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Archive for the ‘I heard it through the grapevine’ Category

(a true story within a true story)

During my college years, I helped earn a little extra money as a lead singer with a couple of local bands. The first regular working band I had the good fortune to become front man for was a long-standing local band that rose to local fame in the 60s with the same guitarist, Jeff Williams and a band of his namesake known as Jeff & the Atlantics. Jeff was an everyday sort of guy who had no problem not taking himself too seriously.

One night as we were enjoying a few drinks an hour or so before our gig was scheduled to start, Jeff told a story of something that had happened to him a few weeks before. He said he went out to his mailbox and there was a package waiting for him there. He wasn’t expecting anything, so he took it in the house and opened it up to find an LP of ‘Ray Stevens’ Greatest Hits’.

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Now, nothing against Ray Stevens.  I happen to like some of his stuff, and have even been known to post a couple of them on Facebook – both the old stuff and the new stuff. It is also important to point out that this story occurred in the 90s – well between Stevens’ earlier days of fame in the 60’s and 70’s and well before he made a resurgence with patriotic parody songs in the 2000’s.

Needless to say, Jeff was confused and thought that perhaps someone was playing a joke on him or bought him the gift as a gag. But despite asking around, no one wanted to own up to buying it. A week or so passed, and Jeff got his credit card statement only to find a charge for the album.

At first he was ready to get angry because he had been charged for the album. But then he went on to tell us that with some thinking back, he vaguely recalled coming back home after a night that involved some considerable drinking and not being able to get to sleep. So he turned on one of the local UHF television channels and also vaguely recalled seeing an ad for ‘Ray Stevens’ Greatest Hits’ and then thinking that ordering a copy might be a great idea!

As Jeff finished telling the story and we all had a good laugh, I proposed a toast. I raised a glass and said:

“Here’s to never having your career depend on the late night buying decisions of people too drunk to remember them!”

Before we could start drinking, Jeff in his typical humble fashion added:

“And here’s to never having your career end up with you being so drunk that forgot you were the buyer!”

 


Epilogue:

As an aside, despite Jeff settling into his local-legend status and focusing on making a living instead of a starry-eyed pursuit of fame, among the songs he became known for locally included a song called ‘Gino is a Coward’ where he and his [all-white] band backed a well known local [black] artist by the name of Gino Washington.
Gino ended up gaining more notoriety for himself and Jeff by continuing to promote his former hits such that they had a resurgence both locally and in Europe again in the late 90s and early 2000’s on the oldies and nostalgia charts.

Here are a few Jeff & the Atlantic’s links:

(YouTube)

(I compiled all I could find currently on youtube into a single playist)

(other)

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I heard some woman say the other day that if she could ask the candidates one question, she would ask them:

“Would you [willingly] die for your country?”

All I could think at the time was ‘what an idiotic question!’  Here this clearly – it takes an irrational person to say they willingly die for a country, a religion, a cause or any other reason.  There is, of course, the possibility that they mean something else. But it is important to pay attention to what words are actually used because words ‘mean things’!

I can think of a great number of causes that I would risk my life willingly to uphold, protect or defend. Certain ideas or ideologies are worthy of assuming risk to self for the purpose of defending. But NOT ONE of those ideas would I ‘willingly’ die for. As in, I am going to do everything in my power to avoid dying even if I am willing to risk my life.

Take a quote posted by someone on facebook today:

“The less justified a man is in claiming excellence for his own self, the more ready he is to claim all excellence for his nation, his religion, his race or his holy cause.” – Eric Hoffer

I have often asserted that those who follow a ‘belief’, be it religion or statism or some other kind of subjective reasoning, supplants part of their self-esteem for the sake of the ideal. If their notion of what is good constitutes satisfying the constructs of a ‘belief’ that is not based on fact, then the notion of what is good for themselves is dependent upon adhering to the ideal. And if the ideal is one asserted by others and relies upon faith and not proof, then that person’s self-esteem is subject to the whims of the person claiming to speak for the ideal.

