A funny thing happened on the way here, today …

Well, not so much a 'funny' but an interesting.

I am on vacation. For my vacation, I am riding my motorcycle to a long list of places. On day 4 of this wonderful vacation, I was in the Lake Cumberland area of Kentucky.

I spent some time seeing the various sites and 'reconnecting' with an area that has a heavy ancestral relationship to me. It is an odd thing to describe. The last time I was in this part of the country was in the summer of 1986. Anyway, back to my story.

I left the bike at one of those scenic pull offs and went for a brief walk along a path. This path took me to the top of a knoll that had been cleared of trees, some time ago. The clearing on this knoll was maybe 50 yards across, roughly egg shaped with the wider part of the egg to the south east.

As I stood there, slowly turning in a circle, I felt as though my boots were getting tighter as my toes seems to feel as though they were growing. My legs and arms grew stiff and felt to be cracking and splitting along their lengths. My ankles were wide apart but the space between seems to be filling in, as well.

While this was happening, the sky was shifting and changing. The sun was but a streak across the sky, occasionally blinking on what I knew to represent cloudy days. I can describe it no further than to say that I was suddenly growing into a mighty oak tree on that spot. I could see the space around there change as the road grew backwards until there was no road. Just land and hills and the clearing I was standing in was still there, with just this lone oak tree standing alone.

And the event was over in the span of just a few breaths, interrupted by the screams of someone's annoying children. I don't know what it was, but it was wild and weird and excitingly scary, all at the same time. I must think on the meaning of this. If all goes well, tomorrow I get to meet with a local Cherokee shaman. Perhaps I will share the 'vision', if this is what it was with him.

Good night from Robbinsville, NC.



Kettle meet Pot

From Slashdot comes this little technology nugget:

"From the BBC, 'Three technology heavyweights are joining a coalition to fight Google's attempt to create what could be the world's largest virtual library. Amazon, Microsoft and Yahoo will sign up to the Open Book Alliance being spearheaded by the Internet Archive. They oppose a legal settlement that could make Google the main source for many online works. "Google is trying to monopolise the library system," the Internet Archive's founder Brewster Kahle said.'"

Pasted from

So, Google is trying to monopolize a library system where books and information will be freely available? And Microsoft is against this? Microsoft who has been sued how many times for monopolistic practices? Amazon, who sells books online? And Yahoo, Google's primary search engine competitor? Like ANY of them would not be doing the same, if they had found a way to make a buck at it!


It is time ...

It is time for me to take some time for ME. Yes, it is vacation time! WOOHOO!

I work 3rd shift. It is 10PM, at the moment. My vacation starts at 0600.

8 hours.
640 minutes.
38400 seconds.

And already the phones in the support center are ringing non-stop.

ANYWAY, back to my vacation plans. (THIS is the REAL reason to have a blog, right? To brag about something? At least that is what MSM says. None of US could be journalists. I agree. Most bloggers I know and read have MORALS!) So, at 0600 (or as soon as I get off work) I will be jumping on my motorcycle and heading out of town. First leg is OKC to Indy. That is about 750 miles. On my 'new' bike. OH! I have not bragged about THAT, yet, have I?

The bike: The motorcycle is a part of my own personal stimulus program. My old bike, a '96 Honda Shadow ACE 1100, was a nice ride and the Shadows have long been a solid and stable platform. But at 160K+ miles on it, it was time to trade in. So the 'new' bike is a used '02 Honda VTX 1800. I've had CARS with smaller engines than this thing has. It is larger, longer, louder, stronger, faster, etc, etc, etc… And I'm loving it!

Anyway, I got up early today. The last week I've had these three piles growing in the living room. Things I MUST take, things it would be nice to take and the 'if possible' category. Today I managed to make a 4th pile and used that to load down the bike. All of this IS necessary, you see, because I'm going to camp for a few days in the Smokey Mountains. Appalachia. My personal 'motherland'. In particular, I'm heading to Deal's Gap (http://www.dealsgap.com) for a ride there. 318 curves in 11 miles. So, first a couple of days with my Dad in Indy, then a couple in the mountains and a couple of days getting back to OKC. That will pretty much take up my entire vacation. Close to 2500 miles, by map for the route. That is a lot of saddle time.

Saddle time like this is good for thinking! Solo thinking. Self identity, career, desires, self-image, etc. All those things to ensure I don't have that mid-life crisis and melt-down, before 60. I'm aiming for 60 to my 'mid-life' crisis.

But, anyway, Yes, I will be blogging and twitting (paganblacksmith) on the road. And I DO intend to upload photos from 'heaven on earth'. I've been fortunate to have been many places on this little dirty blue-green marble. But there is no place I've ever been like Appalachia.

More to follow in the next few days.



Guns near the President

Ok, here is my WTF article for the week. And I’ve got a few things to spit out about it.

“Dozen Armed With Guns Protest Obama Speech
About a dozen people carrying guns, including one with a military-style rifle, milled among protesters outside the convention center where President Barack Obama was giving a speech.”

So a bunch of people go to see the President speak. In the designated visitors section, were several patriotic law abiding individuals, exercising their right to open carry. The police spoke with them, everyone was legal.


Let me repeat that for Paul Helmke, President of the gang I call “The Brady Bunch”.
Not one of those armed protestors did anything to threaten the President, the Presidential detail or other civilians.

The Secret Service spokesman, Ed Donovan, even stated those armed protestors did nothing to change the game plan for the President’s security. The Secret Service was not worried enough about armed protestors to change their plans. Imagine that!
People exercising their right to speak, to rally together and protest. They continued to exercise their 2nd Amendment right to bear firearms.

President Obama is our currently elected leader. I may not like him. I may not like his policies, his plans or his czars and advisors. But I have no desire to see ill or hurt befall him or his family. The damage such an act would have on this nation would ensure the end of the Republic. I hope Mr. Obama lives a long life, outside of his installment as the current POTUS. I also hope that his tenure as President is short, before he tears this great nation apart.



Last month I was called a bigot.  I was called a racist.  I was told that I had no compassion for my fellow man.  All of this stemming from an 'interview' with a friend of a friend who was doing a paper on 'Social Attitudes'.

The discussion went kind of like this:

Me: So, what do you want to know?  What are we going to discuss?

Her: I've got a list of topics I want your opinion and comments on.  I will then write about your opinions and either support them or argue them in my paper.

Me:  Ok.  Why me?  You don't know me.  Until today, we had never met. 

Her: I was discussing this assignment with <mutual friend> and it was recommended I use you as my subject for this interview.  I think she suggested you because she thinks you are smart, or something.

Me:  Ahh.  Well let's get this started, I need to be at work in an hour and a half.

Her: OK.  What do you know about the healthcare bill before Congress?

Me: I know it is there.  I believe it is a mistake.  I know there is no way for President Obama to keep his promises about taxes and reform if that bill becomes law.  I know that bill will not help the healthcare system, but instead destroy it.  This country has the best healthcare possible, in the entire world.  Canada has a lottery to determine if you can see the doctor this month.  The PM of Australia came to this country to get the care he needed for a prostate issue, because it was not available in Australia.  I know that right now, I could go to the hospital and get care if I needed it.  Without insurance.  Yes, I will get billed for it, but I could still get the care I needed.  This country has the smartest and best doctors in the world.  There are two reasons for this.  The first is that here a doctor gets paid a market value for their work.  Specialists get paid even more.  And the doctor is, oftentimes, self-employed.  Another small business paying taxes and helping our overall economy.  By changing to socialized medicine, which is what this bill is about, we, as a population, take away the incentive of people to become doctors.  The brightest and the best will find other fields to work in, where they can profit the most from what they do.  The second reason for having the best medical care available is becuase of those doctors who practice medicine as a calling.  These are the people that care about others so much that they give of themselves to help others.  These are the doctors you see opening 'free clinics' in places where there is economic depression.  These are the doctors that are part of Doctors without Borders and other similar programs.  Socialized medicine will tell these great people who give of themselves so freely who they can help and how much help they can give.  This healthcare bill will stifle their ability to give of themselves.

