Monday, September 20, 2021

Education Should Not Be Profit Driven

So I joined another Facebook group. This group sent me a request that I join because I liked one of their posts that crossed on my page. The group is called "Public School Advocates". Their stated goal in as few words as possible is;

" ....... to organize to advocate for strong public schools that serve all students well."

That they are a satellite organization of "The Progressive Magazine" did not bother me at all. I have been accused of being a progressive in my past and will be more than happy to be accused in my future. I am not sure if I am a progressive though. I let others decide that for themselves. Just don’t call me a Winger.

I chose to join this group because I am sincerely interested in education in the US, having gone to 12 different public schools before I graduated from high school. My experience was a crap shoot when it came to quality and what was focused on in a particular state. And though I never attended school in the town I live in now, Acton, Maine, my daughter did and her education was as good, if not better than most public schools at the time. Acton school, along with many others in the nation at the time, were recognized for their quality of public education. She is a tenured college professor today. I hold Acton School responsible.

So, any group that is for a strong public school posture at the state, federal and local levels is okay with me. Education, like Healthcare, is better served with government involvement than not. A country is only as healthy, mentally and economically as its population. If the people are under educated, less healthy and poorer than competing nations, then who loses? We all do. 

I am tired of losing and being ashamed of how far the USA has fallen. The rest of us should hang our heads also. There is no excuse other than we have caved to the petty selfishness of small minds with deep pockets in the private sector. Relying on them to carry the ball is not working out. But we have known that for a long, long time. Government is not the evil, the money grubbers are.

Keep it 'tween the ditches ......................................

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Cutting Them Some Slack

Morning Joe is still pissed off at his party. But now he has tempered his criticisms of the GOP as a whole and divided the GOP into two sections. We have the Insurrection Party or Trump Cult as the loudmouth infantile representatives of the Right and the more main stream old skool, calmer and cooler now Republicans who had been momentarily swept up in Trump Mania these past six years. 

Instead of beating on all Wingers, Joe has allowed old favorites like Mitch McConnell and Lindsey Graham some major slack of late. It is disappointing, but not unexpected. Joe is a genuine to the bone, Right Winger. That he was and still is so anti Trump and his minions just proves that not all Wingers went insane. It also proves that if one hates Trump, that does not necessarily turn them into a commie pinko libtard, no matter what Fox News says.

He is beginning to ask that the Republican party be considered separate from the Qanon style madness attributed to them by the Left. 

Bullshit. It is nothing but the old excuse used and abused by religious and political leaders to deflect any blame for the horrors done in the name of their religion or political party.

" Not all Muslims are terrorists." or " Not all Republicans are Trumpers."

These are true on the face of the statements. But the responsibilities of leadership does not stop there.

If leadership fails to try to rein in or, at the least, condemn the extreme factions of their group, they become enablers which makes them no better than accomplices. When a leadership stands mute while many of the faithful run amok, their silence is more often than not taken as tacit approval of the craziness acted out in the name of the group.

This is why I am disappointed in Joe. He is taking his heel off the throat of selective Wingers too soon by using a tired excuse that does not hold water. As long as the insanity within the ranks of the GOP continues its out of control trajectories, the whole party bears responsibility. 

Hand wringing and mealy mouthed insincerities do not cut it anymore. The Republican Party owns Trump and all that has transpired as a result of his presence these last six years. And as far as the historical repercussions, they will own those forever.

Later ................................


Sunday, September 12, 2021

Sunday Morning Outrage

Early this AM before I fed the animals or made fresh coffee, I grabbed a cup of day old joe, mic-ed it, sat down at my desk and opened up Facebook. I had not even worked the night grunge out of my eyes, yet here I was scrolling through the posts with a chip on my shoulder. I did not remember details from my dreams the night before so I had no hint why I woke up on the wrong side of the bed. But I did. 

A familar irritation had taken root again. An irritation I developed to a keen edge over the last 6 years when the Right compounded their ever increasing stupidity and pushed a moron into our lives.

I came across a quote post attributed to Arnold, one of the few Republicans I still have any respect for. You can read it there on the right.

The lead in comment by T*:

"The earth isn’t stagnant. Climate change has been happening since the dawn of time."

At the bottom of 70 plus replies to T*'s classic Winger go to Troll comment, I posted this:

"So would this be an excuse to not try to mitigate the worst effects? Certainly Climate Change or global warming has happened many times before. Does that mean we should just carry on and add to the damage? Or maybe start paying attention to a planet whose resources are being used up at an ever increasing rate. Maybe start looking to clean up our nest that we have been shitting in for so many millennia."

I was pleased that I did not let my shoulder chip get the better of me. I made my point and left. ..... Left that is until I got here to my relatively safe space I call "The BoZone".

It was not surprising the ardent climate change advocates were sucked in by this low hanging fruit. This was a post on a purportedly science leaning group page. Folks posted graphs, charts, and probably held pointers as they scurried to get their replies in front of the audience. 

What surprised me was climate change folks continue to reply to the audacious Winger troll bait aimed at owning the libs and progressives because that is more important than anything other than kissing the orange man's ass. These clueless minions of the Right have nothing tangible in their support quivers most days, so they make shit up, obfuscate reality and fact with unitelligible replies, or just use a bunch of  fuck you emojis. 

The problem with these worthless Winger taunts is they work. These clowns are able to stir up the local Liberals on a facebook page with drivel and nonsense.  And even though I have recently vowed to not get sucked in, here I was sitting in with 70 others who had Sunday Morning Outrage.

Keep it 'tween the ditches ................................


Saturday, September 11, 2021

Twenty Years Later - 100 Words

I am still angry, sad and confused over 911 and all the madness that has transpired in the twenty years since. My country was brutally reminded that the planet was no longer just our oyster. The age of modern colonialism was over.

Adrift in a new age with no rudder, our response was mindlessly lashing out which was what the attackers wanted. Any victory perceived on the far horizon was doomed to fail. And fail it did; Big time.

Time may heal wounds but Time does nothing for the sad memories so violently implanted.

Where do we go from here?


Tuesday, September 07, 2021

The Realm of Possibility - Redux


A flash fiction piece originally posted - Jan 2, 2012

I am posting again because recent events in Texas seems to be coinciding somewhat with this potential future scenario.

_____________________________

Elder Jacob Bean closed the banned copy of the Scripture. He understood why the second book had been outlawed during the Troubles. Harsh times called for harsh measures. The clearly defined rules found in the first book were perfect in their simplicity and dovetailed well with the brutal measures taken to fulfill the Great Elder’s prophecy of the Final Reformation. He could not understand though why owning such an innocuous collection of harmless fables was still on the list of capital offenses. Would not a good caning suffice?

Rules were rules. Shortly Elder Bean forgot about it. He was only as inquisitive as he needed to be to render a verdict. Without new rules, his only choice was to convict. It was a shame they had no females of breeding age. At least they would have been spared. Elder Bean shrugged. The family of three would have to die.

“Jarrad get in here.”

No response. Servo-tech Jarrad was not at his desk. Elder Bean got up and walked out to the anteroom outside his office just as Servo-tech Jarrad came careening down the hall. “Deep Apologies Elder Jacob, …….call of nature.”

Elder Jacob Bean’s cold eyes studied his assistant for a moment. “I understand simple Jarrad. Even eunuchs have to urinate.” His eyes softened and what might be construed a hint of a smile whisked across his face and was gone. He handed Jarrad a bulky envelope. “Please forward this to the Council of Elders ASAP. I have rendered my decision.”

“Yes, right away your Holiness.”

