Saturday, January 31, 2009

I teach

A room with a view

Carolyn has joined the 20th Century! Today, I showed her how to email. She likes to keep in touch with our grandson whom lives in Atlanta, and email is much cheaper than using a land line. Next thing I know, she will probably be wanting to learn how to turn the computer on!
I received this link from my friend in Portland, Oregon; it is an self-evident truth. Thanks, Kevin.
Been a tough day; I helped Carolyn clean carpet in the office. You're darned right; holding up the edge of my chair mat while she pushes the cleaning machine around does constitute manual labor! I'm worn out ...
Following is a draft of an article I wrote many years ago:

The Pine Siskin (Carduelis pinus) is usually seen in flocks, sometimes with Goldfinches. It is a small bird, gray-brown with a streaked breast, the males having yellow wing bars and various amounts of yellow on the rump. The females are less colorful. One can approach to within a couple of steps of these friendly birds when they are feeding.

On Christmas eve morning 1989, the day of the tragic John Sevier Center fire, I found a male Siskin on the ground at one of my feeders. It is unusual for the bird to be here in midwinter. I picked him up without him resisting and brought him into the house. He felt cold to the touch. I placed him in a shoe box and after a while he became more active. I fed him some peanut butter and soon he was out of his box running through the house, though he never attempted to fly. Everywhere I went in the house, he was scrambling along right behind me. Later, I left to see my grandchildren open gifts, and he bird was perched on a small limb that I had placed in the box. He seemed to be much better.

On Christmas morning, the special edition of the local paper was full of stories of the fire; many dead and injured. The Siskin was still on his perch with his head tucked under his wing, but my stirring about finally awakened him. He spread his wings, fluttered them, looked around ... and fell dead. The joy of being with my family the night before was quickly replaced with a deep sadness. I realize the loss of one small bird is nothing compared to the overwhelming grief and misery that the families of the fire victims endured; but still, I felt a heaviness in my heart for the bird. Tragedies come in various sizes and I buried him under a pine tree.

Spring, After an awfully cold winter, the Pine Siskins were back as usual, but something was very wrong. During the few weeks they were here, I found seven of them dead on my small lot. Many more were flying erratically and doing things they normally don't do such as perching on the ground. Neighborhood cats took a few; possums and skunks probably took some more.

No Siskins showed up in the spring of 1991. What had gone wrong? Was it a disease that caused it? Could it have been man-made pollution or poisons? The weather? It didn't seem to affect the remainder of the bird population.

It is now May, 1992 and I saw my first Siskin in nearly two years; a lone female at one of my feeders. Are things returning to normal? More birds of different kinds are around this year than since I moved here. I guess there is always hope.
Here is the regular The Smoking Gun's Mugshots of the Week!

Friday, January 30, 2009


Oil sheen from the Exxon-Valdez oil spill a few
days after the disaster occurred (NOAA photo)


If you already feel a bit queasy, do not follow this link because it may completely nauseate you and cause you to hurl on your monitor. The arrogance of these sons-of bitches! This is the same company that presented us with the Exxon-Valdez accident unplanned disaster (unplanned but foreseen) 20 years ago come March. The mess is still not cleaned up from maritime Alaska, and we as taxpayers are still footing the biggest part of the monetary bill for all of it. The wildlife, including plants and animals along the shores and in the sea, are paying an even heavier price; their lives.
More good economic news here.
Mr. Obama has been on the job for 10 days, and so far so good. The key phrase here is "on the job"; 10 days after G.W. Bush was elected he had already taken two weeks paid vacation.
Obama says he is appalled at the big bonuses corporate chiefs are getting via the bailout. Well sir, it seems you and your Republican opponent at the time (I can't even remember his name) broke all kinds of speed records getting back to Washington to vote for what will end up being a One Trillion Dollar (or more) giveaway so this could happen. $crew you, Mr. President; you are just another politician at your core value$.
The story I have been working on is finished in 1st draft (I will put it on Lord Bubbha as soon as I do a bit of polishing), and now I'm in a quandary; should I let it stand as is, or try to work a complete novel around it. I haven't received any comments pro or con about it, so I will probably make a short story of it. If anyone that doesn't have an invite to read my writing blog wants such, let me know and if I like you I will send you an invite.
If these stupid American anti-marijuana laws were repealed, the United States could save billions of tax payer dollars and thousands of lives each year. The laws are a farce and a hypocrisy, plus a slap in the face of individual freedom, and folks, that freedom is the basis of our constitutional law!

Of course, it does give the local black-boots something to crow about every few years.
Just got back from getting my weekly fix. It is cold, windy, and unsettled outside, and is snowing even in bright sunshine.
Here is what you all have been waiting for: The Smoking Gun's Mug Shots of the Week. This is a special edition of ladies of the evening from Tampa, Florida where Super Bowl Roman numeral something-or-other is to be contested come Sunday.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Economics 101 .... Propaganda 202

We received some more bad economic news today. After tomorrow, Carolyn will no longer have her second largest account, which means several hundred dollars loss of personal income each month.
Here is a link to a video that a contact sent me. You can watch it and make up your own mind. It seems to me it is Hebrew/Christian oriented but claiming to be non-partisan. The Bible is mentioned in the lyrics but references to other religious writings—particularly the Quoran—are conspicuously absent as is the mention of the rights of people whom do not have or want a religion. Crap like that is what got America into the shape it is right now, but we seem to never learn from past mistakes and are always looking for some higher being to haul our asses out of trouble. The last higher being we had was named George W. Bush; what did he do for America?
Screw it; I'm going to go write some more on my latest story. Hope you like it.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Early One Morning

Here is a bit of the first draft of a story I'm working on. I will leave it posted until tomorrow night.

Louis roused when the cabbie said "This is it, mister". He tossed the driver a twenty and stepped out into the gloomy night in an unfamiliar part of town where a neon-encircled clock fiercely attacked his retinas; its hands pointed at 2:03. His knees were wobbly and he needed a drink, but Louis was there for another purpose; he wanted a woman and the cabbie told him he knew where to get one, even at a late hour in midweek.

