Category Archives: Reflections

To Friends in a Virtural World

Dearest Facebook friends,

It never fails that, after I post up something controversial or opinionated [as seldom as that happens] folks will respond with comments. Some benign, some…well, a bit more caustic. And somebody will send me a little note asking how I could possibly be friends with someone “like that”.

So for those who are new to my sandbox, here is an expanded version of my set response.

You will find all flavors of folks here, from the far left to the far right [and apparently the Far Side].

When the discussion turns to religion you will see the mix includes believers and non-believers, Christian ministers and evangelists, Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, Taoists, Agnostics and Atheists. And many of their positions will surprise you. And all of their beliefs are respected – though when they might want to foist their beliefs on others…that’s a different story.

When talk turns to guns and gun control, there are gun control folks, gun rights folks, gun hobbyists, collectors and some that until very recently didn’t care one way or another. There are a couple of folks who work in the gun industry, there are folks who work in law enforcement, there are folks who work full time on gun control issues, there are folks who stitch up those who are victims of gun violence, and there are victims of gun violence.

When it comes to the environment…there are lawyers on every side of the debate, there are folks who actively protest actions against our environment and there are folks who truly believe that global climate change is a hoax [and they have the youtube videos to prove it]. There are folks who focus on protecting animals, those who fight to protect our natural infrastructure, those who make their living in coal and oil industries. So when you chime in, and please do you might find that you are talking with an attorney – either for the industry or the government or one of the environmental interest groups. You might be talking to a geologist or a real climatologist [not weather guy]. So be prepared.

And every once in a while we will talk politics…There are Republicans, Democrats, Libertarian, libertarian, Tea Party and I believe Anarchists. They cover the political spectrum from “just voters” to political analysts and consultants. And they cover the newly exuberant young folks who see problems and demand change and they cover more seasoned folks who see problems and demand change…with a boatload more experience demanding it.

Friends here cover five continents [and Harlan] and professions that range from students to doctors, lawyers, systems folks, IT folks, engineers of several flavors, economists, professors, teachers, managers, small business owners, big business owners, disc jockeys, librarians, photographers, writers, government workers, politicians, career military, retired military, and some folks who work now or used to work for three letter government agencies. There are folks who stay home and raise their kids; there are folks who have been retired longer than some others have been alive.

And those friends include folks I have known since I was three years old to those who I have never once met except on the pages of Facebook or one of a couple dozen fora.

So, come and play, you will learn something if you keep your mind open and every opinion [no matter how bone-headed it will seem to some] is welcome…even encouraged.

And as I always remind those that are new…enjoy the sandbox and please, wear a cup.

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McAllister is a life long liberal, environmentalist, Eagle Scout, and even gun owner – born in Harlan, Kentucky and has lived in Southern California, New York City and now resides in Lexington, Kentucky as a Systems Analyst.

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Week From Hell Ends On High Note

Here is what I know about the last seven days. They sucked. Let’s run it down.

Last Saturday Night the big controversy was that the NRA had taken sponsorship of the Texas 500 NASCAR race down in Texas. The controversy was multi-faceted in that there was controversy that NRA did it, that people complained of insensitivity that they did it and that Fox Sports did everything they could to avoid saying the name NRA500, showing the race logo – or empty seats – or discussing the controversy. All in all a normal race with the cars going in circles to the left and buzz going in circles to the right.

Sunday…Masters and it looks like Tiger is in the news again. ’nuff said.
Tiger

Monday…we as a country looked forward to a bumpy week of “anniversaries”, from students shooting up Columbine High School to a conflagration at Waco’s Branch Davidian Compound to domestic terrorism in Oklahoma City to a crazed lone gunman at Virginia Tech, all anniversaries that coincided with a vote on background checks for gun purchases.

On the other hand, the week was starting good as the DOW began the week at 14,850, just a couple of points down from its all time high the week before and over 8,200 points higher than its bottom due to the Bush Recession.

Then there was Boston…At 2:50PM two bombs exploded near the finish line of the Boston Marathon. It was an event that showed the worst of humanity and the best of humanity, juxtaposed and interwoven as terror is supplanted by acts of selflessness in helping those maimed and injured.

boston-marathon-explosions42

Tuesday seemed like a hangover of Monday…a news overload as updates of the Boston Bombings continued non-stop. Then came breaking news to break into breaking news. Ricin is found in letters addressed to both Republican Senator Mississippi Roger Wicker and President Obama at the White House. Field tests proved inconclusive so they went to another lab in the area…I somehow envision Abby Sciuto and Major Mass Spec on the job. Turns out – yep Ricin. Time for a Caf-Pow reward.

Abby-Sciuto-abby-sciuto-15759878-360-291

On Wednesday, in West, Texas an explosion rocked the West Fertilizer Company storage and distribution facility. A facility that had 540,000 pounds of Ammonium Nitrate shook central Texas, felt 50 miles away. The death toll, now at 14 is expected to continue to rise. Had the company followed rules it would have either had no more than 400 pounds of the highly explosive material or would have been scrutiny by the Department of Homeland Security. Turns out DHS had no idea they existed…no idea that they had explosives less than a mile from an elementary school.

texasexplosion2

One official described the damage as like a tornado which makes us believe that it must have sounded like a freight train OR, the new metaphor for describing tornados [or tarnaders as they are often known] will be “It sounded like a big assed ammonium nitrate bomb.” I’ve heard it both ways.

Anderson Cooper and his tight sweaters hopped a plane from Boston and headed to West, Texas. This week’s Breaking News now has frequent flier points and Anderson needed to do something to clean up after John King’s error in announcing a suspect had been caught based on “three credible sources.” Maybe not so much.

anderson-cooper-v_19447_001_5690-635x360

In other news on Wednesday, the Senate failed to pass even the most watered down background check amendment to address gun violence. Republicans can take comfort in the fact that the story was buried deep behind Boston, Texas, and Ricin Boy.

Thursday was not particularly better…everyone feeling like they had been on a cross country road trip in the back of a VW microbus for what seemed like days [not that there is anything wrong with that]. It was honestly difficult to remember what day what tragedy happened.  But a bit of good news surfaced as Elvis impersonator Paul Kevin Curtis was arrested in Corinth, Mississippi for the Ricin attacks. This was good in that the poison terrorist was now arrested and there is one less Elvis impersonator on the loose. Thank you very much.

elvis_0

And at 5:00 on Thursday, just 74 hours and change after the first bomb rocked Boston the FBI released photos of the two bomber suspects. While both looked like just about anyone, the younger one bore a resemblance to a young Christopher Moltisanti. Tony would be pissed. After combing through what had to be terabytes of digital content, from videos of security cameras to media to the thousands of photos that folks emailed in at the FBI’s request, they narrowed the subjects down…had pictures of them, their backpacks and them placing them at the bomb sites. Elliot Ness would be proud. It was a day of successes. Ricin Boy in cuffs and two terrorist suspects IDed…

As Thursday ended everyone was just begging for the week to end. But neither the week nor even Thursday were over yet. At 11:08 the social media and internet lit up with news that a campus cop had been shot on the campus of MIT. By itself, not a big national story but, with the car jacking of a Mercedes SUV a few minutes later, along with a description by the driver and video of the 7/11 where the crime occurred the two common events [a shooting and a car-jacking] took on extra importance. These were the bombers. And it seemed that every cop in Boston dropped onto the streets of Cambridge within minutes. The police scanner was non-stop for three hours as the car chase included gunfire while driving and grenades lobbed out of the stolen Mercedes at the cops.

