December 30, 2018

Snow Sledding
For Fun & Memories

Futureman (my grandson) visited us for a couple days. One day was mostly travel time, going to pick him up and bring him to our house. Unfortunately, such visits are few and far between. 

Divorce and separation from my grandchild is not something I ever anticipated in my "family vision." But life is full of disappointments and heartaches. So, we just do the best we can under the circumstances. 

Our objective when Futureman is here is to focus our attention on him, to be a good influence, and to make good memories. 

In the video above, we made a good memory. Walking up the hill may not have been the best short-term memory for Futureman, but the sledding adventure ended well—He toughed it out and was smiling at the top. 

I posted that video on my personal Facebook page. The daughter of my best friend in high school posted this comment:
"Oh so many memories sledding down that hill as a child! Broke my tailbone by hitting a snowmobile jump near the bottom! Almost ended up in the bottom of the gully several times, adding to the thrill of the ride! Always finished the day off with hot cocoa at grandma's! Thanks for sharing, brought back some great memories!"
Her name is Niki, and her comment brought a smile to my face. Niki's father, mother, and grandmother have now all passed on, but each of them contributed to giving her a childhood of wonderful, family-centered memories. She cherishes the memories.

Niki is now grown and married to a farmer. She has a young son. I can tell from her Facebook page that her son is being deliberately blessed with the same family-centered, active, rural lifestyle that she experienced.

And as I ruminated further on this little story, I remembered that my first time sledding down Murphy Hill Road was in the winter of 1975-76. I was a senior in high school. Niki's father (who lived a short walk from the hill) had a long toboggan, and group of us classmates got together for a few trips down the big hill.

In retrospect, there are few things in life more fun that a bunch of 18-year-old kids piling onto a long toboggan and sliding down Murphy Hill Road. It was good, wholesome fun. And it was free.

My wife was my girlfriend back then. She remembers that sledding party. And she remembers it was so much fun that we all got together again one crisp, starry, moonlit night to slide down Richardson Hill Road, which is another steep road around here that's closed off in the winter. 

These snow-covered rural hill roads don't attract local kids for sledding like they used to. Too many kids wile away their life playing electronic games. Futureman is among them. 

Yes, it bothers me. I never allowed my three boys to play computer games in our home. I saw such games as intruders and thieves. 

But all their friends had the computer games. When they got older, they played them at their friends's houses. :-(

Even still, not having such games in our home meant that my sons were more exposed to traditional, rural, outdoor play than most other kids their age. That was a good thing for them, and they know it now.

Fortunately, cell phones were not even around when my kids were younger. And it is fortunate that they were not around when I was a kid. Cell phones are intruders and thieves too.

Oh my... this has ended up being a meandering, opinionated screed. I suppose it is typical of grandfathers, looking at the younger generation, to be so opinionated. And concerned.

God help us.

Murphy Hill Road in the winter.

December 24, 2018

Merry Christmas 2018

Moravia, New York
Christmas Eve morning 2018

My Planet Whizbang mail order business will send out just over 2,000 packages this year. That number is down considerably from previous years. But it's still a lot, and the local post office picks up the packages every day at my home. It's a nice service they provide, but it's asking too much from my mail carrier in December, when she is really overloaded with packages to deliver.

So, this year, in addition to delivering a big plate of Christmas cookies (a token of our appreciation) to the post office, Marlene or I are taking our outgoing packages there every day this month. Fortunately, we don't have to stand in line at the front window. We walk in the back door.

This morning, the day before Christmas, I got to the post office much earlier than usual. All the mail carriers were in the big back room sorting their mail into pigeon holes. I gave a cheery "Good morning" to the room. One carrier smiled at me and said, "That's debatable." 

I replied: "So, do you all have a big party when Christmas is over?" 

I wanted them to know that I know this is a hard time of year for them. My question brought some laughs of affirmation, and lots of Merry Christmas wishes as I headed back out the door.

From the post office, I took a left onto Main Street and headed to the local bank. It's a small, independent bank. How many of those are left in this world of bank conglomeration? Not many. 

But, to my dismay, the ATM was not working. The day before Christmas and the ATM was not working! Fortunately, it wasn't a crisis—just a little disappointment. 

I headed back onto Main Street towards the gas station. Marlene and I are driving west the day after Christmas to pick up Futureman (our grandson) for a short visit. This morning was a good time to get the gas tank topped off.

