I Can’t Be Satisfied


A bit of a rant today. I’m working on a massive spreadsheet. I started working on it with my laptop but it was kind of…wonky. Pasting items into cells was a little clumsy for some reason. Old man hands on a cramped keyboard might have been part of the problem. So once again I brought up the old computer, knowing that with its big ergonomic keyboard and big monitor it might work better. And it did.

Last night I woke up at around 2:30 and man, I was wide awake (time again for another sleep disorder post?). This happens to me way too often but rather than waste an hour or two just tossing and turning I got up and turned on the computer. I didn’t play any music so as not to wake my wife so for once I could hear any device noise in the office. And that computer was making some disturbing ones. There’s a noise that a hard drive makes when it’s worn to shreds, a particular groan/grind that I know all too well. So I spent my wide awake time backing up all the important files and eventually went back to bed.

About an hour ago I was hard at work and I noticed that some Windows functions weren’t working. It was getting impossible to access the Start menu for one thing. I can take a hint. I again backed up my work onto a flash drive and disconnected that traitorous sonofabitch as quickly as possible. It’s still in the man cave but it’ll be back downstairs before sundown. I am back on the laptop. If the keyboard gives me too much trouble I’ll just have to cowboy up and bear with it. There’s no doubt I dodged a bullet. Now I’ll just have to cross my fingers that this somewhat old laptop hangs in there.

Here’s some Muddy to cleanse your palate.


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Caturday – I’ll Be Right Back


I’ve been away from the blog for awhile trying to get my head around a large work project. It usually takes me awhile to catch fire on these things. As I have noted here before, I’m pretty much an attention-deficit scatter brain. When I’m working on something tedious (and believe me, this is that) my attention span is that of a golden retriever. Everywhere there be squirrels.

There’s been a few other things going on. On Thursday we had to drive to Bismarck for a funeral. The service was for the matriarch of a family that lived on the same street as my wife’s family. My wife and her sister both felt their attendance was required, especially since the daughter of the deceased flew up from Georgia for their own mother’s funeral last summer. So we drove down to Bismarck and the SiL flew in from California. They knew quite a few of the extended family and we stayed well after the service.

Today I will have to abandon work and set up some Halloween decorations. I had to buy more orange lights for our shrubs outside because those cheap Target strings are only good for a few seasons and I threw away several last year. So today I’ll string those on the shrubs, set up supports for the Christmas flamingo (the ground will soon freeze), and bring in the lawn furniture. I should swap out the screens in the storm doors for the glass panels but my wife will freak out. Her need for fresh air is insatiable. Yeah, that works real well in the winter.

The cats in the photo above are Amy and Sansa. They tend to collect in Carjo’s office in the afternoon if the weather is a little chilly. The hideous carpet is a result of a chihuahua with bladder control problems. I’m real fucking thrilled about that but there’s nothing that can be done until we replace it. Such is life with pets.

Have a good weekend and I’ll be back next week.

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Caturday – Oh, You Got to Be Kiddin’ Me!


We had snow this morning. In the pictures above, Joffrey appears to be saying, “Oh, hell no!” And yes, he’s inside now, warm and sound asleep.

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A Foretaste of the Feast to Come


Yesterday we drove to Minot. Just as we returned home the four-letter s-word started. The actual snowfall was light. But the high winds were intolerable. Clearing the deck of lawn furniture wasn’t a high priority.

This morning the dogs did their business and went straight back to bed. Half the cats decided they’d try it, the rest said “oh screw this, wake me up when it melts. Or next April.” At last count, only one cat is out and I expect her to come pawing at the sliding glass door soon enough.

It will melt by tomorrow and next week we’ll be back in the fifties. We’ll consider this one just a warning from the Gods of Winter, a sample of what’s to come. I’ll put the lawn furniture inside tomorrow.

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A Previous History of Disorganization


I am not a member of any organized party — I am a Democrat. – Will Rogers

Last week Warren Beatty’s Reds was on Turner Classic Movies. I don’t think I’ve seen it since the 80s. I do remember seeing it in a theater during its first run. It truly is an exceptional film, an epic with an extraordinary amount of heft. Particularly interesting are the “Witnesses”, radicals from back in the day who remember the movement, who knew the principals, and had their hearts broken.

I find one part of the film a perfect example of how the American Left functions. Beatty’s character John Reed attends the 1919 convention of the US National Socialists. The convention turn riotous, splitting dissenters into the Communist Labor Party of America and the Communist Party of America. Or in terms a Monty Python fan would understand: the Judean People’s Front and the People’s Front of Judea. Yep, that’s pretty much the American Left as I know it.

