George H.W. Bush, RIP

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader sees that former President George H.W. Bush has died at his home in Houston. Your Maximum Leader suspected that President Bush, the Elder, would not long survive after the death of his beloved wife, Barbara. Your Maximum Leader can hardly imagine the grief consuming the close-knit Bush family for having lost their Matriarch and Patriarch in the same year. He sends his deepest condolences out to the Bush family.

Of course, this is a blog and don’t bloggers find a way to make everything all about themselves? So how can your Maximum Leader make this about him. Well… Read on…

Your Maximum Leader is of an age that came to be politically aware during the Reagan years. Your Maximum Leader was a Reagan-loving, National Review reading, conservative in the 1980s. All these things are still true today, but what that appellation means now is, he thinks, up for some debate in the current political climate. Back in the 80’s your Maximum Leader viewed Bush the Elder as a good, decent, distinguished, and eminently qualified man to be Vice-President to Ronald Reagan. He was a bridge to the broad swath of the Republican party (and some Democrats) that weren’t conservative Republicans. In 1988, your Maximum Leader thought it was G.H.W. Bush’s “turn” and he supported Bush for President in 1988. But your Maximum Leader was a bit of a snot back then and when it came time for Bush to run for re-election, your Maximum Leader briefly supported Patrick Buchanan as a primary opponent to President Bush. Your Maximum Leader wanted someone more “conservative.” It wasn’t that Bush wasn’t a great chief executive, he was. But your Maximum Leader wanted more Reagan. Of course, when the President soundly trounced Buchanan in the primaries, your Maximum Leader happily supported the President in his unsuccessful re-election bid.

Well, time has caused your Maximum Leader to think more and more favourably of George H.W. Bush. Not just think of him more favourably as a person (that wasn’t possible, George H.W. Bush is likely one of the best people to ever serve our Nation as President). He’s come to regard Bush as a better President as time moves on. President Bush (41) was the right man for the time he was elected. His practical nature. His good humour. His experience. His vision. And his natural restraint all were better suited to the job of President than your Maximum Leader thought at the time. Your Maximum Leader thinks that it is quite possible that Bush 41 will continue to grow in his esteem as time progresses. Indeed, your Maximum Leader wishes we had more men of George Herbert Walker Bush’s character and temperament willing to run and serve as President. Our nation is better off in every way for electing leaders like George Bush. He hopes we are soon gifted with another man or woman similar to serve in our highest office.

On a more personal note, your Maximum Leader has shaken the hand of four of our Nation’s Presidents in his life. He exchanged pleasantries with three of them. Your Maximum Leader shook Gerald Ford’s hand in a rope line once. He shook the hand of and spoke (with a group of others) with Richard Nixon. Of course, he has already recounted his meeting with Ronald Reagan. (More thoughts on Reagan’s funeral here.) Your Maximum Leader happened to be in a few places in 1988 and 1989 where he was able to shake hands and talk (briefly) with Vice-President then President Bush 41. There were a few campaign events in Virginia and DC where your Maximum Leader knew some people that could get him close to the Vice-President. Hands were shook. Words exchanged. Then there were a few rope lines and a receiving line in 1989. In every encounter Bush the Elder seemed to be kind, engaged, and considerate.

A surprising side note to these encounters came every Christmas from 1989 to 1992, when your Maximum Leader received an official White House Christmas Card from the Bushes.

So there you go, your Maximum Leader made it all about him…

George Herbert Walker Bush - Husband, Father, Grandfather, Great Grandfather, War Hero, and President.

Gus am bris an latha agus an teich na sgailean.

Carry on.

Happy Thanksgiving

Greetings, loyal minions. To those of you in the United States, or Americans across the globe, Happy Thanksgiving. To all the rest of you, happy Thursday.

Thanksgiving Pin up

(Pinup idea ruthlessly stolen from our good friend Robbo.)

Carry on.

