Monday, March 30, 2009

468. The Underground Rooster, a Kentucky Blog

From time-to-time, but not too often, I've taken the easy way out and posted someone else's work. I even did it in the last entry, at least in the first paragraph, copying verbatim the 1892 platform of the People's Party, a Progressive movement of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. While I do not always have permission to do so, I do always give credit where it is due. In this instance, I have asked and received the appropriate permission.

Today's post is from the blog of a friend of mine from Christian County, Tim Havrilek, pictured at left. Tim and his wife and children make their home in Pembroke, I believe, which is a crossroads village of southeastern Christian County near the Kentucky-Tennessee border. At least that's where I think they live. I knew Tim many years ago when we were both young and in the Kentucky Young Democrats. We're both still good Democrats. We became reacquainted in 2006 as he played a large role in the election of Todd Hollenbach as State Treasurer in 2007. Tim's blog, The Underground Rooster, serves for me as a barometer of how more than a few people think and act and vote once you get south and west of the Green River, especially down along Kentucky's southern corridor twenty to thirty miles either side of US68/KY80, and well away from the Left Bank of the Ohio River near Milepost 606. Needless to say, there are ideas on which we differ, some quite a bit. Interestingly though, because of the politics of pragmatism, which we both sometimes grudgingly practice, we now-and-then find ourselves on the same side of an issue, but for entirely unrelated reasons. The truth is, there are more people who think like Tim than think like me - I can admit to that.

Yesterday's posting on The Underground Rooster was entitled Advice for Conway and Mongiardo, respectively the last names of a potential and expected candidate and an already-announced candidate for the United States Senate seat currently held by the man Martha Layne Collins defeated in her race for governor back in 1983. The election is next year.

Havrilek's column is copied in full below. Much like John McLaughlin does on his weekly political television commentary, Tim begins with some basics, then proceeds to throw out a topic, followed by his instructive and definitive take on said topic. (An aside, the McLaughlin Group can be seen in both Louisville and Hopkinsville on Friday nights at 8:30 on Kentucky Educational Television). So, read the column and I will offer some notes in an polite rebuttal at the end. For the record, the bolded words in his post are his, not mine.


Advice for Conway and Mongiardo

I'm always amazed how seemingly educated people can be as dumb as a box of rocks when it comes to politics in Kentucky. The issues that are important to Kentuckians cover a wide range. It is rare that your going to find anyone in Rural Kentucky agreeing on issues with Louisville, Lexington and Northern Kentucky. I have seen polling data for years that would argue against my position but the polling data doesn't vote and is usually wrong. Polling data is framed and spun usually to get the desired result for anybody but the candidate. When it comes to voting people in Rural Kentucky know what's important to them and it ain't going to be what some polling data conjured up.

It was brought to my attention that a person who is very interested in being a U.S. Senator had a private meeting with some potential supporters this past week in Western Kentucky. When it came time to discuss issues important to the area like agriculture, this candidate offered up and tried to convince the folks that one of best things farmers could do would be to support the thoroughbred and racing industry. No really it was the topic. Some where in this delusion there is supposed to a nexus between the agriculture industry and racing horses. This is brilliant. Why didn't we see this? How did all of us from the hinterland miss this?

I'm going to make this real simple for Jack and Daniel. It's not real hard to understand or to keep up. Here we go- There are not any farmers in Western Kentucky who give a damn about the thoroughbred industry, the racing industry, Keeneland, Churchill Downs or the Kentucky Derby Festival Week. With me so far. Ok, lets move on.

Farmers are Rural peeeople and tend to be very CONSERVATIVE. They don't go to the track they go to CHURCH. They don't GAMBLE they Tithe. Very few people down here know, understand or care about Derby Week. We don't celebrate those kind of weeks. Just so you know we take time out for the weeks of deer season, Easter Week, and the week of the County Fair. You know, that stuff that goes on in that big barn at the State Fair where Ritchie Farmer hangs out. Yep, that's the place.

