Saturday, November 26, 2022

Learning to Write Like a First Grade Teacher

 Learning to Write Like a First Grade Teacher

By Bobby Neal Winters

I’ve always been a clutz.  I’ve had poor hand eye coordination. My handwriting is horrible and my printing is hardly  better. Over the last year, however, I’ve made a discovery: I can put a Phillips screwdriver into the top of a screw without thinking about it.

That last prepositional phrase, “without thinking about it,” is a necessary part of the sentence.  If I think about it too much, my conscious mind gets in the way, and I miss.  My hands have an intelligence guiding them that is separate from my conscious mind.

When I first noticed this, my mind popped to a phrase from the 137th Psalm: “If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning.”

The Psalmist recognized the hands as having a separate intelligence of their own.

I’ve also discovered that I can print like a first grade teacher if I take my time. That’s what my teachers always told me: I should take my time.  

I think this is all happening now--long after it would have helped any of the teachers who’ve suffered through my handwriting--because I’ve taken up woodworking.

In learning, I’ve always been an adventurer, from the very beginning.  I didn’t listen to my teachers when they told me there was a right way to form my letters.  I figured out how to do it on my own and did it my way. (Queue up Sinatra on the background music.)  My way “worked” but there were better ways that I didn’t even look at because I already “knew” how to do it.

I’ve been a fool.

By the Grace of God, I am what I am, and by His Grace, I’ve lived long enough to see it.

I started woodworking almost exactly one year ago.  I’d found my father-in-law’s old, old Harbor Freight table saw.  By old, old I mean pre-OSHA.  It terrified me.

It terrified me, but I set myself to learn how to use it.  In doing so, I began the habit of study.  YouTube, which I’d found to be useful in other learning endeavors, became my best friend.  In learning how to use this table saw, I became hooked on woodworking.

I’ve learned the skills that my Kindergarten teachers, my grade school teachers, and all the rest had tried in vain to teach me: Take your time; follow the steps; don’t work ahead of the class.

If you want to make a groove in a board, you can do it.  There are a lot of ways to do it, but most of them will put you at risk of getting your fingers cut off, so maybe use the method you are being taught, at least until you know what you are doing.

When you build things with wood, you start with basic shapes, basic joints then you build up from there.  The short way of saying this is that everything is a box.  In this way, woodworking is very mathematical.  The difference between woodworking and mathematics is that in math, when you make a mistake, you can just erase it.  

In woodworking, there are things you can do to fix it, but it’s more expensive than an eraser. You learn to think further ahead; to take care; to take time.

You slow down.

I can now print like a first grade teacher, but I do it very slowly.  I suppose that I would learn to be faster if I practiced at it more.  Maybe I will, because it calms me.  I slow down and think about each word, each letter, breaking the letters into their pieces. 

Letters can be broken into separate pieces just like chairs and cabinets. It only took me sixty years to learn this.

While I don’t use my new skill in printing much, I am using my ability to “stab a screw” because I’ve been transforming my garage into a workshop.  As I write this, I’ve almost finished installing sheetrock onto the ceiling.  I’ve got chalk dust in my hair to prove it. I’ve gained a respect for another line of work and have no regret for missing out on that particular career.

If I were to die today, there would be people who would look at my age in the obituary and say, “Well, he had a good run.”

I would refute that with a line from Tennyson: “Life piled on life \ Were all too little, and of one to me \ Little remains: but every hour is saved \ From that eternal silence, something more, A bringer of new things...”

If God, in His Grace, gives me the time, I will build my shop.  My hands will learn their cunning.

Bobby Winters, a native of Harden City, Oklahoma, blogs at redneckmath.blogspot.com and okieinexile.blogspot.com. He invites you to “like'' the National Association of Lawn Mowers on Facebook. Search for him by name on YouTube. )



Friday, November 18, 2022

Some meandering thoughts on the passage of time and getting older

 Some meandering thoughts on the passage of time and getting older

By Bobby Neal Winters

If the time of year made a sound, right now it would be making the sound of a spinning quarter on a table top. The quarter would be about to tip over and do its final flops before coming to a rest.

We still have the month of December ahead.  On one hand, that is one-twelfth of the year; on the other hand, it disappears like a snowflake in an October snow.  Soon we will find it is New Year’s Eve and we will be wondering where the Old Year went.

Even though I draw the bulk of my pay for the service of administration, I still teach a class.  This is in part because of the advice the academic vice president who originally hired me gave when he learned I was interested in administration. “Never stop teaching,” he said.

