Saturday, August 31, 2013

Photo of the Day, Too: On the James

Leah and did our first run on the James River today and she liked it.

Photo of the Day: The Feet in Football

At Virginia Episcopal School in Lynchburg today, the "foot" in football game was standing on the sideline in a line with these underclass girls. VES led North Cross at the half 28-21 in a fun game. It was so damn hot, though, that Leah and I left at that point. But I brought the feet home for you.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Slamming the Door in the Face of Civil Rights

There were Republicans in this crowd, but not in the 50th Anniversary celebration.
I'm wondering how in the world--come November and the elections--Republicans will explain their absence from yesterday's 50th Anniversary celebration of the 1963 March on Washington, a highlight of the Civil Rights movement.
  • Are they opposed to Civil Rights (they weren't in 1963)? 
  • Were they invited (yes, the invitations are in writing and documented)? 
  • Were the invitations late (no)? 
  • Were the Repub representatives sick (George Bush had a stint put in his heart two or three weeks ago, an out-patient procedure)? 
  • Do they hate black people (likely)? 
  • Do they not want people of color to vote (you guessed it)? 
  • Do they want to turn back the clock (well, yes)?
I think this is all very clear and unmistakable and when Repubs come seeking votes from anybody who agrees that Americans should have the same rights, we should throw a glass of cold water in their faces at the door. Then slam the damn door. That's what they did to us.

Here's Tenacity; Take Her/Him Home (Please)

Resist that face; go ahead, try it.
OK, cat people, I have one for you. As you probably remember, cats and I can't sanely occupy the same enclosure and over at Leah's house in Lynchburg a little orange cat named Doris Day has staked claim to a pillow on the bed and the left end of the living room sofa, so no other felines are welcome.

Here comes the problem. The little cat shown here has planted outside the house, looking for somebody's lap. The female cat is homeless, a little blue and searching. Here's how Leah describes it:

"[This is] Tenacity, who showed up in my yard in early summer, orphaned, skinny, skittish. At first I thought it was a neighbor’s cat who was just visiting, but inquiries show she doesn’t have a home. I’ve taken to calling her Tenacity because she is so steadfast in her quiet, determined way to belong to someone.

"I would keep her in a heartbeat if I didn’t already have a cat (who doesn’t tolerate other cats) because this one is a real sweetheart. If you know of someone who loves cats and will open their home for her, let me know. My task is to find someone who will love and care for this little creature."

Sooooooo. If you're up for a permanent visit from this little gal, let me know ( and I'll pass the word to Leah. We can deliver. We'd like to deliver. Soon. 

Monday, August 26, 2013

Maps for All the Important Stuff

Fascinating link here from my buddy Paul Clements in Lynchburg. This is a series of 40 maps telling us much of what is important to know about the world we live in. For example:
  • Countries that don't use the metric system (hint: us as in U.S. and almost nobody else).
  • Countries Britain has not invaded (yet). There are 22. Most have nothing that would make invading worthwhile.
  • Most expensive McDonald's burgers ($7.18 in Norway).
  • Countries with/without paid maternity leave. (Hint: the U.S. is almost alone here, again.)
  • Countries that drive on the left/right side of the road. (Hint: We're in a big majority.)
  • Countries that use the metric system. (Hint: We're in a big minority.)
  • The 10 busiest air travel routes of 2012. (Hint: Washington to New York isn't even close.)
  • Heaviest drinking in the world. (Hint: Europe, the old Soviet Union.)
  • Who drinks what. (Hint: It would be beer here.)
  • Earthquake map since 1898. (Hint: California is going to slide into the ocean.)
  • Rubber duckie landfall map. (I'm not making this up. You couldn't make this up.)
  • Countries with the most bribes. (Hint: We barely register.)
  • Average age to first get laid. (I'm still not making this up.)
  • Map of where oil is exported/imported. (Hint: We don't export much.)
  • Who's running out of water quickest? (My guess is the next world war will be over water.)
  • Map of pirate hotspots (arrrrrrgh!).

Saturday, August 24, 2013

King: He Wasn't the Most Important Civil Rights Leader

Martin Luther King: Overrated as the leader of the movement.
Okay, okay, I understand Martin Luther King is an important figure in the history of civil rights in America, it's just that I believe--and always have--that he is overrated. His message of passive resistance, though sensible, was not what led to legislation and cultural change for African-Americans in our country. We're heading into the week of his "I have a dream" speech (the one his family owns and markets for stacks of loot) and we will be assaulted this week with his overblown importance.

Angela Davis
Civil rights was accomplished--to the degree it has been accomplished--much more readily by people like Rap Brown, Stokely Carmichael, Angela Davis, the Black Panthers and other militants, people who rioted, blew up buildings, threatened white people with violence--and scared the shit out of their oppressors.

