Friday, October 29, 2004

I used to read a lot of science fiction in my younger years. Now I just read science...the fiction is on the news every single hour of every single day. I wish it would stop! Here is a big fiction from yesterday's campaign sound bite:

"He cannot lead troops to victory in a war when he has made it perfectly clear that he does not support the cause," Franks said of Kerry.

That was General Tommy Franks, one of the few Generals Bush hasn't fired for pointing out the stupidity of Bush's war strategy in Iraq. Of course Franks retired in the middle of this war and hasn't been in Iraq lately, but what the heck does a little fact like that matter. Odd that Franks retired in the middle of the Iraq campaign anyway, with the war unwon...General Franks bails out... and then he says the stupidest, or most dishonest, thing I've heard yet?

...That Kerry can't lead our troops because he thinks they are on a suicide mission right now?

Well, Duh! That's why we pick Presidents, you moron! To think about things like that and not, I repeat, NOT send wide eyed patriotic American kids to their deaths in the unwinnable war in Iraq. BY Unwinnable, I mean, that as of now, we can not install a pro American democracy that will sell us the Iraqi oil at a favorable price, hold down Islamic fundamentalism, and work for peace with Israel. It was possible, though unlikely at the beginning of this stupid war. But Now, Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld have screwed it up beyond all possibilty of salvation. Even their puppet interim president Alawi, is calling them incompetent!

By the way...when I called Franks a "moron" just now, it's a figure of speech! It means that he had a "Moron Moment". General Tommy Franks is not a real moron and that makes this whole thing so much more dishonest!

The unbelievable incompetance of the two draft dodgers in the Whitehouse thinking they knew beans from crap about making war is surpassed only by General Franks, who quit and went home remember, now saying the equivalent of,

"Kerry can't protect you from the BOOGIE Man...He doesn't even believe in the BOOGIE Man!"

Actually Kerry does support the cause! Has all along. What Kerry has plainly said is that he supports the cause of a safer America but strongly disagrees with how to bring it about. General Franks went on to say that Kerry points out that Bush "lost" 380,000 tons of high explosives but fails to mention the 400, 000 tons that have been taken care of.

Hey General! Good job! Now the Iraqi insurgents only have THREE tons of explosive for every single American warrior in their country!

The UN inspectors warned Bush about the explosives and now it is coming out that our own Atomic Energy Commision, the Atomic weapon folks, warned Bush too! But Bush was so busy ordering the soldiers to look for Chemical and biological, and nuclear weapons of mass destruction that Bush and Cheney were fantasizing about, that he forgot to tell them to do something about the, uh real weapons of mass destruction that we already knew and were warned about!

Yesterday, with George Bush at his side, Rudy Giulliani committed an unpardonable sin. Rudy said it was the fault of, get this...The 380,000 tons of explosive were not dealt with and it was the fault of the American Troops for not doing their job!

Oh, I get it Rudy! They should have know their leadership was incompetent and refused follow orders!

General Franks, I am starting to believe, I mean really believe, in the BOOGIE Man...but he isn't in Iraq! But guess what? America is going to vote the BOOGIE Man and his puppet President out of office in just a few days. Let us all hope that we can do it in time to get some sane leadership in charge before they are all blown away!

Let's see...380,000 tons times 2000 pounds per ton unless they really mean "metric" tons which is very likely and then it would be 2,200 pounds per ton, but hey let's give them the benefit of the doubt and say it only comes to...HOLY SANTORUM!

760 million pounds!

Enough to blow the arms and legs off of every single man, woman, and child in America, several times over? A fragmentation grenade contains 5.5 ounces of explosive...Let's see...760,000,000 times 16 divided by 5.5 equals:


OK, Round it off to 2.2 BILLION hand grenades!

Oh yeah...a couple of other little facts to ponder:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - ABC News on Thursday showed video appearing to confirm that explosives that went missing in Iraq did not disappear until after the United States had taken control of the facility where they were stored.

The stuff was absolutely there! the UN says it was, the Atomic energy commission say it was there, the soldiers on the ground say it was, the reporters say it was, the Iraqis in the town say it was there...well actually I don't trust the Iraqis any more than I now trust General Franks who, guess what???

I don't trust General Franks, who was in charge of the war at the time that our troops camped out at the Al QaQaa munitions depot, woke up the next morning and left without checking out the 2.2 Billion handgrenades worth of explosive because they were looking for Weapons of Mass Destruction!

Why didn't he just put up a sign?

"Kill your own American! Free Explosive!"

Please save us from these people next Tuesday!



Thursday, October 28, 2004

8:29 am, October 28, 2004: Mature bald eagle flies by my window and looks in at me. Perfect light against the mottled red and green in the car...dammit!

Odd to wake up to frogs this morning. We sealed up Lake Steve and the frogs are back, now that it holds water. I wonder if the snapping turtle will find it again?

Hiked the hillside yesterday evening with Thomas. At times it was surreal, with brown leaves falling like hail in a storm. The misty rain had loaded them up with enough weight to pull them loose from the limbs, and the evening wind that always blows down the gorge, wiggled them free. It was noisy, the way some snow storms are, but with more clatter. I was not very productive, blowing off the chores I had planned and just watched the trees go bare as I stood there.


I have a couple of girls for you today. If you wonder how in the world anyone could possibly vore for George Bush, Molly Ivans has the answer:

Clueless people love Bush
Studies show Bush supporters are misled on Bush policies and the news

Now for a pet topic of mine: Pro-Environment is Pro-Business. Bush keeps saying it will cost us jobs if we save the environment. Jenny Granholm, Pro-both Governor of Michigan, says that is a lot of Bull Santorum:

An interview with Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm

Michael Mathers has a video you might want to look at if you have high speed internet. I guess you old people need to be told that Micael goes by Eminem in his musical career. (Randy B, I know you know who he is)

These little snippets of insider info really tell us what kind of administration the Bushistas are running. And Gee, Cheney seemed like such a quiet guy while John Edwards was dismantling him in the debate...

The CTC concluded that Saddam Hussein had not materially supported Zarqawi before the U.S.-led invasion and that Zarqawi's infrastructure in Iraq before the war was confined to the northern no-fly zones of Kurdistan, beyond Baghdad's reach. Cheney reacted with fury, screaming at the briefer that CIA was trying to get John Kerry elected by contradicting the president's stance that Saddam had supported terrorism and therefore needed to be overthrown. The hapless briefer was shaken by the vice president's outburst, and the incident was reported back to [newly appointed CIA director Porter] Goss, who indicated that he was reluctant to confront the vice president's staff regarding it.

