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Red oak and rain: Taking a strong economy for now while America fights for an even better future

Our present tariff battle with communist China has some personal pain associated with it, but I and everyone in business I deal with say we are ready and willing to put up with it for the long term betterment of America.

“I am just sitting here watching the rain come down,” says ‘D’, a young forester I have worked with for almost twenty years.

A super hard worker, risk taker, and fourth generation forester\logger (he is the first in his family to have a college degree, and in fact he has a Masters in Forestry), ‘D’ has a young family to feed and a great deal of investment in time, equipment, and standing timber that he cannot do anything with, or earn money, so long as it rains.

With incessant rain like we had throughout 2018 and now well into 2019, most forestry operations stop. Marking timber on steep mountain sides, building roads into timber, cutting, skidding, and hauling timber just is not safe or environmentally possible in rain. Then, as a result, the sawmills slow down. They cannot get the trees they need to make the hardwood lumber products so much of America and the world require for flooring, cabinetry, moulding, doors, tables, furniture, etc.

But the rain is only part of the pressure on the timber industry.

Almost half of Pennsylvania’s hardwood timber economy is comprised of the red oak tree, which grows a beautiful wood used around the world. Until the tariff spat began last year, China was the primary destination for almost all of Pennsylvania’s red oak. China took our exported red oak logs and manufactured all kinds of wood products that they then sold back to American companies. When the tariffs started to bite in 2018, demand for red oak logs began to slow, because Chinese companies could not afford to compete on that new level playing field. Their own tariffs on manufactured American goods had protected them from competition, and so with tariffs on their products, their own manufacturing slowed down, and their decreased need for raw materials followed. A year later, the demand for red oak lumber has nearly died. Spectacular high quality red oak trees, that six months ago were highly sought after in a fiercely competitive free market, are now being turned into railroad ties and pallet wood (some wood workers specialize in making beautiful furniture from homely oak pallets; well, guys, get ready for a whole lot of very nice red oak pallets to become available).

Standing red oak trees have lost over half their value since this time last year, and as a result, roughly a third of Pennsylvania’s powerful hardwood lumber industry is at a stand-still, with landowners, foresters, loggers, and sawmills trying to figure out how to make up that lost productive time, and lost revenue, and to find another tree species to take the place of the red oak.

Back to the rain… the forest products industry can weather this storm, as well as the tariff tiff with China.

“It’s for the best, for a better America, a better economic future for all of us” says Mike, a heavy equipment operator from Renovo, Pennsylvania, to me this morning, as he finally found time to discuss a timber project we have together, and the China tariff effects on it.

Mike, too, is stalled out temporarily by the non-stop rains, and he is also bitten by the temporarily slow red oak market.

“It hurts, but we needed to do these tariffs,” says Mike.

“It’s sacrifice and pain now, so that America will have an even better economy in the future,” says ‘D’.

I feel the same way. Pain and sacrifice, risk taking and hard work, all for a better future for us and our children. We will all be creative and find ways to make a living; after all, overall the economy is very strong.

Carry on, Mister President. We understand what you are doing and why you are doing it. The tariffs hurt, but we support you.  It is about damned time that someone in Washington, DC, gave a crap about our country and we people who labor out of sight in flyover country.

Logger “Pete” takes a breakfast break on his log landing. A tough, super hard working little Irishman from central Pennsylvania, it’s Americans like Pete who keep our economy going from the ground up

In worship of the binary Mother goddess

Though this may be impolitic among the impolite society of the politically correct, I will today, Mother’s Day, testify to my worshipfulness of the Mother goddess.

So high has her self-denying patience been throughout my life, and especially my adult life, that I may see and call her a deity.

First she bore me, and my own, for nine long sweaty, uncomfortable months. Then in great pain, and long discomfort after, she birthed me and mine into this world, a gift, for better or for worse, to do with as we will, as we all might, our best, or best of our intentions.

Then, in great diligence and self-deprivation she watched over me and mine, warned me of the hot stove, bandaged my thrice-burned fingers, and held that same hand many years thence as I wound my way along a zig-zagging path, two steps forward and one backward, of mine own choosing, of all our own choosing.

Finally, she acted as grand-mother or grand-mother-in-training to mine own and her own, never once breaking the chain she forged with love.

Motherhood is both miracle and a curse. This miracle is of course obvious to all but those who would joyfully kill the fruit of the womb both on the tree and after it has fallen to within reach, unimaginable as this may be. Motherhood is a curse when those it has borne would kill all who follow in their path, or who show such unappreciation for the gift of life as to behave in ways that make the mother goddess sad for what she has borne to the world around her.

