Monday, December 31, 2007


This "official" map of Maine, most likely created by some tight ass bureaucrat up to Augusta, attempts to make sense of the geographic differences that exist in my home state. All I can say is this map is a lie. For our purposes here in the panhandle, there are but 4 regions of Maine. 

The Other side of the Turnpike - Where all the folks with deep pockets live and dress like lobsta men and truck mechanics when down to the local store, but quickly swap out their Dickies for a sweater tied around their necks when heading to Boston. 

Up Country - Anywhere in Maine not on the East side of the Turnpike and North of here. Which is really everywhere with the exception of those hoity toity folks who cling to the edge of the Ocean. 

Right Here - Where a man is judged by how many pickups, tractors, and manure spreadas he has rusting in his door yard. And if he has them all tucked under blue tarps, we know this man is not the one wearing the pants in that house. 

The County - Aroostook County is a special place with special people. Thus it is graced with it's own special place in all Mainer's hearts. You either came from the county,went there once, knew someone who went there, or accidentally found yourself there while trying to find Jackman or Eustis. 

Okay, Okay. Let's step back a few steps. Seems we have gotten ahead of ourselves here.

The subject of this post was originally not about the regions of my home state. I had originally wanted to find some new blogs to read. And instead of the usual hit or miss, referral from another blog I might visit on occaision or typing in a word in that handy Google blank, I figured I would check out some of the blogs created and maintained by Mainers. Folks who live close by or far away but in the same state of confusion I live in. 

What I did was this. I went to my profile. Found that all the blue words would guide me to blogs with that word in common. Boy, those computer folk are some clever. No wonder they are rich and I am not.

Anyway, punch the Maine key word and 9000 plus blogs popped up. Whew! Way too many to sift through. Had to come up with some criteria for checking them out. 

No religious fanatics. No pre-teen "do u text and isn't Billy Wilkerson cute" blogs. Forget the runners. I don't run. Don't want to read about them or their sneakers. A picture and some words about interests would punch em to the top of my list. 

Okay. Cool. I had some parameters in place. So I spent the better part of a couple of hours cruising my home state via the local blogosphere. Must have filtered through the quick profiles of 500 blogs and actually read something on 30 or so. 

The initial choices I found to create my Maine Blog Link List often were only because I liked the name of the blog. Or the location. Damn. Now that I think about it, there is no rhyme, no reason for the choices you will find to the right. 

But I will say that in less than 2 hours I managed compile quite an odd group. I have a gay. I have at least a couple of Liberals. There's a mostly happy homemaker and her life as mom. Some gnarly dude band/design your group's logo in our spare time guys. 

I have to say my most delightful find was the Defiant Infidel. A man who contends he is now trapped in his home state surrounded by the great Liberal conspiracy that moved here from away. Seems this lone outdoorsman lives in the woods with his wife and 2 dogs. Loves God, country, and Fred Thompson. Feels the right to bear arms is sacred and wishes liberalism was illegal. Well I made up that last part. But I figure he wouldn't complain much it there was a law passed. 

This fellow Mainer is positive our "traditional values" have been shot down and he is on a quest to re-acquaint all who will listen just what we are missing out on. I dunno. Seems to me Americans have been less than loyal to any tradition for long. Right out of the gate we bucked the system. Whatever the system was. "Traditional Values" are often nothing more than fantasy worlds built up in the minds of folks who would like to return us to an idyllic world of the past that never existed in the first place. 

If you visit only one blog from my list, visit his. Some of you will nod your head, look reflective and maybe agree with him. If you are like me, you will turn to his blog for a little comic relief. And I am hardly a liberal. Well, I probably am according to the infidel's criteria for identifying anything not conservative must be liberal mindset rule in the Neocon field guide for the identification and cataloging of Liberal conspiracies that pervade our landscape. The man has the flag tightly wrapped around his principles.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Witnessing Excellence

I was not going to sit down tonight and share my thoughts about the last Pat's regular season game. No matter how it turned out. I was going to just sit in the glow of victory or wallow in the depths of defeat. Do it privately and without an audience.

Well, I couldn't do it.

Just like I couldn't park my butt on the couch and watch the game like a sane and sober man in his own home might who is not in the company of his beer swillin buds after two 30 packs before kickoff. I performed straight and without the support of intoxicating substances. Maybe a beer or two would have taken the edge off. Oh well.

It was trouble right out of the gate. Forget saving something for the playoffs, the Giants wanted to stop the Patriots. Ruin their pursuit of that perfect season. They let it all hang out. Gave the Patriots all they could handle. And in the process I was sure they would give me a coronary. Eli Manning and his Giants brought their A game to the party. They came right out and tallied a touchdown on their first possesion. Damn, another team ready to rumble.

Nervously I paced around the living room groaning and screaming at the TV set like they could hear me. And the whole time my daughter is parked in the over stuffed wingback with her stuffed Pat bear she named Wes calmly taking the the game in. My wife had long ago become disgusted with my antics and left to watch the game in peace up in the bedroom. I became one of those crazed wild eyed fans who should have been painted up and barechested with some cartoon helmet made of paper mache on my head. I paced, muttered and pleaded for the Pats to get their shit together. It was a sad display of a fan gone mad.

That is my perception anyway. Now that the adrenalin has finally been purged and my guts have begun to unwind, I realize that with the exception of all the cat in a cage pacing back and forth, I was relatively docile on the outside. Definitely not on the inside.

It was another nail biter. 12 points down in the 3rd quarter, the boys put the hammer to the Giants. 22 unanswered points later they sat with an uncomfortable lead of only 10 points with just shy of 4 minutes still waiting to tick away. And of course the Giants finally pulled it together and scored a touchdown in the last 2 minutes. Thankfully Eli seemed to have trouble with his 2 minute offense. Clock management was an issue. The desperation onside kick failed when Vrabel fell on the ball. The Pats only had to drop a knee 3 times and the first unbeaten NFL season in 35 years was now history.
All the Sports guys in expensive suits fell all over themselves talking up Brady, Moss and the 16-0 season. And I am sure in the scheme of what really counts for the record books, what Moss and Brady did was cool. I am also duly impressed.

But once again, the guys I probably enjoy the most are the guys who get it done when it has to get done. The players who get the ugly yards, the connections that take the ball from one end of the field to the other. I'm talkin bout my favorite small guys, Wes Welker and Kevin Faulk. They do their thing in the shadow of GQ Brady and the grace of Moss. But they do their thing so very well. 122 plus passing yards in 11 catches for Welker. Two "have to have it" 3rd down conversions fought for and won by Faulk. When blocking was needed, they both stepped up and carried more than their weight.

I marvel at these ordinary looking puny Davids who excel in a sport dominated by Goliaths. They take hits that would cripple most people. Get right up and do it again. Absolutely awesome.

Way to go Pats. Keep on keepin on. 16 and a big 0. Ain't too shabby. 3 more games to go.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

A Reason to be Grateful

In an effort to broaden my horizons beyond the snow encrusted dooryard outside my window this AM, I visited several bookmarked blogs I have found interesting in the past. Dutifully, I read political commentary, perused recent photo shoots of neighborhoods, identified with pieces decrying the annual end of the year blues, and one piece on the sad state of public places in Rome.

