Marsha and humble September 30, 2007




Thank you for visiting.
Below is a rough outline of the rants from The humble Farmer radio show week of October 25, 2009




Thank you for your support.

+

Rants October 25, 2009

+

1. I have been reading Greek plays to Marshaís dear little grandchildren --- you know, to set them on the right track academically speaking. And now, were you to ask them to name the fattest king in Thebes, they would shout, ďAdipose Rex.Ē

+

2. Hereís a letter from my friend David that might command your attention. Iím passing it along to you without my usual commentary. Do with it what you will. If youíd like a copy of this letter, you know that you can get a copy of the script for this show by asking for my Whine and Snivel Newsletter. Iím humble at humblefarmer dot com David says: As a young man I was lucky to be a fly on the wall at many interesting discussions between prominent developmental biologists. My dad was Director of the Dept. Of Embryology at the Carnegie Institution of Washington, located on the Johns Hopkins campus, and a member of the National Academy of Sciences. In the 60's and 70's there was a great controversy about whether scientists in general should ever work for the government or private industry. The atom bomb, DDT, Zyclon B, and Napalm came up frequently. Along came Rachel Carson. It became apparent that the agriculture industry employed scientists without moral scruples to produce defoliants and insecticides that were poisonous to mankind. One of my father's very best friends, and a collaborator on a biology textbook, Howard Schneiderman, came to my father for advice. He was making the rounds of his friends to see what they would think of him if he went to work for Monsanto. He did not want to be ostracized for going over to the enemy; he wanted his purpose well known if he went to work for them. Howard had what he felt was an answer to The Silent Spring. He would go to work for industry, and change the culture from the inside. Instead of making environmental poisons, he would breed plants that were naturally resistant to pests. This way they could stop spraying. While they were at it, since the most famine plagued regions of the world were areas of severe, recurrent drought, he'd also breed drought resistent plants, and hardier winter crops for Canada and Siberia. His intentions were noble, but he needed access to billion-dollar budgets that were not available in universities. He became the Research and Development Vice President/Director for Monsanto. Today, billions of tons of poisons are NOT sprayed on our food, because of Howard Schneiderman and a handful of other men and women like him. Untold millions of poor people across the globe find subsistence because of hardy corn, wheat and rice crops that would not exist except for Howard. He singlehandedly opened up a a whole new era for agriculture by pioneering a new, quicker way of breeding new plants, instead of going through the age-old process of seed selection and plant culling to reinforce beneficial genetic traits. Monsanto, under his direction, was years ahead of other poisoners like DuPont, and led the field to "safer pastures". The danger of "Frankenfoods" is far outweighed by the benefits. It's not monster science, it's just accelerated plant breeding. Should we protect heirloom seed varieties? Absolutely. Are gene-altered foods dangerous? Absolutely not. Your choice- poison, starvation, or gene altered plants.

+

3. And here is part of a letter from Al. Al says: If you follow a woman, she will lead you to food. It's a survival tactic, like following a small stream to a bigger stream and eventually to civilization, if you started out lost. This can be used as a beginning or another part of lots of stories.

+

4. Hereís the second part of Alís letter: The older you get, the more people there are who don't know what they are doing. This came to me while standing in line at Sears, waiting to pick up a new stove. (going unsaid:) This assumes you gain wisdom and don't get passed too quickly by those younger folk. The stuff we know and expect others to know, well that just gets worse all the time. You have to wait for them to "get it", or tell them or whatever. It gets real old, having to put up with those who are behind us in knowledge and understanding. From Al

+

5. If you heard me read the letter from Al a few minutes ago, you might recall that he said that when you get old sometime you have to wait for people to get it --- to understand what is said. You know that I have worked for years to write stories that require a bit of thought. That is, I enjoy telling the kind of stories that some people might not understand right off. Some people might have to hear the story again or say it over again in their minds before they get it. This kind of story is called a dry story. I like dry stories and here is an example. If you have young grandchildren who come to visit you from time to time, you might be familiar with the $300 worth of little yellow plastic ducks in the bathtub problem. Do you have grandchildren? Are you familiar with this $300 worth of little yellow plastic ducks in the bathtub problem? Where do you hide them before they come?

