Home, and it’s Lovely Out Here

Sometimes we get so involved with all the problems in the world that we forget the good stuff. Yesterday I was chatting with a friend and we were discussing our states, and it struck me that Nebraska is mighty pretty, and I haven’t shared that with you guys for quite a while.

So here you go. Enjoy

 

One in three of us work in jobs connected with agriculture, as I do.

 

 

But we still take pretty good care of the joint, and our feathered friends.

 

 

I’ll live and die an old Boiler, but I’ll have to admit it is pretty cool how the whole state stops on Saturday afternoon in the fall.

 

 

They’re right, Lincoln is about the friendliest city I’ve ever been to, but it’s too big for me. But this is from a county fair out my way in a town of a bit more than a thousand people.

 

 

And that’s all good. but for me this country has always been about long views and far horizons.Willa Cather wasn’t wrong, it can be lonely, sometimes very lonely but, it also gives you perspective on the world and its problems.

 

 

By the way, that fancy Victorian house at about 1:50 is Buffalo Bill Cody’s.

Presumably, regular programming will resume tomorrow. :)

 

s.

Endings and 2015

2006_ford_e_350_super_duty_xl_capitol_heights_md_100330811228254623As many of you know, I go east for Christmas with my family. I usually make the journey by train. I find the journey relaxing, and a time to change gears.

It also has to do with my dislike of our airports anymore. Like many others, I find our so-called airport security system to be something between a joke, and an expensive charade, designed more to cow the population than to make flying safe. Not to mention that it has no basis in law. Let the airline provide what security is essential, in their minds, in a free(r) market.

2014, as likely all know will go into my books as my Annus Horribilis, it’s hard to conceive of a year where I’ve had more terrible things happen, from my health (and Jessica’s) to the distractions consequent to both, and to the general tone of society, epitomized by Ferguson.

And it finished as it was begun.

We left early for my train since we had some stuff to pick up about another hour beyond the depot, and figured that was as close as we were likely to get. Well, we get about 3 miles out of town, dim our lights for oncoming traffic and almost instantly hit a brown cow hiding in the highway. Most of us have hit a deer at some time, a cow is worse, much heavier and a much lower center of gravity.

Still thanks to a combination of seat belts, air bags, and the fact that we were driving an E-350 van, and likely God’s will, we were all unhurt. Unfortunately both the cow and the van were killed. That’s twice now, in my lifetime that wearing a seat belt has saved my life, you are simply a fool if you don’t.

pa_pittsburgh04And so, once we figured out an alternate vehicle, I made it to the depot on time, which is more than Amtrak can say!. Still they weren’t terribly late, and a lot can happen from San Fransisco to the middle of Nebraska.

So, I clamber on, and then the conductor and I find what may have been my final mistake (big one, anyway) of the year. I was supposed to board the day (night, really) before.

Say what you want about Amtrak, their people in train service are simply the best, and have been for years. The conductor took it in hand, found me a roomette, sorted my other connections (all 5 of them) with reservations, and sent me to bed, without a care in the world.

Try that with an airline! Note that I don’t recommend it with Amtrak, either. In my case, the ticket was purchased when Jessica was very ill and I simply put it in my calendar wrong, and forgot to check.

Beyond that, it was, as always, a wonderful way to spend Christmas with those I love (most of them, anyway!)

And so like so much of 2014 it all worked out, not necessarily as I wished but, it worked out.

And so, as I catch up we will resume here, and look forward together to a better year.

Happy 2015

Christmas Schedule

picAMT35005As many of you know, traditionally, I go east to be with my family at Christmas. This year is no exception, I’m leaving this evening, so posting will continue to be sparse until the first of the year.

I think (perhaps hope is the word) I may be ready to resume normal service at that point, we’ll find out together, I suppose. :-)

In any case, I hope you are also with those you love and have a very Merry Christmas!!! See you soon. (Yes, I’ll be around sporadically, so feel free to comment.)