And for anyone who actually still thinks George Bush fulfilled his military duty honorably, there's this new document that shows that Bush got paid for never showing up. Actually, now that we've been through his presidency, we would have been better off if we had just paid him to not show up as President either!

The payroll records show Bush was credited for service in October and November 1972 and in January and April of 1973. An evaluation from Texas covering the period between May 1972 and May 1973 says Texas officers did not see Bush during that time.

Peace, Friends...It's almost over,


Monday, October 25, 2004

Campaign signs have been put up in the day light and destroyed at night around here. A very large Kerry Edwards sign was put up by a man in his own front yard out in Midway. He did a good job and the sign was strong enough to resist being torn down, so the perpetrator took a knife and cut the middle out of the sign. Finding the vandalism by morning's light, the man went bacl into his workshop and made a new sign out of paint and cardboard that said:

You are known by your works!

Makes it plain what he thought of the person that censored his free speech. I ran across this quote yesterday and it just spoke so elequently to the state of our country that I used it today. I realize that the guy who said it is a huge Liberal but you Conservatives ought to read it anyway:

Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits...Not everyone who says to me, "Lord, Lord," will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. On that day many will say to me, "Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out
demons in your name, and do many deeds of power in your name?" Then I will declare to them, "I never knew you; go away from me, you evildoers."

Some long haired guy is supposed to have said that, a little over 2000 years ago. I like it, except that it speaks of Armageddon and I want to prevent that particular event from happening anytime soon. I think we can see who is doing "Deeds of Power" in Jesus' name. Next Tuesday, America will say,

"I never knew you; Go away from me, you evildoers."

Our boy in the White house has made much fun of John Kerry going Goose Hunting. I think folks should remember way back to the time Bush went hunting...for Doves, of all things! This was in his run for the Texas Governor's office, against Anne Richards...You remember Anne? She gave the keynote speech at the Democratic Convention when George Bush was running. Geroge Herbert Walker Bush...the Daddy. She said "Poor George, He was born with a silver foot in his mouth!"

Today...She would say something like, "Poor George...He was born with a silver Boot in his Butt!" Such was Barb's disciplinary style, we hear.

Baby Bush was putting down on Kerry for going Goose hunting. I think he's been doing that for most of this election cycle, actually...Goose hunting! When Baby George went hunting for Doves...He shot the wrong bird! He got a Kildeer. That is a protected bird. You aren't supposed to kill them. It seemed appropriate on two counts actually.

First, He killed the wrong bird which is kind of like he attacked the wrong country! Hey George! Saddam did not, I repeat! Did not Fly a plane int the World Trade Towers. I realize this may come as news to you but it is true!

Second, He got away with it! It was not a mistake! He shot a bird that was protected under Federal Law and nothing happened. he didn't make a mistake! The bird was probably a Liberal and deserved Death! I mean it probably cared for and wanted to help those less fortunate, or something equally heinous. The Kildeer may even have been an...No! It's too awful to contemplate! But it Might be true, so...The Bird might ahve been an...


Deserved to be Killed, I say! Baby Bush saved us from this evildoer bird that just wanted the world to be safe for chicks. How disgusting is that? Some poor corporation with poor stockholders sitting in their Elite mansionuos compounds in Saudi Arabia were prevented from cashing their dividend checks because this...this...Bird! was nesting in the corporate parking lot!

This has actually happened to me. I am a Capitalist, people. it is a condition of birth for me. My Father and his father before him...Yes, they were Capitalists! Owned businesses! it is Hereditary, and I must own up to what I am!

I have been moderately successful in my Capitalist career. With some of my Capitalist gains, I bought a building in an Industrial park. I have partners in this venture who are also...Capitalists! One of them has passed on and left his share to his children. The other partner is an old friend who is, unfortunately, a Capitalist! We made money! In business ventures, no less! The only thing we did wrong, was to support environmental causes and try to take care of the people who worked for us. These two sins constitute our violations of the Republican Code so now, we are independants but vote the environment. But I don't think they were violations of the Capitalist Code, do You? You can make money and be an environmentalist. It's not that hard.

In the gravel parking lot of the building we bought, Kildeers build a nest every year. They build a curious nest consisting of a shallow depression in the gravel parking lot in which they lay a few eggs, say three. The eggs look like rocks. Spotted rocks. They blend in so well that most folks never know they are there until they get close to the nest and the momma bird goes into her broken wing dance, designed to lure predators away. It is a wonderful thing to see. This mother, holding her wing out to one side, plaintively crying out as if she were about to croak and present some omnivore with an easy meal, actually risking her life by this play acting. She allows the predator to get perilously close and then flits just out of reach, risking her life for her children. My own Momma would have done as much! Yours too!

I have driven posts in the ground and placed a barrier around the nests of these birds when I found them in our parking lot. It is not much trouble. Most environmental things are like that. You just do them and they are done. Easy! But not for George. He shot the bird. A protected Species. Dead! But hey, it was a campaign photo op!

"Not My Fault!" he said! Gotta act tough and manly and shoot something. I would feel safer if those in power would at least try to hit the right danged target if they are going to use weapons.

...Deeds of Power in your name?

He needs the NRA to help him get elected this time just like he did against Al Gore. "He's going to take our guns!" they said about Gore. Now they say it about Kerry. "He's going to take our guns!" I've heard it very recently from people who ought to know better. John Kerry is not going to take your guns, you shallow brained Conservatives! He is not goint to force you to marry a member of the same sex either!

The momma and Daddy birds bring in swallowed insects and puke them into the hungry baby's mouths. Gerber doesn't sell insect mush as of yet. the babies slurp it down and get bigger. At some point there are little Kildeers running around the parking lot, screeching and trotting around as if they owned the place. Imitation Capitalists, for all the world to admire. They are beautiful! Bush shot one! He didn't mean to, Wanted to shoot a Dove! Had the TV people down there to film him in the sybolic act, as it turns out, of shooting a Dove, by G-d and shot a Kildeer.

I got to thinking...I often do this, you Republicans should try it some time. it would make it hard to keep on being a Republican if you think too much but lots of things start to make sense. Like...Bush shot and killed the wrong bird! Hey...he invaded the wrong country, too! Iraq may have oil but it didn't have Osama Bin Laden.

What Iraq did have was Al Zarqawi, the evil bastard that is cutting off the heads of poor defenseless people who really are trying to help folks over there. Well some of them anyway. These are nasty things being done. Al Zarqawi was one of the people Saddam was accused of protecting and that was why we had to invade the country and get a bunch of Americans and civilian Iraqis killed...To protect them from Al Zarqawi who Bush claimed was a friend of Osama Bin Laden. Problem is, Al Zarqawi was hanging out in the American controlled No Fly Zone! Condi Rice had the decision put on her desk to take him out. Kill him, like he was an endangered and protected species like the Kildeer. If she ordered him killed, she would lose a big reason to invade Iraq, because Zarqawi was the only know terrorist in Iraq. She ordered Al Zarqawi left alone. he has repaid this favor by being a big reason for George Bush to justify invading Iraq...And...he has cut off a few American heads on TV. Thank you Condi! He now has a British woman held captive. he has the Kildeer Momma. Way to go, Condi!

