Wednesday, December 29, 2010
Saturday, December 25, 2010
First, some old business. On December 1, someone (Anonymous) posted a comment (which for some reason did not show up until today) about me singing Frank Sinatra's My Way in Mr. Moorman's Chemistry class and Mrs. Risner's English class. In my music list published in September, I failed to include it. While it has not remained one of my favorites, it was in fact at one time one of them. I learned to play My Way on the piano in Shera Baker's living over in Treasure Island. I still play it often as it is one of the few songs I was actually taught to play, by Shera no less, as opposed to most of my music which I picked up by ear. But Shera and I were never in class together so whoever posted that comment has to be someone in my class, another person who probably turned 50 this year. Whoever it was, I appreciate your reminder about what was once one of my favorite songs.
With that out of the way - sort of, we'll get back to the turning 50 - today is Christmas Day. Merry Christmas to all of you, Christian or not. Christmas is at once a religious holiday, a cultural one, and significantly a commercial one. Most people get something out of it, even the atheists. That's all fine with me.
I used to get more out of Christmas than I do nowadays. Growing up Christmas was a big, big deal. We celebrated five different places usually, the main one being at home with my maternal grandparents where me, my mother, and my brother lived. We usually had relatives staying one or two nights, either Aunt Dorothy, my grandmother's aunt, or Uncle Milford, my grandfather's little brother. We'd also go to my Dad's house, and to my Dad's parents' house, as well as my great-grandparents' houses in Frankfort - the Lewis family home on Old Louisville Road and the Hockensmith home, originally on Devils Hollow Road, but later on Cavern Drive off what used to be called Parkside Drive but is now the West Frankfort Connector.
Most of those people are dead - my great-grandparents (I knew four of my great-grandparents, six if you count step-great-grandmothers), all of my grandparents, Aunt Dorothy, and Uncle Milford, and quite a few others. Even a generation closer, my dad's older brother, Uncle Don to everyone who knew him, has been dead since April 2005. The family members have been replaced generationally by my brother's children - six of them, ranging in age from 23 to 7. So, at least the Christmas morning part of Christmas is reserved for them. The youngest three are still at my brother's house and while I didn't this year, I have been over there in Christmasses-past to see the wild abandon of opening presents.
The adults in my family, along with these three youngest members, will gather later this week at my Mom's for our family celebration, a small but nice affair. We'll eat dinner and exchange presents, many of which will be gift cards. My mother decides the day we actually celebrate (not only Christmas but all the other holidays including birthdays) based on a number of factors with this year's decision being complicated by her not feeling well the last week or so.
For me, Christmas has come to mean attending Mass. Over the years I've done so mostly at Holy Family, my church home for just over thirty years, up until this year. When I was in my twenties, I regularly attended with a number of college friends at Saint Francis of Assisi. A few times I went to the Cathedral of the Assumption downtown, once to St. John's UCC downtown, and a few other times I went to the Episcopal Church of the Advent, the church I finally joined very early this year after wandering in the religious desert for several years, all the while maintaining an active membership at Holy Family. Since joining Advent, I've tried to be just as active there as I was in my old church.
Christmas comes just once a year, so the song goes. Frankly, as I get older, I am thankful for that. Getting older, by the way, is what 2010 has mostly meant for me. While I had a very busy and successful year politically, all of that has been internally overshadowed by two related events - being 49 while anticipating being 50, and actually being 50, which I've honestly not yet mastered as I've at this point passed the 1/3 mark of my 51st year. For most of the year being 49, I recognized that I was getting older. I'm still apparently healthy despite significant health problems when I was 44. I'm also still active enough to enjoy myself. But I also realized that there is lots left to do.
On September 23rd I turned 50, celebrating in grand proportion (as far as I'm concerned) with a party (on the 19th) attended by 175 people and recorded for posterity and subsequently posted on my Facebook page. Friends from throughout my life attended and I was very pleased. My entire family was there at some point as was many in my current political family, noticeably my congressman who stayed for most of the three hour party. But then, instead of "getting" older, I actually got older when the 23rd rolled around four days after the party.
