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Wednesday, December 31, 2008


This is a little out of the ordinary for me, but if you are a “House” fan you should be reading the Polite Dissent blog, "HOUSE Medical Reviews". It is a fantastic review of the show’s drama and medical expertise and the comments are just as interesting as the author’s critique. I wish I had stumbled on to this much earlier.

HOUSE Medical Reviews

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

It is Christmas Eve - Eve. I’m the only contract person in my section at work today. I’m here with the project manager. We just happen to be the two oldest folks in our respective sections as well. What does that tell you?

One of the more enjoyable aspects of working in the procurement field is that it is predominately women I work with. I’ve always preferred women’s company over men’s. No, I’m not a “Player” or a womanizer even though I do appreciate the female form. I just get bored with the bravado conversations that characterize men’s conversations.

Yesterday, I overheard a group of guys talking about welding on hunting trucks and the best guns for ridding pesky rodents. The conversations were full of “I get away with . . .”, “it’s against the law but . . .”, “this is the best way to . . .” and the characteristic interruptions of agreements/disagreements with personal antidotes that come across in tones of chest pounding.

Sunday at a family Christmas gathering (Emily’s side) I ended up defending the Corps of Engineer Engineers to a couple of good old boys who just love to find fault with professionals overly impressed with their smarts. There is nothing like good old common sense to make the world right, ya know. The fact that they set the setting for their criticism and I have no way of disproving “the facts” they choose to present is why I hate such conversations. They pound their chest and I look like I’m on the looser side of life. My comeback? How many times have you put your $10,000 fishing boat in the water at a Government built boat ramp? Nice to not have to bounce over a tree roots or run your trailer into a muddy bottom creek bed isn’t it.

We men just can’t seem to have a conversation in which we don’t somehow compete on the topic of at hand. Somewhere in that discussion we have to have the “best” answer. That’s not a bad thing unless it is the only thing coming out of the conversation. After all these years, I’m bored to tears by it.

Women, I find, actually exchange ideas. They offer solutions without claiming it to be the “end all” solution. They care that you come away with enough information to be successful. Yes, they talk about shopping and cooking and health aids, etc., but the conversations are pleasant and constructive. These days, I’m beyond getting dirty under the hood or constructing the worlds best carpentry/welding shop in a 8’ by 10 ‘ shed. I like Martha Stewart and find cooking very rewarding as a creative activity. I appreciate a designer that can design with a man’s taste in mind. And yes, I still love power tools but I love them for assisting me in achieving my goals, not as jewelry hung from my ego.
So what does this have to do with being at work on this Christmas Eve – Eve? It’s a guy’s thing and I’m still very much a guy. LOL

Monday, December 22, 2008

Happy Earth Rotational New Year!!!!

The Northern Hemisphere is now heading back toward longer days and not a moment too soon for me. I just have to survive the Congressional screwing around that will come in March.
I’m an early riser. I’m up at 4:45 AM and on my way to work by 5:20 AM. I’ll get to the office around 6:30 AM. This time of year on the leading edge of the Central Time Zone that is night driving. The predominately cloudy conditions this time of year only makeit a darker time of day. But, when the Sun starts to rise during my trip to work, the drive is a splendid part of my day. The colors of the sky mixed with mist or fog over the fields. The long shadows and rich colors of the flora – even the grays of leafless trees are vivid – are like the robust smells of Mom’s kitchen - intoxicating. But now the sky is black when I pull into the well lit parking lot at the office. Soon the morning sky will greet me and join me on that long trip and when it does, even the bitter cold of Winter will not chase that inner happiness from my smile.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Always looking for that silver lining

I’ve missed so many great photo opportunities this past week. We’ve had a day or two of uncharacteristically cold weather preceded by humid warm weather to include a ton of rain. Two different days I missed some great pictures because 1) I’m a working stiff who has to get his ass to work or else and 2) I didn’t have my camera with me because Tiz the Season to be Jolly and the truck is full of food and gifts. Can’t carry that German Chocolate cake and the office gifts and my big old camera bag.

One morning going to town the thin weeds and small branches were frost covered and the sky was clear letting the sun shine on and through them. It was almost like ice but with the frosty softness in the crisp air. On the way home things warmed up a bit and the frost was going fast but the tall grasses in the fields held the frost a little longer than the other flora and they reflected a purplish blue, like hundreds of fan-headed staffs sticking up from the brown grassy meadows. It was so eye catching and I’ve never seen anything like it before. So I just took a few moments, stopped and enjoyed it.

Not my picture and nowhere near as beautiful as what I saw that morning.

