Wednesday,  December 29, 2021

Uhhhhh, No

Got an email today from the Census Bureau, inviting me to take a survey about the pan(dem)ic.

I figured, “Why not?” and clicked on in.

Page after page, I offered honest responses, hoping like an idiot that they’d contribute to more sensible policies in the event of a future public health crisis. I even clicked the “Never getting the vaccine” option, and threw in a “Let’s go Brandon” just for the hell of it.

Got to the end and — <sound of a phonograph needle scratching across the vinyl> — the survey demanded my home address. As you might imagine, I noped and closed the tab without completing the survey.

So, the Census Bureau is going to report results from this survey that will be skewed totally toward people who trust the United States Government.

How blatant can they get?

Christmas Day,  December 25, 2021

Merry Christmas

Deck the malls with piles of money, fa la la la la, la la la la.

Oh, wait — that’s over until next year.

I don’t want to tempt fate by saying 2022 “can’t be” worse than 2021, but I really do hope it’s better.

Updates: Having depleted the Bulleit’s Rye, I’m now working on a bottle of Wild Turkey. I’ll probably go back to my usual cheap Scotch when I’ve finshed this.

Also: When I learned that Paramount Plus would be showing “Star Trek: Strange New Worlds” featuring Anson Mount as Captain Christopher Pike, I signed up — not realizing at the time the premiere was still months away. So, in order to get something for my money I’ve gone ahead and started bingeing “Star Trek: Discovery” (or, as I called it when it premiered, “STD”). Maybe I’m just not as much of a hard-core Trekkie as I might once have believed, but I’m able to enjoy the series despite its wokeness and its tampering with the continuity established in the original series.

I’m approaching it as a possible version of Trek future history, kind of like the Kelvin-timeline movies starring Chris Pine.

Besides, Gene Roddenberry was woke before it was uncool; in a lot of ways his original concept of the Trek universe was a lot less realistic than “Discovery.” Many of his rules precluded a lot of the requirements of effective storytelling. And it’s not that unreasonable that the morality of the 23rd century might be different from what we are comfortable with today. The reaction to it stems from the fact its present-day creators are doing what science-fiction does: try to depict the world they wish they lived in now.

Axiomatically, the proper response to storytelling one doesn’t agree with, is to tell the stories you’d prefer told. Which is one reason why I continue essaying science-fiction stories of my own, even when I can’t make the plots work out — I’m trying to tell stories that describe a future more than to complete a narrative. After all, the worlds I describe have people in them whose hopes and motivations would make perfect sense to any of us, were we to live in them. Finishing the narrative eventually becomes superfluous to me and I drop the plot in favor of rebuilding the world from a different perspective.

The future worlds I create do not imagine galaxy-spanning governments because I know such vast institutions are untenable and undesirable, even were the technology available to make them feasible. Science fiction is ultimately about hope, and hope is found in freedom, not conformity.

Thursday,  December 16, 2021


It’s been more than four months now since I lost Mrs. McG.

The other night I watched the CGI-animated Grinch movie from 2018 — which I call “Cumbergrinch” — and wept openly.

Not at the screaming goat though. The screaming goat still makes me laugh.

Friday,  December 10, 2021

There’s No Place Like Home for the Holidays

Today I had to go out into Christmas shopping traffic on a Friday afternoon. I suppose in a way it was to get a Christmas present, though it wasn’t something that could be wrapped and put under anybody’s Christmas tree.

Not only was the traffic horrific (though I didn’t go from Atlantic to Pacific), but it was a foggy afternoon. It was almost nostalgic:

In Sacramento, Christmas shopping season was usually cold and foggy — the valley socked in by a thermal inversion that prevented warm air from mixing down to the surface. It made “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” especially plausible...

Today’s fog wasn’t as thick as anything Rudolph was needed for, but headlights on at three in the afternoon isn’t something I associate with fog here in Georgia, where it almost always burns off by noon. Up in Fairbanks, Alaska, that time of day at this time of year would need headlights with or without fog — I used to joke that one could watch the sun rise and set all during lunch break; it wasn’t quite that bad really, but close.

Anyway, having reminded myself why I avoid Christmas shopping traffic, I am home again. Newnan’s retail district is compact enough that I don’t have to barricade myself in the house until after Boxing Day, but avoiding the environs of Walmart and other big box stores in December is always good advice.

Thursday,  December 2, 2021

Tempus Fugit

And look what’s coming down the pike — 2022!!!


Thanksgiving Day,  November 25, 2021

Annus Horribilis

On a personal level, 2021 will not go down in history as my favorite year.

Besides the sudden and tragic loss of the lovely and vivacious Mrs. McG, I’ve been dealing with health issues I won’t detail here except to say that they are completely unrelated to COVID-19. I was in the hospital three times before the end of last June, and have graduated to a self-administered home treatment regimen after months of regular in-clinic treatments. I have other options, but as long as vaccine madness has the medical profession in its clutches I’m holding off on pursuing them.

One would be forgiven for thinking I must not have much to be thankful for today, but that’s not the case.

I’m still here, in modestly better condition health-wise now than before this all began. Our nest egg would have supported us both comfortably in our old age, which I would naturally rather had happened, but as it is I have no worries about money. And while no one on either side of the family is close at hand to help me in the occasional time of need, they are keeping tabs on me and keeping me in their thoughts and prayers. And I cannot deny that despite everything I must have Someone watching over me Who only means me well.

Years ago, my mother told me that what kept her going through the adversity of her life was, “I want to see what's going to happen next.”

So I guess I come by it honestly.

A few past Thanksgiving entries: 2015, 2016, and 2017.

