Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Confederate Prisoners

This picture was taken in 1863 on the Gettysburg Battlefield. It shows a picture of three confederate soldiers captured at the Battle of Gettysburg. I love this picture because of the pride still shown by the men. They had been defeated in battle, but their pride was not, and shows through in the picture.

As you probably know, I am a Southern Sympathizer, as far as the war goes. I think that the South had many legitimate grievances, some of which the country still struggles with today. The unfortunate strategic mistake by the South was to include as part of those grievances the slavery issue. This allowed the North to attain the moral high ground in the war, and perhaps inhibited other countries from providing more aid to the South.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Supply Wagon

This picture was taken near the end of the Civil War in 1865. It shows a four mule team pulling an army supply wagon. It is hard to imagine how many mules and horses the army must have had to move all the supplies around, and how many people it would take just to care for and feed those animals. The picture was taken in City Point, Virginia.

I was a little late posting the picture this morning because I was on the phone with the electric company. In Texas, you can choose between many different electricity providers, and shop for the best rate. This competition has led to much lower electric rates. I was able to lock in a price of 10.9 cents/kWhour for three years. I thought this was good price. I was curious as to who has the best rate on electricity among our visitors. Are you paying more or less than this?

Sunday, June 28, 2009


This week we will be looking at pictures from the Civil War. This picture was taken in 1862. The picture shows Abraham Lincoln in a tent with General George McClellan. The picture was taken on the Antietam Battlefield days after the battle.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Tripple Play

Your mission, should you decide to accept it, is to name all three people in the photo. I can not give any help, or tell you whether any parts of your answer are correct. I can simply tell you if the total entry is correct or not.
Now, a few words about last week's poll. I will break it down for you below.

Raw Results:

Men's Votes:
Hire a plumber: 92
Do it yourself: 92
Total participants: 184

Women's Votes:
Hire a plumber: 87
Do it yourself: 35
Total Participants: 125

Now, those are the raw numbers, and we need to work through them to get the normalized results to remove any errors in the data. First thing, notice that while the readership of the blog is roughly split between men and women, 184 people responded to the Men's poll, while only 125 responded to the Women's poll. Since readership is even, how can we possibly explain these results? Simply stated, there is a bias in the data in the following way. Women have had such BAD experiences with their husbands trying to fix things at home, that many of them have voted in BOTH the Man's poll and the Women's poll. In order to correct the data, we must assume that there were equal numbers of Men and Women voting, so there must have been 59 women who voted in the Man's poll. Naturally, these would be the women who were against me fixing the sink, so they voted in both polls. So, we must normalize the Man Poll, by removing those 59 votes (all of them for me calling the plumber). Also, since this group of women voters also voted in the Women's poll, and they are obviously biased and unable to answer the question objectively, we must remove their first votes in the Women's pole as well. When we do this, we come up with the following "Corrected Normalized Actual Results"

Corrected Normalized Actual Results:

Call Plumber: 33
Fix Yourself: 92
Call Plumber: 28
Do it Yourself: 35

So there you have it folks, the results indicate an OVERWHELMING vote of confidence that I should fix the sink myself. In fact, I think I shall say that I have a broad MANDATE to fix the sink, with enthusiastic support across all genders and socioeconomic groups. The readership is urging, no, DEMANDING that I do it myself. I will tell Mrs. PJM, that the People have Spoken . . . The People Speak with One Voice, and say, Fix it Yourself, PJM. More later, but for now ON WITH THE MYSTERY PERSON CONTEST!

Mystery Person Contest

The mystery person contest will start at 2:00 PM today, CDT, Texas Time. I have to go to town and take a test, so can not start the contest this morning.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Bedouin Man

We wrap up our tour of the Middle East this week with this picture from the late 1800's. It shows a Bedouin in traditional clothing. If you look to the lower right of the photograph, you can see the hilt of his sword. I have enjoyed looking through all these pictures, but we will move on to a new topic next week.

DOMESTIC UPDATE: Project Peacock took another unexpected turn yesterday. Mrs. PJM revealed additional details of her vision for our peacock society. Mrs. PJM sat me down and wanted to talk about a Peacock House for the new flock. I had imagined that we would let them roam the property and roost in the trees, but her thought was that they needed a home of their own. I started describing an idea I had involving large cardboard boxes, and duct tape. She disagreed, expressing concerns about safety, longevity, and the potential of such a setup detracting from the overall ambiance of our home. She also said that leaving them on our screened in porch was not a long term solution, and that I had to go make arrangements for a proper peacock house.