Yesterday we awoke to 13 degree weather and the temp never got above freezing. This is Southern Middle Tennessee I’m talking about not Ashland, Wisconsin. On the way home with the sun setting in the distance, the water that normally drips out of the rocks where the highway cuts through the hills, was making interesting and unique icicles that reflected the golden sun set – and I didn’t have my camera. By the time I got home it was too late. The sun was gone. Today it is above freezing and more warm humid weather is on the way.

Again, not my picture and the icicles I saw were delicate and clear with the Sun shinng on and through them.

As disappointed as I am, I know now that this is possible and what conditions created it and I will be on the lookout for it again. Always looking for that silver lining. It sure beats bitching about things that can’t be undone.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


I ran across an interesting literacy statistic the other day. “The average American annually spends 10 times more on what he puts on his head than what he puts into his head.”

Here are some other interesting thoughts.

* If you read just one book a month for 12 straight months, you will be in the top 25 percentile of all intellectuals in the world.

* If you read five books on one subject, you are one of the world's foremost leading authorities on that subject.

* If you read just 15 minutes -- every day for one year -- you can complete 20 books.

It doesn’t sound like it is hard to be well read. Of course 15 minutes with Superman comic books is probably not what the creator of those comments had in mind. Reading isn't expensive either. you can read great writing for free and even some not so great more resent works for practically nothing.

Yes, the internet is one source. I like the Project Gutenberg site. It was the first producer of free electronic books and they have over 25,000 free books. They are classics that are beyond copyright protection so you can get anything from Plato to Shakespeare. Yes, that’s fiction and non-fiction. They even have books in over fifty different languages if you are so incline to read something in Gamilaraay or in Swedish.

There is your local library. It may seem old fashion but, it is still nice to have a warm dry place to go with friendly knowledgeable people around to help you find a great read and actually sit quietly and leave the now behind for a while! How "novel" is that? I always enjoyed sitting in a comfy chair in a quiet corner of the library to read feeling almost decadent with the luxury of it all.

There are lots of media to use too. I’m just old fashioned enough to still prefer a book. But I have adjusted to reading on screen. Hard to write notes in the margins though. LOL

It is a marvel of our times that through public education we have so many writers and writing opportunity. Yes, a lot is junk. I remember a line from a Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home in which the crew travels back in time to San Francisco of the 1990s, Cpt. Kirk describes the era to Spock as a time known for it’s trashy novels and cheap architecture. He names a few writers known for their sex scenes and overly simplified plots ( I think he mentions Danielle Steele). We also have far easier access to good writers and good writing on any subject – fiction or not – you could possibly want.

Is it really so difficult to read fifteen minutes once a day? How about reading to your kids before they go to bed? The parental responsibility to enhance children’s potential is so easy to do this way and reaps so many benefits just by sharing a little time reading. I loved reading Uncle Remus and all those Brer Rabbit tales to my kids.

Friday, November 07, 2008


What does it say about me that I so love the idea of living in a 2600+ square foot house on two and a half acres that is surrounded by pastures and eight miles from the nearest place of commerce? It is just a place to live after all. But I feel it says the right things about me. Its hard to explain this without sounding materialistic. Maybe its best to say that I am not into the acquisition of material objects for the sake of ownership or show my success in life. If it is a tool or device that helps me achieve a desired outcome or improve the quality of a task I’ve set for myself, then I get it. So why such a grand house in such a remote place?

I was looking for an old home with character that spoke of a different time. A time when craftsmanship was more common and things where built to last a few generations. This is a desire from my childhood. My summers where spent at my Grand-parents farms. They where nice simple farm houses with working barns and outbuildings on 100 or less acres. But, everything I found that fit that bill was either in too great a need of repair or attached to a 100+ acres of land that needed to be a productive enterprise. I’ve gotten to the age where I can’t renovate in a big way nor can I run a full time farming operation (although a smaller operation is always in my head).

When I first saw this house for sale I thought it was too much for me financially and too aloof for my personality. By that I mean, I am not the lord of the manor type. But, the environment was just what I and Emily were looking for. Open pasture land yet mature stately trees, set off the road a good ways, but not a dusty dirt road into the back woods. So we asked to be shown the house. To our surprise it has all we want inside which is a tall order. It is big but open with viewing of the front to the back from a central point in the house, lots of windows, a sunroom with climate control (so it can be used in those really cold days – I’m sensitive to cold), a tub with a picture window that looks out on the back yard (yes, no neighbors) and a shower, a large garage with storage room (not a closet with no windows), a front porch overlooking the meadow, a presentable deck for gathering of semi-large groups and an out building with power. There are many things Emily could add (like a large walk-in closet with a full size window) but for me these things all provide a means to accomplish goals and desires I have for myself in my “autumn” years. I am happy we found so many elements in one place.

