Saturday, May 23, 2015

Death is Nothing At All

Death is nothing at all. It does not count. I have only slipped away into the next room. Nothing has happened. Everything remains exactly as it was. I am I, and you are you, and the old life that we lived so fondly together is untouched, unchanged. Whatever we were to each other, that we are still. Call me by the old familiar name. Speak of me in the easy way which you always used. Put no difference into your tone. Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow. Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes that we enjoyed together. Play, smile, think of me, pray for me. Let my name be ever the household word that it always was. Let it be spoken without an effort, without the ghost of a shadow upon it. Life means all that it ever meant. It is the same as it ever was. There is absolute and unbroken continuity. What is this death but a negligible accident? Why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight? I am but waiting for you, for an interval, somewhere very near, just round the corner. All is well. Nothing is hurt; nothing is lost. One brief moment and all will be as it was before. How we shall laugh at the trouble of parting when we meet again.

Henry Scott Holland

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Five Monkeys

Imagine a room with five monkeys. There’s a ladder with a banana on top. When one monkey climbs up to get the banana, they are all sprayed with a firehose. Totally unpleasant. The next day one monkey is replaced with a new monkey. Naturally, the new monkey sees the banana and starts climbing the ladder only to be slapped down and beaten by the other monkeys, who don’t want to be sprayed again. The following day, yet another monkey is swapped out, and once again, all the monkeys gang up on the newcomer when he goes for the banana. Now, after five days, none of the monkeys left in the room has ever been sprayed with a hose. Yet, they still claw and beat any monkey who goes for that banana without ever understanding why.

Now you understand congress.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Evolution in Brief

An excerpted and compressed narrative history:

A whirlwind tour of human history on all the continents. For millions of years, from our origins as a species until 13,000 years ago.

Our closest living relatives are three surviving species of great ape: the gorilla, the common chimpanzee, and pygmy chimpanzee (also known as bonobo). Their confinement to Africa, along with abundant fossil evidence, indicates that the earliest stages of human evolution were also played out in Africa.

Human history, as something separate from the history of animals began there about 7 million years ago (estimates range from 5 to 9 million years ago). Around that time, a population of African apes broke up into several populations, of which one evolved into modern gorillas, a second into the two modern chimps, and the third into humans. The gorilla line apparently split off slightly before the split between the chimp and the human lines.

Fossils indicate that the evolutionary line leading to us had achieved a substantially upright posture by around 4 million years ago, then began to increase in body size and in relative brain size around 2.5 million years ago. Those protohumans are generally known as Australopithecus africanus, Homo habilis, and Homo erectus, which apparently evolved into each other in that sequence. Although Homo erectus, the stage reached around 1.7 million years ago, was close to us modern humans in body size, its brain size was still barely half of ours.

Stone tools became common around 2.5 million years ago, but they were merely the crudest of flaked or battered stones. In zoological significance and distinctiveness, Homo erectus was more than an ape, but still much less than a modern human. All of that human history, for the first 5 or 6 million years after our origins about 7 million years ago, remained confined to Africa.

The first human ancestors to spread beyond Africa was Homo erectus, as is attested by fossils discovered on the Southeast Asian island of Java and conventionally known as Java man. The oldest Java "man" fossils -- of course, they may actually have belonged to a Java woman -- have usually been assumed to date from about a million years ago. However, it has recently been argued that they actually date from 1.8 million years ago. ...

By about half a million years ago, human fossils had diverged from older Homo erectus skeletons in their enlarged, rounder, and less angular skulls. African and European skulls of half a million years ago were sufficiently similar to skulls of us moderns that they are classified in our species, Homo sapiens, instead of in Homo erectus. This distinction is arbitrary, since Homo erectus evolved into Homo sapiens. However, these early Homo sapiens still differed from us in skeletal details, had brains significantly smaller than ours, and were grossly different from us in their artifacts and behavior.

The only other significant addition to our ancestors' cultural repertoire that can be documented with confidence around that time is the use of fire. After half a million years ago, the human populations of Africa and western Eurasia diverged from each other and from East Asian populations in skeletal details. The population of Europe and western Asia between 130,000 and 40,000 years ago is represented by especially many skeletons, known as Neanderthals and sometimes classified as a separate species, Homo neanderthalensis. ... The few preserved African skeletal fragments contemporary with the Neanderthals are more similar to our modern skeletons than to Neanderthals skeletons. ... Although those Africans of 100,000 years ago had more modern skeletons than did their Neanderthal contemporaries, they made essentially the same crude stone tools as Neanderthals, still lacking standardized shapes. They had no preserved art. ... They and their Neanderthal contemporaries still rank as less than fully human.

