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Sunday, August 30, 2009

My 2 Cents

I noticed some few weeks ago that the Maverick Philosopher had had a discussion -- so to speak -- concerning his recent decision (which I hadn't known of until then) to disallow comments on his blog -- Maverick Philisopher: Allow Comments or Not.

Here is my 2 ¢ on the matter:

Disallowing blog-comments is a good idea -- for Mr Vallicella -- as he doesn't play well with others.

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'Compassion' and Justice

I mean someday to post an essay on the relationship -- and inevitable tension -- between 'justice' and 'mercy.'

While that is not his focus, in the 'Grave injustice' essay, David Warren makes some good points in that regard. And, specifically, he draws attention to the (modern "liberal") project to substitute 'compassion' for both justice and mercy, which project must always pervert both justice and mercy and increase injustice.

Concerning the release of the Lockerbie terrorist --
David Warren: Grave injustice
David Warren: Sophistications

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This is what 'Blood For Oil' really looks like.

KairosFocus: Matt 24 watch, 88: REAL blood for oil deals

I'd read about the deal for the release of the Lockerbie bomber, but I failed to make the "blood for oil" connection.

Here are a couple of recent news items on this --
Times Online: Secret letters reveal Labour’s Libyan deal
Times Online: Lockerbie bomber 'set free for oil'

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Saturday, August 29, 2009

Off The Beaten Path

My house is off the beaten path. And, somewhat paradoxically, it may not be far enough from the beaten path. It's also close to the center -- I mean that quite literally -- of a city of about 50,000. I'll explain this seeming paradox in a bit.

Just to give you some idea of what I started with, these first two images were taken in late December of 1986, about a month and a half before I bought the place. I bought it on a Friday the 13th; and I paid off the mortgage on the same date ... though, I'd have needed to wait for the next anniversary to get another Friday the 13th.

To be blunt, I bought the place for the land -- two and a half isolated and wooded acres on a hill overlooking the city center -- rather than for the house. I didn't particularly like the house when I bought it (you should have seen what it was like on the inside), and I'd never done any construction or re-construction -- my attitude was "Well, if this doesn't work out with me trying to rebuild this place, I can always have the house pushed over the hill and another built by people who know what they're doing."

As you're doubtless happy to know, the house does look much differently these days.

And for the past month I've been making (yet another) addition to it; that's one of the reasons I haven't blogged all month.

What I've been doing is building a roof over the patio located beside the far window on the left (the window is now a pseudo-French door, as perhaps may be seen in the image below). I'd have preferred to leave the patio open to the sky; among other things, it will reduce the light coming into the livingroom and the "great room." But the roof is necessary: in the winter, the water held in the gravel and sand beneath the patio's paving is freezing and the weight and pressure is pushing out the retaining-wall. If I don't do something to keep water out of the substrata, within a few years the whole thing will come tumbling down.

Though, now that the patio has a roof, that's good too; it's an area of about 13x21 feet, which ought to be a nice area for being outside even when it's raining.

This picture was taken at night (I'm sorry about the terrible quality) around Christmas of, I think, 1992. At any rate, that's the very latest it can have been taken. This picture doesn't show the additions, which were made after that. I include it because I really like how the house looked at that time.

It was with a view similar to this, though further to the left with respect to this image (and a couple of hundred feet farther away), perhaps a year and a half after I bought the place that I suddenly began to see the house as an attractive building and not just a monstrosity of a dump I'd saddled myself with. I was walking up out of the woods past the far side yard. Due to the lay of the land, the house wasn't visible at first, but as I climbed, it coyly presented itself to me, and I was hooked.

These next three images were taken one April morning in 2001.

This is pretty much what the front of the house looks like today, except that the plantings just on the other side of the car are more mature -- or, depending on your point of view, over-grown. To the left of the front door, you can just see the corner of one addition (which even today I haven't finished). I suppose you could call it a "great room," when I do complete it.

In this image, the "great room" and the "sun room" additions are (just barely) visible. The pile of dirt is from an excavation I'd just had done so that I could put in a foundation on which to eventually build an attached garage.

If you'd like to see a larger version, click on the image.

This image was taken directly to the east of the house, showing the "great room" and the "sun room" additions, along with the east side of the patio's retaining wall. The roof I'm building over the patio basically extends the roof which juts out on the south side of the "great room."

One last picture, from December of 1997, with a better view of where I'm currently working. Much of the area where the "great room" sits was originally going to be part of the patio. That is, the patio was originally going to be two to three times the size it is.