With all due disrespect to the anti-binary anti-Motherhood anti-child among us, Motherhood and her fruit is all that is good on our planet. Motherhood’s nurturing instinct from the moment of conception to the last of any of her breaths, is the best of human kindness, its quintessence.

Motherhood is the ultimate binary: A choice between good and evil, right and wrong, human and inhuman. Just like there is no kind-of pregnant, there is no kind-of Motherhood, no kind-of-fertile. Among all things human, the good and the bad, Motherhood is all-good; her motherly love is fertility itself. Everyone human knows this, and has known this since the dawn of our species.

Today the rainy streets and roads here are all but abandoned, silent testimony to the powerful instinct of humans to be with Mother, with family, to avoid unnecessary distractions. We all worship her, rightly so; or we should, anyhow.

An ancient “Venus” fertility figure from the dawn of human time, showing the special relationship between Mother and all who come from her. Among the many human civilizations around the planet, only materialistic Westerners have degraded Mother, and motherhood, and her fruit.

Paddling with Hollywood

Cheerfully our little crew paddled down the river, enjoying small Class II splashy whitewater rapids here and there, swift enough currents everywhere else that we need not really paddle much, if at all.

Turning aft, I squawked captain-like from my otherwise supine perch in the bow “Hard to the oars, ye pack o’ worthless lazy bones!”

The kids would laugh a bit at my best captain o’ the high seas bit, tepidly dip their paddles in the water like they were thinking about trying to paddle, and then go back to chattering amongst themselves about school, fellow students in school, classes, interpersonal politics and Politics with a capital P in school. Overall it was what had been hoped for when I made reservations with the outfitter the week before. Time with my kids and their friends, in nature, floating down a river, watching bald eagles, osprey, mergansers, wood ducks, migratory songbirds, deer, and on the lookout for bear.

Pausing to listen for and then spot white waterfalls cascading steeply out of the high canyon walls, I, the lookout, would occasionally point out where the crew could perhaps look up to if but briefly admire these little moments of grandeur passing by us. They did look the first half dozen times, and then tired of being bothered to do anything. I ended up dragging my hands in the cold foamy water, hoping to create some drag that would necessitate some serious paddling. When my hands turned red and then a purplish blue and stopped responding to commands to open or close, I gave up on influencing the kids in any way and just quietly admired the ride.

About two and a half hours into the drift, the kids started to sing. At first these were summer camp songs, and then theme songs from movies complete with beat-box noises from my daughter, and then songs from movies, mostly being rap-like. Their voices were sweet, and they would constantly run over each other, and then good-naturedly correct someone, and then try to get back on track in harmonic unison. Being of free and easy spirit, the kids were into having fun, and they would individually or together abruptly break out into a song-ending editorialization about the singer, the performer, the musician, or the movie the particular song came from.

The Earth Day environmental song, apparently popular now, was a big hit on our boat. They sang it over and over and over.

“And the zebra, I like how he says ‘I’m a zebra, I am striped, and I don’t know if I am black or if I am white’,” said the girl of this apparently surprising revelation, unaware that Dennis Prager, Rush Limbaugh, Larry Elder, and a slew of other radio talk show hosts and conservative politicians have been preaching an equal opportunity color-blind society for many decades.

And after about half an hour of back and forth chatter about this environmental planet cartoon movie and its song, it dawned on me that these kids are deeply enthralled by Hollywood and its entertainment business. They and their young impressionable minds are completely captured by images and made-up voices from highly paid songwriters and movie scripters, whose lines become memorized as moral guide posts along their young lives.

Many adults over the past ten or twenty years have bemoaned the advent of and then exponential increase in realistic at-home video games, the prevalence of handheld devices, and the trance-like state our children have grown up in glued to and Matrix-like plugged into these things. Well, I saw that we have transitioned beyond the gluing-in-and-tuning-out stage where we had to scream two inches from our kids’ face to ask them what they wanted for dinner.  Now we see the fruits of others’ indoctrination labors playing out over a decade or more: Our kids are wholly owned little robots of the entertainment industry, which is vacuous, morally bankrupt, materialistic, shallow, value-less, corrosive, and meaningless. No wonder our kids parrot all kinds of silly nonsense that emanate from movies and popular music; they are constantly bathing their brains in it.

And people like me thought the fight for America’s soul was a political one in Washington, DC!

Nope.

I learned on that day-long raft trip through spectacular natural beauty that the fight for a solid America is still at home, where we thought we had some influence, and we still might, and on college campus, where our parenting has been outsourced to welcoming Marxist professors eager to turn our kids inside out.

Yes, on this trip I had been paddling along with my kids and their friends, enjoying their happy company, but really I had been secretly and unknowingly paddling with Hollywood that whole way, and did not realize it until the very end, when I could say nothing.

