Country Scribe : Eric Bergeson's Weblog

November 05, 2005

Prom skin-care tips

I found this on the internet and pass it along as a public service:

Get Gorgeous for Prom Night Skincare Tips for Your Teen by Jeanine B. Downie, M.D., of Image Dermatology P.C.

* Try to avoid getting too stressed while preparing for the big night, as the effects can show up on your skin.
* While busy looking for the perfect outfit, accessories, date, etc., don't neglect your skin.
* For kissable lips, go ahead, lay on the lip gloss! But avoid going over the lip line; this can block pores and cause blemishes on your perfect pout.
* Be sure to use oil-free make up and skincare products that won't clog pores and cause breakouts.
* If you have acne or a history of acne, try to use cosmetics sparingly.
* Keep hair away from your face. Some hair care products can trigger a breakout.
* Hands off! Never squeeze or “pop” your pimples. This can result in acne scars.
* Stash a portable benzoyl peroxide acne treatment like Triaz Pads™ in your evening bag in case you feel a pimple coming on.
* If you use acne medication such as benzoyl peroxide, use an oil-free moisturizer with SPF to protect skin from the sun and to counteract the drying effects.
* Cleanse skin after sport activities to avoid breakouts brought on by sweat, headgear, chin straps, etc.

Now we know why it is so important to pass chemistry!

They'll always find something

I am medically ignorant, but hearing more stories about the side effects of cholesterol-lowering medication makes me think that the cure is worse than the disease. Heart problems. Liver problems. Numb fingers. Good grief! At what price do we want lower cholesterol numbers? What about exercise?

I can't start preaching against drugs--not with my third cup of coffee at my side (somebody told me that their doctor told them that drinking a lot of coffee is like living with the accelerator down and the brakes on, and that is probably true) and a bottle of Lexipro in my medicine cabinet. Oh, and I like Tylenol PM, too--and that is bad on your liver.

HOWEVER, I just get suspicious when there gets to be a medical problem which almost everybody has which suddenly everybody is treating--high cholesterol. There is a profit motive driving this somewhere in the food chain.

It reminds me of vomitoxins in wheat. A few years back, suddenly farmers were being docked for vomitoxins. In all likelihood, there had been vomitoxins in wheat for 2500 years, but now it was a big problem and elevators started docking the farmers. This year, it was some other fungus, and the more cynical farmers said, "oh, they'll always find something."


Went outside early this morning to fill the wood stove. It was perfectly still, and I could hear hunters' vehicles prowling the countryside. This is the first day of rifle hunting in this area, and I assume they are out climbing into their deer stands before sunrise.

There are two parties hunting on my land. Both are very experienced and responsible. One has been hunting here for 30 years, the other for 25. So, they know the lay of the land and have strategies which have been established over the years to fit the situation here.

One new factor: My house, which sits right in the middle of the big woods where most of the deer are. It has lots of windows, too. I am not worried about the hunters on our land; I am worried about a stray slug from a mile away.

Last night, somebody was unloading on something about a mile south. I swear I heard a bullet of some sort whizzing into the trees near the house.

Ten years back, when I lived a couple of miles away, I was close enough to a flying bullet to learn the lesson that you hear the "whiz" first and then the "bang." That is logical enough--bullets go faster than the speed of sound--but it goes against one's impulses, which are to duck after you hear a shot. By then it is too late.

Accidents happen. When my brother lived on a farm place near here, he had a knock at the door. A sheepish hunter pointed out that there was a stream of fuel oil coming from Joe's freshly filled tank which he promised to fix in a hurry.

So, as soon as the sun rises, I anticipate that it will sound like Bagdhad around here. There are too many deer. I hope the population is reduced. I just don't like to participate in the massacre myself.

It is a matter of public safety that I not play with guns. I couldn't hit the broad side of a barn. I would miss and hit the picture window instead. I am dangerous enough on machinery. No need to bear arms unless anarchy breaks out.

November 04, 2005

More on prom

Slate magazine has weighed in on prom issue, and provides some historical background as well.

