Not in the clamor of the crowded street, not in the shouts and plaudits of the throng, but in ourselves, are triumph and defeat.--Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

REDIRECT ALERT! (Scroll down past this mess if you're trying to read an archived post. Thanks. No, really, thanks.)

Due to my inability to control my temper and complacently accept continued silliness with not-quite-as-reliable-as-it-ought-to-be Blogger/Blogspot, your beloved Possumblog will now waddle across the Information Dirt Road and park its prehensile tail at http://possumblog.mu.nu.

This site will remain in place as a backup in case Munuvia gets hit by a bus or something, but I don't think they have as much trouble with this as some places do. ::cough::blogspot::cough:: So click here and adjust your links. I apologize for the inconvenience, but it's one of those things.

Thursday, May 13, 2004

Never being ones to allow work to interfere with important things, we are proud to announce the latest and greatest entertainment enterprise within a four-county area, the Super Exciting Stupendous Axis of Weevil Thursday Three, Volume VI! After receiving myriad entreaties from all across the far reaches of the prolate spheroid of Bloglandia--“PLEASE! Give us questions that do not require us to think hard thinks!”--the Three-Question Production Staff have worked diligently in order to provide you with the least thought-provoking questions ever seen! You’re welcome!

SEEING AS HOW our beloved South is known to some for its engaging, bucolic rusticity, we would like to know:

1) Have you ever used an outhouse? And we’re not talking portapotty, but a real, live, honest to goodness, wood-plank-over-a-hole, crescent-moon-door-cutout, infested-with-dirt-daubers privy. Please describe the experience.

2) Have you ever called livestock for feeding? If so, please describe the type of animal, and a general approximation of the call used.

3) Have you ever driven a tractor upon a public street? Again, if so, please describe any backstory you deem necessary to allow our less well-rounded readers to fully appreciate the experience.

Now, as always, even though these questions are intended to be Southocentric, anyone is welcome to answer and play along, no matter whether you live in Malta, or Tasmania, or even Minnesota. If you have a blog of your own, leave a link in the comments below, and if you don’t have a blog, get one and make this your first post, or if that’s too much effort, just leave a comment.

As for my answers--outhouse? Oh, my, yes. I was a small child, and all I remember about it is hoping I didn’t fall in. I cannot remember where we were, or why we were having to use it, but it was a regular old one-holer made of wood. It did have a roll of real toilet paper, though, which was comforting.

Livestock calling--again, when I was little and we went to visit my uncle and aunt, who had a few cows. Their preferred method of calling was to say, “YOO! COW!” and rattle a bucket.

Tractor driving? Not quite. I have driven a contraption when I worked one summer at a steel fabricating shop, that was a jury-rigged self-propelled boom loader, built on a Hyster chassis. Every once in a while, we would have to move stuff from one end of the shop or yard to the other, and most of the time the most convenient way was to use the street beside the shop. (It is located in the heavy industrial area a few blocks east of downtown Birmingham, and the street was a regular through street with cars and trucks and everything else coming down it.)

Anyway, this particular beast was about 25 years old 25 years ago, and the way it was fixed, you were in effect having to drive it backwards--the gas and clutch pedals were slightly underneath where you sit, and had to be operated with your heels. And the steering was sorta like that on a skid loader--or more like a boat, actually, with a tiller of sorts. Except when you pushed it to the right, the thing turned left. And the tiller was somewhat behind you, too. And it steered the “rear” wheels. Compounding the degree of difficulty was that it had big, squishy pneumatic tires that bounded around in complete disregard of steering input or the laws of physics. And it had a 20 foot boom sticking out toward the “front,” with a big dangling iron hook on the end, all of which sat alongside of the operator, more or less blocking the view of anything on that side.

I had never driven it before, but it looked relatively easy, because I was 17 and full of all kinds of mechanical knowledge. We needed to move it, and since it didn’t have a load, I figured I could help out and get it moved around to where it needed to be. Cranked it up, blipped the throttle with my left heel, let out the clutch with my right heel, and WHOAAAA! It bucked and bounced down the street, veering across the centerline as I tried to figure out the double-inverse steering movements, and then I swung it in a looping right arc toward the big open door in the metal building as I tried to simultaneously halt it with the handbrake (forgot about that bit of arcana) and figure out how to get it to straighten up. Again, the tiller confused me, and I managed to bring it to a shaky halt with the end of the boom only six inches away from the back window of the precious truck belonging to one of the old-timers. It just happened to be parked right by the door. His name was Cat, and the truck was a mid-60s GMC pickup, primer gray, with the pickup box removed and a custom flat bed installed that was made of various scraps of steel plate he had collected over the years. He was very proud of his truck, and had I busted out the back window, he would have been very, VERY angry. Angry in that Sand Mountain sort of way. Luckily, I don’t think he was looking. I gingerly backed up, got in the door, and never tried to drive the Hyster again.

NOW THEN--having dispensed with that, I must warn you that your normal deluge of Possumania is going to be really limited today. I have a thing to do with the kids at school this morning, so I won't be able to play on here until much later on in the day. SO, go amuse yourselves in the archives or in the blogroll, and I'll see you all in a bit.

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