If your going to come down to Western Kentucky and score some points you might want to consider what people want from a U.S. Senator. Agriculture, the Farm Bill and Ethanol would be a good issues to brush up on. Now keep in mind the farmers down here are all about corn and ethanol. Farmers are not interested in having a discussion about it they just want to know that your for it and will keep pumping millions of dollars into it. Corn equals dollars. We know that ethanol has driven the price of corn up and in turn raised the cost of feeding pigs and cattle. We know the cost of feeding a hog as gone up almost 100% in the last couple of years. We know that ethanol has driven food prices up and is effecting poor hungry people around the world. We know it's not energy efficient. We know what the gasoline equivalent is to raise the crop. We know-We just don't care and if your smart you won't care either.

Coal. Real simple here. Your motto is our motto. "Dig it, haul it, burn it". Were not interested in clean coal technology, mountain top removal and any of that global warming crap. We got it and we want to sell it now!! You just have to figure out how to help us do it.

Veterans and Military. Lots of these folk in Western Kentucky. They want to hear about the benefits they earned and providing for a well trained, well equipped military. You might keep in mind that Fort Campbell alone writes over 5 Billion dollars a year in checks. That's Billion with a "B". Pretty big industry for which you might want to brush up on. You might even come up with a plan to see if we can get a lot more of the 5 Billion since most of it is going else where.

Guns: Your for them. You hate people who are against them. You will fight like hell to keep the Liberal Democrats away from our guns and ammunition. You would gladly give up your life defending a Kentuckians right to own as many machine guns as they please. What ever you do don't mention Nancy Pelosi or Harry Reid. We despise them.

God and Jesus- It's ok to talk about how much you love Jesus because you won't offend anyone down here. Just make sure that none of your ancestors were part of the mob that murdered Jesus. That issue did not play out so well for someone I know in Frankfort. Your going to need a few Baptist Ministers so make sure you have a few on the payroll.

Abortion- Simple. Your against it.

Well that should get you two started. Don't let some consultant or DNC hack try to convince you that anyone down here wants the Federal Government to solve the heath care issues. Stay away from taxes and from the environment unless it concerns the LBL or habitat for Ducks and Wild Turkeys. Keep in mind that no one down here cares about what the rest of Nation thinks or for that matter Lexington, Louisville or Northern Kentucky. I wish you both the best of luck.


Posted by Tim Havrilek at 7:58 PM, March 29, 2009



My comments? Well, to start with, there is my favorite line in the post: "There are not any farmers in Western Kentucky who give a damn about the thoroughbred industry, the racing industry, Keeneland, Churchill Downs or the Kentucky Derby Festival Week." While most of us "up here" in Louisville do give a damn at least a little about most of those, we are keenly interested in the Kentucky Derby Festival as that is as close as most of us ever get to Churchill Downs each year for the Most Famous Two Minutes In Sports.

I do not doubt that farmers go to church and probably tithe. I'd say many of us here in Louisville do the same although hitting the 10% mark doesn't always happen. But we are Christians and Jews and a few others gathered congregations, along with our share of maybe-believers and non-believers. We also, admittedly, gamble.

Admittedly, we don't do a lot of hunting. We don't really know that deer season is sometime around Thanksgiving, although we think it is 'cause most of us have cousins or friends that head out early on a Saturday morning before daybreak and they send us pictures and presents, in the form of packages of meat wrapped in white paper suitable for freezing until needed.

We know about Easter Week, about Palm Sunday, Foot Washing and Passover on Thursday, and Good Friday. Most government offices close here at 12 noon on Good Friday. We also get ashes on our foreheads on Ash Wednesday, something the good folk along the southern border may not know about.

And we know about Richie Farmer, although we're not all that clear on what he does, other than show up at the State Fair each August. Nonetheless, a majority of voters in Jefferson County supported him in both 2003 and 2007. For the record, a picture of Kentucky's Agriculture Commissioner from his days at the University of Kentucky has been posted on this blog from the beginning.

Ok, we don't know a hell of a lot about corn and ethanol. There used to be one gas station in Louiville that sold Ethanol-85; today there are none. We're not real clear on the politics of corn-for-fuel versus corn-for-consumption. We tend to think that is something for people in Iowa or Nebraska to be concerned about, and that is certainly a shortcoming on this end. But then you said we don't really need to worry about it and, believe me, chances are real good that we will follow your advice and not mention it again anytime soon.

