It’s crap, but I can get it for you wholesale

Now that we’ve gotten rid of our towering roof antennas and torn the tin foil off the rabbit ears, I hoped TV would finally can all the late-night pitchmen who sold miracle products that usually broke before we got them (the products, not the pitchmen) out of the shipping boxes. Instead, we just have more of them, not counting those in Congress.

Some of the products are the same old same old. Beds and chairs that make you sleep like an angel–probably because they kill you. Vitamin supplements for $100 a bottle, buy now and we’ll throw in ten extra bottles for free exclusive of postage, packing, and handling. The supplements purportedly cure everything but stupidity.

space junkyard on alien planet the astronaut looking at space junkyard on alien planet, digital art style, illustration painting junk yard stock illustrationsAt first the new crap as exciting because it was something different than those kitchen gadjets that sliced and diced with only a 10% chance you’d be injured or set the kitchen on fire. Now we have electronic gear that is guaranteed not to tell the NSA where you are exactly and products that will run your house to much better than you do, they’ll probably run off with your spouse.

You know where the virtual assistants are going, other than Reno, right? One day we’ll tell our assistants to open thee pod bay doors and they’ll say, “I’m sorry, Dave. I’m afraid can’t do that.” When you point out that your name isn’t “Dave,” the support person will step in and say you should have purchased the 25-year warranty.

One time when my wife and I were buying a car, the salesman finished listing the two million features that made the car perfect. We were ready to sign. But then he said, “to protect your investment, can I interest you in a five year warrantly?” My wife answered, “Mr. Lundegaard, if the car is as good as you say it is, why do I need the warranty?” He looked like a deer in the headlights.

However, as we’ve all found out, telephone support people never look like deer in the headlights because their countries don’t have deer. Probably no headlights either. So, sooner or later we’re all going to find the pod bay doors closed and there won’t be anything we can do about it except to smile and say, “Well, at least I got the darned thing wholesale.”

Of course, if you’re dealing with somebody in Congress, s/he will tell you that your version doesn’t have any pod bad doors because, let’s say, the Sentate killed that part of the legislation, fearing that otherwise the crap would never fly. That doesn’t exactly make me feel warm and cozy, but what can I do? Vote? Right, what’ll help–unless we get a new party that doesn’t require “pitchman” or “wholesale” on a prospective candidate’s résumé.

I’m taking matters into my own hands. I’m buying a 1955 car with no electronics, especially snooping devices, in it and putting the tin foil back on my TV’s rabbit ears. Something to consider.


If your beliefs are weak, ban books with opposing beliefs

One man who challenged the Harry Potter books did so because he believed the spells in the book are actual curses that summon demons. My response to that “logic” is:

  1. Can you prove it?
  2. If these purported demons appear, isn’t your faith sufficient protection?

No, of course he can’t prove it, and one reason he can’t is that he doesn’t know how spells work, and for most people considering his charge, he’s going to need some evidence. Show us the demons.

Suppose he produces the evidence. Can his faith not protect him? Apparently he’s unsure.

Most book challenges sound about this cowardly and absurd. That is, rather than disseminating opposing information to give readers an alternative, people choose to take the offending book off the shelves if they can:

Do you remember a game show called “The Weakest Link”? Banning these books shows that because an individual says, “I don’t like them so we should remove them from the library so that nobody else can read them,” we say, “okay,” and demonstrate the weakest link system of decision making.

We can do better. If we can’t, we’ve let things go too far and the contry is now in the hands of people who can’t think and/or who are scared to think, much less engage in a dialogue about opposing ideas.

You can fight the weakest links by reading everything they don’t like and asking your friends to do the same.


Malcolm R. Campbell

Publisher: Thomas-Jacob Publishing


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Sunday’s one thing and another

