Monday, November 30, 2009

Squashing Beetles

The following article is based partly on well known facts and partly on my opinions.

Thar's Rabbits in them thar hills!

As American automakers pare down their NASCAR sponsorships and overall involvement in the "stock car" sport, the sanctioning body is casting its net in European waters hoping to catch some much needed cash and involvement in a declining business. They brought Japanese car maker Toyota on board the elite circuit just a few years ago, but it too is showing waning interest due to poor worldwide sales of cars. Other sponsors are also cutting back, and money to keep NASCAR owners living the lifestyle to which they have become accustomed is becoming scarce. I don't feel sorry for the France family though; they have done as much to hurt the sport as has any economic downturn; in fact, if company shares were publicly traded on the stock market, the entire management would likely have been fired long ago. Their arbitrary rules changes over the years (sometimes while a race is in progress) have always bothered me, especially when they kept my favorite driver and car brand from winning a championship two different times. In my opinion, Mark Martin was denied twice in the 90's because he drove a Ford for Jack Rousch Racing. Instead, NASCAR's favorite son and best moneymaking draw won because the rules were changed or enforced to suit "The Intimidator" Dale Earnhardt and his black Chevrolet. It seems Chevy has always put the most money into the France family coffers, and they have shown appreciation in kind. Then came the Toyota thing which I didn't like but I could live with it. American sport for American cars. Where were the foreign companies when NASCAR was struggling to find sponsors for cars and races? They were courting Indy car racing, an elitist sport if ever there was one. Next came "the car of tomorrow", an homogenized piece of work designed to be much safer and to level the playing field among the car brands. Its safety has yet to be definitively proven and it effectively took the car makers out of the sport; all the cars are basically alike except for engines and some superficial decals. I like the rivalry between the different brand cars, but NASCAR favored the personalities of the drivers. I no longer watch NASCAR races, and a lot of other people have fallen by the wayside for the same reason; we like cars first; not drivers. I happen to be Ford inclined, although at times I have been a fan of Dodges and Chevrolets. It will not surprise or disappoint me if Volkswagen becomes the next foreign marque in the big leagues. I don't know which American car brand will be the last standing on the big ovals, but I hope it makes roadkill of a Rabbit before it rides off into the sunset. Have some Fahrvergn├╝gen everyone!

Busy Monday

The morning has been spent ... literally. Since 8:30 I've been trying to get everything straightened out with all the medical bills plus our regular stuff. City property taxes and business taxes are due by the end of December, along with commercial tags for the two vans. I have been saving for all this for a year, but we had to use most of it when Carolyn wasn't working. It has been exactly a year since Carolyn applied for Social Security benefits but other than the $250 tax reduction check, she hasn't received a penny. They are looking into it.
One of my Flickr contacts posted a test photo of a bird, saying her 400mm lens seemed to be slightly soft in focus too close to the center. I googled and found a standard test chart which can be downloaded in .pdf, printed and used to check your own lenses. I can guarantee that if you do your own testing, it will be much cheaper than having it done in a lab. I had one tested back in the early 80's but it was under warranty and didn't cost me. If I had paid it, it would have been $100 plus two-way shipping.
I am going to try to get into Jonesborough one night soon and make some pics of the Christmas decorations. I am not very good at night photography, so it should be an adventure. Tomorrow night may be a good time.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Today will never happen again