~*~

The Final Reformation was in full swing by 2075. The Troubles that had started in earnest around 2024, ripped and tore through Humanity for fifty years. The planet’s population had at first tried to discuss their differences. Unforeseen political and military alliances were formed. Regional confrontations escalated into planet wide scorched earth campaigns. War, starvation, disease, and mass suicides took their toll. By 2035 less than two billion souls still walked the Earth. Religious zealots took control over two thirds of the planet. The Pan Asians controlled the rest.

The Age of the Three Kingdoms had begun.

~*~

Scurrying servo-techs connected last minute wiring to the feed going out planet wide. They applied last minute make up to aging Elder faces and fussed over positioning of the altar in the Elder Well. The two prayer benches upon which the Witnesses would sit had been scrubbed and polished. Three stainless steel crosses with braided wire restraints formed a semicircle around the altar in front of a larger Cross upon which hung the current facsimile of what Christ looked like now. He sported a stern face now days and fierce eyes. His arms were spread open as if welcoming all who ventured into the Elder Well, but it was his razor sharp hands that told the truth of what went on here. The Elder Well was designed for one purpose – to instill fear. Fear kept the Elders in power. Only the pious walked out of the Well alive.

Christ had finally transitioned from being the son of God and was now God’s Avenger.

Elder William Graham ll sat and fidgeted in front of his mirror. Tonight would be his first chance at the Bloody Pulpit. He worried every detail with his hair, his robes. He practiced his severe look. He worried that his sweat would show through the heavy makeup. After all, the Witnesses, comprised of the founding Elders would be watching his every move. Sweat would be a sign of weakness in his faith. A servo-tech with a clip board touched his shoulder. “Five minutes Elder William.”

“Are all the sacred devices in place?”

“Yes Your Holiness.”

“Well then, let’s break a leg.”

The servo-tech counted the last few seconds before the night’s festivities began. “9….8….7….6…..”, and then with his right hand he silently finished at 3 and …………… an off camera tech with a calm mellow, made for prime time voice began.

“Welcome good Christians of the Realm. The night’s Sacrifice is brought to you for the first time from the newly constructed and righteously blessed Harold Camping Studios here in New Holywood. Elder William Graham ll will perform God’s Will as Heaven’s Apprentice and will be witnessed by twelve of our most revered founding Elders."

"Tonight’s unfortunates are a family of three from Oxnard. Caught with a copy of the New Testament, the mother refused to acknowledge her sin and plead for mercy. Their fate was sealed when her husband tried to run with her and their son of six. So tonight for your viewing pleasure, …….tonight we have a three-fer."

"Ladies and gentlemen let the festivities begin……………”

~*~

Mullah Saluman Kaleri sat 6000 miles away watching the feed from the Realm. Others in his mosque considered the monthly sacrifices broadcast over the Net nothing but more foolishness from the Realm of God. He knew better. There was more to their monthly bloodletting than just reinforcing the fear of God to maintain control over their heathen majority. They wanted a new crusade. What they did today, tomorrow, next year was all aimed at defeating Islam. The sacrifices were a promise of sorts should the Infidels successfully overrun the Kingdom Of Allah. He knew this because it would be what he would do to them.

The Mullah watched the various players take their places in the Elder Well. He watched each “lamb” being led or dragged in by two ornately masked assistants who shackled them each to their respective crosses. He watched the Acolyte solemnly lay out the cloth which held the devices of the Sacrament and then stand at attention to the right. “Ah”, he thought. ”Tonight the new guy has chosen blades to purge their sins.” Mullah smiled and settled back to watch.

The music swelled. The house lights dimmed. The audience grew quiet. Suddenly spots lit up Jesus. Fire and sparks shot out of his eyes. Heaven’s Apprentice began his slow march to the pulpit. Adorned in a simple red and green striped robe tied crudely with a knotted piece of hemp rope he gave the appearance of a god fearing man until he looked at the camera. At once he became a figure to fear. William Graham acting as Heaven’s Apprentice had nailed the look. There was an audible gasp heard as the audience moved forward on their seats. This was a man to fear.

What followed was a well rehearsed sermon of the evils of allowing unclean thought to sully the mind of the faithful. Mullah Salumen Kaleri lost interest and turned the sound down. With one eye on the feed, he poured himself some tea and was just raising it to his lips when the first cut was made. Mullah turned the sound back up and settled in. “This guy knows how to do it.” 

He took a sip of tea.
_______________________________

@ 1150 words

Image - Salvdor Dali - Christ of Saint John of the Cross 

Monday, September 06, 2021

Truck Porn

I recently joined a Facebook group named “Fallen Flags – Trucking Companies of the Past”. It has hundreds of thousands of members, most of who have trucking in their past. The group’s stated reason for existing is to share pictures and stories from this country’s trucking culture, preferably from back in the day.

To put it bluntly, it is Truck Porn aimed at the classics when trucks were like women. And some even looked better than women. Personally, I prefer the B&W grainy, been folded four times image with thumbtack holes and a round brown coffee stain blocking part of the name on the truck. Those are the ones to copy and hide under the mattress.

The posts are mostly images with or without explanations or historical context. It only takes a half hour to accrue many likes. My first post had 80 plus likes in the first two hours. The last time I checked there were over 500, which is not unusual. I have never been part of such a large Facebook group.

Since I joined a month or so ago, the rule regarding no politics seemed to be respected by the posters as a whole. I read subtle digs here and there: mostly where a union or independent trucker would feel slighted. They were mostly minor skirmishes that lasted only a few comments.

And then this morning someone posted the image at the top of the page. Less than an hour and 93 comments later, Fallen Flags shed its calm, friendly wrapper and revealed the hate and discontent that roiled and boiled just below the surface.

An overwhelming majority voiced their disgust with such obvious socialist leaning propaganda. Nasty comments rolled off their computers like someone spitting out something evil they found in their mouth. Get in a trucker’s face and nine times out of ten, they will respond in kind.

The negativity did not surprise me. I remember existing in the trucking world for 17 years. As an accused freedom hating commie pinko libtard I had had more than a few heated discussions back in the “My Country, Love it or Leave it” days. I even had to join a drunk driver of a ten wheeled dump out in the gravel outside a bar on some foggy mountain top southwest of Pittsburgh. He objected to my hippie freak flag sad excuse of an American wearing an Atlas Van Line uniform. He kept mumbling how I dishonored my uniform. Since I was sober and he was not, it did not go well for him. At least I kept him from driving that dump truck home that night.

Well, he was drunk so he gets a mulligan. The comments this morning I assume were soberly written. If so, then not much has changed since I pounded the highways and byways of this country. Truckers spend countless miles considering the Universe and their place in it. An often favorite fantasy of mine which I know many truckers shared back in the day were those hours I wasted coming up with how to fix every fucking problem on the planet. And to this day, I know I was right then and even more so now. The ex-truckers this morning wrote with the same confidence.

Sadly, just as truckers from the 1970s tended to do, today they are still not getting it when it comes to their industry’s liberal roots which the meme wonderfully points out. Truck drivers owe the liberals of the early 20th century big time whether one is union or independent. Without those liberals, I would guess the golden age of trucking in the US would never have come to pass. Without those liberals, today’s retired truckers might not have the pensions or Social Security the liberals forced upon us. So hate the liberals all you want, but it only shows that you have been convinced to not know where the butter for your bread came from.

Keep it 'tween the ditches .........................................


(656)

Saturday, September 04, 2021

Fearless Nature - 100 words

I was rooting through old pictures yesterday searching for specific Kodak moments from my past. The images I sought were not found. Instead, unexpected images caught my eye. I pulled out my smart phone and copied a few of them.

