My Diary
My Diary

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February 1, 2001     (Thursday)

Well, I found a Kodak 70-210mm telephoto lens for $99.95 at Wal-Mart (How I HATE shopping there!). I put it on layaway. That way, maybe I'll have it when the weather breaks. It's not quite the range I'd wanted, but it will have to do for the time being. Maybe I can get some paying work with the camera and buy a telephoto up to 500 or 700 mm.

I got the oil changed in the car while I was at Wal-Mart. They did a really good job, even cleaned the interior and checked all the lights and fluids, windshield wiper for less than twenty bucks.

February 2, 2001     (Friday)

Stupid damn groundhog!

February 3, 2001     (Saturday)

I watched the XFL game and was going to comment on the crudity of it, its lack of any socially redeeming value, and it's shameless appeal to people who live in trailer parks and can't quite get enough wrasslin', but I won't. It's not worth working up a lather.

This entry and yesterday's are late getting up here. As I'm sure you know if you tried to access my web page. Something seems to be wrong, and since I went with a cheap-o web hosting company, there's no support until Monday. I can't even send or retrieve my e-mail. Well, Monday they'll get an earful. . .

February 4, 2001     (Sunday)

Well, apparently someone at my web hosting service does work weekends. . .

I work at least one crossword puzzle a day to keep the gears lubricated (I think I may have mentioned this previously). Did you ever wonder why the people who devise crossword puzzles know so much about opera and obscure species of birds?

The Resident of the United States, George W. Bush, is trying to push his 'education plan' on the rest of us. The keystone of this plan is vouchers to allow parents to use the money that would normally go to the public school system for their child to be used to help offset the cost of private school. This is stupid, for any number of reasons.

For one, if not a single child is moved from the public schools to private, the parents of children already in private schools will take advantage of the vouchers, and leave the public schools with x number of dollars less to educate the same number of children. I'm sure, too, that the voucher will not offset the entire cost of the private school tuition. This will make the voucher option viable only to those parents who can afford the additional outlay to send their kids to private schools. And what about the children who the private schools don't deem to be 'their kind of people?' What will happen is that the private schools will see a moderate influx of the students who meet their admissions criteria, the public schools bearing the burden of it all. A public education will be a farce, moreso than some think it already is. Even if the admissions criteria were to be lowered to where any child could attend any school they wish, the long-standing tradition of private school excellence would be torn down, razed. The main reason that private schools have such better results than public schools is that the private schools can pick and choose their students, and they reject the ones who are less than average, whereas public schools have to accept all comers. Vouchers will only create a greater gap between the affluent and the destitute, and it will create a vast new underclass to be exploited by the wealthy. But then, maybe that's the intent of the whole idea.

February 5, 2001     (Monday)

No Entry Today

February 6, 2001     (Tuesday)

No Entry Today

February 7, 2001     (Wednesday)

I'm going to have a busy and mostly uncomfortable few weeks between now and the end of the month, so entries here may be sparce. I really don't feel well and I have a lot to do, so my energies will be spent before I get around to this project.

Some really big old sycamore trees along Tupper's Creek in Kanawha County, West Virginia
"The Old Ones"

February 8, 2001     (Thursday)

No Entry Today

February 9, 2001     (Friday)

I read in the paper this morning that patients who are put on a heart-lung machine lose 20% of their mental ability. Further along in the article it mentioned that the loss of mental ability is typical of what happens to the average adult between ages 40 and 60. Oh great! Now I'm going to lose between 27 and 36 IQ points (depending on what measure you choose). I sometimes wonder if I haven't already lost down to dull-normal already!

February 10, 2001     (Saturday)

Watch this space.

February 11, 2001     (Sunday)

No Entry Today

February 12, 2001     (Monday)

I really don't like the way things are going in this society. It seems that there is very little regard for the rules and customs that hold a society together. I think, in large part, this is due to the unrestrained greed that began with the Reagan years and continues to this day. Also there's the Balkanization of culture in this country. Without a clear majority culture everyone follows their own idea of right and wrong, and pays little heed to the law or what in former decades passed for common courtesy. Road Rage, Office Rage, school shootings, disgruntled employees going postal, all are symptoms of a fractured society in need of something to hold it together. I don't know if it can be fixed. Greed and unbridled self-interest cannot be the basis for a coherent more that determines the rewards and punishments of our culture. Neither can any one single religion, since we've become very mulitcultural in our national makeup. The rule of law and a code of common courtesy will have to stand in lieu. What will compel people to adhere to this standard? Education is the only thing I can think of, and that's not likely to change things except under a dictatorship. Heaven (or a reasonable facsimile thereof) help us!

February 13, 2001     (Tuesday)

President Bush is coming to town. His only audience will be the National Guard personnel up at the airport. I guess he's going around promising things to the military, bolstering support for when he needs the armed forces to keep him in office after he loses the next election.