And I haven’t.  It was good advice. Rest in peace, Dr. Ratzalf.

I am teaching a small, upper-division class this semester.  The students in it are younger than my youngest child, the daughter we had when we were pushing forty. Time passes differently for them than it does for me.  To me, this semester has disappeared, well, like a snowflake in an October snow. 

In my mind, we’ve just started.  Today, I met them and gave them their last lecture before their last regular exam.  I taught the material, and my feeling was that they couldn’t’ve had the time to absorb the material that led up to this point.

But they seem okay about it.  To them, this semester has lasted months and not just moments.

If only they knew how quickly they would be sixty.

As this is an upper division class, some of them are going to graduate this semester, and some of them are going to graduate school to work on their masters degree.  I still have dreams of that time in my life.  My professors and my fellow students are still a part of my unconscious mind.

They are still with me, but, as I said, it was just an eyeblink ago.  That is, if it takes 40 years to blink an eye.

I spend more time trying to remember words and names than I used to.  It used to be “pop,” and there it was.  Now it sometimes takes seconds, minutes, or even weeks.  I suppose that I should feel good that I remember for weeks that I’d forgotten a word a few weeks ago, but it doesn’t really work like that.

Today, I was telling my students something that had happened in 1995, and it occurred to me to ask, “Were you even born then?”

No. No they were not.

Never ask a question you don’t want to hear the answer to.

My hair is almost totally white now.  I put that word almost in there just in case someone with a magnifying glass calls me on it.

As those of you who follow this space or who are acquainted with me in real life know, I’ve lost a lot of weight recently.  This is good; I feel better than I have in years.  Those who watch me walk by now as I walk downtown will see that I go at quite a bit faster clip than I did even a year ago.

There is a down side though.  Whereas the subcutaneous fat used to push my skin with enough tension to make it smooth, this is no longer the case.  I have wrinkles where they didn’t used to be. And worse, I have waddles in diverse places.

What’s more, these waddles are larger than they might otherwise be because I’ve lost so much weight.

I wonder if I would look younger if I got my waddles pierced and put earrings through them.

Probably not.

I am not as worried about getting old as I may have made it sound.  I had a friend who died of cancer in his forties who was denied this experience.  I think I should choose to glory in it as much as possible.

I’ve never been vain about my appearance--you only need to look at me to know--so the white hair, the wrinkles, and the waddles don’t bother me.

No, if I were to worry, it would be about taking so long to remember words, to remember names.  As my mother had dementia, that might be actually a legitimate thing to worry about.  But I don’t think it’s that.

I think that once you reach a certain age you’ve had so many experiences, have met so many people, have learned so many things, that it just takes time to pick your way through all of them.

I still remember the things I need to know: the number of the director of HR, the number of the University Attorney, and the number of the Title IX office.  Anything beside that, you can take the time to look up.

And I can still solve more problems with one two-minute phone call than most junior faculty could in a month of Sundays.  And NO, I have not retired. Not hardly.

Bobby Winters, a native of Harden City, Oklahoma, blogs at redneckmath.blogspot.com and okieinexile.blogspot.com. He invites you to “like'' the National Association of Lawn Mowers on Facebook. Search for him by name on YouTube. )



Saturday, November 12, 2022

Mortise and Tenon, Blood and Sweat

 Mortise and Tenon, Blood and Sweat

By Bobby Neal Winters

Thanksgiving Day is coming soon.  The blood of the turkey has no doubt already been shed.  The cans of cranberry sauce are sitting in the pantry waiting for their contents to be shaken free.  French onion, mushroom soup, and green beans wait to be combined into a casserole.

This is the nearest thing the increasingly secular culture of the United States has that corresponds to the ancient practice of blood sacrifice. Please bear with me as I expand on this.

Right now as I type this, I have a scab that is a 16th of an inch wide and one-and-a-quarter inches long on the index finger of my left hand. With any luck, it will make a nice scar to remind me how I got it.

I’d been cutting a tenon because I wanted to learn how to cut a mortise and tenon.  I’d done the mortise first, because that’s how you do it, and I was cutting my tenon to fit it.  I’d had my tenon in the vise as I’d cut it, but I’d taken it out to have a look at it.  I noticed that it needed to be trimmed a little along the edge.  Rather than put it back in the vise, a lazy voice in my brain told me I could just hold it with my hand as I trimmed it.

