Monday, November 30, 2009

30 November 2009 I do care if it rains and freezes!

The sound of rain on a metal roof woke me before the alarm clock sounded off. I was able to hit the snooze bar and silence the alarm. No combination of buttons silenced the rain noise.

The trek out to the mailbox required water-resistant outer wear and the dog, as always when it is raining or has just rained; found enough new or fresh scents to completely distract her from the need to empty her bladder that she proclaimed before stepping outside. Between 0600 and 0940 we received 0.12 inches of rain. There was a brief gap in the rain cells that allowed time for a hike with Mike in a slight mist and then the rain resumed. Since 1030 we’ve had another inch. (Written at 1500)

The week promises to be full. Gloria can’t take her primary pain meds until 48 hours after her myelogram, Wednesday morning in Kingsport. She spent a good hour with various offices and departments to find out what backup pain meds she can use to help her in the next four days.

Add a rapidly passing cold front, falling temperatures, and she is unable to move without pain.

When she wasn’t on the phone, I was hunting for H1N1 vaccination locations with available vaccine and open slots. Greene County Health Department, the closest location to us, still tells us “call back_____” We’ve been hearing that for three weeks from them.

VA will eventually vaccinate me, but not Gloria. I spent 30 minutes on hold with VA this morning, finally was told to call another number, which put me right back at the bottom of the list I had been on 30 minutes ago. We know that VA was vaccinating staff two weeks ago when I was on campus for my ophthalmology appointment. The belief then was that the H1N1 shots would begin before Thanksgiving.

Local doctors haven’t ordered much vaccine, if any. At least, that hold for the ones Gloria sees.

The need to have some immunity built up before the third wave of H1N1 sweeps in as university semesters end and the vectors flee campus for homes is driving my search for vaccine.

Then, just before 1130 I stumbled across the information that Washington County Health Dept (most of our property is in Washington County with just enough in Greene County to provide some legal wiggle room at need) had appointment open 3 December, the day after Gloria’s myelogram. I called to try to finesse shots and slots, and was offered an appointment at 1800 today. It will be an uncomfortable trip in for Gloria but perhaps less uncomfortable than on the 3rd.

So we will drive into Johnson City about 1700 and visit the county health dept before finding something for dinner. Tacos sound very good to me today, or Mexican food of some sort – even Taco Hell Tex-Mex would go down pretty easily tonight.

In order to hold the pain levels down for Gloria I drove into Greeneville earlier to pick up her meds at the pharmacy, mail a couple packages, and hit the grocery store. Gasoline, when I filled up my tank, was $2.49/gallon.

Holston Valley Medical Center, site for Gloria’s myelogram, demands she bring in every bottle of medication she is taking when she shows up. We’ve offered a standard printed list, and photos of the bottles. The hospital staff claims this is a Joint Commission on Hospital Accreditation regulation. I plan on asking them how they secure those meds for people who are having procedures performed. If they sequester someone’s meds, do they obtain a pill count for each med, have it verified, and then perform the same procedure to assure the patient that all the patient’s meds have been returned?

JCHA regulations can be a bit idiotic. When I was managing hospital labs in small facilities that lacked the CAP seal of approval yet, JCHA inspections were a royal pain in the ass as they had little to do with the things that made a lab run reliably, accurately, and safely. Instead, the surveyor was usually an RN who had no knowledge of lab procedures or why labs are different than a nursing unit. I’ve had more than one argument with their surveyors. I’m really curious to see what the answer to my question about meds security will be.

Stay tuned for further misadventures of Crude and Vulgar, I can’t recall which I am today. That is determined by a complicated formula based upon the gravitational constant of a blue whale on Tau Centauri 4 and the velocity of a 4.2 inch mortar projectile at apogee in the sub-tropic latitudes.

My new glasses arrived by mail today. I think they used the wrong frames and wearing them will be problematic until I can find someone to adjust them to my face. I’d have taken the prescription somewhere else than to the company that has an office on the VA campus, except that they provide these glasses at no cost. I’ll use them driving in and home today. Rainy dark conditions will tell me if they are going to work. Fingers crossed.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

29 November 2009 It’s simple, we do it because we can.

Win7 comes with “Windows Live.” Windows Live comes with Live Mail, which I need in order to receive and read the love notes from various Russian and Ukrainian men posing as women and offering me endless physical pleasure if I will only provide them with my credit card so that they may send me samples of ED drugs.

Windows Live also comes with Windows Photo Gallery. Windows Photo gallery will, if allowed, invade my computer’s hard drive and locate every graphic image on said drive. It will then proceed to rearrange my file structure so that all my images are subsequently mis-filed in a file or folder called “My Photos.”

I began using computers before Windows programming became the standard of use. I learned to store files on a hard drive in a hierarchical manner that let me recall and use them in a manner similar to the way my gray drive works. Windows annoys me because it wants to control how I store my files.

You see, I’m actually aware that this computer is mine. I don’t need to have a master document file named “my documents.” I tend to file documents in files related to their purpose. Poetry goes in a poetry file, letters to Congressmen and Senators who do not listen to my concerns are filed in “letters to Congress” Photographs (images for the young) are filed in similar manner. If I want to use a landscape shot from this month I look for it in Photos/creek shots 09/nov 09/ and it will be right where I left it.

In using past Windows editions, I’ve renamed or erased every file that began with “MY” But the last couple iterations of Windows have been coded so that the “My ____” recreates itself if erased.

So I won’t use Windows Photo Gallery or HP Photosmart as they not only want to hijack my files, they want to send them out to be printed and then mailed or e-mailed to good friends who remain good friends because I don’t clutter their lives with images which interest me but most likely not them. I may want a daily image of Cassi Creek but most people I know would quickly tire of such clutter arriving in their e-mail. In fact, I don’t take those photos every day. I look for change and then capture what I see that interests me. And I file it where I will look for it so that I don’t need to let the Windows present me with all the Cassi Creek photos when I know exactly which one I want and when I took it.

Windows Live comes with “Writer.” “Writer”, like Word 2007, promises to allow me to write this blog and publish it directly to BlogSpot. Unfortunately neither program does as promised. I suppose I could scrap this blog and begin a new one, in hopes that either “Writer” or “Word 2007” might actually allow me to write and post without some copy and paste work. But the reward isn’t that great. I’ve been cutting and pasting since “Word Star,” “Word Perfect,” and “Word” were competing for the major share of the word processing business. I really liked Word Perfect. But Word became the standard of use and here I am still cutting and pasting, looking at changing to Open Office instead of fattening the Microsoft coffers for programs that I, as with most users, don’t really need in the packages available for sale.

We bought a new copy of Adobe Photo Elements 8 to use to refine images. We don’t need all the cute, “inspirational” fluff that comes with it. I don’t send out photos surrounded by balloons, flowers, and stuffed animals to anyone. I find inspiration in myself, Gloria, our marriage, and other places, not in “inspirational messages or images; and never, never, never in motivational or inspirational speakers.

If Adobe, or Microsoft want to inspire me, they can construct and sell me a basic photo manipulation program that doesn’t hijack my files, try to send files out to a printer, and doesn’t bombard me with anything “cute.” Then they can stop adding things to basic word processing, data base, and spreadsheet programs that have nothing to do with the actual function of those programs. Instead of spending the years after a program release making it obsolete, spend those years fixing the bugs that were in it when I had to buy it because the program I was using and liked it no longer supported by the company or the current operating software on my computer.

If this sounds too much like an Andy Rooney segment, it is Sunday evening. That means I’ll have to dodge some endless football game while players, coaches, and advertisers stretch a 15 minute quarter to an hour of wasted transmission time.

I wonder what Andy Rooney is doing tonight? I doubt he’s buying ED drugs in order to meet Russian and Ukrainian men posing as women, either.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

28 November 2009 A stitch in thyme saves nein

This is one of those weeks when it is easy to lose track of what day it is.

The things that normally clue us as to time slip a bit on long weekends. No mail usually means it is Sunday. Lots of unwanted and unread advertising inserts in the newspaper usually indicate Sunday. Our trash pickup normally occurs on Thursday.

So given no mail and an extremely fat newspaper on Thursday make Thursday Sunday. Mail yesterday makes Friday Monday. A fat newspaper yesterday makes Friday Sunday. Mail today makes Saturday Saturday, or Monday. Another fat newspaper makes today Sunday. The trash was picked up this morning so that makes today Thursday.

The calendar, arbiter of time in space tells me that under the Gregorian system imposed upon the Western World by one of the Popes, Gregory, today is Saturday, 28 November, 2009. Well and good if you or I are willing to accept Gregory as the authority of matters temporal. We’ll not delve into accepting his authority on spiritual matters as his Canonical authority was presumed to give him sway over temporal and civil concerns as well. Gregory XIII left the Western world using a solar arithmetic calendar derived by modifying the previously used Julian calendar. This is the important component of the Gregorian update: “Every year that is exactly divisible by four is a leap year, except for years that are exactly divisible by 100; the centurial years that are exactly divisible by 400 are still leap years. For example, the year 1900 is not a leap year; the year 2000 is a leap year.

The Julian calendar, named for its most famous proponent, Julius Caesar was phased out of existence as the civil and canonical authority on 24 February 1582 by the papal bull Inter gravissimas. A handful of countries accepted it that year with others adopting it over the next several centuries. The Julian calendar still remains the official liturgical calendar for many of the various Orthodox Catholic churches and was in use in Imperial Russia as late as 1917, explaining why the Great October Revolution (большая революция октября) took place on 7 November everywhere but Russia, where it happened on the 17th of October. The Julian calendar had been put into use in order to correct for human meddling with the astronomical realities of a solar year. It eliminated a transient leap month and instituted a leap year presence involving adding one day/4 years to correct for Terran circum-solar transit time.