Tomorrow is Valentine's Day. My daughter is getting married at 1:00 tomorrow afternoon. This will be a civil ceremony, with a big wedding to follow on the first anniversary or sometime after that. I guess, like all fathers, I hope she knows what she's doing.

February 14, 2001     (Wednesday)

My daughter got married today. There was a reporter and photographer there from the Charleston Daily Mail. They're doing a story on Valentine's day weddings.

It's been a long day. I'm tired. I'll write more tomorrow if I feel better.

February 15, 2001     (Thursday)

Well, ain't this just ducky! My Internet provider's upstream provider has been down all day. I hear that it's affecting Internet access in most of the state.

I've been hearing about a lot of things the past few days that really have me concerned. When George W. Bush, usurper-in-chief, was here yesterday, the Secret Service heard "an explosion" on the edge of the tarmac at the airport. They proceeded to search the houses along Barlow Drive, which runs along the side of the hill opposite where they "heard" the sound. An extensive search turned up absolutely nothing. They illegally searched houses and detained one young man with long hair and a beard for over half an hour, probably just because he had long hair and a beard. If they ever try that crap with me, they'll have to shoot me. Watch out people! Our constitutional rights are going away.

I'm hoping my Internet service will be back in the morning. It's after eleven at night now, and no news. In this case no news is bad news.

February 16, 2001     (Friday)

Long day. Nothing accomplished. Tomorrow is my daughter's wedding reception. Won't get much done tomorrow either.

February 17, 2001     (Saturday)

Party party party party.

February 18, 2001     (Sunday)

Spent the day going hither, thither and yon. Wal-Mart (I hate that place), back and forth to Cross Lanes twice, just general getting from here to there. I'm tired.

February 19, 2001     (Monday)

I want to do a fifty-foot long drawing. I'm having trouble figuring a way to feed the paper across the surface. If I had some money and a wood working shop I could build a jig to do it pretty easily. Then I'd need space, too. . . ::sigh::

George W. Bush is doing his best to screw up things for the largest part of us, particularly the poor and destitute. I think he genuinely wants to see the homeless die so he and his wealthy cohorts don't have to look at them. The Republicans seem to be trying to bring back a confederate form of government. Is slavery next? Watch for Bush and Cheney to start wearing togas.

February 20, 2001     (Tuesday)

"Like all dreamers I confuse disenchantment with truth." -- Jean-Paul Sartre(1905-1980)

February 21, 2001     (Wednesday)

Now that George W. Bush is in the White House, will the DEA supply his cocaine, or will he have to keep his private dealer?

February 22, 2001     (Thursday)

Another light dusting of snow here this morning. The roads are clear, but even if they were under several feet of snow and ice, that's okay. I don't have anywhere to go. My neck and shoulders and upper back have been hurting. I think it's because the weather keeps changing and the way I'm sleeping. This chair I'm sitting in, too, probably contributes.

I managed to figure out a methodology to do the drawing I've been wanting to do. I thought about it for a couple weeks, drew plans to make a jig to scroll paper across a drawing surface on my easel and agonized about it, lamenting the fact I don't have more space to work and not enough money to afford the materials to build the jig. In the end, I just cleared off my drawing table, dropped the roll of paper off the right side of the table onto the floor and made a take up reel with a piece of a mailing tube, a strip of metal threshhold and a large paper clamp to hold it down. Sometimes the simplest solutions are the best, and most elegant. The next subject for my lamentations will be matting, mounting and displaying a fifty-foot wide drawing. . .

Here's a rough idea of what that drawing will look like.

This also lives in the June 25, 2000 entry
"Communication Density"

The finished 50-footer will not be quite as dense as this, but will follow the same design idea. It's okay if you think I'm nuts. Sometimes I have reservations myself. . .

I was reminded of an experience I had some years ago. It goes to show to what extent expectations can color how you experience a situation, how, in fact, expectations can determine reality to a large extent.

Several years ago, I was working at a bookstore/newsstand. The owners were a couple who lived in another town, several hours away. I had full charge of the store three days a week, and they were there four days a week. Since I worked four 10-hour days, we were all three there on Tuesdays. Most Tuesdays, Ted and I would go over the stock and books, while Donna watched the counter and did odd things around the store.

Donna and I both liked strong, European-style coffee. Ted, on the other hand, didn't like coffee at all, and usually drank Earl Grey tea. Sometimes he'd try other teas, but coffee was too hard on his digestive system.

