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.