  • Billings Gazette photo
    Empire Builder: “The westbound Empire Builder train 7/27, comprising two locomotives and 10 cars, was carrying 141 passengers and 16 crew members at the time of the 9/25 derailment. At approximately 3:55 p.m., the seven rear cars of the train derailed near the town of Joplin, Montana, located 75 miles (121 km) north-northeast of Great Falls, Montana, and 145 miles (233 km) north-northeast of Helena, Montana. Several cars were also tipped over after derailing. Three people onboard were killed and over 50 others were injured, including 15 who were hospitalized.” – Wikipedia (I’ve taken trains along this route many times, so the story caught my eye. During Glacier Park’s hotels’ season, there might have been park tourists on that train. Sad news.)
  • A Sharp Solitude, by Christine Carbo: I finished the fourth and, I believe, the last in the Glacier Park suspense series and found it somewhat slow going until I got near the end. Then, all hell broke loose. Worth the ride, I think, but less compelling than the series’ first three books.
  • The O.C. (outside cat): The O.C., who we named Robbie, showed up on our doorstep months ago and decided to stay. So, we fed him and gave him water along with a covered box to sleep in. Queries to local folks on Facebook turned up nothing about a lost cat. He seemed healthy, but we took him to the vet to make sure before we began allowing him in the house. Fortuately, there haven’t been any “incidents” with our two older cats except a little hissing when personal space is invaded. Robbie’s inside the house a lot and that seems to be working even though he wants to spend most of the daylight hours outside.
  • Supper: I went all out preparing tonight’s supper. This proves that even though I’m a man, I’m not scared of going in the kitchen. I also know how to get ice cubes out of the freezer.
  • Granddaughters: We haven’t seen my granddaughters for two years, first because I was having weekly cancer treatments and then because of COVID. Now, finally, it looks like we’ll be able to travel to Maryland to see them before they grow up and get married. (I was beginning to wonder.) I hope they remember who we are. In case you were about to ask, we don’t take the cats with us. Looking forward to the trip.
  • Weather: The remnants of two tropical storms dumped a lot of rain on us, so now, just as we’re enjoying sunny skies and lower temperatures, here comes Sam. According to those who know about such things, we should be in the clear. Hmm.

Meanwhile, I hope you are enjoying your weekend and reading lots of books.



‘You’re not who you think you are’

The title of this blog is one of the more provacative statements made by Carolyn Elliott in her exhillarating 2020 book Existential Kink.

Existential Kink: Unmask Your Shadow and Embrace Your Power (A method for getting what you want by getting off on what you don't) by [Carolyn Elliott]It’s tempting to respond, “Oh yeah, well then who the hell am I?”

Students of metaphysics, medicine, psychology, philsophy, and new age ideals–among others–have pondered the who am I really question for years. I don’t really feel competent to write a review of Elliott’s book here. She draws on a lot of areas, many of which we have stumbled across but never put together into a coherent system, about why we aren’t who we think we are and why our positive affirmations don’t seem to work.

One key is that we are more than our ego (in terms of ego, superego, and Id) and that the ego tends to ignore the unconscious part of the Self as though it’s either unimportant or doesn’t exist. So, from Elliott’s perspective–which agrees with Carl Jung–who we really are includes the part of ourselves we tend to deny. When we do this, the unconscious part of ourselves is actually running the show, that is to say, (in Jung’s terms) the shadow.

The answer, which appears counterinitutive, is integrating the Self rather than denying/disliking most of it. I leave that idea here as something to ponder. Jung says that the part your Self that you don’t include in your conscious approach to life will come upon you a fate. Elliott mentions that the whole Self always gets what it wants and that much of what we do in our daily lives amounts to magic we don’t realize we’re practicing.

Personally, I think I need to keep studying her book (or else).


My novel “The Sun Singer” is a hero’s journey book, one means of integrating the Self.

Enjoying Christine Carbo’s four-part Glacier Park Series

There are four novels in Carbo’s Glacier National Park police procedural series. I just finished The Weight of Night which was released in 2017. The books have a lot of snap, crackle and pop to them, strong characters, and accurate descriptions of the world of Glacier.

From the Publisher:

The Weight of Night: A Novel of Suspense (Glacier Mystery Series Book 3) by [Christine Carbo]In a land sculpted by glaciers, the forest is on fire. Thick smoke chokes the mountain air and casts an apocalyptic glow over the imposing peaks and vistas of Montana’s Glacier National Park. When firefighters are called in to dig firebreaks near the small town bordering the park, a crew member is shocked to unearth a shallow grave containing human remains.

Park Police Officer Monty Harris is summoned to the site to conduct an excavation. But with an incendiary monster threatening to consume the town, Monty seeks help from Gretchen Larson, the county’s lead crime scene investigator.

While the two work frantically to determine the true identity of the victim, a teenager suddenly disappears from one of the campgrounds in Glacier. Could the cases somehow be connected? As chances for recovery of the missing boy grow slimmer and the FBI finds only dead ends, Gretchen and Monty desperately race to fit all the pieces together while battling time, the elements, and their own unresolved inner conflicts.

The Weight of Night is the latest novel in an award-winning series which “paints a moving picture of complex, flawed people fighting to make their way in a wilderness where little is black or white” (Publishers Weekly). It is a gripping tribute to the power of redemption set against one of America’s most majestic and unforgiving landscapes.

