Things that never happened.

It probably happens sometime when we are about ten or eleven years old. We realize that the world isn’t just about G.I. Joe toys, Barbies, and Disneyland. It’s a dangerous place, and it’s out to get you. This morning, with another birthday approaching, I couldn’t help but think about the things that were supposed to have extinguished me (along with the rest of humanity) in my lifetime.

It all started with reading an article in The National Enquirer. World Will End In 1980,Claims Expert. Below the caption there was a picture of the cited expert. He was a wild-eyed and scruffily bearded man wearing what looked like a bathrobe. He was sitting on a beach with a human skull in the sand before him. He seemed like a man who knew what he was talking about – to a ten year old.

But the world did not come to end, neither with T.S. Elliot’s whimper nor the fiery conflagration that this tabloid hippie foresaw. Since then, we’ve all outlived a number of Doomsday forecasts. It’s reassuring to think that:

There was no nuclear war between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. in the 1980’s. This was the top of everyone’s list. For a time, at least a third of Hollywood movies were devoted to this scenario.

The Japanese didn’t take over. Remember when their economy was soaring back in the Reagan years? Surely, they were going to buy up America and gain through economics what they could not attain with Pearl Harbor.

We did not all die from AIDS. Believe me, I am not making light of those coping with HIV. But at least these days a diagnosis is not a death sentence. In the eighties, we were convinced that mosquitoes would spread it to everybody. The only survivors would be those who lived in bug free environments like the South Pole. Imagine that, a world repopulated by nerdy arctic researchers.

Speaking of bugs, the killer bees were also waiting patiently for their crack at the Apocalypse. They wiped out Michael Caine, Fred McMurry, Ben Johnson, and Richard Widmark in the The Swarm. Our turn, that movie assured us, would come soon enough.

The Anti-Christ did not take control. This one is truly hard to believe. According to my fundamentalist relatives, Bill Clinton was definitely the Anti-Christ. Then it was Obama. No, wait, it’s gotta be Hillary. All three are now effectively vanquished. This has been tough on many preachers in my area, since they now are now stuck delivering rather boring sermons about loving thy neighbor and caring for the needy. “That sort of stuff,” one told me “just doesn’t fill the pews.”

All of this is just to reassure my liberal friends, and I have many, that Donald Trump is not the Anti-Christ. Or the next Hitler, since most of my liberal friends believe neither in Christ nor his antithesis. We survived Obama, Clinton, Bush The First, Bush The Second, Hillary The Almost; we can survive everything. The looming disasters predicted by the movies just haven’t materialized.

Except for one. My Chinese boyfriend sometimes serves tofu. I’m pretty sure that it really is the Soylent Green mentioned in the eponymous film. And any fan of the doomsday genre knows what Soylent Green is made from.

………………………………………………….

Two last notes.

Yes, I did say boyfriend. I’m a gay guy who lives deep in the woods and only comes out for healthy meals with his younger Chinese fiance.

More importantly, this December 7th, a day which still lives in infamy. Please remember World War II vets. I proudly served in the military when not a whole lot was happening. The surviving vets of WWII actually did save the world from destruction.

You CAN Fight City Hall…and Wall Street, And NAFTA, and the Chinese too.

My consumer philosophy is, If you can’t grow it, brew it, catch it, or shoot it yourself, you probably don’t need it.

But I exceptions for toilet paper and clothing. I dislike the itchiness of buckskin apparel. I dislike every natural substitute for wiping paper. But buying those items means paying more taxes than I have to, which leaves me feeling as though I just wiped with Poison Ivy.

I’m not a tax-dodger. But some taxes are, with no exaggeration, downright evil. A case in point is my home town. This town has built a massive outdoor sports complex over the past twenty years using tax money. But if you wish to use that sports complex, you have to pay a fee. A fee by a city is a tax. So this city used citizen’s  tax dollars to create another venue for taxing its citizens.

Meanwhile, the library is the same dinky little one-story building that was erected in 1967. No tax dollars to improve it – – this town likes its people to stay dumb and obedient. After all, people with educations tend to get indignant when the sales tax nears ten-percent.

So I’m battling City Hall one yard sale and thrift shop at a time. For now, at least, such places are exempt from taxes. And you can actually find real clothes there. I mean Levi’s jeans made in the Good Old U.S.A.