I would like to suggest that anyone who says “I would die for my country” just save us all time. Go to your kitchen, find a nice big butcher knife. Place the tip of it between the 4th and 5th ribs slightly to the left of your scapula, shout out whatever pro-state slogans you desire and have at it!

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(re-written based on a joke once told by Ronald Reagan*)

Once in early America an average man worked hard and earned some money, and he saved the money until he had a modest amount.  He heard word that they were opening up some frontier land so he quit his job, sold many of his possessions and purchased passage on a wagon train headed for the new land grab.

But he found upon arriving that a lot of the good land was already gobbled up by the new settlers and what little land was left was far less tillable, overgrown and at higher prices due to the steadily increasing demand.  So he looked over the varous plots and found most to be too hilly or too rocky or too wet and they were all much smaller than he’d hoped for.  But he wasn’t about to be let down on his dream so he found a reasonably flat piece of land that was considerably overgrown and rocky but that he thought he could turn around with dedication and hard work.

Due to all the new settlers moving about a town quickly sprung up in the county seat and soon along came a church.  Since the man came with basically what he could carry on his back and what money he had, he was often in need of supplies as he labored to turn his small stretch of land into a viable farm.  So once a week he would make the 4 mile trip to town to get  more supplies.

Every time he went into town, the new preacher would see him and recognizing that his was a face that he had not seen in church at Sunday mass, the preacher would always walk with him and try to talk him into coming to church.  The preacher would tell the man of all the blessings that a faithful man could expect and all the bounty that God could bring.  But the man would politely decline the invitation and suggest that he had far too much work to do on his land to make it a worthy and productive farm.

Thus was the case every week.  The man would go for supplies, the preacher would spot him and go into his pitch.  The man would politely decline.  But work hard he did, he moved the rocks a wheel barrel at a time to the edges of the property to build a small rock border around the entire plot.  He cut down and pulled up the weeds until this hands were raw.  He tilled at the soil finding more and more rocks and used the smaller ones to grade a cart path up the middle.  He cut some trees and built a small, modest house and eventually a barn.  And before too long, after pulling thousands of weeds and moving more thousands of rocks he began to lay down seed.

As the crops began to grow he had less of a need to go to town for supplies and his trips became less and less frequent and eventually, as his crops began to bear fruit he found that he barely needed to go at all.  But still, on what trips he made, the preacher always made a point corner the man and to tell him all about the wonderful blessings he could expect as a follower of God.

After a month had passed and the preacher did not see the man in town he began to wonder.  For all his attempts he hadn’t convinced the man to come to a single service.  Then one month became two months and two turned into three.  Winter was coming and the preacher decided he should make a trip before the weather gets cold to see what became of the man.  So the preacher ventured the 4 miles to where the man’s claim was said to be registered.

As the preacher rounded the corner of the country road he was overcome!  Despite the nearly unturned land on the neighboring plots where the other land grabbers had all but given up, here stood 8′ tall rows of corn, rows of tomatoes shining bright red in the sun.  Squash the size of a wash basin and melons as big as a small sow.  The preacher was amazed at the contrast between the bountiful farm and the surrounding land. His crops even rivaled the ones he’d seen on the more prime tracks of land owned by the members of  his parish.  At last the preacher spied the man hauling a basket overflowing with strawberries the size of one’s fist.

“Hallelujah!” exclaimed the preacher upon seeing the man.  “Hallelujah and praise the Lord!  Your land and your farm are like a miracle.  Your corn is taller than the eaves of your house!  And the ears appear as long as my forearm.  Your squash would fit but 2 to a cartload and the melons probably only one.  The tomatoes are so ripe and red… and those strawberries – oh those strawberries are downright divine!  It is absolutely amazing what the power of God and the work of man can do to create such a bountiful blessing!”

The man set this basket down and looked across his land remembering all the bleeding fingers, sore muscles, trip after trip with rocks and bundles of weeds and supplies from town and the hours tilling the soil, planting the seeds, pulling more weeds and tending to his crops.  But not wanting to be too unpleasant to the preacher he simply tipped his hat and said….

Preacher, you should have seen it when God was working it all by himself.


