A Flowery Fiendish Conspiracy

Dear Fans, Friends, Fiends, Foes, Foundlings and Flower Children,

I have written about many things on this blog in times past; politics, religion, personal, emotional and spiritual matters and a lot more.  But I have discovered a conspiracy that is profoundly evil and insidious and yet most people do not even realize they are participants in it.  Some times of the year it is more prevalent than others, but it is always around and has been, historically, at least since Roman times (not to be confused wth Times New Roman ).  It is, I suppose, Mankind’s fallen human nature that would take an item that was part of a curse and make it seem wonderful and beautiful but I have seen through that veil and have come to the conclusion that

Continue reading “A Flowery Fiendish Conspiracy”

Why I Put Fair Blows the Wind at Number Three

Dear Louis L’Amour Fans,

I had changed my chronology of the first three books to put Fair Blows the Wind back as the first book to read in the series after I had received an e-mail pointing out that Louis himself had stated that the hulk of the ship that Barnabas takes shelter in is, in fact, the same one that Tatton Chantry had found. Since Louis makes this distinction then I must, of course, follow it in the chronology titled Louis’ Chronolgy.

However, when I very first started reading these novels, not having access to any websites and before The Sackett Companion was written, I placed Fair Blows the Wind as the third book in the series. While it is true that if you follow the dates that stated in the texts you can figure out the timing, there was one incident that stood out to me. In Fair Blows the Wind, in chapter 5, Tatton mentions an old fisherman that gave him some money and clothes and advice to, “Leave the shore and go inland away from it. There be, many accents in England…try to learn a trade…” In chapter 21 of To the Far Blue Mountains a lad stows away on Barnabas’ ship in Ireland and is discovered when they land. The description of the boy is the same as Tatton, with the fine shoulders and the conversation that Barnabas has with him is almost exactly the same. At the end of the chapter the lad says, “My name?”He hesitated. “My first is Tatton. I’ll not be telling the other.”

When I got the idea to make a website with a chronology of the Sackett, Chantry and Talon families I remembered the scene. I had not read all of the first three books I list very closely together and did not think to look up dates, I just figured the scenes were meant to be the same, so I made Fair Blows the Wind number three. Therefore, with all respect to the fine folks that pointed out the error of it, I will be changing my personal chronology and leaving the LL chronology with Fair Blows the Wind first.

Blogging A – Z Challenge 2015 H

Blogging A – Z Challenge

H is for Heroes

I have several writing heroes; maybe even more than several, but the ones I was thinking of as I got up in the wee sma’s this morning were, L’Amour, Heinlein, Poe, Bradbury and O. Henry.  This is a fairly diverse group but their message about writing is always kind of the same.  You have to actually do it.  This was reinforced to me again in an article on writersdigest.com called “Finding Time to Write” by Linda Lafferty.  http://www.writersdigest.com/online-editor/finding-time-to-write  One sentence stood out from all the rest (This is an article worth every wannabe writer’s reading) “When I wailed, ‘I want to be a writer!’ my husband gave me the tough news. ‘Linda—a writer writes.’”

So, here is a story.

RoyalTypewriterBradbury

Herby, Author Extraordinaire and the Magic Typewriter

Herby, Author Extraordinaire, was a great writer, and he knew it and so did everyone around him. Or, at least they thought they did. He told them he was.  No one had ever actually seen a story he had written although his wife had seen a few poems he had made for her and had to admit, if he would actually sit down and work on it, he could probably do great things.  She often told him that.

“Herb!  Get off that video game and get some writing done!  You could probably do great things if you would actually work at it.”

“That’s O. Herby, Author Extraordinaire.”

“Oy!  Listen, Mister Author-pants, we need things done around here.  You need to get a real job that brings in some real cash or we will really be out on the street with no place to plug your computer in.”

The great author pondered this truth as his wife walked over and pulled the plug on him, he made her so mad.

“You’ve pulled the plug on me!”

“Get a job!”  She screamed delicately.  “And some milk.”

So O. Herby went job-hunting.  As he was out pounding the pavement he saw a man in a long black trench-coat standing in an alley.  He had the collar turned up and a broad-brimmed hat pulled low over his face.  “Psst.  Hey buddy.  Come on over here.  I’ve got something for you to see.”  As O. Herby walked up to the man he noticed that under his coat was a large object, which the man now pulled out.

