Friday, August 29, 2008

Ah....a luna moth

I espied this little feller on a tree next to my drive way. Patti Anne, who knows these things, tells me its a luna moth, and I don't need to worry about it ripping out my jugular vein. It's just a big ol' light green thing, and was in no hurry. Plenty of time to stare at it and go get the camera and take a picture. Cause they last longer.
It's really quite pretty.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Alright, gotta backtrack a little

A couple of days ago I posted my long awaited lie vs lay article, and Americans gave a collected sigh of relief. At some point about something I'm sure a lot of Americans sighed. And it's a large country, with a large population, so I'm sure millions of those sighs came at the same time. And odds are, the population being such, a portion of those sighs came immediately after I posted my little grammar article on lie vs lay. And a lot of those sighs had to be sighs of relief, its just a statistical probability. So, I've covered all my bases I think.

The thing is I read, or rather TRY to read, way too much Kafka. Or at least I have in the past. So I've just kind of taken Kafka an ran with it. If you don't understand what Kafka has to do with any of this, just try reading Kafka. Cause I don't either.

Anyway, I need to correct a statement. For some reason in my little inuendo laden diatribe about lie & lay, I mentioned something about oxen and children being irregular plurals that hark (or harken) back to English's Anglo-Saxon roots. Well, it just so happens last night I was laying in bed reading "The Mother Tongue," by someone who's name I can't remember, and I came across a paragraph about Oxen and Children.

Yep. What I read for pleasure.

Anway, I need to issue this little statement: I really don't know anything about the History of English. Well, I can scratch the surface, but that's about it.

At any rate, using an -n, -en, etc as a plural form was part of a midland English dialect a long time ago. East Midlands I think, and except for those Plurals, it is the dialect that won out as standard English. Because that is where London is, and where the business of government was done. Makes sense. But, for some reason "n" as a plural ending did not last. The "s" and its various forms as a plural ending, came from a more northernly dialect. So now we say Houses instead of Housen, loves instead of loven, hounds instead of hounden (or maybe houndren). And no one knows why. Or maybe they do. I don't know. Anyway, Oxen and Children are holdovers from that.

The thing is, using an 'n' or various forms of it as a plural is very German. English is a Germanic language, born from a German dialect, so it only makes sense. So I figured it was a holdover from the Saxons or something. I reckon not. I just reckon maybe I was wrong.

One of the neat things about English is that as time went on, it got simpler. That's because for almost 300 years or more, the powers that be in England spoke French. They didnt care about English, didnt even care enough to try to suppress it. It was the language of peasants and lower classes, did not have an educated class to try to regulate the grammar, and over time, it became simpler and simpler, grammar wise (believe it or not). English doesnt even have two forms of "you" like almost every other European language. English doesnt care about gender, and doesnt have a lot of other nasty things many other European languages have. But does it ever have synonyms. And homonyms. And even nastier things, like cleave - which can mean to bond together or split apart. So I guess its not that simple.

Anyway, I'm rambling. Time to go.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Momentous Event in Valdese

I've been promising to write something about this, and now is as good a time as any. First understand, Valdese, NC is a small town, so just keep that as a frame of reference for "momentous".

Ok, let me take you back two days ago - Monday. I walked out the door to take the dog on her morning walk, and within seconds, knew we were in for it. I knew that it was overcast, already, but I was not prepared for the humidity (with a capital hew) that hit me like a brick wall when I walked out the door. Not a breeze anywhere, just low clouds and very warm, heavy, heavy air. Within an hour it was raining, and it didn't stop. It rained all day Monday, all day Tuesday, and a bit on Wednesday. In the afternoons it would rain especially hard, as if a normal afternoon summer thunderstorm was wondering by, not realizing that it had been raining all day long. Finally today, it let up some. At one point there was a break in the clouds, and I had the pleasure of experiencing hot sun mixing with very wet ground and grass. Its a steam bath out there, in beautiful Valdese.

