Thursday, March 31, 2011

Antimatter spring

Tammy in motion
This spring is beginning to resemble last year’s cool, wet season. The damp is ok because I’m sure the drought will probably return and we will need as much ground water as possible without causing flooding.
Have any of you seen the movie Angels and Demons based on a book by Dan Brown? I have not seen it but I just a few days ago finished reading the book. Much like Brown’s The Lost Symbol, he goes into great detail to explain the background of just about every sect, society, and cult which he uses in the book. Most of it is medieval and Renaissance stuff which, I suppose, may be boring if you are not much interested in such, and truthfully, the story would work just as well without so much detail.
The story is about Robert Langdon’s (hero of The da Vinci Code and The Lost Symbol) search in the Vatican for an antimatter bomb which was created in the famous physics lab C.E.R.N which is located in Switzerland. A cult—long thought to be extinct—within the church’s fringes known as the Illuminati, has purportedly re-arisen and its hatred for religion in general and the Vatican in particular has spurred it to murder the Pope and plant the antimatter bomb to destroy everything within the walls of the Vatican, including the museums which hold some of the most valuable art and manuscripts in the world. Langdon and a beautiful young scientist from CERN are sent to try and save four Bishops, one of which will be elected as the next Pope. The pair must use centuries-old clues to find the hidden temple of the Illuminatus to recover clues as to where the bomb is hidden.
It is a well researched book, and I for the most part enjoyed it until the near the end when author Brown pushes credibility a bit too far when Langdon has to jump out of the Papal helicopter which has the “found” bomb aboard. He is high above the Vatican and has no parachute and Langdon’s well known good luck is pushed into the realms of Superman. He cannot fail because he, to quote Elwood Blues, “is on a mission from God”. I will give this one three stars because it has a great plot and story line, but the climax really needs work. At least the heroes get to make love at the very end.
Photo courtesy of Tammy as she and her dance troupe learning hair moves. Thanks, Tammy.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Wet Worms

Yesterday was near perfect weather, yet a bit chilly for porch sitting except in direct sunshine. Today is rainy and cooler and robins are working the lawns for earthworms that are attempting to get away from saturated soil; nature has its own catch-22s.
Carolyn is a bit disgusted this morning; she had to raise nearly all her accounts by a few dollars to make up for extra gasoline expenses. Last evening she found out one of them is getting new bids for cleaning. So far one bid has come in and it is $150 per month more than what Carolyn charges. The insult is that she has been cleaning the place since 1995; it is a Fortune 500 trucking company and they, of all businesses, should know how hard fuel prices are hitting America’s vehicular dependent companies, yet small business are expected to carry the brunt of it and not complain. This same company raises their per miles driven fees each time fuel prices go up a few cents. I told Carolyn that with the crappy way her business is going already, and even if she doesn’t lose the place, she should immediately raise them $100 per month and tell them if they don’t like it they can take a flying fuck at the moon!
The huge forsythia at the end of the front porch is in full bloom, but since the heavy snow of winter-before-last smashed it down and spread it out, it is just not as pretty. If I had any idea we would be living here in another year, I would cut it down and allow it to regrow all new shoots; they would bloom next spring and in a few years it would again be beautiful. It has not made a new shoot since the big snow worked it over. It was a large, mature bush when we got it in 1995 and was the first landscape item we bought for the yard.
Wednesday; the weekly day of transition. Have a good one!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Cheeseburger and Pepsi

