Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Dream Verse

Right before I woke up this morning I had a dream, and in it I was holding a page of poetry which was supposed to be chanted, sort of like an Indian chant. I remember the first several lines of the poetry:
He who remains is-A
What he really will B
As you can plainly C
It went on for two columns, down the entire page, with some but hardly all lines ending in a letter of the alphabet, and most of those not in alphabetical order.

Ah yes, "In Xanadu did Kubla Khan a stately pleasure-dome decree..."

Tuesday, April 28, 2009


Went last night with some friends to attend a high school concert their daughter was in. The high school in town is quite a small high school, this being the remote and sparsely populated area that it is. I suspect the several dozen students who took part constitute a significant fraction of the student body. They did a damn good job.

What strikes me about such events -- school concerts, school sports, community events -- is that they have an almost ritual quality about them. We are all participating in something larger than ourselves, students and audience alike. Events like these are part of the glue that binds and holds a community like ours together.

[Insert appropriate Tocquevillian quote here] ;-)

Yet only in my middle age have I arrived at an understanding of the ritual "glue" character of such events. I think back a good many years, to when I myself was a high schooler taking part in various school events, at a larger (but still fairly small) high school far from here. Back then school events meant nothing more to me than an activity I was taking part in; there might be spectators, but I assumed their spectatorship was to them nothing more than an activity they were taking part in. The idea of any greater bond of unity "in, with, and under" the event would never have dawned on me.

No doubt part of it was that I grew up in a family which had an antipathy to communal "glue"; but that's a topic for another time.

I've gradually grown to appreciate the "glue" value of school and other such community events. Not that this will keep me this evening from skipping out of a meeting of a community service club I've belonged to for many years now. Sorry, my return from vacation has already tuckered me out. I need the evening to myself.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Zappa Quote

"One of my favorite philosophical tenets is that people will agree with you only if they already agree with you. You do not change people's minds." -- Frank Zappa.

There goes 60% of the blogosphere right there!

Seriously though, I think Zappa had a point of sorts. I also think one of the real weaknesses of the blogosphere (and of online discussion in general) is that it so often generates far more heat than light. Ah, the fond illusion that somehow, if only you can whack the other person over the head with your argument hard enough, you will somehow achieve something of value... Most online food fights are a waste of time and energy.

Fortunately on my previous blog I almost never had to deal with any of this. In part this was because I had a small readership, a few dozen regulars, and never more than about 350 page views per day. In part it was because I just happened to attract an unusually civilized group of commenters. I was blessed. And I was more than content to leave to other blogs the rigid, the angry, the deranged, those who are deluded to think that spittle-flecked arglementation leads anywhere worthwhile...

Back to the Grind

A long drive home yesterday. Vacation is over. Back to the grind.

Friday, April 24, 2009


Oh dear. I just read that Yahoo is pulling the plug on GeoCities. No new accounts, and some time later this year they'll be closing down the remaining GeoCities sites.

Yes, I know: animated gifs, unreadable text/background color combinations, and in general the worst web design ever. All the usual stereotypes regarding sites on GeoCities were often hideously true. Still, when it came to reliable free webhosting, there was a time in the earlier days of the Internet when GeoCities provided a valuable service. And you know what? A Google search (or an AltaVista or HotBot or Excite or Lycos search) would often lead you to a GeoCities site which had actual informative content on it.

I myself had a GeoCities site, back around the turn of the millennium. Damn, I'm rather going to miss them.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Indian Blanket

I brought an Indian blanket along with me on vacation. Yes, one of those garish heavy wool blankets. In size more a large throw than a blanket. It covers me with room to spare, but not much.

Anyhow, I find that lying on my back beneath the Indian blanket I sleep like a log for hours, and awake still lying flat on my back. Whereas at home I'll toss and turn, and more often than not awake lying in some uncomfortable position on my side. Interesting.


Yesterday I saw my grandmother. She passed the century mark several years ago. Slowing down some physically, but still quite clear in the head. She was explaining to us the system of surnames in use in the old country, I suppose back in the latter 1800s.

Amazing. If I'm still around in the year 2060, will I be telling people what it was like to live in the days before manned spaceflight?

Our Lady Star of the Sea

Last night I retired to the privacy of the spare bedroom and rummaged through my suitcase, extracted a velvet drawstring bag containing my chaplet of Our Lady Star of the Sea. Stella Maris medal and metal findings, all sterling; beads of blue coral. Stella Maris, ora pro nobis. I prayed the chaplet. Our Lady Star of the Sea, help and protect us! Sweet mother, I place this cause in thy hands.