The sea captain and his crew taking a break in a wondrous, magical waterfall in the middle of nowhere, on the run from Hollywood and pop culture

How I feel about my many liberal friends

If you have suffered abruptly ruptured friendships and precarious family relationships because of politics since Obama, you are not alone. You are among most people, especially if you have any independent, conservative, patriotic, or traditional pro-America beliefs. Obama brought with him the most divisive political atmosphere since the early Cold War, and his believers implemented that divisiveness with astounding aggression.

Here’s a small example.

A couple years ago I sold a really neat “vintage” National Park Service ranger hat to a lady in Texas via an online auction site. She was thrilled with the hat when it arrived, as it was described accurately, packed carefully, and she paid a fair price for it. She was happy about the exchange until she looked me up and saw what I believe. Suddenly she became unpleasant and full of nasty comments; about me, not that hat. Just to be sure, I used one of the many online services to look into her background, and sure enough, she was a rabidly partisan person who brooked zero disagreement. She judged me not by the happy transaction that had caused our paths to cross, but by whether or not I toed her political line.

Here’s another small example.

In early 2016 I was in detailed discussions with a woman in Vermont to buy her small business. It was perfect for what I can do and like to do, and for one of my kids. We got down to brass tacks, and she encouraged me to get my own website ready. I sent her the purchase contract and we set a mid-2016 date to meet and consummate the transaction. And then all hell broke loose. She had looked me up online and went from being an interesting and likable person to a hate-filled, snarling, angry jerk. The deal was off, because I had the “wrong” ideas, none of which had anything to do with the business we were going to transact.

And I am not even mentioning the many actual friends I have had, some for over thirty years, who have disavowed me, walked away from me, harangued me and then abandoned me, because I calmly disagreed with their assertions about politics and culture. It pains me even now to think how these paragons of virtue and open-mindedness behave so poorly, so intolerant of other views. Apparently traditional views that were A-OK in America for 220 years suddenly became so toxic and so, so bad, that anyone espousing them automatically had to be excommunicated, shunned, thrown overboard, humiliated, attacked, and so on.

It’s a crock o’ crap.

Since the 2016 election, liberals seem to have gone collectively lemming-like over a cliff and down into a pool of fiery, angry hate. Whether it is on a street where someone is simply wearing a MAGA hat (I don’t own one yet, but I do plan to get one; Nick Sandmann inspires me), or at a Trump rally, or on a social media site, liberals engage in physical violence, vandalism, and constant bullying of people they simply disagree with. They have worked themselves into a fantastically intolerant lather over election results they dislike, and gosh, they spare no one a full flaming if that person disagrees with them!

Even old friends who love them!

FakeBook’s censorious purge of conservative and independent voices (while retaining true haters), as well as Twitter and Instagram’s ongoing war on independent thinkers and conservatives (while allowing the Hamas terror group’s account to remain), is the natural result of all that intolerant hate for ideas and people who are not in lockstep with liberalism.

And of course I could do the same to them. I think liberalism is a cancer on America. I think the national Democrat Party has become the party of sedition and treason, that it has declared open war on America and its citizens, and that you can easily make the case for outlawing the party and legally punishing its members. I think Obama is an arch criminal who should swing. But all that does not mean I hate my liberal Democrat friends who liked or even adored Obama. That’s their business. I am not going to judge them because they made a mistaken choice about politics.

Here is a simple meme I made up tonight, from one of my favorite movies, “Some Like it Hot,” a truly subversive and pro-tolerance movie that still makes me involuntarily laugh out loud like a bleating camel or a braying donkey. This meme sums up my approach to remaining friends with liberals who, despite their best efforts to ruin our decades-long relationship, I still love and can still enjoy.

I’d say this is a model for how America should work. How it used to work. Tolerance, people, tolerance. We should still all be in the same boat, headed in the same direction, and at least respectful of one another. After all, nobody’s perfect.

Malcolm X warned us all about Harrisburg School District’s spectacular failure

Harrisburg School District is such a phenomenal, record-setting disaster that I will not repeat here even the barest and yet really most unbelievable facts involved with America’s worst school district. If you do not believe me that our local school district is really so bad, such a catastrophic failure, then go ahead and do an Internet search yourself. Type in “Harrisburg school district,” and you will find plenty of mind-bending substance about it, even in the teacher-union-friendly mainstream media, like the local Patriot News/pennlive.com.

Even Mayor Eric Papenfuse is joined by the very partisan, very liberal Pennsylvania Auditor General in targeting the city school district and its partisan teacher unions. For the uninitiated, across America teacher’s unions are the political henchmen of one political party, and they have destroyed countless public school systems in the pursuit of converting their dominance in the class room into a political power dominance. Using little black kids as sacrifices on the altar of political power, white liberal-dominated teachers unions have spread more destruction to American black families than any other single political entity or force. So when political partisans like Mayor Papenfuse and AG DePasquale, and their partisan media chums, go after one of their own, then you know it is really, really bad. And thus, by any measure, the Harrisburg School District is in really, really bad shape.