It is 40 miles from where I work, but that seems – for the moment – the only draw back and will not be an issue at when I retire, say in ten years or less.

So back to my original question. I guess it says I am a man with a lot of good fortune. Not only to have found the place of his dreams, but to have traveled the world and experienced many cultures so he knew what he want when he found it.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Election Day Is Here - Hopefully The Uglyness Will Stop

In the office today, I heard someone complaining about the amount of money spent during this General Election by the two presidential canadates. “A Billion” was mentioned and how much more could we have done with that money if we spent it on more meaningful endeavors. My first thought was, “nothing, its private money.” At least for Obama it was. McCain did opt out for public funding, but then he is a champion of campaign reform. But really, we can wish the world behaved as we think is proper and morally correct, but isn’t that a bit dictatorial? I mean, why not say all the hundreds of millions (probably billions if you include all the minute events and their true cost) of sporting events could be better spent on this or that? I am more offended by how the campaigns are carried out. North Alabama is replacing retiring Congressman Bud Cramer. The TV ad are hateful and slanderous with no meaningful content about the abilities of the canadates or the need of their districts. It doesn’t help that the two canadates who are running have run against Bud Cramer for the last decade and never chosen to replace him.

We talk about violence on TV and yet we allow despicable behavior in campaign ads because “its politics”. Children hear this kind of rhetoric over and over and file it away as acceptable behavior.
In any case, I’m glad election day is hear and I hope the candidates – both winners and losers get their supports to remove those ugly signs stuck everywhere.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Time - the missing element

I know I have expressed a need to change my blogging to more of my personal life enriching interest and away from my radical freedom loving political views. I do plan to get there. But I’ve recently married and am buying a new house, drive 30 miles (soon to be 40) to work where I put in over two weeks of overtime last month and have run the multi path track of getting my life papers to show I have a new spouse, have a real job and can handle some debt. So soon my friends (McCain Speak) I will have a new more enjoyable site for you to visit.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Don't Speak If You Don't Want To Hear

Not my picture but it speaks volumns
I emailed a URL of a site that had, what I thought was, a funny video about Palen. Yea it wasn’t positive, but what I liked was how well done it was.

I got a couple of returns that expressed reservations about my appearance as a liberal, one from an old friend and another from a relative. I had to laugh when my old friend comment, “It’s better to have associated with known terrorist?” If the public examined my life, I doubt that I would stand up very well to the moral, forthright, virtuous standards they demand, and part of my life they would have trouble with I shared with my old friend. As far as we know, we didn’t associate with terrorist, but who knows. LOL

My relative is a staunch republican and Rush Limbaugh fan. He has run his own business his whole life and done well for himself. He has a wonderful family and has been part of my family (he’s married to my aunt) for long before I was born. He’s a good guy and I like as well as respect him. But I can’t help but compare his experiences as a small business man with mine as a well traveled Government Service Provider (that includes my time as an Army brat and my own 12 years of military experience). I think the difference is I have seen more of the effects of American influence and can compared it to the expectations we all had or have. I have empathy (as opposed to sympathy). There are a lot of solutions out there and ours is not always the best fit for all the world.

And I still like the quality of the video.

The Vet Who Did Not Vet

Friday, October 03, 2008

I thought bribery was illegal

I don't know if this Bail-out Bill is going to do anything but consolidate power in the hands of a few but "Where is the Beef?" How is a blank check going to solve anything?

And can anyone tell me how this revised bill is anything but bribery? Isn't that illegal?

Monday, September 22, 2008

Smart folks think all understand/Incompetents think they have the only answer.

Smart people tend to believe that everyone else "gets it." But incompetent people display both an increasing tendency to overestimate their cognitive abilities and a belief that they are smarter than the majority of those demonstrably sharper.

These are not my statements, but if true, it explains why I have so much trouble with some people.

This is not my photo but I laugh every time I see it.

Monday, September 08, 2008

08 County Fair

This picture I just think is cool. I really want to get back to this place like I did the first time I shot it (sunrise for a sunny day) and use a tripod. But it is in an industrial park and they keep parking semi-tractor trucks in front of it. I think my brother will really appreciate this one too, even though it's a Honda and not a Harley.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

07 County Fair

For the "Plant" category I submitted this one. I had no expectation it would get any recognition by the judges. After all, it's late summer and there where lots of flower pictures (all very good by the way) and since this is a "county" fair you know they are looking for things that reflect county life. But I love this picture. I found this dead leaf in my driveway one evening and just couldn't resist the gold on the asphalt. I had this one printed this one 16" x 14" too. Unfortunately the photo shop cropped it such the stem bottom stem goes off the picture. Another one of thosse shor tcommings when you order via the internet.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

06 County Fair

I made a mistake choosing this picture for the fair. Some days, I pay too much attention to the noise around me. I should have use the one I’m showing at the end of this entry. The category is "People at Work". This shot is fine but the points of interest are spread too widely apart and the balance is not good. The one at the bottom has some humor going for it and I really should have gone with my gut feelings. When will I ever learn to stop paying attention to the noise?

