Sunday, October 1, 2006 Mean People
There was an article in the paper this morning that stated a lot of what I've noticed and commented on for years. People are just getting more and more rude and inconsiderate as the years go by. I think there are three reasons for this (actually one -- fear, but that's difficult to deal with in today's society):
- a Republican political climate,
- entertainment media glorifying egotistical and selfish behavior,
- rude parents beget rude children, and so on.
The solution is to vote democratic and keep progressives in office until things right themselves, stop allowing media to dictate behavior, and establish programs in schools and other venues to teach children manners, compassion, and consideration for the rights and sensibilities of others. Yeah, like that's gonna happen!
Quote of the Day: "Teach our children to have faith in humanity and to know the dignity of all human beings. Reaffirm America's basic belief that all people are created equal - that we all are children of the Universe. There is no nonsense about that - it is universally obvious and fundamentally American."
-- Everett Woodman (educator and diplomat)
The weather is getting cooler, so naturally our heating and air-conditioning unit picked now to go on the blink. Hopefully someone will be here tomorrow to fix it. I'd hate to have to rely on a portable ceramic heater and the kitchen stove to keep the place warm enough in 30-degree and cooler weather.
Friday I fed my dictionary habit. I picked up a hardback first edition of the American Heritage Dictionary at a local thrift shop for 50 cents. The dust cover is in bad shape but the book itself looks hardly used. It not in bad shape for a 37-year-old volume. The acquisition of that dictionary pretty much completes my collection. I would like to have a slightly newer OED or perhaps the full-size version of it, but now I have, if not all, most of the dictionaries I want. I even have two copies of the paperback edition of the American Heritage Dictionary, one downstairs next to my keyboard and one upstairs by the bed. It takes so little to keep me entertained.
Tuesday, October 3, 2006 August in October
The weather today and yesterday has been more like late August than early October. Not that I'm complaining, mind you. I think it's grand! The sun is great, the skies are crystalline. The light in October is some of my favorite of any time of year. Now if I could just decide where I want to go to stalk scenery and things to capture in my camera. . .
Quote of the Day: "Our dark cabal of Neocon leaders, several of whom have held positions of great power under Reagan, Bush I, and now Bush II, are perpetuating unrestrained expansion of the American Empire while utilizing Orwellian propaganda to convince its subjects that they are still living in the 'land of the free.'"
-- Jason Miller, Essayist
Our air-handler is fixed. The blower motor went out. The A/C was working fine, but since the air wasn't moving, the coils would freeze up. When I turned the heat on, no air came out, so I turned it back off immediately. Things seem to be working fine now. The ducts still need cleaning.
Nothing has come in for my void collection. But, then, I really didn't expect anything. Maybe I should make it a mail-art call. I'd be sure to collect quite a bit that way, but I was actually hoping to stir the pot on this site a little bit. Instead, it's got me thinking again about shutting the whole mess down.
"Can't Fight It"
I was at Voter Registration yesterday. On the way back to the car I saw City Hall with light being reflected off the United Bank building across the street. I thought it looked neat, so there ya go.
Wednesday, October 4, 2006 Constant Gardening
It's the time of year to wind up gardens, whether they be full-production vegetable gardens, show gardens, or, like mine, a simple herb and flower bed. I've already moved two of the three rosemary bushes to pots. I have to say they took very well to being transplanted. So did the parsley plant that never really produced much this summer. The Russian sage bushes will stay in situ for the winter, to be pruned and cleaned up in the spring. The echinacea is on its own, as are the cosmos.
The cosmos grew like crazy, and the nasturtiums took off late and climbed up into the cosmos. It makes a pretty combination. I was out a couple days ago playing around with my E-TTL flash on the Canon EOS 20D. I forgot that I'd set the ISO on the camera to a high number (1600) and took some photographs of the nasturtium-cosmos complex. Most of the shots were really washed out, as you might imagine, but one sort of struck me. I loaded it into Corel Photopaint and did the old Auto Equalize tweak. Voilà!