Well, That Didn’t Go As Expected

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader is surprised. He wasn’t sure what to expect last night, but he didn’t anticipate what happened. He didn’t think the Democrats would take the Senate, but he also didn’t foresee the Republicans doing as well as they did. (Rick Scott knocking off Bill Nelson? Didn’t see that coming.) He thought the Democrats had a better than even chance at taking the House. Which they narrowly appear to have done. The outcome of Governor’s races, to the extent we know them, are also more positive for Republicans than your Maximum Leader expected.

If there are takeaways from this election for your Maximum Leader they are:

1 ) Contest every seat available. This has been a position of your Maximum Leader for many years. If you don’t field a candidate, you can’t win a seat. Democrats fielded many more candidates and contested more seats. That helped set the table for a House win.

2 ) Don’t fight extreme policies with other extreme policies. If you only choice on immigration is between “build a wall” and “abolish ICE,” people will choose on self-interest. Democrats allowed this issue, as an example, to be framed by Republicans, and they paid for it.

Those are the big two. Of course, every political thought your Maximum Leader has had for the past 2 years has been wrong. So what does he know…

Carry on.

Random Thoughts This Election Day

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader did his civic duty today and voted. He didn’t vote at the crack of dawn as is his habit. He voted a little later (before lunch). Normally his ballot is one of the first 100 or so in the counting machine. In your Maximum Leader’s county there is a tally displayed on the counting machine that ticks up by one every time a ballot is entered into it. It is always interesting to compare the number he gets on his little ticket to the number on the counting machine. (One confirms one’s identity and then is given a ticket that is exchanged for a ballot.) In most years when your Maximum Leader exercises his franchise the ticket number and the counting machine number are within a digit or two of each other. Normally, those numbers are under 100. Today, around 10:45 am your Maximum Leader’s counting machine number was 677.

That number of 677 caused your Maximum Leader to think. As he remembered, in the elections last year (state and local elections) there were a total of about 1,300 votes cast. So he asked a poll worker he knows and said that turnout seems to be higher than normal non-Presidential years. The poll worker confirmed that if the trends continued today, this would look more like a Presidential election year than a standard mid-term.

(NB: If there are any Democrats reading this, don’t get your hopes up. Your Maximum Leader’s precinct is reliably and heavily Republican.)

So, anecdotally, this is shaping up to be a very atypical mid-term election year…

Then again… For the past 4 years or so everything in our politics has been atypical. And in addition to being atypical, he would further characterize our politics as “bad.”

Now your Maximum Leader is not without historical perspective in this. He knows how vicious politics were in the Age of Jackson. And how brutal they were leading up to the Civil War. I don’t know that we are approaching a Civil War (though there are a disturbing number of people on both sides of the aisle that seem to be predicting - and some welcoming - another Civil War). But we are probably in a period that is just as bad as the time of Andrew Jackson. It may seem worse because of how media (the news, newspapers, social media - literally all of it “media”) seems to amplify everything political. But there is a disturbing trend towards tribalism and incivility.

On your Maximum Leader’s Twitter feed (@MaximumLeader) he has pinned Tweet. It reads: “Civility is the spanx holding in the barbarism of humanity.” That was true in January 2016, and more true today. American society, at least as it is being portrayed in the broad media, is growing less civil. Good manners and politeness don’t seem to be the order of the day. It is important that you harangue public figures as they dine, or walk the streets. Resistance is a full-time occupation. That is really too bad. Perhaps it is better to talk and try to understand people before you write them off as incorrigible. There are some incorrigibles out there. You can’t reason with them or talk to them. They need to be shunned. Don’t engage. Ignore. Isolate. But it is more dramatic to engage and make a scene. Show that you are resisting.

Was it Winston Churchill who said that a fanatic is someone who’ll not change there mind and won’t change the subject? Your Maximum Leader thinks so. He also thinks more and more people are happy to be fanatics.

