Fraudulant Fairness?

George Will is rapidly becoming an angry, strident voice on the conservative side of conservative politics. Now he is using name calling as a weapon against the Democratic Party. His use of the term "illiberals" over and over in his latest rant against liberals is almost funny...almost.
Some illiberal liberals are trying to restore the luridly misnamed Fairness Doctrine, which until 1987 required broadcasters to devote a reasonable amount of time to presenting fairly each side of a controversial issue. The government was empowered to decide how many sides there were, how much time was reasonable and what was fair.
I hate to break it to Mr Will, but the only reason anyone wants to re-institute the "Fairness Doctrine" is that the "Corporate Media" has abrogated the truthful reporting of the facts. The very ability of political groups to drop a smear with an add buy and then watch the story grow as the "News" is reported so often as to turn a lie into the accepted truth shows the need for "Media" to be held to a monetary responsibility for the "Fairness" they no longer feel.
The Reagan administration scrapped the doctrine because of its chilling effect on controversial speech, and because the scarcity rationale was becoming absurd.
It seems to me that the scarcity rationale has now swung full circle. With the media consolidation of the past few years, the publics access to get their voice heard is confined to the internet and not the "Public" airways or the newsprint of the cities of this country. Not everyone in this country has access nor the need to subscribe to multiple forms of information. The broadcast spectrum has, since it's inception, been a special category of business. Access to spectrum has always been confined to a limited number of gatekeepers, and the "Fairness Doctrine" is all that kept the publics ability to gain the access to present opposing views.
It is time to take another look at all of the rules that have been relaxed in this mad rush to deregulate America.

Source: Newsweek
Author: George F. Will

Monday in Paradise

The weekend at work turned into more physical "work" than this older body has become accustomed to. Yesterday morning before returning to work the body was really complaining in all of the joints and muscles. But the job got done and the big show that opens today will be one more for the line stretching back into the early '70's.

Unless you have ever worked the setup of a trade show, you have no idea how totally chaotic it can seem to an outsider. This is the industry I have called home now for 34 years this month. The constant movement over the first 2/3rds of that career, all on concrete usually carrying heavy weight, is now catching up with my desk bound (mostly) body...Where did the time fly.

From the look of the yard, I'll need to spend a bit of time this week riding the Deere. Mind you, I am not a fanatic about lawns (one of the reasons I discovered a decided unfitness for life in the "master planned communities" the developers around here call their suburbs. I like my "civilized" nature a little ragged around the edges. I am not much of a string-trimmer kind of guy. It usually drives the immediate neighbors a bit wild...In this climate though, at this time of year at least you have to ride the Deere at least every other week. Later in the season the weekly ride is almost too little. And, just for the record, I refuse to fertilize and water lawn grass. I know, not very neighborly of me in this "yard beautiful" world.

Oh well, gotta run...May your Monday be Un-Mondayish.

Saturday Morning Web Wandering

I slept in a bit today and I have to go in to work this afternoon to take care of a project we ship tomorrow, but this morning after reading my email I went link wandering. Here are some of the things I found I feel I should pass along...

Somehow I didn't keep up with the schedule for the return of Bill Moyers to PBS so I missed his documentary on "The Buying of the War". Somehow the regular schedule for his new show on Friday had permeated what I call my brain, and the fact that the special would be on Wednesday didn't...Oh well, I'm sure it will be replayed at some point.

In my wandering this morning I did stumble on a site that is new to me, COA News. This led to a link to an Amy Goodman interview with Bill Moyers on Democracy Now this week, which led me to this quote...
Bill Moyers - "I would like to be nice about it. I would like to be diplomatic about it. But the fact of the matter is there’s a cancer eating at the heart of democracy, and it’s money in politics. If free speech means you have to buy it, then only those who can afford it have free speech. And that’s contemptible."
If you have the time the video is very good.

Source: Independent News Portal COAnews: : How the U.S. News Media Helped the Bush Admin Sell the Case for War

The link that led me to CAO News was an article about Local Foods by Brita Belli of The Environmental Magazine.

Local is the New Organic

It used to be that organic was enough. That organic label told consumers their food was safer, fresher and more likely to have come from a small, reliable farm than a mega-farm-factory. Then, last year, Wal-Mart started selling organic products. Suddenly, organic didn’t seem so special.

Last fall, an outbreak of E. coli bacteria in California- grown organic spinach that left three dead and hundreds sick shone the national spotlight on the question of where food comes from. Most produce people eat, organic or not, travels thousands of miles to reach the shelves of their local supermarket. The journey exacts a huge toll on the environment as refrigerated tractor-trailers packed with green tomatoes and bananas crisscross the country, burning diesel and spewing pollution and greenhouse gas. And the potential for unsanitary handling and nutrient depletion exists at every stop along the way.

I have been linking to posts like this for some time. It appears that the local food "movement" is on the verge of reaching viral status around the country and the world. If we have many more food disaster's like the ones from the last year where we are beginning to understand that the people we once thought were protecting the safety of our food aren't, for whatever reason, we will have to protect ourselves. You can't do that if the food you are buying come from across the country or around the world.

Source: Independent News Portal COAnews: : Local is the New Organic

And another week bites the dust...

On my drive home from work I had one of those moments that drive home the need to have the camera in reach and ready to shoot...I didn't and I wasn't, so I missed what was probably a once in a lifetime shot. As I was drive toward home of an evening I sometimes pass a skydiving establishment in Rosharon, Skydive Spaceland. Yesterday as I came upon the facility there was a group just in their final approach to landing. They were coming in fairly well spaced out so that they were landing a couple of minutes apart from each other as I drove into town.

