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Let’s share more

Hey, it’s the weekend! In the wake of last week’s epically popular thread Show Me Your Favorite Scar, how about Dumb Things I Have Done?

That’s an unspeakably target-rich environment for me, but I already promised to tell you about the time I decoupaged myself into my panties. It’s not actually a very exciting story, but here goes.

I was living in an ancient apartment building, which was controlled by a single thermostat. Said thermostat was in the apartment of a very old lady. Needless to say, Beelzebub would’ve been comfy in that place. The rest of us went about all Winter in our beach clothes with the windows thrown wide.

This to explain why I was lacquering a wooden box wearing nothing but my underpants. I knocked over the can of lacquer, which poured into the top drawer of my desk, and from there to my lap. I had important things in that desk drawer; fiddly gadgety things — this was back when a decent calculator was a hundred bucks — so I was concentrating real hard on getting things out of that drawer and wiped.

I didn’t really think about the hardening puddle of lacquer in my lap until those oh-so-volatile lacquer solvents reached the oh-so-sensitive tissue of my lady bits.

And by that time, it was almost too late.

Lacquer dries real fast. Pain, flat panic, soap and an absolute horror of explaining myself to a paramedic is all that got me out of those panties. Large bits of me went with the panties. Large bits of the panties stayed with me…oh, for weeks afterwards.

It’s not the definitive dumb thing I’ve done in a lifetime of dumb-thing-doing, but it is representative of the type.

And you?

April 30, 2010 — 10:05 pm
Comments: 79

Let’s take a walk

Holy cow! Have you checked out Google Maps lately? They’ve got practically everywhere on street view now.

I was checking out the land around Badger House on the satellite view, accidentally hit some button or other, and — yep, there we were. Up close and street level. Way out here in East Sheeptesticle, England. (Fortunately, we’re set back from the road, so you can barely make out the house).

After that, Uncle B and I took turns showing each other all the places we’d lived and worked and hung out.

I know Google is Teh Evil and they’re doing some very dodgy data mining on these trips — but, goldurnit, street view is just so impossibly cool! It’s one thing to see a map of the first house you remember, it’s quite another to walk down the street where you lived when you were six. From the shores of the English Channel.

Our old neighborhood in Southeast London has changed hugely in the couple of years since we were there. Whereas my hometown, Alexandria, Tennessee, has changed hardly at all since 1970 — except it’s paved now. (Outside town, there’s a giant orange billboard with “home of the finest folks on earth” on it. And “Population 630″).

Check out a few of my favorite places (after you hit the link, give it a second and it’ll switch automagically from map to street view):

Have a gander at Battle Abbey. Take a stroll down Rye High Street or around lovely Winchelsea (two places very much on our short list when we were looking at houses). Scope out the Long Man of Wilmington and Stonehenge — the pictures prove just how close the henge is to the road. And Arundel Castle (I tried and failed to find the spot where we saw all the little shops in blue shadow below, with the castle looming over it, shining and golden. But have a look around the town; perhaps you’ll find it). How about Trafalgar Square? I took one of my favorite shots of Uncle B there years ago. It looks like the fountain is pouring out his left ear.

Too fun! Excuse me; I’m off to Rome. Or maybe Hollywood. Or Wasilla. Or Amsterdam.

Ah, I love the internet. It grants me all the awesome godlike powers I have always known were destined to be mine.

April 29, 2010 — 10:16 pm
Comments: 21

One opportunity missed

Talking (as we were) about capitalism expanding to fill every vacuum — and continuing our horticultural theme — it’s astonishing to me that there isn’t a significant US market in homegrown coca leaves and opium poppies.

We certainly learned to grow decent marijuana eventually. America has places that represent every sort of climate on earth, and there’s sure as shit enough money in cocaine and heroin.

I don’t know much about coca, but opium poppies (Papaver somniferum) grow readily enough in lots of places. Near as I can tell from a quick poke around the web, they are legal to grow in the US. They certainly are in the UK. Just not to harvest.

Which is also pretty easy. Shortly after the petals fall off the flowers, you make three very shallow cuts along the seed pod with a razor. A white latex sap, like unto Elmer’s glue, weeps out of the cuts. Leave it overnight, it goes brown and sticky, scrape it into a spoon — and that, ladies and gentlemen, is opium.