"A Passion for Green"
Quote of the Day: "I come from the East, most of you [here] are Westerners. If I look at you superficially, we are different, and if I put my emphasis on that level, we grow more distant. If I look on you as my own kind, as human beings like myself, with one nose, two eyes, and so forth, then automatically that distance is gone. We are the same human flesh. I want happiness; you also want happiness. From that mutual recognition, we can build respect and real trust of each other. From that can come cooperation and harmony."
-- His Holiness the Dalai Lama
In the "Old West" the Colt .45 six-gun was called the equalizer because ostebsibly it made all men equal regardless of their physical attributes. However, certain genes for athletic ability and quick reflexes belied that homily. The real equalizer is cash. Money can make things equal all around. It can overcome slow reflexes, dull wits, and infirmity. If you have it, you can play on anyone's field. If you don't, you're at a distinct disadvantage. Fortunately for a lot of people, intelligence is not one of the prerequisites for being able to accrue financial wealth. If it were, I'd be rich and George W. Bush and his family would be living in a trailer park in Waco, Texas where they belong.
Friday, October 6, 2006 Faith & Hope
My Aunt Jean married my Uncle Dale in the 50's. When his mother died, he took in his two sisters, Hope and Faith, to raise. I grew up with them. This entry, however, is not about them. Hope now likes to be called by her first name, Linda, and Faith, while her first name is Lenore, still goes by Faith. But, I digress.
I suppose the reason I made that little side trip is that this particular train of thought starts in my childhood. Back then I had plenty of faith, and hope that things would turn out well. As a child I had some small amount of faith in religion, but that didn't last much past my first year in school. I had hope that I would do interesting things in my life. In junior high and high school I had faith in science. I was hopeful that I could understand the world and people through mathematics, experimentation, and empirical method. After a stint in the military and a little more experience with the world as it is, not as I'd hoped it would be, I lost that faith to a large extent. After than I successively had faith in education, love, friends, philosophy and religion (redux), and art. At one point I even had an abounding faith in nothing -- that is to say, nothingness, nihilism, solipsism. At one time I even had faith in medicine. Now, I can't say I have much faith in anything. Still, hope lingers, although in greatly reduced quantity. I find myself adrift, unable to understand the universe I so fervently loved and wanted to embrace with a certain knowledge. Now I feel tossed about on waves of doubt and fear. Losing faith, no matter in what, is a traumatic thing. It cuts the chain from your personal anchor and leaves your ship of self to float free, rudderless, and with only faint hope that any reattachment can occur. At least I'm not drowning. . . yet.
Quote of the Day: "Life is not a spectacle or a feast; it is a predicament."
-- George Santayana
Something went awry in my computer. I lost two of the photographs I took on the second of October. They were there, then the next day they were gone. It's probably the way I did something with them. They were the only two of the group with which I did something post loading them onto the hard drive. I need to verify and validate more. I probably should also have a secondary backup, since my primary only keeps one version and if a photo disappears on the main storage, the next time it gets backed up, it goes away on the backup as well. It just so happened that I decided to empty my recycle yesterday since I was deleting things and didn't want too many files to deal with if I discovered I'd deleted something by accident. Can't be too careful. Oh wait, yes I can!
"Virtual Private Network"
I bought a copy of L. Ron Hubbard's "masterwork," Dianetics at a thrift store yesterday. I'd started to read it years ago, but tossed it aside with great force, in disgust and never picked it up again until now. I decided I was going to read the whole thing in order to get a better grasp of the mind of a "great" man. Notice I use a lot of quote marks when writing about anything Scientological? So far I'm about 10 pages into it, and the only thing I can say for certain is that the writing style is exactly that of who he was -- a hack writer with limited imagination, and the inability to construct a coherent, succinct sentence. It's written by someone with a limited vocabulary who gets paid by the word. I'll keep you updated, particularly if someone from the Church of Scientology (talk about your oxymorons!) contacts me to try to revise my opinions or to threaten me, as they are wont to do.
