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Curiously Enough: WD-40Actually Was Rocket Science

In 1953, a fledgling company called Rocket Chemical Company and its staff of three set out to create a line of rust-prevention solvents and degreasers for use in the aerospace industry. Working in a small lab in San Diego, California, it took them 40 attempts to get the water displacing formula worked out. But they must have been really good, because the original secret formula for WD-40® -which stands for Water Displacement perfected on the 40th try—is still in use today. [continue reading…]

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“We are Siamese if you don’t please…”Report: Disney to Censor A Number of Disney Movies In the upcoming Lady and The Tramp live-action remake, the classic “The Siamese Cat Song” will be removed from the film with a new song replacing it.

Take all the signature brand names that the Baby Boomers inherited from prior generations— Harvard, Yale, the New York Times, NPR, CNN, the Oscars, the NFL, the NBA, the FBI, the CIA, the Rockefeller and Ford foundations, and a host of others. And then ask whether they enhanced or diminished such inheritances?

Q&A With Angelo Codevilla – Tablet Magazine Sure, they win elections. Not through faith but through pure clientelism. And don’t forget, especially nowadays, more and more nowadays, by fostering hate, by fostering resentment against others. If you are on our side, you’re on the side of the good. But more important than that, on the other side are people who hate you.

Real Men Don’t Need Tampons Would anyone—and I mean anyone, even many trannies who simply want to live out their fantasy in peace—have supported this trans-rights thing if they knew it would immediately blossom into this annoyingly relentless, reality-impaired, destroy-all-enemies grievance-monster? I mean, due to the fact that you never stop complaining, I’m starting to think that many of you guys actually are women.

The Simple Secret of Trump’s Supreme Political Confidence: Old-Fashioned Fan Mail Living in a college town I am continually amazed at the mediocrity that dominates the “education” process, not to mention the massive debt burden foisted onto those who are subjected to it. While students are burdened by debt the uninspired elites are inordinately rewarded despite the their puny results regardless the institution they inhabit. This mediocrity appears to have permeated throughout the culture to such an extent that many of my peers also in their sixties have expressed they see the same change, they now expect less understanding and more stupidity from those running institutions. We see more wisdom from the person who works on our car or fixes our plumbing and certainly a lot more humility which should be the fount of wisdom. [continue reading…]

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I was standing by my window,
On one cold and cloudy day
When I saw that hearse come rolling
For to carry my mother away

Will the circle be unbroken
By and by, lord, by and by
There’s a better home a-waiting
In the sky, lord, in the sky

I said to that undertaker
Undertaker please drive slow
For this lady you are carrying
Lord, I hate to see her go

BROUGHT TO YOU BY GOD VIA [continue reading…]

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The Name in the Stone

On Living with the Loss of a Son in Wartime. Written and first published on Memorial Day, 2003

My name, “Gerard Van der Leun,” is an unusual one. So unusual, I’ve never met anyone else with the same name. I know about one other man with my name, but we’ve never met. I’ve seen his name in an unusual place. This is the story of how that happened.

It was an August Sunday in New York City in 1975. I’d decided to bicycle from my apartment on East 86th and York to Battery Park at the southern tip of the island. I’d nothing else to do and, since I hadn’t been to the park since moving to the city in 1974, it seemed like a destination that would be interesting. Just how interesting, I had no way of knowing when I left.

August Sundays in New York can be the best times for the city. The psychotherapists are all on vacation — as are their clients and most of the other professional classes. The city seems almost deserted, the traffic light and, as you move down into Wall Street and the surrounding areas, it becomes virtually non-existent. On a bicycle, you own the streets that form the bottom of the narrow canyons of buildings where, even at mid-day, it is still cool with shade. Then you emerge from the streets into the bright open space at Battery Park.

Tourists are lining up for Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. A few people are coming and going from the Staten Island Ferry terminal. There are some scattered clots of people on the lawns of Battery Park. Everything is lazy and unhurried.

I’d coasted most of the way down to the Battery that day since, even though it appears to be flat, there is a very slight north to south slope in Manhattan. I arrived only a bit hungry and thirsty and got one of the dubious Sabaretts hot dogs and a chilled coke from the only vendor working the park.

We were in the midst of what now can be seen as “The Long Peace.”

The twin towers loomed over everything, thought of, if they were thought of at all, as an irritation in that they blocked off so much of the sky. It was 1975 and, Vietnam notwithstanding, America was just about at the midway point between two world wars. Of course, we didn’t know that at the time. The only war we knew of was the Second World War and the background hum of the Cold War. It was a summer Sunday and we were in the midst of what now can be seen as “The Long Peace.”

In front of the lawns at Battery Park was a monument that caught my attention. It was formed of an immense stone eagle and two parallel rows of granite monoliths about 20 feet wide, 20 feet tall and 3 feet thick. From a distance, you could see that they had words carved into them from top to bottom. There was also a lot of shade between them so I took my hot dog and my coke and wheeled my bike over, sitting down at random among the monoliths.