The one to the left is my daughter and I enjoying her first trip up a ladder. She was not even three yet.

Though tentative, there is no panic on her face. It was an early glimpse into the fearless nature she would grow into as she took on each new challenge in her young life.

She made me proud.


Thursday, September 02, 2021

God & Government

Tina commented this morning on Facebook. Her comment was a reaction to the new Anti-Abortion, Pro-Birther law passed recently in Texas. She wrote:

"Different hats, same goal, the Taliban have taken over Texas."

Hmm.

This is what happens when religious extremism mingles with politics. And while the Christian Evangelicals will cry unfair, not true, and become righteously indignant at being compared to suicide bombing losers from a religion they hate, there is credibility in the claim that the two religions at their core are not that far apart. And it is ironic that they do not see that they agree more than they disagree. But such is the nature of the average fanatic.

Abortion long ago stopped being about abortion and some false claim of protecting the sanctity of Life. Abortion is the spear that leads the charge of the Dominionists of White Christianity to force theocratic law into our everyday lives. The movement has had legs as long as there has been Christianity. Its influence has peaked and cratered at various times over the last two millennia. At this point it seems to be growing within the ranks of existing White Christians while at the same time White Christianity membership has shrunk from its super majority of 80% in 1976 to a new stable population of 44%. There are less of them overall, but the ones left are certainly an angry and dedicated bunch.


This scary supposition by an avowed Dominionist is replicated in various ways in articles and books by most of the Dominion advocates. If we are not believers, we have neither the intellect nor the moral right to govern ourselves. We need God to show us the way.

Again, like abortion, the Dominionists are just using Biblical interpretations they made up to hide their true intentions. They lurk behind a facade of religious ooga booga fire and brimstone gobbledygook they may or may not believe themselves. Their quest is to gain power and wield it without any question. It is that simple. 

Combine this new twist in Texas, all the other abortion twists in other states, the assault on voting rights and it seems we are headed to becoming a country ruled by a tyrannical white minority who use religion to hide their true intentions.

Be wary of all politicians, but be really afraid of those politicians who wield their Bibles in public. They do mean us harm.

Later ................................

Wednesday, September 01, 2021

The Uptown - Best Fight Ever

At the end of February, 1977, the ELO tour finished the month with a three day gig at the Uptown Theatre in Chicago. After these shows, we had nine days off and then back at it for the rest of March. 

It had been a punishing tour for everyone. My only hope was to finish out the tour with less drama than had centered on me previously. My truck and trailer were fixed, I was full of renewed dedication after having almost blown it in Erie. So closing in on Chicago had convinced me it would be a cakewalk from here.

My first effort to find the Uptown found me looking at it after an hour of navigating streets not meant for semis. The problem was even though I could see the theater, the north south running El hung at about twelve feet off the road between me and the gig. At least I had plenty of time to regroup, form a new plan of attack and end up on the right side of the tracks. I was parked street side in plenty of time for stage call.

The three days in Chicago passed without much fanfare. I thought so until I recently found a remark I had scrawled in the margins of my ELO itinerary next to the Chicago dates:

"Kung Foo"- and then under that, "Best fight Ever" - and suddenly I remembered.

I cannot remember their names now, but I was sitting in my cab with the two T-shirt concession guys waiting for the show to close so I could back in to load out and they could man their Tee shirt and swag table for the exiting crowd. The Tee shirt guys were a buddy duo who had been in Vietnam together and were now in the Tee shirt business together. Being a sanctioned "official" vendor of ELO Tees and other swag, they frowned on the pirates who haunted the venues marketing inferior knock offs. I once watched them beat a competitor senseless at a large venue, I cannot remember where. Needless to say, they would cheerfully use thier fists to mark their territory.

So, we are in my truck.  They were sharing a six Pack, I was not. I never did mix alcohol and driving trucks. I was a very loose dog when off, but not while driving. I was probably sucking on some coffee or a soda I poached from the Green Room.

A small man came out of the alley I was to back down. On his heels two more small figures came running out of the alley and jumped the first guy. They began to awkwardly put on a sad rendition of a kung foo fight.  It became very clear that all three were more than half in the bag, they were all shitfaced. Maybe every 3rd or fourth blow landed and often without much effect. The victim gave as drunkenly as he got.

This went on for several minutes. Meanwhile one of the Tee shirt guys begins a Howard Cosell style commentary on what was unfolding 30 feet from the truck. It was hilarious until it wasn't.

At some point, the two assailants manage to get the victim on the ground. At this point they had forgotten any Kung Foo magic and were busy kicking the victim in the kidneys, the legs, wherever they could land a kick.

The Tee shirt guys became concerned. The funny dialog stopped and one of them began to open the door. The other one grabbed his arm and told him to wait a second. He saw something I guess that I and the other Tee shirt guy missed. 

The victim was not as down and out as we supposed. When the two assailants stopped to catch their breath, the victim got up and kicked their asses. Not just a minor beating, but a call the ambulance type beating. One of the duo managed to make his escape, but his buddy ended up in the ambulance. 

The whole fight lasted maybe five minutes total. The three of them could not have weighed more than 120 pounds each soaking weight. But as it turned out one of them definitely was able to fight above his weight class. His obviously superior martial arts talent prevailed. Oh yeah. The original victim was put in handcuffs until the Tee shirt guys and I offered our take on the fight.

Damn, the odd things I have witnessed from inside a truck.

Keep it 'tween the ditches ..................................................

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Factory Defects

On Facebook this morning I ran across the image to the right. My usual routine is to read a comment or two before moving on with the more important duty of finding something truly deserving to be righteously indignant about.

This comment from Daryl caught my eye:

" Without it we cannot think, ........ "

Daryl was right of course. At first I felt a twinge of annoyance at the fact he felt it necessary to point out the obvious.  

My response were the first words that came to me after my knee jerked:

"Apparently there are many of us walking around with it either not installed or not turned on."

I would not normally share the off the cuff remarks I made on some social media site, but my words stuck with me. 

This meme helped me find some clarity regarding the current period of rampant stupidity that has apparently befallen the Human Race. I decided four decades ago that while technology was always going to innovate, the Human Species was not.  We were trapped in an evil spiral of devolution which has created a revolving scenario that causes us to make the same mistakes time and time again.

And now finally, I know why. We are re-populating the species with factory defects. Many are being born with no brains installed or the brains installed are not turned on before deployment. Either way means disaster unless headquarters gets it shit together. Time is running out.

Later ............................................

Saturday, August 28, 2021

Erie, Pennsylvania, or How I Got My Handle

The ELO tour had become a real grind. Between the winter weather and number of shows crammed into so few weeks, I was ready to take a break when we hit the Spectrum in Philadelphia on February 12th, 1977 for a two night stand. 

I had over two days free from driving coming so I invited old college friends from the DC/Baltimore area up for some memory swapping, substance abusing, and general all around mayhem. The seven of us shared my single room at the Philadelphia Hilton for 36 hours. Incredibly, the room was immaculate when we left compared to the usual mess I left behind. It had to be because there were girlfriends involved; one of whom in particular was not fond of guys and their messes. She kept us straight.

I scored back stage passes for the second night’s show. ELO were hot that night and the concert was excellent. The after-partying at my room ran until five or six AM before the last loose dog finally passed out. Around noon, we hit the hotel restaurant for a great brunch of crepes, omelets, bacon, scrapple, home fries and Bloody Mary’s. We spent the next few hours visiting the Liberty Bell and being booted out of Independence Hall for being a tad too rowdy. Apparently Independence Hall is a somber place meant for serious reflection on our country’s noble past and not on our then all too rowdy present. The security guys were friendly and laughed with us as they showed us the door. Damn Kids.