But this post was billed as “random thoughts.” What other thoughts are going through your Maximum Leader’s mind that are not political? Well a bunch. Here are some:

1) Should he make a seafood chowder for dinner Friday night? He made one about 10 days ago and it was great. He’s thought of improvements he could make on his approach and thinks he needs to implement them.

2) Would vampires be affected by tattoos of crosses/crucifixes on the flesh of a potential victim? This one has been on his mind since Halloween and his Universal Monsters movie marathon.

3) Speaking of Universal Monsters… Someone at that studio needs to come up with a single unified grand plan to revitalize that fictional milieu (The Dark Universe) - if the studio is actually considering doing so. They need to focus on a single character or group of characters, that are not the monsters, to act as the focal point of the films…

4) Your Maximum Leader really used to dislike (nay - actively hate) chicken pot pie growing up. But he really really loves it now. Mrs. Villain made one last night and your Maximum Leader devoured it.

5) Will there ever be justice for Jamal Khashoggi? Well, not justice for Mr. Khashoggi. No justice but divine mercy can be given to him now. But will those responsible for his brutal murder ever be brought to temporal justice? By this your Maximum Leader doesn’t mean only those that carried out the grisly crime. But will the man apparently ultimately responsible, Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, ever be brought to justice. Your Maximum Leader doesn’t think so…

6) When will your Maximum Leader get the time to spend a day watching orangutans in the zoo?

7) How much longer will your Maximum Leader’s phone battery (and backup battery) hold out on his iPhone 6? How long before he has to get a new phone?

8 ) When will the next season of “Norsemen” come out on Netflix?

9) Speaking of Norsemen… Your Maximum Leader believes that “American Gods” may have supplanted “Shogun” as his favorite work of general (popular) fiction. He’s now read AG at least 3 times (perhaps 4). He can’t remember how many times he’s read “Shogun.” But it has been a lot. He finds he can’t recall many parts until he is reading them again and has an, “Oh, I remember this now.” moment.

10) Your Maximum Leader needs to renew his passport so that he can: A) visit Venice before it is swallowed by the Adriatic; B) visit Iceland. Those are the two foreign places at the top of his list right now. He thinks he’s going to have to go to Iceland twice. Once in the summer and once in the winter. That way he can see all the things he wants to. (Some things - like certain waterfalls and trails - are only accessible during the summer. Others - like the Northern Lights - are only in the winter.)

That is about all from here. Your Maximum Leader will monitor election results and wonder about the future of our Republic.

Carry on.

Happy Halloween

Greetings loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader presents for you one of the best opening paragraphs of a horror story. Taken from one of the best horror stories of all time, The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson.

No live organism can continue for long to exist sanely under conditions of absolute reality; even larks and katydids are supposed, by some, to dream. Hill House, not sane, stood by itself against its hills, holding darkness within; it had stood so for eighty years and might stand for eighty more. Within, walls continued upright, bricks met neatly, floors were firm, and doors were sensibly shut; silence lay steadily against the wood and stone of Hill House, and whatever walked there, walked alone.

If you desire, you can pick up the book at Amazon. (Clicky here.)

If reading isn’t your bag, you can watch the 1963 movie based on the story.

There is also a 1999 movie if you prefer newer.

Personally, your Maximum Leader preferred the 1963 version with Julie Christie. The 1999 version with Catherine Zeta-Jones struck him as “meh.”

Villainette #1 informs your Maximum Leader that Netflix has a version out now that they produced. He’ll have to check it out.

Carry on.

100 Below: Acorns

He sipped his coffee as he stood on the porch watching his dog leave a shit in the yard. He surveyed the yard and marvelled at the number of acorns that had fallen from the oaks. “The desire to continue life,” he thought to himself. How many acorns were there? More than hundreds. Thousands? Tens of thousands? Hundreds of thousands? It would be a sisyphean task to count them. And where the fuck were the squirrels? Weren’t they supposed to be hoarding them for winter? There wasn’t a damned squirrel to be seen anywhere.

But lots of acorns.

