L’homme Theroux; a Novel by Carlos Cunha


Canadian Métis teenager Thomas Theroux is pushed onto the trail to manhood after a routine trading post transaction goes horribly wrong. Not fully accepted by any of the factions jockeying for control of the gold-rich Saskatchewan frontier, Thomas must weave his way through the fortune seekers pouring into the territory, bellicose First Peoples, and the formidable landscape itself.

Pursued by a rival tribe determined to kill Thomas and extinguish the remains of his half-breed Gros Ventre family, Thomas enlists the help of his Uncle Black Feather to realize his father’s dream of homesteading the wilderness. At the Hudson’s Bay Company, the pair finds themselves embroiled in a frontier war between First Peoples and Europeans over how much civilization will take hold in the modernizing dominion.

With the help of new-found allies, mountain guide Versailles, his former slave Pierre, and a pair of rebellious Ojibwa sisters, Thomas and Black Feather fight their way back to their families along the bank of the North Saskatchewan River to begin rebuilding their lives. Along the way, Thomas must extricate himself from a love triangle that threatens to ignite another Indian war and decide whether to cast his lot with Europeans or First Peoples.

 

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Sample Chapters

Beelzebub the Social Justice Warrior


satanic-templeThe Satanic Temple has established international headquarters in a 130-year-old Victorian house on Bridge Street in Massachusetts that looks more like a bed-and-breakfast than a temple to the Prince of Darkness.

Zoned as an art gallery, the Satanic Temple building will be open to the public with art installations, lectures, and film screenings.

My dearest hope is these rather vanilla offerings will be spiced up with the occasional virgin sacrifice, just to enhance their street cred.

What will most certainly occur is the headquarters will become the permanent home of a nine-foot-tall statue of Baphomet, cast in bronze and weighing in at about a ton. This two thousand pound alloy Satyr is not likely to be moved again, as the Satanic Temple is waiting for Oklahoma City to accept the idol as the “quid” to the “pro quo” of getting the ACLU to drop their lawsuit demanding removal of a statue of the Ten Commandments in front of the State Legislature building.

Exactly what pull the Satanic Temple has with the ACLU isn’t clear, but that’s the offer listed on their website.

Despite a mission statement that includes the group’s commitment to “embrace practical common sense and justice,” the practical common sense idea that the laws of the United States, and all of the Western world, are based on the Ten Commandments escapes comment in their wider philosophy. Whether you believe Moses brought them down from the mountain or they are the product of a Bronze Age Jew’s peyote hallucination, the Ten Commandments as a basis for law are extant.

When the Islamists take over and impose Sharia law, they will replace the Ten Commandments statue with one of the Koran, or whatever they base their lunacy on.

For all the convoluted logic of why they are kinda, sorta are a bonafide church and really a religion, but not in the way we unenlightened, Christ cultists understand it, these lightweight Lucifer lovers are just another flavor of pedantic Social Justice Warriors.

timthumb3This is the same group that created the After School Satan program as an attention grabbing device to promote their real religion; the Church of Science. The Satanic Temple website is a litany of pabulum pushed by Social Justice Warriors and intellectuals who are too smart to be fooled into having faith in anything not springing from a laboratory.

If the Satanic Temple at least worshiped Satan, they might be worth more serious consideration, but from what I can gather, the organization lines up firmly on the left. It’s platform is pro-choice, anti-religion, feminist,…you get the idea.

They are the average Hillary supporter with a better mascot.

What ever happened to the apolitical Satanists? Guys like Anton LaVey, who were into the Devil for the naked women and dissident shock value of carving pentagrams into school desks with a protractor. Those are the right reasons to wear all black in the summer.

I never saw any evidence that my parents were Satanists, but rummaging through the family’s Encyclopedia Britannica, a 1969 newspaper clipping from the San Francisco Examiner dropped out from between the pages. The caption read something along the lines “Satanist Minister Anton LaVey marries…” and mentions names of participants I neither know nor remember. When queried, my parents said the couple depicted were friends of theirs from when my dad was stationed at Treasure Island in the Navy and they lived in San Francisco. Included in the explanation, was an entirely too casual mention that not only did they attend the ceremony, but my dad was the cameraman because outsiders weren’t allowed into the temple where the wedding took place.

Wait a second. My parents bought the house where I grew up in 1972 and married in 1966. They lived in San Francisco between those two dates and had a pair of friends married by arguably the most famous Satanist in the world. Clearly, they were close enough friends to warrant tucking the memento away for twenty years.

And what’s this jazz about outsiders not being allowed into the ceremony?

Did my parents flirt with the occult? I always suspected they liked to party, but I never thought it might extend to summoning the Devil.

My running joke about being a writer is that I’m a profession liar. Often, Mrs. Cunha stops me mid-sentence to ask if I’m giving an accurate recounting of events or setting up a punchline. My dad wasn’t a writer, but he did have the ability to lay believable groundwork for a zinger. It’s a skill he passed on to both me and my brother Jake.

anton_lavey_photoHowever, two decades to set up a practical joke for children not even conceived stretches the reasonable bounds of hijinx. Bravo, if my dad had that sort of patience and forethought, but I doubt it. That’s just too long to sit on a gag.