My friends slipped away home by late afternoon leaving me over sixteen hours to make it to Erie for the 10:00 AM stage call the next day. I should have left then, but after my shower, I made the mistake of falling asleep on the bed. I woke up in a panic around midnight. Still plenty of time, but I couldn’t screw around. I hooked up my trailer and headed to I-76 west and then onto I-79 north.

After fifty or so miles of I-79 north I ran into a freezing mist. The super slab had become slicker than snot on a doorknob. I crossed my first bridge in the mist and watched in my mirror for what the trailer was doing.

Pennsylvania roads have always favored bad transitions between the varied surfaces that make up their highways. Not sure why, but it seems to be state policy. Regardless, the truck jumped from the transition and the trailer began to twitch some to the right. I compensated to the same side and my front wheel hit the transition between the roadway and the shoulder. I did not appreciate the height differences between the road surface and the shoulder. Once I had the trailer under control, I just steered back onto the highway and then all Hell broke loose.

My mistake was not easing back. My steering tires caught the uneven transition and in an instant I was jack knifing the other way and headed toward a guardrail on the median with a ravine on the other side. I almost regained control when my left front wheel caught the guardrail as it came out of the ground. At that point, I was off to the races. All I could do was take my hands off the steering wheel and ride it out.

NOTE – a lesson learned a month earlier in Canada saved me from serious injury. I was heading east on Hwy17 between Toronto and Montreal. I was maybe 60 yards or so behind a Canadian truck and we were both scooting along happy as if we had brains. Just as I saw the pavement was iced, the truck ahead of me jack knifed hard in both directions. The driver tried fruitlessly to control his rig. When his truck finally stopped, I ran up to his rig and opened the crunched driver door. Inside, the driver was laid out on the doghouse with his head hanging down on his seat. His failure to wear the seatbelt provided 
caused the him to be tossed around the inside of that cab like a rag doll. I am guessing no body part escaped at least some kind of indignity. He was bleeding hard from several wounds to his head. Thankfully he was conscious and in decent spirits when the ambulance hauled him away.

I had never worn a seat belt up to that point in my life. When I got back in my rig that morning, I began to use the one that had previously hung empty before. Wearing the seat belt kept me behind the steering wheel when it came my time to jack knife. I was not tossed around like that poor SOB in Canada. All I received injury wise was a sore left side of my head, some bruising from the belt, and a dinged right knee.

I remember being jostled hard up, down, and all around as terrible sounds of metal being punished in ungodly ways emphasized the damage being done. All was suddenly quiet and I realized I was okay. I had been listening to Aerosmith’s “Long Train Running” before I jacked and it was still playing when the rig finally came to a halt. To this day, I won’t play that song and drive at the same time.

I sat for a few seconds or more and contemplated my situation. At some point I decided to jump out of the cab. When I did, I sank into snow up to my neck. All the winter snow that had been plowed into the ravine that winter cushioned the final moments of the crash. Between the seat belt and the deep snow, I was very lucky.

It took several minutes of thrashing and some help from folks who stopped to get me up and out of that deep snow. It was then I was able to see the trajectory of my crash and the third stroke of luck I had that day. The tractor and trailer had torn up many feet of guardrail as it went into the ravine. Luckily for me and the tour, the trailer wheels hooked up on the guardrail and kept the truck and trailer from going deeper into the gully.

Within 20 minutes the crash site had become a circus. Many state cops, ambulances, and numerous rubber neckers clogged the highway; all for a one vehicle accident. I realized I was screwed. The show in Erie would have to be canceled. I began to wrap my brain around the idea that my dream driving job was over before it really got started. And it was my fault.

A Pennsylvania State Police commander showed up. He took charge, made sure his boys were directing traffic to the right lane and the shoulder. Then he found me being checked out by an EMT doing his best to get me to agree to go to a hospital while I kept insisting I would not. The ambulance left without me.

The cop and I talked. He was not happy about what I had done to his highway. I explained to him that while I admitted fault, weather and the poorly constructed transitions of the road contributed greatly to the accident. I was not cited. I will always remember him looking at my miserable self and nodding his head. And then he told me it might be a few days before they could yank the trailer out. But right now they were going to lift the trailer and set it on the inside of the guardrail so traffic could pass unimpeded. Our conversation went something like:

“So, you are going to call a wrecker out now,” I asked? “And then lift and leave it in the ravine?”

“Uh, yes that is the plan.”

I thought about what he was telling me and suddenly it dawned on me that more than just the concert in Erie was threatened. The foreseeable future of the tour could be in danger. I felt sick to my stomach. My screw up just magnified tenfold.

“Would it be possible to yank the tractor and trailer out today? I have show equipment on board and if I don’t make it to Erie, 5000 fans will be some disappointed tonight.”

He looked at me and began shaking his head. The look on my face must have been pitiful enough that he stopped and said, “How much money do you have driver? Cash money, not credit cards.”

Suddenly I felt a glimmer of hope. As it turns out, every SHOWCO driver was expected to have at least $2000 in cash on them at all times. The honches in Dallas did not want a tour disrupted because of a lack of money for unforeseen emergencies like this crash.

“I have over $2000 in my wallet and I will spend it all to try and make the show in Erie.”

“Sit tight Driver, I’ll make some calls. No promises. We’ll see.” He disappeared back towards his vehicle.

Apparently that state cop knew who to call. In under an hour, two huge wreckers showed up with a crew of guys in overalls carrying shovels, chains, and one guy had a repair truck complete with torch and welding rigs on board. If this crew could not make it happen, no one would.

It was now almost 10:00 AM. I asked the head cop to get hold of my boss in Dallas and let him know what happened. He would then get hold of the folks on the tour cooling their heels up at the Erie County Fieldhouse.

With the crew in overalls and myself helping where I could, six or so tough hours later, two wreckers successfully yanked my rig out of the ravine and moved it to the next exit on the northbound side of I-79 at Stonboro. My tractor was cranked up backwards behind one tow truck and the trailer rode high in a fool’s web of cable and straps on the back of the other wrecker. One of the fuel tanks was torn open and dangling and the corner of the cab was seriously crunched. The trailer had a good sized hole where the tractor nailed it, the under carriage had been mangled and the damaged landing gear had been cut off to allow the tow cables unencumbered movement pulling the trailer out of the ravine. 

I was about to send the wrecker with the trailer ahead to the venue when a single axle GMC cabover showed up. It was the state cop commander’s brother in law. He was an owner operator from nearby and happened to be home for some off time. For $500 he would haul my trailer for the foreseeable future. The wrecker crew dropped the trailer onto Gerald's tractor and we headed to Erie.

All in all, that day was probably my best day ever behind the wheel of a truck. I ended up the hero and not the zero by finding some way to allow the show to go on. The concert started 2 hours late, but it started. The crowd went wild when the trailer showed up. We could hear them roar at the announcement from outside as Gerald backed into the loading dock. I never saw SHOWCO roadies work so fast as they did that night setting up the sound equipment from my trailer.

The two wreckers and repair crew cost a touch over $1000 ($4500 in 2021 dollars). Gerald, the owner operator, stuck with the tour for several shows while my tractor was repaired at a garage near the Green Shingle Truckstop outside Erie. Gerald pocketed my $500 and a sizable bonus from the Lead engineer on the tour for the use of him and his tractor for a week.

