing out, no surprise since I have put nearly 100,000 miles on it in the past ten years.  For the short run, I should not take the car out of town again, and in the long run, it will be more cost effective to replace the car this year, than to keep spending money on repairs for it.  Therefore I hope that my next source of income will be much closer to home than Connecticut.

My Father:  On Friday and Saturday Leive and I went to visit my Dad in the retirement home where we placed him, less than two miles from our house.  This is the first time I have seen him since January 2011.  On each visit we spent more than an hour, and from what I can see, he is well cared for.  Our current plan is to take him out for lunch at Fazoli’s on Tuesday.  We’ll use the Buick, which should be fit for the trip, despite its current condition.  Leive hasn’t taken him anywhere since he arrived, because the Nissan rides too low for him to get in and out without a great deal of help.

A Guest in the House:  At the end of March Leive took in an Egyptian woman in her thirties named Illaria (I hope I spelled that right).  She is a Coptic Christian, and was referred to us by our pastor, who knew she was looking for a place to stay and recommended us.  Previously Leive knew nothing about any of the Orthodox churches, so this is a learning experience for her.  I only got to meet Illaria after coming home, and as you might expect, we compared our knowledge of Egyptian history.  Like this bit about King Pepi II, from the British comedy “Horrible Histories”:

So far the only problem we have had with her is the time she burned incense in the kitchen; that made Leive sick, and I warned that stuff like that can be poisonous for parrots, so she stopped.  And along that line, Brin-Brin puts up a howl when Illaria plays Arabic music, but listens quietly when Leive plays Hebrew music.  More evidence that Brin-Brin is a Jewish parrot (see my message from May 4, 2011)!

Where Prices Are Low and Temperatures Are High

Yes, I’m talking about the South, now that I have returned there.  A description of Connecticut, where I spent most of the past eleven months, would be the opposite of the above title.

Anyway, in yesterday’s message I told you about the first half of my trip home, so I’ll conclude it here.  After going to a nice diner and a Sheetz gas station, to fill up myself and the car, I left Hancock, MD at 10:25 AM.  This time I got to see the region I missed when I drove to Connecticut last June, due to my GPS giving me bad directions around Morgantown, WV.  I had never before seen Maryland west of Hagerstown, and it’s full of mountains instead of farms, so it doesn’t look like the nearest part of Pennsylvania at all.  It also has the prettiest scenery I have seen on these trips between Kentucky and Connecticut, and the locals are proud of it.  It shows in the other names they give Interstate 68, the “Scenic Byway” and the “National Freeway.”  And it shows in how Allegany and Garrett Counties have welcome signs made of stone, that are fancier than the welcome signs states put on their borders.

At 11:50 I crossed into West Virginia, and once I reached Morgantown, the journey became a reverse version of the trip I took last June 4-5.  I stopped for gas at Clarksburg, and there I got the only scare of the trip.  As I left the interstate, the engine of the car heated up and the “Service Engine Soon” light came on.  Unfortunately I could not get the hood open, so whatever was causing the engine’s behavior would have to wait until I got home, which at that point was 290 miles away.  The good news is that the engine did not get hot enough to boil over, and the temperature went down after I hit the road again.

At 2 PM I stopped for lunch at a Subway near Sutton, WV, the small town where I spent the night when I came the other way.  Then at 5 PM I reached Kentucky.  I stopped once more for gas at the first gas station I passed in Kentucky, figuring that gas would be cheaper near the Ashland oil refinery.  When I stepped out on Kentucky tarmac to use the gas pump, it felt like my internal batteries were getting recharged, now that I was back in my home state.  Whew, life in the North must have taken more out of me than I thought.

To finish the travelogue, I made it home just before 7 PM.  The car engine got hot again when I was stuck in the traffic on Man o’War Blvd (see my message from November 19, 2007, for more about that street), and then the service engine light went off.  The engine ran unevenly today when I went out to run some errands, so I plan to take it to the family mechanic tomorrow.  Even so, it’s good to be back!

Going South, Then West

My goodness, Tuesday was the presidential primary in Connecticut and I did not even hear about it until after it was over!  A few days earlier in the news, they mentioned the Republican primary coming up, because Mitt Romney made a campaign stop in the state, but they did not say when.  I guess that shows how little interest the local voters had in it.  Perhaps if it didn’t look like Romney’s nomination was a sure thing.  Or perhaps if the Democratic Party wasn’t so strong in this state (nobody ran against Obama, of course).

But you probably came here to find out about my journey from Connecticut to Kentucky.  Along that line, it took until 12:30 to get everything packed, and another hour and a half to get it in my Buick.  In fact, preparations for the trip took so long that I skipped lunch.  You will probably never again see the car packed as heavily as it is now; Leive definitely gave me too many outfits to bring.  In the end I had to leave behind a few things I was planning to bring:  a case of bottled water, and a dozen rolls of bathroom tissue.  Then because the landlady was out, I had to leave the key and my last check in the mailbox.  All things considered, I left a lot less to pick up then my former room mate did.

