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Member since: Mon Dec 5, 2016, 05:05 PM
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Anthony Bourdain in WV

I was born and lived in WV until I was 21, so I was interested in seeing what AB would make of WV cuisine and culture. I think he mostly got it right, but I am haunted by a couple of thoughts.

I understand how seductive working in the coal mines was for young men. The pay and benefits were great, and their powerful union did what it could to protect them from hazards. Sen. Robert Byrd worked on their behalf on black lung issues. It was a secure, good living, and it was comfortably familiar to them. They would not have to leave home and family to pursue a career.

By contrast, both of my grandfathers and most of my other male relatives of that generation worked for the C&O Railroad. One grandfather was an engineer, the other a conductor. Like the miners, they were well-paid, did important work to help build the nation, had a strong union, and could live where they grew up.

Instead of encouraging my father's generation--men born in the 20s--to go to work for the railroad (which was booming at least as much as coal mining at the time with no foreshadowing of the death of the industry) my father and all my uncles were sent to college, where they all became professionals--two engineers, one CPA and one journalist. The journalist was my father, who managed to time his death just before the demise of newspapers, but he was the only one of them whose career might have ended in failure of the industry. My mother and aunts were all sent to college, too.

Why the difference? Both miners and railroad men had plenty of money. Even during the Depression, when my grandfathers made less money, they never were without necessities. One of my grandfathers graduated from high school; his wife graduated from business college. The other grandfather, who sent five children to college, left school at age 12 to work as a lumberjack, and his wife was taken out of school in second grade to work in her step-mother's boarding house. So there wasn't a history of higher education.

My great-aunt Rose had married a miner, and we often visited her in Minden, a typical company town. Her house was fine--as a child, I wasn't aware of much about home decor--and the only big difference I knew about was that the only water came from a hand pump in the kitchen sink. Water was piped in during the 1960s. My great-aunt refused to have a toilet installed in her house because she felt that was "filthy." Visiting her outhouse was terrifying to a little kid, and I didn't like the black snot I always had after a trip to Minden.

But my aunt was by that time a widow, so I don't know that her experience was typical.

The other difference I know of between railroad men and miners is that railroaders lived in a town, and miners lived out in the country, near the mines. The hollows, btw, were isolated areas surrounding the town, not where the mining towns were located. I know they had a company store and were sometimes paid in scrip, which was of no value anywhere else, but as time passed, scrip was eliminated. And they had Sears catalogs, like the town-dwellers had.

So why did miners cling to a dying industry when railroaders did not? Why did railroad men know that the future for their children lay in education and training for careers outside of the familiar?

An open letter to the Incel Guys

Get a grip on yourself!

An open letter to the Incel Guys

Dear Virgins,

I am a 71-year-old woman (so you'll have to bring lube) and I will fuck each and every one of you if it will stop you from killing people because you can't get laid.

Very truly yours,

Why were the hush payments to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal so small

compared to the million-dollar-plus payment to hush up the RNC bigwig's affair with a Playmate? I am suspicious that the RNC guy is taking the fall for Trump, and the bribe was so much because the woman became pregnant. As I understand it, the abortion came after the hush money was paid--was the payment contingent on her having an abortion? Why was the president's lawyer involved in this affair, anyway?

I would bet the farm that the RNC guy was "David Dennison" man about town.

Donald Trump's BFF statesmanship

I smiled this morning when it occurred to me that Trump truly believes he has forged "friendships" with world leaders; I wonder if he expects them to call him up, invite him over, not criticize him after he is out of office?

He has said he prefers one-on-one "deal-making" to multilateral deals, and I think it's because he thinks whether he "gets along with"--his words, over and over--various world leaders is what determines international relations. He doesn't understand that it isn't a personal relationship we need when we are negotiating trade deals, etc.

He talks about "maybe we'll like each other; maybe we won't" when he talks about meeting Kim Jung Un, as if personal chemistry will keep out away from nuclear armageddon.

He takes *everything* ultra-personally, which is one of the things that make him so fucking dangerous.

But I do enjoy thinking about him waiting by the phone that never rings, once he's out of office.

Scott Wallace is running for the Democratic nomination

to oppose Brian Fitzpatrick in Congress. Fitzpatrick, a former FBI agent, is a coward and a Trump shill. Wallace's primary opponent, Rachel Reddick, registered to vote when she was 24 as a Republican. Public records show she did not vote in 2008 or 2012--so she did not vote for Barack Obama. She says she has considered herself a Democrat for ten years--yet somehow did not get around to changing her registration *or* to vote for the first African American President in our country's history. She did change her registration to Democratic *last August*--so she hasn't been a Democrat for even a year!

Scott Wallace, whom she has tried to smear as a rich guy who voted last (as a Democrat, needless to say) from "his mansion in Maryland" and who "owns a house in a gated community in South Africa" was born in Bucks County, where his father raised chickens and his mother was president of Planned Parenthood of Bucks. After law school, he spent his early life working in Congress with both Republicans and Democrats, chiefly on getting benefits for veterans injured by Agent Orange and trying to get other benefits for them. He was also involved heavily in prison reform.

