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Shorter Stories

Luckily for me, everything on this taco is on my New Year’s Resolution Diet!

I was accused of pride by my peripheral friend; my new unfriend – people who with a click of a mouse are excluded from your life forever, with no impact except perhaps a sigh of relief and a nagging, irritating question “why didn’t I do that sooner?” Pride because I dare to write thoughtfully. I am not a mocker by nature, an idiot jester or buffoon. And while I do rage, I try not to write those thoughts down; they do me no good at all, much less anybody who stumbles onto one of my reflections. Plus when I am angry, without the tranquility I so crave, my words become poison. Best not to let out that dross. Yes, I suppose I do suffer from pride – is that not the case for all of us who love the things we do? Does not a baker believe they should be baking for the table of the king? Does not the inventor believe his gadget would change the world? Is not a coder certain they have found a better algorithm? And if so why not a writer; one who has paid so dearly for the lessons learned after twenty years in the camps, to be easily dismissed? No, nobody does what they do without pride – unless they are a cynic or perhaps a nihilist. A Reason, A Season, or a Lifetime

What do you do if your life’s ambition – to become a pilot with the US Air Force – gets shot down by poor eyesight? If you’re Larry Walters, you take matters into your own hands. In 1982 the California truck-driver, unperturbed by the stringent recruitment standards of the USAF, decided to take to the air in his own unique way: by attaching a large cluster of weather balloons to a lawn chair.

First, Larry and his girlfriend forged a requisition slip from his employer, Filmfair Studios, enabling them to purchase the 45 8-foot (2.4 m) weather balloons by saying they were to be used in a commercial. They then set about inflating the balloons and attaching them to Larry’s patio chair. He put on a parachute, strapped himself in and took off, carrying with him only the absolute essentials – a pellet gun (to shoot balloons if he went too high), a CB radio, a camera, sandwiches and, most essential of all, a four-pack of beer.

The plan was to float 30 feet (9 m) above the Mojave Desert for a few hours, then effect a pleasant and gradual descent. To Larry’s horror, however, the chair rose from his yard in San Pedro much faster than expected – he was eventually to reach a maximum altitude of 15,000 feet (4,600 m) – and was soon drifting over Los Angeles and into the primary approach corridor for Long Beach Airport, where he was spotted by several commercial airliners.

By this point, Larry had achieved his primary aim – to fly – but now faced the problem of how not to fly. Floating in LA airspace was not, he knew, going to make him very popular. Initially, though, he was too scared to shoot any of the balloons in case he unbalanced and fell from his madcap contraption. He tried getting in touch with REACT – a citizen’s band radio monitoring organization. As he put it to them:

‘… the difficulty is, ah, this was an unauthorized balloon launch and, uh, I’m sure my ground crew has alerted the proper authority. But, uh, just call them and tell them I’m okay.’  The Odysseum: Larry ‘Lawnchair’ Walters (1949-1993)

The Best Thing That Happened This Week: Emotional Support Chickens for All!

Word Around the Net: THE RURAL FUTURE? This sort of feels like Medieval times, with the lord in his castle surrounded by peasants that he protects and allegedly cares for like children, taking from them what he desires to survive with. Feudalism never really has gone away, but it’s been modified with the times; people still cluster around cities to live off the government’s handouts and pay heavy taxes to the state in exchange for protection and goodies.

The physical ugliness of the age has been cleansed by the sterile aesthetic of Silicon Valley, but the spiritual ugliness of the cultural revolution remains. Glass and stainless steel cannot mask it. That ugliness is what is fueling the populist movements. In Europe and America, the natives, physically and culturally divorced from their rulers, are now looking for alternative sources of authority. The people are recoiling at the ugly world created for them by their rulers, so the slow search for new rulers has begun. No one thinks about it quite like that yet, but in time, that corner will be turned. We’ll move from reform to the idea of starting fresh and leaving the ugliness of left-wing radicalism behind. The Age Of Ugly | The Z Blog

It Was Always About the Wall | All prior efforts to ensure border security — sanctions against employers, threats to cut off foreign aid to Mexico and Central America, and talk of tamper-proof identity cards — have failed. Instead, amnesties, expanded entitlements and hundreds of sanctuary jurisdictions offer incentives for waves of undocumented immigrants. The reason a secure borer wall has not been — and may not be — built is not apprehension that it would not work, but rather real fear that it would work only too well.

Scientists Find 3,820-Year-Old Termite Mounds in Brazil   The vast array of termite mounds covers an estimated 230,000 km2 (roughly the size of Great Britain) of seasonally dry tropical forest in a relatively undisturbed region of northeastern Brazil. It includes approximately 200 million cone-shaped soil mounds that are 2.5 m tall and approximately 9 m in diameter. These mounds are not nests, but rather they are generated by the excavation of vast inter-connecting tunnel networks.