“Why, that’s a typewriter!”

“Ssshhh.  Not so loud,” said the man, his shifty eyes looking around to see if anyone had heard, “Everyone will want one.”

“Sorry, pal, but this is the twenty-first century, we have computers now.  Besides, why all this cloak and dagger stuff?  So what, you have a typewriter.”

“But this isn’t just any typewriter, buddy, this is a magic typewriter.  It writes the stories by itself.”

“Really?  Come on.”

“Do I look like the kind of guy who would trick you?”

“Yes.”

“I picked you because you looked like the intelligent, author-ly type, but maybe I was wrong.  You don’t want a magic typewriter, fine, I won’t let you have it.”

“I’m not the rich, author-ly type.  Not yet anyway.”

“How much money you got?”

“Four dollars to buy a gallon of milk.”

“I’ll sell you this magic typewriter for only three dollars and ninety-five cents.”

“My wife will kill me.  She already pulled the plug on me this morning.”

“Tell ya what I’m gonna do.  For you, today only, I’ll give it away to you for two dollars.  You can price-match the milk at Walmart for a dollar ninety-nine and have a penny left over.  A penny,” he added, “For your thoughts.”

The brilliant writer thought about the offer, but being as wise as he was, he knew he had to check the deal out some more.  “Yeah, but does it have all the keys and a ribbon and everything?”

“You are a shrewd businessman.  Yes, all the keys work and it even comes with, get this, a spare ribbon and one of those eraser pencils with the brush on top.”

This was too much.  O. Herby bought the magic typewriter and ran home to his wife.

“Oh, Herbie!  I send you to the store for milk and you stop at the junk store and buy this instead?”

“I didn’t stop at the store, and I still have enough money to buy milk.”

She just stood there and shook her head as he told her the whole story.  He had really gone off the deep end this time.  She sighed.  “Fine.  I’ll go to the store; you set up your magic typewriter and show me how it works when I get back.”

He stared at his new treasure and wondered what he was supposed to do next.  He knew his wife would look for the guy who had sold it to him and for some reason he didn’t believe she would find him.  He looked back on the whole transaction and wondered if maybe he hadn’t been a little hasty.  But yet, the guy could have been a magician or sorcerer as easily as he might have been a shyster.

There was a little table and chair that sat by the back window.  He could see the sky and the birdbath and it was just a nice, relaxing little spot.  He set the typewriter on it and scrolled a piece of paper into it, trying to hearken back to the typing class he took in high school back in the seventies.  He set the margins and tabs and indents as best as he could remember.

Then he sat back and watched.  He was still sitting and watching when his wife came home with the gallon of milk.  For the first several days he watched and waited as nothing continued happening.

He did notice on the second day that a small pair of finches had begun building a nest in the patio light fixture.  He liked the little brown birds with the red heads and jotted a note to himself to think of ways to describe them.

On the third day he discovered that they must have been there for a while because there were three or four hatchlings making noise.

On the fourth day the phone rang and he was called for a job interview.  This made his wife extremely happy, of course, but she would miss their little adventures of watching the birds.

Herby, Author Extraordinaire soon became one of the top salesmen at the department store he worked at and all should have been peaceful and happy, except that every evening when he came home, he would sit in front of the magic typewriter. He would watch the birds and talk to his wife but even then he kept a weather eye out on the typewriter. He had no idea how to make the thing work, but he knew, deep inside, that there must be some secret to it.  He’d tried talking to it, waving his hands around it, praying for it, focusing a mental beam on it, just any kind of idea that struck his fancy.  He jotted these in his notebook as well.

His wife came to him one day, “I have been thinking about this magic typewriter.  You know, you have tried a lot of different things, but there is one thing you haven’t tried.”

“What’s that?”

“Well,” she said, sticking her tongue firmly in her cheek, choosing her words carefully so as not to bruise his tender ego.  Actually, him sitting and watching the birds and jotting down their activities every day and his jotting down everything he had done to get the magic typewriter to work was the best progress he had made in a very long time.  She didn’t want him to lose that, and she knew what he was capable of if he could only just get it going, “I seem to remember reading somewhere that some types of magical objects needed human interaction to work.  Like Aladdin inadvertently rubbing the lamp.  Or advanced alien technologies that only seem like magic to us because they are so advanced, but a person discovers an ancient alien device and accidentally pushes a button.  Maybe, just maybe, you could try typing a few sentences out on the magic typewriter and see if maybe, just maybe, you could hit the right keys and make it work.  The momma bird is going to push the babies out within the next couple of days.  Perhaps you could set that as the day you start trying a new thing?”