The problem is not just that the failed Harrisburg School District is “bad,” it is all of the avoidable collateral damage that surrounds it that makes it such an evil experience. Yes, as the school district has failed ever more spectacularly over the years, the taxes have similarly gone up and up while the few redoubts of sane living within the city proper have real estate values that correspondingly fall with those rising taxes. That then leads to white flight to safer, less taxing suburbs with successful public schools. Yes, there is open corruption. Yes, there is open, unmitigated professional incompetence. Yes, there is open self-serving political football by city council members, the teacher unions, and the city administration. Yes, there is open fraud and waste and abuse by everyone involved, from the janitors to the highest school officials.

But more than anything, this monumental failure of what should be the simplest public education is a symbol of one of America’s biggest failures: The domination of American black voters by white liberals.

No greater threat to Black success exists than the American white liberal. No greater racist against American blacks exists than the swarm of white liberals thrumming hive-like around every single black community, feasting parasitically off the automatic voting that American Blacks reflexively do for the one single political party of the white liberal.

Harrisburg school district is a symbol of what ails American blacks, because Harrisburg is like nearly every other major American city school district across our great nation: Black, broke, and Democrat.

That last factor, the Democrat part, is what has destroyed everything positive that emancipated slaves once brought to American industry, culture, and science. It is as if American blacks could not get enough abuse from their former Southern Democrat slave owners and Klansmen, and decided to throw in with their intellectual successors, the white liberals of the 1960s.

White liberals and their Uncle Tom capos have been selling poisonous snake oil to American blacks for well nigh 60 years now, and despite that long trail of failure, abject poverty, cultural deprivation, high crime, and misplaced anger, all nicely summed up right here in Harrisburg’s school district, American blacks continue to vote for the very people and the same failed ideas and philosophies that have led them to this incredibly bad place.

Malcolm X said it 55 years ago: American blacks who reflexively vote for the Democrat Party and for white liberals “are the biggest chumps in America.”

Malcolm X was no Republican, no political partisan. He fiercely wanted success and every sort of freedom for his fellow ex-slaves. What he warned them against was being used and dominated by the parasitic white liberal that right now infests the heart of every single failed black community across America. He wanted blacks to stop giving away their votes to people who promised them the rainbow and who yet delivered them ever increasing poverty and failure.

The first step to fixing the Harrisburg School District disaster is for Harrisburg’s black community to cease giving away their votes to the same people and philosophies that created this disaster in the first place. Clean house politically, look around for new ideas, and new voices to implement those new ideas. It will take time to fix, we know that, because sixty years of unwarranted loyalty to white liberals has sown a lot of poisonous seeds. To my fellow Harrisburg citizens, let me ask you this: What have you got to lose by trying something different? You have already lost just about everything  by voting for one political party and one failed philosophy. Give another party and philosophy a try.

Do it for yourself, do it for Malcolm X.

Malcolm X would have predicted the failure of Harrisburg School District, as he called American blacks who reflexively vote for white liberals and Democrats “the biggest chumps” and “traitors to your race.” White liberals own the Harrisburg school district debacle, and Malcom would have told us to expect that.

 

 

 

How to properly pronounce “Lancaster” and why it matters, here

“Lan—Cas–Ter.”

When I heard the radio ad with that unnatural, long, drawn out pronunciation of the county and city just south of me, the endless chasm between the syllables felt years apart, so unnatural that my internal warning system flashed “outsider alert, outsider alert.”

This ear-grating goofball advertisement played for two days before being pulled and replaced with the same voice, but subsequently correctly saying “Lancaster” as almost one long syllable.

How many calls and emails did the radio station get about this? Evidently enough to make an impression on the people in charge of advertising. Running a radio advertisement that annoys the audience is counterproductive, and you’d have to hear from a large enough segment or sample of that audience to get the message that your message was not just falling flat, but actually bothering your target audience. People cared enough to contact the radio station and voice their opinion.

Why do Central Pennsylvanians care about how their locations are pronounced?

Probably for the same reason that Perry County has communities like Newport and Duncannon and New Bloomfield housing most of the county’s 30,000 citizens, and yet those same people will tell you they are from Perry County. Not from Newport, New Bloomfield, or Duncannon. This is because the identity of the locals in Perry County, and elsewhere around the Central Pennsylvania region, is one of community, togetherness, joined together in common interests and identity. Not separated from one another, as in most other places. The larger community, like the county, is the defining characteristic for the residents. We all belong here and we belong to each other, in common and shared purpose.