Thirty years ago someone bought these jeans, put them in their closet, and promptly died without wearing them. There they hung until some heir donated them to the thrift shop or put them in a yard sale.

That’s a few bucks the city doesn’t get in taxes. It’s a few dollars that don’t go to slave-labor-factories in Asia. It’s money that doesn’t go to the current Wall Street owners of Levi-Strauss, who sent their factories overseas years ago.

Now, if I could just do something about the toilet paper situation, I’d really be sticking to The Man. But my revolutionary spirit isn’t strong enough for corn cobs.

 

 

 

FLY THE HONEST SKIES.

The Chinese are masters of replication. Make a car, a computer, a pair of blue jeans; they will build it cheaper. But one product of our culture they are unlikely to clone is political correctness. This week  that country’s official air carrier, China Air, took a squishy step in that cow-patty of Western thought control.

With the safety of its customers in mind, the airline had printed cards advising passengers debarking in London that there are parts of the city one should avoid. Employing more truth than tact, the cards stated that you’ll be a hell of a lot safer if you stay in the white neighborhoods. If you find yourself wandering in a neighborhood with a lot of mosques, black people, or Pakistani grocery stores, then the best course of action is to wander back out.

Naturally, China Air is facing a backlash over this. Though I’ve not followed the story since it broke, it’s a sure bet that by now there are calls for apologies. The lefties and minorities are, no doubt, boycotting the airline, and setting ablaze their cherished portraits of Chairman Mao. It would not surprise if, at this moment, some beatnik in Trafalgar Square is striking match after match as he attempts to burn a bowl of egg drop soup in protest.

Protest all you like, hippy. But the Chinese have nothing to apologize for. At least not if modern London is anything like most American cities with sizable populations of minorities. That is where the crime is. I’ll say it again. That is where the crime is.

Liberal idealists will take to the airwaves to say otherwise. But at home they coach their children to stay within the safe bounds of their sheltered suburban enclaves. Stay off the south side, the east side, the west side, the north side. The compass heading may vary, but the veiled meaning does not. They mean stay off the side with the blacks and browns.

Why? Because that is where the crime is.

Is it the fault of minorities that crime runs rampant in their communities? Partially, I’m sure. And it’s probably the fault of lots of white people as well. The truth is that we don’t really know why the minority side of town is the violent side. Why don’t we know? Because we won’t actually admit that violence and crime are a problem there. Every time someone suggests it…well, ask China Air.

 

A problem denied is a problem that cannot be remedied. Ask any recovering alcoholic. Until you admit you are a drunk, you will never cease to be a drunk. I know, because I’m a recovering drunk.  In this tirade against political correctness, I won’t even call myself an alcoholic. It was not the alcohol that was the problem, it was the drinking. That makes me a drunk.

 

And, God help me, I would say drunkenness is to be preferred over the vacant-brain syndrome from which truth-denying liberals suffer. Even on my worst head-thumping-I’ll-never-drink-again-morning, I knew I had a problem with booze. I’m still in the process of fixing it.

 

If anyone believes there is not an epidemic of violence among minorities in both Europe and the U.S.A, then they should get ready. The hangover is going to be a whopper.

Those who would call me a racist should know that  I’m in the process of booking a vacation to see some of the wonderful brown and yellow folks of Asia, among whom I count many friends. While visiting Manila, I’ll stay with an Army buddy of mine who happens to be black.

And you can bet I’ll book my flight on China Air.

 

 

 

Bring Back The Fat Chicks Of Journalism…And The Old Boring Guys Too.

The paper boy doesn’t venture to my shack in the woods. So, in spite of a revulsion to television news that only an insider could understand, I’m sometimes forced to gather my intelligence about the outside world from the networks and local channels. Forget about late night comedy shows. If you are looking for laughs you should have been watching a certain national news program this past Sunday morning.

 

The female anchor (who probably came oh-so-close to a career as a model but, that failing, found employment as a gatekeeper of information) was discussing a story concerning past American military leaders. That meant she had to pronounce the names of three men. Three names that have been in the news thousands of times for many years. Names that most non-journalists could manage with relative ease. But this morning’s anchor was as ready for these names as a sumo wrestler is for the 400-meter hurdles.