Pretty much a typical jaunt through Blog land. Same old same old. After commenting on a few, I found my time unfufilled. My voyeuristic tendency was satisfied, but my need to spout off my mouth remained frustrated and was still jones-ing. So here I am.

The end of 2007 is right around the corner. Another year chalked up and accounted for. I sit here wondering just where the time went. What about this past year sticks out? Historical events unfolded everyday as they usually do. And billions of people went about their business unmindful of those events as they usually do. Yet in each individual's existence, occurences that would barely cause a ripple of interest to the rest of us stand out as events of major import and changed lives in dramatic ways.

Divorces, deaths, births, and winning lottery tickets happen without the limelight of public scrutiny. Yet these events are the ones that actually shape our lives. Small ordinary events that are anything but to those of us who experience them.

So I sit here taking note that not even the small events visited me this year. My daughter continued her grad program without major problems. My wife's business continued to chug along at it's busy pace. My bike shop logged another year of mediocre performance and I grew and cut my beard a couple of more times. I gained weight, lost it, and re-gained it again. My chronic liver problem popped up again and is now back in the shadows again waiting to pop up again.

Was it basically a year best forgotten and cataloged as SSDD? No. Actually I would have to say it was a great year. I managed to hike my way through it and look to come out on the other side one more time. And that is always a reason to be grateful.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Insominiacs Rule While Others Peacefully Drool

On 4 hours of sleep I awoke jazzed and pumped. Physically exhausted with a mind that could not rachet it back to the slower metabolic rate my body really wanted, needed, probably should have.

Damn I hate this. Used to anyway. Lack of sleep used to bother me tremendously. I would anquish over lost snooze time and then like a dog worrying a bone lay around with eyes wide open staring into the dark. A few years of that and I decided, "What the Hell, get up fool, do something. Don't fight it. Go with the flow."

Okay so now what? The rest of my time zone compadres are fast asleep drooling and dreaming rock hard dreams of Dallas cheerleaders and whipped cream. Me, well, I must have other things to do. Maybe a few more hours of the Food channel will jog my memory of things needing my attention. Or it will bore me to sleep. Either way works. Just hope it doesn't end up being time wasted with remote in hand, my eyes out of focus as I struggle to follow Chef Dave as he proves to me there is indeed another way to serve scallops. That squirt of green goo and a fancy sliced carrot really tops it off. Nice touch there Chef Dave. You are the man.

On recent trips through no sleep land, I have taken to domestic drudgery to calm my frantically paced mental state. Mindless chores that make little noise but will offer pleasant suprises to my signifigant other. So far no comment from her on this. But I know she has noticed. She misses nothing.

I have on occaision torn into some major project or continued one in process. I will push myself until I begin staggering and can't keep my eyes focused on the same line. I will circumnavigate myself past sanity into some semi dream state so that when I do wake up, I find my efforts ran counter to what had been originally planned. But often it works out. Bout half the time anyway.

So here I sit awake but not aware. I flip through 400 cable channels hoping to find some inspiration. I pick up a book I know will normally cause my eyes to automatically shut down. Instead all I do is whine to myself how much that book sucks and my mind will not let go. Oh well, sleep is way over rated. Let's check out the Discovery Channel. Maybe they have some monkeys humping or Rhinos in brutish embrace.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Wrong Side of the Door

Every winter in Maine has the same feel. Shorter days, colder temperatures, and pre-cip usually in solid form. The Sun cruises daily just above my southern horizon. Barely makes it over the big spruces across the road. Yes, general predictablity exists. Yet every winter in Maine fills up with quirks and odd sequences that make each one unique. The Winter of 07-08 seems headed in the same direction.

Just when oil prices spike and it takes $400 to fill my oil tank, Ma Nature decides to make sure we burn it like it was free. And so far, she is insisting on seeing my snowblower in action twice as much as this time last year. Last year's total snow fall was officially recorded to be 68.5" in 14 different snow events. Last year we got off easy. So far right now we have had at least 30" in 3 major storms. We seem headed for our more normal 90+inches.

So I sit in the office snug and almost warm. Another storm is busy outside. The smarter cats have figured out that this is a day to hunker down in a basket, a box, or on any uncovered pillow available. They know intuitively this day is one to ignore.

However. In every community, home, group larger than two, there are members who are sure the grass is still green outside. With memories shorter than they are, they insist on being reminded that the wrong side of the door is out there and not in here. I am always amused by their complete suprise and astonishment when they discover that outside is the same as it was an hour ago.

Bob and Stub are my two independent and restless souls. They refuse to believe in Winter. They need constant reinforcement that yeah, it's still cold out there. Their biological winter clocks tied to some 2 hour cycle. Bob will wind his way in and out of my legs. When he has my attention he heads for the door and I am sure he is muttering, "Dude, let me remind you where the front door is".

He then parks in front of it. Looks at it. Looks at me. Then looks at it again. Casting that disgusted look only a cat can conjure up he scowls at me, "Dude, come on, let me out".

"Little Buddy, You just went out an hour ago. Give it up".

Some more pitiful cat whining and then Stub will scramble over wagging her nub of a tail, "Yeah, let us out Man. I can't remember whether I need to pee or not. Be safe guy. Let us out."

I let them out. 5 minutes later I look outside. There they are parked in the front walk barely 10 feet into it. Both looking back at the door knowing they are still on the wrong side of it.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Ismail Gulgee - R.I.P.

Long ago in a time just barely remembered, I packed up a picture for a customer painted by this man. The house was full of many pieces of art and obviously expensive tastes. I was moving this high end family from a posh district of Baltimore to Shaker Heights in the Cleveland area. Dad, a retiring big steel exec, wanted to re-settle back to his childhood homestead. The one with 4 fireplaces and a 5 car garage.

They had a Picasso drawing. They had some beautiful sculptures I had to get creative with so they would travel well. But of all the art pieces I packed and loaded, the painting by this man, Ismail Gulgee, stuck with me. I saved it until last so I could look at it until that final moment when it was placed carefully wrapped into a mirror carton. Mrs. big steel exec even commented about my holding it out. I am sure my interest in it caught her by suprise. A long haired 20 something hippy dude wearing an Atlas Van Lines uniform enthralled by a painting by someone he never heard of. I bet she figured me for velvet Elvis paintings or Paisley acid prints.

I do not remember exactly the subject. Just that it was a portrait and it caught my fancy. This artist had talent. Whoever the Hell he was.

Anyway, Ismail was murdered a short time ago in Pakistan. Along with his wife and maid, apparently they were strangled and left to be discovered by Ismail's son.Ishmail was 81. And though he may not have been cheated of years, his senseless murder becomes one more footnote to add to the mountain of senseless tragic footnotes piling up in Pakistan at the moment. Forgive me if I hope that his death was the result of one of the mundane reasons for murder. Robbery, crime of passion. I hope that the theocratic stupidity that has much of that country in it's grip right now was not the driving force behind this murder.