If you’ve never been, you might not realize just how small San Francisco actually is. It’s less than fifty square miles and, at the time, had about three-quarters of a million people crammed into it.

The place is very much like a small town in that you run into friends often and can’t avoid your enemies.

The Satanic Temple website goes to pains in explaining how they are different and distinct from LaVey Satanism. Looking around at some other Satanist organizations, they do, too. For all the proclaimed differences, Anton LaVey’s First Church of Satan is the yardstick against which the rest of the Satyr worshipers measure themselves.

I also get the sense, after researching his background and recalling the occasional local television appearances, Anton LaVey was a bit of jackass. Even with the benefit of Black Masses featuring nude young women rebelling against their parents, I can imagine his shtick got old pretty fast. My parents having a connection, however tenuous and tangential, to the Granddaddy of Devil worship, explains an awful lot.

The modern breakaway worshipers of the Fallen Angel have eschewed the “sex, drugs, and heavy metal” of old school Azazel for a more thoughtful, socially conscious Mephistopheles, who provides safe spaces and trigger warnings.

If the Satanic Temple was cheese, it would be Brie; soft, bland, and palatable to everyone.

Maybe it’s all an elaborate ruse? The Devil is known to be a trickster, and what better way to hide than to present as a Social Justice Warrior?

It all makes sense, now.

Thank God, I’m a Loser


winloss1Losses in life tend to outnumber the wins. Hopefully, the big defeats are few and widely separated, but the little losses, the tiny humiliations and minor ignominies, come along in a steady patter. They are what Hamlet meant when he talked about suffering the slings and arrow of outrageous fortune.

The huge victories like a Powerball jackpot or a Super Bowl championship are elusive things that only happen to other people. The rest of us rednecks, who make up the unwashed masses, have to dial back our expectations and settle for our most jubilant moments to be landing a new job or the birth of a child.

Life is an eighty year long series of kicks in the nuts. The only variable is how long you live.

That bar may have to be set even lower in the future. It won’t be too long before the rest of my children have left the nest, and as ornery as I’ve grown, there aren’t too many employers willing to keep me around for very long. Animal husbandry-related births and discovering the chicken coop wasn’t blown down by a windstorm will have to suffice as moments of triumph from here on out.

I’m willing to take small victories wherever I can. Maybe it’s a function of growing older.

My youngest son has pestered his mother and I to let him play football for the past several years. Our reluctance had nothing to do with the prospect of physical injury to the lad. If I were to tell the truth for a change, the twerp could use a good knocking around by someone not related to him.

Our sticking point was the cost involved just to indulge a teenager’s fantasy of O.J. Simpson touchdowns and Mark Gastineau sacks. My wife and I know the reality more closely resembles a rendition of The Miracle Worker with Helen Keller as captain and the remainder of the squad made up of her less coordinated clones.

I try not to pick on the mentally handicapped, but if the protective helmet fits, I’m gonna point you toward the short bus.

Now that he attends a school with a football team, complete with issued equipment, a coach, and a field to play on, Mrs. Cunha and I relented to Carlos, Jr.’s pleas to become a gridiron warrior.

They are currently sitting on a two and two record, but I’d prefer to see them closer to zero and four.

The desire to see my son lose has nothing to do with my win record in school sports. I had one season each of basketball, football, rugby, and track, where I threw shot put and discus. We went undefeated in rugby, broke even in basketball, and had exactly one win in football.

In a school so small that we only had a varsity track team, and still had trouble mustering enough runners for relay events, I came in dead last in two events every single meet. Each Friday for four months, I had my ass handed to me by kids who had their throwing technique down far better than I did.

My parents, bless their hearts, would ask how I did after every meet. I don’t think they meant to poke at fresh wounds, but I still felt like a loser having to admit defeat, yet again.

Losing might suck, but winning only makes you suck more.

Me and defeat are old drinking buddies. We’ve spent so much time in each other’s company, I’m surprised we’re not engaged. I’ve failed so often and consistently, I plan on failure and am surprised when things don’t go sideways.

I caught the tread of my boot on a door threshold about a week ago and took a tumble down a four-inch step. Even in my creeping middle age, my body still remembers how to take a fall.

Despite tumbling headlong onto cement, I sustained only a bruised toe and a thumb-size scrape on my elbow. The to-go container I was carrying at the time didn’t even pop open. I kept that sucker up out of harm’s way like an infantryman holding his rifle aloft while fording a river.

The little wins in life are the sweetest.

There’s another point to this story of my clumsiness; expect to fail. Then get up and keep moving.

Some of my more recent failures include:

These are only a few of my screw-ups that come to mind from the past year or so, and don’t even touch on the curve balls life throws just because it can. Luckily for me, I’m such an experienced loser that I hardly notice anymore. My kids, on the other hand, could use a little more practice; especially, my youngest son.

Maybe it was the years of holding back while playing board games, so as to not crush their little spirits. Perhaps, I should have let them fall out of a few more trees. God knows, nearly being trampled to death by a milk cow was a defining moment in my young life.

However, a trip to the Emergency Room is a lot more expensive than it was thirty years ago. I suspect my children would be whisked off by Child Protective Services, if they showed up to the Emergency Room as frequently as my brother and I did.