Mrs. PJM insisted on the following specifications:
1) Green Metal Roof that matches roof on our house
2) Concrete foundation/floor
3) Painted to match the colors of our home
4) Fenced in area with mini-peacock door
5) Proper ventilation
6) Perches and Nesting Boxes
7) Little ramp leading to door.
Realizing that I do not want to jeopardize the tractor, I figured I better go make arrangements for something. I went to this place in town that builds custom little storage buildings. I showed them the plans, and they gave me a price. Are you ready for this . . . . $3,157. Add that to the peacock food from yesterday, and we are up to $3,354.
I REPEAT: There is no such thing as FREE PEACOCKS.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Arab Cavalry

This picture was taken in 1946, and shows a group of armed Bedouins on horseback. These men were part of an Arab Legion cavalry unit supporting King Abdullah. The picture was taken in Amman, Transjordan. It looks to me like a very fine set of horses they have.

DOMESTIC UPDATE: Project Peacock continues to move forward. We did have a little setback in the program yesterday. I guess the best way to describe it would be that it is associated with barnyard politics. Mrs. PJM and I were talking about our new flock, and it became clear that we had different things in mind for the barnyard. You see, I had imagined what I will call a "Capitalistic" system. We would let the peacocks out onto the property, and they would go out and scratch around and find their own food. Those that were the hardest workers, and had the most motivation would be successful in eating well, and the other ones would not. Mrs. PJM had a different idea. Her idea is what I will call the "Big Government" model. In the "Big Government" model, Big Government (i.e. Me) goes to town, buys food for everyone, come homes and puts it out. Everyone gets fed, whether they work for it or not. No need to walk around in the sun, toiling to make it, Big Government is going to provide all their needs. Upon further discussion, I learn that the Big Government model will include Nationalized Health Care. Yep, each peacock will receive annual trips to the Vet, and will receive any medical attention needed, all paid in full by Big Government, removing any motivation for individual members of the flock to make healthy lifestyle choices.

This is the way I look at it. When I watch the peacocks in the cage, I notice that already at two days old, little Festus is showing lots of initiative. While the other peacocks are sleeping under the Mama peacocks wing, little Festus is out running around the cage, picking and scratching, looking for something good. He is keenly interested in the outside world, and I can see him really looking around outside his cage. I can see that this little guy just can not wait to get out and set the world on fire. Little Bo Bo, on the other hand, spends most of his time sleeping under his Mama's wing. Now if we implemented my "Capitalistic" system, I can see little Festus out running around the property, finding good things to eat, and working hard, and doing his best. I have to say I have very high hopes for this little guy. He would find the best food, he would have the best plumage, and would be trim and fit. This would certainly catch the attention of the lady peacocks in the barnyard, and little Festus would then procreate. With time the flock continues to improve, and grow stronger, as Festus passes on his exceptional work ethic.

Under Mrs. PJM's plan, no one would have to go out and work to find food. Food would be provided to them. Little Bo Bo, and the others would just sit around the barnyard, living off the bounty provided by the government, growing fat, dumb and happy. Knowing little Festus, I would imagine that under such a system, he would still go out and try to find his own food . . . it is just who he is. But, while little Festus is out toiling to make a way for himself, lazy little Bo Bo would be sitting around home, eating the free food, and procreating . . . eventually leading to a flock of lazy unmotivated peacocks, always looking at the back door for Big Government to come out and give them their food.

Well, I tried to explain all this to Mrs. PJM, but she just told me, "Go buy the Peacock Food". At this point I had a moment of self reflection. I reminded myself that the overall goal of Project Peacock was not to create a capitalistic utopia, but was to stay in Mrs. PJM's good graces so as to enable me to get a tractor at my next birthday. So, being the wise person that I am, I said, "Yes Dear".