There was a lot of wisdom in what she said, as there usually was.  His wife was one of the smartest, wisest women he had ever met; after all, she had married him, hadn’t she?  “Okay.  I will try something new then.”

The day came and they watched and laughed as one by one the babies were pushed out into a new life, a life of their own.  What if his wife was right and the magic typewriter was just waiting for him.  She kissed him on the cheek and left to go to her ladies’ meeting, then out to lunch with her girlfriends.  He was off work and pretty much had the day to himself.  He filled his coffee mug and took a deep breath, setting his fingers on the home row of keys.  He typed:

The quick brown fox jumps over a lazy dog.

How quickly daft jumping zebras vex.

He liked typing the pangrams on the page and they looked nice on the page.  They also stretched his fingers.  He typed a couple more, then took a bold and daring step.  He was feeling good, inspired, fun loving.  His wife was write.  He could feel the magic of interacting with the machine and letting go of his imagination.  He turned the knob and removed the sheet of paper that was in the machine and put in a clean fresh sheet.  His fingers were flying and his mind was going a hundred miles an hour.  He could feel the power, the power of the pen, the power of imagination as he began typing on the blank page, “O. Herby, Author Extraordinaire, was a great writer, and he knew it and so did everyone around him…”

Epilogue


Years had gone by and his wife’s advice was what had turned out to be the real magic.  He had become rich and famous but still lived in the same place.  While the Bentley was in the shop one day he decided to stroll around the old neighborhood.  A chill went up and down his spine and the hair on the back of his head bristled.  There in the alley  stood the same man, black trench coat, collar turned up, hat pulled down.  He motioned to O. Herby, Author Extraordinaire, who walked over in a daze.

“Psst.  Hey buddy.  Come on over here.”

“Yeah?”

“See, I told you it was magic.”

Before I Anounce My New Blog

Okay, before I announce to the world this new site, I am going to undertake the task of trying to get all of my stuff on here and dated properly.  The temptation that is hard to resist is to fix each piece rather than leave it as I wrote it originally, mistakes, broken links and all.

Everything Is Status Quo

Everything is status quo.  I am grateful to everyone that has been visiting http://miracleali.org and hope that if you can’t afford to donate you would be so kind as to include a link on your own site.  Most of my readers are not (that I am aware of) independently wealthy, but maybe some of yours are…One never can tell, can one?

Abby Normal asked about the picture on the header.  Well, the new software I am using allows the use of pre-made “skins” which makes it a lot easier to work with when getting started.  This one is from a guy named Andreas Viklund, a 27 year old web designer from Jokkmokk, Sweden.  I went to his website and contacted him and asked.  He said,

The picture is an edited and somewhat manipulated photo of a snowy street in the small town of Porjus, northern Sweden (see www.porjus.se for its official website or http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Porjus for the Wikipedia article).

The town has a population of about 400, and it is where I lived the first 20 years of my life before moving to the larger town Jokkmokk, 45 kilometers south of Porjus. The photo shows the main street, the tourist information center and a café – and the same building as the café (the right house) was where my mother Yvonne worked as a hairdresser and stylist for more than 10 years. Mom died at age 43 in year 2000, so to me the photo is a tribute both to her and to the beautiful village which I grew up in.

The event shown on the photo is the small “christmas market” in the beginning of December 2004, an annual village event which usually draw 80-100 persons out into the cold to meet and get into the christ. That was a cold day, probably around -25 degrees Celsius [ about -13 Fahrenheit ht] – and the afternoon light and the cold air gives a really beautiful effect to the image.

Also note the power lines in the sky, which lead to the powerplant that Porjus is mostly known for.

This made me think of my hometown http://www.shawanoleader.com/2008_Answer_Guide.pdf and surrounding area, which reminds me that I should update you on my dad.  He had his gallbladder out on the 31st and doesn’t feel like he can have any more surgeries.  He didn’t like it and he’s “too old for all that.”  Now, since he has his own experience and has decided this, I can accept it easier than when I knew his arm was being twisted by many different sources.  Fortunately for him he’s still got a pretty strong arm. *sigh*  I haven’t met anyone yet, with any experience or knowledge, who thinks he would truly benefit from chemotherapy and I really don’t know, myself although not being there I could not have much influence anyway.  Well, that’s cheery.