Tuesday evening was the culmination of the momentous event in Valdese (here after referred to as MEV). We were invited to a private catered affair by Matt & Deb Ferris, owners of Cornerstone Antiques, where we are vendors - we rent a space there. Its part of what I do to try to keep from working. About a month ago (and this is the MEV) Matt & Deb leased the Myra's General building, from the owners of Myra's restaurant & catering - if you're ever in Valdese, you owe to yourself to stop by. Ok, I know this is a let down, but not being from Valdese, you don't understand the ramifications. And I'm not going to go into the recent history in any great detail, but it's a big deal.

Cornerstone Antiques has been in town since October 2007. They started out in Mrs. Powell's building across from Myra's, then when Valdese Antiques & Collectibles went out of business, they moved into that building. Much better building, the best location in town. I've watched that business grow and grow. Now, it even has a coffee shop inside, with tables, and its a nice place.

When they leased Myra's General (the store, not the restaurant), it signalled a whole different way of doing buisness there. Before, people were just hired to work there, and it was only open part time. Now, Deb and Matt own it. Not the building, but the business - they can run it their way, and it is their's to make work or not. The person who was running it before, who did not own it, is no longer there and has nothing more to do with the place.

Myra's General has tons of potential, but has never lived up to it since I've been here. Its a large, very interesting space, with a lot of intresting things in it.

So Tuesday evening, in a pouring rain, vendors gathered at Myra's Little Italy (a very nice restaurant, btw, but not to be confused with 50's style Myra's ice cream shop next door), and are treated to a catered meal of BBQ (North Carolina style), baked beans, banana pudding, and lemonade or ice tea. Since I hate going to Food Lion, and hadnt eaten a whole lot that day, I knew a good deal when I saw it and helped myself.

Matt & Deb gave a little talk to the gathering. I knew ahead of time what part of that talk was going to be, and actually felt a little nervous. First they welcomed everybody, then they sold themselves, explaining to the people who didnt know them that they had experience, they knew what they were doing, they were growing their own business and wanted to do the same thing here. One of the biggest selling points was that Larry agreed to do this - lease the building to them and turn over the business to run as they saw fit. They had all kinds of other examples, answered questions and so on. Then they explained they would have to raise rents - and this is where I thought it may get interesting. Because in effect they are doubling rents for people who are already vendors, and a bit more than doubling for people coming in new. And they explained why, explained that they could not succeed as a business with vendor rents as low as they were now. And honestly, I think they are correct, the rents were very low, compared to the amount of space you've got. And they have to hire some people. The stores are close to each other, but two people cannot run two stores, so they have to have help. But even with rents as low as they were, most people were still having trouble selling enough to make their rent, cause the place just was not open enough. Nobody fainted, nobody fumed, who knows what people said when they left, but they were nice and did not seem suprised while there. Some people will almost certainly leave.

This is Valdese, and as Matt & Deb pointed out, the money drives by on the Interstate. One of their major tasks as owners is to give people on the Interstate a reason to drive into Valdese, and they have plans for doing that. Myra's has not done really well since I've known about it. They get a lot of people in there on Fridays during the car show months, and not much any other time. It was closed a lot more than it was open, and its hours were irregular. It is located off Main Street, and is just physically hard to see. Their major challenge will be getting people in that store. If they can, they will succeed. If they can't, then they'll have problems.

I've watched them and I'm betting they will succeed. That's it, the MEV.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Finally: Lie vs Lay