The competition was today and just for the record, my barn photo I posted in 01 County Fair won best in its category and Best of Show. Life is full of surprises ain’t it?

Friday, September 05, 2008

05 County Fair

Today is the day for submitting one’s photos for the Creative Living Exhibit for the Lincoln County Fair. I found out that only one enter can be made per category. That hurts a bit. So out of the 13 I had hoped to get on display, I’ll only have about six. Such is life. LOL

This photo is for the Animal Category. I had a Deer picture and my formally shown Snail picture in mind, but popular consensus was that the Snake would get the biggest reaction. In fact it did get one while I was tagging it at registration. A Mom, who was very proud of her son’s pictures, ask us (Emily and I) which category should his picture of a lion carved in a stone wall go? It was a nice picture and I didn’t have a clue since about the only category that came close was “Still Life” but it was caveat with “pictures you positioned things in.” While I was thinking, her son saw this Snake picture and said “Wow, you must have some really good camera gear to have taken that.” When the Mom saw it, she freaked a bit saying, “OMG, I would never get close enough to a poisonous snake like that to take a picture.”
I let her overly protective comment drop and suggested they check with the folks at the registration desk for help in categorizing their photos. But, her reaction is one I hope to see happen again and again while it is on display. BTW it is a copperhead and I do have some “really good camera gear” to include a telephoto lens, thank you. LOL

Thursday, September 04, 2008

County Fair 04

Fourth Posting for this week. Tomorrow is a busy day for me so I’m going to get a head start by posting this early but I'm letting the program hold it until after midnight. Isn't technology wonderful?
This is a photo that speaks volumes to me. I’ve always liked it but I should have framed it better when I took it. Cropping it to my liking has plagued me for a long time. Getting the photo shop to print it to my liking has also been a hassle. I don’t fault them. I should have been better at conveying my desires when I sent it to them. None the less, I still like this shot. Not colorful and not really balanced like I would want it to be (this time the rules would have worked in my favor). Yet the idea of this lonely critter crossing an ocean of asphalt on a hot day leaving a little of itself in it’s path just sings to me.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

County Fair 03

Third Posting for this week. I was walking down town one afternoon when this particular view caught my attention. I've been down this street many times and looked at the cannons and the statue of a confederate soldier from many different angles. Never could satisfy myself with the surroundings. This time the evening colors of the sun and the odd choice of colors on the building struck me as interesting.

There are not a lot of categories to put one's pictures in this year and this one will probably end up in the non-competitive historical category. I should give that idea some thought and do a series of photos on this town that fit a historical theme. An old friend of mine ,who lives in a quiet little Canadian village (that sounds so quaint), took a picture of every store on every street of her little town. It doesn't seem all that interesting now to many people, but in a generation, when there are only a few old timers left, there will be renewed interest. It will be a combination of nostalgia from the residents and a sense of a lost era that we all have when we think things are going to hell in a hand basket and life use to be so much simpler in the "old day."

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

County Fair 02

Second Posting for this week. This is my second favorite barn photo. Yes, some of you will say it is better than the other. In some respects it is. Thus I’m approaching these choices on my preferences rather than an industry standard that I keep hearing about. It seems to me that if one is going for “art” then following the rules is self defeating. I’m not saying rules are not important, but if the rules don’t allow me to say what I want to say then they have to be put aside. Hmmm, that sounds a bit arrogant, doesn’t it. LOL

Monday, September 01, 2008

County Fair 01

It is so unlike me to openly compete but I’m doing it. I guess one could say that since I’m entering several photographs into this years county fair. I don’t care if they win, but for this area, it is a great place to get exposure. Everyone for miles around to include surrounding counties will come to the fair and take a look. If I get a positive response, I’ll consider other avenues of exposure. I have 12 to 13 pictures I’m going to submit. Half will be of local interest, a quarter will be category topics and a quarter will be those that speak to me. So for the next few days I will post a few of them here. Let me know if you like what you see.
Today's choice is my favorite barn picture and I'm submitting in a 16x14 size print. It is the biggest print I've made. You can't really see the detail here but this large picture has clarity all over it as well as color.