Suddenly, the terminus of my life is not so far away. Hopefully it is still well on down the road, but I am likely much closer to the end than the beginning. And that has not been a pleasant experience thus far. In all of my life, while I've had a few relationships, none of them have lasted long, and none of them have been entirely fulfilling. And now, at 50, I've come very close to deciding that I do not want to be alone as I wander into the twilight of my life a few years from now. And I've decided that there are things left to do which cannot be left undone. That famous "bucket list" that people have is rather full for me and the time has come to do something about that.
My guess is that means more than making new friends and going to new places. It also entails a new attitude about what and who is and isn't important. While I have few extremely close friends, I am blessed to have lots of friends, many of whom I've kept as friends for ten, twenty, thirty, and even a few for forty years. I've also worked hard at creating and maintaining a friendship base with those ten, twenty, and even thirty years younger than me. Somehow I think that helps keep one's outlook in perspective, as there are far more people younger than me in control of society than those of my age or older. Even President Obama is younger than me. Having young friends is also good for the soul. Further, some with whom I've been close the last few years are finding their own ways, independent of my control or influence. While it is hard to let go of some of that, it is also a necessary component of life but one that is fairly new to me. In particular my friend Keith, whom I first met in 2000, has departed with his new partner for New York to do whatever it is that people do when they are in their mid-20s and free of most any restraints. And I'm very happy for him and have been supportive when asked. I love him dearly.
I've also decided to divorce myself from a very limited number of people, although I'm not quite sure I'm fully prepared to do so. Thus far there has been only one on that list although I suspect 2011 will see a few more be set aside. And I've decided to aggressively pursue some new friends while I have time to do so. Such pursuit is the direct result of one conversation I had with the one person I've thus far set aside. I hope it will work. I have no idea if it will or not.
I have other plans for 2011. One is to continue the diet I've been upon since November 3rd. I've lost 25 pounds so far, just under half my goal. I'm very happy about that - it is the first time I've lost weight in twenty years. Ironically, the last time I went on a diet, twenty years ago, one reason was because I thought I was getting older. Now I am; now I have to.
My hope is 2011 will see siginificant change in my life. I'm not all that sure what that change might be, but I am planning to engage it, envelope myself in it, and enjoy it for all it may be worth. That's my Christmas present to myself. A renewal of my life plan. It is the best Christmas present I've given myself in a long time, perhaps the best ever. We'll see how it goes.
I hope Christmas has been and is and will be for you as rewarding as what I am planning for it to be for me. To my seven faithful readers, and all the rest of you, Merry Christmas and God's Blessings.
Thursday, December 16, 2010
Marty Meyer must be following me around. He correctly identified the location as River Road, looking toward downtown, alongside the old River Road Country Club property.
The old country club property is being converted to a park by Louisville Metro government which owns the land. The clubhouse was recently raised. One of the features of this property is the appearance, here and there, of an old set of railroad tracks. The Louisville, Harrod's Creek, and Westport Railroad once ran alongside River Road, or just to the southeast of River Road. The rail line never quite made it to Westport, an idyllic little village in Oldham County. The final destination along the line was Propsect.
The narrow-guage tracks remain along quite bit of the route, covered over by time and topsoil. There are sets of tracks below many parcels of land in our county, and more than a few streets. They are most noticeable when one of the utility companies are doing work and their construction takes them below the current grade of the road. Arguments are considered to revive Louisville's already-on-site light rail system which formerly served horse-drawn trolleys and later interurban lines reaching out to places like Okolona, Valley Station, Middletown, Jeffersontown, and Prospect.
I'm not sure which lines are still there or which rights-of-ways remain. But it is worth considering - something I do every time I see those tracks peek through the ground along River Road at the old River Road Country Club.
Congratulations, Marty. There will be another hopefully more difficult hidden location soon.
