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Cold Iron consists of random bits of irreverence, surliness, and contumely; sometimes it's even funny. Reading it is entirely optional.

...the iron monger and rusticater himself

Cool Iron

"Never hit someone over the head with a hot iron. Wait until it cools so you don't burn them."

...the source of my ideas

Iron Filings - 50

August 1, 2017

Cold Iron - 178
Iron Filings – 50
Iron filings are frequently used by children to illustrate the powers of magnetism. Effortlessly they flow wherever the power pushes them, often making elaborate designs and patterns, and exhibiting uniqueness and individuality. Until the power is removed. Then they just ramble all which-a-way. Iron filings are a lot like humans. [The above is from Iron Filings – 1]

Time for a bit of a chuckle? I’ve recently been enjoying The Gatekeepers by Chris Whipple. It’s about the modern chiefs of staffs to the presidents of the United States. The book was recommended to me by my son, who recently became a chief of staff to a major political official (though not quite at the level of the presidency). The following is an excerpt from the book, a rather charming anecdote about Ronald Reagan:
On a state visit to England, President Reagan went “horseback riding with Queen Elizabeth at Windsor Castle. When the time came, the queen’s horse took off at a gallop – farting uncontrollably. Reagan and his horse rode just behind. Upon their return, the queen stammered, ‘Mr. President, I am so terribly sorry.’ Reagan smiled and cocked his head. ‘That’s funny,’ he responded. ‘I thought it was the horse.’”
* * *
I Think I’ve Found The Answer Dept. – It’s no secret, whether amongst our citizenry or amongst our legions of pundits and columnists, that America has been on a bit of a mean streak for a number of years now. We’re testy, pesky, and nasty with each other and, quite often, that’s even before we’ve engaged any political conversations. Truly, it’s something of an odd phenomenon since we’ve always been regarded as a land of endless hopes, opportunities, and optimism. So this collective grumpiness just seems rather out of character. I think I’ve found the answer.
A recent report from a trusted government agency noted that the percentage of smokers among American adults has now gone from around twenty percent, where it has been for quite a while, all the way down to around fifteen percent. While that’s good news on the health front, it’s pretty well known that a side effect of breaking that habit results, for many people, in a pretty hefty grouchiness. When you consider that a five percent drop in those moving from a moment’s contentment in a smoke to a near terminal snit from abstinence involves somewhere in the neighborhood of fifteen million adults, you might just have a clue as to the reason behind our grumpy mood. Maybe it would be better if at least some of those who quit … no, I won’t go there.
[Note: This comment was not sponsored by a tobacco company.]
* * *
Should I file a lien? The request was innocent enough. My wife said she was tired of House Beautiful magazine and would I go online to cancel it? I did that in early May, got a receipt, case closed. However, in June I noticed on my credit card statement a charge of $38.00 for a House Beautiful subscription renewal. Thus it begins. I contacted the credit card company to dispute the charge, and they said I should contact House Beautiful first since a dispute takes time and House Beautiful might be able to discover a billing error quickly. The first three emails had them confirming what I already knew: that I had cancelled the subscription. The next three involved them telling me they had no record of such a charge. Then they asked me to fax them my credit card statement – which I did, the fax costing $10.12. Couldn’t read the fax. Please send again. Could I email it – please. Sure, they said. Finally, they said the charge was from a third party billing company. Here’s their phone number. I called and for fifteen minutes worked with a (I’m not sure how else to put this) totally automated woman who kept trying to entice me with great offers for a magazine my wife no longer wanted. Eventually, she said they would reverse the charge in one to two business days. Which they did. I found a credit on my statement for $34.80. I have no idea what happened to the remaining $3.20. I assume it was a service charge for my correcting their mistake.
* * *
The Dean of the law school at our local university was recently removed from his position on charges involving some kind of sexual impropriety, mostly, according to the newspaper, that he said things that created a threatening atmosphere. His leaving involved one of those I-won’t-say-this-if-you-won’t-say-that-and-I-won’t-do-this-if-you-won’t-do-that agreements between himself and the university (with an off-campus position being offered him) – the bottom line being that he apparently didn’t think innocence was his strongest card and the university apparently felt that its prima facie case wasn’t much more than that. While I’m tempted to say that, for a manager, he must have been really stupid in our speech-averse age to even hint at risqué talk I am, on the other hand, tempted to defend him by saying how in the world can you create an efficient workplace without allowing people to openly express themselves and speak freely on all manner of issues – even if that speaking occasionally pushes the boundaries of decorum? As is pretty well known, what you can and cannot say on college and university campuses these days is a monster issue, and one wonders if this Dean isn’t simply a casualty – innocent or not – of that.
* * *
Fringe Binge Report – Chinese leaders have banned Winnie the Pooh and various of the Pooh characters from the internet. It seems that online bloggers have begun making memes of the characters that mock photographs of President Xi Jinping – such as an awkward handshake between Xi and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, or a Pooh character with his head through the roof of a car imitating Xi’s doing the same thing while reviewing troops. [NBC.News]

* * *
G.K. Wuori © 2017
Cover photoillustration by the author

Selected Works

I think this book would appeal to anyone who likes a dark crime story set in a rural, somewhat remote part of Maine in a time when the radicalism of the nineteen-seventies was sweeping the country.
Ellen DeLay, an upstanding citizen of Quillifarkeag, Maine, suddenly and unpredictably leaves her happy, twenty-five year marriage for a lonely cabin deep in the Maine woods, where she makes a living dressing hunters' kill - bears, moose, deer. It seems an idyllic life, punctuated only now and then by rifle fire as she shoots into the air to scare off cheeky teens who come to taunt "the crazy woman."
A small-town lawyer in the middle of a gruesome murder case finds salvation in the world of a homeless woman and her daughter.
A young woman's morning walk through her small town finds her immersed in a small tragedy, an indifferent government, and the "science gone mad" of her best friend's husband. Quirky, goofy, nutty - yes, but a gentle look as well at some of the values that keep us from falling off the planet
A hint of generally true autobiography, this piece is part of Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill's "How I Became A Writer" series.
Quillifarkeag is a state of mind, one marked by innocence and regret, by guile and sympathy. The people there will let you into their lives - but not very far. Go too far inside and things start to echo, people get close. Honesty becomes negotiable. Bare all and someone might still say, "Were you naked or nude?" It's an important distinction. In a small place like Quilli the naked truth is hurtful. The nude truth is not so bad.

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