 

First hurdle; former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, William J. Crowe. Anyone pretending to be a reporter would know that it rhymes with cow. No. When she read it from the teleprompter it came out like the big black bird. Alright, that one can be forgiven. After all, Admiral Crowe has been out of the public eye for a while. But how about Colin Powell? Don’t most of remember him? Aren’t we all aware that his is pronounced like that thing that we dread getting examined when we reach a certain age?

 

Apparently not the formerly-aspiring-model-turned-national-news-anchor. Colon became Colin. Like Colin McGregor. A fine Irish name to match General Powell’s brilliant red hair. But then, as if this anchor had not tripped over enough hurdles, she had to face the most feared of all military surnames; General John Shalikashvili.

 

She made an attempt but I’m not sure what came out of her mouth. The network had to censor it.

 

The local station has it’s news model too. Last winter she was talking about the city’s annual polar plunge. If you aren’t familiar, it’s a fundraising event where people jump into a cold lake during January. “The water they’ll be jumping into,” she informed us, “is a frosty forty degrees below zero.”

 

That is not water. Water ceases to be water at thirty-two degrees. It becomes ice. Forty-below is ice to a factor of seventy-two. I watched her next report hoping she would correct it. As they say, you can hope in one hand and….

 

Not content with that display of raving stupidity, she followed up the next week with a story on a new airport. “The runway will be 150-thousand feet long.” Thirty miles? Terrific. Now the planes can taxi almost all the way to their destinations.

 

I worked with such people for a few years in the television news game. But a news director once told me that I’m far too ugly for television. I also like to think that, even with a mediocre brain, I’m about forty IQ points too smart. Once, discussing an economics story with the same news director, I mentioned the phrase, ceteris paribus. His jaw dropped. He scratched his headI might as well have circled the station antenna in a spaceship yelling “KLAATU Barada nikto.”  I told him he truly had the brains for television news.

 

I miss veteran journalists like Candy Crowely. A few ironies here: She was not hired because she’s eye candy. Her last name actually is pronounced like the black bird. She is roughly the size of a sumo wrestler.

 

But that woman knew her stuff. As CNN’s chief political correspondent she was tough and fair. She had a talent for condensing complex information into short reports..

 

I miss others: Brinkley, Mudd, Lehrer. They were as competent as journalists came, even if they were as dull as plain grits.

 

Not all of today’s anchors are recruited from the covers of GQ and Vogue. Some honest and bright ones do find their way into the news rooms. It’s not their fault that they also happen to be very good looking. That’s the ultimate qualification these days. In a few years even the good ones will get baggy eyes and turkey-necks. When that time comes their corporate bosses will go looking for a new generation of broadcasters…in the swimsuit edition.

 

B.L. Yukon Harris

backwoodslibertarian@gmail.com

 

What I Learned From Thoreau.

When I quit the conveniences of city-living to reside in a shack I built in the woods, I knew it would invite comparisons to two people; Henry David Thoreau and The Unabomber.  Since a blog entry entitled, “What I learned From The Unabomber” would probably have the BATFE here within the next six hours, I’ll just write about Henry David Thoreau and Walden Pond.*

Thoreau, let’s just call him H.D., wanted to get back to nature. He held in disdain those who lived in towns. Slaves, they were. Men whose obsession with wealth and accumulation kept them bound to their shops and factories. H.D. was far, far better than that. He was getting back to nature! Of course he was bring a lot of modern (at the time) conveniences. Here’s a list of his building materials:

 Boards.......................... $ 8.03-1/2;, mostly shanty boards.
    Refuse shingles for roof sides...  4.00
    Laths............................  1.25
    Two second-hand windows
       with glass....................  2.43
    One thousand old brick...........  4.00
    Two casks of lime................  2.40  That was high.
    Hair.............................  0.31  More than I needed.
    Mantle-tree iron.................  0.15
    Nails............................  3.90
    Hinges and screws................  0.14
    Latch............................  0.10
    Chalk............................  0.01
    Transportation...................  1.40  I carried a good part
                                     ———— on my back.
        In all...................... $28.12-1/2

If H.D. had truly wanted to experience nature, he could have entered the woods buck-naked, found a good stick and a sharp rock, and started living like a caveman. Instead, he build the sort of place that us modern folk spend a lot of money to visit on the weekend.