Every time I see this sight I wish I was prepared to catch some shots but so far I always approach as they are already landing. As I sat in the turning lane waiting for the light to change I looked up and was immediately returned to Fred First's photo of the other day of the Vulture crossing the moon. Instead of a vulture, picture a man hanging below a bright red parasail passing back and forth in front of the moon. Needless to say, my camera was in it's bag on the floor board behind my seat just out of reach and the light was about to change. Oh well...

I see Tom Philpott has a new article over on Grist. Everyone who has an interest in food should take a look at it...

Two years ago, dairy giant Dean Foods shuttered a milk-processing facility in Wilkesboro, a town at the eastern edge of North Carolina's Appalachian Mountains.

...Since there were no other USDA-approved processing plants around, the few remaining dairy farmers in the mountains faced a stark choice: pay to have their milk hauled an additional 55 miles to Winston-Salem, where Dean ran another plant, or exit the business.

In the tiny mountain town of Bethel, N.C. -- 45 miles west of Wilkesboro -- one such farmer took the second option, closing a 50-cow operation he had started in 1959. When he started his farm, Bethel had around a dozen dairy farms. Today it has none.
When I think of consolidation in the food industry -- fewer and fewer companies controlling more and more production -- I think of that small farm in Bethel.

The start of this article has a special meaning for me as I will never forget the day I wandered into Bethel for the fist time. the view of the valley as I wandered down from the mountains just screamed farms. It was such a striking scene I kept driving around for quite sometime. So striking in fact that I totally forgot I was carrying a camera and was out looking for photographs...go figure!

Source: How food processing got into the hands of a few giant companies | By Tom Philpott | Grist | Victual Reality | 26 Apr 2007

Coffee's hot and there are 20 emails to read before I leave for work, so...

Ok, now I thought the Blue Ridge Mountains would still be enjoying a cool start to spring right about now. Instead they seem to have moved into what should be an early June weather pattern, or am I wrong. When a day on the Blue Ridge in late April starts out at the same temperature as the Texas Gulf Coast, well people, we have a problem. Not that I am complaining about the coolness of the morning as I sit with the door open listening to the birdsong as I sip coffee, read the morning emails and type these meandering muses. But, what will this mean for my trip in late July. I look forward to the cool mornings and the coffee out on the porch watching the valley fog below rise up and burn off. I don't want to think it could be just as warm as Texas...

Ballot barriers - Houston Chronicle

It looks like the Republicans feel the need to try to redden even this red state further. Could it be they really don't think they can win an election without stamping on the voter's rights? This is the same tactic that is getting them in so much trouble around the country.

In Texas, the biggest problem facing our electoral system is the voters' shamefully low participation in choosing our representatives and leaders. Yet instead of encouraging more people to exercise this fundamental right, some lawmakers in Austin are hard at work trying to make it more difficult to vote.

With no proof of significant voter fraud in state elections, the Texas House is considering bills that would require voters to provide additional identification in order to register and cast their ballots. Not only is the legislation unjustified, if enacted it could disenfranchise large numbers of the elderly, the poor and minorities.

Republicans have promoted voter identification legislation as a cure for ballot fraud, though documented voter impersonation cases are rare. Democrats contend the measures are really aimed at suppressing Election Day turnout among their traditional support groups.

Source: Ballot barriers: Legislation requiring Texas voters to present extensive identification would create far more problems than it would solve. | - Houston Chronicle

Where has the month gone?

Here we are rapidly closing in on the end of April. Seems like it was just March the other day. The weather system that blew through here yesterday morning dropped the temperature if not the humidity. This morning is dawning a cool 57 degrees with a low fog out the (open) back door. I pulled a Fred first thing this morning (did I trigger your Google alert Fred?) wandering out in the dew covered backyard to see what kind of images I could capture early before the sun came up. It's always nice when we have a Blue Ridge morning in Texas.

Here is the best of the handful of images I pulled backyard just before sunrise this morning.

The first cup is poured and I see I have mail, so...

Horoscope for the week
I really like Ron's take on Astrology and find this weeks horoscope ties in with where my head is (how 70's is that)...
AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 18): According to the macrobiotic approach to diet, the healthiest food for you to eat is that which has been grown near you, or at least in the same latitude. Unless you live in the tropics, for instance, bananas shouldn't be on your menu. Let's make that meme your Metaphor of the Week, Aquarius. According to my interpretation of the omens, all your best bets will be local and homegrown. You should pluck pleasures that are close by, and avoid temptations beckoning from a distance. You should trust clues that arrive from sources you can personally verify, and be skeptical of those from friends of friends of friends.
I really liked "the healthiest food for you to eat is that which has been grown near you". Seems like I keep saying pretty much the same thing...
Source: Rob Brezsny's Astrology Newsletter

The news from Washington is all the same, so I won't bother to go there. Just imagine where we would be today had we not tried this experiment in Judicially appointed Presidents. I am sure that just scares the hell out of the right, "Nightmare on Pennsylvania Avenue". Come to think of it, that's just what it's been, six years of waking nightmares.

Endangered turtle lays 84 eggs on South Padre | - Houston Chronicle

From the local newspaper, this tidbit of environmental news... 

The first endangered Kemp's ridley turtle known to have nested this year on the Texas Coast laid 84 eggs on South Padre Island Tuesday, officials said...

From 1979 through 1996, only 17 Kemp's ridley nestings were recorded in Texas. Last year, the known Kemp's ridley nestings on Texas beaches hit 102, more than double 2005's record of 50.

