Friday, October 31, 2008

Take Stock of Bonds

Hurray, I voted already!

I think the sign that says vote yes to property tax relief is totally misleading, to the point of being not merely disingenuous but downright deceitful. It ticks me off so I voted no. Just be honest already!

It bugs me when the public votes "no" to a bond, and then it keeps coming back. Maybe there should be a time period when it can't show up again. It's like if they keep bugging us we will relent.

I can't see issuing large bonds in these times. Sure I'd like a spiffy new medium size music venue, but it is a luxury, not a need. I would like to know, given the capacity of the War Memorial Auditorium, and the number of NON symphony acts, how many people per anum actually use the facility. And if it is really for the symphony crowd, let them pay for it; they can afford it. My vote - no.

I am all for improved infrastructure, especially roads, but when we're dealing with such large debt issues as a nation - and as families - I think we should wait. And besides, the bond is misleading. I am for the downtown loop, but it should be in a separate category and people need to have a clear idea what they are voting for just by the name of the bond. My vote - no

One million dollars for help with housing. One million? What's the point? My vote - no.

As to parks and recreation I have a different view. I was noticing at Bur-Mil park recently the sheer number of people using the facility. And it was a cultural melting pot - groups of all colors and languages, plus lots of mostly white guys riding expensive bicycles. There were families playing golf. In the summer the pool is packed. I think parks and recreation is the mostly extensively and democratically used service the city offers, and the most used by people not of means. OK, yeah, I think Bur-Mil is a actually County Facility run by the city, but every time I go to a park in the city or county, I see the same thing. And you thought I was for this because I am Joe Nature Boy. No, not for that reason. My vote - yes!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

It's About Time

The AP has been in the tank for Obama for the last several months, but finally they put out a story that really calls to question Obama's economic "policies," if they can be called that. I just hope some people will read this. Will it show up in our local paper? Hmmm.

Check it out - "Obama's prime-time ad skips over budget realities."

That was one lousy infomercial. I think it may have helped McCain.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

South Elm Music - Bill Mallonee

Greetings My Friends,

I hope this cold and windy day finds you well. Would love to chat…

…but this is a **News Alert** for a public “house concert” to be held downtown on S. Elm Street in the “flat” of Charlie and Ruth Jones. I put the word “flat” in parentheses because, well, it is not an ordinary apartment, but the third floor of an old hotel converted into an apartment.

I am teaming with Charlie & Ruth Jones (and I owe much of the wording of this news flash to Charlie) and other local friends to bring the talents of Bill Mallonee to Greensboro. Do you like Neil Young? Have you loved Bob Dylan? Does Tom Waites intrigue you? Does Woody Guthrie make you wish you had something to protest... all over this land?? Well, you will flip over Bill.

At 7:00pm on Wed. Nov. 5, at 614 S. Elm St. (the Jone's apartment) Bill Mallonee and his wife Muriah will be giving an intimate house concert for 50 or so friends and fans. We want you to be part of this. There will be a $10.00 cover charge, and we will "pass the hat" to help defray expenses. But this is an opportunity of a decade! We have "lucked out" on this deal. You gotta come join us for Bill's concert. This DEFINITELY is not a profit-making venture... Along with Charlie and Ruth I just want to be a part of bringing exceptional Art to S. Elm.

(no need for reservations but if you could email to let me know you're coming that would be great - if you don't remember too please come anyway)

Let me quote from Bill’s website:

"Being a son of the South, it's hard not to be surrounded by the beauty of things fractured and incongruous...that's the stuff of real songs...and that's what I learned on the road doing 180 shows a year from 1995 till about 2002... What came out was my own version of what I deeply loved in the work of those two." [Dylan and Neil Young] Mallonee's love for all things folk-rock and raw-boned acoustic won out over these early influences. The "4- guys-in-a-van-with-no-safety-net-beneath-us" dynamic of life on the road left a profound imprint on Mallonee's way of looking at his life...and is deeply woven in the sound and feel of his music. "The work of folks like Flannery O'Conner, Thomas Merton, Kerouac, and a fella named Frederick Buechner helped me make sense out of things out on the road. We made 24 records over 16 years. It all played out, very unglamorously, on the asphalt and in the clubs. I gravitated to the old soul of folk and country artists because it seemed like what we (Vigilantes Of Love) were doing and how we were doing it lent a measure of authenticity to the art." He says, "I tend to be a heart on the sleeve fella. I figure it'll resonate with someone somewhere...we're all made outta similar stuff, I think."

