The Dead Letter Office

The thank-you notes for last month’s fundraiser have all been written, and only two of them bounced. One was for a first-time donor in California (it’s amazing how many gifts we’ve gotten from the Left Coast over the years, considering the condition of the state).

The second one was from a recidivist in Alberta. I don’t know what went wrong with that one — I’ve written to him successfully a number of times in the past.

If either of those descriptions fits you, and you haven’t received an acknowledgement, that may be why. And if I missed anyone else (which is possible; I had a lot of notes to write), please let me know.

And then there’s the mystery snail-mail donor in Illinois — you know who you are, but I sure don’t!

A Report to the Shareholders

That’s what I whimsically call donors to Gates of Vienna: shareholders.

They don’t get any financial return on their contributions, but I hope they acquire useful information and insights from all the things I post here.

I strive to provide material that is mostly not available elsewhere. There’s no point in posting essays on Jeffrey Epstein or the presidential candidates for the Democrat primaries — other sites have that stuff pretty well covered. Vlad and I like to dig into the nooks and crannies of international news and post as many translated videos and articles as we can.

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Well, I made it through the first fundraiser without Dymphna. I wasn’t sure I’d be able to do it, and I still have quite a few thank-you notes to write, but I’m far enough along now that I can tell it’s doable.

This report is somewhat late this quarter, partially because of having to work by myself, and partially because I didn’t retrieve the snail-mail items until Thursday. Here’s the final roster of places where donations came from:

Stateside: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming

Far Abroad: Brazil, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Israel, Kuwait, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Sweden, Thailand, and the UK

Canada: Alberta, New Brunswick, Newfoundland, Ontario, and Saskatchewan

Australia: Australian Capital Territory, New South Wales, Queensland, and Victoria

I’ll be back to dun you again about the time the leaves start falling (in the Northern Hemisphere, anyway).

Internet Woes

I originally put up this post to supplement the “sticky” fundraiser post after I started having severe Internet problems, and couldn’t update any posts. My Internet connection seems to have returned to normal, more or less, without my even having to call the phone company yet again. Someone at the head office must have reattached the string to the tin can.

Since this post was also sticky, I used it to include some new material, once I could do updates again. Update: Also, Sunday night’s news feed has been posted; look below the fundraiser post.

I worked on six videos today with Vlad, but now something has gone wrong with DTube — there’s always something — and none of the videos will play. Two of those videos were about Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, so while we’re waiting for DTube to fix itself, I’ll present an overview of what’s happening in Italy.

Mr. Salvini is pushing for a snap election. He’s been getting a lot of resistance from his coalition partner, the 5-Star Movement, which is making governing that much more difficult. Yet the Lega — Mr. Salvini’s party — is much more popular than M5S, and Mr. Salvini is the most popular politician that Italy has had in decades. He has by far eclipsed Luigi di Maio, the leader of M5S who serves as Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economic Development.

Matteo Salvini has evidently decided that his wave is currently cresting, and now would be the best time to put his case to the voters. If the latest polls are accurate, after the election he will most likely be able to form a government without recourse to the 5-Star movement, perhaps in coalition with Forza Italia (the party of the former prime minister and notorious satyriast Silvio Berlusconi) and Fratelli d’Italia (the party of Giorgia Meloni), and possibly other right-wing parties I’m not as familiar with.

Mr. Salvini is candid, refreshing, and entertaining, and I look forward to his tenure as prime minister. Since assuming the office of interior minister, he has done something very unusual for a politician: he has kept his campaign promises. Even hobbled by the ball and chain of M5S, he has done what he told the voters he would do, to the best of his ability.

Below is a selection of Italian news stories from the past week (hat tips to Reader from Chicago).

From Breitbart:

Salvini Victory: NGO Ship Gives Up on Landing Migrants in Italy, Heads to Malta

The German-based NGO Sea-Eye have announced they will not be challenging the closed port policy of Lega leader Matteo Salvini, opting instead to head for Malta to drop off migrants.

The Sea-Eye vessel Alan Kurdi announced on Friday that they would be changing course from the Italian island of Lampedusa and heading instead to the Maltese port capital of Valletta, Il Giornale reports.

From Voice of Europe:

Italy Vows to Expel Nigerian Migrant Who Sent a Woman to the Hospital After Attacking Her on a Tram

Italy’s national populist interior minister Matteo Salvini has vowed to expel a Nigerian migrant who on Friday sent a passenger riding a Florence tram to the hospital after attacking her.

The attacker, a 22-year-old Nigerian illegal migrant, has already been deported twice, once in 2017 and once in 2018. She punched a 36-year-old woman who sat in front of her, minding her own business, on the tram.

Following the unprovoked assault, passengers on the tram were forced to restrain the aggressive migrant woman until police could arrive to arrest and take her to jail.

From The Express:

Continue reading

A Return to Normalcy

This post was a “sticky” feature, first posted last Monday, and was on top throughout fundraising week. Scroll down for more recent items, including the killing of Osama bin Laden’s son Hamza, a Swedish municipal bus used as a mosque, an essay on Björn Höcke and the AfD, Onan driving a Swedish bus, two reports on the sword murder in Stuttgart, the latest on Matteo Salvini, and last night’s news feed.

Summer Fundraiser 2019, Day Six

Saturday’s update

OK, folks we’ve arrived at the weekend. The Summer fundraiser is almost over, and normal programming will soon resume.

Tip jarThe theme of this week’s bleg is the return to normalcy, that is, to routine. During any given fundraising week, donations from Texas, California, Michigan, Illinois, and Australia are routine. But three of yesterday’s locations definitely are not part of the routine: Israel, New Zealand, and Newfoundland. We get a few donors here and there from the first two — just a few — but as far as I know, we only get one from up there by the Grand Banks.