Thursday,  November 18, 2021

Jack of Diamonds, Jack of Diamonds, I’ve Known You of Old

According to centuries of family lore — and accepted officially by Clan Gregor and its Chief — we McGehees are part of the same Highland tribe as Rob Roy.

So of course when I have a thirst for Scotch whisky, it’s the cheap blend labeled “Clan MacGregor” that I choose. Because cheap.

This year, though, as I’m riding alone into the holidays, I’m in more of a cowboy mood.

Bulleit’s frontier rye is... less cheap than my preferred Scotch, but it’s still cheaper than any of the “good” Scotches out there that I might indulge in. And while I know how I like my cheap Scotch, I’m approaching rye with more willingness to experiment. Maybe shooting it straight will grow on me, while discouraging me from pouring doubles or repeat shots.

In the meantime, I let the Sons of the Pioneers play the tune in my memory and try not to apply the satirical lyrics I came up with for it 25 years ago:

I love my Rice Krispies
To start off my day
If you ask why I like them
Here's what I will say

Rice Krispies, Rice Krispies
I pour milk on the top
Rice Krispies, Rice Krispies
Go snap, crackle, pop

I think the proper lyrics, if there are any, can be heard on Michael Martin Murphey’s “Jack of Diamonds.”

But I don’t need rye whiskey that bad. At least, not until after the next election. And even then it’ll depend on the outcome.

Veterans Day,  November 11, 2021

Thank You for Your Service

My father joined the U.S. Army Air Corps during the Second World War. My great great grandfather Walter McGehee was drafted into the Union Army during the Civil War, but his two eldest brothers volunteered. The elder of those, Richard, was killed in battle in Tennessee — not having lived to be a veteran, he would be honored on Memorial Day.

Though I haven’t documented him, I believe my five-times-great grandfather Josiah Wheeler was a soldier in the Continental army during the War for American Indpendence.

And then there’s the likelihood that my eight-times-great grandfather, William MackGahye, who appeared in Virginia as an indenured servant in 1653, was one of the many Scots transported there or to New England after being captured by Cromwell’s army at Worcester, while fighting to place Charles II on the English throne seized from his executed father Charles I (the younger Charles had already been crowned King of Scots, which is why his army at Worcester was Scottish).

That’s admittedly a scant military ancestry compared to some others — such as the late Mrs. McG, whose ancestry links up to that of the famous Marine maverick, Lt. Gen. Lewis B. “Chesty” Puller, as well as boasting a variety of Confederate and Continental veterans in her direct ancestry — but it’s mine and each one of them risked his life, his sacred honor, and what little “fortune” he might have had, to serve his country as he saw fit.

Had William not fought for his king, there would be no, or only very few, McGehees in America. Had Josiah and thousands of others like him not fought against their king, there would not be an America as we know it. In the Civil War the McGehees were like many an American clan, split by opposing loyalties; most of Walter’s cousins would have been shooting at him and his brothers.

America is a story, and each of us has a place in it, earned by our history and by what we do in the present. What’s yours?

Tuesday,  November 2, 2021

Back on the (Supply) Chain Gang

I have a phone that is both brand new and not one of the more popular brands.

I don’t understand why; this manufacturer not only offers great phones for a relatively low price, but also refuses to abandon its older models’ update needs after just a handful of years like most phone makers. (I know Apple doesn’t either, but I’m a staunch Protestant now.)

Anyway, while everybody and his brother makes protective cases and holsters for iPhones and LG phones and Samsung firebombs, nobody had one for this phone when I bought it. After weeks of carrying it around protected by nothing but my own grip and dexterity — {{{shudder}}} — I looked again to see whether anyone now offered a case for it.

Lo and behold, I found one.

It’s made in the fictitious Eastasian people’s republic posing as China. On the wrong side of an ocean, during a supply-chain breakdown of epic proportions. And as of now it has been sitting on a dock in Eastasia for almost two weeks. The delivery forecast suggests it could take as long as another three and a half weeks to arrive, and I suspect that’s overly optimistic.

As a rule I don’t buy from Eastasia -- Eastasia is asshoe -- but I thought a phone case would be harmless.

Well, I guess as long as it’s sitting on a dock way over there, it isn’t exactly doing me any damage, other than to the time value of the money I spent when I ordered it, which at the current inflation rate might even be doing me a favor. Still, it goes to show:

Don’t buy anything from Eastasia, especially during a supply-chain meltdown.

Update, Thursday morning: Ummmm...

I’m sure you can see the two issues with the screenshot above. First, China Eastasia Post doesn’t operate in the United States and second, they sure as hell don’t operate here at 4:44 in the morning on my property. Not if they want to leave under their own power.

If this isn’t a website glitch (Narrator: “It is.”) I would advise they don’t try again. Instead, hand the shipment off to a carrier that operates legitimately in this country and at a decent hour.

Update, Thursday afternoon: Huh...

Can it be that everything I’ve been told about the supply-chain meltdown was a lie?

Well, no. But I can say with certainty now that my phone case was not sitting on a dock in Eastasia for the last two weeks. Nor was it China Eastasia Post that delivered it to me today, but the good ol’ patriotic United States Postal Service.

Okay, that last is a bit of hyperbole, but at least USPS does operate legitimately in the U.S., so... I don’t know what the business about 4:44 a.m. signifies, (Narrator: “It was a website glitch.”) but I have my phone case.

And I have to say, desite my fears it’s a perfect fit for this phone. I still don’t have a proper holster for it, but the case should make it a little bit safer to carry it as I have been.

Saturday,  October 23, 2021

Autumn Greetings

Last year, “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” never aired on free TV for some reason or other, and even the DVD was unavailable. As a result, as soon as it became available again on DVD, I bought a copy.