Source: Endangered turtle lays 84 eggs on South Padre | - Houston Chronicle

Wednesday Morning Coffee Muse

Yesterday's gusty winds had the trees dancing with their limbs going from side to side. I spent a lot of time yesterday afternoon watching from the cast iron chair out back. I had to "babysit" the youngest son as he had tests run that required a strong dose of anesthesia. Let's just say, he didn't remember being wheeled out of the facility. Anywho, afterwards, I fixed him some chicken noodle soup and spent some time waiting for the soup to kick in. By then it was too late to run in to work so I sat and watched the day draw to a close with lots of wind shakin' everything.

The weather prognosticators late last night were telling the world that all of this wind, blowing in of the Gulf of Mexico is going to meet up with a temperature boundary headed over from the west coast and wake us up with thunder and gully washers. So far the morning looks dry (what I can see from the porch lights at the back door as the cats changed shifts), but there is no telling what the morning will bring. I guess I should really take a look at the weather radar...Oh, hell...It looks like the drive to work will be exciting I should be hitting the road about the time the stormfront hits.

Oh well, On to the morning emails...The clock has chased itself around to the place where I gotta run...catch you later.

Later from work...I had a strange commute this morning. I was driving into night all the way to work. It just got darker and darker as I got closer to Houston. I managed to get to work and into the office without getting more than a little damp...Strange drive into a rough looking storm.

From this past weekend...Pecan bark.

There is something about the bark of a pecan tree. It's shaggy even when young. This tree is barely twenty feet tall and this is what it looks like at eye level. This tree is so young it's only been producing nuts for the last two years.

Last years left overs...

This is on of the few remaining stands from last years crop of grasses...

The thistles of this year...

The thistles are blooming all over already this year...

Tuesday Coffee Muses

As I sit here with my coffee reading the morning email and news, I hear the wind chimes outside the door going crazy in the wind. We have had a pretty steady breeze blowing for the last four days. Sadly, the ac is cranking this morning so the doors and windows are closed. It's not so much the temperature that keeps us running the heat pump in cooling mode as the humidity. This morning at 7am the temperature is at what would be a fairly comfortable 71 degrees if it weren't for the 92% humidity. And folks it isn't even threatening rain yet...

I promised more spring photo's from the weekend so here are a few showing the wild flowers hiding in the grass around my backyard...

Spring Blooms

Yesterday I posted on the perfume wafting on the spring air. Here are the two main culprits for the ultra sweet fragrance. White and yellow blooms are everywhere along the edge of the woods along the backyard.

As I wandered here on both Saturday and Sunday I was amazed at the insect life that abounded on all of the blooms attracted, I'm sure by the same fragrance that had me adrift in time. The predominate insect seemed to be what we call locally "love-bugs". Tiny black flying insects that at this time of the year are always joined to each other in the nether regions. Soon they will be so numerous you have trouble not inhaling vast quantities as you roam around outside.

I was happy to see some honeybees working the blooms this weekend. While they were few in number, at least they are still around. Earlier I had mention the lack of sightings this spring. You can definitely tell they aren't as common as in past years just by the number of apples on my two (way to south) trees. Each year we have a large number of really small tart apples. This year I've only spotted a couple of apples trying to grow...

Then there is this big guy. These bees are always visiting the thistle blooms in our field. I was actually amazed I was able to catch any shots at all over the weekend due to the almost constant wind. It did make the day much more enjoyable, without the breeze the high of 78 would have been a bit much, but then this is Texas...I'll post some more shots tomorrow.

Y'all have a great day...

Sleeping In on Sunday Morning

It is springlike enough for the doors and windows to be open this morning, so my Sunday morning ritual of the watching the talking heads pontificate while I practice (or try at least) my meditative calm is being accompanied by the bird songs from outside. The chorus include the songs of the many mockingbirds in our yard as they announce their territories. There are a number of redbirds adding their song to the mix. Even the raucous call of a crow can be heard.

Yesterday was so nice I spent most of the day outside enjoying the weather. As I walked along the woods at the back of the yard the Texas Privet and Honeysuckle really perfumed the air. The Privet brought back such memories of my childhood and summers sleeping with the windows open and the privet just outside wafting it's perfume through the house. I also noticed that the Dewberries were ready for a first picking...Another childhood memory.

I just ran the youngest to work at the local taco shack. Used the excuse to hit the What-A-Burger for breakfast tacos. Bacon, eggs, cheese and potatoes in a flour tortilla...What more could a Texan ask for to start their day.

Well I am planning another day like yesterday...Lots of sitting in the sun with a book (face down) in my lap as I stared off in the distance. It doesn't do much justice to Annie Dillard, whose book I wasn't reading any faster than a page every hour, but I'll do it again today.


Lazy Weekend Thoughts

Blue Ridge Country Magazine

One of the things I look forward to in the snail mail realm is "Blue Ridge Country Magazine". I discovered the magazine about the same time I discovered the real thing and I have had a subscription almost since the very first issue I read. Since I started reading this mag I have stumbled across Fred First's images on occasion, but, what keeps me reading is the writing of...

Elizabeth Hunter

Elizabeth Hunter's column "From The Farm" in each issue is always the first thing I look for. In the years since I first discovered the magazine and subscribed I have come to appreciate her insights on mountain living and nature. Her column in this issue is part travelogue and part science/ecology lesson with a touch of Earth Day conservationism thrown in. As she takes us through Natural Bridge State Park in Kentucky she explains the "mixed mesophytic forest" ecology and it's resemblance to the same type of forest in China. She talks of the research being done in China to try to find a way to stop the hemlock woolly adelgid, a problem facing the whole of the Appalachians.

