Friday Frivolity: un-canned SPAM

I received a SPAM e-mail the other day.  Even though such mail irritates many people, there’s not much that can be done.  Yeah, most e-mail providers have junk mail detectors, but every day phishers and scammers are finding ways to sneak around the filters.  The law isn’t much help either.  The CAN SPAM Act of 2003 makes the practice legal.  No, I’m not making that up and the Act is not relevant to legalizing the canning of a meat product.

I’ll admit that I don’t peruse e-mail that gets routed to my Junk mail box.  But memos in my Inbox at least get a quick look as long as they have a Subject.  The Subject of the particular memo I mentioned above was “USPS Delivery Failure Notice”.  Considering the volume of packages we ship and receive, I considered it plausible.

Considering the severely limited volume of my instinctive brain cells, it is equally plausible that I glanced at the content of that memo.

It was actually quite well contrived.  The USPS logo was certainly authentic appearing.  Yet, the very sight of “USPS” in the header of an e-mail did seem inappropriate, if not counterproductive.   Regardless of deficiencies in my intuition, skepticism is my insurance policy.  Regardless of the potential for one of our packages being stranded somewhere, such a Failure Notice would be in my roadside mailbox, not delivered through cyberspace.  I quickly resolved that I would not click on anything but my tongue…and to report it as SPAM.

But before I deleted it, I did read on.  The first sentence also provided conclusive doubt to the legitimacy of the notice.  It stated they “…couldn’t deliver to you address.”   I didn’t click the link to discover what they’er…I mean, their reason for the failure to deliver.  I was quite certain it would be equally ungrammatical if not totally illogical.

Yet, the longer I stared at the memo, the more my mind attempted to construct what might have been behind the link.  My imagination conjured up………

You’re package is being held do to wrong address information.  The contense of the package only reviled your e-mail address.  Please send additional $25 for extra handlings and good address.  Credit Cards accepted.

No, no, that’s not it.  This is much more enticing……  Were working for Ed McMahon.  He is supposed to deliver a Million-Dollars to you, but Publishers Cleaning House had the wrong address.  It is too risqué to try to deliver it again.  Please give us you bank account number and we will deposit the money.  

Okay, that’s enough fun for now.  I sure don’t want you to think this is SPAM.

Friday Frivolity: Soup for Lunch

[This story is one of 30 in my Laughing in Stitches book.  “…Stitches”, as well as “Laughing at Life” and “Laughing while Shopping” are  available for $8 each—plus postage.  Please order direct from me;]

Once, shortly after we were married, Sue was ill.  Earnestly desiring to impress her with my care giving, I wandered into the kitchen to fix her lunch.

I say “wandered” as the kitchen is a strange land for me to visit without a guide.  In my basement workroom, I can locate hand tools with my eyes shut, find the appropriate fastener with the proficiency of a voice-activated robot, and know where every power tool is stored.  That is my homeland.

The kitchen is across the border.  Regardless that the instructional words on cans, boxes and documents in the kitchen appear to be in English, I am unable to properly translate the subtle variances of stir, mix, blend and fold.  Oh, but I’ve got “beat” quite clear in my mind.  Yeaaah…the difference between beat and whoop are visually acute in my masculine mind.  However, to my mind, the kitchen instruction to “beat” is in an ambiguous category with whip, puree and whisk.  (Though at one time, I thought whisking was what my mom did to me, with a broom, when she wanted me out of her kitchen.)

Considering that Sue—border guard, guide and translator, was languishing in bed, I needed to fix something I was familiar with.  Soup and fruit seemed like a good choice.  Fruit was quite easy.  Get out the trusty “never-needs-sharpening-slice-everything-effortlessly” knife and whack away.  Wow, it really looked easy on TV.

After I put on a band-aid and tossed out the red-blotched banana pieces, I took a much slower approach to the apple.  Even if not picture-perfect slicing and dicing, fruit-cutting was completed without further mishap.

Soup is not particularly challenging to me.  The Campbell kids often join me for lunch.  They are advocates of my open, heat, and eat protocol.