It was a lazy and not too smart voice.

My Japanese pull-saw slipped, and its cutting edge slipped along the top of my knuckle. There was a lot of blood, but I managed to staunch it with some paper towels. I went into the house with a bloody paper towel wrapped around my finger.  My wife looked at my finger and then looked at me with that expression she has when she questions her life-choices.

No stitches were required, but I will, as I said, have a nice scar, a memorial to my stupidity. 

You might well wonder what a mortise and tenon is.  It is a joint for holding two pieces of wood together.  These are words from Old French. A mortise is a hole that you cut into one piece of wood and a tenon is a peg that you carve from the other piece that goes into that hole.

Given that description and the fact that the words come from Old French, anyone who has ever been a 14-year-old boy might be forgiven for having certain hypotheses about what the words mean in the original French, but no, get that right out of your head.  Tenon actually came into French from the Latin tenere, which means to hold.  The origins of mortise are more mysterious, but some believe it came into Old French from an Arabic word that means to hold as well.

Those meanings work well with the application because this is a joint that does hold.

The fact that I cut myself and drew quite a bit of blood while learning who to make this joint works well with the idea that one must suffer to learn one’s art.  Though I will be the first to say that calling what I do art is to stretch that small word beyond all recognition.  I probably should have used the word craft instead, but there is some stretching going on there too.

In any case, it ties into that ancient idea of the blood sacrifice.  If we get something, we must give something.  The better the thing we are asking for, the higher the price we pay.  Something really good requires blood because blood is the stuff of life itself, and life is the most precious thing.

To give blood in exchange for knowledge and skill is appropriate.  Knowledge and skill are some of the most precious assets we can possess. They are more portable than diamonds; they can be stolen; and you keep them even if you give them.

As we come into Thanksgiving, we are participating in another sort of sacrifice.  I was reminded of this by one of my pastor’s sermons the other day on tithing. (It’s that time of year, folks.) While some tithes were to be given to the priests of the temple, others were given as feasts to be shared with one’s fellows.  God directed his people to take some of their “increase” and share it with their neighbors and family.

This sounds a great deal like Thanksgiving to me.  We offer the food as an offering in thanks to God and this is done in exchange for greater fellowship with our friends and family.

This fellowship joins us more tightly with each other.  We sacrifice food, time, a bit of conversation, and a bit of ourselves in exchange for bonds that will connect one to the other like mortise and tenon.

As you sit around the table on Thanksgiving, join hands and pray--if you do--and deepen than bond.  Join to your loved ones and hold on to them as tightly as you can.

Bobby Winters, a native of Harden City, Oklahoma, blogs at redneckmath.blogspot.com and okieinexile.blogspot.com. He invites you to “like'' the National Association of Lawn Mowers on Facebook. Search for him by name on YouTube. )





Saturday, November 05, 2022

On Darkness, Death, and other Parts of Life

 On Darkness, Death, and other Parts of Life

By Bobby Neal Winters

With the passing of Halloween, autumn is fully upon us.  There is no denying it now. My morning alarm goes off in the pitch black of night; we sit down to supper in darkness.  Leaves have fallen to cover the sidewalk and whatever dog poop that might be there.

Time to shift gears.

Death is a part of life.

The trees spent the summer growing their leaves out toward the sun, making them out of air, water, and a few other ingredients taken from the soil.  

The leaves have now fallen and will spend the winter in decay.  By decay, I mean they are themselves food for bacteria and various other microorganisms.

The poop under the leaves will decay as well.

It all goes back into the system of life.

The Indians, the indigenous peoples, understood.  They believed everything was living. They believed even the rocks were alive. And consider this: rocks are broken down by lichen and other organisms.  Their components are released into the soil and into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide. The rocks themselves are a part of the system.

The Indigenous Peoples thought the earth itself was alive. Some of them found the notion of plowing the earth to be as offensive as cutting a woman’s breast.  The earth was their Mother.

The Earth is our Mother. We--Life--springs forth from it.  Life on Earth is made from it just as each of us is made from our mother’s body.

That is a good paragraph.  Reread it. It will do you good.

But I digress.

We who live in the northern hemisphere are now going into our time of darkness; our time of death. We mark this with Halloween; with All Saint’s Day’; with El Dia de Los Muertos.

We think about those we love who have died. We think about our own death.  We think about the day when we ourselves will fall like leaves onto the Earth to be taken apart and put back into the system.  Even dead we are part of life; like the soil; like the rocks that become the soil.