So here’s to the outliers! Thank you for making the donation statistics that much more variegated and entertaining.

For those of you who are just joining us: this is how I keep this blog alive. When Dymphna was still with us, she would share posting chores with me, regaling potential donors on alternate mornings with her wit and whimsy to persuade them to hit the tip cup on the sidebar (or this link) and contribute to the upkeep of the site — and to keep its proprietors from going hungry for another quarter.

Now there’s just one proprietor, but I still need your help to stay out of the bread line.

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Gates of Vienna has its own weekly rhythm, its own pattern of routine. Or, rather, it used to.

In the early years of this website I was working in Richmond. I would drive down there during the week and come home on weekends. During those few days I spent at home I had the luxury of writing posts and participating in the blog to an extent that I couldn’t match during the week.

Back in those days, I designated Saturday as either Ranting Day or Poetry Day, depending on my mood. If it was time to rant, I could include a graphic of the Ranting Man, as seen here on the left. I love the Ranting Man, and I reserve him for special occasions, not wanting to squander him gratuitously (as I have just now done).

But this Saturday is Poetry Day. And, in honor of the first fundraiser without Dymphna, I’ll feature one of her poems.

Dymphna was an accomplished poet. She only had a few published, in local newspapers and college magazines, but she left behind a rich legacy of unpublished work.

The poem below tells a true story. She wrote it almost a quarter-century ago, shortly after the events it describes. We had somehow acquired a rooster, as a favor to a friend. His harem of hens had been attritted to nothing, and we agreed to give the sorrowful fellow a home. For a while.

He turned out to be an annoyingly violent #$&#!?%! as a guest. Those spurs on his legs were vicious — one time he cut a long slash in my pants leg. So we only kept him for a while; we passed him on to an elderly country woman who had lengthy experience with roosters, and knew how to keep them in line.

I’ll let Dymphna tell the rest of the story:

Rooster Lessons

by Dymphna

He was quintessential pride:
Quick, iridescent and verbose.
His auburn head cocked to look
At me, his comb trembling,
The rumble of his song,
The macho tilt of his tail feathers—
I was enchanted.

Never trust a rooster
Who’s been deposed.
He has problems with attachment,
And the angry edginess
Gives way to bilious melancholy,
As befits a man bereft
Of his women and position.
There is no cure.

How much his chicken brain
Retained of his former life
Is hard to say.
To be unchosen is lonely enough;
To be deposed is a worse fate:
The shame of losing face, place,
With no one to crow for…
An autarch cannot live so.

Our rooster didn’t even try.
He crowed despairingly at odd hours.
He left the cat alone,
But the rest of us were targets
For his rage and loneliness.
Going outside, however stealthily,
Brought him running sideways,
Wings spread, spurs ready.
He gouged a neighbor’s dog.

Held hostage by a rooster.
We eyed each other:
Him on the porch,
Me behind the storm door.
He in rage,
Me in speculation.
How to douse this feathered fire?

Ah, modern medicine:
I waited for him to wander off
And mixed a batch of wheat germ —
His favorite grain —
With a healthy dose of Klonopin
And quickly spread it on the porch floor

Dumb bird ate it all,
Brown and pink fragments
Disappearing down his greedy beak.
Becalmed, he let himself be led
To start another life,
Penned in with guinea fowl.
I hope he finds some solace there.

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Friday’s gifts came in from:

Stateside: Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Nebraska, and New Hampshire

Far Abroad: Israel, New Zealand, and the UK

Canada: Newfoundland

Australia: New South Wales

Friday’s update

The action in the tip cup (or at this link) really livened up yesterday after Western Rifle Shooters posted a link to this week’s bleg.

Tip jarA WRSA link often causes a sudden, distinct surge of donations. I can sometimes deduce what’s happening even before I see the post over there — I can tell by the fact that most of the new gifts come in from Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, Texas, North Dakota, and other locations out there on the Wild Frontier.

So thank you, WRSA. And a special thank-you to WRSA readers who came over here.

The issue of the right to keep and bear arms is looming large in American culture and politics right now, due to the recent mass shootings. Such events always induce a mad rush towards gun control, even among Republicans. When that happens, devotees of the Second Amendment hurry out to buy more guns and ammo before the next anti-gun law is passed.

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The theme of this week’s fundraiser is the return to normalcy. I’ve talked about personal normalcy — that is, my finding a new routine in the midst of grieving — and I’ve talked about the lunacy that passes as the new “normal” in 21st-century politics.

This morning I’ll cover normalcy as it applies to Gates of Vienna. Long-time readers have already heard about the routine workflow at this website, so they can skip this overview if they wish. But newcomers may be interested.

Besides the news feed, there are three principal functions that I strive to perform here: (1) Posting original articles and essays on Counterjihad matters and other topics of interest; (2) Posting translated articles and essays that might otherwise not be available in English; and (3) Creating translated and subtitled videos.

Continue reading

More Mailbox Woes, and Other News

I got my bimonthly eye injection this afternoon (to treat my macular degeneration), which put me out of action for most of the evening — that’s why you didn’t see any further posts after the one about Steen that I put up this morning.

I’ll take this opportunity to catch up on a couple of fundraising matters I’ve been dilatory about. The first concerns thank-you emails that bounced. We had some sort of mail server problem for a few days after the spring fundraiser last month, and an unusual number of thank-you notes were returned. I re-sent them all, and some of those got through, but three came back again with permanent failures, from donors in North Carolina, Florida, and Alberta. So if you’re a donor who lives in one of those three places, and didn’t get a note from us, that’s probably why.

