Horns of a dilemma

Waiting for spring
Waiting for spring

I took this picture earlier this year. Outside today it feels like spring, no matter what Punxsutawney Phil predicted. Well, who depends on a large rodent for weather predictions?


I know that a dilemma is not an actual horned animal. Though often when I read the phrase “horns of a dilemma” I imagine a children’s book illustration of an angry water buffalo. If only life were so simple. No, the phrase means having to choose between two bad options. No matter your choice, it won’t be a good one.

I find myself making that choice now. A few days ago I was writing about how I felt that avoiding politics in Classical Gasbag was the proper choice for me as a person. Today I’m not sure. Watching the news, listening to friends and acquaintances who are not U.S. citizens, and drawing upon historical precedents have brought me to a place where I can’t publicly ignore what is happening here.

Our President and his minions are constantly labeling our free press as the purveyors of fake news and the enemy. Meanwhile they put forth lies and label them as alternate facts. This is a familiar tactic to people who read history. I recommend that people read about “Big lie” on Wikipedia and see if it strikes a chord.

Perhaps I am writing this from a political perspective. I feel so close to it that I’m not sure. To me it feels like our Constitution, particularly the first amendment, is under attack, and that scares me. What scares me more is the number of fellow citizens who believe, or want to believe, the lies that are coming from our President and his minions.

OK, so here is some political ranting: Part of me wants to blame that phenomena on the apparent decline in people who see the worth of an education other than for gaining a better paying job. What is wrong with education for the sake of education? Of course I lay the blame for that type of thinking on Richard Nixon who during the 1952 Presidential election labelled Democratic candidate Adlai Stevenson and his supporters eggheads. Yes, the same Richard Nixon who as President had an enemies list and brought Watergate into our political vocabulary.

I don’t plan on going on and on about politics in Classical Gasbag, but neither do I plan on remaining silent when things truly bother me. I just hope that I can remain civil enough that I don’t offend too many people.

A duke’s mixture

By the bank of Wildcat Creek
By the bank of Wildcat Creek

I wanted to get a picture of Wildcat Creek a few weeks ago, and went to a public landing spot to get a good view. The view wasn’t all that good, but these pretty wildflowers caught my eye. I don’t know what they are, so if you do, please enlighten me.


I had originally thought to title this post “this and that,” which I have used before. But I like change, so I wanted to title it something else. Then I remembered my dad often use the phrase “a duke’s mixture” when he was talking about a mix of different things. It is sort of like Mulligan Stew (another of his favorite phrases), but can be applied to non-food mixtures as well.

Curious person that I am, I decided to Google “duke’s mixture” to find out which duke was being referenced and why. I supposed that it was another English duke; remember the Duke of Sandwich?…wait. He was an earl, not a duke. But those English titled guys like to name things for themselves or for their monarch (suckups that they are). But I was receptive that the duke might be from another country.

Imagine my surprise when I found out that it was an American Duke, James Buchanan Duke. Yep, the same Duke who gave his name to Duke University in North Carolina. The man who made a fortune selling tobacco in all its glorious forms. You may have heard of Bull Durham tobacco and cigarettes. That also came from Duke’s tobacco empire. Of course when I think of Bull Durham I also think of the Kevin Costner/Susan Sarandon/Tim Robbins film. Cindy and I went to that movie on our first date. I remember being embarrassed by the language in that movie. The language is mild by today’s standards, but I thought that the good Christian woman I was with would be offended. But I digress.

Duke’s Mixture was a blend of loose tobacco that was sold in small white bags and used by those who rolled their own cigarettes. It was THE cowboy cigarette before the Marlboro Man came along smoking pre-rolled filtered cigarettes. It doesn’t seem quite as masculine when you think of it that way.

Anyway, instead of writing a post about a number of subjects, I’ve ended up writing about the title. Perhaps I can do a Part 2 that isn’t just about one thing. Not that this post is.

Rainy Day

Gray rainy day
Gray rainy day

For the most part this has been a dismal day when it comes to weather. I had to go out for a short shopping expedition this morning. When I pulled into a parking lot I decided to take a picture through the windshield to record just how bad it was. The location didn’t offer any cheer either. I decided to grayscale the picture and use it. Nothing has been lost by removing the small amount of color.