(*I’m not sure where Ronald Reagan got the joke, but I reworded the context considerably)

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South Moreland High SchoolFetal Matter Found In Westmoreland County School

Blood Discovered In Southmoreland High School Stairwell

SCOTTDALE, Pa. — The Westmoreland County coroner says that no criminal activity is suspected after the discovery of blood and fetal matter in a Southmoreland High School stairwell.
[..]
Police said a janitor first noticed blood in a restroom, with more drops leading to the stairwell where the fetal matter was found.

No, this is not one of my typical ‘mock’ news stories.  I found this initial news story that was released shortly after finding the material in the stairwell.

The story goes on to say that police were called and the Westmoreland Coroner brought in to examine the fetal remains.  Initial estimates by the coroner stated that “it appears to be about seven weeks old“.

They mention that an all out search was launched at the school to find what they presumed to be a student related to the discovery.  At least one telling of the story I heard on the radio mentioned that ‘Right to Life’ groups were considering demonstrations at the school to try to promote their values to the students.

There is a lesson in this

The reason, of course, that they went to such extremes so quickly and why the right to life groups were prepared to mobilize is not simply concern for the student.  Issues involving teen pregnancy and the abortion issue in general are highly emotional issues.

The emotions around these issues lead from the fact that the “Right to Life” movement believes that a mass of fetal tissue is what amounts to a viable human life and therefore should be afforded the same rights.  That to abort such a ‘viable’ life with a ‘soul’ is akin to murder, and not only a sin before God but should be not only forbidden under law but prosecuted as murder.

Of course, this was not from an abortion.  The story mentions that the police stated that “because the matter appears to be related to a miscarriage, police said no charges are expected.”   But still, based on their beliefs, the right-to-lifers were ready to march into an already sensitive situation and put on demonstrations for this ‘dead human life’ and this ‘lost soul’.

So why do I say there’s a lesson in there?  Read the follow-up story that came out the following day after the Coroner had a chance to examine the ‘remains’:

Found ‘fetus’ in Southmoreland High School veggie matter

ALVERTON, Pa — An analysis has determined that a suspected 7-week-old fetus discovered in a stairwell at Southmoreland High School was some sort of “vegetable matter and not human remains,” according to forensic pathologist Cyril Wecht of Pittsburgh.
[..]
Wecht said he couldn’t be sure of the exact origin of the material because that would require too many unnecessary tests.

“The important thing is that it is not human fetal tissue,” Wecht said.

This is not to say that under the circumstances the school was not well founded to contact authorities for a proper examination.  But the news stories, the controversy, the potential for ‘demonstrations’ – all based on speculation.  Speculation within a speculation!

Based on the belief of the Janitor in finding a small amount of what ‘appeared’ to be blood in a women’s restroom at the school (gee, is there anything that might cause an appearance of ‘blood’ in a women’s toilet?) and the discovery of what was then assumed to be fetal remains by the janitor, the school administrator contacts authorities.

The authorities, going on the assumptions of the janitor, collect the alleged remains and turn them over to the coroner. Based on the ongoing assumption and what amounts to a quick glance at the material, the coroner is then asked to make an estimate on what was found.  Nothing more than a precursory collection and a chain of assumptions has taken place and the Lifers are ready to march into a sensitive situation to offer their ‘support’.

Ya gotta love the ‘believers’!

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Particle accellerator

Particle accelerator

Geneva, Switzerland – In the wake of doomsday warnings following the completion and commencement of operations at the Large Hadron Collider, some experts now warn of incremental ‘anthropomorphic gravitational waning‘ also termed ‘man-made global gravity change‘.

In a controversial new report, self-dubbed ‘environmental theoretical physicist’, Dr. Herbert Cavorite claims that the growing number of super-colliders and particle accelerators may have devastating long-term effects upon earth’s gravity.

In a lecture at the University of California, Berkeley last Thursday, Dr. Cavorite stated that “each firing of these sub-atomic particles causes micro distortions in the surrounding gravitational field.”  He went on to explain that without further knowledge as to the lingering effects of these distortions, we may be setting ourselves up for a wild ride should these effects accumulate as these experiments increase in frequency.  “Without knowledge of the residual effects, every test at the growing number of these facilities could well draw us toward a global gravitational crisis.”

