Friday, September 29, 2006

It's About Time

Alexander left a comment on my post about aging that got me thinking (always a dangerous thing) about the subject of time. Our notion of time has changed over the past several hundred years from a cyclical event to a linear way of thinking. The French Revolution had a lot to do with it. But then the French Revolution transformed many of our ideas besides that of thinking of existence in a multi dimensional concept to that of the two dimensional context through which we travel in time. That's why Hannah Arendt only recognizes it as the only true "revolution" because ideas "re evolved". But in exploring the nature of time it has been found (in theory) to be a cyclical event kind of like a eternally unraveling spiral.

It's everything from the kitchen clock to the time space continuum. It's the moment, which is really the only point of our existence as everything else is either the past or the future and as such not a part of our immediate being except as we imagine or remember. Everything except the now is only in our mind. Life as it relates to time seems a series of quantum moments all held together by only our thoughts. Then there's this thing about time in the grand scheme of the universe. The fourth dimension and all that. I suggest that if you don't want to get lost space and time refrain form clicking on the above link.

The nice thing about our artificial construct of time which measures the hours and minutes in relation to the sun is it lets us coordinate events. But then sometimes in preparing for those events it seems to zip by leaving us running late or not on (what else) time. Then it can drag by leaving us with intolerable longing. And I find the older I get the faster it goes.

Now there are several theories that I find mind boggling. Einstein said that as we approach the speed of light time slows down. You know if we go faster than light, events haven't occurred yet or at least the haven't reached us yet. But who knows since we'll never get there. And what is beyond the speed of light? Do we look back and see ourselves catching up? I guess we'll never know because that phenomenon will always be just beyond reach. It has been found as astronauts spend time (that's that word again) in space hurling around the earth at incredible speeds time really did slow down. And to think it wasn't that long ago that 40 miles per hour was considered pretty darn fast.

Another thing I find strange is that time determines the shape of space. Space has shape? I always thought of space as, Most of everything is really nothing. If the nucleus of an atom were the size of a baseball the closest electron would be about nine miles away. All else may be some sort of energy which I guess is something. So what is the shape of energy? Is the bending of radiation which can be done the same as shaping it? And doesn't shape imply mass?

And another thing, suppose we were able to travel 5 million light years towards a star 10 million light years away would we be 5 million light years in the past? Would we not be born because our parents hadn't been born? For that matter the human race hadn't been born. Or on the other hand would we still exist as some intergalactic anomaly?

Our universe is such a wonderfully complex thing. What happens on the atomic scale mirrors what happens on the cosmic scale. Particles and energies bounce around in atoms much as stars and galaxies in the universe all held together by forces we don't begin to understand. There's so much we don't know. It was only a the railroad that brought the national coordination of time. Before that the time in the city might be completely different from the time in the suburbs or on the farm. And how far back was it when water clocks, candles, hourglass and sundials were the timekeeping technology. It was only at the beginning of the nineteenth century that a dependable timepiece made navigation accurate.

But as Chicago said, does anybody really know what time it is? Does anybody care?

Now lets talk about gravity.

Paid To Blog?

This is amazing. I am at work and getting paid to blog. Well, not exactly.
The rest of our class is hard at work studying for the very deceptive
Virginia insurance exam. Since I already possess same I need not study. The company websites that I am supposted to be visiting won't let me in. So I blog. Yeterday I spent visiting "next blog".
Wanda, sitting next to me spent the day looking at dog sites.
After using dial up at home the connection here at Patrick Henry Community College computer lab seems to go at warp speed.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Update On Lem (and other things)

Leam, better known as Lem to those of us who are more countrified, is still with us. The folks who were to come and pick him up haven't. Wandas sister and her Cuban born husband are coming down from Baltimore this weekend and are interested in taking him to the big city. He's a very sweet dog who now has discovered the house inside and really, yes, really likes it.