King, by himself (and his small legion of pacifists), would not have accomplished nearly as much, nearly so quickly without the flames in the background. He was a man who spoke with some degree of talent and eloquence and he certainly believed that violence was not the answer.
Stokley Carmichael

I say all this, even though I am primarily a pacifist in most instances. Violence is awful, but violence is sometimes the only way we get heard. Certainly if you were black in the 1950s and early 1960s, white people's ears were not going to perk up just because you had a good argument and stated it well. It took dynamite in the front yard, in much the same way that white supremacists burned crosses in the yards of black people for many years.

Rap Brown
King was valuable in his way. He just wasn't an MVP. He was more a guard or a center on the football team with quarterback Stokley Carmichael throwing long bombs to Angela Davis and Rap Brown for touchdowns.


Friday, August 23, 2013

Photo of the Day: What the Hell Do You Do With Figs?

I picked these figs from my bush, which must have 250-300 more in various stages, but the problem is the one I always have: what the hell do you do with a fig, other than put it in a salad? Any suggestions--without sugar--welcomed.

We had a fig bush (tree?) when I was a kid and we used the figs in our slingshots when we played war. Made a spectacular splash when they hit, especially when they were a bit beyond ripe. Mom never did approve of having to wash my clothes after a fig war, though.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The Champion Wolverines, 1966 Asheville Football Association

In 1966, I was a 20-year-old sports writer (two years into it) at the Asheville Citizen-Times and was looking for something vigorous to do with the little spare time I had, so I started the Asheville Flag Football Association. This is our team, the Wolverines, featuring a bunch of guys looking a lot older than we were (I'm front row, far right, playing with Bill Pace's knee).

You'll note that my hair is actually combed over, the first time in my life that was possible. I'd always had a crew cut before, a flattop for most of that time. I will note that, hair and all, we won the league, undefeated, playing at Asheville City Stadium, a 7,000-seat facility that we didn't exactly  fill up, but enjoyed it as if we had.

Marian McPartland Leaves Quite a Mark for Us All

The iconic "A Great Day in Harlem." Marian McPartland (who's white) is front row standing right of center.
Most of you will know Marian McPartland's speaking voice and piano style much more than you will know her visage. But she was a lovely woman inside-out and one of the most popular and knowledgeable jazz musicians in our nation's history.

Marian McPartland in the 1950s.
Her jazz show Sunday nights on Public Radio brought her talents--and those of many other jazz greats--to a wide audience as she discussed how the music was made, its impact, its players' influences. Good interviewer and a better musician. Her guests were not always predictable. She interviewed a range from Frank Zappa to Burt Bacharach and everybody between them.

She was also part of the famous photo above, "A Great Day in Harlem," taken in 1958 and including most of the great musicians of the genre. The story of this photo became an Academy Award-winning documentary by Jean Bach, an aging radio producer at the time, making her first film. Art Kane took the photo at 10 a.m., August 12, for Esquire magazine at a time when it was the best mag in the country (edited by the legendary Arnold Gingrich).

McPartland, who was 95, will be missed by a lot of people, but she leaves a wide, deep mark of the kind most of us only dream.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Roanoke Does the Right Thing With Building

Ed Walker at his (X)po last year.
Regardless of what that group of real estate developers says, Roanoke City Council did the right thing yesterday in selling the old health department building in downtown Roanoke to Ed Walker for $10.

A group of real estate investors bitched about the $10 sale of the 60-plus-year-old building to a guy who will, no doubt, turn it into an economic machine for the Old Southwest neighborhood, as he has consistently done in the past few years.

The investors were given a chance to bid on the building last year, but nobody came forward with a plan or any money. The building could just sit for years, gathering dust, but the plan here is to make it useful again. That was smart.

Walker will have to pay the city $140,000 if he doesn't do something with the building within three years and in renovating it, whatever the plan, he will spend a wad of cash. This won't be cheap. He has not said what he plans (and my guess is he doesn't know yet), but whatever it is, the plan will be thoughtful and good for the city. It might even be good for Ed.

An investor named Roger Malouf was quoted in David Ress' story in a local daily (here) as saying, "It's not about the building; it's about the way things are done." I'm not quite sure what that means. Malouf had his chance; he didn't take it, Ed Walker did. Ed tends to see better than most of us and there's no reason on god's green earth why that should be penalized. Give him his few months and watch this genius turn yet another useless building into an icon.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Using Terrorism Laws To Harrass the Public

They completely abused their own terrorism law for reasons having nothing whatsoever to do with terrorism: a potent reminder of how often governments lie when they claim that they need powers to stop "the terrorists", and how dangerous it is to vest unchecked power with political officials in its name.

--From a piece (here) by Glenn Greenwald, the Guardian reporter who has been exposing the NSA's tactics, following the arrest of his life partner at Hethrow Airport today on, basically, trumped up charges..