I was one proud guy to escape the kitchen without a fire or bloody stub—the cut should heal sooner than the burn.  Do you know how fast water boils in a dish rag mopping up a little spill on a glass-top burner?

My task of fixing lunch for my ailing wife was complete.  I even made a delectable-looking arrangement on the tray with the fruit, crackers, and some cheese.  Then, with the decorum of Jeeves, and a chest rivaling a ruffed grouse, I strutted into the bedroom with her lunch.

She was so grateful.

Initially, anyway.

Upon sampling the tomato soup she inquired as to what I had used to dilute it.

I proudly responded, “Dilute it?  Oh, no,  dear, I didn’t water it down.”

“Then how much milk did you use?”

“Ahhhh, milk?  I didn’t use milk, either.  I didn’t want to weaken the soup, hon.  You need all the nutrients you can get from each spoonful.”

She quickly rose up in bed.  I was quite amazed that only one spoonful of soup would result in such expedience in her recovery.

“What part of concentrate don’t you understand?”

“Concentrate?  On what?” I meekly offered as the air noticeably hissed from my deflating chest.

“Concentrate on what it says on the label.  Dilute with one can of milk.”

Well, that was it.  No more kitchen privileges for me.  At least not unsupervised.

Sue’s in control of the kitchen.  I cook outside.  Fewer dials, settings, and no recipes to follow.  Toss it on, keep the flash fires under control, and pull it off while the meat’s still limber enough to chew.  That’s about all the cookin’ I can be trusted with.

Friday Frivolity: Snow Blitzness

Polar Vortex.  Who came up with the idea of renaming “Cold as a witches…”?  Really?  Vortex? Isn’t that what forms in the toilet drain.  Okay, so maybe in the sink.  But who thinks of vortex as a descriptive of cold—not to mention that we are nowhere near either pole.

Why do we have to give cold weather a new name?  What temperature warrants cold front?  Progressing then to wind-chill,  eventually upgraded …or downgraded as the case must be…to Polar Vortex.  But, hold on!  Weather broadcasters are meeting as I write.  They might just be considering of a new classification.  At some point the vortex must most surely become a Polarnado?

Foolishness if you ask me.  And even if you didn’t ask me—why is it necessary to re-categorize “Baby, it’s cold outside”.  Oh, wait.  Now I know.  There’s been recent revelations of risqué thoughts in that phrase.

Regardless of classification, the temps and snow of this past week were not the coldest weather or the biggest snow storm I have experienced. I remember ice skating in the street as an adolescent and shoveling through snow drifts that were taller than I was in high school.  Okay, so the shovel was taller than I was back then.

And speaking of shoveling snow.  I don’t have to shovel now.  I own a snow blower.  Unfortunately, my mighty blower does not have sufficient thrust to overcome nor-easters if I push it southwest.  One pass in the wrong direction down my drive reminded me of some rules of snow-engagement — as well as a time a few years ago when I shoveled my drive.  Here’s the tale from 2014 that came to mind.

Lesson number one: Do not pitch fluffy snow into gusty wind.  Even worse, do not spit into gusty -20 wind chill.  Crystallized spittle at 30 knots will sting.  Yeah, I know, don’t spit into the wind is as axiomatic as don’t squat with your spurs on.  My only excuse is retarded brain waves at 10 below.

Immediately following the above lesson came number 2.  Go into the garage to wipe ice shards from your face.  The handkerchief may have retained moisture from previous use and said moisture may have retained heat while in the pocket next to your leg.  Did I mention 25 mph wind at 10 below?  That’s somewhat comparable to a liquid nitrogen blast.  I didn’t think cloth could freeze quite so quickly.

These were experiences during my  6th pass of clearing the driveway of one foot of snowfall.  Considering that wind-driven snow seeks refuge at the lee side of my garage (also known as vehicle entrances) clearing that portion of the drive resulted in a 7-foot pile.  I was quite proud of that accumulation from my labors.  There were just a few more shovel-fulls to top it off…which segues to my last lesson.