Friday, August 22, 2008

My Son and I have a “Facebook” site and we occasionally communicate through it. But mostly I go to see any new pictures he’s posted from his life in Leeds’s, England. It is interesting having an offspring studying overseas. It is a point of pride, true, but more interesting is he was raised to not be afraid of searching out his hearts desire. The same can be said of my Daughter who is attending Auburn University. It is even more so since as a male of my species I have a built in protection response that tends to be overly protective of the females in my charge. LOL Now that’s a laugh. Missy is anything but under my “Charge”.

Here is a picture of them taken this month when Missy went over to England to visit her brother. (Now how cool is that!?!) All I can say is I love these kids and I love the way they explore life.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Morning Thoughts

This morning is one of those “hard to get moving” mornings which I’ve been having a lot of lately. When I got to work I took a moment to check out my Google Reader service and stumbled onto a photograph of a person holding buttercups titled “Likes Butter”. I got to thinking I really never paid that much attention to butter. The color or the texture or the smell are not all that familiar to me. Could it be that a lifetime exposed to butter want-a-be’s in the form of margarine have hidden real butter from my experiences? Has the chemically altered state of normal foods dulled my senses to good old wholesome foods? I’ve long healed a believe that chemistry as wonderful a tool as it is has been misused by the commercial world and is the underlining cause of many of today’s illnesses. If you want to challenge me on this then I recommend you look at the tremendous increase of lead in our air which can be clearly linked to 1923 when it was added to gasoline to make cars run smoother. Note when you check that out that the nature of such lead is to hang around a long time so that even though we have outlawed it in gasoline the parts per million in our air is still unnaturally high. The consequences of our indulgences are long lasting and will effect generations to come.

Another thought that hit me this morning while riding the elevator up to the third floor (I said I was dragging this morning), is how sad it seemed to me for people who work in the big cities who work in buildings that are so tall they need two or more elevator changes to get to their place of employment. If they are happy so be it. I’m not passing judgment on their choices, but I would find that sad if I found myself in that situation. Of course this comes with the whole city life style of commuting, crowds, noise and smells. I know there is lots to offer people in that life style but I guess it is not for me. Especially as I age. Reminds me of the Simon and Garfunkle song “Old Friends”.

Such are my thoughts today.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Photographer??? Me????

I've been putting a lot of effort into my photography lately. I think it is about time I start my own photo site and stop using the free sites I've played with over the last decade. At the same time, I want to express my views on photography as an art form as well as a historical tool for institutions and individuals alike. I might even want to look at its use in marketing seeing as I'm an old advertising major from YSU.
Since I surf the web looking at works of other photographers, I'm thinking of having a section showing my favorites and giving the creator full credit and exposure.

So to you few viewers I have, I solicite your opinion on this proposed venture. What ya think?

Saturday, August 16, 2008

A Camping We Will Go, A Camping We Will Go, High, Ho the Dairy O . . .

I’m finally going to buy myself a camper. I’ve wanted one for a long time. I’ve camped with tents and vans and pup-ups myself and my Mom and Dad made it all the way up to an Air Stream. The 1999 Mallard I’m buying is a training vehicle for Emily and if she should find it not to her liking (and believe me, you want her to like something if you are going to get her to do it with you) then I’ll not have invested too much into it.

I’m looking forward to spending some time this Fall and maybe even a Winter weekend at Cade’s Cove as well as attending the many local festivals we have through out the year here in Middle Tennessee. I’m thinking of checking out the Naches Trace from top to bottom and there are enough State Parks here and in Northern Alabama to keep us busy for a couple of years.

Of course this plays into my photographic interest extremely well. This will end a lot of excuses use to not head out on picture taking ventures. It also will allow me the time to take pictures at the right time of day for the location. I can’t wait to get up at the crack of dawn and shoot, shoot, shoot then nap during the heat of the day then head out to shoot some more. The smell of bacon in the crisp morning air and the crackling of a fire after dark, all just make my spirit dance with anticipation.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


I have been accused of being bi-polar (that's a laugh), having a head with too many ideas bouncing around in it (that's factual) and being so disorganized that I walk myself silly and as such, wasting a lot of time and energy (that from an "OC" personality who accepts no other solution but her own).

I like harmony in my life and drama in other's for its entertainment value. Hey, just being honest. I'm a far better audience than an artist. You need someone out there to appreciate your efforts, as crazy as you are. So I though of a few ideas for you creative types to work on.

Ideas for you creative folks.

A shelf made from a tree branch
a) should hold books or boxes
b) hangers can be hung from it
c) must have three points of contact that make it steady and secure.

