It's another Wednesday Morning in Paradise...

Or, Once again around the circle of the week.

Todays weather promises to be brutal. Yesterday evening at sundown the thermometer was still registering 80. This morning before sunup it's already at 70. That wouldn't be so bad but I see the humidity is at 97%...It's gonna be a scorcher out today.

My commute yesterday turned very long...And there was no traffic. Over the last week the kittens we have living with us till they get up to bye bye size have taken to sleeping on top of my bag (computer, planner, etc). Yesterday before I left, I checked the bag glanced inside and zipped it up as I moved it out the door. Drove to work, grabbed my stuff and went in. As I went to sign in at the front desk I heard a meow...Sure enough, one of the pesky kittens had burrowed down deep in my bag and gone to sleep. So it was back out to the car, back to the house with one little white kitten riding the whole way home on my shoulder...Then back to work, an hour late...You really gotta love life's little games...

Oh well, I got a passel of emails...

Looking at the daily forecast I really do have a bit of a worry. This year has been very strange for the Blue Ridge. I understand mid 80's down here in SE Texas on the Gulf of Mexico in May but it should not be getting that warm in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina and Virginia this early in the year. I remember our first family vacation to Valle Crucis, it was August and we left 100 degrees plus down here for the mid 80's in the valley. All of the workers at the Mast were miserable, according to them it just didn't ever get that hot in Valle Crucis. We smiled at that and enjoyed the cool (to us). That was just about 5 years ago and here the temperatures are already that high in May (and they have been that warm a lot this year).

I would say this is going to be the straw that breaks a lot of ecological camels backs. After years of watching different species decline, warmer than normal weather is going to start pushing a number of species back north...even on the higher elevations.

I see that Dana Milbank has the same problem that the rest of the Media seems to have with Al Gore. They just can't take it that he isn't running. So what do they do? Well it looks like Mr. Milbank puts him in his place for being smart. Again and again and again he puts him in his place. Then Mr. Milbank puts the hog farmers of Iowa in their place...
Imagine the Iowa hog farmer cracking open "Assault on Reason," and meeting Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Paine, John Kenneth Galbraith, Walter Lippmann, Johannes Gutenberg, John Stuart Mill, Thomas Jefferson and Marshall McLuhan -- all before finishing the introduction.
I guess Mr. Milbank doesn't think Iowa farmers have read any history. Talk about Media snobbishness.
He spoke of Adam Smith and Thomas Jefferson and John Stuart Mill, only briefly mixing up his patriots: "James Madison wrote -- no, Thomas Paine, I'm sorry." He gave a brief history of the printing press's spread through Northern Europe. He used social science phrases such as "the collective process" and the "marketplace of ideas" and the "exchange of goods and services" and "guided by the role of reason." And he threw in a New Age feel when he discussed the Internet: "It is simply that we have to conjure the full importance that it has in our lives in ways that go beyond what we can see and hear with our senses."
You know, I have listened to Al Gore, I have listened to Bill Clinton, I have listened to George H. W. Bush, and I have listened to George W Bush...Only one of those men has ever had me wanting to throw things through the TV because he didn't make any sense, and it wasn't Al Gore. Why do some people have so much trouble with feeling put upon by a person with a brain who actually uses it? Story after story after story comes out of the Media that plays upon the "superiority" they feel oozes from Al Gore. What is that all about?

Well hell, go read it for yourself if ya want...Washington Post - Dana Milbank

The clock on the wall says it's time to run...catch ya later...

Tuesday - Back to work...

Yesterday was a great day to sit inside and watch the rains come down. After days of watching the rains miss us here in northeastern Brazoria County, they came down with a vengeance yesterday afternoon. We still have water standing in all of the low spots around the yard though the ditches have drained...The weather prognosticators are predicting more for today. At least all the rain keeps the temperatures down. Or it does till the sun comes back out to stay, then its just like living in a sauna.

I was really lucky to have made the decision to start my brisket on the smoker on Sunday. By the time the kids arrived yesterday afternoon, the barbecue was done to a turn. Nothing like a long slow cooking to make a briskets dissolve in your mouth with just the right amount of smoke flavoring. So even though the weather didn't cooperate, the traditional start of summer barbecue came off fine...

Well I am running late and I spent some time this morning catching up with some of the folks on my blogroll so I have to hit the road...Later.

Memorial Day 2007

As I sit here in my quiet house on a rainy Memorial Day morning the thunder rumbles in the distance. Later today the family will gather for some good food and company, but now I am wandering the web reading Memorial Day posts. Eventually I'll get around to my email, but for now it's the thoughtful posts of memory that are holding my interest.

Leon Hale, in his newspaper column today talks of remembering the 14 friends he lost in WWII. There was one line in his column today that summed up Memorial Day in a whole new way for me...
I don't need Memorial Day to remind me of these friends. I think about them all the time. Fourteen lives that didn't get lived.
"Lives that didn't get lived". That's what Memorial Day is, a honoring of the sacrifice of a life, a life not lived to completion. The families not formed or left unfinished, the friends left behind and the friends unmade, the wives and children, both left behind and never created...The lives unlived.

Spend some time today and think on the lives that didn't get lived...There have been a lot of those unlived lives in this nation's history. It's our responsibility to all of those unlived lives to be sure that their sacrifice was justified, that the many lives that will never be because of those cut short are worth the sacrifice we demand of our warriors.

On this Memorial Day as more lives are being put on the line in battles around this world, we must always remember it isn't the life that ended we are memorializing...It's the life that wasn't lived.

Sunday Morning.

On this Sunday, the Memorial Day Eve so to speak, Patry Francis is back with one of her personal short stories that are so powerful the reach into your soul...Do yourself a favor and go read the whole thing.

THE LAST LETTER: A Short True Story

Signs of Human 4, originally uploaded by zachstern.

When I entered high school, there was a war going on. Every night the local paper printed the addresses of soldiers who wanted to get mail. I wrote to every name on the list, and used my babysitting money to send them small gifts.

Source: SIMPLY WAIT: THE LAST LETTER: A Short True Story

Fred First has posted the first part of a piece on patriotism. I find myself in agreement with most of what he has posited in this piece. The only addition I would make to his comments is in adding a "higher ideals" component to the definition. To me, one of the biggest things this country has had going for it over the years is the notion that we can do better...We expected to be better than we actually were. We held ourselves to a higher standard than we held others. Somewhere in the past few years we quit holding ourselves to those "higher" standards and that's where we are beginning to lose our way. Fred points a way to refind those ideals by rediscovering that tie to place, that tie to home, that tie to country. We will only return to those "higher" ideals when we hold ourselves and those who "lead" us and the companies we allow to sell to us are held to the same "higher" standards.

"We the people" were the words used to found this country. "We the people" have given our lives and our living to making this country strong. "We the people" developed the "ideals" that have led this country through two hundred plus years of wars, disasters and lives. "We the people" will continue to move this country forward, not always well, sometimes with stumbles, sometimes with great arguments, but, always forward if we hold ourselves to the same high ideals our parents and grandparents held themselves.

Go, spend some time with family. Think on those who have sacrificed so much for this great country. Think on those that still sacrifice daily. Give thanks for all of them. Raise your own sights to the higher ideals...Have a great patriotic weekend.

Thoughts for a Saturday Morning.

One of the emails I get each day comes from the Blue Mountain Center of Meditation. Today's "Thought for the Day" really connected with one of my core beliefs so I pass it on...

You are what you believe.
– Anton Chekhov

You are what the deep faith of your heart is. If you believe that money is going to make you happy, then you will go after money. If you believe that pleasure will make you happy, you will go after pleasure. Because, “as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he,” not as he thinketh in his head. There is a vast distance from the head to the heart. In the Greek and Russian Orthodox traditions, they say that whatever spiritual knowledge you have in your head must be brought down into your heart. This takes many, many years.

Source: Thought for the Day - Eknath Easwaran

Looks like I have shot half the day and haven't done a thing...Time to move. Y'all have a great day.

