UnSATisfactory: “THE DRAMATIC decline in SAT scores announced yesterday raises the issue of whether there is something wrong with the new test or, even more worrisome, with the lessons being taught in high schools.”

Could it be that the test has run up against “the Test”. Wouldn’t it be right about now that the teaching to the test in “no child left behind” begins to show results in the students taking the SAT tests? Just a thought…Being from Texas we have had the benefit of the Bush doctrine of education a little longer than most…

Friday Musing

This caught my eye this morning for no particular reason…

The Writer’s Almanac from American Public Media: “On this day in 1875, Captain Matthew Webb became the first person to swim across the English Channel. In twenty-one hours and forty-five minutes, he swam from Dover, England, to Calais, France. Nine years later, he drowned in Niagara Falls, trying to swim across and under the churning water.”

As a counterpoint, my Zen Calendar Quote for today…

soaking into the rocks,
the cicada’s cries.” BASHO

Think about those two extremes, total and constant motion and sound of the ocean and the waterfall and the stillness of the rock as the sounds of the night soak into silence.

My North Carolina Dream includes the waterfall and the stillness of the rock so for today let’s contemplate this image…

Photo of the Day

This small waterfall on Clark Creek is one of my favorite things about the area….

Busy at the office–Hot at home

It has been a very busy time for me at the day job…which is keeping my posting down here.

So just to keep something going here is:

The Photo of the Day

This was a shot taken at Hoover Dam in January 2005…I feel like this fella’ when I walk outside this week.

Heat, Heat and More Heat

I was out last night with hopes of seeing some meteors. About the only thing I saw in the night sky other than the dim stars was a few airplanes. Living in the Houston Galveston metropolitan area the nights never get that clear. The thing over-riding every other sense though was the heat…you could literally smell the heat in the air. When I went out at 9:30 the temperature had dropped down to about 88 degrees. Not a comfortable temperature. And there wasn’t a bit of breeze blowing at all. Even the few fireflies out seemed to be having trouble showing any enthusiasm with their lights. The weathermen are predicting mid 90s today and upper 90s by the end of the week.

I am reading in the blogs that the summer heat appears to have broken. Fred made the comment that the temperature hadn’t gotten out of the 60s all day on Saturday. David had a photo of a fire in the woodstove on Sunday.

You will have to forgive me for living vicariously through the mountain Bloogers I follow as they begin that slide into fall that won’t hit me till Thanksgiving at least.

Photo of the Day

Clark Creek Road Barn
This barn stands on the corner of Clark Creek Road and NC192.
I actually pulled over to take a picture of a horse standing by a rail fence to the right of this shot. About the time I got the shot set up the way I wanted the horse’s owners pulled into the frame to feed him. The SUV didn’t quite work in the shot I wanted, so I shifted to this one. Every time I passed, I looked for the original shot…never happened again.

Have a great day…wherever you dream to be.

The Official Jeb Loy Nichols Website – Lyrics

Jeb Loy Nichols Website – Lyrics:


I got penny change in my pocket
I got heaven on my mind
I got a gravel road, twenty miles
Gonna spend a little time
For the ways of the world seem to frustrate
Always stealing food off of the next plate
Only hate is our fate and it’s too late
All we get is a crumb from the big cake

So I’ll just take my time
And relax my mind
So I’ll stop – slow down
Watch the sun go down

Come on over to my yard
Sit around and let your troubles all disappear
Come on over to my yard
‘Cause right now heaven’s right here

It was bright and sunny in the morning
Afternoon clouds gave chase
I don’t wanna take my place in their rat race
As for love there’s no trace on their face
It chills me right down to my back bone
And it’s lonesome when you’re so far from home
And when the world that they’ve made starts to fall down
I’ll be here so why don’t you just come around”

The first time I herd this song (shortly after it’s release) was on the World Cafe with David Dyes. Jeb Loy Nichols did an acoustical version in the studio…I loved the lyrics. The chorus really hit a chord…

“Come on over to my yard
Sit around and let your troubles all disappear
Come on over to my yard
‘Cause right now heaven’s right here”

After hearing that song a few times I was forced to go online and chase down the CD. Before long I followed up with his next CD.

If you get the chance…have a listen.

Here’s the link to Amazon:

The Blog of Henry David Thoreau: Thoreau’s Journal: 12-Aug-1854

The Blog of Henry David Thoreau: Thoreau’s Journal: 12-Aug-1854: “Thoreau’s Journal: 12-Aug-1854
On Conantum saw a cow looking steadily up into the sky for a minute. It gave to her face an unusual almost human or wood-god, faun-like expression, and reminded me os some frontispiece to Virgil’s Bucolics. She was gazing upwards about 45°. There were only some downy clouds in that direction. It was so unusual a sight that any one would notice it. It suggested adoration.”

Reading this reminded me of this:

Photo of the Day

It isn’t mine but I loved it; you’ll have to follow the link…
Photos – Judith Polakoff



“It was probably thirty years ago when my uncle was diagnosed with melanoma. The prognosis was dire. While he procrastinated about seeing a dermatologist for the lesion on his cheek, the cancer advanced. Bluntly, the doctor gave him six months.”