Guy's Cafe

Walk with me to a place I call yesterday. In years, it is more than half of a century gone; in my reverie, it was a few hours ago. Yesterday was 1958, and the place was downtown Johnson City, Tennessee. Open your mind and see the little corner cafe as it was in a simpler era, a time when there was no use in hurrying and scurrying about living a daily life. Men worked during the days on jobs in factories, stores, and small offices. A majority of women were home raising and teaching their children. Most families owned a big, wooden box with a small screen displaying less than perfect black and white moving pictures which could enhance their lives with the latest news and entertainment; a time when news and entertainment were not the same thing. In the evening, a man would come home from his daily job duties where there would be a meal cooking on the stove and soon the family would sit down together and feel blessed by their fortunate circumstances. After supper, they would migrate to the living room of their modest but well cared for house and watch TV for a few hours. The viewing fare then was about the same as now; local news followed by network feed news from around the world. One thing different clearly manifested itself; the news was more important than the news anchor person. In those days, a commercial would be interrupted for breaking news whereas now breaking news is at the mercy of senseless commercials. After the news was over, the few available channels offered variety shows, sit-coms, police and detective shows, and western dramas where having a horse between a cowboy’s legs was more important than the cowboy being between the legs of a saloon girl. The children of the American family were usually in bed by no later than nine o’clock with the parents following by ten. There was really not much to do compared to what we now take for granted; it was an age of routine but not at all boring.
Guy’s Cafe was located at the corner of W. Market St. and McClure St. on the edge of downtown and at the time of my innocence the little sidewalk covering over the door did not exist and neither would a weed like the one shown been allowed to flourish. Remember with me the plate glass windows that ran the length of the McClure street side. The two front windows were regular house-type windows and the door was a heavy wooden door with glass panes in its top half. Inside and along the windows was a row of booths, not many, but they were typical vinyl and chrome of the period. Near the back was a jukebox which seemed to be in a constant mode of musical activity. Beside the booths was a narrow isle and opposite them was a counter with stools which matched the decor of the booths. The lighting was mostly from the large windows in daytime and from small overhead fixtures for the supper crowd. Attached to the back of the counter between each two stools was a miniature of the corner jukebox and they were also placed on each booth table. This feature was a boon for the worker who had a short lunch break and wanted to eat his beans and cornbread while listening to Hank Williams sing Kaw-liga.
At the back and the very end of the isle was a single uni-sex bathroom for use by the public and the establishment workers. behind the counter there was barely room enough for two workers to pass by each other and over another small counter behind that was the long, narrow kitchen and storage area. The entrance and exit end of the dining counter was cut diagonally so the front door could be opened and leave room enough for people to stand while paying their bill at the cash register.
One summer day when I was 14 years old, I was in town with my mother; we had bought new school clothes for me because the time of my annual autumn angst was approaching. Afterward, she was mostly window shopping while awaiting my dad to come and pick us up in the car. She suggested–probably after sufficient whining by me–that I go along to Guy’s Cafe and get myself a cheeseburger and Pepsi. That was at a time when mothers didn’t have to worry about their children being abducted while walking alone in the small city. She gave me a dollar and down the streets I merrily went to have the best cheeseburger in town, and for all I know, in any town. I went in and found an empty stool and just as I sat down, I felt someone squeeze my shoulder. I looked up and beside me sat my uncle who I had not seen in many years; one day he just picked up and caught a bus, looking for new horizons. No one in the family heard of him for all that time, and all of a sudden he was sitting beside me. He said Wayne is that you and I nodded and said Buford is that you. We sat eating burgers and talking; he asking how everyone was I asking where he had been. He had worked his way to Chicago where he found a good job in a car factory and he lived in a boarding house; he was a lifetime bachelor and was able to drift with the wind. Finally my parents came in and there was momentary shock on their faces at seeing their “little” boy having a happy talk with whom they thought to be a stranger, and even more shock when I turned and grinned about my “find” and Buford was recognized. It was a good time to be 14 that day; I had finally become old enough to be trusted lallygagging around town on my own, finding my long-lost uncle, having a superb cheeseburger, and getting to keep my dollar because Buford paid for my lunch.
I don’t really miss the “old days”, but would like to go back, even if only for a few minutes to places like Guy’s Cafe and once more enjoy the sights, sounds, feels, smells, and tastes of indelible memories such as this.
I made the photo in 2007; since then the little building has been demolished and there is a little used parking lot in its place. In my real world, it will be there forever as dishes tinkle, smells of fresh cheeseburgers come from the kitchen and the Everly Brothers are on the jukebox singing All I Have To Do Is Dream.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Ducks and hollies and melons

The Hollies were the best of the Beatles “clone” bands

I had to take a couple days away from the PC for various reasons, but I will be here when I can.
Tammy, take a look at the last few of these comments.
His net page.
Tarte is also on FB.
Mark is in his new house and has already murdered a holly shrub. I suppose it is for the best; sharp-pointed things can be dangerous to people whom are unwary or have had a beer or two. In 20 or so years when he retires, the house will have become a great investment, especially if he decides to live his golden years in Florida. Maybe he can move in beside Mike and Tammy, put up lots of security lights, own a pack of pit bulls and slobbering Great Danes, and be a perfect neighbor from up north. Be sure to have an outside speaker system so all of you can enjoy some down home Pavarotti.
Jola, our melons, other than watermelons, are mostly varieties of muskmelons (cantaloupes). A muskmelon has a green-yellow, rough, and slightly wrinkly feeling skin with a sweet, musky tasting yellow flesh. The honeydew is another variety of muskmelon which is a bit larger but has a smooth skin of a shade of green-yellow and a sweeter, greenish flesh. Another which is popular on the west coast of US is the casaba which has an almost white flesh.
Have a (add your own superlative) week, my friends.