Tuesday, October 10, 2006 Day Tripper
I took the long weekend off from writing and doing much with computers. Ann had Monday off, so we made quick plans the night before and got up early and left around 5:45 am and made the rounds of some of our old haunts and new favorite places. I nearly made the decision to head for Green Bank again, but changed my mind around the last moment because I was getting tired. We rolled in around 8:30 last night, cleaned up, unpacked the van, and fell over.
Before sunrise, we were at Hawk's Nest overlook taking photographs of the fog. After that we went to Babcock State park and got some early morning time at the lake. This is the first trip we've made there without taking a single shot of the Glade Creek Grist Mill. After that, we went up Route 41 to US 60 again and then east to WV 20. We followed 20 to Richwood, then hit WV 55. We went to the Cranberry Glades Botanical Area. We met a lot of people there. The glades are amazing. After our sojourn in the peat bogs, we went across the high ridge Route 150, the Highland Scenic Highway and around back into Marlinton where we had a terrible lunch at a little Main Street diner. The sign proclaimed "Home Cooking!" Well, some homes apparently just don't have very good cooks. After lunch we went south to Watoga State Park and another lake. Then we went over Route 39 to WV 92, the same as we did on the return trip from Snowshoe a couple weeks back. We hit I-64 at White Sulphur Springs. We stayed on the Interstate the rest of the way home, except for a side trip through Hinton to Sandstone Falls on the New River. We were tired when we got home and the van is still speckled with bug juice from Asian Ladybeetles. All along WV 92 there were clouds of the insects. They're thick as gnats around a pear tree.
Quote of the Day: "Never judge a book by its movie."
-- J. W. Eagan
Between the two of us yesterday, we shot around 400 frames. Out of my 206 shots, I kept 187. That's not to say that I have 187 good shots, but there was at least something to commend each one I retained. Ann had a little higher casualty rate. She had 216 shots on her memory card, but 19 of those were left there from the Showshoe trip. When all culls were made, she retained 164 shots. Now, I'd truly love to present a large excerpt from those shots, but I think I'll have to dribble them out in small doses so as to avoid overloading your Internet connection. Here's one each, first Ann's, then mine:
"Food For Thought (and insects)"
"Death Be Not Lonely"
As you may have noticed, in the season of many colors, I chose to present first and foremost of all my 187 photographs, the one I shot in Black & White. I just particularly liked this shot. Ann's photo of the bug-eaten leaf likewise appealed to my love of decay and entropy.
Something Ann noticed as we were looking through our photos last night is that we often take the same shots unbeknownst to each other. She probably gets the better representation of the subject as many times as I do, perhaps even more often. It's interesting, too, to see the differing takes we have on the same thing, and the different shots one or the other of us takes that the other didn't see. I didn't see this leaf at all on our trek. I'm just glad she did.
Wednesday, October 11, 2006 Déja Vu, All Over Again
When my son was young enough to want one, he had a Glo Worm. Remember those? He called his GW, you know, short for Glo Worm. Since GW also stands for Gee Whiz (as in GW-BASIC, the old programming language on MS-DOS) and George Walker (as in Bush), I shall hereinafter refer to the President (and I use the term lightly) as The Worm.