If you have never heard of Bill, I invite you check out some songs and lyrics on his MySpace page:

or his web page:

See you on Nov. 5 - just give me an idea if you can make it -


Friday, October 24, 2008

Sliding Down Issaqueena Dam, Clemson

This was a favorite hang out in September at Clemson. People also dove in - I remember a guy not jumping out far enough. It wasn't pretty.

Ahhh, the college life...

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Top Ten Reasons I Will Not Vote for Obama

1. Harry Reid and the Democratic Senate

Harry Reid is a disagreeable fellow, which is fine, but he is also a very liberal disagreeable fellow, and thought of a filibuster proof Democratic Senate sends shivers down my spine. I am bracing myself for country wide speech codes like in most universities, reversal of the ban on partial birth abortion, and other such stuff.

2. Nancy Pelosi and the Democratic House

I think Nancy Pelosi is a despot, and a very liberal one at that, and the thought of a Democratic House sending legislation to a filibuster proof Senate seriously wigs me out. If we ever needed divided government it would be now.

3. Partial Birth (and Live Birth) Abortion

When a country supports infanticide, well, God help us all. We deserve whatever comes our way. Obama has shown his cards on this issue. Despite his soaring rhetoric his record shows that he won’t lift a finger to maintain the ban.

4. William Ayers (et al)

Either Obama was simply using these connections in his rise to power and influence, or he agrees with these folks at some visceral level, or he is just clueless. None of the options thrills me.

5. Joe the Plumber

I don’t care what Joe the Plumbers actual tax status is, his question was legitimate, and Obama’s answer regarding "spreading the wealth around" sent a chill down my spine. Is this Cuba?

6. Tax Policy

The vast majority of Americans are employed by small to medium size businesses. If their taxes are increased they will either pass along the costs by increasing prices on their products, or they will decrease their work force, or just stop hiring people. Or all of the above. Oh, and then there is that capital gains increase…

7. The Fairness Doctrine

I cannot think of any single law that so violates the first amendment as this sham of a doctrine. And the hypocrisy is that “conservative” talk radio” will be labeled “conservative” which it certainly is, but MSNBC, CNN, ABC, CBS, will not be labeled as “liberal” which they all certainly are. The fairness doctrine is not only reprehensible from a fee speech stand point, it is also unfair to the core.

8. The Messiah

That Obama does not do all he can to squash all this Messiah-like stuff going around tells me that he either believes it or is willing cynically to use it to his advantage. Hubris…

9. Wrong Change

I have seen no evidence whatsoever that Obama intends to bring change to the way Washington works. When most Americans think of the idea of “change in how Washington works” they have in mind its partisanship, the bickering, the inability to compromise. As far as I can tell the only change Obama will bring is a tidal wave of liberalism.

10. Foreign Policy

Yes, the world loves him. In fact, Hezbollah supports him. That’s all I need to know.


Mosaic Like Reflection, Downtown Greensboro, Old JP Building off First Citzens Bank.

More Downtown Pictures

Friday, October 10, 2008

Jesus Lover of My Soul

One of my favorite hymns is Jesus Lover of My Soul by Charles Wesley. I was caused to think of it yesterday as we were looking at Psalm 2 in our weekly Bible Study. The last line of Psalm 2, a messianic Psalm taken up and applied to Jesus throughout the New Testament, reads “Blessed are all who take refuge in him.” The word “refuge” reminded me of a line in "Jesus Lover of My Soul,” the first line of the second stanza.