Thursday, March 24, 2011


No porch siting today as the world is very cool and moist; the fat lady has yet to sing her winter aria.
Carolyn bought a cantaloupe (mountain dialect is “mushmelon” which is slang for “muskmelon”) at the market. The market owner had just come back from Columbia, South Carolina with a load of spring produce. The melons may have originated in Florida; he said they were sweet and he was correct. I don’t know why it is, but early mushmelons are always sweeter than those produced later on. Even our local Chucky River varieties are not as sweet as these foreigners. One thing I would love to have is a sweet honey dew melon, but the last dozen or so that we bought have not been edible because they seem to have no sugar content. We haven’t bought one in several years.
I still like a bit having the 2010 income taxes done and it looks like we will be close to breaking even for the year, meaning we shouldn’t have to pay more than $50. This morning I did the 1st quarter state unemployment taxes which overall, was not too painful.
The weekend weather is shaping up to be mild but cloudy so I doubt I can get out for a shoot. The Lady Vols play at noon Saturday and this will likely be their last game in this year’s championship series. The opponent is Ohio State which is a good but not great team, however if the way Tennessee played the last game is any indication, my ladies should be handily whipped.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Sins of the flesh … we love ‘em!

Headwaters of Doe River
Christian women in a Houston, Texas suburb are being given the chance to learn the art of exotic dancing—pole dancing—for the greater glorification of Jesus Christ. ABC News has a short article here. Tammy, this could be a great opportunity for you to spread the Word of God by having belly dancing classes for local Christian women and you could pick up a few holy dollars at the same time.
You good folk whom have come to depend on my written words of extreme finite wisdom each day must forgive me if I sometimes do not post any profound utterances to this blog; yesterday was a "for instance". Seventy-six degrees Fahrenheit (24.4°C) found me on the porch snoozing on the lounger when I should have been spending an hour or so preparing entertainment for you, my only friends. I will try to keep such lapses to a minimum, but god, those cushions in the spring sun are surely comfortable. You may be assured that while I am decadently pampering my body with nature's gift, I often think of all of you.
Actor Elizabeth Taylor has died. The first movie I remember seeing her in was Elephant Walk; I was about 10 years old and I tagged along with my parents to the theater because I thought the film would be a Tarzan-like adventure. Wow, was I ever mislead by my audacious brain. It turned out to be a tragic love story and by the time I was blessed by seeing "The End" flicker on the silver screen, I didn't care if all the characters were dead. The next—and last—offering by her that I saw was a few years later when I was a horny 15 years of age, a movie titled Butterfield 8. On a warm evening, my cousin and I walked about five miles to Johnson City and sneaked into the Skyline Drive-in Theater through the playground just so we could see lots of Ms Taylor's skin adorned by a slinky négligé. The walk back home was one filled with lustful daydreams sinful desire.
The photo is of streamlets of water issuing from fractured rocks near the top of Roan Mountain. These rocks are some of the oldest in the world. The waters becomes a creek and finally the Doe River which pays tribute to the Watauga River in Elizabethton, Tennessee.
Have a great Tuesday, my friends.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Fire Mike Hamilton!

To the University of Tennessee Administration,
Do the right thing and fire men's athletic director Mike Hamilton. There has been nothing but successive screw-ups since he took the job. He hires the wrong people and he fires the wrong people. The Peter Principle applies to his current position.
From a fan and follower of U.T. sports for 55 years,
Ken Anderson

In the beginning …

Anj scooted her lean figure as far into the corner as she could, her back firmly against both and walls, putting a few more inches of distance between herself and her captor. Her hands, securely taped behind her back were useless as were her taped ankles. Tape across her mouth made it impossible to scream. She watched in horror as the big man enticed the black dog into the room using pieces of what looked like small bits of fresh meat. The scarred old part Labrador but mostly mongrel showed some reluctance by holding his tail tightly between his legs; the hunger gnawing at his bony sides drove him forward. In a motion almost too fast for her eye to see, the man struck down with the heavy brass heel of the big knife and crushed the top of the trusting dog’s skull. Anj automatically tried to scream but she was too beaten to do more than close her eyes as the big dog fell in a heap. As she reopened her eyes to the scene, the man flipped the knife, caught it by the handle and quickly grabbed the dog by its ears he began severing the head from the body even as its back legs were still jerking in spasms of death. He then sliced holes near the base of each floppy ear and cut a length of cord from the window blind. Methodically, he slipped the cord through the holes, knotted the ends, and glanced toward his captive with his ubiquitous smirk becoming more like a sneer. He slowly lifted the head from the floor, stepped over to his one-person audience, jerked her head forward by her hair, and placed the bloody mess around her neck. Just before she fainted, she realized the piece of meat still clinched between the dog’s teeth was part of a human finger.
“Wear it like the bitch you are, and when I get my hands on that boyfriend of yours, he’ll be wearing your head just like you’re wearing the fido’s.”
I am considering writing a new story; what do you think of the above as an opening? It hasn’t been edited and probably needs some trimming.
Have a spectacular worsh day, dear friends.

