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The wisdom of Robert Louis Stevenson

“The little rift between the sexes is astonishingly widened by simply teaching one set of catchwords to the girls and another to the boys.” Robert Louis Stevenson

RL had his own views of how little this rift might be, and while the rift should have been decreasing over the years, it obviously has not. We have had the knowledge for ages about egalitarian behaviors, but not the wisdom to apply that knowledge. How foolish is that? One might call it a worldwide failure. Ursula LeGuin laid out a model for society in The Dispossessed that I remember well, and I think we could attain egalitarian society without going to the extremes she proposed. Just sayin. If we are in fact the thinking apes, why do we think so poorly? Or, more accurately, act so poorly.

Explore, if you wish, Robert Louis Stevenson’s bumper sticker thoughts by searching for his quotes online. Kinda nice to be reminded that he did not wrap it up at Treasure Island.

And from a friend who insists upon getting out in the worst of weathers to exercise:

“And so long as a man is reasoning he cannot surrender himself to that fine intoxication that comes of much motion in the open air, that begins in a sort of dazzle and sluggishness of the brain, and ends in a peace that passes comprehension.” Robert Louis Stevenson

May nothing surpass your comprehension, mliswilltravel.


The Shovel Family

Dearest Shovel Family,

There are no adequate words to express my high esteem and gratitude for the time we have spent together. To be associated with such stalwart and dependable workmates has truly been a wonderful reward and an unreserved pleasure. Never a cross word, never a refusal to cooperate, and my ideas have been met with your unbending support. Should you ever choose to graduate to the ranks of management, I can heartily recommend you as those who can lead by very good example, and, listen to your working companions. No one could ask more of a good manager.

Sincerely, mliswilltravel.

My friends, the whole Shovel Family, Skeeter, Blunt, and Point:

Roadtrip and all its appurtanances

Just back from a roadtrip of some small thousands of miles, covering Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania (murderous traffic and inept PennDOT workers), New York, New Jersey, Delaware, and I think that’s it. It was good to be out and about, seeing the landscapes change, drinking different waters, breathing different airs. I watched the bones of the earth exposed as leaves fell, and rejoiced at the demise of mosquitoes and warm humidity.

I did yard and garden work much like I would have done at home, but for and with other folks. Fun over all, and I guess my earlier paean to the shovel family said much about that. Stopped at an “emerald mine” in North Carolina and spent a day doing harder work than picking strawberries, and that is plenty hard. Saw good Amish construction, wonderful stone wall and paving work, sailing vessels, twisted spaghetti highways, and varying weather—but none of it running down my cold neck, thank goodness.

Also saw a nice exhibit of L. Frank Baum (Wizard of Oz) works at the Washington College library. Cool. Had a great conversation with a librarian who has given up on collecting any more Oz early editions because of pricing. The cutting edge of libraries and the necessary parsimony.

Workplace and sexual harassment issues that are in the news have finally begun to have consequences—for everyone but Donald Trump. As soon as our chief executive has to be accountable, then maybe women will feel safe. The workplace guidelines seem to be pretty clear these days, and anyone and everyone should speak up. This works in a well-ordered place, but the next to last place I worked, female comments about my appearance seemed to be aok. I reserved comment about women who came to work dressed as if for a pool party, and also resisted the hard shoes, dress shirt, and tie guidelines for men in the face of the hypocrisy of the female “leaders.” Just sayin.

Fair is fair, and again, if one does not lead by good example and listen, then one is by no means a competent leader nor manager. I am also waiting for actual parity whereby women do not feel empowered to harass or comment about men–just like racism, there are no ends to the double standards in this world. Failure to address these hypocrisies is just that, failure, and we are lesser creatures for it.

Hope there are no failures plaguing you, mliswilltravel.

My friend and colleague Louise Daileigh and I put up this sign five years ago, in the student kitchen at school. Did not check the internal condition of the microwave, btw, afraid of what I might find.

Homo moronicus maximus

It’s called devolution, folks.

May you not devolve, mliswilltravel

Reflections of a Rock Caddy

Well, I am out and about, which is something I almost always enjoy. I have eaten apples and pears right off the tree, breathed some different airs, and drunk some different waters. I am now sitting at my first computer in a couple weeks, and I can’t say that I have missed it a bit. Being out of touch and doing nothing are in my wheelhouse these days, and it feels mitey fine.

I would like to do many things, and be able to do many more. Make a barrel. Make a wooden spoked wheel. Blacksmithing. Along these lines, I have never made nor repaired a stone wall, and I recently had the opportunity to assist in such. The one thing I want to point out is that in order for wall making to proceed, there have to be enough stones to cover the job, and they have to be of great enough variety in order to have something to choose among. Just sayin.

