Sunday, October 30, 2005

The End of The World [Exclusive]

A newspaper recently published an article concerning the end of the world. If you are interested it may still be available at They invited a response to the question, “Is the world nearing the end times?” I was in the middle of writing my next entry when I ran across this article that provoked a different thought.

The question of the Earth’s demise invites a deep philosophical examination of both one’s core conscious and consciousness. In my opinion the answer can be found in both a religious and agnostic view and is more simplistic than the prophecies of Revelations or the mysticism of Nostradamus. In either approach one should concern themselves with the preservation of our Earth for our children rather than decree our own passing. If the existence of Earth lasts at least one hundred more years most reading this opinion will have definitively reached the conclusion. Yet, our future generations, the continuance of our own reality, will be left to deal with their inheritance.

The likelihood of a natural disaster destroying the Earth within the near future is fractional compared to the power capable of being unleashed in a moment of anger or misunderstanding. Our leaders sacrifice our future for the profit of today. We wage war in the name of crusades to justice rather than find a solution of cohabitation on this small biosphere known as Earth. If the end is near, whether we call it Armageddon or just a finale, it would seem we may have written the script in ways previously unthinkable.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

The Barbershop Memories and the Comforts of Home [CCR]

I’ve had the fortunate experience of meeting people all over this wonderful country in my career. And everywhere I have been there are signs left of a dying profession that was once one of the centers of society. At one point in time you could find a barbershop in almost any town. Now you are lucky if you find one in any county. It seems the barbershop has blended in with the beauty shop and most of our society has gone to the big box store equivalent with quick-witted names. But we still pay homage to that once great center of male society.

Even back home in Cherokee we had our line of barbers. During my childhood there were at one time two local barbers and later only one. But even with two barbers there was enough business to keep the waiting chairs full on a Saturday. Waiting your turn you would hear how the latest deer hunts went, the latest county politics, or even what the preacher was planning on Sunday. But one thing was sure; you would always enjoy a good conversation and even a few laughs. Seldom did one visit and leave without being uplifted for the week. Maybe that was part of the package.

My first barber had been cutting hair for quite some time by the time I wondered into the world, and he had cut quite a bit of hair before me. Slick Bolton ran a shop downtown. I am sure he had more than one shop and I probably visited some others, but the last one I remember was in the old bus stop building where a café is now located. I can still remember the little bench he put up on the chair so I would sit high enough. One other memory that had to occur around this time was my dad picking me up from school in the middle of the day to take me for a haircut. That memory for some reason has stuck out after all these years as something special.

Some time towards the end of Mr. Bolton’s years a second barber came to town by the name of Bob Kitchens. Mr. Kitchens was our barber for most of my years back home. Mr. Kitchens had his shop in several locations but the one I remember the most was located in an old gas station on the old highway, meaning the highway before the four-lane was built.

One of the great things about Mr. Kitchens was his knack for carrying on a great conversation while cutting your hair. You see, it seems as he was the only barber in western Colbert County he had the opportunity to interact with just about every fellow in that end of the county. As such he not only cut my hair and my daddy’s hair, he also cut both of my granddaddy’s hair. And we always had this running conversation between my granddaddies and Mr. Kitchens, usually involving some joke about cost of the haircut and such. You see, Granddaddy Smith was bald and we always kidded how he negotiated the cost of a haircut.

It was a regular visit, so I could keep up with what the whole family was doing at the barber shop, usually on Saturday. You see, in my younger days it wasn’t exactly popular to wear your hair long around those parts, regardless of what they were doing elsewhere. That would change somewhat when my high school days came, but you still needed it cut since Mom would only let it grow slightly below the ears.

The big thing I remember about that barber shop was the razor strap and how after every haircut Mr. Kitchens would shave the hair around your ears and on the back of your neck. You see, in those days it wasn’t how fast you could get done for the next customer. Cutting hair was a work of art. And as such, the cut wasn’t complete without the hot lather and that sharp knife trimming the loose ends. I guess those days have ended with the rush of the big box salon. The last barber I remember using a razor was an old shop run by an elderly gentleman when I lived in Fayetteville, Georgia in the early 1990’s. But nothing will erase the memory of that clean cut and then the hot towel that came just before the talc. The talc always marked the end of the cut.

Mr. Kitchens had another innovation that I must say was ahead of its time compared to today’s big box hair cutting joints. Ever notice after the hair cut how the “beautician” has to sweep up all the cuttings before accepting the next client? Mr. Kitchens had some sort of vacuum hooked to his clippers. It not only kept the floor clean, but it also sucked all the loose clippings out of your hair so you didn’t feel all itchy when you left the shop. Last time I visited one of those big box shops they asked if I wanted them to use clippers or scissors. Are you kidding? She put on a number 4 shield and was done in 60 seconds. A minute amount of trimming and your out of there in 4 minutes flat, and you’re out a good fifteen dollars too. Did she remember to trim up my eyebrows? Mr. Kitchens wouldn’t forget. Today you would be lucky if they even offer anything extra other than an extra charge.

The old shop always had a line of chairs sitting around it and it didn’t matter which order you entered the shop, everyone always knew who was next. Everyone would sit and join in the conversation which I think led to a level of social interaction missing to this day. But there was always something to discuss and it was on a regular basis. Ever notice how all those big box hair cutting shops have magazines? Everyone comes in, signs a paper, and then either sits to read or grumbles about the wait and says they will come back closer to their allotted time.

After traveling around this great country I have noticed that the barbershop tradition wasn’t just limited to us Alabama boys. Why they even have memorialized it in a movie that shows the sacredness of this dying institution. There are a few left. How many have the hot lather? How about the hot towels? Or even the good home spun conversation to keep you uplifted from the trials of making a living. Yep, I do believe we have let something start to slip away that brought people a little closer together.

I remember seeing in the news where Mr. Kitchens left us a few years back. Well I know Mr. Kitchens is looking down from heaven shaking his head now. If only he could show these folks how a real cut is done. You know, once I get to heaven I’m going to look Mr. Kitchens up and get one of those top notch Alabama style premium haircuts. And I bet I won’t pay more than five dollars (seems like two dollars was the magic number). Save a seat for me Mr. Kitchens, and thanks for all the memories.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

The Choice, A Parable of Thought [Exclusive]

Today my thoughts have led me to provide an example of my intentional message rather than using a direct hit. I am not sure how well a slight glance brings the message, but if you hit a deer with a slight glance he will at least get moving rather than wait for the fatal shot. It is a diversion from my usual yarn, but I hope you find it thought provoking. It may also lead you to think different thoughts about me. I don’t intend to mislead you but rather provoke thought. The story is as I state it. You are free to develop your own scenario for another day, but you are faced with mine for now. The end result will be your choice. So with that introduction let me present you with an interesting scenario.

You have not been feeling well lately. So, you make an appointment with your long trusted family physician. He agrees to see you right away. Based on your conversation, exam, and test results that follow he brings you back in for the news. It seems you have obtained an illness that to most would seem improbable. But, this situation is most likely fatal. Knowing you have family to support and you just really would like a little more time you immediately want to hear your options. Of course your doctor’s first advice is to get a second opinion before going down the path of treatment. You look for what you consider is a fairly decent physician, consult with your insurance, and get the news you knew was coming but hoped didn’t. According to the second opinion your personal physician was correct. You are in difficult position. So, you return to your personal doctor to discuss the options and see if there is any hope. In the discussion with your doctor you learn there are two specialists who claim to have any success at a cure. You get the names of the two doctors and proceed to do some research. After all, it is your life we are talking about.

