Sunday, September 28, 2008

392. Reunion Weekend

Last night I realized I was older than I remembered being. I went to the Durrett High School Class of 1978 30th Reunion - my gradution class. There were maybe 100 of us there, including some spouses and non-1978 grads, at Masterson's looking at each other's faces for more than a second before giving in to looking at each others' name tags trying to identify ourselves to each other with folks we had spent 3, 4, 6, or in some cases 9 years with every classroom day. Truthfully though, most names came back pretty easily despite some gray hairs (or lack of hair) and few pounds on some of us - the clear exception being Grant Lane, who looked pretty damned impressive for a 30 year reunion. Amazingly, most of us still live here in Louisville, and more than a few live within a few miles of our Alma Mater, located at 4409 Preston Highway, but now called Louisville Male High School as opposed to Sallie Phillips Durrett High School. Still, a comment I heard over and over was that despite our close proximity, few of us ever see any of us.

We had dinner and drinks and dancing, with entertainment provided by the bank R U O K, a Durrett original, with two of the members part of the original foursome being former Durrett students, Jerry Rubieau ('78) and Joe Shaw ('79). For several numbers, band drummer Tony Schnell, also a Durrett grad, relinquished his post to the band's original drummer, Grant Lane.

Stories were told and memories recalled, although not all of them all that clearly. For most of the night, I sat with Liz Calloway and her husband, Tammy Scott and her husband Mike Hoerter (also a '78 grad), Dana O' Leary and her husband, and Jackie Frost, who like me was there unescorted. Quite a few members of the athletic prowess of the Class of '78 was on hand including Greg Butler, a multi-sport standout who worked the room like a seasoned politician, greeting and chatting with every one there. Jimmy Hayes, now a retired Marine, was someone I don't think I've seen since graduation day back on June 2, 1978.

The event was organized by Elaine Curry (now married to Lindsey Sibert, who I think was an '81 grad), Ron Huff, Sheila Murley, and Mary Shaughnessy. Our class president, Missy Cook, was missing but our faculty sponsor, Judy Newsome, wasn't. When the time came for the class picture, she resumed her former role, organizing us basically by shouting out orders as to who should stand where.

Eventually the end of the night came and hugs and well-wishes were offered around the room. It was a really good time.

Today, I'm headed for a different reunion, a family reunion in Frankfort for the descendants of my mother's mother's parents. This one will be held at the Game Farm and a much bigger crowd is expected than the event I attended last night. Mostly this will be a time to see the remaining brothers and sisters of my grandmother, who passed away in 1976, nine years after her mother and three years before her father. We'll also see whose kids have kids, and which of those kids have more. I generally know a lot of these folks seeing three or four at a time through the years. There will be lots of food and drink and probably some homestyle music as well, as the family has its share and amateur (and one young up-and-coming professional) musicians.

I had a great time last night and am looking forward to today.

Have a good week.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

391. Dear Senator McCain --

Dear Senator McCain --

What's next?

First you politicise then hide behind your POW status.

Then you politicise and hide behind Hurricane Ike and cancel parts of your convention.

Then you politicise and hide behind the skirts of your running mate.

Now you are trying to politicise by hiding behind the economic crisis.

And next you want to cancel any real discussion about any of this in tomorrow's scheduled debate.

When are you going to stop running and hiding and start running for president?

-- Jeff

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

390. Lewis/Hockensmith/Noble

The second entry of this blog, posted on January 5, 2007, mentioned inter alia my great-grandmother Rachel Scott Brawner Lewis. She has been mentioned several times since that second entry which was entered on what would have been her 112th birthday. She died in March, 1967. I bring this up because of an advertisement which ran recently in the Frankfort State Journal. It concerns the upcoming Lewis family reunion.

In addition to pictures of my great-grandparents, Robert and Rachel Brawner Lewis, there are others of Linda Brown Sanford, Luretta Sharp Sims, and James (Jimbo) Lewis, Jr., all first cousins of my mother. They are the three behind the gathering which is to take place next Sunday. Here is the article from the State Journal:

In celebration of Linda Brown Sanford, Luretta Sharp Sims, and James (Jimbo) Lewis turning the big 50, we would appreciate all of our family and friends joining us at the Game Farm on September 28 for an afternoon and evening of fun and getting to know all the relatives we have never seen or have never met. Our grandparents had 12 children. Some have died [including my grandmother Vivian "Tommie" Lewis Hockensmith] and most are in their 70s and 80s, and a lot of the family would like to see how many of the family could take the time and come and join us. We are asking it to be like a big potluck - everyone bring something and share in a great meal together. If you're not sure if you are family ,ask William (Bill) and Betty Lewis, Charles and Garnett Lewis, Lura and Garnett Brown, Dorothy and Jake Henry, Frances Moore, Elbert (Egg) and Sarah Lewis, James (Jimmy) and Liz Lewis, and Virginia and Walter Sharp. We have rented both pavillions at the Game Farm so there will be plenty of room and we have it till dark. If you have a cornhole game, badminton set, or any other outside games we would appreciate any entertainment we can get. Even if you want to bring musical instruments and have a little jam session, whatever floats your boat. Even if you can only come for a little while or come and stay all day we would be thrilled to have you. If you're old friends or new friends of ours you are invited also. If you have any questions on what to bring just give us a call (239-283-8819 or 239-826-2004). We may not get your call but please leave a message and someone will return your call. If you know of family, please pass this on [which is what I am doing here]. Word of mouth will be our best advertisement. This is a big family so let's see what we can do. Some of us have lived in Florida for 29 years, and have missed out on a lot but it seems like ever since my Papaw Lewis died in 1979 this family has drifted further and further apart. Please take the time to join us and there will also be a guest book for everyone to sign. Please make this a very special day for all of us. Can't wait to see everyone.