There was no one around on the poorly lit street, and a dense fog was settling behind him. He figured the river must be under the fog, so he wasn't as lost as he could have been. He walked over to the building that supported the too-bright clock, unzipped, and pissed what he hoped was the last of his boilermakers on a plate glass window that had a barely visible for lease sign behind years of grime and graffiti. The old building harbored a flop house hotel at the other corner, and that was where he headed. The hotel had its own neon sign that flickered and spelled out "Hotel". Underneath the glow, part of an old, painted sign showed the two letters Ho. HoHotel. Somehow he found that to be amusing as his brain was clearing slightly in the night air.

Louis took his wallet from his back pocket, removed his good debit card and all his folding money except for a ten and a few ones, and replaced the billfold. He took a few bills from the cash and stuck them in his shirt pocket, and put the rest along with the useable debit card into the front pocket of his jeans. He left an expired bank debit card in his wallet in case it was stolen; all auto-tellers had cameras that might help catch a thief. This was a part of town that even the homeless seemed to shun.

The flophouse door was propped half open with a piece of broken bar stool which he had to step over. When he entered, he immediately knew why the door was ajar and it wasn't because of heat; the dump literally stank. The stench didn't bother him; he had been into and tossed out of a few like it before. About every kind of scent a living body could create was present, and it seemed every living body that had been in the building since its opening day had left a calling card of stink. Louis walked over to the counter which was lit by a small lamp sporting a bare bulb and no shade. A large and much older man was behind the counter busily screwing an even larger woman on a wobbly futon. Louis propped his elbow on the counter until the man was finished and finally looked up at him.

"What'cha want?" Such a squeaky voice for a fairly good sized fellow, Louis thought. From his build and demeanor, he had probably been a formidable man in past years.

"A woman and a place to flop," Louis replied.

Before the man could ask, Louis placed a ten near the lamp base. The old man pulled away from his mate, replaced his suspenders over a a ratty-looking tie-dyed tee shirt that was way too small for him, arose and came around the counter and looked Louis over. "The ten will get you an hour on a mattress; the whore is another twenty. Louis produced the required bills from his shirt pocket and dropped it beside the first one. The man snatched the money and pointed across the room into the darkness. "The girls are over there; take your pick. She'll show you where."

Louis eased his way across a litter strewn floor to the center of the big room and paused to allow his eyes to adjust to the gloom. He finally was able to see some human-like forms stretched across a couple of sofas near the wall. He eased over and roused the first one he came to with a shake of her shoulder.

The woman quickly sat upright while absently saying "What'll it be, darling?" He couldn't tell much about her except she appeared to be white with dark hair. She could have been about any age, but the darkness was shielding his eyes. It didn't much matter anyway; all he wanted to do was pop her a time or two and be done with her.

She stood and took his hand and began leading him toward the back of the old lobby. "I'm Hilda, honey; what's your name"? When he didn't offer it, she continued "How much time did you buy?"

"Hour", Louis said.

She snickered, "Don't have a smoke do you?" At least her voice was pleasant.

Louis didn't reply and they went through an open door and up stairs to a long hallway lit with dirt-dimmed bare bulbs dangling from the ceiling. This looked like most of such places he had seen; rooms to let for regular customers who needed a real bed or a place to hide or maybe even a spot they could call "home". This floor contained a few rooms where the doors were removed and replaced by curtains, with the inside of each one decorated with only a bare mattress placed on the floor. She continued guiding him until she found the curtained-covered door she was looking for. She pulled a length of yellow ribbon from her blouse and looped it around a nail head sticking out of the door facing.

The girl he chose looked to be maybe thirty years old, but it was difficult to tell through all the makeup adorning her face. She was fairly attractive, looked to have all her front teeth, and her hair was styled in late 1980's fashion; long and big. She was average build and was wearing revealing clothing which was the normal uniform for her profession.

"Come on in, sweetheart and let's get busy; an hour won't last long when we're having fun."

To be continued ...
Copyright notice:
©2009 Ken Anderson. All rights reserved. Not to be copied, reproduced, or distributed in any form without permission of the author.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Why do women wear bras to bed?

"Because of Peeping Toms"
is not a good answer!

Any of you have wagers placed on the game coming Sunday? I am or hope to be on several boards around the beer circuit in town. Carolyn is on a $1000 one at The Cottage, my favorite watering hole from the old days. For all the years and all the hundreds of bucks I've invested in these boards, I've won only one, and that is the first one I ever played and it was for a whopping $25 which I had to split three ways. That was enough, though; I was hooked. Carolyn wins one occasionally but she is on only one this game and it is for $1K. Her biggest win was $200, and it was her first board, too.
I am thinking seriously about attending karaoke night at the pub. I don't sing and can hardly hear, but it is something different on occasion. I'll put it on my to-do list for when the weather warms a little.
The sharp-shinned hawk was back yesterday morning as I was about to shower. I ran through the house bare-butted and grabbed the camera, but soon as I raised it to shoot, the bird flew. The other birds and the squirrels were nowhere to be seen.
I read an economist's blog and he said some of his peers were being fired. I suppose those getting the hatchet could not pull a rabbit out of their hats or make a magical prediction as to when this mess will end. I don't really know what a depression is, but I do get depressed thinking about it.
Sony, the Cottage proprietor, is thinking about opening on Sundays to try and make up for the weekday business he has lost because people have cut back on dining and partying. He even has beer on sale and that is unheard of there. Pabst.

That reminds me; when I first began attending evening services at the Cottage, Pabst Blue Ribbon was my beer of choice. A long neck bottle was 45 cents, whereas premium beer was 50 cents, and Michelob was 55 cents. Of course, I had not been drinking beer very long at the time. That would have been in 1974, and my two best friends drank Schlitz and Budweiser. I never could develop a taste for Bud as it is bitter, and in springtime Schlitz produced "green" beer that gave everyone the runs. One thing you never wanted to do was witness my best friend with a case of the backdoor trots. Even to this day, I am mortified just thinking about it. On a hot Sunday afternoon 1977, my uncle Roy and I went to a bootlegger where he bought a case of Miller High Life tall boys for an outrageous $8. I was so thirsty, and the beer was so cold, and I've been drinking Miller ever since, even if it has developed a reputation as being a weenie's brew; a reputation that was probably created at a certain St. Louis brewery. Hell, I am a weenie.
The temp this morning is 60F with high winds. It is a good sign the seasons are changing, but we do have a long way to go before spring. I will now and officially begin my annual robin watch.
One more tax document to file for 2008 and I will be finished except for the 1040 stuff. I hope to finish and send the 940 report by tomorrow. 940 is the annual Federal Unemployment Insurance. A lot of people don't know that employers have to pay such tax to the feds, because the state also collects State Unemployment Insurance premiums. With all the people out of work, the premiums are bound to rise and help force more employee cuts. This whole economic mess has been left to feed upon itself ... and us.

