Closely Watched Trains

I’m a trainspotter, as my regular readers know. Today I was watching the North / South CSX double tracked line that passes through Ashland, Virginia. (YouTube virtual rail fan llc/ Ashland Va)

Passing Northbound was a train hauling empty coal cars, while a Southbound freight was hauling coal cars full of coal. The coal was either headed to coal-fired American power plants or the coal was bound for export, most likely to The People’s Republic of China. The Chinese burn coal, plenty of it.

Mistakenly, we think all that BTU-rich fossil fuel is staying in the ground, thanks to this Administration’s commitment to slowing the rate of climate change. Well it ain’t. Jen Psaki can read some release explaining why this load of coal is headed down the tracks, ultimately to vex the asthmatics of Beijing. The Climate Change True Believers will accept whatever is said.

But a big-ass train pulling coal tells me that whatever is said in the White House Media Center is just so much fluff, clouds of it, or more likely smoke.

Cognitive Dissonance. That’s the phrase the brain washers use when their lies conflict with the truth, except they want us to believe that the False is True. But I see that train a’comin’, and it’s hauling coal. Somebody(ies) is (/are) making a bundle of money off this. And those somebodies don’t care which man with the bad comb-over has his keester parked in the Oval Office.

It’s a bitch to admit that all this idealistic verbiage coming from The Progressive Democrats are prevarications, but they are. Kind of like Vietnam. We were winning,remember? All that was needed for “victory” were a few thousand more troops and a few billion more dollars. What they didn’t tell you were the billions of dollars went to defence contractors who were Lyndon Johnson’s buddies and campaign contributors.

You didn’t learn that in school. I wonder why.

Brainwashing Or Cerebral Dry Cleaning?

OK Dave, just what the Hell is this rant about?”

Glad you asked. Succinctly put (excuse the bold type).

We really do have enough.

The brainwashing is the notion, put into heads, like Downey in the rinse cycle, that we are lacking something. And because we lack something, we NEED MORE! Doesn’t matter what, we need more. And Amazon and e-Bay and Etsy are there to provide it. If you don’t need something, what about Mom, Dad, the kids, that baby your friend Phyllis is having?

Never fucking ends. Doesn’t matter if you love Trump or hate Trump, if you march during Pride 🏳️‍🌈 Month, The March For Life 👶 , or both, we’re all roped in.

“Dave, I’m above all this. I know what the Mad Men are up to. I’m too smart for their little games.”

But you aren’t. There’s your unspoken deficiency, perhaps you aren’t even aware of it, that has you looking for more knowledge or information, that has you seeking that something that gives you your imaginary “edge”. This is your edge that allows you to dominate others and avoid others dominating you, if only in your imagination. You will pay to keep that edge eternally honed.

I came to this conclusion this morning when I came downstairs, looked at a house full of books I ordered online over the last six years that I’ve never even read. I plan to, mind you. Then I’ll be The Expert on The JFK Assassination, the Communist Infiltration of the State Department during the FDR Administration, the nefarious plotting of The CIA, et cetera, ad nauseum.

It is our desire, or downright fucking need, to have more that keeps us on the carousel 🎠 of Consumerism.

So when you get an email or a text from Amazon, saying it “noticed” you looked at those chartreuse Wellies all the best gardeners will be wearing this season, just ignore it. That is, if you can.

Friday. Awake. For Now.

Yesterday I took a friend and neighbour for a lung biopsy at a local outpatient surgery centre. We sat around for an hour, until the hospital remembered that Leigh was there, waiting for the procedure to begin.

She went back. I stayed in the waiting area, reading Stalingrad, Vasilly Grossman’s novel about the epic battle. He writes many small vignettes that stand on their own for what they describe. He is describing the epic battle while at the same time detailing the lives of characters completely unrelated to the battle itself. So I’m reading as the characters convey their shock at how a civilised people (the Germans) could descend into barbarism. There is an intimacy to this writing. The characters figuratively leap from the page, joining me in the waiting area.

About two hours elapse, when a nurse enters the area to tell me the test is over and Leigh will be out in about fifteen minutes, that I should get the car, to be ready to meet her in the pick up area.