Here are a couple of pieces that are attributed to Jeff Foxworthy, http://www.jefffoxworthy.com/homepage.shtml but which came from floating around in cyberspace and eventually e-mailed to me by Carter.  I did a cursory look and couldn’t find out one way or the other.  If he’s ever been to Wisconsin then probably some of these are his.

ON WISCONSIN

(Attributed to Jeff Foxworthy)

If you consider it a sport to gather your food by drilling through 38 inches of ice and sitting there all day hoping that the food will swim by, you might live in Wisconsin.

If you’re proud that your region makes the national news 96 nights each year because Park Falls is the coldest spot in the nation, you might live in Wisconsin.

If you have ever refused to buy something because it’s “too spendy”, you might live in Wisconsin.

If your local Dairy Queen is closed from November through March, you might live in Wisconsin.

If you instinctively walk like a penguin for five months out of the year, you might live in Wisconsin.

If someone in a store offers you assistance, and they don’t work there, you might live in Wisconsin.

If your dad’s suntan stops at a line curving around the middle of his forehead, you might live in Wisconsin.

If you may not have actually eaten it, but you have heard of Head Cheese, you might live in Wisconsin.

If you have worn shorts and a parka at the same time, you might live in Wisconsin.

If you have either a pet or a child named “Brett”, you might live in Wisconsin.

If your town has an equal number of bars and churches, you might live in Wisconsin.

If you have had a lengthy telephone conversation with someone who dialed a wrong number, you might live in Wisconsin.

If you know how to say Oconomowoc, Waukesha, Menomonee & Manitowoc, you might live in Wisconsin.

If you think that ketchup is a little too spicy, you might live in Wisconsin.

If every time you see moonlight on a lake, you think of a dancing bear, and you sing gently, “From the land of sky-blue waters….”, you might live in Wisconsin.

YOU KNOW YOU ARE A TRUE WISCONSINITE WHEN:

Your idea of a traffic jam is ten cars waiting to pass a tractor on the highway.

“Vacation” means going up north past Hwy 8 for the weekend.

You measure distance in hours.

You know several people who have hit deer more than once.

You often switch from “heat” to “A/C” in the same day and back again.

Your whole family wears Packer Green to church on Sunday.

You can drive 65 mph through 2 feet of snow during a raging blizzard, without flinching.

You see people wearing camouflage at social events (including weddings and funerals).

You install security lights on your house and garage and leave both unlocked.

You think of the major food groups as beer, fish, cheese and venison.

You carry jumper cables in your car and your wife or girlfriend knows how to use them.

There are 7 empty cars running in the parking lot at Mill’s Fleet Farm at any given time.

You design your kid’s Halloween costume to fit over a snowsuit.

Driving is better in the winter because the potholes are filled with snow.

You refer to the Packers as “We.”

You know all 4 seasons: almost winter, winter, still winter and road construction.

You can identify a southern or eastern accent.

You have no problem pronouncing Lac Du Flambeau.

You consider Minneapolis exotic.

You know how to polka.

Your idea of creative landscaping is a statue of a deer next to your blue spruce.

You were unaware that there is a legal drinking age.

Down South to you means Illinois.

A brat is something you eat.

Your neighbor throws a party to celebrate his new pole shed.

You go out to fish fry every Friday.

Your 4th of July picnic was moved indoors due to frost.

You have more miles on your snow blower than your car.

You find minus twenty degrees “a little chilly.”

You actually understand these jokes, and you forward them to all your Wisconsin friends.

So, that’s it for now, remember, the Good Book says, “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:  A time to be born, and a time to die[…]A time to weep, and a time to laugh…”

Error

Beware the Ides of June!

Or

Aaaaaarrrrrrggggggghhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!

I knew something was wrong before I even got Daveman’s ominous message, “herb – i cant comment on yer blog entry. i thought maybe it had to be approved, but it never showed, so i assume it just never made it. pops had same prob.”