You see all these big profile companies cutting jobs by the thousands, but what about the little guys like us?  A lot more jobs are lost from small industries cutting back or going broke than from the large corporations. The reason you see their numbers displayed is that big numbers from big employers are attention getters; who wants to know that Joe Smallbiz had to lay of one or two people from his little shop? What they don't get from the headlines is that Joe's two layoffs may be half his payroll.
Not much going on in my little world today. I am grateful to my Flickr contacts that noticed my 2,000th upload there and thanked me and wished me well. Little things make a big life.
I got rid of my smiling-boy photo that was here for a day or two, and replaced it with a likeness of my old friend Opus. He and I had been paling around together since the early eighties, but his creator saw fit to send him wherever it is that used up comic strip characters go. I know pretty well how Opus must feel.
Did you ever get the feeling that somewhere in the world something big and very bad is ominously brewing and is likely to happen sooner than later and result in your entire life being turned upside down? Me neither.
On my desk at the moment are three small acorns, a dead and dried leaf, a nectarine stone, and a pack of M&M's with peanuts. Close by is my camera with the macro lens attached. You know what I'm getting at, don't you? Me neither.
I suppose you want me to shut up if I have nothing to say! Me too.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Happy New Year!

Ol' grandad ... his teeth are few but his bite
is very poisonous

Happy Chinese New Year to the People's Republic and all their local American embassy locations. You may know the embassies as Wal-Mart, K-Mart, or even your neighborhood grocery or electronics purveyor, but they are what they are; an outlet for the communist way of life in our proud and independent country. Take pride in the relationship between these two great nations of equality and freedom; go shopping today and celebrate!
I've had only a few of comments concerning my new Flickr avatar, of which a larger and more complete copy is adorning this page. The chiding is probably well meant, but folks, that is me! The pic is four years old, but I haven't changed much in appearance since it was made. I realize I'm not pretty, but all of us are whom we are, and this just happens to be a likeness of myself. I've been told that looks aren't everything, but the people whom said it to me were averting their eyes at the time. In reality and on the inside, I'm just Joe Average and much like you.
To keep people from going blind, mad, and burning down entire cities, I changed my Flickr avatar to something more peaceful to the eye.

'Tis a sad world in which we live ere we be judged by the pleasantness of our countenance but nor by the goodness of our souls.

I shall keep the photo on this page for awhile; it may scare away a potential reader, but what the hell; I know whom my friends are and you will not abandon me because I am ugly ... will you?

Sooner or later I must search for my false front tooth. I know; it looks as if two teeth are missing but all I ever grew in front was one large one. It is somewhere in a drawer but be forewarned, it helps my appearance but little. I fashioned it from scrap plastic in high school shop class because my folks could not afford to buy braces for me when I was a youth, and there isn't much a dentist can do for them now even if I could afford it.

Smile big and smile often!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

A Sunday well-spent brings a week of content

Icicle with attitude

The sky is wondrously sunny today, inviting me to come out and play, but the temps are in the forties and that will keep my exposure short. We will go to Elizabethton later and clean the credit union building, and if there be enough light left, I may go poking around some back streets. I like porches on old houses, and I am thinking of beginning a series of photos of them. My intro to photography instructor did a part of his fine arts masters thesis with such pictures. Used to be one could get out at night with a tripod and get shots of houses and such, but 9/11 and the ensuing fear mongering by the knee-jerk government has made such actions unwise and down right dangerous; the camera may not be the only thing shooting.
One of my Flickr contacts left a comment on my Autumn photo set, and her words have inspired me to the point that I may back down from my thoughts of not posting anymore photos when my pro account runs out come April. My plans were to spend the rest of my years just writing for writing's sake, but I really do like making, editing, and displaying photos. A web site where I can write, post photos, have communities for different things, and even maybe make a little pocket jingle is in the works by another contact's contact. Whatever the cost, I feel it will be worth it as I have been privileged to get a peek, and it looks like it may be the future of online communities. Hopefully it will be up and at least partially running within a few months. When it goes public, I will let you know so you can take a look if you so wish.
I read where our only locally owned grocery store chain has been forced to sell out to another company. I cannot say that I will miss them. They tried to play like the big boys but in a small town way, which isn't bad if it works. They did place stores in poor and older communities where less privileged folk could conveniently walk to get their food supplies, and they did keep their prices competitive. The biggest turnoff for me with them was that most of their stores had filthy, pot-hole filled and poorly patched parking lots. However, the store interiors always looked clean. We in Tennessee have some of the best roads, streets, and highways in the world. We may be ignorant and uneducated, but we ride smoothly. Most merchants have kept their parking facilities at least on par with the roads, but this particular set of stores chose not to do so. In part, the continuous dodging of chug holes and continuous litter helped with their demise because folks with decent cars would not stop there. It was a family owned business and had other problems, but the parking lot situation at most of their stores caused me to not frequent them, even if they were more convenient.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Just a Saturday in winter

Click and view large

I very much regret the passing of one of the great college coaches of all time. Kay Yow fought and survived breast cancer for more than 20 years. Please read more about her in the AP article.
Not much today. Took Carolyn to Lowe's to buy bird food. Finches are eating a feeder full of thistle seed each day, and just a few pounds of it costs nearly $15. The flying rats had better pose for me this spring! We went on to Office Depot and bought a chair mat for my desk as the old one is broken to pieces.