I have thought about this accident many times in the last forty plus years. I have vacillated back and forth between taking credit and giving credit to the fine people who rallied on my behalf so that the show could go on. I have decided any credit I deserve would be limited to my being a pain in the ass to the folks who actually pulled it off for me and ELO. I was not going to accept failure. And it worked out. My job was saved.

And last but not least, I decided that my CB handle from that day forward would be “Guardrail”, as it was later determined that Lloyds of London, our insurance carrier, was charged for replacing 100 feet of Pennsylvania guardrail at a rate of $100 per foot.

Keep it ‘tween the ditches ………………………..

__________________________________________
@ 2100 words

Thursday, August 12, 2021

Potato Nightmares

Maine Spuds

I had run into some legal trouble driving for SHOWCO when we were in Michigan in late 1978. I was on a Black Sabbath tour. I was snagged having too much fun in public. The trouble was enough of a head’s up that I decided to take a break from Rock n Roll and go back home to Maryland where life was less fast lane and more slow lane.

A friend hooked me up with a smallish freight hauler out of Salisbury on the Eastern Shore. The carrier was Wheatley Trucking. They delivered mostly processed food stuffs and fresh produce on the back hauls up and down the Atlantic seaboard.

Being the low man on the totem pole, I was issued a very tired International Transtar with a 250 Cummins engine that was barely able to get out of its own way. The steering wheel had 8 inches of dead play from center. There was serious side to side motion when I checked the front wheels. It was filthy. But it meant I had a job, so I cleaned it up and drove it.

The other negative of being the "new guy" was I picked up the runs none of the other drivers wanted. Mostly they were loads that were not skidded and had to be loaded by hand. At the big distribution centers like Hunts Point, I could hire some help to load or unload, but since the per mile pay was so lousy, I often just toughed it out alone.

I only mention my experience with Wheatley because of two specific back hauls I suffered through. The first one came in my third week. 

I had delivered canned soup to Hunts Point in the Bronx. My back haul was a load of potatoes to be picked up in Aroostook County, Maine over 600 miles from Hunt's Point. Empty miles were not paid at the same rate as loaded miles. I whined some about the distance and managed to talk them out of a cent or two more per mile. Dispatch though contended the loaded miles coming back would be excellent. I never did see excellent miles at any point with Wheatley.

I headed to Maine to find Aroostook County. I had an address and a phone number but that was it. At that time much of Aroostook County had few official towns. They were designated as unorganized townships (TWP with a number). I ended up lost on a dirt road that ran from nowhere to more nowhere and offered nowhere to turn around. So I backed up for what seemed like miles though it probably wasn't. I don’t know why a truck backing up covers more ground relative to truck moving forward.

I finally spotted a local Mainer in overalls who was quite helpful and got me back on track. I found the farm. Farmer guy was waiting at the gate. I was going to have to back in from the black top he told me. The ground around the barn was too soft to circle. I was sure to get stuck. I looked at his home and barn about a 1/4 mile away in the middle of a harvested potato field and realized that of course I will have to back in. That was how my day, my week , my life was going at the moment. I backed in to a makeshift dock at his barn around 3:00 PM. Farmer guy points to a huge pile of potatoes packed in 25 pound bags and says, "There's your load bub. I would help you but I'm off to fix the potato harvester. I can't stop the harvest now. And by the way, the load needs to be in Hunt's Point by 3:00 PM tomorrow afternoon."

And off he went to do his farmer guy stuff while I hopped up in the trailer to ready my pallets and pallet jack.

I have to say looking at that pile of potatoes in 25 pound bags was one of the most dejection filled moments in my life to that point. But I bore down, hustled and had all those potatoes on skids and the doors of the trailer closed by 10:00 PM. I then collapsed in the sleeper, waking in a panic around 1:00 AM. Then it was off to Dysarts in Bangor for some grub and fuel and then hammer time it to NYC. I landed at Hunt's Point with 30 minutes to spare.

The off load ended up being an anticlimactic event. Normally I would have muscled the load off with my pallet jack. Instead, I hired a fellow for $30 to fork lift that load out of my life while I collapsed in the sleeper for forty winks.

Sweet Potatoes from North Carolina

The final straw and last bit of evidence that I was not meant to haul food stuffs of any kind, either raw or processed, came on the last day I drove for Wheatley. I was to pick up my back haul that trip in the form of loose sweet potatoes loaded by a conveyer belt in Tabor City, North Carolina. Then all I had to do was bring the load the 400 or so miles back to the yard in Salisbury, Maryland on the Eastern Shore. Drop the trailer, park the truck and head back to Baltimore for a much needed 3 day break.

Sounded easy enough. And it should have been. But as I was cursed, it turned into a nightmare. I landed in Tabor City at dark thirty in the A.M.. I had been told if the dock was empty I could back in and hit the rack. Someone would wake me when it was time to load.

Around 8:00 AM or so someone pounded on my door. I woke up, rubbed the sleep crap out of my eyes and walked in the door next to my truck. There waiting to load my trailer was the coolest looking set up of multi conveyor belts stretching off into the dark nether regions of the warehouse. A guy wearing a hard hat asked me how much of load I wanted. I remember that I was still groggy and mumbled something about Oh whatever is the usual. Load er up. I cannot remember if he looked at me funny, but in retrospect I am sure he did. He punched the big green button and my trailer started to fill up with sweet potatoes.

Figuring they had control, I walked back to my truck and went back to sleep.

Again, someone pounding on my door brought me back to the present. I crawled out of the sleeper and while I was putting on my shoes, another fellow without a hard hat but wearing a tie hopped up on the step of the truck and pushed a clipboard in my direction. I signed off, took my receipt and fired up that awesome 250 Cummins engine and warmed her up. After my my pre-trip inspection, I climbed back in the cab, released the brakes and slipped the transmission into first.

I expected some resistance as the truck was now loaded and backed in a downhill loading position against the dock. But when I tried to pull away it was as if I had been nailed in place. The truck and trailer were not moving, no way, no how, not anytime soon.

I jumped out of the truck and headed toward the door. Standing in the door was the guy wearing the hard hat and the guy wearing the tie. And both of them were laughing. It did not take an Einstein to know it was me they were laughing at.

I passed them both and looked into the back of the trailer. There were loose sweet potatoes piled to within a foot of the ceiling near the front and tapering down to about six feet high near the rear.. I immediately understood what had happened. I was overloaded and not just a little overloaded, I was in deep overloaded trouble.

I looked at the two jerks who loaded me. They were still grinning hard, snickering and just having a good ole boy laugh at my expense.

“So how much weight do you two clowns figure I have on now?”

Hard hat guy says, “Well, we don’t know exactly but you are at least 40,000 extra pounds over that line there.” And he pointed to a faded black line at waist high that apparently marked the standard 40,000 pound load.

And then he follows up with, “You may have the record. If you can get the load back to Wheatley, we’ll know then.”

“Can I use your phone”, were the last words I spoke to those chuckleheads.

When I called dispatch up in Maryland, there was silence on the other end of the phone after I described how many sweet potatoes were on my trailer. I heard some muffled cursing, some heated verbal exchanges and then nice and calm as if it was just another day on the planet,”Driver, do you think you can make back here with the load?”

“If I can pull it off the dock I might.”

“Okay, call me back when you get it off the dock and on flat ground.”

It took some doing, some serious smoke and bucking, but I managed to inch that trailer off the dock and onto the level black top surrounding their warehouse. Once I had the doors closed, instead of stopping and calling my dispatch, I kept going out onto the two lane country road and headed north. It took that underpowered 250 Cummins engine several miles on the flat to break 50 mph. About 10 miles into it, I spotted a restaurant with diesel pumps out back. I pulled up to the pumps, got out and went in to grab some breakfast and call Wheatley back.