But I don’t fault him for that. In fact, I know I’m guilty of mis-labeling his agenda. He truly wished to find a quiet spot where could think, read, enjoy the silence, and eat a simple diet. Nothing wrong with that. Rather, it’s the man’s smugness that I still find off-putting.

H.D. looked down on the merchant and the millwright, yet he built his home from their goods. He had a disdain for personal property, yet he built his cabin on land that was owned by a friend. He had little use for the people he met on trips to town, yet he soaked up their gossip and read their newspapers.

In short, he was often as big of a hypocrite as I can be. He just didn’t realize it.

It’s easy out here in the sticks, among my books and garden, to look down on some of my old friends who are living their same old lives in the city. So many of them are working overtime this year to pay off last year’s debts. Would it hurt them so much to drive the same car for a few extra years, to eat more meals at home, to drop the season tickets they hold for three different sports teams?

But I have to remember that I owe my current existence to those people who are still, in a manner of speaking, working in the salt mines. I made a living in advertising and broadcasting. Put honestly, I made a living creating the demand for the luxuries that everyone thinks they must own. The people who purchased those items funded my backwoods hideaway, and are part of the reason I can grow tomatoes, read classic literature, ponder my existence, and sniff the proverbial roses.

Through their consumerism they are also paying the taxes that fund the roads and bridges that I occasionally travel when a new shovel or saw blade is needed. Can you picture Thoreau standing in line at the Big Box Store? “Lo, you poor imbecilic store clerk! Do you not know that there is a higher knowledge and satisfaction that awaits you in the primordial wilderness. Would you not abandon your futile labors and dare join me amid the juniper thicket, casting our eyes to the truth revealed only in the firmament above? And, by the way, you are out of Cheez-Whiz for the second time this month! If it happens again I’m going to send a really nasty e-mail to corporate.”

I was able to step off the treadmill because I have no children and few responsibilities. My friends don’t have it quite so easy, so I don’t lecture them. My only hope for them is that they will slow things down just a little. Take a hike in the woods. Drop a line into a trout stream. Read a book the last half-hour before bed. It would ease the conscience of a guy like me whose very career encouraged the type of excess that I now personally avoid.

 

B.L. Yukon Harris

 

Feel free to comment here, or send directly to backwoodslibertarian@gmail.com

 

 

 

*Humor aside, I have no desire to hurt people with bombs or otherwise. Nor will I ever, in any way, attempt to justify the actions of Ted “Unabmomber” Kaczinski. He was a tortured man who took the wrong path. But, yes, there are things to learn from reading the infamous Unabomber Manifesto. The man’s extraordinary intellect is what tortured him. He foresaw a terrifying future for the world, and sought to resist it in the worst way he could. But his insights, shared twenty years ago, now read almost like prophecy.

July 28th

 

IT’S JULY 28TH 2016…

There are 156 days remaining in the year. The thermometer outside my tin shack in the Ozarks shows 73 degrees. There were showers yesterday. As I look over the valley toward the distant river, an occasional unheard lightning bolt gives a brief glow to gray clouds.

 

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY…

Today in 1808 the French Army lost another battle somewhere. Really, I don’t know that for a              fact, but it’s a pretty safe bet.

Today in 1896 – The city of Miami, Florida is incorporated in a ceremony at noon. The town at           that time consisted of a mercantile store, a Cuban sandwich shop, and nine gay dance clubs.

Today in 1935, the first B-17 lifted it’s wheels off the runway. Hats off to the pilots and crews who         would later darken the skies above Nazi Germany with thousands of the famous Flying Fortresses.

 

ALL THE NEWS I FOUND RELEVANT THIS MORNING…

–Hillary Clinton will accept the Democratic tonight. It tops off a long campaign that began when she jumped on the coat tails of an Arkansas politician forty years ago.