Since her trip took her through much of Kentucky, she even gets in some thoughts on the problems of the coal companies and their mountain top removal methods of destroying a way of life and the living species that once resided there. If you haven't had a chance to check either the magazine or Elizabeth Hunter's writing do yourself a favor and take a look...

Some issues of the magazine contain a extra gift or two when Elizabeth has a feature article to go along with the column.

Ron Rash

I first started noticing Ron Rash whenever I run across him a few years back when Garrison featured one of his poems in his daily "Writer's Almanac". Since that day I have added a couple of Ron's volumes to my library, one poetry and one novel so far. So it was with interest I read his closing comments in this months Blue Ridge Country Magazine. As a bit of autobiography it was an interesting read. The columns title, "The Mountains My Hopes", leads directly to the closing paragraph...
My hope is that the mountains my family has called home for more than 250 years, and much more than that for the small portion of Cherokee in me, will not be destroyed by coal companies, lax environmental laws and overzealous developers, who too often seem intent on destroying the rural landscape and natural beauty that attracts people to the region in the first place. No one can expect the southern Appalachian region to remain in some changeless vacuum, but how much change and at what cost are questions the region must ask itself.
I find I share the hopes expressed by Ron Rash for the mountains he grew up in, the mountains I have come to love.

The Nation Magazine

My morning email brought me an announcement from "The Nation" magazine that they have a special Earth Day edition out. One of the feature articles is " Adapt or Die" by Mark Hertsgaard. In it he compares the flooding in Bangladesh with what has happened in New Orleans. The comparisons are not good for this country. The final paragraph is what really hit me between the eyes...

At this point we must accept that the battle to prevent global warming is over; now, the race to survive it has begun. This race will continue for the rest of our lives, testing human ingenuity, institutions and values as never before. Losses are inevitable, but the situation is not hopeless. We know much of what needs to be done, and we have considerable resources at our disposal. There is rough weather ahead, but if we keep our heads and stick together, we may find ways of living through the storm.
Source: Adapt or Die

Fragments From Floyd

Anyone who has read this blog knows I blame Fred First for the inspiration to follow his lead and try my hand at writing on a regular basis. I am still stumbling along looking for that voice I think I have and the words I want to say. A short while ago I had one of those stream of conscience moments where you just let the words flow. What came out was a "review" or as Tom Montag likes to say "an appreciation" of Fred's "Slow Road Home". The reason for the introduction here is Fred had a really good post up the other day for Earth Day and I wanted to link to it...

Earth Day 2007 - How many More
I'll be bold and assume that thirty seven years of planet-watching earns me one stand in the bully pulpit. From this one citizen's perspective, four things must happen. Making the rubber meet the road is quite another matter, and these are complex issues we must be talking about in Floyd's meeting places, churches, and organizations.
  1. We must take individual responsibility for being carefully conscious of our family and community "environmental footprint" and reduce it.
  2. We must insist that efficiency and conservation by industry and commerce play a much stronger role than they have thus far in CO2 abatement.
  3. We must not become complacent by thinking that our individual conservation or lifestyle changes alone will fully solve the larger problem.
  4. We must find a just way to prevent those who produce the least greenhouse gases from suffering the most.
No matter what we do in the short run, climate change impacts on humanity are likely to be large in the coming century, even here in remote Floyd County. Coping with this unprecedented degree of change will require a whole new way of thinking about our relationship with the planet and each other. Let's renew our commitment to these goals this Earth Day, and move quickly toward an Earth Decade.

You know it's a funny thing about the sitemeter stats. I must be saying something here on occasion that touches at least a few people. I don't have a lot of site visits, but it appears I have a few returning visitors. Some of the locations ring a bell from the comments that have been made over the past year. Some though I have yet to meet. So here's a great big Texas Howdy to all with thanks for your stopping by. If you really want to make my day...Tell me what it is that brings you by...

Well, I've spent way to much time playing this morning and the wife is giving me dirty looks so I better run.
Y'all have a great weekend, get out enjoy spring...See you all on the other side.

Photo Friday - The Country

Indiana Countryside. March 2004

End of a Week Muse

This week has been tragic on many fronts. From the middle east to middle America (give or take a few miles, geographically speaking), death has touched the lives of many people this week. Some have lived with the specter of death for many months and years, some had that specter appear unexpectedly and walk amongst them. It is the very randomness death's touch in such a time that is the hardest to comprehend, and the hardest to forgive yourself for living through while those around you died.

To me, what was brought home this week was the utter futility of this war that George Bush has declared. The "War on Terror", what a disaster of a name. Virginia Tech brings home the futility of our "War on Terror", when a local college student can bring this much "Terror", awe and destruction on a nation with a couple of hours of unplanned, non-conspirecy violence and touch the lives of a nation with the hand of fear, how do you "War" against terror? You don't...And you can't. By the very act of going to war with terrorist you legitimize their very existence.

Of every thing that has been said this week, the following words ring truest and most powerfully for me. I heard a recording of Ms. Giovanni's address on Tuesday, I followed a link from a Sojourners email to the transcript. I am confident that the family of Virginia Tech will get through this with spiritual guides like Nikki to point the path.

We are Virginia Tech.

We are sad today, and we will be sad for quite a while. We are not moving on, we are embracing our mourning.

We are Virginia Tech.

We are strong enough to stand tall tearlessly, we are brave enough to bend to cry, and we are sad enough to know that we must laugh again.

We are Virginia Tech.

We do not understand this tragedy. We know we did nothing to deserve it, but neither does a child in Africa dying of AIDS, neither do the invisible children walking the night away to avoid being captured by the rogue army, neither does the baby elephant watching his community being devastated for ivory, neither does the Mexican child looking for fresh water, neither does the Appalachian infant killed in the middle of the night in his crib in the home his father built with his own hands being run over by a boulder because the land was destabilized. No one deserves a tragedy.