Here is the results of your research:

Doctor #1: Graduated with honors from a top rated medical school. Spent a number of years in Bethesda at the Naval Hospital. They even treated the president once. They are board certified and have several papers published on your illness. So far they haven’t lost any patients to your illness. But, they seem to have a personal problem. They had an affair with an intern at Bethesda. Word got out, they tried to avoid it but in the end they voluntarily left Bethesda. Today the doctor is at Harvard and is highly successful. In personal life one might label him a little liberal because he has spoken out on controversial issues. Rumors still abound that he might be having an affair with his nurse at Harvard, but so far his wife stands beside him. He does attend his local church, but is not a leader.

Doctor #2: Graduated from a regional medical school with passing scores. Spent a number of years in Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Lost a few patients at Walter Reed, but had an average record for most doctors. He left the army after a few years service but you are not sure why. Doctor #2 worked briefly with Doctor #1 and studied the illness you have obtained. They’ve had a couple successes with your illness, but are also involved in a couple of malpractice suits. In fact, the number of his patients lost to your illness exceeds the number of patients that survived. In his personal life the Doctor #2 is a member of a major metropolitan church where they participate in leading the youth group. He did have a small problem with alcohol once, but admitted it and, as far as anyone knows, is alcohol free. He could easily be labeled extremely conservative and during his last malpractice trial his pastor testified on his character. It just so happens that his best friend is the CEO of the hospital where Doctor #2 works.

Which doctor will you choose?

I personally don’t really want an answer. I am a believer that the choices you make are between you and those from who you seek guidance. I know I used the term church. Feel free to substitute any religious belief or moral platform you wish. Frankly I just wanted to provide you a moment of thought.

The story is a parable, but I bet you see where it is applicable. I bet a lot of you once made a choice that might not be your current choice. Life sure does pass down a curvy road.

Friends, let me relieve you of a sad ending. It doesn’t matter which choice was made, my person survived. He faced a few moments of fear and everything wasn’t perfect. But he sought additional advice, made the best choice he could, and somehow he is with us today. Because if he made the right choice all was well. If he made the wrong choice he learned his lesson and sought the opposite choice for help before death took its toll. In the end he learned importance of separating what was valuable and hoped he could influence the rest.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Blowing the Snow and Stiring the Soup [Exclusive]

Today is one of those days where the weather will actually entice you into thinking “you know, the weather up here just doesn’t get that bad.” Boys, this isn’t Alabama. It’s going to get cold. Just take a quick trip down to any of the big box hardware stores and they have a full line-up of snow blowers with every option imaginable. Try finding that in Alabama. Being my third winter I guess I may have to give in and make my selection. The shovel is getting old. It just took a couple of years to convince this old Alabama boy that the snow is coming. Back home if we got an inch of snow it was time to shut everything down. Up here, an inch is snow is what you might get on a cool October day. So this year you may just find me with an electric start snow churning monster. I don’t think I’ll go for the headlight option.

But don’t get me totally wrong. We had some interesting days back home. I grew up in the corner of Alabama near the Tennessee and Mississippi state lines. I can remember the days where you could get a quick twenty dollars by helping a truck get up what will called state line hill down at the Mississippi line. Now the states have upgraded the main highway and smoothed out the “ups and down” so I assume that activity fled with all the other memories.

Now we did have some interesting boys in the high school where I grew up who did some things that were always entertaining. Such as the time one of the boys decided to see what happens when you floor the accelerator and then drop the automatic transmission quickly from park to drive. Hint: don’t try this at home. One night my friend and I were out wandering around in the 1966 CJ5 that Dad let me drive. We were only about 10 miles from the nearest point of civilization when we decided to turn around and go back home. I was driving and my friend was watching because we were near a field and it was hard to see how to turn around at night. He says whoa which I interpreted as go. There we sat straddle of a ditch with only a prayer to get us out. Luckily we both worked on a farm and we were able to finally lift the Jeep across the ditch without major injuries.

Now you may be asking why I just shared that Jeep story knowing my Dad will see it. Don’t worry, I can tell some that included him even if his events were unintentional. I will say nothing more than if I tell you the brakes don’t work then they probably don’t work. Thank God that pine tree was big enough to hold back the Jeep. (My daughter just got her driver’s permit and I ‘m sharing these stories. What am I thinking?)

With that story I just have one last thing to share. I got a couple of e-mails from some old friends down in another state where I used to live. It seems somebody is confused and it is interesting what is happening down there. Did you ever notice how there is always somebody trying to stir the pot? I guess there are still a lot of people who have what we called the banty rooster syndrome when I was back home in Alabama. No you won’t find “banty” rooster in the dictionary. But the fine folks at help explain that banty was actually short for bantam. According to my other resource,, “Bantam is the name given to any small fowl but most commonly small types of chickens.” So, if we labeled you a banty rooster it usually meant you liked to bully people to make up for your small stature or weakness. Well, recently I got some e-mails pointing to one of these types who used an open forum to raise their stature by lowering the stature of others. Since I like to keep things upbeat I am not going to point this situation out directly, but if you look around you will see what I mean. My advice, you can either lift yourself up by bettering yourself or, better yet, lift up enough people around you and it will lift you as well. Chopping the trees around you to make your tree taller might just kill enough of the forest to take your tree and you along with it. Be a good neighbor this week and try to lift someone up. That is the better way to stir the pot. The splash you get will be “soup for the soul” rather than that other stuff.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

A Touch Of Home [Exclusive]

One of the joys of living in northern Ohio is that these boys up here live and breath football almost as much as any true Alabamian or any Southern boy as far as I'm concerned (we have to leave out a lot of metro Florida when we call somebody Southern). And my favorite football to watch is high school football. These boys are just honing their skills so they make mistakes and then the coach has to work his way around for each move. Well, that was evident here for our boys Friday night. They tried hard, but we went down with the ship.

Speaking of football and Alabama, I have noticed that just because I am originally from Alabama the first question out of about half the population is "So you went to Alabama." Now if you ever truly lived in Alabama you would know that making a statement like that puts you in about a 50/50 chance of having one upset fellow to deal with. In my case you would be on the losing end. And Auburn did put the whoop on the Bama boys my senior year at Auburn. If you explain it to them in terms of Michigan and Ohio State they start to see the light. In fact, if you got the facts on the person you are about the meet before the introduction you can really make them understand. For example, when they impolitely assume you are attended Alabama you politely, and try to look innocent, ask them did their Michigan team whoop up on Ohio State for their senior year (knowing they actually went to Ohio State). Yes, I'm proud of these boys up here. They understand the true reason God created the weekend. Purely for man to find stress relief in the form of pig remains flying through the air.

So with that statement folks, its time to bid you a good night and a big War Eagle! And if you don't know what the Iron Bowl is I best suggest you get your facts straight before you must account for your deeds in this world.

Welcome [Exclusive - move to new site]

Well I decided to move my blog from my friend’s site to one of my sites. So here we are. I hope to be moving my little Southern insight on my friends here in the North. And maybe just a touch of insight on the events back home.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Learning To Be On Time [Exclusive]

Today I have been inspired by my kids’ lack of understanding about the stress factor induced upon their parents when they find it necessary to seek personalized modes of transportation to school (they missed the bus). In this particular case it may be fortunate for them that they did not grow up in God’s personal paradise, rural Alabama. But then again, sharing my experience might have taught them a bit about proper planning and such. Hopefully I am imparting that information in another fashion so as they are able to function in our continual financial crisis organized by our fine leaders in Washington. (By now I am sure you folks understand my disdain for those who are employed to freely take from and rule over those of us who work.)

When growing up in rural Alabama the bus was a very necessary mode of transportation for obtaining your education. Bicycling to the school house would require beating the chickens to their crowing post by several hours and walking certainly wasn’t an option either. Both Mom and Dad had to be at work so hitching a ride with them was an unpopular and necessarily rare luxury. Now what I am about to share about our bus drivers has no reflection on them personally. They were both honorable God fearing men of the community. Rather it speaks to the dedication of getting the job done in their own way.