The annoying gas pump television was less annoying than usual today. The volume was down. Maybe someone complained. I noticed that a small group of Amish men were getting coffee at Dunkin Donuts. 

From the gas station I went to the local lumberyard, which is just outside town, at the bottom of Tollgate Hill road. 

Years ago I worked for a local contractor who owned the building and it was known as Home Center Mall. The store had kitchen & bathroom displays and I was the "General Manager" in charge of all kitchen & bathroom sales. I met with customers, helped with design and product selection, drew up the contracts for work, and did the remodeling jobs myself (with a co-worker). 

It was a lot of work and responsibility, but it was a good experience. From there, it was just natural that I would go into business for myself doing the same work. My co-worker (Steve) and I went into business together as Bestbuilt Construction.

When the Home Center Mall was bought and turned into a lumber yard they pretty much gutted the interior of the building. But they left one small room untouched. It was my office. It is now the paint-mixing room. If you are ever at Alpine Building Supply in Moravia, NY, be sure to take a peek into the paint mixing room. You will see the built-in desk, drawers, shelving and moldings that I made there in the early 1990s. In fact, I remember working on that office on a Christmas eve day (on my own time) way back then.

I always enjoy going to the local lumberyard because I usually see someone I know, and I always have a good conversation with the men who work there.

This morning, when I walked into the store, I was the only customer. Tom was at the counter and Don was doing something at one of the nearby displays. I asked if I was their first customer of the day. They told me that a truckload of men in straw hats (Amish) had left a short while earlier.

I bought some ice melt and a tube of Gorilla Glue. Then I told Tom that I appreciated the "Merry Christmas" wishes on the sign in front of their store. He replied, "We're not afraid to say Merry Christmas." I told him I had seen a business sign on the internet this morning that said: Wishing you a happy "whatever doesn't offend you."

We exchanged pleasantries, wished each other a Merry Christmas, and I went outside to take the picture you see at the top of this blog post.

From the lumber yard I headed home. We live only 6 miles from town. A nice distance. 

Tonight, my three sons and their wives will come for dinner. My youngest sister and her husband will also be here. After dinner we will open some presents. 

We picked names for presents at Thanksgiving. So, everyone buys a gift for only one person. But it always ends up that more gifts materialize. Even still, we do not go overboard when it comes to giving gifts. 

As I write this, Marlene is busy with cooking and cleaning. I have things to do before the evening's festivities too. So that's it for today's blog post. 

Here's wishing you and yours a blessed and merry Christmas... or whatever doesn't offend you.

December 22, 2018

Heat Your House With
Homemade Cow Manure Briquettes!

Rose Marie Belforti, holds one of the pressed briquettes just after formation on the press and prior to drying.

My friend Rose Belforti is famous for making raw milk probiotic kefir cheese, as explained in This YouTube Video. But her latest creation is something entirely different. Rose has been experimenting with an idea for making cow-manure-and-bedding briquettes for burning in a wood stove. 

I have not seen Rose's new briquette making machine in person, and I have not burned any cow-patty briquettes in my own woodstove, so I can't give a personal opinion. But I can tell you that I love to see down-to-earth inventions like this! The following is a news release that Rose sent me.

Briquetting a Better, Burnable Cow Patty: Farmer Turns Livestock Waste into Fuel Source 

King Ferry, NY/Fredericksburg TX 
December 6, 2018

A farmer recently completed a USDA Northeast SARE funded project to demonstrate a hydraulic press used to make fuel briquettes from manure and bedding.  The machine, dubbed the "Biomass Beast" by its creator, Rose Marie Belforti, was built for $5,766 and produced briquettes at a rate of 90 dry pounds per hour for 3 cents per dry pound.  The briquettes were found to have 6,481 BTU/lb (at 10.5% moisture content) which compared favorably to dry cord wood (e.g. 5,649 BTU/lb for sugar maple at 10% moisture). They burned easily and well. All in all, the cost of production and the heating value suggests that these briquettes deliver energy at a cost of about $4.4 per million BTU (roughly the equivalent of $105 per cord of firewood or $0.60 per gallon of fuel oil).

The briquettes burn easily and well in a wood stove or fireplace.

