Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Wednesday Bricolage

A Storm on a Mediterranean Coast - Claude-Joseph Vernet
Before diving into whatever it is I plan to write (which means that as I write this I'm still rather up in the air as to the exact topic of this post, bear with me) I thought I'd share with you where I came up with the title of today's offering. Now coming into this I knew only two things: 1) I was going to use some Vernet to decorate the post (his work grows on me) and 2) it was going to be a "bunch of stuff," a potpourri, if you will.

Not sure if I've ever used the word potpourri in a post title before (didn't want to do so today, I try to avoid Jeopardy category-like post titles, usually), so I went looking for synonyms, here's what I found:

a mixture of dried petals and spices placed in a bowl or small sack to perfume clothing or a room.
a mixture of things, especially a musical or literary medley.

synonyms: mixture, assortment, collection, selection, assemblage, medley, miscellany, mix, mélange, variety, mixed bag, patchwork, bricolage, ragbag, mishmash, salmagundi, jumble, farrago, hodgepodge, gallimaufry
I may have used "mishmash" before (I believe it might have been in conjunction with a Saturday post but Blogger says "no, can't find that," though truth be told there are days that some Google products can't find their ass with both hands and a hunting dog, pardon my French, nope that was me, I used the word as "Mish Mosh" - sigh, I blew that one...), hodgepodge, and maybe even mélange. (For those who wonder about such things, I no longer cut my own grass. I have a crew for that, they get it done quickly and I help the economy by paying them.)

Now I was sore tempted to go with salmagundi or farrago, maybe even gallimaufry, but there are times when my use of terms foreign to the American ear can be somewhat off-putting, dontcha know? (As in, doesn't matter how bloody clever it is, folks just ain't gonna be attracted and probably won't read the bloody thing.)

Bricolage though, I like it, I like it a lot. Sounds almost like "bricole" which is, I believe, a French term for a type of harness worn by gunners in the artillery (back in the day of course) for pulling the guns about when a horse just couldn't hack it. While they are strong, beautiful animals, there are places a horse just won't, or can't go. Then it's up to Pierre and Michel to hook up their bricoles to the gun and move that sucker.

But I digress.

Bricolage it is, which can be defined as "something constructed or created from a diverse range of available things." Which describes exactly what I have in mind for today. In other words, not to put too fine a point on it, I'm all over the place today, this will be a blogging version of "spray and pray." Loose off an entire magazine and hope I hit something. Not that I personally have ever done such a thing with an automatic weapon, tempting though that might be...

Part One, the First -

I feel rather out of touch with the greater part of society these days. They watch TV news, I do not. They listen to the radio, I mostly don't. Well, I do, but only sporadically and that listening is confined, for the most part, to sports. If the news comes on, or an advertisement, off goes the radio and I content myself with listening to road noise. (I only listen to the radio in the vehicle, never afoot and seldom in the Sarge Cave.)

So when folks commence to speaking about "current affairs" I am oft at a loss to follow just what the heck they're talking about. It's not that I am unaware of the affairs of the world, it's just that I am not keyed in to every subtle nuance of some great controversy. As I don't watch Fox or CNN on anything like a consistent basis, think, essentially, never, I am not completely tuned in to what the rest of America seems to be all fired up about. A character flaw perhaps but I find myself giving less and less of a you-know-what with what's going on in the world.

Part One, the Second -

While I don't watch much television, I am aware of what's going on  in the world. I get my news from various sources: other people, looking up specific things on the Web of World-Wideness, and I do have my news feed from the US Naval Institute, which keeps me apprised of all things nautical. I need that for professional reasons and because I find it interesting.

Oh yeah, one more thing, we don't really have "news" anymore, what we have is propaganda and advertisements masquerading as news. They're trying to sell you something, first, last, and always. So I take everything, and I mean everything, with a grain of salt. It's not that they're lying to us, they're just not giving us the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

Part Two, the First -

There are only two genders in our species. Everything else is either mental illness or some malfunction in the genes. "Identifying" as something you are not, doesn't make it so. Which is why I call that mental illness. I mentioned that at church the other day, my buddy (who was a corpsman with the Marines and is still a medical professional) pointed out that all that stuff had been taken out of the standard reference for diagnosing mental conditions (the DSM-IV I believe).