The Worm had a press conference this morning. He said, among other things, that the US is committed to diplomacy, but that we are keeping all options on the table. This is precisely what he said in the run up to the Iraq fiasco. Even if North Korea doesn't have functioning nuclear (Noo-clee-ur) weapons, they do have radioactive shit, and I'm sure they wouldn't hesitate to tip a missle with some of it and lob it into Seoul or Tokyo, fully expecting China to back their move. We really, really need to elect a Democratic majority to Congress here in a few short weeks, so maybe, just maybe they can put the brakes on this lunatic -- The Worm, not Kim Jong Il. If we have a Republican majority in Congress, there will be nothing to stop The Worm from screwing the pooch even worse than he has already. Remember folks, this man believes we are living in the end times, and is gung-ho to do his best to bring about the apocalypse. Additionally, I'm sure he and his junta are currently scheming on ways to retain the power they hold well past the 2008 Presidental Elections, if they allow them to occur. This new tiff with North Korea may be part of the plan -- "My fellow Americans, we're in a dire situation in a world-wide conflict against the Empire of Evil and we cannot afford to change horses in the middle of the stream. Therefore I am suspending elections until such a time as an orderly change in leadership in the United States can be effected." I know, The Worm doesn't speak that well, but I don't know how to dumb my writing down to that level. Think about it. These people are ruthless. They will never willingly relinquish power, even at the behest of the will of the people.
Quote of the Day: "Creative semantics is the key to contemporary government; it consists of talking in strange tongues lest the public learn the inevitable inconveniently early."
-- George Will, conservative columnist and commentator
This photo was taken along the Highland Scenic Highway (FR 150)in Pendleton County.
Thursday, October 12, 2006 True Grit
During my formative years the goal of upbringing was to adequately socialize the individual and add a degree of refinement, sophistication, and appreciation of the finer aspects of being human. Now it seems that crudity, aggression, rudeness, insensitivity, and boorishness (but I repeat myself) are not only not to be discouraged and supressed, but are actually encouraged and rewarded. The right-wing blames all this on atheists and commie-pinko hippie fags, but the real truth of the matter is that it's all come about since 1968 because of the Right's reaction to the Peace, Love, and Understanding era just prior to that. It's because of the emphasis on repressive religious fervor, the growing corporatization of Amerika, the one-world government of the global economy. Colleges are putting more and more emphasis on preparing students for jobs instead of creating individuals capable of appreciating life and other people. Business has reigned supreme and those "Men Too Gentle to Live Among Wolves" (from the similarly-titled poem by Fr. James Kavanaugh) are left to founder and despair while not comprehending the reason for their condition.
Quote of the Day:
There Are Men Too Gentle to Live Among Wolves
There are men too gentle to live among wolves
Who prey upon them with IBM eyes
And sell their hearts and guts for martinis at noon.
There are men too gentle for a savage world
Who dream instead of snow and children and Halloween
And wonder if the leaves will change their color soon.
There are men to gentle to live among wolves
Who anoint them for burial with greedy claws
And murder them for a merchant's profit and gain.
There are men too gentle to for a corporate world
Who dream instead of candied apples and ferris wheels
And pause to hear the distant whistle of a train.
There are men too gentle to live among wolves
Who devour them with eager appetite and search
For other men to pray upon and suck their childhood dry.
There are men to gentle for an accountant's world
Who dream instead of Easter eggs and fragrant grass
And search for beauty in the mystery of the sky.
There are men to gentle to live among wolves
Who toss them like a lost and wounded dove.
Such gentle men are lonely in a merchant's world
Unless they have a gentle one to love.
Copyright 1970 by James Kavanaugh
I requested and received permission to re-print the above poem several years ago. I'm not sure if that permission extends to this usage or not. I've lost Fr. James's e-mail address, so I can't contact him to verify. I'll just go ahead and use it and if he contacts me and says it's not appropriate use, then I'll take it down and replace it with a link to some place that it already resides and an apology. Fr. James, at last account, was living in Senegal. I don't know if he's retired or even still in the Earthly realm. I'd love to hear from him again if anyone has any information on contacting him.
I submitted some photographs to an online arts/letters magazine. I was accepted for the January issue (more on where and what later). They requested black & white photographs. Since I'd taken one black & white photograph on Monday, I sent it to them along with eight others that I converted from color versions. Most of the ones I converted had little color in them to begin with, and the conversion to monochrome actually made a couple of them better. I wonder why it is that so many people think that for a photograph to be "art" it has to be in black & white? I don't get it. I do enjoy doing monochromatic work, but I rather enjoyed it more when I did it with Tri-X Pan film and processed and printed my own work in a darkroom, inhaling toxic chemicals and going blind trying to see where no light existed.