One of my Flickr contacts whom lives nearby posted a photo of a male robin today and I am trying to find out from him if it is a recent shot. I was at the park yesterday and wild onions are definitely growing and poking through the snow. Dandelions won't be far behind.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Cold as ice

Life has been fairly good, especially with some promise of spring on the horizon. RA has been bothering me less than it has in several years, and that in itself is very pleasing; at least the pain is not constant. RA works in a funny way; a place that was excruciating with misery one day may not give me trouble again for months or longer, but another joint immediately begins complaining. The hell of it is, even though it is considered a disease of the joint tissue, it can and does attack similar tissues throughout the body, including eye and heart linings. It can be deadly, but then again—and especially after one turns 60 years of age—straining to fart can put one in a coffin. The RA hurt generally boils down to pain in the joints themselves with extreme soreness in surrounding soft tissues, and actually all over the body.
Another shot day has eased by. My regular nurse was busy and the other one stuck me, but it didn't hurt. I've had many, many hundreds of shots over my brilliant medical career, and I've had a few that really hurt, but none of them ever pained as much as a sharp tongue, especially the tongue of someone considered as a friend. However, when the source is looked at closely, sometimes one finds that true friends are more deeds than words, and that the pseudo-friend was a complete user with little to give. Fear not, dear readers; rest assured it was not one of you whom stepped on my toes. No more to say about this subject, at least not on this blog and on not this day.
I stopped by the park for a few moments after leaving the doc's office, hoping a world-class photo would jump out of the bushes and into the camera, but alas, it was not to be. There are a number of good things about living in a college town, and one of them is the huge number of pretty young ladies whom get out and run on a beautiful day such as this. Lovely little butts swinging in stride, and wondrous breasts swaying to and fro. I always smile my brightest grin, and sometimes one of them will smile back as I try to dodge a lamp post from hitting the car.
I need to find some new reading material; I've read everything in this house there is to read ... many times. How many times can a person read a toothpaste tube while sitting on the throne? I've read my camera manual so much I should know how to take pictures with the machine, but then I pull up my pants and go out into the real world and can't figure what the hell that little green button is for.
Enough belly aching for one day. On to the good stuff.
Be sure to check out #15 in this weeks Smoking Gun's Mug Shots of the Week!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

A good day

Today began well and so far has gone very well. This morning I was answering some email (sorry I had to run Maggie, but melting ice waits for no man), when I saw some icicles forming on the gutter above my window. After getting my photos from the back porch, I answered some more (and very interesting) email, did some comments on Flickr, read some blogs, and now it is evening and I am tired ... but happy.
I finished the payroll just in the nick of time and used up the last of the checks, and now I must print some more from blank ones. I generally make a hundred at at time, and they will last for a few months. Other business bills are paid with them, too.
I have paid little attention to the goings-on in D.C., but the elation which a lot of people are showing both in person and on the net seems to have attached itself to me. I asked myself if I thought I could feel good about America again, and poll results are inconclusive. Part of me responded positively, part of me shook his head and said I should be cautious, and the other part proclaimed he had to go potty. I will retake the poll later and see if I can get a concensus.
Speaking of consensus, this is census year in the USA. If you live another 72 years, you will be able to find out the results of this years count, at least as far as naming names goes.
Thanks to you whom looked in on the new blog since yesterday.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

A new blog

Moth-eaten Vols

Following is an excerpt from my new blog—Brasstacks44—on

  • Baseball, like some other popular sports, has been in decline for many years, mostly due to its own successes of the 1950's which brought tv into the picture. When CBS bought the Yankees in the 60's, the youthful glory years of the sport still being a game were over. Big money took over from big fun, and it has been nothing more than a meat market ever since. The players are overpaid, especially the super-stars, and the owners are going to do whatever it takes to get the most people in the stands at the highest ticket prices the market will endure, and concessions are priced so high that "buy me some peanuts and cracker jack" are only song lyrics nowadays because a poor person cannot afford the seventh-inning-stretch treats.
Brasstacks44 is intended to be a place where I can state my many and varied opinions on almost any topic and in a longer form than is justifiable on this "everyday happenings" blog, which was originally intended to be a place where I could state my many and varied opinions on almost any topic. Most will probably find it boring, but that is ok; opinionated people usually are boring to those whom do not like to argue. I will try to be accurate on any facts I present there, but it is about my opinions, and accuracy does not always count when a windbag is at full song.

This blog—Loose Laces—at times contains about as much fantasy and fiction as it does truth. I still practice my story writing, and I am prone to mix it in with other stuff. Most people whom read this and that have known me for very long have already figured that out I'm sure, and are able to seperate the grain from the chaf.
Today is a mid-week, slow, and so far quiet non-event. Citi Group is threatening to foreclose on our mortgage once more as they have nearly every month for the past several. They don't understand I do not really give a crap, even though I keep telling them as much. If not for breaking Carolyn's heart, I would move her and me away from all the baggage we have accumulated over the past 45 years. Run like a coward, I would!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Obama, Crocus, and Macros

Today we have one and one-half minutes more daylight than yesterday. Now for some warming trends, but I know that will probably not happen for another few weeks. I believe it was 1989 that spring came near the end of January; I actually mowed some grass and a lot of wild onions before Groundhog Day. Meanwhile, I have taxes to keep me warm.

According to her blog, my online friend Maggie is looking for spring flowers to come up, and she lives in Canada. It just isn't fair! She should at least have some respect for we southerners and not tell us about her good fortune! Actually, she lives farther north than we in Tennessee, but her weather patterns are far different from ours. Her home is not far from Vancouver and Seattle, and near the Pacific ocean. I expect a photo of the first crocus blossom, Maggie! She is a wonderful photographer.
To the United States Congress: Please allow President Obama to do the job for which he was elected by a large majority of the American voters. You allowed Cheney and Bush to run hog wild with no questions asked, so at least respect the wishes of the people this time. Remember this; 2010 elections are not far away, and I believe that for the first time in many elections, you will be held accountable for you actions, just as you were for your inactions in the voting of 2006 and 2008!

Do your best, Mr. President; nothing more is expected by realists. I mean start right now, not after you have Inaugural Ball hangover!
The couple inches of snow we had were indeed refreshing. As much as I disdain winter, it was a welcome break from the gray bleakness.
I am feeling better today; allergies have settled down a lot and sinus isn't quite as crappy as it was during the cold snap. Arthritis is not hurting as badly, and I don't feel as crotchety as I did a few days ago.
I have a few small, weird items scattered across my desk; things like a feather and a peach seed (stone) that interested me and I picked them up over the past few months for macro shooting. I may start on that project tonight. I don't know why it is so, but I shoot macros and closeups much better with the Pentax dslr than I did with the Canon S3 point-and-shoot. I suppose a dedicated lens makes a difference.