I recall reading a linguistics study of Central Pennsylvania years ago, and how the authors traced the unique accent here to Swiss and German immigrants in the 1700s. And in fact, if you talk to older old order Amish and some older old order Mennonites, you will indeed hear that very distinct English spoken with some sort of heavily foreign accent. Like all languages, including British English, Southern drawl American, Ebonics in the ‘hood, and so on, this common sound is the sound shared by a commonly identifying group of people. When they hear the familiar pronunciation of their own language, they know they are communicating with someone who is “one of us.”

One of the defining characteristics of Central Pennsylvania is its pretty resilient regional identity, including political views and political engagement, religiousness, and so on. Outside forces may be at work here, altering our beautiful landscape with criminally ugly warehouses and temporarily bombarding our ears with Flatlander-foolish pronunciations of our local places, but through it all, we still hold on to our common identity, our common purpose, our common interests.

Central Pennsylvania is still one big community with common identity. This is one of the reasons that the Obama Administration targeted Lancaster County (and rural Minnesota) for simply air-drop dumping huge numbers of fresh foreign immigrants, most of whom could neither speak nor read English, but who had been carefully instructed how to vote for the “(D)” on the ballot. Politicized efforts to disrupt traditional American sense of community and togetherness, and common purposes and commonly held interests and values, are increasing, as one political party in particular attempts to destroy and re-make America into an identity-less, gender-less, Constitution-less, all-powerful big government global nerve center for everyone on the planet and every cockamamie idea that will destroy “evil” capitalism etc.

And this is why people here so strenuously resist the improper pronunciation of “Lancaster.”

This mispronunciation concretely represents the outside evil forces arrayed against our traditional identity and lifestyle. When we reject that pronunciation, we are asserting our identity and rejecting outsiders, carpetbaggers who attempt to sell us snake oil without even taking the littlest amount of time to understand our closest held thoughts and beliefs. And they fail to do that because they simply don’t care about us or our religious redneck identity; and, in fact, they look down on us.

For all you outsiders, for the record, here in Central Pennsylvania we pronounce Lancaster as one long, fast, single syllable, Lancaster. Not like actor Burt Lan-cas-ter, who, as a Hollywood actor engaged in silly dress-up and fanciful make-believe his whole life, was the ultimate alien to our deal-in-real, natural, down-home, farming and mountain dweller environment here.

So say it again, quickly, Lancaster.

No time or spaces between what your head tells you are syllables. Say it again, fast, one quick word, Lancaster.

There, you said it, and we like you already. See? You fit right in, you hillbilly, you. Here’s a gun, and a Bible. Display them prominently in your home.

Do young Americans have what it takes to keep America?

Observing young Americans in all the various activities we all engage in, including work places, one has to wonder if they are capable of holding on to America.

They take so much for granted, and also seem unaware of what it took to both build America and hold on to it.

If a young person has a smart phone, a five dollar coffee, and the correct cool hat, nothing flusters them. The world turns, no matter what the problem.

Problem? “What me worry” is the universal young person response.

Will a young person put on an American military uniform? Or do the Millennials think the totalitarian Chinese are our friends? The Chinese will put a bullet in the head of every openly gay, religious, and freedom & liberty-loving person who stands in their way of complete domination. Millennials don’t seem to understand this.

And the workplace environments and cultures they have created are the opposite of what is needed to be creative and experimental. Everything you say or do is booby-trapped, every office is a mine field of potential socially awkward or professionally self-immolating speech or thought crimes.

To them, Socialism is great and capitalism is just terrible and so so unfair. Never mind that the coffee, clothes, and iPhone smart phone thingy are products of capitalism that undergirds everything these young people enjoy.

If this sounds like the proverbial “kids these days” old man gripe, then it is. That gripe gained popularity after World War II, when material and physical comforts were becoming ubiquitous and American youth generally had much less work to do to achieve basic necessities. Like Aldo Leopold wrote, Americans got soft as soon as soon as they could get heat from a switch and a furnace, and they no longer had to cut firewood.

Material success has its benefits, for sure, but the accompanying materialism and soft, superficial culture resulting from it is just as deadly as a nuclear bomb or a secret poison. It just takes longer for the materialism toxin to work.

I don’t know. I’m not real optimistic about the Millennial generation. They’ve been shooting each other in schools at record levels, and simultaneously hostile toward responsible gun ownership and the Constitution that preserves that and all our other individual rights. They like everything given to them, especially by government, and really don’t want to have to pay for it. They think a country can just be a big happy coffee shop.

Kids, there’s no free lunch, not even a cup of free coffee.