Walking into the kitchen and glancing at our home’s master calendar, I find that today is the 11th day of Kislev and not Saturday but Yom Shabbat (שַׁבָּת יוֹם). The Jewish or Hebrew calendar is a lunisolar system predominantly used for religious observances and by all official institutions in the State of Israel, as well as by Jewish farmers in Israel as an agricultural framework. Years in the Hebrew calendar are labeled with the era designation Anno Mundi (Latin for "in the year of the world"), abbreviated AM and A.M., (Hebrew: לבריאת העולם‎), and are numbered from the epoch that, by Rabbinical reckoning, is the date of the birth of Adam. 30 September 2008 through 18 September 2009 corresponded to Hebrew year 5769; the Hebrew year 5770 began at sundown on the evening of 18 September 2009 and will end on 8 September 2010. Under the codified rules, the Jewish calendar is based on the metonic cycle of 19 years, of which 12 are common years (12 months) and 7 leap years (13 months). The leap years are years 3, 6, 8, 11, 14, 17, and 19 of the Metonic cycle. Year 19 (there is no year 0) of the Metonic cycle is a year exactly divisible by 19 (when the Jewish year number, when divided by 19, has no remainder). In the same manner, the remainder of the division indicates the year in the Metonic cycle (years 1 to 18) the year is in

Other cultures use other calendars for their purposes. The Chinese have their own reckoning of years which total as 4705, 4706, or 4645 (depending on the epoch used) on their Xia calendar. This lunisolar calendar was believed to have been codified about 500 BCE. The discrepancy between the running total years and that of the Jewish calendar has spawned far too many jokes dealing with lack of Chinese food on Christmas Eve.

There are probably as many different calendars as there are cultures with unique written languages. But we won’t investigate those.

Among a subset of the new age folks there is a great deal of concern regarding the soon-to-run-out-of-days Mayan calendar. According to the current legend the world will end 21 December 2012. The latest new age fantasy involves the instantaneous occurrence of polar shifts, probable opening of tectonic plate junctions around the world followed by volcanic eruptions, pieces of the sky falling, and all manner of other cataclysmic planetary disasters which will destroy the planet and end all life on Earth.

There is a great deal of money to be made selling freeze-dried survival foods, dehydrated water, weapons, ammunition, and other survivalist gear. So when the invisible comet re-appears, or the frozen aliens thaw from the South Polar snow pack, the survivalists who meet them will have enough to eat and enough bullets to discover that bullets are useless against freeze-dried and reconstituted aliens.

As for the validity of the Mayan legends and the likelihood of the world ending in 2012, I don’t buy into it. All the predicted geologic horrors are possible. But with the exception of a comet/meteor strike, they all happen in periods of thousands of years, not hours. The legend may give rise to many poorly-scripted movies but it does not predict the end of the world reliably.

Of course, if the world did come to an end in 2012, it would solve the problem of Sarah Palin running for President. Not even the end of the world happens without some good aspects.

Friday, November 27, 2009

27 November 2009 There but for elevation go you and I

At 2200 last night, while dragging the dog and adding a light to the well filter enclosure against a predicted 31°F low, I watched snowflakes dance in and out of my sight. Granted they were very scattered and would not have been noticeable save for my headlamp, but they were present.

Today dawned windy, chilly, and with dry leaf-covered ground. When Mike and I reached our half-way point and began the climb back up the valley the clouds parted a bit and we were able to see snow on the ridges and high shoulders. At about 0.2 miles from our drive, this was the view.

Using telephoto and digital zoom from the same spot reveals this.

What a difference about 1500 feet of elevation makes. And 3000 makes even more.

It has been cold and blustery all day. It is a great day to stay home.

I was asked to participate in an on-line poll about holiday shopping this morning. I take great pleasure in knowing that I skew the results on these polls even by the smallest amount. The house remains a football-free zone, and a basket-ball free zone.

Like every other household I can picture, we will sup on left-over’s tonight.

Last night we fired up the wood stove. This stove has served us well for two years and was pronounced safe and clean by sweeps last month. It lit well, warmed up nicely. When I closed the damper, instead of the low rumble of recirculation I expected, I hear no change in sound and noticed puffs of smoke at the front and side door. Opening the damper stopped the smokiness but allowed the stove to get hotter than it should. We’d discussed the door gaskets with the sweeps and they felt that the existing gaskets would serve another year. Apparently that was not the best assessment.

Fortunately I had squirreled away a package of gasket cord and cement. So after today’s hike with Mike I put on knee pads and ripped out the existing gaskets. I’d feel better about the replacements if I’d had more cement. The cement came in a tube similar in size to a large toothpaste tube and is extremely thick and grainy. The tube is designed like a caulking compound tube and the repairman is supposed to coax a bead of cement into the gasket channel before convincing the gasket cord to adhere to the door. As with caulk, I wound up applying it digitally. I left the doors open for drying purposes. Nothing has fallen out of its position so we may have a working stove. I’m torn between trying it tonight and waiting until tomorrow.

A fast trip to the wood pile indicates that much of this year’s last purchase of wood may be a bit longer and thicker than we like. December promises to include work with splitter and chain saw.

That’s pretty much all the news from Cassi Creek, where tomorrow will be another day.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

26 November 2009 Dump closed on Thanksgiving

Those of you who are my age, or who have parents my age will immediately throw your “shovels, rakes, and implements of destruction back into the red VW microbus” and return to the “scene of the massacree” for “Another Thanksgiving dinner that couldn’t be beat.”

It has been 44 years since the title event, 43 years since I first heard Arlo Guthrie perform it, and 42 years since the song/monologue made it onto vinyl. Thanksgiving still revolves around too many people eating far too much before vegetating at the altar of football. And just as then, American soldiers are stationed overseas in wars that are viewed with increasing opposition by part of the American populace.

The nation was highly polarized about the war in VietNam. The Democratic Party would have run on a peace platform in 1968 if Bobby Kennedy had not been murdered, dumping the nomination to Hubert Humphrey. Instead, Nixon rode into office on the GOP’s “Southern Strategy” that used racism and religion to mobilize a voter base that also carried Reagan, Bush I and Bush II into office.

In 2008, Barak Obama was the Democratic Party nominee, running on a platform of social and economic change supported by a base that was largely opposed to the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The war in Iraq is winding slowly down but Obama is apparently going to reinforce our command in Afghanistan in a move that will make Bush II’s war Obama’s as well. The racism and religion that characterized the GOP’s base in 2008 has been aimed at Obama in an effort to discredit his presidency.

We, as a nation and as a people have not learned very much since 1968 about how to govern ourselves or how to interact with other nations. We’ve allowed the GOP to essentially shut down the government in 1994 because the then-Speaker of the House felt he was snubbed on an Air Force One flight seat assignment. Now the same party has spent the months since Obama was inaugurated in January in blatant and offensive efforts to block any legislation introduced by the Administration or by the Democrats, any appointments made by the administration, without offering anything in its place but lies and obfuscation. The country is polarized to a greater extent than during the VietNam War.

Yet there is much to be grateful for this year.

Gloria and I have been a couple for 17 years now. Few people are given the ability to determine when the best years of their life begin. I know with certainty when mine began.

The duck, our guest of honor, was just escorted into the oven. It will be joined in celebratory array by sweet potatoes, Haricots verts aux amandes et noix, Brussels sprouts with chestnuts, and a new spiced cranberry relish recipe. Dessert will be sugar-free pumpkin pie for Gloria and apple pie for me. That repast should be adequate to feed the army of a small Caribbean nation. We’ll enjoy the meal and the company will be superb.

There’s much to be thankful for this year and I am.

If you’ve been reading any of these posts, thank you. I hope they bring some amusement to your day. I hope your Thanksgiving days are as happy as mine. Stay well and take care of each other.

Below is the cranberry relish recipe I using today.

Cinnamon and Clove Cranberry Sauce

Bon Appétit
November 2006

yield: Makes about 2 1/4 cups

The warm spices in this version are the very essence of the holiday.

Basic Cranberry Sauce


1 (12-ounce) bag fresh cranberries

1 cup sugar (sub “Splenda”)

1 cup water

2 1/4 teaspoons finely grated orange peel (sub ¼ cup orange juice)

1/2 teaspoon coarse kosher salt


Bring all ingredients to boil in heavy medium saucepan, stirring often. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until most of cranberries burst, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Transfer sauce to medium bowl. Cool, cover, and refrigerate cranberry sauce. DO AHEAD Basic Cranberry Sauce can be prepared 1 week ahead. Keep refrigerated.


To Basic cranberry sauce from above,


1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon ground allspice

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom

1 1/2 teaspoons grated peeled fresh ginger

Combine all ingredients for basic cranberry sauce in heavy medium saucepan. Add cinnamon, allspice, cloves, and nutmeg. Cook as directed for basic cranberry sauce . Cool to room temperature. Stir in ginger. Cover and store mixture as directed for basic cranberry sauce.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

25 November 2009 The 3 Rs in too many schools readin’, ‘writin’, religion

Today began too early or yesterday ended too late. Which ever thought is more correct, it was 0’dark-thirty when I struggled from supine to vertical and left the warmth and comfort of our bed in order to drain the dog and retrieve the newspaper.