Finally, here’s something I should have done almost a month ago, but kept procrastinating about: listing the final roster of places for the people who donated. In a way this is better, because I get to include any places for donations that came in later in April, after fundraising week was over.

Donations for our spring fundraiser came in from:

Stateside: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Kansas, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, North Carolina, North Dakota, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, Wyoming, and the U.S. Military (APO)

Far Abroad: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Israel, Kuwait, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Thailand, and the UK

Canada: Alberta, British Columbia, Newfoundland, Ontario, and Saskatchewan

Australia: Australian Capital Territory, New South Wales, Tasmania, and Victoria

Many thanks to everyone who chipped in!

Not Just Another April Fools’ Week

This post was first published on April 1. It was a “sticky” feature for a week; scroll down for more recent items.

Spring Fundraiser 2019, Day Seven

Update from the Baron: Burnout

The theme of this week’s bleg has been the history of Gates of Vienna. My final update, which is somewhat tangential to the main theme, is burnout. Which is a significant concern for those of us who work full-time in this field.

Tip jarBut first the nuts and bolts of what we’ve been doing this week: This is a quarterly week-long begging exercise in which Dymphna and I blather on while asking our readers to drop money in our tip cup (or use this PayPal link). This is how we keep this website alive — we don’t have jobs, no foundation sponsors us, and there are no paid ads on the site. We don’t even get any Russian money, sad to say!

And now a few brief thoughts on burnout.

This is a tough line of work. If you pay close attention to the Great Jihad and related issues, you encounter nasty things that you’d really rather not see or hear about. Add to that the drumbeat of dhimmitude — the constant stream of news reports on the cultural and political submission of the West to Islam — and it gets pretty dispiriting.

To make matters even worse, there’s the vicious opprobrium that awaits anyone whose “Islamophobic” opinions and activities are exposed to public view. We’re fortunate to live out here in the back of beyond where most people are “deplorables” of one sort or another, and hardly anybody even pays attention to this sort of thing. But people who live in big cities, especially on the East or Left Coasts, can really pay a price if their opinions become public knowledge. Their lives can be made a living hell.

All of this is a recipe for burnout. I’ve seen a fair number of Counterjihadists burn out during the past fifteen years. Some of them were actually burned out of the game by flamethrowers directed at them during the Breivik crisis. But most just reached the limit of what they could take — “I really don’t think I want to do this anymore.”

This seems to be especially true of translators. In order to translate articles or videos, they have to pay close attention to the material, and read or listen to it over and over again. If, like most people, they had previously been averting their gaze from all that ugliness, the rush of evil information they take in day after day can really weigh them down. After a while their production starts to tail off, and they gradually retire from translation.

I admire the doughty folks who have stuck to the translation task year after year. They all deserve our gratitude for their persistence.

Vlad and I have been working together for ten years, and we help keep each other from going insane in the face of all the stuff we encounter. When we have to deal with something particularly vile, we get on the phone and discuss all the various aspects of it, which prevents the monstrousness from overwhelming us entirely. I remember how bad it got back during the summer of 2014, when the Islamic State was beheading its way through Syria and North Africa. We had to watch those nightmare-inducing videos all the time. I finally had to quit watching them — “I’ve seen enough, no more for me.” I don’t know how Vlad does it.

Anyway, I haven’t burned out, not yet. I plan to carry on with this work for as long as I possibly can.

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Saturday’s gifts flowed in from:

Stateside: Alaska, Arizona, California, Michigan, and Virginia

Far Abroad: Hungary, Israel, and the UK

Canada: Ontario

The spring fundraiser will be officially over this time tomorrow. I’ll post the wrap-up — including the final list of all the locations — a day or two later.

Dymphna’s Saturday Update:

With historical endeavors, it’s probably a wise thing to start with beginnings, though in this case we just jumped right into the middle. What were we thinking? Maybe it wasn’t thinking but more like enthusiasm — e.g. “Oh, let’s talk about that”. Whatever ‘that’ was… my mind begins to resemble a trackless waste with a few desiccated cacti.

Oh, before I forget again: at the beginning of each fundraiser post I’m supposed to make the plug for donations, please.

Dinero. Shekels. Dollars. [See the Baron for the etymological connections] In other words, money enough to keep us going to the next milestone, which is but a few months away, not counting timeslips. Or times’ lips — whichever touches us first.

Our donors have been a varied bunch. Their living circumstances run the gamut from pensione to mansion, with stops in between. Back when I could function I loved looking up all the places our donors lived. Coon Rapids?? Really? Why haven’t the PC town fathers ditched that one? Traverse City, from whence (I now know) come our cherries in summer. Looking up all those places meant it took me weeks to respond to donors and that would not end well: the B got nervous about the time lag. It still remains the case: give me a new donor to thank and I’m driven to know more about their locality. Betcha don’t know whence come many of the roses (plants) you buy at the nursery, hmm? I know now, or at least my knowledge was current a few years back. And it seems like nearly every American town has a Wikipedia page, no matter how small the hamlet. That’s a good thing.

For most of us, our equilibrium depends upon having a firm sense of place. Or as the nervous airplane passenger said, “the more the firma, the less terror”. [That’s a pun on “terra firma” and no, it can’t be removed.]

Gates of Vienna is now established as a place; a destination for those who read our random News Feed, just for one example. Some correspondents tell us this is where they go with their morning coffee.

For the B and me GoV has become where we live and move and have our being. It’s akin to housing a child who never leaves home, a permanent resident hunkering down in our divers computers, demanding attention. Electric outages and connectivity interruptions are far more freighted than they used to be before the advent of Gates of Vienna.