100 Below: A Patch of Earth

Ron walked around town for his health, and because he could get everywhere he needed to go by walking. Every morning he went to get a coffee. His path took him by the town cemetery. He looked at the stones as he passed. He memorized their order. He saw many familiar names. These were the parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, and great-great-grandparents of people he knew. He wondered how many of his friends would occupy this corner of earth one day. The thought that he would like to occupy a small patch there one day as well. It was comforting.

Old

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader’s eldest offspring, Villainette #1, has a milestone birthday today. She is 21.

Where do the years go?

Carry on.

O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader reminds you, in case you forgot to mark your calendars, that today all subjects of the Mike World Order will celebrate the anniversary of the birth of our lifelong and great friend, Kevin. You may read his regular musing over at his blog, Big Hominid. You should read his blog. Unlike your Maximum Leader, over on Kevin’s blog you get regularly updated content. Like almost every single day! Sometimes twice a day! What the deuce?

On this day my buddy has turned 49. He, like me, are closing in on the half century mark. And for those of you who keep up those who think about these things, actuarially speaking we have already passed the half-way point of our expected life span. So, we have that going for us.

My life has been enriched for knowing Kevin. His recent visit to the US, for he lives and works in South Korea, was a boon for me. I got time to spend with him, and he treated me to a wonderful seafood dinner on a dark and stormy night. I only wish I could have spent more time with him. I often wish I could spend more time with him. But geography gets in the way.

Happy Birthday, Kevin.

Carry on.

More Death

Greetings, loyal minions. Once again, your Maximum Leader is going to have to dump the 3rd person schtick for this post.

My last post was predominantly about death. The death of my friend Jennifer. Learning of Jennifer’s death filled me with melancholy. Her death was made more emotional for me given what I was going through at that moment. I mentioned at the end of that last post, back in June, that some family issues were going badly and that if you could spare a prayer for my mom and dad to do so. Well here’s that story.

To begin at the beginning, about 30 years ago my mother was diagnosed with a malignant melanoma cancer on her left hand. She had a series of surgeries to remove the cancer, and then many of the lymph nodes on her left side. The result of the surgeries was that they got the cancer, but mom suffered from many other problems as a result. These problems led to pain, infections, and a host of other circulatory issues.

Fast forward to 2016… Mom and I were on the phone just before Thanksgiving. She mentioned, offhandedly, that she felt a small lump in her left hand. She described it as smaller than a pea, but hard. I suggested that she see her doctor right away as that lump was bound to be bad. Mom agreed that it probably wasn’t good, and said she’d see a doctor. Without going into details, because they aren’t all that exciting and pertinent to this narrative, she didn’t see her doctor. She didn’t see her doctor about the lump for nearly a year. When she did see her doctor about the lumps, the doctor immediately recommended surgery and chemotherapy. Mom dragged her feet and didn’t get surgery until late March 2018. This is, as you can no doubt calculate on your own, over a year after she discovered the lump. When she finally had the surgery, two lumps were removed. One was slightly larger than a golf ball. The second a bit smaller than a ping-pong ball. Both tumors were malignant. Both had extensive blood supplies. Both were very brittle. After surgery, mom declined chemotherapy. Her stated reason was that it would negatively affect her quality of life. I told her that her quality of life hadn’t been great with all the suffering she’d had as a result of her delay in treatment. She didn’t have much to say about my comments.

As an aside here, if it seems like my role in this narrative is mostly observational, you’d be reasonably close on that. Over the past 30 years I’ve learned that my mom wouldn’t take advice on medical matters from anyone. It got to the point where I learned that it was better for both of us for me to not offer opinions more than once. She learned that if she wanted a sympathetic ear to listen to her complain about her health, when she’d chosen not to do anything about it, I was not the one to call. If she brought up a health issue our conversations would fall into a pattern. The pattern was: mom would bring up health issue, I would listen, I would ask if she wanted my opinion on the matter, if she did I’d give her my opinion, if she didn’t we’d move on. Then after an opinion or no opinion was given that would be the end of it. If either of us brought it up again the response from the other was “We’ve talked about this already. Has anything changed?” If nothing changed, there was nothing to talk about and we moved on.