Still the chief of Celtic music: The Chieftains at 57

Local York Scots Bagpipers Brigade joined local York Chorale members and then audience members with The Chieftains and the Piltazke Brothers in a long snake dance that ended the performance

The local York, PA, bagpipers all dressed up in their Scottish tartans, participating with The Chieftains in a typical sharing of Celtic culture and music, to the audience’s delight

Last night the Princess of Patience and I ventured not too far down the road to the Appell-Strand Theater in York, Pennsylvania. It is a venue we have visited over the years for a variety of music types for the adults, and high-end children’s entertainment for the kids. It is a clean, pretty, historic place right in historic downtown York, easy to access, lots of free parking, and when you are done, it is easy to leave. Fellow patrons are easy, chatty, friendly, happy, and the lady I sat next to, a Lori Sims of Hanover, PA, cheerily shared gardening tips with me and disclosed her yearning for Spring to finally arrive so her garden could get under way. Then again, no wonder: she has a TWO-ACRE GARDEN.

What we witnessed last night is one of those rare moments where, if you have been lacking in faith in humanity for whatever reason, it would be restored immediately. We watched The Chieftains do what they do best: Play sweet Celtic music combined with amazing Irish dance, and incorporating local talent in a pub-like atmosphere of fellow music chums just kind of jamming along with each other in the spirit of the moment. It would be the best of what you would find at the Temple Bar today.

So here is Chieftains founding father, Paddy Moloney, who must easily be in his 80s, alternately playing both the chipper and then humorously gruff oldster commenter, as well as his own penny whistle and Irish pipes: “Oh sure, ya show-offs,” as the Pilatzke Brothers perform amazing amazing amazing Irish tap dance routines that leave the audience exhausted from the intensity and skill. Serious world-class talent.

Now in 2019, The Chieftains are celebrating their 57th anniversary. Think about that. Fifty-seven years as inspiring performers of not just music, per se, but keepers of traditional culture, Gaelic language, ancient musical instruments, and the music and the rural, undeveloped, natural Irish landscape that binds all that together. It is quite a gift to all of us that they provide. At 57 years of live musical-cultural performances, The Chieftains are an institution, a world heritage institution.

Despite having a stack of Chieftains CDs, I can never really get enough of them, and last night my mind drifted back to one evening in the summer of 1992, during the Celtic Festival at Wolf Trap, in Virginia. The Princess of Patience and I were about to be engaged to be married, and our long-time friend Lori encouraged us to join her at Wolf Trap for that evening. The weather was perfect, the music was perfect, the musicians and performers were perfect, our snacks and wine were perfect, the audience was rapt and enthusiastic. It was all quite perfect. And there they were, now 27 years ago, The Chieftains up on stage, looking a hell of a lot younger than now, and probably having a few more teeth then than now. But still flawlessly performing the same beautiful, inspiring music.

That was the same evening I heard the best-ever joke about the bagpipes, and it is a surprisingly unknown quip, because whenever I pass it along, people respond with great mirth, as if they have never heard it before. I will disclose it here, because I know the three people who read this blog have zero interest in Celtic anything and they will immediately forget this secret to being the star at any dinner party attended by Irish or Scots.

This joke arose as an Irish pipes player dueled with a bagpipes player on stage that evening at Wolf Trap. When played correctly, the Irish pipes are of course the most heart-tugging sound the human ear will encounter. Squared off against the blaring, loud, military-oriented bagpipes, the Irish pipes are like a gentle, sweet whisper versus an aggressive, loud shout.

So after their duel on stage, during which he had played the most mournful, beautiful, inspiring sounds, the Irish pipes player said to his Scotsman counterpart: “You do know, the Irish gave the bagpipes to the Scots. And the Scots never got the joke.”

Cue uproarious audience response and a big grin from the Scotsman. Audience participation in Celtic music is expected, and it is given, as is good-natured banter among the performers.

So, on that same beautiful summer eve 27 years ago, into this good-natured banter with Celtic music and culture stepped The Chieftains, playing with humble passion on the stage at Wolf Trap. And literally over twice as many years later, The Chieftains are still chief, tops among Celtic bands. Thank you for a wonderful night of happy moment after happy moment, guys. Cheers to you, Paddy Moloney, may you see a hundred years, ’cause God knows, why not, you about look it already.

 

Jusse Smollett hoax an inevitable result of 24/7 Fake News industry & why ‘racist’ now a dead term

Jusse Smollett is an aspiring actor who falsely accused some MAGA-hat-wearing “white men” of attempting to lynch him with a rope, because he is black and, therefore, automatically a victim and automatically given credence by a mainstream media eager to promote such stories because such stories advance a political narrative that suits the liberals running the mainstream media.

Problem was, Smollett’s false accusation turned out to be a hugely, ridiculously contrived, utterly false hoax.