Many of you already know our beginnings, but I have the freedom of repeating myself at this stage. It’s one of the few privileges of age.

Continue reading

Mailbox Woes

One of the thank-you notes I sent out to a donor last night bounced, with the message: “Domain of sender address does not exist”. Which is strange, because the domain chromatism.net most certainly does exist. I’ve exchanged emails with this donor in the past, so something is screwy here.

Our generous benefactor lives in Wales. Maybe his Welsh provider has blocked the domain for some unknown reason.

Anyway, if you live in Wales, and didn’t get a thank-you note for your gift, that’s why. I’ll just have to say “thank you!” from here.

Keeping an Eye on Things

I went to the retinologist’s office this afternoon for my bimonthly eye injection to control my condition (wet macular degeneration) and prevent further flare-ups. As a result, I’m kind of running on three cylinders this evening.

I’ll take this opportunity to do something I should have done weeks ago, which is to give a final wrap-up on our winter fundraiser.

The first item of business is that we had just one thank-you note bounce. It was sent to a donor in Alberta. So if you’re out there buried under the snowdrifts on the freezing plains, and never got an acknowledgement of your generosity, that’s the reason.

Here’s the final tally of locations for donors (right up through yesterday):

Stateside: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia, Washington, and Wyoming

Far Abroad: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Israel, Kuwait, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Sweden, Thailand, and the UK

Canada: Alberta, British Columbia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland, Ontario, Quebec, and Saskatchewan

Australia: Australian Capital Territory, New South Wales, Queensland, and Victoria

Falling Into Winter

Note: This post was a “sticky” feature that was published last Monday and stayed on top all week. Scroll down for more recent material, including Jews in the AfD, clips from the Brexit demo in London, Jihad for Justice in Alabama, right-wing extremist hair braids in Germany, Dr. Turley on the Danish “Gitmo”, and many others.

Winter Fundraiser 2018, Day Seven

The Baron’s Sunday Update: A Winter’s Tale

Well, here we are at the final day of our quarterly bleg. After I finish writing this update I can catch up on my sleep, and then write some more thank-you notes tomorrow.

Tip jarAfter my worried remarks the other night, y’all really stepped up to the plate: the donations came pouring in on Friday, making it one of the busiest fundraising days we’ve had for a while. Many thanks to all of you for your generosity! The week isn’t quite back to normal, but it’s getting close. And it’s now clear that we’ll be able to make it through to the spring thaw.

It didn’t hurt that WRSA posted a link to our bleg — we really appreciate that. It’s easy to tell when donors are being referred by WRSA, because the gifts come in from Idaho, Wyoming, Arizona, and other deplorable states that we don’t otherwise see much traffic from.

All of this makes me ponder our peculiar business model. Most websites monetize by selling advertising, but we do it by soliciting modest gifts from our many readers. It’s a weird form of crowdfunding, but somehow it works — every quarter we receive just enough to keep on going.

It helps me maintain my enduring sense of gratitude…

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This morning’s weather-related story is going to be longer and less lighthearted than my usual tales. I’ve never actually written this material up before, and I expect it to be hard to type out.

So… for those who want to skip this part and go straight to yesterday’s donor locations, here they are in advance:

Stateside: Alaska, California, Connecticut, Florida, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Texas, Virginia, and Wyoming

Far Abroad: New Zealand, and the UK

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The photo at the top of this update was taken in February of 2003. It shows a snow overhang outside our bedroom window here at Schloss Bodissey. The tree in the foreground is none other than the Fig Tree of Doom, which caused Dymphna so much grief two and a half years after the picture was taken.

This morning’s reminiscence was prompted not by that particular snowfall, but by my earlier account of the first fall and winter I spent here (scroll down for that story; it begins with the photo of the turtle).

That was a cold and snowy winter, and after Christmas I just hunkered down to wait it out. Since I couldn’t go outside to paint landscapes, I busied myself with what I could create indoors — mostly geometric designs and scenes from my imagination.

But late in January I got an opportunity: a major snowfall was predicted. That was before the Weather Channel, but the radio and the newspaper were in agreement that we would see about eight inches (21 cm) of dry snow.

So I stocked up for the occasion. I made sure I had plenty of coffee, beer, and other necessities so that I could sit it out. In those days the house was heated by a woodstove, and I had an ample supply of firewood, so it didn’t matter all that much if the electricity went out. And I didn’t have any reason to go out, so I would be able to spend a delightful few days looking out the kitchen window at all that lovely snow — and painting a picture of it.

When I woke up that morning, the snow was right on schedule — three or four inches of it on the ground. I set up my easel in the middle of the kitchen floor (this place has a large farm kitchen, and in those days I possessed virtually no furniture) and started a composition based on what I could see out the window, and the area immediately inside it.

Snow in the city gets ugly pretty quickly, what with all the salt and sand from the roads, soot, and vehicle exhaust. But out here in the middle of nowhere it stays pristine for a long time if the temperature remains low. Tracks from birds, deer, dogs, squirrels, and raccoons. And maybe my own when I walk out into the middle of a flat space to stick a yardstick in the accumulation. But nothing to make it look nasty — I knew I would be able to take my time and make that painting look just right.

When I moved out here from the city I deliberately didn’t get a phone, because I didn’t want anyone bothering me. I also used general delivery for an address that first year, to assure my isolation. The postmistress was puzzled, but she let me do it, and forwarded my mail out here to the RFD box.

I expected to have a wonderful few days, working on my painting and enjoying a snowfall in a way that I hadn’t had a chance to since I was a kid.