Monday, January 19, 2009

My weekend

Cardinal and sparrows

Didn't do much this weekend. Allergies, sinus, cold weather, and an arthritis flareup had me staying quite still. This small snow event today has me feeling better; at least the world is no longer gray. The snow still falls, but temps have risen to just above freezing and the streets are clearing. The daylight is visibly lengthening now, and I shall soon begin my robin watch.
I looks like the entertainment news industry could find something other than this "historic" inauguration to cover; at least for a few minutes. I'm already burned out on Obama and his entire family. Of course, the "media" may be celebrating the going of Cheney and Bush as much or more than the coming of Obama and Biden.
Did anyone pay any attention to NFL playoffs yesterday? I had little interest in any of the remaining teams that played, but I have a soft place in my skull for the Steelers, I suppose because once I worked in their fine city. The Eagles ran out of luck with their true selves finally showing, and the Ravens had too many key injuries to be contenders, but both teams made a decent games. I still think the Cardinals have a sucky defense, and if Big Ben can stay healthy (or at least learn to play with a little pain), Pittsburgh should beat them.

I like the old "working city" teams like Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Chicago, Minnesota, Detroit (God have mercy on the Lions), Green Bay, Cincinnatti, and St. Louis, and one or two others. The old NFL/NFC Black and Blue Division was my favorite. Brash Joe Namath was one of my heroes from the time he first played at the University of Alabama and on through his crazy career with the Jets.
The Lady Vols squeaked out a win over the South Carolina, but it is difficult to imagine so much talent playing so poorly in spurts. They at times have no defense, and at other times it is brilliant. The offense is inconsistent at best. I don't see them making it to the Sweet Sixteen this year unless some big improvement suddenly happens, much less even thinking about the Final Four.

It is basically the same with the men's squad; inconsistent and very talented, but with one big difference; most of the men have have at least one prior season of experience playing together.
Too much jabbering is enough, so I shall shut up.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

ADHD and me


Much to my surprise, I've found that I have Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder or ADHD. I seem to have had this terrible problem as a child, and it never left me as I matured. Now to qualify that statement: One of the main symptoms is the inability to stay focused on any one thing. My teachers in grade school used to send notes to my mom about my lack of attention. Of course she became concerned and had several meetings with them to try to find why and ascertain what to do about the malady. To get to and from these meetings, she had to walk two miles each way to the schoolhouse—usually with me in tow—so you can take my word that she was serious.

The teachers said I was a daydreamer, and that I was learning very little from their efforts. Yet when test times rolled around, I always received decent grades. I was one of the best speilers (sic) in school, but my mind was continuously wandering. One teacher even threatened to hold me back a year beacuse whenever she called on me in class, I didn't respond until she said my name several times (she claimed). And even though I had no clue as to the answer for the questions she verbally asked, at test time I passed. In the sixth through the eighth grades, I was an honor student.

My mom proved to be the wise one; in fact she encouraged my daydreaming. She wanted me to dream the impossible dreams, read anything I could find, and see the world in a different way. Although she never finished high school, she intended that I would, and I eventually did so. She understood that all the great people that ever lived were dreamers first and doers second, and even if she did not know where my future lay, she made sure I was able to do all the daydreaming I wanted; as long as I passed in school with at least an average grade. Yes, I had and still have ADHD, and if modern drugs had been around then, I would probably not be here writing this because I may have wound up being someone else in an elsewhere place. That would have left an emptiness in each and everyone of you, knowing somehow that you were missing something very important in your lives. Oh, Yeah!

I had a good mom.
The Smoking Gun's Mugshots of the Week

Friday, January 16, 2009

coldernhell numer dwa

Growth and decay

It got cold; it is cold; it will be cold; then it will snow. There used to be an old saying that when it is this cold, it is too cold to snow. In 1970, I found out that saying was bullshit! Working on the rooftop of an eight story building with the temp at minus two degrees and a cold wind blasting up the Holston Valley, up my britches leg, and through the crack of my ass taught me to take less stock in the wisdom of my elders. It snowed, it snowed hard, and the color of the snow was bluish looking as it pelted my carcass. Yep! The blue snow was flying! That was another old saying that I had not put much stock in but it proved to be true. My apprentice and I wrapped ourselves in plastic over our coveralls, taped our pants legs, and still we could not stand more than a few minutes at a time on the outside. Those were the good old days, the days when one becomes philosophical of mind and asks the wind 'what the hell am I doing here; is this my purpose in life; will my karmic star shine brighter in the heavens for enduring this?'. The wind just moans and nips harder at your balls (or whatever you ladies have that is nippable).
I believe I am the only human alive that has allergies when the winter is coldest. My pink eye is glowing like a cinder and suppurating like a sore-eyed cat; I am stuffy and sniffling; I can barely hear from my "good" ear!
Circuit City is closing all stores and quitting business.

I've come to the point where I think there no "fix" for this economic mess; I believe it will eventually have to correct itself. We are in too deep for any more money being tossed at it to help overall. Some things can be done to alleviate the problems for some people, but the majority of folk are up the creek. It will be a good thing if Citigroup and a few more big financial conglomerates go under. These people are the main burden on our economic society; not the people that have to work and pay for it all. Of course, if these corporations go under, people with retirement investment accounts will get hit very hard, but they knew the stock market was and is nothing more than a legal way to gamble and they lost their stakes. Tough cookies; I don't feel I should pay for their ignorance or stupidity or both. I had opportunities to buy into the market, but instead I squandered my bit of cash on trinkets. I still have my trinkets and they still have some tangible worth; had I invested in Wall Street paper, I would have something with which to wipe my ass.