Back Early

My hiatus was shorter than promised. Now I am back, on light duty for the weekend with a sore throat and permission to eat ice cream...What more could a overweight middle aged man ask for? Before anyone asks, I have been having a persistent hoarseness over the last few months and the wife finally convinced me to have it checked out. The ENT specialist found some very tiny lesions on my vocal cords. Today he did a slice and dice for a biopsy and we will get the results next week. Due to my weight and sleep apnia there was a very good chance that I would be spending the night. Turns out it wasn't required, so I am home and under doctor's order to take it easy, rest my throat, and enjoy some Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla.

While I am sitting here catching up on my reading I came across the following op-ed that reminded me of a story on the Pacifica Station here in Houston that I heard yesterday as I drove to my pre-op appointments.
Sometimes thinking small can get things done. To bring artificial light to an isolated village or refugee camp could require building an enormous hydroelectric dam, followed by laying hundreds of miles of cable. Or it could take the donation of a $10 solar flashlight.

As Will Connors and Ralph Blumenthal reported in The Times recently, the entrepreneur Mark Bent, through his company SunNight Solar, has developed and manufactured a solar-powered flashlight that gives up to seven hours of light, before recharging, and can last close to three years between battery replacements. The flashlight retails for around $20 in American stores, but corporate donors have gotten them for aid groups at half the price, a deep discount but still a profit for Mr. Bent.

Source: Lighting the Way - New York Times

Pacifica had Mark Bent on their program as his company is located here in Houston. His BOGO Light is amazing, and the distribution method is a work of art. BOGO stands for Buy One Give One, and for every light bought for $25 one light is delivered to Africa and distributed. Lights are also sold at discount to organizations for distribution around the world. And the amazing thing about these lights is they are ecofriendly.

It seems that the NY Times did an article on the lights earlier in the week that has generated an enormous amount of curiosity (and emails to Mark). From the Bogo Light website the following info was gleaned...

The BoGo Light is a scientific, eco-friendly breakthrough that is making an impact worldwide. From Cairo to Cape Town, from the Caribbean to the Amazon, it is improving the lives of individuals, families, and entire villages by replacing costly kerosene, candles, and disposable battery flashlights with an affordable, long lasting, solar flashlight.

Two billion people living in the developing world rely on kerosene lanterns, candles, and single-use battery flashlights for light at night. Not only are these options expensive, dangerous, and harmful to the environment, they also negatively impact health, education, and security.
From the radio yesterday and the company's website it sound as if they are about to bust out. Mark Bent is a former US Diplomat having spent many years in Africa. They are partnered with the World Bank, and the UNHCR.

The Future – The task light is just the first step in our effort to change the world. Here are some of our exciting plans for the future.

  • We have nearly finished development of a room illumination system based on the same components as our task lights – a photovoltaic panel, double AA rechargeable batteries, and light emitting diodes.
  • Much of the developing world lacks access to clean water, so we will begin developing a solar powered water purification system.
  • Too many newborns in the developing world die from conditions easily preventable with proper lighting. We will shortly start researching and developing a solar powered light that can help newborns suffering from jaundice.
  • We want to help build a self-sustaining Africa: Africans helping Africans. To this end, our parent firm (SunNight Solar Enterprises) will partner with African small businesses and entrepreneurs to sell our products abroad.
  • We will continue to expand our present philanthropic efforts, supporting individual orphanages and schools in Africa, South America, and the Caribbean.
Looks like I am going to be investing in some solar lighting for my home...Why don't you look into it yourself?

Later Folks...

Friday Morning Muse - minus coffee

It looks like I'll be away from cyberspace for the next day or so playing with the medical professionals. Sitting here this morning without the morning coffee (or much of anything else), I've run through my email and checked in on some blog buddies and now I gotta run...Catch y'all tomorrow...

Thursday Morning Coffee Muse

As I wander into the kitchen each morning to pour that first cup I glance above the coffee maker to the weather station and check the outside conditions. At 6am this morning the outside temperature was already at 73 and the humidity was at 92%. By my definition summer has arrived. Given those conditions outside, even with the ac running in this old house the humidity almost never falls into the 50% range. Which I find surprising because in my reading somewhere in the last week I remember reading that a pleasant humidity was in the 40%-50% range. I remember thinking at the time that the person writing that must be from the west somewhere, because I don't ever recall a reading like that here.

Oh well, emails are calling...

You have to love the Texas Legislature, the Houston Chronicle is reporting today that the "Senate OKs bill for school Bible classes". You have to wonder what they are thinking, this is the state that keeps fighting the courts on school prayer, so now we want to teach the Bible. Or, are they planning a comparative religion course. For some reason I can't see the Quran or the Bhagavad Gita on the shelves and being taught in a Texas schoolroom, though I wish a class of that nature was taught when I was in high school. Picture if you can, the track coach who gets assigned the new class of Bible Study 101...

AUSTIN — The Senate easily passed and sent to the governor a bill Wednesday to teach Bible classes to high school students, but lawmakers immediately disagreed on whether the measure would make the courses mandatory.

Legislative leaders differed on whether school districts may offer the religion studies course, or whether they are obligated to do so if 15 or more students sign up for it. Both "may" and "shall" show up in different sections of the House bill that the Senate passed 28-2 without changing.

I see now why we will be missing the wit of Molly Ivins, only she could see the humor of this kind of "Lawmaking". I guess the real problem I have with this issue is that every quote and even the headline of the article call it "Bible class" not religion class. It seems to me it is starting off biased toward Christianity, not a great way to teach religious equality or separation. Even with a requirement for a curriculum and a "textbook" and not the Bible to teach the course, I see too much of a chance for local schools to do another end run around the constitutional separation of church and state.

Source: Senate OKs bill for school Bible classes | - Houston Chronicle

Living creatures are nourished by food, and food is nourished by rain; rain itself is the water of life, which comes from selfless worship and service. – Bhagavad Gita

You really have to give the Texas Legislature credit for creative taxation. Just when you thought there couldn't be another sin to tax...They found one.

AUSTIN — Strip clubs would have to peel off $5 per customer for a new state sex assault prevention fund under legislation approved by the state Senate Wednesday.

The measure, pushed through the House earlier by Rep. Ellen Cohen, would require the clubs to take a daily count of patrons and pay the state $5 for each one. Those records would be subject to audits from the state comptroller.

I guess what floored me about this was the estimated revenue they expect to collect...
The fee is expected to raise $87 million over the next biennium — $25 million of which would go toward a sex assault prevention fund. The rest would go to the Texas health opportunity pool, which is used to provide assistance to low-income people.
A sinner here a sinner there, pretty soon it adds up to real money. Which sinner out there is going to stand up and say "don't tax my perversion"?

Source: Law adds $5 strip-club fee to prevent sex attacks | - Houston Chronicle

I see Charles Manson it still kicking at 72. The newspaper is reporting a 11th denial of parole. I once sat and talked with a man who had the same intensity about him that came through the news photos of Manson. Needless to say, the man I spoke with scared the s--t out of me. I found myself staying aware of where he was in the room at all times. I thought at the time he could be another of the family of Manson and I really did not want to find out if I was right. I haven't recalled that night in 30 plus years.

Time to take the youngest to her last day of school for this session...see y'all down the road.

Just call me slow...

I have been using Gmail as my online email since I managed to wrangle an invitation from my youngest son. I have used Google Reader as my feed reader for quite a while now too. Who knew they both shared a lot of the same keyboard shortcuts...Duh!

If you aren't using some of the basics, go here and check'em out...Gmail Keyboard Shortcuts

Wednesday Muse - Climate Change

My email yesterday brought me the weekly newsletter from Earth Observatory a part of NASA. The first article they referenced was their updated Global Warming Reference. It is a good overview of what we are probably in for in the coming years.

Earth Observatory Reference: Global Warming

by Holli Riebeek • design by Robert Simmon • May 11, 2007

Over the last five years, 600 scientists from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change sifted through thousands of studies about global warming published in forums ranging from scientific journals to industry publications and distilled the world’s accumulated knowledge into this conclusion: “Warming of the climate system is unequivocal.”

Far from being some future fear, global warming is happening now, and scientists have evidence that humans are to blame. For decades, cars and factories have spewed billions of tons of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, and these gases caused temperatures to rise between 0.6°C and 0.9°C (1.08°F to 1.62°F) over the past century. The rate of warming in the last 50 years was double the rate observed over the last 100 years. Temperatures are certain to go up further.