Back in the early 1970s when I first saw his work, I had no idea who he was, where he came from, or that he would eventually become Pakistan's best known artist. Nor did I care. I only found out through his death the pertinent facts that made him what he was to so many in Pakistan. His ability to weather the tumultuous and often chaotic events that formed modern day Pakistan points to his popularity with all Pakistanis. The man was revered. And now he is dead. What a shame.

Below please enjoy a few photos of some of his life's work.

These images come courtesy of this site

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Heroes or Not

I was reading some of the retrospectives of the recently deceased on the MSNBC site and Paul Tibbets popped up again.

Paul flew the B-29 named Enola Gay that dropped the first of only two Atomic Bombs ever dropped in anger. He is held up as a hero by many and reviled as an arm of evil by many others.

Paul considered his mission as neither. Not heoric nor evil. It was his job. And he did it well. He was considered the best pilot in the Army Air Force during WWll.

My father knew Paul. My father was ahead of him in the hiearchy back in the day and ended up in more of a supervisory role during the war. But he did know him. He never said much about Paul other than he was a helluva pilot. But then my dad did not discuss much about the specifics of his time in the Air Force.

The point I guess is we Americans often bestow hero status on people without a clue as to what a real hero is. Paul's efforts were no more heroic than the thousands of other pilots who dared to fly into hostile airspace in any war. Yet because of one specific mission, he is placed higher in our history of heroes than many other possibly more deserving men.

That is not to say Paul did not perform heroic acts. I am sure he did. Just climbing in a plane he knew had a better than even chance of getting shot down took some nads. But larges nads, a hero does not make.

A hero to me is someone who steps out of character, digs deep and rises to an occaision that they would not normally be able to deal with. Being a bad swimmer, yet jumping in to save a drowning man. Being scared out of their wits, yet finding the strength to overcome their fear and do something beyond their comprehension. By the time Paul hit the sky over Japan, it was just another day in the life. If Paul was the man I think he was, that's how he saw it also.

Nor does Paul deserve to be demonized either. He followed his orders. The bomb was going to be dropped whether he flew the mission or not. Paul just made sure it hit it's target.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Blue Magic

Handymen from all over the country just love cheap fixes and jury rigged solutions. The one material that exists in every homeowner's first line of emergency fixes tool kit is a decent sized roll of good quality duct tape. Nothing comes close to it as the magical fix for millions of fix it now problems. Books have been written about Duct Tape and the magic performed with it.

But I did not come here to talk about Duct Tape. We Mainers know it's worth. Any one of us with half a brain is going to have 3 or 4 rolls of it kickin around handy and ready at a moment's notice.

No, today I want to pay homage to that magnificent, stupendous, and all around yard gussying up king--- The Blue Tarp.

Nothing gets Mother off your ass quicker than a 20x20 blue tarp from Marden's tossed over that '82 Chevy pick up with the broken plow. She might know it is still there, but you can at least meet her half way by not making her look at it.

The Blue Tarp is so sacred in this state, and often so rare to come by, when Marden's gets em in, they don't last the day sometimes. It's okay to purchase one from Home Depot or Lowes in an emergency, but if it came from Mardens, it's the real Maine Blue Tarp.

Yeah, some folks insist they all come out of the same 5 or 6 blue tarp plants in Singapore or East Gish China. And that may be. But until it has passed through the hands of the caring folks at Mardens, it is not the official unofficial Maine Blue Tarp.

In a world that seems lost in a quest to find a high tech answer for every problem, Mainers always seem to rely on tried and true low tech solutions first. Why build a barn to hold all six 427 Chevy engine blocks when all you have to do is cover em up with a $5 blue tarp. That Massey Ferguson tractor Father used for 40 years is in tractor heaven under the protective blue cover. It is the sign of real loyalty and care when a blue tarp is dragged over some rusting item or gizmo in the dooryard. Whenever I pass a property liberally sprinkled with blue covered lumps, I know that the owner has some special treasure they wanted to make sure has the protection it needs.

Even the critters of Maine have fallen under the spell of the blue tarp. As you can see, some enterprising local fowl found the fibers of the about to be discarded blue tarp in the back a very handy and convenient source of bombproof fibers for their nest.

Tim Sample , a Maine comedian is positive that the reason Osama Bin Laden has thus far successfully eluded capture is he is currently secreted away under a blue tarp up country somewhere near Augusta or Bangor. I don't know about that, but I do know it is very easy to walk around a pile with a blue tarp on it than walk around one that has not been so honored.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Pain in the Neck

That damn knot is back. Right where it was 3 weeks ago when I woke up one morning. Right shoulder just below my neck. Pills dull the discomfort, but do nothing to refurbish my lost flexibility. Looking to the right involves a complete body move. As if my head is fused to my shoulders. Damn, this sucks.

Whine. Piss n moan. Complain.

It is so easy to do when my 55 year old body is doing it's own complaining. Never being one to suffer in silence, I figure it is just being friendly to share my pain. I mean, I am the center of the Universe afterall.

Like folks really care about some knot I have in my neck. They probably react like I do when someone else brings up their own mostly minor physical complaints. "Jeez dude, that sucks". And then think, "Better you than me", or "Stop your whining fer chrisakes".

But then I made the mistake of picking the Red Hot Chili Peppers Cd "Blood-Sugar-Sex-Majik" to burn into my puter's memory banks. I forgot I have never been able to resist rocking out when "If You Have to Ask" comes within earshot. I hear that tune and my body goes on automatic. It moves whether I want it to or not.

So here I sit trying to sway gently without irritating the uninvited knot. It is not a song to sway gently to. The pain has fallen into sync with the music. Bop weave, twist , and ...ouch. Bop, weave, twist,...ouch. Perfect timing. And they say white boys can't dance.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Everybody Hates Me

I was recently and abruptly awakened to the fact that my 27 years in Maine has dulled and left in the dust, my used to be sharp and intuitive knowledge of what was hip. Noah from "KC Bike Commuting" filled me in on this movement that really kicked it into high gear 10 years ago or so. Damn. Guess I am going to have to read less "Field n Stream" and more "Punk Planet Online".

I was just getting used to Doc Martens. Now I find out they have been un-hip for at least a decade now. I just finished wrapping my mind around the concept of Goth, Marilyn Manson and long black trench coats in 100" F summer heat. And in the blink of a year or two, I am now faced with EMO.

Another avenue for angry young folk to show their displeasure with the idea of happiness. Another movement to prove it is indeed possible to be miserable in front of that $1000 computer up in their bedroom covered in Morrissey posters snug in the 4000 sq ft McMansion while Mom picks up their sister from dance class in the Lexus. Life sucks at 15. Doesn't matter what else is going on. It matters squat if we eat with a silver spoon or a plastic one. Life between the ages of 14 and 25 can come off feeling negative no matter what. Some of us need time to hate what we are to become before we get with the program.