Well, so much for free peacocks. I went to the Tractor Supply and got the supplies. If you are interested, I present a list of costs below from my Tractor Supply run:
$15.75 - 1 Jumbo Bag, vitamin fortified Peacock Pellets
$13.25 - 1 Bag, Chick-Chuck nutrient enriched chick food
$68.67 - 1 Large size, foldable Peacock Hutch
$45.67 - 1 Medium size, foldable Peacock Hutch
$2.75 -1 Small size watering bottle
$3.75 - 1 Large size watering bottle
$39.97 - 1 barnyard bottle watering system
$2.99 - 1 small feeding tray
$3.99 - 1 large feeding tray
$4 - 1 copy "Big Dan's" Tractor and Farm Implement Magazine
$6 - 1 two ounce package Beef Jerky
.25 - 1 Atomic Fireball large gumball
.25 - 1 Sour Green Apple gumball.
So, the free peacocks are not turning out to be so free. Now, some of you will argue that some of the items on the list are not directly related to the peacocks, like the beef jerky or the tractor magazine. The point is, though, I would not have bought these things if I had not been in the tractor supply store, so they will be registered as peacock expenses. While I had not anticipated these expenses, I still feel that it is a small price to pay in order to achieve my dream of getting a tractor for my birthday next summer.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Lawrence of Arabia

No week-long look at Bedouins would be complete without a picture of T.E. Lawrence, AKA, Lawrence of Arabia. In the above photo, Lawrence is shown shaking hands with Amir Abdullah. The picture was taken at Abdullah's camp in the desert near Ahman Jordan in 1921. I am disappointed that Lawrence wore his normal clothes, instead of his Arabian outfit. It is a good picture of him, though.

DOMESTIC UPDATE: OK, to all you Nay-Sayers out there I say HA! Mrs. PJM loved the peacocks. It turned out to be a brilliant move on my part to have gotten her this flock of peacocks. When she came home and went out on the screened in porch, all the little babies were hiding under the mother. She looked over and saw the mother peacock, and her response was, "What is That!?!" Then when all the little babies heard her voice, they popped their little heads out from under the Mama's feathers. Four little heads just all appeared at the same time. It was love at first sight. Mrs PJM squealed with excitement, seeing that she had a little basket of baby peacocks.

Yep, I think the only question left is whether I should ask for a red tractor, or a blue tractor next birthday. I can tell you that Mrs. PJM loves babies of all types, and from this experience I can see that she loves baby peacocks most of all. I am all but assured that a little tractor is in my future.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Peacock has Landed

Domestic Update: The Peacock has Landed! I know you all are interested in my renewed efforts to get a tractor next summer for my birthday. I think I will get major points here. I went out and bought Mrs. PJM her own flock of peacocks. Flock you ask? Yes, a flock. Five, altogether. You can only see several in the picture, but there are four babies and the Mama, which together would qualify as a flock. The other babies are hiding under her wing. Knowing Mrs. PJM is sensitive about her kitchen, I did not put them in the kitchen, but put them out on the screened in porch. I am sure she will be surprised, as she never asked for peacocks, and never expressed any interest, so I am pretty sure she will be surprised to come home and find them on the porch. Yep, I can see myself put put putting on that little tractor already. OK, for full disclosure, I did not really buy the peacocks, they were "free to good home" in the newspaper, but nonetheless, I did take the time to go get them. Well, I did not actually go get them, I had my mom run and pick them up for me, but I did get things set up for them out on the porch. Yep, this is going to be big.

King Abdullah

This photograph was taken in April, 1921, and shows King Abdullah in his desert camp near Amman Jordan. It was taken during an important meeting, at which British High Commissioner Herbert Samuel declared Abdullah to be the ruler of Transjordan. Also at the meeting was T.E. Lawrence. I really like this picture, as it looks like it came right out of the Lawrence of Arabia movie.

Well, I have still not tackled the sink problem in the utility room. Mrs. PJM mentioned last night she was getting tired of having to bathe Little Elmo in the kitchen sink, and she wants me to go ahead and call the plumber and get that other sink fixed. I think I still have time, as she does not appear to really be agitated about it.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Bedouin Chief

This picture was taken in April of 1921, and was taken in the desert near Amman. The picture shows a nice view of a Bedouin Chief. He has a menacing knife, and large sword. Also in this camp, but not pictured were Herbert Samuel and T.E. Lawrence (AKA Lawrence of Arabia).