Pipes that function but do not just go from point A to B in a straight line or only make standard angles.
a) pipes that look like tied knots
b) pipes that make walls decorative and have energy functions
c) pipes that function and make musical tones.

Door knobs (this includes cabinet doors) that full fill all needed functions but suit any appendage that is used to use them.

Trash cans that actually look attractive while functioning well.
a) they should seal to keep stink in and varmints out, but don't demand a Gold's Gym regular to open and close.
b) they should be able to be pulled to the street easily no matter how tall or short the puller is and no matter how much the trash we stuff into them weighs .
c) color and shape must not be gaudy unless of course that suits the home it will be sitting out side of.

More to come latter.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Consumer Confidence Rightfully Low

U.S. consumer confidence fell unexpectedly sharply in June, sinking to the fifth-lowest level ever. In addition, consumers' expectations hit an all-time low as home prices tumbled while gasoline and food prices rose. A separate index of home prices saw the largest drop since its inception in 2000.

The Conference Board's consumer confidence index fell to 50.4 this month, down from 58.1 in May. The reading is far lower than economists expected; the consensus estimate of economists surveyed by Thomson/IFR was 56.5.

Why is this such a surprise? Are the economist totally oblivious to what rising transportation cost and falling home investment does to the psyche of the everyday worker? Do they not think we feel every penny of increase caused by oil prices increases to every commodity we depend on? Do they think we could care less about the tax increases by state and local governments to help offset their needs for balanced budgets?

It doesn’t help that the current administration does nothing to help and can be blamed for sleeping at the wheel when it comes to the banking industries’ blind eye to home loans. Nor does it help that congress is trying to blame speculators for rising energy cost totally ignoring the laws of supply and demand as well as the demand increase to that formula caused by rising needs in China and India.

The economist think our economy “remains stuck in low gear." Duh!!! And we don’t have the power to get going to shift up either bozos. Have you not read that demand for corn for fuel is now creating a world food shortage?

This problem has been foreseen for at least a decade now, but surprise, surprise it’s happening as predicted. What are we going to do? Clearly those in power now, by their own admission, haven’t a clue.

May I suggest that we look to real investments in education and alternative energy sources that don’t tax the food supply. How about ditching trickle down economics once and for all and realize that it’s the work and spending of the middle class that makes this nation great. Having lots of money may seem like a great way to obtain power but if all you did was lie, cheat and dodge responsibilities to get there, are you really an answer? I think you are as much of the problem as anything else.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Unemployment rate jumps to 5.5 percent in May

Anyone seeing a repeat of history here? Daddy Bush left office with the economy in ruins and it looks like Jr. is too. At least Daddy won his war with a real coalition.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Publically Stupid Comment Takes The Cake

I heard the most stupid statement on the radio (NPR) today. Some person (gender not important) said, “With the recent Barack Obama and his church problems, I complete went from a liberal Democrat to a Conservative Republican and I’m very proud to say I’m going to vote for John McCain this year.”

Can anyone give me a reason why such a drastic change of political point of view should occur from such an occurrence? Are we all to be haunted by the actions of those we once associated with?

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Miller's Grocery and Deli

Christiana, Tennessee is a very small community with a Post Office just off Highway 231 between Shelbyville and Murfreesboro, Tennessee on state road 269. It is literally just across the tracks as you turn east off of 231. But you may miss it because there are no signs on 269 telling you to look left for the town. You may wonder why I bother to bring this up.

Emily heard from a friend about this little place to eat there. Saturday we decided to run some errands and take a drive up that way with the idea of checking Christiana out along with Bell Buckle, Tn. We missed the town on the first pass so I got out the GPS and used it to find our way to the little town. There is a sign off 231 telling you when to turn but after that you are on your own. The place we wanted to try out is called Miller's Grocery and Deli. Here is the only clue you will find telling you where to look.

Here is what the place looks like and I think you would agree, it isn’t the most inviting store front. But it truly hides a great eating establishment.

As the sign says, it doesn’t open until 11 and Em and I were the first two customers to arrive. We looked it over and reviewed the chalkboard menu then sat down on the bench outside. It wasn’t long before other cars started pulling into the gravel parking lot. None the less we were the first two in and that is how I got pictures of the place without customers.

The food was very good with me having meatloaf and Em having fried oysters. I know they looked good because an old woman walking by stopped to take a good look at them and told Em how good they looked and she would have to get her husband to order some. Now two things about this: 1) with the reputation oysters have as a sex enhancer, one might question her motivation and wonder why Em ordered them as well and; 2) only in the South do folks consider it ok to stop by and comment on a stranger’s choices off the menu. And you wonder why we call everyone family down here?

