Truckie’s Birthday

It’s really hard to pick up a blog when it’s been lying fallow, just wallowing in the mud.  The blog just feels so worn out and yucky.  However, today is this blog’s most loyal follower, the one who makes an effort to comment and sends little messages of loss when the blog hasn’t been updated.  So, in honor of that birthday, I will attempt some sort of an update.

It’s been 2 1/2 months.  How can I possibly review all that’s happened in that time?  The reason I stopped blogging is that the political work keeps me so busy that I have no energy for any other creative activity.  Right now I’m way behind, in fact, so far behind that I get that giggly “What the H” feeling.  Besides, I have just watched the final two episodes of my favorite TV show in ages.  It never fails to give me the giggles and I marvel at its cleverness.  Maybe — well, a lot — of my fascination is the show’s setting at the U.S. Senate and the way it weaves current issues and events into the basic crazy story.  The show is Braindead.  Yeah, I know.  Whenever I have mentioned it since it started a few months ago, people ask with near horror, “Is that the show where people’s brains blow up?”  Yup, that’s the one.  Not everyone who’s infected blows up though, only a few.  Most of them lose half their brains to the invading bugs — that’s right, an alien invasion.  After half their brains fall out one ear, the same ear that the bugs crawled into, then they continue, except their actions and what’s left of their thoughts are directed by the bugs.  Yuck, yuck, yuck!  The fun is that, initially, most of the people infected are Republicans and the leader, who is host to the queen bug, is a Senate leader.  The good guys are mostly Democrats.  No wonder I loved it, right?  I loved it today when Democratic senators staged a sit-in on the floor of the hearing room to prevent a vote.  When the Republican leaders cut off the TV feed to C-SPAN, because too many Americans were watching and supporting them, they figured out how to live stream it via the Periscope App on their phones.  This actually happened in June when John Lewis led a sit-in on the House floor to protest the Republican leadership’s refusal to allow a vote on gun safety laws.  Even the episode names are hilarious.  If you have not watched this and can download it or watch on-demand, or whatever, may I please reassure you that it will make you laugh.

Season 1

1.     1-1                 13 Jun 16   The Insanity Principle: How Extremism in
 Politics is Threatening Democracy in the 21st Century
2.     1-2                 20 Jun 16   Playing Politics: Living Life in the Shadow
 of the Budget Showdown - A Critique
3.     1-3                 27 Jun 16   Goring Oxes: How You Can Survive the War on
 Government Through Five Easy Steps
4.     1-4                 11 Jul 16   Wake Up Grassroots: The Nine Virtues of
 Participatory Democracy, and How We Can Keep America Great by Encouraging an
 Informed Electorate
5.     1-5                 24 Jul 16   Back to Work: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at
 Congress and How It Gets Things Done (and Often Doesn't)
6.     1-6                 31 Jul 16   Past as Prologue: Notes Toward a Post-
Reagan Theory of Party Alliance, Tribalist, and Loyalty
7.     1-7                 07 Aug 16   The Power of Euphemism: How Torture Became
 a Matter of Debate in American Politics
8.     1-8                 14 Aug 16   The Path to War (1): The Gathering 
Political Storm
9.     1-9                 21 Aug 16   Taking on Water: How Leaks in D.C. are 
Discovered and Patched
10.    1-10                28 Aug 16   The Path to War (2): The Impact of 
Propaganda on Congressional War Votes
11.    1-11                04 Sep 16   Six Points on the New Congressional 
Budget: The False Dichotomy of Austerity vs. Expansionary Policies
12.    1-12                11 Sep 16   Talking Points Toward a Wholistic View of
 Activism in Government: Can the Top Rebel?
13.    1-13                11 Sep 16   The End of All We Hold Dear: What Happens
 when Democracies Fail: A Brief Synopsis

Here is a group of pictures from the coolest thing I did this summer.  I went with some other local friends to Charlotte for a Hillary Clinton rally with her special guest, President Obama.  It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.  Some of these pictures have been on Facebook, but it’s fun to share them again.  They are not news-worthy photos, but they give you a feel for what it was like to be down in the midst of a crowd that was wildly enthusiastic.  Enjoy.  Til next time!



