I just came in from stapling some plastic sheeting on my back wall. I’m nailing it over the two-year-old tarpaper that isn’t keeping the water out next to the kitchen door. In some places it’s hard to find a surface for the staples because the wood underneath is crumbling away from rot.
I’m glad two sides of the house look good now, ’cause anybody seeing those back walls first would surely be thinking they’d walked onto the set of Winter’s Bone.
“I’m better than this,” I want the world (e.g. UPS drivers and my immediate neighbors, but not the tax assessor) to know. “Really. I’ve got class.”
Then I turn and look at my Gorilla-taped car … and I wonder.
What’s stranger is that I like it this way. Well, except for the rot.
My family wasn’t white trash. But we knew white trash and knew ourselves to make better choices. “Lace curtain Irish” would have applied (though my American mongrel mother wouldn’t have accepted that term). We were tract-house dwelling, factory- and switchboard-working, “buy it on sale and still don’t tell your father how much it cost” people.
Be we had some quality, you know. Mama didn’t produce no dummies, but kids who went on to get multiple college degrees and move up in the world. Or … erm, choose not to get any college degrees and to plummet determinedly down in the world, but do so for sterlingly well-thought-out philosophical reasons.* Mama also didn’t produce anybody without taste. We wrote. We drew. We created. Our minds could snap like angry turtles when we put them to it.
And I ended up here.
I’m really glad I bought that 100-foot length of very heavy-duty plastic sheeting. It’s already gotten me through two winters of damaged walls, unheated rooms, construction dust, and leaks. Here’s to one more. Totally without leaks this time.
* Or as the family liked to describe my philosophical choices in their typically nuanced manner: “What the hell’s wrong with you? You could have done something with your life!”
Brendan O’Neill of Spikedwrites of Paris one week after. About the lack of passion:
It’s the feeling you’d expect to see following a natural disaster, when tragedy is inflicted on people by forces beyond our control, rather than after a conscious, bloody, moralistic attack, on the citizens of Paris and the values of France. The flower-laying, the books of condolence, the exhortations not to give ISIS our hate because that is what it wants… this has all been good and decent and moving. But where’s the fire? The anger? …
If Western civilization is dying, it’s slowly destroying itself from within. Murderous Islamists who won’t tolerate any views other than their own are merely the opportunistic barbarians at the gates.
But there is no doubt that these savages, who come from or are inspired by lands where either tyranny or chaos — or both — reign, want to tear down the West down to their barbaric level.
Yes, I know that governments of the West are at least partially responsible, sometimes largely responsible, for reducing the Middle East to chaos.
However — and I’m not supposed to say this because it goes against freedomista PC — Islam itself contains a poison at its heart. It’s always been there, this mindless submission to “divine” authority OR ELSE, this “conquer by the sword” mentality.
Christianity had it, too. Much of Christianity’s history was as bloody as anything the Islamists have going today. But the Reformation and the Enlightenment pulled Christianity’s fangs — and separated religion and government. Which is as it should be despite all the wails and protests from would-be Republican theocrats. Now individuals are free to choose Christianity or not, free to think about it, criticize it, adopt it, love it, despise it as they wish. Millions benefit from it — in freedom. Others leave it — in freedom. No slaughter required.
Nobody is even attempting to pull Islam’s giant fangs. On the contrary, countries are stupidly opening their gates to let the bloody monster in. All in the name of some of the very Western values (tolerance, humanitarianism, the guilt of supposed privilege, etc.) that the monster either wishes to destroy or will cynically use for its own devouring ends.
While I had my face buried in my latest BHM house-fixup article, the world outside was getting hammered with the kind of rain that makes even a seasoned Northwesterner wonder if there’s an umbrella (or perhaps a submarine) in the house.
Saturday evening just as it was turning dark, a young man came to my gate. He was as clean cut as a Mormon missionary (about the only other people prone to show up hereabouts at such an hour) and traveling on foot as they do. But he was solo. I had the vague feeling I’d seen him somewhere before.
“I was here with Mike the other day,” he said by way of introduction. He gave no name. Mike — meaning Handyman Mike — has gone through a steady stream of minions or minion wannabes, all pretty much interchangable to me. I’m trying to figure out which one this is.
“I see you still have that pile of construction material back there. Would you pay me to clean it up for you?”
Clean-cut though he may be, the whole business of a nameless stranger turning up on my doorstep in the near-dark is creepy. I’m still trying to figure out who he is when he announces, “I’m desperate for money.”