Sunday, March 20, 2011


Saturday was an off day for me. The ballgame aired at 11:00am, Jeremy stopped by on his way to the races at Bristol, I sat on the porch and absorbed a bunch of perfectly warm sunshine on a windless afternoon, I cleaned the Pentax in preparation for today’s shooting, and last evening I read myself to sleep; 10 hours of solid sleep on the new mattress. This morning came with cloudy skies so I once more decided to postpone my shooting foray, Carolyn went to work, and here I sit all alone and the sun is now shining brightly. The earth’s equator will cross the apparent path of the sun early this evening, making tomorrow the first full day of spring. The warm weather is supposed to hold through Thursday when we are to have a major cool-off for next weekend.
Have a great week!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Weekend cometh

Yesterday was a beautiful day weather-wise with temps about 70°F (21°C) under clear skies; today is supposed to be even warmer. I haven’t had a shot in two weeks and I am feeling the effects so I suppose I should get my ass in gear and get it done. Sunday, unless more tragedy falls into my life, I will definitely go shooting. Saturday, Jeremy is coming by for a few minutes and the Lady Vols play their first NCAA tournament game, therefore I will be hanging around the house most of the day.
Other than the weather fairing up, this hasn’t been the best week of my life journey. First we were worried sick about Keegan and are still not at ease with him so close to the escaping fission artifacts in Japan. Then another personal problem fell on me like a ton of brick, but I suppose, like most adversities I’ve faced over the years, I can overcome it or at least learn to deal with it. Man, I just can’t say enough about getting old.
Geriatric  Genius! We finally were able to get rid of our old and broken mattress. The springs in the old one began breaking a few years back, all on my side of the bed, of course. It had gotten to the point where I was forced to sleep very near the middle of the queen size bed but Carolyn always claimed the center so it left me but little room to even turn over. Last evening the new mattress arrived and it was in a bag. Yep, we went in debt and bought one of the foam mattresses similar to the ones advertised on TV. You know the commercials where everyone smiles after getting the most comfortable and restful sleep of their life on a hunk of foam rubber. So, after spending a night on the foam, here is my verdict: The damn thing works. I was surprised at the amount of gentle support and I slept more comfortably than I have in 20 or more years. The body-conforming foam does remove the pressure points that cause me to awaken every hour or so to turn over. For the first time in ages, Carolyn awoke without a backache.
Now we have to come up with new sheet sets; the old mattress was a quality brand and was nine inches thick; the new foam one is 11 inches thick and none of our fitted sheets fitted.
Have a wild and crazy weekend, my friends.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Books and Boone

I finished the book The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown. Although I thought I might be able to raise my rating from a three to at least a 3.5, I found myself disappointed in the faith a reader must have to really care about putting into Masonic beliefs and the Hebrew-Christian bible. Another thing is that some of the characters are just too unbelievable as are some of the main events that try to make the story work. The entire book consists 574 pages and 133 chapters plus Prologue and Epilogue, and nearly of it all takes place in one night in the city of Washington, D.C. If you are into the teaching and beliefs of Free Masonry and some occult happenings, this book may interest you as it relates to the founding of the United States of America. Many of the framers of the Constitution were Free Masons and that great document is actually based on Free Masonry beliefs. As a work of fiction, the book is ok so I will hold to my three out of a possible five rating for this book because I did learn quite a bit about Free Masonry and about writing.
Jola asked about Boone Station from yesterday's photograph. I really don't know much about the place except it is named after the first European descent explorer to blaze a trail across the mountains from western North Carolina into what is now East Tennessee. It is known that Daniel Boone explored and hunted in the Washington County area because, like many other early frontiersmen, he sometimes carved his initials on the bark of trees, particularly beech species which has a smooth bark. About a mile from Boone Station was a huge beech tree with the carved inscription "D. Boon Cilled (killed) a. Bar (Bear) on tree in the year 1760". I understand the old tree died in the early 1900's and I have seen the site where it stood; a photo was made while it was still standing and is on display at the Washington County courthouse in Jonesborough. I've heard that Boone Station was a stagecoach stop-over where passengers could get meals and a bed before continuing their journeys. It is located near CSX railroad tracks but I doubt it was ever used as a train stop. It is located about three miles (6.5 km) from where I was born and raised. Not far from it on Boones creek is a small waterfall behind which Boone hid from Cherokee Indians who were tracking him. The falls are too small at present to hide behind but when I was a boy, I sometimes played there and pretended to be Boone fighting the savages. Sited a mile farther on down the creek near Flourville where it mingles its waters with the Watauga River, was the home of the first white child born in what was then known as the Southwest Territory. The first capitol of the territory was located near Johnson City. There is a lot of American history in my area.
Have a splendiferous Thursday!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


