Personal Impedimenta, etc.

A. What a great word. Buried in the idea of things that hinder your journey is the idea of stuff you need for that journey, maybe, even, things essential for the purpose of the journey in the first place. Dictionaries consistently give the example of the baggage an army carries. But wouldn’t weapons, say, constitute a large part of that baggage? Weapons both hinder your travels AND allow you to do what you’re traveling to do: wage war. The examples I came across were in Manalive, where Innocent Smith carries a large bag full of items essential to his being Innocent Smith, and in The Metal Monster, where Dr. Goodwin’s scientific equipment are so described.

I seem to have accumulated a lot of impedimenta over the years. I hope it’s of the essential kind. Speaking of which –

Two years ago, several of you were kind enough to do a little beta reading on a couple of my stories, which I do deeply appreciate. For a number of reasons, I set aside almost all fiction writing then. Now, I’m jonesing to get back to it.

Rocky And Bullwinkle Moose And Squirrel GIF ...

In another context, someone (Severian?) was describing the nature of personal change, where one is doomed to failure if one simply tries to muscle through a particular activity – dieting, say, or writing books. Instead, to succeed in loosing weight or writing books, one must, cognitive-therapy style, become the sort of person who weighs an appropriate amount and writes books.

Easier said than done, of course, but at least it’s possible. In the great Catholic tradition of both/and, I will remind myself, as I diet and write, that I’m exactly the sort of guy to weigh around 210 and publish stuff. Do and believe.

And ignore that Bullwinkle never did pull a rabbit out of that hat of his, IIRC.

B. On the Covidiocy front, we’ve reached the point where we are plumbing the depths of the psychological damage done to our rootless, abandoned, manipulated population, children of all ages deprived of all normal human relationships, ‘raised’ by equally damaged parents, taught to worship the abstracted individual and, above all, that their personal worth derives from doing as they are told and saying what they are told to say. The family, village, and church being destroyed or abandoned, and the idea that purpose and satisfaction derive from duties we mostly don’t get to choose having been reduced to incomprehensibility, school becomes an oasis of order – do as you are told, and get a gold star! Get a degree, a job, a life! Get the only affirmation, the only sense of belonging, you may ever get. Woe to any who kick at this goad!

I wonder: is there anything at all that would convince the rabbits they’ve been had? What would it take for your typical Front Row Kid to admit: wow, I’ve been royally played. What can be stricken from the list, at least insofar as they are considered individually:

  • Evidence. It’s no so much that the rabbits don’t care about evidence, it’s that years of training have both 1) rendered them incapable of looking at or even knowing what evidence, as opposed to hearsay and bald unsupported statements, is, and 2) convinced them that parroting whatever the approved authority figure says IS considering the evidence. They don’t know what they don’t know, but are convinced they do.
  • The examples of our betters. Brix, it appears, is travelling to one her vacation homes and Christmassing with 3 generations of her family. So much for lockdowns, social distancing, etc. – for her, Pelosi, Newsom, and many others. Not that the rabbits have heard of this contempt, because the hairdos with journalism degrees are unlikely to mention it.
  • Their own lying eyes. How many rabbits personally know even 1 otherwise healthy person who died of COVID? Of course, this would require acknowledgement that the people, if any, they know whose deaths, in CDC terminology, *involved* COVID were well on their way to assuming their places in the Choir Invisible with or without the help of a respiratory virus. Which is a thought not allowed to enter their minds.
  • Basic logic. E.g., if masks work, then they are trapping billions of live, dangerous viruses. If so, handling used masks without a hazmat suit, gloves, a hazardous waste disposal containers, incineration, etc. would be SUICIDE! OH MY GOD!!! Yet, they are treated with less care and caution than a used Kleenex. Stuffed into and dragged out of pockets, fiddled with, thrown any old place, used for hours, days, weeks at a time. I find them on the street whenever I go walking. Same logical problems with social distancing: if 6 feet is good, why is there still a pandemic? If we’re not safe to meet indoors, why are stores still open? why are there lockdowns, when it’s safer outside? And so on.