Going from raw opium to morphine or heroin requires chemistry and other things that baffle and confuse weasels, but I don’t think it’s rocket science.

I’ve never actually harvested opium, and I’m not just saying that because the British government is intrusive and impertinent. I really haven’t.

But I once harbored ambition to be a sort of Johnny Appleseed — or Stoaty Opiumseed, if you will — sowing somniferum up and down the land. For no good reason beyond sticking a finger in the eye of The Man and the evil bastards who live off the international drug trade.

Problem is, I suck at growing stuff.

April 28, 2010 — 10:34 pm
Comments: 31

Hooray for capitalism, writ small

Uncle Badger, my other half, is a keen gardener. “Keen” is a British word meaning “howling bugfuck obsessed.”

He alerted me to a little pocket of thriving capitalism I would never have imagined existed: eBay seed merchants.

Seeds are only good for a relatively short period of time, unless you cryogenically freeze them or something (I’m sure you know that, but there may be one or two ignorant plant-slayers such as myself out there). So to have viable seed for next year, you need a living plant this year. The big seed companies grow a huge variety of stuff, but there are thousands of rare and unusual plants that get left out.

And that’s where these guys come in — thousands of talented gardeners with an allotment or greenhouse and a bit of a special touch with a particular rare or desirable type of plant. Uncle B has ordered several batches of seed from eBay. They come promptly, neatly packaged in a little baggie with an instruction printout.

At £1 a packet, nobody is getting rich. But the sellers are making a bit of scratch doing something they love, and the buyers suddenly have inexpensive access to thousands of rare and interesting plants.

I love to watch amateurs find a way. Capitalism is like weed (warming to my plant theme), expanding to exploit every available crack in the pavement and skiff of earth.

It’s how you know conservative principles — things like free markets and nuclear families — are the right ideas: they’re the things people do naturally and spontaneously when you leave them alone.

April 27, 2010 — 11:07 pm
Comments: 19

Save the date!

Hooray for Draw Mohammed Day!

The kids who came up with the idea have already pussed out. They thought people would submit nothing but respectful drawings of Mohammed. Apparently, yesterday was their first day on the internet.

Couple things. First, you weren’t supposed to make drawings of Mohammed, as I understand it, so his followers wouldn’t worship his image. And the prohibition is relatively recent.

So there’s nothing at all in Islam about infidels drawing Big Mo. I mean, not that I’d care, but it’s technically not even an issue.

Second, the “death threat” came from a true blue American boy who was doodling pentagrams in his High School notebook two years ago. Now he’s twenty, he’s grown a scraggly beard, wears a doily on his head and has converted to a dumbass whitebread kid’s vague understanding of Islam. He lives with his mama.

In other words, it’s a pretend death threat from a make-believe Muslim. Which makes Comedy Central’s censorship act look even stupider.

And takes all the fun out of bravely defying it.


Feel free to keep going in the Favorite Scars thread. I’m enjoying that one. I think Glenster’s dad’s flesh-eating bacteria scar is my favorite.

Though mesa’s ironing board accident has a certain charming Wile E. Coyote quality. I imagine the iron turning over a couple of times in the air before landing on his little face.

April 26, 2010 — 10:41 pm
Comments: 19

Show me your favorite scar!

I have an awful habit: whenever I spot somebody with a really interesting scar, I ask them about it. You’d be surprised how often people seem relieved to tell me the story. I suspect most people would rather talk about it than think of you staring at their scar in horrified silence.

So, as it’s the weekend — and as I don’t have anything else to post about — how about we share scar stories?

I’m a clumsy woman, so I have many interesting scars — but I think this one’s my favorite. That there is right above my knee, and the scar is wide and faint because it’s terribly, terribly old.

I was about three. I was in the bathtub. My mother and her friend were standing at the bathroom sink with their backs to me putting highlights in their hair or clamping their lashes or whatever spooky shit women did with cosmetics in 1960-mumble.

I got to looking at that razor and thinking, “I can do that! I can shave my legs!” I gave it one good tug, with the result that you see. “Safety razor” is a slight misnomer.

But here’s the thing; I was sitting in a nice, warm tub of water. Turns out it’s quite true what they say — razor cuts don’t hurt at all in a warm tub. I knew I was going to get in trouble when my mother saw what I’d done, so I covered my knee with my hand and kept perfectly quiet.