Ah, but the best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men gang aft agley…

When I had last been to see my parents, just after New Year’s, my father had been suffering from some sort of stomach bug. A low-grade fever and some pain in his lower tract: most likely the flu, my mother said.

Late that snowy morning, as the blizzard was tapering off to flurries with about seven inches already on the ground, I heard a rumbling on the driveway, and then a banging on the front door. It was my neighbor Jimmy Mawyer, who had driven down the driveway through the woods in his four-wheel-drive pickup.

When I opened the door Jimmy said, “Your mother called the post office. Your father has cancer. He’s in the hospital, and she says wants you to come home as soon as possible.”

So it wasn’t the flu after all.

Jimmy and I discussed the logistics of how I could get out of there. I had an old rear-wheel drive station wagon (a 1971 AMC Hornet, for the car buffs among you). I could have filled up the deck with cinderblocks or something, but still, it was going to be rough getting out of there.

I had parked facing out, so Jimmy backed up his truck to just in front of the car while I packed a bag with my necessities. He hooked a chain onto the frame behind the front bumper, and when I was ready, he had me let out the clutch while he pulled me down the driveway. I kept gunning it to try and keep from fishtailing, and we somehow made it to the road without whacking me into any trees. He stopped on a straight stretch, unhitched the chain, and wished me the best of luck. Then I set out for Maryland.

The most direct route out of here goes up and down some major hills before crossing a creek. When conditions were slick — and especially in a rear-wheel drive vehicle — I used to take what I called “the flat route”, a roundabout way that stuck to the ridgelines and avoided steep gradients and sharp curves. It added about ten miles to the trip, but it made it possible to get out. The road hadn’t been plowed yet; all I had were the tracks of the four-wheelers to help me out.

My memory of that trip is of a blurry nightmare. I remember that I came across a fellow motorist who had slid into the ditch about a mile from my driveway. It was on a slight downhill grade, so I eased off the gas and touched the brake very lightly as the car coasted to a stop. I got out and helped him push his car out of the ditch, and then got back in the station wagon and started down that hill oh so carefully, and then up the other side.

When I arrived at the main road, it had been plowed, so conditions were better. But there was still a packed sheet of glaze on the pavement, so it was nerve-wracking. You go thirty miles an hour and do your very best to keep from ever touching the brake.

The most frightening moment was when I was still on the two-lane state road, before I got to the major highway. As I rounded a bend I saw a big dog walking across the road in front of me. It took all of my willpower to leave the brake alone, accelerate to bring my center of gravity forward as I swerved, and remember the mantra: “Turn in the direction of the skid.”

Somehow I got past that dog without wrecking or ending up sideways in a ditch. After that it was easier — I got to the main highway, and although it was in bad shape, it was better than anything I’d been on before. As I went further north the snow got deeper, and the plows had left larger snowbanks on either side. The snowfall had ceased soon after I left the house, and I remember the sky clearing at sunset as I crossed the Potomac.

A trip that should have taken three hours took almost eight. I arrived at my parents’ house after dark, parked on the street, and trudged through the drifts to embrace my distraught mother.

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I stayed at my mother’s for several days and went to see my father in the hospital a few times before returning to Virginia to keep the pipes from freezing (they did freeze once during that period, but fortunately it wasn’t serious). I kept driving back and forth to Maryland every few days as my father’s condition worsened.

He had a galloping form of abdominal cancer, and it was just over three weeks from the day he was diagnosed until the day he died. He seemed resigned to his fate — his own father had died of cancer, and it was what he had always feared. He was a few years younger than I am now, and otherwise in good health. But it was his time.

He was in terrible pain for the last couple of weeks. In those days they didn’t give cancer patients opiates, so all he got was Demerol, which barely even touched the pain of what was eating away at his bowel.

I had been a few days at my mother’s house for the death vigil when the call came in at three o’clock in the morning — doesn’t it always happen at that time? — that my father had died. The following night it snowed again, this time a foot (31 cm) of the stuff. But it warmed up afterwards, and we were able to shovel the cars out and arrange the memorial service a few days later.

That winter was a rough patch for me. I was in my late twenties, so it wasn’t as bad as it would have been in, say, my teens. But, still… I hadn’t expected to lose my daddy so soon, and it was hard.

The following spring, when the weather was warm and beautiful, we carried his ashes up to Yankeeland and interred them in the family plot. As a side effect of that trip, I met Dymphna, and you all know how that turned out. But we’ll leave that for another story in another fundraiser.

There was so much snow that winter that I had no trouble finishing the painting. It turned out fairly well. When I look at now — I never attempted to sell it — a bittersweet aura hangs over it, the memory of a time that had promised to be one thing, but turned into something else.

Many years ago a good friend of mine wrote a song that included this lyric:

Jesus said it came to pass.
He didn’t say it came to stay.

I guess I’ll leave it at that.

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That’s it for our winter fundraiser. We’ll be back in the early spring to do it all over again, except the weather will probably be nicer. A big thank-you goes out to everyone who participated.

Dymphna’s Saturday Update: Nor’easter or Plain Ol’ Blizzard?

Okay, y’all, we’re rounding the curve and headed for the end of this Quarterly Fundraiser.

If you’re reading this and haven’t yet donated, please do so. Think of it as your contribution to the pushback against Ugly and Loathsome Events. We can’t prevent them yet, but we can squish ’em some. But not without your generous help. (You can use this new link.)

As long as our donors continue their largesse, we continue to avoid ads on our pages. All the majors and many of the minors are chock-a-block with scripts and moving ads now. They make my eyes jump, and Ad Block has become of limited help. On my laptop I’ve taken to using a piece of card stock to cover the ones that are distractions.