From the lee side of a 7-foot pile, do not attempt to toss snow over it.   It is virtually impossible to predict the swirling pattern on the windward side until the snow leaves the shovel.  The odds are not in your favor that the discharge will be vacuumed away from you.  Au contraire.  The physics of why snow swirls behind a van will become very apparent.

One final suggestion.  Feed the birds before shoveling snow.  If they opt to stay huddled and puffed up in the trees, rather than dining at the feeder, do not go outside to shovel snow.

Friday Frivolity: Caution…may be silly

Recently we put away our Christmas decorations.  It was not the first time I noticed a particular tag, but the “Caution…” did remind me of several similarly head-scratching notices.  This tag on a string of Christmas lights reminded me that they are  For indoor or outdoor use ONLY

Really?  Where else might I be tempted to put them…in my stomach?

Usually such warnings are the result of the company being sued.  In the case of my string of lights, I can only imagine the plaintiff being a druggie putting them in an orifice to warm up his cold fanny. 

I know my lawn mower warns that human toes are comparable to dandelion stalks as far as the whirring blade is concerned. I suppose that notification is for any person who is lack-toes intolerant.

 And speaking of intolerance, food products have the most prevalent, questionably relevant, warnings.  Made with artificial and natural flavors is a common disclaimer that boggles my palate. Does this mean my tongue might actually taste the devil in his namesake cake?  If that’s possible, then is Satan, or Ghouls and Goblins may be involved in transporting water that is Untouched by human hands?  Oh, and just in case you were not aware, cans of BumbleBee Albacore alert you: CONTAINS: TUNA.  …as opposed to fat fuzzy insects?

 Medical warnings so often boggle my mind that I rarely pay much attention to them. That was unfortunate for me recently.  Before going to bed I popped a handful of my nighttime medications, plus one new one.  I did so without reading the cautions which undoubtedly were on the pharmacy’s prescription documents. 

 When I began dressing in the morning, I actually put my underwear on backwards—which incidentally comes in a zip-lock storage bag.  Why?  Trust me, there are no “transferable” odors in the drawer that might contaminate my drawers.  Anyway, said zip-lock baggie had no warning label to the possibility of me dressing backwards. Coincident with my brief disorientation, I did experience some longer lasting difficulties with orientation.  Come to find out, my sleeping pill  may cause drowsiness. 

Though I am mocking some of the foolishness behind such warnings, I do know there are some labels that probably have a “reasonable” basis.  However, legalities aside, I can only wonder how the “Law”is ever going to know that my wife removes the tags which red-letter admonish—Do not remove…penalty of Law.  She rips them off before I can read why it’s the law to leave them on our pillows.

WAIT, here’s one last warning tag line.  If you tattle on her, the bird of paradise… 

Friday Frivolity: Significant Impact

There are times when brothers question each other about remembering times from long ago.  It is often quite amusing how each of my brothers often have varying opinions about details of things that happened in our MUCH younger years.

Recently, my youngest sibling asked questions regarding things which happened during the late 1950’s.  Neither of his older brother’s had clear memories from that era, especially with regard to who slept in what bed—3 boys, one bedroom.  Middle-brother, known as ‘bama Bob, admits his memory of the 50’s is poor.  That’s excusable because he was quite young at that time.  My memory of the 50’s is excusable because I’m quite old, now.

However foggy some memories are, it is true there are some specific events of that era which are clear in my mind…mostly because of the significant impact on my life.  Allow me to share two of such significant events.

I recall pounding in a tent-peg at Boy Scout Jamboree, waaaay back when.  The significant impact of that occurrence was not camping at the historic Valley Forge.  Rather, it was when the blade of the peg-pounding hatched and impacted my knee.

I’m not going to brag about my Scout First-aid training kicking quickly into gear.  Rather than instant recall of quick-response training, it was pain and gushing blood that initiated hands on the  pressure point of the wound, screams of 911 (albeit before 911) and “stop-drop-and-roll.”

Wait! That’s what you do if you’re on fire, not bleeding from a gash in the knee.  But, roll is exactly what I remember doing.