Somebody doesn't have enough to do

Got on a roll with the fishline and decided to hang this table about three feet above Eugene the Bear. Like Eugene, this is probably a temporary installation.

Floating wood chunk

This is not Photoshop, it is fishline. I decided to try to suspend one of the big chunks of wood left from the house construction--and it worked! This ought to freak out the house visitors.

November blah

Grey, wet, cold. November has hit. Last night, there were some snow flurries, although they quickly melted upon hitting the warm ground.

I took a bunch of pictures yesterday, hoping to post more of the fading fall color here--only to get back to the house and realize that I didn't have the memory card in the camera. That's the modern equivalent of forgetting to put in film. And I wasn't stubborn enough to go back and retake the pictures.

So, the November blah will be reflected on this weblog in gray text. Don't worry, I won't write a thousand words about it just to make up for the lack of a picture.

It would be nice to sit and enjoy my house--perhaps start reading books or something, but I can't sit still. I recall when I was in elementary school I made pictures by wrapping copper wire around nails in patterns. The thought struck me that I could do the same in this house--by attaching copper wire to the beams and making 3-D sculptures.

So, I went out and bought a bunch of copper wire and some eyelets and we'll see what transpires. If it doesn't work, it will be easy to take it all down.

It is utterly still outside this morning. The water in the pond is like a sheet of glass--except for where the algea gathers. When the occasional duck floats through the algea, it leaves behind finger-paint like swirls which linger for hours if there is no wind.

Stopped by the Fertile Hilton last evening to visit Aunt Olla. Her room is spacious, yet cozy. While I was there, the nurse came with her cup of vitamin pills--and reminded her that she needs to order more oxygen capsules. How times have changed. Instead of having to hide the quack remedies, as my grandfather did fifteen years ago, now you turn them over to the nurses and they distribute them to you so you don't forget to take them.

I asked the nurse how Olla's blood pressure was. She didn't say, but did remark that Olla was drinking parsley tea to keep her blood pressure down.

Regular blood pressure medicine has always made Olla feel absolutely miserable, so she refuses to take it. Parsley tea is probably just as good as anything. When you are 94 years old, it seems a little silly to take any medicine which makes you feel worse, no matter if it might prolong your life a little bit.

In fact, I am wondering if it ever makes sense to take medicine which makes you miserable. I have heard horror stories about people who are on cholesterol medication and start going into a tailspin. That's why I am not going in to have my cholesterol checked. I prefer to remain in denial.

Anyway, Olla has to spend some of her money before she goes on assitance for the nursing home bills. She wants to go to Fargo and buy a little stereo. We'll be doing that one week from Thursday. On Tuesday, she and Ede are going to pick out a gravestone and get that paid for.

I walked Olla down to the dining room for supper and had a nice visit with neighbor Alma. Turns out, there were three country school teachers sitting at the table. They are a vanishing breed!

Hilda was there as well. Her husband was a cousin of my grandmother's, so our families share some facial features. I am afraid Hilda is always convinced I am one of her husband's relatives. When I tell her I am a Bergeson, she looks unconvinced.

Just like the time my grandmother got mad at me for not speaking Swedish when I visited her in the home. "If you're my uncle, you know how to speak Swede!" she said in exasperation.

November 02, 2005


To find language with syntax as tortured as that of Gerard Manley Hopkins, I looked up the testimony the late great Casey Stengel gave to a Senate anit-trust committee on July 8, 1958. For some reason, the committee called Casey in to testify the day after he had managed the American League team in the All-Star game.

Major league baseball has always been exempt from anti-trust legislation, believe it or not. Apparently, some Senators were calling that exemption into question. Thus, the hearing.

Obviously, the Senators soon found that they had found an equal in confusing the public in Mr. Stengel.

Here is an exchange between North Dakota Senator "Wild Bill" Langer and Stengel:

Senator Langer: I want to know whether you intend to keep on monopolizing the world's championship in New York City.