–While our best and brightest minds are creating new game apps for the I-Phone 25, the Chinese are making engineering history. They built a seaplane larger than the Howard Hughes Spruce Goose. Only this one seems able to fly more than a few hundred yards. You can get the story at LewRockwell.com

 

–Regardless of a person’s views on separation of church and state, most of us agree the relevant laws should be applied equally. Some Minnesotans are hoping they can reclaim a public park that they believe has turned into a radical mosque’s parade ground.

 

 

EDITOR’S CORNER……………….

 

Forty Years With Hercules

B.L. Yukon Harris

New Yorkers have the Empire State Building. Folks in Seattle have the Space Needle. Saint Louis has the Arch. In Denver, they look west and see The Rockies. In the east Arkansas farm town of my youth, the most imposing feature above the landscape was the water tower.  And about the only time you bothered looking was when it would get a new paint job every few years. The fact is, I would have grown up in a pretty uninspiring place had it not been for Hercules.

Each day he made a visit over the farm, along with his twin brothers. The Lockheed C-130 Hercules was probably the first airplane I ever saw.

Hercules in his modern attire.
Hercules in his modern attire.

 

 

 

 

He looked different in those days. Herc still dressed in hues of tan, olive, and jungle green, a style acquired from his recent stay in Southeast Asia. He’s worn a lot of other uniforms over the years. He looked pretty slick when I spotted him in coastal Alaska. The Coast Guard preferred Hercules in mostly white, with a scarf of blue and red. A patriotic outfit to be sure, and Herc has been known to put on one whale of a fireworks display.

Firing Flares.
Firing Flares.

 

 

 

 

Hercules has been a reliable beast of burden for U.K., trudging on despite the drab British attire. You can still find him looking relaxed in khaki, despite the dangerous work he does in the desert. In fact, just about every country that we aren’t at war with has depended on the C-130 for about sixty years now. In peace or war, Hercules has taken on all tasks while boasting a safety record matched by few others.

 

But you don’t hear much of the pilots. Aviation enthusiasts can name at least some of the aviators associated with the Sopwith Camel, B-17, F-16, P-47, and others. I could only name one who flew the C-130 Hercules, and that only because he was a neighbor of mine when I lived near the Little Rock Air Force Base.

 

But those planes and pilot have dared every bit as much as the Yeagers and Rickenbackers of (well-deserved) aviation fame. They’ve taken flak as they delivered ammo to surrounded troops, quenched forest fires in Idaho, performed impossible rescue missions in the Bering sea, thrust into the eyes of the fiercest hurricanes, and brought food and fresh water to disaster victims on every continent. Warmonger or tree-hugger, everyone has a reason to love this plane.

I still visit the fields of east Arkansas from time to time. When I step out and night and see a flight of the 130’s coming, I often pull out my flashlight and blink out three dots and a dash to the pilots above. If ever a group of silent warriors had earned a ‘V’ for the part they’ve plaid in our victories, it’s the ones in the Hercules.

 

comments welcome here, or at backwoodslibertarian@gmail.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Living the Boy Scout Motto…

Today’s article is just ahead…but first….It’s July 27th, the 208th day of the year.

 

On this day…

 

 

IN THE FACEBOOK NEWS FEED…As of ‘press time’ for this blog, Facebook’s news feed features three stories critical of the Trump campaign. No stories (either positive or disparaging are mentioned about the Clinton campaign. [Editor’s note: This is obviously not a G.O.P or Democratic blog. But, given the fact that younger people get most of their news exposure from social media, it is only prudent to monitor whether or not impartiality is being practiced by the social media king.]

 

Now….today’s entry from the Editor….

 

 

Be Prepared…for Zombie Wars, Flat Tires, or just The Munchies

B. L. Yukon Harris

This blog will never aspire to being a comprehensive journal of emergency preparedness. For that subject, I refer you to one of the oldest and finest internet sources available : http://www.shtfblog.com.  But for me, self-reliance is at the very core of libertarianism, and an occasional article on the manly (and womanly, in a pioneer sort of way) art of taking care of your own emergencies does not seem out of line with the spirit of this project. And for a guy who likes to eat as much as I do, there are few emergencies as pressing as a lack of available food and water.