Rose Marie Belforti was interested in finding ways to manage excess livestock manure on her small farm. She learned that manure fuel briquettes have been used on small farms by many cultures around the world for centuries, but typically they have been made by hand and do not have the BTU’s acceptable to meet modern heating needs. Biomass fuel briquette machines currently on the market in the U.S. are designed for large production and are not practical for small farm use. Therefore, Belforti sought to design and test a prototype of an affordable hydraulic press scaled for small farm use that would sufficiently compress a raw manure/bedding mixture into brick form to be used as a heating fuel. 

She was able to test the idea out with the support of a Farmer Grant project funded by the Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program (SARE). Belforti received a SARE Farmer Grant last year to design and construct a hydraulic press to form fuel briquettes from livestock manure and to test them.

Belforti worked closely with a local welder and also with a technical advisor Chris Callahan, at UVM Extension to develop the press prototype. She then tested different ratios of fresh manure, bedding (straw and wood shavings), and water to come up with a recipe that would press and dry efficiently and have reasonable density. Briquettes were analyzed for quality and heat value. Compared to cordwood, livestock manure pressed briquettes rated well for BTUs per pound; however, ash content was higher than cord wood or wood pellets.

The press cost $5,766 ($2,103 in materials and $3,662 in fabrication labor) to construct which included all new materials except for tires. The cost could be considerably less if on farm equipment already in hand would have been used. One could also, with welding skills, modify a wood splitter to have a dual purpose machine.  A typical briquette size is: 7” high x 9” wide x 9” long. The dry weight is approximately 3 lbs for a briquette that size. Belforti was able to produce 90 lbs of dry briquettes per hour.  Drying is done in ambient conditions, protected from rain, using the heat of the sun (e.g. in a greenhouse).  The cost of fuel to run the machine is about 3 cents per pound of dry briquette.

The fuel testing demonstrated “dry” moisture content of about 10.5% using simple, passive techniques with some ventilating air flow but and no supplemental heating. The briquette fuel was tested for heating value and was found to have 7,673 BTU/lb (moisture free). This equates to 6,841 BTU/lb (at 10.5% moisture).  Ash content was relatively high at 18%.

Combining the cost of production and the heating value suggests that these briquettes deliver energy at a cost of about $4.4 per million BTU (roughly the equivalent of $105 per cord of firewood or $0.60 per gallon of fuel oil).  The amortized cost of the machine and labor is not included in these early cost estimates.

This is the "Biomass Beast." It uses a hydraulic press to form livestock manure, bedding and water into fuel briquettes.

Based on results of the project, Belforti concluded that livestock manure briquettes can be a feasible fuel source for the small farm, particularly those with surplus livestock manure. Photos of the press and construction information as well as fuel analyses are available on FarmHack ( and are included in the final project report, available on the SARE website (

December 15, 2018

The BBC Harvest 2015 Series

There are aspects of modern agriculture that grieve me, but the technological advances and accomplishments of modern agriculture are undeniably impressive. With that in mind, I found this BBC Harvest 2015 series a real delight to watch.

I learned a lot watching this series. Like, for example, I learned that sweet corn is an "exotic" new crop in the UK, and that the harvesting of some crops (berries mostly) must still be done by hand. If you have an interest in agriculture, you will enjoy these videos.

December 12, 2018

Television On Gas Pumps-
The Enemy of Decent Civilization

A pet peeve is defined as "something that a particular person finds especially annoying." For example, in my case, I would say tattoos, body piercing (noses especially), and the widespread  public proliferation of the F-word are things I find especially annoying.

To that short list I am now adding television on gas pumps. 

I have seen screens with advertising on gas pumps, but the speaking television presentation is something new to me. I encountered it at my local gas station earlier this week, and I took the photo above at that time.

I don't want to be confronted with news, weather, sports, games, and whatever else gas-pump television has to offer. But I can not turn it off or turn the volume down. It demands my attention and offends my sensibilities.

I like to look around when I'm pumping gas. In my hometown gas station I can look at the sky, the Owasco Valley hillsides, the state park entrance across the street. Those things speak to me in a subtle, pleasant way, unlike the intrusive television.

I like to look at the traffic going by, the people pulling into the gas station, the other people pumping gas, the people coming out of the convenience store. 

I have lived in this small rural town for 46 years. I never go to town without seeing people I know—people I can at least give a passing wave and a smile to. Or, better yet, engage in brief conversation. Such exchanges enrich my life. The gas-pump television does not do that. It is a loud, rude stranger, verbally and visually accosting me for the entire time I am pumping gas. 