Monday, December 13, 2010
Today would have been my friend Rob's 37th birthday. I miss him. Next summer he will have been dead twenty years, the victim of a motorcycle wreck on Preston Highway at Standiford Lane.
Rob was joined today in eternity by Richard Holbrooke, a man I've never met, but one whose name has been in an out of American diplomatic news since before Rob left this world.
Mr. Holbrooke, a former American ambassador, was President Obama's special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, two places among many that the president and America needs a second set of experienced eyes and ears. Mr. Holbrooke was that. This is a sad and great loss for America's ship of State.
Happy Birthday Rob. Rest In Peace Mr. Ambassador Holbrooke.
I received the following in the email today from my friend Ray Crider. I like it a lot. Be warned, there are enough f-bombs in it to start a decent orgy. It comes from "The Rude Pundit" whose writing can be found at www.rudepundit.blogspot.com.
Note to the Weary Left: It's Okay to Have Principles:
So after backing President Obama on compromise after compromise on various bills, on the stimulus, on health care reform, after supporting and advocating for deals that were not only far from perfect, but were in some ways detrimental to the cause for which the bills themselves were created, after watching the President reach out again and again to Republicans, only to be told he wasn't reaching out enough and only to watch Obama say that he needs to do more to compromise, after seeing Republicans drub Democrats in an election because many Democrats were too afraid to stand for anything Democratic for fear of seeming too "partisan," after listening to Obama justify doing almost everything that George W. Bush did in the name of national security and, in some cases, going further, after years and years of watching Democrats allowing Republicans to set the terms of all arguments, whether in the majority or minority, after investing in Barack Obama the modicum of hope he asked for in changing the terms of that long, ongoing American political fistfight, only to see the whole thing twisted again by the right as they put forth the most obnoxiously anti-American candidates they could find and obstructed progress in an unprecedented way, finally, on this one thing, on absolutely opposing allowing the tax rate for the wealthiest 2% of Americans to rise by a small margin, we on the left are told by people across the political spectrum that we want too much and that we need to back down and that we need to be happy because this is the best we're gonna get.
To which the Rude Pundit can only say, "Blow me." You're allowed to dissent, dear, worried liberals. You're allowed to draw a fucking inviolable line. The Rude Pundit has supported Obama on issue after issue, but he is allowed to join with many Democrats in the Congress and call, "Bullshit." No one gets a blank check.
No, thank God, Allah, Buddha, Everyone, or No One, he's not facing the panic and horror of having his unemployment insurance cut off, the extension of which should never have been tied to the tax cuts at all (and was the stupidest move by every Democrat in DC). But what he's facing is the long-term horror of our decimated economy after a decade of irrational policies, topped by the political suicide bomb of the expiration of the Bush tax cuts. He's facing the inevitable result of multiple decades of unending attacks on the poor by government budget cuts and corporate exploitation. And who fucking warned everyone about this? Who stood there, even in the good times, waving their fuckin' arms and saying that there's gonna be hell to pay, when Reagan gutted programs for the poor and then slashed taxes while building up the military for no good reason other than to pay off contractors? Who jumped up and down for attention while Clinton triangulated the fuck out of the welfare safety net? Who had the most credibility when Bush II raided the Treasury to give money to the rich while fighting two wars? While all three of them gutted regulations on financial and other industries? Yeah, we on the left, motherfuckers.
Bernie Sanders' epic speech on the Senate floor wasn't just about the tax cut. It was about an insanity of instant financial gratification that puts the desires of the very few above the needs of the very, very many, an insanity that has fucked this country for the rest of our lives. Again and again, with the assistance of the conservative Democrat Mary Landrieu, who voted for the original tax cuts, Sanders came back to the income disparity that has turned the United States into an oligarchy. Shit, it was always that way. But at least it was a benevolent oligarchy. Not anymore, as Wall Street greed pulls on our flayed flesh to finally skin us all alive.