I am very happy that this coming Sunday Cindie Brown is going to sing this hymn as special music accompanied on her autoharp. She knows the tune that I came to love via Ken Medema’s unique take on the hymn, which you can hear on You Tube.

This hymn must be taken in balance with a thousand others. As Christians we are called to be active and engaged in our world and not flee from it, yet, the Lord is our refuge and our strength, and we find refuge under the shadow of his wings. In these days and times when we see how slippery is the foundation of our culture, it is comforting to know we can find refuge and grace in our time of need.

Jesus, Lover of my Soul

Jesus, lover of my soul, let me to Thy bosom fly,
While the nearer waters roll, while the tempest still is high.
Hide me, O my Savior, hide, till the storm of life is past;
Safe into the haven guide; O receive my soul at last.

Other refuge have I none, hangs my helpless soul on Thee;
Leave, ah! leave me not alone, still support and comfort me.
All my trust on Thee is stayed, all my help from Thee I bring;
Cover my defenseless head with the shadow of Thy wing.

Thou, O Christ, art all I want, more than all in Thee I find;
Raise the fallen, cheer the faint, heal the sick, and lead the blind.
Just and holy is Thy Name, I am all unrighteousness;
False and full of sin I am; Thou art full of truth and grace.

Plenteous grace with Thee is found, grace to cover all my sin;
Let the healing streams abound; make and keep me pure within.
Thou of life the fountain art, freely let me take of Thee;
Spring Thou up within my heart; rise to all eternity.

By Charles Wesley, 1740

The text below is from the cyber hymnal,

"Mrs. Mary Hoover, of Bellefonte, Pennsylvania, whose grandmother was the hero¬ine of the story, has related to her pastor this family tradition: Charles Wesley was preaching in the fields of the parish of Killyleagh, County Down, Ireland, when he was attacked by men who did not approve of his doctrines. He sought refuge in a house located on what was known as the Island Barn Farm. The farmer’s wife, Jane Lowrie Moore, told him to hide in the milk house, down in the garden. Soon the mob came and de¬mand¬ed the fugitive. She tried to quiet them by offering them refreshments. Going down to the milk house, she directed Mr. Wesley to get through the rear win¬dow and hide under the hedge, by which ran a little brook. In that hiding-place, with the cries of his pursuers all about him, he wrote this immortal hymn. Descendants of Mrs. Moore still live in the house, which is much the same as it was in Wesley’s time."

My Favorite Autumn Picture

I took this picture while on a walk with dog Clancey in the pond area around my home in SC. I am partial to pictures that have colors/textures spread over the whole, and sort of like this shot. These leaves are from a sweet Gum tree, Liquidambar styraciflua. A few of my favorite fall shots here.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Oblivious to It All

Boots, the Queen of 5405.

More Felines

Why Does It Itch Daddy?

Yesterday toward the late afternoon my 11 year old asked me if I would like to sit outside with her and "play" around with beads, jump rope, and maybe climb a tree. We had been inside for a while just hanging out. I told her that I would love to, but that I didn't really want to get eaten alive by mosquito's. she said they didn't usually bother her and I said I was a mosquito magnet.

She came in a little while later obviously uncomfortable, talking about the mosquito bites. Her legs were covered with large unevenly shaped bumps - almost like welts. The itching was driving her crazy. "Why do they have to itch so much Daddy?" she asked.

I had never really thought about that. It doesn't seem to be in the interest of the mosquito for its bite to be so uncomfortable for us. In fact, the chemicals it releases to slightly anesthetize the bite wound and thin our blood seem designed to avert our attention.

I offered the guess that our body had developed a chemical response to the mosquito that resulted in the itching as part of a defensive strategy to keep us from being sucked dry. I asked to her imagine what it would be like if the mosquito bite didn't itch and if we didn't run inside or into the sunlight or cover ourselves? We both decided that eventually we would bleed to death.