That’s the first time I remember riding in an ambulance…that is, if you can call a WWII Jeep and stretcher an ambulance.  No siren, just me screaming.  I was too young to contemplate being macho and morphine was not an option at a Boy Scout camp.  Okay, so a siren was not necessary.  It was not a life threatening situation and siren-clearing speed was not needed.

Fact is, speeding across a campground in a jeep would only have only added to the discomfort. As it was, I did get a sense of what it might have been like for General Washington’s chuck-wagon cook delivering dinner to the troops.  It sure felt like we drove the full length of Valley Forge to get to the MASH tent.  A few stitches, more gauze and bandage than a total knee replacement would get today, and my Jamboree was over.

Also in the 50s, the second “significant impact” on my life was my chest against tree roots at Moore’s Park.  For those unfamiliar with the Lansing area, Moore’s Park was the sight of a very popular public swimming pool and adjacent picnic grounds along the Grand River.  It was also close enough to my home to ride my bike there.

My best friend at that time bet me a dream-scicle I wouldn’t dare ride my bike down a steep hill next to the pool.  It was his second bet with me that very afternoon.  Hey, I had not drowned following a plunge off the 10 meter platform on an earlier bet, so I figured my luck would hold out.  Enticing me to race down the hill was kinda double-or-nothing for him.  For me…I thought it was a sure bet of refreshment. Off I went.

Do you know the rate of deceleration of a bicycle wheel in a sand trap?  Don’t bother with the formula.  The short answer is—sudden.  Suddenly, my handlebars blurred below my chin and I launched like superman without a cape.  But, I was not airborne for long.  The formula for rate-of-decent isn’t necessary.  Impact with the root strewn hill was quite soon.  Momentum lasted much longer.  Long is also descriptive of the skid marks on my bare chest.

I don’t remember actually “bleeding”, but the etchings of the roots, rocks, and rough ground were certainly crimson over 100% of my chest.  It was a small chest.  Okay, so maybe it was just 50%.  But some of the scrapes did extent to my abdomen and thighs if that helps to prove this event had a significant impact.

Friday Frivolity: Boy to Man

I recently attained the age of 75.  I say attained because turning implies some semblance of control.  Not that I have totally lost control of the muscles required for turning, yet there is most certainly a reason I no longer attempt skate-boarding.

Some might say I have reached 75.  Considering the inference that reaching includes mentally grasping , my ability to grasp anything as fleeting as age,…well…let’s just say I celebrated my seventy-fifth completed year of life.

Often during such annual celebrations, I am asked to recall memorable moments from years gone by.  Not so this year.  No one actually asked me to reminisce about my maturating process over the past 75 years.  Most likely because no one actually considers that I have done all that much maturing.  As a boy, I couldn’t wait to “grow up.”  My dad had that same sentiment, but I think he had a totally different context to his all too frequent question; “Son, will you ever grow up?”

I have a very sneaky alter ego which often lures me to severe regressions in age.  Boys desire to become men.  Men realize there is always a boy tempting them to think and act much younger.  At 75, thinking young is diametrically opposed to attempting to accomplish youthful acts.  It’s not just my alter ego which is frequently bruised.

With regard to bruising, I believe the major difference between boys and men is that boys consider such skin discoloration as some sort of machismo validation.  Men, on the other hand, are only embarrassed to tell how they unwittingly collided with some solid object.  For me, that object is often the earth while playing a boys game.  At 65 I began stumbling over first base.  At 70 my feet could not keep up with my nose about half way to first base.  If I was still playing, I’d bet I’d never get out of the batters box.

Another aspect of the variance between boys and men is sex.  Research suggests that boys reach their peak of sexual interest between 10 and 20—men hit their peak about 10:20 in the evening.  As a boy, I never contemplated my parents in a sexual situation.  However, I suspect my parents did wonder if they should have contemplated that aspect of life more thoroughly before one particular sexual situation.  Don’t misunderstand me.  I never heard either of my parents disparage my birth.  Of course, they did often mitigate my actions with consideration that I was in fact born on Halloween.