Don't worry. The tax cut extension will pass. The unemployment benefits extension will pass, as it should. We will put off any hard decisions on our future again for two years. And then, don't worry, we'll put them off again. Because that's who we are. That's our learned behavior. We are Americans and we've forgotten how to sacrifice anything because no one for a generation has asked us to. We're like Nicholas Cage in Leaving Las Vegas: we've decided to drink ourselves to death while being cared for by whores.
Oh, dear weary, weary leftists all, we've been treated like the once-virginal cheerleader who gave in when the quarterback wanted a hand job and then gave in again when he wanted a blow job, saying that it wasn't sex, no, not really, giving in, yes, even though it was against our core beliefs, to straight fucking, but, god, can't we at least say "No" to anal? Or is that too much to ask anymore?
Sunday, December 12, 2010
Marty Meyer correctly identified Hidden Location #5 as the corner of South Park and Blue Lick roads. Specifically the picture is looking to the south-southeast. The industrial building in the background, on the southeast corner, is a boat sales, service, and storage outfit. That property is the old Mohr property. Across the street for many years stood the old Holsclaw house, which was moved when I was a kid from that corner to just down South Park Road to the west. A Korean family has operated a small farm at that site for over thirty years. The Silver Heights Shppoing Center is just south of this intersection and I was standing in the property that was known, when I was a kid, as the Moody property. The old Moody mansion, historically the McCawley mansion, was torn down in the early 1990s.
Of the two streets in this intersection, Blue Lick is by far the older and may have been a part of the branch of the Wilderness Road which broke off from the more well-known one in central Kentucky. History tells us that a branch generally followed the Salt River west from Harrodsburg over to the Shepherdsville area, specifically to the Bullitt Salt Licks, thence northward to what is now Preston Highway in Okolona, and from there northwestward to the ancient Buffalo crossing of the Ohio River at 26th Street. All of these roads follow old buffalo paths established long before this area was occupied by the pioneers of the 18th century.
South Park, on the other hand, is relatively new. It was called either Depot Station or Deposit Station Road well into the 20th century and connected Okolona to Fairdale via Minor's Lane (or as the county now calls it, Minor Lane). The section from the southern terminus of Minors Lane, where Pape's Hardware once occupied the building on the northeast corner, was pushed through over to Blue Lick in the 1920s. The final section, connecting Blue Lick to Preston came somewhat later although I am unsure of when.
We have a new location today for your perusal and comments. In identifying the location, I would ask that you be specific - street, location, and general area. Good luck.
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
Should I be more upset with the governor's overlooking of the Kentucky Constitution, as pointed out in my post last week, in granting economic benefits - read your tax dollars at work - to a religious theme park or should I be more upset that the Commander-In-Chief of the United States of America, who ran on a platform of Change, has now decided that not only is it important to move to the center to govern, but it is even okay to cross the center line and grant millionaire's an unneeded tax break? Which is it?
Sunday, December 5, 2010
I've already mentioned that Curtis Morrison got the answer to Hidden Location #4 in a matter of fifteen minutes. Below is the next entry in the game, Hidden Location #5. Leave your comments below. The answer will be either acknowledged or revealed on Thursday.
Thursday, December 2, 2010
At first, I thought Sen.-elect Paul would be alone, relegated to a corner by the real senators, including Mitch. But, Rand is going to be a leader. He will succeed at cutting everything since the Republicans have given into to the Tea Party and the president is giving into to the Republicans. Maybe that is what it will take to get the country back on course. Cut everything down to where we become the third-rate country they keep saying we are. It will be their fault. They have or will cut taxes and spending and eventually everyone - white, black, other, rich, poor, educated, ignorant, straight, gay, religious, atheist, and all others will be on the receiving end of a government that can do nothing. And that point, and only then, when everyone and everything is effectively affected, will be the turning point. It might take a few months or a few years. But it will happen. And that's when America will either completely fail as a result of the Republicans and their ilk financially starving the country, or we will again start paying the pipers for the dances and retake our place of hegemony in the world.