We don't really know why but we're with you on Coal, for the most part. Despite the fact we have a hydroelectric plant here in Louisville, we get our electricity from coal-fired boilers, whatever that means. As the hub for the once-great Louisville and Nashville Railroad, most of us have family or friends who worked the trains, which for the most part, served to move Kentucky's coal from the coalfields to the river for shipment. Where we disagree is that many of us also believe in clean coal technology, even if we don't understand it. We support the president in his moves to bring clean coal technology to places like Kentucky, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania, so that we can continue to employ coalminers as we have done for years. And, we oppose Mountain Top Removal for purely environmental and aesthetic reasons, which may not be the best reasons to do so. Somewhere in there is a compromise.

Our new congressman, my friend John Yarmuth, has made Veterans Affairs a prime purpose in his service as a member of the United States House of Representatives. We have a VA hospital here that for too long got only lip service and is in great need. We have within forty miles a military installation, Fort Knox, which has had many ups and downs, but which has always been vitally important to Louisville. It is currently moving in an upward motion. I once wrote about the similarities of US41A in the Oak Grove area to that of US31W in the Radcliff area.

Ok, I know Tim likes a little hyperbole here and there. He rolled in it broad and deep with regard to guns. Most of us do not oppose anyone owning guns or ammunition - many of us have one near our bedside or in our garage - but it isn't for hunting. Most of us have a problem with anyone owning one or more machine guns. We have different takes on the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution. Even disregarding where the commas and capital letters are or aren't, I'm not sure the Founding Fathers wanted us to own one or more machine guns. I seem to recall something about a well regulated militia, but maybe that's just me.

The Mob That Murdered Jesus. Wow! I'm not sure if that's the Romans, the Priests, the Jews, or the Gentiles. But I won't get into religion as I've already covered it above. Most of us have a Baptist preacher somewhere in our family tree. Chances are good he made a little bourbon on the side, and may have even grown one form or another of tobacco. But I'm sure he didn't partake or inhale.

Abortion. Well, it's not for everybody. I'm against abortion, but I'm also against governmental or religious intrusion into what I do with my own personal Holy Temple, and I am sure lots of other people are too, and not just women. I acknowledge my view is a minority one here in the Commonwealth.

Tim closes with the comment, "that should get you two started." Thankfully, he didn't bring up gays - or immigration - or whether one puts spaghetti in chili - or bastardizes Kentucky Bourbon with anything other than an ice cube.

His comments and mine should get quite a few of you started too - those who agree more with him and those who agree more with me. The key in all of this is there are more things on which we agree than a handful of very black-and-white issues where we don't. I'm curious what you think.

Here is the link to Tim's blog. Go, Read, and Learn.

http://www.undergroundrooster.blogspot.com


And Tim, thanks for being a sport and letting me make a response.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

467. Commentary

We meet in the midst of a nation brought to the verge of moral, political, and material ruin. Corruption dominates the ballot-box, the Legislatures, the Congress, and touches even the ermine of the bench. The people are demoralised; most of the States have been compelled to isolate the voters at the polling places to prevent universal intimidation and bribery. The newspapers are largely subsidized, homes covered with mortgages, labor impoverished, and the land concentrated in the hands of capitalists. The urban workmen are denied the right to organize for self-protection; imported pauperized labor beats down their wages, and a hireling standing army, unrecognized by our laws, is established to shoot them down, and they are rapidly degenerating into European conditions. The fruits of the toil of millions are boldly stolen to build up colossal fortunes for the few, unprecedented in the hisotry of mankind; and the possessors of these, in turn despise the Republic and endanger liberty. From the same prolific womb of governmental injustice we breed the two great classes - tramps and millionaires.

Let's see. That statement mentions the alleged moral subversion of the country, crooked politicians, crooked judges, questionable voting patterns, bribery, low wages, anti-union sentiments, immigrants taking jobs, home mortgage debt, the rich getting richer, a general dislike of the government, and the demise of the middle class. Quite a statement which may have been made at any time during the excesses of the last thirty years or so, and especially of 2008. But it isn't a recent speech of any current politician. It is the preamble to the People's Party's Populist platform from the presidential election of 1892. That election, the third of Grover Cleveland's, was his second electoral college victory (and for the record, his third popular victory). Cleveland defeated the man who had defeated him four years earlier, the incumbent Benjamin Harrison. Also in the race, running on the abovementioned platform was Union General James T. Weaver, of Ohio.