You are known by your works!

Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits...

Well regardless of George W, Bush and his bad shooting, the Momma Kildeer raised three babies in our parking lot this year. Way to go Momma!

I took some fairly bad pictures of the chicks, trotting around the building grounds like three inch high, bionic road runners. Man they can scream around like crazy, like cartoon characters on speed. Fun to watch.

See George! You can't get 'em all!



Friday, October 22, 2004

I have a best friend that I don't get to see all that much anymore... I hereby resolve to fix this oversight in the next few weeks, but this isn't about unserved friendship, per se. Something made me remember something hilarious.

Anyway, many years ago, when his son was small and mine were yet to be, my friend was serving his day of family laundry duty. The state of everyone's finances was a bit meager and underwear was retained in service even longer than National Guard and Reserve troops in Iraq. Our friend and his son noticed the wife's religious bra in the clean clothes basket. Religious underwear is what we used to call it when they got all "holy". The wife and mother of this family unit was and is quite well blessed by nature in some respects and the bras in the basket seemed to all have holes where the, uh, how can I...uh...the...ends. My friend required a bit of lubrication in those days, to get through the household duties and this event was no exception, though he was still on the first six pack of cheap beer at this point. Picking up one of the bras, he started laughing at the "sexy underwear" with two holes in suggestive locations and then,

he put the bra on himself!

No, No, No...silly...He put it on his head, with the two holes adjusted to fit over his eyes!

The preadolescent son went berserk with laughter...Everyone in the house was cracking up, even the poor embarassed long suffering wife. Then my friend took a towel and made a cape for himself and jumped up, struck a pose, and declared himself a new super hero fighting for truth justice and the American way, and a few more things too crude to put in this here family blog. The name of the new super hero was shouted to all the world as his besotted eyes laughed out of the holes in his mask,

Wearing his cape and bra mask, striking a pose, our masked crusader now proclaimed himself to be,

"Tit-man!" Foe of evil, defender of...(insert inappropriate crudities here)

Easily amused in those days, much merriment and rude comment followed until the son started whining that he wanted to play, too! Another garment was lifted from the laundry basket, and placed in service to humanity over the child's head, and as he was a small boy and there was, (this is a bit difficult for me to convey with delicacy and sensitivity folks so please be kind in your reviews), as I was saying, there was plenty of room for the boy's head to fit into one side of his "mask" with both eyes peering out of the large hole where a nipple would have been normally restrained had there been any cloth left to do the restraining. As it was, the boy could see quite well out of his new super hero side kick mask, and a dish towel was secured to his neck to complete the costume.

Another six pack flew into service as the man and boy romped about the house (ok, it was a trailer, but somehow you guys knew that, didn't you?) Jumping off the couch in mock flight running about to save the world in the manner of Batman and Robin, The Lone Ranger and Tonto, Moose and Squirrel,

Tit-man and his loyal side kick, "Boobie"!

Yep, "Titman and Boobie" ran around saving the house trailer from all sorts of evil until the sixpack settled in and put Titman out for the count on the couch. Boobie carried on until well after bedtime, running about, striking poses, and battling imaginary foes until sleep over came the will to save the world, and the grave task was put aside until the next night, when the boy found, much to his disappointment, his super hero costume had been replaced with much more pious garments, and his crime fighting days were over.

Boobie is now married with children of his own and Tit-man has been a non drinker for years now. Ah the memories, though.

What made me think of this? For some reason I wondered where the heck John Ashcroft was these days? All by himself, John Ashcroft would be reason enough to deny Bush a second term, even if Rumsfeld had not been appointed and the stupid misguided war in Iraq had never occurred. Ashcroft, you might remember, is the man who had the naked breasts of the Lady Justice statue standing in the hall of the Justice Department building, covered with cloth. See, if you cover them up, they won't be there, right?

There are lots of things like this that we'll have to deal with after Bush gets tossed next week.

I hope Tit-man and Boobie will return to help us...It will be such fun! I think the role for a super hero in this day and time might be to read the Constitution to those in power.



Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Almost got run over by deer twice yesterday. I think cars kill more of them than hunters do. Around here, we'll do what we can to thin the herd as soon as hunting season starts. The signs of an over browsed forest are all around us. I don't think I'll do it myself, though.

I personally amuse myself with my own contradictions when I think about hunting. Yep...I'm a flip-flopper.

I actually have only taken a rifle into the woods one time in the last ten years. I liked sitting there being still, watching. Several came by me. One doe took notice of me and stomped her foot, over and over, to let me know she didn't like me being there while her young foraged. A medium sized buck walked up behind her but then decided I was the more important occupant of the woods. I had already put my gun sight on his chest and...Pow!

Yep! That is exactly what I said, "Pow!" I didn't sqeeze the trigger, I just said pow. The Buck looked at me and trotted off. The Doe stomped the ground again and started browsing, raising her head from time to time to look at me and stomp. Her young of the year never paid the least bit of attention to any of this. I don't have a high expectation for that one's longevity, even if I won't harvest him.

But there's venison in the freezer, anyway. I don't like shooting them. I do like eating them. Two is plenty for our whole family for the entire year but the farm produces enough for several to get taken by hunters and poachers, several more to get taken by cars, and still the herd increases. Disease has started to hit the overpopulated herd, so last year we decided to be more aggressive. I wish I could introduce mountain lions and wolves as predators back into the environment of east Tennessee. Instead I trained up and introduced a fifteen year old hunter.

He has become a fair shot. He has never wounded an animal. Everything has been a clean kill so far. It took him a long time to figure out that the reason I could shoot the heart out of a dixie cup was that I had killed a huge number of dixie cups over the favorite prey! You don't walk into the woods and just start shooting...well some folks do, I guess, but this is the child I will unleash on the world in a few years ( get ready out there!) and I have standards and ethics to pass on. I wouldn't let him start squirrel hunting until he could go down to the clay bank and shoot the black out of a paper target with no misses. Then he watched as I cleaned his first squirrel, showing him how. I've not touched another one except to cook them. It was very very hard to stand there beside him in the after dark cold and watch him fumble with a sharp knife and mutilate a dead rodent. A three minute job took thirty but eventually he got it done and I cooked his kill. Parboiled and barbecued. Not a bad way to eat a bushy tailed tree rat.