Teenage angst. Post pubescent teenage grumpy gusses. Whining punks and punkettes. Used to be they wouldn't let us RocknRoll. Now we are denigrated when we cut ourselves. Seems a kid just can't catch a break. There s no new thing under the Sun. My mom was sure of it. The attitude is timeless. Only the manifestations change.

Judging from the high numbers of foul mood ridden teens found everywhere and in every time, you would think we'd stop whining about the lousy attitudes most kids get when they start growing hair we can't see. But no. It must be an obligation of getting older that we forget our own tough adjustments back in the day. And suddenly, we have never seen such ingrates in all our lives.

I can sure remember moments at 16 when I was sure not one person cared about me, everyone hated me, I wanted to eat some worms. Instead of piercings and tats, I smoked pot and dropped LSD. So when I see a Goth punk, an EMO cripple, or some punk with a huge chip on their shoulder, I know their pain, their piss poor attitude. I have been there myself. I survived in spite of myself. Most likely, they will too.

War Pigs

On my way home the other night from the shop, I noticed I had not prepped my commute properly. No CD in the player. I had to resort to tuning in the FM dial. Usually disatisfied with the offerings of commercial radio, I was pleasantly suprised to hear a cover of "War Pigs". A damn good cover IMO. Naturally they did not identify the only song I heard that I wanted to identify. All the others, but not that one.

The song brought back immediate flashbacks to my checkered past and my stint as a trucker in the Rock n Roll business. I handled Black Sabbath on two of their tours in the mid 70's. The picture to the right is the BS I remember up close and personal. "War Pigs" was and still is one of their top 5 signature tunes. No one can belt it out like they did.

So here I am 30 years later and knowing that if I ever heard "War Pigs" one more time, I would indeed go crazy. Catch it 3 to 5 nights a week in front 40,000 drunken and drugged fans and a lifetime of "War Pigs is experienced in just a few months. Their show never varied. Started with "Iron Man" and ended with "War Pigs". When the first whiffs of it filtered out to the dock area, I knew it was time to fire up the White Freightliner, prop open the trailer doors and be ready to back in for loading in 30 minutes or so. Clock work.

So here I sit 30 years later reliving all of this in my driveway before I shut off the engine after a slick and greasy drive home. I listen to another band playing homage to a group of Brits who hit it big and were instrumental in the establishement of a new splinter of RocknRoll. I listen and finally appreciate these, cough, "musicians", cough who could not read a note between them back in the day.

Even though they did not execute cleanly, their musical abilities still shine through. This song is still relevant today. Maybe more so now than during Nam. Put it in the hands of a more accomplished group and the quality of the musical possibilities are enhanced.

Now if I can just find out who did this freaking cover. I have googled and listened to at least 7 different versions. Some good, some bad. None as unique as the version I heard on the FM. Faith No More on U Tube and Cake's new version were the stand outs. Cake's comes as close to the new version I heard. It may be it, but the video version might be different.

No matter how well or true a cover is, they will never stack up to the original. This is usually true for the great ones. Black Sabbath back in the day Carried the big load in developing a sturdy and unique style of music. Heavy Metal permeates our society from Madison Avenue to High school sporting events. You can thank or blame Black Sabbath for their efforts.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Don Shula & Cheaters

It strikes my funny bone when folks get fired up at the instances of cheating in the pro sports world, yet hardly even blink when the same mentality or inclination is manifested in our political leaders.

The recent "spygate" foolishness of the Patriots is a matter of record. Also in that record is the fact that the Patriot organization owned up to the violation, took their medicine and now are moving on. There was no vacillation, denial, or attempt to dance around it. They manned up and took what came. Yet, they are being villified and claims of tainted victories now cloud their past and future. This is the sports world. Not even important in the overall scheme of real world concerns. People act as if the world is coming to an end over this.

And then there are the hypocrites. no more perfect example than Don Shula. Even after he back tracked, his assertion that should the Pats go undefeated, an asterisk should be placed next to their record still marks him as a hypocrit of the first order. He gets all huffy and recriminating over the Pats fall from grace, yet in his own career, he was instrumental in the loss of a first round draft pick imposed by the NFL on the Miami Dolphins in 1970. The charges were tampering and Don was at the center of it.

The pro sports world revolves around money. Lots and lots of money. Anyone who is suprised or shocked that short cuts are taken to get to the top or stay there need to pull their heads out of the sand more often.

So Don, maybe you should pay more attention to your steakhouses and less to something you have no control over. You look like a fool and have so far this year proven it.

Friday, December 07, 2007

A Confusion of Turkeys

I really do not have much to impart today. I woke up. Poured some coffee and noticed I had missed my wife. She was already gone to visit another client. Damn she gets an early start on her day.

Still a tad fuzzy and trying to recall another bizarre dream, I did the necessary mindless chores waiting. There were not many. Bobbi had left the house in it's usual ready mode. But I found a couple anyway.

Ate some grub. And then I sat down in front of the computer as if on automatic. Sat down and punched this damn thing up up like it was just another normal part of my day. Did not even reflect, question or do a double take. My time at the keyboard has wormed it's way into the fabric that is my life. Such as it is.

Okay. So here I am. Already checked my Ebay items. No new movement, questions, or alerts to consider. Edited through the recent emails. Read some posts on the few blogs I check erratically.

Okay. Now what? Any real business I have to do on the Internet is done.

I should turn it off and turn to more productive endeavor. I should put aside my urge to write and instead put a check mark on that large list of long term projects gathering dust in all corners of my realm. Yet I sit here pounding out words for the sake of pounding out words.

I don't have to have anything to say. Expounding on Nothing is fine with me. Even though there is always something on my mind. Well, I am sure there is something in there. Something deep and insightful. There always is. I just never spot it until I am in my truck between here and there. So today, we all will have to settle for nothing.

Okay. I have filled you in on just how full my morning has been. Brought you up to date regarding the flurry of inactivity that is my Friday morning here in Acton, Maine.

A Confusion of Turkeys

On NPR the other day (Yeah, I listen to it in the garage when I need some background noise to blunt the edge of whatever chore I am working out). So I notice they are interviewing some noted author and pundit about his writing. The host asks him about his creation of animal group names. It seems the author had done serious research into the origns of animal group names. You know, Pride of Lions, murder of crows, school of fish, blah blah blah.

He went on with some of his own creations. Since I cannot remember any of them, take my word they were very clever. Some funny ones. Some "Oh yeah I get it" ones.

I decided to take a break from my chores and take the Single Speed out for a couple of laps in the nature preserve across the road. Stub needed a run. I needed a break.

So I hit Trail #1. It runs flat for 200 yards or so and then turns down hill in a snaky double track. I am ahead of Stub and pulling ahead. I round a corner with Stub on my heels and into a very suprised flock of wild turkeys. They are hanging out in the middle of the trail. With no time to react, I just head for the middle of them and hope for the best. There were turkeys heading every which way. Some scrambling. Some taking flight. And me and Stub right there in the thick of them. One almost hit me as it took to the air. It's wing brushed my face. Stub got a mouthful of feathers from another. Damn, it was funny.