One of the facts they mention that I wasn't aware of is that during the last ice age the average temperature was only 9 to 15 degrees cooler than right now. That's kind of scary to my way of thinking.

Source: Earth Observatory Reference: Global Warming

Follow that up with this years hurricane prediction and life looks very interesting...
Experts: Expect a busy hurricane season

Oceans warmer than last year, and there's no El Niño to ward off activity

Federal scientists weighed in on the upcoming hurricane season Tuesday, and their report echoes that of other forecasters: The 2007 hurricane season will produce a greater number of storms than usual.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's report calls for 13 to 17 named storms, up to 10 of which might become hurricanes. About 10 tropical storms and hurricanes form during an average year.

And if that doesn't make you feel warm and cuddly here on the coast, and remembering the damage from just a few years ago on the Blue Ridge from the rains spawned by these monster storms, they offer these words of encouragement...
Sea-surface temperatures are even warmer this year than in 2006, and climate scientists say they could approach levels of the record-breaking 2005 season — the year of hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma.

Hurricane activity has been on the upswing since 1995 as Atlantic sea-surface temperatures have been rising. Scientists say this period of increased activity could last another 10 to 30 years as part of a natural, decades-long cycle.

I just love the editing that went into that last statement..."natural, decades-long cycle" indeed. True as far as it goes, since man is part of nature, anything we do to effect our environment is natural...Right? It seems to me this is about the same prediction I recall from the season before last. Didn't it last into January? Didn't we run out of assigned names and have to go to the Greek alphabet or some such convention?

Source: Experts: Expect a busy hurricane season | - Houston Chronicle

2005 Atlantic Hurricane Season Track Map

It seems that even Verlyn Klinkenborg is thinking thoughts of global warming. The sight of wildfires burning in California started a chain of thoughts that almost have a spiritual feel to the imagery.

It began to seem to me that we are a species of fire-starters, and that all of our imprisoned fires are just so many versions of yet another cook-fire on the edge of night in a land where fuel has grown scarce from all the cook-fires of all the people.

I thought about this sudden vision for a couple of days. At first, it seemed almost overwhelming. I tried to picture all the combustions that are essential to the human ways of life in all their global diversity. I wondered what Earth would look like from our neighborhood in space if we could see all our incandescences, in all their forms, glowing at once. There would be only a faint corona of anthropogenic combustion, but it would be more than enough to have begun overwhelming the atmosphere, which is, after all, such a thin, faint halo around this planet.

The image of the cook-fire kept coming back to mind — the cook-fires I saw burning last June in a village in Tanzania, where every day the problem of fuel presented itself all over again. Sooner or later a wildfire burns itself out for lack of fuel. The question, I suppose, is whether our species will do the same.

It's that final image that will live with me, the need for fire to cook with and the lack of fuel to start the fire. The unending hunt for new fuels and new methods of burning to sustain life here on Earth.

It seems to me that the Earth had been banking it's carbon for eons then along came man. Man started to release the carbon, first before it was banked but before long it was easier to pull it out of the bank in it's more concentrated form. All of this was no real problem when we were few and scattered about in small communities. Peer pressure kept everyone from getting too outrageous, when the neighbors are close and mostly kin no one person will be overly abusive of any resource. It's only when the neighbors are unknown that resource abuse goes unpunished by the peer group.

Source: Letter From California: Some Thoughts on Living the Combustible Life - New York Times

It's been a long morning but it's time to start winding this down...Y'all have a great day.

If it's Tuesday, this must be...

I may wish it was Belgium, but it's still SE Texas. I just heard a long rumble that I thought must be a plane flying over until I notice the color of the light and the darkness to the west. That caused me to pull up the radar loop (how did we live before instant access to weather radar?) and what it is showing is I am going to get very wet on the drive to work.
That's me just to the left of Galveston Bay and to the right of the dark red rain clouds.

While I have been aware of, and disapproving of, the marketing of the drug companies, this story from the Washington Post today is extremely troubling. Tied to the stories floating around about the payments doctors are given for prescribing certain drugs, it paints a picture that I find inconsistent with our ideals here in America. It also explains the reason more of our per capita income goes to pay for, what turns out to be, second rate health care.

Many doctors object to drugmakers' common practice of contracting with data-mining companies to track exactly which medicines physicians prescribe and in what quantities -- information marketers and salespeople use to fine-tune their efforts. The industry defends the practice as a way of better educating physicians about new drugs.
This sounds like the same justification they use for the marketing prescription drugs, educating the public so they know what to question their physicians. If this is the case...Why do they never educate the public about the drugs that aren't protected by patents? It would seem to me that the education excuse would only work if we weren't being educated just about the most profitable drugs in their portfolios.

Since at least the early 1990s, drug companies have used the data to identify doctors who write the most prescriptions and go after them the way publishers court people who subscribe to lots of magazines. They zero in on physicians who prescribe a competitors' drug and target them with campaigns touting their own products. Salespeople chart the changes in a doctor's prescribing patterns to see whether their visits and offers of free meals and gifts are having the desired effect.

You would think, that with all of the data they are tracking, the law of averages would tend to trend in my favor so that every drug my multiple doctors prescribe would not be at the top of my insurance company's drug co-pay list. Not...

Source: Doctors, Legislators Resist Drugmakers' Prying Eyes -

Gotta run get wet...Have a great day.

Monday Muses

Seems like every year brings more good news for the folks out there who think the world is too cool. To my way of thinking, mind you I am no scientist and claim no special knowledge, but folks this seems to be a trend line. Now I am not claiming I know (or at this point care) what is causing this climate change, but climate change it is, and our actions are contributing to the outcome.

Global Highlights:

  • Based on preliminary data, globally averaged combined land and sea surface temperature was the warmest on record for January-April year-to-date period and third warmest for April.

  • Global land surface temperature was warmest on record in April. Temperatures were above average in Europe, Alaska, western U.S., eastern Brazil, northwestern Africa, and most of Asia. Cooler-than-average conditions occurred in the Middle East Region and the eastern half of the contiguous U.S.

  • Precipitation during April 2007 was above average in the Northeast region of the contiguous U.S. and most of South America. Drier than average conditions were observed in Japan, southeastern U.S., southeastern China and most of Europe.

  • ENSO conditions remained in a neutral phase during April.

Source: NCDC: Climate of 2007- April Global analysis

Sunday Morning on My Google Reader

I slept late this morning and once the coffee was done I started with my Google Reader feeds for a change. Some of what led me on to the full story are...
The Rural Life

The Scent of Lilacs


Published: May 20, 2007

I am writing from a mile high in a small Wyoming town on the edge of the Wind River range. The snow on the nearby buttes — the gift of late April — has finally melted, and the creek bottoms and pastures and hayground are an unhoped-for green. The drift of cotton from the cottonwoods is almost over, but the lilacs are still in high bloom. The town is nearly damp with their scent.

Source: The Scent of Lilacs - New York Times

I come late to my appreciation of Verlyn Klikenborg. Now that I have discovered "Rural Life" I chase his writing to wherever I can find it.

Coming clean about mess of peas


Copyright 2007 Houston Chronicle

On the way home from Winedale the other morning I stopped at a vegetable stand in Hempstead and bought a mess of purple hull peas.

These were peas still in the hull, so they had to be shelled. Took me about an hour to shell this particular mess. Purple hulls have the reputation of being easy to shell, and they do sit loose in the pod and come out easily once you get the ends snapped off.

Source: Hale: Coming clean about mess of peas | - Houston Chronicle

Go see Leon's recipe for cooking up that mess of peas. He'll also explain how you can turn that mess of peas into a three course meal...

I guess I've killed enough time this morning, so I better start moving (though I did manage to fix breakfast and eat with Sherry already). If you have a moment swing over to Fragments From Floyd and check out Fred's post today. He is pushing us all to be who we like to think we are...Go see what I mean.

So far the doors are open and the kittens are all over the floor...I expect to be shutting the house within the hour as the heat heads above 80 for another Texas spring day...You all enjoy.

Spring again this Saturday morning

It's Saturday morning and the house is quiet. Not a soul is stirring right now, not even the kitten sleeping in on my left forearm. You try typing with just one hand sometime, boy does it slow down even an untutored typist like me. I am enjoying the fact that spring has decided to pay another short visit, the kitchen doors are wide open and the temperature outside is still in the mid 60's at 8am...Heaven for this time of year.

