Leon Hale | Affirming the power of music

Leon Hale | Affirming the power of music: “Music is one of the reasons I like Round Top, the little country town in Fayette County. You can be at the Post Office talking to farmers about the weather and a classical musician from Europe might walk in. He’d be there because of James Dick’s Festival Hill facility, which draws professional musicians and talented students to Round Top from all over the world.

Recently my partner and I went to a symphony concert at Festival Hill. They played Mozart. Well, I wouldn’t know Mozart if he was sitting in the first chair playing fiddle, but I loved that grand symphony sound floating out of a building there in that country town.

Cows grazing just across the road could hear it, and appreciated it, too, I don’t doubt. (They’ve shown long ago that cows give more milk when nice music is piped into dairy barns.)”

Leon Hale has been doing a Newspaper column here in Houston for longer than I’ve been alive. I was raised reading him. He has worked for both of the local dailies (now only one like most cities). His column is like a look into the way it used to be…And I think it always has been. If you have a minute, check him out.

He just started a blog of his own and you’ll find it here

Fragments From Floyd: The Gore Documentary: A Few Words

As usual, Fred started my day with a thought provoking post about Al Gore’s latest contribution to the American culture (should I add wars?). I find I share the fears Fred has for the future.
Fragments From Floyd: The Gore Documentary: A Few Words: “Along with Gore, I’ve been watching this scenario develop since the sixties. I left the movie with a deep sadness in the reality that, while some individuals will see the light, in the end, our political system, and those of China and the developing world will not likely jump from the pot until the water has already boiled. We will continue to treat the earth as if it were nothing more than a passive, lifeless concrete block that we do our living on. We will just keep doing what we’ve always done, and we’ll get what we’ve always got, deferred til the next administration, diluted in air or water downstream or invisible in the atmosphere or dumped someplace out of sight or in other ways deferring the true costs of the effluents of our affluence. We can only hide, ignore and defer for so long before we have to pay. “
As I think about the above words again, I find myself saddened by the reality of what is being said. For many years I held out hope that my generation would be the one to wake up to the reality of the fine balance we stand upon in this world. The 1980s seemed to have a start in the right direction, but the overindulgent ’90s appear to have washed all of the good intentions out of the nations conscience. It would seem to me that only with a change in the political will of this country can we expect a real change in the way we treat the environment and the world.
Sadly, I think it says a lot about the way this country is run that we seem to expect the rest of the world to act as we say not as we set the example…And every political add and story talks about “values”, but the values being given all of the ink are not what I would call values at all.

Commuting Muse

As I made the commute in to work this morning my thoughts turned to the physical differences between the place I am in and the place where I want to be.

The two words that came to mind were FLAT and STRAIGHT.

The flat is the nature of the place I call home. I don’t know that I can describe to anyone who hasn’t experienced it what flat really is on the coastal plain of Texas. If you can imagine what it is like to be floating on an ocean far from shore, you are getting close to what coastal Texas is like. The only difference is the trees and man-made structures tend to break up the total monotony. The main feature of the landscape, once you leave the towns and cities, is the sky. Most of the trees in this part of the state barely break 30’ in height, and they tend to be grouped along rivers and streams or bunched up around an old home site. So what that leaves is sky and clouds.

I read a factoid that I really found interesting last week. According to “Our State” magazine North Carolina has a state road system second only to Texas in the number of miles maintained. Now I haven’t traveled as extensively in North Carolina as I have in Texas (Texas has about a 50 year lead on my wandering the back roads), but the very concept leaves me amazed. I get the feeling there might be a difference in the way road systems are tallied…

But, back to where this missive was progressing…Straight, I am sure there are roads in North Carolina that run straight, but so far I don’t think I’ve ever been on one. I don’t think I can conceive of a flat, straight road in North Carolina. Now to be honest I have not traveled the coastal region of North Carolina and quite possibly it would match the area in which I now hang my hat. As I drove in to Houston this morning I travel about 12 miles on Highway 6 where it comes out of Galveston County and travels through Brazoria County. From the crossing of Highway 35 to Highway 288 is probably one of the straightest sections of road I have ever been on with an elevational relief of at most 5 feet. The road seems to go from vanishing point to vanishing point with very little in between.

After being back home for a week, I still long for the curves and elevation changes of driving in the mountains…

(Ok Fred, now I get it…)

Valle Crucis, NC

This shot isn’t mine, my eldest daughter took this one in Valle Crucis behind the Mast General Store. I have taken shots of the same scene, but I like hers better.

Here’s my shot of the front of the store…

It seems that every time we visit Valle Crucis we end up making at least a half dozen trips to the “Mast”. It just wouldn’t be Valle Crucis without it.
Posted by Picasa

Mountain Vacation, First Day

This isn’t much of a photo, but the significance is the location. We left Chattanooga, TN on Tuesday morning headed for Cherokee, NC and then Asheville for our next stay. Driving up into the Smokey Mountains we passed a sign for Boyds Gap and of cource we had to stop.

I don’t know the history of this spot, but I will be trying to find out who the Boyds were and when they were here…

Ocoee Scenic Byway
U.S. Hwy. 64/F.S. Road 77
First National Forest Scenic By-Way in the United States. Consists of 26 miles of highway that winds alongside the Ocoee River and up to the Chilhowee Campground on Forest Service Road #77. The highway passes through scenic areas dominated by rock bluffs, mountain peaks, and historic sites such as the Ocoee Flume Line and Powerhouses, Confederate Camp, and Old Copper Road. The panoramic views from the Chilhowee Overlooks and Boyd Gap are favorites of photographers.

Here is half of our party of 6 at our first stop…Don’t you just love the overlooks?

More to come…
Posted by Picasa

Down From The Mountain

The past week went by way too fast. We pulled in just before dark last evening after a very enjoyable stay on Nettle’s Knob. I will miss the drive up Clark Creek going back to the cabin.

I will be busy running around today, but I hope to get some photo’s from the trip posted before I have to be back at work on Monday.

I already miss the temperature at 4000 ft…

The False Hope of Biofuels

I know we are all holding out great hopes for biofuels, but these nagging pieces keep showing up in the papers…

The False Hope of Biofuels: “Biofuels such as ethanol made from corn, sugar cane, switchgrass and other crops are being touted as a ‘green’ solution for a large part of America’s transportation problem. Auto manufacturers, Midwest corn farmers and politicians are excited about ethanol. Initially, we, too, were excited about biofuels: no net carbon dioxide emissions, reduction of oil imports. Who wouldn’t be enthusiastic?But as we’ve looked at biofuels more closely, we’ve concluded that they’re not a practical long-term solution to our need for transport fuels. Even if all of the 300 million acres (500,000 square miles) of currently harvested U.S. cropland produced ethanol, it wouldn’t supply all of the gasoline and diesel fuel we now burn for transport, and it would supply only about half of the needs for the year 2025. And the effects on land and agriculture would be devastating.”

Everyone “knows” we need to break our dependence on imported fuel…Hell, even the President has finally acknowledged we have an addiction problem. But, I don’t think it’s so much a fuel problem as a problem of perspective. If we were to actually see what the real costs of products and goods were, we might have a good reason to begin to change our dependence.
The way America works, we hide the costs with subsidies. If we do not actually “know” what an item really costs how can we make an informed choice when it comes to the purchases we make?
It seems to me this is the root of the conversation that has been going back and forth between Michael Pollan and Whole Foods Market founder, John Mzckey…

An Open Letter to Michael Pollan
Michael Pollan’s new book The Omnivore’s Dilemma has been near the top of the best seller’s list since it was published in April, and it deserves to be. This is mostly an excellent book which I strongly recommend people read, along with Peter Singer and Jim Mason’s new book The Way We Eat: Why Our Food Choices Matter. Both books are real wakeup calls about how our food is being produced in the United States today, and how our food choices potentially can make a positive difference in the world… came away from my dialog with him convinced that we will likely become proactive allies working together in our joint quest to reform ‘industrial agriculture.’ I only wish we had met and had this productive dialog before he wrote his book. Unfortunately we didn’t and as result many misunderstandings are now circulating about Whole Foods Market as a result of his book and recent interviews. This letter is an attempt to address those misunderstandings.

The back and forth between these two men seems to have led in the last week or so to Whole Food Market articulating some policies that they probably thought were already in place. I personally think the entire dialog will lead to a better model idistributionubution.

Common Ground: The Shortest Food Chain

Here’s another article on the sustainable foods culture. The tie is to the book by Michael Pollan, The Omnivore’s Dilemma. Looks like another trip to the booksellers for me. Everthing I keep reading about “Omnivore” makes me want to check out the book.

Common Ground: The Shortest Food Chain: “In the heart of the metropolis, Garro lives as his ancestors from Syracuse, Italy did so many years ago, hunting and gathering meats, vegetables and fruits and salting and brining to preserve the bounty. As in the twisted back alleys of Palermo, the back of Garro’s workshop holds a cellar and walk-in refrigerator stashing homemade provisions: cured meats and delicacies that would make any food lover stop in wonder. Prociutto hang on hooks, boxes of salted fish lie in wait, and a large glass jug sits fermenting an unknown liquid on the cement floor. Lines of mason jars are filled with jams, pickled fish and fish roes. On forged racks, a collection of wines hasn’t had time to gather much dust. The place conveys a feeling of authenticity and a love for all things handmade. It’s the embodiment of what Michael Pollan describes as the “shortest food chain” and part of the “grace of nature” (not industry) that allows us to eat. “

Thanks to Rebecca for the lead to the article…Looks like we are beginning to find a theme here…