Bargain of the Day: Fat Jeans vs. Skinny Jeans

There's a number of ways we can go with this:

Where do they take the 50 percent off? Is it in the legs, the ass, the waist?

Are Fat Jeans being increased by 50 percent and where is that increase taking place (most likely spot: the butt). Are we penalizing fat people too much these days for being lardasses (paying for double airplane seats, for example)? (Hint: No.)

Language Nazies Discovery: Ye's Thi's I's S'tupid

Not really sure how the person who wrote this ad got a job with a national agency. (This is in the window of Victoria's Secret at Valley View Mall, Roanoke.)

Photo Essay: A Short Hike Up North Mountain

I timed this shot, ran back to Leah, nearly knocked her off the cliff (bruising her head), turned around and got a blurry shot. Yay, me!
This is why you hike in the Blue Ridge Mountains. No other excuse accepted.
Leah posing for her college yearbook (kinda).
Leah and Meah took a saunter up to North Mountain in--I think--Rockbridge County yesterday and confirmed that this is one of the most beautiful places on Earth's surface (I cannot speak for the interior).

It's not so much of a hike because we drove to the ridge that runs along the entire spine of the mountain for miles and you can see off both sides, which we did. There are several hiking trails, the best of which is Cock's Comb, that give spectacular panoramic views of the valleys on each side of the ridge.

My new pal Debora Dolin told me about the mountain. It's a gorgeous hike and hell, no, I ain't tellin' you where it is. We want it to ourselves. Heh, heh, heh ...
Fat editr poses for his slice of cheesecake with Lake Robinson in the background.
We had sassafras tea when we got home.
Leah shot this well-lit draw going to the top of the mountain.
Leah shot this one, too. I like it. Studly, huh?
Butterflies are free on the mountain.
This is the only official, man-made overlook we found and Leah dressed it up.
When a man's gotta go, a man's gotta go.
Heading down the mountain.
Leah climbing up Cock's Comb.
One last look at this spectacular view.

Smith Family Yard Sale: Kids on Display (but Not for Sale)

Maddie helps a customer at her family's yard sale.
Money Mad Maddie.
Leah dwarf-tosses Oz.
The Smith family (my son and his bunch) had a pre-moving-to-Spain yard sale yesterday and the grand
kids were in the middle of it. Maddie, especially, looked the part with her apron and all that money bulging from the pockets (which she occasionally took out and counted, not unlike Silas Marner).

Hey, look at me dribbling milk from my sippy cup. Heh, heh, heh ...
Oz was busy being Oz and here you can see him slobbering milk for entertainment, then being dwarf-tossed by Leah ("Do it again, Leah," he screamed through his giggles).

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Thought for the Day: I Was Right About Anne Adams

I spent a good part of Thursday in Monterey with one of my honest-to-god real life heroes. Anne Adams is a newspaper publisher who reminds me of every reason I fell in love with the business and held its best practitioners in the highest esteem possible for many years.

I don't feel that so much any more because of the way things are turning out in my business, but when I get to spend a few hours with Anne and the few left who are like her, I am renewed and the open-faced smile of appreciation returns.

Anne is a hero in the best sense of the word--not the overblown military and sports variety. She has guts, commitment, ethics that are beyond discussion, a level of grit that would embarrass Rooster Cogburn and a commitment to her tiny community of Monterey and the three counties her Recorder covers.

You can read my story on her in the December issue of Virginia Living magazine and I think you'll adore her as I do. I can't wait to write it. Being able to do stories like this has kept me interested for nearly 50 years. Special, special, special.

(Photo by John Bruce.)

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

A Little Stain and the Gateway Is New Again

Plastic gloves helped me avoid the mess I usually make.
Four hours later and all is well.
My deck was re-stained a little over a week ago* and the fence leading to the back yard stood out a little more prominently in comparison than I wanted. So it was off to the hardware store to get another gallon of stain, so we could set this atrocity right.

Here's what happened in photo form and you can compare the aged wood and the new stained wood (after a good pressure wash took away the gray). Took about four hours to paint this small section because the wood soaked up the paint like a dry sponge.

Pampa the painter. My hero.

(*A guy named Ron Smith did the staining of the deck and I got a heck of a bargain in him, a professional painter in need of work. If you need somebody for some good, inexpensive work, let me know and I'll put you in touch with Ron. Good man, good worker.)

PBS Bowing to Pressure from a Koch Brother

David Koch of the Koch empire.
A few years ago, when George Bush was dicking around with PBS and winning, I expressed deep concern about the future of the public television network. The infestation of right-wing influence has only increased since Ken Tomlinson was made head of the public airwaves by Bush and now we have the notorious David Koch of the Koch brothers censoring programming.