Wild turkeys used to be rare but they cause trouble around here now, there are so many. My father only killed one in his entire life. There is a picture, somewhere, of him holding the dead gobbler. I still had that very bird's spurs for a while after he died but I don't know what happened to them. I have a pretty good guess, though. Mom remarried and somehow, the artifacts of my dad disappeared.

I think the only real artifacts of my Dad's life that have had any lasting presence are his two sons. Now I have two, myself, and we'll see what, if any, manifestation I bestow on future events. We pass it on and hope for the best. My Dad and his Dad and I, and all the poor suffering women that we caused to suffer, eventually wind up in the same way...Taking our turn at giving a spin to the merry go round and wandering off, hoping someone else will keep it going by doing the same thing down the road. Of course some folks think the road of eternity has an end, stops, doesn't keep going, and that's too bad. It is not very helpful in the long run, to those of us with a more far reaching view of the Universe.

I don't believe in the inevitability of Armageddon, but I think our President does. I think he thinks the Merry go round will stop one day and it might be up to him to make it happen. He certainly acts that way, sometimes...OK, most of the time! That would explain his environmental policy decisions. When he was running for election the first time, he said he would tighten Carbon dioxide standards if he won. He wasn't elected but he won anyway and then he did just the opposite of what he promised. This year, Japan is going to be hit by the largest number of Typhoons in their history, which is phenomenal, when you consider that Japan has a 6,000 year recorded history, that's quite a lot of time to suddenly get a record in now. This is a clear sign that there is too much energy stored in our planet's atmosphere. Carbon dioxide causes this to happen. George Bush was going to help stop this from happening. A President is supposed to look out for all of us in big and farsighted ways, but the one we have now isn't doing that. There are only two weeks left before the election so I guess he figures, "Why start now?"

I think he thinks he doesn't have to do his part and give his spin to the merry go round. Well, I think he owes it to us but he missed his chance to do his part and now we have to pick up the slack, or it will be us that will be parboiled and barbecued.

Worse! It will be our artifacts, the human ones, our children, that can't be found. In fifty years or maybe less, they will know just exactly how badly we failed them!

I'm doing what I can to help, are you? Maybe I'm not doing enough but I plan to do everything I can think of to follow the one part of Rastafarian thought that makes sense, and that is to:

"Stop this Armageddeon" as Marley puts it.

I'll work on what things I can, today, and I'll also teach my children to shoot straight before I put them out there for you guys to have to deal with.

Fair enough?



Monday, October 18, 2004

"Happiness is nonetheless true happines because it must come to an end.

..Nor do thought and love lose their value because they are not everlasting."

...Bertrand Russel

Several of us lost a friend this week. For me. he was not as close friend as he might have been, but I knew him for a long time and always enjoyed the sight of him. I never knew of him to be less than a nice person. He is one of those good people for which there is now an empty place in the world for his having left it.

His passing happened electronically for me. An email. Somewhere in my mind, Paul was living, and then I read that he was not. Most deaths are that way. We get the news and the world has changed, even before the thought can completely form in our minds.

We prepare for birth much more gradually. A call from my brother says I am going to be an Uncle again. And then one from my sister. and then one from...You folks know the drill. We have time to prepare the passenger compartment for arrival. There is never enough preparation for departure...never. Even when our friend and mentor, Bob, gave us years notice of his impending departure, we were still stunned somewhat when his wife called and said, "You know that call you've been expecting? This is it." Bob had passed and the years of knowing and preparing didn't help much.

Death and passing was very hard for me when I subscribed to the supernatural beliefs of religion. I remember hating god for killing my father when I was ten. I remember feeling fearful for hating god. This meant that I was going to hell even more than I was already for having done the things an adolescent boy does that he never tells anyone about but which he has been lead to believe are going to send him straight to hell.

A couple of childhood friends "went to heaven", which should have been a good thing, right? But it wasn't. Everyone cried. That's not how you celebrate a happy thing. I got one of the toys that Emory had left when he went to heaven. I don't know what happened to it and I can't even remember what is was now. Zeke had leukemia back in the days when it meant he was going to go away no matter what. We played wiffle ball baseball with him when he came over. he was very athletic. Maybe better than we were, but then he started gettting tired and then he stopped coming over. His parents bought him special toys, like a gas powered model airplane made of plastic. It was the first one any of us had ever seen that came out of a box, all ready to crash. After Zeke "went to heaven" they gave the plane to Chip, who lived a few houses down. We crashed it pretty good and then it was gone. It didn't mean anything to us. It wasn't Zeke. He was fun...the plane was noisy and smelled bad, and we couldn't make it fly anyway.

Somewhere along the way, I stopped thinking that heaven, as it was presented to me in church, was a real place. It just took too much effort to keep up the self delusion. Nothing that happened in the real world supported the idea for me, anyway, only things that some people said but couldn't back up or prove, except by something someone else had said or written but couldn't prove. So that circle got broken. it was a long process and has come around in my thoughts to a good rational belief system. I sum it up like this:

"Danged if I know and I'm Pretty sure no body else knows either."

Put a label on that if it helps you. Here are some to pick from:

Rationalist, Skeptic, Freethinker, A-gnostic, Whatever, What difference does it make? What's it to you?

I think I am actually a "What'sit-toyou?". The only thing I am sure of is that I am definitely not a Baptist. Sorry, to anyone this offends.

Death then becomes very easy to deal with intellectually. A physical process has stopped processing and cannot resume under any circumstances. As far as I know, it never has been any different.

My dog Shadrack ceased to function when I was four, and we put him in a sack and dropped him into the Oconee river. I watched my Dad drop the sack off the bridge between Dublin and East Dublin when I was small enough to be having my first dead dog. We stopped the car on the road next to the bridge rail. Dad got out and opened the trunk and took out the box that had Shadrack and some old bricks tied up in a burlap sack. We called it a "gunny" sack for some reason. Dad held everything, box, sack, and what was inside the gunny sack over the side of the rail for a moment...and then he let it drop. I watched it get smaller as it descended and then it hit the yellow green water. The water opened up a hole and let the box come inside. I remember that instant. It is one of those crystalline moments in my memory. Then the box went deeper and the hole in the water closed up.

Shadrack was replaced a few days later by a new Shadrack, but it wasn't really him. Shadrack's physical processes had ceased and would not resume, but a new little terrier of some very mixed sort, filled in the spot where the other Shadrack had been, with a new and incessant energy, which would of course, cease in its own time. This is the way it is. I know that. When you get a dog, it is more than likely going to leave before you do. Birth to death, you should live about seven times and a little more years than your dog will, so that least seven broken hearts, dogwise, before it is our turn. We know it's going to happen and most of us will cry just a little bit, whether we let anyone see or not. We still let the puppy into our heart.