Let me tell you the one drawback to doing things on your own and being completely independent; you can’t blame anyone.  You can’t say, “Well, the company’s screwy servers or laid-back service are at fault.”  In my defense, I really am not sure what went wrong, exactly, but I did spend a very long time down trying to fix it.  One thing I do when I am trying to fix something is start a document I name “Error Log” where I make notes to myself on what I have tried so far.  This is useful when posting on a support forum or if you either have a bad memory or are particularly hard headed and try the same procedure seven or eight times because you think, “Oh, well, this time it’ll work.”  Some edited excerpts from my “error log.”  This covers the time from 4:06 am on the thirteenth through 5:05 am on the seventeenth.

I had posted an article that had a time set in the future, which I hadn’t meant to do, so I logged back in and went into the “Articles” screen to change the time.  I couldn’t get into it to delete it and none of the other tabs worked, so I waited until after the time it was to be posted, but then couldn’t edit, preview or customize it and the publish date was frozen.  Nothing opened.

I got the last “clean” copy of sNews 1.6 along with the Index file and the .htaccess file that worked and put them on the server and had the same problem.  This said SQL problem.  Went into the Phpmyadmin 2.9.1.1 and clicked on main name of database, after playing with several tabs, found one marked “Operations” (there wasn’t one marked brain surgery, which I needed) which shared this with me:

Error

The additional features for working with linked tables have been deactivated. To find out why click here.

So I click and it supplies this less than helpful information:

PMA Database … not OK[ Documentation ]

General relation features Disabled

Well, I may have some dysfunctional relatives, but I never disabled anybody, but the link provides the following, which is also less than helpful:

$cfg[‘Servers’][$i][‘pmadb’] string

The name of the database containing the linked-tables infrastructure.

See the Linked-tables infrastructure section in this document to see the benefits of this infrastructure, and for a quick way of creating this database and the needed tables.

If you are the only user of this phpMyAdmin installation, you can use your current database to store those special tables; in this case, just put your current database name in $cfg[‘Servers’][$i][‘pmadb’]. For a multi-user installation, set this parameter to the name of your central database containing the linked-tables infrastructure.

Now I will tell you, I was lost.  I had gotten lost early on, but plowed ahead, pushing buttons and clicking things that I thought should help.  Finally, I decided to ask for help, which, to me, is a lot like asking for directions is to other guys, but I was licked, beat, defeated, whupped, laid-out, and left for dead.  One of the good pieces of advice I received was to export the SQL data to a file on my computer as a backup before I tried too much more.  This was good advice, but if you don’t do it right you wind up with a file that has a bunch of extraneous data in it which gums up the works later.  That was the way I did it.  I wound up not being able to export the data only, there was no field for that, so I just did a complete export.

But I was glad to have had a backup of any type, because then I deleted the original database completely.  This was scary, because if I could not fix it, everything that had posted, including everyone’s comments, would be gone.  To me that is the most important part.  I have or can get most of the original Word documents I wrote the entries in, but the comments?  What would I do without the comments?  That would be awful.  I love getting comments and feedback.

A nice person on the support forum http://www.solucija.com/forum/viewtopic.php?pid=33007#p33007 showed me the correct way to backup the database and fix the problem, but I had already done it, as Libby the Kid used to say, “Sideways, sort of.”  It was interesting to me to compare the two files after this was all done.  I don’t know if you recall the entry http://herbthiel.com/general/reprint-a-part/ where I discussed a little about how code works, but I could easily see that the code I had saved did not have 2 important commands but did have a couple of others that only confused the poor little computer.  Example,

DROP TABLE IF EXISTS `articles`;

CREATE TABLE IF NOT EXISTS `articles`

If you save the code that says to create the table and the table already exists, and you didn’t save the code that says to ignore it if it does, well, there ya go.  A confused critter.  Just like me.

Then I forgot that, if you give the database a new name, you have to change the settings in the program that is looking for it, in this case the Blog.  And, if the change you make to the program isn’t typed in correctly (Or is typed incorrectly) because you are in a hurry, it will look to you like nothing has been misspelled, since you never make spelling errors.  This creates a different kind of error.  A new problem, which you hadn’t encountered before.  I had to change dbhost field in sNews16, but I had to figure out that that was the problem, first.

So I created a new db from scratch, installed plain jane sNews, was able to log in normally and all functions seemed to work.