After the surgery, mom got an infection in her hand. It was treated, and I thought it was under control. Little did I know.

A few days after Mother’s Day, I got a panicked call from my sister. Mom was in the hospital. She was unconscious, and no one was sure what was going on. To shorten this part of the story, it turned out mom’s infection was not under control and was widespread and caused swelling around her brain. She was in a medically induced coma for about 5 days while they treated her infection. Once it was under control they brought her out of the coma and started additional treatments to get her vitals back to the normal range.

After about 10 days in the hospital she was moved to a rehab facility to help her regain her mobility. This is where she was in early June when I last wrote. While she was at the rehab facility she had a visit from her regular doctor. We were told then that after studying the various imagery that was done during her hospital stay, her doctor had noticed that her lungs were filled with small spots of cancer. No doubt this cancer was started by bits that had broken off during the surgery on her hand in March and had now settled in and metastasized into lung cancer. After some discussion with her doctor, mom decided that she would begin a regimen of immuno-therapy drugs (which she described as not being chemo to me) to try and treat the cancer in her lungs.

But that day I knew that the end was coming soon. I knew in my heart and mind that the time for treatment was long past and that this was the confirmation of a death sentence that had been written out months before.

Mom stayed in the rehab facility until mid-June. She went home for a single night. The day after going home, she went into a hospice. She was conscious and alert for a time in hospice, but soon the opiates came into play and she faded into that drug-induced sleep that would lead to her death on July 4th*.

I suspect that I am writing this to do some mourning and some soul-cleansing. I am beginning to develop more of a detachment to the course of the end of my mom’s life that makes it possible to type this. As I think back over what happened over the course of these months I’ve come to conclude that when the cancer came back, in 2016, mom had just had enough and didn’t want to continue. There isn’t really another explanation. She knew, and frankly we all knew, that by not getting treatment at the onset of this that it would only end one way. Death. And it was only a question of how long it would take to reach the end. In mom’s case I would say that the real physical suffering was from January to her death. The cancer had grown so much and was so painful before the surgery that it was a burden. Then the infection, hospitalization, and then hospice. None of that was good. But it was inevitable based on her choices.

I am not bitter about her choices. Truly I am not. People have free will to exercise as they want. We can disagree with them. We can think they are making bad choices. But the choices are theirs to make. The only judgement that counts in this is Divine judgement.

(NB: Intellectually, I should ask my priest about this. Perhaps some of my more theologically trained readers – if I have readers still – could educate me on this point. Does refusal of treatment that had a reasonable chance of success constitute suicide of a type? I wonder.)

I am not divine in any sense, Christian, Buddhist, Pagan… So, my judgement, such as it is, doesn’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world. But I feel sad that, in my judgement, my mom decided that she didn’t have any reason to continue in life. Intellectually, I can see how she came to her conclusion. But it still saddens me. At some level one can’t help but personalize thoughts like this. If I had been less detached from her (as I described above) would she have made the same decisions? I’m really of two minds about it. If I had done more to engage her and try to convince her of a different path, perhaps she would have made different choices. But on the other hand, years of experience brought my mom and I to the point where we had a “system” for dealing with health concerns that satisfied both of us.

Who knows?

I have prayed for my mom and will continue to do so. Although she left the Catholic church decades ago (and Christianity and “organized religion” for that matter), I am having a Mass offered up for her at my church. (Sunday, December 2, 2018, 7 am, St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception in Fredericksburg, VA if you are inclined.) To do so is definitely a comfort for me, and I hope a comfort for her soul as well.

