this week i

estimated the expansion of affordable care act subsidy eligibility under the american rescue plan act

redeemed an ode to a roadside diner, we pirouetted past midnight mass.  mise en place at one a.m., then grilling et seule petite waffle-ironing around three, copeland's corral nocturne on the l.p.

watched a handful of george carlin's hbo specials

here's another bunch of pus-headed telephone cretins: these self-important techno-dicks who walk around with these hands-free telephone headsets and earpieces.  mr. self-important doesn't want to be too far from the phone in case henry kissinger calls.  he's got the dalai lama on line two.  i say, "hey, spaceman, as long as your hands are free, reach over and fondle my balls, would you?"

i have no ending for this so i take a small bow

received the rejects from laura's birthday surprise.  next time i'll buy her a lava lamp chandelier

read the pine barrens by john mcphee

the contents of this book originally appeared in the new yorker and were developed with the editorial counsel of william shawn and robert bingham


settlers in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries found these soils unpromising for farms, left the land uncleared, and began to refer to the region as the pine barrens


the woods have an undulating sameness, and the understory - huckleberries, sheep laurel, sweet fern, high-bush blueberry - is often so dense that a wanderer can walk in a fairly tight circle and think that he is moving in a straight line


caleb earle, company clerk in a furnace town called martha, kept a semi-official diary from march 31, 1808, to april 27, 1815.  it is terse and sporadic, averaging about sixty-five short entries a year, but it is the only contemporary record of life in a pine barrens town.  martha furnace was built in 1793, a few miles southeast of jenkins.  the furnace has long since collapsed, and a large earth-covered mound remains where a high double-walled pyramid of bricks once stood.  the spillway runs back to a broken dam on the oswego river at martha pond.  there were about fifty houses in the town, a central mansion, a school, and a small hospital - all interspersed with stands of catalpa trees, which were planted throughout the town and are about all that remains of it.  with the exception of the furnace mound, there is not a trace of a structure in martha now.  the streets are bestrewn with green and blue glittering slag, but they are indistinguishable from the sand roads that come through the woods from several directions to the town, and if it were not for the old and weirdly leaning catalpa trees, it would be possible to pass through martha without sensing its difference from the surrounding woodland.

january 4, 1809 - frost stopped furnace wheel several times

january 7, 1809 - ore teams hauled hay.  blew the furnace out at eight o-clock p.m.  all hands drunk.

april 20, 1809 - at twenty-five muntes past two o-clock p.m., put the furnace in blast.  delaney and cox fillers.  hedger putting in the ore.  donaghau banksman.

the voters drank metheglin (mead and water with a zest of herbs), cider royall (highly concentrated cider), mimbo (rum and muscovado sugar), straight rum, whiskey, gin, beer

new jersey pirates hauled so many of these ships into the pine barrens rivers that british hulls and scattered timbers are still in the riverbeds.  there is a dam at penny pot, on the great egg harbor river, that was made from salvaged ship timbers.  it was built to be nothing more than a cranberry dam, but it has in it seventy-five thousand dollars' worth of teak.  one new jersey sailor went out to sea in a small whaleboat with nine other men and came back into the mullica river with a british warship and a british brig, which were auctioned, like most of the new jersey prizes, at the forks, near batsto

mollie, according to miss kite, was "good-looking and sprightly, which fact, coupled with an utter lack of sense of decency, made her attractive even to men of otherwise normal intelligence."  when billie and all of their children were killed in a fire, mollie said cheerfully, "well, they was all insured.  i'm still young and can easy start another family."

pineys put salt over their doors to discourage visits from the witch of the pines, peggy clevenger..a man saw a lizard and tried to kill it by crushing it with a large rock.  when the rock hit the lizard, the lizard disappeared and peggy clevenger materialized on the spot and smacked the man in the face

a forest fire moves in a v, lick the wake of a ship.  the point of the v is called the head fire, and if it gets up into the tops of the trees it is also called a crown fire.  the sides of the v, which burn slowly outward, are called lateral fires, and they have to be fought by men with back tanks and shovels, for if lateral fires get far enough out to catch a wind of their own with fresh fuel in front of them, they can become new head fires

it is because of fire that pines are predominant in the pine barrens.  there is thought to be a progression in the development of any forest from pioneer species to climax trees.  most ecologists agree that if fire were kept out of the pine barrens altogether, the woods would eventually be dominated by a climax of black oaks, white oaks, chestnut oaks, scarlet oaks, and a lesser proportion of hickories and red maples.  in some areas, oaks dominate now.  fire, however, has generally stopped the march of natural progression, and the resulting situation is one that might be called biological inertia - apparently endless cycles of fire and sprouting.  fire favors the pine trees because they have thick bark that provides insulation from high temperatures, and also because burned ground is just about perfect for pine seedbeds.  oaks lose vigor when they are repeatedly burned.  they develop heart rot, and they die.  scarlet oaks go first, then chestnut oaks, then white oaks, then black oaks.  blackjack oaks are an exception and after a fire come back strong.  in an area where a fire has been extremely hot, the pines die and the blackjack oaks put out basal sprouts that grow to be the predominant trees in that section.  but, for the most part, fires are not that intense, and, working in behalf of the pitch and shortleaf pines, they clear out the competition

"the snappers grab the ducks by the feet and pulls them right under there, and in two or three minutes they drown and the snappers eats them.  the snappers catch big ducks."  snapping turtles in the pine barrens are sometimes a foot and a half long and almost as wide.  they weigh fifty pounds.  pineys trap them in fykes, and fry their delicious white meat

frogs are ventriloquists

when prospective buyers actually came to see the land, promoters tied pears and apples to the limbs of pine trees and stationed fishermen in small boats in pine barrens lakes with dead pickerel on the ends of their lines and instructions to pull the fish out of the water every ten minutes