Would some combination of these factors finally burst the bubble? The constantly evolving story, where it’s 15 days to flatten the curve to as long as it takes to create a vaccine (but not properly test it – what, don’t you trust Big Pharma and the billions in criminal fines they’ve paid for exaggerated claims and falsifying data?) to – I dunno, what are they claiming today?

These are all rhetorical questions, of course. Nothing so trivial as loss of liberty and sanity will cause the properly educated Front Row Kids to reevaluate their self-image as the smartest, best educated, most moral people in history. Such wunderkind couldn’t possibly be clueless rubes, ignorant of even the most basic principles of science and logic, mindless parrots of whatever they hear, easily-frightened, historically illiterate rabbits about as likely to think or act independently as the gears in a pocket watch. What would you rather be, the smart kid with membership in the circle of smart kids, or the kid suddenly alone, cut adrift from the only society he’s every really known?

Good thing I believe in miracles. Otherwise, I’d have to start throwing punches, and I’m too old for that.

C. Still have hardly decorated for Christmas. Stuff came up, and the available slots for family-time activity sort of vanished. Decorating by one’s self seems kinda sad. But we will get it done.

We have passed the point of her family/my family scrambling over holidays. Except for my MIL, who lives with us, parents are dead; brothers and sisters are far away or cowering rabbits or both. So no plans at that level of family. BUT: now we have a married daughter! Her in-laws, to their credit and with our approval, want to be friends. This daughter and her husband just bought a house, appropriately about 1 hr 15 min from each set of in-laws – just far enough for a little separation, but close enough for regular visitations and family activities.

So now we get to coordinate among our children’s families (well, 1 so far, but I’d bet 2 or even 3 extended family branches within the next few years). I’m digging it.

On the home-home front, failing to get commitment on what people want for Christmas dinner(s). The fam is not big on turkey – fine by me, a lot of work for something not really all that popular. Tried to ask after lamb – ambivalence. Then, partly in jest, suggested: fried chicken, mashed potatoes, and gravy – probably the most popular thing I make around here (1) (I do make d*mn fine fried chicken). I got the ‘not special enough’ response.

Seriously considering getting some ribeye steaks. That’s what I’d like to do. Maybe for Epiphany, when Middle Son and his girl will be in town. Or maybe a slab of salmon?

Merry Christmas to all!

  1. I love to cook. Things I regularly make for dinner, in order of family popularity: fried chicken; hamburgers; Napa cabbage tacos (fish, chicken, beef, or pork, using cabbage leaves instead of tortillas – makes for a much lighter meal), pork chops, various curries and rice. Make a lot of other things, too, but these are staples.

Author: Joseph Moore

Enough with the smarty-pants Dante quote. Just some opinionated blogger dude.

15 thoughts on “Personal Impedimenta, etc.”

  1. My mother was a really outstanding chef (she was an early acolyte of Julia Child) who routinely came up with superb holiday dinners. Almost inevitably there would be some difficulty or other from my siblings or myself. At some point she would get so angry that she’d swear that NEXT time we were getting nothing but Hamburger Helper, canned peas, and Twinkies for dessert. Now that I’m on the other end of the skillet, so to speak, I feel her pain.

    Christmas Dinner at Port Swiller Manor is always roast beef with popovers and two veg. This year I am going to try making my own Hollandaise sauce, which I don’t anticipate to be any trouble, but which I haven’t done before.

    1. Sounds excellent. I’ve never made Hollandaise myself, but I’ve watched others make it! For years, the middle two kids made Eggs Benedict for special events – one always took Hollandaise duty, as they found it was not something that you could make on the side, while the other did everything else. Also, they had theories about how to thin it, as it tends to get too thick if not used all at once just when it’s ready.

      But I don’t know what I’m talking about, as I’ve never made the stuff.