Save us from this awful fate!

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To paraphrase the Middle English round: Winter is icumen in.

All the birds have fled, but the shortest day of the year isn’t quite here yet. You can sure enough feel its cold breath on your neck, though.

Every year people predict that this here particular winter will be the worst. There are indeed some “worst” ones, but like real estate, it’s all about location, location, location. Some years we get buried repeatedly; other years we never even need our road plowed.

When I lived in North Carolina we called those rare winter storms with a foot of snow and lots of wind a “blizzard”. But when I moved to New England the term “nor’easter” was the usual designation for the white-outs into which only a fool or someone with a life-or-death situation would venture out into with his rear-wheel-drive car. Chains helped a little.

I was a snow newbie back then, so the New England designation intrigued me. In the days before the internet, the reference sections in libraries were a good place to learn. I intuited that the frenzies of snow must have something to do with the Canadian cold weather systems endemic to the area (they made for wonderful New England summers to my southern-parched soul) but it wasn’t until I read about — and remembered again — the Gulf Stream, which hugs the eastern coast and makes its way around the world, that nor’easters finally made sense. They are born of the clash between extremes of weather systems created by those two factors: the cold jet stream pushing down from Canada meets the warm waters of the Gulf Stream hugging the eastern seaboard. It makes you wonder what god the Greeks would have assigned to such titanic clashes.

Having lived through some fearsome winters, the nor’easters seemed to me to be winter hurricanes, but of course, they weren’t, not really. Hurricanes smashed houses, ripped up thousands of trees, and disappeared small towns and barrier islands. They caused the Spanish to abandon the colonization of Western Florida. Hurricanes carry their victims out to sea; nor’easters and blizzards bury them in snow. The frozen stuff is wicked, but hurricanes are evil. The Florida panhandle will be years recovering from Michael’s devastation this year. They’ll probably retire his name. And Sandy wrecked the coast along New York, not to mention the long-term damage from Katrina in 2005. New Orleans is below sea level to begin with, so that whole area is still affected more than a decade later.

The Wikipedia entry provides the simple explanation for us non-meteorologists:

Nor’easters develop in response to the sharp contrast in the warm Gulf Stream ocean current coming up from the tropical Atlantic and the cold air masses coming down from Canada. When the very cold and dry air rushes southward and meets up with the warm Gulf stream current, which is often near 70 °F (21 °C) even in mid-winter, intense low pressure develops.

In the upper atmosphere, the strong winds of the jet stream remove and replace rising air from the Atlantic more rapidly than the Atlantic air is replaced at lower levels; this and the Coriolis force help develop a strong storm. The storm tracks northeast along the East Coast, normally from North Carolina to Long Island, then moves toward the area east of Cape Cod. Counterclockwise winds around the low-pressure system blow the moist air over land. The relatively warm, moist air meets cold air coming southward from Canada. The low increases the surrounding pressure difference, which causes the very different air masses to collide at a faster speed. When the difference in temperature of the air masses is larger, so is the storm’s instability, turbulence, and thus severity.

The nor’easters taking the East Coast track usually indicates the presence of a high-pressure area in the vicinity of Nova Scotia. Sometimes a nor’easter will move slightly inland and bring rain to the cities on the coastal plain (New York City, Philadelphia, Baltimore, etc.) and snow in New England (Boston northward). It can move slightly offshore, bringing a wet snow south of Boston to Richmond, Virginia, or even parts of the Carolinas. Such a storm will rapidly intensify, tracking northward and following the topography of the East Coast, sometimes continuing to grow stronger during its entire existence. A nor’easter usually reaches its peak intensity while off the Canadian coast. The storm then reaches Arctic areas, and can reach intensities equal to that of a weak hurricane. It then meanders throughout the North Atlantic and can last for several weeks.

North America is a huge continent. There is no “safe space” from weather extremes. Generally, in Virginia we get weather from the west, though hurricanes are an exception; they can come up from the Gulf inland (not usually so bad, though Camille was a mortal exception) or more commonly the Atlantic versions that barrel up the coast. Not having lived through the spring and summer tornadoes of the Midwest, I’ve no great desire to experience the real thing. We have an occasional one in the summer here, but they are more likely to be short-lived, narrow micro-bursts rather than the Kansas-sized monsters that ride over the plains. Don’t you wonder how native Indians survived them? It’s not as though they had tornado cellars.

Europe is more fortunate in its climate. Snow and rain, yes, but few disasters. I always thought that might be the case, and the wiki entry above agrees:

In Europe, similar weather systems with such severity are hardly possible; the moisture content of the clouds is usually not high enough to cause flooding or heavy snow, though NE winds can be strong.

So… is Europe a meteorological safe space?? Will our snowflakes move there?

I’d say my interest in weather phenomena was a function of getting older, but the myriad ways the winds blow has always fascinated me. However, it’s much more interesting to read about events rather than live through them. Definitely a spectator sport.

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Lots of donations blew in yesterday. The B keeps careful track of their origins:

Stateside: California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, North Carolina, Oregon, Tennessee, and Virginia

Far Abroad: Hungary, New Zealand, and the UK

Canada: Newfoundland, and Ontario

Australia: Australian Capital Territory, Queensland, and Victoria

He’ll be back for the final update tomorrow.

The Baron’s Friday Update: All the Leaves Are Brown

We’ve hit a rough patch in the fundraiser.

This has happened from time to time in the past, and we’ve always weathered them before — things eventually pick up.