I’m submitting this picture to Leanne Cole’s Monochrome Madness this week. I suppose I’m doing it to show people around the world just how depressing it can be in Indiana. Sigh. Remember to check out all of the lovely photos featured there. You can ignore this one.


It isn’t easy finding something cheery to write about on a day like this. In fact, finding any theme at all is difficult. Let me look through my notes…

Here is an idea about the multi-verse that I may expand on at some point. First I need to come up with the language to make it understandable. What if all of the stories in historical fiction were actually windows into other realities? For instance, all of the stories about World War II were reality in other dimensions. Perhaps there could even be overlap with The Dirty Dozen and From Here To Eternity being real history in another space/timeline. World War II would be a multi-universal nexus where all of these stories intersect. So I admit that this idea came to me the other morning while I was still in bed and hadn’t had my first cup of coffee. I think that Fritz Leiber could have taken this idea and run with it.

OK, something else. The other day on some newsy type TV show I heard a U.S. Congressman use the phrase, “thoughtful debate in Congress.” That one brought a smile to my lips. I was amazed that the moderator and panel members were able to suppress laughs.

I also heard a woman who was being interviewed for a news story say something about, “God proved to be faithful to us.” I guess that I always believed that it was supposed to be the other way around. But I haven’t been to church in a long time, so I may have misremembered the concept.

I hope that you’ve had a cheerier day.

Another spelling bee

Out the window
Out the window

We are getting a heavy snowfall this morning. It has tapered off a bit since I took this picture through the window in our office, and of course there is more light now. Also, having a screen on the window that I’m shooting through causes a lack of clarity. But it is still a better picture than I could take if I went outside. This angle, for one thing, would be impossible to get unless I set up a ladder and climbed onto the snow-covered roof. I’m not going to do that.


Yesterday was the 25th annual Spelling Bee for Literacy in Lafayette. Once again Cindy was the Stage Director while I sat in the audience and enjoyed the bee. It seems like a fair division of labor to me. I made a few notes on things that I thought about while there.

I noticed that a few people, all females and mostly young, hold their hands in what seems an awkward position while standing at the microphone and spelling. They put their weight on the balls of their feet, hold their arms down straight, and splay their hands while bending their wrists upward. I’m sure that they don’t realize that they are doing it. Perhaps it has something to do with nervousness; but that’s mere speculation on my part.

There were a number of Purdue University football players participating; more than in any previous year. I applaud them for taking part in such a worthy undertaking. Before the bee began, they all went on-stage and invited everyone to come up to have pictures taken with them. That was cool for the kids and more than a few of the adults. I was going to say something smart alecky about them because they are from Purdue after all, but that wouldn’t fit into the spirit of this paragraph.

I found out that I have been mispronouncing mellifluous. For some reason I have been pronouncing the word as if the final “l” was reversed with the first “u”. I feel so silly, and I know that it will be difficult for me to break the habit.

One other thing happened before the bee began. I was talking with a person whom I hadn’t seen or talked to for quite some time. I was talking about blogging and following other blogs. I was trying to explain the variety of blogs that are available to read, and after telling him the types that I follow, I came upon a visual explanation. I told him that the blogs that are on my reading list are like riders on a bus. There are similarities among the other riders, but they are all different.

Words and pictures

Arizona 8/24/2014
Arizona 8/24/2014

I didn’t submit any of the pictures that I took while on vacation for Leanne Cole’s Monochrome Madness posts. http://leannecolephotography.com I worked on a couple of pictures to use, but I didn’t like how either of them turned out, so I held off. Today it occurred to me the real reason I chose not to submit a picture. Let me try to explain it to you so that you understand the way my mind works.

First, for me, the words are more important to my blog posts than the image is. I know that it doesn’t always seem that way, but I do fancy that my writing is better than my photography. Feel free to disagree and my feelings won’t be hurt.

Second, there’s a quirk that I have. I feel (not think) that color photos have a sense of immediacy while monochrome photos are more about contemplation. I’ve never read that anywhere and I have nothing scientific to back it up; it is just the way that I view pictures.