Everybody's been on the edge of their seat about this, I just know. Here finally at last is all I know about the proper usages of lie and lay. Believe it or not, I had to look some of this stuff up.
I'm talking about to lie as in "to recline on a surface". And the lay I'm talking about has nothing to do with sex. Its nice that lie and lay can mean so many things, its one of the neat things about English. Just so we're straight on the meanings I'm talking about.
OK, this may seem obvious, but lie and lay are two different words, with two different meanings. Heck they're even spelled differently & sound differently. These words are not interchangable - if they were, there would be no confusion, and what fun would that be?
The big difference between lie and lay (besides the fact that they are different words), is that lie is an intrasitve verb, and lay is transitive. Lay takes a direct object (accusative case). Lie does not. It's I lie down vs I'm going to lay the glass on the table. "glass" is a direct object. It is incorrect (and sounds a little funny) to say I am going to lie the glass on the table. It is also apparently incorrect, and doesnt sound the least bit funny to say, I am going to lay down.
Guess what the past tense of lie is? Lay, of course. Not the transitive verb tho - looks the same, spelled the same, pronounced the same, but it's a different word. Its the past tense of lie. So: Yesterday, Gina lay on the couch for hours. Sounds odd doen't it. If you're like me, you want to say Gina laid on the couch for hours. If you're like me, you'd be wrong.
The past participle of lie is a word I've never used in my life: lain. "He has lain on this table long enough, pull the plug!"
The present participle of lie is much easier for me to comprehend: lying. "Help me, help me, I'm lying right here!"
So, lie looks like this: Lie, Lay, Lain, Lying
Now, the beautiful Lay. (stop laughing).
Lay takes a direct object. I lay the knife down. Now I lay me down to sleep.
The past tense of lay is the very versitile laid. (wink, nudge) stop it. When Bill pointed the gun at my head, I laid the knife down.
Laid rears its ugly head again, because it is also the past participle: Bill, I have laid the knife down, so kindly point the gun somewhere else.
The present participle is laying: After laying down the knife, I high tailed it out the door.
So lay looks like this: Lay, Laid, Laid, Laying.
I like lay better than lie, its a bit more regular. Lie is somewhat irregular. I don't know if its the most irregular verb in English, but its up there, since it is such a common word. Of course there are two plurals in English (maybe more) which seem to come from deep in our Anglo-Saxon roots: Oxen (plural of ox), and Children (plural of child). So lie is in good company.
I like language, but I'm not sure I like it this much.
Just so everyone knows, I tested our very own Patti Anne about this, and she got it all right. She said she learned it all back when she was a smart girl.

Just a minor rant

I think the Olympics are over. I didnt really follow it, my wife recorded a bunch of it on the DVR & would replay it & fast foward thru stuff she wasnt interested in, and I pretty much watched whatever she did. This post is not about the Olympics, per se, but about an issue that bothers me that I once again ran across in the Olympics. This one is the "Redeem Team". I dont like the "redeem team". Well, the team itself is ok, I'm sure they're all fine young men, I dont like the name someone came up for it. It's irritating. When they first allowed professionals (by USA's definition anyway) into the Olympics the men's basketball team was called the "Dream Team", a bunch of NBA all-stars. I guess they lost a couple of games back in 2004 (again, I really don't follow), so this time they were the "Redeem Team". I wonder how many more words they are going to find that rhyme with team to describe a basketball team.

Many years ago I found myself in Northwest Indiana, sick as a dog, during the final week of the NBA championships. This was when the Chicago Bulls were a dominant team, and they had won two previous championships. All week, when I was strong enough to crawl in front of a TV, I kept hearing about "three-peat". And when they won, that was the 2nd or 3rd word out of everybody's mouth, at least on TV. Three-peat. A made up word that I guess was supposed to sound catchy or cute. (Did I just use cute?). Well, Chicago at least is like that. They call their city Chicago-land. Chicago-land (the dash is mine) extends well beyond the city, I'm sure it includes 1/4th of Indiana, half of Illinois, and portions of Wisconsin and Iowa. And they use it like it was the most normal concept in the world, like no one realizes anyone would think any differently. It sounds strange & made up to anyone who does not live in the Chicago area. Chicago-land. I'm so glad I don't live there.

Anyway, if the men's basketball team wins the Olympic Gold medal in 2012, are we going to have to listen to the possibility of the "redeem team" three-peating in 2016?

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

A Few Words About Wordless Wednesday

I don't really participate, but I could not help noticing. If you post a picure, then write a caption explaining the picture, doesnt that defeat the purpose?