My intro to composition teacher was a grad student and we were her first class, meaning that none of us knew what was going on. As soon as I handed in my first paper, the teacher came down on me very hard saying I should not print in all caps. This was the days before computers were commonplace and even then I had sore fingers, but to try to please the young lady, I began printing my words like she wanted and by mid-term, I was her reluctant star pupil. My greatest problem was--and still is--sentence structure and knowing a verb from a vegetable; I hated high school English classes and learned very little. She thought I was good enough at writing that she offered to tutor me in my weakest points and I met with her at the school library once each week until I finally learned the difference between a pronoun and a potato. Although I didn't do anymore real writing until I bought my first PC in 1991, I always remembered her going the extra mile with me and should I ever publish a book, she will be in the dedication along with you who regularly read this blog..
Jeremy is riding in with a buddy Saturday and will stop by to see us for a few minutes. They are going to attend the race at Bristol on Sunday.
They must be working Keegan pretty hard; I hope he stays out of harm's way with the radiation problems Japan is having.
Have a wunnerful wunnerful Wednesday!

Bad Wisconson; Bad!

I an officially boycotting Wisconsin products; I'm not big on eating cheese anyway.
College pars unus:
T'other day, Jola mentioned in a comment that I should write about my college experiences. After thinking about it for awhile, I came to the conclusion it was a pretty straightforward experience. Being in my mid-thirties, I was considered a "non-traditional" student and did not quite fit the mold of the average 18 year-old just beginning to matriculate. In a way, it was more difficult for me, at least at the beginning. I didn't have any problem getting the classes I wanted because they were mostly core classes except for Introduction to Psychology 101 and the Art Department's Introduction to Photography 101. Having been away from formal schooling for so long, I knew I was not going to be a tight fit with traditional students who saw me as an establishment oldster. Having a fairly high IQ (I was invited to join MENSA) and many more years of "life experience" including a full four-year electrical apprenticeship and several years of tramping the roads plying my trade meant that, arrogantly, I felt I already knew more than the incoming teens ever would be privy to. Mostly I had been there and done that. East Tennessee State University was beginning its first foray into the semester system and away from the ages-old quarter system of classes and grading. Somehow some genius figured out that they could have four semesters per year to replace the four quarters: Fall semester; spring semester, and two summer semesters. I remember my first Monday morning of classes in late August of 1980, and my first ever class was English Composition 101 which was taught by a graduate student and was instrumental in hooking me on writing my stories and eventually, penning this blog. As I stood on the portico awaiting class time, I sucked down several cigarettes; for the first time since I left home alone to go tramping into the unknown in 1970, I was extremely nervous; in fact, I was ready to head for my truck, grab a beer, light a joint, and go home and forget about the whole mess as I actually did not want to be there anyway. But, I sucked up my courage and waited. The kids were busy chatting among themselves, but I did notice there were a one or two other students standing by themselves who seemed a bit older than the "norm".
More at a later date ...
Have a fun worshday!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