After submitting my photographs, I started looking at other shots I'd taken Monday to see if any of them would work as well or better as black & white. Here's one I thought worked well. Whether it's better or not is probably still a matter of opinion. What do you think?
"Milkweed, I Suppose"
Or is it better in color?
"Hmmm. . ."
Monday, October 16, 2006 Hubris
Not feeling too well lately. I love/hate this time of year.
Quote of the Day: "Those who are too smart to engage in politics are punished by being governed by those who are dumber."
My apologies to the Oxford American dictionary, whose format and definitions I used and abused.
Tuesday, October 17, 2006 Seasons Change and So Do I
I should have put up a few more photographs of the brilliant foliage we saw a week and a day ago up in the mountains, but I didn't. So, here's a sample:
"Yes, those tall ones in front are aspens!"
"Maple Leaves at Watoga State Park"
Things around here are still mostly green. There's a poplar tree up the street that's almost done for the year. It's been shedding leaves for over a week now and has been orangish-yellow since the first of the month. Today, we have a cold November rain a couple weeks early. It's the kind of rain that soaks through into your bones even though you stay dry. It's a chilling rain, a harbinger of a more solid version of precipitaion. Although it's above 60 degrees, the rain and weather seem so much cooler for some reason. Perhaps it's those late autumn gray clouds that have taken over the sky. I had hoped to get out with my camera today, but that looks to be on hold until at least this afernoon.
Quote of the Day: "A Sunday school is a prison in which children do penance for the evil conscience of thie parents."
-- H. L. Menken (1880-1956)
Coffee used to be cheap. Then came the "shortages" in the seventies. The price went up, never to come back down to previous levels. Then came Starbucks with their $4.00 cups and prices went further up. Yesterday I paid $1.59 for a cup of coffee at IHOP. That's ridiculous. Back when a cup of Joe was a nickel, so was a postage stamp. Now postage is 39-cents and coffee is a buck fifty-nine. Something is direly wrong here. And now guess what? Chocolate growers are threatening to go on strike and burn their crops, creating a shortage. You know what that will mean, right? A chocolate bar that cost a nickel back when there were 5-cent stamps and cuppas will now attempt to surpass the price of coffee. Imagine! a 75-cent Hershey's kiss.
Wednesday, October 18, 2006 Indian Summer
The dictionaries all define "Indian Summer" as "a period of unusually dry, warm weather ocurring in late autumn or early winter." When I was growing up, I always understood it to be a summer-like period of at least several days after the first frost or snow. I wonder when it lost that qualifier? The Oxford American Dictionary gives a secondary meaning of "a period of happiness or success occurring late in life." I suppose I could hold out for that.
Quote of the Day: "Nothing is so good as it seems beforehand"
-- George Eliot
I suppose that applies to winning the lottery as much as anything. You hear tales all the time about people whose lives are destroyed by sudden wealth. I don't think that would affect me that way. Anyone want to set me up so we can see?
"I Guess It Rained Last Night"
The reason I was jabbering on about Indian summer is because we're having one of those days that qualify as Indian summerish today. It hit the mid-70's, cloudy but no precipitation. It's 72 outside right now, but most likely several degrees warmer in the house. The light was wonderful a while ago. I thought about grabbing the camera and hitting the pavement, but I didn't. I still don't feel very well.
Friday, October 20, 2006 Housekeeping
Yesterday I didn't write anything here, but I did throw in a tip and link on Primary Wizard's Place. Said tip having to do with rubber gloves (you'll have to go look for yourself -- I'm not saying another word here about it. <grin>). One thing I mentioned that I use rubber gloves for was mopping. Partly because of that train of thought (and partly because my shoes were sticking to the floor in front of the cook stove, most likely due to the spatter from making French fries the other day) I decided to mop the kitchen floor before getting my shower today. I really need a decent mop bucket, one like the janitors use, and a mop with a handle designed for a human being, not a hobbit. I know all those new floor cleaning products from Swiffer, Mr. Clean, and all are expensive and a ploy to separate us from more of our money, but looking at the dirt that comes up off of a fairly clean floor and seeing how difficult it is to get all the dirt out of a standard mop, I lean more toward the consumerist rip-off in the remote hope that it will work better. If anyone has any ideas on how to get a floor clean without taking several hours, in excess of 10 gallons of water, and a broken back, let me know. I'd be ever so grateful.