For the past 20 years, he and his wife have

...run the Wallace Global Fund, a charitable foundation working to empower women, fight climate change, and create the clean energy jobs of the future. Their work has taken them throughout America and around the world, testing solutions and learning lessons to help empower everyday working people and ensure a sustainable future for their children.

Thus explaining his homes in Maryland and South Africa.

And to put the cherry on top, he is the grandson of Henry Wallace, FDR's VP and former Secretary of Agriculture, who designed the Depression programs to save the farmers in the Dust Bowl states.

His great-great grandfather worked on agricultural issues for Theodore Roosevelt, and his great-grandfather was Secretary of Agriculture under Harding and Coolidge.

Reddick says she registered as a Republican because she came from a Republican family; Scott Wallace has a pedigree of Progressivism with a record of innovation and compassion with both parties on behalf of working Americans.

I just donated to the guy who's running against Devin Nunes

I don't even remember his name. Some Republican shill told Joy that he thought Nunes would hold on to his seat in part because of the millions of dollars he has to spend, much more than the Democratic candidate. I went to that "Blue" donate site and sent $100 via Paypal. I don't even care what the guy's name is. I want Nunes out of there.

I'm burying a friend today

and I am so pissed off I can hardly speak. He didn't mean to kill himself, but he did just that, sure as sure. He had diabetes and concomitant neuropathy in his feet. He had sores on his feet and lower legs that would not heal. The last time he was at our house, I turned to face him to warn him of a step, and I saw that he was walking *on the side of his foot.* He had no feeling and no idea that that's what he was doing.

Predictably, he wound up in the hospital for a lower leg amputation. I used to work in a rehabilitation hospital, and I know lots of folks who had amputations--especially amputations that spared the knee, which is what my friend got--who went on to live full and happy lives. Those who had been athletic continued to be athletic. I knew a 90-year-old lady who had both legs amputated, and when social services tried to relocate her from her second-floor walkup to a ground-floor apartment, she would have none of it. And she did fine!

I encouraged my friend not to feel so bad about the amputation. He really didn't have a choice; the damn foot was going to kill him if he didn't have it cut off. I told him what was going to happen, that when his stump healed he'd be fitted with a temporary prosthesis to learn to walk with, then with a permanent one that he would live with, independent as he had been before.

While he was in the rehab hospital waiting for his stump to heal, he refused to get out of bed. He insisted on having his meals in bed because he didn't want to go to the dining room to eat with "all those old people.." Then a prosthesis appeared in his room--we visited him every weekend--but he said he couldn't use it. Why? He didn't want to go to PT. We talked to staff about getting him out of bed at least--he was still lying in bed! but because we were not family we had no rights to find out what was going on.

He was in that fucking hospital--in his bed--for over a year. His muscles wasted; his teeth fell out because his gums receded so much. He never would get up even to sit in his chair. We got staff to put him in his wheelchair and took him out for a day outside in the sunshine in the hospital's beautiful garden, and he loved it, but when we suggested doing it again, he refused. He wouldn't even get up to go to the toilet.

He just lay in that goddam bed, dying, until it was just too late. Even if he had wanted to participate in therapy, he was too far gone. He had a final, hellish month being shuttled back and forth from rehab to the regular hospital as his organs began to fail, and his last week was spent with a ventilator, and feeding tube and a urinary catheter. He finally agreed to go on hospice, and he died after two days.

He's being buried today, and I know I will cry, but my real feelings will be of genuine wrath. I want to ask his family where the fuck they were, why they didn't insist he get up and try months and months ago, but I will control myself and behave.

What a waste.

Amazon and Sears Roebuck

As a kid, I especially liked sitting on my mamaw's back porch and going through the stacks of old Sears catalogs. It was the 1950s, and Sears was still a vibrant retailer, and the offerings in the catalogs fascinated me. I spent hours trying to figure out what men's trusses were for. There were lots of mechanic-type implements, and farm machines, and pages and pages of children's clothing. My cousin and I used to cut out the dresses and make paper dolls for them. Mamaw had an old catalog, from 1917, which she gave me when I got married, which sold furniture and books and medicine and automobiles.

Sears sprang into the pre-eminent "convenience shopping" position around the turn of the last century, when railroads criss-crossed the country, moving freight long distances cheaply. The new technology--railroads--pretty much created Sears.

Amazon has capitalized on the new technology in a not dissimilar way, with not dissimilar results. I have felt guilty shopping online so much--it's so easy!--especially since my son, who sells flooring, complained about customers who came to the store to check out the merchandise before ordering it online--but no longer.

No one would want to interfere with the advance of technology that makes life so much better, whether for farm wives in 1920 who could order the latest style in Sunday bonnets, or for suburban women like me who can go online and find the exact model of the kitchen appliance I lust for--delivered for free!

Progress is inevitable, and I think it's only the speed at which Amazon has succeeded that is different from the story of Sears. Things move lots faster nowadays.

In 1970 I ordered wallpaper for the bathroom from Sears.

Was it just my TV?

I'm sorry to bring up something so frivolous at this terrible time, but on my tv it looked like Spanky had two vertical red lines rising from the inside edge of his eyebrows. And there was something funny about his nostrils, too.
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