So, in a way itching is good in the same way that pain is good. Pain tells us something isn't right. Without pain warning us about this or that we would probably all be dead within days or weeks.

I don't want to see us go through a depression or severe recession, but it's like we've been on a decades long binge and the consequences are just setting in. We're in for a lot of pain I am afraid. I take no joy in the suffering that will come upon many people; it makes me want to weep to think about it. I hope that this pain will make us more sober minded, more frugal, more oriented toward producing real goods and services and less towards relying on asset appreciation and financial games.

It's going to itch like hell for a good while I'm afraid. I hope our community is up for the mutual help and love that will be required. I hope it pulls us together rather than tearing us apart. We will need each other (black and white, male and female, old timers and new comers, Christian and Jew, etc). "Every man for himself" scares me more than anything.

I hope the itching makes us wiser before it makes us insane.

The Pope Speaks

We are in a worrisome and scary time. I have no idea how wide and deep the financial panic is going to spread, and how long we'll be in it. It looks like a world wide crisis has developed, and who knows all the repercussions? I fear for many friends and loved ones - for their jobs and well being, and many of the weakest who will not have the ability to ride out this storm. I worry for my children, and for myself to some degree, as I have no liquidity whatsoever.

I have no pie in the sky pat Christian answer. Yet, I have found Pope Benedict to have the sanest voice in the midst of this mess. Obviously we share deep fundamental values. But he speaks truth, and provides moral and spiritual grounding in these times. His words are not mere comfort, but challenge, necessary challenge I think. Here he addresses western values generally, and here our tendency to fall for the false promises of mammon.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Bill Mallonee and Muriah Rose Coming to South Elm

Wednesday November 5th at 7:00 - Be there!

This is just an initial announcement, and I will probably mention this several more times, but longstanding and extremely gifted song writer and former front man of the band Vigilanaes of Love, Bill Mallonee, and his wife Muriah Rose, will be playing a "house" concert in a large flat on South Elm (I mean, LARGE flat), above Deal Printing. It will start at 7:00 and there will be a charge will be $10.00 (if you can) and a love offering will be taken as well.

Bill Mallonee is one the very top tier singer songwriters of the last twenty years, though he has taken the Indy music route and not known great commercial success.

You can read about VOL and Bill Mallonee on Wikipedia. Bill also has a MySpace site with lots of music to listen to. Rumor has it that VOL is comign back in a Spring release. That would be cool.

Bill has his own web site,

There is a great You Tube music video for his song Resplendent. It's a truly great song.

I'll be getting more info as time goes on, but do yourself a favor and plan on makign this show!

Hyper Debate Analysis, O'Reailly Blows Stack

I have always liked Joe Biden. I disagree with him profoundly on very significant issues, but I like the guy, what can I say. I like Sarah Palin. I'm not goo goo over her, and prefer a southern accent :-) but she's plucky, and no pushover, and underestimated I think.

I thought they both did a good job in the debate. I didn't like Palin's question avoidance and I didn't like Biden's fact avoidance, but overall it was a nice, decent debate. And again I thought both did a good job.

My biggest problem with the debate was that I thought the time frame was too short and it made both candidates rushed. They had to talk extra fast and give rapid fire mini speeches more than thoughtful answers. I would much prefer a town hall meeting leisurely conversation myself.

I really don't think there is high drama in this election other than by how much Obama will win. We all pretty much know where the candidates are coming from, and if we don't we can find out online, including party platforms.

The endless media chatter I do find annoying. I remember in the late 1970's Jimmy Carter was having a new sconference. Bill Marshall, Van Kornegay and I were having a bible study of some kind in Bill's garage apartment. But we watched part of the news conference or whatever it was beforehand.

I remember how the media got all over Carter after the news conference and felt compelled to offer their endless mind numbing analysis. And I remember just wanting to scream. Why can't we, the American people, listen to our President without the media having to inject themselves into a mediating position (hmmm) and tell us what we should have heard and should have thought. I liked Carter, and at least thought that as President he should be able to speak to us without the seeming required mediation. I have thought the same about every president since.