This being Wednesday, the crock pot full of oatmeal was ready for breakfast.

The newspaper had its usual local stories about thefts, convenience store robberies, drug stings, and inter-personal arguments ending in physical violence, drunken drivers arrested for a 5th, 6th, or 7th, offense of DUI and Driving without a license. There was a sprinkling of stories about local food for the poor resources. They are all experiencing increased demand and decreased donation. More local families than ever before are requesting help to put a Thanksgiving dinner on the table. Each box provided to a family this year has less than ever before. Still, everyone receiving help has a great deal to be thankful for.

Infallibly, before the week is over, there will be at least one newspaper article relating the arrest of one or more people on charges of transporting drugs for sale. The driver will have been pulled over for a routine traffic violation, running a red light, failure to yield, speeding, failure to stop for a school bus. Or the driver will have been driving a car with broken lights, perhaps driving aggressively, or erratically, triggering a complaint that results in a traffic stop. There are not enough police on duty at any given time to spot and stop all the people transporting drugs. The drivers, and their passengers, are often caught only because they call attention to their car.

As noted above, the region has a large problem keeping drunken drivers off the roads. All too often DUI is not regarded as the potential homicidal act that it can and does become. I hate drunk drivers. Let me repeat that, “I hate drunk drivers!” Over the years I spent working in hospitals, I’ve seen a steady torrent of people maimed or killed by drunk drivers come through one ER or another. All too often the victims were sober when injured and will bear the brunt of someone else’s lack of concern for the rest of their lives.

We, as a nation, need to deal with drunk drivers in a hard and fast manner. There should be no court of law or of public opinion willing to give a pass to a drunk driver. They belong afoot after the first offense and in jail if they repeat. No excuses, no hardship licenses, no probation or parole, no easy-out for 12 stepping.

I write this, knowing full well that I, like most other American drivers, could have been caught driving while drunk more than once. I was lucky. I never damaged a car or injured anyone while driving drunk. But I also know that I risk my life every time I drive these local roads, particularly at night. I understand that driving is not a right, but a privilege subject to legal restrictions. I always have known that, just haven’t been smart enough, always, to apply it to my own mortality and actions.

Today’s newspaper also had “the weekly letter.” At least once a week someone pens and submits a letter to the editor blaming all societal ills on the removal of prayer from school and public meetings. The author called upon Congress to arbitrarily insert prayer – make that Christian prayer of course into schools and into every public meeting. This, she maintained would rapidly repair all social and cultural ills as “God” reclaims America and runs the nation. I’m hard-pressed to think of any illegal behavior that takes place today in schools, in small towns, or in large cities that did not take place a century ago in some analogous form. History fails to document any real evidence of any nation existing without anti-social, illegal, or immoral behavior by its citizens despite the practice of personal or groups prayer in schools or at meetings.

I see at least one such letter in the local paper each week and the author invariably fails to note that he or she is legally able to pray anywhere they like as long as they do it privately without involving anyone else in the process. These authors seldom mention that they have the option of sending their children to religion-based schools if they choose, where their children can pray on schedule. These authors also fail, for the most part, to state that they only consider one particular form of prayer, that stemming from their particular church and its hierarchy as acceptable. That stipulation should be prominently displayed in most such letters like the warnings on tobacco products. The authors want the local school board and the state to incorporate their particular brand of prayer into the classroom so that all students are dosed daily. They seem unable to understand that this violates the 1st amendment to our Constitution by causing the state to endorse a particular brand of religion. Pointing this out to them, in word or in print, will always trigger the accusation of a “war on Christianity.” It will be interesting to see how many times that call to abolish the 1st Amendment turns up between now and year’s end.

We roasted and peeled chestnuts today, to use in tomorrow’s dinner. We managed to not eat so many while peeling as to force a menu change.

Looking out the back door toward the creek is always pleasant. Gloria has multiple bird feeders up on poles, on cables, and any where else she can find room for one. There is always bird activity and the change in populations as the seasons change is fun to watch. Today, under bright blue skies, our

Bradford pear tree is beginning to change to red. It is the last of our trees to make the color change. It is home to an unknown number of birds. There transits to and from the feeders keep the tree’s branches moving as if there is a constant wind. Here’s a look at that view.


Vy not?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

24 November 2009 8 bags full

Grocery shopping was the major group activity for today along with a quick trip to Greeneville TN’s “Big K” I'm not sure what the difference in a “Big K” and K-mart is and don’t really plan on spending enough time in either for it to matter.

Last year, on the 31st of December, my HP Pavilion dv9205us notebook shuddered, gasped, and rolled over, belly up in the dying cockroach/computer position. It actually did everything I wanted it to do except establish and maintain a connection to our home network, our wireless router, and the internet beyond our doorstep. We replaced it with a Toshiba Satellite M305 which, to date, I’ve found to work quite well.

The HP was within warrantee, barely. The bad news about that was that the warrantee provider was Circuit City, busily collapsing to nothingness. They assured me that their contract service provider would perform repairs. Long story, bad contractor; we all know how that worked out. The contractor repairs – if indeed repairs were actually done, failed hard, in the same manner, one week after the 90 day contractor warrantee for service. They’d be happy to sell me and install for me, a new wireless adaptor. I declined.

Today, thinking that I might find a suitable adaptor, I brought the pavilion up, found a software patch and upgrade that I hoped would bring life back to the pavilion, and coaxed it into service.

Currently, I’ve updated my security programs and am in the process of downloading and installing, 49 Microsoft updates. That’s going to require multiple reboots, each of which may signal another failure on the pavilion. It is going to be a long and tedious night. Standing in line behind Microsoft, Java, Adobe, and others who want their bytes of data ingested as much as the big boys do.

Tonight, we dine on black beans and saffron rice with thinly sliced roast pork.

We have cranberries to deal with tomorrow. The duck has to be checked for thawed status. We brought back oysters to fry this weekend, Po’boys perhaps, if I can find some multi-grain bread for Gloria. We have reusable shopping bags and take them grocery shopping faithfully. Today we filled 8 bags. Expensive trip.

This is one week of the year when I am perfectly happy to stay home and not travel. It will be interesting to see if the airlines complain about decreased revenues compared to last year.

Monday, November 23, 2009

23 November 2009 Operation Drying Carpet

Today’s agenda, carpet fishing.

During the last high water episode (why write “flood” when one can be more verbose) a chunk of carpet washed downstream and settled in a new position. That is, unfortunately, precisely under a root wad where large rainbow trout have been holding feeding positions. We’ve been waiting for the creek to drop enough that the removal can be done without involving personal risk. Today seems to be the day to run the recovery operation.

We have no idea who put the carpet into the creek or how far up the valley it has been before winding up in our section of the creek. Cassi Creek, like many other Appalachian creeks is too often a convenient dump site for any refuse people can’t burn. The sides of the road are heavily littered with beer cans and bottles, fast-food bags, wrappers, and cups. There seems to be little regard for the environment on the part of people who drive up and down the road throwing out their trash. They have equally little concern for the property owners who have to pick up the trash they leave for others.

If we had an agenda, locally, it would be to get our neighbors to band together for a weekend and clean up the creek and road. But since many of them contribute to the problem and are only renting living quarters along the road there is little hope for that.

This afternoon I put on my wading boots – size 13 with case-hardened machine screws turned into the soles for grip on mossy or muddy rock, crossed over the pine tree in the creek and hauled the carpet out of the creek. It was partially held in place by the intersection of two root balls, one a standing Hemlock, and the other the pine in the creek. After a suitable struggle, the carpet gave up and was lifted dripping from its lair. That lair is now available to trout once more.

The carpet resists mightily. Anything of lesser strength than a 19 wt garden rake would have been too little rod. You can see the difficulty that fishing this small pocket. It’s going to be a real fly and leader eater. Downstream is to the left in the picture

If anyone else posted a picture like this, I would point out their failure to properly edit and review their writing and composition. I’m simply using this image to demonstrate the effectiveness of Simms L2 boots in size 13 with stealth rubber soles and machine screws for traction. It also serves to demonstrate the steepness of the banks of Cassi Creek with only limited exaggeration

Dragging the carcass home. I’m on the East bank of the creek as it flows downstream, right to left. The pine in the middle of the creek bed is readily apparent, as is the highly rocky and moderately unstable nature of the creek banks after the last flood stripped away a lot of soil and vegetation. I’ll cross over to the west side of the creek about 15 feet upstream.

Used hard and put away wet! The carpet is hanging over a standard issue 55 gallon burn barrel that probably held some toxic petro-chemical before completing its journey to our door. The carpet can hang out there, communing with nature until it is dry enough to put into the trash can.

Dinner tonight will be toasted cheese sandwiches. We bought a block of Velveeta just for this purpose. While it is not cheese as a European would know it, for all too many Americans it is “the cheese.” Truthfully, it does make an excellent toasted cheese sandwich as it melts and then solidifies.

For the first few years of my life, Velveeta, American processed, and Longhorn Colby were the only types of cheese I had the opportunity to eat. I’m fortunate that I don’t recall how bland those were. Cheeses are a wonderful aspect of food to explore and enjoy. We grocery shop at Earth Fare about once a month. Each trip offers the chance to buy a new cheese to enjoy with fruit, in salads, or just to add to a sandwich. Right now, we’re finishing up the last few ounces of a block of 6 year old Cabot Vermont Cheddar, sold as Old School Cheddar that has to be one of the most delicious cheeses I’ve ever tasted. Crumbly and buttery, it melts slowly into one’s tongue. It is reserved for dessert use with grapes and figs now. That is with the exception of the small bit that may find its way onto a slice of Apple-Cinnamon pie tonight.

