Saturday, December 23, 2006

Wash and...where?

Alex, my American son, roams the deserts of Arizona working for La Migra, chasing Mexicans.

Visiting him last winter I learned that you have to check uniform pants for live ammo before putting them in the dryer.

Another little irony is that the Border Patrol uniforms are made in...Mexico.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Bad press

Found, in a corner of my favourite used bookstore, The Mutiny on Board H.M.S.Bounty, by none other than William Bligh himself. What a great page-turner!

Bligh had to get his story out before the mutineers reappeared and aired their side of things. Naturally he presents himself as an able and concerned skipper whose mens' heads got turned by the lovelies of Tahiti (and who could blame them?). Not at all the ogre he was reputed to be, more like Santa Claus.

Know what? This was an experienced sailor in love with the sea, whose aim was to keep his 90-foot ship intact, and his crew alive and well (no small feat when thousands died of scurvy on long voyages). The Bounty survived a month in terrifying storms trying to round Cape Horn, and failing. Quit? No, Bligh simply turned the ship around and sailed clear across the south Atlantic to South Africa, reaching Tahiti by almost circumnavigating the globe.

After the mutiny Bligh and eighteen others (mostly the "idlers", tradesmen who happened to work on a seagoing ship) were cut adrift in a small open boat with five days' rations. So overloaded was it that the sea came to within seven inches of the gunn'ls. And this in open, uncharted ocean, with storms, sharks, hostile natives on every islet--and the Great Barrier Reef.

Forty-one days later, after subsisting on a cup of water and half a slice of bread a day each, plus whatever seabirds they could capture, Bligh brought all but one of these castaways alive (one man having been killed by natives) to Timor, 3,600 miles to the west.

This is the kind of leader I'd pick to run the USA right now. Foul tempered, abusive and violent, maybe. People skills? None. But a committed man who'd not lose a single seaman under his command if he could help it. Determined, skilful and courageous to boot. Where are these men when we need them? Compare that with the needless waste of soldiers' lives in Iraq today.

Cuddly, no--but the man had a wife and six, count 'em, six, daughters. Go figure.

Kitty corner

And now, by popular demand, cat pictures:

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Mom's the word.

You know those calls--the ones where you hop out of the shower and dash, dripping, into the bedroom, grab the receiver and are greeted by...silence. You should put the phone down at this point, but curiosity gets the better of you, until finally a bright young female voice you don't recognize asks "And how are you today?"

'Tis the season. But here's a new twist: tapping away at the keyboard I was interrupted this evening, first by the silence, then a chirpy child of oh, ten, saying, "Hi, Mom!"

Last time I checked I had three adult children, at least one of whom communicates mostly in gruff monosyllables. Was there something in my past I'd blocked out? A hidden pregnancy, perhaps? A forgotten promise to raise someone else's child as mine?

It's a new telemarketing twist, a kind of capitalist kiddie-porn where they launch the underage at your heartstrings, this time for leukemia research. Realization finally dawned (OK, I'm not the brightest bulb on the tree). "I've got three children, " I said, "and you're not one of them."

Years ago one of my darlings, a wee slip of a thing at the time, decided that since some of her playmates got to call their mothers by their first names perhaps she would too. I soon disabused her of this nonsense. "Mother," "Mom," "Ma" or whatever is one heck of a proud title that not everyone's entitled to call me, just the three people closest to my heart. Anyone can (and usually does) call me by my first name, but few get to use the M word.

I don't know who thought up this fool promo. It got my attention--my goat, too.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006