More school

Looks like the better weather I have been craving and whining for will become a reality this weekend. Warm and dry! Today, as yesterday, it rains.
College part two:
My first declared major in college was psychology with minors in sociology and art.
I had one personal reason for attending school; photography. However, E.T.S.U. was not the best place for learning photography because it had all the photography classes in the art department. I had no choice on the matter because it is a state owned school and the State of Tennessee was paying the bills for me to be there. I had no intention of becoming an artist; I just wanted to learn to shoot and shoot well, but I had to take what was available. I already had a Nikon SLR and a couple of lenses, so I was set to do my own thing. Mainly, I wanted to learn to use the darkroom equipment and chemicals and have access to the darkroom when no one else was around. I got some darkroom experience that first semester, but basically learned basics of photography. More on photography later. My Tuesday morning class was psychology followed by art history. On Mondays. Wednesdays, and Fridays, classes were 50 minutes with a ten minute get-to-the-next-class break. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, classes ran two hours and twenty minutes with 10 minute traveling break. The psychology classes took place fairly large auditorium and was packed with kids looking for an easy course; the instructor was about my age and used a lot of humor and it was a good class for me and I aced it. The art history class was held in the same auditorium, but whereas I sat close to the front in psychology class, I kept in the background shadows for the art history. It was a long and tiring class mostly taught by a monotone voice with photographic slides displayed on a not-large-enough screen. A tenured professor who was originally from Eastern Europe, Romania maybe (Jola, does the surname Pav sound like Romanian? It is pronounced "P-ah'-ve"). He was a matter of fact teacher for our class in European art history from Renaissance up to 1900. He was a stickler for correct spelling of artist's names; any misspelling was considered as a wrong answer. During semester finals, Carolyn had me out of bed at 4:00 am tutoring me and making sure I could spell correctly; thanks to her I managed to salvage a "B+" grade for the course.
Next: A foray into writing.
Photo is of my first real girlfriend. She lived deep in the mountains of North Carolina.
Happy Tuesday!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Book reviews?

Haven't heard anymore from Keegan and we don't expect to do so for awhile. His outfit is most likely involved in relief efforts and cleaning up the base.
We found out for sure Friday that TV is not the best means to find out what is going on in such a disaster. Carolyn was trying to find info on CNN and MSNBC but it was only the usual coverage. I went online to CNN's website and was able to watch live videos from Japan, Hawaii, Oregon, and California as the latter three awaited the tsunami to roll ashore. Saturday morning as the regular news sites interviewed the many "expert" talking heads, I was able to see real news from several different online sources, including feeds from Japan's own media. It is obvious than some of the "authorities" which were adorning the American outlets did not have a clue as to what they were talking about. At times I had three browsers running with each showing a different video.
Do y'all like the little book reviews I have been doing on this blog? If not, I will cease making them, but if you do like them, should I dedicate another blog just to them or keep reporting from this one? I am usually reading two or three books at the same time and most of them are currently on someone's best seller list. Other than chocolate and thinking about sex, at the present reading is my only major vice outside the internet. I am now reading Dan Brown's The Lost Symbol; it is a fiction story based in real world places and beliefs much like his best selling The Da Vinci Code. The Lost Symbol is an interesting read based in Washington, D.C. and is a story of this nation's entanglements with Freemason beliefs from its founding to the present day. In this tome, we must follow Symbologist Robert Langdon as he is trapped in a nightmare of murder, mysteries—old and new, and a labyrinth of secret passages and rooms beneath the Capitol building. Langdon unknowingly holds the key to the a masonic legend concerning the revelation of age old mysteries which can set mankind onto a new path of enlightenment, but there are unknown forces working for and against his reluctant quest for the truth. I am just more than half through reading the book, and so far, I will give it a three out of five stars.
Hope you are having a great weekend!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Thank you ....

“Thank you everyone, i am fine. probably be sent out on a disaster relief team soon. I love you all will get back in touch as soon as we have power here”
Keegan posted the above message on FB, along with another for his dad.
Thanks to all of you and your messages of support.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Winds and ducks

The winds yesterday afternoon were a bit more substantial than predicted. Our electric went off line at about 5:20 just as I was commenting on blog comments. The power was restored around 9:00pm, but I was in good shape; I went to bed as soon as I saw it was not going to be quickly restored and did some reading via the Droid and that was what I was still doing when Carolyn came home from work at 8:30. I am almost finished reading Enslaved by Ducks, a story of a Michigan couple who have dedicated their lives to animal's well being. Actually, I think they are feather addicts. I've yet to figure out how they get their money to take care of their many birds as he is a writer for a magazine and his wife is a janitor. Anyway, they get it done. The book is written in what I call a loose style where the subject matter is more important than how the stories are told. The prose has very little flow, but the charming wit of the writer, Bob Tarte, keeps everything in perspective.
The photo was made in early autumn 1982 from a first floor classroom window at East Tennessee State University's Rogers-Stout Hall; I was attending American History class at the time and the teacher was at the blackboard with his back to me, trying to bore the innocence out of some American youths. That particular educator had a hang-up about teaching us who was President Abraham Lincoln's vice-president. The shot is of poor quality mostly because I scanned the negative with a document scanner.
Have a Thursday!