Thursday, 6/30/16

Truckasaurus points out that I haven’t posted to this blog since June 7th.  Well, the longer I put it off, the harder it is to pick it up again.  Since then I have:  Driven to and from Raleigh for the State Democratic Convention (interesting), attended the Mountain Moral Monday featuring the Rev. Dr. William Barber (inspiring), driven to Greenville and back to get my hair done (getting tiresome), attended 4 meetings (ho hum),  attended 2 fundraisers (fun), had my annual visit with the dermatologist (all clear), watched a comedic performance called Shakespeare Abridged (silly), worked at Relay for Life where I met a talented young dog named Jax (photo courtesy of JC Cagle), scrubbed down the back porch and washed the windows, stayed home for 2 servicemen (Bill the Bugman and Ed the fridge repairman) and celebrated another birthday.  This is retirement?  Washing the windows may have been a mistake.  This evening I found a dead bird on the deck.  It probably tried to fly through the clean, but solid window and smashed its brains.  I tossed it over the rail into the thick undergrowth, where all forest lovers want to go at the end.

Going into July, I am getting ready for the holiday and friends coming to town for a week.  We have also learned that Hillary Clinton and the President are going to be campaigning next Tuesday in Charlotte and a bunch of us are talking about going.  The problem is, no one has yet announced exactly where and when it will happen and whether it’s open to all comers or by invitation only.  The latest is that it will happen between 12:30pm and 3:30pm, but there’s still no venue or other info.  So, how do I plan for the big fireworks on the 4th, along with an invitation from unrelated people to a pre-party, and then, early the next day, a carpool of an unknown number of faithful on a  3-4 hour road trip to an unknown location for an uncertain event?  I have an innate need to be organized and these are things that overwhelm me.

Whatever.  It will all work out.

I was thinking that it had been awfully hot this June, but when I added up all the numbers, it turned out to be about the same as the past two years, except drier.  This part of the world is officially in a Severe Drought.  It’s raining lightly tonight.  I stood in it awhile and it felt nice.  Maybe we’re moving into a wetter period.  Just don’t wash out the fireworks!  Our average low this month was 61.8 degrees, compared to 61.9 in 2015 and 62.3 in 2014.  The average high was 84.1 degrees, compared to an identical 84.1 in 2015 and 82.0 in 2014.  We have eked out 2.53″ of rain, usually from brief, light showers.  This was a little less than in 2015 (3.5″) and much less than 2014 (5.07″).

Let’s see how many pictures I can squeeze into this post.  The silhouette is what happens in my living room at this time of year just before the sun disappears behind the ridge.

Tuesday, 6/7/16

Maybe it’s just among ourselves, but I think the JacksonDems may be getting a rep around here.  Today we had our second primary election in 2016.  This happened because the extremely gerrymandered Congressional districts designed by the heavily Republican state legislature were being challenged in the courts.  Just before the primary Primary in March, the courts ruled that two of the districts were racially biased and the GA (General Assembly) would have to redraw them.  They must have anticipated this and had an alternate solution in their back pocket because this was produced rather quickly.  Some of the new districts were very different — not even in the same part of the state — and they were still felt to be discriminatory by opponents, so they were sent right back to the courts.  Meanwhile, it was too late to cancel the March Primary, or even change the ballots, so we all voted for Congressional candidates, but the votes didn’t count.  The latest 3-judge panel was supposed to make a final solution:  either accept the new districts, go back to the old districts or design a new configuration of their own.  An additional election was scheduled for June 7th based on the new district design, even though it was still under challenge.  These last 3 months the people running for Congress were running on the assumption that they were campaigning with people who would actually be in their districts.  Finally, last Thursday, 5 days before the election, the judges came back with a decision to accept the 2nd redistricting.  Even though they recognized that the gerrymandering was designed to insure that 10 of the 13 NC districts would go to Republican candidates, there was no legal basis to disallow the design or redo it.  So, at least we don’t have to go through this another time!