About the kitten, we are living with 5 right now. They are already 5 weeks old and becoming quite a group of characters. Our half feral half domestic momma cat provided this collection to us and has been a very attentive mother so far. It appears we have an abundance of good homes already lined up for these little souls. Then momma dearest is scheduled for a visit to the vet. I would have posted pictures but these guys are too active to catch a good shot of unless they are sleeping and they tend to do that under something (except for the one that thinks he has to sleep on me). He particularly likes to climb up on my chest when I'm comfy on the couch with a movie in the dvd player.

The morning symphony has played itself out already. And it looks like the world is stirring...So it's off and about for me.

You all have a great weekend...


Way to go Fred...You've made the big time now. Reviewed in the Washington Post...Somebody send me a hard copy. Gotta love it... 



"Slow Road Home" (second edition), by Fred First

Sunday, May 20, 2007; Page P02

BOOK: "Slow Road Home" (second edition), by Fred First (Goose Creek Press, $15.95)

TARGET AUDIENCE: People who find wonder in the woods and joy in solitude.

Source: ROAD READS -

TGIF - Computer Blues

When I tried to put together this mornings post before I left home the laptop decided to lock up and laugh at me...So it was shutdown and hit the road with my post peculating in the back of my mind. The very first thing I heard on PBS as I was headed down the street I live on was about a major traffic backup two exits past the closest cross street to work. That told me right there not to it was off through the country instead of down the freeway. Sadly, my back road trek still got me to within a couple of blocks of the office by 8am, and that's where I spent 25 minutes trying to finish the trip. You really have to love Houston traffic...Or move.

The weather this morning was really what I consider springlike. It was 61 degrees when I hit the kitchen, so doors open and first cup of the morning while being serenaded by birdsong. The predominant player this morning, as on most here, was our state bird. When you get a half dozen Mockingbirds singing their hearts out to mark their territories, you really have a full chorus going.

I try not to let my political rants get out here very often, but this story in the Washington Post really got me .

The lawyers said any conversations Cheney and the officials had about Plame with one another or with reporters were part of their normal duties because they were discussing foreign policy and engaging in an appropriate "policy dispute." Cheney's attorney went further, arguing that Cheney is legally akin to the president because of his unique government role and has absolute immunity from any lawsuit.

U.S. District Judge John D. Bates asked: "So you're arguing there is nothing -- absolutely nothing -- these officials could have said to reporters that would have been beyond the scope of their employment," whether the statements were true or false?

"That's true, Your Honor. Mr. Wilson was criticizing government policy," said Jeffrey S. Bucholtz, deputy assistant attorney general for the Justice Department's civil division. "These officials were responding to that criticism."

So there America, as far as your government is concerned, if you criticize this administration they have an inherent right to lie about you or break the law and you, dear citizen, have no recourse. Welcome to Mr. Bush's Compassionate Conservative America, land of the rich and liars...

Source: Judge Told Leak Was Part of 'Policy Dispute' -

Here is a photo I took earlier in the week of a moth sitting on the outside of the window beside my seat at the computer...The photo was taken from the inside with the outside lighting showing through.

Have a great day...

Hurricane center chief says ad campaign wasteful

This reminds me of the good old days when the "Light Company" was a public utility and I used to wonder why the hell they advertised on every TV and Radio channel. Did you know that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration was involved in predicting the weather?  Duh...Did these guys ever hear of the internet? 

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is spending up to $4 million to publicize a 200th anniversary celebration, said Bill Proenza, who heads the hurricane center, part of the National Weather Service, which is a NOAA agency. At the same time, it has cut $700,000 from hurricane research, he said.

"No question about it, it is not justified. It is using appropriated funds for self promotion," Proenza said in a phone interview while attending the Florida Governor's Hurricane Conference in Fort Lauderdale.

NOAA spokesman Anson Franklin said the agency is only spending about $1.5 million on the campaign over two years. He said it is justified to publicize the agency's mission to a public that is often unaware of its involvement in weather prediction and forecasting.

"It's part of our responsibility to tell the American people what we do," Franklin said. "It's inaccurate and unfair to just characterize this as some sort of self-celebration."

Source: Hurricane center chief says ad campaign wasteful | - Houston Chronicle

Almost through the week morning muse...

I see that even though the Blue Ridge Mountains are having a couple of days of early spring weather again they are looking a bit dry. Checking out Ray's Weather Page today he closes his forecast with a warning about the lack of moisture and the chance of fires...But with maybe a frost in the forecast, my how nice it must on the deck anyone?

Drought conditions continue to worsen in Western North Carolina with no relief in sight. Winter was very dry, and while we have had a few rainy days, Spring has been exceptionally dry as well. We are in the neighborhood of 50% of normal rainfall this year. Going into early summer, dry ground conditions will tend to reduce our normal afternoon and evening shower/thunderstorm activity. Our only hope at this point for drought relief is tropical activity later this summer. Be extremely careful with fire! The forest fire in Linville Gorge a couple weeks ago may just be the precursor of things to come. For more details about drought conditions across the country, see
Source: Ray's Weather Center - Valle Crucis -

Kate at Cider Press Hill commented on the fact that the bird population in her area was down and posted on the connection to West Nile. I stumbled across this article this morning at the Washington Post...

Experiments had predicted that certain birds might be especially vulnerable to West Nile infection, and earlier tests on birds found dead on the ground appeared to confirm that some species were suffering a significant toll. But the new analysis is the first to track populations directly, species by species and year after year at the same locations.

It shows that the post-1998 declines were greatest at times and places in which the virus was especially prevalent -- as indicated by the number of human infections diagnosed. As expected, American crows were among the worst hit, suffering declines of as much as 45 percent in some regions and wipeouts of 100 percent in some smaller areas. Other species that suffered included the blue jay, the tufted titmouse, the American robin, the house wren, the chickadee and -- unexpectedly -- the American bluebird.

"These are not the rare, vulnerable populations we think of as being at risk due to introduced species. These are our everyday, backyard country birds," said Shannon LaDeau, an ecologist at the bird center who led the study with Marra.

Looks like we are in for a rough ride for the next few decades no matter what form of disastrous outcomes floats your boat...Global warming, imported diseases, bugs and plants let loose in damaged ecological niches. They all cause unforeseen consequences we have to live with.

Source: Bird Species Plummeted After West Nile -

Here is another shot from Monday. I stopped under the bridge on 1462 over the Brazos River and took this shot. You can tell from the red color of the water that the rains have been falling quite a bit far upstream. The dirt down here isn't that color. And from the fact that the water is as high as it is, a whole lot of rain must of fallen. Normal water level at this point is probably 20 feet or more lower than this with a lot of sand showing in the bed of the river.
Time to hit the road...Y'all have a great day...

From Monday Afternoon

I had a visit scheduled on Monday with the Doc, so naturally, I scheduled the whole day as a holiday...After the Doc and a slow meander home along the bay I had a quick lunch and took myself off to see if I could find something to photograph. I had been meaning to stop along the road here for a while since I pass it almost every day and just hadn't done so. Monday I did. I hope you enjoy the shot...

Wednesday Coffee Muses

There is no better way to start a morning than with a column by Leon Hale. Go sit awhile on the porch of his old country house and hear a tale or two...

WINEDALE — On the front porch again at the old country house in Washington County, and here is my deep thought for the week:

One of humankind's greatest inventions is the riding mower.

Maybe you'll agree, if you've ever cut your lawn with a push mower.

Those words — push mower — put me in reverse, back to my first regular paying job, taking care of Mrs. Nichols' yard once a week the summer of 1932. She had this mower with metal wheels and dull blades.

Cutting her grass ruined an entire day, and my pay was 35 cents, a glass of lemonade and a couple of tea cakes.

Even as I relate (somewhat) to his opening, it's the mental images that come from his closing comments that really left me smiling...

After all the rain we've had this spring, grass and weeds are tall and lush, and there's something about knocking over that thick growth that appeals to me.

Pour on the juice. Wade into a patch of briars and weeds and watch the dust fly. Hit a fire-ant mound and knock those little suckers 40 feet. Run over a dead limb fallen off an oak and whang, bam, blooey — busted sticks fly clean across the creek.