I hope you all had a nice Father's Day yesterday. Mrs. PJM had to work, so daughter and I drove down to spend the day with my parents. My Dad is 89, so he is a little hard to shop for. He loves fudge, so Mrs. PJM made him a nice big tub of fudge. My brother went down as well, and he gave my dad a big box of fine cigars. My dad is a big cigar smoker. The doctors used to hassle him about smoking cigars. He would always fire back that all his non-smoking friends had already passed away. Sort of funny, but the quip is really true. My dad says he started smoking cigars when he was 5. He and two friends would walk around town, pick up the cigar buts, take then apart, and then reroll them into new cigars. These three guys have smoked cigars since then, and the three of them are now the three oldest men in town. In fact, all their non-smoking friends have passed away. Of course, I am not saying cigar smoking is good for you, but I think the doctors have pretty much stopped hassling these old guys about their smoking. Anyway, my brother, father and I had a nice big cigar out on the screened in porch. I very nice way to spend Father's Day.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Bedouin Cavalry

I hope you don't mind, but I wanted to spend another week looking at the Middle East, and more specifically, Bedouins. I find these pictures fascinating, and it reminds me of our week looking at Mexican Bandits. I really like this picture, which was taken in 1946, and it shows King Abdullah's Arab Legion. These guys are well armed, and mounted on camels.

Well, I had a lot of fun yesterday with the Mystery Person contest. The first one was the Queen of Ethiopia in the early 1900's. She was the wife of Haile Selassie, and called by some the Queen of Sheeba. Nate got it in under two minutes. I was surprised as I thought that would be a hard one. So, round two was Anna Spafford, who co-founded the American Colony in Jerusalem in the late 1800's. That one was very hard, but Nate got it in under a minute. Then, round three was President Diaz of Mexico. This one turned out to be really hard, and took most of the day for a winner to emerge. I was surprised this one was so hard, given Mexico is our neighbor. I think what threw people off was the regal outfit he was wearing. People immediately started looking into European and Russian royalty, and no one was looking down Mexico way. Anyway, I thought it was great fun. I got so wrapped up in the contest, I forgot that Mrs. PJM had told me to call the plumber and have him come out and put in the new faucet in the utility room. I had intended on doing it myself, but I got so wrapped up in the Mystery Person Contest, and the news coverage of the Iranian Revolution that I forgot. She came home from work, walked in the house, and asked if I had called the plumber. Well, I was in a certain amount of trouble. I am finding this week's poll question interesting. I am not surprised that Women think I should call the plumber, but I would have expected that the Men would be rallying to my support more in doing it myself. Maybe today I will crack open the box on the new faucet and see what I am up against.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Friday, June 19, 2009

Armed Bedouin

This photograph was taken in 1921, and shows a Bedouin from the Beni Hassan tribe. I like this picture because the man is well-armed, as we would hope for. I like the way he has his two bandoliers worn symmetrically across his shoulders. Also, he has a handy knife in his belt. No firearms are in view, but one would expect he would have some nearby.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Bedouin Couple

Today we feature a picture of a Bedouin Couple in the Middle East. The picture was taken in the late 1800's. I really like the picture, but would have liked it more if the man had been wearing one of those big curved swords, plus a big knife. I feel like he is woefully lacking in any weaponry. Perhaps he left his hardware in the tent.

I wanted to thank everyone for the birthday wishes yesterday. I am sad to report that, as we all feared, the tractor did not materialize as a birthday gift. I will say, that the temperature here has been over 100 every day this month. The allure of the tractor and outdoor work has lost some of its shine due to this hot weather. I will start working on getting one next year. I figure a good start is that the faucet in the utility room still needs to be replaced. Mrs. PJM wants to call the plumber, but I am thinking it is a great opportunity for me to show off my handyman skills by doing it myself. I already have the new faucet, so all I have to do is put it on.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

New Car

Today's picture is from about 1924, and shows a group of Arab men in a new Buick. The picture was taken in Jerusalem.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


Today's picture was taken in about 1935 in Jerusalem. It shows a Yemenite Rabbi listening to an old radio. I like the picture, as it is a mix of the ancient and the new.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Travel by Donkey

Today we look at a picture of a family traveling by donkey. The picture was taken in 1895 by the Sea of Galilee. The man has his own donkey, and his wife and children are in what look like baskets on another one. I would bet somewhere you could find people still traveling like this today.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Dead Sea

This week we are going to take a tour through the Middle East. I have always wanted to visit Israel, and the Holy Lands, but have never had the chance to. So, we will take a virtual tour through history of the region. This picture was taken in about 1900, and shows a man relaxing in the Dead Sea. He was part of the American Colony in Jerusalem, an aid organization formed by Horatio Spafford after he had lost his children at sea in a tragic shipwreck. The organization was active there from the late 1800's, and some of the organizations they formed there are still in operation today.