Merry Christmas

Starting Another Year

The arms of John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlbo...

The arms of John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough, are encircled by both the Garter and the collar. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I think it very important to thank Jess for her wonderful article yesterday. She said many nice things about me, some of which are true. :-) Where she is really right, is the strain of writing a blog. I decided quite early that it was reasonable to post at least once a day, and while I have never really reconsidered, doing my 4-15 hundred words 7 times a week and 52 weeks a years has often been a strain. Part of that is the unrelieved gloom of the political situation. and part of that is my memory of a better America, where a man worried about his honor. The good thing is that I have found it still exists, you just don’t see it on TV. And not just us old Americans either. One of the lessons that Jessica brings us is that the generations coming after us, and indeed in England as well as America, are very much like we are. We definitely need to increase the tribe, but that can be done. We are not starting completely over.

And, never doubt that she is an integral part of this blog, her by-line hasn’t appeared much in the last few months, and there are reasons for that, I understand and agree with them, but without her, this blog would have gone under several times, when she has rescued me from the ‘Slough of Despond’. It will likely happen again. So, if you like what I write, remember what I told a distinguished contributor from her wonderful blog, All Along the Watchtower yesterday, ” A lot of it, which won’t surprise you, is Jess, more behind the scenes than I would prefer. Muse, partner, supporter, and more, I wouldn’t have made it this far without her.”

One of my hobbies (time-wasters, if you prefer) has become the real estate listings in the £ Daily Mail. No, I’m not seriously shopping but when you live in a world that was settled slightly over a hundred years ago, it is fun to look at houses that are a bit older. Like this one.

CLI140692_01_gal (1)

Click to embiggen

It’s in the village of Painswick in Gloucestershire, and it’s called Castle Halle. The description says it is the third castle on the site which records say was occupied by Saxon Thane Ernsige before the Conquest. It passed into the control of the Lords Talbot, and the final Talbot, John of Shrewsbury  demolished the castle in about 1442 and there are some traces remaining. Sir Henry Winston lived here until his death in 1618 and presumably raised his daughter, Sara, here. Sara made a pretty good marriage, marrying Sir Winston Churchill whose son, John Churchill, later the First Duke of Marlborough, who became Queen Anne’s great general, and whose family eventually brought us another Sir Winston, and intermarried into the Spencer’s as well, thus being ancestors of Princess Diana as well.

I don’t care what you say, you just can’t buy a house with a history like that like that in Nebraska :-) I would bet ours are a bit more energy-efficient though.

But, hey, it’s Sunday and we try most weekends to have a movie. So let’s start the fourth year right, with a John Wayne flick. How about War of the Wildcats, and while we watch it, maybe we should think about having an oil boom somewhere besides North Dakota and Texas.

Enjoy

Video Monday: The (Mostly) Whittle Edition

In a sense, I’m cleaning up after the holiday, these have been in the queue for less than a week. All are valuable, and all but one feature Bill Whittle. Normally I would say enjoy, but in this case, pay attention and learn, and start thinking how we are going to fix it.

Obamadelphia, well, why not?

Trifecta on ISIS and why it has erupted, and some on its methods.

Continuing with Trifecta

And a reminder of who we are, and how we got that way.

Oh, yeah, from Norfolk, Nebraska. Which strikes me as a very significant name, combining the stronghold of the Parliamentary forces with a good conservative state.

Decisions: Good and Bad

English: Ameren lineman practicing a rescue.

English: American lineman practicing a rescue. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Right and wrong. Often we think of them as the two sides of a coin as it were, and often they are, but are they always? Let’s dig a little deeper here.

As a power lineman, and as an electrician I often deal with power that is concentrated enough to kill you quick. Not that it’s always in the line of duty.