It’s like the snow we had on Wednesday (or the snow that’s predicted for Sunday): for a while it’s a real blizzard, and then without warning it all fades out, with just a flake or two drifting by.

The ebb and flow of donations is a stochastic process. It’s not easy to determine what causes the sudden shifts.

Maybe we should call it “Schrödinger’s Tip Jar”…?

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Another Updated Locations List of Donors to the Fundraiser

More snail-mail donations have come in since I last posted a list of places for people who contributed to the recent fundraiser. One of those was from Wisconsin, and another from New Brunswick, and those places hadn’t appeared on the list before. Here’s the updated roster:

Stateside: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, North Dakota, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming

Far Abroad: Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Sweden, Thailand, and the UK

Canada: Alberta, British Columbia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland, Ontario, and Saskatchewan

Australia: Australian Capital Territory, New South Wales, Victoria, and Western Australia

There have also been donations from Wales and Scotland (but not Ulster). I haven’t broken up the UK (yet), so those don’t show.

An Updated Locations List for Donors to the Fundraiser

Dymphna and I have been cranking out the thank-you notes to people who donated during last week’s fundraiser. A donor from WYOMING wrote back to let us know that his state didn’t appear in the list of locations. He asked us to post a revised list that includes WYOMING, so here goes:

Stateside: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, North Dakota, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia, Washington, and Wyoming

Far Abroad: Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Sweden, Thailand, and the UK

Canada: Alberta, British Columbia, Newfoundland, Ontario, and Saskatchewan

Australia: Australian Capital Territory, New South Wales, Victoria, and Western Australia

It seems that our Wyoming donor — who has been kindly giving to Gates of Vienna for a number of years —previously lived in other states (also way out West), and I had inadvertently picked up one of those states from the record of an earlier donation.

ALSO: My email to another long-time donor bounced this morning. The server at the other end notified me that it would keep trying for 72 hours, and it did; then three days later the final bounce message came in.

So if you’re a long-time (12 years!) donor who lives in Alberta and didn’t get a thank-you note, that may be the reason. I’ve used the same email address every time, but for some reason it didn’t work this time.

Taking a Breather

Most of you already know that we just wrapped up our summer fundraiser. As promised, here is the final tally of places from which donations came:

Stateside: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, North Dakota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia, and Washington

Far Abroad: Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Sweden, Thailand, and the UK

Canada: Alberta, British Columbia, Newfoundland, Ontario, and Saskatchewan

Australia: Australian Capital Territory, New South Wales, Victoria, and Western Australia

The amount was a little thinner than usual, but we’ll definitely have enough to squeeze by for another three months. And the number of gifts was considerably higher than it normally is, with a lot of first-time donors in addition to the usual suspects. There were just lots of modest donations, and those add up. The turnout pleased me, because it means we have a robust, distributed funding base.

Anyway, now I can relax for a few hours, and maybe catch up on my sleep…

Dymphna and I are very grateful to you all for your generosity, both the recidivists and the first-timers.

Pennies From Heaven, For a Whole Week

This post was first posted on July 30 and was a “sticky” feature for a week. Scroll down for more recent posts, including death threats for a Dutch Muslim mayor, the latest repression of the Copts in Egypt, coverage of Tommy Robinson by the Hungarian media, “cuddly justice” in Germany, a report on Muslims in northeastern India who are being made stateless, and last night’s news feed.

Summer Fundraiser 2018, Day Seven

Dymphna’s Sunday Update: What Is Love’s Worth?

Okay, y’all. Time to step up to the plate and hit one out of the park. Inflation will be here any minute (or so they tell us), so might as well part with your denarii while they’re still meaningful, right? That’s one way of looking at twisting your arm.

[Here’s the new direct PayPal link.]

Tip jarAs we come to the final day of the Summer Fundraiser, it’s good to see a mixture of new people among the old faithfuls (and some not so old, just enduring contributors). Our golden oldies’ contributions are heartening, and the newbies encourage us to believe that despite the Baron’s decrepitude, we’re still putting subjects and predicates together in a way that’s meaningful. Me? I’m Gates of Vienna emeritus.

I am also encouraged that our reach remains global. Two people in Virginia wielding keyboards on a less-than-speedy connection can still find Aussies and Kiwis and Eastern Europeans, plus the more ‘usual’ folk who’ve always come here. When we begin seeing new donors from New York City (as we have this time) we know we’re hitting all the right notes.

Or maybe they’re saying, “All right, shut up already.”

I will make a promise to all our donors: when any given quarter meets the previous quarter’s goal (plus inflation), we’ll quit at that point. I’ve realized it doesn’t need to be a whole week if our goals have been met. And yes, the B has spreadsheets galore to show me comparisons from previous quarters any way you care to slice it. He’s the numbers guy. But successful or not (and we always have been so far), when it’s over it’s over. We close up our sideshow and get back to whatever atrocity awaits all of us.

[But before we close entirely, it is always my great pleasure to send Vlad Tepes our quarterly tithe. The subject line is “Funny Munny” and I always admonish him not to spend it all in one place. Yeah, he thinks I’m real amusing… The funniest part is that he never remembers that we’re in the process of our quarterly, so the PayPal donation always surprises him. I like dependable people, and Vlad is definitely that, in more ways than I could name.]

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The song I chose for my final Fundraiser update has a back story. Be patient; the nuances are complicated.

When I was five years old, I went to live in a girls’ “home”. St. Mary’s Orphanage was set up after the Influenza Epidemic of 1918, but by the time I arrived generations later, it had long since morphed into an institution for girls whose parents couldn’t keep them for one reason or another. It was the end of May when I got to St. Mary’s and it would be five years before I went home for good in August of the year I magically turned ten. Ten is the legal age for being a latchkey kid.