The dispatcher was apologetic. This situation had occurred before in Tabor City. He forgot I was brand new in produce. The yahoos there thought it was funny to seriously overload inattentive drivers. And I was certainly inattentive. I had no clue and naively trusted the people who were in charge.

Anyway, I spent many minutes on the phone getting instructions on how to bring the load back to Salisbury without getting caught. I was to travel all back roads to Norfolk and then jump on the Chesapeake Bay Tunnel. The scale there would be no problem he assured me. At this point I had lost confidence in any reassurances.

It took me 16 hours to make it back to Salisbury. The back roads of North Carolina and Virginia had towns strategically placed so that as soon as I broke 50 mph, I had to start gearing down for the next little burg. And so it went, 5 miles to gain some speed and a couple of miles of downshifting and light braking to slow down.

Before I hit the scale at the Chesapeake Bay Tunnel, I considered parking the truck and catching a bus I was so angry. But I drove up onto the scale. It seemed an eternity but then I heard over the speaker, “You’re Okay driver, move along.”

I looked over to the window of the scale house and the guy looking at me had a very odd look on his face. It was a kind of grin but his eyes had widened like he could not believe what he was seeing.

I made it the rest of the way to Salisbury without incident, landing there about two in the morning. Instead of dropping the trailer as instructed, I left the tractor and trailer blocking their scale and left a note on the driver’s seat, “I quit.”

A week later I became a Teamster hauling Lever Brothers product coast to coast on a weekly schedule. Best money I ever made as a truck driver. 

Post Script –In the end, the scale weight at Wheatley was over 110,000 pounds GVW. Based on the legal GVW limit at the time of 72,500 pounds, I was seriously overweight. I never did it again.

Keep it 'tween the ditches ........................................
_________________________________________________

Wednesday, August 11, 2021

I Got Around

1977-Philly-W/college friends - ELO Tour
~ The next day- jack knifed my truck into a ravine
I have always been interested in turning the clock back and enjoying the memories of times gone by.  Whether they were good times or bad times, it really did not matter. I enjoyed the respite from the drudgery of the here and now.  Combine this love of my past with my love of writing and it is understandable I have now written over 50,000 words recording my trips down memory lane.

The compilation is a hodge-podge collection of stories and tales that follow no discernible timeline and often appear to be nothing but sadly constructed rhymes looking for a reason. But throughout all of them is a taste of what I was back then, whenever then was.

I have always endeavored to write the truth and barring that, mimic it at the least.  Some of my stories are fictional narratives based on real events and/or people. But most are written down as I remembered them with only enough embellishment to keep the flow going. I have strived hard to nail down specific facts from my past that really put me in that place, that time, that situation.

In my effort to be true to the stories of my life, I have acquired a taste for researching basic data from my past.  Real dates, old addresses, old friend’s names, old schools, etc. I went to 14 schools before college, and lived in 18 different locations before I was out of my 20’s. That’s a lot of crap that was easy to forget back in the day once I had moved on to the next burg on my map. Just locating tangible information of where I existed and with who only helped to add weight  to the stories I was telling.

What made me think of my crazy assortment of adventures, trials, and tribulations was the meme from Facebook about a guy who got around. He had a most interesting life and shared parts of it with people worthy of note. As I read the meme, I realized that I too had gotten around. And like him, I also occasionally ran in the same circles inhabited by the famous and beautiful.

So, as I sit here at age 69 and troll my past for some of the adrenalin I wasted and left behind, I realize I had lived a lifetime before I lived the lifetime that is now approaching an uncertain time limit in my future. I have experienced two different lives, one as a solo act; the other as a member of an ensemble cast. And I would not trade one for the other. They are both what made me what I became and for better or worse, at least I got around and have lived long enough to put it down in writing. 

Later Gator ...................................................

_________________________________________

 (465 words)

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Covidiots

 

Biting Off Their Nose to Spite Their Face

So, I have tried hard to not lose myself in a rant about anything Covid. It was easy at first. I just blew off any extended focus on the ring of stupidity that surrounded the pandemic. It was just more mindless madness kept in play by the Trump Death Cult.

You know them. They are the bozos who insist on using stupidity to make a point that will somehow own us. They would rather own us and put us in our place by using their right to be stupid. Common Sense has long since vacated their cranial voids. Getting over on the rest of us is more important than their own health, their loved one's health, or the health of the community they exist in. An almost “Kill us all, God will sort us out later" kind of mentality.

What it shows me, well, I gave up trying to figure that out. They are now just selfish lunatics on the wrong side of the fence as far as I am concerned.

For too long I have tolerated Covidiots with their stupidity, their embracing of hearsay bullshit, and general Fuck You selfishness over communal health. My tolerance and understanding quiver is now empty. I can no longer concern myself with what happens to the No Vaxers. Any trouble, pain, or disrespect they receive now is their own fault. They are brain dead to me.

Day in and day out, common sense information saturates the many media platforms pointing out the obvious benefits to everyone if everyone gets vaccinated. Other than extreme cases, there is no reason that even approaches being a sane reason to not be vaccinated.

So what reasoning does that leave the Typhoid Trumpers for their resistance? What is left is a disorganized cluster fuck of idiotic mealy mouthed claims of rights violations and unproven conspiratorial allegations. What is really going on is that being stubbornly stupid is in their minds their path to religious and patriotic Heaven. God and/or Trump have shown them the way.

What a bunch of rubes.

It does appear there is an easing of the Anti-Vaxers inflexible grip on Stupidity as it relates to Covid. The Delta Variant of Covid 19 is winning converts among the empty minded minions of the Right. The Delta Variant is ripping the unvaccinated a new asshole. And now the foxhole they were sure only God existed in is making room for Bill Nye the science guy. The result is a rise in vaccinations over the previous plateau stubbornly supported by the stupid. And this a good thing, but I am past handing out any "atta boy's". Stupid does not deserve any kind of reward or encouragement.

I know, I know. Existing here on the empathetic side, the do gooder side, the limp wristed, pinko commie and PC side, I should respect the Stupid's right to be stupid. Respect from me needs to be earned. Being stupid does not make the grade.

Keep it 'tween the Ditches ...................................
______________________________________________

Saturday, August 07, 2021

Ok Boomer


Though Jeff and I are FB friends and tend to lean the same direction politically, we often clash. It’s like we are both on the same team but choose to shout at each other from different ends of the bench. We have engaged in heated and sometimes hurtful exchanges.

I ran across this Facebook meme on the left on Jeff’s page. It asks an unrelated question based on suppositions not even alluded to in the body of the rant. 

A 26 year old millennial is complaining about the planet sized shit bag they are expected to own now that they are productive members of our society. These are predictable complaints with a few new ones I had not considered thrown in for good measure. He is not impressed with what is being handed off. He is in no way indicating his generation would like to die.

I have to agree with him. It must suck to be facing the looming disasters that lurk in the not so distant future. He and his generation will be required to face the many bad results of previous generations’ poor choices and lousy stewardship of the planet.

So, rather than get huffy over the fact they are casting their evil eye on me, the Boomer who is leaving them the shit show of their futures, I just smile and nod my head. They are right to be pissed, put upon, and letdown.  It seems to be one of the predictable results for every generation to be disappointed in the generations that preceded them. They are wrong though if they feel they are the only generation to inherit dangerous problems and headaches.

The World and all that is in it has always been a dangerous place. There will never be an end to the disasters, mayhem, and mistakes waiting in the shadows to take us out.  Human kind has always been its own worst enemy. That will never change. Every generation is faced with challenges they either choose to address or ignore.  Most seem to take on a few yet kick the can down the road on others unless that problem has become too prominent and full of disaster to not address.

