The Church Mouse

Lurch the church mouse was as fat as a rat.  He had a pointed nose, a brown colored furry round body that was about the size of a baked potato, he featured very large ears and a long hairless tail that was the same length as his body.  Folks said that he was as fat as a rat, but everyone knows that mice and rats are different types of rodents, with rats generally being larger than mice, and they can be bald, scaly and cylinder-shaped, so Lurch was no rat.  People often would say that someone was as hungry as a church mouse, which was the same as saying that they were as hungry as a horse, or hungry as a bear, or hungry as a wolf which just meant that someone was very hungry.

If a person is famished, ravenous and starving then they might be hungry enough to eat a horse and maybe they may want to eat an entire elephant.  If a person is said to be as hungry as a horse, this means that they want some food, because they have not eaten for some time and they most likely have an uncomfortable or painful feeling in their stomach, which is causing it to make a growling sound.  Horses are constantly grazing and when a person eats a lot of food at a meal, they are said to be eating like a horse.  Wolves tend to eat a lot and they often gulp down their meals in a single bite, because they have these ferocious cravings, which makes them voracious, and as a result they desire and devoure great quantities of food. People that eat in a hurry are said to be wolfing down their food.  If you say that someone woofed down a meal, this is a specific kind of error that is called an egg corn, which is a term that developed after a woman called an acorn an egg corn.  Bears hibernate all winter long and when they are done hibernating, they are extraordinarily hungry.

Back to our church mouse, who never actually lived inside of a church, but because churches were not known for storing food, any mouse residing inside of a church, would most likely be very hungry mouse and Lurch did enjoy eating.  The moniker of being a church mouse stuck with him and apparently once you are a church mouse, then you are always considered to be a church mouse.  Being a church mouse is the highest title that Lurch ever reached and it is tradition for him to be called a church mouse, in much the same way as a former president would still be called Mr. President.

Lurch came from a big family and some of his cousins included the deer mouse, house mouse, field mouse, wood mouse, dormouse, spiny mouse and the zebra mouse.  Lurch was nocturnal, as he liked to sleep during the day.  He was also a domestic mouse who was very friendly toward humans and he made a good pet for the Biology teacher who kept him in a cage in her classroom.  The students enjoyed hearing him play and watching him foraging around in his cage and quite often they would let him out to run around the class.

It is a bit strange, but Lurch did not actually eat all that much cheese.  Mostly he ate fruits, seeds and grains, but being omnivorous, he could eat both plants and meat.  Lurch really liked to eat peanut butter and he would eat between 15 to 20 times a day.  Mice are a lot like humans in the way that their bodies and minds work.  This is why laboratories use mice as test subjects for medicines and other items that may be used on humans.  Nearly all modern medicine is tested on mice before they go to human medical trials.  Lurch had a cousin that was a lab mouse and he was happy to be the Biology pet, as long as they never discussed dissecting him in an experiment.

Biblical Snakes

Snakes (or serpents) get plenty of attention in the Bible, where they are mentioned over 80 times.  A snake is a deceptive creature or trickster, who promotes as good what God had forbidden, and who has also showed particular cunning when it tempted Eve to eat the apple, actually it was the Forbidden fruit of knowledge from the tree of good and evil.  In the Garden, the serpent was more crafty than any of the other wild animals the Lord God had made, being used by Satan to lie to Eve and lead her into disobedience. Adam soon followed and God punished both of them, telling them that they had to leave the Garden of Eden.  God cursed the snake saying, “Cursed are you above all livestock and all wild animals!  You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life.”  Every time a snake slithers on the ground, this is a reminder of the Fall of man and the effects of sin.

The snake will always be associated with sin.  The prophet Isaiah said, “They hatch deadly snakes and weave spiders’ webs.  Whoever falls into their webs will die, and there’s danger even in getting near them.” Jeremiah was speaking about Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon when he said, “Like a serpent he has swallowed us and filled his stomach with our delicacies, and then has spewed us out.”  Micah said, “They will lick the dust like a snake; they will come trembling out of their hiding places like reptiles slithering on the ground.”  Mark said, “They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.”  Luke said, “Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you.”