“These mounds were formed by a single termite species — known as Syntermes dirus — that excavated a massive network of tunnels to allow them to access dead leaves to eat safely and directly from the forest floor,” said study lead author Professor Stephen Martin, a researcher at the University of Salford, UK. “The amount of soil excavated is over 10 km3, equivalent to 4,000 great pyramids of Giza.”

“This is apparently the world’s most extensive bioengineering effort by a single insect species,” added co-author Dr. Roy Funch, from the Universidade Estadual de Feira de Santana, Brazil. “Perhaps most exciting of all — the mounds are extremely old — up to 4,000 years, similar to the ages of the pyramids.”

 Five Absurd Myths about the Middle Ages –   The Myth: Everyone in the Middle Ages believed that the Earth was flat, and the Church taught it as a strict doctrine. The Truth: There are absolutely no records showing Church teachings of a flat Earth during the Middle Ages. It was a well-known fact that the world was a sphere and widely accepted by the majority of scholars.

Even the poor and uneducated knew what the shape of the Earth was round. Kings used an orb as a symbol of their earthly power, which they held in their left hand while sitting on their thrones. This symbolism would not make sense unless they believed the world was round.

The romanticized idea that Christopher Columbus discovered a round Earth on a brave voyage opposed by the Church is nothing more than a myth. It was created in 1827 by a novelist named Washington Irving. He was commissioned to write a novel about the life of Columbus but quickly found that the explorer had been wrong about the size of the Earth. In an attempt to make a more heroic story, Irving made up the whole idea that the medieval church preached a flat Earth.

Spells Against the Evil Spirits of Babylonia (1903)    Whether thou art a ghost that hath come from the earth, or a phantom of the night that hath no couch… or one that lieth dead in the desert… or a ghost unburied… or a hag-demon, or a ghoul, or a robber-sprite, or a weeping woman that hath died with a babe at the breast… Whatever thou be until thou art removed, until thou departest from the body of the man, thou shalt have no water to drink. Thou shalt not stretch forth thy hand… Into the house enter thou not. Through the fence break thou not…

Riding The New York Subway –     No one speaks except to the person on his immediate right or left, and only then if they are very old friends or else married. Avoiding the stranger’s gaze is what the subway passenger does best. Most sit bolt upright, with fixed expressions, ready for anything. As a New York City subway passenger, you are J. Alfred Prufrock – you ”prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet.” Those new to the subway have the strangest expressions, like my English friend who told me there was only one way to survive the subway: ”You have to look as if you’re the one with the meat cleaver. You have to go in with your eyes flashing.”

Everybody knows what PC is because we are all members of its church, born into it at birth. It has sacraments like abortion, blasphemous words one cannot utter, heretical doctrines you cannot hold, individuals canonized by the media you cannot impugn and a roster of the damned with whom you cannot associate. Few say their prayers any more but multitudes spend each day sorting their trash in their backyard altars to the goddess Gaia.  Nonbelievers in Global Warming are anathematized as Deniers; virtue signaling has become the new piety.  And we are familiar with all of it because our conversion until recently seemed all but complete. — We need a bigger world | 

Childhood’s End |    There is now more code than ever, but it is increasingly difficult to find anyone who has their hands on the wheel. Individual agency is on the wane. Most of us, most of the time, are following instructions delivered to us by computers rather than the other way around. The digital revolution has come full circle and the next revolution, an analog revolution, has begun. None dare speak its name.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Schill McGuffin January 15, 2019, 1:48 PM

    I’m fairly sure that the “plan was to float 30′” part was just “plausible deniability”. I don’t really buy that he’d have taken the pellet gun if that was all he planned to do. And surely if he went to all the trouble of acquiring the balloons and helium for them for a teathered flight, he could have gotten a winch and cable as well. That it didn’t all go according to plan… That I can fully buy.

  • Mike Anderson January 15, 2019, 3:22 PM

    As usual, reality outstrips comedy. Check out this taco: http://www.odditycentral.com/foods/only-5-people-have-managed-to-finish-this-giant-taco-in-the-last-18-years.html
    It’s on my bucket list; I’m bringing an actual bucket.

  • PA Cat January 15, 2019, 6:01 PM

    Lawnchair Larry might have been the inspiration for the Heene family’s 2009 hoax, aka “Balloon Boy.”

  • u.k.(us) January 16, 2019, 12:22 PM

    I’ll never forget my Dad telling me what he heard about the Larry “lawnchair” Walters flight, I mean it was 1982, so he either heard about it on the radio or at the bar. The way I remember it, the story he told was of air controllers calling out the “hazard to flight” to the airliners, and the fact the guy had a pellet gun to control his landing speed.
    Never heard my Dad laugh so hard.