+

6. You have heard me whine and snivel about the fact that I am 73 years old and look and feel every day of it. You have also heard me say that there are many wonderful foods that I do not eat. This is because I donít want to be one of those old people who have been everywhere and done everything and are, therefore, bored with life. I am saving many culinary thrills for my 80s. You might also know of social experiences which you have postponed --- you know, so you could experience them for the first time at a later age --- that come upon you unwanted, and unexpectedly and you know that I am about to give you an example. If you will look up Ventimiglia in Wikipedia, you will read that Ventimiglia is a popular destination during the summer for tourists spending their vacation along the French Riviera. You might also know that Ventimiglia is also where one changes trains at the French-Italian border, and on a recent sunny day while stepping off a train in Ventimiglia, someone stole my wallet.

+

7. Did you hear me just mention that a pickpocket got my wallet? How, you might ask, could anyone be so stupid as to let a pickpocket reach into his pants pocket and remove his wallet? You know that I carry my wallet on my left front pant leg. It was obvious to anyone interested that my wallet was there. I had probably been under observation on the train since at least the last stop. I even knew when it happened. I saw them do it. When getting off the train someone blocked me in the front, another blocked me on my left side and another one blocked and pushed me on my right side. At the same instant someone else even distracted everyone on my far left side with a loud pop, like a plastic soda bottle being scrunched. It was exactly like an intricately choreographed ballet. You have heard me tell that 30 years ago while foolishly roaming the streets of Casablanca at midnight, I hit a mugger beside the head with my suitcase. Even at 73 I would still be a challenge for your basic wimpy mugger, but from having savored the experience and from a superficial perusal of the topic, I can almost guarantee that if you are marked by a gang of pickpockets, there is no escape. Might I suggest that at the end of this broadcast you research pickpocketing on Google. You are listening to your buddy The humble Farmer with yet another public service announcement. Iím humble at humblefarmer dot com and you could help all our friends by telling us about your experience with pickpockets, here or abroad.

+

8. Picking pockets is an age old occupation which has been polished to a fine art. You always read about cutpurses in Shakespeare, but in recent years picking pockets has become an exacting science. In Shakespeare one reads, ďTo have an open ear, a quick eye, and a nimble hand, is necessary for a cutpurse.Ē A cutpurse is now called a pickpocket. When purses were worn suspended from a strap, that is, like many women carry their pocketbooks now, thieves cut the string by which the purse was attached; but when pockets were adopted, and purses were no longer hung on the strap, the thief was no longer a cutpurse, but became a pickpocket. The would-be mugger I hit beside the head with a suitcase 30 years ago was a cutpurse. My companion had a purse over her shoulder and when I heard him running up behind us and heard his switchblade click open, I swung the suitcase around without even looking. He fled. My wife says it was probably my breath.

+

9. Public service announcements on this broadcast. Thank you for listening to The humble Farmer here on your favorite station. I would not be surprised if cell phones now made pickpockets even more efficient than they were even 30 years ago. But let me tell you what I have observed, after losing my wallet and reading up on the art of picking pockets. Iíve had time to brush up on the topic and over the past couple of weeks have even made some personal observations. Now that Iím aware of it, I can stand in an airport or train station and within a few minutes tell you exactly in which pocket a person is carrying something valuable. If you look at people in an airport or train station, you can tell where they keep their money and valuables because their hand continually moves to that place. They pat that place. While licking my wounds I saw a man walking to a seat in an airport. I could see on his back pocket the outline of his wallet --- which he carried in a horizontal position instead of the usual vertical position --- and I saw him reach back over his rear end and pat his wallet with his hand, effectively broadcasting to anyone who was interested: hey look all you pickpockets --- hereís my wallet.

+

10. Please donít lose your wallet to a pickpocket. Iíve been to Europe to see friends and relatives perhaps 20 or more times over the past 50 years so I didnít think it could happen to me. When I was 24 I lived in Europe for six months. Iíve been down to Italy several times, and 30 years later can still see in my mind the nice Italian man who ran toward us, waving over his head my companionís pocketbook, which she had left on the train. Yes, most people everywhere are honest. Youíd have something that resembled our health care system if they werenít. But read the guide books on Italy. It says to avoid the train stations --- hard to do if youíre traveling with a eurail pass. Bad guys hang out in the train stations where they wait for you. When you read about Naples in the guide books, it says to watch out for pickpockets. Well, at least we were prepared for pickpockets. Before we left home, I took everything out of my wallet except my driverís license and one credit card. I left all that other trash home. I didnít even want to take my medicare card and some other health card, but the boss insisted. So I had four little cards to carry with me in my wallet. I put them all on my copy machine along with my passport, and took pictures of all of them. Then I stuffed that picture into a little plastic zip bag which I suspended from my neck under my T shirt. Big mistake. I should have put the picture in a suitcase and the originals in the little plastic bag that lived under my shirt. Because we can only afford to go to Europe by sponging off friends and relatives for a place to sleep and food, we only needed enough cash to buy hotdogs at when we had a layover to change trains. So I had that in the bag around my neck, too.