Roan Highlands

Carolyn took three days off from work, so she had to get up early this morning to make up for missed time. We are still eating leftovers; I like turkey when it is fresh from the oven, but after it sits for awhile, it has a taste of fat to it, and I cannot stand to eat it. There is plenty of other stuff like green beans, deviled eggs, mashed potatoes, corn, macaroni and cheese, her super homemade dressing with cranberry sauce, candied sweet potatoes, pumpkin pie, sweet potato pie, and probably a few other things I can't think of at the moment. Life is good.
If I were President Obama, I would be afraid; very afraid. In fact, I would most likely fire the head of the Secret Service for allowing the party crashers into the White House at a State function. You and I cannot send the president, his family, or his staff an email without it being checked many times for subversive activities such as containing a letter bomb, yet these shrewd citizens waltz in to one of the most secure places in America, make themselves at home, and have encounters with the most powerful people in the world. The Nicholas Cage movie National Treasure no longer seems so far-fetched. As bad as our Homeland Security Agency is, it surely works better than the president's personal body guard unit.
Gasp! Was Tiger Woods and his missus having a spat which caused him to leave home in a snit so as to cool off and then he wrecked his Cadillac? Is his wife again pregnant and she roused him from sleep to go to the store and fetch her ice cream and pickles? What will his official sponsor think of him driving a different brand of car instead of the Buick he gets so well paid to promote in tv, magazine, and newspaper ads? Rumor has it that I really don't give a damn about any of it!
Dubai goes belly-up! Indoors man-made ski slopes in the Arabian desert may not have been a good idea. Folks, try to help these poor oil-laden people out; plan to soon spend your next vacation on the beautiful Persian Gulf on a home-made island chain shaped like a palm tree. Be sure to buy a souvenir from the gift shop located on the ground floor of the tallest building in the world. See the Iranian and Iraqi oil tankers sailing by all day long. Be thrilled as American military jets from huge aircraft carriers fly overhead on their way to and from dropping bombs on Iraq in order to secure your freedom. Phooey!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Christmas in America

A landscape containing many man-made
including the lake

I posted this little ditty in '07 and '08 so I will make it my Christmas season tradition; something like store-bought eggnog.

The true meaning of Christmas in America

We treat it (Christmas) like having one-night-stand sex; slam, bam, thanky' ma'm and it's over 'til next year. Flirting begins in September, then by Halloween we're booking a cheap motel room, and at Thanksgiving we are naked and in bed. Now comes the good part; a whole month of foreplay, followed by twenty-four hours of unbelievable intercourse, climaxing in an orgasm of give and take; grunts, groans, and screams of delight ... and it is over. But wait; O' my God! The sleazy encounter has resulted in us having caught a transmittable disease; in-debt-up-to-our-ass-itis! We didn't practice safe holiday. We reached into our pants and whipped out our well endowed credit card and stuck it in every slot available, even allowing strangers to handle it. For the next nine months we curse, threaten, promise, and pull our hair and swear "Never again"! September rolls around once more, and though we haven't paid our full price for the previous year's dalliance and indulgence, we begin anew.
Maggie—a friend and my photographic mentor—posted a comment on one of my pics concerning man-made objects in landscape photos. It is a good point because from a purist viewpoint, landscapes should show nature and nothing else. In Europe where landscape photography began in the 1800's, it was difficult to capture a natural area of any large breadth because the countryside was dotted with houses, barns, fences, and many other man made objects. Europe has been settled for nearly 2,000 years or longer, so the handiwork of man is about everywhere. Paint artists could opt to ignore such things and just leave them out of their scenes, but the film camera recorded all that it saw. The first known photograph was made by a Frenchman in 1826 and was a mix of buildings and countryside. In America and it's westward movement of the mid-1800's, it was a different story; there was mostly nothing but unspoiled vistas for the first photographers. Even then, they sometimes had survey crews or their tents in the photographs, if for nothing else they used them to compare the size and grandeur of the land to mere humans and known objects. Where I live, it is difficult to find a place of any large area where made things aren't present somewhere in the distance; I would have to go deep into the mountain hollows to find such places, even if they still exist there. Like anything else, I suppose it has come to be a matter of taste; at times I see photos with something man-made in them and I wish it wasn't there to detract from nature, and other times I see photos where I wish there was something man-made depicted just for size comparison so I may better realize a sense of what I am viewing. Man-made or natural, the best thing to do is enjoy the scenery.
The Smoking Gun's
Mug shots of the Week!