Immediately I remembered that noted author who had created his own animal group names. He would have appreciated this experience. He might even nod his head over my own name for this particular team of Turkeys.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Dump Day

We finally received our first blanket of snow for the 07/08 Winter. A decent dusting of about 10"-12" or so. Snowed for 36 hours. Mother Nature couldn't dump it all at once. No, instead she turned it into a 2 day event that made me pull out the Ariens Snow Blower 3 times.

Had to go to the Dump. It was Wednesday afterall. Everyone was dug out and folks were back to the normal routines. The dump was up to full tilt boogie by 10 when I came through the gate. Not being open Monday when the storm was full bore made for a busy day today. I expected testier dump attendants than usual. Vehicles were backed up. I waited at least 3 minutes to get my turn at the hopper. Since I came in the AM, the Dump Nazis must not have had time to settle into their normal ill tempered selves. Skated through with nary a glance from the good ole boy monitoring all that we folks from town try to toss into his dumpster. No evil eye, just a nod as he flicked his butt into the snowbank.

The day after a snow storm has rolled through is usually a sparkler. Today was no different. I decided to take the long way home to take in as much of it as I could. With a recently burned CD mix of Blues up to wow inside the cab, I took a left out of the dump instead of the more direct right towards home. Climbed Goat Hill and dropped down the other side in low so's I could enjoy the scenery at 10 mph.

Taking a left on Red Gate Road around the back side of Great East Lake, I hit the pine tunnel. 100 foot high pines with snow laden branches bent down almost breaking under the weight. I then took 45 minutes to drive home when it would normally take me 10. Stopped here and there for some Kodak moments. The slide show to the right will give you a taste.

There is something special about that first real snow each winter. A definitive demarcation between one season and the next. Without the dreary tolerance dealt with at the end of a long winter, that first snow always picks me up. I should hate to see it. I should be pissed. Another 4 months of plowing, snow blowing and roof raking. Yeah, I should not look at this first snow with anything but disgust.

But I don't. I always enjoy the first few snow events. I will come in from that first drive clearing with staisfaction. I am prepped and have all the tools I need to meet another winter in Maine. Talk to me in March and I will be wishin someone else was using these tools.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Another day on the Planet

Over my must have first cup of coffee, I performed a file back up of sorts of my previous 10 hours or so. The smell of the coffee and the first few tastes eased me into the process. I think my routine with coffee is more of a procedural part of my day rather than a physical sustenance aspect. The time I spend savoring that first cup allows me to relive anything worth reliving, caste aside that which is forgettable, and remember what I may have promised the upcoming day.

Sunday Morning. Passed out last night around 8:30. Damn. Saturday nights definitely don't pan out like they did 30 years ago. Back then I would only pass out that early on a a Saturday night if I hadn't been to sleep since Thursday night. And that did happen on a semi regular basis.

Ah, the times I love to relive seem to be the ones I would be better off forgetting. The days spent inebriated, stoned, or tripped out stand out in the book of my past. Maybe it's the clarity with which I remember the sober moments that make them less mythical or mysterious. Thus rendering them uninteresting.

The reality of my past though is just the opposite. My best moments, my pinnacles of personal growth and achievement all happened when cold sober. I know this, yet attempting to draw up memories of drunken or drugged debauchery tease me constantly.

So I will not tip my hat to my checkered past in another post. I won't highlight moments best left uncovered. I will just say that it is another Sunday morning and I woke up to enjoy it.

Thursday, November 29, 2007


I hate vending machines. You have no choice as to what is offered and no complaint if what you picked does not come out. And then you have an even chance of not receiving your money back. I have always hated these box like clerks who stand there woodenly, silent, with a false brightness and cheery demeanor. They tempt us with visions of Palm Trees and bottles with droplets dripping seductively, giving the impression that once we have punched in the $1.25, 12ozs of thirst busting pleasure will envelope our taste buds. But what pops out? A warm coke that got dented on the way out and then explodes in your face. There's your thirst busting pleasure fella. Right there in your face. Enjoy!

Hot Pockets
Pockets and how I use them popped into my cranial void the other day. I was emptying my pockets at the end of the day. I took an inventory of what I pulled out.
Let's see:
~$2.23 in change.
~$7 in crumpled ones.
~2 Receipts.
~3 reminder slips that failed to remind.
~My pocket watch & combo survival compass/thermometer w/ LED Flashlight as it's fob.
~Pocket knife.
~A lonely paperclip.
~An oddly shaped rock I found awhile ago and oddly, still resides in my pocket.
~Throw in a passle of keys, most of which are not needed but I carry them anyway.
~Finally, tossed in, a spoke wrench I forgot to leave at the shop.

An intimidating pile when viewed as one lump. But distribute it among the many pockets I have and the load just disappears. Damn, I love my pockets.

A simple and functional add on to our clothes, pockets allow us to seperate, collate, and integrate all those small items we just have to have along for our daily grunts. That cool rock, pocket watch and knife in the right pocket. Change, folding money and keys in the left. The various slips of paper accumulated throughout the day in any pocket that is handy. A man can carry all his daily needs conveniently stashed but instantly available as needed. Taken for granted until the hole in one of them allows my favorite knife to escape to look for a new owner. I never seem to appreciate their worth until they fail me.

Now a purse on the other hand makes no sense to me. All the stuff jumbled up together in one pile. To find anything, 10 things have to be moved, removed, or shoved out of the way. I grew up watching my mother constantly elbow deep in her purse. When she had to dig deep, everything came out and was scattered as she frantically looked for that which was as of yet unfound. A pocket on the other hand, limits the search to a much smaller area. And often, the sought item can be located by braille through the outer layer. "Ah, there's that knife. What was I thinking? Put it in the wrong pocket". 15 seconds of panic verse 3 or 4 minutes of purse antics.

Pockets rule, purses drool.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

My Barbie Collection - A Labor of Love

My Barbie Collection - Side Show #2

My recent immersion into the world of internet retail has driven home the fact that this World is not just beginning to shrink. It has already shrunk. The Internet has accomplished that which countless conquering hordes over thousands of years have failed to do. Turned the Globe into one huge 'Hood. With access to a computer plugged into the WWW, everyone starts out equal.

As I cruise through the millions of items for sale from all over the World on Ebay, I realize that Capitalism has won. Humans just love it. Comes natural I guess, given our predisposition to be selfish. The fine art of Yankee Trading has taken on a decided international twist. Billions hit the internet ether daily to sell their wares, buy their wares, or just check out the latest in Barbie & Ken evening wear.

Trolls being bought by folks in Dubai. Old school Skateboards shipped to some odd address in th old USSR. First Edition Game boys wait by the thousands for some horny collector to move them to their digs to gather dust in a new locale. 300,000 Baseball Card Collectors all trying to buy or sell a mint condition Boog Powell Rookie Card. Infinite numbers of items infinite numbers of people are buying and selling. Every damn day. 24/7. If it was made once, it will be sold on Ebay.