So unbelievable, so incredibly disbelievable was it that on a 10-degree-Fahrenheit night in one of downtown Chicago’s best neighborhoods that a couple of mean old white privilege racist MAGA hat wearing men would be prowling, just looking for someone to victimize, that the police were already kind of suspicious of his story.

And the rest is recent and public history: Smollett is a liar, guilty of not only creating the false police report to build up his own public standing, because he is a bit-actor desperately wanting to be a celebrity actor, but of also racistly slandering/maligning an entire group of Americans because of their skin color (white men).

The question is, why did this even happen?

Another question is, why did the national media report his accusation before waiting for the facts to emerge?

The answer to both is painfully simple: Jusse Smollett’s fake accusation racial hoax is a natural byproduct of the 24/7 Fake News mainstream media industry that promotes and protects false accusations and victimhood by favored groups and individuals, while simultaneously protecting racist and sexist liberals and Democrats from being publicly outed for their very real racism and sexism.

Think Judge Kavanaugh being falsely accused by mainstream media darling but obviously disbelievable Blasey Ford.

Think the Rolling Stone story falsely accusing an entire men’s sport team of gang raping a black woman and using racist epithets during the non-deed.

Think of the mattress-carrying college student who destroyed a young man’s life with a false accusation of rape, because he would not date her.

Think of the violent criminal thug Trayvon Martin physically attacking an innocent bystander, receiving a huge dose of justified physical response that left him dead, and yet nonetheless becoming a poster child hero for (totally fake) racism.

Think of the serial rapist and sexual harasser Bill Clinton.

Think of the serial rape and sexual harassment enabler Hilary Clinton.

Both Bill and Hill get total and complete passes from their media chums for their known evil deeds, because they are in the “right” political party.

And think of the recent atomic explosion of Democrat Party malfeasance in Virginia, where nearly every senior Democrat  Party leader there is now proven to be a racist or is seriously alleged to have been a rapist and/or sexist…and yet, the Washington Post and other mainstream media arms of the Democrat Party are doing everything they can to cover for these Democrats, to protect them, to shield them from public scrutiny by explaining away facts or declining to report the facts at all.

A week ago an imbecile congressman named Green actually took to the floor of the US House of Representatives to claim that even the over-the-top Democrat Party racism, rapism, and sexism in Virginia was excusable “because of President Trump.”

For real.

And of course the mainstream establishment legacy media let Mr. Green off the hook by allowing his ridiculous statement to stand unchallenged.

In other words, if you are a Democrat, liberal, or Hollywood celebrity, you get a complete pass from the mainstream media, from Hollywood, and academia: You can be the biggest racist, rapist, sexist, or anti-gay person in your state, you can say and do just about anything, and no matter what, they will all protect you by failing to report the actual facts.

On the other hand, regular Americans just need to have the letter (R) listed after their names, or white skin, and the same mainstream media falsely accuses them of being automatically racist, sexist, anti-gay etc. Even and often especially when the person is none of those things! And even if you are a MAGA hat-wearing teenager minding your own business saying nothing to anyone!

It is a complete and totally contrived double standard, all created by a totally racist and misogynistic Democrat Party and supported by its 24/7 Fake News mainstream media arm.

So into this double-standard environment steps Jusse Smollett, who figures all he has to do is make up a story and the media will run with it, make him a victim, make him a star. And it turns out, Smollett is probably smarter than he appears, because he was right, the media did run the story, with some outlets tossing in an “alleged” or “reported” here and there, but all of them reporting it long before any actual facts were known. They wanted him to be believed.

Smollett’s fake accusation against “MAGA hat wearing white men” is a natural outcome of the totally phony mainstream media’s openly partisan propaganda activism and endless double standards. Smollett’s fake accusation fits right in with all of the fake fake fake accusations and news that have gone on, including the most very racist notion of “white privilege.” Apparently, this is the price Americans must pay from Fake News 24/7.

And the other takeaway from all of these recent events in Virginia, in Hollywood, and in Chicago, is that the white liberals behind the modern Democrat Party have pretty much destroyed the term “racist” by using it for partisan purposes, by repeatedly crying “wolf!” with it.  You cannot use that term again and be believed, and what a shame that is.

It is a shame because there is an entire American political party built on racism and devoted to promoting racism, and it needs to be corrected: That is the Democrat Party.

And that is probably why the Democrat Party has destroyed the believability of racism, to cover the party’s own ongoing racist mis-deeds.

Actor Jusse Smollett: Liar, fake victim, racist. A natural byproduct of the mainstream media’s 24/7 Fake News assault on America.