Color me crypto-Catholic.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

On Vacation

Am on vacation, and visiting my parents. This means taking off in the Jeep and driving a good many hours, finally arriving on the outskirts of the city. I've been unwinding, resting, hoping my cell phone doesn't ring.

Yesterday I had my usual vacation headache. Was laid out flat most of the day. Now today it's go visit other relatives. Accustomed to life in deep rural America, I'm surprised to find that my city driving reflexes have returned just like that.

My parents are doing well, though they're reaching that age when various ailments begin to slow one down. The other evening my father went into some long incoherent ramble about a circus mind reading act he had once seen: it was hard to follow what he was talking about, and it took five minutes to get to where it was clear his story had anything to do with mind reading.

My mother is quite clear in the head, though I do wish she wouldn't cheerlead so (egged on by talk radio) on behalf of waterboarding. Sorry, I've considered myself some kind of conservative all my life, but at present I'm thoroughly disgusted with Bush and the GOP. Disgusted with them, and close to frightened of Obama and the Dems. In these latter days it seems each party is honing and perfecting its own brand of ruinous wastrel soft authoritarianism.

Well, in the meanwhile I'm on vacation for the next several days. May as well unwind and disengage. If I can.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

The Joy of Leather Boots

Back over 20, almost 25 years ago I wandered into a shoe store. They had dozens of pairs of leather boots, 10" or 12" leather boots. All the same brand, all the same style, all the same size. Delivered by mistake, and rather than return them, they were selling these boots off for a fraction of the price. Just so happened they were my size. I clenched my teeth (I was poor at that time) and bought a pair.

Beautiful boots. Wonderful boots! Sturdily made, top quality. I wore those leather boots day in and day out for must've been 15 years. Had them resoled several times: used to take them to a Ukrainian cobbler in a small metal quonset hut. I loved those leather boots! In hindsight my only regret was that I hadn't bought more than one pair when I had the chance.

But the day did come when those boots went the way of all things. My next few pairs of leather boots were lesser creatures. By this time I could afford boots without finding them on sale, but I scrimped and I was stingy and I got cheap boots that lasted a few years apiece. Finally ended up with a pair of leather boots that lasted me scarcely a year, and weren't worth fixing.

So I took the plunge and got a pair of Frye boots. Yeah, Frye, they've been in business since 1863, their boots were worn by Union and Confederate soldiers in the Civil War. At first I flinched at the price, but concluded that you get what you pay for. I've had these boots now a couple of years (Men's 12" Campus boots), recently got them resoled at Mr. Shoe Repair Man's in town, and at the rate they're going, these boots are going to last me forever.

I mean, they are beautiful and beautifully made sturdy last-forever leather boots. The older I get, the more I conclude: look for quality and take a stand against planned obsolescence. What ever happened to the days when a gentleman had a single pair of quality leather boots which lasted him for life? Well, I can tell you, those days are alive and well here in this remote corner of God's green earth.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Toilet Fixed

Just had some neighbors over here, father and son, to fix my toilet. Said toilet has been flowing pretty much continually from tank into bowl for quite a while now. Water constantly flowing, it got to where my water softener needed to be repaired. And at that point I said, enough!

They came over and tinkered with things, replaced some of the hardware in the toilet. I'll keep an eye on it to make sure nothing leaks, but it seems fixed. Cheaper than a plumber!

And next time they need a computer set straight, I'll be glad to oblige. I've righted dozens of computers in this neck of the woods. So we scratch one another's backs, and so the underground non-cash economy flourishes. Our overlords in Washington don't know the half of it.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Green Shoots

It's been an unseasonably cold spring until recent days. Ordinarily by now I'd expect to have tulips in front of my house. Folks down in the valley, where it's several degrees warmer, have tulips already. But as recently as Sunday there was no sign of anything coming up out front.

Now green shoots are poking up, however belatedly. The tulips are on their way. The trees are budding. Green grass can be seen. Spring is arriving, albeit a little behind schedule.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Dirge of Progress

My brother was pointing out to me the other day that there are certain finely crafted instruments which have been around for a long, long time. And even though they're obsolete today, they are still available, still finely crafted, still quite serviceable if their like happens to be up your alley. Take the stock ticker. Take the telegraph key.

I myself have long worn a mechanical wristwatch. No quartz movement, no battery. I wind it every day. It wasn't cheap, but it wasn't that expensive either. The brand has been around for a long time though it's not well known; I'm sure most people have never heard of it. Sure, for pocket change I could've picked up a quartz watch at the discount store. But quality counts. For not so much more I got a finely crafted watch that's built like a tank, a watch that will last.