+

11. The police and the bankers who helped me report our stolen passports and credit cards bent over backwards to be helpful. Please remember what Iím about to say. Donít think that you can simply call the number that the credit card people tell you to call to report a stolen credit card. Even the number that turned up on the Internet did not work for me. It took me and a very helpful bank clerk around an hour to cancel my stolen Visa card. The woman in the bank very patiently called number after number and, in a desperate attempt to get rid of me, finally called the supervisor of the banking system to get a number for Visa that actually worked. I know the number visa gives you to call doesnít work because I tried it several times myself when the teller at the bank loaned me her phone. I repeat. You stand in a bank in Italy and call the number that Visa says to call to report a stolen card, and it doesnít work. When you travel --- especially abroad --- please put anything you donít want to lose in a pouch and carry it under your shirt. If you think that sounds uncomfortable, imagine yourself spending part of your vacation sitting up all night in a police station with no money, no credit card, no passport, where the only language you have in common with the Italian police officer is German. Va schlim ist.

+

12. Did you know that there are entire offices in American Embassies abroad that do nothing but replace stolen passports for careless Americans? While on American soil in Marseille getting temporary passports, the people next to us in line were Americans who had lost their passports to a purse snatcher. She was sitting in her car with the door open. A nasty punk tore off her purse and hurt her arm before disappearing on a motorcycle. The nicer punks cut the straps so they donít hurt you. As you have heard me say, Iíve been to Mexico and Europe and Africa and Harlem and Times Square and South Station in Boston and Iíve never been taken before. Thatís because I was lucky. Of course, living where we do, you could leave your wallet on a counter in a store or drop it in the middle of the road and very likely get it back the next day. Iíve returned three found wallets myself. So when we take a trip, we really donít think weíll be robbed. Think about this: They took my wallet because I was careless. But if they get it again, it will be because I am foolish.

+

13. For the past hour or so weíve been talking about the gang of pickpockets --- there must have been more than two of them --- that filched my wallet as I got off a train in Ventimiglia, which as you well know is the Italian border town down Monaco way. Now the bad news. A few days after my wallet was lifted, my companionís wallet mysteriously disappeared from her pocketbook. So both of us were plucked clean. The bad news is that instead of in a pouch under my shirt where it should have been, my passport was in her pocketbook. Who do you suppose could get close enough to my wife to unzip the pouch that hung around her neck and remove the pocket book therein? I strongly suspect a cheerful woman of about 40 who plunked --- and I say plunked because she made a big deal of plunking herself down and squirming in a cheerful friendly fashion between another girl on the bench (who might have been a plant) and my wife. I suspect it was to get my wife accustomed to the body contact. I was back to back with this woman when she sat down and she kind of squirmed until I got up and went away. I heard this woman talking about an exchange student she had in her home for six months. She was pulling a brand new square suitcase on wheels which she kept against her knees and, as I recall, she had a coat over the handle and her lap. I strongly suspect that one of her hands was also under that coat and that it found its way into my wifeís pocketbook. So. I mention this as a public service. If you think about this and act accordingly the next time you travel or go out in crowds, all my babbling about pickpockets over the past hour will have been worthwhile. And, in closing, you might also want to think about this. When we got on the train and Marsha the meticulous first discovered her pocketbook missing, she was so upset she could hardly breathe. I simply took her hand and laughed and said that it was only paper. Paper can be replaced. Who steals my purse steals trash; But he that filches from me my good name Robs me of that which not enriches him, And makes me poor indeed.

+

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NNv3rVV1mfs Radio friend Rich sent us this you tube site. You will remember that I went out on Mumbles for years. It is so logical and perfect and amazing. You know that I like structure and logic when Iím listening.

+


Return to top.


Robert Karl Skoglund
785 River Road
St. George, ME 04860
(207) 226-7442
humble@humblefarmer.com
www.TheHumbleFarmer.com

© 2010 Robert Karl Skoglund