Our first bus driver who transported me in the early elementary years was a meticulous driver who made his rounds in due time. As such my sister and I were rather spoiled because if you were late getting out the door he would wait patiently while the occasional truck waiting for the stopped bus would rapidly grow impatient. The excitement in our life came with the bus driver who carried me beyond the third grade. Since the boys in Washington liked our money in those days almost as much as they do now our bus driver needed two jobs to keep everyone including his own family well fed. It was necessary for him to get the bus route completed in time to complete the rest of his work at the second job. This being the fact we were usually the first kids at the school house and the first kids home regardless of the length of the bus route. Our driver could pass through those gears shifting up and down faster than the pianist could play “I’ll Fly Away” down at the church house. It is a fact that I learned how to drive a stick shift by watching our bus driver. I learned all about maximizing RPM to get the best combination of torque and speed. When they came out with the new fancy buses with automatic transmissions we stayed with old faithful number 17. You see you have no way of using the right combination to get maximum acceleration with one of those automatic transmissions.

Now our driver was a very kind person who wanted to make sure we all got to school. But we did have a schedule to meet. So about half a mile up the road around the sharp curve he began to lay on the horn. This was your notification that it was time to high tail it down to the road. He usually kept that horn humming until he could see you standing down at the end of the drive waiting for him to pick you up. Now since we lived near the fertilizer plant (other than the barn) the trucks passing by were appreciative of our efficiency and minimization of wait time. Once you made your way onto the bus it was highly important to get in your seat so we can begin the magical rhythm of working our way through the gears. I would gladly put him up against any of today’s NASCAR truck racers if he were still able. But with all that speed and efficiency I never knew of a single incident with our bus or with a passenger thereof. That boys is what made a real school bus driver.

But if you didn’t make it out to the road by the time that bus got to your drive you had to face the parents with the fact you needed a ride. Thank God our driver had a good horn because that was an event you wanted to be rare. So my sister and I took turns on who got ready first so the other one could look out my parents’ bedroom window and watch for that yellow traveling alarm horn to signal your morning race down the driveway. That, my friends, is how we learned the importance of rising early and being on time for your appointments. It is one paranoia I carry to this day which makes me lack understanding when my kids drag around and miss the slow city type school bus with the automatic transmission. God bless my drivers and may old number 17 rest in peace. She got the job done.

Folks I have got to bow out again. But I leave you with one last piece of good news. The boys down at the bank found my money. So now I am searching for that magical form which is going to move that money to somewhere that doesn’t give me heart seizure. Now go catch that bus.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Thank You Sir! May I Have Another? [Exclusive]

Its another lovely day here in Northern Ohio. God has decided to provide a little sunshine which imparts mixed feelings of enjoyment and home sickness for this misplaced Southerner. For now I have decided to make the most of this blessing and see where it leads. So I have taken up the role of flower gardening. Now you know where I’ve been hiding the last couple of days. It isn’t as original as you might be led to believe. I was given a head start by the boys down at the super sized building supply store. It is amazing what those boys sell nowadays. They have enough stuff to make the simple minded either look intelligent or dangerous. Now I won’t admit to any of the categorization, but I do tend to enjoy spending a might bit of time browsing through their goods. And one good thing about Ohio, these boys have a heap of what we call rich dirt. My whole yard here is full of what we had to find down at the banks of Malone Creek back home to fix up the dirt for planting. Of course you already thought I just said Ohio was full of manure, but I actually meant dark soil. We got the other stuff from the barn too, but you don’t necessarily need it in my flower garden. While I was at the big store I got one of them pint sized tillers too. My regular tiller which we inherited from my wife’s Grandfather was too much for the size garden we could have here. So I got what looks to be a weed whacker on wheels, but it has more energy than a horsefly in a barn. It tore through every weed, clump of dirt, and some of my wife’s perennials without blinking. It was kind of interesting watching the wife sift through the dirt finding the parts of what I just tore through and explaining how I kind of turned loose like a bull in a china shop. But its done now and the plants are happily in place.

It is kind of nice to talk about the garden. Gets your mind off things that trouble your mind like job security and such. That is just one of those questions the politicians of late have insured would haunt us for the near future. I took a look in the paper and saw where they were talking about jobs might be picking up a bit. But if you’ve reached the lower part of the bucket it is easier to fill it up than pour more out. Even though things are picking up the telecom industry has thirty percent fewer workers than it did four years ago. Now folks, that is almost scraping the bottom of the bucket. Thank God most of the businesses aren’t that bad off. So now we understand how bad it can be, just where are the jobs at? Well according to the federal government a right good bunch of you folks are looking for these jobs. The national average unemployment rate for May is 6.1%, the highest since 1994. Well I took a look at the unemployment rates and you will never believe what I found. You boys in Mississippi need to pack your bags. Only the District of Columbia has a higher unemployment rate than you. Mississippi clocks in at 7.0% with DC at 7.8%. You boys need to pack up and move to Hawaii. The sellers of pineapple seem to be doing well with only 2.8% needing a job. Other places to get a job include Wyoming (3.1%), North Dakota (3.3%), and Virginia (3.3%). The real question is just what are these jobs paying. Well it seems that the rate of new jobs in the lower paying segment is greatly outstripping those in the higher paying jobs. Those boys reporting this stuff from Washington are just figuring out what most of you already know. Like I’ve said before, we need to help those boys in Washington join us down at the state employment office. But most of them get those hifalutin teaching and consulting contracts which I think means they are gladly teaching the next round of politicians how to do the same thing. Pass the pineapple boys. We might need to learn how to live off these.

Well one last piece of news from this end of the pond. I let one of those fancy banker type fellows talk me into consolidating my IRA accounts. Now seeing as how that will be my only source of income when the boys in Washington spend out any social security I might be supposed to get then I need to keep an eye on these funds. So, I called the fellows at the bank today just to see how things were going. Well, the next words I heard puckered up my backside so tight you couldn’t pry it open with a toothpick. “Uh, sir, have you moved your funds? We just don’t see anything here.” Now folks, my heart is still trying to figure out the correct rhythm after that interruption. While I was trying to find some polite words my brain was trying to figure out the next flight to Florida (where they have my account) so I could just hear this fellow say those words in person. The gentleman now knows I am imagining how he might fit on a skewer in the hot coals of my fireplace so he begins to start a frantic search. We called the “national accounts center” together. Well, the new fellow comes on the line and we tell the story of how I am receiving CPR and such. “Sir, you have an A89 account.” And you my dear friend are the son of a donkey. What is an A89 account? And to correct you I better have two of them. “Sir, your account is abandoned.” Just how in Hades could that happen? I am sitting right here talking to you and I am wishing I knew just where your knowledgeable behind is at so we can figure this out. That is what I was wanting to say. So now the sharp tongued fellow has his assistant trying to sort this out but has assured me nothing is lost. Nothing is lost?!?!?! Sir, my mental chastity just got flushed down the toilet possibly along with my only hope at some retirement for my working butt. So now I sit by the telephone waiting for the call that someone at that national institution has some possible intelligence while I diligently search for all proof of my accounts. Oh, and our friends in Washington (don’t they always play a role?) have it figured out that I can’t just get this money in my hands (early withdrawal penalties).

So with that said I pick up my ball and chain, place it carefully in the back of my truck, and head into the sunset. I need my rest so I can earn those politicians some more money to freely insure THEIR life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness. I told Momma that I needed to be a politician. Oh no, I went and became an engineer.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Childhood Memories Meet Washington [Exclusive]

Each day of my life I learn something. Of course if I didn’t I would guess the mortuary would have already announced my demise. As such I am proud to let you folks know that I am still kicking and bearing the burden of teaching these fellows up here the proper ways of life. At least from a Southern point of view.