My 85 year old mother was convinced to have a colonoscomy Monday last. Coming out of the anesthesia she asked the attending nurse, do all a**holes look alike? She also told her, you can say you work with a**holes all day and really mean it. That's my Mom.

We learned a work yesterday as an incentive to get more people to pass the very deceptive Virginia insurance licensing test the company was giving an additional $200 dollar bonus which we, since already licensed, will get automatically. Came home and our auto insurance carrier said we had overpaid and they were sending us a substantial refund and in addition we didn't owe any payment till December. God is good.

It's Wednesday and time for my weekly date with the garbage. Must go roll it down the driveway. And that is the way I start this new day.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Dog Days

Sunday morning after a ruckus by the beagle sisters we had a visitor. And Wanda took him in. Called a foxhound, deerhound or coonhound by various people who have seen him, Wanda just called him Leam and I called him Lem.

I don't know about any other foxhounds but Lem likes to:
Poop in the driveway

He doesn't like to:
Run in the woods
He's a good, affectionate dog who seems to have been taken well care of. Probably got lost and couldn't find his way home. At first he was a little skittish not wanting to come on the deck or inside the house. Isabelle and Lem became friends pretty fast but Stella has let him know that although she's much smaller she was still running the show. It 's amazing how a nip on the muzzle will get the point across.

We're not going to keep him as the beagle sisters are enough dog for us. We called our friend "Granny" who knows everyone in three counties to find him a good home which she did. They are coming to get him today. It wasn't much of a problem as the many hunters in this area are always looking for a good hound.
It seems she had met him Saturday but before he could be picked up Lem had moved on to this side of the mountain.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

The 22,630th Day Of The Rest Of Our Lives

I'm a pre-baby boomer. Being a true son of Scotland, my father made sure to procreate before he went away to war thus ensuring his posterity. The result is, having arrived and moved on past the golden age of 62 to the even better age of 66 come the 18th of next month, I have seen the future of the many who will shortly follow. I won't dwell on the general decline of the physical plant because for my age I'm in pretty good health. Oh yeah, there's the blood pressure thing (if I quit the cigs it would drop but that's my vice, no lectures please) and an ache that affects my left knee when I sit in the wrong position too long but that's about it. I don't run much any more ever since I did the old mans shuffle for ten miles around Lake Montebello on my fifty fifth birthday. It was the inability to really run that took the fun out of the endeavor. Wind in the hair and all that.

Anyway, I digress. The days of, after quitting an active work life, reposing in the Lazyboy and waiting for the inevitable and often too soon coming of that dark night are beyond our ken. Now when the social security check becomes a reality it usually comes accompanied by a "gut check." It's finally time to decide what to do when one grows up. All of life before this has been a preparation for the now. We are living longer and just how much time can one spend puttering around the house getting on our spouses nerves? We are the sum of our experiences and now we have the time to discover what we have become. It is not just being alive but to actually experience being alive without the constraints of trying to forge out a career. It's Saturday morning and school is out for a long, long vacation.

So here we are and we are what we are, nothing more and certainly nothing less. There are several philosophical ideas kicking around which should never become a part of this process. One is that at a certain age there is a sudden life altering change. Change is a wonderful thing and in this context it should never be life altering. Let's leave that for unexpected disasters. Aging is certainly expected and if the unexpected happens, well yeah, that's life altering.

Another thought is that throughout our lives we take on several roles which, like tired actors, we trot out when the occasion demands. The children leave and the job goes to that new kid out of college who doesn't know his ass from his elbow. Suddenly there is no role to play. The script has not only been flipped, it's been purloined!

It's time to "reinvent" ones self! How does someone "reinvent" themselves? Is that what they mean when a knee or hip is replaced? Reinvent implies invention. By who and why? Methinks that term comes from the "man the machine" train of thought. We are the sum of our parts, a liver here, a kidney there and oh yes, that brain thing which makes all the computers ever "invented" look like the toys we once played with as children. We are much more than that. It's like when the student asked the Zen master about the nature of life and the master held up a single flower. It just is. How do you reinvent a flower?