For many years, I think I tried not to let any more people into my heart. Some of them were going to cause me the pain of leaving before I did. Now that doesn't matter. People too, give the equivalent of times of puppy breath and nipped fingers and the feel of soft fur if you let them. Those moments stay with us forever. They are a part of what we are. Heaven is in these moments.

The memory of a helpful smile, "Hey, what's happening, How are you?" The sharing of a canoeing trip with his child memory, taking longer than expected until way after dark, but safe because they were together through the adventure, only His wife was so worried because they were late and what if they didn't come back? But they did. And they made more puppy memories together and bits of heaven for a long time after that. And now...He didn't come back. He meant accident.


But his gift of memories stays with us. This is not as good as thinking there will be new ones but this is what life is, and it is terrible and wonderful and magnificent and it really really sucks sometimes, but mostly, it is worth hanging on to. It is the only Heaven we are guaranteed to ever have.

There are very many people who will miss this man. The depth of their grief will be measured by his gift of memories and heaven to each of them. The greater the one, the deeper the other, but the world will always be different for his having lived upon it...Better.



Thursday, October 14, 2004

You guys surprise me sometimes. I did not think many of you would pick up my pre-debate message, but not only did you get it, you had things to say.

Pat wanted to know why I was mentioning the wrong game:

Baseball! Hell, there's a soccer game on!!!

Frankly, I do know a few people who are soccer fans who say they are voting for Bush. A person who can enjoy the complexities of the world's game and still not figure out that Iraq had nothing to do with 9-11 is beyond my help, right now...So...

Sam likes her son's observation:

Steve - Kevin, Ryan, Andrew, Tyler and I are all watching. Talk about bonding...

Bush gave a moronic answer.

I say: What are we going to do if he wins?!?!?!?!

Ryan says: He is going to need better protection.

Kevin says: You watch too many video games.

Ryan says: Right. I need better education.

Is there any better preparation for the world than to show your child how stupid and evil it can be out there?

I went out into the world with the idealist vision of the nineteen-fifties clouding my vision. I believed that policemen were my friends, and that politicians all wanted the best for America. I had no fear of adults, (unless they were a communist). Fears were based on mushroom clouds caused by Mr. Kruschev, but he was somewhere very far away.

The earliest Presidential choice I remember clearly was between Adlai Stevenson and Dwight D. Eisenhower. Both of these men were worthy! They had served their country in war and peace. Each man had a slightly different vision of the next step for their country but each man had a bottom line personal belief system of honesty and fairness, each man stood for the concept of "The most Good, for the Most People". Both men rode around in open cars, gave speechs to crowds of people who may or may not have agreed with them. In those days You listened, indicating your agreement or disapproval by the tone of your applause. There was no central committee ordering you to shout down the opponent, at least at the National level, Chicago politics not withstanding. I was in the second grade when Eisenhower won. My family supported the other guy but "Ike" became my president and he was a good guy to me.

Four years later, in the sixth grade, we had a debate, Nixon against Kennedy. There was one on TV that may have decided the election but I mean there was a debate in the school between students. I think every class had one. I was on the Kennedy side where the big topic was what has become know as Medicare. This was a Kennedy program. The class sat and listened while two students for each candidate presented and rebutted. The teacher sat and said nothing except as a moderator. We had no idea how she was going to vote but we knew that she would. Her name was Mrs. Dull. Looking back at my sixth grade pictures, I now see that she was very nice looking. What Spanish I still know, she taught me.

There was something divisive that started in the Nixon Kennedy election. I felt it then, but I had no idea what it would become. Government was good, and stayed that way until Ronald Reagan got elected.

The fifties were marked by the constant battle against Russian propaganda. Up was down, a totalitarian government was good, American hegemony was bad, and Russians, with their superior system, had invented everything useful, like the TV, the , hydrogen bomb, Vodka, and the ball point pen. They hadn't, of course, but the propaganda was incessant. Words were twisted until you couldn't tell what anybody was really saying. We all finally decided that the lying was not limited to just the Russians!

The lessons learned during the "Cold War" about double think, have now become institutionalized in the concept we call Marketing: Winning is the only good, Right and wrong are disposable concepts and only relate to which "side" you are on.

I don't like this. I don't like anyone trying to deceive me. I don't like hearing the radio report that Kerry is widely perceived as the winner of last night's debate and then playing a Bush comment attacking Kerry as the only sound bite...Not fair!...Not for the most good, for the most people. Only good for "our side".

I don't have an answer to this evil strain that has grown cancerous in my country, but I have decided long ago to take what steps I can. In every human being there is the tendency to say things that are not true. I have resolved to fight that in myself and refuse to let it stand in matters of import, when others pass along things that aren't true to my personal knowlege.

This can get you in trouble, if done carelessly, and I am learning from my mistakes. Most of the people that say these untruths are merely passing them along. John Edwards shows me the way, oddly enough. When he contradicts someone, he looks at them right in the eye, and projects how much he cares about them, while gently calling them a liar. That word is never used.

"Well, You're mistaken... the figure is actually that 1.6 million jobs must be created each year just to serve the emerging workers who are leaving home looking for their first job. If you have lost 1.7 million jobs in the private sector, then you really need 7.2 million jobs, even if you count the new government jobs." Smile with beautiful teeth and laughing eyes, knowing all the while, that the betrayal inherant in a supposedly "Conservative" Vice President actually bragging about increasing the size of the government on National TV, is probably a lost concept on most conservatives.

Arm yourself with knowlege and love your opponent. It's the WWJD of political activism.

In viscious contrats to that, Lee Atwater was the first major operative to live every moment in double speak. After he got Daddy Bush elected, he found out he was dying of cancer, and went to each of the men and women he had slimed in political campaigns and begged their forgiveness. Though Atwater had never done the Christian thing by them, they mostly did it for him. He left an evil legacy, nonetheless. Today, Lee Atwater method college courses are being taught under the guise of Political Science!

It is a new and dangerous world we send our children to. They deserve better.

I am going to vote today, if at all possible. Kerry won this last debate also. A broad survey of the polls show this debate as Kerry's victory by the widest margin yet. With his boy getting trounced, Rove will stop at nothing to win. Things will get so ugly, in the last few days of this campaign, that America will be shocked by what Rove is willing to do and say. No lie will go unsaid. We will see if Karl Rove's theory is correct, that 12 percent of Americans can rule over the majority.

For the future of my children and yours, I hope not.



Monday, October 11, 2004

The best sign I have seen recently is from the Freeway Blogger:

"We're all wearing the blue dress, now!"