We are Virginia Tech.

The Hokie Nation embraces our own and reaches out with open heart and hands to those who offer their hearts and minds. We are strong, and brave, and innocent, and unafraid. We are better than we think and not quite what we want to be. We are alive to the imaginations and the possibilities. We will continue to invent the future through our blood and tears and through all our sadness.

We are the Hokies.

We will prevail.

We will prevail.

We will prevail.

We are Virginia Tech.

Source: Transcript of Nikki Giovanni's Convocation address | Virginia Tech

For me, one of the telling points of this whole tragedy is that the daily death toll in Iraq continues to climb and we seem to ignore the loss they must feel as we commensurate with each other over our own loss. What does it say about us as a nation?

My prayer to all is that no matter what God(s) you pray to, may your prayers of piece and understanding be granted foreach and everyone of our sakes...

Spring morning - At last...Will it last?

This morning is starting off with the look and feel of that rare but perfect spring day on the SE Texas coast. The air is damp and heavy with a low fog laying in the field behind the house. Te sky is clear from the front we had through yesterday. But best of all for a day or two at least we are waking up with the temperature in what a few years ago at least would be seasonable, 52 degrees. The back door is open and the birds are singing the sun up as I sit with my coffee and my emails. The train whistle is sounding as the morning freight moves through town. The sounds of cars moving on the highway bypass as folks make their way to work is already intruding on the birdsong.

It is funny how much of what we do in the morning becomes a routine. The same thing everyday, at the same time, you could almost do it in your sleep. That is the problem, for me at least. If I don't stop and force my mind into what I am doing I lose that whole meditative state that comes with being mindful of even the little things in the morning routine. As I move from bed to bath to kitchen, it is so easy to just go with the flow and not think about what I am doing. In the kitchen though I usually must become more mindful as I put together the breakfast and lunch I take with me to work.

My drive home each day is down many back country roads. When we first moved south into the country these roads were all gravel. In the past 10 years they have all been paved. I tend to get off the highways and follow this winding, changing route hope most days. It really doesn't take any longer though it adds a few miles to the drive. The time factor is probably due to the lack of traffic and stop lights on this route. The reason for this ramble is my first sighting of Scissortailed Flycatcher for the year. I spotted one way back in the farmland in my meander home yesterday evening. These are birds of the summer here and I always look forward to seeing them on the electric lines along the roads.

Another avian resident that I see occasionally all year round is the Kingfisher. They have a habit of sitting on the same lines as the Scissortail, if those lines are above a water filled ditch. I don't recall them being as common in my youth as they appear to be now. But then again, I probably wasn't very observant then...

Routine says (along with the clock on the shelf) that it's time to move...Later.

Viewfinder BLUES: Dreading the Trip

Viewfinder BLUES: Dreading the Trip
This is, after all, America in the year 2007. We even grieve in Hi-Def.

Wednesday Coffee Muses

Forgive the sparsity of the posts those few of you who check this site regularly. It has been a busy few weeks at work. For the last week as I've gone through the morning email I haven't felt the compulsion to comment on the world at large or my own little corner of it. Then the Monday evil that happened in Virgina left me with a lot to say but no need to add my voice to the general noise level that existed.

The Virginia Tech shootings hit home because of the connection it has with many of my virtual friends from Floyd and Boone. The first thought I had was of them and their friends and families. Then as the news stories filtered out I had a growing anger. My anger was not at the gunman, that sick man was beyond my anger, but with the reporters.

As they questioned the officials and witnesses they were able to corner, these reporters were being rude. They were acting like they had the right to have there questions answered even when the reasons they weren't being answered made sense. And they became more demanding. At the time nobody involved had any clue of the magnitude of the disaster and yet these reporters wanted answers in internet time...Folks, for people who can't seem to even ask a question about the way the country or the war or the world for that matter is being run, to rake the college police and the witnesses over the coals for what they did and didn't do in a manner consistent with the reporters time sense was uncalled for at the very least.

Let me add my sympathies to those of all the others in this country for the families and friends of those that were slain. Our hearts and thoughts go out to all in this time of great sorrow.

A Sunday in Spring

I thought I'd just drop a picture here...Grandson at the Grandparents in Spring...

Yardwork mostly done...just enjoying the sun.

It's A Beautiful Sunday in Spring

After a wet and blustery start to the weekend, the clouds blew out yesterday evening and today has started bright, clear, and beautifully blue skied. It is also one of those always surprising days when we a cooler than Boone and Floyd. I will probably be out playing catch up on the yardwork after the last few wet weekends.

I saw in the paper that Alberto Gonzales is using an op-ed to try and explain away his responsibility for the mismanagement of his department. I can hardly wait for his testimony in Congress this week...I've just watched the Vice-President of the USA call me irresponsible for I don't know how many times because I disagree with his opinion of how well the administration is doing in running their "War on Terrorism" in Iraq.

Let me get this straight, we are supposed to trust and agree with the people running this administration as they strip the constitutional guarantees we have that protect us against just these kind of people.

Sorry for the rant, I should know better by now than to listen to Cheney or read opinions by the man who approved torture and discounted the Geneva Conventions.

See ya'll tomorrow...

Spring or Summer or Winter Still?