Most families don’t know the Emergency Room nurses well enough to include them on the mailing list for the family Christmas newsletter.

Winning is a great feeling, but it’s not very instructive, in the grand scheme of things. Thinking about it, winning doesn’t even teach how to be a “good winner.” If it did, winning coaches wouldn’t have to remind their little turds to be magnanimous during the post-game high-fives and “good game” lineup.

I spent this summer working Carlos, Jr. like a rented mule. Not only could he not maintain pace with a fat, old man, but he bitched and moaned the whole time. There’s only so much whining about the uselessness of homestead skills I can stand before giving in to the urge to hit him with a shovel. Apparently, sunrise to sunset does not match up with a teenager’s circadian rhythm.

The fatal flaw of teenagers is their tendency to believe in skills and abilities they don’t possess.

Carlos, Jr. showed up to football practice full of more hubris than most fourteen-year-olds. I’ll admit the kid has speed, but that’s about the only natural talent the boy’s got. As near as I can tell, he’s not even in the top half of the team, on an individual skill basis. He also seems to think it’s everyone else’s job to make him shine.

After months and months of disabusing the boy of his notion that wealth and celebrity are a mere bus ride to Hollywood away, the new route to riches and glory is paved with professional sports.

My son is the best player on the team. Just ask, and he’ll tell you so.

Lacking a survey of the team, I can’t be certain, but something tells me they disagree with the boy’s self-assessment. I know a cheap shot and an intentionally missed block when I see one, and so do the coach and Mrs. Cunha, but some lessons can only be taught by a child’s peers.

Hopefully, each bruise and slam into the turf is another of life’s little losses that teaches him how to win with some grace. The cumulative weight of all these little losses has yet to break the ice of understanding, but I’m hopeful. A losing season would hurry that process along.

After two losses in a row, my son became dejected and considered quitting because his talents weren’t employed effectively.

Jesus Christ. It’s always somebody else’s fault, isn’t it?

Judging by his black eye and a bruise pattern that reminds me of a cheetah, I think his reluctance to continue has more to do with the unofficial peer learning process than it does resource mismanagement by the coach.

Mrs. Cunha and I probably took a little more pleasure than we should have when his face dropped at being told he was going to finish out the season. It drooped even farther when informed we expected him to play through high school, as well.

It’s the little losses in life that are most instructive.

 

 

 

3Thank you to every one of my readers for coming back week after week. The content on this website is free to access, but does take resources to produce. Please visit my Patreon account to see what I have in the works for the homestead and consider becoming a supporter, which gets you additional content, behind the scenes access, goodies not available on the main site, and unique Thank You gifts for support.

L'homme Theroux CoverIf you’d prefer something more tangible in return for supporting my work, please preview my novel L’homme Theroux and consider purchasing it, if you enjoy the sample chapters.

Advertiser Friendly Censorship


youtube4The free flow of information from Youtube content providers might be coming to an end; only partly, due to political correctness, but mainly due to the greed of all participants.

Just ahead of the long Labor Day weekend, Youtube began informing content providers that specific videos they have uploaded were demonetized because they violate the Youtube Terms of Service agreement. If the term “demonetization” doesn’t mean anything to you, allow me to explain by way of defining the opposite.

“Monetization” is the Holy Grail of all internet content producers.

It’s a badge of success for having the ability to generate a reasonably large amount of internet traffic. The content producer’s thoughts and ideas have a broad reach and enough resonance with an audience that people are willing to come back for more.

And a little cash in the producer’s pocket doesn’t hurt, either. As a matter of fact, some folks on Youtube manage to make a living from the cut of advertising dollars their content garners. It’s good work, if you can get it, but posting videos of a buddy and me kicking each other in the nuts seems like a weird way to make a buck.

Besides, my mind wanders into weird places and my vocabulary is entirely too colorful for polite company. Everyone is probably better off that I stick to the written word, where opportunities to edit and rephrase abound. Freedom of speech is great, but getting off a watch-list is a huge pain the ass that I’d rather not deal with.

Writers don’t often get in hot water for what they write. They get in trouble for what they say in interviews.

Luckily for me, I never jumped onto the Youtube bandwagon. I’m a homesteader with a writing problem. Despite owning a picturesque farm and possessing ruggedly handsome good looks, the content I produce doesn’t lend itself well to video. Writing weekly articles, producing novels, making sure the farm doesn’t go to hell, and holding down a regular job keep me busy enough that the thought of plastering my mug all over Youtube blathering on about God-knows-what-all makes me want to curl up into a ball with a bottle of single-malt and a bucket of ice.

youtube3Despite the foot stomping and cries of “censorship” from content providers, there hasn’t been a change in the Youtube Terms of Service. Rather, it’s a combination of Youtube informing content providers that the rules are being enforced and the hubris of the content providers themselves.

 In a similar dilemma, I’m giving serious consideration to abandoning Twitter entirely because I don’t see the return on effort expended as worth it.

Every piece of media produced, whether it be a movie, book, video, novel, article, etc., requires resources to both produce and deliver. Those of us silly enough to believe the things we produce have value to people outside our immediate circle of family and friends undertake the endeavors with varying levels of belief strangers will find out products sufficiently valuable that they will be compelled to reach into their wallets and hand over a couple of dollars.