One last thought that passed through my mind during the day of my birth celebration:  I distinctly remember wearing “hand-me-down” clothing from my cousin.  Frankie lived in Texas. As far as clothing styles go, Texans were far ahead of Michiganders.  Frankie’s growth spurts were ahead of mine so his outgrown clothing became my avant-garde supply chain.

Oh, boy, when he sent me khakis with a buckle in the back, I was instantly in the totally hip group. Unfortunately, regardless of what pants I wore, being a nerdy pip-squeak soon exiled me from hip-cat clique.  Ah, but I did get to wear clothing that fit my desired personality.

Contrary to my youthful desires to wear clothing that fit my personality, as a man I just hope the clothes in my closet today will fit next year.  No longer do I have pants with a stylish buckle in the back.  Lately, about the only belt I can still buckle is in the car.  I don’t know what brand of soap Sue uses, but my pants are tightening up faster than shrink-wrap in the desert.

Aging from boy to man is a gradual process and one which often provides benchmarks to revisit,

Friday Frivolity: Detection versus Intimidation

Driving throughout our wonderful country, I often notice great variances of how jurisdictions differ in enforcing the speed limit laws.  In particular, how speed is monitored.

Sometimes there were signs warning me such “observation” was possibly taking place and sometimes I did notice actual “observers”.  Though monitoring speed might have occurred, rarely did I see any evidence of detection—as in “I pulled you over because I detected you violating the speed limit.”  Most of the officers in those cars seemed preoccupied with such things as books, sandwiches or phones — distracted for sure, but the vehicle was not moving

Oh, sure, there were many times when I spotted police vehicles actually “monitoring” traffic.  Usually they were strategically parked in the median.  I say strategically, because I suspected the ploy was to be intimidating rather than enforcing.  There were far more instances of patrol cars clearly evident, rather than the “hiding in the weeds” speed trap.

Part of my intimidation-not-enforcement supposition is founded on my van being slower than most other vehicles, which were passing said stationed police presence, AND I WAS SPEEDING (excuse: to forego being a traffic hazard at the posted limit).  However, there were no pulled over cars in the vicinity. Thus, I concluded such intimidation tactics weren’t worth the price of idling engines.

Of course, signs are not particularly intimidating either.

Aircraft are monitory your speed in this area.  …After dark?

Without a doubt, such aircraft can detect my speed, but what are they going to do, drop a “paint ball bomb” to tag my car?  Even in broad daylight…regardless of whatever delineates “broad” about certain daylight conditions…I have witnessed overhead aircraft AND excessive speeding in the area, but no violator ever pulled over.  I’d be willing to bet, no speed-policing-by-air has produced fines sufficient to pay for the warning signs much less the fuel to keep the plane aloft.

I do have a friend who once piloted a police chopper and he admitted there was no clear protocol of how he was to stop a speeder.  He supposed it was NOT to spear the tail pipe with the chopper’s landing rails. I suggested maybe that hovering low, in front of a speeding vehicle, would get the point across rather vividly.  He suggested I had watched way too many 007 movies.  He feared that if he was to try this tactic, he’d likely hover backwards into the rear of a semi.

In Georgia, I recall seeing a sign I’ve not witnessed elsewhere.  SPEED CHECKED BY DETECTING DEVICES     Wow!  Does that mean there are methods other than devices.  Emergency rooms are full of humans who were woefully inept at judging the speed of something  thrown at them.  Does that mean they are no longer utilizing overhead geese?

Detecting Devices?  Really?   Considering as much road kill as I’ve seen, I’d suggest that animals are not particularly adept at speed checking.  So what is left but devices?   I imagine the wording of the sign is to replace “radar” and now include checking my speed by satellite.  After all, my GPS reports my speed in red when my vehicle exceeds the local limit.  I can only wonder when a law will be enacted to allow my GPS to “DETECT AND REPORT” my vehicle to local authorities whenever it surpasses the speed limit.  You will clearly notice the use of “my vehicle” rather than infer that “I” might ever be guilty.