My generation addressed many wrongs back in the day.  Sadly, many of the wrongs and world ills they at least identified became nothing more than guilty footnotes instead of positive action.  Like the many generations before them, my generation aged out of idealistic youth and was forced to face Reality full on. The “what we should be doing stuff” was relegated to guilty after thoughts overshadowed by meeting mortgages and raising the generational ingrates of the future.  It is a never-ending loop humans cannot escape.  We cannot expect to get off scot free when the kids we weaned grow up and see us for who we really are, flawed and not the pinnacles of stability they knew us to be when they were eight.

Regardless, I am more optimistic now than I was 30 years ago about a generation and the one following it.  Finally after a blank of 60 years since Boomers actually did work for positive change, Millennial’s and the younger Gen Z kids seem to be as serious about how screwed up the world is as I was when I was their age.

The world I lived in when I was 26 seemed just as hopeless at times as it does now. And by all accounts, it has not gotten better. But that is Life sometimes. To survive, we have to dig in while we bitch and complain.  The rule is piss and moan all you want, just do not give up.

I look at living as a battle to defeat Life and the inevitable misery that is part of it.

Keep it ‘tween the ditches …………………………….

Saturday, July 31, 2021

Friendship

Blog Fodder is a blogging friend I have had for over a decade. We have never met face to face.  He is not a friend from my youth, my bike shop, or a neighbor in my hood.  He is a persona who claims to live in Ukraine and is from Canada originally.  He also claims to be an expert on all things bovine related.  He’s one of the guys who wrote the book so to speak.

Allen is his supposed real name. After a decade of swapping thoughts, ideas and laughs with him, I believe he is real.  But more than that, I do not care if he is or isn’t. He and I have formed a connection that transcends physical verification. We have become friends and from my point of view, the best of friends.

So Blog Fodder posted a piece on his blog about the notion of who is a friend and how do we categorize them. Good friends? Best friends? Fair weather friends? And where do we separate friends from the massive numbers of assholes we have dealt with over the years.

The notion of friendship can become an evil pit of never ending frustration as I try to find convenient cubby holes for the many friends I have had over the last 69 years.

There are my first friends. My playground best buds. My pinky swear allegiance friends for life.  My drug friends. My college friends. There have been so many friends float in and out of my life, I sit here in a daze trying to put the ones who manage to float to the top in perspective.

What about the friends I always got in trouble with? The friends who always helped me avoid trouble?  This whole notion of breaking down friends and friendships Is overwhelming……….. (Take a breath Mike……. Settle down asshole, and break it down so it makes sense in that void you charitably call your mind).

The first thing I guess I know about friendship is that it is a fluid thing. A good friendship has many challenges that stresses the commitment and still ends up a solid relationship.  The fluid part is the constant weeding process of friendships that do not stand up to those stresses. We have friends for life, but at the same time have many different “best friends” who share our trip from the cradle to the grave either briefly or are there for the duration.

I would call the friends who have hung in for life as my true best friends.  Of those, I have few left it seems.  Now as an old fart, many friends that I thought gone and forgotten have found me again and we picked up right where we left off.  So for me, at the top of the “Best Friend” list is one who can stand the test of time. The next friend in the “Best” category is one who had a major impact on my life at and during a certain period of my life.

But because I ultimately want to bake things down to simple notions my mind can actually comfortably handle;

A good friend is someone I think of and smile at the same time.

A bad friend does not exist.  Bad friends are just the assholes we have to sort out while we plod our way to the horizon.

Keep it ‘tween the ditches ……………………………………..

____________________________________

Image by "One Line"

Friday, July 30, 2021

The Newichawannock Canal


The Newichawannock Canal connects Great East Lake and Horn Pond. The canal defines the state border of New Hampshire and Maine hereabouts.

Its construction marked the beginning of a consistent water source meant for the mills downstream in Somersworth. More mills would pop up over the years in Rochester, Milton, Milton Mills and Acton. The first stones of this canal were laid without mortar in 1850.  Because of the Civil War, it was not finished until the mid to late 1860s. The canal and the bridge have existed mostly intact since.  And now finally, 170 or so years later, the bridge has been replaced.  Not bad for a stone bridge made by hand with no concrete except what was laid on top of it.

I first came to know this canal and bridge when I was a child visiting my Aunt Hellie and Uncle Herb Sibley at “Half Way Up Farm” in Acton several hundred yards away on the Maine side of the border.  My uncle would sit on some dead fall or a rock edge of the canal, smoking his pipe and keeping an eye on my eight year old self as I fished for brookies and chased craw daddies.  I saw my first otter there.

It was my time with Uncle Herb and Aunt Hellie that opened my eyes to a life without asphalt, millions of cars and the cookie cutter suburban existence I suffered most of the year further south. I never wanted to leave this peaceful exciting place.

And I guess I made a vow to come back and never leave.  I don’t know for sure if I did, but after some years spent working the wiggle worm out of myself, I finally settled in Acton in 1981. I have been here as a permanent resident for the last 40 years.  I married and raised a family here. I chose to make my last stand here.

I wouldn’t change a thing. 

Keep it ‘tween the ditches ………………………………..

_____________________________________

2 Images of old Canal Bridge

By Magicpiano - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=44278565

Monday, July 26, 2021

Moderators Are Nazis

I was called a nazi this morning by a very upset poster on a FB page I moderate. I was not singled out per se. His parting shot before another moderator put him out of our misery was, "we shouldn’t allow 10 n@zi to run this page."

I do appreciate that he thinks there are ten of us Nazis when there are actually only a few doing the work of ten. No, that is a lie. Moderating this page is a cakewalk rural outing. I sleep through most of it. Pretty much everyone minds their P's and Q's and life imitates art.  Idyllic and sane, yeah sure, that is how it is ...... right.

The FB page I moderate is a town page owned by a local fellow. It is by far the most popular of the several pages focused on our area. His rules are simple. Be nice, no politics, no over commercialization, no profanity, and ferchrisakes, pay attention to the flagged words not allowed by FB. That limits me somewhat, but I am guessing my world champion grasp of the many ways profanity can elevate a person spiritually may be one reason I was asked to help. Hire the criminals if you want the best protection.

I was directly responsible for the initial dust up this A.M. Our righteously indignant friend of Acton made a claim about Covid and a local business without supporting evidence. I deleted the comment and forgot about it. In less than an hour of escalating enraged comments, he called on the owner to fire us 10 Nazis while shoving something unnamed where the Sun don't shine.  And with his parting, ride off into the sunset remark, what he meant to say was the perfect opposite of what he ended up saying:

“We live in America and have the freedom of speech you are trying to distinguish that and it’s disgusting."

Word ……………………………………………


Friday, July 23, 2021

Issues From My Periphery

Now that I am sitting in the nose bleed seats, Life has become both bemusing and amusing all at the same time. Life Truths I once considered facts of living are now often suspect or downright wrong in the cultural mindset unfolding here in the twenty-first century. So many of the norms I grew up with, lived my life with, and often fought against are no longer considered relevant.

Some of the norms from my youth were nasty evil things that did not work to separate us, they did separate us, legally and for some, morally. We all existed in the same country but not in a comfy ya'll come back, we'll grill some brats and tip some beers kind of way. I learned that early as I was always a stranger and never one of the up and coming group of good ole boys. My family moved around too much.

The invisible wall between me and whatever bo-dunk town I lived in at the time was often tough on my childhood feelings. Overall though, I think having the outside looking in perspective gave me a leg up in my adult life. As an adult I have been more malleable and less entrenched in old ways. I have been able to embrace changes in the country easier than many of my Boomer peers.