I dare say, this gas-pump television is worse than an interloper. It is an enemy. It is an enemy of decent civilization.

Oh, how I loath gas-pump television!

December 11, 2018

Metaphor For
A Successful Marriage

A Facebook friend of mine posted the above video and asked a friend who once had draft animals if she thought it was animal abuse. The friend's reply...

"No, not abuse - our mules seemed to enjoy doing the work Tom asked of them. If this team were falling onto their knees, and / or couldn't actually move the truck, then I would think abuse."

From my own point of view, I immediately saw something entirely different. The video presents a beautiful metaphor for marriage. My comment...

"This is a metaphor for a good and lasting marriage. Two, harnessed together, working together, pulling in the same direction, to achieve a common goal, and often pulling uphill."

I could write more on this subject, but the beauty of metaphors is that they don't need a lot of words to convey their message.

December 10, 2018

Thank You
Earl Hamner

Earl Hamner and John-boy Walton
It is winter and that means it is time for me to start assembling and adjusting Classic American Clothespins. It's monotonous work but I can do it in my house while watching YouTube videos and online movies. That's how I came to watch The Homecoming yesterday.

I assume most everyone is familiar with The Homecoming. It's a Christmas story, and the precursor to The Walton's television series. Both are based on Earl Hamner's early life, growing up in a small rural town in Virginia during the Great Depression.

As far as I'm concerned, The Waltons and Little House on the Prairie were the two best television shows ever produced. Both centered around and celebrated traditional, down-to-earth families and  small-town communities.

I don't watch television any more, but in the early 1970s, when those shows were on primetime, I was an avid watcher. Both shows presented fathers that were responsible, hard working family men. As a teenager, I considered them role models. 

When my boys were young, I bought the videos of both television series, and we watched them as a family. I'll be watching them myself this winter... as I make clothespins.

As for The Homecoming movie, I must admit that I never thought much of it. Mama, Daddy, and Grandpa Walton were played by different people than in the television series. They were fine actors but not as endearing as their replacements.

As I watched The Homecoming this year, I appreciated it more than in the past. I now think it's on par with It's A Wonderful Life, which I've long loved (and I have written about HERE).

After I watched The Homecoming on YouTube (see below), I started watching several YouTube movies about The Waltons and Earl Hamner. THIS ONE does a good job of telling the story of Schuyler, Virginia and Earl Hamner's family (the real Waltons). 

Earl Hamner died in 2016, at 92 years of age. I was pleased to see (from This Obituary) that Earl and his wife were married for 62 years!

That obituary ends with this insightful quote from Earl Hamner...

“What has inspired my work has always been the family and neighbors I grew up with back in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia during the Great Depression of the 1930s. They were decent, God-fearing, patriotic people. Like most Appalachian folk, they were frugal, proud and self-reliant.
To write about such people, it was inevitable that such stories deal with love and honor, pity and pride, compassion and sacrifice. And so much of my writing became a celebration of those traditional American values.”

I like that. God-fearing, patriotic, frugal and self-reliant. Those are, indeed, traditional American values. They are the values that made America great. They are the values that can make America great again.

December 8, 2018

Watching The French Uprising

I sympathize with the French yellow-vest demonstrators. Not the rioters, but the demonstrators. From what I've been able to determine, they are primarily the working-class French. They are the producers. The middle class and lower middle class. The ones who pay most of the taxes, which go to support the non-producers, as well as an increasing number of foolish government globalism schemes (like taxing fuel to fight climate change).

The poor pay no taxes and the rich pay proportionately fewer taxes. The middle class is the tax-producing herd that government systematically milks. All such herds will only take so much before they jump the fence and stampede.

Thomas Jefferson knew this. He referenced it 242 years ago in his brilliantly worded Declaration of Independence...

"...all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security."

According to This 2016 Article France has the highest taxed population in Europe. "Tax Liberation Day" for them is July 29. That means the average worker in France must work 210 days a year just to pay his taxes.  That's a considerable demand on a person's time and life force, just to pay the perpetual demands of an overgrown government.

Does the government in France serve the people, or do the people serve the government?

Here in America, "Tax Freedom Day" is April 19. The average tax-paying American must work 109 days a year to pay his taxes. 

Personally, I'm sure I work longer than 109 days to pay my taxes. As a self-employed person I'm responsible for paying twice as much social security taxes than the taxpayer who is an employee.