Well, homosexuality was once listed as a mental illness, it isn't any longer. I can understand that as I have a number of friends whose sexual preferences don't tend towards the norm (I won't say normal, as that term varies from era to era) and they aren't what I'd call mentally ill, far from it actually. They function as competent and valuable members of society. Then again, the folks I know who, ahem, swing that way don't march in parades or carry on in public about their sexual preferences. Most people don't, those who do, well, they suffer from a defect, whether it's of character or mental health, I can't say. (And by those who do I mean regardless of one's boudoir preferences, keep 'em to thyself. Thank you very much.)

Do what you will in the privacy of thine own dwelling and I'll leave you alone to do so, as long as it obeys the Hippocratic Oath, "first do no harm." (Which isn't really called out that way in said oath, but that's the gist of it. At least that's what I learned from the TV. See the danger there?) In other words, if it ain't hurting anyone, carry on.

Part Two, the Second -

So on the day I wrote this post (which was Tuesday) I read a post somewhere (probably chasing a Maggie's Farm link, though it might have been an Althouse, I don't remember) where I ran across the term "cisgender." I kind of knew what that meant, but not really. Groaning I decided to go ahead and look that up, which gave me "denoting or relating to a person whose sense of personal identity and gender corresponds with their birth sex."

After I had reassembled my head (for it had exploded, the various pieces scattering themselves about the room, fleeing from that word much the same way that cockroaches scramble for cover when the lights come on) I checked for how long that word had been around. Twelfth Century? 1600s? Nope and nope.


Yup, new word for a new "reality" and a new era. The era of "it's not your fault that you're AFU*." It's the albino, paternalistic, hetero, hierarchical something or other which has made you a complete loon "troubled."

When the progeny were growing up, one boy, two girls (can I still say that?) we didn't make them do anything related to their gender. (Their real gender, not their Hollywood, sick progressive assclown gender.) They tended to gravitate towards whatever interested them. Which is probably why they grew up to be productive members of society. Did The Naviguesser play with dolls (no, not action figures, I mean dolls), well, no, he didn't.

Did The Nuke and The WSO play with dolls? Yes, yes they did. They also liked toy trucks, cars, boats, and aircraft. The daughters went on to be in the Navy in jobs that were traditionally done by men. Because men had to do those as women weren't capable? No, they just weren't allowed in those fields for whatever reason. Back in the day. Yup, probably those damn patriarchs!


Part Three, the First of the Last -

Now I'm not saying that Tuna's latest post sent me down this semi-rant path today, not saying it didn't. But one point he made, which I liked, is that occasionally you have to do a brain dump, a mind clear, a reset if you will to get all that "stuff" out of that gray matter between one's aural sensors. Dreams kinda do that, organize a bunch of random stuff into an incoherent story then erase it. (Hhmm, sounds like some of my posts, without the erase it part...)

Part Three, the Last of the Last -

So I often rant, out loud, about the other drivers upon the highways and byways of this Great Nation of Ours. I question their abilities, ancestry, cognitive abilities, and knowledge of physics as I try not to die when I'm out on the road. While I do try and tone it down when The Missus Herself is occupying the Bomb-Nav seat (okay, the passenger's seat, I like to call it the Bomb-Nav seat) there are occasions when some ee-jit behind the wheel will try my patience to the point where I am compelled to blurt out some gratuitous insult in the general direction of the offending vehicle "operator." (Yes, I intentionally placed "operator" in quotes as I don't think someone barely in control of their vehicle really qualifies as an "operator.")

Now when I do that the love of my life will often complain that I complain too much and could I please "knock it off." Well, the other day I apparently violated the hard deck and she turned to me and said, "You know, those other drivers are probably saying the same thing about you?"

And I always answer...

That's when I get the "you're an idiot" look.

Time for Wapner...

Night: Mediterranean Coast Scene with Fishermen and Boats - Claude-Joseph Vernet
One last note, sometimes life feels like that first painting, sometimes like the last painting. I don't know what it is about Vernet, bu damn, that man could paint!

*Why yes, if you guessed "All Fire Trucked Up," you get a cookie. As the late, great Don Rickles would say. (The "you get a cookie" part, not the "All Fire Trucked Up" part, just to be clear.