By 12:30AM, Friday Boston police had stopped the fleeing Mercedes and a vicious gun battle erupted in a sleepy neighborhood in Watertown, three miles west of Cambridge and about five miles from the Boston Marathon finish line. Hundreds of shots were fired and bombs lobbed by the two Marathon bombing suspects. As Suspect One, now know at “older brother” stood up and charged cops with guns blazing and suicide vest on he was taken down as he ran out of ammo. Suspect Two, now known as “little brother” hopped into the Mercedes and plowed through the police line, including those who were handcuffing his brother. He all-terrain’ed his brother as he fled the scene.

boston

By 1:00AM the world knew that one of the two Boston Marathon suspects was down and the other in the wind. Oh, yeah, the three cable news channels and the networks decided to join in the party, nearly two hours after social media, tweeterworld and on-line scanners had informed the nation. Anderson Cooper was on another plane, back from Texas, heading to Boston, likely with a mission to refocus CNN. Time for bed.

Friday was still in full swing as the Boston police, Mass State Police, FBI, ATF, DHS, DoD and likely many more federal alphabet agencies were in full dragnet to the point of closing down the city of Boston on Friday including cancelling baseball and hockey in the city. At 6:00PM the lockdown for Boston is lifted as it is thought that the suspect may have slipped through the net and was in the wind.

Not an hour later a citizen spotted a boat with a torn tarp. As any guy would do in a city where an armed terrorist was on the loose with an assault rifle, pistols and likely bombs – he went over and took a peek in the boat. Suspect Two was there. He called 911. Police swarmed the area. It got noisy.

At 8:43, 101 HOURS after the first bomb went off Suspect Two was in custody and on his way to the hospital.

We saw the absolute best of America as our often maligned police, FBI and other federal agencies did an awesome job of solving a major terrorist event in less than five days. Those who bitch and whine about taxes or the oppressive government or public sector unions need to go sit in the back of the room for a while and just STFU.

Boston-Strong-380x309

So, we end the week with Saturday…a day to rest, for Bostonians to get back to baseball, for calm to be restored after the week from Hell. It is 4/20…and that means a national focus on pot but today at 5:00PM in Denver, Colorado at a pro-pot rally shots rang out…two were shot and thankfully no one died.

This week…Just. This. Week. we end up with three killed in terrorist bombings in Boston, another dozen or so still critical, 14 [so far] killed and 200 injured in a chemical plant explosion in Texas, Ricin sent to politicians, two cops shot, one of them killed in Boston in the manhunt for the two terrorist bombers, one boat riddled with bullets, one terrorist dead, another in the hospital under arrest and a large harshed buzz in Denver.

Kids, it’s time to chill. We can’t take too many weeks like this.

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McAllister is a life long liberal, environmentalist, Eagle Scout, and even gun owner – born in Harlan, Kentucky and has lived in Southern California, New York City and now resides in Lexington, Kentucky as a Systems Analyst.

You can read more of McAllister’s observations and opinions at Shoot From the Left Hip

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A Blog Transfer from Deviant Art…2007-2012

What follows is a re-posting of various blog entries from my previous digital home. I re-post them, not because they provide awesome insight [don’t get your hopes up] but they cover from the end of 2007 until October of 2012 and show my thoughts on politics, photography, friends, and life through some very interesting, turbulent, hard times.

At some point the entries took on a seasonal theme…hence the titles.

EDIT: I removed the On Photography sections, this thing is just too long…they are still on my deviantart page.

There might be something of interest. Or not.

Falling Forward…again

Oct 6, 2012, 5:47:16 PM

On Life…
Fall is back. From the looks of my photo gallery that is my favorite time of the year. At least that is when I am most motivated to go out and enjoy nature and take the cameras with me in case something interesting comes along.

I am in a better mood than I was in the last journal…we have not had a drive-by of mass murders in over a month. The multiple instances of senseless slaughter in July and August were too many…that tears at the fabric. The ONLY good thing to come from all that is that we, as a society were still greatly offended…still pissed that people can and do act that way against fellow human beings. I was beginning to believe we had become too calloused but this was a hard way to prove me wrong. Now, it is time to figure out how to solve an imponderable. They say it can’t be done. Challenge accepted.

On the Election…
It is just over four weeks until the National Election here in the United States. Tempers are on edge…folks are taking and twisting every little nuance of every word and spinning it to the benefit of their favorite candidate or party. That part has been going on for decades…centuries. But this one has something else. This one is trying to split the people, trying to pit one group against another, US v THEM, Democrat v Republican, Smart v Common Sense, Roadrunner v Coyote. We thought after the 2008 election that folks would pull back together and work as a team to dig out of the worst recession that this country has had since the Great Depression of 1929. Boy, were we wrong. While the President was being sworn in a meeting on K Street with opposition party leaders was mapping a strategy to make sure the brand new administration failed. At no point in the last four years has it gotten any better. And the country has suffered because of it.

I make my voting decisions based on one really simple rule. Will this candidate promote the ideals of a society that is strong enough and moral enough to take care of those who are least able to take care of themselves, even if their votes are against their own personal interests?

If you have not registered to vote…DO SO NOW. It is most important. The fabric of this nation depends on everyone participating in every way they can. Voting is one of the most important ways in which you can participate.

And no matter who wins this November, we have to remember that if we act like the losing side did in 2008…everyone loses. We are ONE COUNTRY…it is time we began to act like it.

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Ain’t No Cure for the Summertime Blues.

Aug 6, 2012, 9:09:55 PM

NOTE: For those who read these, this won’t be normal, Sunshine. Bear with me.

On Life…
This is where I like to write about going out and shooting photographs, about enjoying nature and seeing what life has to offer. There be clouds. No, not the towering Cumulonimbus or wispy high Cirrus — I can work with that, and some of my best photographs come in weather than others call inclement. These clouds come through the TV, through radio and over the interwebtubes. We seem to now get weekly reports of folks going off with firearms and either killing or trying to kill many people. 12 were killed in Aurora LAST WEEK, Seven in Wisconsin YESTERDAY and the now forgotten Tuscaloosa Alabama guy who “just” went into a bar with an AR-15 and started firing and injuring 17. That was WAY BACK 20 days ago. And none of this counts the guys who decide to kill their family and then squirrel away to the bunker and, after they have figured it out…kill themselves. I can’t begin to count those, there are just too many.

And since the shooters are all “lone gunmen”, the spin to try to attach them to one political dogma or another has become blood sport. Then they are just marginalized as “crazy” or “angry”. What made them get to that point? What pushed their buttons to the point that they moved from Facebook pontificator to cold blooded murderer? What brought them to boil?

I think Aurora will be different, that it will cause that big middle of America, those neither pro gun or pro gun contr0l to stand up and demand that something be done. And it has to. Neither the public nor commerce will stand for our malls, restaurants, schools, churches, and theaters being unsafe.

Just before writing this I read of a mosque burned in Joplin Missouri. It is its second arson in a month. We have watched as folks, armed with hate and bigotry have protested the opening of mosques and community centers throughout the country. Besides the loudest, most obvious one near Ground Zero in New York City there are examples in Murfreesboro, TN to Mayfield, KY to Buffalo to Wisconsin to Ohio or California, and those are just the ones making national news in the past year. The protests are all generated by hate and rationalized by demonizing “those people”…those who attacked on 9/11 or in Afghanistan or Iraq…even though that radicalized minority represents less than 1/10th of 1% of the Muslim faith.

Then there is the Great Chick-fil-A scandal of 2012. Much ado about nothing until you realize that CFA donates millions of dollars to hate groups that openly lobby to deny equal rights for some people. And folks lined up for hours to support their hate. That cannot be something of which you can be proud.

Back to hate…really it should be HATE for a moment. We spread hate through political beliefs, through religious beliefs, through social history and we now have the technical ability to propagate that hate and bigotry through social media, through blogs, through the news media, through TV at the speed of light. At some point, with saturation it becomes everyday, OK, part of our community fabric to speak openly about “those people”. But it really isn’t. It only seems so because we tend, in society to cluster with those who think like us, to agree with our positions and to support our thoughts. Hate, reinforced through a social echo chamber is still hate.

What to do…when you see or hear hate…point it out. It won’t make you popular but it might just sink in to one of ten folks, and that’s a start. We are all responsible for solving this problem…and the problem will not go away as long as it has fuel.

Regarding Resolve…
From the Richard Nixon 1972 Presidential Campaign…NOW MORE THAN EVER This below seems important and if nobody else reads it, that is OK. I read it myself and refocus.

An ongoing theme of these missives has been on thinking, thinking about others and looking at what can be done to improve the lives of society in general. Sometimes that takes sacrifice, sometimes it takes thinking beyond personal beliefs, sometimes it takes looking at life from a perspective other than that from which you have been given or earned or to which you have been privy. It is often not “How is this going to affect me?”, rather “How is this going to affect those who are least able to effect change upon themselves?”

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Some, Some Summertime

Jun 26, 2012, 8:26:22 PM

 

On Life
Well, kiddies, I am back on my feet. After a nine month, extended recovery I can now pretty much walk and do steps and all the things I should be able to, albeit a bit slower right now. I should be off the Warfarin by July 4 and back to normal, rat poison free blood and PT is now “just the gym”. Travel and photography are next on the list. There have been a couple of small trips but I have so far been too tired to shoot or to process. That is coming back fast.

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It’s Fall…I Fell

Nov 18, 2011, 12:56:03 PM

Sometimes life doesn’t go as planned. This was looking like it was going to be a beautiful fall, good rain, right temperatures and all the right ingredients for some great photography trips. And the rolling tripod [Jeep] was ready for the challenge. Just one little problem…
9/9/11, while walking down some steps at home my quadriceps tendon exploded. This pretty much stops everything. So, into surgery a bit later and a hip to foot cast that has/will last until the first of the year “if everything goes right”. Never one to just keep it simple, I managed to develop a 36 inch long blood clot. So now I am fighting that special fun with Warfarin, which is in essence rat poison. But I dodged the reaper which I consider a good outcome. So no new photographs for a while. The view from bed is just not that interesting.

My goal while being parked in timeout is to gather new perspective and to come out the other side a better person. That and to “Mind the Gap”.

Good holidays and good shooting to everyone. I look forward to seeing your always excellent work.

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Spring has Sprung

Jun 11, 2011, 8:12:23 PM

On the World
When you do your work, your art, your life…look at those around you. They are important. Whether they are in your peer group, above you or below you we are all interwoven in our lives. Sometime in life someone has helped you. It might have been small or big; expected or unexpected. When you get the chance to repay that, pass it forward. Do something for someone else that is in need. They need it now and might not know how or who to ask. Don’t ask for or expect anything in return. If you are able to help you have already received that. Just pass your good fortune forward.

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A New Year Begins

Dec 26, 2010, 8:37:55 PM

On the World
When you do your work, your art, your life…look at those around you. They are important. Whether they are in your peer group, above you or below you we are all interwoven in our lives. Sometime in life someone has helped you. It might have been small or big; expected or unexpected. When you get the chance to repay that, pass it forward. Do something for someone else that is in need. They need it now and might not know how or who to ask. Don’t ask for or expect anything in return. If you are able to help you have already received that. Just pass your good fortune forward.

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To Every Season

Nov 21, 2010, 2:09:55 PM

 

Thoughts while sorting through thoughts
In going through the 400 or so photographs I took at the Rally to Restore Sanity I began thinking about all of the folks who have stood on that very ground at the National Mall, America’s front yard to plead their cause. Some have been very controversial, others seem so blatantly obvious that is was surprising that there was a need to bring the attention of a Nation together to point it out…but it was.

From the Woman Suffrage March in 1913 that started it all to the Civil Rights Rally in 1963 to the 1969 Viet Nam War Protest to rallies for Equal Rights, Civil Rights, Human Rights and protests of yet another war, folks have converged on Washington DC to present their case to the Nation, to those who represent us and to opposing views.

It seems odd that, after hundreds of rallies and protests to draw attention to the issues that plague this country we still have many of these problems. And that brings us back to the Rally to Restore Sanity and Reason. When did it leave? When did the ability to have reasoned debate stop. When did the allure of snake oil salesmen and their partisan hate-mongering, intent on dividing become so strong? When did the priority to “win majority” become more important than the priority to do what is right for the country, even if it means sitting down to compromise?

Before we can have success with solving the problems that we protest we first have to be able to have dialog with those who matter, those who make the decisions and to have that input mean something other than minutes of a meeting. We have to start by talking, by looking at the important issues realistically and honestly.

There is not a day that goes by that I don’t read on a forum or blog an argument that is rife with errors or downright lies. Sometimes it is intentional, to “win” the day, other times it is simply repeating what was heard from someone else’s blog or forum and, since it fits in their view it is worth repeating…all without looking to see if the information is valid.  This happens on all sides of the discussion, not just that with which I might now agree.

The first step is going to be the hardest, for everyone. Change goals. The goal should be the success of this country as a whole, not success of this country “as long as my side is running things”.  It worked that way for a couple of hundred years. It can work that way again.

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Fall Forward, Fall Behind

Nov 14, 2010, 3:00:36 PM

 

It’s Fall, the MIDDLE of FALL
OK, so I am late in writing my quarterly missive. I am smack dab in the middle of Fall and looking at the first cold snap of the year. Trees are losing their leaves and the squirrels are working to prepare for winter.

It has been an interesting Fall so far. I went to my High School/Boys Choir reunion which was much fun. Caught up with some folks that I had not seen in decades [Protip: DON’T wait that long to hook up with old friends, no matter how cool your excuse seems at the time].

My wife and I also went with friends to The Rally to Restore Sanity in Washington DC at the end of October. If you have never been to a gathering of 230,000+ folks for a political/social rally, do so. The energy is amazing and it puts much in perspective.

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Summer in the City

Jul 16, 2010, 5:14:20 PM

Summer is here, baby!
Summer came in hot this year with many more 90degree plus days so far than the none of last year. That means playing in the pool and watching the stars at night while floating. Not a bad way to end the day. It has also meant more storms and thunderboomers rolling through. Pretty and great to shoot but they can be dangerous when they spawn tornadoes and violent wind. So we get the good with the bad.

Ethics
Something came up the other day about resumes and whether it was OK to “embellish” or to “lie” on them in order to get your foot in the door for a job. It has bugged me enough that I am writing this everywhere. The long and short answer is NO! Either stand on your own accomplishments or stand aside.

 

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Summertime

June 9, 2010

An Eventful Spring

This has been an interesting Spring. Big storms blowing through Kentucky have produced some big floods, bigger storms, awesome lakes and a couple of drives that included avoiding three inch [7.6cm] hail. It has made for a lush, green spring in the Bluegrass with the downside of having to MOW twice as often.

Resolve

I looked at the previous entry and decided I like it just find. Cut and paste is wonderful.

An ongoing theme of these missives has been on thinking, thinking about others and looking at what can be done to improve the lives of society in general. Sometimes that takes sacrifice, sometimes it takes thinking beyond personal beliefs, sometimes it takes looking at life from a perspective other than that from which you have been given or earned or to which you have been privy. It is often not “How is this going to affect me?”, rather “How is this going to affect those who are least able to effect change upon themselves?”.

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Spring Rewound

March 27, 2010

A New Year
Blue Skies, chirping birds, cardinals, finches, buds on the trees. It is time for Kentucky to pop. And about time. Time to dig out of the malaise of a winter of cold, of politics, of levels of negativity that have permeated nearly every facet of everyone’s life.

Now we get to shoot new photography, square up the yard and address the ducks in the pool. No Duck a l’Orange planned, instead a remote control helicopter…Huey-a-Huey. You can bet there will be photos.

Resolve
An ongoing theme of these missives has been on thinking, thinking about others and looking at what can be done to improve the lives of society in general. Sometimes that takes sacrifice, sometimes it takes thinking beyond personal beliefs, sometimes it takes looking at life from a perspective other than that from which you have been given or earned or to which you have been privy. It is often not “How is this going to affect me?”, rather “How is this going to affect those who are least able to effect change upon themselves?”

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Skating through Winter to the New Year

Jan 6, 2010, 4:47 PM

New Year
Well, the New Year is off to a good start. TSA will most likely be checking underwear [now you know why your mom always said you should have on a clean pair], Play-Doh is the new WMD and Joan Rivers can’t board a flight. At least they got the last one right.

Friends lost work as shuffles occurred and with a cold wave wandering through the flaming electric transformer last night proved to be a fitting end of Week1 to Y2KX. As Tom Jones would lament – Baby, its Cooooold Outside.

Resolutions
I have already been warned not to resolve to “get in shape” as it just clogs up the gym for the hip and fit folks who live there year round. No prob, pizza is too important, style, not so much.

But the big resolutions are important. Responsibility and art. Nothing else is on the radar right now. Work and hobby both need to achieve a focus that allow growth and achievement of long term aspirations. There is much that needs done in the world besides just working to make money and pay the bills. Experience gives us the chance to combine our accumulated knowledge, our skills and motivation to do good. To do less is a waste.

The art [in my case photography and writing] allows me to project a point of view, to show what was, what is and what can be. It also allows me to meet many new folks as I look forward into this aspect of the hobby.

The work now has to be meaningful, not just profitable and to that end choices have to be made. I have done this to a degree all my live but now it is time to tighten the focus, to do it right.

NOW the fun begins. Let’s make art and make a difference.

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Winter Highs and Sighs

Sun Dec 13, 2009, 7:03 PM

Holidaze
It’s that time of the year. No, the other one. A smidge to the right. Yeah, that one. It’s time for the Halloween to New Years Day “please, oh please make this a good retail season.” The mall, sorry MALL is packed to the gills with lookers but it is hard to tell who is buying. I really hope the season is a success. We, as a country can really use a boost of confidence. And nothing says confidence better than being in the black.

That other reason. Kids, let’s get this right. With Christmas, Hanukkah, Muharram, Amitabha Buddha Day and Winter Solstice all within a two week period, it is a wonderful time for everyone to celebrate your beliefs and have an opportunity to look upon the world with just a bit wider view. We are all in this together.

And don’t forget Festivus.

You gotta have friends
If the trip to Harlan this fall did nothing else it taught me that you gotta have friends. Most of the time we are busy working on work or something that has little consequence when it turns out that family and friends are what really matter. The rest is white noise. We know that but the key is to exercise that knowledge.

Phantom Reality
In 2009 we have switched between the best of this Country to the worst. From the celebration of an orderly change of leadership and the beginnings of our move out of this hard recession to the horrors of mass murder on an Army Base, the gunning down of four police officers in Oakland AND Seattle and others in between to the absolute absurdities that is Reality TV. Balloon Boy, Jon and Kate, and now the Tiger Woods Open. At least he has an even dozen “friends” which should make for a lovely Valentine Calendar gift.

There was a fear that the decade would start bad as clocks and computers converted to the year 2000. No Prob! For me this decade started January 1, 2000. With a new Mercedes and while driving home in upstate New York the driver in front of me blasted a very large deer. In the 12 degree evening my car was painted with deer blood and guts. So THAT’S how it is going to be. I am ready for REALITY to return and just write off “The Decade of Zeros”.

BE C A R E F U L
Everyone have fun at your many parties and get-togethers this holiday season. Be careful and make sure to come out of the season healthy and refreshed. There is a bunch of art to make.

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Fall Out

Thu Sep 24, 2009, 4:55 PM

All Dem Leaves Must Fall
The Summer of Hate is slowing unwinding. I can’t tell if folks are finally getting a clue and checking their facts before typing and whining or if they have just realized that their leadership team of Beck, Limbaugh, Hannity, DeMint, Bachmann, Palin and Boner are the new…nee, NEO Confederacy of Dunces. Either way, Birther Nation appears to be taking a brief holiday.

That High School Reunion Thingie
The 100th Anniversary of Harlan High School brought out a very good crowd with folks from 90 to 18. I saw some folks I had not seen since I left Harlan over a third of a century ago [yikes!]. That was real good. It was the success that I hoped it would be. Now comes the hard part. Following through on those promises not to make it another 30+ years before we see each other again.

On a separate note, high school reunions were not anything like portrayed in Hollywood movies. There were no really catty fights between the “popular” folks and the “nerds” that switched places over the years as the nerds rolled up in the hot cars and there were no prom reenactments to highlight the worst of anxieties that many folks had with their first and last efforts on the dance floor. And there were no stalking killers roaming the halls waiting to extract revenge for that slight in Civics class back in 1969. Other than those disappointments, it was a very good reunion.

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The Summer of Hate

Fri Aug 28, 2009, 10:29 PM

What the Hell is going on?
Between the whining and bitching and scare tactics used by those opposed to a reasonable healthcare bill and the loons that feel that expressing their 2nd Amendment rights include carrying a semi-automatic assault rifle into a crowd at a politically charged, heated debate, it seems that some 40 years on, the Summer of Love has dissolved into the Summer of Hate.

Add to that the machinations and paranoid delusions of Glenn Beck and the rest of the talking heads, preaching everything short of armed rebellion and it is time for some serious timeouts. Folks need to step back and suck in a few breaths of reality before someone gets hurt. Way to show maturity when losing an election.

On Friends:
The first break. It looks like I will be going to the Harlan High School 100th Anniversary All Class Reunion this Labor Day. It will be the first time that I have seen many of my class mates in 30 or more years, some since the day we graduated. It is time to start hooking back up with some of that group. You can only work and travel so much before it becomes time to reconnect with the roots that made you what you are. I hope that will be successful.

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Spring Ahead

Thu Apr 9, 2009, 3:45 PM

Spring is here. The dogwoods are out, the trees are greening up, the foals are out in the paddocks, Keeneland in running, the sky is blue and it’s 30 degrees…wait…what???

Welcome to Kentucky in the Spring. It is the time of year where we go from 70 degrees to 30 degrees and back again a couple of times in a single week. No tornadoes so far this season [or tarnaders as some like to call them]. The good news/bad news is that the pool now has a pair of mallards that somehow feel compelled to nest in it. It has become “the cement pond”. Nice.

Since the world is somewhat upside down, the time has come to look into the past and find old friends and look to the present at new ones. THAT is going well. It looks like there is going to be a High School Reunion in my little town for all classes for its 100th year of sending kids out of the mountains with a very good start in the world. It should be fun and I look forward to it.

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Winter on Ice

Tue Feb 3, 2009, 2:06 AM

I think I need a new section just for weather. We are now in the middle of the Great Kentucky Ice Storm of 2009, or as I like to call it, The Storm of the Century of the Year of the Month of the Week of the Afternoon. Yes there has been ice. The power was out for 25% of the population of our state of 4 million. As I told a friend in Beirut, we had NO Hellfire missiles coming through the roof, it is an inconvenience. Much like in photography, perspective is very important.

On Business I didn’t go to the North American Auto Show in Detroit. My understanding it was very cold and inhospitable in the area and getting to Cobo Arena would have been a pain. I missed some new car introductions but will catch them at the New York Auto Show in April. There is nothing quite like New York City in April. It really is nice.

On Politics Brother, can you spare a…WTF!!! We need to tell our politicians that it is NOT alright to throw the TRILLION word around like pocket change. First, it’s our change and second, apparently we are giving it to folks who don’t understand the concepts of gratitude and humbleness. $15Billion in bonuses for an industry that lost Trillions seems a bit…questionable.

I’m leaving the next part from the last entry. It is important.

We still have to fix this thing, It is NOT going to fix itself. So everyone get your thinking caps on and figure out how to do your part. John Kennedy said “Ask not what your Country can do for you, but what YOU can do for your Country.” It is time to refocus that commitment from all 300 Million of us.

To the folks around the world, have patience. We will get back.

Spring is just around the corner. The trees will be budding out and the leaves popping. Dogwoods in bloom and horses back on the track. MOST will be right with the world.

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Winter

Thu Jan 8, 2009, 8:41 PM

It’s just cold. Wind and snow and rain and cold. Not the kind of cold that stops everything, just the cold that requires you to add extra layers and impedes outside work. But, thanks to a bunch of work, all the outside work is done except rebuilding the retaining wall [apparently they don’t do well when hit with a backhoe – who knew?] First few 50 Degree days will fix that.

On Business

I may or may not be going to the North American International Auto Show. I have still not heard back from the folks who make the decision and the show starts in just days. I can shoot during the public part of the show but it doesn’t do well for either the client or the manufacturer or the photos. Time will tell.

On Politics

And I thought things would calm down and folks would settle into a “let’s work together” mode and start fixing this thing. Apparently the knife fight that was the 2008 Election was just too bloody. I have not seen this level of hate and anger from a losing side ever. And what’s with the new found prejudices? WOW. It is as if we lost an entire century of national maturity in two years.

We still have to fix this thing, It is NOT going to fix itself. So everyone get your thinking caps on and figure out how to do your part. John Kennedy said “Ask not what your Country can do for you, but what YOU can do for your Country.” It is time to refocus that commitment from all 300 Million of us.

To the folks around the world, have patience. We will get back.

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Heading toward Winter

Mon Nov 17, 2008, 12:15 AM

The seasonal theme takes an interim step with a post election, moving update. The move it in progress. Things are finally happening correctly and it looks like all the holidays will be at the new place. It is down to just nits now.

On Politics

It’s over, now the hard part starts. Digging out of a brutal Recession, restoration of our image throughout the world and re-instilling a moral compass into the fiber of this country. THIS IS GOING TO TAKE MUCH WORK BY EVERYONE.

So everyone get your thinking caps on and figure out how to do your part. John Kennedy said “Ask not what your Country can do for you, but what YOU can do for your Country.” It is time to refocus that commitment from all 300 Million of us.

To the folks around the world, have patience. We will get back.

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Fall

Mon Sep 29, 2008, 11:32 PM

Yes, the seasonal theme continues. I am finally done with fixing up the house and that is behind me. Between painting and contractors and cement trucks taking out power lines and the local utility company taking over a month to hook up a line, it is TIME. Yeah. Now we can get to the work of learning Photoshop and shooting, shooting, shooting.

On Politics

Christ, will this never end? The only thing good to come from the election so far is the Comedy Styling of Sarah Palin. Would it have been too much to ask for McCain to have at least tried to pick someone who didn’t sound like the cheerleader who got caught by the principal in the boy’s restroom with her panties hanging from the stall door.

The election has made me want to make little posters to “help”. They are in the gallery later tonight. I tried to be nice. Really.

If you are even thinking about not voting, stop it. VOTE, VOTE, VOTE, VOTE. You have to vote. This election is that important. Just do it.

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Summer

Sun Aug 24, 2008, 9:53 PM

Apparently I have taken a seasonal approach to Journal entries. So it goes. I am in the middle of getting a house ready to move into. It is taking longer than expected but then, they all do, I am told. Once finished I will prepare the house I have lived in for nearly 20 years for sale. That will be interesting as there are so many memories in this house.

On Politics

The election that will never end. It appears there are only about 70 or so days left until Election Day 2008. If anyone is considering sitting this one out because their particular candidate did not get through the primaries, DON’T. It is too important to not vote. There are going to Supreme Court choices in the next four years that will change the balance of the court so your vote is important, not just for President but for the Congress as well. You can scan my profile to guess my preferences but JUST VOTE.

This is the most important election cycle since 1968. The stakes have not been higher.

Time for some changes. New house, new [final] career and hopefully a change of government philosophy. I am looking forward to the next few months. Let’s be careful out there.

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Spring

Sun Apr 6, 2008, 9:53 PM

Maybe a journal should be updated more than once a season but we will have to work on that. Spring has finally come to Kentucky. The flowers are blooming, trees budding, wind blowing shingles off the roof and squirrels trying to get in the house to nest…AGAIN.

I am finally out shooting again. It took longer than I thought to get my brain around being creative again after the somewhat less than fun fall/winter. I have several new projects on the front burners so the “keep looking busy” part of my life is doing well.

On Politics

I am reading John Adams, the book from which the HBO series is based, a history of our Second President and one of the Founding Fathers of our Country. I am left with the deepest sense of dismay that the politicians of the 21st Century would not even be allowed in the same room as these Founding Fathers. There would be someone at the door to send them to the children’s table down the hall.

How have we let ourselves accept such mediocrity substitute as the best and brightest that our generation has to offer. We have so much better to offer, we have so much more to give but apparently the price is too high for the true leaders to subject themselves to the rigors of the political game. So all we get is American Idol 2.

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It’s a New Year

Tue Jan 15, 2008, 8:25 PM

A couple of weeks late in entering a New Years Journal so I guess that first resolution should deal with procrastination. I’ll get to that in a bit.

Last year saw some interesting life changes. On the bad side my mom [83] passed away at Thanksgiving, on the good side of the year, I met several new friends that I have known for a while on the internet, I started back into photography after a bit of a rest and hooked up with one treasured friend from long, long ago while I was on my California trip in October. Resolution 2, remember your friends. I also decided to take a fresh look at what I have been doing, is it making me happy and what I really want to do. I figure I have one really good job left in me between now and retirement so it makes sense to think about it, make sure it is the RIGHT ONE and go out, have fun and do it.

Past artistic work has allowed me to be very creative and publish literally millions of my photographs [postcards allow numbers like that] and have my work [postcards and photography] all over the world. My technical work has been very challenging and rewarding and taken me globally. So I can’t complain that I have neither been challenged, rewarded, nor acknowledged for my work.

In the meantime I will be shooting more and more. I get to escape the cold of Kentucky for the first races in Daytona in February. The cameras are clean, batteries ready and laptop cleared to take on as many shots as I can shoot.

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New Toy for the Holidaze

Thu Dec 6, 2007, 11:35 PM

I got a new toy to play with for the holidays and beyond, a Nikon S51 CoolPic. This is my first baby camera EVER. Now I don’t know what I did without one. It allows me to have a camera with me everywhere without the bulk of the DSLR or even bigger Pentax 6X7.

So far I have only shot family type pics and a few funnies but I anticipate that somewhere creativity will sneak in if time, luck and experience all wander into the same field of view.

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Work and Play

Wed Nov 28, 2007, 12:18 AM
Entry begun Nov 17…

Well, REAL work is getting in the way of Photography this month as I try and find a 3000 sqft area to set up a parts business for my Mercedes Restoration Biz. The parts sort of fell from the sky and I will be selling them for a client that is going out of business but I need space NOW. Of course this would all happen as Fall finally shows her colors. Timing is everyth ing.

I could do a great photo series on For Lease signs, they are everywhere but none that have the space and/or access and security requirements that my client requires. The search continues.

Hopefully I will be back shooting by the holidays. Some of the houses have already started loading up on Holiday lights, statuary and the new blowup lawn art motif [ WTF?!!!!?] that has spawned over the past few years [thanks, WalMart].

And soon we will have the lawn parades of campaign posters, staked out like duelists of old, red yard to blue yard, each proudly heralding their like minded candidate AND providing each of their neighbors with a “I thought Babs and Skippy had more sense than that!” moment.

The political season, and avoiding the Media Talking Heads telling me what to THINK gives me more time to learn my two new toys, Photoshop CS3 and Wacom Tablet. I think I finally found a way to look 40 pounds lighter. I don’t want to use it to manipulate images for photography [other than titles/borders and stuff] but it will provide a new direction for me to play. Fun to ensue.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
11/27
EDIT: Complaining about finding space for the parts seems superfluous now [although I DID get a space] as my 83 year old mom died last week. I just wrapped up the funeral a bit earlier this evening so time to put things in perspective and look back at over 50+ years of good times and support from a parent who fully backed a son who I am sure she would rather have had been a Doctor or Lawyer but Photographer and Systems Architect turned out pretty good. MANY Thanks for that.

As I go back to work, both REAL work and photography I think there might be a slightly different perspective and that is a good thing. All these calluses in life provide the texture. Nothing good comes from everything just being smooth all the time.


Confessions from a Former Moderate – post 2012

You can’t get here from there.

I used to be a Moderate, a centrist who, when faced with the issues of politics would give each side the benefit of the doubt, give each side equal consideration, give the black and white of the red and blue the consideration that makes up the 256 shades of gray that textures our thoughts.  Something changed…maybe just so I wouldn’t have to explain myself with that extremely hard to diagram sentence.  Actually it was several somethings over time and I believe they changed me for the better.

For background, I don’t quite fit into the far left mold that many try to put me in.  It’s OK, those on the left are equally perplexed at times. I have been a small business owner for decades, doing consulting work for Fortune 50 companies [The Man], I have firearms, though I don’t hunt and I fully understand that we don’t live in a world of unicorns and rainbows – there is a need for the military, intelligence services and even the new technology of drones.   On the other side, I will walk away from very good paying work if their preference is to offshore rather than utilize more expensive American labor, I will fight for the long term environmental survival of an area over the short term economic benefit of some of its residents…like a Facebook relationship status: It’s Complicated.

There is Just ONE Commandment

I used to be a Moderate.  Then things changed.  A few political groups began to rise up and demand that the civil laws of the land reflect that we all, that would be ALL AMERICANS act and be treated using the laws set down by The Bible.  Now, I have nothing against The Bible.  It is a good book with good lessons for everyone.  It teaches folks a personal belief system that guides their lives.  That can be very good.  But then…politics.  At some point that few political groups decides that if it was good enough for their PERSONAL belief system then by damn, everyone should abide by it – whether they liked it or not.

Over the next 30 years the objection to gays became more vocal…more folks wanted it codified into law.  More folks wanted to insure that folks that were gay could not have the same CIVIL RIGHT as those who were not.  Having done this marriage thing I knew that my marriage license came from the state, not the church.  What did the church have to do with issuance of licenses?  What did churches have to do with wills, with insurance, with all the things that us “normal” folks take for granted?

And about being segregated into a group that was called “NORMAL”.  That just pissed me off.  And so it began.

At some point “those people” came up.  Now you really have to pay attention because, unless you follow the very textured context of the conversation you might not realize just who “those people” are.  [Geographic etymological disclaimer: in the South they may be known as “them people”]  Those people…and they were always described in gross hyperbola.  If they were on welfare they were,  “driving fancy cars with expensive stereos, with a cell phone, new cloths, cable TV…”  If they are Latino they are Illegal Until Proven Otherwise.  Period.  Reading conservative and libertarian voices as they justified authorities stopping someone just because they were brown would have been amusing if it had not been frightening.  Suddenly the mean ol’ police state and big government was just fine, hit the blue lights.  Show your papers, please.

“Those People” took on a completely new face in 2008.  I was active on several fora then and as the political season heated up and Obama became the Democratic Party nominee the usual political sniping and snarking began.  Then it changed.  It became less about his ideas and more about his identity.  His name brought up assertions that he was a Muslim even though at the same time the same people criticized the Christian church of which he was a member.  He was born in Kenya even though his birth certificate, his public birth announcement all said he was born in Hawaii, and the hundreds of lawyers of the Clinton campaign and McCain campaign found nothing to make their campaigns a “slam dunk” if that little “secret” was just revealed.   And then there was the absolute, outright racism.  Photoshops of lynchings, Uncle Toms, every possible insult based on race that could be considered was thrown on-line.  And nobody within the Republican Party said a word to stop it.  And nobody in the cadre of Republicans stood up and said it was wrong.   Things had changed.

Rights for Women

I thought this was on the way to being settled. I grew up in a household where equal pay was demanded.  It was enforced by the Butcher’s Workman’s Union and since my father was the state steward…I watched it first hand.  The fact that my mom was the senior seniority member of that union in the state showed how that worked.   Later I watched my wife and other friends as they worked through the ranks of IBM as engineers.  It was not always a smooth climb up the ladder and as has been pointed out many times there are always remnants of the “good ol boy” network in any organization but efforts were always being made to solve the puzzle.  It was [and is] a big puzzle.

Then the voices came back…businesses should be able to pay what they want…”free market”, if folks don’t like it they can go someplace else to work.  The workplace was again becoming a minefield for many to navigate through.  At the forefront was the ridiculous apples to bicycles arguments trying to discredit “equal work”, saying “Why should a woman just starting get the same money as a man who has worked there for 25 years???”.   Nobody ever suggested that but it proves the desperate nature of the argument…when you can’t win with reason, bring out the absurdities.

Now,  please tell me how, in the 21st Century, 236 years into our experiment in  democracy RAPE can still be a subject for which there is a need to explain to adults that there is NO GOOD RAPE.  It simply doesn’t exist.  There are no biological or divine shields to change outcomes of rape.  NONE.  If there is anything good to come of this mindnumbing conversation it is that half a dozen national level Republican politicians staked their reputation on these unbelievable, Neanderthal notions.  And each and every one lost.

I Hope You Change

I used to be a Moderate.  Something changed.  Actually two things changed.  First, over a 30 year period the folks who populate the Republican Party moved to a position where it became OK to deny rights to others…to decide that pay should not be equal, that marriage should not be a state licensed contract, unfettered by religion, that it is still OK to think of African Americans as less than equal.

And second…I decided that being Moderate meant letting one set of folks be hateful to another set of folks and I have way too many friends who are African American, women, gay.  And that doesn’t sit right.   So I changed.  I moved to the left…pretty hard to the left and I did so because of what the Republican Party had become.  Because of the Party that would allow someone to yell “LET HIM DIE” at a Republican Presidential Debate and not a single one of seven candidates said a single word.   The Party that tries to rationalize hate and rationalize bigotry and rationalize [and I can’t believe this is even a topic] demanding victims  of rape have the results of a pregnancy.

So, if you are a Republican and ever wonder why I am hard on you, demanding that you back up dogma with facts or that I don’t accept parroting of talk radio, the answer is YOU.  Maybe not you personally, but you the Republican that let your Party become one of hate and one that has tried to harm my friends.

When you rationalize the loss of the 2012 election, you blame the candidate, that he was not strong enough or not conservative enough.  Or you say that the voting public just doesn’t understand, that they don’t know how “serious” things are.  They do.  You lost because of hate and bigotry.   You lost for the very reasons I [and many others like me] moved hard to the left.

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First Election Experiences – Harlan County Style.

Your first time to vote is an important step forward in your life, a milestone reached, an introduction into adulthood.  For those of us my age it was also a somewhat bigger decision as we had Viet Nam, The Draft [capital letters intended] and a time that was forged by war, by protest, by assassination, by Kent State, by newly formed OPEC.  And did I mention Viet Nam and the Draft?  So it was important and we voted.

But I had another role in the election process as a young voter.  As a disc jockey for WHLN in Harlan, I was also responsible for running the radio station while Little Jim did remotes from the Court House to provide up to the minute election results for the county.  More on that later…but, a bit more  about one particular campaign.

Billy G Williams was not a tall man.  If he was 5’4″ I would be surprised but he was one of those men from the mountains that carried himself with a swagger that left no doubt that you would lose whatever the contest, and that included fishing for catfish in the Cumberland River.  The snapshot of one fishing encounter indicated that he and it were close to the same size…he won.   Billy G had a gospel radio show every Sunday morning for years.  It consisted of him chatting on the radio while playing old time gospel songs that always started with Jesus is Coming Soon.  He wasn’t a preacher, never pretended to be.  He just knew his market and used The Billy G Gospel Radio Hour half hour to talk, spin records and promote his well-drilling business.  He had a good following of listeners and every Sunday morning there would be envelopes waiting for him with requests for music and “love offerings” to help make sure he continued to keep the songs of God coming through the electric radio.

Now, most of the time when folks would come to do their 30 minute gospel radio shows on Sunday we would require them to sit in the little remote room while we handled the music and the sound board.  Billy G was different.  He would stand up next to me and as time went on just run the board himself…It gave me a chance to eat lunch that Mae from Ackley’s Cafe had just run down to the station for me [now THAT’s small town].

Billy G would slide up to the front of the station just about noon, when his show began…he had usually been visiting a “friend” and might have taken longer than expected.  He would grab a six pack of beer from his truck and run up to the station.  I would already have Jesus is Coming Soon cued up and playing as he got in the door.   Did I mention that Harlan County was DRY…meaning no liquor or beer whatsoever.

At some point he decided that he should do more for the county so he announced that he was going to run for Sheriff.    Soon his chats on The Billy G Gospel Radio Hour half hour  turned more political and less about Mavis’ tomatoes or that Miss Bessie was still down sick and needed your prayers.  The subjects became the creeping crime problem in Harlan, drugs in our schools, corruption in local government and of course bootlegging – all while knocking back the aforementioned six pack of beer.  This would lead to a conversation while one of the records was playing:

me: so, where did you get the beer?
billy g:  Mags

More about Maggie Bailey:
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5044685

On the night of the election I was manning the radio station while Little Jim did the remotes from the Court House.  Little Jim was about 250 pounds but was “little” because his dad Big Jim Morgan was the radio station owner.   It was a well oiled machine, the only 5000 watt station within 75 miles and provided the ONLY reception for several counties. I had, you might say a captive audience.  In retrospect I would like to sincerely apologize for that.  In my defense, I was young and working at a radio station offered “opportunities”.  But I digress.