Mr. Stengel: Well, I will tell you, I got a little concerned yesterday in the first three innings when I say the three players I had gotten rid of and I said when I lost nine what am I going to do and when I had a couple of my players. I thought so great of that did not do so good up to the sixth inning I was more confused but I finally had to go and call on a young man in Baltimore that we don't own and the Yankees don't own him, and he is going pretty good, and I would actually have to tell you that I think we are more the Greta Garbo type now from success.

We are being hated I mean, from the the ownership and all, we are being hated. Every sport that gets too great or one individual, but if we made 27¢ and it pays to have a winner at home why would you not have a good winner in your own park if you were an owner. That is the result of baseball. An owner gets most of the money at home and it is up to him and his staff to do better or they ought to be discharged.

Senator Langer: That is all, Mr. Chairman. Thank you.

Scroll to the bottom of the transcript for Mickey Mantle's reaction to the pending legislation.

November 01, 2005

Some Hopkins

It has been a while since I have subjected you readers to the syntactical puzzles of my favorite poet, Gerard Manley Hopkins, the tortured 19th century British priest. However, his metaphysical view of nature--as well as his concentrated, eccentric use of the language, sticks in one's head if you stick with it long enough. This morning after taking the photos below, the phrases "all is smeared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil" came to mind. All I had to do to find the poem was type that phrase in on Google.

Just ignore the stuff you don't get right away and enjoy the sound of the poem. That is the key to reading Hopkins. I thought he was obscure only to poetry rookies, so I didn't dare say anything in class when I didn't understand something. Later, I started reading what scholars had to say about the poems and found out that they can't agree what some of the phrases mean. In some cases, I think they missed the boat entirely.

God's Grandeur

THE WORLD is charged with the grandeur of God.
It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
And wears man’s smudge and shares man’s smell: the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.

And for all this, nature is never spent;
There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights off the black West went
Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs—
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.

And then, this one:

Pied Beauty

Glory be to God for dappled things,
For skies of couple-color as a brinded cow,
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls, finches’ wings;
Landscape plotted and pieced, fold, fallow and plough,
And all trades, their gear and tackle and trim.
All things counter, original, spare, strange,
Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim.
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change;
Praise him.

Finding color in November

Inspired by Cousin Anne's attempts to find color in the landscape in November even if meant going to the bottom of a canal, I looked around this morning for something colorful in the landscape here. I was helped by the presence of potted perennials and shrubs at the nursery.

This barberry is deep maroon during the summer, but late in the fall it can turn orange red. The remaining morning dew provides some gloss.

On the perennial shelf was this euphorbia, otherwise known as leafy spurge. It is not the same leafy spurge that the farmers loathe in their fields--at least that is what we are told. In the spring, the tips of the sprouts are a lemon-lime yellow. During the summer, the plant is drab. In the fall, the color changes yet again. In the sunshine, it is luminescent enough to give one a feeling of...euphorbia.

Clary blue sage takes many frosts without apparent damage. Sage is tough. Anything with greyish leaves is made to undergo the extremes of a desert--both heat and cold.

Here is why Grandpa named his tree the "Red Splendor." The blooms in the spring are pink, but unlike many other flowering crabs, the Red Splendor hangs onto its bright red berries into the winter--until the birds eat them. In fact, about two-thirds of the berries on this tree have already been consumed by various migrating birds. But those that remain stand out in the otherwise drab month of November, before they dull to a mushy maroon later in the season.

October 31, 2005


The Vatican has decided that a statue of the Virgin Mary in Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam was not crying real tears. This comes as a disappointment to people who were thronging to see the statue in hopes of being blessed in some way.

The pursuit of magic seems to be one of our more basic human impulses. The quest crops up in most religions. There is always hope that there is more than the natural world, something supernatural, something which will make diseases disappear, which will intervene to change our fate for the better.

As far as I am concerned, the natural world is magic enough. The more we study it, the more magical it becomes.

For example, my house contains a lot of wood, wood which contains trillions of individual cells, each one of which has enough information contained in its DNA to fill dozens of volumes were it to be printed out on paper.