This year, the free-TV presentation is back; now that I can never be deprived of it, “they,” whoever “they” are, won’t try anymore.

I’ve got other Halloween-themed viewing on tap too, from the Gothic classics with Karloff and Lugosi, respectively, to that Tim Burton flick that links Halloween to Christmas. It’s been a few years since I watched Frankenstein and Dracula, though I had a chance more recently to see the original 1922 silent, Nosferatu which, oddly, doesn’t get much free-TV exposure. Nosferatu adheres much more closely to the narrative of Bram Stoker’s original book than the better-known 1931 Gothic; Stoker’s widow sued to stop Nosferatu, citing infringement because the filmmakers hadn’t paid the estate for the movie rights.

The holidays to come will be an adjustment. I haven’t spent a Christmas alone in a long time, and I anticipate doing a few things this year that Mrs. McG and I got out of the habit of in recent years, to compensate.

Not sure how much decorating I’ll do, with no one to share the spectacle with, but I can’t expect to get through the season pretending it isn’t happening. That wouldn’t make it any more endurable. So I’ll be doing the Christmas specials thing that we used to do, and maybe even sending out actual Christmas cards — since I still have stamps, but no more checks I need to snail-mail out.

By the way, my idea of Christmas programming includes watching the National Finals Rodeo, December 2 through 11, on the Cowboy Channel. What’s Christmas without cowboys?

Saturday,  October 16, 2021

It’s Ba-a-a-a-ack

Back in June I switched to blogging with something called HTMLy, hosted on a NextCloud installation I’ve been trying out since then.

Today I’m returning — as foreshadowed at the end of that post — to the tried-and-true blog format you see here.

It’s not really HTMLy’s fault, although I did have a complaint about the limited customization options. Instead, I’ve encountered multiple petty annoyances with NextCloud that have finally added up to a decision to disengage. The cloud storage has become glitchy, various of the accessories — notes, contacts — have been unsatisfactory or glitchy in their own right, and all things considered I don’t foresee bringing my cloud storage, etc., home with NextCloud as its engine.

I’m not happy about the alternatives I remain stuck with, and will continue to look for better ones.

As for the blog, this at least I’m comfortable with.

Sunday,  September 26, 2021

Ride ‘Em, Cousin!

I’ve never met PRCA bareback bronc rider Lane McGehee from south Texas, but with that last name he’s got to be a cousin of mine some way — probably somewhere between sixth and ninth cousin at least once removed. I’ve seen him compete a few times this rodeo season, including at Cheyenne Frontier Days last July, but I’d been aware of him for some years, since seeing him win a high-school or college-level rodeo in Texas on RFD-TV before the Cowboy Channel debuted.

I was rooting for him to make it to the National Finals Rodeo this year, but only the top 15 competitors in each event get into that, and... he isn’t in the top 15. There’s always next year.

If it weren’t for Lane I wouldn’t really pay attention to the bareback bronc event (I’ve been more of a bull-riding fan); the only other bareback rider I can think of off the top of my head is Chris Ledoux. Guess that’ll have to change. I do know there are some legendary riders that have been winning gold buckles in all those rodeos; I just can’t think of their names right now.

Saturday,  September 25, 2021

#FJB Some More

Due to certain idiotic policies that kick in when someone dies, I’m unable to pay off certain debts the easy way — online — and so I have to write paper checks and send them via the U.S. Snail.

This requires the purchasing of postage stamps, which requires entering the lobby of a post office. Which I did today.

And was confronted with a sign on the door that said face coverings were required to enter the building.

There was one other person there and I couldn’t tell whether he was masked or not, and he didn’t say anything to me when I walked in bare-faced.

Still, if a future post-office visit takes place not on a Saturday, I’ve decided I need to be prepared. The navy blue version displays by default at that link, but I ordered the red one. Because MAGA.

By the way, did you know that it costs financial institutions more money to cash paper checks than to process online payments? And did you know that when you borrow based on a 48-month interest-free deal, 48 times the minimum payment actually works out to equal the full amount you borrowed?

This means that the financial institution to which I mailed a check today is going to spend more money processing this payment than I spent on gas or a stamp.

The mask will probably put me over the finish line first though. I don’t care.

Thursday,  September 23, 2021

The Rot

I’ve deleted my Disqus account again. The comment threads on Instapundit have become a monoculture of “It doesn’t matter how incompetent the Democrats are at everything else; they’re perfect at stealing elections so they’re going to keep winning everything forever.”

The entire world knows they cheated, but somehow we’re all powerless to do anything about it? In a country where The People are sovereign we need officialdom — corrupt and incompetent as we know it to be — to punish election fraud?

I said that if comment threads advise conservatives to give up on voting, I would give up on comment threads.

It took a while, but enough is enough.

Update, October 16: I’ve created a new Disqus account, but keeping my use of it to a minimum. The Eeyores still frustrate me, but all I get from butting my head against that brick wall, is headaches.

Tuesday,  September 14, 2021


It’s been a great many years since I was a college student, but The Chant is a unifying phenomenon that can cross lines of age, gender, race and economic class.

Saturday,  September 11, 2021


Twenty years ago this morning, several kooks from Middle Eastern countries flew four commercial passenger jets to their dooms with innocent people aboard, in an attempt to bring the United States of America to its knees.

If Osama bin Laden were still alive today — as he would be if then-Vice President Joe Biden had had his druthers back in 2011 — he would be kicking himself for believing the way to do that was with terrorism. Rather, he should simply have funneled money to his would-be protector’s political campaigns like so many other corruptocrats and enemies of Western civilization have done over the course of his career.

It would have taken decades, and the results would have been less spectacular than the collapse of the World Trade Center’s twin towers, but it would have had the advantage of succeeding — as it appears to have done without Osama’s money.

Instead, it appears poor Osama served only as a distraction, a sacrificial target for Western wrath and preparation while civilization’s true enemies made good their ambition by other means.

And we fell for it.

Fool me once...

Monday,  September 6, 2021


Originally posted Tuesday, August 3; bumped.

What would a rodeo cowboy do?

Trying to live by the rules foisted on us daily by our cultural elites is enough to drive a man crazy. The rules keep changing, so why comply? Compliance is futile.

I was still in school when I noticed this about eating healthy — whatever the latest study showed, another would appear next week that contradicted it. Why comply? I decided that the most reasonable advice was simply to partake moderately of a wide variety of foods. I haven’t been perfect in following that rule, but to the extent that I have, I’m sure I've avoided a lot more trouble than what I’ve ended up in.

In the wider context, I’ve concluded the best rule is to live like a rodeo cowboy. What would a rodeo cowboy do?

The most obvious defining rules observed by such men and women are be polite, play fair, and be a good sport. In short, they live by eternal verities passed down for centuries by patriotic, hard-working people who make, build, and grow what every human society needs. They don’t listen to ivory-tower pointy-heads who contemplate their own navels and propose new rules we’re all supposed to live by, a new set of rules every day that contradicts the day before, none of which make sense to sensible men and women. Why comply?

A rodeo cowboy goes for it; he does his best; he takes his lumps, tips his hat to the crowd, and moves on to the next rodeo. He knows about all the variables facing him in his life, and he accepts them. He takes it on faith that they’ll all even out in the long run, and meanwhile he’ll trust in God and the luck of the draw.

We could all do worse.

Sunday,  September 5, 2021

A Prayer

Lord, today marks one month since you called Mrs. McG home.

As You know my heart, You know I’m still not okay with this, and for that I beg forgiveness.

You allowed me to call her mine for a while. For that, even now, I can thank You.

I know that You do not lay on us burdens You know we cannot bear. In faith of this, I will bear this burden, and await such new purpose as You may see fit to guide me to.

Sunday,  August 29, 2021

A Thief of Tomorrows

Whereas with the Mrs. our default TV background noise — especially today — would be The Weather Channel, I’ve taken to having The Cowboy Channel on, at least during rodeo telecasts.

Every so often a commercial will come on mentioning the Fort Worth Stockyards, which we had the opportunity to visit back in 2002 when I accompanied her to Texas for a meteorology conference there in Cowtown.

More than once today I’ve heard the mention and thought that “we” ought to take another opportunity to visit there sometime.

I can still go, I suppose, but even if I went with someone else for company, my memories of that previous visit would just be so much excess baggage as far as another companion would be concerned. However understanding the new companion might be, it would get in the way of them creating their own memories.

I mentioned in a previous post that I find myself existing in two worlds. That feeling won’t ever go away completely; she was part of my life for half my life.

I still have a lot of tomorrows ahead, but they’re not the ones I thought I had a few weeks ago.

Friday,  August 27, 2021

Lone Star Belt Buckles and Old Faded Levi's

Well, not really. I’m wearing Wranglers, and the need to chase my waist size down the scale has forced me to buy belts so hastily I can’t put my choice of buckle on them.

Come to think of it, I don’t have a lone-star belt buckle anyway. Various critters, or one of those Western-style designs. Maybe I should start shopping for buckles again, when I get around to buying a belt I can put one on.

Probably not a lone star though. Unless I ever actually move to Texas, which I don’t foresee. Maybe a buckle with Steamboat, the legendary Wyoming saddle bronc, who was the model for Wyoming’s bucking horse icon.

Anyway. A downside of this* blog format is it doesn’t offer much customization, regardless of what theme I use. Some of you might have forgotten what I look like.

I don’t look like you’d recognize anymore, anyway. I’m clocking under 200 pounds now for the first time since college. Used to be I’d tell myself I needed to have Mrs. McG take a new picture of me, but that’s out now. I’ll think of something.

*The HTMLy blogging platform I used through much of 2021 didn’t have an author’s photo widget.

Sunday,  August 22, 2021

Making All His Nowhere Plans

“Going to.”

Monday,  August 16, 2021

Please, Mr. Postman

Some time in the last couple of weeks, my mailbox was damaged to the point that the letter carrier can no longer open the door to deposit mail.

According to FedEx, its replacement arrives today, so I’ve just been out there trying to remove the damaged box from the post and make room for the new one. And after a good half-hour of working at it, I’ve extracted precisely one screw of the four.

These things are as long as rebar, seems like, and after being out there for just a few years they are resisting what leverage I can exert with a standard screwdriver. When I return to the job I’ll take a pair of Vise-Grips, but the heads of the screws are inside the box, limiting the amount of turn I can get before needing to reset the blade.

I wish I lived closer to a post office; I could just rent a box there and be done with this carp.

Tell me again why a government corporation is needed to deliver advertising circulars I never look at?

Sunday,  August 15, 2021


I live in two worlds.

Far and away most of the time I’m in this one — where she’s already gone, and I have to reorganize my life to adapt to her absence. In this world I still have a huge list of things I need to do, processes I have to wait out, until I have a life that fits reasonably well within it.

But sometimes I see something, or I have a stray thought, and suddenly — just for an instant — I’m in that other world, where it hasn’t happened yet, I haven’t lost her yet, she’s still here.

Being in that other world, the world that ended that day, doesn’t hurt — but the abrupt, inevitable shift back into this world that follows, and I once again have that emptiness where she used to be, it’s like losing her all over again.