  2. Some meal suggestions from my family:

    Homemade pizza. Everyone gets to roll out and top their own.
    Crab feast.
    Savory pancakes with different sweet and salty fillings: roast shredded chicken and fog jam and scallions, or pulled pork and tangy coleslaw (the kind with vinaigrette and bacon, and less sugar)

    We’re just the immediate family, as I have to work through Christmas this year, so we’re having our tree decorating & presrnt-wrapping party on Christmas Eve after church.

    And I still haven’t finished making the cards…

  3. I always like salmon, but when a Solemnity falls on a Friday, I pretty much have to indulge in liturgical meat. No penitential salmon and lobster on Christmas, by golly!

      1. Just had an idea for an add-on to the Fontini Nativity sets: a pair of shepherds bearing a spit-roasted lamb.

  4. A few years ago when Mom lived here, we had a spiral ham. No particular holiday, I had a ham in the freezer.

    I made Eggs Benedict. Blew Mom away… it tasted like she made it. Gee, where did I ever manage to learn how?

    Hollandaise is easy, almost like making mayonnaise. Have a pot of hot water to set the blender jar in while trying to get everything else synced.

    Poaching the eggs in simmering water is interesting. But dogs gotta eat so your mistakes will not go to waste. Might as well cook the egg whites from the eggs used for the hollandaise for the dogs while you’re at it.

    Toasting the muffins “just right” is the hardest part of the entire production.

    This year is going to be a steak on the grill and a box of au gratin potatoes. The baking potatoes I have are suddenly ready for planting.
    Or maybe I’ll make Beef Stroganoff. The sour cream was still good day before yesterday.

  5. In another context, someone (Severian?) was describing the nature of personal change, where one is doomed to failure if one simply tries to muscle through a particular activity – dieting, say, or writing books. Instead, to succeed in loosing weight or writing books, one must, cognitive-therapy style, become the sort of person who weighs an appropriate amount and writes books.

    ::eyes suspiciously::

    That sounds a lot like “to do a thing, get rid of what’s stopping you.”

    IE, to be immortal, don’t die.

    1. Well, yea, but the idea is that if the story you tell yourself is that you’re a fat guy who wants to be but is not an author, then when you stay a fat guy not writing it’s only confirming the reality you already accept. It’s just a weird thing about people, that we tend to act as if we believe whatever it is we tell ourselves is true.

      30+ years ago, when I went through a phase of reading all the psychology I could find, about the only thing that stood up to a moment’s reflection was Cognitive Therapy. Its claims and theoretical underpinnings were modest: merely that we all tend to tell ourselves stories, and believe them. If you walk around all day calling yourself names and putting yourself down, which is what seriously depressed people do, that’s going to end up becoming your emotional reality regardless of any external facts. That’s how objectively successful people end up depressed and suicidal. So this takes that one small step further: by refusing to condemn yourself (where such condemnation is inappropriate) and instead focusing on real possibilities, one can create the emotional landscape needed to achieve goals.

      Pop psych nonsense, I suppose.

      1. Can’t be nonsense, it works for at least some people. But people is people, so that’s important.

        I can see it as a useful tool to find self-sabotage– I’ve figured out that I’m the kind who screws up tests by thinking longer than the person that made them did, which gets unexpected results, so I have to over think, and then think more.

        For example:
        K, sure, it’s saying “get rid of what’s stopping you.” So…what is getting in the way?
        To rephrase it– what is the shape of the problem? Are there steps you can find? Is the goal defined enough? Becoming a published author when there’s Amazon is a different shape than selling to the big 5/4/3.2 or whatever they are this week, which is different than specific-industry-published and successful magazine.

        The trap that *I* have to avoid is both seeing an understanding divorced from the original intent– and getting sold a bill of happy-clappy goods. (Which a lot of the “help” I use to get was. I got burnt a lot with doing everything I was told to do, then blamed when it didn’t work because I’m not them. I most likely stunted my growth dieting in high school and still didn’t lose weight, because my body was in starvation mode.)

  6. We start Christmas after dark, Christmas Eve, so our first Christmas meal is beef stew.

    Tomorrow, steaks, baked potatoes, sweet corn (frozen), and whatever the kids want to add.

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