If another block crosses our path, it won’t leave the premises.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

101 uses for slide rules in today’s world

A slide rule can be used as wall hangings, particularly the big classroom demo models. I nearly bought one on e-bay but we didn’t need it hanging on the lanai.

A slide rule can be used to prop up your head when napping at your desk.

A slide rule can help you pass the time while waiting as you try to recall how to use the various scales and when each one is necessary.

A slide rule can be used to conduct the music coming through your stereo system as you play old vinyl albums.

A slide rule can be used to complete the calculations necessary to build a bridge, design a nuclear reactor and put it safely inside a submarine, calculate the results of biomedical analysis, compute target motion analysis, and a host of other tasks that we either don’t do anymore or allow our computers to perform instead.
All three computers are now upgraded to Windows 7. In many ways, I still miss the days of C:\DOS, C:\DOS run. We bought two new flash drives yesterday to replace two that have always thought A slide rule were CD players first and data storage units second. We went for 4 Gigabyte units. Standing there in the store I was reminded of my first PC with a 10megabyte hard drive. It ran word processing programs, spreadsheets, and data bases. With an external modem it would connect at 300BPS and allow me to log onto Prodigy. “No one,” said the computer companies “will never need more than 10 MB worth of data storage.”

Today, there exists a generation that has never seen the old 5 ¾ inch floppies or even the 3.5 in hard shelled floppies. The concept of data and programming on tape reels must seem like a grim fairy tale while punch card programming must call up visions of hell. It was possible to bomb a program or crash a computer with a single careless punch, a spindled, folded, or mutilated card, or a smear of peanut butter. Slide rules must seem like fossils to today’s computerized students. . I still have two slide rules in the house and a working slide rule tie bar.

Buckwheat pancakes with bacon, washed down with Nantucket Blend coffee brought us into the world of the wakeful this morning.

Today has been somewhat damp and cloudy. It rained a bit around 1530, just enough to say it rained but not measureable. There was a large red blob on the Morristown NWS radar but it wandered off away from us and the current radar shows only some light precipitation in greens and yellow that will likely not dampen our door step.

Currently there is a pork sirloin roast in the oven. It has been sitting at room temperature for about 2.5 hours so that it can finish defrosting. I smeared it heavily with a mixture of garlic, fresh ginger, kosher salt, Coleman’s dried mustard, paprika, garam masala, and 12 year old balsamic vinegar. I’ll sear it at 500° F then back the oven down to 350 to finish it. I’ll serve it with baked sweet potatoes and Brussels sprouts.

I’ve got to sit down and write some notes in sympathy cards tonight, in order to mail them tomorrow. It’s hard to know how to do these given that they will be torn up by the recipients if I write what I really want to say. One thing is for certain, the limited and all too brief impression of the deceased that I have is not what I see from others. I’d very much have liked to learn more about him.

At times like this, dealing with a problem that refuses solution, I remember that one could always take a metal slide rule and beat the crap out of something. It doesn’t provide an answer but it does work off some frustration.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

There, and there again.

Today we are upgrading the desktop computer to operate on Win 7.  The supposedly seamless process took 5 restarts to get to the point where the actual install began. 

Dinner was spaghetti with clam and shrimp in oliveoil, white wine, and saffron.

Friday, November 20, 2009

win 7, 3 S Lenon 4

This morining upgraded Gloria's netbook from Win 7 starter to Win 7 home premium; then added McAfee security to it.
This evening I began the Vista > Win 7 upgrade on my notebook.  6 hours later I think it and I have reached a truce.

Had a long overdue and very welcome phone call with my cousin Leonard Schwartzburd today.  He's really a good person.

Note in passing: My half-brother Steven Sobelman died Monday, 16 November of a viral infection secondary to treatment of multiple sclerosis. 
I wish he and I had been able to meet and get to know each other but he never chose to enter the door I opened.  What a shame.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

2009 Just open the box and use it

Gloria’s net book arrived today. She waited patiently and had lunch before opening the box and beginning to set it up.

She and I will invariably run the setup on any such system in a different manner. Currently the problem of e-mail with Window 7 is hanging things up. We got it networked and able to access the world beyond. E-mail was omitted in the Windows 7 software package and for some reason the downloaded replacement is not working yet.

Morning is wiser than evening. I’m not going to worry too much about it tonight.

Tomorrow, I’ll install Win 7 on my notebook so that we have the same software to deal with. I’m not sure yet how I will upgrade her desktop to Win 7. I may do a complete rebuild.

My text books for History of the Holocaust arrived today as well. I will open them after dinner.

On a more somber note:

December 23, 1952 - November 16, 2009
Steven H. Sobelman 56, of Broken Arrow, Oklahoma passed away from this life on November 16, 2009 in Tulsa from complications of Multiple Sclerosis medication associated with PML Progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy is believed to be caused by Jacob-Creutzfeldt (JC) papovavirus.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The days grow short when you reach September

Yesterday was a day of contrasts.

Gloria and I spend quite a lot of time on line in various pursuits. We keep in touch with family, with friends, and with casual acquaintances literally around the world. She has two on-line stores selling hand-made jewelry and vintage items.

I was fortunate enough to collaborate in the compilation and publication of “A Tapers’ Compendium,” Volumes 1-3 and the addendum. This was an on-line project that generated a listing and review of every Grateful Dead concert recording, by fans or by the band, circulating among the obsessive-compulsive tapers and traders who make up a subset of the band’s fans, Dead Heads. From this undertaking, long ago completed, I’ve stayed in touch with about 25% of the people who helped with the project. Some have become quite good friends and will always have a place in our lives.

I’ve also forged similar on-line and face-to-face contacts in the on-line fly fishing and fly tying communities. We’ve met at various places to fish and to raise money for one charity or another.

Of course, Gloria and I met initially as a result of on-line correspondence that began in 1992.

One of the dicey things about on-line acquaintances is the risk one assumes by not being able verify everything one is told. When Gloria and I met, there was no real internet as we know it today. We wrote a lot of notes and spent a lot of time on the phone as well. By the time we finally met we knew quite a lot about who the other said they were. Still, her friends warned her to be cautious about meeting someone unseen from out of state. They were right.

When we met, in D.C.’s National Airport, we had only had about 24 hours to view pictures of each other. The intellectual and emotional attractions were strong but we had no idea if the physical attraction would appear. (Well, I’d seen better pictures of her than she of me – I already found her attractive). Fortunately for me, she decided she could stand to look at me and opened the meeting with a spectacular kiss.

From that moment on we experienced a strong and surrounding comfort in each other and with each other that allowed us to proceed from being strangers to being the pair we are today. That comfort is always there.

Last night, about 1830, the cable television and internet service was suddenly interrupted. We were fixing dinner when it happened and called the outage to Comcast, hoping to hasten resumption of service. Since we’d both been in Johnson City yesterday dealing with things medical and academic, we had some things to complete or catch up on on-line. We were told that our provider knew of the outage and that service would be restored shortly.

After dinner, we put on a stack of CD’s, let them play, and spent a pleasant evening reading. When we finally turned in about midnight the service was still out.

The lack of external noise highlighted something we both appreciate. We don’t need to be constantly speaking to each other in order to be content. Quiet presence serves us both. Physical presence speaks adequately much of the time.

I started a James Butcher “Dresden Files” novel Monday at the car dealership. Yesterday I read more while waiting for Gloria. I finished in during the quiet evening hours yesterday and handed it off to Gloria.

Gloria had a neurosurgical consult today. Because of her previous surgeries and her fibromyalgia diagnosis, she may have more L-spine problems that are not diagnosable without further imaging studies. The neurosurgeon did a quick but thorough exam, looked at old films and ordered a CT and myelogram. The CT is no real problem although the appointment is for Holston Valley Medical Center in Kingsport, close to 60 miles away. We don’t know anyone there, we’re out of that loop and neither of us cares for that. Being a patient is difficult for both of us.

The myelogram is problematic for me as they are painful during performance, easily screwed up, and often not diagnostic even if all else goes well. The sequelae, headaches and nausea, are commonly the result of incorrect patient care after the procedure. Gloria’s body, my misgivings voiced here. Obviously she has her own concerns. But chronic pain takes people into agreeing to such procedures in hopes of relieving it.

It took Gloria and me a long time to find each other. We realize how quickly even the most ordinary diagnostic or operative procedure can go wrong. Sometimes a medical background is not the best thing to possess. This is one of those times. I’m far more willing to allow an unknown surgeon to work on me than I am to think one should work on Gloria. However, it is not my choice.

It will be interesting to watch the insurance companies begin refusing to cover annual or bi-annual mammography in light of the latest advisory. All the GOP pundits and legislators are beginning to scream about “rationed care” and bureaucratic intercession. I fail to understand why a GS-3 is a bureaucrat but a private sector clerk denying coverage for a procedure or tests is just fine.

Maybe, the answer to that is in Sarah Palin’s “Big Book of Big Lies.” It seems the lack of fact checking is making itself known to real journalists. I find no reason that anyone should find her an acceptable candidate. The mob is easily led around. There’s nothing Palin could say to me or show to me that would cause me to believe a single word from her mouth

Dinner tonight will be beef stronganoff over egg noodles with haricot verte.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Good morning lit’l’ school girl

I dutifully dragged myself from a nice warm bed at 0’dark-thirty this morning to shower, shave, and caffeinate for the drive into Johnson City so the good folks at VA could examine my eyes.
I was diagnosed with glaucoma in 1998. Welcome to 50 years of age! I have had two laser surgeries, iridotomies, performed to act as pressure relief valves, and dispense two different ophthalmic drops into my eyes each day in order to prevent loss of any more peripheral vision than I have already lost. Just as I make it a point never to miss my anti-hypertensives, I also religiously use my eye drops.