Sitting here looking at the current weather as I have my first cup of coffee I am trying to decide what the season might be. As I was pouring that cup, the weather station on the wall was telling me 68 with a 84% humidity. That comes close to meeting my definition of summertime weather. Then my morning email tells me the temperature right now in Boone, NC are 32 degrees. Floyd, Va is reporting 36 degrees. Now those temperatures scream winter to me (granted I am a southern boy by training and birth so what do I know about winter). All I can say to all my friends on the Blue Ridge is throw another log on the fire and pull the covers back up, it ain't time to plant them gardens just yet even though the sun keeps teasing you with 70's this year.

As I was out driving the John Deere around the backyard last evening I notice the Red Oak tree I planted when we first move out here is covered with little curled red leaves, just opening and starting to grow. That's pretty much the last of the trees to leaf out this year. Even the Mimosas have been showing green for a while.

Here is an interesting tidbit from the middle of an article on the erosion of power in the White House...
A telling sign of America's inability to solve chronic problems is the IMF's discussion of our addiction to oil -- something President Bush talks plenty about but lacks the political will or congressional support to change. The IMF has gathered some shocking statistics: U.S. gasoline consumption as a share of gross domestic product is nearly five times that in the other major industrialized countries; gasoline accounts for 43 percent of U.S. oil consumption vs. 15 percent in other countries; fuel efficiency in America is 25 percent lower than in the European Union and 50 percent lower than in Japan. No wonder the world doubts our seriousness on energy issues.

Source: David Ignatius - A Power Outage At the White House -

Interesting numbers, don't you think?

Today - Thursday - April 12, 2007 - Day 19,423

Kurt Vonnegut, the satirical novelist who captured the absurdity of war and questioned the advances of science in darkly humorous works such as "Slaughterhouse-Five" and "Cat's Cradle," died yesterday. He was 84.
Source: Writer Kurt Vonnegut, Voice of U.S. Counterculture, Dies -

I know I read some of his works many years ago, but it's the movies that stick in my mind. Seems they were mostly made about the time I was coming of age...

Indoctrination is supposed to be a predicate for action commensurate with professions of seriousness.
Source: George F. Will - Fuzzy Climate Math -

With a sentence like the one above in the first paragraph, you know George Will is on a roll. His disdain for climate change and global warming is well know, almost to the point of being a cliché. The points he makes about the "media-entertainment-environmental complex" are almost as comical as the standard "liberal media" label thrown out regularly by the "conservative" talking heads. His point seems to be that if the cost is higher than he wants to pay to clean up our act, then lets not do it. Why should we clean up our act if the "developing" countries wont clean up theirs?

George, look at the developing countries...Who are the big polluters? Aren't they, to a large extent, the same corporations that are being forced to clean up their business over here? Should they not be held accountable for their actions no matter where they take place? Bad corporate actors are bad whether they are in the USA, India, or SE Asia. By moving bad practices to poor countries you do not mitigate the action. At some point we must take responsibility for the damage our lifestyle does to the planet...Hopefully while there is still time to repair the damage. But the action will not happen as long as the talking heads with the megaphones keep preaching about how unfair it is to take action while the rest of the world does not.

This whole argument is a lot like the conservative argument against progressive tax systems. Why should those with the resources pay to help those without? Isn't that the argument in a nutshell. I made my fortune (or my daddy or my great-granddaddy), why can't the poor slob down on the corner do the same? I bought my place in the Rockies with the pristine views and the cold clean air, let the rest of the world find their own. Some attitude, eh?

As if the war in Iraq wasn't enough the Administration's surrogates are pushing us into Syria and Iran...

At the same time Syria is terrorizing Lebanon, it is facilitating the flow of insurgents into Iraq, supporting the terrorist groups Hamas and Hezbollah, and allowing its territory to be a foothold in the Arab world for Iran's belligerent ambitions. It continues all this despite scores of trips by senior diplomats to Damascus to "talk to the Syrians."

It is time to face facts. Talking to the Syrians emboldens and rewards them at the expense of America and our allies in the Middle East. It hasn't and won't change their behavior. They are an outlaw regime and should be isolated. Members of Congress and State Department officials should stop visiting Damascus. Arab leaders should stop receiving Bashar al-Assad. The U.N. Security Council should adopt a Chapter VII resolution mandating the establishment of an international tribunal for the Hariri murder.

Source: Liz Cheney - The Truth About Syria -

Now, after all that has happened in the past few years, who doesn't see Dick Cheney's voice behind this push to confront another country. How do these people decide which bad acting country is good and which one is evil? Who in this administration isn't living in the proverbial glass house as the cast stones at the world? The really sad part is they seem to enjoy throwing the stone while still inside their own glass house...

The clock on the wall say I now have my blood pressure up enough to go face Houston traffic...later...

Wednesday Morning Coffee Muse

I guess I should enjoy these few short days of spring before summer really kicks in. Maybe I should define my terms for those of you who may stumble upon these pages and wonder what this fool is talking about so early in the year. To me spring is any day that starts with a temperature under 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Once the night time temperatures stop cooling down below 70 you know the days are going to start being pretty bad here along the Gulf Coast. Since the weekend when we were enjoying (at least some of us) average temperatures 30 degrees below normal for this time of year, we have climbed back into the plus side again. Two mornings running now it has been 67 as I sit down here with my morning coffee. Now don't get me wrong, 67 degrees would be great if it didn't come with a 90+% humidity to make it interesting.

Fred has a post entitled "Honeybee AIDS?" over at Fragments From Floyd. Worrisome subject with far reaching consequences for all of us if it turns out true.

From the ride to work...

The morning drive started overcast but as I got within a few block of work the sun started burning thru. When I passed this field of wildflowers and saw the two horses grazing the sun was still hidden. I could feel it trying to break thru though so I turned around and went back to see what opportunities were presented...This was one result.