I learned a few things from my Science News this week. The earth is humming at a very low pitch, like a super bass drum tympanum vibrating so slowly that it goes in and out only once every few minutes. Can you feel it? Wondered what that was, didn't you?

A Scandinavian Carp can maintain a normal heartbeat without oxygen. This appears to be a survival trait evolved to allow it to survive in winter ponds frozen over so that the oxygen is depleted by all the water creatures trying to breathe. Turtles have been known for some time to be able to survive such times by shifting to a calcium carbonate biomechanism involving their shell material for neutralizing lactic acid, which builds up when there isn't enough oxygen. The carp does it all differently with a chemical pathway that doesn't need oxygen. The clever fish converts the lactic acid to ethanol.

Many humans use a similar chemical mechanism to survive the winter, also converting lactic acid to ethanol. The lactic acid is a byproduct of physical work, the physical work is converted to money, and the money then converted to ethanol, or ethyl alchohol, the magic ingredient in beer and wine. The ethanol comes from outside the body sources, however, and should humans ever evolve the ability to manufacture ethanol within their own bodies, I would expect huge economic disruption to occur. The house painting industry, for instance, being partially powered by ethanol, could come to a screeching halt if painters no longer had to present their paychecks to the liquor store clerk.

As it is, thankfully, humans have had to work for their rum for a long long time. Nearly every society that had writing, mentions beer or wine or both. The Sumerians mention it in texts that are at least 5000 years old. Scientists argue whether it was beer or bread that actually was the impetus for starting agriculture. I know which one my money is on!

"A loaf of bread, a jug of wine, and thou..." I kinda think the jug of wine, leads to loafing around with a thou, don't you? (A couple of other punny perversions of the poem occurred to me, but this is a family blog, so do it yourself this time)

While we're drinking and loafing and thou-ing, the mind wanders to kissing, and as scientists are likely to do, they start thinking about things. Ruining a perfectly good train of thought scientists have determined that there is a "kissing number" problem to think about.

Ok, don't think about it, but here it is anyway.

On a flat surface, the kissing number for pennies is six. Six pennies will fit perfectly around another one. Try it. I think we've all done it as kids. This is a two dimentional problem. Change the circles, represented by the pennies, into spheres represented by tennis balls, and it becomes a three dimensional problem. Now here is where scientists and mathematicians get in a tizzy. On the tabletop the pennies seem to fit perfectly, with no space between adjacent pennies. If you try to stack tennis balls, oranges, or cannonballs, things don't quite work out. There was a legendary controversy about what the kissing number really is between mathematicians Isaac Newton and David Gregory somewhere around the year 1624. Sir Isaac, being his normal arrogant and disagreeable self, contended the fruit sellers at the market had it figured out. Twelve apples fit nicely together on the rack. Gregory pointed out that while apples and oranges might squish down just enough to make it work, cannonballs wiggled a bit and the kissing number might actually be thirteen.

The legend persists that there is some mystical way to physically stack cannon balls to make thirteen of them "kiss". Kurt Vonnegut used a variation on this concept to create "Ice Nine" and fortold the end of the world as we know it, due to some simple mistake by some obscure scientist who created a new water crystal that froze at above normal temperatures. You'll have to go to the library and find Cat's Cradle by Vonnegut. I won't give it away, but anyone who's made it this far will like the book. It is the moral of the story that interests me because we may have witnessed it already, things just haven't worked their way to the inevitable end.

We've all heard about Bucky balls and nanotechnology and now we learn something scary. Bucky balls are a new way to stack carbon atoms. All the nanotechs are busy making them and figuring out what we can do with them. Guess what? Bucky balls will kill you. They seem to be incredibly toxic at very very small concentrations, as in twenty of them to a billion water molecules will wipe out half the cells they come in contact with, just for starters.

Oooo baby, mister Vonnegut might be right. Stacking up carbon atoms into a soccer ball shape could be the real Ice nine. I recommend the book.

Cat's Cradle

All this is sullied somehow, by the fact that a mathemetician published a proof that the kissing number in three dimensions really is...ta da! twelve, and that, yes, there is a little room left over to cause a stack of cannonballs to wobble, but, try as you will, one more just won't go into the stack. The three dimensional world we live in just has a bit of slack to keep it interesting. If we could just slide into four dimensions it works out really nicely.

I can dream though.



Friday, October 08, 2004

Fog on little Elk Feet

Out West they call them Mesas. Places where thousands of square miles of land just pops up higher than everything around it. Abruptly! The edge of this geological entity looks for all the world like a giant layer cake sitting on the floor where it has been dropped. The eons lie exposed in cross section to be read like a 100 million year old book. It is usually the same story. Shale, limestone, sandstone, and conglomerate, layered according to the sordid past of our continent.

All kinds of things cause them. Here is the east, our Mesa has trees all over it, or did until humans got here. At one time, even before the mesa formed, the continent was rising up out of the sea that allowed the water creatures, such as diatoms, crinoids, scallops, etc. to make all that limestone for us to blast out of holes, grind up and put on our driveways. Tree ferns covered the emerging land in a super dense 150 foot thick blanket. The first time I saw a tree fern fossil, I thought it was some kind of dinosaur skin. I could see the scales, well delineated in the freshly fractured rock lying in the edge of the creek. Lepidodendron is the scientific name for what I was looking at... "Scaly tree". I like the idea of dinosaur skin but this will do. What does it look like to you?

In Brasil, I saw what's left of tree ferns growing as ornamental plants in people's yards. They were still pretty impressive. The largest one I saw was about 20 feet high. In some places in the world they get up to 50 feet. They have caused all sorts of consternation in today's world by being so prolific millions of years ago in what is called, the Carboniferous age. Today we mine dead sea creatures as limestone and dead tree ferns as...coal. Down at the creek you can pick up black rocks, rounded and smooth like any other well worn creek rock except that they are very light and easily broken. Yes, they will burn, but don't be dumb enough to put one in your campfire more than once. Coal stinks to high heaven. It is a dirty, dirty, fuel.

The edge of the mesa runs through my yard. On maps it is called Walden Ridge which is not the original name, but then Tennessee isn't the original name either. The land at the top of the ridge is called the Cumberland Plateau. It is about 80 miles wide and officially runs from Cumberland gap at the Kentucky border down to Chattanooga. All this appears to have been caused by the tectonic plate that gives us Africa bumping into the tectonic plate holding up North America, way back when. I think that's right, anyway. Somebody can correct me if not, but let's keep moving, shall we?