Most of my income comes from selling products that I make with my hands. I invest time and a lot of monotonous hours into producing things. If I don't produce, I don't make money. And when I write out a check for my federal and state taxes every quarter, it not only makes me angry, it discourages me greatly. 

Approximately half the people in America do not pay any income taxes at all. Near as I can tell, it is about the same in France. The poor don't pay, and the wealthy pay proportionately less. I have a friend who owns a larger and much more profitable business than me and he tells me he pays very little in income taxes. There is something seriously wrong with a country in which half the population is expected to pay all the bills. 

As an American producer who pays dearly and disproportionately with my time and energy to support the growing socialist welfare state of America, I'm ready to protest in the streets. I mean that sincerely. 

The French middle class has been much more patient and "disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable" than I am. 

I wish them well.


By the way, those yellow vests are a story in themselves. Every motorist in France is required by law to have two such vests in their vehicle at all times. Taxes are only one burden inflicted by an overbearing bureaucratic technocracy.  

December 7, 2018

New York State
Veers Hard Left

This is the New York State assembly chamber.

I live in New York State. My state is a politically liberal state. However, N.Y. State government has not been as liberal as it could have been. For example, N.Y. has not been as politically left as California, and this has been the case for one big reason... 

Democrats have pretty much had total political control of California for more than 20 years. But that has not been the case here in New York. For more than 25 years, the N.Y. Senate has been in the control of Republicans and the Assembly by Democrats. There was a two-year exception in 20009-10, when Democrats briefly gained power over both houses, but it was a tenuous hold and they couldn't keep it.

It has been Republican control of the N.Y. Senate that has prevented the very worst of liberal, leftist, and progressive legislation from being passed. 

But with the election last month, Democrats now have a large Senate majority, along with control of the other branches of government. They now have the power that California liberals have had for decades.

The reality of this hit me when I recently read a letter from New Yorker's Family Research Foundation, a Christian organization that lobbies NY legislators in an effort to influence political outcomes. I've financially supported their lobbying arm (New Yorker's For Constitutional Freedoms) for many years.

While other lobbyists seek to influence legislation for financial gain. NYCF lobbies to influence for righteous outcomes. What a novel idea. Do other states have this? 

Here is how the letter started...

There is no positive spin regarding this year’s election results in New York.

Across the nation, the “blue wave” didn’t amount to as much as many suggested it would. In the Empire State, however, it was a blue tsunami. U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand won with over 64% of the vote. Governor Andrew Cuomo pulled in nearly 58%. Democrats swept the statewide races retaining control of both the Attorney General’s and Comptroller’s offices as well. The State Assembly remains virtually unchanged with the Democratic Party maintaining an easy supermajority in that chamber. The real change is coming in the State Senate, though. Election Day hit the Senate Republicans like a Nor’easter. Prior to November, Republicans controlled the chamber 32-31, but after the electoral avalanche, it will be a 40-23 Democrat-controlled State Senate when legislators return in January.

Our lobbying arm, New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms, has historically had tremendous success blocking legislation in the upper house, but with Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins (D-Yonkers) at the helm in 2019, there will be little chance for these types of continued legislative victories. I don’t want to sugarcoat it. Legislatively, it’s going to be ugly in New York for the foreseeable future.

"Ugly in New York" is not a hopeful message, but the letter goes on to make the case for continued perseverance in the face of seemingly hopeless odds. 

All of which brings to my mind the dichotomy between Christian obedience and worldly success. Simply stated, Christians are not expected by God to be successful in every endeavor. They are, rather, called to be obedient to what God calls them to do. Such callings may result in utter failure from the human perspective, and that can be profoundly disappointing, but it is beside the point. The point being, that obedience is more important than success from God's perspective.

That's something to think about, and the letter concludes with something more to think about...

This Christmas, as I sit before the tree, I will look at the manger scene and take strange solace in the knowledge that human government will always ultimately fail. Yes, it is instituted by God for our good, but at some point, it will always disappoint. Why? Because government is led by people born with an inherent sin nature...

That quote illustrates a fundamental human understanding that all the founders of our American form of government understood very well. They did not believe for a moment that mankind was fundamentally good, especially when it came to government power. They knew that power was a corrupting force on sinful humans. And that is why they set up a government structure with divided powers, along with layers of checks and balances.