And don't even look at the Barbie section. People are crazy about Flippin Barbies. Finding that complete Malibu Barbie set has become so popular Barbie has her very own special dedicated category in Ebay. This idealized and immortalized vision of the perfect white bread bimbo is traded, swapped, and bought with such regularity, Barbies have become a commodity. The doll every girl I knew back in the day just had to have 15 or 20 of.

I used to help Snake set his sister's Barbies up for certain catstrophe by fire or various methods of demolishment. And to think we were probably destroying Cher's potential retirement cushion. We must have set at least 5 or 6 on fire. Used a few for target practice with that new bow and arrow set up Snake got one Christmas. Once we decided to see just what type of bullet would actually take Barbie out. A Standard Daisy BB gun or did it take a 22 long. Barbie laughed at the Daisy and it's puny attempt to compromise her smooth whatever white girl exterior. She did not fare so well with the 22 though.

I have now successfully navigated the various channels, networks and jumped through all the proper hoops in order to become that next big Ebay Entreprenuer. So of course my darling signifigant other has tasked me with the joyous labor of finding a home for all that flotsam and jetsam 27 years of marriage has forced into our lives. She created a small pile of useless to us now stuff too valuable to toss,Goodwill, or put out on a table in the yard on a nice hoy July Day. An experimental pile of stuff. Test the waters pile of stuff.

Lis' old Troll collection, 7 Original Version Game Boy games without instructions but still sitting cozy in their trunsluscent plastic snap cases. A pair of white figure skates she wore once. They are all organized photographed, and the listings completed and waiting to be uploaded. Must be $20 worth of stuff there. Only took me 5 hours to work out the details.

It is bound to get easier as I wade through the mountains of gold tucked away gathering dust in closets, the attic, and the basement. Surely the time spent will deliver me and those I love to economic stability. Lift us out of that financial uncertainty and into a new Hummer.

Regardless, my time spent trying to shake some change from some pockets and at the same time open up new corners to clutter in the future is time better spent than arguing with some flounder about just how much Bush sucks or doesn't suck.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

No Detour

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I have looked at this photo and depending on what bit of connecting memory or momentary inclination, it represents something different each time.

When I rummage through my trunk of dark thoughts as I often do, it seems a metaphor of the negative baggage of my life. That somehow, no matter what, there are no crossroads. Just one direction. Only one path to follow. Go directly to jail.

And then not moments later I search for somehting positive to pull from this picture. And I realize that my life has always been full of crossroads. Some looked like this. The fact that I often took a right or left did not deter me long. I found my way back to my highway and kept on truckin.

The common denominater upon which my life journey pivots is that I am still in the truck and not out of it. I have attempted to find new highways to follow. They just end up a loop or a dead end spur. I always come back to the road that heads into the sunset over a far sea I cannot envision just yet.

The key throughout all the good and bad roads I chose was that so far I have managed to survive traveling them despite myself. And even though no "true course" has ever revealed itself to me, I know that I am definitely on a road of my own making. No one else will ever experience this path in the same manner or sequence. I may meet and share my trail with others. I may swap tales and some emotional baggage. Ultimately I am on my own to find my own way. No one can do it for me.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

My First Slide Show

First Slide Show

If I did this right, the picture of the KING lock is the link that should take you to my very first slide show with original pictures taken, collated, and organized by another World Wide Web Bozo.

I have been on an accelerated learning curve of late. Assaulting the Web on mutiple fronts, I am engaged in 3 front war.

Ebay - Yeah, I finally stopped stopped whining about the unfair advantage all those web losers had over me and my small store front operation. Wearing that hairshirt was getting old. Squeezing sympathy from my friends and older customers had turned into automatic reflex answers that rung weak and less than empathetic.

So I hooked up with the Internet sales behemoth and am now selling my wares there. I have no real clue yet. But I have stumbled my way through enough of the hoops and now my very first sale is assured with my reserve on those cranks having been met.

I have also been intensely floundering in 3 different picture hosting sites. My efforts at this point are to develope the slidshow gig. To be a hipper and more with it Ebay mogul, I need to have this as part of my marketing strategy. Photobucket, Picasa, and Flickr have had to suffer my hamfisted attempts to figure out my way around their intricate insides.

In an attempt to accelerate this learning curve, I am going to post this as is to find out how well it works here. If it works here then my next step will be to use it on Ebay.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Drops of Water

Let cool soothing thoughts swirl between the twisted hateful winds. Calm tidepools of salty wigglers tickle the barnacle encrusted ledges of my mind. I attempt to reach an equilibrium of sorts that will afford me time to re-collect composure lost when confronted with idiots and their cackles.

Drawing a long slow breath, I reach for the cool drink that sits dripping condensing liquid. The drops follow gravity's path but stop to collect in a circle at the bottom of the glass. Watching the haphazard drops march to their own tune, I am struck by the fact that upon reaching bottom they all re-group and fall into line.

But one, maybe two drops refuse to follow through. They hang onto their singularity and stop before joining the wet crowd below. Hold outs and malcontents, they only blend in when I shift the glass and force their hand. I feel their frustration.

Across Sam Page Road

This perk of living in the sticks is located directly across the road from my house. I can and have hit the sign with numerous snowballs from my dooryard on more than one occaision. I always toss a few just to see if this aging wannabe, or is it soon to be geezer still has a decent arm. Or any arm for that matter. According to my darling wife, us guys can't resist when there's fresh snow just right for molding into perfect white frozen tossin balls.

It is a small patch of ground, less than 20 acres, bequeathed by Mary Grant upon her untimely and ignoble demise 3 or 4 years ago. She left her property to some obscure Nature group somewhere not located anywhere near here.

They had no interest in such a small chunk of Maine. It was far too far away from their area of interest. They passed it off on a local group of concerned and enviromentally inclined citizens, the Three Rivers Land Trust. After much discussion, they decided they were not interested either. Too small and nothing special I guess. They passed the ball to the Town of Acton, Maine.

So now it was the town's property. The town's problem. This free for nothing land. Would make a nice location for some civic oriented building. No. Couldn't do that. Mary had rules regarding her bequest. It was to be left natural, wild and unsullied by fools with tools who would turn it into something that needed mowing.

Special town meetings were convened, committees formed and then disbanded. The big fish in our small pond could not come to any agreement. Tall fishin and huntin tales swapped by good ole boys dressed in stained Dickies down to the Tradin Post were liberally sprinkled with often heated opinions on what the town should or should not do with this acreage. It was decided by those who only talk that there was no such thing as free anything. The town would surely waste some of these ole boy's taxes on this "free land". So, all the grumpy old men decided over their coffee they were against it.

Against free land? I could not believe the uproar 2 summers ago. If it became a town park, my neighbor was positive it would become a hang out for all 3 or 4 trouble making punks we might have here in town. He could not understand my ambivalence and reticent attitude about joining the fight against accepting free for nothing land. I was and still am of the opinion that the more public land, the better. There was no such thing as too small.