So there is this cosmic fender bender and the future home of giant land tortoises, giant sloths, mastodons, big bison, little bison, and things that eat things like that, pops up above the Tennessee Valley. All this goes very well until the Siberian tribes canoe across what is left of the Bering straight and walk, eat, and reproduce their way into what is now, my neck of the woods. They proceed to eat all of everything they can catch and kill, wiping out most of the big animals in a matter of five or six thousand years, until the only one left is the little bison. We now call this little beast, the Buffalo. We think of it as a large thing but it isn't really. At one point in my lifetime there were only about thirty of them still alive. The natural balance being what it was at the time, Conservatives had yet to come to power or they would have bid on and eaten the last few, and folks like Ted Turner decided to do what they could to save them from extinction, thank goodness. There's lots of them in some places, but they don't exactly "roam" like the song claims anymore.

Interestingly another relatively large animal does roam around Roane County now. There is at least one Elk here. He needs a girl friend.

OK, back to the mesa- plateau thing. Suddenly after this continental bonk, we have this upthrust land sitting on top of Walden ridge and it's pretty much flat. Looks that way from an airplane even today. Then the rain started. It had to go somewhere, and space being warped in the presence of a large mass like say, the Earth, that meant down hill, however slight that was in some places, there it went nonetheless. Confused at times, the water went where it could with no particular direction in mind. Things happened like Daddy's Creek going one way and just a little bit over Mammy's Creek goes the other. Eons passed and Mammy's creek joined Piney creek, Fall Creek, Basin Creek, Otter Creek, Sandy Creek, and White's Creek and cut the gorge I get to look at while wear my two fingers to nubs trying to type this.

Now picture this: A large flattish geological area drained by a watershed. Warms up in the daytime and cools off as soon as the sun goes down. The air on the plateau cools down too, and guess what? Cool air is denser (heavier) than warm air and it tries to do the same thing the water does, relieve the physical force imbalance caused by the warped space caused by the presence of a large mass which is the planet Earth, or, "Flows down hill" for the simple minded.

So on most nights there is a river of cold air flowing down the gorge. This morning we have a cloud coloring the air river, most folks call it fog, but I can see it flowing and swirling in eddies and currents this morning. The eagles don't seem to like to navigate in this kind of soup so they sit in the tops of the big white pines and warble to each other. Most of the time they make noxious noises like they need some kind of lubrication, but the sound is pleasant to the ear this morning.

Gotta go now.



Thursday, October 07, 2004

I am going to spend today goofing around. My wife says I spend most days goofing around, but what does she know? I probably work as hard as, say, The President of the United States, even. Well, except that I don't get to mountain bike or lift weights every day, and I don't watch ESPN News Center every day...Oh, and frankly Folks, I pretty much never watch a live baseball game, let alone do it every single day. I do want to take a nap after lunch but I don't get to do it most days like the Prez.

I did take a long nap the day after the Allman Brothers concert just so I could stay awake through the whole Veep debate. I was worried that the nap would keep me awake the rest of the night, but, afterwards, I slept like a big old baby. I am older than I was, by the way.

Double Nickels!


At 10:45 am this morning, October 7, 2004, I will celebrate the fifty-fifth anniversary of my personal gift to the world...Being born!

It was probably the most notable event in my life, being born...Without that having happened, so much of the rest of my life would still be a mystery. That is to say, nonexistent. As it turns out, I am very fond of existing, so I am grateful to Joe and Betty for going to the trouble to make me happen. I hope they had fun, such as it was in late winter of that fateful year, for I, myself, am the announcement to the world that Joe and Betty Scarborough did not have safe sex at least once in 1949. Their gift to the!

OK, there were more "gifts" to follow, which cut into my exclusivity, but hey, it's my birthday and I get to try and enjoy it a little, OK?

So anyway, at 10:45 am on October 7, 1949, in the town of Dublin, Georgia, a man named Ty Cobb Jr., who had previously been disowned by his father for becoming a doctor instead of pursuing a baseball career, reportedly smacked my ass and I started squalling. To hear some folks tell it, the squalling has continued pretty much unabated for the last Fffty five years and shows no sign of letting up.

Yes, I have often thought about the Ty Cobb connection. I wish he had been a more agreeable man. He was not thought of as a nice person, though he was a hell of a baseball player. A "rules-smules" kind of player, he was into the win-at-all-costs thing, sometimes using a grinding wheel before games to let the other team see him sharpening his cleats. I suppose I would have gotten into the world anyway if his son had made a different career choice, the events set in motion in the winter of 49 being essentially unstoppable.

I would have liked to have met Ty Cobb jr. From the accounts I have, he was a person of character and well liked, unlike his father, who was just a character. He is now a legend but what did he really leave for the world? I know about the really cool old photos with Babe Ruth, Lou Gherig, and the other New York Yankees, but what did Ty Cobb give the world? If you leave out his son, not much!

But he did give us his child, as did Joe and Betty... I have also carried on this tradition. Somehow or another, Ty Cobb produced a good child in Ty Cobb jr. This is a high calling. Perhaps the highest demanded of us humans. Ty Cobb jr. grew up and placed himself in the service of others by becoming a doctor in a small rural Georgia town. His father never forgave him.

This was a time when all doctors had a "house call" bag and probably saw more patients at their own homes than they did in an office. The bag was black and opened up and sort of folded out to reveal tongue depressors (washable not disposable), a physician's light, and the most hugest syringes and needles you ever saw waiting to terrify a sick child. As one of those children, I always associated doctors with fear and pain. Still do, sorry. As an adult I have finally gotten myself to where I can take a shot without cringing in expectant fear, every muscle tensed awaiting the agony about to infold when that instrument of pain, the doctor, would pierce me with a metal rod dulled to a bludgeon tip, bruising deeply into my flesh and then injecting liquid fire into my insides. Then I got old, my parts wore out, I was introduced to the cortisone shot, and agony took on a new definition. Old Doctor Watkins, the first doctor I actually remember, was a pretty mellow dude and didn't hurt me all that much after all. Flu shots are nothing. The "Black Bag" was a thing of life and salvation after all!

I never saw Doctor Cobb's black bag. He died of a brain tumor six months after I was born.

Thanks, Doc...Wish I could have met you! If we could chat, I would tell you that 55 years later, things go pretty well. The kids you helped come into the world have also brought kids into the world and some of them have kids too, but not mine so a late start. I'm sitting in a beautiful spot and this morning a couple of eagles and great blue herons have come by to wish me happy birthday. Well actually the eagles didn't say anything and the blue heron said something that sounded like a cross between a dinosaur chirp and a bowl of hot chili landing on a large frog. I'm sure it was heron for, "good wishes on your special day, Steve. Have fun today, but make sure you get the kids to soccer practice and don't forget about the school board meeting tonight."

Stupid bird...



Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Well I got just enough of a nap to stay awake through the Veep debate. Oh what fun.