But that is just a part of it.  There is a layer of human life that is above just eating and drinking; urinating and defecating. 

Satan tempted Jesus to turn the stones to bread. Jesus replied that “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.”

When we die, our lives are broken down by those who are left much like microorganisms break down the leaves.  By our lives, I mean our actions, the way we conducted ourselves, the way we treated others. This can begin at our funeral in the pastor’s homily as he lays our life out as an offering. That casts the pastor doing something analogous to what a vulture does to a fallen wildebeest, so I think I will not press that analogy too far.

In any case, our deeds become a part of others' lives as they choose to repeat them.

Talking about death, talking about the dead is a necessary and good part of life.  We honor them and we serve ourselves by emulating what was worthy in them.

They live again to the extent their lives were words from the mouth of God.

During the summer, we are turned outward into the world.  The World of Light and the World of Life is all around us. When the light recedes, we turn inward.  We examine ourselves.  We assess who we are, and we plan who we would like to be.

We sit in front of the hearth (usually tuned to Netflix or Amazon Prime) to contemplate who we are, to plan who we would like to be.  Can we make the actions of our lives to be words coming from the mouth of God?

We think such things when the darkness and cold are at our door like a pair of starving wolves.

The sun will come again. Life will begin anew.

Until then we wait.

Bobby Winters, a native of Harden City, Oklahoma, blogs at redneckmath.blogspot.com and okieinexile.blogspot.com. He invites you to “like'' the National Association of Lawn Mowers on Facebook. Search for him by name on YouTube. )


Saturday, October 29, 2022

A Metaphor made manifest

A Metaphor made Manifest

By Bobby Neal Winters

Last Wednesday I was either teaching or in a meeting every hour from 9am until 4pm.  My 4pm meeting was a half-hour telephone call, and then as I drove home I got a call from someone who had missed my 2pm Zoom meeting.

My schedule was tight. There were no gaps, no cracks.  Every event flowed exactly into the next.

When I’d gotten the last of my schedule done, I went to my garage and I cut dovetails.

That’s what I’ve been working on lately: I am learning to cut dovetail joints by hand.  I will forgive you for not knowing what dovetails are because one year ago I didn’t know what they were myself.

I’d heard the word dovetail.  I have even used the phrase “that dovetails nicely,” but when I did so, I was a fraud.  I didn’t feel it. I didn’t have an appreciation for the phrase.  I didn’t know from whence it came.

Now I do.  I don’t know that makes me a better person, but I do feel a bit more...smug.  That’s it: Smug. Smugness is what I am feeling.

Let me now transition from being smug to being pedantic. The two dovetail as it were.

A dovetail joint is a way to join two pieces of wood together. If you have an old chest of drawers, open one drawer a crack and look how the front of the drawer is connected with the sides. If you see the wood on the corners of the sides fan out into something that looks like birds’ tails (dovetail) the drawer has been made using dovetails.

The joint consists of two pieces.  One one piece, has the eponymous dovetails and the matching piece has the pins.  The idea is that you cut the pins so that they mesh so tightly with the dovetails that a thin layer of glue will barely fit between them and not much else. The flaring out of the dovetails helps hold the pieces together.

Tightness is the name of the game, so I cut them with a Japanese dovetail saw.  The saw is very thin so that it has a very small kerf (look it up). Japanese saws cut when you pull toward you rather than when you push so that they don’t bend in a tight kerf.

One marks the dovetails in a very particular way.  It is almost ritualized, and that word “almost” might not belong there.  There might just be different denominations of dovetail cutters.

You can measure with a ruler and divide the end of your board that way.  The folks on YouTube sometimes deride that as being too mathematical.  The alternative is to use dividers, which are similar to a compass, to mark the ends of the dovetails.  I find this much more satisfactory, and, ironically, much more mathematics.  It harkens back to Euclidean geometry and constructing geometric figures.

You learn this process by watching someone else do it, but you don’t really understand until you do it yourself.  Let me rework that last clause: “until you do it wrong yourself.”

When you do it wrong, thinking that detail didn’t matter, you get to the end and...ssss...there is a gap.  The joint still functions, but it’s not as beautiful as it was in your head. You see the reason it was done that particular way.

Your wife will look at it, and say that it’s beautiful. But you know what it’s supposed to look like.

This semester my Wednesday schedule at work fits together as tightly as a very finely crafted dovetail joint. It all consists of talking to people and listening to people.  Paying attention. Taking notes. Making promises. Trying not to make promises.