Our waitress was a very attractive young woman with too much mascara. I wondered why some guy hadn’t grabbed her up and taken her off to some populated part of the world. She asked how we came to know about the place and Em told her it was by word of mouth. The young girl told us her Mom had worked there 10 years and they never advertised the place. I guess she was surprised anyone ever came by considering how out of the way it is. But let me tell ya, word gets around when you have good food. At least four groups of people ate while we were there and one carryout which was the woman who owned the antique store called “Hunny Bunny” just up the street. It was the only other store on that street. Hell, it was the only other building on that street. Inside Miller's as you can see is a time capsule of stuff. It is very popular these days for junk to be hung and shelved all over restaurants, but those that have local junk still hold my interest.

We filled our bellies and Em ordered two deserts, both some form of chocolate. She started one and it was so rich she ended up taking the rest of it and the other one home.

Here is their menu in case you're interested.

We headed out for Bell Buckle, TN and upon arriving we couldn’t get into town because an 18 wheeler had gotten itself pinned in while turning off a side street.

It is a small town, but kind of well known for it’s Moon Pie and RC Cola festival it holds every year. Bikers like it too. There is going to be some kind of Bikers gathering there this coming weekend.

But this little town is also know for its Webb School. It was built by Sawney Webb, who’s goal was to build moral character, make ladies and gentlemen of his students, and prepare them for any challenge that may come their way. The school has accomplished this for over 135 years through a solid liberal arts education, a strong sense of honor, and an interactive school community. The School has produced 10 Rhodes Scholars and its graduates have gone on to attend prestigious colleges and universities across the nation and to lead important, successful and fulfilling lives in business, education, and the arts. Which if you ever get a chance to visit is quite an accomplishment for a little place out in the grass lands of Tennessee.

The town has many fine old homes and the business district is a row of old stores selling antiques and sappy god loves you signs. Not a lot different from any other place trying to survive with no other industry around.

We headed out into the country and drove the back roads back to the house. There was going to be a hell of a storm that night but you would never have known it by the way the day went. It was a good day and we ended it at Tammy’s Outback with a steak cooked by Farnell. But that is another story all together.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Jackson, Zen, And A Long Drive In One Weekend

Things change and sometimes it can be felt below the belt even if it is a good thing. I took Emily to Nashville for her Lasik enhancement this weekend. It was our plan to visit some sites up that way after her day of darkness. We altered that plan a bit by going to my old high school after we visited The Hermitage.

It was a unusual school in that it was round. The gym was in the middle and two floors of classrooms were built around it. Our assistant principle married one of our teachers during my time there, which I think is kind of out of the ordinary. I remember sitting in Economics class with a teacher that not only was teaching a boring subject, but was a boring person himself adding to the tendency to fall a sleep. Only on the days when the band would practice marching around the building playing “Up Up and Away” (5th Dimensions) over and over again would my sleep be interrupted. The standing joke around the school was “old dogs walked themselves to death looking for a corner to piss in.”

It was really Emily’s idea to revisit my old school. For some reason she wants to see my past. I can’t imagine why. After this trip, I’m not sure I ever want to revisit my past. It was a “Zen” moment to say the least. First the little round school (with it’s lovely stand of old oaks) over the inlet and out in the country east of the town proper of Hendersonville was now a Middle School in a business district with a grassy soccer field in front and the only thing round was the roof over the gym since they added to the building expanding it out into the old student parking lot. The new high school was now to the west of the athletic field which was behind my old school. I wasn’t into athletics (I was and still am an explorer) so the football field doesn’t hold any nostalgic value for me. However, looking into the glass doorway of my old school did bring back memories. Like most schools it has the admin offices located by the front door, but looking down to the curved hallway is what did it for me. I walked that circle many times.

The idea that my old high school isn't good enough for the current generation was disconcerting. I guess I just never felt obsolescence so strongly before. I know things have to advance, but I couldn’t help but think that there was an arrogance of modality at play here. That is to say, the current generation of parents needed a new more modern facility for their offspring to highlight there change to a modern little city over the once sleepy little community in the country it use to be. I felt no connection with the town. It is an ugly little shopping spot with a park on its part of Old Hickory Lake.

My old house and neighborhood was a joy to see. I use to walk out the back of the school and past the athletic field into a meadow where I would often scare nesting birds off their nest in the spring time. I enjoyed knowing the signs of such things. As a Boy Scout, I knew that when a bird faked a broken wing it was trying to lead me away from the nest. It was cool knowing that back then. There are some of us who don’t see life as one competition after another, but rather a wonderful place to explore and learn about and from. My neighborhood was just past that meadow and in those days it had nice brick houses but not much in the way of landscaping. Today it still has nice brick homes with well cared for yards and lots of big trees. My old house which was a corner house with trees lining one side was nicely cared for and the trees were still there and looking magnificent (nearly 40 years later).