The days go on and we go on, granted a little slower than forty when life began. It's just another day or year only now we have the freedom to really live. Ladies can wear red hats and dress in purple. Men can spent more time on the golf course. We can take that college course in geology or basketweaving or skish or whatever we set our minds to with no thought of ever putting it to "practical" use. Sure, some of us have to continue to work but the pressure is off. No more climbing the corporate ladder if one chooses to have their feet planted on solid soil.

I think the thing to do is relax in that soft cushion of the life we've created. It may be a little lumpy and kind of worn but it's there and it's dependable. It is the shape of us and to try to reform that shape is folly.

Gas Prices

Gas prices are falling just in time for the November elections. I know politics has nothing to do with it.

Picnic On The Parkway

There's a coolness in the air on the mountain this morning. Down the road, cabbage and pumpkins are being harvested. Trees are starting to drop the red leaves that now show on their extremities. And fall is just around the corner. Leaf season bring a steady flow of traffic on the Blue Ridge Parkway. It's tourist season and the spectacular views of red and gold covering the mountains and valleys bring people to picnic and just enjoy the foliage.

Our home is slightly down the mountain from the Groundhog Mountain Lookout, a picnic area and observation point on the Parkway. It's a wonderful parklike setting with picnic tables and lots of grass. Two of the beagle sisters favorite things. We didn't think too much of it when they spent most of last Saturday away from home. Sunday there was a message on the phone when we returned from church saying "double trouble" had been spotted at the lookout. So up we went to bring the wanderers home. Sure enough there they were running around the lawn, playing with the children and enjoying the chicken offered by the picnickers.
"They're so cute"
"Well behaved, they didn't jump on us." No, they don't jump, just sit and look with pathetic brown eyes until some sort of morsel is given them.
"They like Kentucky Fried."
Loading them in the car we brought the fugitives home. I know it probably won't be our last trip to the lookout to retrieve them. They now know where the chicken is and it's just a pleasant jaunt through the woods.

I was told a story of an elderly mountain man who lived near here going up to the lookout and entertaining the visitors with tales of Groundhog Mountain. He too was fed by the picnickers. Maybe his spirit has infected the dogs... naaa, they're just being beagles.

Saturday, September 16, 2006


I am not used to 4:30 AM. It is a strange hour, hardly night and not quite morning. Now I know there are others who rise even earlier and consider this the middle of the morning. Not I. Since the new job requires being down the mountain in Stuart at 7 AM I am now acquainted with but not accustomed to 4:30. (get ready for an excuse).
The brain does not yet function at that hour and when we get home sleep is the priority. Hence the blog suffers.

But it's Saturday, I slept late (8:30) and the brain is resurrecting all the blog thoughts from a somewhat eventful week.
So here we go....

Groundfog Mountain

Tuesday, fog returned to "groundfog" mountain. It's not really fog, it's the clouds settling in. It's the same stuff that gave the Smoky Mountains their name. This is the worst of our weather. It's particularly blinding in the dark. Visibility decreases to about five feet and in the the dark even less.

So it was as we crept along at less than 5 miles an hour straining to see the side of the road by which to navigate the car from our access road and heading down the mountain to work. Once on the Parkway there is a yellow line down the center which makes it easier and we sped along at 25 miles an hour. I have in the past found myself on the wrong road at times like this.

Our usual earpopping trip down the steep and curving highway #58 (also know as Jeb Stuart highway)past Lover Leap was made even more exciting by our inability to see clearly. Stuart (also named for the above who was born nearby) was clear and we only had to look forward to our return trip.


I think it's their personality that gets to us. For the most part when it comes to practicality pets are useless. We feed them and nurture them and they give us affection and loyalty in return. Our natural desire to be loved must have something to do with it. And we give them love in return. It's a very basic and uncomplicated thing.

Last Sunday returning from church we found Fisal, our attack cat, laying beside her water dish, not looking well. She had not been using her litter box for several days; I found out later, a sign she wasn't feeling well. Monday after work we took her to the vet.