Human history at last took off around 50,000 years ago, at the time of what I have termed our Great Leap Forward. The earliest definite signs of that leap come from East African sites with standardized stone tools and the first preserved jewelry (ostrich-shell beads). Similar developments soon appear in the Near East and in southeastern Europe, then (some 40,000 years ago) in southwest Europe, where abundant artifacts are associated with fully modern skeletons of people termed Cro-Magnons [named after the 1868 discovery of fossil skeletons at Cro-Magnon in SW France]. Thereafter, the garbage preserved at archaeological sites rapidly becomes more and more interesting and leaves no doubt that we are dealing with biologically and behaviorally modern humans. ... Of the Cro-Magnons' products that have been preserved, the best known are their artworks: their magnificent cave paintings, statues, and musical instruments, which we still appreciate as art today. ... Obviously, some momentous change took place in our ancestors' capabilities between about 100,000 and 50,000 years ago. The Great Leap Forward coincides with the first proven major extension of human geographic range since our ancestors' colonization of Eurasia. that extension consisted of the occupation of Australia and New Guinea, joined at that time into a single continent. ... With the settlement of Australia / New Guinea, humans now occupied three of the five habitable continents. ... between about 14,000 and 35,000 years ago, the Americas were first colonized. The oldest unquestioned human remains in the Americas are at sites in Alaska dated around 12,000 B.C., followed by a profusion of sites in the United States south of the Canadian border and in Mexico in the centuries just before 11,000 B.C. The latter sites are called Clovis sites, named after the type site near the town of Clovis, New Mexico, where their characteristic large stone spearpoints were first recognized. ... Unquestioned evidence of human presence appears soon thereafter in Amazonia and in Patagonia" (Diamond 1997:36-52).

J. Diamond, Guns, Germs, and Steel. The Fates of Human Societies (New York and London: W.W. Norton & Co., 1997).
C.B. Stringer, "Evolution of early humans," The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Human Evolution (eds. S. Jones, R. Martin and D. Pilbeam; Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1992), 241-51.
B.A. Wood, "Evolution of australopithecines," The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Human Evolution (eds. S. Jones, R. Martin and D. Pilbeam; Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1992), 231-40.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

June 16 Bloomsday

June 16 is Bloomsday, the day when the action takes place in James Joyce's novel Ulysses in 1904. Leopold Bloom the main character doesn't have much work to do so he spends most of his day wandering around Dublin doing errands. He leaves his house on Eccles Street, walks south across the river Liffey, picks up a letter, buys a bar of soap and goes to the funeral of a man he did not know very well. In the afternoon he has a cheese sandwich, feeds the gulls on the river, helps a blind man cross the street and visits a couple of pubs. He thinks about his job, his wife, his daughter and his stillborn son. He muses about life, death and reincarnation. He knows his wife Molly is going to cheat on him that afternoon at his house. In the evening he wanders around the red light district of Dublin and meets up with a young writer Stephen Dedalus who is drunk. Leopold Bloom takes Stephen to his home and offers to let him spend the night. They stand outside looking at the stars for a while and then Bloom goes inside and climbs into bed with his wife. It is one of the best novels ever written in the English language.

One reason Ulysses was banned from coming into the US was Molly Bloom's soliloquy (or interior monologue) at the end of the book. It consists of eight enormous "sentences," with only two marks of punctuation. Molly accepts Leopold into her bed, frets about his health, then reminisces about their first meeting and about when she knew she was in love with him. The final words of Molly's reverie, and the very last words of the book, are:

"...I was a Flower of the mountain yes when I put the rose in my hair like the Andalusian girls used or shall I wear a red yes and how he kissed me under the Moorish wall and I thought well as well him as another and then I asked him with my eyes to ask again yes and then he asked me would I yes to say yes my mountain flower and first I put my arms around him yes and drew him down to me so he could feel my breasts all perfume yes and his heart was going like mad and yes I said yes I will Yes. "

Joyce noted in a 1921 letter to Frank Budgen that "[t]he last word (human, all too human) is left to Penelope." (Molly Bloom is modeled on Ulysses Penelope) The episode both begins and ends with "yes," a word that Joyce described as "the female word" and that he said indicated "acquiescence and the end of all resistance."

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Invictus by William Ernest Henley

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Trails Plowed Under

A Few Words About Myself
by Charles Russell

The papers have been kind to me - many times more kind than true. Although I worked for many years on the range, I am not what the people think a cowboy should be. I was neither a good roper nor rider. I was a night wrangler. How good I was, I'll leave it for the people I worked for to say - there are a few of them living. In the spring I wrangled horses, in the fall I herded beef. I worked for the big outfits and always held my job.