Cheney will do fine in reviews from Republicans and that was all he wanted to do.

Edwards won big with independants and that means everything! I still wanted him to nail Cheney on the obvious lies. Edwards let him get away with way too much stuff that is easily verified as false.

The biggest zinger of the night turned out to be when Dick Cheney said to John Edwards, "I preside over the Senate, Senator,...and tonight is the first time we've ever met."

Very effective! Our household cringed and gave Cheney a big score on that one. It wasn't until after the debate that we found out it was a lie! The debate format was set up in such a way as to make it difficult to rebutt well timed barbs, so I'll just do that right now.

Cheney made a big deal about presiding over the Senate and having never metJohn Edwards. Well, that could have been true, because Cheney only meets with Republicans, and, actually, has a surrogate preside over the Senate almost all the time. The only time Cheney shows up is for photo Ops and tie breakers.

SouthKnoxBubba wonders if it is even possible to meet with Cheney, because he is always hidden in his "Secret and undisclosed location"?

Now for the big Gotcha:

In fact, Dick Cheney has met John Edwards several times and just plain doesn't remember it. Sat next to him for over two hours eating pancakes on at least one occaission...And this is the guy who is running our country?

(Yeah, I know George is supposed to be in charge but get real, eh?)

There's a photo of them together. There's a lot more but you get the picture. Just to drive it in all the way, Here is are the Cheney's own words, as he opened the National Prayer Breakfast that the joint houses of Congress have each year:

"Congressman Wamp, Senator Edwards, friends from across America, and distinguished visitors to our country from all over the world: Lynne and I are honored to be with you all this morning."

Those who've served time in Tennessee recently will recognize Congressman Zach Wamp's name. We can call Zach a as witness to the fact that John Edwards and Dick Cheney sat together for two hours.

Watch for a spin out on a FOX news channel near you.



Tuesday, October 05, 2004

"Might be your man, I don't know!"

Walking in to the show last night, I was grabbed twice from behind. No, it wasn't security people accosting me for associating with known Critical Thinkers. First it was J.R. All excited because a friend was coming with an extra ticket. Then it was Doctor Doug who ....(insert inappropriate physical action by males acting 35 years younger than they are). White headed, balding, bald, and grinning from ear to ear...The whole crowd looked like that except for the kids who looked like, I can't believe this...Hippies!

Holy Bleep!


But wait...the hippies had all given up and gotten jobs by the time these guys, this band, hit. Time warp... someone's messed up the future by fooling around in the past, I think. Ray Bradbury, why didn't we listen? Something wicked this way comes, but, it's the GOOD wicked.

We should have brought the kids...oh hell no we shouldn't have! The Allman Brothers Band hit town and played at the 2500 seat City Auditorium. And man, do I mean PLAYED! There is no way that our kids need to see 50 something year old men and women bouncing around, and I do mean BOUNCING, to the Southern (Take your hat off when I say Southern, son) Blues, Rock, Jazz, Fusion, BOOGIE of the best band ever to kill off a few members, recover from heroin and several other addictions, pick up new members from the Church of the Marshall Fender Hammond B3, with a vintage Leslie cabinet Choir, and Rock out on Thunder Road in Knoxville, Tennessee! If your mind can't quite get there on the "bouncing" image, picture a multi hundred pound man resting his massive stomach on the back of the seat in front of him while the rest of his body dances. OK? Got the crowd in your head?

They gave us tickets with seat numbers on them. What ever for? The security guys walked back and forth up and down the aisles sending people back toward their assigned numbers, but BOOGIE was in the house. The seats were just a designated place to land when someone fell down. If you were actually your seat, you got landed on. The crowd was a show all its own. I can sum it up by telling you that they sold beer, wine, and mixed drinks in the lobby. They ran out of real beer in less than an hour, even before the opening act finished the first set. The opening act was.... the Allman Brothers. After a break for the crowd to complain about the poor beverage planning and logistics, the second and final act, which was... the Allman Brothers, came back and stomped us with boogie.

The Crowd fell down a lot!

The sound system was near perfect but the crowd kept yelling about all the time. My ears had started closing up shop but thank goodness, the woman behind us left before the end of the show. She had a 115 decibel scream that had me cringing waiting for the next one to pierce my head. The band wasn't too loud, it was that woman. A couple in front of us brought a baby. They had to leave fairly quickly. Stupid!

The only concert I remember having ever left before it was finished was a Dead show in Atlanta. It went for four hours, but I decided I had heard enough really bad music after one and left at the two hour mark. A concert that requires you to be on the same drugs as the band doesn't work for me. I'm not sure there is a drug that could make the 70's Dead sound good, but I wouldn't know. I couldn't take it.

Last night was different.

Dwane Allman died in the ditch after leaving the Sunshine Bar and Grill outside of Macon, Ga. on his motorcycle. One year later less than a mile from that spot, Berry Oakley died in the ditch after leaving the Sunshine Bar and Grill outside of Macon, Ga. on his motorcycle. Twenty years later Dickey Betts got booted off the island for never leaving the Sunshine Bar and Grill behind. Demons exorcised, Gregg Allman now presides over the best jam band I've ever heard.

Two of the three drummers are originals, Jaimoe, who looks his age, and Butch Trucks, who may look it but doesn't act it. Nephew of Butch, Derek Trucks is unreal on a Gibson SG guitar, playing licks that Dickey only imagines. Warren Haines lives a fan's dream having risen from idolization of Dwane Allman to taking his place. Both guitar players have touring bands of their own. Warren Haines has Government Mule. Solid and perfect. Derek is on another level, and probably runs through licks that leave the crowd behind, except for the other guitar players out there who watch his fingers on the giant screen above the stage and understand how hard it is to get where he just went and wish they could go, too. There was a third guitar player whose name I need someone to send me (Butch's son, Vaylor Trucks?). On any other stage he would have been amazing, but not last night. Still, the three axe jam, with call and response rips, had to be experienced. I think Warren duked it out with the kids and came out on top.

What else? Well, until last night, I used to think Victor Wooten of the Flecktones was the best bass player alive, but now I don't know. Oteil Burbridge plays bass like he was the lead, sometimes being the overlay for the signature Allman Brothers harmony lead line. When Oteil went off, you could feel it in your chest. Marc Quinones lived on the congas. You don't always hear him unless you listen for it. I noticed when he took breaks. There was definitely something gone, something complex and now simplified until he returned and explained it to you how a drum could be made to sing.

Maybe if Jerry Garcia had gotten straight a little sooner and had by pass surgery, the Dead would have turned into a good performance band for the conscious. As of last night, Greg Allman is the grand old man and there "Ain't but one way out, Baby!"