I bring all this up for no particular reason except to question whether things really change as much as we think they do or if the axiom that knowing the future relies on knowing the past is really true. How far or how long will our experiment in democracy last before some internal force changes it in a substantial way. It is obvious from the platform outlined by the populists 117 years ago that they were experiencing some of the same issues then as we are now. And while there were dramatic policy changes under Taft (yes Taft, and not TR), Wilson, FDR, and most every one who followed FDR up until Jimmy Carter (including the last of the New Dealers, Nixon and Ford), what lasting effect have they had if we are back to where we were in 1892? Arguably, we were on the road of progress when the Republican Party's Southern Strategy used race as an entree and other forms of discrimination as second, third, and fourth courses, to stifle the progress begun during the 20th Century. The expanse of the middle class's incomes in the 1990s under Democrat Bill Clinton, rather than acting as a rising tide and lifting all boats, had the effect of moving people out of the middle class and into a faux-upper middle class, built on promises, loans, home equities, and lower taxes. 2008 brought all that to an abrupt end, and 2009 has many of us wondering if the policies promoted by our new president are enough, too much, will repeat past mistakes, or create new ones. There isn't a good answer as we all have to wait and see what happens. Or do we?

Can we not go back through the annals of American history and apply the lessons learned when we've been in these places before? Again, the preamble above makes clear this isn't the first time. Nor was the Republican-engendered Great Depression the first time. There is an apparent cycle. And thus, does any of it really matter? I had a discussion with a friend earlier this evening (actually two friends), where one posited the idea that we should never worry about our deficits or the idea that the Treasury shouldn't be free to print money at will. There are economists and other talking heads out there who've made the point (and I've echoed them herein in a post back in January) that all the ideas put forth by FDR in the 1930s really didn't pan out until there was extensive and expansive spending once we entered the Second World War. With advances all around the globe, and nuclear power in the hands of many, we have probably put to rest the idea of a World War Three, the exception to that being religious fanaticism, something over which we have no control. (We can't even control the religious fanatics in our own country). So what will be the reason for an injection of money into the economy on the level of that injected in the 1940s? I do not pretend to know the answer, or even to know if there is one.

Ours as Americans is an experiment in governance, a give and take, a trial and error, and one with economic upturns and downturns. We do seem to recover each time although such recoveries take a generation or two. Can we wait that long this time around? Does our insistence on instant gratification extend to helping and serving the Republic in her time of need, making the sacrifices that those before us have made, both here at home, and on the political, economic, and the brutally real battlefields of wars in the past? Again, I don't know.

I am happy that we are willing now and then to advance the baton, "passing the torch" as President Kennedy said, to a new generation, as we did by electing Barack Obama last November. But, in the same speech of passing the torch, Kennedy went on to point out that we have the power to end poverty and end the human race. Fortunately, we haven't done the latter. Admittedly, we haven't done the former either. So, thus we continue the struggles, recognising that as there has always been and will always be, much left to do.

Friday, March 27, 2009

466. Boilermakers out of Steam

One of my Final Four are no more. I am speaking of course of perhaps the favorite . . . Purdue. They were beaten by a bunch of upstarts, the University of Connecticut. As if the University of Connecticut has a storied program or something. If they did, you'd think they'd have the decency to have an NCAA violation now and then like Kentucky does. And perhaps they shoud have storied coaches like Billy Gillispie.

I wonder if they even have a decent women's team?

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

465. Library Thing; Updates; Here and There

First, my apologies for being away. No excuses.

*****

I was reading my friend Bruce Maples' blog, appropriately reached at www.brucemaples.com. On his blog is a widget that caught my attention called a Library Thing, which I am sure is a copywrighted thing, so consider that said. Reached at www.librarything.com, it allows a person to enter into a database their library.

I have for years thought about cataloguing my library. I've rolled ideas around in my head as to how it would be done or not done, what categories to use, whether to try and numerically catalogue them as they would be at a library, and so forth. Although I have no idea how many books I own, my guess is there are nearly 3500, if you count the four or five sets of encyclopedias, some of which spell encyclopedia with an ae after the p. And the books are everywhere in my house, not just on bookshelves where they should be. The truth is I've never owned enough bookshelves to house them all. They are in boxes, on the floor, on the desk, in the bathroom, and more than a few are in my bed where I read two or three or four at a time, most every night before going to sleep. If that sounds boring as hell to you, it is. But it is also a most pleasurable way to wind oneself out of the day's work and into the night's slumber.