I begin to suffer from a malady I call “too many conversations.”

I’ve been a part of too many conversations during the day.  I start replaying some of the conversations in my head, and they are never the conversations that went well. Words swirl in my head like sawdust in a shop vac.

The ritual of marking, measuring, and cutting focuses me.  I am no longer in a world of words whirling in my head.  I am in a realm of things. The world of reality. It is a good world; a solid world; a world that is just better somehow.

In this world, I can see the mistakes I make and work to fix them.  An ugly gap? Fill it with epoxy resin. The wood is not even?  That is why God invented random orbital sanders.

The dovetails aren’t perfect.  Well, they are never going to be, but they will be better next time.

My central task these days is making a cabinet of drawers for my shop. I am using cedar pickets from the fencing section of Home Despot [sic] for the drawers.  They are cheap and they smell nice when you cut them.  Good for practice.

The wood is, however, horrible for this purpose.  By this I mean it is very soft.  It is very hard to get a tight fit and very easy to break and make it ugly. But it’s good for practice, and I am the only one who I need to please.

The stack of drawers in my cabinet is a history of my introduction to learning dovetails. The latest is better than the first. You can stack them from bottom to top and see the difference.

It all fits quite nicely.

Bobby Winters, a native of Harden City, Oklahoma, blogs at redneckmath.blogspot.com and okieinexile.blogspot.com. He invites you to “like'' the National Association of Lawn Mowers on Facebook. Search for him by name on YouTube. )


Saturday, October 22, 2022

So you want to live forever

 So you want to live forever

By Bobby Neal Winters

You can remember someone who is no longer living but whose life has had an effect on you. Their existence has continued after death. To me, this is just the plain truth.  I am sure there are those who are learned that could rip that logic apart, but I am just going to let them.

My mother’s family were town people.  They were small town people, but they were still town people.  My father’s family were not.  Town people come into contact with more people than country people do. Hence the name “town people.”  My mother’s family knew more of the little things that get you through the day.

My dad learned a lot of these things and he kept the ones he thought were smart.  My mother’s younger brother, Tommy, wore glasses.  He taught my dad that it’s not a good idea to put your glasses down lens first on any surface because they would get scratched.

My mother’s mother always said that when you are washing a sharp knife to never let it go.  You pick it up; hold it the whole time you are washing it; rinse it, again holding it the whole time.  You only put it down when you put it in the drainer.

Dad was fond of both my Uncle Tommy and my momma’s mother.  He learned those things, and whenever he taught them to me and my brother, he mentioned where he’d learned them.

Wearing glasses myself, I still lay them down face up religiously. On those rare occasions that I do dishes by hand [we will pause here for my wife to chuckle], I never let loose of a sharp knife. (I think that particular one could be raised to a higher level by a Mafia Don or some such, but let’s just let that one go.) 

But my point is what these people taught my dad still affects me. And, because I’ve shared this with you, they are still teaching.

This could be a point where I could digress into the value of teaching.  It would be handy to do because my Uncle Tommy was a grade school teacher who taught the Navajo in the Four-Corners region of New Mexico.  But my mom’s mom wasn’t, and in any case, Tommy didn’t tell my dad about how to handle glasses as a teacher but as a friend.

Dad learned from them because he liked them.

While as a teacher that is something I might like to keep in my mind, it is something everyone might do well to remember. It is not a crime to position yourself in such a way that people like you.  

And I don’t mean that you have to be a pushover. You can exercise kindness without letting people walk all over you.

There, I said the word: Kindness.

You can be kind.

You can be kind, but sometimes it’s quite an exercise.  Sometimes it requires capturing the flow of events and slowing them down so you can get a handle on them. There are times in conversations when you need to delay what you say so that you can understand what has just been said in order to edit what you are going to reply.  That was quite a long sentence; you might want to read it again.

And there are times when a good editor just marks a blue pencil through everything.

Kindness goes beyond niceness.  There are wicked, wicked people who are “nice.” Kindness has a spine of love in it.

Love: there, I’ve said it.

If you’ve only watched movies, you likely don’t know what love is.  Love is not a state you fall into.  Love is a choice. You can choose to love people.

We can’t always choose our feelings, but love is not a feeling. I was going to write that love is wanting the best for someone, but let me be more careful.  It is a consequence of love to want the best for someone. 

We are to love our neighbors; we are to love our enemies.  That is quite a spectrum there.