But I have to face facts. The world is spinning faster now. It is getting harder and less important for me to try and keep up. The larger issues, I am still working on. But the ones I have ranked as issues from the periphery are no longer of any interest to me other than for entertainment purposes.

For instance, End Times. If the planet is about to go belly up in some way,i.e., Zombie Apocalypse, World Wide Plague, Nuclear Street Fight, or whatever scourge that might bring us to the gateway of a new Dark Ages, well, I just cannot be bothered worrying about it. I have had a good run and would hope to check out with a smile on my face.

And then there is the clusterfuck of symbols, letters, and pronouns that have become part and parcel of the LBGTQ, etc. movement. I have been a supporter since before gays were called gays. My father made sure I understood they were just people. Sexual preference was a stupid tool to judge the worth of another human. His experience working for a homosexual in college taught him that.

I continue to support anyone to declare whatever they want or need to with regards as how they identify. I just cannot keep up with the newer rules and don't intend to. Identify however or as whoever you want. You can also use whatever pronouns you want. All I care about is your name. I will identify you as that.

"Oh, that goof ball? That's Fred." ...... " Uh what? How does Fred identify? Shit, I don't know. ..... You need to ask Fred that."

And that is how I am going to stop worrying about pronouns and identifiers.

Keep it 'tween the ditches ..............................................

Tuesday, July 06, 2021

My Second Email to Ted

To: Theodore Kryzak(R) - State Representive, District 20, Maine

Ted,

I received your Happy Fourth of July meme on Facebook yesterday.What a nice gesture from you and the local GOP. Thank you for that. You are a marvel when it comes to empty gestures.

It has been over a week since I emailed you and asked you about your vote on LD 557 and where you stand on the Jan 6 insurrection or the legitimacy of the November presidential election. I have not heard back from you. I am not going to let this go. Now that you are on my radar, you have become the bone this old dog wants to chew on.

Your failure to respond to my initial email has given me more time to acquaint myself with your record up in Augusta. Frankly Ted, I am less than impressed.  I was beginning to think you only knew the one word, Nay, when voting; then I saw that you had voted "YEA"  Jan 20th, 2020 to allow candidates to include a nickname on ballots. Sir, that must have been a tough decision. I applaud your courage. 

Below is a compilation of your votes over the last two years regarding elections in Maine:

  • 6/4/2019 - NAY - Voted against setting up a presidential primary system
  • 6/5/2019 - NAY - Voted against automatic voter registration
  • 6/19/2019 - NAY - voted against increases in rank choice voting
  • 1/20/2020 - YEA - voted for allowing nicknames on ballots
  • 3/10/2020 - NAY - voted against allowing more time to process absentee ballots
  • 6/7/2021 -   (LD557) voted for photo ID when voting
Now that I see your voting record on election related issues, I no longer wonder about how you feel. You have no interest in making the voting process easier, more accessible and user friendly. You are nothing but another GOP lackey following the edicts passed down from Trump and his cronies who now control the spineless Republican Party.  If I am wrong, please set me straight.  But at this point, I don't think I am wrong.

I don't want to over burden you with things to think about. So I will close with just two questions you should answer, if for no other reason than to separate you from the rest of your spineless Republican cohorts. Be a man. Speak your mind honestly. I just snickered when I wrote that.  Honesty and politicians are not two images that mingle well in most minds these days.  But please, give it a shot.
  • Do you feel Biden won the election fair and square? If not, why? I am so waiting for a Republican to create a coherent defense for the stupid and fraudulent claims the party supported regarding the last presidential election.
  • Was the invasion of the Capitol on Jan 6 an assault on our form of government or not?
These two questions are not complicated nor are they "gotcha" questions.  They only become "gotcha" questions when you continue to refuse to answer them. By not answering them, you allow any conclusion one wants to make to be floated as a true rendering of your opinion.  Sort of like what I have concluded about your negative actions regarding voting rights and how you want to restrict them rather than expand them.

So far Mr. Kryzak your silence is deafening and telling at the same time.  I am beginning to think of you as a very, very sad excuse of a legislator.  And that is probably unfair, but there it is. Your silence gives me no choice but to come to that conclusion.

Change my mind.

Sincerely,

Michael Macrum, Acton
__________________________________

Contact Info for Theodore Kryzak - Legislative District 20, Maine

Mail:

2 State House Station, Augusta, ME 04330

Email:

Theodore.Kryzak@legislature.maine.gov

Legislative Office:

(207) 287-1440

______________________________

Sunday, July 04, 2021

Happy 4th of July

So it's the Fourth of July, the day that celebrates our nation's creation.  Beyond this one fact of the date, much of what we believe about how we came about is buried in mounds of myth and bullshit.  Our beginnings were precipitated on noble ideas, but the functional parts of the noble cause were anything but noble.  It was an ugly situation to be embroiled in a revolution.  Thankfully King George decided he had other fish to fry and pulled out.  He could have dragged it out like we have recently in the Middle East.

Today is not a day to worry about stupid foreign policy fails.  Today I want to think about that which many folks do not consider when they think of our honorable founding fathers and their alcohol infused hoe down during the second meeting of the Continental Congress in June and July of 1776.

It is a convenient myth that the Founders were inspired by God and what resulted was a democratic and free nation under that god. While most of the signers of the Declaration of Independence were men of religious fervor in public, in private, more than a few were anything but. As a matter of fact the main man who is credited with the final draft was not a religious man in the typical norms of the day.  Thomas Jefferson rejected most of the popular Christian tenets at the time.  Jefferson and many others were Deists.

In a nut shell, Deism is a belief that God may have started everything, but that is where God's participation ended. God was not interested in the affairs of Man and was then as God is now, just a spectator.  Deism becoming  popular was a natural result of the Age of Enlightenment, when a growing intellectual class was scrutinizing everything, patrticularly religion.  The draconian days of hard line Christianity were waning, but still held sway among the rank and file.  Deism was considered blasphemous by many leaders, religious and political. They wanted to criminalize its advocacy.  So, many true deists kept their opinions to themselves, went to church, kneeled with the best, and went home to live the rest of their week in heathen joy.

Americans at that point had not known real government that was in theory under their control. They had always been chattels and tied to the whims of a government thousands of miles away.  Many of the early settlements were created by religious dissenters who emigrated from England and Europe. Many of the early colonies were actually set up under local theocratic rules which had unbending and rigid religious based ideas about how one should live their life or pay serious consequences. 

Some modern theologians seem to want to bury the notion that Deism had anything to do with the creation of this country.  Mark David Hall, a professor at the religious university, Fox University in Oregon, wrote a book debunking deism's contribution to the formation of America as we know it.  I only read the first chapter, "The Myth of the Founders Deism".  It was enough to tell me like any less than objective historian, he was interpreting the facts to fit his forgone conclusion.  Nothing wrong with that I guess, but it does not treat the subjects they write about fairly and objectively.

It would have been logical for the new United States to be set up with more religious control than it was.  You can thank the Deists that it was not.  They insisted on keeping the idea of the separation of church and state front and center.  And their first battle was while drafting the original Declaration of Independence.  The real battle came eleven years later when the Constitution took form. Sane men of religion who understood the wisdom of Separation joined forces with the Deists to insist that separation became one of the bedrock notions upon which this country was established.  Without the Deists and their influence, I wonder where and what we would be?

So the next time you go to church, thank God for staying out of the affairs of Man and respecting the Deist way of life.  Snicker, snicker, snicker.

Later ..................................................