I have many friends among cowmen and cowpunchers. I have always been what is called a good mixer - I had friends when I had nothing else. My friends were not always within the law, but I haven't said how law-abiding I was myself. I haven't been too bad nor too good to get along with.

Life has never been to serious with me - I lived to play and I'm playing yet. Laughs and good judgment have saved me many a black eye, but I don't laugh at others tears. I was a wild young man but age has made me gentle. I drank but never alone, and when I drank it was no secret. I am still friendly with drinking men.

My friends are mixed - preachers, priests and sinners. I belong to no church, but am friendly toward and respect all of them. I have always liked horses and since I was eight years have always owned a few.

I am old fashioned and peculiar in my dress. I am eccentric (that is a polite way of saying you're crazy). I believe in luck and have had lots of it.

To have talent is no credit to its owner; what man can't help he should get neither credit nor blame for - it's not his fault. I am an illustrator. There are lots better ones, but some worse. Any man that can make a living doing what he likes is lucky, and I'm that. Any time I cash in now, I win.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


"Warning: If you are reading this then this warning is for you. Every word you read of this useless fine print is another second off your life. Don’t you have other things to do? Is your life so empty that you honestly can’t think of a better way to spend these moments? Or are you so impressed with authority that you give respect and credence to all that claim it? Do you read everything you’re supposed to read? Do you think every thing you’re supposed to think? Buy what you’re told to want? Get out of your apartment. Meet a member of the opposite sex. Stop the excessive shopping and masturbation. Quit your job. Start a fight. Prove you’re alive. If you don’t claim your humanity you will become a statistic. You have been warned." -Tyler, Fight Club

Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Road Not Taken - Robert Frost

TWO roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Brown Bear

Brown bear by her nature cannot live together with man the predator. She is big, huge really, and covered with thick fur which protects her from the cold and snow and renders her mostly invulnerable to man unless he uses his most predatory tools like guns or arrows. These can strike silently and from a distance beyond which brown bear can defend.

God equipped her with large paws with long claws and sharp teeth. She did not choose this. It is the result of evolution which was part of God's plan. It is not her fault.

Brown bear loves to eat many kinds of plants, but she is big, huge really, and must therefore eat a certain amount of meat. She prefers to scavenge and eat carcass dead a while which gives it a stronger odor which she likes and also makes it easier to find. Occasionally she may kill a larger animal such as a deer but not often as they are much faster than she. During the salmon runs brown bear loves to play in the streams and feast on the fatty fish. Brown bear really doesn't care for the man taste. The flesh tastes a bit like dog and the idea of eating the flesh of so evil an animal is a bit revolting.

Man comes long distances from his stinking noisy cities to hunt brown bear. He doesn't really hunt for food as he has plenty of that. He just likes to kill brown bear because she is big, huge really, and very beautiful. It really is no challenge to kill brown bear. Man simply approaches from downwind, a great distance, very quietly so she cannot see hear or smell him. Then man fires a gun.

This is very frustrating for brown bear. She has no way to protect herself or her cubs. They just fall to the ground and then there is a loud bang. She gets so angry that if one of those man hunters ever gets close to her she will kill it.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Bupkis for Bikes

Cash for clunkers, jets for junkets, BUPKIS FOR BIKES?? While reading this article I wondered how many new bike commuters would be created if the government offered to pay $4500 in exchange for a promise to ride to work? Would that save more gas per dollar of handout money than scrapping clunkers (many of which might not even be on the road before scrapping). The problem of course is that putting people on bikes makes healthier, friendlier neighborhoods and cities but does not scale up the GDP like cars and jets and roads and airports. This is what happens when the wrong measure of value is chosen. The genius of the bicycle is that while the rider gets tremendous benefit, everyone else benefits too. It is the ultimate "pay it forward" machine.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Balance and Excellence

A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.

Living simply is not necessarily about giving up things; but is concerned with finding balance. It is a process and there are no rules. I offer a simple list of simple things we can simply do to the degree we are comfortable. They cost nothing and add value to our lives and the lives of those around us. I'm sure there are many more.

1. Separate wet and dry garbage.

2. Walk short distances.

3. Get off mailing lists.

4. Save and pay cash.

5. Don’t take the newspaper.

6. Do things yourself, rather than outsource to others.

7. Learn a non-service skill you can use in daily life.

8. Stand affirmatively for issues which have value.

Thursday, June 25, 2009


The hard part is not whether we can make do with less for surely we can. The difficulty is to develop a principled basis for living which helps us find the balance between not enough and too much. How do we find the balance? These are suggestions, not of answers but of approach. Some may seem trivial, obvious or you may not agree with them. Humor me.