The Israelites wandered the wilderness for forty years after fleeing Egypt, until all the men who were of military age when they left Egypt had died, since they had not obeyed the LORD.  For the LORD had sworn to them that they would not see the land flowing with milk and honey which He had solemnly promised to give their ancestors.  The people of Israel exhibited every possible kind of despicable behavior, while God was constantly teaching them things about Himself and about their own sinfulness.  The people got discouraged, and in their unbelief and they began murmuring against Moses for bringing them into the wilderness.  The people spoke against God and Moses saying, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness?  For there is no food and no water, and we loathe this miserable food.”  It seems that they had forgotten it was their own sin that caused them to be there, and they tried to blame Moses for it. As a judgment against the people for their sin, God sent poisonous serpents into the camp, and people began to die.  This showed the people that they were the ones in sin, and they came to Moses to confess that sin and ask for God’s mercy.  When Moses prayed for the people, God instructed him to make a bronze serpent and put it on a pole so the people could be healed.

A rural snake-handling sect named The Church of God with Signs Following was founded in 1909 by George Went Hensley as an offshoot of the Pentecostal movement, and this faith spread from the backwoods of Tennessee down to mid-Florida over to West Virginia and even as far west as Columbus, Ohio.  Rev. George Went Hensley was an American Pentecostal minister, a native of rural Appalachia who was best known for popularizing the practice of snake handling.  On the basis of a literal interpretation of Scripture, he came to believe that the New Testament commanded all Christians to handle venomous snakes.  He took a rattlesnake box into the pulpit and reached in and lifted out the venomous viper, showing his faith to take God at his Word.  He then challenged his congregation to do the same and he eventually died from a snake bite.

In Ecclesiastes, it says, “If a snake bites before it is charmed, the charmer receives no fee.”  In Psalm, it says, “They spit venom like deadly snakes; they are like cobras that refuse to listen, ignoring the tunes of the snake charmers, no matter how skillfully they play.”  Snakes have no visible ear, so they don’t hear sounds the same way that people do, but they probably are not deaf.  They have vestiges of the apparatus for hearing inside their heads, and that setup is attached to their jaw bones, so they feel vibrations very well and may hear low-frequency airborne sounds.  When a snake charmer plays his flute to charm the serpent, it is most likely not reacting to the music, it is more likely just swaying to the movement of the charmer’s instrument.  The animal cannot actually hear the tune being played, even though it can perhaps feel some of the sound vibrations from the flute, as well as any tapping being done by the charmer.  The snake considers the snake charmer to be a threat and they respond to this as if it were a predator.

Snakes have no eyelids, so they approach their live meals without blinking.  Because of their limited vision, they will sometimes weave their heads from side to side, in what may appear to be a hypnotizing fashion. This is really just a way for snakes to gauge distance.  The cobra comes out of its basket once it sees the snake charmer’s pipe being waved menacingly above it.  Many snakes used by charmers have had their fangs removed or their mouths sewn shut to protect the charmer from getting bit by the agitated snake.  A snake without means of biting may seem to be in a trance, when he’s really just holding his ground.

Tying the Knot

Religious wedding vows are usually romantic and many people get married because they want to join an institution that is supported by their parents and grandparents.  This can be a positive step toward starting a new life that may be filled with the most wonderful and difficult parts that life will offer them.  It can be rewarding to recite special words that are written especially for this exciting occasion.  Reciting a wedding vow should strengthen the institution of marriage and allow your union to stand the test of time, by helping you survive great hardships, and also embrace enormous joy.

In the name of God, I, the dude, take thee, the chick, to be my lawfully wedded wife, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part, according to God’s holy ordinance in the holy bond of marriage.  I pledge to her my faith and pledge myself to God.  I will have this woman to be my wife so we can live together in the Holy Estate of matrimony.  I promise to be true to her and I will love and honor her and comfort her, and keep her, forsaking all others, and keep myself only unto her as long as we both shall live.  I will respect, trust, help, and care for her and I will share my life with her and I will forgive her as I have been forgiven by God.  I will try to better understand her, the world and my God.  Through the best and worst of what is to come, and as long as we live she will be my loving wife.  Loving what I know of her, trusting what I do not know yet, I will respect her integrity and have faith in her abiding love for me, through all our years, and in all that life may bring us.  I offer myself to her with my faults and my strengths.  I will help her when she needs my help, and turn to her when I need help.  I choose her as the person with whom I will spend the rest of my life.  I do promise and make this covenant, before God and these witnesses that this is my solemn vow.