 

When I was still in the military reserves, emergency food was never a problem. On drill weekends you inevitably wound up with more MRE (meal ready to eat) packets than you could possibly eat. Well, there was one guy in my unit who ate every one of his. We called him Tiny, though the nickname was ironic. For those who’ve never enjoyed the culinary experience of an Army field ration, the contents look like this:

MRE_No._23_(cropped)

 

 

 

 

How did they taste? Well, the food had about the same texture and flavor as the plastic bags it came in. But were they ever convenient!

Prior to semi-retirement (being fired), I was a journalist. A broadcast journalist. But you can probably tell from my poor grammar and punctuation that I never wrote for a newspaper. But one thing all journalist must endure is waiting. Sometimes you wait and wait for a story to resolve. And it usually happens a long way from the nearest fast food joint.

That’s why I kept an MRE and a canteen in my bag. Those MRE’s served me well while iced-in in remote Alaska at an airfield with no services. Once, in west Texas, it even led to an impromptu romantic dinner with an attractive young newspaper reporter. That reporter had great grammar and punctuation, but no government-issued rations to make it through a long night.

Though no longer in the reserves, I still like to eat when I’m hungry. And I still find myself in out-of-the-way places. Being too cheap to purchase commercial MRE’s, I now make my own.

You can stuff a lot in a gallon sized freezer bag.
You can stuff a lot in a gallon sized freezer bag.

 

 

 

 

 

Not too pretty, but there’s enough calories for a day. In a real emergency, you could stretch it a bit.

Here’s one of my homemade ration kits with a different entrée.

Enough spam to satisfy, not enough to gag you.
Enough spam to satisfy, not enough to gag you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now, a closer look at the contents, paired with a day’s ration of water.

You can live on it.
You can live on it.

 

 

 

 

 

All the food can be eaten as is, or can be warmed up. Included in each kit (but missing from this photo) is a pack of matches. Find some tinder and you can cook the Beanie Weenees. Was the can and you can boil some tea. I always try to include a packet or two of vitamin drink powder to make up for what the rest of the food lacks in nutrients.

Wherever I go, I have at least one of these kits. And there’s no reason anyone should not do the same. And I mean anyone. Because anyone can find themselves having to get by on their own for a day or two.  I remember a guy who was trapped in a wrecked care who had to live on peanut butter and hot sauce for two days. I don’t know the man, but I’m sure he now keeps a more substantial emergency kit in his car.

And I’ll tell you something else…it’s just plain fun to make these things. They can be suited to taste as well. Put in you own favorites. But one thing is absolute: BE SURE TO INCLUDE TISSUE OR TOILET PAPER!

 

 

Forty Acres and a Forty Dollar Home.

A quick glance at my portfolio will prove to anyone that I’m no financial genius. But I made one investment that will pay dividends for the rest of my days. I found forty-acres of timber surrounded by federal land in the Ozarks. I rolled in a cheap camper, cleared a bit of ground as a food plot for deer, and spent many happy weekends sipping coffee and enjoying good books as I waited for Bambi to arrive.

339821_2378717261963_1487430375_o.jpg
Where it all began.

Eventually, I decided this might be the place I wanted to retire to. As the economy sank, along with my future employment prospects, I realized this might be the place I will be forced to retire to. I’ve faced more unpleasant prospects.

But finances were an issue. I didn’t have the on-hand cash to haul in bricks and mortar. I couldn’t hire a contractor to do things the professional way. And, having seen how even the best RV’s and campers seem to fall apart over time, I decided one year to get some type of permanent structure up, using limited funds and limited skills.

Then came the tornado. Not a particularly deadly one, but it was enough to mangle a friend’s aluminum carport. The roof panels looked like aluminum foil that someone had wadded up and tried to make smooth again, but the support polls were still in good shape. I loaded it up and laid it next to the food plot.

 

 

412223_2852695631126_2143526386_o.jpg
Self-financing…taking logs to the mill.

Next came the clearing. Now, I do have plans for a real cabin in the near future, so I didn’t merely slash and burn. I cut enough area to provide for building and parking, while leaving the great majority of the property untouched. But I cut every decent cedar I owned. I stacked about half the cedar logs for future building, taking the surplus to a local mill for operating cash.

This has served another purpose. Cedar, though they provide a protective canopy under which deer can bed-down at night, also block out sunlight and prevent grass from growing. The deer can still find plenty of cedar shelter on the adjacent federal property, but they now have more native grass on which to dine when they visit my place.