Yes, it was a long, long time, but it was the best my mother could do in the circumstances. As an immigrant, she wasn’t entitled to welfare. As a middle-class Irish woman, I don’t know if she could have borne the (self-inflicted) humiliation, but the law precluded her having to make that choice. And by the time she put me in Saint Mary’s we’d been through nightmares of temporary placements.

Back then, Florida had a small Catholic population at somewhat less than two percent. The nuns and priests were mostly from Ireland: what American would live in Florida’s climate and what Irish clergy/nuns could resist the temptation of living in America? So they came and suffered. Thus the majority of professed religious people I knew growing up sounded more or less like my mother. The few times I heard an American accent coming from one of them, I was certain they weren’t kosher.

St. Mary’s was part of the city parish which served Catholics mostly of Italian descent, and, during the week, working people who dropped in for daily Mass on their lunch hour. There was a school going all the way to 12th grade for the whole parish not just St. Mary’s, and a church with the number of priests needed for a full regimen of Masses, plus a rectory to house the priests. The teaching nuns from the school lived at St. Mary’s and took their turns raising us while they were at it. This whole plant took up a square block.

When I was six, a Dublin-born priest came to live at the rectory. I thought of Father Doyle as quite elderly, but that didn’t turn out to be the case. When you’re six, most adults look old. At any rate, he took a particular shine to me because I was so obviously Irish to the bone — to the freckle, that is, many of which dotted my face and arms. Like my mother, Father Doyle was Dublin-born-and-bred. Like my mother, he enjoyed making me laugh — I was usually searching for a reason to laugh. I was a perfect audience.

Father Doyle found out my weakness for Waldorf salad, so he’d have the rectory housekeeper fix it for me. Oh, heaven! The nuns, of course, didn’t approve of this “special” relationship, but a priest outranks a nun, so there you go: Waldorf salad on Wednesdays after school. And Saint Valentine’s Day cards with little girls with freckles on the front. [No, there wasn’t any funny stuff. Just a lonely old man homesick and longing for home but unable to afford the fare, so I was the substitute.]

The good father liked American popular music, though he was a better listener than performer, but his lack of talent wasn’t an impediment. He’d often sing along with the Big Girls (any girl over the age of ten was officially a Big Girl). Back then, genres weren’t so rigid as they are now; “country” music and “pop” were played on the same stations. One song he used to sing to me was “If I Had a Nickel”. He only ever sang the first few lines, since they were the most entertaining.

One cold, overcast morning — January 18th, to be precise — the nuns told us in chapel that Father Doyle had died in his sleep during the night. I was inconsolable for days. Not all the threats of punishments could quell my tears. No threats they could devise compared with my utterly bereft sense of loss. Children are resilient and eventually I quieted, but I never forgot Father Doyle. Every January 18th I recall our brief friendship, healing on both sides. He was only forty-seven when he died, and it would be many years before I considered that “too young”.

The first two lines of his song stayed with me, too, but it wasn’t until the advent of YouTube that I found the song, in its earliest versions:

If you read the comments on that song, you’ll notice that many people came looking for it because they remembered its fragments the same way: a song their father or grandfather sang, one they thought had been made up especially for them. It is a child’s song, I think, because of its simplicity.

I’ll bet each of my children remember that song. I sang it to them as babies — it makes a good lullaby. Maybe that’s why some of them became musicians?

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Saturday’s denarii arrived from:

Stateside: Hawaii, Massachusetts, North Dakota, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Texas, and Virginia

Far Abroad: New Zealand, Sweden, and the UK

Canada: British Columbia and Ontario

That’s it for the Summer Fundraiser! Sometime tomorrow the Baron will include an overall summary in the wrap-up post.

Summer Fundraiser 2017, Day Five

The Baron’s Saturday Update: I shoulda learned to play them drums

This was supposed to be Dymphna’s update, but she’s feeling poorly this morning, so I’m filling in. Part of the reason for her indisposition is Tommy Robinson’s situation — since she suffers from PTSD, Tommy’s suffering resonates with her to the point that her symptoms flare up.

For today’s money-themed video, I’m using the one she would have posted herself if she were well enough. But before I get to that, I’ll recapitulate what we’re doing here for readers who had to work all week and are just checking in for the first time this weekend.

This is our quarterly effort to wheedle you into donating money to help keep this site alive for three more months. Inflation is a scourge: what began as “Pennies from Heaven” on Monday became dollars by midweek, and they’re now twenties, as can be seen from the graphic at the top of this post. What will the image be tomorrow…?

[An aside: During the reign of Hussein it was announced that Andrew Jackson’s gloomy mug was to be removed from the twenty-dollar bill and replaced with the face of some politically correct chick of color — Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, Maya Angelou, somebody like that. Does anyone know what became of that innovation? Obviously Mr. Trump will not be replacing Mr. Jackson anytime soon. But maybe The Donald was able to put the brakes on the Modern Multicultural $20 Bill.]

Anyway, your job is to drop a Trump or two (or six! Live dangerously) into the tip cup on our sidebar. Or, if you prefer, you can use this new direct PayPal link.

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A Report From the Dead Letter Office

We’ve only had one additional thank-you note bounce since our recent fundraiser. This one was sent to a repeat (recidivist?) donor in Alberta.

I know that Alberta is in the heart of the Frozen North, but I don’t think emails are delivered by dogsled, even up there. So who knows what went wrong?

Anyway, if you’re in Alberta, and didn’t get a bread-and-butter note this time, it’s because something is amiss in the Intertubes.