Every writer, farmer, artist, craftsman, and storyteller since the beginning of time cherishes each laugh, gasp, ooh, and aah at what they produce. Unfortunately, those expressions of enjoyment suffer from a poor exchange rate.

Part of that springs from a generalized idea that everything on the internet should be free. No one is immune from the phenomenon. I’m just a guilty as you are.

Getting me to part with a dollar is as tough as convincing Hillary Clinton to send air cover to Benghazi.

Convincing people to unclench their fists from around their bankroll is never an easy task. Starbucks and Apple seem to have figured out that magic formula, but the vast majority of producers of ephemeral delights don’t have that sort of mojo.

The difficulty in getting people to part with their hard-earned ducketts is compounded when the product is not tangible. How exactly do you value words, sounds, and images?

The goal of radio and television has often been described as keeping the customers attention between blocks of advertisement. Youtube is no different. Neither is Facebook or WordPress (where you are very likely reading this) different. While I don’t receive monetary benefit from the ads you see at the bottom of the page, make no mistake they serve a purpose. That purpose is to cover the costs of delivering the “free” content.

Your mother was right. There is no free lunch.

Believe me when I say that I would happily take a piece of the advertising action, if I could deliver a big enough pool of readers who hang on my every word to quit my day job and concentrate of writing about homesteading full-time. Alas, I don’t.

youtube5While I pretty much suck at what I do, there is an elite strata of content producers who have managed to parlay their popularity into gainful employment. Some have attained their level of success for reasons that elude me, but ultimately, it comes down to eyeballs.

Folks who work in marketing departments probably have fancy words like “demographic reach” or some such made up term to describe the ability the convince a group of people to buy something.

With that in mind, I’m total open to saying your crappy product is the best there is or ever will be, as long as a check is included with the sample product.

Youtube is a refuge for content producers who are unable to marry into money, but are still gold-diggers at heart. Just like politics is Hollywood for the ugly, making a living on social media platforms is like a gentlemen’s club outside the gates of a Navy base.

It’s the very lowest end of a seedy industry with no real hopes of advancement, but it’s a rollicking good time while you’re there because the few rules in place aren’t really enforced.

By now, you may have asked yourself exactly why I care about any of this Youtube fiasco, since I’ve already admitted that I’m neither part of that producer community nor beneficiary of the advertising revenue stream.

Aside from envy due to my lack of success, I have a small dog in the fight. I aspire to make money using a similar model and frequently hold unpopular opinions, which in the marketplace of ideas seems to give license for all manner of personal attacks that have little to do with whatever issue is at hand.

I’ve been called a racist so often that I’ve started to believe there somewhere exists a mural of me and Nathan Bedford Forrest embracing, while David Duke stands in the background wearing a Klan robe, waving a Confederate battle flag, and curb-stomping Martin Luther King, Jr.

Youtube demonetizing videos has less to do with violating Terms of Service than it does with advertisers caring about their image. It’s tough to blame them. Advertisers are ultimately concerned with maximizing the sales of their product and won’t risk alienating any segment of the purchasing public, which is to say, anyone with a dollar in their pocket. Free speech has little to do with it.

youtube2Every time a celebrity gets in some sort of trouble, whether it’s Bill Cosby, Ryan Lochte, or R. Lee Ermy, their corporate sponsors are the first to abandon them. Advertisers are smart enough to understand that consumers aren’t very bright and seem to make sport of product boycotts for the most trivial of reasons.

How many millions of dollars in lost revenue or percentage of lost market share can the right viral boycott cost a Fortune 500 company? None are willing to find out for certain.

In an effort to make themselves attractive to the really big advertising money, Youtube is tightening its definition of “advertiser friendly.” The broad categories of what is not advertiser friendly don’t seem unreasonable:

  • Sexually suggestive content, including partial nudity and sexual humor.
  • Violence, including display of serious injury and events related to violent extremism.
  • Inappropriate language, including harassment, profanity and vulgar language.
  • Promotion of drugs and regulated substances, including selling, and, abuse of such items.
  • Controversial or sensitive subjects and events, including subjects related to war, political conflicts, natural disasters and tragedies; even if graphic imagery is not shown.

That’s easily half of the videos on Youtube, and taken broadly, means an awful lot of people will have videos demonetized, since I’m not even sure Disney content escapes this dragnet. Despite the screams of “censorship,” Youtube isn’t abridging anyone’s free speech. It’s not like they are refusing to bake gay wedding cakes.

Content providers can still post. They just might not get paid for their trouble, which for many of them takes away the incentive. If you make your living creating Youtube videos, Youtube kinda becomes your boss and has the ability to modify the work rules. Your other option is to leave, if the conditions are intolerable. Just as with a regular job, the balancing act becomes one of how much are you willing to give up versus how much you gain.

If you have a better offer, take it. Otherwise, suck it up and adapt to the new rules of engagement, buttercup.

Ultimately, the content providers will calm down from their tantrums and realize this is a good thing. After all the teeth gnashing, content providers who want to step up to the real advertising money will figure out how to play by the Big Boy rules. Those who want to keep doing their thing as always will have to pay a price for exercising their freedom.

Nobody ever said speaking your mind was free of consequences.