One Tuesday, it snowed and Ted and Donna were unable to drive back to their home that evening, so they spent an extra day in Charleston. Not having a whole lot to do, and since there weren't many customers, Ted and I sat behind the counter and shot the breeze, talking about all manner of things, esoteric and arcane. Donna puttered around in the back (they had living quarters back there). She popped her head out of the door to the back rooms and asked me if I wanted more coffee? I said, "Sure." and she said she'd have to make a new pot. Ted asked if she could make him a cup of Earl Grey, too. She said, "No problem."

While Donna was in the kitchenette making our hot beverages, I started talking to Ted about how he came to start drinking Earl Grey. He related a little story about being stationed in England while he was in the army. We then proceeded to talk about the different varieties of tea, and the tea culture of some Asian nations. We carried on this talk of tea the whole time Donna was in the back.

Donna came through the door carrying two identical mugs, sat one in front of Ted and one in front of me. I picked mine up, having talked about tea for the past ten minutes and took a sip, fully expecting the bite of Bergamot from the Earl Grey in my cup. It tasted horrible!!! It was coffee. I expected tea, so it tasted really really nasty to me. Once I realized it wasn't coffee, the next sip was fine. It was robust European style coffee, which I dearly love, but expecting tea, my taste buds relayed the information to my brain, and my brain was offended.

Be careful of your expectations. They determine, in large part how you interpret your experiences. The Buddha knew this when he said, "Nirvana is Samsara properly understood." What you expect determines what you get. Expectations can cause us to alter our actions and perceptions and end up with a self-fulfilling prophecy. Negative expectations are particularly influential on outcomes. If a person comes to expect failure and travail every time he attempts something, then failure and trouble will almost certainly be the outcome. Positive expectations affect things, too, but I find trying to have no expectations will usually lead to the most natural and desirable results of all. "The Tao follows what is natural."

February 23, 2001     (Friday)

I've been using Outlook for my e-mail this year so far. I think I'm about to revert to Outlook Express. I keep having trouble sending attachments. With my cable modem, a 3.5 MB file should go in a few seconds. It takes over 15 minutes sometimes and it still won't go. I think Outlook is the culprit.

On the other hand, both my service provider and my web server have been having lots of problems lately, too. I wish I had some way of definitively determining who's at fault when I have slow-downs and the like. Unfortunately, things are so complex that I don't think that determination can always be made.

February 24, 2001     (Saturday)

I get a daily e-mailing from an outfit called InfoBeat. This mailing includes such things as a cool site of the day, news of the weird, who's birthday it is, and jokes and other interesting tidbits. Today's Cool Site disconcerted me a little. It read:

The stolen furniture is barely out the door, the ink on the pardons is still fresh and we've already got the Clinton Presidential Center. Dedicated to preparing the legacy of a someone whose job ended roughly a month ago, this site has all the plans for the presidential library, a presidential timeline and plenty other things that are, um, presidential. An interesting site, if a bit too soon in the coming.

The "stolen furniture" has been shown to be a lie, propagated by Bush's people, yet here it is again being repeated as if it were the truth. Nothing unseemly or illegal has been PROVEN about the pardons yet, but still we have the "all democrats, especially those named Clinton are guilty until proven innocent multiple times" of the new articles of the Confedederated Republic of America being invoked. This is a editorial position masquerading as a cool site of the day. Things like this make me want to jump and scream and unsubscribe.

There is a story there too about a granny carjacking four men by mistake because she thought they were stealing her car. She pulled a gun on them and ran them off. No one pressed charges. More gun insanity. They thought it was cute.

This is their thought for the day: "Hero-worship is strongest where there is least regard for human freedom." - Herbert Spencer, philosopher (1820-1903).

There are several nice features in the mailing. It's their right-wing slant I don't like. It's the same reason I quit reading Readers Digest. Liberal media my ass!

February 25, 2001     (Sunday)

Music has been saturating my life lately. I don't know why. I would still like to play in bands and do live shows in clubs, but I'm too old to form a group and expect to do anything with it. I'd like to sit in with other groups, but my abilities as a player are not widely enough known or respected for that to happen. The one band I used to play with around here has dissolved and the core member has dissappeared. Last I heard he was in Virginia somewhere, thinking of moving to Minnesota.

I play my guitar every day. I've been playing my 12-string again, too. I miss my rock'n'roll.

February 26, 2001     (Monday)

Mid morning today, I heard a sound like running water in the bathroom. I checked everything in the whole house and couldn't find the source of it. Eventually, as I was going outside to check the hookups for the garden hose, I saw that there was water coming up through the water meter cover, the gas shutoff cap, and up the cracks in the sidewalk. It took the water company nearly an hour to get here to fix it. It was just a blown meter. I think they're fairly old. The sewer grating at the corner was clogged up, too, so it had nearly flooded the street by the time the guy from the water company got here and fixed it. Do I know how to have fun or what?

I worked on my series of drawings (?) today, too. I finished up one that is about 12 feet long and started on the 50-footer. I don't know why I'm doing this. It's surely insane.