It was the love of my Uncle Tommy and my Grandma Byrd that caused them to want to teach my father these small things. He felt that love and returned it, so he was able to let himself learn from them and pass it on.

These were only two of the things he learned from them. There are other things we learn unconsciously.  We absorb things just by being with them.  And we pass them on as well.

We learn love; we pass on love; we live forever in love.

Bobby Winters, a native of Harden City, Oklahoma, blogs at redneckmath.blogspot.com and okieinexile.blogspot.com. He invites you to “like'' the National Association of Lawn Mowers on Facebook. Search for him by name on YouTube. )



Friday, October 14, 2022

The Bacon Grease Gospel

 The Bacon Grease Gospel

By Bobby Neal Winters

A short time ago, my wife made us some BLT sandwiches. Well, as I don’t eat iceberg lettuce, mine was a BT sandwich, but I digress. There was bacon grease leftover in the pan afterwards, and by morning it had cooled and congealed.

Every morning, I fry myself two eggs.  I usually use vegetable oil, but there--right on the stove top--was the congealed, nitrite-full fat of the bacon-beast.  I took a big spoon and ladled it out into the cast-iron skillet that I use to fry my morning eggs.  I was, of course, careful to miss the kitty footprints that were in it; there are always kitty footprints in it.

The results were delightful.  I was able to stretch out the bacon grease for a few mornings.  

Life is good.

Many of you are shocked. You are saying that he has fallen off the weight-control wagon. That I have backslidden.

No.  Not yet. Not because of that.

Whether you gain or lose weight depends upon the number of total calories you consume.  There might be other reasons you shouldn’t eat bacon fat, but this is not one of them.

Every group has its own type of fat.  Our Mediterranean brothers and sisters have olive oil; the dairy farmers in Wisconsin have butter; the Jewish community in New York City has chicken fat,schmaltz I think it’s called.

Bacon grease is the fat of my people, and we are a People who know about fat first hand.

On my mother’s stove there stood a Crisco can.  The one thing that I never saw in that Crisco can was Criso.  The store-bought Crisco was always quickly used up--for what I don’t know--and the can was then put to permanent use for storing bacon drippings.

You fry bacon; you eat it; you save the drippings in the can. After the grease was used, it was alway carefully retrieved.  At least as much as hadn’t soaked into the food was retrieved.  So some of it was used over, and over, and over. One might wonder whether it would eventually polymerise or develop into a living thing.  One might wonder, but one oughtn’t if one wants to sleep well.

You might have a nightmare about the contents of a Crisco can terrorizing and isolated Oklahoma town like the movie “Tremors” or something.

I submit that the saving of bacon grease is at the very least educational and at most a means of grace. 

We learn not to waste: the pig died for us to have the bacon, so it is a duty upon us to put it to as much use as possible. We learn the accumulation of small things builds up: a piece of bacon only has a small bit of grease in it, but over time you can fill a whole Crisco can. We learn to postpone a celebration: it takes a long time to save up enough to fry something big, so you’d better learn to wait.

My marriage is a mixed marriage.  I married out of the bacon and into the butter. Though her parents had lived in Oklahoma long enough to learn the good of bacon grease, they had not learned the discipline of saving it. Try as I might, I could not convince my wife to begin it on her own.  When I tried to do it, I was banished from the kitchen for “starting with frying four pieces of bacon.”

If we’d saved our bacon grease, I wouldn’t have had to.

Well, yes, I do get the point.  You can have bacon grease; you can eat fried foods.  But it is all in amounts: Portion size and frequency.

I can get away with two fried eggs, and even two fried eggs every day, but fried chicken--especially the chicken fried in bacon grease like Momma used to--one has to separate those occasions far from each other: Sundays? Birthdays? Humans setting foot on Mars?

We need to get beyond the superstitious thinking that some foods are magically good and some foods are cursed.

Bacon grease is not cursed.  It is blessed,but with a blessing that requires its controlled use.

The Catholics advise a controlled use of meat during lent. Perhaps there could be a similar but more stringent control of bacon grease: Only between 6 and 7am on weekdays and 7 and 8am on weekends.  (If that seems a little specific, it’s only your imagination.)

It’s something to think about.

Bobby Winters, a native of Harden City, Oklahoma, blogs at redneckmath.blogspot.com and okieinexile.blogspot.com. He invites you to “like'' the National Association of Lawn Mowers on Facebook. Search for him by name on YouTube. )