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Having a mid-week crises

Up to three inches (76mm) of rain showers through tomorrow evening and then snow tomorrow night. Wouldn't be so bad if there was some kind of warm-up in the forecast but we have problems getting out of the 50°-60° range. The ground is already fairly saturated from the last rain and snow, and many rivers and creeks are at or near flood level. I suppose I will grin and roll my britches legs up; my long legs make my pants look perpetually too short anyway. Squirrels are busy gathering leaves for nest maintenance; they seem to do so when a stretch of bad weather is about to set in. I haven't seen any robins for several days; maybe they got pissed about this crappy weather and returned to the sunny shores of Florida.
Things are suspiciously quiet in American politics and national government; obviously something bad worse is about to happen. I suppose all our beautiful and well paid elected leaders are laying low while gasoline, grocery, and medical prices are soaring and thousands of homes are being foreclosed on each month. I know for a fact that they are already planning how they can screw retirees out of any kind of substantial cost of living increase for next year. T'other day, Carolyn came home fuming from the grocery store; she wanted to buy bacon for her baked beans, but a 12 ounce package was $5.00. She scrounged through our freezer and found a pack which she nuked and used. This country needs a revolution but not the corporate controlled kind the Tea Party is stirring up. The first step should be what Robert Reich calls the People's Party but as yet that particular snake has no head. If that doesn't work, we must take the nation back by any means at the disposal of the majority of Americans. Maybe the sight of some members of Congress hanging by their heels from lamp posts in the American towns they were elected to represent would be a nice way to begin showing them and their corporate handlers that we mean to restore the United States of America to a form of majority-ruled democracy. There is no rule of law without the consent of the ruled; in times of great danger to the basics of our freedom, the fabric of America must be strengthened and if it requires a militant vendetta against politics as is, then I say "Amen".
Have a brilliant Wednesday!

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Sore eyes of March

Clock tower, 1981
Still plenty of allergies to go around, along with some nice sinus throbs. If the weather would warm into the 70's for a few days, we could get the worst of it over with. Not many pine trees where I now live, but many red maples need to do their thing and then leave me in peace or should I say "pieces". I am once more looking like a sore-eyed cat. The grass is slowly greening and Carolyn has hostas out of the ground; baring a very hard freeze, they should be able to make it into spring.
Carolyn is down with the flu, or at least, a bad cold. I suppose I will be next. There is a lot of pneumonia in the schools around here and the hospitals are getting a lot of flu cases.
Tuesdays are divine if you take them one at a time!

Monday, March 07, 2011

Monday, Monday

My Lady Vols won the S.E.C. championship; they are very good but I don't think they are ready for the likes of UConn. Both teams should receive a number one seed for this year's N.C.A.A. tournament. All but one of Tennessee's starters will be back next year, and if they don't start believing their own press clippings, they should be at least as good as the Connecticut Huskies.
The snow is mostly gone as the sun shines brightly on my old Tennessee home. Still not going to be above "normal" temps for the week ahead, however. We had oodles of rain Saturday night; if full blown spring does come, it should be a beauty. Carolyn has early flowers blooming and daffodils are out of the ground.
I thought I was catching a spring cold, but it is allergies and sinus. Actually, a cold may be easier to deal with because it lasts for only a few days whereas springtime sinus and allergies can go on for a moth or two.
Daylight Savings Time begins Sunday coming; now to get the weather to cooperate so I can have some serious porch sitting.
---- is heading into version two; as I understand it, there will be minor bug fixes, some nice face-lifts to welcoming screens on various parts of the site, some speedups here and there and many more languages will be supported across the board. The site is growing fairly quickly and new servers are being added to help with the nearly 2,500 members now aboard. Best of all, it is all still free, but I imagine some of that will change in coming months. The huge site has to be pretty expensive to  develop and maintain, but I look a for a fee structure to be less than some of the other photo sites have. Another good thing about Megashot, we will be able to have our own sponsors for each of our sites if we wish to do so. Megashot has a lot going for it and it is getting better each day.
Have a fine worshday, my friends.