Today, finally, I can cry. I guess that’s progress. It means I’ve gotten enough done that now I can stop doing and — alone with my memories — I can just feel for a few minutes.

And today’s her memorial service. I’ll never be able to say all of the above in front of that room full of people, so I’ve written it here.

The process of adapting goes on.

Wednesday,  August 11, 2021

Catching My Breath

Under pressure, I tend to focus on what I can do something about.

Loss is something that, once it’s happened, is a fact of life. Nothing to do about that. Mrs. McG is gone.

Intense feeling is another fact of life, under these circumstances, and all I can do is manage how it affects me in the moment. In fact, focusing on what I can do something about, is one of my strategies for dealing with grief. It lets me keep some emotional distance so I can remain functional until remaining functional is no longer a critical need.

In recent days I’ve tried to let some of the feeling run its course, but I only get tears for a few seconds. Clearly I’m not ready yet. I’m too busy coping with the thousands of little changes that have happened in my life because of this big one. Right now I still need to breathe more than I need to cry.

She had plenty of opportunities to learn this about me. I’m sure she understands — especially since she would never have let all this fall on me so suddenly, if she had her druthers.

Thursday,  August 5, 2021


I have lost my beloved wife.

She has gone to a place free of pain, fear or worry. I, however, am still here.

Saturday,  July 24, 2021

I Ride Along and Sing a Tune

It’s the fourth Saturday in July, which means it’s the National Day of the Cowboy. It’s as good a day as any to re-explain the name of this blog.

These days tally books are associated with the oilfields, but before there was an oil industry, tally books were used by working cowboys.

A buckaroo in the saddle was his employer’s eyes and ears on the open range. To ensure that he reported accurately what he saw as he rode, he carried a book of blank pages to make notes in. He would record how many cattle he saw, where he saw them, and what brands they wore. If he saw a calf with one brand following a cow with another, he’d report that too -- and there could be strong words between the owners of the respective brands.

He also took note of range conditions and whatever else he might consider worth knowing about, and this way the boss and the other hands knew of anything that might affect their work and the boss’ property.

At roundup time, actual tallies were kept of which cattle wore which brand, as well as what brands were put on unbranded calves. The different brand owners would have representatives present, and each kept careful track of the others’ tallies to make sure they all agreed.

When the open range got fenced in, keeping track of the livestock became easier, but the man riding fence still needed to take notice of things. Damage to the barbed wire, for example, might be incidental or it might be sabotage; either way, cattle might be wandering on someone else’s range, and that would need to be reported and dealt with.

These days a working cowboy might report his findings by cell phone, if he has any bars, or note them down on his phone or tablet for later retrieval. Some cowboys even carry a laptop in the saddlebag. Picture John Wayne or Clint Eastwood doing that.

Tuesday,  June 22, 2021

Rescue Me

Years ago, I posted a series of examples of what I deemed to be wise cowboy sayings. Yesterday I tried to find them on my computer and in my cloud storage, and came up empty. Fortunately, some still resided in the old gray matter.

Having rescued them from that horrible fate, I re-post them here:

  • Work ain’t gonna do itself.
  • It takes a lot of hands to make a roundup.
  • Never mess with another man’s gal, gun, or hoss.
  • Wipin’ off your hat’s sweatband is a good excuse to just stop and take in the scenery for a spell.
  • When somethin’ goes wrong, just set back and have yourself a good, relaxing cuss. Then fix it.
  • Be nice to the young’uns. You was one yourself, once.
  • “Ridin’ fence” don’t mean sittin’ on it.
  • Beans is good eatin’ on the trail, but not in the bunkhouse.

Friday,  June 18, 2021

Thoughts My Brain Made, 15

Strategy is based on assumptions. Erroneous assumptions make bad strategy.

Also, keep your political disagreements separate from your personal disagreements. Your feeeeelz are not the proper subject for public policy debate.

Tuesday,  June 15, 2021

The Music Might Change

So I went looking for a cloud storage option that could one day be fully privatized by being housed on a personal server at home, and NextCloud sounded good. So I found a hosted NextCloud account for trying-out purposes and it came with... extras.

Unlike my ak4mc.us host, which doesn’t support PHP and therefore limits my blogging options to plain HTML using a text editor, this host offers everything from Wordpress to... well, this. If you remember the days of early early Movable Type blogs (even I had one, briefly) before SQL became a part of the process, that’s essentially how this works. Given my output in recent years it shouldn’t be challenged much.

Assuming, of course, that I actually use it.

Even if I do, don’t expect me to open comments.

Update: Well okay, worst-case scenario is I revert to the old blog. Right, like that ever happens...

Friday,  June 11, 2021

It’s Kind of a Drag

If Joe Biden had run for Governor of Georgia instead of for President, and if he had won that contest, his actions since the election leave me convinced that, by now, this would once again be our state flag:

For those who don’t remember that fustercluck, Wikipedantry has the rundown here. When Republican Sonny Perdue defeated Democrat Roy Barnes for re-election as governor in 2002, Perdue pushed to replace Barnes’ “placemat” flag with the banner we fly today.

Biden’s handlers are so obsessed with undoing the legacy of his Republican predecessor that, if he were merely our governor instead of the president, he would have rolled back everything in Georgia to the way it was the last time one of his fellow Democrats was in charge.

Wouldn’t have been surprised to see him push for that anyway, while he was calling our modest new election reform law “Jim Crow on steroids.”

Wednesday,  May 12, 2021

Cheney, Fool

I’m trying to do more song-title play with my post titles, but this one may be a bit obscure, so...

And on to the topic: U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney (S-Wyo).

