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On Dragons, By Dragons (Part 2)

Image result for chinese dragon

So far: Donnie Dragon asked his father why people don’t believe that dragons exist. His father is explaining how they became invisible. Part 1 is here.

The next night, Donnie asked his father to continue his story.

For many years, the dragons thought they had a safe home in Asia. Then they noticed something.

Every time a dragon was sick, a crowd of people appeared. If the dragon recovered, they went home. If the dragon died, a few people would wait for the bones to turn to ash and collect them.

Image result for dragon medicine

The humans believed that the bones had special powers they could use. The dragons were offended that they could not mourn in private. The dragons were angry, but the people would not stop.

Things were different in the West. For some reason, those people decided that we were evil from the beginning. It may have been the result of a couple of unfortunate incidents in England.

First, a sick dragon was flying home. He sneezed and accidentally set a village on fire. The humans decided that it was intentional, and dragons could not be trusted.

Then a young male dragon fell in love with a beautiful human girl. He took her to his lair against her will. Her father killed the dragon and took his daughter home.

Image result for knight fighting dragon

It was a huge scandal. The humans used the event as more proof that dragons could not be trusted. The dragons were angry that the humans killed one of them without asking why it happened.

The stories spread from one human village to another. With each telling, the story got worse. Eventually, people believed that the dragon had come down from his lair and set the village on fire. In the confusion, he had kidnapped all the young women and took them home to eat. Only the courage of one man had saved them.

Image result for dragon eating

Donnie interrupted his father.

Donnie: But we don’t eat humans. Mama says they’re too fatty and not good for us.

Dad: I know. But it was too late to reason with them.

He continued the story.Image result for medieval village

Every time someone disappeared from a village, it was blamed on the dragons. We moved further and further away, but it was always the same story.

Some “brave” human would track down a dragon, lure the dragon close, and put a spear through his throat. Then the human would cut off the tail (no bones) and take it home. They never brought back the missing person because they “had arrived just as the dragon finished eating.”

The dragons sent a representative to town. He was trying to straighten out the situation. But as soon as he landed, he was attacked. He barely escaped with his life.

Image result for meddle not in the affairs of dragons for you are crunchy and good with ketchup

A bookseller created a warning sign for the dragons to put at the entrance to their lairs, but it didn’t do any good. It was written in English, but the villagers couldn’t read.

Donnie: What’s ketchup?

Dad: I’m not sure. I think it’s a sauce to make humans taste better.

The dragons left for a place called Wales. Those people were much friendlier to them. But the situation was not good. The dragons were afraid all the time.

The Western dragons and Eastern dragons met high in the mountains of Asia. They decided that there was probably no way to repair the relationship with the humans.

Image result for dragon reading a book

Because dragons are generally peace-loving creatures, they tried to find a non-violent solution. They looked through the Book of Spells. Finally, they found one that would make them invisible.

Some of the Eastern dragons weren’t happy with the solution. They had human friends they would have to leave. But there was no other answer.

Image result for tibetan mountains

The dragons decided that they would all live together in those mountains. And here we are.

Donnie:  Do you think the humans will ever be able to see us again?

Dad: I’m afraid not. The spell can’t be reversed.

Donnie: That’s good. I don’t want to set someone on fire just to keep my tail.

Image result for and they lived happily ever after

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2

At Sixes and Sevens

I love this phrase because it’s just obscure enough that people think they should know what it means. (To be in a state of confusion or disarray.)

This post was intended to be about things that give me pause, but while checking on the phrase’s origin, I found some things to add to the list.

I had thought that the expression referred to numbers in a game of chance that were the riskiest and therefore led the gambler to some confusion about whether or not to make the bet.

That is true, but the better story comes from the possible second origin. I am still slightly at sixes and sevens about the whole thing.

England has something called an order of precedence for their livery companies. A livery company is a trade association and does not have anything to do with horses (which confused me very much the first time I read through the description of the dispute.)

The livery of Merchant Taylors (tailors) and the livery of Skinners were both chartered in 1327. They became the sixth and seventh trade associations in England. There is no surviving record of which was chartered first, but they started fighting about it almost immediately. Wouldn’t they have had to be chartered at the same place? Did someone bribe the clerk to change a date? The English were pretty fussy about their hierarchies.

It got so bad that in 1484 the Lord Mayor of London, Sir Robert Billesden, decided that at the Feast of Corpus Christi (how many know when that is?) the associations would swap places and feast in each other’s halls. It seems to be that skinners and tailors would attract a completely different type of crowd. Perhaps leg of boar one year and pheasant the next? Whiskey and mead? I love the mayor’s title.

The associations still swap places every year. They are still known as liveries. Both are part of the Great Twelve City Livery Companies (the top 12 in the listing). Sadly, the armor makers did not make the cut. English hierarchy remains alive and well in 21st century Britain.

One last note: the liveries maintain the word “worshipful” in their title (e.g., Worshipful Company of Fishmongers – #4). It’s not clear who they were worshipping, God or King. I think it was basically the same at the time. I would guess neither today. We just don’t have that kind of tradition here in the U.S.