No one really expected to get much turnout for this tacked-on election with a very small slate.  The Congressional candidates in our districts were only competing on the Democratic side for the chance to challenge the uncontested Republican incumbent.  A Primary vote on a state Supreme Court justice was added and, here in Jackson County, the Commissioners decided to add a referendum for an 1/4 of one cent increase in our sales tax, dedicated to the physical needs of the public schools and community college.  This was a BIG challenge!  Nobody likes to vote for a tax increase!  Our jacksondems engine put a big effort behind educating the electorate and getting out the vote.  The Chairman of the County Commissioners said he expected only about 1,000 or fewer voters.  Aha!  A challenge!  Well, we got 1,800 Democrats out to vote and the sales tax passed 64% to 36%, which is a really big deal.  The chief Democratic challenger for the judgeship did not win statewide, but he did in Jackson County.  So, I think we exceeded expectations this time.  This was just practice though.  There are 154 days until the November election and the time will fly by, but we feel like the engine is tuned up and revving.

I spent time this afternoon as a poll greeter out at the Canada precinct polling location.  While there I asked the 4 poll workers if they knew why the area is called “Canada.”  In fact, traditionally it has been called “Little Canada,” but the “Little” seems to be dropped quite a bit lately.  One of the people there recounted a story she heard from her great-grandfather.  This probably goes back a couple of centuries.  Some French-Canadian (real Canadians) trappers had migrated to the area to hunt and trap fur producing animals.  There was some sort of a settlement in an area now called East LaPorte (also part of Tuckasegee and along the river), which originally had a French version of the name.  One cold winter the trappers came down from a hunting/trapping trip up in the mountains.  They were asked how it was up there and they replied, “It’s as cold as Canada.”  Not very exciting, but that’s the local lore.

The area is still sparsely populated.  I showed up to vote at 4:30pm and learned I was the 26th person to vote there today.  I then hung around outside waiting for other voters to show up so I could pounce on them and give them our Democratic “sample ballot” and answer any questions they had about what was on the ballot.  It…was…slow.  I gave up around 6:30 after 5 more voters had shown up.  At least everyone is really friendly.  I was sitting on my camp chair under a big, old maple tree, staying out of the sun and trying to keep my hat on in near gale force winds.  Everyone who came to vote was happy to talk to me, even if they didn’t want my advice and everyone who drove by waved, even though they had no idea who I was.  It’s good people up there in Canada, but you know what?  I got COLD!  It’s cold up there!

Here’s a dorky selfie of the political worker with the wind trying to blow her hat off, a great climbing tree and the beautiful area that is Canada.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Yes, Trucka, I am still here.  Busy enough to have little energy left for blogging.  In fact, I spent all of today writing posts for the jacksondems website and I still need to get out a newsletter.  We did get the printed newsletter out to almost 3,000 addresses a week ago.  That took a lot of concentrated effort by a lot of people, so a full week off was required.

The movie people are pretty much gone.  They were given 2 weeks to put the adapted parts of town back to normal, so they should be finished this week.  Their second night of burning had a little more impact than the first.  At some point smoke was seen coming out of the 2nd story windows and the fire department turned out with all its equipment.  Afterwards the bricks on the front of the building were definitely scorched, but there was little real damage done to the building.  Within a day the Ebbing signs were gone.  It makes me sad!  The movie making was so much fun!  The owners of the music store next to the “Police Department” said in a newspaper article that they were only really aware of the filming on the day Frances McDormand did take after take of a scene in which she bellowed “You will f***ing die!”  The location manager who “found” Sylva has been reported as predicting an Oscar nomination for McDormand, so if they don’t mess it up between now and the film’s release, maybe Sylva will become even more famous for its roll in a great film.

Scorched SH

Well, my computer just deleted an entire paragraph again.  The touch pad is so large that it’s impossible to type without brushing it occasionally and it has a tendency to do things like make the cursor jump around and to highlight big chunks of text and then delete them the minute you touch another key.  If you are a touch typist, as I am, you are not watching the screen or the keyboard all the time and it’s so easy to destroy your work.  I have just gone into the Control Panel and disabled the touch pad.  It’s something that needs to be done everyday and it’s usually been too much trouble, but I think I must get in the habit of doing it whenever I turn on the computer.  The new computer has been wonderful, except for this problem.  The old one had a tiny dot in the corner of the touch pad that could be tapped to switch the pad on and off.  That was so much easier than daily disabling through the Control Panel.  Do you suppose HP will listen if I send them a technical suggestion?