This morning’s visit was to have my intra-ocular pressures checked and recorded. As I also have some uncorrected astigmatism, a new set of glasses is also in order. My current set was purchased with an anti-glare coating. This coating apparently makes them next to impossible to clean. The new set will not have such a coating. I hope that this will not hamper my ability to drive at night. Glare has always been a serious problem for me to contend with while playing right field or driving.

The VA waiting rooms seem to have all their TVs permanently locked into the Fox News channel. That is sufficiently bothersome. Even worse, most of the people who sit and stare at the screens seem to believe the brand of bullshit excreted by Fox’s commentators.

Today, while waiting my turn, I learned that “Rush Limbaugh actually does good interviews.” – the commentator providing this gem couldn’t wait for Sarah Palin to quit talking to the “Main Stream Media” and let Limbaugh help her tell her tale of a small town woman wronged by the Liberals and (unsaid but lurking, the IJC.. I learned that “all the Main Stream Media” will treat Palin just as Couric did.”

I saw no problem in the Couric-Palin encounters save that Couric failed to gut and field dress Palin after she caught her in the headlights.

There is nothing about military service that causes one to lose intellectual capacity. Yet, almost all the veterans I meet in these hospitals are ensnared by the Fox/Tea Party, Theocrat axis of stupidity.

Gloria met me in town for lunch and we finished up our registration at ETSU today. After 36 years I have a student ID card again. So does Gloria. We have our parking stickers to show we belong on the campus periphery. One of my text books arrived by UPS yesterday. I’m really eager to begin these classes.

There was a young woman in front of us this afternoon as we waited in the wrong line. She was wearing orange sweatpants which had fallen or been pulled half-way down her buttocks. We were prevented from seeing any skin by what appeared to be Christmas-themed long underwear bottoms. The bottoms of her sweat pants were covering her heels and feet. On her feet were flip-flops so badly worn down as to provide only an invitation to tripping and falling. She is obviously as oblivious to fashion as am I; but I always wear shoes that provide support and protection, and the color/pattern/presence of any underwear remains my secret of the day.

I’m not forgetful of how our generation adopted comfort and casual when possible, often to our parents' displeasure. I’m sure, however, that there will be further commentary concerning clothing and apparent fashion on campus. Stay tuned.

Of course, the faces we saw today were incredibly young. We age, not fully seeing ourselves age. There’s still a bit of the me who, at 20, worked against the war that was soon to engulf me, and that me who believed so fully in the 1st amendment that I defied – quite unsuccessfully- a Midwestern land-grant university. Gloria still wakes up and sees the young woman who danced five days a week, who drove a plant store on wheels, looking at her in the mirror. Seeing those images smiling at us from behind is a good thing to experience. Those are friendly ghosts. For too many years the only “me” ghost I saw was the one that I never wanted to see in front of me. No longer a problem!

Good mornin’, lit’l’ school girl; I’m a lit’l’ school boy, too!

Monday, November 16, 2009

short nights, full waiting rooms, and bitten-back comments

I managed to squeeze an extra 15 minutes of sleep in this morning and still get to the dealership on time.

After handing over the car I headed for the customer waiting room, dreading the hours of “Fox News” or other programming that might be my fate.

There was only one other poor soul waiting and he had tuned the TV to the History Channel and was watching what was essentially a commercial for a Tom Cruise movie about assassination plots against Hitler. I settled in to read and managed to say nothing about the programming. The room filled up with older women who were producing frequent soupy-sounding productive coughs. No one was covering coughs; no one had any hand sanitizer. About every five minutes one of them received a phone call and none of them had the courtesy to leave the waiting area while conducting personal business.

After 0900 I did step out into the corridor in order to call ETSU and arrange a slot for myself in the CSI course. Before I could sit down, Gloria called to check in and I went back into the hall.

After most of the other customers had left to retrieve their cars and be on about their day, the most prolific of the coughing women found the remote and dialed in network daytime fluff and pseudo-news. I said nothing. I wasn’t about to handle that remote when she stepped outside and vanished for some reason.

By noon, the room had refilled with new customers. A news item about the Palin book featured a commentator down-checking her political chances to win the US presidency. The customers, however, all thought differently. I said nothing. I did not mention my working title for her ghost-written book, “Sarah’s Big Book of Big Lies.” I did not bring up her habit of quitting every job she’s had before completing them, her inability to form a complete sentence, or her willingness to incite lynch mobs, while excluding anyone but white evangelicals from the roles of US citizens. They were mostly old, and I could, most likely have escaped the room without being bludgeoned. But I chose not to excite or incite them.

I’m now registered for both my classes. I suppose I’ll go onto the campus tomorrow and get some clerical things done, student ID, parking permit, find out about e-mail accounts and campus alert programs.

That, in itself, may be fun as I have two ophthalmology appointments tomorrow and I’m sure they will dilate my eyes. Grocery shopping, filling out forms, being photographed with a flash, just driving home will be so much fun. But I’m sort of used to it and it won’t be nearly as bad as coming home to Palmetto from Bay Pines, crossing the Sunshine Skyway bridge at sunset with dilated eyes.

Soup and leftovers for dinner.

The trip into Greeneville was a pretty drive this morning. All the valleys were filled with fog. The sun was just beginning to illuminate the top of the fog layer as it crested the ridges to the east. Nearly every valley had a fog layer in it. Worth being up to see.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Where the dawn comes up like thunder

At 0530.

OK, it wasn’t thunder.

 It was Loki, whining and barking at the neighborhood vandal dogs as they chased cars up and down the road. Today would have been a wonderful day to sleep in. So, of course, we stayed up about an hour too late last night. Coincidentally with the dog demanding to play, my pain meds wore off a bit early and left me willing to sleep later but unable to find a position that afforded enough comfort to doze off. As I rule, if I can’t sleep, I’ll get up and get dressed rather than lay there tossing and turning and eventually wake up Gloria. It is a matter of courtesy. She makes the same effort to let me sleep.

Both of us have spent too many years doing shift work, being on call. We know how missing just half an hour that you expected and needed can dog you all day.

Today is a beautiful day, sunny, bright, little wind, crisp, more like we expect October to be than like the November day it actually is. I have no reason to complain about time or place.

Gloria has taken Loki outside to brush her. Loki sheds incessantly, throws off enough excess hair in a week to build a new dog. Gloria likes brushing her and Loki generally tolerates it. Today, someone down valley is sighting in a large caliber rifle or shotgun. The noise bothers Loki and she has no desire to remain outside.

Some variation of shrimp pizza will provide dinner tonight. We have goat cheese, onions, peppers, and assorted herbs and spices in the larder. We shan’t go to bed hungry.

Tomorrow will be an early morning. I have to have the Pathfinder at the dealership for a 0800 service appointment. It will be a long morning, waiting for the work to be completed. The waiting area is a bit small for my comfort and someone usually tunes the television to Fox News. That seems to be the common source of misunderstanding for far too many of our fellow Tennesseans. I’ve just spent an hour wrestling with my mp3 player, requiring a play list to be what I want, not just an alphabetic ordering of random songs. That is sufficient electronic insurgency for one day.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Which ever way your pleasure tends, may the four winds blow you home again

Last evening was well-spent. We found a new mid-range Japanese style restaurant, Miso-Teriyaki. They have a good menu, an adequate sushi and sashimi list, and rapid service. We were quite pleased with the quality of the meal and the staff was quite polite and helpful given the habitual understaffing that restaurants live with and that it was Friday evening. The only down check was the presence of large numbers of pre-school aged kids. This is not the type of restaurant I’d have expected parents to bring kids into. However, many parents seem all too happy to bring their kids and inflict them on other diners. The family seated next to us had several kids with them, two of who were climbing onto the seating and rolling around, emitting lots of noise. Since they remained out of our space and did not reach the “wandering-to-the-next-table” stage, we said and did nothing. We were happy to leave when our meal was done as the kid-noise level was high and growing. We both agreed we will eat there again. But if we are not as rushed for time, we’ll request a kid-free seating.

Leaving the restaurant, we moved up the parking lot to Krogers in order to give them money for food. We managed to complete our list and load the car in 20 minutes. Ten minutes later we were at Down Home, our night club/venue for last night’s show.

Sonia Rutstein, performing as SONiA, solo and with her band “Disappear Fear” was in town for a single night, solo gig. We’ve known of her since 1993 but never seen her perform. Since she shares Gloria’s maiden name, we’ve always thought they might be cousins. Gloria and she had the chance to meet and talk last night and we now think the consanguinity is certain. We’ll follow up on the genealogy information when we can.

As a singer-songwriter, I find her lyrics tight, descriptive, and well-written. I’d rank them with the best lyricists of her age group. Her musicianship is exceptional. Her composition is fluid and precise; as is her skill with her instruments of choice, acoustic and electric guitar and keyboard. We heard her sing highly topical songs, deeply personal songs, some excellent blues numbers, and she is capable of singing in English, Spanish, Hebrew, and Arabic. Her political stance shows loudly and clearly in her lyrics. She puts her time and money into her causes. She’s had the chance to play and sing with some of the best musical activists from our generation and seems well equipped to carry on the traditions of music as a social and political tool, handing them on to the ones who come behind her in the line.