  1. Since you mentioned horses pulling guns and this post was a menagerie of sorts, I thought I would share a useless bit of info I learned recently. During WWI when mules were sent to work, it was important to know what the mule could do. So their tales were notched or cut into bells. One bell was a pack mule, two bells was a pack and ride, and three bells was pack, ride, and drive.

    1. And it's those little tidbits that I love hearing about. Makes perfect sense. Thanks Lou!

    2. Let's not forget the time honored term "shave tail", and why it also refers to freshly minted 2Lt's.

    3. What the heck, as long as we're beatin' this topic like a rented mule (sorry) here is some more mule commentary---

      "When Camargo was reached, we found a city of tents outside the Mexican hamlet. I was detailed to act as quartermaster and commissary to the regiment. The teams that had proven abundantly sufficient to transport all supplies from Corpus Christi to the Rio Grande over the level prairies of Texas, were entirely inadequate to the needs of the reinforced army in a mountainous country. to obviate the deficiency, pack mules were hired, with Mexicans to pack and drive them. I had charge of the few wagons allotted to the 4th infantry and of the pack train to supplement them. There were not men enough in the army to manage that train without the help of Mexicans who had learned how. As it was the difficulty was great enough. The troops would take up their march at an early hour each day. After they had started, the tents and cooking utensils had to be made into packages, so that they could be lashed to the backs of the mules. Sheet-iron kettles, tent-poles, and the mess chests were inconvenient articles to transport in that way. It took several hours to get ready to start each morning, and by the time we were ready some of the mules first loaded would be tired of standing so long with their loads on their backs. Sometimes one would start to run, bowing his back and kicking up until he scattered his load; others would lie down and try to disarrange their loads by attempting to get on the top of them by rolling on them; others with tent-poles for part of their loads would manage to run a tent-pole on one side of a sapling while they would take the other. I am not aware of ever having used a profane explicative in my life; but I would have the charity to excuse those who may have done so, if they were in charge of a train of Mexican pack mules at the time."

      2Lt U.S. Grant
      Camargo, Mexico
      August, 1846

      Excerpt from: Ulysses S. Grant—Memoirs and Selected Letters

      ISBN 978-0-94045058-5

    4. Juvat - On the face of Blogger, it's tough to "Never quit, never surrender." Damn thing is too stubborn. Certain platforms it'll play nice with, others it won't.

      My money is on you were trying to use your iPad to comment...

    5. RHT447 - That story qualifies as a favorite on two lists: 1) favorite US Grant stories and 2) favorite mule stories.

      Most excellent!

    6. Nah, I was trying to include a link and using my work computer. It was dropping the closing " in the hyperlink, so the HTML was showing up. Preview would delete the entire comment.

    7. Bummer dude, computers, ya gotta love 'em.

      But here I am, preaching to the choir.


    8. Yep, a shaved tail meant the mule was not trained for anything. And yes, mules can be difficult, but I would love to have one to ride. Now a goat, on the other hand, is about a worthless animal. In fact, a person cannot own a goat and walk the Christian walk.

    9. I did not know that about "shave tail," brilliant.

      Goats, I have zero experience with them. The Spanish Legion has goats for their mascots (some sub-units have dogs) and watching those critters in parades is an education in itself.

  2. Heh. Pretty much concur all. I invested in Sirius XM (Satellite radio) for my vehicle. I now get commercial free (and pretty much comment free) music 24/7. It does help retain sanity on the road.

    1. I had Sirius, it doesn't like mountains and trees. So I dropped it.

      Road noise or music CDs work for me.

      But I see your point Cap'n, indeed I do.

    2. My Bluetooth enabled sound system, smart phone and a Jimmy Buffet and a Classical playlist get me through the HORRIBLE commute I must endure daily.

    3. Joe Hitech, that's our Juvat!

  3. Great post and I love the paintings. I'm a sucker for nautical paintings as Kendy can attest to.

    I don't quite agree with this statement: "It's not that they're lying to us, they're just not giving us the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth." When I took my Psych classes many years ago one of the things they taught us was was the perfect way to tell a lie. You tell the truth but only enough of it and in such a way as to deliberately lead people to a false conclusion. Our mainstream media are artists at this!