While battling my affliction with procrastination and avoiding that which I should be attending to, I came upon some information about another of my childhood memories. It seems that the establishment known as Ghost Town in the Sky fell upon hard times and has been closed for a couple of years now. In fact it is up for sale and probably carries a good price at least for nostalgic purposes. Now I would reckon this fine establishment was once one of the great vacationing destinations in the South. When heading up towards North Carolina and visiting the Great Smokey Mountains you had to have at least once visited Ghost Town in the Sky. Why my sister and I still have the Polaroid pictures (black & white, not color) to remind us of the visit when I was not old enough yet to know I was establishing those comfort memories that carry one through hard times. (By the way, for those not a member of the Baby Boomers, Polaroid pictures were the digital cameras of our time to shine.) The old destination of fun closed after a couple of the rides evidently failed state inspections and the cost to retrofit these childhood wonders must have exceeded the benefit. The original developer was and is still the owner. So as you might guess he has reached the age where one should be enjoying the fruits of his labor and not worrying about the rest of us. (This moving target of age will not be attainable by those of my generation and younger thanks to the greediness of our fine leaders in Washington. )

So now the parking lot sits empty and a whole town (Maggie Valley, North Carolina) that grew because of this honored institution now mourns the loss of children’s joyful laughs and screams on those hallowed grounds. I am proud to say I must’ve been one of its last customers as I took my children and young nephew to visit a couple of years ago. In fact, I was shocked when I saw the information of the closure. When I visited much of the town had not changed from my memories or maybe I just wished to recreate the magic of long ago. The articles I read seem to indicate that there are some potential buyers. I only hope they find enough potential to forego the pain of a wrecking ball so that another of my memories doesn’t become apartments and shopping malls. The people of Nashville already plowed over another of my comfort zones known as Opryland. So now we have Opry Mills taking in money without the thrill of the Wabash Cannonball. As my mother says, “Way leads to way.” I just wish these boys would learn the right way before they succeed in totally trashing any source of comfort in the fast moving world.

So here we are again pointing at the way money has twisted life just enough to cloud what would seem normal. I mean, who would ever think you would see a casino in Cherokee, North Carolina? What has happened to us? One might argue that change is for the better and in many ways it is. Look at the medicines and the capabilities we have at making things a little more comfortable. Of course we are exporting our technology in exchange for more money so we best have something make us comfortable because we are sure going to be sore from trying to find a job in the not so distant future (assuming NAFTA hasn’t already found you). Give the boys in Washington a hand for their progress; help them pack and get back home before they make a bigger mess.

With that wander off into the woods we best find our way home (for you city folk that means we got off the subject a little). Well, the sun is setting and truck is calling. Folks, get out and visit those fine tourist traps that make a lifetime of memories before some other yahoo finds a way to make a quick buck. See Rock City.

The Happy Doctor And The Bride [Exclusive]

Folks, its been a while since you heard from yours truly. While out romping about a lot has gone on with me, in me, and around the world. So now we gotta find which end of the stick to start whittling. But as my Granddaddy said when we went riding in the truck, take any road because it goes somewhere and eventually you will come out where you know where you are. He always liked riding in our old Jeep. One of my last rides with Granddaddy was one of those rides you thought might be your last too. We went to a place the folks back home call Bald Knob. Now on the day he wanted to go it happened to be raining. We took off cause we did have a metal top to keep our heads dry. Well, we turned the corner just before going up the dirt hill (that’s why its called Bald Knob for you city folks), and it looked like the Tennessee River had left its banks and come out to meet us in the hills. All I could see was flowing red. Well now Granddaddy was laughing so hard I thought he would fall out of his seat. He thought it was funny, but I knew we had them hubs you have to lock before you could use all four wheels to pull up that hill. And I didn’t have time for stopping. We slugged up that hill with Granddaddy bouncing and laughing while I was sweating, but we made it. We got to a spot where I could stop and looked at Granddaddy and he had a big old smile on his face. Now how could you say anything? But, he just looked at me and said “That’ll be the last trip I make with you son.” Wasn’t long after that he moved up with the angels. The cancer eating away at his insides had taken its toll.

Well, look at that. We’ve done wandered down the long path again. Always seem to do that. But here we are. I was noticing in the paper about a week ago where some fellows in the Arkansas woods found a woodpecker declared “extinct” (that means there ain’t any more to be found) sixty years ago. Now how could that be this day and time? Well it said in the paper that this bird liked to hide in the woods and not be around people. You would too if you had watched a bunch of yahoos shoot up all your kin. Folks, its called self preservation. It seems that bird was a whole lot smarter than those fellows thought. He took up a few of his kin and hid in the Arkansas woods. Now are the boys in Arkansas going to pick up where they left off and finish this guy off? I bet if he goes pecking on those trees before daylight they’ll sure give it a whirl. I suggest he go back to that hiding place and give up on us.

Remember that election where the boys up here in Ohio get to vote on taxes again? Well, I guess it is good for the those who will receive but these fellows done gone and voted up some more taxes. I’m just waiting for the next public official to stick out his hand. But since I have to earn a living up here I guess it won’t be my choice but to fill his pockets. I wouldn’t have a problem but I just don’t see people taking responsibility and owning up to what they’re doing. The administration down at the local school board looks like a rich man’s job program to me. And the boys down at city hall are still grinning and ducking. I keep telling these boys that when you line those pockets they aren’t learning anything except how to ask for more. I am beginning to think we should all get one of them highfalutin jobs. How did that old commercial go? “You deserve a break today” Just don’t break it off in me.

Yesterday the old doctor got to have another round with my insides. Before it was over with he took two or three rounds going down to see what was happening. They are still trying to decide if I should go see Dr. Hacknsaw. I got some kind of transmitting probe put in my gullet. But they had to root me out and find the perfect spot first kind of like a cat finds its sleeping spot. I think I’ll spare you the details. At least the five trips were down the top side and not up the bottom side. By the time they were finished (and lost the first probe in me) they got one of the probes to stick inside. You really don’t want to know how they get it to stick. That little guy is taking down information and sending it out to this box hanging on my belt. The miracles of science. But, thank God, in the end (you like that?) the information will come from the box and the probe will pass along the endless path that most other things take down the gullet. And no, I ain’t getting it back for them either.

Finally I’ve been giving some thought to that runaway bride y’all been hearing about down in Georgia. It seems her cold feet took her all the way to Arizona with a little side trip to Las Vegas. Now I’m not sure what she was running from, but it sure must’ve bit hard. Anyway, some of her friends thought she couldn't take the wedding pressure. What pressure? You’ve got to be kidding! Yes, she had something like 14 girls and 14 guys to stand up there with her and 600 people to watch. Somebody said a hitching like that cost no less than $100,000. Now how could that be worrisome? Let me tell you what worrisome is (most of you already know except the politicians). Worrisome is when the boss calls you up and tells you that your job took a trip down to Mexico and ain’t coming back. A lot of folks back home heard this declaration several years ago, but I see it spreading like a fever. If it ain’t at your workplace hang on. It’s coming. Worrisome is trying to figure out where you are going to get the money to pay that house payment till you find another job. Worrisome is trying to figure out which vehicle you going to keep and which is going back to the bank. A $100,000 hoedown just to get hitched. Folks, I wish somebody could tell me how you can afford that kind of shindig and then declare yourself scared enough to put an entire county through the wringer (for you city folks a wringer was an attachment on the washing machine that wrung the water out of your clothes. Oh, wrung means squeezed. When are you boys going to learn how to talk?). I just hope some head doctor can figure this runaway bride out. If that money is just causing her britches to itch too much she is sure welcome to unload it on me. I need some extra scratch.