As we leave the hospital campus, Leigh very calmly tells me her cancer has returned. They will treat this lung cancer with chemotherapy and radiotherapy, because the tumour site is too close to the aorta for surgery. She is the very personification of optimism.

I return home, very grateful for my small pile of problems and the relatively minor nature of my son’s medical predicament.

I’m not writing about Friday, am I? I just roasted five ears of corn, in order the take the kernels of the cobs and use in a Southwest corn and black bean salad. I trust we have the inclination to eat it. We have been eating at restaurants almost daily, taking advantage of the freedom of movement provided by full COVID-19 vaccination.

So I hope to fix a nice dish and have a nice meal at home. I’m tired. My eyes are dry. I need more sleep

I’m going back to bed.


I can remember life without a television in the home. Can you? I can remember when colour TV was a big deal. I can remember when damn near every adult smoked cigarettes, except my Grandma, Mom and my Aunt Opal, but she had asthma pretty bad. I never for a moment thought that the Television Age and the Cigarette Age were related, until I learned, almost half a century later, that the tobacco companies all but dictated the content of what we watched.

We were all amazed! Those TV characters were real for me. I willingly suspended disbelief. Marshall Dillon, Uncle Miltie, Barney Fife, Frank Ballenger (the name of Lee Marvin’s character on M Squad), Lucy, even The Kingfish ( Yes, I watched Amos N’ Andy) were all real to me.

In the cities, before TV, people went to the movies almost every week. Then came The War, with all its intensity. And, at its end, people wanted to get on with life, find work, a career, if you will, have babies, and enjoy the benefits of living in an affluent society . Science and technology were our servants. They gave us jet engines, air conditioning, polio vaccines, television, and well , uh, the atomic bomb. But we didn’t really talk about that. We all assumed that Truman, Ike, JFK, knew what they were doing and all would be well.

Yes, we were spoiled. As children we had everything handed to us, no strings attached. We never thought to question what was offered, Popsicles, Kool-Aid, Twinkies, Wonder Bread. Morton’s Chicken Pot Pies. Swanson’s TV Dinners,. Then Budweiser, Marlboros, pot, and for you Ladies out there, The Pill.

Right after the JFK Assassination, we started hearing about Consequences. The Surgeon General’s Report On Smoking And Health came out. You mean Winstons and Salems were bad for you? Who knew?(The companies that made them knew, we learned later. They just didn’t tell the public).

Then came the Warren Report. People started saying that that was a lie too. Took a while to take the Mark Lanes and Jim Garrisons seriously, but now nobody believes the Warren Report is true.

We’re spoiled. Pictures don’t lie. And TV gives us plenty of pictures, so we don’t have to think. Computers do that for us now. We can just follow whatever dream we have, whether it’s a trip to Mars or living on a sustainable planet, (whatever that is.)

So if the Communist Party of the Peoples ’ Republic of China says the Wuhan Virus came from a wet market there, who are we to doubt them?


Catching Up

It started out innocently enough. I would dog sit for RB and R while they have a work/ play trip to Denver. Lila is a pit bull, a rescue, and a sweetheart. She is incredibly powerful, so much so that RB was afraid she would re-injure my shoulder or back if she pulled the lead too hard if I walked her. So they hired a dog walker. Becca The Walker came and did her magic with Lila.


Meanwhile, word came from R that RB had had a seizure at the AirBnB in Denver, falling, with bone fractures in his face, and a subdural hematoma. We were all worried, and continue to be, until the doctors can determine the cause of the seizures. He had some head injuries from high school football, a fainting spell with amnesia in the Marine Corps.

He is home now, with driving restrictions for several months, and getting back to “normal” won’t be easy or of short interval until its return.

So things will take awhile for all of us to readjust. Just grateful here. Things could be much worse.

Waiting For More News

My son, who will turn 45 in three weeks, is out in Denver accompanying his wife on a work/vacation. I am dog-sitting his pit bull Lila.

Yesterday afternoon I received a phone call from R, his wife. My son RB had a seizure and fell, fracturing several bones in his face. Preliminary tests show a subdural hematoma, (SH) a bleed between the skull and the brain itself. So he is alert, talking and on a lot of pain medication. But we don’t know what caused the seizure, if the SH is the result of the seizure and fall, or if the SH caused the seizure.