By way of a postscript to this tale of dying, my father is living with me now (not quite full-time) at the Villainschloss. This is a problem mainly because he has mental illness issues that make life with him difficult. (And to be honest, I can’t help but think my father’s condition may have informed my mother’s choices…) Also, my mother, in a fit of pique years ago, set up her estate in a way that satisfied her wishes at the time, but have now placed significant burdens on my father and sister. So, there is that too…

And that, loyal minions, is how my summer has gone… Pretty crappy by the by.

I hope your summer has been better than mine. And I hope you have a good Labor Day weekend.

Carry on.

* – For what it is worth, the Fourth of July is, even in light of my loss, the greatest of all holidays in the US calendar. If I must enumerate the reasons behind my thinking again they are: 1) Good Weather, 2) Secular, 3) No gift giving, 4) Outdoor grilling, 5) Fireworks, 6) Girls in swimsuits.

Not Enough Time

Greetings, loyal minions. No third person schtick for me in this post…

This weekend was a difficult one and has left me feeling melancholy.

Saturday started out fine enough. I was doing “normal” stuff. I got a haircut. I did the grocery shopping. I paid some bills.

Then I needed to find some old paperwork. I went into the closet in my study and was looking through a box in which I keep some old paperwork. Next to the paperwork box happened to be a box of “college memories.” Photos, trinkets, old papers from my college years. Protruding out of the box were two photo collages made for me by friends. I took them out and looked at them. One was made by my old friend Beth. Beth now is married, a mom, and a teacher in Oregon. One of the photos was of Beth and Jennifer. The photo was taken in 1992. Beth was finishing her Masters degree and Jennifer was 17.

Jennifer was 17 and had been accepted to college and would be starting her Freshman year that fall. Perhaps the photo was just after the school year had begun, so Jennifer would have just turned 18 in June. Jennifer was bright. Very, very bright. She had finished high school early and was starting college. She was witty. She was fun. She was off-beat and charming. She was a wonderful addition to our little circle of friends. I was working at the time in the Admissions office. So I knew a little about her background. I also knew that some strings were pulled to admit her due to her age. I didn’t pull the strings, but I knew who did (and would have had it been up to me).

I left my Alma Mater (and my post graduation job in the Admission Office there) and moved on to other things. I would check in with friends and with Jennifer from time to time over the next four years. One time she told me a fantastic (and somewhat horrifying) story of a summer she spent in Madagascar. She was working in a village and was struck with some sickness that incapacitated her. She was in a fever state unaware of what was going on around her. When her fever broke she was in a small grass hut, with an old lady. The old lady explained to her that the rest of the villagers had fled guerrillas that were terrorizing the area. Since Jennifer couldn’t be moved, the old lady volunteered to stay with her. The old lady said that if the guerrillas came she would have tried to fight them off if they’d wanted to take Jennifer as a slave. The old lady said that the guerrillas did come to the abandoned village and saw the two of them. But decided to leave them both alone and move on. I wish I could do the story justice, but it is not my story to retell…

In 1996 she was about to graduate and I was about to get married. I heard through mutual friends that Jennifer had gotten accepted to graduate school and was going on to study Anthropology. It was at this point that we lost contact with each other. From time to time over the intervening 20-odd years, I caught myself looking at the photo and thinking that I ought to use the Facebook and catch up with Jennifer.

I’ve learned that in those intervening years she excelled at everything. She went to Yale and got her Master’s Degree and PhD. She taught at the University of Toronto. Then she moved to UCLA and was teaching there. She published many papers and a book. She was on the fast-track of life it appeared.

Until she died of cancer in 2015.

I didn’t learn of this until last night (Sunday - a day after I looked at her photo) when I saw a post on the Facebook from a mutual friend who was lamenting that Jennifer’s June birthday had just passed and what a shame it was that her life was cut so tragically short. I feel badly that I didn’t know. If someone told me it didn’t register. I felt pretty awful about it when I read over the obituary I found. I am still feeling badly about it now.

It was a sad way to cap a sad weekend. I’ve been dealing with some family issues, and those issues went badly on Sunday morning. I’ll not go into detail here, but if you are the praying type, please spare a prayer for my mom and dad. They are both going through some bad stuff right now and could use all the divine assistance they can get.