Thursday, January 15, 2009



Not a lot to talk about today. It is very cold, so we bought kerosene for the portable heater in case power goes down. A lot of times power line supports will become brittle and and break at temps of zero or lower. Also, power line disconnects (jacks) on neighborhood poles will shrink so much that they will fall open thus cutting power to several homes. The good thing is we have no heavy snow weighing on the lines and tree limbs above them. Tonight and tomorrow night are supposed to be around the zero Fahrenheit mark. I have seen it more than -20ยบ here, with wind gusts of 50mph and wind chill a bit more than chilly. This stuff isn't unusual for January in this area, but that don't mean I like it or am used to it. Ya gotta be tough!
I got my shot today; I have no intention of going out tomorrow! I ain't tough as I used to be.
I hope all the taxpayer bailout money will do some good, but it is way too late for for most of the hardest affected people, and does little if anything to address the mortgage crisis. Same old same-old!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


Arcade Barber Shop 1981 ... now demolished

What a gloriously frigid day, and tomorrow promises to be more than glorious with daytime temps staying in the twenties and Friday will be a piece of Heaven with a high of twenty-two degrees. Hit me with your best shot Old Man Winter 'cause I know Spring is nipping at your heels!
Ah! There is a wonderful cat fight going on in the Tennessee legislature. The Republican majority isn't getting its way and is in a snit! I love it!
Rumor says the city's only K-Mart Super Center is closing its doors. It was built in 1994, and Carolyn did construction cleanup there before it opened.
The old Snap-On Tools building has been purchased by a Michigan company and will be used primarily for distribution of marble counter-top products manufactured up north. Few locals will be employed.
Here is another negative side to living in a small city: Ritz Camera has closed its doors in the JC Mall. Hopefully it will relocate to one of the strip malls, but it is doubtful. There are no other dedicated photography stores in the area as far as I know.
The Johnson City Development Authority (JCDA) is looking for more tax payer money to waste on "revitalizing" downtown. They are up in arms and saying downtown has a reputation of being an unsavory place for people to visit and shop.

A few thoughts:
  • JCDA has had decades and plenty of dollars to address this "problem"
  • Why would anyone want to visit downtown ... there is little to see and even less to do
  • Some of the most historic and interesting buildings (the Arcade building and the Majestic Theater) have been demolished to get rid of "undesirables"
  • JCDA cannot seem to finish any project in a timely manner
  • The projects JCDA does finish were useless from conception to completion and wind up unused or underused
  • JCDA's crowning glory is the gaudy public library and it needed to be built a lot less extravagantly and in another location
  • The core problems that JCDA was created to address have been given little consideration except for a lot of money wasted on "studies"
  • JCDA hires many outside consultants but ignores all but the ones that tell them what they want to hear
  • JCDA's highest priority is making nothing from something
  • JCDA is downtown's and the city-in-general's biggest problem
Carolyn has a couple of accounts downtown, and one of them has been with her for 11 years. She or one-or-more of her employees are in downtown five nights each week, and over all these years, she has had no serious problems. They once heard a gunshot; they were once approached by a panhandler, and one time they saw a man taking a leak outside a tavern. Gun shots can be heard in any part of any town at just about anytime; I've been approaced by panhandlers in front of the mall and elsewhere; external tavern walls make wonderful urinals; it is life!

JCDA needs to be done away with, and the city needs to either make a commitment to fixing what is left of downtown, or to bulldozing it under.


Tuesday, January 13, 2009

An anniversary

"I've been for a walk on a winter's day"

On January 7, 2006, I created this blog. The first entry was on a Saturday and contained only a famous quote by Carl Sagan. The next day was one I will not forget; someone left a comment on a little poem I wrote (now moved to my writing blog). It was from a woman in Texas, and she was very gracious. It surprised me, and to this day I do not know how she found the entry. It was an unforeseen occurrence and I shall be forever grateful because her praise inspired me to keep the blog going. Thanks so much, Robin; I am in your debt. Please give her Flickr photos a look; there is another link on the side bar. She is also an exceptionally gifted artist.

Unfortunately, my writing hasn't improved over the past three years.
Looks like we are getting into the "dead of winter" as my elders used to say (I am now an elder). Daytime temps are sometimes getting barely out of the thirties, and I don't want to think about the frigid nights. We received our electric bill yesterday, and it isn't as bad as some folks are getting. Of course we have gas heat and stove, but our water heater is electric, and that is where much of the power is used. Five years ago before going green was "cool", I began swapping incandescent lamps for the wiggly-looking florescent thingys. All that can be effectively changed are now "saving" me bundles of money; the "going green" was secondary.

I even have the energy savers in the outside fixtures, and in this cold weather it takes them a while to come up to full brightness; same as I!
Little Breanna Cloyd will be celebrating her third birthday come the seventeenth. She loves her "Ganny Carlyn". She is actually my first cousin thrice removed, but she is a special "grandaughter" too.
I see Mr. Obama is seeking half the bailout money. It would be nice if he gave me half of his half. I would then share it with my constituents!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Won't be long until we are gaining one and one-half minutes more of extra light each day over the previous day; we are gaining more than a minute now. Even after solstice when the sun begins its northward journey, it takes about two months for the earth to warm enough to change the weather patterns. That is for normal conditions like we used to have; with global warming, no one now knows what is normal.
The price of gasoline jumped twenty cents late last week. I suppose the mid-east wars and the pirates are the excuse this time. Shall we never learn that now is the time to develop alternative energy? Now has been here since the early nineteen-seventies and we have made a magnificent commitment to talking the talk, but few of us seem willing to walk the walk.
President Dick Cheney's mouthpiece finally admitted he made a couple of mistakes over the past eight years. "Mission accomplished!"
I cannot wait to see and even maybe read some of the finger-pointing books that will come out of this presidency over the next few months and years. Some of it will be true, some partially true, and some will be just "covering my ass" type lies. From these later ones, savvy writers and movie producers will make fortunes on feeding us fictionalized events.
I must now see about donating tax deductible money to the G.W. Bush Presidential Memorial Library. It will probably be very elaborate to house his important papers and memorabilia. In fact, it may just be the largest building in Crawford, Texas. There will be plenty of room for all of his disciples to worship at his desk which holds his coloring books and crayons, and plastic scissors that are not sharp-pointed. I hope they think to include his Elmo telephone over which he he instructed other world leaders such as Tony Blair on how to play hide-and-seek with Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction. "I hear you!"