I left the Danbury neighborhood around 2:15 PM.  At 2:30 I entered New York, at 3:40 I reached Pennsylvania.  Up until now I hadn’t decided whether I would go south first, or west first.  The route I took last December, going due west until reaching Ohio and then turning south, would have put me in a region with lower gas prices, but it also would have meant driving with the sun in my eyes for most of Wednesday, and I definitely didn’t want that.  The plan I chose was to take Interstate 81 south across Pennsylvania, and then make the west turn in Maryland, when I got on I-70.  That worked; I had the sun on my right more often than in front of me.  And because I’m starting in the morning, today I will only have to worry about glare for half of today’s driving.

Traffic had been heavy in New York and northern Pennsylvania, and in the neighborhood of Scranton and Wilkes-Barre I also had to go through road construction.  After Wilkes-Barre, though, there were fewer cars and trucks, and the road got gentler as we left the mountains.  Consequently I had a nice, uneventful drive through the southern part of the state.  There the scenery was mainly farms; mountains were still visible, but they were far away.  The only stop I made was at a small Pennsylvania town with the strange name of Nuangola, where I filled my gas tank and got something to eat.  At 8:05 PM I crossed over into Maryland.  The sun set about that time, so I also started looking for a place to stay overnight.  I got off the highway in Hancock, MD, a small town with brick buildings and narrow streets. 

According to the map, Hancock is in the narrowest part of the state; here it looks like Maryland is only three miles wide.  A sign advertised two motels, but I found neither, so I stopped at the place I did find, a small no-frills place called the Hill Top Inn.  At $40, the price was right, but getting comfortable here was a learning curve.  They have wi-fi, but it took until this morning to get a connection, and although it looked like I had to turn the shower faucet on all the way, to get hot water, I really only had to turn it halfway; I stood in a cold shower for several minutes before I figured that out.  Finally, the room has no telephone, which could have been a challenge if I did not bring my cell phone with me.

Okay, it’s almost quarter after 8.  They don’t serve breakfast here, so I’d better get going.  Again, see you in Kentucky!

A Crustacean of a Different Color

An ongoing narrative of this blog is that lots of strange plants and animals are out there in the world, waiting to be discovered, even at this late date.  Especially in Southeast Asia.  I have heard about so many new critters in Indonesia that I have declared that country the “Real Lost World.”  And the Philippines isn’t far behind; readers may remember the message I posted on August 25, 2009 about a rat-eating plant.

Now from Palawan, the same island with the rat-eating plant, a purple, fresh-water crab has been discovered.  Wow, any idea what the odd color is good for?  It’s getting to the point that I don’t want to predict what the naturalists will find next.  Click on the link below the picture to read more.



Bright Purple Crab Discovered in Philippines

My Last Sunday in Connecticut

Either this message, or whatever I write tomorrow, will be the last message on this blog in the “Yankeeland” category, at least until I work another job north of the Mason & Dixon Line.  it is now looking like I will leave town on Wednesday morning.  Not only because I’m trying to eat up what’s left of Leive’s cooking (I finished the pancit today, leaving some turkey I have to figure out what to do with).  There was a nasty storm, what they call a nor’easter, blowing through Pennsylvania today, and I’d just as soon wait that out.  No matter which route I take to go home, I expect to spend a good part of the trip, at least six hours, driving in Pennsylvania.

Yesterday I attended church for the last time before going home.  In fact, I attended twice.  The pastor forgot at the morning service that I was leaving, and asked me to come back at the evening service so he could pray over me.  I agreed, since I didn’t have to get up early this morning, though the evening service is in Portuguese (I had to wear headphones to understand it).

You may remember the message I posted on March 11 and March 19, about buying a South African flag to help the South Africans attending the church feel at home.  Well, it’s finally up on the wall.  Here it is:


As you can see, it nicely complements the Jamaican flag in front on it.  However, they also raised it upside down; it’s supposed to be red side up!  I made sure of that before I donated the flag; you can see it mounted correctly in the March 19 photos, like this one:

I made sure the pastor knew, so they can flip it over before I come back.


And I already posted several flower pictures a few days back, but here’s another attractive sight.  On the way home from church I spotted a two-tone dogwood.  From what I can see it’s only one tree, not two trees growing next to each other, so I’m guessing a couple of red dogwood limbs were grafted onto a white dogwood tree.



A Setback in Peak Oil. Again.

It has been said that work builds character; that’s why the typical workplace has so many characters!  We definitely had a real character on my team, at the company where my job just finished.  He was a 69-year-old fellow from southern California, who had a way of dominating the conversation in every group, whether it was the software lab, weekly meeting, etc.  Like me he was a contractor, and his assignment ended six months ago, but what a time we had while he was there!  He told so many stories about himself that I could only believe half of them, like how he had been an engineer for as long as I was alive (and I’m no spring chicken, mind you).  He also was very opinionated, and could go on for quite some time about things he didn’t like.  However, I don’t think he believed in any kind of religious dogma, except for the “peak oil” theory; usually he would tie that in with assertions that the aviation industry will collapse when the oil runs out, and that at any rate, the world is going to Hell in a handbasket.

For last Thursday, April 19, my calendar had this quote:

“What’s going to happen is, very soon, we’re going to run out of petroleum, and everything depends on petroleum. And there go the school buses. There go the fire engines. The food trucks will come to a halt. This is the end of the world.”

Source:  KURT VONNEGUT, JR., Rolling Stone, Aug. 24, 2006

That sounds exactly like my former co-worker talking about peak oil, and when I showed it to the other people I worked with, including my supervisor, they all agreed.  Now I’m wondering if my former co-worker is a Kurt Vonnegut fan.

Regarding “peak oil,” ever since the first energy crisis of 1973 I have been told that the world can’t increase oil production forever, that a few decades from now there will be an abrupt decline in production as oil fields run dry, and that we’d better have an alternative energy source ready to take oil’s place when it happens.  I was also told that oil is made from dead dinosaurs, and because we don’t have any more dinosaurs around, someday the oil will disappear, too.  That is why Sinclair gas stations used a sauropod dinosaur for their logo, and why the “Universe of Energy” attraction at Disney’s EPCOT features a ride through a dinosaur-infested swamp.

Nearly forty years later, oil production hasn’t declined; I don’t think it has even peaked.  True, the old fields may not be producing as much as they used to, but plenty of new fields have been opened up to take their place.  In places like the North Sea.  Off the coast of Brazil.  Kazakhstan.  Central Africa, from Chad to Cabinda.  Israel.  And even in the old fields new strikes have been made where the oil should have been pumped out already; where’s it coming from?  It’s got me thinking that maybe the dinosaur=oil equation isn’t true after all; perhaps the oil is made in the earth’s mantle, using an inorganic process, and then it oozes into the crust later.

Now you can add another new oil source.  I have just read that oil has been discovered near the Falkland Islands, and estimates of the supply run as high as a billion barrels.  Whew!  This year marks the thirty-year anniversary of the Falkland Islands War, and if anybody wanted to revive the dispute Great Britain and Argentina have over the those south Atlantic islands, that ought to do it.  It also means the date when the oil runs out has been postponed a few more years.  Click on the link below to read the story:

Brit Oil Strike

It looks like Dennis Miller has a better attitude than Kurt Vonnegut when it comes to what happens when fossil fuel runs out:

“Relax.  We’ll replace oil when we need to.  American ingenuity will kick in and the next great fortune will be made.  It’s not pretty but it is historically accurate.  We need to run out of oil first.  That’s why I drive an SUV — so we run out of it more quickly.  I consider myself to be at the vanguard of the environmental movement and I think individuals who insist on driving hybrids are just prolonging our dilemma and I think that’s just selfish…”

End of the Line

Well, my job assignment ended at 11:30 AM yesterday morning.  I only needed to work half a day to get my 40 hours for the week, and the company didn’t want to mess with the details of an extra timecard if I worked in the afternoon.  Therefore I traveled light on my last day; I didn’t bother to bring a lunch, for instance.  From the looks of things my exit interview went without a hitch, and the company is still considering having me back at a later date; the temporary agency which placed me thinks I could have another assignment as soon as a month from now.

On the way home I paid another visit to the mechanic I’ve been using since last September.  This time they had the new EGR valve, and because no other customers were in the shop at the time, they had me in and out of there in twenty minutes.  Also, I was expecting to replace both the front strut and the shock absorbers, but they tested the strut by leaning on the front, and concluded that it’s in good enough shape for the trip to Kentucky.  Was I misled when the Midas people told me I needed new struts and shocks?  Finally, the mechanic charged me the same amount as I was told in last year’s estimate, so regarding the cost of repairs I think I did as well as I could in Connecticut.

Now I’m counting the time until I leave.  Currently it looks like Wednesday or Thursday will be the best time to hit the road.  On Facebook I heard from several Kentucky friends who are looking forward to having me back.  Once I return, though, I’m not sure what I’ll do.  I will try to take my father places, now that he’s living near us, and maybe visit Lindy, Adam and Lexi in Georgia, if the opportunity arises.  But I haven’t heard from any of the jobs I applied for, so who is hiring anyway?  Perhaps I should respond to this ad that my brother shared with me; does the evil genius have a cool fort?