I hope this week will be better… I will pray for Jennifer as well, and again if you’re the praying type, please keep her in your prayers too.

Carry on.

100 Below - So Many Questions

Eli sat on the toilet as he always did approximately 90 minutes after eating a meal.

Breakfast at 7am, poop about 9:30am.

Lunch at 12:30pm, poop about 2pm.

Dinner at 7pm, poop about 9:30pm.

Today as he sat he wondered, did his body hold the poop in his body until it needed room for the meal he’d just eaten? If he skipped a meal, would the poop still come?

These were the cosmic questions his 12 year old brain contemplated.

100 Below - The Walk

Ron Baker and his dog Max lived in the deep woods. Ron moved there to live a solitary life and walk the back roads.

One gravel road lead into what appeared to be the darkest, deepest, woods.

One day, Ron started down the dark road. Max wouldn’t follow. Ron dropped the leash and walked on. Max whined and barked but didn’t follow.

Days later the Sheriff drove by. Max was still waiting. The Sheriff coaxed Max into the car. The Sheriff got into the car and drove on. He knew what lay at the end of the road was evil.

TWP - 5, Tea Dumping

Greetings, loyal minions. I don’t recall if I’ve ever mentioned it before, but I am a tea drinker. I come from a long line of tea drinkers. Considering my ethnic background, drinking tea is not a surprising character trait.

I am not, however, a coffee drinker. Others in my family are, but not me. Something about coffee gives me a headache. It isn’t the caffeine. I drink plenty of caffeine (in tea, soda, and other things). Something in coffee, that is not caffeine, gives me a headache. For what it is worth, I like the smell of coffee. When I do drink it (in small quantities and very infrequently), I like coffee (when enough milk and sugar is added) enough to say that if I could drink it I’d probably be a cafe au lait type of guy.

So I drink tea. Iced tea. Hot tea. Lukewarm tea. A bunch of tea.

When I make tea, I prefer to use leaf tea and a diffuser. I don’t use bags very often. Tea bags are for when I am rushed. I keep a number of types of loose leaf tea around to satisfy the usual tea cravings I have. The usual suspects in my cupboard are: (the almost cliched) Earl Grey, English Breakfast, Scottish Breakfast, and Russian Caravan. (NB: I do love Russian Caravan tea. It is a strong full-bodied black tea that goes through periods of popularity. I wish it was more widely available when I want to buy it.) From time to time I will end up with something very posh like some “Des Steppes” from Petrossian in New York City. Sometimes friends travelling through London will drop off some loose Darjeeling (or Earl Grey) from Harrods, or Fortum & Mason.

If you notice, all these teas have something in common. They are all regular black teas. They aren’t herbals, or weird infusion teas. Those aren’t my style or preference.

As I mentioned, I come from a family of tea drinkers. Both my side of the family and my wife’s family have numerous tea drinkers. As you might imagine, tea is often a gift to members of the family and among family members. When tea is gifted within the family, it is always something the receiver would like. But when the tea comes into the family from outside is where one can go a little off the rails.

I recognize that gift-giving, thoughtful gift-giving certainly, is a tough job. So I appreciate that someone takes time to go to a store, look at various teas, and picks something out that they think will be well received. But often the choice of tea as a gift isn’t what the receiver really wants. They get a flavor that doesn’t sound appetizing or a description that doesn’t appeal to them. When someone gets tea that they don’t really like, it often finds its way to me. I am a sort of tea dumping ground.