We the people of the United States

We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Source: LII: Constitution

The preamble to the Constitution...The one thing the folks who seem to think they are "ruling" America seem to have forgotten. Doug Thompson turned in a good "rant" today. He set me to thinking about the above words.

Somewhere along the line, too many of our elected officials forgot the concept that the government of the United States is "of the people, by the people and for the people."

Our founding fathers, tired of rule by an English King who tried to impose his will on the people, envisioned a government that answers to the wishes of the majority.

When our leaders defy the will of the people, they chip away at the foundation of an American democratic republic. President George W. Bush says he's "the decider." That's not the way democracy is supposed to work. The people are "the deciders." Presidents and Congress are supposed to the "enforcers" of the decisions of the people.

Source: This is still our country | Capitol Hill Blue

Add to this the request for a royal audience by the Decider-in-Chief...
"We can discuss the way forward on a bill that is a clean bill — a bill that funds our troops without artificial timetables for withdrawal, and without handcuffing our generals on the ground," Bush said in a speech to an American Legion audience in nearby Fairfax, Va.

On the one hand, Bush extended an offer to meet with lawmakers Tuesday. On the other, the White House bluntly said it would not be a negotiating session.

The president said if lawmakers don't send him a bill he will sign — one that does not include timetables or money for pet projects in their home districts — it would be Congress, not the White House, that will have to answer to troops.

"The bottom line is this: Congress' failure to fund our troops will mean that some of our military families could wait longer for their loved ones to return from the front lines," Bush said at American Legion Post 177. "Others could see their loved ones headed back to war sooner than anticipated. This is unacceptable."

Source: Bush invites Dems to meet about Iraq - Yahoo! News

I have begun to wonder...Has anyone checked to see what kind of signing statement George W gave when he was inaugurated this last time? Seems that with his record of telling the world what he wasn't going to do, he might have left a record of what he isn't going to do in 2008...

Monday Evening Wine Muses

It looks like I am running a bit behind today...

The sad thing is, I had nothing started I can even half finish to throw out with the wash water.

I haven't had time to run my blogroll and see what's happening out there as I have been playing grandpa a bunch this last weekend. When I came in from work the little bit was in Grandma's arms. After I changed and checked on the new kittens on the back porch I grabbed the grandson and bonded some more. The little toot is now in the living room with the grandma type person having his supper bottle.

Looks like the winter weather is coming to an end. It'll be back up to 80 again tomorrow.

Looks like a number of folks in my daily reading list have been tagged with the "Thinking Blog Award" this past week. Congrats to all...I knew I read all you folks for a reason. And following the links on in your own awards has led to some interesting reading...

The wine glass calls so I'll catch y'all on the other side of the dark...

An Easter Meditation

Happiness is something we all hope for. May your Easter celebration bring you Peace and Happiness...

Happiness is not a goal; it is a by-product.
  – Eleanor Roosevelt

It is only immature people who believe, “I am separate; therefore, I can manipulate you, even exploit you, to ensure my own happiness.”

To think that we can pursue joy as a collector pursues butterflies, seeking it here and there, is folly. We can never go after joy because joy has got to come after us.

It’s like the horizon. When you look from the Berkeley hills, the horizon looks as if it is just beyond the Golden Gate. You honestly believe that if you go there, you will reach the horizon. But as you pursue it, it recedes farther and farther, and that is the nature of pleasure. It peeps out from the store, the restaurant, the bank, but when you enter there you will find it recedes farther and farther.

When we begin to seek a higher goal – for the welfare of our family and community – joy slowly tiptoes after us. We don’t have to say to joy, “Excuse me, will you please come to my house?”

Joy will come and put her suitcase down and say, “I am going to be here, whether you like it or not.”

That is how happiness comes.

Source: Blue Mountain Center - Thought for the Day

Mountain Musings

I sometimes feel like I am deceiving folks as they search the web. The theme of this blog being what it is, but the writing being based on my life here in Texas, causes mischief with all of the search engines. So if you end up here looking for North Carolina wildflowers or dirt roads or weather or anything else, I apologize for the misdirection. I also am looking for all of those things in my life on a daily basis. The future will bring them...or not.

But right now, right here you can find beautiful images of the northwestern North Carolina mountains this spring at Marie's Blue Ridge Blog. For images of the southern North Carolina Mountains try Liz's Southern Highlands Camera. A new blog about the Tennessee Mountains with some overlap into NC can be found at Appalachian Treks. Southwestern Virginia is represented (at least in my daily reads) by Fred at Fragments From Floyd and Doug at Blue Ridge Muse. So if you are here looking for some spring in the mountains check out the above blogs, they all put some really nice photos up regularly.

And keep coming back here, while my pictures of the mountains tend to only cover summer, I take enough each trip across the country to keep new ones coming all year long. Plus, someday... somehow, I will make the move and then I'll be posting my own shots year round. Until then you'll just have to put up with the pictures in the body of this blog not matching the ones at the header or footer.

Thanks for stopping by...

"How do I find country roads?"

More from Leon Hale's Column last week along with more pictures of Sundays Country Road Trip...

I've had Houston people ask, "How do I find country roads? How do I start?"

Just pick up a road map and get out of town. Drive up to Huntsville or Navasota or Giddings or Brenham or Columbus. Go to Hallettsville, La Grange, Eagle Lake, Yoakum, Cuero. Or up to Cleveland, Livingston, Saratoga, Woodville, Jasper.

But get off the big highways and onto the narrow blacktops. Then watch for dirt roads that look inviting.

My partner and I have roamed dirt roads in Washington and Fayette and Austin counties for years, and we still find roads we've never been on and broad fields of wildflowers we've never seen before.