Well folks, I’ve got to scratch my way out of here. It’s time to go see what the wife has cooking. I want to give that probe something to squawk about. You folks take care and if you’re ever up in Northern Ohio drop by and say hey to this misplaced Alabamian.

The Fleas And The Church With Education [Exclusive]

Looking outside one can barely tell that we had a winter storm this past weekend. The folks up here tell me that is quite common for Northern Ohio. But I do have to say that today seems more like a December day in Alabama yet it is a wonderful spring day for us transplanted sons of the South.

Yet again my thoughts have focused on that ugly dip of the public servant's hand into my pocketbook so that those fine folks down at City Hall can partake of my labors. You see, everyone in the town is frying like bacon over the idea of giving those yahoos any more of our hard earned labor since they squandered away several million and can’t account for it. I suspect that is the reason the recent cry for a deeper dip by the educational group into our pockets was denied. In fact one fellow in the fair town found some fine print a previous public servant fed to the earlier generation in an effort to sell a previous round in the wallet. It seems this tax from yesteryear was rescindable by a future vote of the town populous. Having hid this from their constituents for thirty years the truth became known and the freeloading got rescinded. That meant the boys down at the Board of Education suddenly had to go on a diet. Now we really hear some belly aching and they are asking for another round in the old voting booth. I hadn’t really seen much change down at the institution yet and back home when you got taken out to the woodshed you usually had to learn a lesson to prevent going again. Looks like these boys are going to get very familiar with the woodshed.

This reminds me of a situation back in the home county from whence I came. It seems that the local education leaders might be able to take a lesson from our friends at the Catholic church. Bet you didn’t see that one coming. It seems that one of the current board members is the parent of the superintendent. Now in this county both the board member and superintendent are usually elected. However, in this case reminiscent of the Gerald Ford days, the superintendent got the job without ever being elected or even a job vacancy posted so others can apply. As Gomer Pyle would say, “Surprise, surprise, surprise.” Well the board member gladly exclaimed they would resign upon the employment of their son. A year later we are still anxiously awaiting that resignation. What’s that I hear? “Surprise, surprise, surprise.” You reckon the fox is watching the hen house or not?

So where does the Catholic church fall into play? (It is very difficult on the surface to combine politics and religion although for some it is closer than you think.) As you probably already know the priests (preachers for those of us raised up Baptist) in the Church are tied to a promise of celibacy (meaning you ain’t married and not interested in the benefits thereof). One could argue that this celibacy clause has led to a lot of other problems, but there are surely rotten apples in every orchard. Now this celibacy promise has not always been the case. Even a pope, Pope Adrian II, was married. Though the reason is not necessarily Biblically based, celibacy corrected the situation of a priest developing a dynasty. (Here we are back to the money thing. Funny how it always seems to creep into our problems.) By not having any other commitment but to the Church and not having any worldly possessions the priest is totally committed to his duties. Now one might argue just who wanted control of those potential riches. Remember folks, most of these ideas came from the Dark Ages. But so do many of our leaders. Getting to the point, maybe our school board members should take a vow of celibacy such that a dynasty is not in the making. I am not sure of the intent in the case cited within, but it sure makes things look amiss. Yet I hear that back home the boys decided to ante up some more from the pocketbook. Must be a lot of folks from up here moving down there because that don’t seem right.

Here’s some advice to my friends back home, put those educational leaders on a diet and hold them accountable for teaching the kids. Our children are not here to sponsor a jobs program. We got welfare if nothing else. If you don’t mend your ways you’ll have more taxes than fleas on your dogs. Come on up here if you don’t believe me. These boys are just now figuring it out and it is sure harder to get them fleas off than it was to take them on.

Now folks, next time you head into that voting booth, remember what your daddy tried to tell you. One trip to the woodshed usually helps you remember to keep your wagon between the ditches.

Monday, April 25, 2005

The Bank And The Southern Democrat [Exclusive]

Now I know what the old saying counting your chickens before they hatch means. Last night we got some of that snow the weatherman has been yapping about. Luckily it was no where near the amount he talked about. Although it looked to be maybe an inch or two in the worst places and spotty on the fields, it never really affected the roads. So Monday moves on as most Mondays do.

Yesterday’s experience at work continues to teach me that I just haven’t reached the level I wished I was at when I contemplate both my wisdom and what I know about those machines. You see I showed up to check out some minor things and chew the fat with a couple of the contractors. And then when other things just didn’t go as planned (ain’t that always the case), my mouth started flapping before my brain figured out we had left the starting gate. I’ve already had to discuss this brain connection problem once and here we go again. It seems that the mouth seems to think we should look at the worse side of things rather than stop and think it through. So now I get to cash the check my mouth wrote. Granted I probably have enough in the bank it just bothers me a whole lot when I start having to pull down savings just because my mouth wanted to spend a little. A fellow once told me it was always good to be putting good deeds and words in the relationship bank because you never know when you’ll need to make a withdrawal. And as you already know from life, most times the withdrawal exceeds a single deposit so you better have a regular savings plan.

Folks I noticed another article in the hometown paper about one of the great sons of our county (country too) dying and his affect on our nation. Now I knew when he had passed but I hadn’t had the chance to share my thoughts. The paper was discussing the accomplishments of Senator Howell Heflin who also served in several other roles for the fine people of Alabama including Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court. Now the article mentioned the once great solidarity of the folks back home and the true Southern Democrat. The Southern Democrat was the kind of politician that looked out for their constituency and truly represented the people. Now I’m not talking about the racist bunch of yahoos that once infected various areas of our country. (I’ve seen as many of that type up North as I ever saw in the South. ) I’m talking about the down home individual that seemed to be in touch with the people of all types and not bowing to the feed trough of other interests. The kind of politician who walked downtown and took time to chat. Yeah, I imagine a few of those are left, but none like Senator Heflin. Last summer I was fortunate enough to have my daughter sit down and take a few pointers from the great senator. One day she will truly realize the aurora of wisdom that surrounded her in that visit. Rest in peace Senator. I only hope we find somebody who is worthy to carry your torch a little further along the path.

Well folks, try to put a little emotional change in the bank today. Share a smile or pat on the back with some people today and you may find some of that splattering back on you like bacon grease in the frying pan.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Nascar And Snow Don't Mix [Exclusive]

Well here I am the day after the big day and I am proud to say the weatherman just didn’t read that cricket correctly. Or maybe the problem is that he didn’t use a cricket. You see up here that cricket ain’t had time to come out of its winter resting place. Oh yes, it did spit and sputter frozen stuff. But when I peered outside this morning it seems we only got a dusting. That is good news. But this is the end of April! Folks it just ain’t right.

Yesterday was loads of fun at the plant. We were wildly banging away on our terminal trying to convince the machines of the proper way to make the mix when everything just suddenly went dark as a ride on the river with a new moon. Back home on the Tennessee River it got pretty dark on nights of the new moon. You just eased down the river hoping you were going where you thought you were going. Of course all we had was a 20 ft. flat bottom boat with a 20 hP Johnson shoving us along. We did have a couple of battery operated running lights so hopefully one of those big barges didn’t churn us up into sushi (yep, we know about people eating raw fish and stuff as crazy as they are). Oh, back to the machines. All of our programming machines had checked out for the day and it was suddenly deafly quite. Knowing that most of these machines don’t take kindly to having their regular ration of energy interrupted we feared the worst. You see we have one of those “uninterruptible” power supplies that is supposed to keep those machines grazing happily. Well, a little investigation led us that one of our guys had decided to interrupt the uninterruptible so a wire could be followed to its source. Now usually when this happens we have more headaches than a jack hammer operator, but in this case we got luckier than most deer on opening day of the hunting season. Once we had returned the machines to their gentle grazing for once they came up with more green lights than a race in Talladega. (By now I am assuming most of you folks are refined enough to know about one of the South’s best kept secrets, NASCAR.)