My watch keeps time to within 5 seconds per day, and not to within a few insanely quartz seconds per month. But either way is, as they say, close enough for government work. Quality counts. Only an era focused on obsessed with bare quantity to the exclusion of all other considerations could trick us into thinking otherwise.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Beef Burrito

Yesterday I made the long drive into town. Badly needed groceries. I stopped off at the Mexican restaurant in town for lunch. Had a beef burrito. It was good, suitably greasy.

Though I wondered why, just past noon, I was the only patron in the place, except for some big bewhiskered bubba in overalls who was expatiating loudly about something. Also, unless I miss my guess, the restaurant (which isn't a year old) now has a new owner. Uh oh. Burger joints last forever, but restaurants of more distinctive fare have a rapid turnover in these parts. Well, except for the Chinese restaurant in town, which has been there forever.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Listed in Google

Ah! I see that as of yesterday's post, my blog is now listed in Google Blogsearch. I wonder why it took that long -- did they have to make sure I wasn't posting spam or porn or whatever? At any rate, I am now on the map.


I don't smoke. I've never smoked. But so teed off am I by the self-righteousness of the anti-smoking crowd, that at times I've fantasized about smoking cigars. Cigars of different lengths and ring gauges. Cuban seed wrappers. And I imagine they'd come in a bundle with a brightly colored label featuring an Olmec stone head.

Sunday, April 12, 2009


Went to church this morning. Then ate a big Easter dinner. A friend lent me a book to read.

An observation which has come to me more than once of late: lifelong Protestant though I am, the older I get the more I am inclined toward Catholicism. My spirituality has long been more than half Catholic. Well, there are family reasons for that. Not that I expect I'd ever convert. But the inclination is there, and it grows on me.

Mainline Protestantism is a thin gruel, and it grows thinner decade by decade. One major roadblock to my turning Catholic is that so much of the Catholicism I've seen on the ground comes across as a third-rate imitation of Protestantism, with bad Seventies music thrown in to boot. Protestants at least usually have good music rousingly sung. Catholicism is most attractive when it's willing to be itself. I don't need third-rate Protestantism, that is already quite available on the Protestant side of the aisle.

I sketch impressionistically, but perhaps you catch my drift. Of course there are other factors as well. The long and the short of it: however watery the Protestantism of my fathers may be, however much richer and deeper Catholicism may be in the ideal, I will no doubt remain what I am: a Protestant with a Catholic tinge.

Meanwhile, it is Easter. Resurrexit!

Thursday, April 9, 2009


Here I am, in middle age, wearing a hoodie. I'm trying to think when hooded sweatshirts became hoodies. I mean, I used to wear a hooded sweatshirt when I was a kid, back in the later Pleistocene. But it wasn't cool. It had no cachet. It had nothing to do with style. It bore no advertising or slogan.

Some time in recent years, hooded sweatshirts became hoodies. And they became cool. Or somewhere between cool and taken for granted. Not long ago at a community activity I noticed that all of the kids, and most of us adults, were wearing hoodies. Now I happen to live in a remote rural area where people incline toward informal. But somehow it surprised me, even on a cool spring day, to see almost everyone wearing hoodies. Like a contagion.

My hoodie is navy blue, with crossed oars and white lettering sewn on the front: DULUTH PACK. (Guess which company I bought it from. Right. These days we pay to wear advertising.) I like my hoodie a lot. It's comfortable, it's easygoing. It fits in. I'm just trying to figure out when ordinary became cool.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Who I Am

Damn, I knew I couldn't stay away from blogging!

You may refer to me as Bluegrass Up. Bluegrass, for short. I dunno, I just like the sound of it. No, I know next to nothing about music, bluegrass or otherwise. Bluegrass Up: these things just come to me, as if wafting out of the ether.

Once I had a blog. It was a piddly little no-account blog, but I was also a regular commenter on several big blogs. I accumulated a crowd of regulars, a few dozen of 'em, some of them commenters and some of them silent but frequent lurkers. Overall it was a blast.

But then I drifted away from it all. These things go in phases. Writing several new posts a week came to feel like a burden. I came to have family, friends, neighbors among my readers. It cramped my style. When I quit blogging and then gradually withdrew from the blogosphere, it felt like a load lifted off my shoulders.

Still, here I am, a good while later, and I find I just can't let it go. So. Here I go again. This time no one knows who I am. I'm free to vent, free to opine at will. Free to post as often or as seldom as I please. And I'm free from the schtick which came to shape my old blog, a fairly capacious and flexible schtick, but it came to feel somewhat confining. Here I suppose I may develop a new schtick, a new set of themes, topics, and routines. Or not. We shall see.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Hello World!

Obligatory first post.