Friday, November 27, 2009


I have sinned. Yesterday I committed all of the Seven Deadly Sins and probably more, the worst being Gluttony. I ate until I became ill, and after popping a couple of Tums and chasing them with seltzer, I ate some more. Life is good. I also committed Greed by grabbing and filling a plate before anyone else had a chance. Soon after eating, I was overcome with Despair because my belly was full but I wanted more which led to depression and Apathy. I lay on the couch like a fat potato, my crack was showing and my hair unkempt; I was guilty of Sloth. My son came into the room with a plate piled high with goodies, and I was overcome by Envy. I barely contained my Wrath when he grinned and refused to give me one of his bread rolls.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Eve of the feast

Her'n and his'n

If there is one given in getting a book published, it is that there must be sufficient material of reasonable quality to make the effort worthwhile to a potential reader. The more I struggle trying to put together a tome of digestible material, the more I realize I do not have much that qualifies as "good enough", much less first grade. So now I must write, and of course my respectable writing has become so sporadic I really do not know where to start. I penned the poem "Winter" last evening, but it is pretty sucky. It began well enough, but got mushy at the end. None-the-less, I will leave it here for a few days and take a long, hard, and hateful look at it before having it permanently on my Lord Bubbha blog or in the trash. At least you know I am trying ... at least it makes me think I am trying.
Chris's car is broken and I have been driving her back-and-forth to work since yesterday morning. It takes an hour to pick her up in Jonesborough, drive to Elizabethton, and then back to home. I had to take Carolyn to Fall Branch and Boones Creek to clean the buildings last evening, and today I have to get my shot, take Carolyn to the store to get the remainder of her Thanksgiving stuff, and then drive back to Elizabethton to get Chris. I am a well traveled man. Actually, I am pooped.
To you my dear friends in these United States of America, Happy Thanksgiving. To you my dear friends in Europe and Canada, have a great day every day. Peace!
My friend Fred always liked to listen to Arlo Guthrie relate the story of Alice's Restaurant on Thanksgiving day. I think I may have missed hearing it one or two times since Fred died in 1980. I even like the movie. I think Arlo has gone over to the dark side with his political views.

Happy Thanksgiving, Alice.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009



Barren trees huddle in cold deep sleep
unfelt breezes whisper minuets
a browning leaf dances before my door
winter has come -- the sun has set

A time to lay a fire on the hearth this eve
to drive damp chill from my bones
a candle lights the window pane
In silence I reminisce alone

The end of day was a wondrous time
to share with my true love
she left my world so suddenly
to soar on the winds above

Spring will come -- I'll still be alone
another season we shall be apart
seasons cannot mend a broken man
a man who's lost his one true heart

©2009 Ken Anderson


When Carolyn visited the doc for her checkup last week, her blood pressure was extremely low so they took her completely off her hypertension med. Yesterday she became very weak, dizzy, and sweaty. Her cousin whom was a nurse, came over and checked her blood pressure and it was 161/98. I went and bought her meds and she is now back to near normal.
A bit of continuation and clarification on yesterday's post. The separations between the three grand regions of Tennessee are to outward appearances a matter of geography. The western part of the state is much like the landscape of Mississippi or parts of Missouri. The central portion's main feature is the Nashville Basin which actually has more blue grass than the entire "Blue Grass" state of Kentucky. In the east, we were isolated by mountains on two sides, the Appalachians and the Cumberlands, so the rest of the state pretty well "forgot" about us. The political division came at the beginning of the Civil War when East Tennesse—especially the mountain people—did not want to secede from the US and join the Confederacy. People of the East Tennessee and Western North Carolina hills never recognized the Confederacy as a legitimate government, and most of them whom fought were in the Northern Army. My g.g.grandfather died in a Confederate prisoner of war camp in Virginia. I suppose that if we had not been surrounded by Confederate states, we would have done the same as did West Virginia and form a new state. Tennessee was the last state to join the Confederacy and the first allowed back into the Union, largely because Andrew Johnson from nearby Greeneville was vice-president of the US. Had it not been for him, the South would have suffered even more under "reconstruction".

Monday, November 23, 2009


Roan Mt. State Park

At times, I wonder just what it is that keeps me living in East Tennessee. For one thing, the name East Tennessee itself has much to do with it. We don't live in eastern Tennessee or in "the eastern part of the state" as some call it; in fact, we barely consider ourselves as being part of the State of Tennessee. Of course, I'm speaking for most of us whom were born here before about 1955. The rest of the state treated us like poor cousins for many, many years, and it wasn't until the early 1960's that we elected a governor that cared to recognize us as being equals. Now, we have the most voters of all three grand divisions of the state, and things are much better here than in the old days; but not so great that we will recognize our western compatriots as anything but poor relatives the same as they once did us.