Her opening group, a local trio named “The Squash Blossoms” left a lot to be desired. We had seen them nearly a year ago. They had no new material, performed exactly the same songs, and performed them just as poorly. They lacked instrumentation, harmony, vocal depth, and agreement as to what lyrics they were singing. Ms. Rutstein had them on stage with her during her second set for two numbers. I think she regretted it by the end of the second number. She offered them secure parts, much like Couric offered Palin, and they weren’t up to it. I applaud Sonia for the kindness she displayed. I hope the “Squash Blossoms” realize how much they need to improve. But if they are taking their feedback from their fans who sat behind us last night, they won’t improve.

Sonia’s music attracts many gay and lesbian fans. I strongly suspect that I was the only heterosexual male who paid to attend the show. Whether or not that is the case, I enjoyed her music very much and enjoyed the chance to meet yet another cousin. Music, well written and well played music, speaks to everyone who can hear it. I’ve always had good enough ears to hear what the singer is saying in the song. I wish I could still make that statement about hearing the instruments and voices that come from the stage as well as I hear the intent. But even my digital VA hearing aids can’t repair or replace that loss.

I’ll admit to turning those hearing aids off last night during the opening act. Gloria looked over and noticed what I was doing. It’s a good thing the people at the table behind couldn’t see her grin.

It was a pleasant drive home. We got to sleep about 0200 and slept in this morning. Today’s e-mail brought the announcement that Dr. Miller, who teaches the CSI course I want to audit, will make a slot for me. So hopefully, I’ll be able to complete registration by Monday evening or Tuesday. Gloria’s registration is complete. We need to go into ETSU to have ID cards made, get parking stickers, and police up the odds and ends.

This morning, I discovered a black bear paw print in the back yard.

Now it is time to fire up the oven, bake the squash, and cook the bison Italian sausage for tonight’s dinner.

It’s been a very, very, good day

Friday, November 13, 2009

Helter Skelter Registration or, What lines, I don't see any lines!

At 1400 today it became possible for Gloria and me to register on line for spring semester. Gloria had already talked with the instructor and had no difficulty registering.

I have acknowledgement from the professor teaching History of the Holocaust that he will create a slot for me. I e-mailed him today, asking him to do that. Have not heard back but I’m sure I will. The CSI class also filled up. I’ve e-mailed the instructor, asking for a slot to be opened. I hope he will, can’t say for sure.

Those long lines filled with anxious and disgruntled students don’t exist anymore. They’ve been replaced by a pyramid of people sitting at a terminal and waiting for their turn to register on line. That’s when the campus server tells them that, “the class is not available, start over, wrong or new line.”

So after an afternoon spent prowling through the old student handbook and looking up parking regulations, I wound up at the head of two lines, simultaneously, and was sent back to the bottom of the pyramid. Helter Skelter registration

“When I get to the bottom I go back to the top of the slide

Where I stop and I turn and then I go for a ride

'Til I get to the bottom and I see you again yeh, yeh.”

At least, the company is good, the water is from the faucet, not $2.00 bottles, and I can move around without losing my place in line.

Sunny, today, currently 62°F. We’re going into town tonight. A singer-songwriter, Sonia Rutstein, who may be a cousin to Gloria, is performing at a local venue, “Down Home.” She is from Baltimore, has/may still front a band named “Disappear Fear” She has an interest in world peace, and, if I recall correctly a large following among lesbians of her age. It will be interesting to see if there are any other males in the audience. Or I may be wrong in my recollection of what I’ve previously heard and there may be lots of males there. Either way, we’re hoping Gloria will get a chance to meet her.

Dinner will be something grabbed in Johnson City after a quick trip to Krogers for salads, fruit, and some oatmeal that Gloria likes for breakfast. We can leave all that in the car while we listen to music.

Doc Watson is scheduled to be in town in December. But we’ve seen him recently and we’ve agreed to miss this trip.

The Bradford pear in the back yard is starting to turn red. That’s the last color change we see in our part of the forest.

Gloria had a long talk with our good friend, Anna, last night. We’re glad to hear that some of her problems are resolving. We’d love to have her visit for a while if she can manage the time.

Short entry today.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Lock and load or rock enroll

Patience is in short supply today. At least, my stock is limited.

Having enrolled in East Tennessee State University, the opportunity to take classes based upon interest in the core material or just because they might provide some fun is something I’m looking forward to. Enrolled status does not allow me to register for classes, however, until at least after 1500 tomorrow. I guess they want to make sure that the paying students have a chance at filling the class slots before those of us who seek neither grades nor credit and thus pay nothing to audit the classes.

The last time I set foot on a college campus with intent to study was nearly forty years ago. Agnew had resigned but Nixon was hanging on by some unplumbed depth of stubbornness as his impeachment became ever more likely. Computers were huge masses of technology, using punch cards for programming and operation coding. Hand-held calculators were just beginning to replace slide rules in every day work and study situations. There was an internet of sorts but it was not accessible to average people and would not be for another 20 years or so. Exams were hand written in “blue books.” Class notes were the ones students scribbled down in lectures and then tried to decipher when trying to study.

Things have changed markedly and we are about to find out just how much.

There are no hard copy catalogues of courses to prowl though in hopes of finding a class. There are, apparently, no long lines of disgruntled and hungry students, clutching a stack of punch cards, inching forward to sign up for a course that will not be available when they reach the front of the line and encounter a equally disgruntled secretary who has no desire to be pulling the extra work of accepting or refusing, filing or spindling and mutilating those punch cards. Invariably the class sections that filled up first were the ones needed most desperately by the most undergrads.

Instead of long lines, we’re dealing with an overloaded computer network as hundreds of students try to simultaneously access the same files I want to access. At least I can do this from the comfort of our home.

I’m not sure, yet, what a “d2l” file is but apparently each class section has one that I may need to access. I may or may not be given an internet account ending in “.edu.” I’m wading through a lot of online material trying to figure out what I’m going to be dealing with. “d2l” apparently allows interchange of information between students and instructors, is used for handing in assignments electronically, such things as that. It also seems as if it can be used to hold group study sessions in some chat format. I’ve never dealt with chat systems except when necessary for computer repairs or service. But things may change.

Not being concerned with a degree, I guess that I won’t have to meet with “my academic advisor.” That was always a most unwelcome chore. My particular “advisor” had an office in what had once been a luxury dormitory for the children of the wealthy who chose not to enter a “Greek” house. Her office was a half hour’s hike from the center of campus and the College of Education. Infallibly, she scheduled vacations around registration and pre-registration. In three years under her guidance, I saw her twice. Each time she tried to convince me to declare for an additional major in education – something I had discarded as a goal by my second week as a freshman. Fortunately, her secretary understood the plight of the allied health students who wandered into her outer office twice a year and was quite willing to either forge her boss's signature or to allow us to forge it. In fact, the last time I actually managed to meet with her and have her sign off on my schedule – which cost me a missed lunch and annoyed my clinical instructor that day when she had to pick up the slack that her assigned students would not be available to complete- the principle secretary in the College of Education looked at the signature and accused me of forging it. She refused to accept the punch card. When I cycled back to the head of the line she still refused to accept it. I might still be there but for the woman handling the m-z line, who reached over, grabbed my card and accepted it for my final set of classes on that campus. I won’t miss having an academic advisor.

I intend to sign up for two courses which will dovetail in time. One is a serious course, “History of the Holocaust. I’m curious to see how this is presented in a university that has less than 20 identified Jews – including Gloria & me. I also plan to enroll in a course on Crime Scene Investigation. I’ve handled some forensic samples when dealing with local crimes at various small hospitals. And I’ve done a fair amount of forensic drug screening, confirmation, and certification. However, I’ve only had to testify as to what evidence I dealt with a few times. This course will be primarily for the fun of learning something new.

I’m really quite anxious to complete the registration process. The chance to go back to school at little expense is really a good thing. I think it will be fun for both of us. Gloria is excited about learning new jewelry skills.

Tonight’s dinner is filling the house with good smells. I’ve got beef short ribs braising in a red wine & beef base with onions and button mushrooms. We’ll serve it over brown rice tonight.

We’ve had no rain today. The creek is falling slowly. Still high and fast but much more clear in appearance.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

11 November 2009 Veterans’ Day

Three inches of rain fell in the last two days. Cassi Creek is raging down the valley. It is higher and faster than we’ve ever seen it before. It is following a new overflow channel through part of our yard. Fortunately the rain seems to have ended. Now we just have to wait for the creek to drop. .

I hope this raft is tied off. The creek was still rising when I took this photo this morning.

I hate Veterans’ Day. There’s a lot I could say, much of it repetitive, little of which might make any difference. I hate the loss of friends who need not have died. I hate the feeling that every medic or corpsman, nurse, or doctor lives with; knowing that we couldn’t save all our wounded but wanting desperately to have done so.

It’s my corner today:

Hey, Doc

Twelve long hours of humping, setup just before it's dark,

Twelve hours going up and down never on the flat ground,

Twelve hours busting jungle, staying off the trails,

And all I want is time to sleep but the men have all come round,

Saying, "Doc, I’ve got the bug again, my fevers going up."

"Doc, I've got a blister here, that hurts me when I walk."

"Hey, Doc, I got the clap again, got anything for that?"

"Say, Doc, if you can spare the time, I really need to talk."