WARNING- This is a long tedious story. Stop reading now. Viewer discretion is advised.

So you have ignored my warnings once again, and have read on. Please don't send ugly emails about my story, as you were warned. OK, I have gotten lots of emails and some comments in the last week asking me how the tractor and/or buffalo for my birthday campaign is going. Well, I am sad to report that it is pretty much hopeless after the flood this week in Mrs. PJM's kitchen. You see, we have one of those 5 stage reverse osmosis water filters in the kitchen. Of course, I would want Mrs. PJM to have only the best tasting water, so when we had the house built we had this deluxe system installed in the kitchen. Mrs. PJM pointed out some time ago that the filters in the system were supposed to be changed out every 6 months, and we had been in the house a year, and had never changed them. She told me to call the plumber and have him come out and swap them out. I told her that we did not need to call the plumber, as I could do anything that a plumber could do. You see, the evil plumber is my nemesis, but that is a story for another day. Anyway, she strongly suggested I call the plumber. I reminded her that I had an advanced degree from Stanford, and that it did not take a rocket scientist to change out the filters, and that since in fact I was a rocket scientist, I would be perfectly equipped to do the job myself. Well, she had to leave for work, but on the way out, she said one more time to call the plumber. After she was gone, I went down to the plumber's shop, and bought the needed filters. I came back, gathered some tools up, and decided to crack into the system. The first thing I noticed was there were about 67 little plastic hoses running every which direction. It took a while just to figure out where the water came into the system, and where it came out. I finally traced through the system back to a valve, and I shut that valve off. I then get my tools and disconnected the first part of the filter system. It was at this point that the water started gushing from the system. I am not talking about a dribble, I mean it was like some sort of fire hydrant. It was like something you have never seen. I quickly tried to reconnect the hose, but found it impossible, as when you brought it into position, the spewing water would just force it back. The water was now pouring out from under the sink, and was running across the tile floor. I realized that the most important thing in my life was to stop the water before it reached the hardwood floors. I made one last desperate attempt at reconnecting the hose without success. I then started trying to retrace those 67 little hoses trying to figure out whether there was some other valve I had missed. The pressure was getting to me, so I abandoned that effort, and remembered that there was a main shut off valve to the house outside. I ran into the garage, but could not find the long rod that is used to turn the valve. I did find an old screw driver and an old jar of marbles that I had lost some time ago. I decided to take the screwdriver, and see if I could turn it off with that. I ran outside, and went over to the the shut off valve. It is down underground. I removed the hole cover and looked down into where the hole was supposed to be. There was no hole there . . . I realized that when I recently had them put dirt in the backyard so Mrs. PJM could have some nice grass in the backyard, the dirt had spilled into the hole where the shut off valve was, and there was no longer a hole there . . . it was filled with dirt. I got down on my knees, and desperately started digging trying to reach the valve. I had gotten 4 or 5 inches of the dirt out when I suddenly started getting a strange burning sensation on my arms. I looked at my hands, and noticed that I had about 450 fire ants on each hand and forearm. Now if you don't have fire ants where you live, you can not fully appreciate the panic. You see, fire ants ate insidious creatures. They like soft dirt, and moist places, so that new dirt in the water valve hole was the perfect habitat for their empire.