Youtube is not in the business of providing a platform for content providers to spout off anything that comes to mind. They are in the business of selling as many ads as they can for the highest price possible. Any content that frustrates that goal will not be rewarded.

 

 

 

3Thank you to every one of my readers for coming back week after week. The content on this website is free to access, but does take resources to produce. Please visit my Patreon account to see what I have in the works for the homestead and consider becoming a supporter, which gets you additional content, behind the scenes access, goodies not available on the main site, and unique Thank You gifts for support.

L'homme Theroux CoverIf you’d prefer something more tangible in return for supporting my work, please preview my novel L’homme Theroux and consider purchasing it, if you enjoy the sample chapters.

Chicken Stampedes


IMG_0418Farms are like prisons; they both thrive on routine. Try being late for morning chores to see just how disruptive your barnyard inmates become. With luck, the worst you’ll suffer is obnoxious, sideways looks from the ingrates. If you have teenagers at home, this should be nothing new.

My friends who keep larger animals tell of property damage from 800 pounds of hooved livestock pushing down corrals or kicking apart stalls when breakfast was late. So, I guess I’m doing pretty well that I don’t, as yet, have any animals I can’t wrestle to the ground.

“I don’t care if you have the flu. I deserve to be fed right now.” #ChickenLivesMatter.

In the animals’ defense, I’m sure they all huddled together and passed hushed whispers among themselves, wondering if their human finally had a fatal heart attack.

Something tells me that has never happened. The animals expressing concern for their caretakers, I mean. An overweight, middle-aged farmer who drinks too much and eats bacon with every meal dropping dead from a coronary embolism probably occurs with some regularity. It just hasn’t been me…yet.

In a just world, I will be shot dead by the jealous husbands of the Norwegian women’s beach volleyball team, but more likely, I’ll meet my maker wearing a confused expression because I didn’t know that “flammable” and “inflammable” mean the same thing.

Mrs. Cunha prohibits me from any activity that includes the words, “Y’all watch this.”

IMG_0434Until then, I’ll have to suffer the twice daily chicken stampede. Once in the morning, when I throw out scratch grain before opening the coop door, and again in the evening, when they decide to play General Custer’s Last Stand on seeing me carry out their feed bucket.

Pushing through the mob of hens isn’t so much trouble as it is annoying. It can also be dangerous. I’m relatively light on my feet for someone my size, but at six-foot-four and two hundred none-of-your-damn-business pounds, a slip, trip, stumble, or fall can have absolutely devastating consequences on a chicken because they are not terribly sturdy creatures. Ask me how I know the ease with which a chicken can meet an accidental, premature demise.

That particular situation was slightly different because it was my fault for wear flip-flops into the chicken pen, but by the same token, the owl that killed one of my hens last April has made no effort to compensate me. Like the men before me who suffered setbacks, I simply had to absorb the loss and carry on.

My daughter felt just as entitled to a replacement chicken as the animals feel entitled to be fed, teenagers to a new cellphone, or prisoners do to yard time. When it comes to entitlement, only the circumstances change. The cries of “Gimme, Gimme, Gimme,” are always the same.

Sometimes, it’s not about the expense, but rather the accomplishment.

IMG_0471Little in life exceeds the pride a father feels when finally winning a prize at one of those claw and crane games found in fast-casual type family restaurants, arcades, and carnival midways all over the world. Oddly enough, I’ve never seen one of these machines in a place with a dress code, and since my average reader is more likely to wear Carhartt than Channel, I’ll assume everyone knows exactly the device I’m talking about.

It might take thirty-seven dollars to win a teddy bear the game’s owner bought on clearance from Walmart for $2.99 the day after Valentine’s Day, but dammit, that’s a win in my book.

In an example of both Big Brother looking out for what it thinks are your best interests and parents all too willing to relinquish the raising of their children to the state, New Jersey state Senator Nicholas Scutari has introduced legislation to further regulate claw and crane games.

The honorable Senator Scutari, whom to no one’s surprise is a Democrat, wants to regulate claw and crane games, so they produce a higher frequency of wins for the player. God forbid adults be allowed to chose how to assess their own risks and spend their own money, according to this government lover.

In New Jersey, as in most other jurisdictions, these tempting wallet vacuums are regulated as games of chance, as opposed to games of skill. Both are gambling, when you think about it, so the distinction between the two is really only important to legislators and owners of the machines.

The bigger question is whether you want your kids to participate in gambling. If you’d be OK with Junior sitting in on your poker game, go ahead and try to snatch that knock-off iPod from the top shelf. That’s a decision you should be left to make as a parent.

I have no room to throw stones. My kids learned at a young age how to mix a proper Old Fashioned and that Daddy likes his Scotch four-by-four; four fresh ice cubes and a four-finger pour. My fingers are the guide, not theirs.

I was shocked how fast the kids learned when they figured out I was tipping for each round. There have been arguments over whose turn it was to serve.

0602161917aOne of the hopes I have for my children is they learn life lessons on the farm that can be carried into adulthood. Slapping an angry rooster silly when he comes at you with his spurs forward is an instructive moment for a ten-year-old girl in how to stand up for yourself and deal with bullies.