Then, having selected a high spot of ground, I built a rectangular foundation from some old scrap telephone polls and a few tons of red clay. The ‘carport’ was anchored into the the phone polls; the phone polls were anchored into clay which became brick-like as it dried.

522445_4066956626892_968694052_n.jpg
Nothing but a tin roof in the background at this point.

The walls came from old barn tin. The insulation came from styr0foam planks purchased cheaply from a big box store. The interior walls are of painted plywood. The floor was made from rock and concrete. That’s a nice touch; when my tobacco chewing neighbor doesn’t quite reach the spitoon, I don’t fret much.

It now has a wood stove for heat and cooking, a sink, two bunks, and even a satellite dish for internet, news, and football games. Solar panels provide most of the needed electricity. I can supplement that with a generator during the hot days of summer when a little A/C is more of a necessity than a luxury.

 

478476_10200189810402587_1076849048_o.jpg
Before it got a coat of camo paint.

It’s not where I will live the rest of my life. But it is a place in which to stay comfortable as I turn those cedar logs into a real cabin over the next year.

After that, I’ll be staying in the cabin while my visitors bunk in the tin shack. As long as they restrict their tobacco juice to that dwelling, we’ll get along just fine.

 

 

A shotgun, a rifle and a four-wheel drive…

Regardless of who winds up taking the Presidential oath next year, there’s going to be a strong national discussion on gun control. Perhaps at that time I’ll chime in on various forums citing statistics, and making arguments both logical and emotional. But today I have to share a letter I wrote several years ago to a friend in New York City who asked about the “pathological love affair” us country boys have with our firearms…

Dear Yankee Dude,

First off, it’s no love affair. Carrying a gun can comes with just as much inconvenience and responsibility as having a baby. In this case, however, the baby never grows up. Whereas a baby cries and poops, a pistol rubs calluses on your hip and causes you to constantly pull up your pants. You have to take it everywhere you go, and can’t leave it in your car on a hot day. In fact, you shouldn’t leave it in your car at all. If you need to carry a gun, you should keep it on your person every waking hour. At night it should be within reach next to a bright flashlight.

Now, why do I need a gun in an area that has a low crime rate?. It’s the same reason you find lighthouses in areas where there are few shipwrecks. Remove the lighthouses, and you’ll soon see battered freighters and tanker ships rusting on the reefs. Remove the guns from middle America, and you’ll have Amish farm country. What do I mean by that?

The Amish are a fine and peaceful species who make fine cheese, yet eschew the use of shotguns and street lights. When the sun goes down in Amish country, the criminals arrive from the city, taking everything but the manure.

In my part of the country there are no Amish, but plenty of farmers. My nearest neighbor, Farmer Johnson, does not make cheese. But Farmer Johnson owns a battery of firearms and some trusty dogs. If a thief makes it through the dogs, they still have to face the merciless 12-gauge of Farmer Johnson. If they get past Farmer Johnson, they still have to deal with her husband.

Yes, there is some theft and petty crime here in the American frontier. A battery from a tractor might go missing. A calf might be stolen. Someone with a massive truck once ran my mailbox over one night just for the hell of it. But there are no home invasion robberies here. In New York City you have three hundred police officers per square mile, yet have high crime. In my county there are perhaps ten officers for three-hundred square miles. We feel pretty safe in our homes.

 

rifle

Another reason for our high rate of gun ownership? We hunt. I don’t particularly enjoy hunting. It’s cold, boring, and there’s a lot of bloody and smelly work to do once you make a kill. But I do like knowing that my main source of protein is not pumped full of hormones that will cause cause me to grow breasts and start thinking like a New Yorker.

Also, I enjoy seeing deer in the woods as much as seeing venison on the table. That makes me a natural enemy of the coyote.The coyote is the only reason I own a so-called assault rifle. With a rapid-firing-high-capacity-evil-black-rifle and a pile of bait, I can pretty much eliminate the yearly coyote horde in just a night or two. That means that the deer, turkey, rabbits and quail will flourish. It also means I won’t be awoken by that incessant yelping at three o’clock every morning.

But you also asked me why I own so many firearms. Isn’t one or two enough? You are an avid golfer; can you get by with one or two golf clubs? Of course not. Each club has its own purpose. Guns, likewise.