As New York state government takes a hard left turn, I'm holding on tight. 

December 5, 2018

Children & Manners
Circa 1951
(part 2)

Marlene recently found an obscure comb-bound book from 1951 titled, Your Household Guide. It was originally given out by the Etna Grange No. 387, Ithaca, New York

The book is full of useful tips and information,  most of which are outdated. For example...

"When storing linens, leave them unstarched as the starch rots them."


"Good Cheap Liniment: Break end of one egg open. Put the egg in a glass bottle. Fill the shell with turpentine. Also fill it with vinegar. Put both in bottle with egg and shake well. It is ready for use."

Perhaps in a future blog post, I will share more of these historically curious bits of household advice. But for now I want to focus on the CHILDREN'S SECTION, which begins with several manners that I assume were considered good and appropriate for 1951. Here they are...

1.  Always greet the members of your family when you enter and always bid them goodbye when you leave.

2.  Always rise to a standing position when visitors enter, and greet them after your elders.

3.  Never address a visitor until he has started the conversation unless he is a person of your own age or younger.

4.  Never interrupt a conversation. Wait until the party talking has finished.

5.  Always rise when your visitor or your elders stand.

6.  Never let your mother or your father bring you a chair or get one for themselves. Wait on them instead of being waited on.

7.  If you leave or cross the room you should say "Excuse me."

8.  If a visitor should say, "I am glad to have seen you," you should say, "Thank you."

9.  Never run up or down the stairs or across the room.

10.  Talk in a low, even voice. It denotes refinement.

11.  Always give way to the younger child. It is your duty to look after them instead of fretting them.

12.  Never retire without bidding the members of your family good night.

Follow these suggestions and you will assist in making the members of your family happy as well as in benefitting them in many other ways.

I was born in 1958. I don't recall ever being taught manners like these by my parents. I well remember being taught certain table manners, and some of the above manners were naturally assimilated, but not specifically taught.

My mother did, however, have an Emily Post book on etiquette in the bookcase, and I remember looking through it as a youngster.

I think it's safe to say that here in 2018, basic good manners are still taught to young children by their parents. The most obvious example being to say "Thank you" when given something. But advanced manner teaching is rarely ever taught in a deliberate way.

This lack of manners appears to be sorely lacking in our culture these days. 

Personally, I think my own manners can be improved on by more intentionally following the manners advice in the 1951 Grange book. 

I'm wondering.... 

Do you remember being taught manners like those above as a child? 

Do you have a book of etiquette in your home?

December 4, 2018

Millennials And The
Continuing Failure Of
Government Education

The above video discussion is well worth watching. It is profoundly insightful, and profoundly disturbing. I could disagree with a couple points that Simon Sinek makes, but it isn't constructive to do so. 

Instead, I'd just like to make the point that the government school system has been incredibly successful at preventing children from maturing as they should, and that is actually one of the objectives of government education.

For those who disagree with that observation, I offer the following quote from John Taylor Gatto for your consideration...

Theorists from Plato to Rousseau to Frederick of Prussia knew and taught explicitly that if children could be kept childish beyond [their] term in nature, if they could be cloistered in a society of children without any real responsibility except obedience, if their inner lives could be attenuated by removing the insights of history, literature, philosophy, economics, religion, if the imminence of death and the certainty of pain and loss could be removed from daily consciousness, if the profound reflections on one’s own death could be replaced by the trivializing emotions of greed, envy, jealousy and fear, young people would grow older, but they would never grow up, and a great enduring problem of supervision would be solved, for who can argue against the truth that childish and childlike people are much easier to manage than critically trained, self‐reliant ones.

Amazingly, it appears (from the video discussion above) that the government school system has been too successful, at least in regards to preparing young people for occupational employment. Instead of cranking out immature, easily managed employees it has produced immature, difficult-to-manage employees. 

In another quote from Gatto's essay, he states that our government "educated" population is, "deliberately dumbed‐down and rendered childlike in order that government and economic life can be managed with a minimum of hassle, it’s that lowdown nitty‐gritty common purpose. Not Marxist grand warfare between classes and greedy captains of industry, it’s simply so that management will have a minimum of hassles."

Thus it is that now, even at its most clandestine and fundamental purpose, government-directed, taxpayer funded education is a failure. 

December 3, 2018

Children & Manners
Circa 1951
(part 1)

I was walking through a Walmart store yesterday evening with my wife and there was a small child having a bit of a tantrum with his mother. It's not an uncommon thing to see these days and it's always disturbing to me. 