Do yourself a favor and go have a sit a spell on another porch and have a listen to a great local storyteller. If you haven't followed my links in his direction before, take a little while to read a few from his archives, it's worth the investment in time...Trust me.

Source: Hale: Mowing the lawn was never this fun | - Houston Chronicle

It's good to see the weather on the Blue Ridge appears to be moderating a bit. The weather prognosticators are promising us a respite from the heat...tomorrow. Seems to be the way it goes here on the Gulf Coast, always better weather tomorrow, though I am sure there are enumerable folks out there who would love the weather we are having. I know there must be a lot of folks who like their springs to be full of 9o's, both temperature and humidity readings, unfortunately, I've never been one of them.

I remember the summer in the early years of our marriage when I decided to paint the old house we bought from my parents. That year turned out to be one of the hottest and driest we ever had. Since the house had last been painted in the early 50's, I couldn't take a chance that the paint didn't have some lead in it so breathing the dust as I scraped and sanded down to a clean surface didn't seem advisable.

Every day that month started above 80 and went over 105 by noon. Even dry our climate pumps out some humidity, so to say it was uncomfortable working conditions would be showing way too much constraint. I spent my days in cut off blue jean shorts, shirtless, barefoot, with only a headband around my head to catch the sweat...and a whopping big respirator to keep from breathing the dust. It took me most of the month to scrape and sand and prime and then finally paint that house. Boy was I proud when I finished (and sweated down to a trimness I have never again reached in this life). And totally flummoxed when a year or so later the paint on the west side of the house started flaking off of the cypress siding. Turns out not much will stick to good cypress lumber which is why they used to use it to build around the water...

It looks like it's time to hit the road...

Tuesday Coffee Muses

Reading my email this morning the first thing up was the Grist Digest. Scrolling down the page I saw that Tom Philpott has a new article published. It was pretty good reading, go check it out...

Buyer Be Wary
On the peculiar American habit of demonizing food By Tom Philpott

10 May 2007

I find myself in total agreement with him on this one and I take it a step further and roll the pharmaceutical industry in with the industrial food industry. I do not think we have had enough time nor done enough research to really think we "know" what we are doing in the nutritional and the drug areas of our lives. What we are doing to our bodies with the rampant use of antibiotics and hormones in our food supply is probably what is causing a majority of our health problems. Then you have the medical experts telling you to cut fat and eat refined carbs for your they really "know" what they are talking about. Oh, and while we are at it take these pills the big pharma researchers say will increase their profits...Anyway, go check out Tom's article, he's a neighbor I haven't yet met when we visit the NC mountains in Valle Crucis.

Source: On the peculiar American habit of demonizing food | By Tom Philpott | Grist | Victual Reality | 10 May 2007

Hey, will the last Bush appointee to leave the In-Justice Department (this will probably be you, Alberto) please turn out the lights. We won't be needing them anymore since nobody will be believing anything that comes out of there for quite a while...

Time to run...later

The colors of summer...

As I wander the backroads around my neck of the woods, the rainbow of spring wildflowers has already given way to the reflected sunshine of the summer blooms. As you may have noticed in the photos of the last week, the yellow of the sun has been transplanted to every unmowed field in this part of Texas. We ave yet to see the first of the actual sunflowers of the later summer but everywhere you look you see the yellow of Black-eyed Susan, Tickseed, and Plains Coreopsis make up the majority of the blooms. There is nothing quite like rounding a curve and coming upon a large field of yellow blooms covering the ground for acres and acres...

Even the small section of field out behind our house that I let go native each summer is looking mostly yellow now. Earlier this year it was mostly reds and purples and blues. It's almost funny the way the earliest flowers bloom in colors from the ends of the spectrum while the colors of summer cluster in the middle.

It's good to see the weather dropping a cooler pattern into the Blue Ridge Mountains (at least for a few days). Watching a weather pattern develop in the upper mountains that was starting to mimic the southern coast was getting a bit scary. And while I know the folks living up there were probably enjoying the milder weather this spring, I don't think they will enjoy the summers that come with it. I remember our first rip into Valle Crucis. That summer as we arrived so did a heat spell. Watching the way the mid 80's wilted those folks left a knowing smile on this Texas native's face, thinking of the weather we had just left behind. The over 100 degree day's at home lasted for weeks that summer.

Living in alternate realities...

When I was growing up, my favorite activities revolved around camping and being in nature. As I started my high school career in Pasadena I even went so far as to take Vocational Agriculture as a means of starting on a career path that I hoped would lead to a career in forestry. Over the years the realities of a life lived changed the dreams, or at least pushed them back into the night where dreams live their own lives. So needless to say when a Google Alert I have running on my name returned a link to this article it was like stepping into the looking glass from long ago and I had to look over my shoulder for the white rabbit...

The forest might seem the perfect setting for someone who was once an eagle.

Gary Boyd, who talked to Athens Rotary Friday about his job as a forester for International Paper Company, “hatched” the Athens High School mascot, Elrod the Eagle, in 1980.

Boyd went on from his glory days as the Golden Eagles mascot Elrod to graduate summa cum laude from Mississippi State with a degree in forestry in 1984. He went to work for Union Camp right out of college.

“My office was the forest for 20-plus years,” Boyd said. “And until the advent of cell phones and pagers, it was great.”

Source: enewscourier, Athens, AL - Forester says the forest was his office for 20-plus years

Now thats a case of deja vu...A whole 'nuther life that coulda been. Way to go Gary...

It looks like today will really feel like summer. At 10am the temperature is already pushing 77 degrees and the humidity is at 74%. Not a pleasant start for a Mother's Day. The weather prognosticators are predicting a high today of about 10 degrees higher...Ouch.

Almost No-Coffee Muse

Weekday coffee in this house is made by my wife as she is up and out the door most mornings before I roll out at 5:30. Yesterday's coffee was a little cool by the time I sat down with my first cup and when I checked the warming plate wasn't...So I figured it was time to replace a coffee maker. Since the drip side had worked ok I figured it was just the warming plate that had died. My hope was that the coffee would brew and I would just sit it on the stove to stay warm...I warned my wife last evening we would need to be replacing the c-maker today.

This morning we both slept in but I was the first to stir. So I stumbled into the kitchen to make the pot. I poured in the water, put the coffee in the filter, turned on the pot and waited...and waited...and waited. Now I am not the one in this household who has to have that first cup before my eyes can open, though that once would have described me well. So it was off to wally world to grab a new appliance. I didn't spend a lot of time comparing features or price or anything else for that matter, I knew I was on short minutes here. I found a basic brew machine that did not have a pot. Instead it dispenses with a push bar you push your cup against. I did check to make sure my travel cup would fit before I picked it up though...I managed to pay for the new "brewstation" and get home, wash it out and make the first pot before Sherry wandered in rubbing her eyes and heading for the pot...Thank you for small favors.

I can only hope not everyones morning started out quite as hectic...Have a great weekend.

First Friday of NCMD Y2

I stood out in the backyard last evening and watched the weather light show as the severe thunderstorms moved across Houston to the north of here. Lightning rolled through the clouds over two thirds of the sky as the mockingbirds sang in the background. We were far enough away that the thunder didn't really reach us...just the light. Oh, occasionally you'd hear a low rumble from off in the distance, but there nothing coming through to match the grandeur of the lights...Sometime later in the night we must have finally received some of the rain that was in the storms since the back porch is wet this morning, but our rain didn't come with a percussion section like the rains to the north.

With a chance of rain forecast for the entire day today the prognosticators seem to thing the temperatures here will manage to stay below those in Boone and Floyd. I stay amazed at this weather year. I went out on Wednesday evening and was amazed at the relative cool as I walked along the bayou behind the house. As I did the suburban grassy thing of riding in circles on a large lawn tractor last weekend I cut my trail along the bayou, so the walk isn't the obstacle course of reaching spiked canes of rose and dewberry. Also, since the grass is short for a double mower width, you don't have to pay quite as much attention watching out for snakes. I wil be the first to admit though that in the decade and a half we have been here I've only seen two or three snakes on my walks through the woods and fields here.