We borrowed the rolling blackboard from the Kentucky Business College next door to tally the votes for our listeners.  And, unlike big city elections, where candidates go to ballrooms with their supporters to await results, we had a couple of them hanging around the station to get the results faster than we were broadcasting.  One was Billy G.  Well, Billy G and a CASE of beer.    As the election results became final it was clear that Billy G was the winner and he began discussing what was on his mind.   From earlier you recall it was a creeping crime problem in Harlan, drugs in our schools, corruption in local government and of course bootlegging.

After we signed off [yes, playing the Star Spangled Banner] we hung around the station until after midnight or so…we talked about that bootlegging thing and as things wound down  Billy G wanted to understand drug use in the high schools.  I told him “I don’t tell folks about your “friends” or beer every Sunday, I won’t talk about drugs in high school”.  With that he got up, threw his last beer can into the garbage and walked down the hall toward his truck…”F**king Eagle Scout.  See ya Sunday”  Election Day was over.

A couple of months later on the Sunday morning show Billy G was back on the subject of bootlegging.  “I am going to take them all down.  They have been sending me money every month since before the election and I have kept it and I am going to rent trucks and close them all down”.    Then he said “You’re gonna need a pistol”…”here is your badge”.  It was a long week.

Welcome to Politics 101 – Harlan County Style.

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An Introduction, Digital Assistants, TSA and The Moose

This seems like a good way to introduce a blog, a rainy Saturday watching as the Storm of the Century of the Decade of the Year of the Month of the Week wanders its way up the Eastern Seaboard.  It’s Sandy so every time I hear it discussed my brain queues up the Grease soundtrack whether I like it or not…yep, that’s how I roll.

I awakened [or woke up] this morning to the sound of very loud giggling as Sharon was in the bathroom drying her hair.  Now I know there are no naked pictures of me around so that was off the list of possible triggers…I think I am the only person with a smartphone and a digital camera who has not felt compelled to take photographs of myself either naked or opposite  a mirror, with something that looks oddly like ducklips.  But I digress.

The giggling was very soon identified as Sharon stopped the dryer and came in to read the first couple of paragraphs of Dave Berry’s new book Insane City. It had to do with a bunch of guys going to a wedding, working their way through TSA security where the future groom had his luggage searched and he had to explain an unknown sex toy that he knew nothing about.  Seems his esteemed peers – The Groom Posse had slipped a battery operated artificial vagina into his carry-on luggage.  After they tossed it in the garbage a well dressed man walked up to the garbage and quickly put it in with his stuff.  “The man’s got himself a good device there” said Marty “Hardly used.”   Wait…HARDLY?

Actually having fun at airports reminded me that it had been 20 years since I met Moose…350 pounds of Cynthiana, Kentucky, genuine redneck  Bubba in each and every sense of the word.  Great engineer and a blast to travel with as we toured manufacturing facilities throughout the Rust Belt in the early 1990s. He was big, loud and funny on every level.  When he saw that I brought my ZR1 Corvette to work the first thing he said, at full volume  over about 20 cubicles was “Know the difference between a Corvette and a Porcupine?  The Porcupine has its pricks on the outside.”  Later, in the parking lot as he was getting his XXXL frame up into his pick up truck I yelled “When you are in a hurry do you ever get your Downey fresh white sheet caught in the door? ”  And, in between negotiations, inspections. blueprints, travel and conferences that is how we conducted our professional experience for over three years.

…a time of innocence 

We were at Chicago,  I went through security with no problem.  You just put your change, keys, pocket knife, pens, etc in the tray go through and done.  Moose beeped.  So he went back through.  This time he took off his belt.  BEEP.  This time he took off his steel toed boots…BEEEEP.  So the nice security folks asked him to step to the side so they could wand him.  Moose being Moose, he “assumed the position” which got the security guard laughing.  She told him that wasn’t necessary.   As she started wanding him I said, in my very best stage whisper…”It’s his penile implant”.  I took off running.  The security guard doubled over laughing. Moose grabbed his stuff and took off, laughing after me.  So, running down the concourse as fast as 250 and 350 pounds could rumble, two of Kentucky’s best representatives were giggling like school girls in the middle of O’Hare.  Serious is for amateurs.

At the airport v2.

It had been a long flight.  There were four of us that had been from Des Moines to Cedar Rapids to Omaha to Milwaukee to Pontiac.  We were ready to get home.   One problem.  Our incoming flight was late getting in and we were on the opposite end of O’Hare from the flight to Lexington.  I was the youngest and most healthy…I said “I got this”.  So I took off running to the opposite side of O’Hare while everyone else made their way as quick as they could.  My one ace in the hole was that one of our folks, a VP of Finance looked for all the world like a politician.  So when they got to the gate the plane had been held and the nice folks welcomed Congressman Dale to the plane.  It’s good that nobody knows the Congresscritters.

The Friendly Skies

There were four of us again as we hopped on yet another commuter from – yes, you guessed it O’Hare to Lexington.  We got over Lake Michigan and I saw a beautiful moon rise to the left.  Then it was gone.  Then back again.  Then gone.  By now I realized we were circling over the lake and one of our party – Congressman Dale I believe, mentioned he smelled hydraulic fluid. So the two VPs did what any execs would do…started drinking.   At some point the pilot came on and told us of our problem and said we would be diverting to Grissom Air Force Base in Northern Indiana.  Nice.  Later, when the flight attendants came by and sized up the situation they asked us if we would help assist the two VPs through the emergency exits should the need arise.  Moose…see, you thought I had drifted from Moose stories, Moose said, in a rather loud and disconcerting voice to those not used to him “Darlin’ if this plane crashes there will be plenty of holes to throw them through”.    We had no brakes, no flaps, no anything that made flying convenient for the pilot but Grissom had 12,000 feet of pavement and we used it all.

I left the contract a bit after that, my job of consolidating suppliers and finding parts redundancies done.  I also was able, at that time to keep parts manufactured here, not China.  That part is somewhat important.  There was a guy named Moon.  He spent much of his time “greasing the wheels” of offshoring.

You might need to have the right…

The phone call came one afternoon,  Jack was dead.  Jack was the VP of Purchasing that traveled in our little troupe.  He had been sliced and diced with a hunting knife 16 times in Schaumburg, IL.  He had a difference of opinion with the VP of International Purchasing, a friend of Moon.  Moose ended the call with “When the FBI calls you, we will pay your lawyer”.  It was one of the first times he had been serious and the last times I talked with him.

A call gave me the news a bit later, Moose was dead…350 pounds takes its toll.

And that is how to start a Saturday…giggling about sex toys, the TSA and Moose.

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