From Pine View Farm

Personal Musings category archive

Misty Water-Colored Memories 0

I thought these were a thing of the past.


Stray Thought 0

I’m so old that I can remember when politicians of a certain age voluntarily entered retirement.


Deseg 0

It was my junior year in high school when my school district decided that integration was inevitable. One I’m certain carefully picked black girl joined the senior class. The next year, when I was a senior, in a bold step, eleven I’m certain just as carefully picked black students joined the senior class. (Simultaneously, two seg academies sprang up and the prom was canceled).

I know of no incidents among the students, at least not at school, and, had there been any outside of school, I probably would have heard of them; it was a very small school (there were 70 in my graduating class). I do know that many of the older white teachers retired or moved to the seg academies rather than face the advent of “full integration,” in which, as in many Southern school districts, the former black high school became a junior high and the former white high school became a senior high, because school spirit or something.

I recall that one of the older lady teachers was mortified when, in a photo of the track team, the local paper switched my name with that of one of my black team mates. (I got the full story from my mother, who was a math teacher.) Me, I didn’t care–he and I got along just fine.

This is by way of commending to your attention an article in my local rag about the “Norfolk 17,” the first black students to attend a previously all-white high school in Norfolk, Virginia, and the reception they faced. Here’s a bit:

But it’s one thing to read about something. It’s another to meet Patricia Turner, one of the 17, and hear her describe how white teachers wore gloves to avoid touching her papers, how classmates taunted her and people spit in her hair.

The springboard for the article was that four students won an award for their documentary about the Norfolk 17. As a footnote, one of the things that struck me was the names of the four student documentarians: Javier Miranda-Castro, Kaleem Haq, Jacob Hill, and Kobe Nguyen.


“Electabilty” 0

F. T. Rea observes, in the course of a longer post, that

The more I hear about “electability,” the more it seems to be something like beauty, because it appears to be a quality that lies in the eye of the beholder.

I have concluded that, when someone’s primary criticism of this or that candidate is that said candidate is “unelectable,” it indicates that he or she can find no other more weighty criticism to make.


Recommended Reading 0

Murder Must Advertise, by Dorothy Sayers.

I just read it for the second time, or maybe it was the third, and you should too.


An Old Chessnut 0

I’ve been hiding from reality when I’ve not been feeding the blog by doing New York Times Sunday crossword puzzles. (I don’t like little crosswords–just big ones.) But they are getting too easy, so I decided to re-take up chess.

It’s been a long time since I played chess–I pretty much stopped when I learned how to play contract bridge, but it looks like the odds of my finding a bridge foursome are longer than one of Peter Jackson’s movies in his Hobbit trilogy (to tell the truth, after the first two, I couldn’t work up the interest to see the third one, and I’ve read The Lord of the Rings almost as many times as I’ve read The Canon).

At Project Gutenberg, one of the most worthwhile places on the inner tubes, I found a great text on chess written by Edward Lasker. I printed it out and have been working my way through it.

I also needed a chess set; it’s been years since I’ve had one. I tried a couple of local stores and was not impressed. I wanted something similar to the travel chess set I had way back when, because there’s not a lot of room here to leave a chess set sitting open, and the few sets I found were gimmicky–Harry Potter and Game of Thrones sets, for example.

So I nosed around on Amazon and found a great set from an outfit called Wood Expressions–here’s a direct link. It was quite moderately priced and the workmanship is impressive. It’s a little difficult to tell the bishops from the pawns in the dark pieces, but I’m getting used to it; and chess is slowly coming back to me.

Travel chess set


Jesus! The Spam! 0

Just for grins and giggles, I am appending below the fold a spam comment that has been repeatedly appearing in my blog’s spam catcher for the last several weeks submitted as a comment to random posts by [fake names].

I was raised in the Southern Baptist Church before it went bucking fonkers.

These clowns represent no Christianity that I know. And that persons believe this demented drivel scares the bejesus out of me.

Read more »


“Jackie Robinson Day” 0

Last night, I tuned into ESPN to watch the Phillies play the bad guys of the day New York Mets.

I did not know that Major League Baseball was celebrating “Jackie Robinson Day.”

Every player wore Jackie Robinson’s number, 42 (a number that is otherwise retired from Major League Baseball). In a refreshing change from the normal drivel of the play-by-play and commentary, the telecast included visits to the play booth by Jamie Foxx, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred, and Mo Ne Davis, as well as a filmed tribute to her father by Sharon Robinson. In addition, the commentators discussed the contributions of Jackie Robinson to baseball, civil rights, and American society, as well as larger issues regarding the place of African-Americans in baseball and in society.

As I listened to these tributes to one of the bravest men to don a baseball uniform, I could not stem a rising tide of dismay at the overt racism of the current federal administration.

Read more »


The Wind in the Wallows 0

When I was growing up at Pine View Farm, we had a windmill (in the picture above, it would have been behind the right ell of the house). Granted, it was relic from before the electric water pump was installed, but there it was.

Maybe that explains it.


Russian Impulses, Mulling Mueller Dept. 0

Methinks Ed over at Gin and Tacos makes a good point.

I also commend Shaun Mullen’s take on it to your attention.


It is unquestionable that Russia worked surreptitiously (and sometimes titiously) to promote Donald Trump’s campaign for the presidency. It also seems likely that there was some coordination with various Trump flunkies and family members (the Trump Tower meeting being the most prominent indicator thereof). Nevertheless, one question has nagged me throughout all this (and may account for my not devoting as many electrons to the Mueller investigation as some others have), and I have finally figured out what it is:

To conspire with someone requires taking him or her into your confidence, at least to a degree.