The Waldensian Festival in Valdese, North Carolina

The Waldensian festival in Valdese was August 9th this year. But the most interesting time was the day before, the Friday evening when they closed down main street, set up a stage on the corner of Main & Roderet (right by Cornerstone Antiques), and closed off the rest of main for the Friday night "drive in" - a vintage/antique car show held every Friday night during the "warm" months. Since this is North Carolina, the warm months may be a bit longer than somewhere up in the frozen north. The picture to the left was taken the evening of August 8, and the crowd is gathering in anticipation of music to come. The large building to the left is the Waldensian Church. The building directly across the street is Wachovia Bank. The picture was taken from in front of Cornerstone Antiques, by none other than our very own Patti Anne.
Valdese started life as a religious colony of sorts. Here is a little history. Keep in mind, there are a lot of good sources for a history of Waldensians, or Valdese, and this blog is NOT one of them. But I'll tell you what I think I know. The Waldensians were a religious group, followers of Peter Waldo, and started, I believe, in the 12th century. They had beliefs that ran contrary to the theology of the Catholic church - one of which was they wanted to read & interpret the bible for themselves, rather than have it interpreted for them by the Church. This made them dangerous according to the thinking of the time, and also made them protestants long before the likes of Martin Luther. They were persecuted for centuries. Waldensians could be found all through central Europe. The group that founded and settled Valdese came from the Italian Alps, and spoke Provencal - a dialect I've probably misspelled, and I doubt most people could understand.
Sometime in the 19th century, the King of Italy decided to stop killing these people, and they prospered. Also, their population ballooned, and there was no longer enough land, so they began to establish colonies in other countries. One group bought some land in Burke County, NC, east of Morganton, and established a colony in 1892. Life was not easy, and they had to make some very quick adjustments. I think one of the first things they did was build a church - that large grey building in the picture. Originally the church owned the land, but eventually the communal experiment gave way to private ownership - the church selling the all the land to its members. What resulted is Valdese - a nice little town, with a lot of nice features, and an interesting history.
To this day I think there may be a two tier social strata in Valdese. The Waldensians, descendants of the original settlers, have names like Pasqual, Pons, Gigou (sp), and a lot of them are prominent in the community. There is a Waldensian cemetery & church (associated with Presbyterians), a heritage center, a museum and so on. The non-Waldensians have names like Ritchie (oops there goes my secret identity), and just thought it looked like a nice place to live. I only know this because people have told me. I'm pretty much oblivious to Valdese society, so whatever social strata exists is fairly irrelevant to me.
Anyways, back to Friday night. In the picture above, there is a crowd of people gathered before the music starts - its larger than it looks too, cause there were a lot that weren't in the picture. The entertainment that evening was by a band called "The Tams" out of Atlanta. Look closely at the crowd. One thing you can say about the good people of Valdese, is that for the most part, for lack of a better description, they are white. The Tams, was anything but white. So I wondered how this would go over with the crowd, 'cause it seemed to be a mountain/bluegrass/country/classic rock type of crowd at best. I didnt attend most of the concert - I was helping out at Cornerstone Annex (Myra's General), but at 9 PM or so, when I walked back up there, the place was jumping. A lot of the crowd were on their feet, they were closer to the stage, and moving around. I don't know if it was the same people or not - I have a suspicion at there was at least some turnover, but the whole place was packed. The band was loud, was quite good, and people seemed to be having fun. This was all Friday the 8th.
The next day, Main Street was closed again, with booths set up for several blocks, people selling things. I bought a face jug (look up Catawba Valley Pottery to see what I mean), and a couple of very good BBQ sandwiches from Myra's, and helped Patti out once again at Myra's General. It was fun walking up and down seeing what people were selling. There was music all day long, but no where near the crowds of the previous evening. It was a beautiful day - and about time. In 2006, it was virtually rained out, in 2007 it got to be over 100 degrees (F). Politicians were out in force, it being national & congressional elections and all. It was fun, but compared to Friday, a little on the sedate side.
This is the extent of my Waldesnsian Festival Observations.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Guess what this is about......

I had this great idea for a post, and at the time I thought it was so great I'd never forget it. Well I forgot it. Maybe I should purchase a little notebook and paste it to my forehead. I want to write something and this is frustrating. It's too late to write about the momentous event that happened in Valdese recently. I'll get to that, I promise.

I got to hold Eugene the dog today, down at the Cornerstone Annex (Myra's General). Eugene is a tiny, tiny, Chihuahua puppy, with huge ears. He'd lick my hand and get it all wet then I'd slick down his hair with it. Patti calls them Chinky-wawa's. I think Eugene is the first Chihuahua I've ever touched. When I got home, Pickles the dog accused me of cheating on her. I was sniffed from head to foot by that spotted half hound mutt.

What else.

Lord this is boring.