Edited down sql file to “dumping data for” and saved only the articles, categories and comments, which were the most important to me, personally.  Reinstalled the template, typed a test article and here we are.

Or, more accurately, here I Aaaaaaarrrrrrgggggghhhhhh!!!!!

Remember, the good book says, “SQL stands for, Should Quit and Leave.”

Setting Up DSL

Setting Up DSL

Or

Things that will make you say, “Aaaaaarrrrggghhh!”

Salutations on the Ides of June!

First of all, I have to say that my ISP, http://vbs.net/ has got the greatest service I have ever experienced.  Like most call centers, I waited for what seemed like ever, on hold; unlike most call centers after you have been waiting on terminal hold forever, when I got the rep(s) on the phone I didn’t get a frazzled, snappish, snotty, bored person who mumbled through an unintelligible accent, I spoke with real live Americans in Utah!  It was nice to talk to someone who not only had knowledge I wanted, but willingly shared it in an easy-to-understand manner.

I had a false start, where my order was incorrectly entered, but when I called back to find out where my stuff was, I spoke with a rep who not only fixed the problem, but empathized and actually explained what had happened.  A couple days later I received a box with a modem, a couple of cables and a handful of filters.  I called, excited about getting started, but the setup date of June 5th after 5 O’clock was set in stone because they had to wait for Qwest to do their part on the line.

The 5th was also our 27th anniversary!  Yes, Margaret has been putting up with me for 27 years.  I’ll tell you folks, the best thing I ever did was borrow that ten bucks for our marriage license and I’ll pay her back someday, too.  I know it is hard for you, my adoring public, to imagine, but, believe it or not, I can be difficult to live with sometimes.  Oh, yes, really.  She has always loved me no matter what, though and I love her.  I’ve told this bit of trivia before, but on the day we got married at the courthouse my 2 best friends, Carter and Mike, came with us.  Mike stood by me, making him best man and Carter stood by Margaret, making him the maid of honor.  And an uglier or manlier maid of honor you never did see, either.  Carter had to leave for work and the 3 of us walked about a mile and half, maybe two miles, to the brand new (1980) Shawano, Wisconsin, McDonald’s for our “reception.”  Margaret had a big Mac and fries and a diet coke, I had a Quarter-Pounder with cheese, fries and a large Coke.  I don’t remember what Mike had, but Mike did do something important.  When we got done, he took my empty cup outside with us and turned it upside down on the ground and stomped on it and said “Mozeltof!”  As we started walking home it began drizzling and a car picked us up.

She has stayed with my crazy, stupid butt ever since and given me 4 children, of whom I am immensely proud and 2 (so far) grandchildren.  She is the greatest and I would just like to finish this little digression in my best Jackie Gleason voice and say, “Baby, you’re the greatest.”

But she doesn’t care about the technical side the computer stuff, just so she can get on the Internet and check her e-mail and see what the Flylady http://flylady.net/ is up to.  Now she can listen to Flylady’s internet radio broadcast http://www.modavox.com/WTRStudioA/HostModaviewForWTR2.aspx?HostId=287&ChannelId=14&Flag=1 as well (as if she has time).  She’s not a big computer fan, thinking there is more to life.

Anyway, I had this box full of parts I thought I knew what to do with.  I found out later I had overdone it with the filters, one filter goes on each jack that there is another phone device on.  There are three wall jacks in the house, one in the kitchen, one in the bedroom and one downstairs.  The one downstairs is just barely close enough to reach the computer with a 25 ft phone cord.  So with signal splitter in hand, I went downstairs and hooked it up like I thought it should go.

Well, the longer the cord, the greater the resistance, so I had to re-wire the whole thing with a short phone cord and a 25 ft network cord, which I had somehow, somewhere picked up in my many journeys.

Since I want to get this posted before it is completely out of date, I will just tell you that it took a couple of hours, but I am very happy with the result.  It is lightning fast compared to the dial-up and really not too shabby compared to the cable, either.  Downloads are a bit slower than on cable, but still beat the tar out of dial-up.  If you ever need to look up a good, reasonably priced ISP, check out VBS.

And remember, the good book says, Ides is a plural noun referring to the fifteenth day of March, May, July, and October, and the thirteenth day of the other months in the ancient Roman calendar.  “A soothsayer bids you beware of the Ides of March.” — William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar