Wednesday, June 28, 2006

It Never Rains But It Pours...

Well... I just won the lottery... Again.

Can you believe it? The odds are astronomical! You may remember my recent windfall with the Espana Lottery, and now I've won a completely different one. To quote my notification:

"This lottery was organized by an association of
software manufacturers who came together from all
parts of Europe including Great Britain, Spain, the
Netherlands and Belgium which are the major host
countries. All participants were selected through our
Microsoft computer ballot draw system, were we
extracted over 20,000.00 companies
and 3,000,000 individual email addresses and names
from all over the world."

Guess how much it was this time! $1.5 million. (Oh, if only I could see PinTA's face as she reads this...)

Not only that but they're looking out for me too.

"Due to mix up of some names and winning number, we ask
that you keep your winning information confidential
until your claim has been processed and your money remitted
to you, in your perspective country. Because this is
part of our new security protocol to avoid double
claiming and forgery of winners identity in this
program by some unscrupulous persons...
This is also to inform winners that there are so many
email letter all over the internet faking to be real,
so be warned!!! "

Can you imagine that some unscrupulous person would try to scam me out of my lottery winnings? Or that there are so many email letter faking to be real? Shame on them...

But there are more than just a few unscrupulous folks out there. Why just the other day I was propositioned by someone trying to save 26 million from the hands of those greedy bankers.

TEL: 27-73-616-5858



Dear Sir/Madam,

Please accept my apology if this letter comes to you as a surprise since I believe that we don’t know each other before now, but for the purpose of introduction, my name is Stanley Moboyo, the Auditor of AMALGAMATED BANK OF SOUTH AFRICA (ABSA). There is an account opened in this bank in 1980, but since the death of the account owner in a terrible plane crash (31st July, 2000,) no surviving beneficiary has come forth to claim this fund.

After going through some old files within the bank for the first quarters of the year, I discovered that if this money is not remitted out of this country immediately, it will be forfeited for nothing or better described as retired account by Board of Directors of the bank who actually will use this money in enriching a few already over-rich bank owners.

On further investigation, I discovered that even the company (Kruger Gold Co) where the late account owner who was a foreigner worked as a miner/geologist have no knowledge of the existence of this account or about the fund involved (US$26,M) TWENTY SIX MILLION DOLLARS.
As the money is in US Dollars account and can only be approved to a foreigner with some required information as the next of kin, I am contacting you to establish a relationship and possible transfer of this money into your nominated account outside South Africa.

Also, everything concerning the payment and transfer of this money would be done legally with all the necessary paper work processed and submitted to the bank to enable the payment into your nominated bank account. It is very essential that I have your full cooperation/undivided commitment to make this noble transaction be successful as the management of the bank is prepared to approve the remittance of this money to any foreigner who comes forth as the beneficiary.

In order to assist me realize this golden opportunity, 25% of the total sum will be earmarked as your share while 10% shall be set aside for any incidental expenses which may occur in the eventual payment and transfer of this money.

Please indicate your willingness to assist me in this transaction by calling me on this phone number + 27-73-616-5858, or e-mail address as stated above.

Due to my sensitive position within the bank, let us keep this transaction in top confidence and be assured that this business is a 100% risk free.

Expecting to hear from you soonest.

Best Regards,
Stanley Moboyo.


Stan the man... I salute you.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Bring 'Em Back Alive

I've been a bit busy this last week, or I'd have posted this little story on Monday. Why Monday? Well... on Monday in her blog, KTM asked what we all did last weekend, so...

As most of you know, and the rest are about to find out, I'm a cowpoke. One of the duties of being one of these ruffians is occasionally mounting an untrusty steed and poking the cows from place to place (enough beastiality innuendos for ya?).

My neck of the woods is a cold desert. That means it takes lots and lots of space to run cattle out here. Of course, in order to have lots of space, you need lots of space. That means not very many people, or buildings. It's not quite the middle of nowhere, but you can see it from there. The particualr place we were moving our cattle is about 25 miles from my house, and a good 20 miles from any town. No phones, no lights, no moto... erm... ok, there are a few motorcars, but luxuries are not plentiful, and motorcars are few and far between.

We'd moved some cattle the day before (Friday) and had gone back Saturday to make another ride and try to find some more cattle. We did, and gathered them into on bunch. Once we got all the cows together, we sent mom back to get the pickup and trailer, while we continued on to our desired location. That way, when we were finished, she'd hopefully be there with the trailer and we wouldn't have to ride quite so far. Unfortunately, we finished before she got to us, so we started to ride down the road to meet her.

It was a hot a dry day, and there aren't any drinking fountains, so you can get a little parched, but after a lifetime, you learn to live with it. So we plodded along down the road kicking up dust as we went, knowing mom would be there with the water jug most anytime.

Being the old tracker that I am, I looked down at the road underneath my hoss, and could tell that there was something strange afoot. Literally. There were two sets of tennis shoe tracks walking down the road in front of us. That's not normal. There is a little creek there with a few fish, but usually fishermen don't wear sneakers, and they walk along side the water, not down the road. I logged it in the back of my mind and kept on riding. The longer we went, the more curious I got. There were no vehicle tracks at any of the usual turn around spots, and the tracks continued on down the road.

I figured if someone had gotten stuck or stranded up on the mountain, they would be walking down the road, and we'd probably catch up to them eventually. Either that or they'd meet mom and the pickup before we did. Still, it was strange.

As we rounded the next corner, I could see something white down the road. I didn't remember anything like that being there, and as we got closer, I could see it was someone sitting along the side of the road. Turns out, it wasn't one, but two people sitting along the side of the road accounting for the two sets of footprints. One of them stood up right away, but the other couldn't get to his feet, despite being helped by his companion.

When we finally got there, there were two elderly people, a man and a woman. Both of which my mom grew up with. The man's name was Vic, and the ladies, Vehlma.

"Do you happen to have any water?" Vehlma asked. Unfortunately, we didn't. Then they began to tell us their harrowing tale. They'd gotten stuck and had been walking for 3 days. The old man with the cane, turns 90 next month, and Vehlma isn't much younger. Holy crap... I was thinking. That's quite a feat. Then he continued on with his tale. They'd called for an ambulance this morning but the damn thing never showed up.

Erm... "Where'd you call from?" I asked. "The lady's house that lives up the road there a couple of miles." He answered. Ooooook. First of all, there aren't any ladies that live up the road. In fact there isn't anyone who lives up the road. Secondly, there aren't any phones to make any calls, even cells don't have any coverage. I was becoming suspicious of their harrowing tale, but he kept right on a going.

"In fact, we couldn't even get a whole schoolbus load of kids to stop and help us. They just drove right on by. I guess they couldn't stop or something." Now I'm calling bullshit. They'd definitely been through a lot, there's no doubt about it, and I'm thinking that they were a bit dehydrated and it was adding to whatever dementia already existed, but there's no way anyone was going to drive by two 90 year old people hobbling down a road in the middle of nowhere. Not even us.

As the old guy kept spinning his yarn, the lady interrupted and asked me, "Will you at least tell someone where we're at when you get home?" "Oh honey, don't worry. We'll be taking you out with us." I responded "How very nice of you." she smiled.

When mom finally got there, we loaded them up in the cab and headed for home. To make a short story long, mom called the lady's son and his wife came out and picked them up. They hadn't been stranded for 3 days, but they had spent the night on the mountain, and had walked several miles that morning. They'd never seen a bus load of kids from a "religious group", nor called an ambulance from a lady's home. We were probably the first people they'd seen, and that was very fortunate for them. They'd have probably died before anyone else came along, and that would have required a whole other set of clowns.

Nope, this time, you'll have to call me Frank S. Buck, because we brought 'em back alive...

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Fadder'z Dey...

Because there are a few kids out there, there must be some dads. (Now THAT's logic for ya!) For them, here's a little poem that my Grandpa made my dad memorize many moons ago...

Foxes can talk if you know how to listen,
My Paw said so.
Owls have big eyes that sparkle an' glisten,
My Paw said so.
Bears can turn flip-flaps an' climb ellum trees,
An' steal all the honey away from the bees,
An' they never mind winter becoz they don't freeze;
My Paw said so.

Girls is a-scared of a snake, but boys ain't,
My Paw said so.
They holler an' run; an' sometimes they faint,
My Paw said so.
But boys would be 'shamed to be frightened that way
When all that the snake want's to do is to play:
You've got to believe every word that I say,
My Paw said so.

Wolves ain't so bad if you treat 'em all right,
My Paw said so.
They're as fond of a game as they are of a fight,
My Paw said so.
An' all of the animals found in the wood
Ain't always ferocious. Most times they are good.
The trouble is mostly they're misunderstood,
My Paw said so.

You can think what you like, but I stick to it when
My Paw said so.
An' I'll keep right on sayin', again an' again,
My Paw said so.
Maybe foxes don't talk to such people as you,
An' bears never show you the tricks they can do,
But I know that the stories I'm tellin' are true,
My Paw said so.

--Edgar A. Guest

Sunday, June 11, 2006

The Education of a Wondering Man Chapter 1: Property.

I threatened to do this a little while ago, and now I suppose I'll have to. I'd hate to disappoint my fans...

My educational experiences basically began in 1999. That's when I discovered that everything that I had been taught or thought I'd knew, turned out to be wrong.

When one is confronted with such a realization, you are forced to do one of two things: reject the new information because it goes against what you've been taught; or test everything for it's correctness, leaving no room for untruth. I chose to do the latter.

Now when I started on this journey, I was bombarded with a great many things from a variety of different sources, none of which were easily identified as the truth. So I plodded along, learning as I went and making plenty of mistakes along the way. Failure is often the best teacher, and so far none of my mistakes have been fatal, but not all of them have come to fruition either.

The biggest problem with my education is that it hasn't been linear. I didn't start at step 1 then move on to steps 2, 3, and 4. I probably started at step 9, then learned step 13, then 2, then...
not the best way to learn something, but that's the way the self educated quite often have to do things. As I pass what I've learned along to all of you, I'll attempt to start at what I see as the beginning and take you on a linear course toward an eventual realization of the concepts that I now grasp. That's why I'm beginning here, at the foundation of all that will come -- Property.

Property is the fundamental cornerstone of all liberties, so it becomes very important to understand exactly what property is. Ask ten people what property is and you'll likely get 10 different answers, none of which would be correct. So let's have a little quiz to test all of your knowledge on the subject of property.

If a coffee mug magically appeared in front of you out of nowhere, (one minute it wasn't there, then it just materialized) would it be property? Hmmm... nobody owns it, no one has used it, nobody has a claim to it... is it property? No. It isn't property.

Now let's say you pick the mug up and start to use it, and you've used it for 20 years, now is the mug property? Hmmm... you seem to own it, you use it, you seem to have the best claim to it... is it property? No. It still isn't property, and I'll tell you why...

When we're trying to understand these kinds of principles, we have to delve into the realm of the courts and legal definitions. That's where legal concepts have been fleshed out over the years and been defined. The next thing that we need to understand is that Webster's isn't a legal dictionary, and it's definitions aren't always accepted in the courts. If you're looking for the legal definition of something, you need to look in a legal dictionary such as Blacks Law Dictionary, or Bouvier. Another place you can look is in the actual court decisions themselves, but these are harder to find.

So what exactly is property then? Property is not a thing or some tangible object of ownership, rather, property is a set of legal relations or relationships among persons with respect to things. [Fallini v. Hodel 725 F.Supp. 1113, 1123 (1989) citing Kaiser Aetna v. United States, 444 U.S. 164, 179, 100 S.Ct. 383, 392, 62 L.Ed.2d 332 (1979), see also Henneford v. Silas Mason Co., 300 U.S. 577 (1937)] “These rights include, among others, the right to possess, use, and dispose of property, and to exclude others from using property.Id.” (Fallini v. Hodel, supra) The thing or tangible object is correctly referred to as the “subject of property”

Ok... What does that mean exactly? In the mug example I used earlier, the mug is the "subject of property", the actual property is not in the thing, but rather in your relationship to the thing. Your ablility to use the mug is the property. Your ability to sever your rights and sell them to others is also property. All of the relationships that you can think of in regard to that mug is the actual property. That is why they are called property "rights".

Why is this distinction important? Thomas Sowell said it as well as I could have, so let's see what he has to say on the subject.

"Neither 'property' nor the value of property is a physical thing. Property is a set of defined options...It is that set of options which has economic value...It is the options, and not the physical things, which are the 'property' -- economically as well as legally...But because the public tends to think of property as tangible, physical things, this opens the way politically for government confiscation of property by forcibly taking away options while leaving the physical objects untouched."