Fire ants are very smart. The first one on your hand does not sting you. They wait till the whole battalion has landed, and then they sting all at the same time in a coordinated attack. I immediately stopped digging and started trying to sling and brush the attacking waves of these little devils off my hands and arms. After about 20 seconds of countless bites, I finally got them all off my hands and arms. It was at this point that I realized that this attack had simply been a diversionary tactic. I knew this because all of the sudden I had sharp burning pains on both legs. You see, while I was distracted by the first wave attack on my hands, the second and third waves, comprising the main body of the force, were proceeding up my legs. Now some people say that I can not dance, but let me tell you I was doing a dance that day trying to get those things off my legs. I abandoned the strategy of turning the water off at the main cut off valve. I retreated back to the kitchen. At this point I notice that I am starting to wheeze in a significant manner, and that my throat and chest is tightening up, perhaps related to the 734 fire ant bites. I run up and find a bottle of Benadryl, and chug half the bottle, and then return to the disaster formerly known as our kitchen. There I find daughter on the phone giving a full report to Mrs. PJM that water was gushing out from under the sink, that the kitchen was flooding and that I was running around outside like a crazy man. I suggested to daughter that her efforts might better be expended at this particular time in trying to soak up some of the water before it reached the hardwood floors, and that she could file a complete report with Mrs. PJM at a later date. Well, she swung into action, and immediately started throwing paper towels at the problem. I am not talking about sheets here, she was in the pantry throwing rolls at a time at the rapidly advancing water line. It was at this point that I realized that I should have ordered that Shamwow that I had been wanting. You see, I had seen this ad that if I ordered within the next hour, they would double my order at only the cost of shipping. I had tried to convince Mrs. PJM that we should take advantage of that amazing offer, but she said no, and then the hour window was up. I am pretty sure that one Shamwow would have done as much as the, so far, 14 rolls of paper towels that daughter had thrown at the problem. OK, so I still have the problem that water is gushing out from under the sink. I remembered that there is another cut off valve that the water department has at the edge of the property, but then I remembered that the guy in charge of the water system is still sore at me about another matter related to damage to the street in front of my house, so I could not very well call him and ask him to come down and cut the water off. Plus, I sort of wanted to keep this whole thing in the family. I then decided that there must be some way to cut the water off under the sink, so I went back to that strategy. I got down under the sink again, and with water spraying in my face, tried to trace through the system again. This time I did find this really out of the way valve, and tried that one, and sure enough, it shut the water off. I am pretty much frazzled at this point, and decide that I have to take a break, and regain my composure. I pour myself a big tall glass of ice tea, and go in and turn on Gunsmoke. It was a great episode. It was that one where Festus adopts a bear that had been abandoned when the circus came through town. After watching the show, and having my ice tea, I had regained my composure. I decided that the thing to do was to go back in the kitchen, put the new filters in, and then try and clean up the kitchen. Note that during the crisis stage of this disaster, virtually every piece of absorbent material in the house had been thrown into the kitchen. Ladies and gentlemen, it was a mess in there. So, I go back to the sink to get down to serious plumbing work. I then learned that my nemesis the plumber had sold me the wrong filters ( I am sure, on purpose). Given that his shop was closed at this point, I decided the best thing to do would be to order the filters off amazon, and just do without the kitchen sink for a few days while we waited on the new filters. No problem, Mrs. PJM could just use the sink in the nearby utility room. It was at this point I remembered that the sink in the utility room was not working.

You see, when we had the house built, we had this "builder" build it. What a builder does is take your house plans, pass them around to his buddies. They all say how much their part will cost, and then the builder adds up the numbers, adds 15% for his efforts in adding the numbers up, and that is what your house costs. The builder does not actually build anything, he just adds up the numbers, and sort of is the referee on how to split your life savings up between him and his buddies. Well, as it turned out our house was going to cost a bazillion dollars. Always having a keen eye for the budget, I remembered that my brother had just replaced the sink and faucet in his kitchen with a newer, sleeker model. I noticed on the plumber's part of the quote on our house that the faucet in the utility room was going to cost $159. I felt that the old faucet from my brother's kitchen would work just fine in our utility room. So, I make a deal with my brother where he gives me the old faucet, and that way he would not have the hassle of figuring out how to dispose of it. I could not wait to spring on the plumber the fact that I had my own faucet, and that he could kindly reduce the cost of his part of the bid on building the house by the said $159. Well in the end the plumber did use this faucet as I requested, but when it came time to pay the plumber, the charge was exactly the same . . . he did not lower it by the amount saved by me providing the faucet in the utility room. I confronted this evil man with this fact. He then said that they had had to install an unexpected relief check valve (or something like that) in order to be in code. By some freak coincidence, this valve cost exactly $159. I asked for him to show me said relief check valve, and he said it was in the wall behind the Sheetrock. I am pretty sure he was bluffing, but I was fearful of calling his bluff. You see, if I made him break into the already taped and painted Sheetrock to show me the valve, and it was there, then I would have a major expense to redo the wall. So, he pretty much had me, and I paid the original price, much to my dismay. But I digress. Back to the matter at hand. About three months ago we noticed an odor coming from the utility room. Upon closer inspection, I found a leak coming from that faucet that my brother had given me. It was a slow leak, but it had soaked the bag of dog food, towels, and everything else under the sink. I had shut that sink off to stop the leak. Mrs. PJM had told me a month ago to call the plumber to have him come out and replace the faucet. I told here that I could do anything the plumber could do, and that I would replace the faucet once I was out for summer. Well, I did not get around to it, so now we end up in this situation where both sinks are shut off. We are waterless on the first floor of the house, which was not a good place to be. I realized my plan of waiting for the new filters to come from Amazon would not work. Nope, I was going to have to put the system back together under the kitchen sink with the old filters.