Nevertheless, until the time such a law is passed, the signs and strategically place police cars are hardly intimidating. Until motorists actually witness hordes of violators being pulled over, intimidation will continue to be ineffective.  Whenever my mom waved her hand as a SIGN of potential punishment for my misbehaving, I knew full well I had been detected. Trust me…violators were prosecuted.  That’s truly how intimidation works.

Friday Frivolity: Give and Take

Typically, the phrase “Give and Take” refers to a negotiation.  It is not referring to one person giving and the other taking.  Rather, it’s trying to reach an agreement by each person giving a little as they gain a little.  Also related to trade offs.

As is my norm, I contemplated the usage of the words give and take, rather than that particular phrase.  This isn’t a grammar class, so disregard the dictionary.  Think usage.  I’m a bit surprised by my mental wanderings into phrases that use the word “give”.  Though it is the season for giving, that is not where my usage surprise came from.

Aside from “gifts”, I am more likely to give someone a hard time. I’ve been accused of giving someone a cold.  Almost everyone is prone to give advice and unfortunately, giving heartache is all too frequent.  Even though Rhett Butler withholds giving a damn, it’s still a negative. And, I think you would admit that  really giving it  to someone has adverse connotations.

Also, almost always in adverse situations, we can give in, give out, and give up — why we never give down does baffle me.  Lastly, at least according to Sue and Amara, I am often in compliance with my degree from snot-dom U.  I seem to be predisposed to give satirical stabs.

So, I could conclude that we “give” bad things.  Conversely, it seems like we “take” good things.  Taking a break is a welcome respite from difficult tasks.  And if the break results in taking a nap, so much the better.  Of course extended breaks, commonly known as taking a vacation, is a good thing.

Additional good things would be to take heart…figuratively of course.  When things are not going so well for us, others advise us to take solace,  …a deep breath, or their advice (which they freely gave, yet we don’t particularly want to take).

We take medicine for our own good, if not protection.  Also for our protection we take steps,  … an umbrella, take shelter …while the storm takes its toll.

Finally, someone taking from you is certainly not for your good.  Let’s not be confused, when someone takes you to the cleaners it’s not for the good of your clothing and if someone takes it out on you, I’ll bet the it is not for your good.

So, most of the time we give bad stuff and take that which is good for us.  I hope Christmas reverses all of that as you give goodness to others while taking the God’s gift to heart.

Friday Frivolity: Point of View

Seems that most any subject, scene or site has at least two viewpoints.  In many instances, the number of viewpoints is exactly the same as people in the conversation.  Even when it is only Sue and I observing a single sign, she sees it differently than I do.

During one of our recent ventures was to see a particular lighthouse.  Due to the Pacific Ocean and Sue’s aversion to anything larger than a rowboat, we had to approach by land.  Admittedly, some of the waterfalls and lighthouses we’ve journeyed to see have been “remote”.  That is, we travel dirt roads to see rarely visited scenic points of view.

Being strangers to Oregon, we had only our GPS to guide us to this lighthouse.  The GPS seemed reasonable until it directed us to make a left turn.  At the left was a sign: Private Drive.  Sue viewed that sign to mean the GPS was faulty and that a U-turn was in order.  My view was it meant the GPS-advised right turn was further down the road—as in, take a right at the fork in the road we were on, then I presumed the road would jog left toward the Pacific Ocean.

Soon after turning right, (Okay, so it wasn’t actually a “fork” in the road), the road narrowed…then became dirt…then angled to the left…finally becoming just a driveway.  After passing through bushes brushing the sides of our car, I could not see any reason to proceed.

Needless to say, Sue’s point of view reached that conclusion 2 miles back.  The driveway abruptly ended in the lawn (Okay, treeless field) of an abandoned building.  Certainly, it was not the lighthouse.  Actually, thinking back, I don’t recall seeing electrical power lines or even a two-track right-of-way to the building.

Driving in reverse via mirrors and a rear-view dash screen is tricky.  Sue pointed out the obvious.  Even if the rear viewpoint seemed to be on the road, Sue view-pointed out the driver-side mirror, door handle and probably chrome strip were harvesting raspberries—including large strands of vine.

