A three-dot column for dawg days

Posted Aug. 21, 2009, at 6:05 p.m.

The continuing national bar brawl over the direction that national health care reform should take may be the only game in town at the moment. But these waning hot and hazy dawg days of August, when anyone with any clout is on vacation, fairly shout for a change of pace.

Accordingly, it seems time for the lighter bill of fare that my semi-annual three-dot column of no redeeming social value represents.

Loyal readers know the drill: Random thoughts and dubious observations mixed and matched with little known facts and pursuits of the trivial, the conglomeration lashed together with the three dots of ellipsis that signal readers to be wary of a sudden leap in another direction …

Passing thoughts …

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When Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., demanded that a brigadier general testifying before her Senate committee stop calling her “ma’am” and start calling her “senator,” because it was a title she had “worked hard for,” The general fell victim to his military training — which advises officers to use “sir” or “ma’am” when addressing anyone higher than them in the chain of command — and replied, “Yes, ma’am.”

That he had the discipline to stifle the urge to tell the senator she could call him “sir” rather than “general” may be one small reason why he’s wearing a star on his shoulder and the rest of us are not …

If someone has an upset stomach you hardly ever hear them say they are suffering an attack of the “collywobbles,” as old people did back in the day. And a pity it is, for the language can always stand a dash of color …

President Bush, the elder, made a nice contribution to the genre after a parachute jump at Kennebunkport on his 84th birthday in mid-June. “Just because you’re an old guy, you don’t have to sit around drooling in the corner. Get out and do something,” was his advice. Many an old Yankee codger likely thought the president was trying to hornswoggle him into believing a bunch of flummydiddle …

Little-known factoids …

In the bedroom-office where I write, a large fake-canvas version of Western artist Frederic Remington’s great 1905 painting “The Smoke Signal” dominates one wall. My favorite of the Remington work I’ve seen, it depicts two Indian braves working a hillside fire to send smoke signals to unseen comrades off in the distance. A third brave sits astride his pony, bareback, Winchester rifle in hand, supervising the deal. I read some place that smoke signals sent from partway up a hillside indicated that the message was of a routine nature, while — presumably for routing purposes back at the main teepee — messages sent from nearer the hilltop were of top priority. That may be a bunch of hooey, but it seems like a good factoid to offer up should the conversation lag at your next backyard beer summit. In any event, since my guys are obviously sending their communication from the top of the rise I take it that they are not just blowing smoke …

True confessions of the rock-solid kind …

I’ve never stolen a rock from Acadia National Park while the government’s back was turned, so I don’t expect my name to show up on any federal rock police list of suspicious characters who bear watching. But I do have stashed in my garage several boxes of interesting rocks that I lifted off County potato farm rock piles in my Precambrian rockhound days. I don’t expect that the local farmers particularly care to have them back, although with the economy tanking and hard times upon us you never can tell, I suppose …

I’m never sure that I am doing this ellipsis stuff the way its inventors meant for it to be done. For one thing, I have doubts that it’s a literary idea whose time has come. For another, I keep wanting to revert to type by developing a narrative. But mainly I worry that I might confuse the copy editor assigned to do the final edit, causing the formerly ink-stained wretch to make a hash of things by inadvertently chopping me off in the middle of a …

BDN columnist Kent Ward lives in Limestone. Readers may reach him by e-mail at olddawg@bangordailynews.net.

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