This area is beautiful with its mountains and valleys, some so rugged or isolated that they have yet to feel the footprint of a white man. But that natural beauty can be found elsewhere in the US, so that isn't the main reason I stay here. It is the feeling of an independent heritage and pride of where I fit into the history of the hills. One of the first (if not the very first) free and independent governments created on this continent by European settlers and their descendants was the Watauga Compact in 1772, four years before the colonies declared themselves separated from English rule. It was certainly the first such entity west of the Appalachian divide. The King of England had declared that no one was allowed to settle west of the mountains, and there were several reasons for his decree. On was that he didn't want problems with the natives whom had been here for many centuries. Another is that the isolated settlements would be difficult to protect under colonial laws, particularly the laws of the North Carolina colony of which this area was a part. The main reason however, was that it would be damn near impossible to tax the people whom chose to live here. Many of the settlers were people whom had broken one or more of the King's laws, and were seeking a place to hide. Most were poor people seeking a piece of land to cultivate and to live a life free of most man-made restrictions, but where people decide to inhabit, sooner or later unsavory characters will try to prey on the honest. The loose compact created laws and courts which worked well for several years, but was eventually replaced by the State of North Carolina. I am able to trace one branch of my family to Jonesborough in the late 1760's, and there is always the smidgen of Cherokee Indian blood in my veins that ties me forever to this soil. There are many, many other things which endear me to the hills, but suffice it to say I am proud to be a hillbilly and an East Tennessean; I can be nothing else.

Sorry for the personal history lesson, but sometimes I feel lost and need to renew a sense of why I am me.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Weekend blahs

Produce stand, Buffalo Valley

Yesterday Carolyn wanted to hang out at home and clean the house, but the weather was so beautiful I told her I was heading for the hills. She finally acquiesced to my way of thinking and off we went in a direction north of Asheville, North Carolina. We hadn't been over the back of Unaka Mt. in nearly 20 years, so we wound our way along the crooked roads and eventually through Loafer's Glory and on into Bakersville, NC. Both villages sit between the Black Mountains of NC and Roan Mountain on the Tennessee state line; all are beautiful to a hillbilly like myself. I took the camera, but I had no idea of using it; I just wanted out one last time before real winter sets in. I did make something like 45 shots, but not a one do I like in the least. The bright mid-day light wasn't good for shooting, and my heart just never got into the spirit. I found plenty of things worthy of photographing if the light had been a lot better and I could have used my imagination. Carvers Gap near the top of the Roan was beautiful, but for some reason the Feds had the road to the rhododendron garden area closed; there were a lot of disgruntled people whom had driven many miles to picnic and relax in the warm afternoon sun atop the world. On the way down the Tennessee side of the mountain, I saw a lot of smoke off in the distance; it was a forest fire between the town of Roan Mountain and Whitehead Hill.

Today is gray and much cooler, and we will soon journey to Elizabethton to clean the building. I probably will not bother to take the camera; Carolyn's cell phone has one if I have to shoot something.

Saturday, November 21, 2009


Coon hunter and friends scouting for deer sign

Around 1965 and after my first child was born, I came to the confusion that I would probably never be a writer, so I stopped taking notes of my life events; marriage can cause hopelessness at times, particularly when you are young. I began my electrician apprenticeship in July that year (I still remember a lot) and figured I would spend my life making a better than average living for my family after I finished my four years of schooling and on-the-job training. All went pretty good until 1968 when I found that I had rheumatoid arthritis, then things became not so rosy. The doc put me on steroids, a kind which caused me to have kidney stones and that was no fun either. From December 1971 until mid-1977, I passed five (at least) of the little critters; and thank goodness they were relatively small. The first one came on Sunday just before Christmas while I was preparing to leave for my job in Parkersburg, West Virginia. It was the old case of being afraid I was going to die and at the same time being afraid I wouldn't. The little bastard caused me four days in the hospital, but at the time, no one knew the steroid was causing the problem so I remained on them for several more years. They say passing a stone feels much like having a baby, but if that be true, I don't see how there could be so many people in this world. If I were a woman, I would cut off my old man's wonker before I had a chance to get pregnant the second time. My apologies to my wife and to anyone else's wife whom I may have impregnated in my dreams over the years.
Speaking of my wife, Carolyn's visit to the doc wasn't too good. Her blood pressure was way low, so she is now off hypertension meds; at least temporarily. We have to buy a cuff and and keep tabs of it at home. I am still not allowed to "know her" in the biblical sense and I think that may be what is wrong with my eyes this time instead of allergies; I believe it is internal pressure. Woe unto her in four more weeks when I am free to do my "thing". She'll think Santa really has come.
Enough bull patties for one Saturday.
The Smoking Gun's
Mug Shots of the Week!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Sore-eyed observations