I scanned all the post debate blabber I could find last night and it was the same old stuff. I just don't know why we can't watch debates and such and let it sink in and come to some of our own tentative conclusions. That usually takes more the the 13 seconds before the media jumps in and tries to spin it this way or that way.

Perhaps some bipartisan or non partisan group could run some commercials telling the people exactly where they can find each candidates stated positions, voting records, and party platforms. I hardly know the point of having an opinion if we don't read that stuff first.

I like Bill O'Reilly. I think his interview with Obama remains one of the high water marks of this election. I often don't like his fill ins (Laura Ingram) and I am not a fan of either Hannity or Colmes. But overall I think O'Reilly does a good job. Deep in his heart he seems to be a populist who does have "the folks" in mind and there are some things that just make his blood boil.

I like Barney Frank and we certainly disagree on a lot of subjects! I think his oversight of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac has not been splendid. But I don't think he is being honest about his culpability. I think he was BS-ing O'Reilly, though I give him credit for going toe to toe. But I don't think it is either good theater or edifying for anyone for O'Reilly to blow his stack. He's been a volcano ready to erupt for weeks on this financial crisis issue, but somebody just needs to cut to commercial when he goes that way.

He did it once with Geraldo Rivera over immigration, but Geraldo stood his ground and gave it back pretty much as good as he was getting it. That was decent theater since they were colleagues who seem to liek and respect each other, but the O'Reilly Barney Frank blow up was not. I think O'Reilly should apologize "to the folks."

Greensboro Coliseum, UNCG Water Tower, at Dusk, from My Office Fire Escape

Downtown Greensboro

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Time to Turn the Pointy Finger Our Way

I hope the House passes the bill approved by the Senate, though the inclusion of candy on the Senate side is only going to invite the same on the House side, and this could end up taking weeks to finalize.

It will be a hard pill for moderate democrats and fiscal conservative republicans alike.

After the bill passes I hope we enter into a bipartisan review and investigation (if such is possible) as to who did what to contribute to this mess.

And then I hope every American will start looking at their own lives.

Its time we all bought Personal Finance for Dummies, or books by Dave Ramsey or Suze Ormond or whomever, and started taking responsibility for our own financial houses.

Yes, it is true, many of us got into to debt because of medical expenses. That happened to me. But we're not going to socialize medical care and we each have to factor those costs into the equation of our own lives. And if it makes us feel better we can continue blame the whole mess on the health care system, or the oi industry or any particular thing outside of our own tendencies to buy what we don't need with money we don't have. But things won't get better.

And from my point of view home ownership is over rated from a financial standpoint, unless you're riding a housing bubble. But then, bubble's burst...So let's quit enticing people who can't really afford to own their own homes into mortgages they cannot maintain.

Deep down in the American psyche, for reasons that are complex and varied, we have this idea that if you don't own a house you're a loser. I know men and women who are wonderful and mature people and do great things for others and they don't own their own homes. So what?

But since this whole week has been about "available credit" who is going to say the obvious: for all too many of us credit is TOO available, and we're TOO tempted to rely on it. We all know we shouldn't pull out those cards so often, but we do...

And then we have financial scammers in effect ripping off the least wealthy among us so as to extend super expensive credit for a few days - you know those check cashing kiosks all over the place? Criminal I think.

It's time to revamp our economic preparation system to equipp people to have the skills to take useful jobs in the new 21st century economy. Not everyone really needs to read and write papers on Emily Bronte and James Joyce. We'd be better off with more machinists, computer designers, aircraft mechanics, and people who actually design, build, make, and fix things.

And the two waves of the future now present are Bio Tech and Green Tech, so maybe we could be helping people to ride those waves and not phony financial schemes and bubbles.

Old school environmentalism is dead. The future of the environmental movement is with high tech alternative energy and a new wave of biological/agricultural practices that are more in sync with our climate and local ecologies, and which are more renewable.