Go from the microscopic to the astronomic: The more astronomers study the universe, the less they are convinced that they know. For instance, the recent discovery that a few of our nearest stars have planets orbiting around them, as does our sun, raises the probability that there are billions of planets in our galaxy, none of which have, as yet, been directly observed. And there are billions of galaxies!

Now, with all of this vastness, both underfoot in the wood floors upon which we walk and in galaxies in the sky above, why would anybody get all excited over a statue of the Virgin Mary which might have been shedding tears?

Well, humans always entertain the vain hope that we can tap into some power outside the norm, something which will allow us to have a greater control over our fate.

To me, the mere fact that we are drawing breath is amply miraculous. To search for something which disobeys natural laws as evidence that there is a benevolent supernatural force seems to me to be a sad waste of time, evidence that somebody is has completely missed the staggering genius contained in our natural surroundings.

October 30, 2005

The curse of the blinking cursor

Tonight was one of those times when I had to sit in front of the blank computer screen for at least an hour before I got an idea for the weekly column. I had bounced a couple of ideas off Lance earlier in the evening, but he gently suggested that perhaps I might stay away from moralizing this week. "Tell a story!" he said.

After almost two hours of utter emptiness, I finally had to ask, "Just what kind of story did you have in mind?"

Lance had liked an earlier weblog entry about Mom hiding my toys, so he suggested building off of that. Within a couple of minutes, I was tapping along, no longer terrified of the blinking cursor and the deadline of tomorrow morning.

Writing is fun. It is coming up with an idea that can be a trial.

IN REFERENCE to the photo below, Uncle Dale forwarded me an article from the Rochester, MN paper which talks about an unharvested field of 30,000 pumpkins down there. Apparently, a bunch of people got the same idea at the same time.

Now wouldn't there be something fun you could do with 30,000 pumpkins? Drop them from the Mendota Bridge? Line them up along I-94? Roll them down one of those steep streets in Duluth? Make pumpkin wine? Build a mighty pyramid of pumpkins? Fill a train car? Line them up on the steps of the state capitol? Catapult them over the Mississippi?

Okay, now this has me thinking about practical jokes I want to try but never will: I wonder if anybody has ever released about twenty mice under the pew at a wedding? Mice, or toads. I don't know which would be more fun. And it would all be on video for sure.

When I went to Northwestern College, we had chapel every day. Attendance was required. Because Northwestern students weren't allowed any of the typical college vices of drinking, drugs and sex, they had an amazing energy for practical jokes--and chapel was where many of the better ones were pulled off.

Before Franklin Graham, Billy's son, spoke at chapel, some guys took about 500 table knives they had stolen from the cafeteria and slid them in the binding of the hymnals. You can imagine the noise on the concrete floor when it came time for the first hymn.

Trouble was, not all the knives fell out that day. There was a racket in chapel for most of the next week.

Another time, somebody went through the trouble of hanging a black bra about fifteen feet above the speaker's head in the chapel. It wasn't noticable--at first. But as the speaker got deeper into his speech, the snickers started and only got worse until the place was broken up and the speaker was completely befuddled.

I liked that one.

Another time, some students disassembled somebody's Volkswagon and put it back together again on the roof of the cafeteria. That was work!

Northwestern was, and is, known for its music. There was the Concert Choir--and for those who didn't get into the Concert Choir, there was the Loser Choir, as we lovingly called it.

The Loser Choir only got to sing in chapel once per year, and only one piece at that. When their day came, they were in the midst of a beautiful, quiet Renaissance piece--and alarm clocks started ringing in the chapel. Nobody could tell where they were coming from, until somebody stood up to find one duct-taped to the bottom of their chair.

Well, the choir director wasn't a man of humor and he threw a fit. I mean, he should have stopped the choir mid-song, asked everybody to check their chairs for alarm clocks, and started the Losers over again. Instead, he forced the choir to continue through their piece while he glared out at the audience and the bells rang.

It was an uncomfortable moment.