The Game Farm, technically the headquarters of the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife, is out on the west side of town on Louisville Road, just before the new four-lane part of US 60 ends. For the record, here below is my line to the Lewis family.

Jeff Noble, son of Barbara Hockensmith
Barbara Hockensmith, daughter of Vivian "Tommie" Lewis
Vivian "Tommie" Lewis, daughter of Robert and Rachel Scott Brawner Lewis.

Finally, forty-eight years ago today, at 12 noon (Louisville was on the Central Time Zone at the time) at the old Norton Infirmary at S. Third Street and W. Oak Street, my mother gave birth to a bouncing baby boy, her first of two. Her first born was named Jeffrey Thomas Noble.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

389. The Last Sunday of Summer

This morning the rector at the Episcopal Church of the Advent likened the Parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard to the ongoing restoration of electricity here along the Left Bank of the Ohio River near Milepost 606. The laborers, you may recall, were hired at differents times of the day but when the payroll came at the close of business all were paid the same and for some, specifically those who worked all day, this was unfair. The vineyard owner's response was simply it was his money and he paid everyone what they were promised. He asked if some of the complainers were jealous in some way.

This is one of those parables which makes us question our own desires vis-a-vis those around us. No one really rejoices in the moral argument made here. The sermon used the example that, despite Advent's congregation being small, about 30 people, most were still "in the dark." The church itself, at the top of Broadway on Baxter Avenue, had power, while the neighbors and members closest to it, did not. I am about nine blocks away; my power is on. He asked if anyone had complaints that Frankfort Avenue, Valhalla, downtown, and other areas had power while they did not. Something about the first shall be last and the last shall be first. Something about we are all one body. He could have added, but didn't, the lines about "that which you do to the least of mine" as a reference to how some without power felt about those who had it. As I said, it is an uncomfortable parable, one without much acceptance in today's societal requirements of instant gratification and the me first attitude of the past generation. At least I liked the LG&E analogy.

As I said, this week promises to be busy. In between the planned "plans" I need to get to Mom's for some general yardwork unrelated to the storm, and I have been spending most of my free time visiting my father, who has been hospitalised for most of this power outage. That isn't likely to change until later in the week. And my brother's moving - that should be interesting.

As to my brother's moving, as well as a futon I've promised to my friend Preston, I need a truck. I've owned a truck most of my life, up until this February. My trucks have been used to move me, my relatives, my friends, my friend's relatives, and any number of others, some of whom I've met only once, over the years. When I promised the futon to Preston earlier this summer, I failed to remember moving it required a truck. When my brother moves at the end of this month, it will be his first move in two decades without the assistance of his dear old brother's truck.

Maybe not having a truck is a good thing.

By the way, Summer ends tomorrow.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Day Six - Out of the Heart of Darkness

Day Six, Saturday

Power has been restored through a large portion of town, but pockets still remain, many closer to town, especially in the Highlands, Germantown, Camp Taylor and other liberal-voting parts of town, where there are more trees and more exposed wires. I'm sure the late Reverend Falwell would attribute that to their voting patterns, but power also lacks in parts of Okolona, Valley Station, and Jeffersontown, where people voting Republican outnuber those of us of the left. The school systems (public and Catholic) have announced classes will resume on Monday. Stores have been restocked and refrigerators have been wiped clean, ready for some new purchases, which everyone has to make.

So, how have we fared? Honestly, given the enormity of the storm, I think we’ve done quite well. There has never been anything like this in the history we are aware of – such widespread destruction and the resulting lack of power. Most people either on their own or with the help of neighbors and friends, and even folks they don’t know, have cut up the limbs, swept up the leaves, and have probably made their trip to Kroger for restocking.

But there are still about 60,000 homes without electricity in Louisville, which is about 1/8 of LG&E’s entire service area. That number is still about 80% of those which were out in the aftermath of the April 3rd tornado thirty-four years ago. There is still much, much work to be done.

One of the things that has come out of this is an awareness by folks who live in the old City of Louisville, the only government in Jefferson County which was wiped away by Merger, that people in the area outside of the old City want to use City taxes to pay for tree removal. People in the old City pay both a City and a County tax to receive more services. Those services include Fire protection, street lights, sidewalks, and solid waste removal. The mayor has always argued that the old City money has never been spent in the area outside of the old City, although, frankly, I have always doubted that statement.

Thursday, for the first time since Merger came in (five years ago), a spokesperson for the Mayor’s office finally acknowledged that City folks pay double taxes (City and County) and those extra dollars are only to be spent in the old City. I’ve never heard his office expressly say that before – it is something City taxpayers have been waiting to hear since 2003. The old City also used to get the dividend payment from the Louisville Water Company, a company solely owned by the old City of Louisville. That money is now spent throughout the County, an obvious slight to the former shareholders, that is the people of the former City of Louisville.

In so many ways, the government voted in by the people in November, 2000 has been a failure. For the record, I voted no, as I usually do on any ballot measure. I also wrote a number of letters to the editor of the Courier-Journal on the subject, letters which were used against me in my 2002 race for the Council, one I admittedly lost in an overwhelming fashion, letters used to accuse me of not being a team player. Those accusations were wrong in that I was a team player, I just wasn’t playing for the mayor’s team. Now there are a number of people out in the County upset that the mayor is using City tax dollars for City residents only. It is a novel idea, something he should have been doing for the last five years and nine months. Several County members of the Council are introducing an ordinance to force the mayor to spend that money in the County. They should be introducing an ordinance to raise taxes in the County so they wouldn’t be needing the City’s money to solve their problems. But that isn’t going to happen – I know that is simply wishful thinking on the part of City residents who think the County residents are taking them for a ride with the consent and support of the mayor and members of the Council. We see what happens in the showdown at City Hall next week.

But, I digress.

All in all, the mayor and his team have responded as well as could be expected with such a large amount of work to do and they have done a good job under the circumstances. There are still limbs and wires down, streets closed, and homes and businesses without electricity. But everyday a little more work is done. The weather had, up until Friday, been cooperating with warm days and very cool evenings, but Friday’s temperature climbed back toward 90. Today has been mostly an overcast day of pleasant temperatures. That's been good for the 20,000-plus visitors here along the Left Bank of the Ohio River near Milepost 606 in town for the interantional golfing event known as the Ryder Cup. It is being shown on NBC.

As with all things, we’ll survive.

*****

The upcoming week promises to be busy. There are political events almost every night, my 30th high school graduation reunion is this week, a big Lewis family reunion will be one week from tomorrow in Frankfort, and I'll be 48 on Tuesday.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Day Three of Darkness in Louisville

And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.

And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years:

And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also.

And to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness: and God saw that it was good.


*****

When I was a kid, my grandmother regularly made references to the ’37 Flood as if it had happened last Thursday. Thirty plus years afterward, the flood was a regular talking point in her conversations about Mother Nature.

Anyone my age or older will recall where they were April 3, 1974, when the tornado passed through Louisville (and most of Kentucky, the South, and the Midwest), tearing up trees and houses and leaving a mile wide path of devastation in its wake.

On a more whimsical but nonetheless destructive note, folks living in Old Louisville, Park Hill, and the U of L area will recall the morning of February 13, 1981 when Louisville’s sewer system in that area literally blew up creating traffic jams for several months as streets and sewers were rebuilt for a fairly large section of town. “Where were you when the sewers blew?”

Now, for the next generation, Sunday, September 14, 2008 will have a place of significance in Louisville weather-lore, the day when what was left of a hurricane blew through in a big way.

The remnants of Hurricane Ike began its passage through Louisville shortly after church let out around 12 noon. By 1:30 pm , strong winds were constant and most folks began losing electricity. Unlike the tornado which comes and goes in a manner of minutes and tends to follow a reasonably narrow path of maybe a mile wide, the winds from Ike did not let up at all for nearly four hours, gusting at times to 75 miles per hour, and covering everything between Lexington west to Saint Louis, about 325 miles wide. The howling of the wind made for some interesting noises. There was no lightning or rain as was predicted, just wind. With the winds, both trees and power lines came down, along with stoplights, signs, roofs, and all the flotsam and jetsam that seems to accumulate along the sides of roads and highways in the curbs and ditches. Many homes all across the region have uprooted trees and in many cases open roofs where the trees landed. It is estimated that at one point about 80% of the customer base of the Louisville Gas and Electric Company were without power. That was Sunday. Most still have none today and we’ve all be told that it may take a week for full restoration. The schools are closed in a seven-county area and many are closed until next week; several businesses are shuttered, and the sound of chain saws is beginning to permeate the air, although the local Home Depots and others are now reporting they are out of chain and generators. From the reports in the paper and on the internet, it seems that no part of town, or for that matter anywhere in Kentucky and Indiana, was spared.

Monday I drove out to my mother’s where my chainsaw (and clippers and trimmers) happened to be. I would have needed my tools to go to my dad’s where his one tree, a not very tall tree which has been beat up in previous storms, was mostly in his and his neighbor’s front yards. But, before I could do that, his neighbors, who also lost trees, took care of him. I'll forgive them their Northup for Congress yardsign for the moment. They are very good neighbors to my father. I spent most of the day with him as he was concerned about using his oxygen tanks without the aid of electricity. He has a backup tank which he is now using. When I drove in today, I went through his neighborhood which is still without power.

So, the clean up has begun, or at least makes pretensions of beginning. Until power is restored, very little clean up can take place other than gas powered saws, or saws using power generated from gas powered generators.

But, the sun came up again Monday, as it tends to do on the mornings after, as it did on Tuesday, and again today. And if the power is still out tonight, as it promises to be, there are sparkling stars and a bright, full moon hovering in the sky giving light where otherwise there is none.

While an argument could be made that the city and our foreign owned utility company aren't providing, the Lord does, as the words of Genesis above tell us.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

386. Betting on Elections; the Repeal of Prohibition; Saint Paul's First Letter to Titus and his remarks on the Love of Money

Don McNay is a financial analyst, counselor, and writer in a city back east - east of Lexington at least, which for many is a great line of demarcation for many things. McNay is from Richmond. You can view his website at www.donmcnay.com. I am on his email list and very much enjoy his columns. Now and then I respond, as was the case today. So, first I reprint Don's column, and follow it with my response, which admittedly wandered a little from Don's original premise.

*****

Don wrote:

2008 is a turning point in my life. I quit watching pundits and rarely look at political polls. I have the answers, long before political "experts" do.

I track who is betting on political races.

A futures trading website called www.intrade.com allows you to "buy" futures contracts on the outcome of the presidential race.

There is supposedly a difference between betting and buying futures contracts. I have no idea what it is. It looks like gambling to me.

I grew up around bookmakers and the people at www.intrade.com figured out how to make it legal.

I've followed www.intrade.com for the past year and found it to be amazingly accurate. Look at it and see.

By going to www.intrade.com you eliminate the television blowhards and avoid polls like the one that picked Obama to win the New Hampshire primary.

I have not sent www.intrade.com any money. I have no idea who is behind it or where they are. I don't like to bet but want to know how other people are betting.

The political futures market is a great example of an economic theory called "the wisdom of crowds." Following money movement is a great way to predict outcomes.

When many people put their money up, sentiment and emotion are minimized as factors.

The www.intrade.com numbers are an interesting mix. The bettors favor Brack Obama to win over John McCain, but if you look at the betting on a state by state basis, McCain has a slight lead in the electoral votes.

Al Gore will tell you that winning the popular vote doesn't mean anything unless you get the electoral votes.

Looking at the state by state breakout, I'm stunned at how many states has already been "decided" one way or another.

If the odds are 90% in one candidate's favor, 60 days out, they are normally going to win an individual state.

Barring something extremely weird, a vetted candidate is not going to screw it up.

According to the trading, most of us are sitting the 2008 election out. If you are an Obama supporter in Kentucky, the odds are 98% to 5% (there is a margin of error) against your candidate. If you are a McCain supporter in Maryland, you are also out of luck. Obama has 93% there.

Most of the states that were for Bush in 2004 have a 90% or better rating for McCain. The Kerry states are generally going for Obama.

Virginia, Nevada Ohio, New Hampshire and Colorado are where the battle will be fought. Virginia, Nevada and Ohio have small leads for McCain and the other two slightly favor Obama.

All five states went for Bush against Gore and all but New Hampshire went for Bush against Kerry. If Obama is going to win, he needs to get all the states that Gore won in 2000 and add one.

Any one will do.

The good news is that we won't care about Florida. The betting favors McCain by about 65%.

Every now and then, I fall into the trap of political gossip and I wonder where some people get their information. I read that some Democrats were worried about California. 93% of the bettors disagree with that concern.

I thought that Obama would have a hard time winning Pennsylvania because he struggled against Hillary Clinton. 74% of the futures traders think otherwise. Just last week, I argued that Pennsylvania was in play. The futures traders have smacked down that notion.

A prediction does not mean that results are locked in stone. Someone can screw up or have a scandal break.

I doubt that McCain or Obama have a girlfriend (or boyfriend) on the side. On the other hand, I never dreamed that John Edwards had a mistress.

If Edwards had still been a viable candidate, his bettors would have lost big time.

For every person that wins a bet, there is another person that loses. Just like an election.

With tools like www.intrade.com, we have a better idea as to will be victorious.

As the late Mayor Daley of Chicago would say, "don't make no waves, don't back no losers."

*****

Here is my response:

You know the old saying, "If it walks like a duck . . . ." Intrade is gambling. But to consider it so, one must also consider any "official" trading as gambling. The Stock Market is licensed gambling as are any casinos where states have approved them. The only differences are the middle men (or women). In licensed trading at the Stock Market, or via a state Lottery - all gambling, the profits of the middlemen are taxed, thereby making them a friend of the government. In most true gambling rackets, those profits by-pass the IRS and go into the pockets of the middlemen undiminished.

Consider the imposition of Prohibition in this country - by a Constitutional amendment no less. Despite all the temperance leagues in the world, one of the biggest but unspoken arguments in favor of prohibition was the government's inability to control the distilling and distribution of alcohol. This was especially true just after the First World War when our economy and those of much of the civilized world were under seige in a depression. What brought about the change in Prohibition? One thing was the government needing a new tax source during the depression. The other was all about control. With the advent of cross-country railroads and the coming on of cross-country highways, alcohol could be taxed as it became an economic interest of interstate commerce. But first the government had to legalize it. Then they created tax stamps. And if they couldn't tax it at the production house, they used railway inspectors as tax collectors imposing fees as an item of interstate commerce. The Repeal of Prohibition was a revenue enhancement scheme, to borrow a phrase from President Reagan.

The lack of reveue enehancement schemes are some of the reasons I believe we are in the economic throes, the great transfer of wealth that T. Boone Pickens has suddenly become interested in. But this transfer isn't new. It has been growing and growing since the late 1970s, since Proposition 13 in California, House Bill 44 in Kentucky, and all the tax-reducing pieces of legislation at all levels of goverment since that time. As people were taxed less and less, thereby putting more money in their pockets, as opposed to the governments, people found more and more opportunities to invest. And those opportunities weren't limited to the good ol' US of A. More and more of those dollars which used to be invested in the government of the United States of America (as taxes) were now being sent overseas and across international borders where both labor and materiel costs were far less. And not all of it came back in return. The great transfer of capital out of the United States is a direct result of the tax-lowering policies which put the Republican Party in power in this country and kept them there for a generation, by politicians promising lower taxes or no new taxes, a scheme which can ultimately be the downfall of a nation.

We are now feeling, at all levels of government, the impact of this transfer of wealth out of our Republic. And we are now faced with what the politicians like to call "doing more with less" but what is in reality "doing less with less." Until and unless there is a stop to the wealth going overseas, there will be a dearth of it homeside. One way to prevent that is put more money back into the government - investing in the country - which will force less of it to be available to leave in the form of foreign investments or off-coast tax shelters, benefitting only a few and ignoring the many.

But most Republicans and for that matter many Americans of all political stripes, have lost the enthusiasm and desire to invest in their government. The politicians have made doing so something less than honorable. When I see people using the flag as a political backdrop, or relying on expressions like Country First, and the politicization of events like September 11th, I remind myself they are frauds - nothing less.

If they aren't willing to invest in the government, which means paying more taxes, as opposed to investing in private enterprise and overseas banking concerns, they should haul down their flags, put away their firecrackers, and forget the words to the Star Spangled Banner. They aren't deserving of these accountrements of patriotism, because they aren't patriots. They are rather the people of whom Saint Paul wrote in his First Epistle to Timothy who love their money, the desire of which is described as the root of all evil. They are America's great Evil-doers. And before our country falls as did Rome, they must be stopped.


*****

A final note -- The most important line in Don's entry is this four-line whopper: "Any one will do." We need one more state than Al Gore got in 2000 to begin to change the country, the way we began to change it back on November 6, 2006 when we elected the 110th Congress. Again, as Don points out, any one will do.

385. Return from Kenlake

Ok. I promised a trip back to Louisville from Aurora. Here it is.

After the meeting, I returned east across the Eggners Ferry Bridge, leaving Marshall County and re-entering Trigg County and the Land Between the Lakes, on US68/KY80. This would be the only portion of the return trip over the same roads. A new intersection is currently under construction for US68/KY80 and The Trace, the LBL’s north-south route. Remnants of the old intersection remain and I used them to exit down onto The Trace and taking the first right stopped at the Visitors Center, which also houses a planetarium. Of the nine cars in the parking lot, mine and two others were from Kentucky. I changed out of my “meeting” clothes and into some lighter and looser fitting garb. After walking around there, I ventured north several miles, entring into Lyon County, before cutting east along the Old Eddyville Ferry Road, which once connected the now submerged cities of Eddyville on the east side of the Cumberland River (which was relocated after Lake Barkley was created) and Birmingham on the west side of the Tennessee River (which wasn’t relocated after the creation of Kentucky Lake). On old maps of Kentucky, this road which crosses the LBL from southwest to northeast was marked as KY58. At the end of the road I did my traditional dipping of the toes into the waters of the Cumberland, one of the most historic rivers of early America, a river which both starts and ends in Kentucky.

I returned to The Trace and continued the journey northward in the LBL. At the North Welcome Station, there is a hiking path known as the Canal Loop Trail which, if followed in its entirety, allows views of both lakes as well as the connecting canal between the two. I walked a very short part of about 1¾ miles of the part closest to the Welcome Station, a circular route which follows down the hill to Kentucky Lake and then back up. That was my exercise for the week. I need to do that more and keep making plans to do so, plans which typically remain just that – plans.

Finishing the hike, I finished my visit to the LBL, driving north out of the area and out of Lyon County and into Livingston County, which begins just north of the connecting canal on KY453. At US641, multiplexed at this point with US62, I turned east and headed back into Lyon County through Eddyville to the point where US62 and 641 divide, at which point I took the road less travelled, US641. US641 runs northward, out of Lyon and briefly into Caldwell County at Fredonia where I’ve made a mental note to inquire of Ray Crider if he has people there, as one of the crossroads in Fredonia is Crider Street, running between Grove Street and Dycusburg Road. From there US641 continues over into Crittenden County near the little town of Mexico, at the intersection with KY70. A few miles north of here is the city of Marion, seat of government for Crittenden County. At Gum Street, US641 is joined by US60, which would be our route most of the rest of our journey within the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

US60 leaves Marion on a northeast bend of the N. Main Street, there becoming Sturgis Road. Heading northeast carries one through the village of Mattoon which is very near the village of Repton, a little to the south along the railroad line. Crossing the Tradewater River over into Union County brings you into the small town of Sullivan. At a fork in the road, US60 bears left (or north) towards Sturgis. Along the way, on the left side of the road, was something I haven’t seen in a while – an unpaved road with a state highway number, KY923. I of course noticed first the number of the route, 923, a number (or date) of some importance to me. The route enters from just south of US60 where it makes a 90 degree curve, crosses 60, then juts west only a mile or so. I’ve since learned it is called Claysville Road. I’m not sure how many unpaved state highway routes remain or if there is some good reason this one is not. It did catch my attention.

The town of Sturgis in Union County is growing. It is well known for its smaller version of the bike rally held in a city of the same name in South Dakota. From Sturgis, US60 goes up Blueberry Hill, along a ridge, then levels back down as you enter the Union County seat of Morganfield. Morganfield has a By-Pass around the south and east sides, but I trekked through town to get a look at the Court House and downtown. US60 courses along Morgan Street, a somewhat narrow street with high curbs in the residential section west of the Court House. The more industrial parts of town are located east of the Court House along US60, going past Flournoy and into Waverly. One of UK roommates is a native and current resident of Waverly, Chris Greenwell. I hadn’t seen Chris in several years until he showed up at the Democratic State Convention back in June as a Union County delegate.

US60 runs generally due east out of Union County and into Henderson County, whose county seat is a city of the same name as the county. But before arriving in the city of Henderson, it is necessary to pass through Corydon, hometown to a Kentucky legend, former Governor and United States Senator Albert Benjamin “Happy” Chandler. The towns boasts an elementary school named for Happy.

Henderson (the city) is a large long drawn out affair of a city with wide streets and cross streets, something I like in a town but a lot of European afficianados do not. It gives you the wide open feeling of a midwestern town. Henderson is on the left bank of the Ohio River, which at that point runs in a north-south course. It is a few miles south of Evansville, Indiana and about 25 miles west of Owensboro, Kentucky. The main intersection is that of Second Street and Green Street. Green Street takes one to US41, which takes one north of downtown, past the entrance to the John James Audubon State Park, across the Ohio River but still in Kentucky, and alongside Ellis Park Race Course, eventually crossing the stateline into Indiana.

Once in Indiana, I met with an old friend of mine and we walked along the beautiful brick riverwalk along Riverside Drive in downtown Evansville, the county seat of Vanderburgh County, Indiana. The original part of Evansville is laid out in a grid pattern on an offset southwest/northeast pattern of crossstreets. The Ohio River makes a huge and narrow bend opposite this part of the city, a bend less than a mile in width, much like it does much further upriver in Meade County, Kentucky.

We made our way out to the Wesselman Woods Nature Preserve, a very neat forest area right in the city, much like Louisville’s Beargrass Nature Preserve, except that Wesselman is fairly flat for the most part. One side of it runs along the old Wabash and Erie Canal path. After some time spent there, I was ready to say bye to my friend and head north back to the Left Bank of the Ohio near Milepost 606, a ride of just over 110 miles, along Interstate 164 north from Evansville to Interstate 64 over to Louisville.

Monday, September 8, 2008

384. Weekend Travel to Kenlake

As many of you know, I took a trip over the past weekend down to the southwestern part of the state to Kenlake State Park, which is advertised as being in Hardin, Kentucky, but is in fact only in the Hardin zip code, actually being located in the small village of Aurora, which doesn't have a zip code of its own. Aurora is made up a several mobile home courts and other "camps" along the western shores of Kentucky Lake in far southeastern Marshall County. It is about ten miles due east of downtown Hardin on KY402, which up until a few years ago was known as KY80. The last time I visited Kenlake (other than a few weeks ago when I drove around that part of the state during the annual jaunt to Fancy Farm) the park was located on KY94. That road has been replaced by the new KY80, a wide four-lane currently finished from the Eggners Ferry Bridge west to US 641. Someday the KY80s will all be connected again, but not yet.

Although I was supposed to have made the trip with at least one and possibly two others, neither came with me which left me to my own devices along the highway. Following my old rule of not going and returning by the same route, and given that I had just been to the west a few ago, I changed course early on, exiting the long and boring Wendell H. Ford Western Kentucky Parkway at Leitchfield, on KY 259 south in Grayson County. I had not been down this road since the summer of 1991, when I was taking my friend Rob to his girlfriend's grandfather's camp on Nolin Lake at Conoloway. But instead of turning left to go over to Peonia and out KY88 to the camp, I turned right, staying on KY 259, through the little towns of Annetta, Moutardier, and Broadway, bringing me into Edmonson County. Moutardier is one of those words that the locals use to know "you ain't from here." My aunt and late uncle have a place on Moutardier Shores, which my uncle would jokingly pronounce "moo-tar-dee-ay" as if it were French. But, like Versailles, which isn't pronounced as if it were French, neither is Moutardier, which is pronounced something like "moody-deer." I played little league at Okolona with a Moutardier and he taught me many years ago the Kentucky way of saying his name.

Towns along the way to Brownsville, the county seat of Edmonson, included Bee Spring, Woodside, Sweeden, and Lindseyville. Kyrock is in there somewhere although not directly on KY259. In Brownsville, there was a farmers market getting started on the Courthouse square, which is offset from the main road - this was about 6:55 am their time. I chatted with the two farmers who were setting up, getting into a political discussion, which wasn't the smartest thing, me being from Louisville and they each being God-fearing Republicans from Edmonson County. The conversation ended admirably.

Although I meant to head west out of Brownsville, I realized that being south of the Green River meant I would be continuing generally south rather than west for a few miles. KY259 is joined by KY70 south of Brownsville and the road is currently being widened once you get passed the Dairy Queen, one of the must-stop places in a small town if one wants to gauge the political climate, which I usually like to do.

At a town named Rhoda, KY259 bears to the east back toward Mammoth Cave. I went south on KY101, leading out of Edmonson and into Warren County, shortly after passing through the town of Chalybeate. I've never known if that word is pronounced "kal-ee-be-ett" or "chal-eh-beat." I've heard both. Once in Warren County, I turned south on US31W, known in Bowling Green as Louisville Road. I stayed on 31W into the outskirts of Bowling Green, alongside Barren River and the CSX RR (formerly the Louisville and Nashville) and further meaning I didn't go up the hill, at the top of which is Western Kentucky University, instead turning on the US68 By-Pass called Veterans Memorial Lane winding around the north and western edges of the city adding about five miles to the route which would have otherwise skirted me along the western edge of Western's campus. Eventually I made my way to the Russellville Road, heading southwest on Kentucky's Southern Corridor, US68/KY80, which I've written about before back in August 2007. Leaving Warren takes you into Logan, named for Benjamin Logan, the brother of an ancestor of mine - if the research is correct - through my paternal grandmother's family.

Logan's communities are South Union (which sits on the Memphis Junction line of the L&N and is now owned by the R J Corman RR, which also serves as the boundary between Logan and Simpson counties), Auburn, and Russellville. Beyond Russellville, at least along US68, there are no discernible smaller towns. The next county is Todd. Up on the southern side of the highway, along the old road, is the village of Daysville or sometimes just Days. You must turn off the four-lane US 68 onto the old road to head into the county seat of Elkton, population about 2000. Todd County's population is about 12,000. Last year when going through Elkton, I became ware their old court house in the center square is now a museum. But I couldn't find the new one, if there is one. Because I was on a schedule, I didn't take the time to look. But, given the whole town is only two miles square, it must be there somewhere. West of Elkton, the old road jumps to the the northside of the four-lane where one will find the town of Tress Shop. I do not know the origin of this name. Still further west, on the Todd-Christian County line is the village of Fairview, birthplace of Jefferson Davis, the one and only president of the Confederate States of America, which site is marked by an obelisk, also previously mentioned in a previous entry. A few weeks ago a friend of mine, Preston Bates, called me from this site informing me of his presence there. I returned the favor but only got his voicemail.

Like the western side of Logan County, the eastern side of Christian has no small towns that I noticed. It isn't long before you pass the southside By-Pass (variously called Eagle Way and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Way) and begin the descent down McLean Avenue and into Hopkinsville, the county seat, a town which appears much larger than it is recorded to be. I have a confession. I always lose my bearings in Hopkinsville, heading north which I take to be west. I've done it at least three times. The key is to stay on the numbered streets, particularly 7th and 9th, and avoid the named streets such as Virginia and Main, both of which I always think will take me where I intend to go, although neither of them do. 7th Street eventually makes a right turn and dead-ends into 9th, where one should make a left if it their intention to "Go West Young Man" as John Soule and later Horace Greeley both famously suggested people do. As thus I did.

West of Hopkinsville, and just before the Trigg County line is Gracey, Kentucky, again off on the old road to the south of the highway. Crossing into Trigg means crossing under Interstate 24 and through what was once called Montgomery but now seems to be just a commercial area at the highway intersection, a few miles east of Cadiz, the Trigg County seat. I did not exit the four-lane and venture into Cadiz as I normally do, as it was closing in upon the time of the meeting I was attending still twenty minutes away. The new US68 runs well south of Cadiz heading directly into the Land Between the Lakes (LBL) at Canton, an old river town which is mostly gone.

Within the LBL, the highway is being rebuilt as a wider road. But, the bridges on either end, the one leading in from Canton, and the other leading out to Aurora, are both old and narrow. I do not know if there are eventual plans to replace the bridges.

Crossing the Eggners Ferry Bridge out of the LBL and up the hill into Marshall County, US68 forks off to the right. Kenlake State Park is just ahead on the left, on the new KY80. My meeting started at 10:00 am Central Time. I arrived at 9:55, greeting State Party Chair Jennifer Moore in the lobby of the Lodge, as she was just arriving from the Lone Oak Ham Breakfast, held over in Lone Oak in McCracken County, at her high school Alma Mater.

The next entry will describe the journey back to Louisville.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

383. Apologies

The first apology is to the Hon. Jennifer Moore, Chair of the Kentucky Democratic Party.

*****

Dear Jennifer --

This letter is to put into writing the words I offered to you in person the night of the last State Central meeting. As I said then, the events of the last several weeks - and now months - have been pleasant for none of us. Much of that is considered to be my doing.

I am aware the actions I took in response to what I believe occurred at the State Convention have had repercussions well beyond what I intended. I know that we disagree on what happened and nothing either of us can say will change the opinion of the other. However, my response has created problems for you and others and that was not then nor is it now my intention.

When faced with a decision to act or react, sometimes such a decision comes without knowing, or in some cases, without even considering, the scope of both the problem perceived and any possible solution. My actions are such as these. I neither knew nor considered what all was involved.

I cannot go back and undo the words spoken or untype the words written which have created the places we now find ourselves in. Nor would I have spoken or typed them if I knew the rancor and division they would cause. And for those reasons I owe you an apology.

I have struggled through these last few weeks knowing that you and I have been friends for some time, that we see each other on a regular basis, that we are likely to encounter each other in our future political lives, and that we have a number of mutual friends, most especially Dan. You have never been anything less than professional and polite through all of this and for that alone I am indebted to you.

And of course, I am known to be fan of yours. It is now my hope to rebuild the former relationship between us, if that is possible, which I hope and believe it to be. Such a rebuilding requires an apology, although it is one I have already given you in Frankfort - one I gave immediately upon it being requested and one I am confident was sincere. I am happy to do so again. It is offered with a depth of humility and sincerity. And it is one I am hopeful you will accept - not just to put an end to the current differences between us, but to reclaim our friendship, both personal and political.

With great respect,

-- Jeff


*****

The second apology is to the Hon. Kerry Morgan, Legal Counsel for the Kentucky Democratic Party.

*****

Dear Kerry --

I know you are expecting an apology from me and more importantly, I understand you deserve one. This series of events has been a most trying time and I am aware my actions have seemingly made it so for you, and for that reason alone I should be remorseful, and am. The course of action I took in response to what I felt happened at the State Convention was taken without fully understanding the consequences. I acted emotionally and without much thought. The expressions I made cannot be taken back by a mere apology or deletion from a blog. And the resulting chasm I've apparently created cannot be surmounted with a few short words. These things I am greatly aware of. Nonetheless, I offer these few short words here, alone, and without any excuse, a sincere and contrite apology.

I have been humbled and diminished by how my actions were taken and I hope to someday overcome those perceptions, if not with you, then with others for whom these actions were perhaps harmful and injurious.

I know that in this place and in this time I have made errors judged by you and others to be offensive and demeaning, and for these actions you have my sincerest apology, complete and without condition.

-- Jeff


*****

The third apology is to the members of the Kentucky Democratic Party State Central Executive Committee.

*****

To the members of the State Central Executive Committee --

This letter serves as an apology for the situation I've created, which for some of you has been your first order of business as a member of the Committee. In Appealing the reported results of the 3rd Congressional District election to you, it was not my intention to harm the Kentucky Democratic Party, its Executive Committee, or the work it is intended to do. Nonetheless, there has been harm done by my actions in the eyes of several members. For that, I sincerely apologise.

-- Jeff Noble


*****

These apologies were submitted to and accepted by the Kentucky Democratic Party Chair, Legal Counsel, and State Central Executive Committee at its meeting yesterday at the Kenlake State Resort Park in Aurora, Kentucky.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Visitors, and a Mayor

For the first day in nearly a month, yesterday my daily page visits registered less than 100, which used to be a high reading, but of late has been rather low. Since a few entries in June having to do with the Kentucky Democratic Party, my daily page visits have shot up astronomically. The rise continued even from those numbers by late August nearly tripling on some days what had been an average number of visitors.

Something in my October 2007 archive began getting numerous hits every day, most from out of the country. Prior to these rises during this summer, my country visits had been averaging about 72% from the United States. During the last two months, that number gradually fell into the 40%-50% range on a daily basis, with a few times dipping below 39%. I spoke with another blogger, one who experiences thousands of visits a day, asking what could have caused this spike.

He explained to me that with the huge rise that came with the KDP-related entries in June, some of which no longer appear on the blog, my blog itself was found by more search engines and their search matrices using different terms which might appear in my blog. As I cover a wide range of topics here along the Left Bank of the Ohio River near Milepost 606, this made sense to me. I still do not know what it was exactly that attracted all the foreign visitors to the October 2007 archive, but I do know this. Since the close of the National Democratic Convention last week, my numbers have fallen considerably, back into the area I am more comfortable with. I haven’t taken the time to read back through all of October’s entries, but somewhere in there is the clue. The “October 2007” archive link remains my most visited page.

I know that other blogs measure their success by their number of visitors. For some, this is an income vehicle and advertising dollars are the be-all-to-end-all. Someday I’ll address my long-held aversion to advertising of any kind, one which I discussed recently when addressing the America 2000 Democratic Club in Louisville and the subject of political yard signs arose. But we’ll leave that for someday, not today.

Suffice it to say, I am content with the slow trek of visitors to and from my site. Very few of you have ever left comments, and that is fine with me. There is currently a discussion going on under one of the entries between a supporter and a detractor of a somewhat public - but not political - figure down in the Catholic heartland of Kentucky. I’ve been monitoring that conversation lest it fall over into one which I might consider injurious to one or the other parties in the discussion, or if comments are made against the person in question which might be found offensive or even malicious and prosecutable. I am hopeful the two persons in that conversation will take their discussion elsewhere, although I haven’t specifically asked them to, nor do I presently plan to. I’ve never limited the discussion on an entry, although for personal reasons, I have removed a few.

I think of myself as a great defender of the First Amendment freedoms of speech, religion, and the press. I am hopeful my beliefs are like courage and screwed to the sticking place. The discussions herein and the blog itself are testing my steely resolve and belief in that Constitutional Amendment, the First in current enumeration but the third which was considered by the Congress in 1789. Along with the nine other amendments which have come to be known as the Bill of Rights, it was ratified on December 15, 1791, with approval by the Commonwealth of Virginia, making the 75% threshold of the several states required by the Constitution for approval.

As a side note, as Kentucky was preparing for statehood, or Secession from Virginia as it was sometimes called, a discussion was taken up for ratification of all twelve of the original proposed amendments to the Constitution. Five other states had already done so. They were Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Vermont, and Virginia. Kentucky, in her first month of statehood, which would have been June of 1792, joined her fellow sovereign states in ratifying not only the ten we’ve come to know, but also the original “First” and “Second” amendments as proposed.

Purely for edification and as a reminder, below is the full text of the First Amendment (ratified) of the United States Constitution.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.



Incidentally, today is the 20th birthday of John Tyler Hammons. You may not know who Mr. Hammons is. I’ll admit I do not know him. Besides being 20 today, he is a delegate to the Republican National Convention in Saint Paul – the youngest delegate from his home state of Oklahoma. Besides that, he is a resident of Muscogee, Oklahoma, the city that gave us the term “an Okie from Muscogee.” He is a graduate of Muscogee High School where he served as Student Body President, something I did when I was in high school. Currently, he is a second year student at the University of Oklahoma.

Mr. Hammons is also the mayor of the city of Muscogee, a city of 39000 people, which is 4½ times the size of Wasilla, Alaska. Governing a city 4½ times the size of Wasilla, Alaska could, apparently, prepare Mayor Hammons for a career as Vice President of the United States. I do not know if he is a hunter, although he is a fourth generation Oklahoman and a member of the Cherokee Nation. I do not know if he is for or against anything. When I was 19, I was political, but I wasn’t really settled on any absolutes. However, being 20 and being mayor of a city 4½ times the size of Wasilla should open doors for anyone. Look at what Wasilla has given us.

The Archives at Milepost 606

Personal

Louisville, Kentucky, United States
Single, male, bald, overweight, early 50s, seeking . . . Oh wait, that's goes on the other website. How about this - never married, liberal Democrat, opinionated but generally pleasant, member of the Episcopal Church. Graduate of Prestonia Elementary, Durrett High, and Spalding University; the first two now-closed Jefferson County Public Schools, the latter a very small liberal arts college in downtown Louisville affiliated with the Roman Catholic Sisters of Charity of Nazareth. My vocation and avocation is politics. My favorite pastime is driving the backroads of Kentucky and southern Indiana, visiting small towns, political hangouts, courthouses, churches, and cemeteries. You are welcome to ride with me sometime.