So, I start looking around for the old filters, and I can not find them. I ask daughter if she had seen them, and she said the had thrown them away while I was watching Gunsmoke. I look through the trash, and the trash can is empty. I tell her I need them to put the system back together. She said she had already taken the trash out. Now, I have mentioned before that our small community is not really a "town" so it does not have any city services. As far as trash goes, you are on your own. Now, our neighbors, being organized people, had contracted with a company to have a dumpster service. They have a large dumpster, and every couple of weeks someone comes around and empties it for them. It is a nice size one, so when we moved in I negotiated a deal with the neighbors that I would send them an agreed on amount each month, and for that we would be able to use their dumpster. It was a really great deal, as we don't have to fool with having a dumpster, and just have to drop the trash off there every couple of days. Well, in trying to clean up the kitchen, daughter had taken the paper towels and the filters over and threw in the neighbors dumpster. I realized I had to get the system put back together, and I had no option other than going over and retrieving the discarded components. Well, I get over there and realize that I can not reach the bags from standing on the street. Yep, I had to crawl into the dumpster. As it turns out, there were lots of bags of trash in the dumpster, and I am not sure which one is ours, as they were all black heavy duty Glad trash bags. So, I have to start rummaging through each bag. I learned much more about our neighbors going through the trash that day than I ever wanted to know, I tell you.

It is interesting that we normally do not have much traffic on our street, but on this particular day, I think everyone in town drove by. The first ones I am sure were incidental, but then I think word spread that I was dumpster diving in the neighbors trash bin, and everyone else drove by to get a look. Anyway, Mrs. PJM starts getting calls at work asking if everything is OK at our house, and that if we ever need food, all she has to do is call.

So, I finally find the bag with the discarded filters, and I retrieve them. That was a relief, because that pile of trash really wreaked. I mean, they don't come around very often to empty it, and in hot weather things turn ugly pretty fast is a trash bin. So, I get my parts, and go home. With the parts, I was able to put the system back together. I turn the water back on, and water starts squirting out of every one of those little connections that I had taken off and put back on. I tried tightening the connections, but the water continued to flow. I then cut the valve off again, and retreated to the study. I did a little research on google and found out there is this stuff called "Teflon tape", and that you are supposed to use that on plastic threads before you connect the fitting to it. Since the plumber's shop was closed, I sent daughter to Mr. Butler's little grocery store in the hopes they would have some. In about 5 minutes she returned, Teflon tape in hand. So, I take the system apart, put it back together, this time using the tape on all the threads. I turn the valve on . . . no leaks . . . success at last. We do the best we can to get things cleaned up before Mrs. PJM gets home but she still returns to a big mess.

Now, Mrs. PJM was not very happy, and starts explaining that perhaps if I had called the plumber much of this could have been avoided. She suggested that perhaps I should not have used her new bead spread to help soak of the water in the heat of the crisis. Also, she complains that the water tastes funny, and has an odor. Now, just between you and me, I do detect a little whang reminiscent of the neighbors trash bin, but I feel it is best if we do not share with Mrs. PJM the part about the filters ending up in the neighbors trash bin. Then, there is still the matter of the non-functioning sink in the utility room. She is insisting we call the plumber, but I remain convinced that I can do the job. Well, the bottom line is that Mrs. PJM feels that I am not ready for a tractor. She is concerned that I would injure myself. I tell her that in high school I drove tractors professionally, working for local farmers. I tell her that tractor work is very different than plumbing, and that it was really the plumber's confusing installation job on the system that had caused the whole mess. She is unconvinced, and I feel I probably do not have time to redeem myself for this particular birthday. But there is always next year.