Wanda had brought Fisal home as a kitten sixteen years ago. The cat had almost become the daughter that love of my life never had. She was a comfort through all the vicissitudes of Wandas twenties and thirties. She lay beside her when Wanda was ill and snuggled when she was cold. I came along and Fisal eventually warmed to me but only after several encounters of claw and thrown pillow.

We joked when we bought our home in the mountains we were buying a retirement home for the cat. She loved it here. Her youthful curiosity returned as she explored the outside, something she could not do in the urban Baltimore environment. There is a favorite spot in the back where she would lay in the sun and sleep.

Dr. Mitzi gave us unwelcome news that Fisal had lost most of her kidney function, not unusual in cats. We left her at the clinic for treatment. If she wasn't better Thursday AM we would have to make "a decision".

The message from the clinic was on the phone when we returned from work Wednesday and I knew from Wand's sobs what the message said.

We picked her up Thursday after work and buried her in her favorite sunny spot in the back yard.

Food, Wine, and Eternal Life

When it comes to finding mushrooms, some days are better than others. This was the results of Mondays search around my "mushroom farm". These are, except for the little corrugated milky (Lactarius corrugis)peeking out from the back row, are voluminous - latex milkys (Lactarius volemus). All are considered choice edibles. Cooked with a little butter and garlic, they freeze quite well. Unfortunately the season is coming to an end and most of the frozen mushrooms have been eaten.
My mushroom education is self taught and as such I must take some care when it comes to identification. I'm sure there are many other species of edibles growing around the yard but until I'm sure it's not going to give me hallucinations, intense lower gastro-intestinal pain, hours in the loo, or an early demise, I'm not going to eat it.

Bob and Avi
Last night we had our new neighbors, Bob and Avagail, over for dinner. Steaks on the grill smothered with mushrooms (see above) and onions, Grandmothers Green Beans, garlic mashed potatoes and cole slaw. Bob (and I) enjoy a good glass of wine so I splurged and bought a bottle of Rosemount Shiraz (the best that Walmart had to offer). They have fed us on several occasions and it was time we reciprocated. They are a rare breed, fourth generation native Floridians. We have become quite fond of them. Bob has a CPA business and unfortunately they were on the road back to sunny and hot Florida at 5 AM this morning. It was a wonderfully cool evening finished around the fire bowl on the deck with a glass of wine and good conversation.

This couple has been a blessing to us as they are both fine Christians whose belief in Gods word is probably stronger than ours. They have a story to tell which I will now relate. Bob died. He was driving home and somehow his car wound upside down in a Florida canal and he drowned. In a coma for several months he was returned to us, none the less for his experience. Last night I asked him if he had any after life knowledge, the answer we got was more than I expected. An angel, his former Sunday school teacher came to take him to his eternal home. Not being admitted directly to heaven he indeed did face Gods judgment. He said all the time he knew people were praying for his life and God was hearing the prayers. In Gods mercy he was given a second chance but not before he was given a glimpse of hell. The only thing he could compare it to was a sewer, no fire and brimstone but a place of absolute despair. Satan appeared as no more than a man. He also said he saw a former friend ( a lawyer) of his there. He compared the journey to heaven as a train trip where some go first class and some coach. So, there it is.

Monday, September 11, 2006

It's been a long week and it's only Monday. The new job is going fine. Up at five AM. Still getting use to it. More later,

Thursday, September 07, 2006


Kasia left a comment on my last post asking which football team was my favorite. She also assumed I was talking about American football, not what the rest of the world calls football and we term soccer. She was right with her assumption. Having said that, internationally speaking, my favorite team is those dashing winners of the World Cup, the Italians. But then I've always had a thing about Italy. It's noted in my baby book that when I was first learning to speak, it was with an Italian accent.