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
Let's handle the Hidden Location news first. My friend Curtis Morrison, one of the leaders of the anti-tolls group in Louisville, an erstwhile supporter of Councilman Hal Heiner's unsuccessful bid to become mayor, and a blogger in his own right, wordsmithying at www.louisvillecourant.blogspot.com, correctly identified Hidden Location #4 within fifteen minutes of my posting it, a new record. While I was prepared to accept "Dixie Highway and Ralph Avenue" as the most correct answer, Morrison, who likes pushing envelopes to their most inconceivable limits, was even more specific, identifying the location as "Dixie Highway and Clinton Place," which is actually a few hundred feet south of where I was standing when I took the picture. Clinton Place is the rather unknown name of a street of government-subsidized apartments on Shively's northside. Very few people would ever had gotten that specific, so my commendation goes to Mr. Morrison. A new Hidden Location will appear soon after my return to the Commonwealth.
On a different matter, I was in another state today when, lo and behold, there upon the TV screen appeared the Honorable Steve Beshear, governor of the Commonwealth of Kentucky. The governor is a friend of mine who is seeking reelection to his office in 2011. Today's appearance was to announce an economic development project which will assist in the funding of a Noah's Ark-based theme park in Grant County. I have a First Amendment-based problem with those plans but there may be facts I've not been made aware of.
Noah's Ark, you may recall, settled, at least according to the 4th verse of the 8th chapter of the Book of Genesis, as found in my well-read and well-worn Bible, on the 27th day of the 7th month of the flood in the "Mountains of Armenia" which we've decided is someplace called Ararat on or near the border between Iran and Turkey. Today's announcement would have a theme-park built around the biblical story of Noah and the Ark placed in Grant County in northern Kentucky.
Having seen the press conference, upon my return to Kentucky I intend to pen a letter to my friend the governor. I heard him explaining this Ark-thing as an economic development venture. I'm trying to recall if bringing the Presbyterians to Louisville in the 1980s was a similar economic development venture. There are some tax rewards to be sure, but does respecting the views of one religion over another, something the United States Constitution prohibits, merit such an investment on the part of the taxpayers? The governor said he would invite other denominations with similar plans to make their pitch for similar projects. It makes me feel the earth move under my feet - actually more of a slippery slope down which I do not want to go.
If we are to maintain the so-called "separation of church and state," words which, by-the-way, do not appear in the United States Constitution, should we not avoid entanglements such as this one, where taxpayer dollars are being used in what appears to be a "respecting the establishment of religion," words which, by-the-way, do appear in the United States Constitution.
Further, Section 5 of Kentucky's fourth (and present) Constitution, under the heading "Right of Religious Freedom" offers the following language:
No preference shall ever be given by law to any religious sect, society or denomination; nor to any particular creed, mode of worship or system of ecclesiastical polity; nor shall any person be compelled to attend any place of worship, to contribute to the erection or maintenance of any such place, or to the salary or support of any minister of religion; nor shall any man be compelled to send his child to any school to which he may be conscientiously opposed; and the civil rights, privileges or capacities of no person shall be taken away, or in anywise diminished or enlarged, on account of his belief or disbelief of any religious tenet, dogma or teaching. No human authority shall, in any case whatever, control or interfere with the rights of conscience.
I'm not an attorney so maybe I simply do not know what I am talking about. I've been in that situation before. But I am a Christian who feels that my religious practice should be just that - mine, and by extension, so should everybody else's practices be theirs. I'm not much of an evangelizer even though the Bible says I should be. But that is a problem between me and my God and not me and my state. And that's the way I think it should be. There should be a separation of my civil practices and my religious practices - a separation of church and state. They should neither overlap nor interfere with each other. Nor should they overlap or interfere with others' practices or non-practices of their own beliefs.
If the government is to fund this religious undertaking in the name of an economic development project, we should also reap the benefits of taxing the property, income, and other assets of the park just as we would any other piece of property. And, maybe we are. Someone needs to make that clear.
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- Jeff Noble
- 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.