Once you understand what property is, then you can see that every statute, regulation, or local ordinance that takes away or limits your use of these options, is a taking of the property, and is compensible under the 5th Amendment.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Go On and Smoke, Smoke, Smoke that Cigarette...

And now the post that I so rudely cast aside yesterday...

As a tribute to Beth's arrival at the End of the World, I decided to check out some of the many posts that a Gardening Knitter would share with the world. One in particular caught my eye right off the bat.

Those of you that blog a lot know that the most difficult part of any post is coming up with a clever title for the subject that you're about to discuss. There are the gifted among us like KTM, Mr. Schprock, and g_s who always have these clever titles, but I'm always looking at mine and thinking... meh, it could'a been better.

So imagine the pleasant surprise when I came across Beth's post called She's Got Bette Davis Lungs. Of course I had to read it, and I must say, I got quite a kick out of it. I was gonna leave a comment, but I know how often I read the new comments on old posts so I decided not to and do it here instead. Beth, my dear, I'm one of the saintly. Just thought you'd like to know there are a few of us still out there. ;)

In your honor, I'll tell a few stories that always tickled me.

My Grandpa and several Great Uncles smoked. One of these Uncles quit though, and was the epitome of the pious ex-smoker you described, his name was Uncle Fred. His brother, Uncle Herschel, always used to say, "There's nothing more virtuous than an ex whore." which always bugged Uncle Fred to no end. However, Uncle Fred knew that he could never say anything and acknowledge that it bothered him, because then it would just get worse. The flip side of that coin was that Uncle Hersch could always tell that it bugged him so he'd say it at every opportunity when Fred would turn his nose up at smokers.

Well anyway, in 1947, my Grandpa and Uncles Fred and Hersch drove to Portland to buy a ranch. Now in '47 there weren't any interstates, nor really any fast cars. They took their pickup and the three of them started out on the 10 day journey. Uncle Fred's version of the story went something like this:

"Now [my Grandpa] was driving and Hersch was on the passenger side so that he could blow the smoke out the window, so I was stuck in the middle. They never said anything, but I know they'd worked it out ahead of time, whenever one would brush out his cigarrette, the other would light up. Those two bastards chain smoked clear to Portland and back again. I've never been so sick of cigarette smoke in my life."

When I was a boy, my dad would always stop at one of the two local coffee shops when we fed in the morning and get a couple cups of coffee. These are some of my fondest memories because of all the old guys and their stories. They all got to know us and so they'd tell us boys story after story. My dad, of course, had heard all of them dozens of times over his lifetime, so he'd always prime the pump by asking them to tell us "the story about the time when..." Good times.

One of the many was a fellow named Radden. Old Rad looked like he was 150 when I first remember him, but he was probably only 80 or so. Anyway... he was about a 2 pack a day smoker and had been that way for at least 70 years. I think he said he started when he was 15 and his brother was 14 or so. To top that off, he smoked Camel stubbies. Quite possibly the strongest of the cigarette family.

One day when he was about 94 or 95, we were all sitting around the counter and he reached into his front pocket and took out his pack-o-cigs and pulled one out. He stuck it in his mouth and then with hands that trembled from the effects of old age, struck a match and tried to time the flickering match and his shaking hand so they met up with the end of the cig. I could see he was a pro, it didn't take him 2 seconds to fire it up and take the first drag, then blow the match out with the smoke from that first one. He sat there for a minute while he doctored up his cup o joe, then he reached up with the same trembling left hand and snatched the cig from his lips and held it between his fore and middle fingers. He turned his head and looked over at my brother and me and said with a dry seriousness, "They tell me if I quit these things, I'll live longer."

Another time someone was showing off their new chainsaw to Rad and another fellow named Mike who had a liver disease and wasn't long for this world. "This is the best goddamned chainsaw made and it's got a lifetime warranty." Rad looked over at Mike, took the cig out of his mouth and said, "That don't mean a whole helluva lot to you or me, does it."

They're all dead now but the stories will continue for as long as I do.

Monday, June 05, 2006

A Sad Day For the Loser.

I had another post written for today, in fact it's sitting in my draft box right now, but I just got a phone call a few minutes ago that changed things. One of the greatest men I've ever known passed away this afternoon.