There is some trepidation at putting one's library titles out there for the world to see, for if there is truly an insight into a person, it can be readily discerned by viewing their library. It is a bad habit of mine upon entering most anyone's house or office to look around to see what books they own, how they are housed, and if they appear to be there for looks only. A bad habit, but one I will not give up.

So, here is this application and I've decided to put it to use. Although it won't be done systematically, as I rarely do things entirely systematically, despite some obvious methods to my modus operandi, I will enter the books and include the widget here on the blog (over on the right), such that any of my six faithful readers can link onto the widget and enter the world of Jeff's library. I'm rather excited about opening this door into my life for those on the outside to read. I've only entered a handful of books so far, and will enter others as time and willingness allow.

*****

Yesterday I attended funeral visitations for two deceased friends, although neither were close friends (they were both 94), they were people I've been around most of my adult life, especially those years I lived in Camp Taylor, which were 1982 to 1999. I knew one from the business her family operated, and the other from their having attended Bingo at my (almost former) church, and both were a part of the fabric of Louisville's Catholic culture, a culture I am departing from ever so slowly, but also ever so surely. At each visitation (at two different funeral homes) I encountered people I've known through my nearly 30 years as a Catholic. As most people do at visitations, we caught up on old times, laughed out loud at how we used to be, and complained about muscles and eyesight and getting old. And I'm only 48 - Damn. But these discussion were with people some of whom I've known since I was 18. Life does go on, and one can't really go home, and that is really a bitch to deal with. Melancholy can set in in a moment's notice.

*****

This weekend is the Kentucky Young Democrats State Convention, being held Friday and Saturday in Lexington. Along with KYD president Chad Aull, I will be conducting a workshop on Saturday morning with discussion focussed on demographics, registration, and turnout - numbers, numbers, numbers. There will be other workshops as well, and they will likely be far more exciting than mine.

*****

That's all for now. See you in Lexington.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

464. Louisville wins by 20. But then the real games began . . . . .


Wow Wisconsin. I have Wisconsin on all of my brackets. On Wisconsin as the song goes.

But the real game was Siena - Ohio State. Unfortunately, I did not pick Siena. But by the end of the game, I was almost cheering for them. And they won in Double Overtime. The first half was a sloppy game, but the second half, along with the OTs was some of the best basketball I've ever seen.

The Saints went marching in. Their next opponent? Louisville on Sunday at 5:20 pm.

Friday, March 20, 2009

(1)Louisville 35, (16)Morehead State 33

At the half.

Damn.

50,000

At 9:18 am this morning local time, the 50,000th - fifty-thousandth - visitor arrived here along the Left Bank of the Ohio River near Milepost 606. I'm not sure who they were or from where they arrived as the information on their address is incomplete. All I really know is they (may) have a bellsouth.net address. So, whoever it was, thank you. Fifty-thousand people is the approximate population of the cities of Bowling Green or Covington or the counties of Boyd or Franklin. Thanks also to the 49,999 who arrived before our unknown visitor, and to those of you reading this now and in the future.

Unrelated, on one set of brackets, I've lost five games, including one team I had advanicng at least one more round. On the other two, I've lost three. For the record, I got WKU on two out of three. And all my Final Four team are still in the mix. Let's see how I fare this afternoon.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

461. No License Needed

As part of an effort at collegiality, today at work we who work on the 3rd floor (all Democrats) treated those on the 2nd (all Republicans) and 1st (three Democrats, one Republican) to a Chili Luncheon. The idea was spawned two months ago when the Council Clerk's staff, also on the 1st floor, treated all of us to a Soup Day, which proved to be very popular. The idea arose that each floor should do this for the others and we could all break bread together and be civil for an hour. It works.

So, as I am not much of a cook, I was pleased that the Social Committee, in this case one of the young ladies at the other end of the floor, said we'd make chili. This decision was made back when the daily temperature was having problems edging out of the 20s and warm and bubbly chili on a cold windy day sounded pretty good. Today, it was 78 degrees, but we're having chili nonetheless. I make a pretty good pot of chili. The truth is I can make very little else. Fortunately, I have friends who not only love to cook but also like having me (and others) over to taste whatever they've concocted for the meal.

