What is a "tiehacker"?

"Tiehacker" is a term originating in the Ozark hills of southern Missouri. It referred to a class of people from WAY back in the hills that made a living cutting trees into ties for the railroad. I first heard the term from my wife shortly after we married. I had been working outside all day and was dirty and stinky. She had learned it from her father, and thought it just meant "a bum". Never having heard it before, I looked it up. Although I am not really a bum, I thought it was interesting, and I do have a life-long love affair going with the Ozark hills, so ... there you have it!

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Thirty Day Writing Challenge, Day Two: Your Earliest Memory

Continuing on with the 30 Day Writing Challenge .....


My Earliest Memory


I can't actually extract my "earliest" memory. I have several memory fragments from the same general time frame, but I really couldn't tell you which one is "the oldest". So, I'm going to bore you with a few of them.

One is actually a memory of a memory. I was about 4 or 5 years old, and our family was visiting someone in the city. I don't remember for sure who it was, but it was probably my Uncle Clyde. We were in the backyard, and I remember noticing the attached sunrooms behind the four-family flat next door. I remember saying that we used to live in a house that had one of those sunrooms. My parents were quite surprised at that pronouncement, because although we had lived in a flat like that when I was an infant, we had moved out before my second birthday. So, although I no longer remember the flat that we lived in when I was a year old, apparently I did retain that memory for at least a few years.

When I was not quite two years old, we moved from the city to a house in a small semi-rural area about 15 miles from the city, an unincorporated village called Horine. We lived there for about 2 years, maybe 3. My earliest actual memories take place there.

We had a propane tank along side the house, that fueled our furnace and stove. I remember getting spanked for using my tricycle as a step-stool to climb on top of it. More than once. I was already exhibiting the stubborn streak that has been my hallmark all my life!

We had a German Shepherd mix named King. He lived in a flat-roofed doghouse in our back yard, and I would ride him like a pony. I still miss my dog, more than 50 years later.

Me and King in Horine MO, c.1963

We had a gravel and stone driveway. I still have a scar on the crown of my head from when I was throwing rocks straight up in the air. My next-door friend and I were seeing who could throw the highest, and mine came down and bopped me on top of the head. Although not enough to require stitches, like all scalp wounds it bled like a stuck pig, scared the tar out of me, and left a scar that is still visible.

The most horrific memory I have is the day the car fell on my dad. He was working on the muffler, with the car held up with just a bumper jack. Something caused the jack to slip, and the car came down, trapping my father underneath. I remember my mom, who had witnessed the accident through the kitchen window, running outside screaming for help. A couple neighbors helped get the car off of him while we waited for the ambulance. He suffered several broken ribs, a broken clavicle, a cracked sternum, and some internal injuries. He was in the hospital for quite awhile, and when I was finally allowed to visit him, all I could see was plaster casts.

One more memory from Horine, and I'll call it a day and leave you be, faithful reader. It was February, 1963. All of a sudden there was a lot of frantic running around, getting bundled into the car, dad driving like a bat out of hell, running into the hospital, then dad driving me to my aunt's house nearby, and leaving again like a mad dervish. I was so confused and upset that my aunt, whom I normally adored, couldn't keep me calmed down. It all was resolved the next day, when I met my brand new sister for the very first time.

Those were the days, my friend. I thought they'd never end!

God bless
Ron and the Debster

Friday, April 1, 2016

Thirty Day Writing Challenge, Day One: Five Problems With Social Media

Hi everybody. I know that It has been awhile since I've posted a blog. Sorry about that. But a few days ago, I saw something that is giving me a boost, a kick-start if you will.

The Writer's Circle on Facebook posted this on March 28:





Having had a severe case of writer's block, this was just what I needed.

So, without further ado, let's give this a try, shall we?

Five Problems with social media.

Social media has done a lot of good, to be sure. Just one example is how it has enabled me to connect with and get to know a lot of distant relatives. Distant in both degrees of relationship, and in geographical distance. That has been great!
But, there are also many problems with social media, perhaps more problems than benefits.
In no particular order, here we go: First, I would note the obvious problem of people disconnecting in order to connect. We are so connected to people around the world, that we have become disconnected from the people that are physically close to us. How many times have you seen a group of people sitting around a restaurant table, or on a park bench, or wherever, so engrossed with their phones and pads and tablets that they are completely oblivious to what is going on around them? How sad.
A second problem is simply one of safety. More and more people are being injured or killed because someone was texting while driving. Operating a motor vehicle is a very complex activity requiring a great deal of concentration. Yet at the same time it seems to be so easy as to be almost automatic, requiring no conscious effort. So people tend to allow themselves to become distracted by their phones and lose track of what they are doing. The result, too often, is a nasty crash. Police, fire engines, tow trucks, ambulances, coroner's vans, hospitals, morgues, funerals. All because some numbskull just couldn't wait to type LOL and press the send button.
Yet another problem is that we are losing the ability to write complete and coherent words and sentences. In the interest of speed and expediency we have developed a shorthand version of our glorious, rich English language. Sure, shorthand has been around for a very long time, but only as a tool, to transcribe spoken speech into the written word. Not as a means of communication by itself. Believe me, this is not something to LOL about.
Yet another problem is that people, especially young people, tend to forget about remaining private and maintaining some semblance of personal security. Girls post risque photos of themselves. Or even very innocent posts that reveal enough information that a sexual predator can easily track them down. The 'net is awash with examples of people posing on social media as someone they are not, in order to lure unsuspecting victims into their webs.
A fifth problem is that of false courage. Keyboard commandos. Trolls, as they are commonly known. Cowardly little people sitting at a computer terminal taking potshots at people, being complete jerks, saying things that in person would get them knocked on their tail ends with missing teeth and bleeding noses and black eyes, yet since they are hiding behind their screen name anonymity they get away with it.
This exercise called for an essay about five problems, but I'm going to mention a sixth one, just as a bonus for all of you that have slogged through to the end: False information, and those gullible enough to believe it. For example, I love the satirical website "The Onion". It is so well done that the satire often fools people into actually believing it, and then re-posting it as real. and then some other fool reads that post and forwards it yet again. There are other satirical websites besides The Onion, and it is just mind-boggling how many people fall for that stuff.
Satire is great; those sites have disclaimers all over them; it is not their fault that people ignore them. However, there is another, related, problem. There is a large group of people that deliberately twist facts, misrepresent things, and outright lie through their teeth, in order to advance their own agenda. The false statements are often easily refuted by anyone that is able to think about them for even a moment; just a modicum of common sense and logic reveals the impossibility of the statement. Others are easily refuted with a few seconds of fact-checking. Yet there are people that are so stupid, so gullible, so mindless, that they blindly follow them because they appeal to what they believe. I remember an instance a few years ago. Someone "quoted" President Obama saying something that was so absurd that even a hard-core conservative like me didn't believe it and easily found it to be false. Yet my nephew, a full grown man, with above-average intelligence, bought it completely. When I pointed out to him that it was, in fact, completely false, my nephew responded with, "Well, maybe he didn't actually say it, but he could have because it's just like him." I tried to point out that there are more than enough TRUE things to go after Obama about without resorting to lies, but he just kept scrolling through the web posts looking for anything that would bolster his personal conceptions.
Social media. As a whole, I think we were better off without it.