I remember that the stone was cool against my back as I sat there looking at the stone across from me on that warm afternoon. As I looked up it dawned on me that the words cut into the stones were all names. Just names. The names of soldiers, sailors, and airmen who had met their death in the north Atlantic in WWII. I was to learn later that there were 4,601 names. All lost in the frigid waters, all without any marker for their graves — except those in the hearts of those they left behind, and their names carved into these stones that rose up around me.

I read across several rows, moving right to left, then down a row, and then right to left. I got to the end of the sixth row and went back to the beginning of the seventh row.

At the beginning of the seventh row, I read the name: “Gerard Van der Leun.” My name. Cut into the stone amongst a tally of the dead. [continue reading…]

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The First Snowflakes of Paradise

My earliest memories are fragments; old black and white snapshots with scalloped edges where there should be movies.  I remember my father and his youngest brother throwing a football on the beach at La Jolla while I sat on the sand with a tin bucket as my mother held my baby brother in a towel. I remember putting a playing card into the spokes of my Schwinn to get a sound like an engine, a very feeble engine. And, as a child born in Los Angeles, I certainly remember the first time I saw snowflakes.

I was born only about three months after the end of World War II in Los Angeles and into a full-blown housing crisis as the troops returned and the nation began to adjust to the new normality that soon became the new prosperity. Housing wasn’t part of this prosperity for new families in LA. In fact, I’m told that my first home with my parents was in a roughly converted garage. Then we lived with my grandparents who soon, I was told, went away to Paradise. A couple of years after that, when I must have been at least four but certainly no more than five, we went to visit them for the Christmas holidays. We had not seen our grandparents in over two years.

I remember being in the back seat with my younger brother and falling asleep on the rough almost horsehair upholstery on the two days it must have taken to drive up the spine of old Highway 99. Other than that nothing remains in my memory of what must have been an early epic family expedition. Perhaps some scrim of pines blurring by as the day waned and the car climbed up the two-lane road that even then was known as the Skyway; then I drowsed. [continue reading…]

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Figure In a Series of Landscapes

I’d never heard of the song or seen the video until tonight, November 7, 2019. Yet as I watched it began to dawn on me that through whatever series of odd coincidences I have been — at one time or another in my life — physically present in a close equivalent to every scene in the video. Present for those in black and white as well as those in color…

And tonight, I’ll just leave it there.

TODAY, viewing again, I’ve still been in them all: [continue reading…]

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The Fire This Time

God gave Noah the rainbow sign
No more water, but the fire next time.

November 8, 2018 to November 8, 2019

The first day they let us back in I drove through fog as dense as the smoke that had driven me out. The burned hulks of cars and the opened guts of houses lined the roads along with the cleanup crews in their yellow vests. They gestured for me to stop and show my identification proving I could see the ash pits of my life.  They gave me special coveralls and masks and shoe covers in case I felt the need, like some demented Scrooge McDuck, to start plunging into my personal ash bin, my no-money bin, to pull out whatever did not melt, which was — it turned out — hardly anything.

Driving to where my house had been was like driving through…

like driving through some updated and hellish medieval landscape…

like moving through some small town after it had been destroyed from the air in some sort of Satan’s pyre.

Everywhere was ash. Here and there whisps of smoke rose and twined with the fog that covered the corpse of the town.

And then I came to what had been my home and I saw what I knew I would see but until I saw it could not comprehend it… a small wall of bricks in a long rectangle and inside that rectangle, everything I had owned was just a pool of ash. Everything. Here and there ceramic and iron items had survived and poked their shreds above the surface of the ash-like skeletal fingers of a drowning man…

but it was gone. It was all gone. Seventy years just reduced to ash soup.

When I got out of the car I noticed that the woman and man who had been my neighbors across the back fence were standing looking at their yard and their ash pit. The woman was just standing transfixed looking down where her three small children had played and laughed in the afternoons.

I walked over to her and she pointed down at the ground to the remains of three tricycles in three different sizes; small, smaller, and smallest. The fire had burned so hot that all the rubber and plastic had evaporated and the metal parts of the tricycles had been welded like steel into the earth.

She looked up at me and said the most chilling thing I’ve heard in the last year, “What if the fire had come at night?”

At night? At midnight? At four in the morning? There was no air raid siren that the town could hear. There was a “phone tree” but hardly anyone knew about it. In the high ridges and deep canyons with their hundreds of thousands of dry pines the cell phone coverage was always hit and miss.

At night? The fires would have taken not 86 lives but thousands. I would be a name on a list in an archived copy of the Chico Enterprise-Record.

It’s one year later and my life has changed, changed utterly. My house and my mother are both gone and other struggles in my family that began in this horrible year are still unfolding. I live in a small apartment in Chico, California not very far from the apartment my mother lived in for the last few decades of her 104 years. I left Chico and my first home in Paradise over 70 years ago. Five years ago I moved back to Paradise. One year ago Paradise was lost and became, as Milton wrote,

A Dungeon horrible, on all sides round
As one great Furnace flam’d, yet from those flames
No light, but rather darkness visible

I wrote many things as my town burned and the people there began their long struggle to return, to recover what had been lost to them. But what cannot be recovered is that part of their lives that went into the ash; went into the smoke.