A .22 rifle is for dispatching common varmints and putting rabbits in the pot. It’s also handy when the chicken you plan to have for dinner is being less than cooperative. A shotgun is for knocking down ducks, dove, and quail; hunting birds with a rifle is a feat for Annie Oakley, and not safe to begin with. A center fire rifle is for larger game. A pistol is for predators of the four-legged or two-legged variety that you would rather not encounter. But sometimes trouble comes to you.

By the way, a man who carries a pistol is not compensating for a small penis. Were that the case, the automatic that rides in my holster would have a more than a four-inch barrel. Now, the guy with the big truck who ran over my mailbox? I think it would be safe to name him Shorty.

 

B.L. Yukon Harris

 

 

 

No Life Guard On Duty? No Problem!

I’ve always been a little vague on where the cut-off lies between middle-age and senile decrepitude. But if being a a fussy old-codger has more to do with attitude than accumulated years, then I’ve made it to a fussy old age. This realization hit me like a bucket of icy river water on a recent visit to my favorite childhood swimming hole.

May I present to you one of the most magical spots of my youth:

none
Where hot dogs were grilled and virginity was lost.

 

 

 

 

 

My college buddies and I pursued higher education on the budget plan. There were no Palm Spring Weekends or spring breaks in Cabo. By the time we paid for tuition, rent, and that university-sanctioned form of extortion known as textbooks, there wasn’t much left over. But we could usually buy a six pack or two, some hot dogs, buns, and chips. That, coupled with a BG Medium tent that somehow came up missing from reserve unit at which I drilled, was enough for our own Ozarks style sabatical from Academia. Not that we were the only ones out there. We’d run across local boys with their girlfriends, old men with fishing poles, parents with kids, even a biker or two.

I’ll admit to being a little trepidatious about the bearded dudes on the Harleys.  I knew from many movies that they were all meth-addicts and ex-cons who spent their days speeding down the highways slinging log chains into the windows of church buses, and their nights swapping girlfriends as they swilled cheap beer in plank-board taverns. But we got along just fine with those guys. Maybe they had a bad rap from all the Peter Fonda flicks. Maybe they recognized that my buddies were obvious Special Forces guys who weren’t going to tolerate any chain-slinging.

In fact, everyone got along for the most part. We’d grill some food, drink some beer, go for a swim, drink more beer, watch the sunset, drink more beer, burn some food on the grill, swim some more, go to be. No drownings. No fights. But a few unintended pregnancies, no doubt.

Then, a few years after I made it through college, the chaperones moved in. This place, they said, is too dangerous for the average citizen. These people have been grilling out here for fifty years. It’s just a matter of time before they start a forest fire. We must give them toilets! We must give them concrete benches! We must give them putt-putt golf! We must also charge them for this. And, oh yes, we have to dam up this whole valley because a nearby city has found it is the cheapest way to meet water demands. But, have no doubt, this is to ensure the safety of all those who have never been hurt out here over the years.

Here is that waterfall again, beneath the new reservoir:

Falls now made safe for all of us hapless citizens!
Falls now made safe for all of us hapless citizens!

 

 

 

 

 

I’ll admit that you no longer have to haul your own grill out there. The new State Park is happy to rent you one. They’ll even let you go to the restroom. . . for a fee. And there’s a nice swimming pool where you can cool off for an additional fee. Admittedly, the pool is a needed addition since swimming in the lake is now forbidden. I don’t recall anyone being asked about the plans for this new park(ing lot) that the state built. At least they didn’t bother to take a trip to the old falls and ask the people who actually used them.

But it is, in the end, the essence of bipartisan agreement. Democrats love places like these because it eliminates personal privacy and quashes the collective independent spirit. Republicans love the new reservoir because it enables their developer buddies to keep building subdivisions and golf courses.

The price of progress, they glibly rationalize.

But a step backward for goodwill between men. There was once a place where soldiers, hippies, yuppies, bikers, farmers, and hermits got together for hot dogs and beers. It was the only such place I’ve known. I’d grab a scuba mask and dive down to visit it again if it weren’t for the ban on swimming.

 

B.L. YUKON Harris