It is simple. Do not strive to render complex all that can be made complex. Let go. Let it be as simple as it can be. There is only so much which can be done and only some of that is necessary or helpful. Do the simple part. Do not become absorbed in the rest or your thoughts about the rest.

Work to improve but not for more things. Be satisfied with what you have. When you want a thing ask why. Don’t seek it until you understand the practical and useful answer to that question.

Listen to others and try to understand what they are saying and why. Talk to others about what they are saying.

Help others, but this rarely means money. Understand their actual needs and actually help them. This does not mean lip service but actual help through work.

Appreciate differences in perspective. There is no single correct point of view. Every person is at a different place in life and has different views and goals. If there were a single correct point of view it would almost certainly not be yours or mine. Even my view changes over time.

Laugh a little. Most of it, especially the part involving actions between people is partly humorous. This is not critical laughter but the laughter which reflects the pleasure of observation and understanding. It is the smile of an amused infant.

Conserve your personal resources, physical, emotional, financial and others. Not from cheapness but so these resources can be applied to accomplish something or assist someone. Much of what we have and do is unnecessary. Eliminate this. Consume only what you need. Look at the frugal and effective use of resources in simple cultures. Use the whole buffalo. Catch only the fish you can eat. Build a small fire and sit close. My forebearers lived frugally. Someday my descendants will also. There is no reason I should be an exception.

Never lie. This is impossible but must be the standard we aspire to. We will be ambiguous or unclear even with the best intentions, but an outright falsehood is a direct and unequivocal message to the hearer. It says “I cannot be trusted.” After a few such experiences even the most loyal will suspend belief and trust. Communication is strained and everything is double checked. Confidences are not shared because they may not be treated appropriately. This is a waste of resources. Honesty is not only the best policy, it is the only acceptable policy.

The only value based measures of time are two. The day and the lifetime. The rest, years, months, hours, minutes, seconds are counting creations, as a bookkeeper counts beans. Time counting was invented by priests to compute the time to pray. The invented measures are mainly useful to compare one thing with another which is very much like the first. Is it morning? Then it’s time to wake up and do something. Is it evening? Then it’s time to rest. What did you do today? What will you do tomorrow? The individual hours don’t matter except to the bookkeepers. When you do anything in a way which creates or has value you are wisely spending your day and your lifetime. This is why excellence, helping others, teaching, solving problems and watching a sunset all have value. An hour of hard work is often a burden. A day well spent is a joy. Live joyously each day. You will have enough.

Keep working at it. Living lightly and with grace is a process not a rule. Keep in mind the Gross National Product includes expenditures on atomic bombs, rebuilding burned out cities, prisons and police, but does not include the value of a spring morning or an oriole’s song or a starry night.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Hard Times

Hard times is real. There's work if you'll have it but there's no profit in it. Still we worked all we could, like working more would make the hard times end. Hard times is like a drought. There's nothing to be done to end it. The dust blows and the crops die and the young people leave the small towns for the bigger towns where there is more opportunity. Really no more opportunity, just more loose money. The young people don't make a profit in the city but they make enough money to buy food and shelter. Here in the small town we have food and shelter but no money. That's hard times when you have no money. So the young people think times are easier in the city because they have a little money, enough to buy shelter and food, but they could have that here.

They drink because times are hard. Since they drink they have just enough money for food and a one room apartment in the half basement of an old building. I went there once. You feel the brokeness of it. It ain't like hard times in our small town, it's worse much worse.

On some holidays they drink a lot. They drink a lot on St. Patrick's Day though no one is Irish. They drink a lot on Independence Day, to celebrate their independence I guess. They drink a lot on Halloween for fear of gouls. And they drink a lot at Christmas. I never understood the reason for that. They drink when things are good like on payday which is really just like any other day except they have a little money for a while. They drink when bad things happen like someone loses a job. When you add it all up drinking is their main activity if you don't count work. I'm not sayin' it's wrong, I drank a lot too when I was younger, but now I can't and times is hard.

