Fire Cloud...
An irregular marking on the exterior of Native American pottery: usually resulting from burning fuel coming in direct contact with the vessel during firing

Monday, 31 December 2007

The Cadaver Wagon

Gainesville, Florida

We spent the weekend with Bruce and Felica in Peachtree City. They are great hosts. Bruce is an ex-Navy SEAL and former Navy Captain who spent a lot of years in Vietnam. Bruce says we are the only “liberals” he knows. He seems to enjoy arguing with us about politics. Bruce quit smoking 11 days before our visit. He’s also lost 40 pounds. I’m glad for him.

The RV is ready today at 7:30 am. The Ford service guy, Rick, is not busy for a change so we spend 15 minutes shooting the breeze with him. The new transmission is guaranteed for three years or 75,000 miles. I thank Rick for keeping the RV plugged in so that the food in the refrigerator didn’t spoil.

Rick tells me about the cadaver wagon parked next to the RV. It’s packed with bodies and body parts. He has also had to keep this plugged in to prevent spoilage. Rick is not quite sure where the cadavers are being delivered or how they will be used. There are some indications that cadavers donated to medical schools in California, Texas, and Louisiana have been siphoned off into the lucrative market for body parts, with some of the heads ending up at plastic surgery workshops and some of the torsos being blown up on military proving grounds

2007 has been an interesting year. We started the year down in Mexico and then wandered past the Salton Sea and the Joshua Tree National Park in California. We hit Sedona and Roswell and saw some little black hairy pigs in the snow that they call javelinas.

After that trip, we spent a month in Europe, took a cruise to places like Greece, Turkey and Croatia and then made a 15,000 mile, four-month trip to Alaska. That gave us the chance to see wildlife (bears, whales, moose, mountain goats, chipmunks, puffins, seals, eagles, caribou and buffalo) and many glaciers, rivers, lakes and mountains. We caught and ate a lot of salmon and halibut.

Mrs. Phred and I agree to hope that 2008 will be another no-problem travel year. We will spend January and February hunkered down in Sarasota to avoid the worst of the ice and snow. On March 2 we leave to go places we’ve never been and see things we’ve never seen.

Apropos of nothing, here is a Queen video. It's a shame that Freddie Mercury died so young. He had vast talent. But who wants to live forever?

Touch my world with your fingertips
And we can have forever
And we can love forever
Forever is our today

Friday, 28 December 2007

-Simpsons & South Park Quotes

Wake Forest, North Carolina

Today is the anniversary of the wedding of our son and daughter-in-law. We have agreed to watch the kids so they can have a rare night out. South in the morning on to Atlanta.

Bart: Aren't we forgetting the true meaning of Christmas? You know... the birth of Santa.

Bart: What's Santa's Little Helper doing to that dog? Looks like he's trying to jump over, but he can't quite make it.

Bart: I smell a museum.
Homer: Yeah, good things don't end with 'eum,' they end with 'mania' or 'teria.'

Homer: I'm not a bad guy! I work hard, and I love my kids. So why should I spend half my Sunday hearing about how I'm going to Hell?

Lisa: Do we have any food that wasn't brutally slaughtered?
Homer: Well, I think the veal died of loneliness.

Cartman: Too bad drinking scotch isn't a paying job or Kenny's dad would be a millionaire.

Mr. Garrison: A haiku is just like a normal American poem except it doesn't rhyme and it's totally stupid.

Mr. Garrison: Genetic engineering is a way to fix God's horrible mistakes, like German people.

Monday, 24 December 2007

Bubbe and Zaza Come to Town

Wake Forest, North Carolina

We have arrived at our destination and have been greeted by our six grandchildren and a chocolate Lab named "Nole". Like Mrs. Phred and myself, my son and daughter-in-law met at Florida State University, home of the Seminoles.

I'm working under a home school chart that shows six Latin verb tenses (I shall have...future perfect tense) and ten declensions of Latin nouns. All the children learn these and learn to play the piano. How well they play depends on their ages. I have no idea what a declension is. Maybe they will explain to me when they wake up.

I let Nole out this morning at 5AM and he disappeared into the woods. It was (imperfect tense) an anxious hour wandering the woods shouting "Nole" in my pajamas in the freezing dark before he returned.

Tonight is (present tense) Christmas Eve, our 41st anniversary, a full moon and the night that the ancient Hawaiians would have (pluperfect tense?) celebrated Hōku (mid-winter).

Bubbe is a traditional name for a Jewish grandmother. A Zada is a grandfather, but it has been (past tense) corrupted in this household to "Zaza" due to an inability of the eldest to properly articulate "Zada". Here's Bubbe.