J, Lila and I are waiting for news. That’s all I know right now.

Awake At Eleven. Meh.

I’m sitting here watching a Latino Male Ogle Fest called Miss bumbum World 2019. Emphasis is on the female buttocks. I know. Sexist, yada, yada, yada. But no animals were harmed in making this video. However the sequin may be placed on the Endangered Sewing Notions List.

I have since given up on Miss bumbum World 2019 and gone back to trainspotting. Oddly more satisfying, for a man whose best years at lechery are behind him.

Today is #2 Son’s 33rd Birthday. Hard to believe but, hey, it’s great. He might come over or we might just celebrate his Birthday at my sister’s on Saturday.

Train #94 is due in Ashland any time now. The passengers boarding here have to determine on which track it is and whether they need to cross the tracks in order to board.

J’s work schedule changed. She works overnights no longer. Now she works from 5:00 PM to 11:30 PM. But she’s asleep now anyway.

I probably should go back to bed, but I won’t.

Waiting For Toby

Toby is the rescue dog a neighbour walks about this time every day. When Toby sees me on the porch he steers his human Mommy towards me, climbs the porch steps for his treat(s). It is my great pleasure to participate in this little game.

The question, “Who rescued who?”, comes to mind.

It is a beautiful day to wait for Toby, pleasant, sunny with a gentle breeze. The bird feeder needs refilling now that the squirrels have discovered it, filled, again. I will need to water the plants too. The roses have bloomed, at least the red buds are opening. The day lilies are getting ready for their show in June.

I had an odd dream where money, sex and power came my way, via some surreal magic, at the Richmond Headquarters of the Fifth District of the Federal Reserve Bank. I once worked in that building for a now defunct insurance brokerage, as my life, career, and marriage fell apart. That was thirty years ago, almost precisely at this time of year.

We always think our deliverance from Evil will be somehow Biblical in its unfolding. More precisely we think our deliverance will come with movie special effects, like The Red Sea parting in Cecil B. deMille’s The Ten Commandments. Deliverance works on God’s time. That was the beginning of the endgame. It needed another three years to play through til recovery and divorce came about, and a new life began. But it began there, when I, carrying a single wall corrugated box, filled with my personal items, was escorted from the building by an armed security guard.

Sadly, I’m rambling. Blogs don’t have editors, so I can ramble, unchecked, as I careen through the blogosphere. Toby isn’t here yet. My coffee is lukewarm and bird feeder is still empty.

Check out the rose. This rose is more precious to me than my whole time in insurance.

First one. For Jade.

Contemplating The Transitory

How does that sound? Is it pretentious enough? I’m watching trains and, between Amtrak runs, I’m contemplating how established and solid the world of 1921 appeared to be.

Despite a catastrophic war, the British Empire was sputtering back to normal. The Irish and the Indians were making noises, but it looked like the Empire would stay intact.

France was beginning wave after wave of political turmoil, but there was a new modern culture being created, of Picasso, Joyce, Ravel, where word and image and sound were not like that of twenty years ago.

In America, great businesses dominated the economy. United States Steel, Westinghouse, the Pennsylvania Railroad, and the New York Central Railroad were more powerful and wealthier than many foreign countries and many American states within the Union.

Today, there is only the British Empire of memory, held together on Cricket ovals, and bankers and financiers in the City.

Modern art has descended into self-immolation, burning whatever aesthetics it tenuously possessed, in its slash and burn migration toward The Modern.

And America? The Pennsylvania and Grand Central are now remembered for their architectural remnants. United States Steel? Westinghouse? All this “power“ has vanished, just like the Preacher of Ecclesiastes said it would.

And people out there want to “cancel” this culture. They desire to reshuffle the cards of learning, politics, religion, and biology and deal anew. People had such ideas a century ago. They forecast their novus ordo mundi would last a thousand years. One lasted twelve years, another about seventy-five.

The curse of freedom is that the ignorant have gravitas because they can vote. And the Faithful and the Pious must endure without supporting evidence until the faithless and impious sandcastles vanish in the surf of their own hubris.

Anyway. Trust, but verify.