Oh, I wanted to do a little write up on the difference between lie and lay (part of my grammar kick), but I actually need to read up on it a bit. I think you lie down, but lay things down. I think. Now I do know that lay is also, among other things, the past tense of lie. So its correct to say I lay down, if you're talking about something you did in the past. But laid, is the past tense of lay, in the sense that you laid something down. That means it would be incorrect to say I laid down. I may have this all wrong, I really need to read up on it.

I was also thinking about how German and English are sister languages of a sort. I listed a bunch of K.W. Diefenbach's "Schattenfreis" recently. Schattenfrei translated litterally means "Shadow Free" or , to translate correctly, silhouettes. Diefenbach made a whole series of silhouettes and they are beautiful. But I think "shadow free" is a more colorful way of saying it. If you've never heard of Diefenbach, you owe it to yourself to look him up - quite an interesting character in late 19th early 20th century Germany.

Anybody ever read Richard Brautigan? I wonder if he and Diefenbach would have gotten along. What would Brautigan see in a Schattenfrei? Would Diefenbach see art in "Trout Fishing in America". Would he find humor in TFIA Shorty who didnt have any legs and lived in a park in San Francisco? Would a monkey on stilts inspire Brautigan to write another 4 line poem?

I wish I could remember what it was I was going to write about. Cause it was a lot better than this.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

My Trip To Food Lion

I made a short trip to Food Lion today, not a major shopping trip, just a trip to pick up a few items to make it thru the next couple of days. Nothing eventful happened, at least not for most people. For me, its always an event.

I seem to be hyper-aware of people around me when I walk into the store (any store, not just FL). So I found myself in my usual situation, trying to get in there and out of there as quickly as possible, while seemingly being followed or bumping into random assorted people. But they were all the same random and assorted people. I was constantly getting in someone's way, or someone was getting in my way, or someone was standing where I wanted to be and so on.

I felt like screaming - "Leave me alone, I just want some Salt & Vinegar Potato Chips!!!!" But I refrained. This is North Carolina, someone might have up and shot me. I can hear it now, "That boy had it comin', he was actin' all quare like". (Bless his heart).

So I didnt scream, but I did stop and think about it for a second. Just paused in the middle of an aisle and let the fine citizens of the greater Valdese area pass me by. I felt that I was in some quirk of the cosmos, that's why this old guy seemed to be everywhere I was, every aisle, every place, following in my footsteps. Perhaps I was in the cusp of an alternate universe. So, I decided I had to break whatever cosmic cycle I had stumbled into, and I did that by going and buying laundry soap. I had no intention of buying laundry detergent, but I figured that if I did something seemingly random, that might change the whole tenor of the place.

It didnt. As I was standing in line to check out the old guy came up behind me, said excuse me and grabbed a Mountain Dew out of the cooler next to me. Then he left. I reckon the cosmic cycle was making a statement. It isnt that easy to break.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Its late, I'm tired, but...

Thank you all for the comments on my previous post. That was really nice. I've been really busy the last couple of days, and havent had time to enlighten the planet with my insights, minute though they may be. I'm sure the planet is no worse for it. I've got some more language thoughts, for a later post.

A few post earlier I alluded to a momentous event in Valdese, I need to write about that, not now, but soon. Also, how could I not mention the founders day celebration, I need to write about that too. So if you've put a & b together, you now realize that I dont consider the founders day celebration to be the momentous event in Valdese. It is a big deal for a little town tho.

So, if I can get it done before I fall asleep, I'll mention an incident with Pickles the Dog. Please forgive typos and grammar (that goes without saying, I mean I try but lordy, please, it's English). About 10 days ago, My wife, Pickles the Dog and I piled into the pickup to head to the Post Office. It was our daily trip to ship out items we'd sold and pick up anything anyone cared enough to send us. Along the way, down on Praley Avenue, just before you get to the railroad tracks, (you all know where that is), we came up on some industious City of Valdese folk (or was it Duke Power?) trimming tees. As we passed the noise from a chain saw scared Pickles (aka the dog) and sent her burrowing into the floor of the truck. Now, every time we pass that paticular place, she jumps from the front seat & lays (or is it lies - see, grammar) on the floor. She makes that trip almost every day, there's not been any tree cutting there since, but she still seems to be scared when we pass it. In fact she dives to the floor every time. So I dont know about Pickles the Dog. What goes on in her little dog brain.

Ok, I have to go to bed. Coming up tho: The momentous occurance in Valdese, Some Founders Day Observations, and another language thought or two. Maybe I'll read Huck Finn again.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Another blurb on English

Thank you Ms. Orange for your comment on my previous post. I suggest everyone take a look at her (I'm assuming you're a her) site: I like it.

Anyway, people in the Southern and Central Appalachians in the USA were fairly isolated for a couple of centuries or so. Major river systems passed them by, there were no major roads thru the area until the mid-20th century, and not that many then. I think trains showed up in the early 20th century. So, I think a lot of the language spoken there was to a certain extent, frozen in time. I'm sure it changed over time, but perhaps not as quickly or in the same way. I understood it, though I didnt really speak it that much. My major hold over is I'm constantly saying "I reckon", instead of something like "I guess", or "I think so", but I think that's all over the South, not just the Appalachians. Oh, and of course you all (y'all), tho I always am refering to more than one when I use it, tho it's not always evident.

I think things really started changing with WWII, when hundreds of thousands of people were drafted or joined the military, and traveled to the corners of the earth. What an experience (terrifying or otherwise) that must have been. And then, they started building roads. Here's an example: Highway 80 is now a 4 lane road that running through Knott County Kentucky. When I was growing up, it was a twisty turny mountain highway. Well the twisty turny highway still exists, but its now called 550. When I was growing up, my father's parents house was quite aways off anything like a main road. The road to their place was dirt & creek, and if the creek was up, you didnt get there. The family cemetery was way up on a hill, and I remember walking up a foot path to get there. Well, the "new" highway 80 fixed all that. Where my grandparents lived no longer exists - they piled about 40 feet of dirt on it. A 4 lane road pretty much destroyed their property. The family cemetery that you had to take a foot path to get to & was way up a hill is now right next to a busy highway. Well, it makes a difference - things can happen now that never could before, and the region is more prosperous and is one step closer to being like the rest of the country. The isolation that used to exist really, for the most part, doesnt any more.

Unless you look for it. Get off the main road, and you can find yourself in another world. Its just that the main road isnt so far away anymore.

Anyway, back to language. I read Huckleberry Finn at age 11. I had no trouble understanding the language, and I didnt realize anyone else would. That book is written in 7 different dialects I think, of a section of Missouri in the 1840's or 1850's, from the highest to the lowest echelons of small town society at the time. I understood it all, and didnt think a thing of it. I didnt realize that some people found it almost like a foreign language. My son, who grew up in Maryland, struggled with it. Even if I had not used the language myself, or hadnt really heard it used, I knew what it meant - I don't know how, I just did. When Huck says, "I aint got no truck with no hounds", I knew, at age 11, exactly what he meant. It took me years before I realized that many people had no clue that all he's saying, in a colorful and round about way, is that he likes dogs. They didnt realize all the meanings "truck" can have. And that has to be because of where I grew up, and listening to the older people talk.

I am not any kind of expert in languages, shoot, I took a history of the language course in my senior year of college and it "liked to kilt me". This is just my observations and thoughts.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Thursday English Lesson: How Smart Are You?

Ok, this is my second, possibly last eastern Kentucky English lesson.

Smart can mean many things, and is used many ways. Also, "Right" can be used many ways.

Smart can mean someone who knows a lot, either about a particular subject, or in general. Right can mean opposite or wrong. Or opposite of left (English is like that).

However back home they are both intensifiers, and have other meanings. If a person steps on a rusty nail, he may say something like "Oh, that smarts". In this instant smart is used to describe pain. If it smarts, it hurts, take my word for it. Later on when when the doctor asks him how bad it feels, he may say, "Well, it hurts right smart", and the doctor would know exactly what he meant. If something hurts right smart, it hurts, again, take my word for it.

Smart can also means other things.

That boy runs right smart. Most likely the speaker is saying that boy runs alot, not that he runs well. I can't ever remember that exact sentence tho. How about, "That boy plays the banjer right smart". Ok, now you have to be careful, cause most likely it means he plays the banjo a lot, but it could also mean that he's good at it. Altho if they wanted to say he was good at it, most likely they'd say, "That boy's a good hand at banjerin' ". Or a right good hand.

I like language a lot. And I like this older usage of words - but its going away. I remember the old folks, the people who were born in the late 19th century, and are all dead and gone now. Those folks had a way with words. The "old-timey" ways are gone.

Ever heard (pronounced heered back home) anyone use the world holp? Its an old way of saying help, and I'm pretty sure old Will Shakespeare himself used it. So did my Grandpa, I heard it.

So, who cares? Language changes, and to wish for the older way of speaking, is to wish for times that are gone. It gets no one anywhere, once times are gone, they're gone. But I like it just the same. Just aint gonna fret about it.

My Struggles In The Ether

Ok, this is a slightly business related post, even though this is not a business related blog. But I gotta do it, it'll be done, then I won't do it anymore. This blog is about my mind. Or rather my thinking, feelings & things of that nature. Life, in other words. But business is part of life, so where to draw the line, where to draw the line. Who knows.

I've started another business related blog, and it is not associated with this blog. It's called My Struggles in the Ether - and can be found on It's purpose is to be a "blow by blow account of the struggles and triumphs of selling online". Now that's neat - I quoted myself and probably incorrectly. But that's what it's going to be, there should be something in there every day.

I'm being completely honest - I want to drive traffic to our online stores. I have no idea if this will work or not, but even if it doesn't I'm going to have fun at it. See you there.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

When you enter a city park bathroom, what should you do?

I took this picture a year or so ago - it was on the wall next to the door to a public restroom in a city Park in Hickory, North Carolina (20 miles east of Valdese). Given the context of its location, the message seems fairly deep and complicated - but I don't know the motivations of the author, or the meaning of the 3 dimensional square box. The box looks different depending on the way you look at the lines, does that have anything to do with the word "Think"? And should this be something to consider as you walk in to relieve yourself? Perhaps this message was left by a public servant, who may have more intelligence than us all, but does not have the ability to communicate it. Think. I Think Therefore I Am. An animal might say, I See Therefore I Am. You know, if an animal spoke English. Think. When you enter a public restroom in a city park in Hickory, NC, you should think.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

One reason I like living in the South - a little social commentary

You can say anything you want to about anybody, as long as you add bless his/her heart to the end of it.

"That baby's uglier than a buck naked blue jay, bless his heart. He caint help what he is".

" 'at ol' gal's dumber 'n mud. Her daddy's porch light flickered a bit too, if'n you catch muh drift. Bless her pore little heart, she caint help what she is."

Well I dont know about this.......

I've spent a few days learning about 'blogs' and 'blogging'. Of course I didnt realize there was so much to it when I started this blog. I have two blogs going, this one, which is more or less about things I find interesting - not really focused on any one subject; and "Struggles in the Ether" which is about the online business my wife & I run. I have since learned that blogging can be a business - (I now have an entrecard on this site) - but what I know is only the tip of the iceberg. I'm still a little confused about how everything works. For most of my life tho ('till I up and quit) I've had jobs that required very complicated problem solving skills - 15 years in IT, before that in the Army for example. So I know I can figure it out if I want to.

What I have found out is this: Blogging can be a business. You can make money at it, but it takes hours and hours and hours everyday. I already spend hours and hours and hours everyday on my online businesses, and that seems to be improving every month, so I don't really want to spend the time developing a blogging business. So, I'm not gonna. is interesting to see people coming to my site. I'd like to get more. Recently I received my first 'outside' comment - cool. I hope that a few of them click on the links I have to the online stores, but I doubt this will be a major source of revenue or business.

Now, my wife has a blog going in support of our online business, and she seems to have more of a knack for this stuff than I do - she'll probably do better. She was a business/analyst during her previous life, and I think takes a bigger picture approach to things than I do. I worked as systems engineer/information analyst/programmer analyst - always seemed to be involved in the minutae of programs and systems, and was rarely involved in 'the big picture', at least in any detailed way. (I lost that job after 15 years, back in 2001 - massive layoffs combined with much cheaper labor overseas; started working for TSA in 2002, quit that job in 2006, been doing online stuff ever since - that's another blog entry). Anyway, she'll probably be more successful than I will in driving business to our online stores thru blogs.