I doubt most of you have ever heard of him, but he was a giant amongst us midgets, and I've nothing bad to say about him. That's quite a rare occurrence as I tend to call a spade a spade regardless of the loyalties of friendship.

No matter how many times he met with me and explained the same things over and over, he never acted like it was an imposition or a waste of his time. He'd patiently explain it over and over, and I'm happy to say, it finally sunk in. When we first began my education, I had a lot of scum on my brain that he needed to get through, and he did. I started out as his pupil and he as one of my mentors, but over the last several years I graduated up to where I considered him a friend. I don't know what he considered me, but that's completely irrelevant as far as I'm concerned. Even if he considered me a pest, I'll never think less of him.

When I was a small boy, my family went to Central Nevada with the thought of relocating our cattle operation. My dad always knew that if you were going to run cattle, you needed to go to a place that you could raise them as easily as possible and Nevada offered just such opportunities with a 12 month grazing season. He and mom looked at several ranches, but the one that he really wanted to look at already had a buyer who'd committed. Nothing worked out and so we came back here and have never left. A couple of weeks went by and the realtor called my dad to tell him that the deal had fallen through and the ranch was available if he wanted to come down and take a look. We couldn't make it and had to decline.

A couple of years later, the ranch was purchased by Wayne Hage and his family, the man who is at the center of this post. One of Wayne's favorite sayings to me was, "God looks after fools and small children, and I fit into one of those categories." In this case, God was looking out for all of us.

I can't even begin to tell you the torment that he went through after he bought this place, but it was tremendous. Most people couldn't have handled it in the correct way and would have been jailed or worse, but Wayne was a special individual. You can read the full story about what happened as told by his daughter here.

There are always the wannabe's who can't wait to tell you how good they are at something or how much they know about a subject. Then there are the quiet ones who don't need to tell you how good they are. These are the ones to learn from because they're the real thing. Wayne was this kind of man. With a quiet confidence he would answer my questions and tell me what I needed to know. It was like drinking from a firehose, but I relished it. Because of his knowledge, he became a very sought after fellow, and his time was always at a premium. I understood that, and always felt like I was stealing him away from something more important. He always told me that wasn't the case, but...

I can never fully express my gratitude for all of the hours that he spent with me and all of the knowledge that he passed on. I can only lament that it was a mere pittance of the knowledge he possessed on the subject, and how that resource is now lost. He is the main reason I've gotten where I am today, and for that, I'm truly grateful.

As he's been fighting an aggressive cancer these past few months, in typical Wayne Hage fashion he told his family not to worry. "If God wants me here, there's no power on earth that can take me, but if he wants me up there, there's no power on earth that can keep me here."

I will always remember him as my mentor, and friend. Goodbye Wayne.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

I'm not a Huffer.

My TV provider has decided to change their strategy. Instead of merely advertising the hell out of programs that are on channels that I haven't got, now they're offering a preview of some of these channels in hopes that I'll fall for the chum. I've got more resolve than that, but one of the preview channels is Showtime.

The last time I had a free movie weekend on Showtime, it was the season premiere of Huff. I must admit, I'd heard a bit of buzz surrounding this show, so I decided to check it out. I found it seriously lacking in the quality department. As far as could tell, the whole point to the show was to see how many times they could drop the F-bomb in a 60 minute period. They were quite good at it. Now I'm no stranger to foul language (my great grandfather was a sailor), truth be told, I might have actually dropped the bomb myself a time or two, but I aspire to greater things, and it's a habit I'm not proud of. All that said, I don't see it as particularly fascinating when it's gratuitously inserted in a TV show every third word. Personally, I prefer a plot and character development.

Usually, they bring out the best for the season premiere, especially when it's a free weekend, and I was sorely disappointed in their offering. But last night, on my new preview channel, there it was... another episode of Huff. I decided to give it another try to see if it was a better ep. I was just as disappointed this time around. It lacked everything that I like in a show, and the things that it did have, I can't say were impressive. It seems my initial analysis of the show was spot on. The entire point is to see how many times the f-bomb can be gratuitously dropped in a given length of time and how many people they can sucker into watching the whole thing.

It only took me these two eps to come to the inescapable conclusion: I'm not a Huffer.