Some people volunteered to bring pop, others desserts (the cheesecakes were delicious - I had a little of both), others brought paper plates, and so forth. There were four offerings of chili - two veggie style [is that really chili?] and two others. At the table, I tried all four but admittedly liked the two non-vegetarian styles better than the vegetarian ones.

My chili is the basic recipe: meat, beans, tomatoes, onions, and spices - since this is Louisville the spice packet of choice is Bloemer's, made and packaged on S. Seventh Street, right here along the Left Bank of the Ohio River near Milepost 606. I use a packet per pound of meat which means I used five packets. I also use a heaping amount - actually the measurement is far from certain - of ground Cumin Seed Powder. I use the Ahmed brand of Cumin Seed Powder which is usually only found in ethnic type food marts. Ahmed Spices are made and packaged on the other side of the globe in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, according to the label.


I'll be honest; I don't really have a recipe. I just open cans and pour them in a pot. I do like to buy whole canned tomatoes in juice and them squeeze them myself into the mix. I also cut my onions, bought fresh, in fairly large pieces and today one of the diners asked me about that. I'm not sure why I do that, but I do. As for the meat, I buy a high grade of grund chuck, nothing fancy, but not the stock stuff I usually get. That's it. Brown the meat, saute the onions, then throw it all in a pot and bring to a boil. Once it has boiled, I cover it and put it in the fridge. Chili is always better after having set overnight. One other thing - no spaghetti.

The other meat-based chili was offered by Kevin Triplett, who used deer meat as a base. I do not know where Kevin acquired the deer meat. I used to be privy to deer sausage and jerky several years back. The younger brother, Shawn, of my friend Rob, and Shawn's older brothers, used to go deer hunting in season, and their mother and grandmother would process the meat and I always managed a care package from each one. Sadly, Anne (the mom) and Mrs. Thomas (the grandmother) are deceased and I've lost track of Rob's half-brother and step-brothers. Years before that, I'd usually manage a pound or two from friends and family from up in Frankfort, or from the Benton family at my (soon-to-be) former church. Kevin made a joke about having harvested the deer with the front quarterpanel of his truck somewhere along Dixie Highway. I doubt this is true. He is from the south side of town and worked for several years out at Otter Creek Park in Meade County. My thought is he probably knows the rules about when to hunt (November 8th through 23th last year for guns), which licenses to buy whether it be the Sportman's ($95) or just a combination Hunting and Fishing ($30), whether one needs a deer permit ($30), the Bonus Antlerless Permit ($15), or any of the special licenses needed in certain areas such as Fort Knox ($5) or the Land Between the Lakes ($20). And, by the way, it is the time of year to renew your license as they run from March 1 to February 28. A true Kentucky sportman or sportswoman knows all of these things. Their meat is harvested using the right equipment, in the right season, with the right permit or license.

As for the meat in my chili, it was harvested at the local Kroger - Miss Rose checked me out - no license needed.

Monday, March 16, 2009

460. March Madness - Where's the Big Blue?














Briefly, my final four: Louisville, Purdue, Pittsburgh, and Syracuse.

How I arrived with these four I'll leave to your imagination at least for the moment. I know graduates of three of those four universities so I wish them all well. My alma mater, the Spalding University Fighting Pelicans, the pride of South Fourth Street, didn't make it through Selection Sunday.

On a different note, I also know graduates of Morehead State University, located about 135 miles due east of here just off I-64. The college is set in the side of a hill facing down upon East Main Street in downtown Morehead. At the top of the hill is University Lake, a dammed-up body of Evans Creek whose overflow emties into Triplett Creek, which creates the eastern edge of the little burg below the college.

If Morehead State, the Ohio Valley Conference champs, can beat Alabama State, this year's titleholder for the Southwestern Athletic Conference, in tomorrow night's game in Dayton, Ohio, they will advance to play the local favorites, Louisville.

So, for my friends from/for Morehead State, Go Eagles!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

459. Topper Trip

This morning's call to the local weather report - 585-1212 - didn't promise the best of days according to the recording. Gloomy, gray, gusty. There were no promises of warm southern winds or sunny blue skies to welcome the ides of March.