In truth, Bush's real presidential library will be constructed in Riyadh, which is the capital of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Branches will be opened in the capitol cities of all other O.P.E.C. nations.
I seem to have forgotten last Friday's link to The Smoking Gun's Mugshots of the Week!

Sunday, January 11, 2009


I have a car! Got the Escape back today but the tank was empty! Oh, well.
Best wishes to one of my Flickr contacts whom is going into hospital. Hope you are well and back with us very soon, Jola.
Another recession causality is the Ruby Tuesdays in the JC Mall. No shoppers means no one coming in to eat. The restaurant near ETSU seems to be doing well, 'though.
Not a lot going on today, so I shall say adieu until tomorrow.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Bits and bites

An island

Today is much like spring; warm, a few showers, and some feel-good sunshine mixed in. More rain and even some snow flurries are called for next week. It should be a lovely spring when it does arrive. I like it!
Economic cutbacks are rampant; our area is losing most of the few manufacturing jobs it had left. Bush Hog Corp. is shutting down for two weeks and the probability of reopening at all are slim. Auto-parts makers are trimming jobs. To alleviate this mess, I hope we don't have to get into another world war like our parents and grandparents had to endure. Such could be starting with Israel and the Hezbollah.
I am in the process of going through photos I made over the past year to see if any are fit to post on Flickr. Overall, last year was a pretty good one for me and photography. Anytime I can get into the mountains is good, and I enjoyed shooting at Vanessa's wedding in June. Although I don't have a big city to shoot in, there is plenty to be seen in the rural areas, and I've only touched part of five counties so far, plus a bit of North Carolina. I'm going back to Greeneville and then on into Hawkins County later on, and S.W. Virginia is on my to do list.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Not much happening today; got my shot.
Carolyn cut back one of her employees to three days per week, and on the 23rd of this month, another will lose her job. This all has been very tough for Carolyn because both of these girls need the work. The hell of it is, this may not be enough to save us.
I have a case of the Monday blues and it is only Friday. Is it springtime yet?

Thursday, January 08, 2009


Southbound ...

No longer will I have original thoughts. At best, thinking is time consuming and can be as tiring as any other type of labor. I'm too old to put so much stress on myself, and original thinking hasn't gotten me anywhere anyhow. After busting my ass for 64 years trying to be witty and one step ahead in my thought processes, I've come to realize I am still the same ignorant hillbilly I was when I was born. See, not having a car gives me lots of time to think, and the more I think, the fewer original thoughts I have. As a matter of fact, I can't remember having one in the past 20 or so years, but I am always trying to hatch a brand new thought. What I've decided to do is to improvise.

What are thoughts? They are actually just common, ordinary, everyday, run of the mill electrons that have been assembled in a somewhat orderly fashion by a few brain cells. One thing electrons don't like to do is hang around in one place very long; they have an insatiable wanderlust. Everyone of us who think is a living radio transmitter and all our thought electrons are broadcast to the world. What I've done is devise a device to collect all these random electronic thoughts floating around. I am using an old satellite dish for catching them, and a modified Calvin's Transmogrifier to amplify and translate the incoming data to English language symbols. This data is then re-fed to the transmogrifier by my own design dual-stage reverse-osmosis filtering process where all the bits and bytes are assembled and sent to a laptop computer running specially modified Linux software that decodes and displays it for my use.

As you may be able to tell, today's entire blog was created with random thoughts originally created by billions of other people since thinking was first invented, or since 1832, whichever came first.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Bad times

The proverbial poop has hit the fan! Carolyn lost her two oldest accounts; she acquired them both in 1995. It is an economy thing; they are owned by the same parent company and are tightly tied to the automotive industry. This goes to show how closely the American economy is dependent on auto manufacturing. I don't think the Federal auto bailout is going to help much; probably not enough money set aside for the car makers. Meanwhile, Wall Street goes its merry way with pockets stuffed with taxpayer cash, while Main Street suffers. These small business like Carolyn's employ more people than all the big business combined; a lot more. When these large companies make cutbacks, their vendors are the first to get crunched, especially "non-essential" service suppliers.

Even if we weather this, there will most likely be more to come. Another account told her that they are looking into cutting back, and that if they did, her services would be among the first to go. It too has big ties to the auto makers, but not as much so as did the two she lost. Another account shut the doors to one of its plants last summer and she lost that income, and its other plant that is dependent on the construction industry is iffy. My friend who lives just up the street from us was forced into early retirement from there back in December. He was a supervisor and had been with the company for 23 years.
Not much else going on today ... I need to get away from the infernal machine for a short while.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009


One of my contacts said he would like to write a book and also stated he had so much on his mind he didn't know where to start, so here is my two-cents worth which he did not ask for. I write mostly fiction (including this blog), so I can give him a pointer or two on how to begin a story. I won't be trite and tell him to start at the beginning, but I will say it is a place in the story timeline that has to be handled sooner or later, and it has always been sooner for me. If you have the basics of what you want to say either in your head or in "orderly" notes, it makes it much easier. The writers of children's stories have a great catch-all beginning; "Once upon a time ...". That phrase or some variant can be used for almost any story. "It all began when ..." is one I often use, but it seldom sticks around. As I get into the flow of the tale, other words or phrases will pop into my mind that may be used to better begin the first paragraph. Yes, the all important first paragraph. It not only introduces the reader to your story, it also sets the tone for the entire work, may it be upbeat, sad, whimsical, or whatever. Sometimes I have to allow the story to dictate the exact wording of the first sentence of the first paragraph, so I don't worry too much with it just as long as the story follows what I originally had in mind. Don't forget, everything you say and how you say it are subject to change because you are going to have to edit, edit, edit. The more you edit and get all your i's dotted and your t's crossed, the happier any publisher is going to be. They don't like to edit, and they love a good story that flows from beginning to end with all the right parts in the right places.

Did I say I wasn't going to be trite? I lied! The book with the most sales in the history of publishing starts with a simple "In the beginning ...". Whether you consider the tome as fact or as fiction or even as both doesn't matter; the first sentence has you hooked to read more. As long as you can cause the reader's mind to keep thinking "what happens next?," you have a winner.