Round Three

Dateline Chirstoval, TX - In a bold an unprecedented move that industry insiders say is a first, PJM has decided to have a unheard of "Third Round" of the Mystery Person Contest. Analyst say that in the past, there have been two rounds, but this move will definitely turn the internet upside down.

Bonus Edition Mystery Contest

If you think I am going to take Gina's quick win in the contest laying down, you are wrong. Oh, you are wrong. We are having a second contest this morning. It is not over, oh no, it is not over, it goes on.

Mystery Horse

I have grown weary of you all continuing to make a mockery of my weekly contest. I am sick of your arrogance and insolence. This week the gloves come off. Yes, this week, you have to tell me the name of the horse. "That is against the rules", you say, "You can not have a horse in the mystery contest!". I remind you, there are no rules in this game. Yes, this week, I watch you all go down to defeat! Let the Games Begin!!!!!

Friday, June 12, 2009

New York City Fire Department

Today we finish up our look at old Fire Engines. Today's picture was taken in about 1915 in New York City. This is one of the last horse drawn fire engines, on one of its last runs. You can see the new motorized fire engine in the background. The end of an era.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Alexandria Fire Department

This picture was taken in 1863. It shows the Alexandria, Virginia Fire Station. It is interesting to look at the equipment . . . it looks like things did not change much between the 1860's and the 1910's.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


This picture was taken in 1905, and shows the Wenatchee, Washington Fire Department. I wonder how long it took them to get the horses harnessed when a call came in.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Today we feature a picture of a fire engine in front of a fire station. The photograph was taken in 1911, in York Pennsylvania. I think this is a "pumper truck", which had a steam engine to run the water pump.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Fire Station

This is another picture of a fire station, using horse-drawn fire engines. The picture was taken in 1918. I am somewhat surprised that horse-drawn units were still being used at this time, as motorized trucks were readily available at this time.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Horse Drawn Fire Engine

I have always been fascinated by fire engines . . . new and old. Today's picture is from New York City, and shows one of the old style horse-drawn fire engines. The truck is on its way to the Triangle Shirtwaist Company fire, which occurred on March 25, 1911. This was a devastating fire in a garment factory, with 146 people being killed. Some died from smoke and fire, and others died from jumping from the upper story windows. This fire actually led to new laws related to workplace safety.

As an added bonus, I found this interesting video clip of the New York City Fire Department in 1903, with horse-drawn fire engines racing to a fire.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Mystery Person

Today is Saturday, and that means Mystery Person Contest. I am looking forward to this week's contest, and hope you all have a lot of fun. Let the Game Begin!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Rumble Seat

We close out our look at Rural America today with this picture of a family and their car. The picture was taken in 1940 in Pie Town, New Mexico. I agree with one of the comments from earlier . . . I think that all these pictures were taken on the same day at a Fair type event. I like this picture because the car has a rumble seat. I wonder if any of you ever got to ride in a Rumble Seat? If so, was it fun?

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Father and Daughter

Today we feature another picture from Pie Town, New Mexico in 1940. This picture shows a Homesteader and his daughter enjoying a plate of Barbeque. I love this picture, as it captures a tender moment between Father and Daughter.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009


This picture was taken in 1940, and shows a homesteader couple. The picture was taken in Pie Town, New Mexico. I love these old pictures of homesteaders. I like the idea of a couple given a chance at the American Dream. I am sure it was a hard life, but with land, they were given a shot at success.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009


Rural America week continues here at OPOD. Today we feature a picture of a homesteader from Pie Town, New Mexico. The picture was taken in 1940, and the country was emerging from the Great Depression. His jacket and clothes appear to be in pretty good shape, but his hat has seen better days.

Monday, June 1, 2009


We continue our examination of rural America with this picture of a Rodeo. The picture was taken in Pie Town, New Mexico in 1940. Small town rodeos are still a big deal in rural areas. Many kids have dreams of hitting it big as a bronc rider, or steer wrestler. I think overall things have changes less in the last 100 years in rural areas than in cities.