Source: Hale: Dirt roads are Texas treasures | - Houston Chronicle

Country Road Vistas of Washington County, Texas

Wednesday Morning Coffee Muse

I was reading what President Bush had to say in the Rose Garden yesterday. The dichotomy between what he says and what is happening has always been a factor with this man. From the days he was Texas Governor till today, he has a streak of self-denial as wide as Texas.

"I do fully understand the anguish people go through about this war," Bush said about adviser Matthew Dowd, who has deserted him. "It's not just Matthew. There's a lot of our citizens who are concerned about this war. But I also hope that people will take a sober look at the consequences of failure in Iraq. My main job is to protect the people, and I firmly believe that if we were to leave before the job is done, the enemy would follow us here."
"Failure in Iraq", from the day we went to "War" in Iraq it has been a failure. Mr. Bush, your main job is not to protect the people, if it was your record of failures would place you in uncharted territory of failure. I won't even start to enumerate here. Mr. President, your main job is to lead. If you can't show the leadership the American People require of their President they will turn away from your chosen path. You have one choice at that time. You can change your direction and get out in front and lead, or you can keep doing what you were (and are) doing and watch the gap between you and the country grow into a chasm.

Your obstinacy doesn't show character. Whoever told you it did, did a disservice to you and this country. You claim to feel our anguish...Show it. Show some guts, really listen to your critics. Hear what they are actually saying and not just the criticism in the way they say it. Getting your back up every time someone asks a critical questions serves neither you nor this country.

Mr. President, grow up.
"Congress shouldn't tell generals how to run the war," he said.
And for the record, Presidents shouldn't tell Congressmen how to run the government. Oversight belongs to the Congress. When they do not exercise that duty they do both themselves and the Executive Branch a disservice. Mr. President, you should be thanking the members of Congress for faithfully executing the duties of their office. If it sheds light on failures in your offices, that is the reason the oversight was designed into our system of government. Thank them for the help...I do.

Source: For Bush, Fighting Democrats And Doubts -

From Sundays Backroad trip...Both sides of the road. Washington County, Texas.

Red Dirt Roads

Last week in a column Leon Hale had a lot to say about dirt backroads of Texas. This week I have photos...
Too bad Kinky Friedman didn't win the governor's race. I intended to go to Austin and ask him to proclaim every April Country Roads Month in Texas.

He would have done it, too.

But since Kinky didn't win, I'll just go ahead and do the proclamation myself and see if it has any effect.

The aim of Country Roads Month is to get people out of the cities and onto the dirt roads of our state, to roam about, breathe some unpolluted air and get the feel of the land.

I bet we have taxpayers in Houston who're 40 years old and have never rolled along a country road. If they've done all their rolling on federal and state highways, they don't really know what Texas looks like.

This is shaping up as a good year to get the country roads movement going. We're having a nice spring. We've had decent rain after years of dry weather. The land is happy, and green, and getting greener by the hour.

Within the next six weeks, the Texas countryside will be looking better than it's looked in several years. So it's time to move. Stir a little dust.

I'm not talking about driving up U.S. 290 to look at wildflowers planted on the shoulders by the highway department.

Getting out of town to see spring wildflowers is a long-standing tradition in this state, and that's fine, and I think we're going into a good year for roadside blossoms. In Washington County, where we spend time at the Winedale place, bluebonnets are early and going strong.

For those who are unsure what a country road is Leon offers this definition...

My definition of a country road is one that's not paved. A farm to market blacktop where people drive 75 is not my notion of a country road. I'm talking about a dirt road that leads off into the woods and is not shown on your highway map.

I've had friends tell me, "Yeah, but who knows where a road like that goes?"

Then take it and find out. Go slow, roll the windows down, experience the country when it's waking up, turning green, smelling fertile. Maybe you'll get lost for an hour or so. Good. That won't hurt. Eventually you'll come out of the woods somewhere.

I have always followed that advice when out traveling, much to the chagrin of my family. They never know when we will drive a half hour down a back road only to have it end so we can backtrack to where we began.

Source: Hale: Dirt roads are Texas treasures | - Houston Chronicle

Here is one of Leon's Country Roads in Washington County with some of the blooms along the fence you see to the left in the picture.

More photo's to come...

Country Roads In Texas

In yesterday's post I mentioned the possibility of a road trip. The weather stayed iffy even as we left the house at Noon. The wife, youngest daughter and I piled into the car and hit the road anyway. Both of the women in the party were not feeling well but could not be talked into staying behind.

I was really beginning to feel worried as we drove north and west on Texas Highway 36 thru Brazoria and Fort Bend Counties. The wildflower crop thus far consisted of Indian Paintbrushes and a few clumps of Buttercups. Austin County started to bring a few clumps of Bluebonnets mixed into the Paintbrushes.

Then we hit Washington County...And the views were spectacular. This was our first stop. All of these shots were taken within 20 feet of each other.

All photos are taken with a Nikon D80, processed through Photmatix and PhotoShop...More to come this week.

The Day of the Fool?

Happy April Fools Day...Welcome to National Poetry Month.

I had planned to run over to Austin today for the Zilker Garden Festival...I think the creek done rose. After all of the rain we had yesterday and the wife's fighting a spring cold, now as I sit looking out my window the fog has started settling in. Sorry Felder and Dr. Dirt I'll have to catch you two on another trip through the state...Now it's sprinkling outside. If the weather clears we plan on at least trying a run northwest to see if we can catch some fields of wildflowers blooming. If we do I'll try to post some this week.

I'll get back to you later...

My Blog List