Friday, November 30, 2007

Walk it off son...

First, I want to state for the record that my version of the following events is the true one. The other person you may here this story from will say that it either A) Didn't happen B) Was a freak and completely unexpected accident or C) That I somehow put him up to it. These are all LIES.

My friend and sometimes co-conspirator Grimm returned to Ohio to get the very last of his stuff and finish some work on the house he is selling. As this work involved chainsaws I volunteered. Dangerous tools? I'm in! And to be truthful, there is nothing more manly than cutting up trees with a chainsaw. I have a small Craftsman chainsaw that never got to see much action down on the Gulf Coast after Katrina so I enjoy and chance to fire it up.

Things started out well. We hacked up a fallen willow tree. Well, I hacked while Grimm fought with a dull blade and a lot of thorn bushes. We eventually finished the willow and moved on to the main event. An upright but dead oak on the edge of his pond. It was a real eye sore and distracted from the nice view. So down it had to go. Alas, getting to it involved fighting our way through 20 feet of solid thorn bushes. These evil fuckers are the most spiteful plants on Earth and will actively attack you.

We finally cleared a path and prepared for cutting but Grimm insisted that a large side branch had to be cut off it first. He went off to sharpen his chain and I got the ladder. I leaned the ladder against the tree and scurried up to examine the branch and felt a strange sense of Deja Vu. I had taken down a branch like this when I first moved to Bag End and I knew that its shape and size would make it do what mine had done, namely try to kill the person on the ladder. I had been lucky. The branch I cut back then missed the ladder beneath me but only by inches. I came down and related my story of evil branches and then clearly and without ANY ambiguity told him that I believed this branch would try to take him out.

This of course, did not deter Grimm, who laughs in an unsettling way in the face of danger and common sense advice. He climbed up, began to cut and just as predicted, the partially cut branch swung back around and came right at the ladder. I will admit to flinching out of the way. I may have uttered an expletive. Then I saw that Grimm and the ladder had been knocked completely off the tree with some force. In fact the impact had swung the ladder around and Grimm hung onto it like a tick. I grabbed at the side of the ladder but only managed to have it smash my forearm and shin and knock me back. It hung upright for a moment, completely unsupported before slowly falling back towards the ice covered pond. Grimm I think realized that he had to lower his altitude or risk full submersion. He dropped down from the top of the ladder. Luckily a large mass of thorn bushes lessened his impact with the ground.

There were a few moment of "Holy Shit!" before he got up and got his bearings. The chainsaw had left his hands and was fully in the pond. He fished it out and I helped him back onto dry land. He came out remarkably well for such an amazing stunt. His hands were chewed up a bit and a few bumps and bruises. It could have been far worse.

I waiting a good 30 seconds before issuing my first "I f-ing TOLD you this would happen!", which he apparently didn't hear. I have repeated this statement several times but like a White House press secretary he denies it ever happened.

After we finished we headed back to Bag End. Grimm managed to redeem himself by changing the U-joint to his van in the shop. A task that involved hammers, a propane torch and a lot of hitting. After all my ribbing he was kind enough to help me with some new parts I bought for the Shopsmith.

My only regret about the day was that I didn't have a video camera at that crucial moment.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

War is a swell racket..

I know we don't need any more cynicism in this world. The past 5 years are enough to make anyone a bit disillusioned . But I just found this great quote about war. The amazing thing is the source. A Major General in the Marines. It's an older quote, and yet it is even more meaningful today than ever.

"War is just a racket. A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of people. Only a small inside group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few at the expense of the masses.

I believe in adequate defense at the coastline and nothing else. If a nation comes over here to fight, then we'll fight. The trouble with America is that when the dollar only earns 6 percent over here, then it gets restless and goes overseas to get 100 percent. Then the flag follows the dollar and the soldiers follow the flag.

I wouldn't go to war again as I have done to protect some lousy investment of the bankers. There are only two things we should fight for. One is the defense of our homes and the other is the Bill of Rights. War for any other reason is simply a racket.

There isn't a trick in the racketeering bag that the military gang is blind to. It has its "finger men" to point out enemies, its "muscle men" to destroy enemies, its "brain men" to plan war preparations, and a "Big Boss" Super-Nationalistic-Capitalism.

It may seem odd for me, a military man to adopt such a comparison. Truthfulness compels me to. I spent thirty- three years and four months in active military service as a member of this country's most agile military force, the Marine Corps. I served in all commissioned ranks from Second Lieutenant to Major-General. And during that period, I spent most of my time being a high class muscle- man for Big Business, for Wall Street and for the Bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism.

I suspected I was just part of a racket at the time. Now I am sure of it. Like all the members of the military profession, I never had a thought of my own until I left the service. My mental faculties remained in suspended animation while I obeyed the orders of higher-ups. This is typical with everyone in the military service.

I helped make Mexico, especially Tampico, safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefits of Wall Street. The record of racketeering is long. I helped purify Nicaragua for the international banking house of Brown Brothers in 1909-1912 (where have I heard that name before?). I brought light to the Dominican Republic for American sugar interests in 1916. In China I helped to see to it that Standard Oil went its way unmolested.

During those years, I had, as the boys in the back room would say, a swell racket. Looking back on it, I feel that I could have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three districts. I operated on three continents."

-- Excerpt from a speech delivered in 1933, by Major General Smedley Butler, USMC.