Quote of the Day: "The most popular labor saving device is still money."
-- Phyllis George
In case you're wondering, I've not finished with the kitchen floor. I'm waiting for it to dry so I can clean up the mop, bucket, and squeegee and have another go at it. There's got to be a better way. . .
I was starting to feel pretty good toward evening yesterday, but then the temperature dropped and I started feeling lousy again. If it would just pick a temperature and stick with it I'd be a lot happier.
Here's one I took at Slatyfork, up near Snowshoe when I was there a few weeks back. Someone out there has a really good sense of humor, and a flair for art.
Wednesday, October 25, 2006 Habeus Corpse
This is all I have to say today: Keith Olberman is brave, articulate, and my hero.
Quote of the Day: "It was necessary to destroy the village in order to save it."
-- an American officer in Vietnam in a 1968 report on the razing of Vietnamese village Ben Tre
I'm rethinking my use of primarywizard.net, so don't be alarmed if nothing new shows up there for a while. I've not felt much like writing anything there, here, or anywhere lately. It's a chore just to do this entry today. I think the change of weather has me bogged down. That and the lack of anyone to talk to or hang out with. Nearly all my friends have moved to other places, died, or are just too busy to set aside any time to spend on me. I have plenty of time and little to fill it. Maybe it's my curmudgeonly outlook that keeps them away.
The police had business at the end of the street last night. I wasn't too interested in what they were doing, but I did like the pretty lights.
There was a policeman's head and either a perpetrator or bystander in the shot. I dithered them out since I wasn't looking for portrature.
Saturday, October 28, 2006 'Tis the Season
I'm ready. We've got the Trick or Treat candy, the decorations are up, and I just finished carving the pumpkins. I think I've gotten into a rut. . .
I think this is the best puke o'lantern yet. I think next year I'll have to come up with something different. The innards on the right side don't want to stay attached. I think I'll have to use a toothpick or something.
Quote of the Day: " But my body was like a harp, and her words and gestures were like fingers running upon the wires."
-- James Joyce
I remember those days. . .
Monday, October 30, 2006 Socratic Method in Her Madness
Socrates said that the unexamined life is not worth living. Well, my online friend, Liberty has a well-examined life. She takes an honest look at herself and really tries to understand the world and her relation to it. I try this as well, and have for a large number of years, but I don't do it as publicly nor as articulately and honestly as she does. I admire her candor and her courage.
Now, the title of today's entry reflects not upon the sanity of my friend. It's just a play on words. Perhaps I should change the "Her" to "Him" and redirect any unintentionally cast aspersions in my direction instead of hers.
Quote of the Day: "We demand rigidly defined areas of doubt and uncertainty."
-- Douglas Adams
Fascists, in the beginning, are very proper, polite and respectful. They are also very firm in the belief that what they're doing is right. The abuse and misappropriation of power comes somewhat later, after the large majority of the people also believe in them as well. Once we are convinced, and the courts have agreed that random traffic stops are not only lawful, but are for the betterment of the community, then the police can stop anyone anywhere at any time with no recourse on the part of the affronted citizen. Now with the inconvenience of Habeus Corpus safely out of the way, the new season of "Without a Trace" could easily focus on unsolvable cases of people who disappear with the help of the United States Government. It's a distinct possibility, too, that in a little more than a week, a lot of our votes (for the wrong candidates) will vanish as well. We're up that proverbial creek, folks, and the oar just drifted by on the current going away from our leaky boat.