The rooster wasn’t too thrilled by the experience, but the lesson must not have stuck. A few weeks later, we had to make an example of him in front of the flock. The rest of the chickens have been on perfect behavior since.

20150531_111648_resizedThat’s why I like to keep an understudy rooster around. You never know when you’ll have to remind those dumb clucks of Rule #1: Behave or be eaten.

All the humans on the farm, even if outmatched physically, have access to tools and technology that allow us to prevail when an animal occasionally decides to challenge our authority over them. It’s by no means a fair fight, and it’s not supposed to be.

The lesson I want my children to take away from that reality is not might makes right or even the biblical mandate that humans have dominion over animals. What I want them to understand is that life isn’t always fair. I’m sure Clint the Rooster thought it mighty unfair that he was sent to Freezer Camp for doing what he saw as right by the hens.

Sometimes, you’re just not going to win. Frequently, the odds are stacked against you, and success is a matter of luck and perseverance. Knowing and recognizing those situations is part of being an adult. It also makes the infrequent wins all the sweeter, both for the game player and recipient of the prize.

Win a stuffed animal for your girlfriend at the carnival ring-toss and you’ll be her king for the rest of the day.

I have no idea that “fair” looks like when it comes to a claw and crane game. What I do know is that if nobody ever wins, people will stop playing. The trick, I would imagine, is to make play just challenging enough to keep people playing, but allow enough wins to satisfy the pleasure centers of the brain.

It’s like throwing out scratch grain for the chickens or packing a bone with peanut butter for the dog. Make the work put into the effort just enough to justify the reward without inducing abandonment of the activity.

Wherever that sweet spot lay isn’t the government’s business to determine, but in the continual campaign to placate the Whine Glass Generation, politicians seeking to curry favor with dependent constituencies and retain their power through reelection, want to make everybody feel like a winner.

IMG_0380When everybody gets a ribbon, and each grab at the teddy bear produces a gleeful, squealing child, an expectation of success is inculcated. It breeds a sense of entitlement and reduces risk taking to a monetary exchange. Ultimately, it creates risk aversion and kills the economic libido of children who are no longer learning life lessons about risk and reward.

The livestock on my farm neither understand nor possess the capacity to understand the relationship between risk and reward. All they know is they want what they want and they want it right now.

That explains chicken stampedes.

Do what you like with your brats, but mine will earn their eventual release from the Cunha Juvenile Correctional Facility with an understanding of how the world works that is better than that of livestock.

Assuming they aren’t trampled to death by a flock of hungry chickens first.

 

3Thank you to every one of my readers for coming back week after week. The content on this website is free to access, but does take resources to produce. Please visit my Patreon account to see what I have in the works for the homestead and consider becoming a supporter, which gets you additional content, behind the scenes access, goodies not available on the main site, and unique Thank You gifts for support.

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What Will The Neighbors Think?


0610161336I was deliberate in choosing the undisclosed location of my heavily fortified compound. After multiple encounters in several states with the petty tyrants of Home Owners Associations, who lord power over their subjects and cultivate a snitch culture rivaled only by Soviet Russia, one of the top three criteria for the farm location was a dearth of rules.

I plan to be carried off my farm feet first and don’t fancy spending the time until then being told everything I can’t do. The fact I can shoot deer from my back porch without a hunting license and there not being a thing anybody can do or say about it is a dream come true for the sort of guy who resents authority.

The county I live in only recently instituted building codes.

The “Let me do my thing” ethos is tempered by my aversion to hurting anybody or damaging their property. Short of that, if the urge hits me to let the lawn grow, put out plastic, pink flamingos, and prowl around on all fours wearing a leopard print bikini, y’all best avert your eyes because the Honey Badger don’t care.

Likewise, my grandfather had a healthy dose of what the kids describe in texts as “IDGAF.” Despite having easy access to grocery stores, the old man grew grapes he planted long before I was born until the day he died about a decade ago. He made his last batch of wine sometime in his early nineties.

0602161437The quality of that last batch was below previous iterations. Maybe it hadn’t matured or perhaps my palate was deadened because I and a few cousins had cracked open some bottles the afternoon we buried grandpa. We figured the old man would have been pleased with his grandchildren hanging out in his one-car garage nipping at the liquid fruits of his labor; telling dirty lies and dirtier jokes.

My suspicion was his body was just no longer able to put into practice the vast amount of knowledge earned over a lifetime.

Just like my grandmother didn’t use cookbooks, much to my mom’s frustration when trying to preserve recipes, grandpa didn’t write stuff down. The man literally had a third-grade education, and learned English on construction sites in his forties, which probably explains his eloquence in cursing.

The old man should have written for HBO’s show Deadwood.

To avoid giving short shrift, Grandpa’s senior year was in the late 1920’s. No Child Left Behind wasn’t a thing back then. They knew most children were going to be left behind, so the kids were taught the important stuff; math, enough reading to get through the Bible, maybe some basic geometry, penmanship, and not mouthing off to adults prevents bloody lips. Everything else was left to the parents.

During a visit, I asked Grandpa why my grape vines were not producing after two years in the ground. Once he regaining control from laughing himself into a coughing fit, my grandfather explained I would be doing well to have fruit the third year, and the first crop wouldn’t be edible. In short, I would be lucky to have edible grapes the fifth season. Even then, they would be nothing to get excited over. Unless I were really hungry, I’d be better off feeding those grapes to the hog until the vines were a decade in the ground.