FreeCell

The word solitaire is derived from the French and Latin words solitaries and they both come from solitary. I never liked the game solitaire very much, because 10 through 20 percent of the games are impossible to win right from the start, just because of the way the cards were shuffled for that hand.  The other problems with this games comes because you have to guess what each card is, since it is flipped over face down and you don’t know what you are working with.  That leaves countless opportunities for things to go wrong and thus it is hard to win.

Once I discovered the game FreeCell, I was hooked immediately.  I have played countless games of FreeCell and I have gotten very good at it.  I find playing FreeCell is a good way for me to pass my time and at the same time it helps me to sharpen my mind.  FreeCell requires me to do some mental planning and although it does feature a hint button for those players that get stuck, I never use that option.

FreeCell was released by Microsoft for Windows 3.1 and its original purpose was actually to test the 32-bit thunking layer (a data processing subsystem), which had been introduced as part of Win32s.  If the thunking layer was improperly installed, FreeCell wouldn’t run, so this so-called game was actually a stealth test of software systems.  On several occasions Microsoft tried to remove the free games from various Windows releases, but people complained because they had too much fun with them.

FreeCell is a one-deck solitaire card game.  All cards are dealt into 8 columns or piles.  Four Free Cells are located in the top left portion of the screen and four foundation piles where you build sets of clubs, diamonds, hearts or spades starting from the Ace and continuing up, are shown on top right hand portion.  The object of the game is to build up all cards on foundations from Ace to King by following suit.  You win when all 52 cards are moved there, 13 to a pile.

The top cards in the 8 columns or piles and the cards from the Free Cell area are available to play.  You can build column piles down by alternating color, thus any red card one value less can be placed on a black card.  So if you have a black king, then any red queen (either heart or diamond) can be placed on top of it.  Only one card at a time can be moved and the top card of any column pile can also be moved to any Cell. Each Free Cell (or Reserve space) may contain only one card.  Cards in the cells can be moved to the foundation piles or back to the column piles, if possible.  The rules state that you can move only one card at a time, but you can move group of cards in the proper sequence if you have enough free (empty) Cells and/or column piles.

For the cards displayed, you could move the Jack of Spades on to the Queen of Hearts and then put the Ten of Hearts on the Jack of Spades. The Six of Diamonds would go on to the Seven of Spades and now you start your mental planning.

Let Your Freak Flag Unfurl

David Crosby referred to long hair as being a freak flag in his song, ‘Almost Cut My Hair’.  A freak flag is worn by a person who exhibits unrestrained, unorthodox or unconventional in thinking, behavior, manners, or who espouses radical, nonconformist or dissenting views and opinions that are outside the mainstream.  The expression freak flag comes from the days of the hippies way back in the late 1960s, when men wore their hair long.  The hippies sometimes humorously referred to themselves as freaks, because they saw themselves as very different from mainstream culture.  They had long hair and wore unusual clothing and they enjoyed acting wild.

We are all weird in our own special ways and in the late 60’s and early 70’s, I was a hippie and I was not ashamed of my long hair, even though my Dad did not like it much.  A freak flag is something that would set you apart from others and this could be done with long hair or wearing bell bottom jeans or wearing love beads.  You did not have to do five hits of acid and climb up a flag pole naked to let your freak flag unfurl.

One song that always made me think about hippies was Signs by Five Man Electrical Band.

And the sign said “Long-haired freaky people need not apply”
So I tucked my hair up under my hat and I went in to ask him why
He said “You look like a fine upstanding young man, I think you’ll do”
So I took off my hat, I said “Imagine that. Huh! Me workin’ for you!”
Whoa-oh-oh

Sign, sign, everywhere a sign
Blockin’ out the scenery, breakin’ my mind
Do this, don’t do that, can’t you read the sign?

And the sign said anybody caught trespassin’ would be shot on sight
So I jumped on the fence and-a yelled at the house
“Hey! What gives you the right?”
“To put up a fence to keep me out or to keep mother nature in”
“If God was here he’d tell you to your face, man, you’re some kinda sinner”

Sign, sign, everywhere a sign
Blockin’ out the scenery, breakin’ my mind
Do this, don’t do that, can’t you read the sign?

Now, hey you, mister, can’t you read?
You’ve got to have a shirt and tie to get a seat
You can’t even watch, no you can’t eat
You ain’t supposed to be here
The sign said you got to have a membership card to get inside
Ugh!