It was decided to turn this parcel into a town preserve with a loop trail. But the town coffers could not be used to pay for any improvements. And much needed doing. The original house had to razed and hauled away. It was past redemption. The cellar hole filled in and grading done. The only outbuildings saved would be the small barn and the one hole outhouse out in the pucker.

Donations of time, money, and labor were sought and found. The necessary inprovements spread over the last 2 years ended with a nice cedar fence and nice plastic coated signs pointing in the right direction.

A short 1/2 mile outer loop connected roughly in the middle by the ever popular 1/4 mile Trail #2. The 2 trails are exercises in minimalism. Other than cutting out saplings and deadfall and raking away some debris in the way, this town park remains for the most part in the capricious hands of Mother Nature.

The improvements are just right. 15 minute walking laps with slight changes in elevations make for a very sweet little dog walking area. Stub is in dog heaven every day when we head over to work out the kinks of an uncomforatble night's sleep. Starting down Trail #1 frantically she is quickly lost around the first bend. By the time I have finished my first 1/2 mile lap, she has crisscrossed with her 5 mile version.

So I have my own semi-private park now. It isn't much, but surely it beats that god awful surburban McMansion Ben White built out back. I appreciate my little park now. I am beginning to really enjoy my time spent there. It has worked itself into the erratic schedule of my life, offering a few moments away without making any sacrifice. I should and do consider my self lucky to have it so close.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Ebay - An ill-fated excursion through resale Hell

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Self-smitten with pretentious computer geekness, I strode through the front doors of that scary monster Ebay Internet super store earlier today. First thing in the morning, right out of the sack, I was sure of myself. Pumped full of caffiene and freshly brushed breath, I exuded confidence. I had no pre-sweat, clamy hands, or odd facial tics. I was going to turn my first Ebay encounter into a conquest. No way was I going to hang nervous on the fringes and let this evil retail ogre, so innocuously named Ebay intimdate me.

You didn't scare me Ebay. When I logged in this A.M. You were no big deal. Nothing to get my panties in a bunch over. Just another website run by chumps with thick glasses who use plastic liners for their pens in the pocket of their buttoned up nice and tight collared shirts bought from Walmart. Their spindly white boy arms sticking out of those short cotton sleeves Twiggy skinny and pale. Picking their nose with one hand while typing in some insidious trap with the other girly hand. They laugh and cackle as they seek code to destroy and humilate all noobs.

No way Ray! Go jump in the lake Jake! I'll own your sorry butts in a moment or two,...Stu! This 50-something pear-shaped good ole boy from the woods of Maine was not going to get trapped in your game. Ayuh! That was the plan Stan. The overall scheme Jean.

That's how my day started anyway. Full of myself. I breezed through re-newing all that was necessary to become another Ebay overnight success. Brought all accounts up to date. Put new pass words in place. Each category was properly filled, fulfilled and happy.

I shut the computer down. Striking out with a light step and a pleased with myself demeanor, I headed to the bike shop. When I got home, I would put that first end of the season bike shop orphan on the auction block. Yes, listing that first bike would be a piece of cake. Take an hour, maybe even two. Getting my account straightened out was the hard part...........Riiiiight.

That was 12 hours earlier today when the day was full of promise. Now, well, all I can say is, today took what it promised when the Sun came up and stuffed it up my sorry butt.

Sat down around 8:00 P.M. Punched up the puter, cracked my fingers and with steady hands hit the Ebay bookmark. Which is just about the time it all went South. Ebay wouldn't let me log in. Disgusted with this first sizable glitch, I fired off a moderately pissed off email hitting the high spots on my first malfunction. Of course as soon as I sent the email, I was able to log in before that Email got half way to Sanford.

I then managed to flounder into the right window to list something to sell. I decided I ought to at least say I read the directions. I located the highly touted audio-visual "How to Sell Tutorial" window. This helpful guide would tell me all I needed to know to make Millions and Gillions from all the useless junk that has been collecting dust these last 9 years in the bike shop basement. Even ran this helpful "How To" piece twice just to make sure I didn't understand it the first time.

"Screw it", I thought, "If twice through doesn't do it, learn by doing". So I threw the directions out into the internet ether. Definitely a guy thing. Directions have an irritating habit of adding confusion to befuddlement.

Next, I spent an hour uploading pictures, entering specs and picking all the spiffy little extras that would ensure a robust and heated Auction. It was now time to figure up the shipping and handling costs. So of course one of those really irritating "update now" pop-ups popped up. Happy as if I had a brain, I mindlessly followed the directions with a reflexive deep mucle memory punch of the cursor that should have been labeled, "Yeah, sure I'm an idiot. I"ll just punch this button here."

Seems that ole Bill Gates doesn't approve of programs created by those losers in California named Apple,Inc. Yes, I felt personally, the animosity and dis-respect they had for each other. As soon as I hit the upload button, my computer flashed........>


And that's just what my new computer did. Turned itself off. Cut me out of the WWW loop. So abrupt was the crash, the supposedly saved listing was shot out into the stratosphere someplace. I imagine it is somewhere between here and the Moon about now.

I was stunned and my mind was now blank. Rather than walk away for a few, I spent another fruitless 1/2 hour trying send April of the online help chatroom a healthy piece of my mind. That did not work and I stumbled around the Ebay underground for another hour until I found the top secret hidden and only found by accident bonafide "Contact Us" spot. I hope they take that final email as just another brainless rant by an obvious clueless noob who has done a very poor job of handling the bite he thought he could chew.

Please Lord deliver me from the nighmare I am trapped in. Bring back the sanity. Sooth my addled mind and wipe the drool from my chin. Uncross my eyes Lord. Once a proud World Wide Web retro-grouch, I sit here a humbled and pitiful Internet reprobate.

Would someone please give me a straight jacket and provide the GPS coordinates of the nearest rubber room? I am ready Betty. Ready to check in and maybe never check out.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

High Speed Chase

I often have no clue about what to post here. And rather than post the same old blogging rant, American Idol suck up, or add to the mountains of political blog crap, I choose to post nothing. I always figure it is better to say nothing than waste my time and yours with words that are there just because I can.

My loyal fanbase of about 10 people do not seem to mind these lengthy breaks. And I would certainly not want to overwhelm them with too much of a good thing. But a blog that is not kept up is a sad blog. So I have decided to pick up the pace and post more than once a week or so. Today is the start of the streak.

The High Speed Chase

It appears a homeowner in Arkansas tried to do a little too much multi-tasking over the weekend. Everyone knows that weekends are Miller Time. And every one of us who owns a house with a yard attached knows weekends are also Mowing time.

Michael Ginevan of Bunker Hill Arkansas apparently decided to cram as much fun and work into the weekend as possible. Going on the assumption that all work and all play could never be dull, Mike strapped a case of beer to the hood of his lawn tractor and we presume meant to mow his lawn. Makes sense if one has limited time to indulge and also be expected to keep that Better Homes and Gardens look.

Anyway, at some point that day, Mike lost track of what he was doing I guess. He was spotted by local police scooting down the road in an erratic and dangerous manner. And when the police officer attempted to pull him over, Mike grinned and punched it. He was not going to be taken alive.