Happy Hōku.

Saturday, 22 December 2007

Traveling Light

Nag's Head, North Carolina

The RV mothership needed a new transmission so we left it in Gainesville and headed North in the Toyota escape pod. The trunk is full of presents and the back seat has our traveling togs.

After the strokes, I remember the neurologist asking me what season it was. "That question has no science based answer.", I responded. So then he asked me to count backwards from 100 by sevens. Try it.

For example, today is the winter solstice, which marks both the beginning and middle of winter. For the Egyptians, the winter solstice was mid-winter. The Celtic countries usually noted November 1st as the beginning of winter. However, the Jewish and Persians calendars both indicate the winter solstice as the beginning of winter. The Hawaiians celebrate the full moon on the night of Hoku closest to the solstice as midwinter. Recently, many US calendars have treated the winter solstice as the first day of astronomical winter. I'm going to call it as I see it. Winter starts November 7th and ends February 6th. End of discussion.

We looked around New Bern, North Carolina, as a place to possibly buy a home. We didn't get a good feeling, but it was a pretty little historic town. The people were very friendly. A lot of them just walked up to us and started chatting. There's nothing wrong with New Bern. It has some neat old historic homes that woould be fun to rehab. It's just that we want to travel fot 12 months in 2008, so why buy a non-mobile home?

On the drive today we stopped in the tiny town of Bath, North Carolina, home and place of death of Blackbeard the pirate. We found a restaurant called "Words and Wine" on down the road and had lunch, wine and bought a book on mutinies. My sandwich was tuna fish laced with horseradish...very interesting. I left my USB cable in the RV so any pictures will be posted later.

We are listening to the big Atlantic waves crash just over the sand dunes in a motel at Nag's Head..

Please accept with no obligation, implied or implicit, my best
wishes for an environmentally conscious, socially responsible, low-stress, non-addictive, gender-neutral celebration of the winter solstice holiday, practiced within the most enjoyable traditions of the religious persuasion of your choice, or secular practices of your choice, with respect for the religious/secular persuasion and/or traditions of others, or their choice not to practice religious or secular traditions at all. I also wish you a fiscally successful, personally fulfilling and medically uncomplicated recognition of the onset of the generally accepted calendar year 2008, but not without due respect for the calendars of choice of other cultures whose contributions to society have helped make America great. Not to imply that America is necessarily greater than any other country nor the only America in the Western Hemisphere . Also, this wish is made without regard to the race, creed, color, age, physical ability, religious faith or sexual preference of the wished."

Saturday, 8 December 2007

In Search of Blue Agave

The blue agave heart weighs between 40 and 220 pounds. One way to prepare them for fermentation is to bake the hearts or piñas in an oven for 24 hours, converting the plants starches to fermentable sugars. More modern techniques involve shredding the heart of the plant and cooking the pulp in a giant pressure cooker

Ninety percent of the tequila exported to the gringos in the US is not made from 100% blue agave. It is inferior product diluted with alcohol made from other grains such as corn.

Last week I saw an old Marlon Brando western. He wears a sombrero in a small Mexican town and drinks a disgusting green jar of pulque while talking to a villain with horrible facial scars. Pulque is to tequila as beer is to single malt scotch.

Mrs. Phred is tied up in a tennis tournament today. At noon I track her down. She's only played two of five matctes. I tell her I am wanting to search for a decent margarita. She nods approval.

At the Target department store, I buy four large margarita glasses, a metal drink shaker and a holographic blinking window Menorah for the RV (an impulse purchase). I look for a plastic dashboard Jesus with a bobbing head, but they must be sold out (it is Christmas). I pick up 10 fresh limes at the grocery store. At the liquor store I get a bag of ice, a high-end bottle of orange liqueur and a $50 bottle of tequila made from 100% blue agave tequila.

I wet one of the new glasses and line the rim with salt.

My first glass is:
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1/4 cup orange liqueur
1/4 cup blue agave tequila

My second glass uses 1/2 cup tequila...I like it better...

This is the best margarita I've had since last New Year's Eve in Mesilla, New Mexico on the border at the Double Eagle Saloon...I've been hopefully drinking bad margaritas ever since.. now I need to get a blender and try frozen margaritas....

I was worried this year about the blue agave because of a decline in the Mexican Fruit Bat population. They fertilize the agave like bumblebees...however, now I know that the clever Mexicans analyze the DNA of the real blue agave and produce thousands of plants from a single cell...without the help of fruit bats...