The one thing I did have on that walk was my first encounter with a "wild" hummingbird. By wild I mean not near a feeder or any other human sort of habitation. Since I didn't take my binoculars I am not sure of the species as the little thing stayed a good 30 feet or more away the whole time I observed it. It flitted around for a good five minutes checking out the tops of last years dead weed stems.

Bald Cypress in fog out in backyard this week.

Thursday Morning Coffee Muse

I know I am beginning to sound like a broken record in some regards, but this can not be a normal weather pattern. Here we are in the second week of May with a named storm off of the East Coast, the daily temperatures in the Blue Ridge Mountains are forecast to be as high or higher than they are here on the Texas Gulf Coast. Even without the "caused by human actions" added to it, it would appear that climate change is upon us.

The climate change deniers seem to get stuck on the "caused by human" phrase, they seem to want to call it part of the natural cycle of weather patterns. Does it really matter? Seems to me if we don't accept that our actions are causing the problem we aren't going to change the actions. So really what the deniers are saying is they do not want to change the actions they are taking that the human caused climate change accepters are saying is causing the problem. In other words "It's my Hummer and I'll drive it till you pry my cold dead fingers from the steering wheel." Though to this day I have to ask...Why a hummer? It seems that each year for the last decade sets new records for weather both up and down. Think about it, I am sure frosts in May are fairly common in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Frosts like the one they had this very week. But from the records, 80 degree highs are not. So it seems pretty strange to have both in the same week...At least to me.

The biggest problem these higher than normal temperatures are going to cause is in cooling homes that have never faced long summer months of 80', 90's and occasional 100 degree temperatures. Down here in the south the population did not start to grow until the development of economical (or so we thought) air conditioning units. There are large sections of this country that have never had to deal with high temperatures on a continuing basis. Wait till you see how that effects the economy. You only think you've seen brownouts and blackouts in the past compared to what everyone plugging in an ac unit on a hot day will do...

I live in one of the most air conditioned places on earth. And every summer we have deaths from the heat. We have ozone alerts almost daily as the temperatures rise. This is not a desert where the heat and dry suck the moisture off your body in a cooling evaporative effect. Air conditioning's main effect is to remove the moisture from the air which cools it and therefore your body, both by temperature and evaporation. As the temperatures rise in the more humid parts of the country they will find it's the humidity as much as the heat that does in the body. And that is where ac units shine, they remove the moisture. Sadly, in the process they dump heat in the great outdoors adding to the overall warming of the planet...

Enough of my rambling...

If you guys get together today in Floyd for a bloggers forum, pull out a chair for me I'll be there in spirit if not in body. That's one meeting it doesn't look like I'll catch in the foreseeable future. I never seem to make the trip to the mountains at the right time of the month...

The clock is screaming at me to shut down for the morning so...till later...

Foggy Morning Flowers

A foggy morning in the backyard...

Daybreak Muses

I was just looking at the morning weather forecast for Boone, NC. It set me to wondering about how normal these (seemingly) high temperatures were so I clicked over to Ray's Weather and checked the almanac for Boone. Looks like Boone will be flirting with record highs this week if the forecast is right. You know, when the mountains of the Blue Ridge are pushing Texas Gulf Coast temperatures day after day this early in spring, well folks you got a big problem. 'Cause I can't grow apples down here for spit...And the ski season is summer and it's on liquid snow.

I have a bit of time to kill this morning before I go see the family practitioner about this persistent hoarseness that I have developed. I have a feeling it's an environmental allergy to something at the office. It seems to have developed after I moved from the 2nd to the 1st floor. After that it's off to work.

I was out a little earlier shooting some of those infamous foggy morning photos. Once I get the chance to process the shots I'll post some here and at the PhotoBlog (if they look presentable).

My original WebLog circa Nov 2000

Before there were Blogs there were WebLogs. My first self-published writings on the web were my genealogy research at the old GeoCities. Just for the fun of it I thought I would put up the original weblog here for your perusal...At that time my WebLog was not a daily journal. I doubt I was online daily in those early years.

I found these posts at the Internet Archive. These posts were archived on Nov. 28, 2000,

WebLog Page

This page will contain my thoughts and the comments I generally make on my revised Home pages. As the home page is updated the comments there will be moved here. Hopefully this will become a journal of my Genealogical Odyssey. My main hope is that this will force me to update these pages with a little greater regularity than in the past.

26 November 2000

Thanksgiving is over and the update to these pages is about concluded. I probably have a few links to fix and some additions to make. I want to link the reports to the family pages as they were in the old web.

On a family note Thanksgiving at my Mom's this year was less stressful than some have been. All of the children (my sisters and brothers and I) made the trip. As we gradually migrate further from home, these get to-gathers are getting harder to pull off. Christmas's have been minus Sandy since she and Nigel moved to the lake. It looks like this year will be the year we children begin our own traditions with just visits to Mom's. All of us have adult children now so the family continues...

Happy Holidays to all of you who bother to look at these pages.

12 November 2000

Beginning again.

It seems to be the nature of the internet. Always beginning. Always evolving.

This is the first major evolution of this site. Whether it is any better than the last, you will have to be the judge. The main thing that has changed is my database has been updated to remove some of the non-relatives that had been there since my very early days.

I've staked my claim to my homestead in cyber-space. It's a lot like the 1870's in Texas when my Great-Great Grandmother Eliza Freeman Boyd was allowed to stake her claim on the land she was already living on.

Other than wanting to put my genealogy out where other researchers can find it and possibly make a connection, I don't have a definitive reason for doing this. But, come to think of it, I might have just typed the key to the Internet subliminally. After all, isn't the entire reason for the Internet to make connections?

June 2000

It's been another year and the 41'st Annual Boyd ~ Cox Reunion was held in Wallis, Texas this year. As always I enjoyed meeting with the family and the visit was rushed as always. The core group doesn't change much each year. It would be nice if we could encourage a greater participation. If we don't recapture some of our cousins, we could see the end of this family get together in a few years.

Next Years Reunion will be back in East Bernard at the Community Center / Library. This annual event is held on the second Sunday in June every year.

March 2000

Made a trip to North Carolina for work. I had a chance to spend a couple of days up in the mountains. It was my first trip up into the Smokies and I must admit I was impressed. While I don't have any records to tie my line of Linville's to the area, I did enjoy driving through Linville, NC and I made a side trip to Linville Falls. Beautiful... It almost makes you wonder why anyone would leave the area and go further west.

November 1999

What with a fire that destroyed our offices at work and all of the rebuilding going on there, I haven't had much of a chance to get a lot done on my research. I was able to spend a few days in central Texas doing a little research...

I spent a few days running down some leads in the County Court House of Brown County Texas. I was looking into the death of Phillip Caleb Cox. I wish to thank the very helpful ladies working in the County Clerk's Office, They made it very easy to do some research.

After going through the probate records, I could find no record or mention of the rumor of the murder of Caleb Cox Sr. by his brother-in-law. All I could find was several petitions to be appointed executor and a final listing of his estate. It does appear that Caleb Jr may not have survived his father for very long. I will eventually put the transcriptions on this site.

October 21, 1999

Since I last worked on this site a number of things have happened...mainly work related, that have kept me from working on this site or tracing my roots.

As I mentioned in my last opening...we did the Boyd-Cox Reunion in June. It was fun seeing all of the family that attended, I wish more of the younger generation would attend. That above statement makes me really feel old, as it wasn't long ago that I considered myself part of that younger generation. I need to thank my cousin Jim Boyd for the copies of the original land patent papers for Great-Grandpa Silas Wilson Edward Boyd. Both he and his mother Elisabeth Freeman Boyd homesteaded in Coryell County, Texas along Beehouse Creek in the 1870's. I am planning another courthouse trip to that area next month. I'll let you know if I find anything new after I return.

One nice thing about this site is it leads some of my cousins to me via email. I have had a few messages from Kenneth Dupay correcting and adding some of the info on this site. I have made the changes to my database, but, I will not be updating this site until year end. Please, be aware that I have used a privatizing program to strip out any data about living people in my database that would violate their right to privacy. So all of the blanks you come across in the data on this site is not necessarily unknown. Although, anyone wishing to feel in the holes, please email me or leave a message in the guestbook.