Now when it comes to the rockum sockum game we call football I'm kind of having difficulty deciding on a favorite team. The first I rooted for were the Atlanta Falcons. That's because it was the closest franchise to the the then backwaters of Tampa Bay. And one must support the home team. Then came the Tampa Bay Buccaneers who lost every game they played for what seemed like an eternity. Even their orange and white uniforms were losers but they were our team.

I figured I was safe when I moved to Baltimore because the Colts had packed up in the middle of the night and crept out of town for better digs in Indianapolis. But then came the Ravens to "Charm City" and once again my loyalties were tested. But then the guys in purple and black won the the SUPERBOWL What a celebration. There is something about winning he Superbowl that puts a town on the map. Not long after Baltimore won it was named one of the top five tourist destinations in the world by Conde' Nast. And then Tampa Bay won the big kahunna and everyone who had even had the remotest thought about moving to Florida packed up and headed to the Sunshine state.

Now to complicate matters my friend Rob lives in Chicago and has season tickets to the Bears games. It is easier to buy a ticket to Mars than get seasons tickets to Soldier Field where they play. If the choice for an inheritance is between the family fortune and Bears tickets the stadium seats win out hands down. I must in deference to my friend respect "da bears". And besides the former gum sticking on the TV camera, Viagra selling coach, Mike Ditka was born on the same day as myself.

Now the closest team is the Carolina Panthers. But even so I can't abandon the loyalties to the other teams I've supported. I don't know who my favorite team is. I've met many of the players and coach's from many teams when working at hotels. Some that come to mind were Artie Donovan, Brian Bilek, Deacon Jones, Gail Sayers, Art Schell, Shannon Sharpe, Leroy Selmon, and others whose names escape me at the moment. They were all great guys. I guess I don't have a favorite team and would be hard pressed to name one. My only hope now is that Meadows of Dan or Floyd don't get a franchise.

So it's opening night for the new season, the National Anthem has been sung, the game is about to start. It's a tough sport and the physical punishment these guys take is unimaginable. So whoever takes that Lombardi trophy will more than earn it. I wish all the teams the best season ever and I know that whoever comes out on top will provide many exciting and unexpected moments as will all these guys who love to play the game.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Labor Day

Labor Day, that holiday that was invented to celebrate the American worker is once more upon us. It is the most ignominious of holidays. No one gives gifts, sends cards saying, "Here's wishing you a wonderful Labor Day" or some other maudlin verse or even gives a nod to the hard working people who have and continue to make this country great.

Labor Day has become the unofficial end of summer. Swimming pools are closed and white clothing is no longer acceptable to the fashion minded. The early signs of fall appear in nature. When I was a kid the day after Labor Day was traditionally the start of the school year. The days spent, beer in hand tending the outdoor grille are waning. But the good news is, IT'S THE BEGINNING OF FOOTBALL SEASON!

Up here it's the weekend of the biggest event of the year. People come from all over the country and probably from several foreign counties as well. Hour waits in traffic are the rule and parking in any lot or lawn is a mandatory $5.00. Trucks and vans of all sorts roll in and forrest of tents spring up. Yes, folks once again it's the Hillsville Flea Market and Gun Show . This thing is huge. Our new neighbor from Florida wanted to attend so we went. It was the first and probably the last time we shall witness this event. Imagine, if you will about a square mile packed with people and vendors or all possible sorts of goods. It is the king of food courts setting the record for the most funnel cake stands in any given area.

If your looking for a bargain this is not the place to shop. If your looking for the unusual your in luck. Everything from vintage record albums to shabby chic (read extremely distressed) architectural features are available. Virtually all vendors are the professional types who, I think, see this as an opportunity to foist off at inflated prices the flotsom and jetsome of their unsold wares. It's more of an event than a bargain. Wanda did find some movies she wanted and our neighbor bought a jar of honey. After three hours we had visited about 30% of the show when the crowds and heat became unbearable and we headed back up the mountain taking the back roads to avoid the traffic.

Tomorrow Hillsville returns to the quiet town, slumbering for another year, awaiting it's fifteen minutes of fame.