Here's a story on how Koch's influence, apparently only implied because of his displeasure with a previous program, has led PBS to shelve its Independent Lens production of "Citizen Koch," a revelatory look inside the oil barons' political influence. Koch is a PBS donor of some significance at a time when the government--led by the Koch brothers' employees in Congress--is eliminating funding for public broadcasting. It's sad and disturbing, but PBS has turned on us, bending over to the monied right-wing fanatics.

I don't see something similar happening at Public Radio, but I didn't see it coming at PBS a few years ago, either.


Quote of the Day, Too: Limbaugh 'Is Over'

Limbaugh: Blow it out your ass, smokeboy.
“Rush Limbaugh’s contract will never be renewed at that kind of money again—if he gets another contract,” says Del Colliano. “There are no people coming up. Gen X doesn’t care about it. Gen Y absolutely is way beyond it. Even if Rush didn’t open his big mouth [over Fluke], he still would be in trouble because the demographics are so old that you can’t sell them to the advertisers.  It’s over…I think the talk show hosts know it, too.”

--Jerry Del Colliano, publisher of Inside Music Media (in a story here)

Quote of the Day: Bypassing the Mainstream Media

Edward Snowden
"After 9/11, many of the most important news outlets in America abdicated their role as a check to power -- the journalistic responsibility to challenge the excesses of government -- for fear of being seen as unpatriotic and punished in the market during a period of heightened nationalism. From a business perspective, this was the obvious strategy, but what benefited the institutions ended up costing the public dearly. The major outlets are still only beginning to recover from this cold period."

--Edward Snowden on why he went with reporters for The Guardian rather than the NYTimes or Washington Post with his NSA leaks. (Here.)


Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Recipe: Using Up the Bounty of Squash

Here's the dish, fresh from the oven.
Finally figured out what I could do with some of that bounty of squash: a casserole with potatoes, jack and cheddar cheese, milk and eggs.

Usual stuff, but I cooked bacon in the bottom of the casserole dish first, then mixed everything in a plastic bag and layered it into the dish and cooked at 375 degrees for 30 minutes covered and 30 more uncovered.

The potatoes and squash are thinly sliced, by the way. I chop some fresh basil over the top before serving. It tastes like heaven.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

An Anniversary Hike Up Carvins Cove Ridge

This is the top of the ridge looking down onto Carvins Cove, the city's water supply.
Lush ferns on the way up.
This week marks the one-year anniversary of me becoming bionic and to mark that milestone, I thought I'd hike up the back side of the Carvins Cove ridge from the Hollins trailhead of the Roanoke Valley Greenway. I tried this hike about eight months ago and couldn't complete it. The knee wasn't ready.

It was ready today and I found a different, far more satisfying, experience from the one in the late fall. This time I was alone, so I also got to enjoy the wondrous solitude.

Love this tree
This is not the prettiest hike in the region, nor is it the most challenging, but it has a reward when you get to the top of the mountain. The ridge looks down on Carvins Cove, just like the Appalachian Trail ridge does about half a mile east of this section of trail.

The trail actually goes over the ridge and back down to the cove itself (and you need a permit to walk that part). Mountain bikers seem to love that section of the cove trail.

In any case, what I found today was an overgrown first portion of the trail
that segued into a moist, mosquito-infested, dead-scrub-pine section, then out to an area cleared by the power company for its massive lines. Last was the best portion of the trail leading to the top and looking more like the mountain trails we're accustomed to, not unlike McAfee's Knob or Dragon's Tooth--without the climbs.

It's a nice hike and a pretty view. I even found what I think is my old friend Bill T's (won't ID him beyond that) house on the top of the ridge at the extension of a road that leads to the top. I'd recognize that damn old van of his anywhere. And no, I didn't knock on the door. People live in remote places like this for a reason.

This is the power company's favorite view of Tinker Mountain, as seen from the trail.
AT&T likes this view, too.
I liked the hike and think I lost about 10 pounds in water weight sweating in the 90-degree heat. I appreciate that part especially.

Let me note that all these pix were shot with a small point and shoot camera, so don't expect anything great. Just convenient.
Pampa on the trail.

This is my buddy Bill's hidden houses (left and right) on the top of the ridge.
There's a tiny kayak in the upper middle of this shot. Could be me on a given day.
Mountain bikers love this section of trail.
Your favorite editr rehydrates with Carvins Cove in the background.
Mushroom peeps through the moss.
I stopped and smelled the flowers on the way down the mountain.
Polkweed berries are pretty, but don't eat 'em.
This cheerful little guy spoke to me.
Some bugs fly away. Some stay and pose.
Another nice contrast of yuppie pink and green.
Tired? Rest.
Snowflakes in a skydiving cluster. Or something.
This is my Halloween tree. I'll be back.
Sometimes you just gotta have black and white. Like now.
Other times you can get weird, as with these black-eyed Susans.
Or you can throw in some FauxtoShop artsy-fartsy. Which I like.
And we can end with the dead-tree forest section. No special reason.