And the sign said, “Everybody welcome.
Come in, kneel down and pray”
But when they passed around the plate at the end of it all
I didn’t have a penny to pay
So I got me a pen and a paper and I made up my own little sign
I said, “Thank you, Lord, for thinkin’ ’bout me.  I’m alive and doin’ fine”
Wooo!

Sign, sign, everywhere a sign
Blockin’ out the scenery, breakin’ my mind
Do this, don’t do that, can’t you read the sign?
Sign, sign, everywhere a sign
Sign
Sign, sign

Early TV

A recent survey reveled that the typical American spends from two-and-a-half to almost five hours watching television every day.  Early television was quite primitive, as there was no cable, no remote control and no color TV.  After World War II, around 1949 Americans who lived within range of the growing number of television stations in the country could watch, for some shows like, The Texaco Star Theater (1948), starring Milton Berle, or the children’s program, Howdy Doody and by 1951 there were 12 million TV sets and by 1955 half of all U.S. homes had one.

Color sets started appearing in the United States by late 50’s, but the market was slow because they were expensive and hardly any shows were being broadcast in color.  In 1964 color broadcasting began on prime-time television with the three major networks ABC, CBS and NBC.  Shows were forced to convert from black-and-white programming to color and these included, The Wild, Wild West, Gilligan’s Island, The Andy Griffith Show, I Dream of Jeannie and Bewitched.

Before cable TV came along, people picked up their signal from broadcast antennas and picture quality was not always great.  People living in cities got better pictures, because they were a lot closer to the signal broadcast, but still it was nothing like we have today.  Pre-solid state TVs were finicky, and required lots of fiddling, tube-testing and finger-crossing in addition to any antenna adjustments.  Early cathode ray tube televisions were constantly grainy, fuzzy, foggy and out-of-focus and even distorted.  They broke down a lot and these sets always had to be repaired.

Helter Skelter

The compound word willy-nilly has a similar meaning to that of helter skelter, as they are both actions done without definite aim, direction, rule, or method.  In the summer of 1969, in Los Angeles, a series of brutal, seemingly random murders captured headlines across America, when a famous actress Sharon Marie Tate Polanski (and her unborn child), were found murdered along with four other people at her Los Angeles home.  Sharon Tate was an heiress to a coffee fortune, and a supermarket owner and his wife were among the seven victims.  The gruesome crime, in which the killers scrawled messages on the walls with the victims’ blood, sent Hollywood into a state of panic.  A thin trail of circumstances eventually tied the Tate-LeBianca murders to Charles Manson, a would-be pop singer of small talent, a career criminal and cult leader living in the desert with his ‘family’ of devoted young women and men.  Manson and his followers lived together on the outskirts of L.A. in a commune where drug use and orgies were common, and he was later convicted for the murders.

Charles Manson often spoke to the members of his Family about Helter Skelter, an apocalyptic war arising from racial tensions between blacks and whites.  The term Helter Skelter came from the Beatles song of that name, which referred to the British amusement-park ride of that name that featured built in a slide in a spiral around a high tower, but it was interpreted by Manson as being concerned with this race war.

Helter Skelter

When I get to the bottom
I go back to the top of the slide
Where I stop and turn
And I go for a ride
Till I get to the bottom and I see you again
Do you, don’t you want me to love you?
I’m coming down fast but I’m miles above you
Tell me, tell me, tell me, come on tell me the answer!
Well you may be a lover but you ain’t no dancer
Go Helter Skelter
Helter Skelter
Helter Skelter
Yeah
Will you, won’t you want me to make you?
I’m coming down fast, but don’t let me break you
Tell me, tell me, tell me the answer!
You may be a lover but you ain’t no dancer
Look out!
Helter skelter
Helter skelter
Helter skelter
Look out!
‘Cause here she comes
When I get to the bottom I go back to the top of the slide
And I stop and I turn
And I go for a ride
And I get to the bottom and I see you again
Yeah, yeah
Well do you, don’t you want me to make you?
I’m coming down fast but don’t let me break you
Tell me, tell me, tell me your answer
You may be a lover but you ain’t no dancer
Look out!
Helter skelter
Helter skelter
Helter skelter
Look out!
Helter skelter
She’s coming down fast
Yes she is
Yes she is
Coming down fast
I got blisters on my fingers