I have also been in touch with my cousin Shirley David Smith. She has spent years researching our common Sewell Ancestors. I have spent days reading the info she has put together, and now feel I really have an example to follow in how to make this more than just data. Shirley, if you see this, Thanks for the inspiration.

July 1999

The past 2 months have been fruitful for my Pearson / Cox research. I finally was able to find a connection between the Benoni Pearson Family and Phillip Caleb Cox. It seems that both Benoni and Caleb were listed on the Tax Lists for Polk County Arkansas in 1845. From the evidence thus presented we have Benoni in Johnson County, Arkansas in 1840, in Polk County, Arkansas in 1845, my bible record has him dieing in 1845, his widow and sons are back in Johnson County in 1850 while Caleb and Elizabeth are in Texas in Limestone County. By 1860 the whole clan is in Austin in Travis County Texas.

June 8, 1999

OK...OK. I have been very busy and have not updated this page or anything else in six months. That doesn't mean I haven't been shaking that family tree as often as I could.

If anyone is interested... The Boyd - Cox Annual Family Reunion happens this Sunday in East Bernard Texas. I will be attending with my family and will try to post anything new next week. In honor of the occasion the picture above is Sarah Cox and James Boyd's Marriage License. Also, my wife's family will be holding a Yount Reunion in August, and we hope to attend that one also.

As I stated above, this has been a very busy time and I really haven't updated or posted any new info to this site. I hope to have more time this summer to spend getting my files in order and new info posted here.

I have had some minor finds in the first half of the year. I have spent quite a bit of time on my Pearson Family. They traveled west from North Carlina to Indiana sometime in the early 1800's. Started raising families before packing up and moving to Arkansas. They ended up in Texas in the 1850's, along with a group of families they met up with along the way.

I am still not having much luck tracing my Boyd ancestor, Edward. I have found reference to his marriage to Eliza Freeman in Collin County Texas in 1853 (thanks my first search on the site). If anyone out there can help with information on this man it will be very much appreciated.

December 1998

And thus begins my sojourn on the world wide web. And, since I never start small, this site began life as about 2,500 pages. Granted most were automatically created by GedPage, (which I still need to register), the program I chose because it gave the most elegant output to my eye. I hope that the info I publish will be of use to someone else out there.

June 12, 1998

The following is the forward to the Family History Book I published (in very limited about 5 a year - for our annual Boyd - Cox reunion). I decided it might be something relevant for these pages...


There is a mystique about this land that has endured for the two centuries settlers have been packing their belongings to leave family and acquaintances behind to start a new life in this land of promise. What was the attraction that caused our forebears to pack all their worldly possessions and leave the settled (relatively) and familiar setting of their homes to travel to the wilds of frontier Texas? Yes, when our ancestors arrived in this land we have grown to think of as our own, it was frontier. Limestone and Lampasas Counties in the 1850's and 1860's was still prone to wandering bands of Indians. The entire western edge of civilized Texas was a very rough place to be living during the Civil War. This was due partially to the withdrawal of the troops from the Forts along the frontier.

So, the question remains what were the attractions that brought our ancestors to this land? Most of what I have learned about our folks places them in the same class of people as Daniel Boone, always moving along just at the edge of civilization, looking for a better life, better land, better living conditions. I suppose it says something about Texas since once they arrived they stayed.

When I think about the travel conditions these people had to deal with, I am amazed that they managed to settle anywhere. The distance from Northeast Texas where most of our folks entered Texas to the area they settled is now a matter of at most a days drive, but, in their day the trip by oxen and wagon would have taken months. If they were lucky, some relative or neighbor had already made the trip and sent back a description and directions.

At this date, the earliest ancestor of ours that I have found who was born in Texas was Benjamin Franklin Cox (Benoni Cox). The 1850 Census for the County of Limestone has him listed as being 1 year old with his place of birth listed as Texas. This same source tells us his father was Phillip Caleb Cox born in Missouri about 1824, his mother was Elizabeth Jane Pearson born in Ohio about 1826. From this source we also can make the assumption that Caleb and Elizabeth were living in or passing through Arkansas in 1844 because they state that their daughter Sarah A. Cox was born there.

As we celebrate this anniversary with our 40th Annual Boyd / Cox Family Reunion, I hope that some of the facts and stories that follow will allow some others the chance to build upon the legacy our forebears left for us.

I know that in my search for information, I have had the opportunity to spend time out making the acquaintance of both the land on which our folks lived, and, the land on which they were laid to rest. I think I shall never forget the day this past March when on a visit to the Capitol in Austin I came across the record of the death certificate of Wilson Edward Boyd and read where he was buried in the Driftwood Cemetery. I went from Austin to San Marcos, where I had a copy of the certificate made, to Driftwood. Once at the Cemetery it was a short search to discover Great-Grandpa's grave beside his oldest daughter Viola's. As I sat there on that rainy and cold March afternoon, I contemplated what he must have seen in his lifetime and how nice and peaceful his resting place was. I have now found out that it is highly likely that our Grandpa James Pleas probably spent a part of his time growing up within 'hollarin' distance of that very hillside. It gives you a since of belonging, even to a place you have never been.

I do want to promise that I will continue to enlarge upon the data and the stories that the data contain. I know I will never have the full stories of these lives, but, I have discovered that most of the real joy of this type of learning is in the search and the unintended stories you learn as you hunt.

Gary Boyd

Day One, Year Two

Gary Boyd, here is your schedule for:

Tue May 8, 2007

All Day North Carolina Mountain Dreams Anniversary
(Gary Boyd)

And so the circle closes and a new round begins...

This mornings coffee muses start another year of beginning my day with a cup of coffee and a computer filled with email and news...

First up on the email front is the daily digest from Grist which brings disturbing news from the Super Fund Cleanup area. I guess a little personal history is in order. I spent some time as a teenager hiking and camping out by the Brio Site here south of Houston. At the time there was a couple of refineries on a shell road back a mile or so off the Gulf Freeway in southern Harris County. On past the refineries was Clear Creek, the dividing line between Harris and Galveston Counties. Along the creek there were a number of sights know to the amature archaeologists in the area as good sites to search for Indian artifacts, this is where we would set up camp.

Over the years I have watched the cleanup work proceed with fits and starts at what is now known as Brio with some interest. There were a lot of dreams crushed when the full scope of the sites buried "treasure" became known back in the 80's and the people who bought homes on and around the site watched their dreams turn to nightmares. So to see that the site has now been "de-listed" as cleaned makes me wonder about the methods they used.

So if you want to check out your own home stomping grounds and see what might be lurking over the next hill follow the link after the quote...
A drop-off in both government action and funding has all but stopped the push to clean up America's most toxic sites, posing health and environmental threats all over the country, according to a comprehensive series of reports released last week by the Center for Public Integrity.
Source: Taking the 'fund' out of Superfund | Gristmill: The environmental news blog | Grist

Looks like spring has returned to the mountains...the morning temperature in Boone of 32 degrees would actually constitute winter down here on the coast. I was really starting to wonder if Global Warming was gonna hold off until I made the move. The temps up on the Blue Ridge have been maxing out very close to our own, and that doesn't make this Texas boy happy as I dream of leaving the summer heat far behind...

The clock on the wall is telling me the morning commute calls...Y'all have a great day! Catch ya later...

Day 365 - End of year one...

I never would have thought a year ago on May the 8th that this blog would have made it this far. For most of my adult life I tried to develop the journal habit and failed. So when I started this collection of almost daily musings, I had no real expectation that it would last any longer than the many journals I have collecting dust on bookshelves and in drawers around this old house of ours.

When I started this blog I blamed it on Fred First whom I hadn't at that time "met", though I had already acquired a copy of his book. In the past year we have become friends (at least I like to think so) and we still haven't "met". I hope to get the opportunity this summer to wander down Goose Creek and photograph the most photographed barn in Floyd County.

I have "met" others on this journey and hope they consider me a friend the same as I consider them.

Life has a way of keeping you on your toes, and if you don't pay attention, it'll pop you on the back of the head to get you to open your eyes...And, that's where I am at today.

So thank you to all of you who wander by...Special thanks to those of you who keep coming back...