As the news has reported, Rep. Cheney has been voted out of her position as House Republican Conference Chair, publicly because her ongoing, escalating war of words with former President Trump has been deemed divisive and contrary to her responsibility as a member of the House’s GOP leadership.

It’s interesting that those ranking above her in the leadership have had a change of heart since the first time House Republicans voted on whether to remove her as Conference Chair. Other than her continued rancorous exchanges with Trump, what could have been happening behind the scenes to cause this turnaround?

One possible contributor is the continuing dissatisfaction with her Trump feud at home in Wyoming. Perhaps Leader McCarthy and Whip Scalise have become sufficiently-\ unsure of Cheney’s chances of winning re-nomination in Wyoming’s Republican primary in 2022. Or perhaps pro-Trump campaign donors have made more intimidating noises than their anti-Trump counterparts, after Cheney’s pro-impeachment vote failed to produce consequences the first time around.

Whatever the reason, this vote undermines one of Cheney’s stronger arguments for re-nomination: Clout. Many a gone-swamper member of Congress has parlayed a lifelong career out of the Clout card, especially lifers elected from small-population states. Alaska’s late Senator Ted Stevens was one such, who completely redefined his role from representing the views of his fellow Alaskans in Washington, to serving as Washington’s spokesman to those backward Alaskans. It was agony watching him get re-elected time and again, despite his complete loss of touch with his constituents, because defeating him would mean losing Clout.

You can be sure Liz Cheney would have used that same argument against those who want her recalled from Washington in favor of some other Wyomingite more in step with their way of thinking. Being a third-termer already elevated to a prime leadership post should have made her untouchable. Maybe she simply misjudged how untouchable it could really make her in a changing party.

Interest in next year’s congressional campaign in Wyoming was already on the rise. This vote will do nothing to tamp it down.

’Bye, Liz.

Wednesday,  May 5, 2021

Always Look on the Blight Side of Life

“A pessimist is never disappointed.”

How many times have you heard that crock? Tactical pessimists say it as if fate — or whatever disinterested cosmic entity decides what fresh hell awaits around the corner — wants only to know what they expect, so it can surprise them.


Fate, karma, the universe, whatever you call it — doesn’t care what you’re expecting. It doesn’t give a damn about surprising you. It doesn’t care about you at all.

There is no capricious entity out there throwing random surprises at you just to keep you on your toes. To believe there is, is just about the most cockeyed optimistic thing you can do — and that fact makes liars out of every tactical pessimist you can ever meet.

If you want to see real pessimism, look for the guy who is always looking for a way to right the boat after it has capsized, who is always ready to keep fighting when all around him have declared defeat inevitable.

He doesn’t count on his victorious enemy to have mercy on him. He doesn’t waste time hoping the sharks just aren’t hungry today. He knows there is no one coming to his rescue, and it’s up to him and him alone.

Tactical pessimists sneer at his apparent optimism in trying to make a dire situation survivable, but he’s the one who has looked fate in the eye and seen that it is not his friend.

Friday,  April 23, 2021

Police Encounter Survival 101

Aside from silly movies or bad TV shows where corrupt cops go out murdering just for fun, police officers do not want to have to fire their weapons. They do not want to kill anyone, and they sure don’t want to have to deal with all the paperwork required even when they don’t kill someone.

That even goes for “warning shots” fired into the air, because what goes up must come down, and can kill. That’s why firing a gun into the air is illegal pretty much anywhere (and abjectly stupid literally everywhere). Any cop who did it would be cashiered and, in the current climate if anyone got hurt, would likely face a felony charge.

So it doesn’t matter how justified you may think you were before the cop ordered you to drop your weapon: if you don’t comply, you are no longer in the right.

Monday,  April 19, 2021

“Whoa-oo-who-o-o-o-oa, Listen to the Science”

Years ago a friend told me that when you’re talking to people in a group, the majority of them may not follow your words, but they will certainly “hear your music.” By this he meant that non-verbal cues would carry even if the substance of your comments doesn’t.

This effect becomes even more pronounced when most of the people you’re talking to don’t even have the basis for following your words even if they're paying rapt attention. Imagine, for example, being an epidemiologist interviewed on network news, encouraged to go into minute detail on how a virus infects a person, or how a vaccine promotes immunity.

People in the health-care sector might hear the substance of the epidemiologist’s words and find them accurate and valid.

You and I, however, would hear a lot of technobabble we can’t follow, and fall back on trusting the speaker's “music,” which may sound anxious because epidemiologists aren’t usually brilliant public speakers — especially if they’ve been selected by the network news to explain a complex medical concept.

And of course, when the science has finished speaking, the media chimes in, in the form of the interviewer, eyes wide and haunted, playing the song of fear — even if what the science just got through saying was that there was absolutely nothing to fear, and the virus/vaccine would only cause lollipops to spontaneously appear out of thin air at the exact moment you want them to.

This affords our media friends a perfect workaround for what Michael Crichton discussed when describing his “Gell-Mann Amnesia” effect, which would otherwise have medical professionals objecting to the lies the media would be putting in science’s mouth (while of course continuing to assume they’re getting everything else right). This way the knowledgeable are appeased while the rest remain subject to media fearmongering.

Maybe critical media-consumer skills should be taught to kindergarteners, and reinforced throughout the grades, and college, and as part of any continuing education that may be required for various occupations. Just to make sure it takes.

Wednesday,  April 14, 2021

Panic Breavement Syndrome

Among our friends on the Left, the events of 2020 have eclipsed Trump Derangement Syndrome in favor of Panic Bereavement Syndrome.

What, you ask, is Panic Bereavement Syndrome? It is the fear of having nothing to fear.