Creating art is the ultimate sacrifice of the spirit; it is all or nothing.
My dadgum gmail is down again. I wish Google would concentrate on fixing the old but necessary stuff instead of crowing about new stuff that probably won't work well either.
This has been an ass-kicking year around here; it has been one crisis after another it seems. It's ok though; I've a big ass and it can handle a lot shoe prints; it ain't a virgin. I am beginning my second round of eye allergies and I will be out of sorts until it has run its course. All I can say is for rich politicians and richer preachers to watch out; when I'm sight-deficient, someone has to pay because of my rectal-optimitus (shitty outlook).
Associated Press
says Obama is at odds with Catholic bishops over abortion. Is he pissed enough to veto a healthcare bill that has abortion limiting laws attached? Hell, he would sign his own attached death warrant if it meant some kind of meaningless reform bill was on his desk; a willing martyr for his legacy. He needs to be continuously carrying his case to the American people, but what is the president doing? He is working the phones to legislators instead of making us put pressure on them, and as long as we don't squeal as we are being slaughtered, they will do what corporate America wants. Same old same old. Wake up, America; the alarm clock of our destiny went off years ago, and we have slapped the permanent snooze button.

Thursday, November 19, 2009


Joe Phillips 1948

circa 1898

Grandparent's wedding day 1916

My grandmother, Julia Oliver Phillips @1960

Fourth lesson in photography:
  • Never take my picture.
How old am I? My grandpa was born in 1863!

  • Top photo is my granddad just a few weeks before he died. This is the farm country where I was raised
  • Next photo is my granddad before 1900
  • Next are from left-to-right: a cousin being held by grandmother's mom, my grandma's sister, my grandma, and my grandpa. My grandpa was 32 years older than my grandma
  • Bottom is my grandma at home; she did not like to have her photo made. The only foul language I ever heard her use was "shit fire" when she caught someone pointing a camera at her. The window on the right is where the bedroom in which I was born is located
Brass Tacks


I watched grandpa fit his faded brown brogans on the last, renailing each sole where it was separating from the insole and uppers. "A good pair of shoes will last a long time if they are maintained properly." He said that of many things. The small ball peen hammer was as a toy in the long, lean fingers of his steady, tanned fist. With his left hand he fetched a brass tack from between his lips, placing it precisely, sharply striking it three times.


Grandpa, grandma, and I were on the front porch, concealing ourselves from the heat of the afternoon. Brass tacks glinted from one brown shoe as it tapped time to the creaking harmony of the rocking chair against the floor boards.


Grandpa's shoes--one overturned--were near the foot of his bed. A teardrop of dust-flecked sunlight spirited past a window shade and splashed on a brass tack in a worn old sole. Grandma was softly weeping as they carried grandpa's body across the front porch to the awaiting hearse.

One day closer to Solstice

Davy Crockett birthplace cabin replica

"I guess feeling bad helps you know what feeling good is like ..."
~ Bob the Squirrel
Carolyn has gone to the doc for her semi-annual checkup. I hope she has gumption enough to get a flu shot; this year's flu season is shaping up to be a dilly.
A note on Windows 7: If you are thinking about installing it on a pc that is more than a year old, or if you have printers, scanners, or other external hardware, be aware that there may not be drivers available or the one's out there may not fully work. My three year old HP all-in-one is such a device; only the printer works with Win7, and that leaves me with a nearly useless scanner and fax machine. With Ubuntu Linux, I can use the printer and scanner, but not the fax. Another thing; legacy programs load very slowly on Win7, even though I have a pc with three processors.