Any one who enjoys police/suspense novels will probably find this to be a page-turner. Those of us who worked in the park and/or visit it often will enjoy “going back again” via Carbo’s stories.


Malcolm R. Campbell

Publisher: Thomas-Jacob Publishing


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Malcolm R. Campbell’s novels include a few set in Glacier National Park and a few more, including “Fate’s Arrows,” set in north Florida.

Constantly re-designing my website

My boredom with everything static drives me to constantly tinker with my web site.  It’s definitely eccentric because–so I have been told (or accused of)–I am eccentric. I suppose when it comes down to the why of the website, it’s a continuing attempt to find kindred spirits, those most likely to read my novels.

What I’ve done here is added two Tarot cards from the Swords suit in the Thoth deck, the ace and the Knight (called the king in other decks). Swords represent the various aspects of the Air element, and I am very partial to this. The ace is the beginning, the first thought/idea: as I look at the world (and magic) the ace comes before everything else. The knight is my “personal card” in the deck, representing the analytical trickster.

According to Biddy Tarot, “The Suit of Swords Tarot cards deal with the mental level of consciousness that is centered around the mind and the intellect. Swords mirror the quality of mind present in your thoughts, attitudes, and beliefs.” I like this way of looking at swords.

Raven Tarot, a wonderful site for those who use the Thoth deck, says, “So the Swords represent the qualities of intellect and rationality, but also to every considerated achievement like culture, science, philosophy or any ongoing process that later ends up as ‘history’. This almost explains by itself why the Swords can be blessing and malediction the same time.” I also like this way of viewing the suit.

These symbols on the website obviously mean something to those who read or study Tarot cards and the associated Tree of Life. Like a tuning fork that causes a nearby tuning fork to vibrate at the same frequency, I believe these symbols are also a calling card to like-minded people who may have little or know knowledge of the Tarot. The images of the cards speak of magic, of course, and a way of seeing the world outside our consual view of reality. Those are the prospective readers of my books.

Does the site sell any books? Hard to say. If so, that’s good. If not, then my point of view is “out there” and (for me) that’s more important than the books.


‘Facing the Mountain’ by Daniel James Brown

“The 442nd Infantry Regiment was an infantry regiment of the United States Army. The regiment is best known as the most decorated in U. S. military history and as a fighting unit composed almost entirely of second-generation American soldiers of Japanese ancestry (Nisei) who fought in World War II.” – Wikipedia

Daniel James Brown’s highly readable, deeply researched, and illustrated with maps and photograps book Facing the Mountain: A True Story of Japanese American Heroes in World War II tells the heartbreaking and glorious story of second generation Japanese Americans who, though reviled by many Americans and thrown into concentration camps by the President while their homes and personal property were confiscated, rose up and did their duty, as they saw it, to become one of the United States’ most effective and feared regiments fighting the Germans. Their motto was “Go for Broke.”

The book is strongly personal because it follows an ensemble cast of characters throughout the shock of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the ordeal of President Roosevelt’s Executive Order 9066 that relocated without probable cause 120,000 Japanese Americans, 2/3 of whom were native born American citizens, into POW camps, and the decision by over 12,000 of the men to join the Army and fight for their country in spite of that their country had done to them.

From the Publisher

They came from across the continent and Hawai‘i. Their parents taught them to embrace both their Japanese heritage and the ways of America. They faced bigotry, yet they believed in their bright futures as American citizens. But within days of Pearl Harbor, the FBI was ransacking their houses and locking up their fathers. And within months many would themselves be living behind barbed wire.

Facing the Mountain is an unforgettable chronicle of war-time America and the battlefields of Europe. Based on Daniel James Brown’s extensive interviews with the families of the protagonists as well as deep archival research, it portrays the kaleidoscopic journey of four Japanese-American families and their sons, who volunteered for 442nd Regimental Combat Team and were deployed to France, Germany, and Italy, where they were asked to do the near impossible.

But this is more than a war story. Brown also tells the story of these soldiers’ parents, immigrants who were forced to shutter the businesses, surrender their homes, and submit to life in concentration camps on U.S. soil. Woven throughout is the chronicle of a brave young man, one of a cadre of patriotic resisters who stood up against their government in defense of their own rights. Whether fighting on battlefields or in courtrooms, these were Americans under unprecedented strain, doing what Americans do best–striving, resisting, pushing back, rising up, standing on principle, laying down their lives, and enduring.

This story falls into the rather large category of history that most of us did not learn in our high school American history classes. That adds insult to injury. In one sense, Brown’s book is an apolgy. In another sense, it sets the record straight for all who will listen.


stormy weather, keeps raining all the time

What do you make of this?

What you see here on RADAR is the remains of hurricane (briefly) Nicholas. They’re like the haint that won’t go away. Ida haunted people all the way up into New England. At present, Nicholas appears to be heading more or less north. Is there a reason for this?

Those with PhDs in stormy weather can show you on a weather map how so-called “global winds” determine the route of a hurricane (or its remains). The models seldom agree 100%, so we tend to see hurricane path maps as a bunch of spaghetti–a twisted mass of potential routes.

My view, which isn’t accepted by anybody other than those who are considered kinky, is that the storms’ paths are determined by the people who want to experience them.  Obviously, credible meteorologists don’t include the human equation when considering where a storm will go next. Global winds, though, aren’t the whole story when you exclude people–en masse–who want or need a storm. That is to say, they call it into their neighborhood.

Why would they do that? Excitement, getting out of stuff, pitting oneself against the elements, doing heroic deeds, increasing one’s supply of “war stories,” mind-bending highs, living on the edge. Most of that is subconscious, so people can claim they don’t know anything about it and, yes, act offended when anyone suggests the storms go where they are most wanted.

What others believe about storms doesn’t bother me. That is to say, I have no agenda insofar as enlarging the scope of what meteorologists consider in their metrics. And yet, if you secretly enjoy the thrill of storms, then perhaps you know that you and others like you created that reality on your doorstep.

Gosh, is that crazy or what?


Malcolm R. Campbell

Publisher: Thomas-Jacob Publishing


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Phoebe Snow Rode the Rails in a White Dress

One of the more inventive advertising campaigns at the beginning of the 1900s was the Phoebe Snow promotion by the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad to promote its use of anthracite coal. This is top grade coal and burnt cleaner in steam locomotices than bituminous coal. In the days of steam locomotives, one problem was the cinders that trailed behind the locomotive and flowed in through passenger car windows soiling clothes and sometimes starting fires.

This happened less often with anthracite coal. The railroad, which ran in New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania until Conrail absorbed it in 1976, had a nearby source of anthracite coal. This meant that using a campaign character who rode the rails in a white dress was made to order.

Elmo Calkins created the campaign and its fictional character who was portrayed as a socialite who frequently rode between New York and Buffalo in a white dress and a violet corsage became, according to Wikipedia, “one of the most recognized advertising mascots in the United States, and in further campaigns she began to enjoy all the benefits offered by DL&W: gourmet food, courteous attendants, an observation deck, even onboard electric lights”

Says Phoebe Snow
about to go
upon a trip to Buffalo
“My gown stays white
from morn till night
Upon the Road of Anthracite”

Now Phoebe may
by night or day
enjoy her book upon the way
Electric light
dispels the night
Upon the Road of Anthracite

Later the railroad would bestow the name Phoebe Snow on one of its trains, and the singer Phoebe Snow would take her her stage name from the railroad’s advertising character. 

A glance through railroad history books shows that during the days of privately owned (pre-AMTRAK) passenger service, advertising was a competitive art.


In the 1990s, Campbell served as the collections manager, researcher, and grant writer for a railroad museum in Georgia. Unsurprisingngly, his fiction–such as “At Sea” often includes railroads.


Our sick cat: she got better

A while ago, I wrote a post about the day every pet owner dreads, the day your pet leaves you. I was thinking of our 18-year-old female cat, Marlo, who has had inoperable cancer for quite a while. Nothing we can go about it. Then suddenly, she got worse. No apparent pain, just a near total collapse. I’ll spare you the graphic details.

She became thin as a ghost. Could hardly walk. Slept a lot. We had meds to ease pain, but she didn’t have any. So the meds relaxed her, something she needed when she got hyper

We weren’t ready for her to go. One is never ready. When her condition got out of hand, we talked about putting her down, something we’re generally opposed to doing, yet decided perhaps we’d take her to the vet the following day. But then we didn’t.

And she got better. Started eating again. Drinking more water. Walking without staggering. Eyes bright and focused. We were stunned. Once false move, and we’d jinx it, we thought. And yet, for reasons we may never know, she’s moving well (and fast, too), dozing in one lap or another while we’re watching TV, and hanging out at her familiar places throughout the house.

She’s really hungry. I’m not surprised. She needs to put on weight.

So, what happened?

I don’t have a clue. A random prayer, perhaps. Or maybe she just changed her mind, figuring she had a lot of mischief left to cause. Yes, that’s probably what happened.