Yeah, the fine folks at NASCAR have been entertaining us folks back home almost since the days of Prohibition. You see, the original idea was to give the moonshine haulers something to do while their suppliers were cooking up another batch of their fine concoction. So they decided to find a way to demonstrate their ability to deliver quality goods on time for the best satisfaction, something the Post Office, UPS, and FedEx are still trying to figure out. The sad part of it is when all the other citizens of our fair country figured out what we were doing they wanted a piece of the action. So with the building of the raceways in California, Texas, and all around the North we see some old time greats such as Wilkesboro, North Carolina sit quietly waiting for either another moment to shine or the wrecking ball. While I lived a short while in that fair state I drove by the old track a couple of times. I swear you could still hear those engines humming with the crowds cheering on some of those old time great racers. But, as things go, the glory of the dollar has long outweighed the honor of the past. Don’t get me wrong. I still like to watch them boys give a whirl around the track. And I still whoop and holler for my favorite driver. But that doesn’t forego my respect for the fans in these rural Southern venues who built this great sport for our enjoyment.

Well we are trying to convince these wonderful self controlled machines to do their thing so I must return to the grind. Next time you sit down on that Saturday or Sunday to watch the boys give the track a whirl, remember those who brought this to you and the tracks of old who now watch the dust devils roll by along the once busy infield.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

The Brain Works Overtime And Other Troubles [Exclusive]

So today is the big day. Yep, it’s April 23 and my favorite friend, the weatherman, is predicting a whopping six to twelve inches of snow. Now folks, a pile that high is just what we call a heap of frozen stuff. And I already put the two snow shovels up in the garage. It was seventy degrees last week! That’s Biblical type weather we’re having here now.

Have you ever noticed how the ear always likes to hear stuff that the brain says it shouldn’t really hear? That is a big problem because the ears ain’t got a flap for the brain to close when the ear goes to hearing this stuff. And then the mouth kicks in and wants to pass on the information the ears took in when the brain knows the two just ought not to be working on this problem. It happened to me just the other day. My ear commenced to hearing stuff that it really ought not to have heard. Well, the brain kept telling the ear to no avail so it kicked the mouth which told the fellow sharing this information that my ears really ought not to be hearing this stuff seeing as how they can’t control what they’re doing and such. Then my brain had to spend the rest of the day and some of the next working on the mouth to stay shut. With a couple of close calls we managed to make it through the whole thing without the mouth getting the whole works in a heap of trouble. But it took years and years of refinement for the brain to get that kind of control over the mouth which meant I took in a lot of trouble. Maybe that’s part of what we like to call wisdom.

Folks I got some other big news I wish I could share, but its just one of those things that my brain is telling my fingers in this case that it ought not to be putting out. But, I can say that this has been one roller coaster week. Those machines at my place of employment have been playing with me like a cat on a field mouse. I only hope that this time that field mouse found a hole and scurried on into it for now. But I know that cat is peeking in on me with those big glow-in-the-dark type eyes and such.

I noticed this week how it seems there are some people that just can’t mix with others. It is interesting to note that in a lot of cases they know that and just stay on opposite sides of the yard kind of like my two cats. But they sit there and hiss, holler, and such till one finally gets the idea it ain’t worth what they thought and moves along. It just seems that the good Lord wired me up so as it just don’t seem right when a person goes to feeling bad. But, I know how that works. I had this friend down in North Carolina that for some reason just knew I had somehow been digging in his hole and just couldn’t see it any other way. Now for a while we had been digging some ditches together, but somehow I think this other mule’s backside convinced my friend that my shovel had veered over into my friend’s back yard. Well way turned to way and I moved on. I heard my old friend is doing well and that makes me glad. As for the mule’s hind quarters, I heard he took off to another state and so that is well too. But you see how all that fuss just makes life a little rougher around the edges. And once again it is those mouth, ears, and things kicking in when the brain ought to be doing its job.

Well folks I got this machine at work that decided to kick some sand last night. The boys called me up and told on the poor guy so now I gotta go see what all the fuss is about. Just remember to exercise that brain so it can take on the ears and mouth when they get to doing things they just ought not to do.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

The Fleas And The Spare Tire Just Aren't Leaving [Exclusive]

Today has been one of those days when the dog can scratch all he wants but the fleas just ain’t leaving. One of my associates dropped by to ask me to extricate some information from one of the machines I program at work. Well boys, it would’ve been more fun to tame a wild bull than try to figure out why this thing just won’t talk. I even called the highly educated boys up at headquarters and they scratched and sniffed till I figured the machine couldn’t take any more. So here I am at sundown still working on this mess of fleas and they still ain’t jumping ship. And to beat all one of the other machines decided to take an unexpected sick leave that’s confounding the boys in the shop too. If these machines were an old horse we’d have to take them out back and shoot them. But since these electromechanical beasts seem to be our source of income we’ll keep digging in this mud hole looking for worms that just aren’t there.

On the good side of the news I did get to exercise my self appointed role of teaching these fine folks the refined Southern ways. I dropped by the watering hole at work to shuck a little corn (that’s talk for you non-Southerners). The boys were listening to me talk and commenced to discussing the true English that they seem to label as a Southern accent. Well, that talk shifted to the inability to find vital ingredients to prepare the fine Southern cuisine. At least from my point of view which is the most important view to these writings since that is the angle from which they were written. I did get concerned with their blasphemy when they mentioned their disdain for one of the healthiest food groups otherwise known as okra. Now I was somewhat surprised that while they were eager to proclaim their opinion it was quite evident not many had ever eaten any okra. So I figured they hadn’t read my earlier thoughts and discussions on the delights of treating yourself to a good bowl of succotash. I still ain’t figured out how these boys ever grew up without eating a real meal.

Today my lovely better half was kind enough to bring me lunch because my battle with the beasts had even forbade me the opportunity to make my mid-day trip to the house for lunch. Seeing as how I was supposed to be in this meeting to again discuss the things we’re planning to do but ain’t got done, I had to partake of my meal in front of a bunch of the guys. But the group did include one young lady who is passing a short bit of time in our facility learning how to one day be our boss. Well I was feeling kind of bad because this food was really smelling up the place and working up an appetite in the group. Recollecting I don’t usually eat my fries I figured I would offer them up as a sacrifice to ward off the wolves. Well the young lady accepted my offer to take on the fries. Now folks if this gal was any skinnier we’d have to explain to the officials why her ribs was showing. Most people that reach my age can usually avoid eating and just sniff the food to absorb all the calories. And then our bodies do us the favor of storing up all that extra intake just so we don’t risk the remote possibility of starvation. But this gal, she ate everyone of those fries without flinching and it seemed as if they burned calories instead of adding calories. Now I’m sitting here feeling bad that I had even ate one of those prefabricated sandwiches and this girl could wharf down a box of pure American starch packaged in a shiny coating of 30 wt without even giving a concern to the results. I guess that about goes to the same reason I ain’t living in a Beverly Hills mansion either.

Well folks that wraps up my summary of a Southern boy surviving the wilds in North Central Ohio. If you ain’t doing anything Saturday how about dropping by and helping me shovel a little snow.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

April Snow Brings May Flowers? [Exclusive]

Today was another one of those kinds of days you mark down on the calendar as unknown. That means I got through the day without really knowing which side of the bed I got up on. Now if that sounds dull then you got the message. It seems that all day we had meetings where we sit around a big table and talk about all we hadn’t got done but should’ve done had we had time to do it, but instead we sat down and talked about it. The boys down the hall did think they got that machine fixed that keeps breaking. But we hadn’t reached the record runtime of two days yet so the jury ain’t come back.