It’s also true what they say: in warm water, you bleed like a bastard. By the time my mother turned around, her little girl was sitting in a huge steamy tub of bright scarlet. Hilarity ensued.

So, what’s your favorite scar? C’mon, what’s a girl got to do to hear your war stories, Bill (still the .00358% of my traffic that’s from Iraq) T? Drop her pants on the internet?

April 23, 2010 — 9:36 pm
Comments: 161

Yow!

I was searching Google Images for a picture of a skull, and I found this. It’s a National
Geographic article from a year ago, so I’m late.

They are excavating on the island of Lazzaretto Nuovo, where plague victims were quarantined in the 15th Century (and so many, many of them buried). The same tombs were constantly opened to add fresh burials back in the day, and if they came upon a stiff whose shroud had tears around the mouth, that person was deemed a vampire.

Natural processes of decomposition actually account for the damage, but Medieval folks thought shroud-chewing vampires spread plague. Hence the brick in the mouth.

There’s a trick the Hammer films missed.

Reminds me of Mercy Brown, the last vampire in North America. She was a nice girl from Exeter, Rhode Island, who died of TB. Her mother and older sister had gone before her with the same disease and her brother Edwin had struggled with it for years.

When Edwin took a turn for the worse, his father — George Brown, a farmer — panicked. He’d lost his wife, both daughters and now his son was slipping away.

He had the lot of them dug up. And Mercy looked a leeeetle too fresh to those assembled. So they cut out her heart, burned it to ash on a nearby rock, reburied her and later fed the ashes to Edwin. Um, who died.

I visited her grave. And what I presume to be the burnin’ rock. It was just a plain stone in a pretty, modest country cemetery. Though there were the inevitable trinkets and offerings left around the site.

The drama around the exhumation of Mercy Brown caused quite a stir when it happened, as it all took place in 1892. A little late for that sort of thing, isn’t it?

April 22, 2010 — 10:08 pm
Comments: 30

Take me off your Rolodex, John


Funny how I sent some money to presidential candidate John McCain, and I continue to get emails from senate candidate John McCain. I suppose no wise politician abandons a good mailing list.

Anyhoo, I got a long chatty email from my bud John today, all about what a splendid job he’s doing fighting off the evil Obama administration.

And then he gets to the pitch:

But, today, my ability to fight for our country and the values we share is in jeopardy. I am in the middle of the toughest reelection battle I have ever faced. My opponent is aggressively raising funds to run ads attacking my record of service and dedication to our country. I will not stand for these attacks and will respond to them swiftly with your support. Our campaign will make our next purchase of radio and television ads by April 30th and I once again need your help. An immediate donation of any amount will enable me to fight back against these attacks.

What’s missing? Yeah…any indication this is a primary election and the dude he’s up against is a Republican. And why McCain might be a better Republican than the other guy, who would presumably have voted against O-care too.

It’s not that McCain isn’t a deeply committed ideologue. It’s that his political divide is the John McCain camp versus the People Who Piss Off John McCain camp. And there are more Republicans than Democrats in that second party.

Oh, but it pleases me that the only sponsored link I get when I do a Google search of “McCain” is a pointer to McCain Rustic Oven Chips.

It’s my IP address.

April 21, 2010 — 11:11 pm
Comments: 20

Pff! You call THAT a quicker picker upper?

A cow orker from the Olde Countree recently visited me here at Badger Acres (first time I’ve heard an American accent not on TV in a year and a half). She asked me before she left if there was anything I wanted from home.

A couple rolls of Bounty paper towels, of course.

Plain white. Select-a-size.

They have Bounty here. Kinda. The Swedish company SCA bought the brand from Proctor and Gamble a few years back, then prompty rebranded it Plenty, proving once again that the only people who don’t get the whole “branding” thing are people who spend millions of dollars to buy up brands.

I’d never tried limey Bounty before, so I decided to splash out for a two-pack (thank you, Uncle B) just to see how it compares. I have to admit, the thirst pockets are quite acceptable. It is, however, three inches shorter and (it goes without saying) much skinnier. And you can just fuck right off if you think you can buy select-a-size.

These aren’t for the kitchen, of course. Too precious. I use them in my studio and honestly don’t know how Rembrandt could paint a damn thing without them.