Friday, March 04, 2011

Ides of March bring forth the ants of spring

Today was shot day; only the fourth one I've had this year. I am also catching a spring cold just as Carolyn's flowers begin to bloom in the back yard. Yep, it is most definitely spring; the first little black ant of the year came from under the microwave last evening as I was preparing nutritious and delicious popcorn. I shared a kernel and a drop of soda with with the little fellow. When Carolyn got home from work, the kitchen counter was crawling with the ant's sisters, but I denied knowing anything about the situation.
This afternoon, I watched the Lady Vols play their first S.E.C. tournament game; the girls have much talent but I don't know if they have enough desire to win through the remainder of this tournament and then the N.C.A.A.; the conference wasn't much of a challenge this year.
Have a great weekend, my friends.

Thursday, March 03, 2011


Federal efficiency: oxymoron or bad joke?
For years, the federal government has been trying to get Carolyn to sign on with the E.F.T.P.S. (Electronic Federal Tax Payment System) program where businesses can pay their taxes online, including 940 unemployment tax, 941 employee withholding tax, and 1040ES estimated tax. Several years ago when the program first began, I signed her up online, received a special P.I.N., and was able to log onto the site. The next time I tried to enter the site, it claimed she was not registered and for her to go through the enrollment process again. Screw 'em, I said. As of January 01, 2011, the government no longer takes mailed deposits to the tax accounts; they require it to be done online via EFTPS. For the past two months, we have been trying to enroll once more. They sent her a temporary PIN which would not get her online but would allow her to go to her bank, get a notarized document with the bank checking account number and bank routing number to mail back to the IRS. She did that. Soon, she got another letter saying she did the first one wrong (she did not do it wrong) and they enclosed another form to go to the bank for the same notarized info. She did that. Tuesday, she got another letter from the IRS saying she had done it wrong (again, she did not do it wrong) and they enclosed another form to go to the bank, be filled out, and notarized. This time she did the correct procedure of shredding and trashing it. Now, we are sitting on more than $2,000 that was due to be paid by the end of January and as we hold it, the IRS is charging penalties and interest out the gazoo. A person busts her ass to try and do things correctly, earn a living, help two employees earn a living, and is rewarded by being dumped on by every tax authority in this great nation of ours. Phooey!
Carolyn began drawing her Social Security retirement early last year but she made a little more from working than what the government allows, so they withheld four of her checks at the end of 2010 and beginning of 2011. In January, she received a letter saying they were going to keep four more of her checks for this year because she estimated she would make about the same as last year. Then she loses the big church account, and we go to the SS office and try to refile an income estimate for 2011. They tell us to send them a copy of 2011's 1040ES (estimated income and taxes) from our 2010 income tax forms and they would get her checks started back this month (March). I sent the form in, and they sent back a letter wanting to know why she sent it; they need the whole 1040 form with all schedules included. They will use it to decide if she should get the checks started back now or in June. They say they will go by last years income to decide what to pay her this year. I don't anywhere near have the 2010 taxes finished but I am going to cobble something together and send them which I know will be wrong and even if it is correct, she still will not get another penny of SS until June. Why do they send out a form in October asking her to estimate what she will make the next year and why does it say she can change her estimate at any time by contacting the SS office? It is all bureaucratic bullshit! Someday, she may get the four checks for this year refunded, but we need the money right this minute. It is a mucked up fess! Double Phooey!
Hope your Thursday is better than mine.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Books, Nooks, and spoiled brat actors

I have stocked up on e-books; I purchased the two follow-up books to the The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. The second book is The Girl Who Played With Fire and the third one is The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest. I also bought Enslaved By Ducks and Regarding Ducks and Universes; along with finishing the short story The Mill on the River Utrata, I should have enough reading material to get by for a few weeks.
It is rumored that Verizon, now that they are selling the iPhone, will begin using a tiered fee system to replace the current $30 per month unlimited rates. This is what happens when smaller companies are swallowed up by conglomerates and "competition" becomes only a word. If so, I will put my Droid on Ebay and get a regular prepaid cell phone for my own use. I will also try to purchase a Nook wi-fi reader for my books; I am now buying most of them from Barnes and Noble and Google anyway. I don't have a contract on the Droid, so there will not be any monetary penalties involved. The color Nook reader has a web browser and there are apps for it, so as long as I have wi-fi access, I should be a happy little reader.
I didn't even know Charlie Sheen (Estevez) had a TV show until I saw something about him on the net. His entire family seems to be composed of pretty good actors, but I've always thought of Charlie as being a bit "different" from his dad and his siblings. Martin, Charlie's dad, is a much better than average actor; I liked him in the movie Enigma.
The grass is nicely greening and the red maple trees look to be ready to pollinate my world. We still haven't had a "warm" day, but there have been many mild ones. It is a bit too cool and windy to do any real porch sitting.
Have a stupendous Wednesday!

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