I was something of a rounder then, sometimes drinking, sometimes brawling, sometimes both but not so much. When you're drinking your brawling suffers. My drinking went on years after my brawling ended. I'd like to have those years back. None of the people I thought friends then are around any more, at least I never see them. Even the folks I thought then were real close are gone. I hear about them some. They're still drinking. I guess times are hard for them too.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Big Time Leg Shavers on Twitter

@lancearmstrong ………. Lance Armstrong 
@dzabriskie ………………. David Zabriskie 
@ivanbasso ………………. Ivan Basso 
@ghincapie ……………….. George Hincapie 
@taylorphinney …………. Taylor Phinney 
@christianmeier ………… Christian Meier 
@ronswilliams …………… Ron Williams 
@SamBewley ……………. Sam Bewley 
@BenKing89 …………….. Ben King 
@janibrajkovic …………… Jani Brajkovic 
@dcasey ………………….. Dylan Casey 
@axelmerckx …………….. Axel Merckx 
@kmoerenhout …………. Koos Moerenhout 
@carlossastre ………….. Carlos Sastre 
@Liz_Hatch ……………… Liz Hatch
@mikefriedman2 ............ Mike Friedman
@trainright ………………. Chris Carmichael 
@johanbruyneel ………. Johan Bruyneel

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Worth Believing (reposted from 9/27/07)

Certain things that may or may not be true
are the things we need to believe in most.

People are basically good.
Honor, courage, and virtue mean everything.
Power and money mean nothing.
Good always triumphs over evil.

And remember this,
Love... true love never dies.
Remember that whether it's true or not.

We choose to believe these things,
because they are the things worth believing in.

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Auld Lang Syne

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind ?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And days o' lang syne ?


For auld lang syne, my jo,
For auld lang syne,
We’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.
And surely ye’ll be your pint-stowp !
And surely I’ll be mine !
And we’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.


And there’s a hand, my trusty fiere !
And gie's a hand o’ thine !
And we’ll tak a right gude-willy waught,
For auld lang syne.


Tuesday, December 23, 2008

According to Luke (KJV)

And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.

And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.

And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

All That Glitters is Not Gold

All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost,
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost,
From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring,
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
he crownless again shall be king.

He became at last the most hardy of living Men, skilled in their crafts and lore, and was yet more than they; for he was elven-wise, and there was a light in his eyes that when they were kindled few could endure. His face was sad and stern because of the doom that was laid on him, and yet hope dwelt ever in the depths of his heart, from which mirth would arise at times like a spring from the rock.

- composed by Bilbo Baggins; unknown

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God.
Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."

Gospel of St. Matthew 5:3-10

Someone tell me the difference.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Good in so many ways

Hay for the Horses - Gary Snyder

He had driven half the night
From far down San Joaquin
Through Mariposa, up the
Dangerous Mountain roads,
And pulled in at eight a.m.
With his big truckload of hay
behind the barn.
With winch and ropes and hooks
We stacked the bales up clean
To splintery redwood rafters
High in the dark, flecks of alfalfa
Whirling through shingle-cracks of light,
Itch of haydust in the
sweaty shirt and shoes.
At lunchtime under Black oak
Out in the hot corral,---
The old mare nosing lunchpails,
Grasshoppers crackling in the weeds---
"I'm sixty-eight" he said,
"I first bucked hay when I was seventeen.
I thought, that day I started,
I sure would hate to do this all my life.
And dammit, that's just what
I've gone and done."

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

How to Vote Right

Here's what you need to know to make a smart vote on November 4th:

OBAMA plays a 1983Gibson RB-4 Pre-War Reproduction 20 Hole Flathead, burled walnut, Crowe spacing. He plays straight up Scruggs/Reno. He a beginner but is progressing nicely.

BIDEN plays a Huber Roanoak. Interestingly, Joe ordered it with the classic Gibson Hearts and Flowers fingerboard and peghead inlay pattern. His resonator and neck are fashioned from figured maple and finished in the classic Amber Brown color and a tone-sensitive lacquer overcoat. Biden is a very good player.

McCAIN plays a Janish Picker. The obvious question is, “McCain’s arms and hands are all gombed up. They shot his ass out of the sky and caged him and beat the crap out of him. How can he play banjo?” Answer: John is a frailer, and a pretty good one. He tunes to D and frets bar chords with his right hand. [Most people don’t know this, but Obama and McCain are leftys. 8 of the last 10 Presidents used the wrong hand.]

PALIN plays an Ome Monarch, an older version of the exact model I use when I perform. Her banjo is a dandy, a beautifully-made instrument, simple, and yet elegant. And powerful. Sarah plays with noticeable attack, displayed rather arrogantly in her 2-5 slide in the 14th measure of Dixie Breakdown. Remember, she is heavy thumbing that lick down the neck. She strings her ‘jo with medium gauge GHS strings which, you know, is extremely rare for a woman.

CHUCK BALDWIN (Constitution Party) doesn't even play the banjo but does play the guitar, a Taylor NS42CE mahogany nylon, pure fingerstyle but through an Ibanez amp which gives him volume but completely flattens the low end.

And that’s what you need to know about that.
Thanks Fitz.