February 27, 2001     (Tuesday)

Another doctor's visit day. My blood pressure is up for some reason. I've not missed my pills for weeks. . . well, days anyway. I think it may have been a trainee medical office assistant who isn't really adept at checking blood pressure. I checked it again when I got home and, while somewhat elevated, it was not close to the 160/100 she got in the office. My doctor didn't seem too concerned, but then he never does, except when it comes to telling me to stick to my diet.

Last night, after the flood, we dealt with fire. My son, having plugged an electric oil-filled radiator space heater into an extension cord, woke to flames behind his water bed. We got it out and threw the now melted extension cord away. He slept on the couch. His room smelled too bad.

February 28, 2001     (Wednesday)

It's my birthday.

On Feb. 28, 1993, a gun battle erupted near Waco, Texas, when 
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agents tried to serve 
warrants on the Branch Davidians; four agents and six 
Davidians were killed as a 51-day standoff began. 

On Feb. 28, 1901, Linus Pauling, the American Nobel Prize-winning 
chemist and political activist, was born. Following his death 
on Aug. 19, 1994, his obituary appeared in The Times. 

On this date in:
1827 The first U.S. railroad chartered to carry passengers and 
freight, the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Co., was incorporated. 
1844 A 12-inch gun aboard the USS Princeton exploded, killing 
Secretary of State Abel P. Upshur, Navy Secretary Thomas W. Gilmer 
and several others. 

1849 The ship California arrived at San Francisco, carrying the 
first of the gold-seekers. 

1854 Some 50 slavery opponents met in Ripon, Wis., to call for 
creation of a new political group, which became the 
Republican Party. 
1861 The Territory of Colorado was organized. 
1940 The first televised college basketball games were 
broadcast, by New York City station W2XBS, as Pittsburgh 
defeated Fordham 57-37 and New York University beat 
Georgetown 50-27 at Madison Square Garden. 

1974 The United States and Egypt re-established diplomatic 
relations after a seven-year break. 

1983 Final episode of "M*A*S*H". Most watched program in history.

1986 Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme was shot to death in 
central Stockholm. 
1991 Allied and Iraqi forces suspended their attacks as Iraq 
pledged to accept all United Nations resolutions concerning Kuwait. 

1995 Denver International Airport opened after 16 months of 
delays and $3.2 billion in budget overruns. 

2000 Right-wing Austrian leader Joerg Haider resigned as head 
of the Freedom Party in an apparent bid to end Austria's 
international ostracism following his party's rise to power. 

Current Birthdays 

Bernadette Peters turns 53 years old today.  
93 Billie Bird 
78 Charles Durning 
75 Svetlana Alliluyeva 
Daughter of Josef Stalin 
70 Gavin MacLeod 
Actor (''Love Boat,'' ''The Mary Tyler Moore Show'') 
62 Tommy Tune 
Dancer, choreographer 
61 Mario Andretti 
Auto racer 
61 Joe South 
59 Frank Bonner 
57 Kelly Bishop 
Actress (''Gilmore Girls'') 
56 Bubba Smith 
Football player 
54 Stephanie Beacham 
53 Mercedes Ruehl 
44 John Turturro 
44 Cindy Wilson 
Rock singer (B-52s) 
40 Rae Dawn Chong 
32 Robert Sean Leonard 
30 Maxine Bahns 
25 Eric Lindros
(former?) NHL Hockey player

Historic Birthdays 
Linus Pauling  
2/28/1901 - 8/19/1994 
American Nobel Prize-winning chemist 
Michel de Montaigne 
2/28/1533 - 9/23/1592 
French writer of essays 
Gabriele Rossetti 
2/28/1783 - 4/24/1854 
Italian poet, revolutionary, and scholar 

Sir John Tenniel 
2/28/1820 - 2/25/1914 
English illustrator and satirical artist 

Douglas McGarel Hogg 
2/28/1872 - 8/16/1950 
English lawyer and politician 

Geraldine Farrar 
2/28/1882 - 3/11/1967 
American operatic soprano 

Ben Hecht 
2/28/1894 - 4/18/1964 
American novelist, playwright, and newspaperman 

Bugsy Siegel 
2/28/1906 - 6/20/1947 
American gangster who started Las Vegas gambling 

Milton Caniff 
2/28/1907 - 4/3/1988 
American comic-strip artist 

Sir Stephen Spender 
2/28/1909 - 7/16/1995 
English poet and critic 

Vincente Minnelli 
2/28/1910 - 7/25/1986 
American film and stage director 

Denis Parsons Burkitt 
2/28/1911 - 3/23/1993 
English surgeon and medical researcher 

Zero Mostel 
2/28/1915 - 9/8/1977 
American actor, singer, and comedian 

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