Eventually I did find a driveway to back into and turn around.  In backtracking, by chance not GPS, we did eventually find the lighthouse.  We had a similar road trip to a waterfall in Idaho.  Well, at least we started the journey in Idaho.  For this excursion we used both GPS and a description from a travel guide book.

This time the directions first guided us to a particular “town” on an Idaho State numbered route.  You can’t possibly get lost on a “numbered highway”.  We were seeking the dot on the map which indicated “Nordman”.  As we passed the only building in the last 40 miles…a restaurant… the GPS announced we should make left turn in 100 feet.  Twenty-five yards after turning was a sign “NORDMAN”.  It was pointing left.  I did not turn.

I really don’t care how many people would read that sign, only Power Company vehicles would turn left.  Yes, there was a two-track.  Actually, from my point of view, there weren’t any vehicular tracks recently.  It was a “utility right-of-way”.

We went back to the restaurant.  They proudly announced that we had indeed reached Nordman.  We now had no GPS to assist. No hand held directions available.  Just the authoritative information from the apron clad concierge: Just keep going north on 57.

Several miles up the road we came upon a sign…”WASH”.  I was astounded.  We had not been traveling on any dirt roads except for the 25 yards up the wrong road and in the parking lot, yet this sign intuitively noted the raspberry mottling of our white vehicle.  We did keep going on 57 and eventually found the waterfalls

Returning from the falls, we came upon the vertical sign which had advised we needed a “WASH”.  Ah, but the south-bound viewpoint was significantly different.  It clearly declared “IDAHO”.

And that’s the way it was twisting through the Rockies—maybe some of the time on the same path as Martin & Lewis.  No, Kimberly & Clark.  Ah, no, no, no.  I got it now…Lewis Carroll and Clark Kent.  It all depends on your point of view.

Friday Frivolity: Antiquity

From our AMTRAK suite heading west through Montana, I was not expecting to observe “Antiquity”.  Montana is very up-to-date.  Not “cattle” ranches—Black Angus.  Gone are the double-bottom plows turning over a few acres.  They are replaced by enormous disking implements that need acres to turn around.  Silos next to barns are replaced by elevators next to railroad sidings.  Those silver silos are about the only un-flat viewing in the sprawling flatland of eastern Montana.

I take that back.  There has been several other smaller rises in the rather blasé for scenery.  Junk.

It is amazing to me to see so much scrap metal languishing in the yards of dilapidated buildings. Now, I realize that Michigan has very spacious “Scrap Yards”, some of which specialize in recycling discarded automobiles.  For the most part, those “yards” are in metropolitan areas where it is rather easy for folks to dispose of their junk.  As we travel west on the rails, I haven’t seen any city worthy of “metropolitan” in two days.  So, with most every farmer having a yard big enough to dedicate some of it to a scrap metal repository, there is some reasonability to the frequency of automotive graveyards.

And in most instances of such scenes, there is a rich heritage of the family’s automotive history.  Kinda makes me wonder if there might be annual pilgrimages by the family into the “memorial yard”…A time to wander among 50 years of rust to share memories about grandpa and grandma’s first date in ‘that rumble seat’.  Yes, many of the derelict vehicles I’ve seen today are even back into the 1930’s.

In Michigan such classics would be bid on by dozens of car enthusiasts.  In Montana, I’d bet there are not a dozen enthusiasts in the whole state.  But wait.  Some of these “yards” actually do seem to focus on “antique vehicle collections”.  We did pass one that seemed to be all busses.  At least if you remember when the family station wagon was the bus to school.  Oh, and one was all 1960’s road resurfacing equipment.  Considering most of the roads visible from the train are gravel and don’t even have RR Xing signals, makes me wonder how far that guy must have gone to find the Asphalt roller.  Missed a great photo op there.

Oh, look, was that 20?…no had to be a couple dozen rusty, steel wheeled, tractors and some vintage harvesters.  Oh, my goodness.  And an antique manure spreader.