Speaking of getting things done I thought I should remind you of my “About me” things in case you just hadn’t took a notion to read what it says about me. In other words it seemed like something important to know if you going to bear reading this stuff. Most of the thoughts you read here are thoughts I thought of on my own and are not necessarily thoughts someone else thought of in the same words I thought of unless I told you I was borrowing what they were thinking. As such I do take pride in the thoughts I’ve been thinking and would kindly ask that we keep them thoughts written just right here in a document where I wrote it down. That’s a fancy way of saying I reserve any copyrights. But if you wish to be writing what I’ve been thinking then it is ok to think that way as long as if you use my exact thoughts you let me know how you’re thinking first so I can write up one of them permissions for you to use the exact thoughts I’ve been thinking. As such we’ll know you have some good thoughts that other people ought to think about as well.

One piece of depressing news that comes from living here in Ohio, the weatherman said today that it might just snow on Saturday. Now that’s not what I really wanted to hear. It seems that it can be 75 degrees one day and snowing two days later. We must be fixing to bear on one mega thunderstorm if the temperature is going to drop like that. I only hope this ear didn’t hear what the brain said it heard. And I thought we finally got through another one of them winters. But I did have to throw on an extra quilt last July. In fact this nice house we moved in doesn’t even have any type of artificial cooling (air conditioner) and we didn’t miss it last year. Now the boys back home in Alabama may have been sweating last July but they did have a bit of a chuckle when they saw the pictures of me shoveling that driveway.

Well I’ll just throw another quilt on the bed and recollect those hot summer days back home.

Procedures With A Southern Touch [Exclusive]

While lying on the “procedure table” at the hospital getting wired up for being proceeded on the nurse figured out I was some kind of foreigner. She asked where I was from and I kindly replied Alabama. She said my accent gave it away. No kidding! I wanted to explain to her that I was on some sort of foreign exchange program but I didn’t think she would understand. But she did throw me a loop when she said I had come a long way for the procedure. Huh? I explained that my bed currently lies in Ohio and I really hadn’t traveled far, at least that morning I hadn’t. Now I will say that hospital had a very nice crew. And when they put that eye vee thing in me it didn’t feel like they were trying to shove a drinking straw in my arm like it did at another hospital up here. So we kindly chatted away as I continued my role as ambassador of Southern ways and such.

Everyone at the place had on those nametags which quickly gave away the location as not being in the South. You didn’t see people with those two letter names such as J. R., J. L., W. L. and such. Why I even know some fine gentlemen known as R. C. (not the drink) and A. B. You see, in the South that is a level of recognition to have your name shortened to the simplest form. For most today there is a name that lies behind those letters such as James Ray or William Lyle. But one Southern tradition lay with only providing the simple form. My granddaddy’s name was Cletus V. Now the V. didn’t really have any other form. It was just V. Since the doctor thinks I need to return for another round on that procedure table I think I will dub everyone with their initial type name just because most people there had the air of Southern hospitality.

One thing I did notice was the admission crew had you sign in and gave you one of those electronic drink holding things that flash when your dinner is ready. They told me it would start making a racket when it came my time to sign up for the procedure. Now isn’t that ironic. Its ten o’clock in the morning, I hadn’t had anything to eat or drink since eight the night before, my stomach is growling like a dog, and they want to give me something to remind me of an ice cold drink. I guess it’s much better than shouting out “Billy Bob, you’re up next for the slice is right!” No, my name isn’t Billy Bob. I just know you people assumed that name for 90% of us Southerners.

Well, it’s off to the office. I gotta keep those machines churning. Just remember, when that little gadget flashes it ain’t always the best thing for you.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Succotash And Fixing The Gizzard [Exclusive]

Isn’t it always interesting when the doctor comes in and gives you the report while you are still figuring out who you are and how you got there. It’s kind of like the First Mate telling the Admiral that the ship is sinking after the lifeboats have left. Well, my news wasn’t that bad, but he does want to take another trip down candy bar lane. They’re going to put some kind of new fangled device in there that is going to keep a record of what I feed to my face. It’ll attach to my intake pipe kind of like a leech on your leg then at some point it will decide to move on. I know what you’re thinking and no way. They’re going to hitch a little box on my side that will read the signals from the gut bug. Trust me, it will not be retrieved. But, if I have my usual lottery type luck I’ll get to visit Dr. Hacknsaw again. That’s the way it is if this little bug finds anything.

I really like my doctor. He ain’t the type Jeff Foxworthy talked about when he quoted as the doctor saying, “Now whut we got cheer is . . .” This doctor come highly recommended from a trusted source, the local party line. Bet you young’uns ain’t heard of one of them. Truth is he got recommended by another doc who has done me right. But I do miss the party line. Growing up in Alabama we had as many as ten houses on our line. Heck, you didn’t need television, radio, or newspaper. If it was juicy or bad news it always traveled faster than this Internet stuff ever has.

Just how did these fellers up here in Ohio ever get raised on what they eat around here? I went to the store to look for some of my favorites and the cupboard was bare. No succotash. No Brunswick stew. So now I’m gonna have to import stuff from Dixie. I wonder if there’s one of those taxes or laws on importing this stuff cause it’s important for us Southern boys to have our fix of home cooking. I know I told you guys that my wife could cook better than any French chef, but you gotta have the beans if you’re gonna make bean soup. And to beat all I found out they put sugar in the cornbread up here. Folks, that’s dessert. What you want is bread with your supper. You put the sugar in the tea, but it seems they missed that point too. Looks like I’m gonna have a fulltime job teaching folks around here how to eat. By the way, if you look up succotash on those folks must not be from the South either. They left out the most important part, the okra.

Getting back to telephones, I finally got around to reading the fine print on my phone bill today. After reading the fine print I’m beginning to think these are some of the same folks sitting on our city council I told you about. No, I’m not talking about taxes this time, but rest assured the government portion is on there. I’m talking about this inside wiring plan racket they try to sell you. It seems that they give you all this blabber about how they’re gonna charge you if they come out to fix wiring in your house. That is, unless you have their fancy arrangement where you drop them a few extra coins each month. Now that would be something attractive if you hadn’t ever strung tin cans before or if you had reached the point where you really ought not to be looking under your house. But wait, did you read the FINE print. Yep, the part that says even if you drop those coins they are still gonna charge you as if you hadn’t got the plan if they didn’t install the wires in the first place. What? My house has sat here since 1941 but I gained ownership in 2003. Now just who really knows who put these wires in? So had I agreed to this scheme then I would be pouring extra coins each month into a hole I didn’t see myself dig. That’s what happens when you got enough “regulated” money to hire a slew of fancy lawyers and such just to think of these schemes. Now the boys down there at city hall are really jealous.

So with that my fine friends I think I will sign off for another evening. Until we meet again take care and make sure you get yourself a big helping of that succotash. It’ll fix what ails ya.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Nostalgia And Dirt [Exclusive]

It is very interesting to reflect upon one's childhood. The old saying of how much your parents' intelligence grows with your own age is true. But more important is the foundation given so that when you get older you are less likely to fall. And in my case they left a pillow to fall on as well. A friend and I was reflecting upon days gone past today which brought memories of childhood vacations. We passed discussion about the yesteryears of Chattanooga and the infamous Copper Hill and Ducktown, old strip mining areas just east of Chattanooga. We talked about how barren the hills once looked and how it was a milestone for our annual trip to Cherokee, North Carolina. Then discussion turned to those earlier childhood memories and our stay at the 441 Motel in Maggie Valley. I suspect I was about 6 but the memories still linger of all the vacation magic and our first trip to Ghosttown in the Sky. I can still remember the way Cherokee once looked before the rot of gambling took over the vacation dreamland. One of my other comforts is my recollecgtion of Rock City in Chattanooga. The memory of Mother Goose Village is as magical today as it was then. Of course I go by there even today when I get the chance. And the hairs still stand up on my neck when looking over the edge. Each time I go I think how crazy I am to run around on this hillside, but after I leave I just can't wait to return to see the way things there stay constant in this world of change.