In the weeks of the burning stories began to appear about how the smoke from the fires had made its way to the Bay Area where it was causing people’s eyes to sting a bit and to wonder if they should maybe get a face mask as they made their way between the piles of human feces on their sidewalks. The people of Paradise were sorry about that. It was just our photos, our memories, our pets and our clothes that were in the smoke. We were sorry for the inconvenience.

Yes, yes, yes… all that… yes.

But this morning here I am in this place and I ask myself what I really remember from those days that is of worth and of value?

I’ve written about the burning and what came after in detail but now, as the first glow of daybreak comes over the eastern ridge where Paradise is being rebuilt, what I do think about is the response of all my readers here and all those who never were readers but heard and helped.

To be reduced in one day to less than zero and to wander in the smoke of that loss is come in direct contact with what becomes a void of feeling; a blunt numbness,  a deep feeling of nothing at all, despair deeper than the dark.

And then, to understand — to be shown with the force of revelation — to know within a few days, that there are people in the world that you do not know and will never meet that will reach out and with money, and things, and cards and wishes and even, from one young girl, a package of toys and treats for my small cat, all to help me begin the work of rebuilding my life… that… THAT AND THAT ALONE… is what I felt and feel and hold as the pearl beyond price as I wake up in this day one year later.

These gestures came in a torrent. They came from friends, from friends long forgotten, from stranger upon stranger… from gifts in numbers so great…. hundreds upon hundreds… that I could not answer them all even though I struggled with the list for months as my mother began her slow fade from this life.

I don’t know why I have to learn again and again that there is nothing in the things of this world beyond the people in one’s life that matters at all, but that is my failing. Be that as it may, I will never forget what all of you and all the unmet others did for me to help me rise out of that dark place where darkness itself was visible back into the light of life.

As they say in the rooms, “The attitude is gratitude.”

That will be mine on this day.

 

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FROM John Hayward on the non-binary Trump elections

Trump critics complain about how intensely his supporters defend him against even mild and demonstrably valid criticism. This is not merely cultish devotion to Trump. It’s about people on the Right waking up to the realities of a binary political system.

This is not to justify the ferocious rejection of all Trump criticism – it’s a bad idea for any leader to be supported without question – but rather to understand it. The president’s most ardent supporters are not necessarily acting out of irrational devotion.

The Left has long understood the stakes in a binary system better than the Right. They have developed many techniques for whipping their voters into line behind their presidents and presidential candidates. They make very specific promises to voting blocs in their coalition.

Long before Trump, the Left caricatured even mild-mannered GOP candidates as inhuman monsters. The current pitch to wavering Democrat voters is contempt signaling: vote for the Dem, even if you don’t like him or her, just to annoy the heartland Republicans you hate.

Voters on the Right have long been told NOT to view presidential elections as binary choices with all of their vital issues on the line. They’ve been attacked as paranoid extremists for thinking that way. The media tells them every Dem candidate is a reasonable moderate.

A good number of people on the Right denounce or deny the binary nature of elections, too. Some are third-party enthusiasts, others ideological purists. Many are in a symbiotic relationship with the media and political class that treats all Dems as moderates.

The thing about this perpetual camouflage of Democrats as moderates – get ready for Elizabeth Warren to be described that way! – is that it obfuscates the binary nature of elections. It’s deliberately designed to make GOP voters consider 3rd-party protest votes or staying home.

Democrat voters march into each presidential election thinking their very lives and souls are on the line unless the Republican loses. Dems tell black voters the return of SLAVERY might be only one election away – “gonna put y’all back in CHAINS!” as Joe Biden put it.

GOP voters are told, eh, it’s just an election. Another one is coming in four years. You’re paranoid to think your way of life is at stake. Why not send the GOP leadership a message with a 3rd party protest vote? Why not just stay home if you really don’t like the GOP candidate?

This mindset is maintained with great effort even if the Republican wins. Dems support their presidents with feral intensity through every scandal and retroactively deny the scandals ever existed. Repubs are told to abandon their president to prove their open-mindedness…

RTWT AT FROM John Hayward on the non-binary Trump elections

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Sometime in early September, this song came over the radio as I was driving back from Sacramento. As it unfolded I found that after the year I’d just had in which I lost my house and my mother it quite unmanned me. I had to pull off the highway onto a side road and stop for a bit listening. Then I drove on.

The song, it turns out, found its audience that way; one person at a time. It was initially not going to be on Green’s new album but then he played it at a concert and a phone video made went viral on YouTube. When that happened it was moved onto the album where he lists both his grandpas as co-writers of the song.

Today, Green released this new performance video in which his audience is his backup group.

Here’s the song as recorded for the album. [continue reading…]

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The Stone Cutters by Robinson Jeffers

Stone-cutters fighting time with marble, you fore-defeated
Challengers of oblivion
Eat cynical earnings, knowing rock splits, records fall down,
The square-limbed Roman letters
Scale in the thaws, wear in the rain. The poet as well
Builds his monument mockingly:
For man will be blotted out, the blithe earth dies, the brave sun
Die blind, his heart blackening:
Yet stones have stood for a thousand years, and pained thoughts found
The honey peace in old poems.

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