Her:  So you think Doctors are either in healthcare to become rich or play God?

Me:  That is not what I said.  But with some of the doctors I have seen through the years, that comment applies to a few.  Look, medicine is hard work.  Dealing with sick people or injured people can really test the mettle of a person.  There are two rewards for that, money and pride.  Have you seen how much it costs for medical school these days?  After 6 to 12 years of advanced study these doctors can have $250,000 in school debt to pay off.  That debt has to be paid off, somehow.  Taking pride in helping others is it's own payment. 

Her:  Ok. Next question:  Where do you stand on the illegal immigrant issue?

Me:  If they are here, illegally, they should be returned to where ever they came from.  I know and understand that most are good people, here to get jobs and to live a better life.  But I have to ask myself, how much respect can they have for this country when they have essentially "break in" to get here.  It is my opinion they should be rounded up and sent 'home'.  There are rules, laws and processes for how honest people can enter our nation.  If they will not respect those laws, how can they be expected to respect others such as laws against rape, theft, murder?  I'm all for immigration.  My ancestors were immigrants, but they got here, legally.  I would ask that any person wanting to come to our nation enter legally.  If they want to stay here, they need to work, here.  They need to support the nation by being an American, not a 'Mexican-American' or 'Hispanic-American'.  They should become a part of the whole, not set themselves to be seperate.  That means learning to speak English, participating in our society and respecting our laws.

Her:  You only mentioned 'Mexicans' and 'Hispanics'.  Do you think no one else is crossing our borders, illegally?

Me:  No, but we DO have an open border with Canada.  Of the Canadians that come here, most go back home, after they get whatever medical treatment they came here for.  The same medical treatment their socialized medicine solution either denied them or scheduled them for, so far out they will die before they can get the treatment.

Her:  So you are a racist.  You think the Canadians come here only for medicine and not for jobs because they are white?

Me:  I am not a racist.  I only want people entering into this nation do so legally, respecting our laws.  I only want those same people to be American's.  As American's we have the freedoms to be who and what we want to be.  We can be a success or a failure or just skate by.  We can go to school, get jobs doing things we like, or even set up our own business, if that is what we want to do.  We have LEGAL immigrants coming to this country and doing any or all of those things, every single day.  To be free is hard work.  To be an American, a true American means to work hard and to be a part of the nation.

Her:  I already know the answer, but I need your comments for my paper, where do you stand on the gun problems in this country?

Me:  Actually, I agree.  There is a 'gun problem' in this country.  There are too many laws and rules regarding 'gun control'.  Actually, there are just too many laws in this country.  There was a time when a person did not need the permission of the government to protect themselves.  Now?  Now, in most states, someone else has to determine if I have the need to protect myself.  The Brady Bunch are peddling fear without seeing the bigger picture.  As long as the people are not aloowed or are restricted on having guns, then crime will be higher.  Look at England.  A story I read a few years ago stated how a man went to prison, for life, because he shot two people.  This person was a farmer.  The two people had broken into his home, one of them had a pistol.  The farmer had an old shotgun.  He shot both those men who broke into his home and threatened him and his family.  The farmer was sentenced to life in prison, and because the burglars were hurt, by a gun the farmer was not supposed to have, they were released.  Tell me, how is that just?  After their release, one of the burglars stated they were going to kill the farmer and his family.  If they had known he had that shotgun, they would not have gone into that house.  We have too many laws in this nation that take away or limit the rights guaranteed to us in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.  I don't want to be that English farmer.  And I want to be dead, even less.  So I will always have, find or make a way to protect me and mine.  I believe that is part of being an American, too.  I don't take from others.  I earn what I have and intend to keep it. 

Her:  I thought you were one of those gun nuts.

Me:  If you thought I was all these bad things, then why interview me?  So far you have called me a bigot and a racist.  You insinuate I am some kind of radical gun nut because I believe in protecting what I earn.

Her:  This is not about me, it is supposed to be an interview of you.  Shall we continue?  What is your stance on the war?