That last part might have been a slight exaggeration, but Grandpa was right often enough that even his hyperbole was worth following.

I’ve spent the last two years growing grapes in whiskey barrels to get a head start on purchasing the farm. I figure I’ll have some grapes that are worth a crap by 2020, assuming the Southern Poverty Law Center doesn’t come after me first.

0619161702bWhile erecting the supports for my grape trellises, I noticed people slowing down as they drove by. Dumbass that I am, I assumed they were curious about what I was building in my front yard. I thought my neighbors were admiring how plumb the posts were compared to the mild undulations of the surrounding landscape and the architectural vision on display with the vineyard’s placement in relation to the barn, the road, and the chicken coop.

Images of friendly neighbors and passers-through stopping at my humble farm to inquire about vinaceous endeavors, while buying free-range, organic eggs and the occasional bale of hay, danced with the prideful part of my soul.

Turns out they wanted to know when we were going to hold the Klan rally.

My mother could never quite figure out whether I was a genius or just retarded, stemming from my propensity to become caught up in a project and lose all sense of time and my surroundings. “Not being able to see the forest because of the trees” was how she put it.

Either of my wives (one former and one current; contrary to popular rumor, I’m no polyamorist) can attest to the need to tear me away from a project in the garage when I become engrossed. My mule-headedness and ornery nature are two of my more endearing personality traits.

0618161747What my Rain Man-like concentration prevented me from noticing was the grape vine supports, taken as a whole, strongly resembled a small field of crosses waiting for an Imperial Wizard with a lit torch.

Luckily for me, the people in my area are real live and let live sorts of folks. However, the few that stopped by when curiosity got the best of them approached the subject with caution. I mostly played dumb, the one style of acting at which I am supremely talented.

To the ones who recognized a proper grape trellis and asked what varieties I planned to grow, I admitted their true purpose right away. The whiskey barrels with grape vines flowing over the rims were only next to the barn all of twenty feet behind me, so I felt no pangs of conscience in screwing with everyone else. Mrs. Cunha was mortified by my actions, but she has come to expect nothing less from me.

0619161812I invited several to our first annual celebration of European heritage and homesteading skills the following Saturday. Two neighbors believe I am hosting a Passion Play next Easter and am in need of volunteer Centurions. But my favorite was when I informed a particularly nervous fellow that I erect one for every man I kill.

It’s probably a good thing that I live way out in the sticks. I barely fit in out here, much less inside the city limits.

 

 

3Thank you to every one of my readers for coming back week after week. The content on this website is free to access, but does take resources to produce. Please visit my Patreon account to see what I have in the works for the homestead and consider becoming a supporter, which gets you content, behind the scenes access, and goodies not available on the main site.

The Whine Glass Generation


HW-4020-0952My youngest son, like most of his generation, has figured out the secret to outlandish fame and fabulous fortune. According to him, it’s all a matter of “going to Hollywood and making it big.” I went to Hollywood once. Admittedly, my visit was only as a day-tripping tourist to Universal Studios, so I must have missed the roving packs of talent agents who patrol the street corners and malt shops (do those things even exist, anymore?) in central Los Angeles for the next Lana Turner.

Possessing neither marketable skills nor good looks, I clearly don’t understand how this works.

“Exactly what is it that is going to make you famous?” I said, marking a 2×4 for the next cut.

“Acting,” he said, shooting me an incredulous look I saw in my peripheral vision. “Maybe with some singing and dancing mixed in.”

“You’re a real triple-threat, Gregory Hines,” I said, depressing the trigger of the circular saw and filling the room with its scream.

“Who’s Gregory Hines?” he said, after the din had dissipated.

“Never mind,” I said, shaking my head. “Well, show me what you’ve got.”

“What?”

“Sing me a song.”

“Right now?”

“Yes,” I said. I laid down the saw and cut board. “Or dance, if you prefer. You pick the song. Go.”

Anyone familiar with the entitlement of youth, millennials in particular, knows full well how this exchange ends. You’ve probably lived it.

Mind you, I’ve never seen the boy engage in any of the pursuits he aims to make a living with. Come to think of it, if his phone isn’t involved, it’s a rare day I see him engage in any activity without direction. You would think the siren call of performance arts would move the lad to engage in them occasionally without prompting. Despite all these seeming detractions from the likelihood of success, the boy continues to be obsessed with the achievement of fame.

I guess he’s just so naturally talented that he doesn’t have to work at it…Just like the rest of his generation is continually told.

Showing me a seven-foot-tall Chinaman does not mean all Chinamen are seven-foot-tall.

Of necessity, I paint in the broad brushstrokes of averages. I know a few teenagers who are squared away, responsible, and hardworking. I’d gladly trade mine for one of those, but the few parents who have such adolescent unicorns are loath to trade them.

entitled-kid-494x328So, please don’t point to your brat as a counter to why I’m wrong. You’re probably lying or severely overestimating your precious little snowflake. On the off chance your kid is as perfect as you think, congratulations. You won the genetic equivalent of a scratch-off ticket.