For my vacation posts, I decided to use a picture each day that visually said something about that day. That meant that I would use a color photograph because I wanted to say, “This is now.” So that meant I would not submit a vacation photo for Monochrome Madness while those posts were running. Vacation is over and now I can look back and ponder some of the pictures I took. I can grayscale a few of them and look at them in a different way.

And now for a confession. I’ve identified this photo as being in Arizona. I’m not certain that it is in Arizona. We traveled from New Mexico through Arizona, Utah and into Nevada on that day. This picture was taken from a moving car, which meant that Cindy was driving, and that narrows it down to New Mexico, Arizona or a small part of Utah. I’m 80% sure that I took this picture with my cell phone while we were in Arizona. I’m sorry if I am wrong.

Classical Gasbag – The Lost Posts 1

That's a long driveway
That’s a long driveway

If you enlarge this photo, you may be able to make out the house and barn setting back in the trees.  I’m glad that I don’t have to clear the snow from that driveway in the winter. It is likely that I would remain indoors and wait for the spring thaw.


Today’s post is made up of snippets of drafts I started, but never finished. This will give me the opportunity to clear out some things in my draft file that would, otherwise, never see the light of day.

First, I want to revisit a topic I first touched on around two years ago (Day 177, I believe). television commercials for catheters. I get the willies just thinking about catheters.

Recently there has been a commercial touting a “virtually pain-free catheter.” Since virtual is not the same as actual, that means that there is pain. I shudder/cringe every time a catheter commercial comes on TV; this commercial makes me laugh nervously.

The other day I saw an even newer commercial that offered the opportunity to send away for a sample pack of a variety of catheters. Boy, that’s just what I want to do! Yes sir, I’ll sample them…when pigs fly.


I heard a term on the news a little while back that I don’t recall hearing before, “The Japanese mainland.” That clanged on my ear because I know that Japan is composed of a group of islands. There is no mainland.

But just to check myself, I went to the font of all knowledge, Wikipedia, and looked up Mainland Japan, and found an entry. It seems that Mainland Japan was a term used fairly commonly before World War II. It referred to the main Japanese Islands. as opposed to Okinawa and Hokkaido. But, the term is seldom used anymore.

This leads me to suspect that the news copy was written by someone who thinks about the past more than I do. And that person thinks even further into the past than I do.


Finally I want to give you the recipe I devised for Pork fries rice. I was messing around in the kitchen one day, and I had a brain flash on making up my own recipe. I tried it, and Cindy liked the result. However, I’m not giving you the recipe because I forgot to write it down, and now it has escaped me. Sorry. It was good.

A minor rant

The corn is growing
The corn is growing

I finally got back to the corn field the other day. The first picture I took of this field appeared in my post on June 9th. As you can see, the crop is up and doing well. You can also probably tell that rain is imminent. Here in the U.S. we always say that the crop will be good if the corn is knee-high on the Fourth of July. It isn’t the fourth yet, and the corn is more than head high…unless you are very tall. I’ll be going back to check on the corn at least twice more this year. I think this is better than watching paint dry.


I follow less than two dozen blogs. I seldom see only one post and then start following the blog. I normally read a number of posts first. I try to choose carefully, and tend to select blogs that are challenging, or are very visual, or are funny. Those are the things that I look for. With one or two exceptions I also choose blogs where vulgarity is an exception rather than a rule. It’s just my choice. The older I get (or perhaps, the more mature I become), the less enchanting I find the use of crude language.

So I was surprised the other day when a comment to a post in one of my favorite blogs included a word that describes the scat of a male bovine. How indelicate, thought I. Why would you choose that word over “bushwa?” Both terms have two syllables, so they can be said equally quickly. And “bushwa” has fewer character strokes, so it can be keyboarded faster. Was the other word used for shock purposes only?

Perhaps English was not the writer’s native language. A smaller vocabulary might result in word usage picked up from watching American and British movies or listening to some songs. But that’s just speculation on my part.

I have no complaint with the original blog, I still look forward to future posts. The comment’s language was an aberration, so I feel secure that my sensibilities won’t be trod upon in the future. I just felt that I wanted to discuss the matter. Little things mean a lot.

Addendum: I know I sound like a goody-two-shoes in the above. I’ll admit that I curse occasionally, but I don’t do it for public display. When I curse I am alone, or occasionally, with Cindy. There are always other words that can be used, unless you want to cause offense.