    1. I would have to agree. When you intentionally lead someone to that false conclusion, that's damn trickery, unethical, and when it walks like a lie, sounds like a lie,'s a duck.

    2. Russ - as Joseph Goebbels said “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it." Doesn't have to be a smidgen of truth in it. Truth to a progressive is like water to the Wicked Witch in Wizard of Oz...

      The perfect way to tell a lie is to isolate the people from the truth. It's how you get North Korea.

    3. Tuna - you mean "dire truck" right?

      Oh, wait...

  4. I've a new, less demonstratv and less vocal, thing I do while driving.
    When another "operator" incurs my wrath I point and announce, "You get a ticket."
    Sometimes it sou ds just like Oprah giving away gifts.

    1. I might have to try that. I like it.

      But I'll preface it with "Skip says..."

    2. You could caption the image on the lower right, "You get a ticket!!!"
      My other favorite lines are:
      "It's green!!!" - then I don't hav eo wear out my horn.
      "Get off your phone!!!"

    3. I have been known to use those last two.

      I actually used "You get a ticket!" today. Gave me a chuckle it did.

  5. TV news? Nope. "There is no Pravda in Izvestia, and there is no Izvestia in Pravda" NPR in the morning and evening, along with Marketplace, but more and more I feel compelled to talk back to the squawk box or turn it off for a bit. Sirius XM in the car has been well worth the cost, particularly after I found out how to get discounted service. Internet news and discussion sites have been where I track most news, since its easy to check links and investigate statements and claims.


    1. Pravda and Isvestia, there's an old favorite!

      Ditto on the Internet news and discussion groups!

  6. I like the Vernet works, but there's always something odd about the people. Like he hired soap-opera actors and told them to overact. None of them really look natural.

    1. Hahaha! I just noticed that, excellent observation. (Or are you miffed because he didn't paint bears?)

    2. He actually did paint bears. You can see them if you look just off the edge of the canvas, lurking, waiting to make a snack of bedraggled shipwreck survivors.

  7. OAS,

    You mentioned about ranting at the other drivers on the road. My Missus does that for me. That lets me relax while driving and have her do all the work of cursing and cussing the other drivers.

  8. I thought maybe "bricolage" was like decolletage, only when one was built like a brick... nevermind!

  9. As a home care nurse I spend a lot of time on the road...averaging 150-200 miles a day. So I get to assess lots of other "operators". The other day, I thought sure I was going to witness my first semi into a car accident. When the fair is in town, the traffic gets a tad busy, so it takes longer to get through the trucker obviously didn't want to wait through another red light, gunned up the hill and swung wide...really, really wide...around the corner. Scared the crap outta the 4 sweet young things in the Honda that was sitting in the turn lane alongside of where the truck was going. No clue how he missed them, but he did. Had to have been going 20+ around that corner. And she couldn't back up as she had 4 cars behind her...
    I regularly comment out loud on the fact that there is never a cop around when you'd want one when some idiot does stupid stuff. When DH is in the car, he takes over that duty.
    SirusXM is my friend, except when I'm running down the western end of the Pike. But, here in western MI, mountains aren't much of a problem.
    But I agree, except for the weather forecast, I listen to very little TV news. I'm tired of being told how to think/what to do...didn't work too well for my folks, don't know why the MSM thinks they can do better. :)
    And I kinda like bricolage. Certainly much better than farrago. I learned a new word for the day!!

    1. A nurse! A class of folks who have earned the deepest respect from me. Thank you for what you do.

      Truckers often scare me, some of them think they're driving the family sedan and NOT an 18-wheeler. Geez.

  10. I've been known to be one of those drivers...

    Bricolage, I thought that was one of them fancy eye-talian dishes.

    Vernet gets the sea and sky right. That's the Med.

  11. I'm making an effort not to use the Lord's name in my curses (with little success) and have taken to shouting, "F^&*ing tourist" along with a one finger wave. Has little impact, if any, on the offending motorist, but I find it an excellent stress reliever.

    1. It's hard at times, really hard.

    2. Heh. The spirit of U.S. Grant has forgiven you, and was most grateful to return to his mules.

  12. Thanks for the most entertaining post with equally entertaining comments.

    Paul L. Quandt


Just be polite... that's all I ask. (For Buck)
Can't be nice, go somewhere else...

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