Speaking of cold weather, here is a wood stove review

Eleven years ago we purchased a new wood burning insert for the big fireplace in the living room. It replaced a small wood burning stove with a blower I had temporarily put there to finally project some real heat into the big space around it. Here is the review of the replacement wood burning insert.

This is an old stone house with beautiful fireplaces upstairs and down, begging to be put to use. Because the 16-inch-thick stone walls have zero insulation, wintertime becomes a simple question of how much energy can you dump into the first floor. The more you dump in, the only marginally more comfortable a person feels. The attic is fully insulated, and there are 1960s storm windows, but these are only part of the efficiency challenge. Basically the place is a big sieve, leaking energy out of every seam, nook, crevice, and old window, so it’s a battle we just won’t win. But with certain types of energy, like wood and coal, we can really keep shoveling it in and enjoy the relatively cheap rewards of abundant heat in one location.

Think of it as a family campfire in the living room.

As I grew up in a rough-sided home that heated only with wood (and where I would see my own breath vapor on winter mornings in my bedroom, because it was the farthest from a heat source), and I grew up splitting tons of wood all summer and fall as one of my chores, running a wood burning stove today is first nature to me. And I like it. Pictures over the years of the entire family snuggled together, asleep on top of and under wild game skins, in front of the fire, makes a dad’s heart grow fond for those early years, before the kids grew up and had their hands out all the time.

Somewhere in the 1970s a gas-burning log insert had been put in this living room fireplace, and we removed it in 2007. It was gaudy, silly looking, and highly vented, which meant it was a show horse and not a work horse. Its heat all went right up the chimney! Ambience? Barely. Heat? Zero.

Though I had my eye set on a QuadraFire 5100 insert, I was sweet talked out of that choice by a stove salesman in Mechanicsburg. He had worked with and for my dad for many years, many years ago, and because of that long relationship I figured he would not lead me astray. Well, that transaction ended up another lesson in “assume nothing,” because the Pacific Energy Summit insert we bought from him just absolutely sucks crap all damned day long. It is nearly trash, and at $5,000 installed, you don’t want or expect trash. It is nowhere near the performance of the QuadraFire, hell it is probably not even the performance of an open campfire.

The primary deficiency with the Pacific Energy Summit is it has a single rudimentary air intake, up front and center. Theoretically this location draws in fresh air across the fire and out the back as the gases are vented around the baffle and up the chimney, theoretically resulting in an even burn that consumes all the wood and produces a lot of heat.

Well, the Summit is a lesson in failed theory, because this one single source of air results in an oxygen-starved fire where 3/4 to 2/3 of the fire box is a mass of half-live half-dead coals and baked wood mixed with heavy ash, and the actual fire and source of heat is just up front by the door. It produces very little heat for all the massive amount of wood that is put in it. And do we ever shovel in the wood here, because the Summit just chews through it. Apparently the baffle is poorly designed, too, because you’d think the steel jacket surrounding the fire box would get hot, but it doesn’t. Most of whatever heat is produced just goes up the chimney, which is a waste of energy.

Our hunting cabin has a small QuadraFire wood stove, and it requires very little wood to turn the house into a hot sauna, even in the dead of  frigid winter. Like our wood stove at the cabin, the QuadraFire 5100 insert I was talked out of also has four points of air entry into the fire box. Air entering from all these angles, front and back, results in an even burn that pulls maximum heat from the wood consumed in the fire box, and it also allows for a fine tuning of each fire. The ash from the QuadraFire is very light, very thin, which means all of the wood is being burned up and converted into fire.

Conversely, the wood ash from the Summit is heavy, meaning a lot of biotic material remains in it, which means it has not completely burned. It is no surprise, because the insert’s design is so bad. Had I not been sold a bill of goods by the Pacific Energy salesman, and had my natural skepticism that guides me so well in all other matters overcome my sense of loyalty to an old acquaintance, I would have purchased the QuadraFire 5100 and I would have been a much happier person for it.

A once-young logger I have worked with for the past twenty years has a QuadraFire 5100 insert at his cabin, and he really likes it. He told me it is “one of my few possessions that actually works correctly and which I would not sell, ever.”

On the other hand, I am about to give away this junky Pacific Energy Summit insert, which has eaten up so much of my hard-won firewood over the years. I would never buy another one.

Lame morning wood in the Pacific Energy Summit. A big bank of hot and cold coals raked forward to the front, the single source of air. This is its usual incomplete burn.

Pacific Energy Summit after a full burn and coals raked forward. An efficient wood stove will burn wood down into ash quickly. The Summit is so grossly inefficient that wood turns to a thick bed of coals that smothers the one single air intake and produces very little heat.

A poker end buried in a heap of coals. Even with the air flue all the way open, the Summit still doesn’t burn efficiently. It wastes firewood.