It didn’t help that we visited the Hermitage first and got a dose of a self made man who imposed a lot of cruelty on people as part of his legacy. Jackson has never been my favorite president. He is one of those men who’s effect on history I view as a point in which life really could have been significantly different if he had died at birth. I don’t mean to say Jackson was a monster of a person. He, like all of us, is a product of his upbringing and he did many great and kind things and his persona had a powerful influence on the people of Tennessee. His presidency did shape this country and some of those changes are what I find fault with. Not to debate the pros and cons of Jackson, but rather to make a point that few of us are given opportunities for greatness and most of us are not. Not to say we can’t be influential during our life time, but most of us are most effective in a much smaller pond. Mixing that idea with the visit to my past, I have to come to grips not only with how small my pond is, but how little a ripple I’m leaving.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Falls Mill

Started this weekend out by going to a little craft fair down at the local park that wasn’t much to see. At least not for a guy. Emily didn’t find too much to her liking either. We left there and did a little grocery shopping at the local Wal-Mart and then tripped over to Tullahoma to a Kroger’s. That was 30 miles away. Long story but the jest of it is they ordered her some Walden Farms 0 calorie 0 sugar products. They hadn’t come in, so it ended up being a lunch at Red Lobster.

After lunch we took a little trip over to Falls Mills. Its a private non-profit venture that is trying to save a little piece of American industrial and agricultural history on the banks of Factory Creek near Belvidere, Tennessee.

“This attraction holds great appeal for those interested in the antique machinery and process used in both the printing of early documents and the grinding of agricultural products. Built in 1873 as a cotton woolen factory, the mill was later converted – first for use as a cotton gin and then as a woodworking shop. Today, a 32 foot steel water wheel (over 100 years old) powers millstones the grind cornmeal, flour and grits (which can be purchased on site). The building containing the mill also houses a two story museum where you can see a printing press, hand looms, power looms, spinning wheels, and wool-carding machinery. Adjacent to the mill is a bed and breakfast log cabin for overnight guests.”*

It is a quite picturesque place. The really cool thing about it is it is an excellent example of privatized hydro power. In this case it turns a huge water wheel and powers grinding wheels. But the same concept could be used for electrical power if you happen to have this kind of water resource around. Not a lot of us will ever have it, but still it’s a cool idea for pollution free energy.

The area around the mill is very pleasant and it’s worth a visit. The owners are nice and when you see their home -pictured here - you kind of turn green with envy.

The mill itself is a fun place to explore and the owners let you have the run of the place for $4 a head and after watching a 5 minute video history presentation. Kind of serene too.

You’ll find lots of fun stuff here and there.

Oh, yea! Their overnight cabin is cute.

* This description came from Charles and Daniel Frew's (father and son) book 52 Weekends in the Tennessee Valley. ISBN 0-9777415-0-8

Friday, April 25, 2008

Sometimes I create art - but mostly I just take snapshots

Over the years I run into many people with different ideas on “Art”. Most understand that, like any subject, there is room for debate and disagreement. But, all too often I find that people can’t distinguish between skill and creativity. Folks who lived before the 1850s considered art as a way to document what was around them. Today, I’d agree with Sculptor Henry Moore who said, “Art is the expression of imagination, not the duplication of reality."

As an amateur photographer, who leans toward finding new ways of seeing reality (I also just like to record what I see), I bump into photographer friends who think they create art because they have a spiffy camera and a few lens and know how to read a light meter. What rubs them raw is when I tell them they just take snap shots. That is all they do. Yes, they read the meter and may have a little skill with a few filters, but they never try to go beyond recording the object they are taking a picture of. They never attempt to manipulate the environment of their subject. They never stage a shot. They never create what is in their head. They attempt to make the scene look like what they see with their eyes. This is OK and requires a good deal of skill, since the camera and medium (film or digital) do not record light the way our eyes do. But it is not Art. There is no imagination to it, no creativity. They never think of a picture they want to make then precede to make it. They see something – sometimes interesting - and record it. An artist can make a great picture from cheap, even defective, cameras because they understand visualization, composition and lighting. They have a command of light and color. They can do it with a brush, knife, paper mache or a camera.

There is nothing wrong with making pictures. Recording events – historical or personal – is an important application that photography is good for. Doing it well and mastering the demands of the subject are worth while goals. Technical mastery helps the creative process, but it doesn’t make the process creative.

Have a look see here.

One Exposure

Clinton Smith

Chema Mandoz

David Chapelle