The readings at Mass made a similar offering. As we are in Lent, the lessons are sometimes foreboding, a part of the waiting we are doing in preparation for Jesus' reentry into Jerusalem where a few short weeks from now we will endure the Passion, Crucifixion, and Resurrection of Christ. Today's Dick Cheney-like reading from Exodus was "I the Lord your God am a jealous God, punishing children for the iniquities of their parents to the third and fourth generation." He, God, then went on to cite which iniquities were punishable - The Ten Commandments - the set of "Thou Shalt Nots" familiar to older people from having learned them as a child and to younger ones from their being in the news now and then (especially in Kentucky) after being placed upon the grounds of a local court house or park. Today's second reading from Saint Paul's First Letter to the Corinthians was typical Paulian criticism of we the body of sinners. In an "Inquirers Class" this morning, our lecturer spoke of the christianity of Paul versus the christianity of James. I need to learn exactly what he was talking about as the christianity of Paul is sometimes a little too many verbal commands and not enough works of grace than I can handle. The Gospel reading, from the usually high-in-the-sky writer Saint John was the familiar story (given that it is in all four gospels) of Jesus driving the money changers and others from the Temple. This was the irritated side of Jesus which we rarely see. The priest compared Jesus' irritated state to last week's Saturday Night Live skit of the so-far smooth and suave Barack Obama being emotionally transformed by some recalcitrant Republican senators and turning into a hulkish and bothersome TheRock Obama, played cleverly by the handsome and hulking Dwight "The Rock" Johnson. There is probably some danger in drawing analogies between Jesus and Obama, as some people who do not like the president think that some of us who do already think of him in a messianic way. But, I digress.

After the gloomy weather forecast and the dour, damning, and doomish readings at church I was ready for a breakaway of some sorts, although I had nothing planned. Then the phone rang with a request from a friend to go with him as he was buying a topper for his truck and needed some help lifting it from its storage berth to his truck bed. I volunteered. The catch? The purchase was being made from a used topper sales-family (as it turned out) in Orleans, Indiana, a small farmimg community about 55 miles northeast of Louisville.

We left Louisville venturing across the John Fitzgerald Kennedy Memorial Bridge along I-65 leaving the Republic's South and entering the Republic's Midwest. There are several ways to get to Orleans and my friend asked me which I cared to take. He was driving. I suggested we follow the US 150 route out of Floyd County, which meant first of all having to get from I-65 over to I-64, easily done along the Lee Hamilton Expressway, known to everyone else as I-265. We took the I-64 West exit up the hill to the US 150 West exit at the top of the hill and our journey was underway.

It has been a long time since I ventured out this way and I am not sure I've ever been entirely to Orleans. The last time I recall making at least part of the trip was with my friend Rob, which meant it was at least eighteen years ago since he died in 1991. In that trip, Rob and I went to an area outside of Palmyra to liberate my brother's car from a farm in Washington County. Where Rob and I turned off that day was about a third of the way to where we were headed today. US 150, from a few miles after departing I-64, is a fairly straight, but none-too-level, well-built two lane federal highway. The original US 150 out of New Albany climbs up the Floyds Knob on a road known as State Street.

After passing the turnoff to the Starlight area and Navilleton (home of Hubers and Stumlers orchards), the road passes successively through the towns of Galena and Greenville before exiting Floyd County and entering the Morgan Township of Harrison County. US 150 cuts across the northeast corner of Harrison County and therein is the aforementioned community of Palmyra. On the northwest corner of the main intersection in downtown Palmyra is a Marathon Oil/Foodmart which sells Broaster chicken and fried chicken livers, to which I can attest they are delicious. We, however, didn't stop, something I would have done. We continued out of Harrison County and into Washington County, traversing the towns of Fredericksburg (and crossing the Blue River) and Hardinsburg before passing into Orange County. I then realized I had been this way before on some other occasion than when I was with Rob. I point out to my friend the tiny Fredericksburg Town Hall along the left side of the highway in what looks to be an old gas station. Still flying a Stars and Stripes as it was the last time I passed this way, whenever that was, the town hall is demonstrably representative of the towns and villages through which one passes when one gets out of the original Thirteen States and Territories and into the New West which became the United States of America. Further up US 150, the Orange County communities of Rego and Chambersburg are but wide places in the road which eventually leads to Paoli, the seat of government for Orange County.