There is an episode of The West Wing where Toby was dispatched to a demonstration against the World Bank. He’s accompanied by the Capital police just to make sure he’s not torn to pieces. As I remember it he assures the police that nothing is going to happen. He takes a newspaper, walks to the center of the stage, and tells them to pick a spokesperson. Chaos ensues and Toby takes to a folding chair where he reads a newspaper, uninterrupted.

Sometime in the early 80s my wife and I were regulars at North Dakota Farmers Union conventions. The Farmers Union had some pretty radical roots back in my grandparents’ time but it had soothed a bit by the 80s. Still, these were big affairs, bringing in thousands of earnest farmers to Bismarck or Fargo or Minot, eager to see friends and talk. And argue.

The debates over the platform were the source of any contention. The platform of the NDFU was always a bit of a windmill tilt. They could muscle through agricultural reform in the state legislature but anything beyond that didn’t stand the chance of an ice cube in Hell. Nonetheless, each platform plank was pursued with a progressive vigor that would have pleased Roosevelt (either one). This one particular year I remember a heated debate about getting a plank in the platform asking for a Palestinian homeland. That was pretty far out there. But then came the abortion plank fight. This was when the anti-abortion movement was really getting moving, when hypocrites like Jerry Falwell began beating the drum. And somehow, it stirred up enough Catholic farmers that we were staring at a “life begins at conception” plank in the platform.

For a full hour this thing got beat around and finally there was an emotional surge to get it on the platform. And fifteen minutes later an emotional surge took it off. My wife wondered aloud why this was even part of the platform when farms were being auctioned off right and left. You were correct my dear. We fight, we bicker, we splinter, we have the message discipline of a kindergarten class.

I suspect it is because when you get to the outside of either the right or left, you get to the idealists. Now until recently, the Republicans ran a pretty good job of exploiting the idealists. They’d allow crazy shit into their national platform, make occasional legislative nods to their agenda (but nothing so severe that the Democrats would rise in revolt). The plan was always use the fundamentalists to get elected and then go back to serving the interests of the oligarchs and corporations.

Now of course the far right has finally figured it out and rejected the establishment candidates in favor of an outsider. He’s an outsider that will sell his own followers down the river in a heartbeat, a con man who is only in it for his own brand. If you think he cares one wit about guns or babies you’re fooling yourselves yet again. But once again, the right is marching in lockstep.

The left is, as always, screwing itself. The candidate is admittedly less than spectacular, less charismatic than her predecessors and often shooting herself in the foot (though not as prone to as the traffic cone with a comb-over she’s running against). But the Feel-the-Bern millennials and others on the left are twisting their panties with a passion not seen since McGovern. I loved George McGovern but he didn’t have a chance in hell. Maybe that was the campaign that made me a young pragmatist. But regardless of that, idealists bore the daylights out of me.

They talk of protest votes, they talk of principles, they talk of feelings. Just like in the movie Reds.

We’re looking at the most dangerous candidate we have seen in modern history. And still principled idealists talk about being butthurt at the Democratic convention and maybe it’s better that Trump were elected so the system can burn down and then rebuilt. No. I heard that argument made for Nader in 2000 and look where that narcissist’s futile campaign led us.

I wish that the progressives in America would take a disciplined stand. We did in North Dakota back in the early part of the last century. My grandparents were part of that movement. The Bank of North Dakota and the ND State Mill still exist; socialist landmarks in a red state. It can be done.

But it won’t. And that’s why the most second most tragic moment of Reds is the convention of 1919. Will Rogers will never be proven wrong.

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Caturday – Enjoy These Days

It’s a sunny fall day. The female cats tend to gather on the deck in the afternoon, enjoying the sun together. Then Joffrey showed up, the three females went “oh gross, boy germs”, and they all took off. Or they got distracted by a bird. It’s hard to tell with cats.

Have a good weekend.

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Sort of How I Spent My Summer


It turned out that I got quite a bit read this summer. John Scalzi’s The Last Colony, two of Stross’s Laundry Files books, a manual on the Steampunk movement, re-read The Magicians, Daniel Abraham’s splendid closer to the Dagger and Coin series, and a re-read of Roger Zelazny’s Lord of Light (that’s practically an annual thing).

Right now I’m blitzing through Tobias Buckell’s Caribbean-flavored space opera Ragamuffin. Then I’ve got George Mann’s steampunk/zombie epic The Affinity Bridge, Hunter Davis’ biography of The Beatles, Ian M Banks second to last Culture book Surface Detail, and Charlie Stross’s The Apocalypse Codex from his Laundry Files series. I’ll finish them all before Thanksgiving. Oh, and I’m re-reading the Harry Potter books and trying to study Tolkien’s Silmarillion. Life is good, at least in terms of consumption of the written word. Busy but good.

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