Many years ago, a woman friend of mine had a TV fall into the bathtub with her child. The child was killed. It was called a horrible accident, and it was. Or was it? She knew, or should have known that you don’t let electrical appliances get anywhere near the bath, yes some, such as hairdryers are less dangerous because of safety regulations but still, you are taking a risk. And a CRT television (which was the only kind then) is very high on the list, risk wise. There are very high voltages and some are stored for a time. Bad news. She lost the bet. Sadly, although nothing could replace that child, neither could she have another. And so a woman who by most measures was a pretty good mother, is now childless. But it really is her fault, because of her carelessness. But I did and do feel sorry for her as well as the child.

Another story which I’ve told before

They were lucky but, every time Chris looks at his buddy, he’s reminded. Just as that woman in the first story is every time she sees a small child. We say it so often but do we believe it Actions have consequences. Believe it, they do.

And as a responsible supervisor, it is entirely my responsibility to make sure my crew is safe, from hazards known and unknown. Acts of omission can be (and often are) just as bad as acts of commission

I’m very glad neither of those accidents are on my conscience, I’ve been in a measure lucky but I was also taught to be careful, and what can happen when you are not. And yes, I do have some scars from near misses, both physical and mental. We do our best, that’s all we can do.

Church-of-EnglandWhat started me thinking about this now was that yesterday, my co-author Jessica’s fiancé was ordained a priest in the Church of England. And yes, I am extremely happy for them, and even more for the congregations that will have their services over their lifetimes. But what made me think about those stories above is this.

A few months ago, a young woman came to his rectory because she had heard she didn’t need an appointment to talk to a curate. She was in trouble, she was single, and she was pregnant and she didn’t want to be. But let us let Jess tell the story herself, because she was there and she shared with us then. Please do read it, it is here.

It is a remarkable story isn’t it? Especially the part about how she knew she had done wrong, what we would call grievous sin, although that term had no meaning to her.

And that is something that Jess and I have talked about with each other. In the United States, nearly everybody has some passing familiarity with Christianity, it may be entirely wrong, and yet, as a rule people, while they may think us judgemental (and sometimes we are) and with our noses in other people’s business (ditto), they have an idea of what we believe. In Britain, I gather that is not nearly as true. It is entirely possible to grow up and live your life without ever once coming in contact with Christianity. How that interacts with having a state church, I have no idea but, in any case it’s sad.

Most of you know that I consider abortion to be nothing less than infanticide, a fancy name for murdering your child, and I do.

But here’s the thing. In my examples above the actors knew what they were doing, they made an informed choice. In the case of Jess’ friend, she really didn’t. [As an aside here, she has become a stalwart member of the congregation, helping to run a homeless shelter, and very happy in her new-found faith, or so Jess tells me. I admire her greatly, and pray for her often.] But in Britain as in America, for a large part of the population, abortion is a convenience, used to avoid problems in your career and in your love life. In truth that was the case here.

But here, God in some hidden recess of her told her that she had sinned, and from what Jess said, I would guess that she was close to the point of adding suicide to her list of sins. I don’t know if you have ever been close to that black place of despair, I have, a couple of times, and one does not come back without help, of a friend, of a counsellor, or a pastor, and /or God himself. But if you do, you tend to come back stronger.

And that, my friends, is why I don’t condemn people. I do not know what they know, nor do I know how they reached their decision. This young woman reached out to those who were supposed to help her, and they were too busy, but she persisted and found a willing ear in a CofE curate. he listened and sympathised, as was right because he couldn’t make the decision for her. He moved her enough for her to want to see him after her abortion, and in that meeting, the three of them, plus God himself, saved that woman’s life. But reminding her that while those of us that are guilty (and that is all of us) must not cast the first stone, Jess’ friend as well as the woman at the well was instructed (as are we) “Go and sin no more“.

And the way I remember that is to always remember that one can only make decisions based on the knowledge that one has, if we have more complete knowledge, and they ask us, we must share our knowledge (and belief) but we may not, and even God does not, force them to use our knowledge. We all answer individually.

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