Wednesday, January 28, 2009

My Top Ten Led Zeppelin Songs (this week)

Can you narrow it down to ten? I know, some of you could narrow it down to zero!

Unlike many groups lyrics are all but irrelevant in much of Led Zeppelin's best music. For me it is almost as if Robert Plant's voice is more of an instrument in itself. Their lyrics are completely forgettable and sometimes really dumb.

I tend toward favoring their blues and harder driving stuff the most, but that's just me. Well, not exclusively - I like D'Yer Maker. And I know, I don't have Kashmir in my top ten. Silly me.

Memories of playing pool in Greg Busdicker's awesome house on Sylvan Drive, Columbia. Phil Owens, Greg, and me shooting pool and jammin' to LZ for summer days on end. Where O where are Phil and Greg?

Here's the list...

1. Since I've Been Loving You (I can't stop listening to this song - anthemic)
2. When the Levee Breaks (Those harmonicas! Great adaptation)
3. Stairway to Heaven (Is there a bustle in YOUR hedgerow?)
4. Heartbreaker (Unbeatable air guitar song)
5. I Can't Quit You Baby (Oh man, those slow blues!)
6. How Many More Times (What an opening!)
7. Bring It On Home (A little Memphis blues, and then watch out!)
8. Rock and Roll (Still a top ten ever driving song)
9. D'Yer Mak'er (OK, a softee, but I like it)
10. You Shook Me (Totally groovin' simmering slow blues song)

Friday, January 23, 2009

An End to the Abortion Wars? I Don't Think So.

Yesterday while walking through the lobby of my office building I heard a very short bit on the lobby TV about Obama's abortion legislation. I didn't catch the whole piece and am not sure what Obama has in mind. But I do know that our President needs to proceed with great caution on this issue.

Americans have come - out of necessity on both sides - to a kind of fragile truce and fragile balance on the issue of abortion. Those passionate for abortion rights have their rights in almost all cases, with only the ban on partial birth abortion and some parental consent or waiting period requirements in various states. Roe v. Wade stands firm. And a Democratic President is in there for 4-8 years to watch over any new Supreme Court nominees.

Those passionate about the right of the unborn to life have had to concede that Roe V. Wade is not going anywhere. Pro-life advocates did at least achieve the ban on partial birth abortions, a barbaric procedure that most Americans oppose. Apart from that ban there isn't very much to celebrate on the pro-life side.

These being the lines of a very fragile truce, energies have shifted to other tangential areas. No one is terribly happy with things as they stand; after all, this is a truce not a peace treaty. sometimes a truce is all you can hope for.

If Obama tries to break the truce by passing the Freedom of Choice Act, he will, in one wave of his hand, profoundly alienate a very large percentage of the American people and totally destroy any benefit of the doubt being extended to him by conservatives. He will have wrecked all hope of change in the way things are done in Washington.

If he thinks that passing FOCA will in some way end the abortion wars he is either not as smart as we think or he has plans to suppress dissent. For the voices of dissent will rise like a tsunami.

Instead of ending the abortion wars FOCA will fan a spark that has been simmering for a long time - and a new war will begin. There will be many many screams - and these won't be silent. Perhaps Obama does not know the depth of feeling and passion on the other side of this fragile truce.

I remember hearing Bill Clinton say during his wife's campaign that if pro-life people really thought abortion was murder they would be storming the clinics (or something like that). Well Mr. Clinton, many pro-life people do believe that abortion is a kind of murder, partial birth abortion being the most egregious expression of it. The reason we do not storm clinics and such is because we (most of us) adhere to the rule of law. We do not like anarchy or vigilantism.

It may not always be so. Legalizing again partial birth abortions will create a tidal wave of renewed passion on the issue of life. I worry that not everyone will submit to the rule of law and that bad things may happen. Maybe that is what the left wants...

But it will be war (morally and politically and culturally); and it will wage until a truce can be restored, if that would be possible.

Obama has a shooting war to wind down, major legislation to pass on the economy, and profound energy issues to address. Lift the ban on partial birth abortions and he will lose any good will that is now extended to him on the other side of the aisle. He will become - in a flash - a fearful specter - a heavy handed left leaning president who has a congressional majority. It will all but guarantee a Republican comeback in 2010.