Gravitational Waning

Possible effect of Gravitational Waning

At least one super-computer model suggested that within 20 years, the cumulative effects of residual gravitational waning could have drastic effects upon the environment, not to mention the global economy.

“The point is we just don’t know for certain,” says Cavorite.  “For all we know, each blast of these lead ion molecules may well be blasting away just a small fraction of earth’s gravitational force.  Right now, the effects are hard to measure, but over time it could potentially be devastating if not irreversible.”

Gravitational anomalies are no stranger to global physicists and fluctuations of earth’s gravitational field have been known to science for some time.  But some critics have pointed out that the super-computer models do not seem to predict present day conditions if applied to historically recorded data from years past.

Despite the on-going debate of these new findings, there are rumors that Cavorite has been invited to speak to a UN policy making committee at the next G8 global climate summit.

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Pirate operator

Pirate operator

I’m an extra class amateur radio operator. There is no law against buying amateur radio equipment, no requirement to have a license prior to purchasing any such equipment. The requirement of the license is to operate such equipment.

As a result, you get (unlicensed) people from time to time that buy amateur radio equipment and go on air. There are also necessary requirements of identifying your call letters every 10 minutes and on the end of your final transmission. More often than not, when (unlicensed) people buy amateur radio equipment with the intention of using it illegally, they have no desire to operate legally either. In fact, they usually behave disruptively or will at least turn to doing so when they find others ‘with’ licenses do not desire to talk to anyone operating without the proper license or that do not follow the proper use of call signs, etc.

It is an unwritten rule amongst hams that whenever someone is being disruptive on the airwaves, not to acknowledge the disruptive broadcast in any way shape or form. The reasoning behind this is, that if someone is trying to be disruptive, acknowledging the transmissions or their disruptive nature alerts the pirate operator that their attempts are being successful.

Most amateur radios are ‘simplex’ – which means they can either be transmitting or receiving but not do both at the same time. This means that someone transmitting has no real indicator if their signal is being received by anyone else – until someone acknowledges hearing it. Thus the unwritten rule.

When someone ‘trying’ to be disruptive is ‘acknowledged’, they will continue so long as they know their attempts are successful. If they think there is something wrong with their transmitter or they aren’t doing it right, they give up and stop trying in the future.

There is of course an exception to this. This is when someone has a pseudo-doppler or phased antenna array system that can pin-point the transmission point. In that case, they generally coordinate with other hams on another frequency and acknowledge the signal just long enough to triangulate to report it to the F.C.C. – then go back to ignoring it. (i.e. – if someone is actually ‘able’ to do something about the pirate operation)

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branded space mirrors

Before they had to close down due to lack of funds, Jackson Community College had one of the better space museums in the country. A couple of the Mercury and Apollo astronauts came from Jackson, MI and a number of donations and acquisitions led to them having a nice collection of authentic capsules, satellites and other space program memorabilia.

I was fortunate enough to go there while watching my grandparent’s house and got to tour the museum just a few years before it ended it’s mission. One of the things they had on the wall was a prognosis that itself appeared decades old, but that spoke of a future possibility of huge mylar space mirrors that could be used to reflect sunlight onto the night side of the earth to provide day-like illumination.

Not too long after this, Art Bell caught wind of it when some Russian scientists were discussing it as a possibility to light areas of Siberia that had prolonged nights due to their arctic proximity. Art brought it up off and on for over a year as a result.

When I first saw the Jackson museum placard, I first thought of the commercialization of space and imagined a scenario similar to the one above. Huge Mylar mirrors used to light stadiums – branded with commercial logos of their corporate sponsors. Of course, if the mirror was shining on the stadium, you wouldn’t actually see the logos. It would instead look like a miniature sun. But if you were able to see the mirror when it wasn’t pointing directly at you, you would be able to make out any logos emblazoned on their surface.

Just imagine looking up any time of the day or night and seeing ‘Google’ or Amoco floating up in the sky!

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