This is another one of those subjects where every writer has an opinion, and the more a particular writer is published, the more opinionated he becomes. The best thing I can say is to begin ... somewhere, but absolutely begin.
It has been continuously raining since early a.m. today, and is supposed to continue into Thursday night. Hopefully, the drought is over.
Carolyn just received some very bad economic news concerning two of her accounts. Can't say more at the moment.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Watauga Dam

As we were riding about in the Carter County wilds yesterday, Carolyn turned onto a road we had never tried before. The name of the road was Wade Bulla Road, and as my cousin had married a man by that name—probably before I was born—I figured it would be a nice place to see. After going around the first blind curve the road narrowed to one lane with no place to turn the long van, so we kept going deeper into a hollow. After negotiating a couple more sharp curves, I spied an abandoned house ahead on the right and I told Carolyn to stop so I could get out and get a shot, mainly because it had a large tv antenna beside it that looked ridiculously out of place. I saw that there was a house on down closer to the road and near the shack, with men and kids in the yard. When I stepped out of the van, I almost went to my knees because the pavement fell off into a ditch that was hidden by grass and weeds. I caught myself, and shut the door as I began to work toward the front of the van. Again, I nearly fell, grabbing the outside mirror to steady myself. Now this all wouldn't have been terrible except for the fact the men in the yard were heartily laughing at my antics. I finally hollered for Carolyn to move the van farther toward the center of the narrow road, and as soon as I turned loose of the mirror for her to do so, I started falling again. This time when I grabbed, it swiveled forward and I fell into the van just as Carolyn started to move away. I was swinging, dragging, and cussing, while Carolyn—not knowing I was in dire straits—was looking in her side mirror trying to back up and the gentlemen in the yard were having a conniption fit. Carolyn finally looked around at me and stopped the van, and I was able to get some footing on the road surface. I put the mirror back in place, raised my Pentax and snapped a shot of the lonely old house. The men suddenly quit laughing and began hollering for me to get the hell away with the camera. One of them, a medium build man in overalls, a blue plaid shirt, and huge black beard started my way, making hand gestures. I jumped back in the van and Carolyn took off, but we still had to drive right by all of them. Some were still laughing and two more—including the beard—didn't seem too happy. Perhaps they thought I had taken their picture and stolen their souls?! Anyway, we got by and continued our journey up the hollow for about 250 yards when the road quit at a driveway. Oh, shit; we had to go back by those guys. In my minds eye, I could see the beard eating my fried balls along with his mountain oysters and cornbread. Nothing to do but ease on down the road and act innocent, which we did. To our surprise, all of the men, including the beard, waved and smiled as we hurried by. Not a bad day after all; my camera came through unscathed!

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Just Sunday

Watauga, Tennessee

Still have no wheels, but Carolyn hauled my ass around in the van so I could shoot a few photos. Didn't get anything particularly good, but I did find some that were a bit interesting, nearly all on the backroads of Carter County.
Other than that, not much has happened, although I finally caught up on some sleep. Maybe I can think of something better to bore you with tomorrow.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Let the tax season begin

Today I began doing preparatory work for last year's income taxes. Doing taxes for a sole-proprietor are not easy, even after all the needed documents and figures have been been assimilated. I just completed estimating Carolyn's business income, but will have to wait until all the 1099's come in before I am sure of the amount. It looks to be at least $16k less than last year, and I estimate that will come to a net profit loss of about $6k from 2007, or $500 per month. Monday I will do the employees W-2 forms which are her largest deduction total, and I should know from that how fast I want to proceed with form filling and filing. I seldom file before April 12, because we usually are within a few hundred bucks of break even.
I hope to get out tomorrow to shoot some pics; haven't been off this place but two times since Christmas day. A short trip to Greeneville and the Davy Crockett dam area is planned, but my shooting plans seldom come to fruition. I hope to have the Escape back, but don't look for it before Sunday.
Last night was another of little sleep; daylight was seeping around curtains before I finally dozed. I was up and at the computer twice, and even turned the tv on for a few minutes. Aging is a strange phenomena, and today, I feel very, very old. A touch of springtime such as we had Saturday last would alleviate much of my rectal-optimitis (shitty outlook). At the present, the sky is pissing ice pellets.
Have you noticed the length of daylight hours increasing? Of course not; but by the 20th day of this month you should be able to see longer evening light. Extended morning light will take a little longer. It all means that on February 1st, I will begin my annual robin watch. The birds time their migratory patterns by lengthening light and not by temps. I had to wait a long time to see a returning robin last year; March 7, in fact. Hopefully I will sight some before that late date this year.
Hot off the presses is The Smoking Gun's Mugshots of the Week!!!

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Israel versus the world

Seems like about every American politician has pledged to defend the right of Israel to exist as a nation. Israel has every right to exist in the world community, and like any sovereign nation should, it fights to do so. What the politicians and a lot of the American public does not understand is that Israel is fighting for the right for Jews as a people to exist. Throughout history, no other humans have been persecuted such as have been the Jewish people. Pogoms and extermination camps killed many millions, and over the centuries, many, many more Jews have been killed in individula acts of terror. Since the biblical dispersion, Jews have been treated like sub-humans in nearly every place in which they have settled and tried to live a peaceful coexistence with everyone else. That is one of the two main reasons that Israel exists; to have a homeland for any Jew to come to and feel free to be free. The other main reason the country as we now know it came to be is religious in nature. According to their history set forth in the bible, God gave the ancient Israelites a homeland because they were his chosen people.. How they lost that homeland is partially their own fault, and partially the fault of invaders. The fact remains that they now have part of the old homeland back and intend to keep it.
I didn't sleep well last night and can barely see to write this. About a week ago, Carolyn removed the comforter that I was comfortable with from our bed and replaced it with another one. I have the heat turned down to sixty degrees at night, because neither of us like a stuffy sleeping room. The new blanket just isn't going to pass muster. I froze! Somewhere near daylight this morning, I rolled against Carolyn and she got up and put another cover on the bed, and I fianlly got a little sleep. I'll be damned if I am going to waste good beer money by turning up the heat!
Jerry is supposed to charge the a/c on Chris' car come Saturday. It will be so good to have something to drive again. I enjoyed riding shotgun with Carolyn driving the van; it sits up high and a lots of photos can be made without getting out. At least she won't have to drive everywhere when the Escape is returned. IF!

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