And lights up a cigarette.
Now, I can think of a fair number of ways for a young man to demonstrate that he’s either in dire financial straits or worthy of being hired because he’s good. But lighting up a cigarette (in a state where they cost nearly $10 a pack) isn’t one of them. I can’t afford to smoke. If he can, his “desperation” is manufactured.
I let him hand me his contact information over the closed six-foot gate (after I supplied paper and pen). He scrawled a phone number, but still offered no name. I finally asked who he was.
“Troy,” he said.
Then I remembered. Three weeks ago, he answered Mike’s ad for a construction helper. Mike interviewed him and he was supposed to start assisting on my Great Bathroom Project.
The morning he was to begin minioning he called Mike to say he had a flat tire. And no way of changing or fixing it. He finally made it here at 1:30, driven by a friend, just as Mike was going to lunch. Mike showed him the great heap of construction rubble outside the fenced part of the yard and invited him to work on organizing the stack until Mike’s return. Troy declined and left. After that, he didn’t return Mike’s calls. End of minioning.
Now here he is at the gate, weeks later, in the gathering dark on a weekend, wanting the work he wouldn’t do when he had the chance. But not really wanting work. Wanting money.
I’m not sure what it is lately with people being so eager to claim their desperation. Have they been reading Atlas Shrugged and mistaking the bad guys for the good guys or what? Do they seriously believe desperation gives them a compelling claim, some leg up in the race to earn a living?
All it gave me was the creeps.
I remember my Depression-era relatives talking about hungry men showing up on their doorsteps. In their stories, they always made a clear distinction between “hoboes” and “bums.” Hoboes, they said, would show up, hat in hand, offering to work. They didn’t speak of their need, only of their willingness. They were honest men — down on their luck but not broken. Bums, on the other hand, were no good and had probably never been any good. They might (or might not) offer to work, but really they were just looking for a handout. Or a place that might have something worth stealing.
I’ll leave it to you to decide what kind of person my evening visitor is. I don’t know. He might just be an inexperienced kid, born into the self-esteem era, having never been encouraged to acquire either manners, a work ethic, or common sense.
I do know that after he left I let down all the blinds and made sure all my self-defense tools were in good order and accessible. And I gave the dogs extra pats, recalling he’d been too scared of them to come in the yard the first time he was here.
OTOH, while 9mm is emerging as the clear favorite in TZP’s current poll, Mike Vanderboegh offers a rather compelling, if strictly empirical, argument on why .45 ACP is “better.” (Great link to ballistics tests, too.)
So typical. So very, very, very typical. That crooked cop who staged his own “murder” had a long, long record of crude, thuggish, corrupt behaviors about which nobody did anything.
Faisal Mohammad and his mad manifesto and egregious grudges. Thank heaven for one gutsy construction worker who knew something about knife-fighting techniques and how to counter them. (Ever notice that these “civilians” who stop mass killings tend — even if they are unarmed — to be people who understand weaponry and know the ways in which a shooter or a stabber can be vulnerable?)
On the lighter side, here’s a pug getting excited about … um, broccoli. Nom nom …
Take driverless cars, for instance. If we were in a less tech-perilous, tyranny-seeking time, I think most of us would be excited about them.
You and I may be skeptical about a specific new technology, but we tend not to be technophobes. We’re not ones who reject the new out of hand. We may not want to buy the first flying cars or be on the first ship to colonize Mars or the Moon, but we probably have friends who do want to and maybe even know a few who will. We jumped on computers years ahead of the average and were getting acquainted on BBSes before the Worldwide Web tempted slower adopters in.
Wow. You know that woman who drove into the parade crowd in Oklahoma? Apparently at least some of the media seems more than usually pre-programmed to blame the non-existent gun. David Codrea points out that the car-killer babe is apparently an Obama fan, too.
I don’t know about you, but this sort of vague, ill-reported United Nations “science” makes me want to go right out and eat bacon. Maple flavored. Crisp. Oh, I have no doubt processed meats don’t qualify as health food, but I also doubt that the big bacon and sausage eaters dying of cancer are otherwise noshing on broccoli and brussels sprouts all day, either. You just cannot isolate individual foods and make such claims about them — unless it suits your agenda.
The more news and studies that emerge about Obamacare, the more horrible that horrible program looks. (When companies can manage to get around federal regulations, this is the way humane and profitable health care gets done.)