And that is how Patry Francis starts tonight’s post. You know I wouldn’t point you at this but the lady has a way with words…go read about her uncle. I had to read it to the wife and tell her this is why I read blogs. You never know when the real gems will show up on your screen, and this is one. Treat yourself and swing on by her blog.

Daily Kos: But Enough About Us …

I generally try to keep the politics I feel strongly about off of this sight. I think though that this is a message that needs to be said loudly and often between now and November…It is time for a change!

Daily Kos: But Enough About Us …: “The message is the message.

Let’s make it even simpler, shall we? The oh-so-mysterious message to elected officials is: People are sick unto death of war, of unresponsive representation, of incompetence, of corruption, of ever-more-intrusive government, of a spiraling deficit, of lobbyist-owned and corporation-sponsored politicians, of a power-hungry president, of six years of attempts to pass stick-up-the-ass moralizing legislation telling us when and how we can die and when and how we can reproduce. Get out of our personal lives, get the hell out of Iraq and do your freaking job – run the government competently, economically and fairly. Period.”

I have to agree. Get the corporations out of the congress. The one and only thing Texas has right (and it caught Tom Delay) is you don’t let the corporations give money to politicians, ever. Once the politicians are able to collect from those fictional persons that manage to get many millions back from the government you are asking for trouble. Sadly you will almost never be disappointed. I don’t care if they are Republicans or Democrats, the answer is almost always the same…give em more money. Our elected officials keep wanting to raise the amounts that can be given in campain funds, I think they are wrong. The amounts should be lowered to the point that no one can give anymore than the lowest paid person in the country. I am sorry but the voice of the rich corporate officer should not carry anymore weight than the voice of the person cleaning the toilets.

Once upon a time the aristocrats of this country had a conscience and really put the people first. Now most of the moneyed elites just look out for themselves and look down upon those who think about others.

It is time America returned to her roots and once again becomes a country that stands for freedom and fairness.

No photo today…

The Blog of Henry David Thoreau: Thoreau’s Journal: 11-Aug-1853

The Blog of Henry David Thoreau: Thoreau’s Journal: 11-Aug-1853: “Thoreau’s Journal: 11-Aug-1853
What shall we name this season? This very late afternoon, or very early evening, this severe and placid season of the day, most favorable for reflection, after the insufferable heats and the bustle of the day are over and before the dampness and twilight of the evening! The serene hour, the Muses’ hour, the season of reflection! It is commonly desecrated by being made teatime. It begins perhaps with the very earliest condensation of moisture in the air, when the shadows of hills are first observed, and the breezes begin to go down, and birds begin again to sing. The pensive season. It is earlier than the ‘“chaste eve’” of the poet. Bats have not come forth. It is not twilight. There is no dew yet on the grass, and still less any early star in the heavens. It is the turning-point between afternoon and evening. The few sounds now heard, far or near, are delicious. It is not more dusky and obscure, but clearer than before. The clearing of the air by condensation of mists more than balances the increase of shadows. Chaste eve is merely preparing with ‘dewy finger’” to draw o’’er all ‘“the gradual dusky veil.’” Not yet ‘“the ploughman homeward plods his weary way,’ nor owls nor beetles are abroad. It is a sea”

I know I’ve mentioned this blog before, but todays post just seemed to speak to me so I am putting it here.

On another note I am experimenting with a new news reader. I have never been satisfied with any news reader I have tried. I just recently gave up on the one built into IE7 (that was all I was running the beta for) and went back to Google Reader. But, I must admit I kinda’ like this new reader…Newshutch. If you are like me and tend to subscribe to folks blog feeds, this new reader seems to have a better interface…try it out, tell ’em I sent ya…

Photo of the Day

Dew on Pine needles, Boyd Gap, Tn.
July 2006

How does rice thrive in toxic soil? – Weird Plants

How does rice thrive in toxic soil? – Weird Plants:

The cultivation of rice has always appeared to be environmentally-friendly. After all, most rice is produced in paddies. Water buffalo churn up the soil, most of the fertilizers used are organic, and the planting and harvesting is done by hand. But organic matter and flooded conditions provide a perfect home for anaerobic (living without air) bacteria that produce methane.
Methane is lethal to most plants. Rice plants remove 90 percent of this toxin from the soil by acting as gas vents, releasing the methane to the atmosphere. Before rice was cultivated, this trait was a simple solution ensuring the plants’ survival. But now that rice is intensively cultivated, the fields are suspected of releasing as much as 115 million tons of methane into the atmosphere every year. Methane is a greenhouse gas and, molecule for molecule, it traps 20 times the heat that carbon dioxide does. When conditions are right, some of the methane is converted into methyl halides known to damage the ozone layer in the atmosphere.

I find the above information both intriguing and a bit scary. Here we are worrying about the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, and most of the developing world is probably dumping a greater ratio of methane into the atmosphere. Check out the link, I have been subscribed to killerplants newsletters for years now and always find something of interest the daily emails from Chelsie Vandaveer…

Being as there are large areas of my area in rice cultivation, I find the methane information of rising concern. Maybe we should build covers over the fields and capture the methane for power production?

Photo of the Day

Toadstools in Grass
Taken in my backyard earlier this summer.