Sunday Thoughts

If my posting slows down a bit in the coming weeks, chances are it's due to a bit of a family crisis coming to a head. Nothing life threatening (at least for now), just parental control running up against teenaged thoughts of adulthood. Youngest daughter has taken the opportunity of her 17th birthday to remove herself from the family household. Seems in Texas even though the law says children don't become adults until 18, the police do not consider them runaways at 17 unless you suspect foul play. So now we wait to see where this goes...

On a more positive note, it appears the question of what's happening to the bees is moving into everyday Americans living rooms this week. I heard on the TV this morning that the prime time evening news is making the disappearance the "Disaster of the Week". That will either move it into the attention span of the average American or make it old news before anyone even has a clue as o what is causing the problem. I must say the possibilities I have seen so far seem a bit far fetched but anything is possible.

The only news out of the Republican "Debate" that really caught by eye was that three of the candidates actually did raise their hands when asked how many did not believe in evolution...How do you feel about these three controlling the budgets for the different departments scientific research? The Department of Education? Just asking...

I better get up and do something...Even if it's not "the" right thing.

A Beautiful Mine - New York Times

It seems that the time has come for the American public to have to come to grips with what their unceasing  need for electricity is doing to one of the oldest and most diverse ecologies on the planet.

When it comes to mountaintop removal, a certain fatalism seems to take hold in Appalachia — the coal companies are too powerful, the politicians are corrupt, the regulators won’t regulate and the news media don’t care. But we cannot give up on rehabilitating Appalachia. While most efforts to reclaim the land destroyed by strip-mining have done little to restore the landscape or improve the region’s economy, one effort holds out special promise. It is a three-year-old program within the United States Office of Surface Mining called the Appalachian Regional Reforestation Initiative, and it is based on decades of research.

Later in the op-ed Erik Reece speaks of the current state of affairs in Appalachia and his hopes for a future...

Appalachia’s land is dying. Its fractured communities show the typical symptoms of hopelessness, including OxyContin abuse rates higher than anywhere in the country. Meanwhile, 22 states power houses and businesses with Kentucky coal. The people of central and southern Appalachia have relinquished much of their natural wealth to the rest of the country and have received next to nothing in return.

To right these wrongs, first we need federal legislation that will halt the decapitation of mountains and bring accountability to an industry that is out of control. Then we need a New Deal for Appalachia that would expand the Appalachian Regional Reforestation Initiative, or create a similar program, to finally return some of the region’s lost wealth in the form of jobs and trees, rebuilt topsoil and resuscitated communities. Financing should come from a carbon tax on Appalachian coal bought and burned by utility companies across the country — a tax that would also discourage the wasteful emissions of greenhouse gases. Such a project would educate and employ an entire generation of foresters and forest managers, who would be followed by locally owned wood-product industries and craftsmen like Patrick Angel’s brother Mike, who makes much sought-after hardwood chairs just like ones his grandfather fashioned.

Let's hope that America comes to it's senses soon. If nothing else, the internet has given a voice to those who live and love the Appalachia that the coal companies would destroy. This virtual voice is beginning to get the word out to the rest of America and it wont be very long before America answers back.

Lord help the coal companies and forgive them their destruction...I don't think I can or will until they fix their mess.

Source: A Beautiful Mine - New York Times

From "Decider" to "Commander Guy"...

Where did all of the phone booths go? What's a super president supposed to do?

President Bush now says that even after "success" in Iraq -- after more American and Iraqi deaths -- there will still be sectarian violence and there will still be suicide bombers killing innocent civilians. Which is the situation right now. So why stay in Iraq even one more day, except to validate the unwise decisions of our ineloquent Commander Guy?

Source: Eugene Robinson - Lost in the Fog With Commander Guy -


That's all I have for today...Home troubles brewing. Later.

Again with the Thursday Morning Muses

The night was filled with distant rumbles of thunder...Well, it was the time I woke up, anyway. The steps outside the back door show signs of rain having fallen, just not very much. The weather prognosticators on the evening rumor and propaganda shows were literally glowing over the possibility of rolling masses of thunderous precipitation, both overnight and throughout the unsunny, cloud covered, non-night hours today...We shall wait to be convinced.

Just for the record, outside it is a springlike 65 degrees this pre-daybreak am. The interesting number, and the one that keeps the skin so smooth here in SE Texas is the 96% humidity. One would think, with those kind of numbers, one could look out the window and see fish swimming or at least some foggy type of water droplets floating around. One would be mistaken, this is one of the clearest mornings of the past couple of weeks...

I see in the NY Times they are all ado about Alberto...They can't seem to come to a conclusion about what to do about the affair of the President's shield though (does the AG carry a brass shield like a police officer?). Some are of the opinion he should be impeached for lying to congress. Personally, I think this whole administration has reached the point of tragic comedy. No one in their worst nightmare would wish this kind of incompetence on the country. I thought this quote said it very well...
Changes in the occupant of the White House should not affect the way justice is administered. If the Gonzales mess ends up giving us an apolitical Department of Justice, the American people will be well served.

Arnold I. Burns was the deputy attorney general in the second Reagan administration.

See ya down the road...

Virtual Environments

Kate, over on Cider Press Hill has a post on "Virtual Environments" where she makes some interesting points. Which really got me to thinking about what our virtual workplaces must look like. That led me to this post where I want to share my virtual desktop at work...

Keep in mind that this is a dual monitor setup where I work on highly graphic intensive programs. I also spend at least nine hours a day in front of these screens, so when I minimize the working projects I really am "North Carolina Mountain Dreaming" with a bit of Virginia thrown in.

Where do you spend your day? Post a link in the comments and let's visit each others virtual environment...

Spring - It was nice to have met you.

Well, it's official summer has arrived to SE Texas. The temperature when I came into the kitchen for coffee this morning is at 70 degrees and the humidity is above 90%. By my definition, summer has slunk in and it wont be leaving for a while. Luckily for us, we are just south of the storm line that has been dumping rain, lightning, and street flooding on the folks just a county or two away. For two days now heavy rains have fallen just a bit north of where we live here without a drop falling at our house.

I see from the morning emails that Tom Poston has died at the age of 85. I never really thought a whole lot about Tom but when I read the announcement his image immediately popped into my mind from the old Newhart Show. There are a lot of actors out there whose name I know but who I couldn't picture on a dare, so I guess Tom made an impact o me at some level. Rest in Peace, Tom.

The President made this comment yesterday after he Vetoed the Iraq War Funding Bill..."Many Democrats saw this bill as an opportunity to make a political statement about their opposition to the war. They've sent their message."

I suppose the real question is, did he hear the message and understand that it came from the American people and not just their Democratic representatives in Congress? I really doubt it.

While David Ignatius' column is about Paul Wolfowitz, I think his insight is valid. Though I don't know that it's totally about the "we know best" as much as it's about "you don't know nothing".

This disdain for career staff officers -- whether at the Pentagon, the CIA, the Justice Department or an international agency such as the World Bank -- is a defining characteristic of the Bush administration and a big reason for its undoing. Administration officials are arrogant -- no other way to put it. They ignore the advice of the professionals, whom they regard as obstacles to their agenda of transformation. In their impetuous self-confidence, they become wreckers.

This hubris recurs again and again. We saw it in Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's high-handed management style, in Vice President Cheney's continuous pressure on CIA analysts to bolster the administration's message on Iraq, in CIA Director Porter Goss's purge of agency officers suspected of disloyalty, in Attorney General Alberto Gonzales's treatment of career attorneys at Justice.

Or maybe they are accomplishing exactly what they set out to do...

Source: David Ignatius - The Price Of 'We Know Best' -

Time to run...later

Stormy Evening

This photo was taken last evening just after sunset as storms moved by to the north. The sky was impressive...

Scandals and Rumors of Scandals

And who said they were going to change the tone in Washington?

Putting industry insiders in charge of the agencies that govern and regulate the very industries they worked for is a good idea...Why?

Oversight of government is a bad idea...Says who?
"The Department of Education has been run as a wholly owned subsidiary of the loan industry under this administration," said Barmak Nassirian, a longtime advocate for industry reform at the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers. "They are running the federal loan program for the profit of their friends and not for the benefit of students and taxpayers."

All it took to open this administration up to the light of day was for someone to ask a question, any question.

What will the next scandal be?

Source: Warnings On Student Lenders Unheeded -

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