In my "useless thoughts" post below, I mused about how to get everybody to send a dollar to my PayPal account. Well, one way to get the ball rolling on that is by blogging. But its a LOT of work, and blogging as a business does not seem to be something that I'd enjoy. Who knows what will happen in the future, but for now, all I plan to do is maintain this semi-quirky little blog, pretty much free form, maintain "Struggles in the Ether", about my personal online selling issues, check in on a few blogs I like every day, and see what happens. I'm not going to worry too much about rankings, traffic, advertising or anything. Maybe nobody will care, but maybe eventually there will be a couple of regulars. Maybe we'll get some dog advice along the way. Past that, I'm not going to worry about it too much.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Pickles Part 2

A picture of Pickles the Dog is in the post below. Blogger is playing games with me tonight, so this is may way of trying to get around it. I'm too tired to explain. In fact, I'll continue this tomorrow. Sigh.

The mass of humanity who reads this blog has read a bit of the proud animal that is Pickles. Here's a bit more.

She is a mixture of Blue Tick Coon Hound and Labrador Retriever (in Theory). The hound personality is dominant, though she does like to retrieve. She has a very good bark, is a very good watch dog, and even though she is friendly & good natured, the Hmong people who come to our door occasionally asking if they can have some of our bamboo (yes, please, take it all) do not seem convinced.

We found Pickles at the Jamestown, NC Flea Market (just on the other side of Morganton) stuffed into a rabbit (or perhaps it was a chicken) cage. The good ol' boy was giving her away, so we took her, and now she's snoozing across the cord to my computer power strip.

She is 11 months old now (give or take), and still a tad maniacal, but there has been progress. She is no longer scared to walk into the house, like she was the first day. She no longer immediately cowers from everyone she meets. A major, major deal is that she is house broken. I'm not sure how we did that - it was a lot of trips outside, many times a day. A couple times an hour no matter what, but also when she woke up, or when she suddenly started getting real active. It took about 3 weeks before I suddenly realized, this Dog is completely house broken. Or as completely as a dog ever gets.

She had a habit of barking at pretty much anything - and that has scaled back a great deal, just because I think she's more used to her environment & the neighbors and such. If she saw a cat 1/4 mile away, she'd start howling. Now she just stares at it. Squirrels, tho, now that's another matter. She barks at them and tree's them very nicely. Oh, and she stalks them too, like a cat almost. My big fear is one day she'll catch one.

Lately I've been teaching her to stay. I have little treat in my hand, get her to sit, then repeat the 'stay' command as I move slowly away. Then I lay the treat on the ground, while repeating the 'stay' command. After a couple of seconds, I release her with an 'OK', and she gallops over and gobbles up the treat, and I tell her what a good dog she is, the best on the planet and so on. We've been working on that for a couple of weeks now, a little every day. If she gets up before I release her, we walk back to where she was and start over. I say she's about 65-70% there.

My wife has taught her to pay "Guess which hand", a fun little game in which she has one little treat in one hand, and nothing in the other. She gets Pickle's to sit, then hold out both hands & the dog has to guess which hand the treat is in. Well, there's only two hands to choose from, so Pickle's does pretty well at it.

We have large trees in our yard, and a strong wind always knocks down small limbs and sticks. We get Pickles to help us carry those to the stick pile out back. The stick pile is a great place, I think lots of little animals have made homes there. She looks very proud, tugging along a limb 3 times as long as she is, the only thing is, she usually does not want to give it up. And sometimes she stops to chew on it.

Another game is Tuesday morning trash can retrieval, where she helps us bring the trash can back from the drive way (she also helps us take it out).

Also, she'll lead us to the car or truck if we say the word. I sell stuff online, so she makes a daily trip to the post office, and has learned what "Truck" means.

So, pickles is coming along. There are things we need to work on - jumping is a big one. She also has a tendency to bite when playing, I'm not sure what to do about that. Its not aggressive, but it can hurt a bit. And tho she has not hurt the cat, she will not leave it alone.

Momentous things going on in the little town of Valdese - I'll write about that in a little bit. Anyway, scroll down for a look at Pickles T. Puppy Dog.

Pickles The Dog Part 1

Pickles The Dog