Me:  Which one?  Iraq or Afganistan?

Her:  They are the same war. 

Me:  No, they are not.  The war in Afghanistan has been going on a bit longer than the one in Iraq.  Just a few months longer, but longer, none the less.  Regardless, my stance on the wars is actually quite simple.  We have taken the fight to 'them'.  The fight is on their soil.  We have had no more major bombings or terrorist attacks on our nation since we took the battle to them.  I think there are better ways to have fought parts of the wars, I think our supposed leaders have used the wars to further their own gains.  And I think the funding for the wars should NEVER have been a political ace card.  As long as Al Quieda exists, they will be forever a threat to the peace of this nation.  I believe the people who are Al Quieda do not represent the Muslim world as a whole, but are zealots.  Islam is not, in my opinion, a religion of peace.  Nor is Christianity.  Look at the atrocities committed by both over the centuries.  The proof is in their actions, not in their words.  As for them being the 'same war' that is inaccurate.  Former President Bush went to war in Afghanistan because of the terrorist attacks on the US.  That includes 9/11 and the attacks on the USS Cole and various US buildings in other countries.  The war in Iraq was initiated to put an end to support Hussein was giving Al Queida and other terrorist groups.  Hussein was removed from power as a means of providing stability to that part of the world.  Much like the guy in Iran, he wanted more than he had.  He killed his own people by the thousands in acts of genocide.  He maintained an iron fist rule where the laws applied only in degrees.  The closer a person was to him, more immune they were to law, order and justice.

Her:  Last question:  What is your religion and why?

Me:  I'm pagan.  Not wiccan.  Not Christian.  But Pagan.  In the original Latin, pagan meant ignorant or uneducated.  Over time and ignorance, the city people started equating that ignorance with not knowing their God.  And in their efforts to expand the Roman Catholic empire, pagans were looked upon as being simple.  In reality, the church started adopting many of the pagan elements into their religion.  Easter is an example.  Easter is a celebration of life and renewal.  And oddly enough it is celebrated about the same time as Ostara, the pagan celebration of rebirth of the Sun.  This occurs on the Vernal Equinox, when the day and the night are of equal length.  The Church decided they were not going to beat the pagans into Christianity, so instead, they created holidays and adopted symbols to fold the pagans in.  Look at Christmas for that one.  The birth date of Christ.  The giving of gifts and celebrating family. Then look into the spirit of Yule.  Yule was to celebrate the birth of the Divine Child conceived on Beltane in early May.  The winter solstice.  The shortest day and longest night of the year.  Once past the winter solstice, the year could get no worse or longer.  The nights start to shorten and the promise of spring comes to us.  I consider myself a 'Militant Pagan' or a Universalist.  I am militant in that I demand to be allowed to worship if and how I see fit, as long as I cause no harm or limit the same right of another.  I am pagan, because I want peace, and the other 'major' religions do not offer that, because they all preach love and acceptance, but then preach exclusion, separation and violence.  Abortion and Gay marriage point both of those out in stark contrast to what is preached in the bible and by Christ.  Being pagan lets me live my life by my morals and I hae to report to no one but myself for my thoughts and what is in my heart.

Her:  OK, I think I have enough.  I obviously have very different points of view than you have.  It is a shame you are wrong on so many points.  You are a smart person.  I just don't understand how you can be so smart and yet so wrong on everything.

Me:  Well, if smart equals right, and I am as smart as you say I am, perhaps your opinions are wrong.  Of course, if smart equals right, then wrong equals what?  Dumb? 

Yesterday I was contacted by the young lady who interviewed me to tell me the grade on her paper.  Evidently the instructor of her sociology class gave out two grades per paper.  One was for the student and one for the person interviewed.  This student received a failing grade on the paper because her opinions were based upon emotions and ignorance and could not be supported with logical discourse.  The instructor also saw fit to award a perfect score to me, after listening to the tape of the interview.  Even though we had differing stands on these points of the interview, my comments were well stated and clearly supported.

Maybe I should go back to school.  Hmmm.  Definitely something to think about.