They're tired and they're homesick. They're dehydrated, sick.

They know they'll face the same routine tomorrow,

They've lost a lot of buddies to VC booby traps,

They're half used up by tension, half by sorrow.

“Doc, I need some salt pills, Doc, I've got a rash"

"Doc, I'm out of bug repellant, have you got a spare?"

"Doc, I got the dysentery, have you got some pills?"

"Doc, I’m scared as hell and no one cares."

Crashing with the CP group, center of the circle,

Rapping' with the radio watch to help 'em stay awake,

Doze in twenty-minute snatches, never more than that,

God, I'd never make it without the pills to take.

“Hey, Doc, got a cigarette, my whole squad's are wet."

"Thanks for staying up with me, Doc, I'm so tired tonight."

"Hey, Doc, my wife's divorcing me; help me get some leave,"

"Hey, Doc, if I get hit, you'll come and get me, right?

And I listen to their problems 'til the morning's nearly come,

Because I'm not a squad mate they can ask in confidence.

But I don't want to know them; they're all so close to dying,

To come to know them breaks down my defenses.

"Hey, Doc, will I make it, Hey, Doc, OH, God! It hurts!"

"Doc, can't you give me something for the pain?'

"Doc, my legs are missing, I don't want to be a cripple."

Till I never want to hear, "Hey, Doc!" again.

I'm the Doc for all of them, but who's the Doc for me?

How can I keep going knowing some are going to fall?

Like children, small and helpless, wounded, they believe in me."

And I've got to find some way to save them all.

"Doc, I can't feel my fingers, Doc, I can't move my legs"

"Doc, give me something stronger for the pain."

"Doc, they shot my balls off! Don't save me, let me die"

"Hey, Doc, What’s wrong, you got that desperate look again?"

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Toss another refrigerator box out there for the troops

Ida comes ashore and Tennessee receives rain. We’ve had 0.45 inches since midnight, the temperature has been hovering about the 52 F mark, and the cloud base is down to 136 feet above ground level. The mountains are lost in cloud and mist. It would have been a great day to sleep in. Dinner tonight will be linguini with Bolognese sauce.

I drove to Greeneville this morning to have the Nissan dealership discover the source of what we believe to be belt noise. After they looked the Pathfinder over they told me that I needed two new belts, an alternator shaft pulley, possibly a crankshaft pulley, and that my wheel bearings need to be re-packed. We’ve been careful to perform all the necessary maintenance on this vehicle since we bought it in 2001. Still, mechanical parts wear out and I’d rather not have failure occur on the road. There are long stretches between here and there with no cell service and no shoulders to pull off onto. We were hoping for a simple belt replacement. But this is still less expensive than a breakdown. Sometime next week, I’ll plan on spending the day at the dealership while they make the necessary repairs. We have medical appointments on Tuesday and Wednesday. Here’s hoping that everything holds together until we get this repaired.

Tomorrow is Veterans’ Day. I hate the lack of regard for our veterans that the day demonstrates. Over the weekend I noted ads for several appliance and one mattress sale. Today’s paper was filled with fliers and inserts for local clothing and household stores.

I’m so grateful that I was able to wear my country’s uniform in defense of car dealers who honor such service by flying flags that consist of more canvas than a squad GP tent or the cover for a deuce and ½. I ever so thankful that my service and that of my comrades-in-arms is recognized by refrigerator and mattress sales. Tomorrow, veterans of our various wars will work while people who never wore the nation’s uniform will not recognize the veterans who work alongside them.

Far worse to think about is the horrible fact that many veterans are homeless and unemployed

According to the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans, “no one keeps national records on homeless veterans -- the VA estimates that 131,000 veterans are homeless on any given night. And approximately twice that many experience homelessness over the course of a year”

In a nation filled with empty apartment complexes, vacant strip malls, out of business diners and restaurants, there is no justification for allowing any veteran of our wars to be homeless or hungry. Yet every night finds thousands of our veterans sleeping on cardboard or in appliance boxes on city streets. They gather under bridges and overpasses for shelter and create campgrounds where they can find some semblance of community and protection from people who would harm them or rob them of the little they possess.

I won’t argue the reasons for homeless veterans. Some of it is due to mental illness, some due to problems that have little to do with time in service. Some of them suffer with PTSD. Some can be rescued and rehabilitated. Some will never be anyone but who they are today.

That this many, that any of our veterans, are homeless is a national disgrace. Rather than cite statistics, I’ll provide you this link and ask you to follow it. Then, if you can, write your legislators, asking them to become involved. They seem to have no problem deploying troops. But providing care for them after they are broken and used up is something Congress never remembers to do unless pushed.

Tomorrow is Veterans’ Day. Don’t visit any store flying a flag the size of a football field or holding a sale for fashion items. (4% of the homeless veterans are women). Instead, find some way to help get the veterans in your community off the streets, out of cardboard boxes. They don’t need a parade, they don’t need another round of speeches in a cemetery by those of us who were lucky enough to come home and not wind up homeless. They need a government that cares as much about them today as it promised them it would years ago. That starts with you and me. Those of us who served and those of you who didn’t, we need to remind our legislators that we are the government, we the people who fund it with taxes and support it with our bodies and futures. We need to remind Congress that the obligation to our veterans never ends.

Tomorrow is Veterans’ Day.

Bullwinkle’s Corner

Requiem 3 Voices in the Wall

See them walking halting to the wall,

Hope pinned on their faces, faces drawn and white.

They come for healing, for surcease from doubt and grief.

Standing in the dark reflection, see them fight,

See them wrestle with emotion see them lose,

See the years-old layers shatter in the hard reflected light,

That pours from all the names written on the wall

See the strongest of them stand and start to sway,

Watch their vision cycle swiftly back across the years,

See the faithful drop down on their knees to pray,

See the strong ones as they crumble and their eyes brim full of tears,

See them asking for forgiveness; see them trying not to falter,

See them choking on their memories and remembering their fears,

In the presence of the names written on the wall.

Hear the popping of the flag in the wind,

The muted driving anthem that all of them fought under,

How it drove them forward unsuspecting,

Programmed from their birthrights not to wonder,

Whether cause was righteous, or if it was a blunder,

That wrote the many thousand names written on the wall

See their trembling fingers touch the stone,

As they find an ancient agony, a single graven name,

Of a child or friend or lover taken from them out of time,

See their twitching faces as they try to fix the blame,

For the loss that changed their lives and fates,

The answer echoes back again,

Silence from the names in stone written on the wall.

See survivors who are left to carry on alone,

Children come to find a father they have never known,

Parents, seeking children, lost a lifetime's years ago,

Finding solace gazing at the somber reach of stone,

Think of the pasts that might have been,

Thinking of the varied futures that they might have known,

Asking, seeking answers from the names graved in the wall.

And the things they leave behind them tell a story all their own,

Single roses, silver medals, photos dimmed and cracked by age.

Letters washed with teardrops, speaking volumes 'cross the decades,

Scream like jets of sleepless nights, of loneliness, of rage,

Tell of dislocation, empty days, going on alone,

A generation's saga on a single wrinkled page,

But no answer issues from the names upon the wall.

See them leaning on each other as they leave,

See the changes in their faces as they leave the shouting stone.

Tourists come by busloads, taking pictures for their albums,

And the victims of the conflict come in pairs or come alone.

To remember those who stayed behind, who failed to come away,

A million different reasons, pilgrims coming one-by-one,

Hear the voices of them all calling softly from the wall,

"Please remember us,

There is no other answer hidden here"

Monday, November 9, 2009



Local residents watch the burning of the ceremonial hall at the Jewish cemetery in Graz during Kristallnacht (the "Night of Broken Glass"). Graz, Austria, November 9-10, 1938.

“Seventy-one years ago, on November 9–10, 1938, the Nazis staged vicious pogroms—state sanctioned, anti-Jewish riots—against the Jewish community of Germany. These came to be known as Kristallnacht (now commonly translated as “Night of Broken Glass”), a reference to the untold numbers of broken windows of synagogues, Jewish-owned stores, community centers, and homes plundered and destroyed during the pogroms. Encouraged by the Nazi regime, the rioters burned or destroyed 267 synagogues, vandalized or looted 7,500 Jewish businesses, and killed at least 91 Jewish people. They also damaged many Jewish cemeteries, hospitals, schools, and homes as police and fire brigades stood aside. Kristallnacht was a turning point in history. The pogroms marked an intensification of Nazi anti-Jewish policy that would culminate in the Holocaust—the systematic, state-sponsored murder of Jews.”

In the late spring of 1993, just before we were married, Gloria and I visited the United States Holocaust Museum. We had tour reservations for the public exhibit. But before our group was admitted, we met with a museum curator. Gloria donated some artifacts from Dachau for her father, who was the 1st Sgt of the first U.S. medical unit to enter Dachau camp. I donated a “sonder komando” brassard that had been given to me. After signing the necessary paperwork, we went back to the public area and entered one of the most emotionally brutal experiences I’ve ever encountered outside a battlefield.

The entry to the tour areas is an elevator constructed from one of the boxcars actually used to transport Jews to Auschwitz. Just stepping into the car and watching the door close, hearing the lock engaged should be a warning.