Now, go be content with your life, while I bitch about my kids. Or stay and enjoy the schadenfreude. Whichever makes you happy.

“As long as your happy” is the biggest load of horseshit ever put out by parents.

I hear those words come out of the mouths of people severely disappointed by the choices their children make. That’s part of the reason kids are so fouled up. We parents did it to them in trying not to crush their delicate egos.

Here are some examples with along with what parents hear:

Child says: “I changed my major to Lesbian Dance Theory.” – Parents hear: “You’re going to be supporting me for the rest of your life.”

Child says: “We’re in love.” – Parents hear: “She’ll be a single mother on welfare in two years.”

Child says: “I don’t need to learn a trade. I’ve got talent.” – Parents hear: “I’m going to learn a trade after life kicks me in the nuts for a decade or so.”

Child says: “I’ve decided to come out.” – Parents hear: “You’ll be lucky if your adopted grandchildren even remotely resemble you.”

Child says: “I’m a feminist.” – Parents hear: “I hate my father.”

Of course, my favorite response to that last declaration is “That’s so cute. What do want to be when you grow up, sweetie pie?” It’s bait they can’t resist because feminists, whether female or male, lack even the pretense of a sense of humor.

My sense of humor might be as dark as a Milo Yiannopoulos paramour, but it exists and is anything besides fragile.

Somewhere along the line, society lost the ability to take a joke. I blame it largely on a generation of children taught in public schools staffed almost entirely by women and effeminate men. These delicate flowers entrusted with impressionable minds simply do not appreciate the comedic gold in a loud, wet fart or kicking your buddy in the nuts.

I remember hanging out with my middle school teachers behind the wood-shop building between classes showing them my newest pocket knife while they pounded down a cigarette, sipped from whiskey flasks, and told me dirty jokes. These are also the same men who would backhand a student about once a year for mouthing off too much or steeping toward them aggressively.

Eighth grade was my turn to learn the fine line that separates a vigorous debate between gentlemen, where differences are resolved, and just being a loud-mouth punk. When I told my dad what happened, he gave me a backhand in the opposite direction for being a whiny little bitch about it.

I wish John Lott would write a companion piece to More Guns, Less Crime researching the tendency I see in schools of “More Paddles, Less Problems.”

One of the rites of passage into manhood is the proverbial “mouth writing a check the body can’t cash.” That first good, hard punch in the face a young man receives, usually from an unrelated, older man, delivers more lessons in manners than an Emily Post etiquette book.

Millennials have missed out on such character forming experiences, by and large. Instead of a quick and corrective slap for giving mom a dirty look, they were asked what’s wrong. Their playgrounds, the true navel of education at any school, were made so child-safe and patrolled so heavily for any hint of exuberance that children no longer cherish recess. That is, if they get it at all.

A skinned knee is now worthy of being picked up by a parent instead of rubbing some dirt on it and getting back to class with torn britches. A schoolyard scuffle between equally matched opponents is cause for expulsion and arrest of both participants. And woe to any high school student who goes rabbit hunting before school and is found to have tossed his rifle behind the seat of his car.

When did calling your best friend “faggot” cease to be a term of endearment?

broken-glassLiberals, with zero-tolerance policies for everything that used to be called “hijinks,” have created the Whine Glass Generation; pretty to look at, of marginal practical use, and exceedingly fragile.

Words give these Social Justice Warrior pussies the vapors. I predict that in the near future fainting couches will make a comeback. No college safe space will be complete without one and the de rigueur slipcovers crocheted by fellow special snowflakes calming themselves after being confronted by an idea with which they disagree.

Hand in hand with the expectation of never confronting a divergent idea or a difficult situation is the presumption of entitlement. Perhaps it’s our fault as parents. After living through the privations of the Great Depression and the horrors of World War Two, the Greatest Generation spoiled the mettle out of the Baby Boomers, and the trend has been downhill in successive generations.

01TriggerwarningAs teenagers, my brother Jake and I mowed lawns, hauled trash, and dug out tree stumps to earn money to buy a tiny, second-hand, black-and-white television to place in the room we shared and watch the half dozen channels available. My children are on the verge of calling Child Protective Services because I have only provided a hundred-odd channels, internet, and several video game consoles (they are all “Nintendo” to me) in the family room on a television bigger than any wall of my first apartment.

This has to be the result of continually being told how wonderful they are. They really are like lead crystal stemware; only taken out of the china cabinet for special occasions. Used sparingly. Handled gingerly. Washed by hand. Never seeing the inside of a dishwasher.

And subject to shattering from sound alone.

Life far more resembles a dishwasher than it does a china cabinet. Unable to change the fundamental nature of the world around them, Liberals have taken over education to change the nature of the world’s inhabitants. It’s the most brilliant long-con ever devised.

My grandparents’ generation did nothing less than save the world and then set about rebuilding it. That inheritance has largely been squandered, and were we are on the downhill slide.

How many more generations before we are all Hummel miniatures in someone else’s display case?

 

3Thank you to every one of my readers for coming back week after week. The content on this website is free to access, but does take resources to produce. Please visit my Patreon account to see what I have in the works for the homestead and consider becoming a supporter, which gets you content, behind the scenes access, and goodies not available on the main site.