Reaching speeds of up to 10 MPH, the cop had to finally abandon his patrol car and continue the chase on foot. As the officer closed in, he bravely threw his body into harms way and knocked Mike off the tractor.

Mike continued his beligerent and drunken toot by refusing to take a field sobriety test. Now Mike sits in the county lock up on $7500 bail and is charged with DUI, unlawful fleeing, and obstructing an officer. Seems Mike had himself one Helluva weekend.

The only reason I brought this story up is that it reminded me of my college days. One of those current events that brings back memories of foolishness from our past.

As a college student whose family lived 600 miles away, it was not always convenient to go home for every silly vacation the educators managed to snake into every semester. So I would head home with a college buddy for the 4 or 5 days we had off.

One such vacation, I went with Tommy to his home in the heart of Maryland tobacco country. To earn some extra cash, we worked on a local tobacco farm owned by some of Tom's relatives for a few days. It was hard work. Hanging bundles of tobacco plants in wooden barns 30 feet off the ground.

The farm was a family owned operation as most farms in the 70s were. The patriarch who was about 70 years old worked as hard as anyone. I remember asking Tom if the guy ever took a break. Tom said his great uncle's idea of leisure was to throw two cases of warm Black Label beer into the Massey Ferguson tractor and head out to disk the fields for the day. He would head out at dawn and not come home until the Sun set. And not one can of Black Label came back full.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Warning - Chilhood Memory Alert

I always smile when I see or hear the word "brainwash". When I was a small fry during the 50s, the term brainwashing came into it's own. "Manchurian Candidate", Korea, blah, blah, blah.

As a kid sitting around our rambunctious dinners, the adult conversation almost always went right over my head. Often my dad would say something and smile. Mom would either smile or frown and reply, "You just get that dirty little mind of yours out of the gutter".

As kids we often key in on words and form opinions on their meaning with the literal and limited experience of the few years we have been in existence. I can remember wondering about my dad's "dirty little mind" and what that meant.

One night at dinner, my father's dirty mind was brought up again. Out of the blue, I piped up, "Well if Dad's mind is so dirty, maybe he oughta get it brainwashed."

I will always remember the instant silence at the table and 4 sets of eyes turning to me. I thought I was in trouble. But then an eruption of laughter made me feel safe again.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Colvin Closes the Door

"The Game of the Century" one idiot sportscaster called it. From the build up and hype that started a few weeks ago, one would think we were having 2 Super Bowls this year. Granted it was unusual if not unheard of for two unbeaten teams this far into the season to meet in a regular season game. Who would be crowned Super Bowl Champs before they even played the game?

The New England Patriots at 8-0 and the Indianapolis Colts at 7-0 finally put the question to rest for some, but for me it only meant one team was left in the NFL with a chance to go unbeaten this year. It would be great for them to finally take some smugness away from the Dolphins still left from the last unbeaten team in 1972, but I just want them to have their chance at another Super Bowl. That is the real prize. Passing records, unbeaten seasons, and QB ratings mean squat if you do not wear the ring.

I am a real New England fan. I have become used to being teased with great runs and accustomed and resigned to having them blow up. So I start every game on the couch with anticipation of possible disappointment. I never assume any game is a done deal. I have seen my Pats lose to teams not even worthy to wear the moniker NFL on their jerseys. And I turned the tube on sure the Pats would be whupped and whupped hard, only to be outrageously impressed when they somehow hang on to win.

I knew this match up with the Colts was no done deal. The Colts reinforced my knotting stomach when on the first play of the Pat's first possesion, they sacked Brady for a huge loss. The following abrupt 3 and out nailed this point home.

Uh oh. We have a ball game here. The Colts have their own idea of who is going to win. And the for the next 3 quarters, the Colts basically owned the RCA dome. As each minute ticked by, I became more ill at ease. I didn't care if the Pats went unbeaten , but to lose to the Colts would be worse than losing to the 49ers. And the 49ers are every team's bitch this year.

In the 4th quarter when Manning pulled a quarterback sneak and took the score to 20-10, I had all but thrown in the towel. The Colt's record of umpteen games in a row when they did not relinquish a lead in the 4th quarter loomed large. They knew how to bear down. They knew how to finish a win.

I had noticed that Brady seemed even more confident this year. But I assumed it was because he had all the new weapons. Moss, Welker, etc. But no that was not it. I think Tom Brady has finally come to believe in himself to such a level that he really believes he can pull out a win when he puts his mind to it. He came out for their turn and in two series of possesion lasting less than 3 minutes total took the 20-10 deficit and turned it into a 24-20 lead leaving the Colts with barely 3 minutes to come back. And he walked off the field, his job done.

The Defense then took the Colts to school and showed them how the Pats know how to finish. A strip sack after the pocket collapsed left Manning on his face and the Pats with 2 minutes to kill. And they did like it was their job. What a great game. By both teams.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

The 50s

I was born in 1952. I was born during a war, the Korean War. My father, an upper echelon Air Force officer in Pac Af was doing what he did. I spent the rest of the decade with my family following him from one fire to another to help keep our shores safe from the commies. To me the 50s were great. I was a kid fer chrisakes. I can remember Pinky Lee, Howdy Doody, and wondering why my family wasn't like the Cleavers. I remember Elvis on the Ed Sullivan show and my mom wondering out loud why anyone thought this was music. I grew up with Televison. Maybe the first generation that did.

I had much older brothers who brought home the first inklings things were not all white picket fences, humongous cars with outrageous fins, and White Castle burgers for a dime apiece. They infected the house with their rocknroll, their Elvis doos, and white tee shirts with a pack of Luckys rolled up in one sleeve. One brother rolled on the right. The other on the left. They were double trouble with a capital T.

While the 50s unfolded, untended issues began to simmer and occaisionally boil over. The idyllic life sought for and actually started by our country after WWll began to show some cracks. Blacks were getting fed up. The white youth were getting angry. And our cultural and political leaders chose to ignore what was obviously building a head of steam. An ugly undercurrent of discontent beneath the Father Knows Best facade.

It was probably Oct 1962 when America really understood the Life of Riley from the 50s was over. The Red Menace was real. The Cuban Missle crisis scared an entire nation, instilling a far more realistic fear than our more recent 9/11. We faced the reality of the nuclear horror we had helped to build. Canned goods, blankets and bottles of water were hauled to school. Air raid drills became part of every school day. The clueless innocence was over. Or at the least irrevocably damaged. Then the next summer, 1963, the rise of the civil rights movement was the final blow to the mindless 50s.

Many events coming into their own in the early 60s caused us to discard the wonderful life we had so few years earlier. Without the decade of TV's coming of age and injection into our national soul, we might have skated for a few more years. Televison during the 1950s connected us like no other medium had before. Events unfolding 3000 miles away in real time not described through others eyes, but in front of us to describe for ourselves. Nothing sped the process of change like televison did. We have never been nor will we ever be the same again.
Thanks to AhabtheArab of Political Hotwire for getting me started on this one