Now, about that seeming paradox of being both off the beaten path and yet not far enough off it --

As I mentioned above, I live near the city-center. But, due to the lay-of-the-land, most people don't even know that the property is here. And, due the property's size and isolation -- on all sides, I have the back-sides of other people's properties between mine and the public streets -- it's almost like being out in the country. In the summer, after the trees leaf-out, I can't easily see any other houses. Though, I still can sometimes hear the traffic from a main street nearby. And I can hear the dogs from many blocks around, some of which are allowed to mindlessly barks for hours at a time. Or, perhaps I ought to have said, "... some of which mindlessly are allowed to barks for hours at a time."

So, I'm in the middle of a city ... and sometimes I see deer in my yard or hiding in the woods. Always before, they've been young ones, I presume trying to find a place to live. The other day, just a day or two after I'd started the latest construction, I was outside early and saw a fully grown deer running through the yard. A neighbor from down the hill came up later that day, I suppose to check out the noise (and also to ask for permission for his son-in-law to drive a bobcat through my yard so he could get to the backside of his property to haul out some lumber), and mentioned that he'd seen both a grown dear and a young one together. Also, I think they ate his garden (which is half-way up the hill from his house), despite the fence around it.

There a woodchucks living here. And opossums. And raccoons. 'Possums are ugly, but they leave you alone. Woodchucks are nasty, and they stink, and they like to eat your garden -- they're the reason the neighbor's is fenced and why I gave up. And the raccoons are always trying to get into my attic. I think (knock on wood) that I've finally got them blocked from doing so.

There are squirrels, of course; both red and grey. In the past year or two, I've been seeing the black variety of the eastern grey squirrel. Squirrels also like to try to get into the house; I call 'em "fuzzy-tailed tree-rats."

There is always at least one pair of crows around here. In the early spring, they almost always discover an owl or hawk roosting in a tree here. They always chase it off.

In the winter, crows like to congregate by the thousands in the local trees -- it's a real mess when they choose the ones around the driveway. I've generally been able to discourage them -- what you do is wait until they're settled-in for the night, then startle them with loud and abrupt noise; the more it sounds like gunfire, the better, I think. Do that for a couple of evenings and they generally decide to find a less disturbing place.

But, they always seem to try again the next year -- apparently, from something I read in the local paper, they've been congregating in this area for as long as there are records. This was mentioned in an article explaining why there was a man firing off a noise-cannon ... at city expense. But, it was being done during the day, when most of the crows are out looking for food. It was also in the fall, rather than in the winter. It wasn't too effective and was tried only the once.

Also, I'm starting to fear that some skunks have taken up residence. For the past year or two, I'll sometimes be awakened in the middle of the night by the stench of skunk.

Pretty countrified, huh? Pretty much what you'd expect of a place off the beaten path, right? And yet ...

The only *easy* way to get onto the property is via the driveway. All the other ways involve climbing steep slopes (frequently, long steep slopes), and generally involve trespassing on someone else's property before the trespasser can get onto mine.

When I have materials delivered ... or when I ask the police to come out ... the person almost always says, "Wow! I didn't even know this place was here!"

And yet ... there are still people trespassing from time to time; the house was even broken into once (this doesn't include the neighbor kids who tried to break in after I'd first closed the place back up after I bought it).

For instance, a couple of days after I saw the deer running across the yard, I was out working on the construction (which is on the far back side of the house), and what should I see but some total stranger walking right past where I'm working. When I mentioned that this was private property, he held up his hands as though I were pointing a gun at him ... and he kept going. Then, just a minute or two later, a cop walks by and asks whether I'd seen some guy walking through.

I suspect that the fellow who burgled me ten years ago was a similar case. One of the cops who came out to see whether there was any evidence (I pretty much had to insist that they come over and *try* to find some evidence) just happened to mention that he'd hadn't known the place was here until he'd chased some guy through just a few days prior. These cops had just a few minutes before asked me whether I knew any one who'd have broken into my house -- I understand that's a standard question, but it was still offensive -- so, I'm thinking, "OK. What about that fellow you chased a few days ago? You have the car he was driving when you pulled him over for that routine traffic stop; unless the car was stolen, you ought to have a pretty good idea who he is. Should he not be a prime suspect?"

And there are always kids trespassing, generally just being kids, which is to say, getting into things and sometimes appropriating things. Yet, let them hurt themselves and you just know the parent(s) will try to make it my fault, despite that I've probably chased that same kid off at least once already.

On the other hand, a few years ago, quite by chance, I happened to find three kids, aged about ten to twelve, up on the roof of the double garage (there used to be another house up here, that garage was for that house) -- ripping up the aluminum drip-edge to sell as scrap!

Update (2010/06/01):
I got within about 10 feet of this little fellow before he spooked the second time (his first spooking alerted me that he even existed). So, his Momma and elder sister(?) took up residence in my neighborhood last summer, and now there is him.

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