Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Sodbusting On Sunday: Man, Our Ancestors Were Tough!

Our new neighbors were cleaning up the yard this Sunday. The main problem they faced were some raised beds and half-casks, all very overgrown becaue the house had been empty almost a year.  I wandered over and next thing you know I was helping them clean up. It just happens that way sometime!
The neighbor yard
minus the raised beds
The new people's plan is to rent the house to a relative who's a student, so they wanted the yard to be as low-maintenance as possible. I can understand that these raised beds would be too much of a complication; in contrast, I positively want raised beds, but that's because I want to spend time gardening.
This all worked out pretty well for both of us. They had to get rid of the boards for the raised gardens; I wanted boards for raised gardens. They're now in my back yard for sorting, de-nailing and reuse.
But I worked for the boards. Prying the raised beds apart wasn't all that much work, but the dirt that remained behind was a very solid mass of grass roots. Basically, half the yard consisted of dirt mesas that very hard to disassemble with just a shovel. Fortunately, I remembereed that I had a mattock in the shed, which turned out to be just the right tool. There was still a whole lot of labor; basically we were digging up half the yard, but we got it all done in a couple of hours.
Then we went to the Triangle for beer and chow. I'll definitely work for Big Al's Smoky Porter and the Triangle's Bee Special!

This effort gave me a great appreciation for the original sodbusters. I can't imagine clearly a field with a mattock; it was real work, striking the soil, pulling it back, and moving the tightly laced roots to a discard pile. I'm sure a plow would have been helpful, if attached to an ox, but on the whole, I think I would have fallen over sideways in the old days!

Live Like An A-Hole, Die Like An A-Hole

Unless you've been living in a cave for the past few days (...that joke courtesy of Terminal Lance ...) you'll be reacting to the end of bin Ladn (google it yourself!) with your personal mixture of relief, pride or whatever.
I was enjoying a Smoky Porter at the Triangle when the news came over the TV, and it was like when you take the cast off a broken bone that has finally healed: how do you react? Has it really happened? We've had this pain for so long - is it really gone? Are we back to normal - will be ever be normal again?
We've been living with 9/11 for nearly a decade, and the ramifications literally span the entire globe, with thousands or hundreds of thousands dead, trillions of dollars wasted on an enormously cynical use of the "War On Terror" to enrich war profiteers, the overthrow of our Constitutional protections against torture and warrantless spying on citizens, millions of new veterans of savage combat who will need lifetime care ... while bin Ladn continued to mock the search for him ... not incidentally killing many of his co-religionists.
Does this victory represent the beginning of the end? What does it mean that the guy was "hiding" in a mansion next to Pakistan's equivalent of West Point? Do we need to ponder the difference between hating a man and all he stands for, and rejoicing in death? How does this fit into the promise of the Arab Spring, in all its messiness and complexity? I want to be a pacifist, but the guy declared war on us both in word and by deed, so it is just irresponsible not to defend ourselves and others by ending him. I hate the use of the "War On Terror" to subvert our Constitution, but it's clear we have to stop this stuff.
It's nearly impossible and probably unnecessary to come up with an original observation this on successful operation, and I don't see the point in jumping on with "f'ya! me too!", but reading a newspaper report of the raid, I was struck by one detail: at the end, bin Ladn hid behind one of his wives and committed "suicide by cop" ... which ensured the death of that wife.
I should not have expected a sociopath to go out with class, but this just seemed extra unnecessary. What sort of man gets his wife killed like that?
In the great scheme of things, this is a small thing, but it's something understandable - sometime on a scale I can understand: Live like an a-hole, die like an a-hole.
Well, it turns out that initial reports were incorrect. Now it is reported that bin Ladn was unarmed and didn't use a human shield. Of course, there was a firefight, and it was not very thoughtful to keep his wife with him since it would be pretty obvious that he was the target.