But none of that will matter if we don't get our financial houses in order. It's time to start blaming Wall Street less and and start blaming Courtfield Drive more.


The Ravages of Time...Brothers - Then and Now

I came across the top photo the other day - it was buried deep in a Flickr set - and it reminded me of the bottom photo take more recently. These photos are taken approximately 20 years apart, from around 1976 and then 2006. The order has changed. Bobby, "Joe," and Mike at the top. Can you tell who is who in the bottom? Hint, the bottom has us in age order, left to right, oldest to youngest.

More Columbia Family - Along the Way

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Sarah Dumb and Backwards Tee Hee

As pointed out by Nancy Mclaughlin over at The Front Pew (with a detectable snicker of disdain), we read at the San Francisco Chronicle, the words which were prayed over Sarah Palin by Kenyan Bishop Thomas Muthee in the pulpit of Palin's home church, the Wasilla Assembly of God Church,

"Come on, talk to God about this woman. We declare, save her from Satan," Muthee said as two attendants placed their hands on Palin's shoulders. "Make her way my God. Bring finances her way even for the campaign in the name of Jesus. ... Use her to turn this nation the other way around."

Tee hee, ha ha, isn't she so backwards and quaint.

I am no Pentecostal, but, Jesus certainly believed in a real Satan and real demons and prayed for his followers to be protected from them. So have Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant Christians from their beginnings. If someone wants to pray over me for protection against their influence then I am all for it. 301 S Elm room 516...Maybe Wall Street, Madison Avenue, Congress, and Main Street could use some of those prayers too. No, they're all great. Isn't it obvious?

And if you have ever talked to folks that have come out of animist religious backgrounds, the presence of overruling and evil spirits is a extremely concrete part of their past experience. So maybe the good Bishop knows more about that stuff than you or I do.

"Make her way" is no different than what the Psalmists say and pray over and over, that God would make our paths straight or direct our steps.

And from our standpoint as Christians no matter what we do, whether we are campaigning or working at a bank or selling cars or teaching school or fund raising or praying we are to do everything "in the name of Jesus." Duh. So how is that news?

That he would want her to be used of God to help turn her nation around, well, our American culture is not really so envied all over the world in case you haven't noticed. And I would assume, if Obama is the Christian he says that he is, and I am not doubting it, that he has prayed for God's strength and enabling to help bring change to America.

And as the spiritual center of Christianity moves away from the Wonderful West to Africa and South America and parts of Asia, our brethren are praying for us and sending missionaries to us, because they see us caught up in greed and sex and drugs and war mongering and infanticide and general godlessness and they're not real cool with that. I hope they come over in waves.

Can you imagine the outrage if this were footage from a synagogue or mosque or wiccan service with the associated withering and disdainful commentary?

Ain't October Great!

Of all the MLB teams in the playoffs this year, Tampa Bay and Milwaukee interest me the most in terms of teams I like I would most want to see them in the World Series.

However, the thought of a Cubs-White Sox series makes me giddy.

Apart from the thought of a Chicago-Chicago series, this is how I would like it to play out.

National League

Brewers over Phillies
Dodgers over Cubs
Brewers over Cubs

American League

Angels over Red Sox
Rays over White Sox
Rays Over Angels

World Series

Rays over Brewers

But Cubs over White Sox would be cool too!

Birth and Decay, Life and Death

Old First Presbyterian Cemetery, Greensboro Historical Museum, Downtown Greensboro.

Can anyone tell me what kind of flower this is? I should know but I don't.

The Old First Presbyterian Graveyard behind what is now the Greensboro Historical Museum has been cleaned up and renovated including the addition of lots of plants and flowers. It is a lovely and quiet place to sit and read or just reflect. It is hard not to imagine the living faces and voices behind the names on the grave stones, and to reflect on one's own mortality; yet, the walled garden effect is peaceful more than sobering.