Monday,  April 5, 2021

Same Old Song

Well, no. I mean, of course they’re not new songs, because I don’t listen to the radio — broadcast or satellite — these days, so I have no way of finding out about new music. Last time I heard a new (by my standards) song in the wild that ended up in my collection, it was an (actually older by her standards) Adele track I heard in the supermarket, back when supermarkets were playing actual songs for customers. Anyway, they’re new to my collection, but what has really changed is how I get reminded of an old favorite that I haven’t previously acquired.

See, it used to be that I’d read about a song or an artist on Dustbury, the much missed blog operated by the late Charles Hill, but when he passed away tragically in 2019 that memory jog ended. For a while after that I didn’t add much to my music collection. Once at a barbecue joint I heard a Brooks & Dunn tune I liked and decided to get, but 2020 happened and getting out to hear random songs, new or otherwise, became a rare thing.

That changed, though, because — well — 2020 happened. I started checking out music-related videos on YouTube, such as those posted by Rick Beato at first, and now also by Adam Reader, and Grady Smith.

Beato specializes in digging into the guts and gristle of great music and showing why it’s great. His lists don’t always match my opinions, but he always has good reasons to support his. Reader, as “Professor of Rock,” is more of a historian of the genre, and between him and Beato I’ve bought quite a lot of rock music (by my standards) in recent months. Grady Smith talks about country music, and actually spurred me to add to my already oversized Alan Jackson collection while also talking about a new strain of neotraditionalism in country music lately. If I can find an Atlanta-area station that plays the tunes he’s referring to, I may turn the radio on again.

However I find new music, or get reminded of old music, that I want to own, it still honors my late friend Charles, who first got me in the habit of raiding the digital music market to add to what I had already ripped from the CDs I bought in the 1990s. Others may be providing the hints now, but the original inspiration was his.

Friday,  March 26, 2021

Twistin’ the Night Away

Mrs. McG being a weather service employee, we have weather news on by default — so we were aware all day yesterday of the tornado outbreak in Alabama. And Georgia being east of Alabama, our awareness was not purely academic.

Today being a work day for her, she chose not to try to stay up in case the storms didn’t dissipate before reaching us, but I stayed up a little longer and became aware of a new tornado warning in Alabama at about 10:00 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time (9:00 p.m. CDT in Alabama) between Birmingham and Montgomery. I checked the weather radar app on my tablet and saw that the storm was in fact headed generally in our direction. I let Mrs. McG know, but didn’t worry much — severe weather in Alabama has a habit of losing energy as it crosses into Georgia. I kept watching, but only casually.

I shouldn’t have counted on the radar app to be fully up-to-date with storm warnings; just before 11:00 p.m. our time I noticed that the tornado warning associated with the storm was gone as it was still in Alabama. As a result, I went to bed. In fact, the warning was still active right up to the state line.

Both our phones erupted with alerts around 11:30 as the National Weather Service issued a tornado warning for our area and declared a tornado emergency for Newnan. At the same time, county tornado sirens sounded. They’re not intended to be audible inside homes, but we’re unusually close to one. Over the next fifteen minutes the lightning, thunder, and rain intensified at our house, and the power was interrupted twice. Mrs. McG looked outside to see whether the predicted large hail materialized here, but she saw none.

Suddenly, around midnight, the tumult ended and an eerie silence descended. We listened hard for the sound of an approaching freight train (the nearest actual railroad tracks are some miles from here, so a train actually approaching our house would be exactly what you’re thinking), poised to seek shelter. Eventually I shook off the drama and... turned on the TV.

The Weather Channel was focused on Newnan at that moment, highlighting the unique radar signature of a tornado “debris ball” in the downtown area of Newnan, and clearly not a threat to our neighborhood. I texted “We’re safe” to my brother in California, who pays almost as much attention to our weather as we do, and we settled in to watch the coverage, which eventually fizzled out as the tornadic circulation vanished from the Doppler radar well to our east at around 1:00 a.m.

Downtown Newnan got hit hard by all accounts; last night the police department was strongly advising people to stay off the street while emergency and utility crews assessed the damage and got to work. That advice is still in place this morning, and Mrs. McG and I are content to comply today. The COVID panic increased her office’s willingness to allow people to work from home, and her shift today was so scheduled weeks in advance. I have somewhere to go tomorrow, which will involve crossing the tornado’s damage path, but not through downtown.

The high school, damaged months ago by a minor tornado spawned by the carcass of Hurricane Delta, was damaged again last night, and all schools in the county are closed today. One death in Newnan has been blamed on the tornado, but I don’t currently have details. UPDATE: Fox 5 Atlanta news item

We’ve lived at the extreme eastern end of “Dixie Alley” for over 20 years, and this is the closest we’ve come to tangling with a truly dangerous tornado.

I’m ready to move to Wyoming anytime. The supervolcano will give more warning.

Update: I should not have written that last sentence above. Many years ago, as I was struggling to finally complete my undergraduate degree in Sacramento, I had an on-campus job working for the alumni foundation that ran, among other things, the campus bookstore. One day — October 17, 1989 — my supervisor and I were called up to a foundation executive’s office to hang a picture for her. Normally, hanging a picture in an executive’s office involves piercing the drywall and hanging the picture on the nail or whatever. However, the wall the executive wanted her picture displayed on turned out to be load-bearing — reinforced concrete. Fortunately my supervisor knew the building (and the executives) and had come prepared. It took considerably more effort than I had expected, but we got that picture hung.

And I turned to the executive and joshed, “When The Big One hits, your picture will stay up.” She and my supervisor were suitably amused.

The reason I remember the exact date of this incident is, later that afternoon the National League Champion San Francisco Giants were to host the American League Champion Oakland A's at Candlestick Park for Game 3 of the “Bay Bridge” World Series. That game did not start as scheduled. I swore that evening never to make jokes about natural disasters ever again.