If you were a wily operative like Vladimir Putin, would you take a buffoon like Donald Trump into your confidence?


Stray Question 0

Who was the bright light who decided that mattresses no longer need to have handles on the sides?


“Say It Ain’t So, Joe” 2

Shaun Mullen.

As much as I liked and respected Joe Biden as a Senator, I agree with Shaun.

Heck, there are already too many Democrats testing the presidential waters (not to mention that entitled snowflake, the Man Who Ruined Coffee) and it’s still way too early . . . .

Sometimes, I find myself nostalgic for the smoke-filled rooms.


New Twists in Spam 0

Based on what I see in my mail client’s inbox, the latest spammer trick is to send emails with no dates in the email headers.

Read more »


Recommended Reading 0

Conan Doyle for the Defense.

If Conan Doyle for the Defense were just a narrative of Arthur Conan Doyle’s efforts to free a man who was railroaded for a crime that it was obvious to any unbiased observer he did not commit, I might not be writing this. But it is much more.

The book blends elements of Doyle’s upbringing and life with the cultural and social history of the times–Great Britain during the end of the Victorian Era and the early 20th Century. The author gracefully pirouettes among threads addressing

  • the historical facts of the crime and prosecution,
  • the societal climate and forces of the day,
  • the culture and woeful techniques of police work of the time,
  • the traits and talents Conan Doyle brought to the case, including biographical elements.

And, as the author points out in her forward, there are parallels–I would say quite eerie parallels–between that time and ours.


We stumbled over this volume at our favorite bookshop.


Stray Thought 0

One of the nice things about living in a condo is that campaign signs are prohibited.


Lesson Learned 0

The Roanoke Times addresses the blackface controversy currently surrounding my governor and actually does some research. It traced down the text books that were in use when when Governor Northam was in school and points out that they grossly and purposefully misrepresented slavery, the Civil War, and the war’s aftermath.* Here’s a bit:

For instance, Northam is now under fire for referring to the first Africans in Virginia as “indentured servants.” Technically, he may be correct. Historians still debate the precise status of the first Africans brought to Virginia, because slavery was not codified until l662. In fact, that’s what the state’s textbooks taught: “At first, the Negroes were treated as indentured servants.” There is no mention of the fact that, whatever they were called, they weren’t free — that they’d been kidnapped from Africa and transported against their will across the Atlantic and in some cases treated as indentured servants “for life,” which is slavery by another name. Meanwhile, Virginia students were taught that those held in slavery were happy about their lot.

This is, of course, no excuse for being so stupid as to put on blackface in the first place, but it could be a mitigating factor for not realizing the full implications of doing so.


*They did. I had some of those same text books and, indeed, remember the lie about “indentured servants.”

But I was a history major in college, where I unlearned Virginia’s lies. I doubt that Mr. Northam, as a prospective med student, had one-twelfth the number of history classes that I did over four years of college and a year of grad work (which taught me that, however much I may have loved the study of history, I was not cut out to be a professional academician).


Tripping the Light Fatastic 0

There was an OTR (Old Time Radio–see the sidebar over there—-> for some links) show called “The Fat Man.” (It was actually quite a good mystery show.)

It opened with the lines, in an English accent . . . .

“There he goes into that drug store. He’s stepping on the scales . . . .”

Then a robotic voice says, “Weight: 239 pounds. Fortune: Danger.”

(Music) Voice says, “Who is it?

Another voice answers, “The Fat Man.”

My question is this: How high would the weight have to be today for the man to be considered “fat”?

I leave the house from time to time. I’m betting 239 pounds doesn’t cut it any more.


Stray Thought 0

Late in the evening and I’m craving a cup of coffee because one the characters in To Wake the Dead by John Dickson Carr (the master of the locked room mystery) is named “Melitta.”

I need better filters.


Use Time Wisely 0

No, I did not watch the SOTU (or, as Juanita Jean aptly dubbed it, the STFU).

As I have mentioned before in these electrons, I refuse to spend hours in front of my telly vision for something I can read about in ten minutes the next day.


Ralph Northam 0

I waited a bit before commenting on this story, as I have found that initial reports are often flawed, especially when promulgated by twits on Twitter and frolickers on Facebook. He is the governor of my state and I supported him.

And he has been a decent and reasonable governor.

My primary reaction is disappointment. Plunging-to-the-bottom-of-the-well disappointment.

As my local rag pointed out in an excellent editorial, these events happened in 1984, not in 1924, and there’s no conceivable excuse for someone over the age of consent not knowing that blackface and Klan robes are vile and racist.

Hell, I’m two decades older than him, and I knew that when I was still in high school.

Should he resign? Not for me to say–who am I to call for resignation? I’m just a third-tier blogger with opinions and a keyboard–but I suspect he likely will eventually do so.

It’s frustrating, though, as Republican office-holders with track records of overtly racist conduct while in office serve out their terms and, indeed, seek higher office, with impunity.

Are his political career and his effectiveness as a leader toast? Oh, yes-indeedy-do, with butter and marmalade.


I’m from the Eastern Shore, as is Northam (though I never knew any Northams when I was growing up). I’m still scratching my head about why my local rag decided to describe the Shore as “rural and rugged.” It is a lot of things, including rural, but “rugged” isn’t one of them.