Why do medieval English feasts always make me think of a bunch of people sitting around in the semi-dark eating greasy joints of some animal? Somebody there had to be eating the rest of it.

Moving on:

Was there anyone else whose first reaction to last week’s mega-storm on the east coast was to make sure it wasn’t going to hit them before it got to its destination? And be happy that it was going somewhere else?

Do politicians running for President get as tired of listening to themselves as the rest of us do? I think it should be like Family Feud: two candidates go head to head to see who can guess what Americans really want. Then they’ll know what they should promise (well aware that they won’t be able to do it.)

Why would someone come into a mega-store and ask whether we carry Amazon Fire Sticks? Do they not understand the concept behind Amazon?

Also unclear on the concept: the lady who returned her slow cooker saying that it cooked too slowly. (Yes, it did work correctly.)

If an airline can claim that they have arrived on-time even though they have to sit in queue for an hour and a half, why doesn’t that principle apply for arriving for the meeting they scheduled around your flight?

It’s ironic that they originally built Washington, D.C. on a swamp. I think some of the original residents may still be wandering the government halls.

I did not realize that there are Lego sets now that need to be locked down because they cost more than $100.

I think I need to buy one of the tablets they make for toddlers. They look totally indestructible.

How many kids appreciate (or can even see) the color gradations in a 156-color box of Crayons?

Why can you buy (really) inferior brands of chocolate at Christmas, Valentine’s Day, and Easter that are not available the rest of the year? Is it just a sideline for a wax company?

Is your beloved cheap, broke, or chocolate-blind if he/she buys you one of those atrocities? Is it worse to be cheap or chocolate-blind?

Why can’t I find any cards to send for Groundhog Day?

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It’s the American Way

There’s a form of punishment called Chinese Water Torture. The basic idea was to drip water onto the person’s forehead until they were driven to confess.

For some reason, that came to mind when I was thinking about Tuesday’s election.

We don’t live in a large metropolitan area, so our candidates are not the ones taking out expensive ads on local TV stations. It’s probably just as well. After the last 2+ year Presidential election cycle, I’ve learned to tune out any ad that starts with people talking in “significant tones”.

Of course, that means that I don’t watch the gubernatorial ads either. I wonder what happened to that silly idea about people interviewing candidates and presenting their views on various issues?

A candidate came around door-to-door meeting voters a couple of weeks ago. It’s happened once or twice before. Having lived in the city for many years, it’s a little disconcerting to see a well-dressed stranger pull up. I always check for religious tracts.

It has to be a little scary for the candidate too. We live in a politically conservative area. I think that means everyone has a gun. On the other hand, most people are so impressed by the effort that they give the guy a chance. Or at least remember his name.

We’ve had a lot of candidates with fuzzy agendas and vague promises. I think this might be the first year we’ve have a proposal that’s fuzzy and vague. Not that the language is written in such a way as to get people confused. Rather, no one understands what the proposal will do. Including the candidates.

We can’t find anyone who will own up to writing the creature. All that seems to be coming out of it is that it will be good for business. Probably small business. May do something for the people too. Impacts the current tax situation somehow.

It was at this point that I intended to make a humorous comparison about how much easier it would be to live in Great Britain because I have heard that the election campaign season is limited to the two months prior to the election.

However, it seems that this is one of those cases where a little information is a dangerous thing. I had neglected to take into account how many political parties there are in Great Britain. The first clue probably should have been the number of countries in that small space.

The second clue might have been that England has been around for a very long time. Political parties seem to be like any other belonging. The longer you’re around, the more stuff you have in your attic.

Beginning with the basics. There are five major parties contesting elections. Definitions courtesy of Wikipedia. Without reference I knew about the Conservatives (center-right), Labour (center-left, and misspelled according to my computer), and the Liberal Democrats (center-left). There are also the UK Independence Party (right wing) and the British National Party (far right).

The Green Party is apparently more united and doesn’t have what we Americans would call a primary. Or they may not have more than one person interested in running. Their members are too smart.

So, right off the bat, we have the potential for multiple candidates for five parties. I have no idea how many different positions are contested in each election but for their sake, I hope it’s fewer than the federal and state Senate and Congressional districts I deal with. (Besides the President and locals).

In the last election, there were 18 other parties getting votes. They run the gamut from the National Front on the far right (think fascism) to the far left Socialist Alternative (Trotskyist) and Communist Party of Britain (Marxist). I liked the name of the Pirate Party, but was disappointed to discover that they promote reform on copyright and privacy laws (oh, that kind of pirate). But my absolute favorite/favourite is The Official Monster Raving Loony Party. It promotes parties and makes fun of the other parties. I think I could have a political future there if I ever move.

I can imagine living in London or some other major city. You would be getting the major parties everywhere, the minor parties on select stations and areas, and the fringe parties on flyers and posters where they have a following.

If you lived on the west side of England near the Irish Sea, you might be able to hear ads for the Northern Irish parties as well. In the north, you have Scottish parties and in the southwest, you have Welsh parties.

Not only would you be hearing from candidates you couldn’t vote for, you’d have trouble understanding them. (Well, that part may not be so different.) Even for two months, that would be annoying. With the general election to follow.

Maybe our system isn’t so bad. (Yeah, right.)