On another OS note, the rumor mill is saying that Google is almost ready to release their Chrome Operating System, but it will only be pre-installed on certain netbooks. Pretty cool move if the scuttlebutt is correct; it will give Google a big step-up on the rest of the netbook field, and folks, netbooks are the future of portable computing.
Many large American corporations are again showing enormous profits even though the economy hasn't begun a real recovery. They are achieving this feat by laying off workers, and the people whom are not cut are being forced to do the work of two or more employees. With one hand, big banks are paying back the Fed in record time, while they are accepting more bailout money with the other hand. Corporations are still thumbing their noses at tax payers around the world, and especially we sheep in the US. Huge executive bonuses are still being happily handed out using our tax money or borrowed money which our taxes will have to repay. Wake up, America.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Detroit Hillbillies

Pilgrims in Detroit—1950*

After struggling through first grade, my six-year-old (same as Calvin) wisdom told me I should try living the debonair life of a big city boy. At the time—1951—Johnson City was the largest town I was familiar with, and I am guessing it had a population of around 25,000. I had been to Detroit, Michigan where my dad worked in the Hudson automobile factory, riding there with my parents in either in 1949 or 1950. We stayed a the week at the rooming house where my dad lived, and he brought us back home in a 1935 Plymouth sedan on the weekend. After school let out in '51, my mom decided to move to Detroit and live full time. She quit her job in a Johnson City textile mill and again we walked the long mile to Jonesborough, she carrying a cardboard suitcase in one hand and half dragging me with the other. The Greyhound bus made a stop at the cab stand, where we boarded for the first leg of the journey; we were heading south to Knoxville. Once there, we had to wait for the northbound bus from Atlanta to come by and carry us to Cincinnati, Ohio where we again changed buses and finally arrived in Detroit in mid-morning the day after we left home. With the layovers and a stop to fix a flat tire on the bus near Lexington, Kentucky, the trip had taken about 21 hours. My mom had rented me a pillow and I used her huge hoop skirt for cover; we were both pooped when my dad picked us up at the bus depot after work.

For the occasion of his family moving to the big city to live with him, my dad had given up his old digs and rented us a small apartment on a quiet street not too far from downtown. Our dwelling was owned by an old lady whose husband had retired and then died not long afterward. She had a one beroom apartment built in the basement, and we were ready to settle into the life of big city urbanites. The apartment rent was very cheap, and there was a reason for that. The old lady liked birds. She liked lots of birds. She liked lots of differnet kinds of birds. We shared the basement with all those birds. Part of the agreement for renting the place was that we had to care for the birds; hundreds of birds; hundreds of stinky, noisy birds. Birds that made me sneeze. The lady kept parakeets, lorikeets, canaries, white doves, and some colorful finches of some sort. She had a deal with a local newspaper to buy a bunch of their unsold newsprint each day, and each day, the cages had to be cleaned and new newspaper put down. With all the cleaning, there was still the stench of fecal ammonia perpetually lingering in the air. The screaming, feathered flying rats had to be fed and watered each day, and I was ready to abandon the bright city lights and crawl back to the hills after my first 24 hours of surviving Detroit. I suspect the birds were as unhappy about their lot in life as was I. Fortunately there was wall between us and the foul fowl, so most times things were tolerable. The old woman also kept some larger birds upstairs; a couple of talking crows, some radio-head parrots or macaws, cockatoos and cockatiels, and probably some others I have mercifully forgotten about. Thankfully, we didn't have to care for these gems; her housekeeper was charged with their welfare.

Why? She liked birds!