Wednesday,  March 10, 2021

Thoughts My Brain Made, 14

If you flunked your IQ test, don’t drive.

Governments are like compost heaps — if you don’t turn them over regularly, all they’re ever going to do is lie there and stink.

Think of institutions in general as being like dairy products — they go bad quickly and need to be replaced.

Monday,  March 1, 2021


A utopia of 10,000 years, if one were ever to exist, would end when a new generation looks upon all the peace and prosperity bequeathed them by their elders and sneers, "We would have done it better." And once they age into power, they try, and destroy it all.

How can anyone wonder, then, that there never has been a utopia of even one generation, let alone thousands?

Wednesday,  February 24, 2021

Preserve Your Sanity: Keep It Simple

If you want to keep from driving yourself crazy “fixing” the rules to keep up with how people get around them, stop trying.

Boundaries are not there just to be boundaries. They are there to serve as warnings of potential harm to come. Let the consequence of the boundary-crossing be whatever that harm is, not some malum prohibitum tome of penalties completely unrelated to the reason the boundary is there.

You can’t protect the snowflakes forever; they have to grow up sometime. Healing up from self-inflicted bruises is a necessary part of that.

Monday,  February 8, 2021

Personal Propaganda

I write fiction too, and have even sold some. So of course I still work at it in hopes of selling some more.

In a story I’m currently writing, I needed to segue into a scene that I knew had to happen, but I was blanking on how to do it. So, I decided on some exposition — which I would ordinarily have used to illustrate the setting, or the mindset of one or more specific characters, but which this morning I decided to use instead for some philosophy. And it actually does end up leading rather smoothly into the scene:

Institutions are, by definition, corrupt – in part because they are established by mere mortals, which makes them hardly unique, but also because they are established to promote specific goals, which inevitably put them at odds with other, potentially more laudable goals. But it’s the human part that turns them inevitably toward more corruption as the institutional goals, which may one day end the need for the institution, are subverted in favor of the institution’s perpetuation.

By perpetuating the problems it was founded to solve, if necessary.

Government agencies are notorious not only for falling into this trap, but for encouraging private institutions to follow suit, including especially those institutions founded specifically to discourage this process. So naturally there have been attempts to organize society without formal government, which fell even harder. Thousands of years of civilization seem destined never to teach humanity that the fault lies not in their works, but in their selves.

Which is not to say that societies that accept corruptibility as a given and attempt to use it against itself work out any better than those that surrender to corruptibility and hope for survival of the fittest. Corruption being an absolute evil, it cannot be brought to terms – it will never negotiate in good faith, and at bad faith it always wins by experience. It is a war often lost, never won, paused unwisely only to be renewed with regret.

For all that, the fatal error of institutions is that they treat the war as a public one, when in fact it is a war that rages within each for his own soul. Were humans capable of existing in pure solitude, that war could be won, sometimes — and when not, at least the consequences of losing the war could be suffered only by the loser. But we are not, and cannot be. We are doomed ever to fight this private war in public, and to have our defeats suffered by others.

[Character Name] had often enjoyed the time to think about such weighty ideas in this job of his, but now he was confronted with the truth of his predicament, of how he was targeted to become the victim of other people’s failure to win their personal war with corruption.

Emphasis added for effect.

Friday,  January 29, 2021

“Customer Retention”

In times like these, one is confronted with the realization that there are more stupid things under the sun than are dreamt of in Horatio’s philosophy — and that which of them is actually the stupidest may never be known to man. But corporate “customer retention” practices must be damned good contenders.

If you’ve ever become dissatisfied with a service provider such as a phone company or cable TV company, and wanted to end your relationship with it, you’ve probably encountered customer retention. You find yourself talking to someone whose job is to make promises he can’t keep and won’t try to, like an abusive husband who suddenly realizes his poor, battered wife is the most important thing in his life and he’ll she’ll just diiiiiiiiie if she leaves him.

We see enough pop culture references to the battered-wife phenomenon to believe it must work for the abusive husbands. The sad thing is, these tactics must work for corporations too because no matter how much they piss off people who complain about them, they still do it.

Nor is it limited, it seems, to industries like those. I’ve just encountered it with regard to medical services, and while I’d had no particular complaints about the service I'd received (Mrs. McG had one, but only one), the change was in order to reap the full advantages of a change of doctors we had decided needed to happen. The medical practice we were quitting barely shrugged as we left, but someone from the service provider favored us with a customer retention call yesterday that makes me fear for that man’s wife, if he has one.

And now a company whose front-line personnel have always treated me pleasantly, carries the stink of the ninth circle of Hell. If circumstances ever lead me to consider returning to that provider, I will first have to find out if that man is still employed there. If he is, no dice.

Friday,  January 15, 2021

Truth Matters

...but not to Liz Cheney.

You could be tested for COVID-19, and have the result come back negative. You could be tested again, with the same result. And again, and again, and again. The Democrats in Washington would still consider you impeachable for having COVID-19.

And so would Liz Cheney, the ostensibly Republican at-large congresswoman from Wyoming.

Donald Trump’s speech before the Capitol demonstration did not incite violence, did not call for a coup, did not inspire insurrection. You can read it yourself.

A creature of the D.C. swamp can easily disregard the truth for politics. That’s what Liz Cheney has done.

This is what you call a moment of clarity.

Update, January 18: Wyoming Republicans agree.

Sunday,  January 10, 2021

To Illustrate

Friday,  January 1, 2021

Just Live

2020 is over. You don’t need a socially-approved reason or mode of life.

Give yourself a break. Just live.