Each person who tours the museum is given a card with the name of a person who was a prisoner in one of the death camps. Some visitors get a card with a survivor. I don’t recall what was on Gloria’s card. Mine described a 12 year old girl who was murdered at Treblinka. The various exhibits lead from the arrival at Auschwitz through the process of sorting and selecting the prisoners to see who lives as a slave and who goes up the chimneys or into the pits. Exhibits show piles of household and kitchen implements taken from the luggage of those who carried them to the end of hope. Other exhibits consist of piles of coats, of hats, of shoes. The exhibit that snuck up behind me was a wall of photographs that had not yet been discarded. Some were ripped or partially burned as if they had been found particularly offensive to whomever was sorting them. There was one photo of a couple about the same age as Gloria and I, probably a wedding photo. To this day I find it painful to recall that exhibit. Near by that wall of photographs is a bridge to the next area with floor and wall of glass. As you cross the bridge you notice that there are names etched into the glass. Not names of people, however, these are the names names of Shtetls, villages and small towns in Ukraine and Russia that were simply wiped off the face of the earth by the Nazi Special Aktion Gruppen, aided by Ukrainians and Russians, all too eager to turn in their Jewish neighbors; then burned from the earth by Stalin’s Scorched Earthy policy. In many cases, only one person may have lived to recall the name of his or her shtetl so that it could be etched into these walls of glass. My ancestral shtetle, Polonnoye, according to the best history available had nearly 9000 Jews in residence at the onset of the “Great Patriotic War.” “The 7,670 victims of Polonini - from the general number of 8,679 - died only because they were of Jewish nationality”. By wars end, 11 were known to be survivors. Polonnoye exists today and at the end of 1991 there were only about 100 Jews living there. Prior to the Holocaust, Polonnoye had existed as a center of Jewish life and religion in the Pale for over 5 centuries.

Polonnoye quotes from:

Book of Memory; Suffering of Jews that Died

During the Nazi Occupation; History of Polonnoye Jews


50°07' / 27°31'

Written and compiled 1987-1991. Completed by Semyon Lvovich Bentsianov,

member of Ukrainian Journalist Union

For anyone wanting more information about Polonnoye,

The sheer number of place names on the walls of that bridge stagger the mind. It is impossible to absorb the fact that so many villages filled with people just vanished forever. It is, all too painfully possible to direct the anger and grief that surfaces toward one photo of a nameless but no forgotten couple who dared to think their lives would be lived out peacefully and in love. I will never know what happened to them but I know with certainty that they did not survive the Holocaust. They were too old to be useful as slaves, too poor to buy or bribe their way to safety for even another night. I hope their death came easily and I hope they met it together, hand-in-hand.

Tonight is the 71st anniversary of Kristallnacht

An Army of 750 - Warsaw Ghetto Uprising 1943

In 3.5 square miles once lived 500,000 souls placed there by hatred.

A small spot on a continent riven yet again by marching men,

They suffered cold, starvation, wanton executions.

By 1943 they were but one of ten

The continent around them but an open graveyard,

A war they had not chosen, a war they could not win.

Yet from despair and certainty of death an army grew to be.

They waited, and they died unknown while Stalingrad took center stage.

While Moscow burned and Leningrad held fast.

While convoys succored Murmansk, they died by the thousands.

While London suffered bombings, in a world at war, their needs came last.

Past Coral Sea and Midway, while troops took tropic isles,

Here, boxcars carried those who clung so meekly to their past.

With smuggled guns and handmade mines an army grew to be.

There were those who fought for life with pen and ink,

Their journals cry aloud beyond their final breath.

Some, who could, escaped the ghetto walls by any means they might

And tried survival in a land according them no worth.

And few there were who chose to stay and plan for struggle

Who cried for freedom with their lives and bought it with their deaths.

And as the death toll heightened an army grew to be.

Hiding on the rooftops, waiting, watching, Erev Pesach.

The enemy caught in ambush, flung from the ghetto walls.

Another sortie in, another ambush and another.

Re-arming with the weapons of the enemies that fall.

Each skirmish costing lives that could not be replaced.

Soldiers paying with their lives at each alarm call.

In their grim determination an army learned to fight.

The high ground was denied them, blown and burned to rubble.

No Borodino, Gettysburg, no room to retreat.

Into the ground then, striking out of bunkers,

Carved beneath the burning rubble, fetid sewers, empty streets.

Never seeing daylight, always thirsty, far outnumbered,

But every shot they fired denied defeat.

In that bitter spring the new army called in vain for outside help.

No more than 750 were their numbers, against thousands.

Writtenlarge and bold their names, in blood, on history’s pages.

They fought for freedom, dignity, humanity’s survival,

As the noblest soldiers have down through all ages.

Their bravery broke a myth as sunrise breaks up darkness

When the Warsaw Ghetto rose in arms beneath Magen David.

A small army, born in hopelessness, recalled forever with greatest honor.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Classical pornography In the strangest of places if you look at it right

Today’s Washington Post had an article on classical art that caught my eye. Sculpture of nude women will do that and the Naiad by Canova is well sculpted, displaying a very attractive woman.

The author relates the link between what we view as classical art – stripped of much of its sexuality- and the pornography of the day. Of particular interest was a reference to a series of sonnets penned in 1525 /26 by Pietro Aretino. I Sonetti Lussuriosi, along with 16 or graphic illustrations were banned by the Vatican, along with I Modi (The Sexual Positions) engravings by Marcantonio Raimondi (1475-1534), after the original designs by Giulio Romano (1499-1546. Some few copies were saved and the sonnets with 16 accompanying illustrations can be purchased today for as little as $4800.00 if one is of a mind to own such a document. Some of the drawings can be viewed on line if one invests the time. If one invests time and money, all can be viewed on line.

Mind you, I’m not posting a link to these drawings, the decision to view them should be entirely yours and I will not point you any more directly to them than I already have.

Suffice it to say that classical nudes are not the “chaste nudes” that curators and art historians described in the 50’s and 60’s to keep the censors and fundamentalists out the parts of museums and libraries that required adult thought processes. These drawings and many other works were conceived of and executed as erotic art, the porn of its day.

When I have the opportunity to view classical nudes in any media, paintings, stone, drawings, I’m always appreciative of the fact that the women depicted are, in general, physically appealing and possessed of lines and curves that are in proportion to their height and apparent weight. Reubens’ women always appear, well, Reubenesque. Goya’s Maja is realistic in appearance. Botticelli’s Venus stresses reality, if one ignores the absence of freckles, moles, warts, scars, and other nicks and gouges that we all acquire as we age.

This sense of reality when viewing the classical works of art is, for me at least, one of the things I enjoy in viewing them. I have always enjoyed art museums and periodically find books containing the works of a particular artist in the library and check them out in an attempt to broaden my knowledge base. It has been a long time since the required art appreciation course in university. And that course was too quickly over after covering too little material.

Like every male of my age, I’ve read the articles in one or more “Play Boy." I’ve seen more than one or two porn films but find myself looking for a better script, often before the opening credits have completed. I don’t get the same sense of enjoyment and frank wonder at the artist’s talents when I happen to see what we market as pornography today. The models/actresses are so unrealistic as to be unappealing. Their proportions, thanks to silicone or saline, are just plain wrong. The wonderful fluid motion that characterizes women walking, running, or engaged in any common activity, is not there. I might as well be watching a department store mannequin. Due to the loss of proportion and the lack of motion, there’s nothing below a face with too much makeup to hold my attention or interest. Show me any woman without surgical augmentation and I can find some of the beauty that a truly great artist can see easily. Like the fashion industry, the pornography industry has chosen to focus only on the outer aspects of the bell curve that is female pulchritude. The freaks, self-starved or surgically altered, dominate the eyes of too many of today’s artists and too many of today’s fashion designers. The beauty that originates in the women who fill the bell curve is seldom seen. That is their loss and ours.  My wife, Gloria, has those classical proportions, form and lines, that thrill me and would thrill any real artist.  I am a most fortunate man.

While I chose not to post a link to what is decidedly pornography from the 16th century, I have no qualms about posting a link to Nudes in art history.

"Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither..."(Job 1:21)

Don’t worry about finding anything but real art by recognized masters at this site. Enjoy the paintings and sculpture.

There was an article on CBS “Sunday Morning” today concerning the fashion industry’s discovery that most models look nothing like most women. The average American woman is apparently classified as a “plus size” when trying to find clothes that fit. Even in an article about designing for “average” women, the designer they interviewed said, emphatically, that “clothes look better on skinny models.” For “skinny” substitute anorexic. There is nothing about an anorexic human, clothed or naked, that I find appealing in any manner. I’m reminded of stacks of bodies, prisoners starved to death, in the camps of the Third Reich. And, in fact, another quote in the article, from an un-named German fashion critic was, “Who wants to see a round woman?”

It has always seemed to me that fashion designers hate women. They continually try to put them into shoes that ruin their feet and clothes that require starvation. Yet women seem to accept this as normal and make no organized effort to change it.

I would think that a yearlong boycott of all fashion houses, a refusal by women to buy anything not designed, constructed, and marketed for, for, and to average-sized women could be quite effective in changing the course of the industry. I’d love to see it happen. I’d love to see the fashion industry shown that women can exist without it. But I’m not holding my breath.

Dinner last night was excellent. We drove into Jonesborough and had our evening repast at The Dining Room. Gloria had a Cuban roast pork sandwich with onions, cilantro, Manchego cheese with black beans and rice. I had a pressed Cuban sandwich, also with black beans and rice. We finished off the meal with expresso, came home and crashed early.

Today has been a bright sunny day filled with joy and fun.

Dinner tonight is eggplant sautéed with sauce Bolognese, put back into the shells, and baked with Romano and provolone,

As Veterans’ Day approaches, I’ll close with a link to another well written article.