And one more note about the fragile truce that exists now. I believe that it is in Obama's best political interest not to stir the nest and to keep that truce going if he can. But in the end this issue is much more significant than whether a mere country is divided. On this issue families divide, friends divide, workmates divide, and even churches divide.

If we have a fragile truce for a while it would be in our countries best interest to preserve it. Obama will find that out too late that he has exacerbated and not ended the abortion wars.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Clancy in the Kitchen

Clancy, 1971-1981, my buddy, my friend...

This is quite obviously not a great photo, nor was the photo in very good shape when I scanned it. I can say as regards this picture..."There were one or two I know that you would have liked a little more But they didn't show your spirit quite as true." This picture captures the simple cheerfulness of my favorite pet growing up.

There is a "note" on the Flickr picture makes me think of how Clancy and I would often greet, well, after he got over the excitement. I would get down on all fours and we would nuzzle foreheads. It was a kind of "kiss." He very obviously understood it as a rite of affection.

I am one of those who thinks we have greatly underestimated the intelligence of animals, including their emotional intelligence. Though Irish Setters are normally high strung and less than brilliant, Clancy was a great friend, and we had a deep bond. I just wish our dogs lived as long as we do so we wouldn't have to go through so much grief at their departures.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

OK, Does Anyone Know Where THIS ONE Is?

I had such success getting an ID on the other old picture I sent out that I thought I'd try this one. I found this picture in with a bunch of other pictures taken of my great great aunts back around 1910 or so. I had two great great aunts who had moved to Oakdale Tennessee where their husbands worked on the railroad, and their sisters in Kentucky would visit them. These are wonderful shots even if they are pocked up a bit. Based on other pictures it seems they took an outing along the railroad somewhere, so I think this is near Oakdale Tennessee, which is about an hour west of Knoxville. However, there is a note on the picture that could be taken to mean that the picture was taken in Virginia.

If you go to the photo on Flickr, click on "All Sizes" and you will get a larger view. I have never noticed until today that there is a person in the picture - lookin the top right quadrant! This is absolutely priceless. I just wish I knew where it was!

The Dream of America

I finally got to sit down last evening and see footage from the events of Tuesday January 20, 2009. A usual I have comments :-). Yes, I realize that my reflections are but a minuscule drop in a huge river...still...

As I await the unfolding of the Obama administration I do so as one with serious differences on several issues. I worry over the possible signing of the Freedom of Choice Act, the reversal of the the Defense of Marriage Act, and resurrection of the Fairness Doctrine.

Having said that, and being on record as having the opposite view than the Democratic Party on these and other issues, I offer some reflections upon the Inauguration of Barack Obama.

When I think of the idea of the the "American "Dream" I think not of bourgeois comfort and social values but of opportunity for all. Specifically I think of the opportunity that any person, of whatever race or socio-economic status or gender or creed - the opportunity that any person has to achieve great things. This is the hope that America offers. This is the hope embodied in Obama's election and inauguration.

Several recent events have given me a sense of peace in the moment, despite the passion I may have for the issues above.

First, there is the crash of US Airways Flight 1549 last week. It is nothing short of astounding to consider that a commercial airliner filled with 150 people could make an emergency landing on water with no serious casualties or fatalities. Yes, it is a dangerous thing to try to interpret Providence. But I had and have this sense that what happened with Flight 1549, coming as it did right at the end of the Bush administration and just before the Obama administration has significance, that it means something, and something good for our country. I cannot prove that and I may be wrong, but this is what is rolling around in my mind and heart.

Second, the fact that a million plus people could assemble in Washington DC and that there would be no arrests, no major injuries, and no attempts to do mischief also astounds me. Again, I ask, why?

Third, watching people all over the world watching and celebrating the inauguration of Barack Obama is incredible to me. I think these people, our neighbors in other countries, are celebrating with us the amazing significance of a black American rising to the office of the President. It is almost as if Obama were the president of the world the way so many are celebrating. And maybe in a sense he is. It just seems right to me that he be our leader at this time.

Fourth, the graciousness of George and Laura Bush is noteworthy to me. I have always felt that George Bush a decent human being in a way many people are not. We needed his graciousness. Obama needed it. Obama has had - and still has - enough to worry about given all the issues we face as a nation. It is worth noting how unusual in the world today it is to have such a peaceful transition especially from one party to another. Again, this peaceful transition of power also embodies the hope that is the United States of America.