I’ve become the tea dumping ground for a number of reasons. Firstly, I don’t mind free stuff. I don’t question the motivation of the giver and I try to be cheerful and thankful when I receive a gift. Secondly, I almost always accept foodstuffs without exception. Some people can be a little particular about accepting foodstuffs. Not me. Bring them on. Thirdly, people know that when they give me foodstuffs, I always use them. Even when I’m not sure about the foodstuff, I still try to consume it. I just can’t throw it away and I am generally committed to breaking the cycle of re-gifting. (NB: Breaking the cycle of re-gifting could be another topic all to itself.) I chalk up my inability to no consume food I’m given to my Catholic upbringing and being told that to waste food is sinful. Thus, when I am given food, I always consume (at least part) of it. As tea is a frequent gift in the family, I find myself often getting tea that I would never buy in a million years…

At any given time, you will find at least two (sometimes as many a six) teas that if you know me you would say to yourself, “Self, why does he have this tea in here?” These are teas that have made their way to me through re-gifting. The vast majority of these teas are herbals. They contain all sorts of fruits (peach, apricot, passionfruit, and “citrus”) or herbs (cinnamon, peppermint, lavender, and ginger). (Here is a whole page of them from Teavana.) Some of these teas have some sort of black tea leaf as a base. But many just seem to be an infusion of stuff that discolors and flavors hot water into something that is “tea” in the loosest sense of the drink.

This year has been one where I’ve done my best to get rid of all of these teas that have, through one means or another, been dumped here. Unless the tea is completely vile and noxious, I will use it all. As I said, I just can’t stand to throw it away. That being said, I have little “tricks” to make the tea disappear faster than it should. I have tea infusers of different sizes. I find myself using the largest one possible, and packing it as tightly as possible to utilize as much tea as possible to make a pot of tea. With some I find myself drinking half a pot of this tea, letting it sit for a while, then making a whole fresh pot rather than re-heating the remainder. (NB: I know that this might fly in the face of “not wasting food.” But I do it just the same.)

I’ve been rather successful at consuming the “unconventional” tea flavors this year. So successful in fact that I am, right now, drinking the last of the tea that has found its way to me. I am drinking the last pot of that tea as I type these words. Not only that, but I am thankful that the last pot of this tea is only the second pot of this tea that I can possibly make with the amount of tea that has been given to me. This tea is an herbal/fruity blend. It contains bits of dates and dried peaches (or apricots - I’m not sure). It also has the brightly colored petals of some sorts of flowers. I don’t believe there are any leaves of the camellia sinensis in this blend at all. In a few more minutes, this tea will be gone and I’ll be left with only plain ole Earl Grey in the cabinet.

That being said, Christmas is coming… And stockings will be stuffed… With tea…

Carry on.

A Link for your Edification

Greetings, loyal minions. Back in the heady days of blogging, some 15 years ago now, it was common for bloggers to link to entries on other blogs. Sometimes these links with be with comment, sometimes without. Your Maximum Leader’s moribund blog hasn’t linked another blogger in some time. This is going to be rectified right now.

A little while back there circulated around the interwebs an interview with Ta-Nehisi Coates on Vox.com. Your Maximum Leader listened to part of the podcast and read some of the piece. He can’t say that he fully digested either, because of the furor of the subject. Coates is a revolutionary waiting to happen. He is intellectually loaded and standing by. He awaits his moment to set the world straight through bloodshed. It makes your Maximum Leader shudder. There is danger in words and ideas on both ends of the political spectrum. One hopes that the dangers in both sides can be kept in check with clear thinking and civility.

Your Maximum Leader’s blogging friend FLG read the piece too. His reading of the piece caused him to remember some passages he’d read. They are worth your time. Take a moment and read FLG’s: Politics and the English Language. It is short and clear. Just as Orwell would have wanted it.

Carry on.

    About Naked Villainy

    • maxldr

    Villainous
    Contacts

    • E-mail your villainous leader:
      "maxldr-blog"-at-yahoo-dot-com or
      "maximumleader"-at-nakedvillainy-dot-com

    • Follow us on Twitter:
      at-maximumleader

    • No really follow on
      Twitter. I tweet a lot.

Spanking the monkey of injustice.

    Villainous Commerce

    Villainous Sponsors

      • Get your link here.

      Villainous Search