Thus, rock caddy consists of digging out the stones and toting them to the site of construction and repair. Rocks are heavy, for the most part, and while I have handled some tephra/pumice that does not qualify as heavy, what I was caddying was heavy. At this point I am equipped to foot, found, and start a stone wall or column with some assurance that it would stand, but I will be sure that I have enough stone to proceed and complete the project because scavenging is not the way to go.

Have just recently learned that Eugene Garfield died [], and want to tip my hat in his direction. Garfield was a founder in bibliometrics, and the tools one uses these days in order to trace and track citation histories are of his making and refinement. He put the tools to find and follow fellow investigators at scientists’ fingertips, and helped condense clouds of scientific literature to clear and digestible shots of distilled knowledge. Yay, Eugene!

Yay, scientists and librarians who persevere, mliswilltravel.

How welcome would you feel?

Sunset over the Catskills:

Kissed by a hummingbird

There I was, putting a window-mounted hummer feeder back in its rightful place after it was drained in a 24 hour period. Little hummer lit on a perch while my hand was still on the feeder, so I froze and let it feed. It reached out a tentative tongue to sample my little finger, and then went back to nectar. I will take this sort of blessing, and I thank Nature for it. Yay!

I have held a hummer that was too cold to move in my hand before. There is nothing there. No discernible weight at all, and when the one in my hand revived and buzzed off, I was gobsmacked just like I am now. These little mites migrate to South and Central America about now, and return in the April window most years. Big job, little critters. Feed them up for the journey, please.

Again, yay, mliswilltravel

Can’t make it here, anymore

James McMurtry Lyrics

“We Can’t Make It Here”

Vietnam Vet with a cardboard sign
Sitting there by the left turn line
Flag on the wheelchair flapping in the breeze
One leg missing, both hands free
No one’s paying much mind to him
The V.A. budget’s stretched so thin
And there’s more comin’ home from the Mideast war
We can’t make it here anymore

That big ol’ building was the textile mill
It fed our kids and it paid our bills
But they turned us out and they closed the doors
We can’t make it here anymore

See all those pallets piled up on the loading dock
They’re just gonna set there till they rot
‘Cause there’s nothing to ship, nothing to pack
Just busted concrete and rusted tracks
Empty storefronts around the square
There’s a needle in the gutter and glass everywhere
You don’t come down here ‘less you’re looking to score
We can’t make it here anymore

The bar’s still open but man it’s slow
The tip jar’s light and the register’s low
The bartender don’t have much to say
The regular crowd gets thinner each day

Some have maxed out all their credit cards
Some are working two jobs and living in cars
Minimum wage won’t pay for a roof, won’t pay for a drink
If you gotta have proof just try it yourself Mr. CEO
See how far 5.15 an hour will go
Take a part time job at one of your stores
Bet you can’t make it here anymore

High school girl with a bourgeois dream
Just like the pictures in the magazine
She found on the floor of the laundromat
A woman with kids can forget all that
If she comes up pregnant what’ll she do
Forget the career, forget about school
Can she live on faith? live on hope?
High on Jesus or hooked on dope
When it’s way too late to just say no
You can’t make it here anymore

Now I’m stocking shirts in the Wal-Mart store
Just like the ones we made before
‘Cept this one came from Singapore
I guess we can’t make it here anymore

Should I hate a people for the shade of their skin
Or the shape of their eyes or the shape I’m in
Should I hate ’em for having our jobs today
No I hate the men sent the jobs away
I can see them all now, they haunt my dreams
All lily white and squeaky clean
They’ve never known want, they’ll never know need
Their shit don’t stink and their kids won’t bleed
Their kids won’t bleed in the damn little war
And we can’t make it here anymore

Will work for food
Will die for oil
Will kill for power and to us the spoils
The billionaires get to pay less tax
The working poor get to fall through the cracks
Let ’em eat jellybeans let ’em eat cake
Let ’em eat shit, whatever it takes
They can join the Air Force, or join the Corps
If they can’t make it here anymore

And that’s how it is
That’s what we got
If the president wants to admit it or not
You can read it in the paper
Read it on the wall
Hear it on the wind
If you’re listening at all
Get out of that limo
Look us in the eye
Call us on the cell phone
Tell us all why

In Dayton, Ohio
Or Portland, Maine
Or a cotton gin out on the great high plains
That’s done closed down along with the school
And the hospital and the swimming pool
Dust devils dance in the noonday heat
There’s rats in the alley
And trash in the street
Gang graffiti on a boxcar door
We can’t make it here anymore