Fifth and finally President Obama said things in his inaugural address that needed to be said, things which only he could say with credibility. He was not merely sailing past us on the empty clouds of rhetoric. He was calling us all, rich and poor, black and white, male and female, Democrat and Republican to action, to responsibility, to united effort. In such times that is the right thing to do, and he did it very well.

These things all give me hope. Yes, if I wake up tomorrow and the Freedom of Choice Act is signed into law, the reversal of the the Defense of Marriage Act has succeeded, and the Fairness Doctrine is making itself to the President's desk, I will despair. I hope Obama finds the middle ground on these issues. We'll see. Mean time I watch, hopefully.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

So Far So Good

I did not get to watch the inauguration today, though I read the text of the speech. I will read it over several times. A friend of mine encapsulated my feelings almost exactly:

"I read the inaugural speech ... I did not hear it presented, but it must have been something else. Whoever drafted the speech (I hear Obama is an excellent writer and has much influence in these matters) did an excellent job. Here's hoping he can deliver on 10-20% of his intentions ... if so, I think he will have a good run. I just hope those who see him as political 'messiah' will open their eyes to the reality of all our problems and the reality of how government works. Lots of pressure on that man."

He has my prayers.

I am disappointed with the Drudge Report for running a headline entitled, I think, "Obama Flubs Oath." They have since taken that headline off - now it reads "Obama and Chief Justice flub oath of office...nerves as America swears in 44". It is a link to a clip of the little stumble in the second phrase of the oath. I thought the Chief Justice didn't do a very good job with it myself. But why does this have to be pointed out?

Anyway, I have no more stomach for the right doing this to Obama than I did with the left (and David Letterman) doing it to Bush.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Does Anybody Know Where This Is?

This is one of my favorite pictures of my dad as a child. The actual photo is tiny and streaked and pocked with damage. This is about as good a rendering as I can come up with.

In the picture are my grandmother Mary Sue Gillespie (nee Andrews, and known as "Nanny" to us grandkinds), Curtis Claunch Gillespie Sr (called "Brother in Extended Family and Pop to grandkids), and Curtis Claunch Gillespie Jr. (called "Sonny" in extended family, or for me, just "Daddy") .

I cannot figure out where this picture was taken. Behind and in the distance is a river. I wonder if this may be near Chattanooga, or maybe Chimney Rock. I really have no idea. I'll give ten bucks to anyone who can tell me with accuracy where this is.

OK - I want to thank Roch Smith for discovering the identity of this rock - it is "Umbrella Rock" on Lookout Mountain Tennessee. Roch sent a link to an awesome picture taken of the rock during the civil war. The rock doesn't look quite the same, but the identity is certain. Here is a vintage picture taken of the same rock, and another and another. Sometimes you just have to love the internet.

Check out my Flickr photostream.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

I Hear the Train a Comin'

The "9007" crossing the tracks at S Elm and McGee. I caught this from my fifth floor fire escape.

Yes, I did hear the train a comin', and yes, it was rollin' round the bend. The bend would be the big 90 degree curve running behind The Depot as the train goes from heading south to heading west, or the other way as the train goes from heading east to heading north. When the trains are coming- either down from the north or from the west - they start blowing their whistles as they approach downtown. They do this before they cross the bridge southbound over Washington Street, or before they cross S. Elm eastbound. So I can hear them coming. I can't always tell from which direction, but if I look out my window I can see if a train is coming southbound approaching the bridge over Washington Street. If I don't see it I go to the fire esc....OK, for real I just this second heard a whistle....OK, I'm back. That whistle just now was from a train that was coming from the west just crossing S Elm Street going east. I stood there on the fire escape until the engine was on the bridge over Washington Street, and the train had still not cleared S Elm Street!

Anyway, I love trains. I will never tire of hearing a train whistle, feeling the slow rumble, watching the engine and caboose and the shaking. OK, a story about trains....coming soon.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Train Behind The Depot, from 5th Floor Fire Escape, Guilford Building

I am not inclined to offer praise to my own pictures since I am a mediocre amateur at best. However, the chances are fairly decent that I would snap a good one every now and again, and this may be the coolest picture I've taken of downtown Greensboro. It looks to me like a photo of a model railroad, like a toy train and toy station. I took the picture through the rusted looking fire escape steps, which, due to their not being in focus highlighted even more the sharply focused train and station, giving it that model railroad look. You can see many more recent pictures of downtown in my set of downtown pictures, scroll to the bottom.