This all was bad enough, but to add to my anxiety, my mom sent me to a small mom-&-pop store just down the street to buy a loaf of bread. The storekeeper laughed at me when I told him what I wanted. He said he had never heard of what I was looking for in a store like his; he said I should to go on down the street and turn left and go another few blocks and get what I wanted from a mom-&-pop bakery. Being a shy country kid, his laughing at me embarrassed me and devastated my bit of self confidence. Oh yes, he was laughing at me; as I left the place holding back tears, I heard him tell someone whom I supposed was his wife that I was an ignorant hillbilly kid. His sarcastic words have remained ingrained in my soul to this day. He was correct of course, but correctness sometimes stings. I loitered my way back toward the apartment, but I must have dawdled suspiciously; a cop walking up the other side of the street came across and asked me why I wasn't in school. I explained as best as a scared hillbilly boy could that school was out for summer, but he made me show him where we lived and he asked my mom if I was telling the truth. He said that schools would not go on summer vacation there for about another week. That was strike two against sophisticated city living.

Strike three came when my mom tried to light the gas stove, a contrivance she had no flying time in. She damn near blew up the apartment and us with it. Along with singed hair, we endured a cold supper that night.

Strike four and the final one came when two men came knocking at the door, supposedly looking for a man who lived there and owed them some money. My mom grabbed the nearest weapon—a straw broom—for self defense and talked to the guys through the screen door. She explained it wasn't any of us they were seeking, and that my dad was expected home at any minute. Actually, it would be several hours before he was due to arrive home from work. They left just before my mom could go spastic on them; she was very scared as we had no phone and there was no one else around to help. In my mind's eye, I can still see my mom defending the door with the broom poised ready to strike and protect her child and herself. Bless her heart.

So went the week; on Friday as soon as my dad came in from work, we threw our bit of stuff in the car, told the birds goodbye, and headed back to the hills of home.

That is my story and I am sticking by it. How does he remember those events so well after nearly 60 years, you ask? Well, a couple of times I have stated in this blog that I have a pretty good memory, but it ain't that good. When I was in high school, I concluded that I was someday going to be a rich and famous and very rich author of worldwide renown; loved by most and respected by all. I realized that my success would lead to a demand for my memoirs from my many groupies and fans, so I began taking notes of things which happened to me during my formative years; the things that would eventually lead to my many—but humble—successes. My mom filled in some of the blanks from what she remembered of my youth, as did other members of the family and some friends and neighbors, too. So, I have a written record of much of my life, but it isn't completely accurate because I still depend somewhat on my slowly failing memory of the recollections of others whom have long since passed. The above story is basically true.
*In the above photo, my mom seems to have an extra leg. Actually it was one of the neighboring kids whom was playing hooky from school hiding from the camera's evidence.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Slow day


Magenta filter @ 80% red/20% blue for sky
and 50% red filter for trees.

Red filter @ 100%

Green filter @ 100%

Blue filter @ 100%

Neutral @ 0%


Third lesson in photography:
  • Many times I have been asked about my grayscale photos, especially the ones I made on film many years ago; people want to know how I "see" in black and white. The only answer I have for that is to set the digital camera to shoot in b/w only, and do that many, many times for several years; sooner or later you will be able to at least recognize the subtle differences of "gray" shades of the primary colors. Or, do as I do and play with software filters.
These days, we have the advantage of either purchasing expensive colored glass filters to use on-camera, or using inexpensive software filters. The test shot at bottom has hues of the three primary colors which all others depend on: red, green, and blue. The b/w conversions are pretty well self explanatory. I settled on the top photo as "best", but it could use more tweaking. On that particular conversion, I first "selected" the sky using the Paintshop Pro "lasso" tool feathered at 55 pixels. I used a magenta filter to get the levels of cloud-to-sky contrast and detail that I wanted. I then deselected the sky and used a 50% red conversion for the remainder of the photo. Having the ability to select different areas and play with them as one pleases is the key, and most free software does not allow for that, although the Gimp does so. I hope all this is very confusing. For one thing, I am no teacher, and for another, if you become confused but interested in b/w photos, you just may seek help in learning from a real instructor, in person or virtual.