Our trip takes us down the hill and back up again into the Court House square where US 150, IN56, and IN37 meet. We're entering Paoli from the east; the court house, shown here, faces south. We circle around the north and east corners and head north to Orleans on SR37, our destination within six miles of reach, over on a side road numbered as SR337. I had earlier said we visited a sales-family, as opposed to a sales-man or -woman. My friend had communicated online with a gentleman. It was his wife who met us in the yard and refused to haggle over a price. She stated what they went for (somewhat high in my opinion, but it wasn't my money). I noticed that two of the toppers rose in price by $100.00 while we standing there and she was talking. After some friendly talk, my friend paid the price he was originally quoted and we proceded to move the topper from its storage berth to the bed of the truck. Since two other toppers were in the way, the lady asked us to move those first. She didn't ask us to move them out of the way, but rather out of the way and over to the storage rack about 30 feet off to the side, which, without complaint, we did. With money exchanged and topper firmly affixed to the truck, we left for our return trip. Incidentally, the proprietess let us know the entire operation of about sixty-six toppers was up for sale for $5500.00, including the racks and storage building, should we know anyone who is interested.

As my six faithful readers know, I have an aversion to coming and going to a place along the same route. My friend driving today is of a like mind. Thus it was that upon driving south back into Paoli and this time around the west side of the square, we ventured south toward the towns of English, which is to further say we left Orange County and entered Crawford County. I say the towns of English because there are two, the old abandoned one down in the bottom, and the relocated one up on top, relocated after 1990 due to the repeated flooding of the Blue River, Bird Dog Creek, and Brownstown Creek, the three bodies of waters which met where the town used to be. It is now about one mile to the east and several hundred feet up the hill. This relocation is said to be the second largest relocation of an entire town anywhere in the Republic. But, we never got to English. At a fork in the road, a sign appeared on the left which said "Short Cut to Marengo Cave."

We immediately decided to take the short cut and visit Marengo Cave. The short cut said the cave was twelve miles ahead. The road was narrow and winding, through woods and meadow, and the town of Valeene, and eventually arriving at IN64 and the bigger town of Marengo. Somehow though, like English, we never got to the cave. I've been all through Marengo before but admittedly had never arrived along the Valeene-Marengo Road as we did today. Wherever the turnoff was, we missed it. We ended up trekking southbound on "Westbound" SR 66, at least according to the sign. As it was getting late in the day and we both were in need of nourishment, the time had come to head back toward the Left Bank of the Ohio River near Milepost 606. Near the village of Carefree, SR66 intersects with I-64 and we took the ramp onto the east bound interstate and travelled the thirty-seven miles back to Louisville.

It ended up being a pretty good day. Thanks Be To God.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Rest In Peace Chuck Olmstead

Word arrived early this morning that Chuck Olmstead has passed away. He was 60. He'd been a TV reporter in this town for 34 years. Anyone who spent anytime downtown knew Chuck. I've been working in downtown Louisville for nearly all of my adult life and was thus one of those people. For several years I attended Christmas parties at his home or someone else's where, inevitably, a game of Trivial Pursuit ensued and Chuck and I were usually teammates. His wife and her friends were our loyal opposition. Those were always engaging games.

Chuck's colorful personality and delivery are Louisville Originals.

May God grant him and all the departed Peace.

Friday, March 6, 2009

457. Warm

This is to give credit where it is due.

Yesterday the mercury climbed into the high 60s. Today it is starting out at 60 and expected to go into the 70s. Tomorrow, those in the know are calling for a high of 78 degrees.

Kathy Jo, go ahead and get in line for an ice cream at the DQ.

Thanks Be To God.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

456. Cold

"Colder than a well digger's ass" is a phrase my friend Cyril Allgeier would use to describe the type of weather we're having - weather which refuses to give up its place here along the Left Bank of the Ohio River near Milepost 606. Yesterday when I woke up, it was 18 degrees and had fallen to 17 by the time I got to work. This morning's wake up temperature was 16. The truth is I haven't been warm since I left Washington DC in January. Something has to give. Soon.

Today's marks what would have been my Uncle Don's 73rd birthday. He died in 2005.

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.