Our children did not act that way in public. And they didn't act that way at home either. 

So why do kids act like that? I think it must be that something is not right in the family. I often wonder if such children are from broken homes. Perhaps that was a single mother in Walmart, and she had worked a full day at some tiring job, and she was only able to be a mother part time. Being a single mother, working to support and raise children, has to be one of the toughest responsibilities in the world.

I was fortunate that my own mother was a full-time mother. Her mother was a full-time mother too. I suspect that was the case for all my generations into the past. 

It was the same in Marlene's family line. Her Mother went to nursing school in New York City. She was the only one of nine children in her family to go on to school after high school. But she did not work full time as a nurse when she was raising her children. She was a substitute school nurse, and sometimes helped care for people in their homes during their final days (it was before organized hospice care came into being). But, for all practical purposes, she was a full-time mother.

Marlene and I were married eight years before we had our first child. She worked those years for a local doctor. A lot of the doctor's patients thought she was a nurse, but she had gone to college to be a "medical office assistant." 

In those early years of our marriage, when I was working for a local remodeling contractor, Marlene earned more money than I did. The doctor paid her well.

When Marlene was pregnant with our first child, we decided that it was critically important for her to leave work and be a full-time mother. I remember that was a difficult social adjustment for Marlene. And it was a big financial adjustment. Supporting a family on my income alone was challenging for a lot of years. Those were the hard years. 

I worked my full time job, then did side jobs after work and on weekends. Finding a balance between work and family wasn't easy. But the most important thing to me and Marlene was that our children had a full-time mother. And Marlene wasn't just a mother, she was a teacher. We homeschooled our kids.

I am in no way qualified to advise anyone about how to raise their children. I feel like I'm a failure at it in more ways than one. I wish I could go back in time and have a second try at it. But life doesn't work that way.

In retrospect, however, I feel like we did three things right. If Marlene and I had it to do all over again, we would, without a doubt, do these three things again. I'm not saying everyone should do these things. I'm saying that these three deliberate actions were right for us and our family.

First, I did not expect for a second that Marlene should shoulder any responsibility for the financial provision of our family. 

She offered to get a job a couple times when the money was short, but she never had to do that. Within the family economy we established, earning money was not her responsibility.

But making do with the money I was able to earn was part of her responsibility. Marlene really stretched the dollars. She made do with a whole lot less than the average two-income families around us.

The second right thing we did was not send our children to the government school. They were not indoctrinated into the secular worldview for the most formative years of their life. They were not peer dependent, and their exposure to the Pied Piper of pop culture was significantly limited. They had a far more practical education at home. 

The third right thing we did was live in a rural place, and we did real work together as a family. Cutting firewood, growing food, cooking; there is no end to productive work that a family must do on a rural homestead. And when they were old enough, our sons started working for local farmers. 

I'll never forget when my youngest son, James, was 12 years old and helped a local farmer put drain tile in his field.  It was a sunny spring day and he was shoulder deep in the bottom of the ditch, with a shovel, doing a man's work, and he loved it. Meanwhile, all the other 12-year-olds in the area were being institutionalized at the government school.

As a rule, children raised in rural settings grow up to be more resilient and resourceful than children raised in urban and suburban environments.  

We also did not have television (but we did watch some video movies), and I never allowed any video games in the house.

Those are the things I felt like we did right when raising our children. I offer them for consideration to any future parents who might read this.  

Now, you're probably wondering what I did wrong when it came to raising my children. Well, I don't want to talk about that.

This whole blog post has actually veered off  its intended course. I was going to discuss some manners for children that I found in a 1951 book (pictured above). I'll do that in my next blog post.

But before I end this post I want to share with you about the one single time that I had a temper tantrum as a child. I don't remember it, but I know about it because my mother told the story to me a few times later in life.

I was around two years old and I was sitting on the kitchen floor. Something hadn't gone my way and I was angry—out of control, screaming angry. It was a classic, red-faced, eyes closed, fists clenched, high pitched tantrum. 

My mother didn't know what to do. Then she saw a glass of water on the table. She threw the water right in my face.

My mother says I stopped screaming instantly. I looked around in shock and confusion, and I never had another temper tantrum again. 

True story.

Circa 1951 children's manners next (prepare to be amazed)....