The kind of towels we buy for the wiping of counters — they call it “kitchen roll” here — are store brand. An inch shorter still than Plenty, and I can blow a nostril bomb right through them, no problemo.

What, lame. You kidding? This is vintage Weasel. Second time I’ve posted on this topic.

April 20, 2010 — 10:57 pm
Comments: 31

An ignorant Yank’s lazy overview of British political parties

Oof. I reeeeally didn’t want to do this. British politics is hella depressing and, with heroic effort, I’ve managed to live here for a year and a half without learning much about it. But, as everybody’s favorite little brown mustelid abroad — and with an election coming up in three weeks — I suppose I must.

Deep breath. Here we go…

Right. These guys. In power for thirteen years, drove the country off a cliff, the current leader has all the charisma of a facial mole with a hair growing out of it. Result: not doing too badly at the polls. Why? Douche or Turd Syndrome, I think.

I was surprised to learn that Labour is a 20th Century party, founded in 1900. They compare fairly well with the Democrat party in the US, but they’re more honest about their socialism. They’ve been in power several times for fairly short periods and seemed a bit hapless before the Big One in ’97.

Yep, the Conservatives’ new logo is a little squiggly tree. If that doesn’t tell you everything you need to know about the party under David Cameron, then how about this: I was brushing my teeth this morning, listening to Radio 4 and there was — honest to god — a soundbite of Cameron saying, “if you want a more liberal Britain, vote Conservative.”

I almost swallowed my toothbrush.

Snubbed Thatcher. Only put up female candidates where he could. The sort of green who rides his bike to work while a limo drives behind him with his briefcase. Gone to great pains recently to explain that the Tories won’t balance the budget by cutting government.

I hate this man with the sort of searing flame that can only be extinguished with a double fistful of soft, soothing entrails. Whatever happens, Cameron MUST go down.

Okay, I totally don’t get the LibDems. I mean, I don’t get the distinction between them and Labour. They’re the leftist result of a 1988 merger between two 19th Century parties — the Liberal Party and the Social Democratic Party — and their function seems to be as a perpetual “other guys.” As in “yes, but what do the other guys say?” Or “fuck it — let’s vote for the other guys!”

Their polling took a ten point up-jump after the UK held its first ever Prime Ministerial TV debate, and the LibDem leader distinguished himself from the other two by not coming across as a barking spastic.

Ugh, these guys. Whatever the mess uncontrolled immigration has made of Britain, the BNP is still a bunch of creeps. And they’re leftists — of the blue-collar, pro-union variety. Think Archie Bunker without the charm.

The press describes them as far right, of course, because they’re bigots — while blandly admitting they pull votes away from Labour, not the Tories. It will be very interesting to see how they do in the elections. I anticipate a fair number of people will vote BNP — not because they wish them well and want them in power — but as an angry “fuck you!” to the political establishment. We shall see.

Whenever we go to a country fair or village fête, the UK Independence Party has a tent, manned by the same sweet blue-haired old ladies who sell chutney and homemade jams in the tent next door. UKIP has the right ideas — mainly getting Britain out from under the tyranny of the EU — but they haven’t got the hang of being a real, live national political party. Some financial scandals early in the life of the party didn’t help. Oh, and their logo is lavender on bright yellow, which is like unto being poked in the eye with a knitting needle.

But that’s where I’d vote if I could vote.

Because, bottom line, it simply DOES NOT MATTER who wins the election. There’s nothing much for Parliament to do; Brussels rules Britain. Did you know 70-80% of the laws of the land come from the European Union? And ain’t nothing the British parliament or prime minister — or, for that matter, Her Maj — can do to change any of them.

They can talk all they like about a “United States of Europe” but it’s a totally different proposition from the US of A. These people have been fighting horrible, bloody wars with each other for thousands of years, right up until a few decades ago. There are huge differences in ethnicity, legal system, culture, history and attitude — particularly between Britain and the Continent — and an ancient, deep well of ill-will.

In other words, almost all of Britain’s laws are being written by people who use “Anglo Saxon” as an insult. How do you think that’s working out?

UPDATE: Uncle B just read this and said I got the ancestry of the LibDems wrong. In actual fact, the Social Democratic Party was founded in blah blah blah blah, something something. Hope that clears it up; sorry for the error.

April 19, 2010 — 10:22 pm
Comments: 30