As to why anyone would want to convert a colorful photo to b/w, I do not have a clue except in my own eyes.
  • In color photos, I see a reflection of the scene or subject; with b/w, I see the soul of the scene or subject, and sometimes the soul of the photographer can be felt lurking therein.
Gotta go and work some this evening, although I feel poorly. RA related skin lesions and nausea are plaguing me a mite. This too shall pass. I wanted to watch the Leonids last evening, but wasn't up to it. Twice I have been fortunate to see this sky event when at its peak, and there were so many flashes across the heavens I was about ready to grab an umbrella. Alas, it makes its best show about every 32 years or so, the last being in 1998. I intend to be watching again around the year 2030 ... if we make it past 2012. Snicker-snicker.
Have a most wonderful Tuesday!
For Maggie: Not only am I 6'5" tall, but I weighed 11 pounds (5kg?) when I was born. Mom didn't have anymore after me ...

Monday, November 16, 2009




Higher power


Second lesson in photography:
  • Shoot it. If it attracts your eye or curiosity in any way, try to get at least one decent shot; it may end up being one of your best
I must have some kind of flu bug; since Friday morning I've had something keeping me just a bit uncomfortably nauseous, and when I eat, it becomes worse. Doesn't seem as bad since yesterday afternoon, so I may just pull through. The Tennessee Vol's being whipped in football by Mississippi didn't help, but the Lady Vols thumped a highly ranked team from Baylor University in basketball yesterday evening; one of the very few times they have beaten a team ranked higher than themselves since 2007-2008 season. They are still not near the same level as UConn or Stanford.
Even though I wasn't my chipper self yesterday, I grabbed my camera and my Carolyn (priorities in that order) and headed for my favorite place in the nearby hills. We returned to Wilbur and the upper Watauga River valley. Being there makes the remainder of the world seem superfluous. I made a few photos in Elizabethton as we passed through, and at Wilbur, we mostly sat on our butts and reveled in warm sun and magnificent scenery. Few people use the area in winter, so we were happily alone except for a flock of passing Harley riders. The little bufflehead ducks have returned for winter, and are fun to watch as they argue amongst themselves and dive for dinner. I was hoping to catch sight of a bald eagle, but none graced the sky while we were there.
By the time all the giveaways are done on the healthcare bill, the legislation will be quite useless to average Americans.
I hope y'all had a wonderful weekend and that Blue Monday isn't so bad for you.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Saturday, November 14, 2009


One little fuzzy-butt didn't
make it across the road

First lesson in photography:
  • Photography should be a required course in any educational environment; it will teach the student see the world instead of just looking at it
The Smoking Gun's
Mug Shots of the Week!
Gotta go watch a ballgame on the tv set ... more later.

Friday, November 13, 2009

A good Friday

1981--Me watching tv sports show. My
hands are stained with black walnut sap from
many days spent cracking a huge supply of
kernels for
Thanksgiving and Christmas goodies.
Carolyn snuck this shot

This will be a good weekend for athletic types like myself: I suffered from athlete's foot a couple of times which automatically makes me a jock. Actually, I will sit on my big butt and watch the Tennessee Vols play Ol' Miss in college football on Saturday afternoon, then Sunday evening the Lady Vols will play Baylor in basketball. Baylor has a Freshman player whom is sensational. At 8:30 Sunday night, The Peyton Manning Colts will play their nemesis, the Tom Brady Patriots in professional football. Does anybody remember whatever happened to the Tampa Bay Bucs or Tennessee Titans football teams? How can people be paid so much and do so little? After all, it is not like they are corporate executives or congressmen. Maybe Sunday morning I will find time to make a few photos ... if the weather cooperates.
Yep, I'm feeling good today, even though I have to get a shot.
We have sunshine today; it has been cloudy, windy, cool, and raining for the past three days. There is a melody on my lips and a song in my heart. In reality, the Willy Nelson song Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain which I had posted for a couple of days is in my head an refuses to leave. It always does that. I know better than to listen to it, but I cannot help myself; I am like a moth unto a candle. I am weak.
Happiness must be the road on which we walk and not our destination.
She said, "Making out with you is like having sex with an octopus!"
I retorted, "What the hell is that supposed to mean; I am some kind of slimy freak?"
"It's like you have eight arms groping all over me and I'm being sucked on everywhere," she replied.
Then she smiled and said, "I like what you do with your beak, my dear little mollusk."
Have a happy Friday 13th and an ecstatic weekend!

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