Next trip down memory lane I will discuss my trips to Northwest Florida. Whenever we went on vacation we went either to the panhandle of Florida or to the Smokey Mountains. By many standards that may not have been far, but I would bet a sure nickel my memories are as good as anybody's and just the therapy needed for a hard day.

Tomorrow is the big day. The doctor gets to turn me inside out with his fancy instruments. My supply of nourishment, including water, gets cut at midnight. But the wife put together a chicken concocation for supper that would make the best French chefs jealous. If you ever get a good look at me you could tell that my wife can put together a good meal. It would seem that my hunger clock has been set to run past noon tomorrow and so I should be in good shape cause at noon I will still be three sheets to the wind and won't care about food.

OK, on to the bad news. I see Florida is still sprouting perverts. As a friend of mine says at work, with the rampant onslaught of all the "loose living" of adults out there I can't see why any normal human being would force themselves on anyone including women or children. But the key word here is "normal." I know many of you would not agree with me, but if we had the punishment channel on television that broadcast all punishments and executions we might make some of these sickos think twice. And those who needed a morbid fix would be sure to watch the channel so they could see some other pervert get what he deserves. I also don't see much difference between a sexual predator and a murderer. Either way they are taking the life of the victim. Maybe if the Washington yahoos spent a little less effort on trying to guard our cheap oil supply in Iraq and a little more time on the home front we might give law enforcement a boost in cleaning things up. I'll get off my soapbox now. But now that I mentioned it the once bare ugly strip mined hills of Ducktown kind of remind me of how dirty these perverts are. The good news is that the fine folks of Tennessee have refurbished Copper Hill and Ducktown so that it no longer bares its scars. Maybe with a little more effort on rounding up these perverts we can heal some of our country's scars as well.

If I don't post tomorrow you can take comfort in the fact that I am probably still relishing the sampling of my hospital's finest mix. Or maybe that is when I should write.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Last Of The Taxes With A Trip To The Dump [Exclusive]

Those boys in Washington shucked my corn so tight I had to go in hiding for a couple of days. And if that wasn't enough Bill Gates strapped his saddle on me for one more ride. Just as I hit the "send" button on my taxes Thursday night the little mice turning the wheels inside slipped and the program crashed. If that weren't enough they took my file with them when they fell (it corrupted my tax file). And being the brave soul that I am there were no other copies of my work. So, it was back to Go and I sure didn't collect $200. I finally had the stuff entered and submitted by the bewitching hour and I have enough back-ups to fill a five gallon bucket. So with that and having to write a check to the crooks in my hometown I was evermore happy that the weekend came. I still wonder how we got by in the South without so many taxes. These guys up here sure know how to rake in the money. Besides Federal and State taxes, they rake in 1.5% flat local income tax to go with a 7.5% sales tax. I need one of those fine jobs down at city hall.

Speaking of the fine politicians of my hometown, finally one of our leaders tucked tail and run. Still waiting on the city manager and the rest of the council of cockroaches to get a clue. God knows they couldn't be responsible for the guy who cleaned our clock. They only run the town. How could they know what was going on? Of the millions missing they were able to account for about $84,000. Boys that's just a few kernels shy of the cob.

The doctors have taken a morbid interest in disecting my gizzards and finding out how they work. Tuesday they plan on running something no smaller than a garden hose down the old pie hole. (Lucky I guess they chose the upper end.) It's not like I hadn't had this done before. The good news is they give you something that makes moonshine look like Kool-Aid. By Tuesday afternoon I'll be three sheets to the wind without a care in the world. Slight recompense for letting them rotorooter your vocal chords. I wonder how that stuff is gonna add to those little pills the other doc gave me? I bet I won't care either way.

I went out to the local dump yesterday. Now that was interesting. I bet you thought us folks from Alabama had an exclusive on the rednecks. Not hardly. Ohio has got its fair share. We got in line to get weighed out and when my line moved faster this fellow got so upset his language out-smelled the dump. Considering the dump stank so bad it would knock a flock of buzzards off a manure wagon, that was pretty bad. I looked to see what the fuss was about and here was this Sumo Wrestler in a T-shirt and half a mouth full of teeth looking like he wanted a part of me. He was cruising in this rust bucket cusomized van (you see a lot of rust up here). Now that must be real fun going to the dump in your decked out van. The question to me seemed to be was he dropping off or picking up?

Well folks, that's the news from the lovely farm fields of North Central Ohio. Come on up and sit a spell. We might just wonder down to the dump for entertainment.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Oldest Piece of Earth [Exclusive]

CNN reported that a very intelligent gentleman from Austrailia found what our scientific community considers to be the oldest piece of the Earth. Now considering that the grade school teachers taught me about the conservation of matter, and E=mc2 and such, then this might be considered the oldest configuration of mass. But if you believe in science how do you call it the oldest piece of the Earth? Once you examine a color photograph of the "rock" and read the caption you learn that it is a speck no larger than the size of two pin heads. Just how did this guy find this thing and what begged the question to date it? I watched Jurassic Park and I know that he must have gotten a piece of amber. But until now I believed the Jurassic Park amber was nothing more than a crusty piece off one of my mama's delicious homemade pecan pies Now I have never wanted to date one of my mama's pecan pies. Heck, I hardly have time to look at it before it is sliding down my throat and washed away with a glass of ice cold milk. Do they have pecan pies in Austrailia? Then maybe they need to date that pecan tree just in case.

The world is certainly becoming a smaller place and my recent experience ciphering my annual payoff to our fine government has yet again proven this fact. I am somewhat proud of my computersque and that I have used a child of Bill Gate's to prepare my report each year since 1988. Why I have even used the same software package. And each year they seem to think it necessary to add some moving picture or dancing text to help me understand how I am getting taken to the cleaners. I have gone from printing out a sheet that I manually transcribed to a government form to the luxurious ability to send my blips and bleeps across the Internet. And each year that little package has flawlessly performed, that is, until now. I fire up my annual delve into the annals of government paperwork and find that none of my dependents appear on my imported data. No matter how hard I try I cannot get the correct data on my screen. I embarrasingly succomb to the "Support - Contact Us" screen to learn that a phone call to fix an obvious software problem will cost me no less than $9.95. Huh? I just paid these guys over fifty bucks and now I pay them again? Wait, they have a chat function. Why ain't that clever? I fired it up and proceeded to wait for a response after telling them my heritage and any other random fact that might help them sell me more. After waiting forever Gloria gladly types out a hello to which I respond hello. But wait. This text seems awfully "machined". So I figure I am talking to some "bot" thing that thinks the machine is smarter than the Southern boy. It is much later that I realize I am talking to one of them exported American jobs and the machined text and delay is the automatic translator plunging me into misunderstood hades. After about 30 minutes of translated chatter the most I can get is to uninstall and reinstall the software or live with the problem. Now do they really think I would fall for that one? Well, they did accomplish their goal as this unhappy customer disconnected and would hopefully forget this experience before next tax season. It was then that I noticed the "buttons" overlapping each other and remembered I had used some fandangled function that increased the font size based on my screen resolution. Big words, huh? Well once I undid that tangled mess and reduced my fonts such that it requires a magnifying glass to read the screen there sat my list of dependents. Well somebody just ain't compatible, are we? Is it my computer and its software or is it this country Southern boy and some machined translator? Maybe the pain of the taxes will release the frustation, so it is back to work.