The lost paragraph was about the experience of attending the district convention where we caucused, but did not resort to violence or chair tossing.  Those were bolted to the floor.  My friend, Julia, shown below selling her candidacy, was elected as one of our 4 district delegates to the national convention in July.  I will be raptly watching the convention floor to look for our local star.  We were treated to a visit from Deborah Ross, who has an excellent chance to unseat incumbent Richard Burr from the U.S. Senate, and I made sure to get a picture with her.  Next stop:  the state convention in Raleigh on June 11th.  Big doin’s for the only delegate from the Canada precinct!

Here on the mountain, the month of May was not as hot as last year, but much drier than either of the last 2 years.  The average low temperature was 54.4 (2015 = 55.1, 2014 = 54.4); the average high was 74.5 (2015 = 80.4, 2014 = 77.4); and the total rainfall was only 2.35″ (2015 = 3.81″, 2014 = 5.98″).   We have had some nice sunsets, shared below along with a few other pictures captured while enjoying myself in town and at the newly reconfigured lounge at the Lake Club.  Enjoy.

Thursday, 5/19/16

It seems an impossible task to catch up on all that’s happened since my last post.  Everything around here is fine.  I have been unusually busy with Party activities and with helping to produce a 4-page color newsletter that’s going out to nearly 3,000 people.  It’s a big job when you’re working with equipment better suited to home use and and a rotating crew of volunteers.  It’s pretty good though or, as one of our managers said, “Better than decent.”  Jackson County may be quite a ways from the Pineapple of Power in Raleigh, but you may have heard that North Carolina has been doing some crazy things lately and people in all the corners of the state need to work hard to change the current leadership.  So, in about 2 months, we’re going to start on another newsletter!

Since I have been spending so much time working in Sylva, I have taken every opportunity to drive or walk down Main Street to check out the activity on the film site.  Two times I had lunch at Lulu’s at the outside table with the best view of the Ebbing Police Department across the street and 1/2 a block down.  Unfortunately, Woody Harrelson seems to have finished up his scenes before I got there and Frances McDormand hasn’t been seen since Day 1.  Peter Dinklage’s involvement remains a big mystery.  I did see Sam Rockwell doing a scene where he walked across the street.  Woohoo!  I also, inadvertently, walked into a scene just as they were about to start filming.  Someone who was supposed to stop foot traffic missed me as I started to walk across the street.  I had paused to snapp a few pictures when I heard someone yelling, “Get Back!”  What?  Who me?  Oops, sorry!  So I retraced my steps and stood just behind the line of sight for the cameras.  The scene was actually taking place inside the Police Department, but they were controlling both the auto traffic and the foot traffic.  The walking extras would cross the same intersection I had intruded on, looking bored and boring.  Then they would turn around and walk back.  Then again, although sometimes the Street Director would change up the order, the pairings or the bags they were carrying.  The same sort of activity was happening with cars.  Each day 5 or 6 cars were chosen as extras, different ones for each day.  They would drive slowly past the Police Department, being variably spaced by a Car Extra Director.  Since Main St. is one-way, they would go around the block and return to the intersection where they would used both lanes (the road was blocked for regular traffic) to shuffle their positions so they could go again.  So each take will be just a little different in terms of what’s happening   outside the front windows of the station house.  And maybe one take will have an aging lady in a turquoise jacket stopping to take a picture on her mobile phone.  🙂

I do seem to keep missing all the really fun stuff, like big stars and stunt shots.  The building right across from the Police Dept. is also being used.  Normally the Jackson General Store, it is now masquerading as Ebbing Advertising.  One day a stuntman or woman rolled out of the 2nd floor window and across the awning into an open truck full of boxes.  Another stand-in was lying in the street “dead.”  As far as I can tell from pictures in the local newspaper and posted by locals on Facebook, this person who falls out the window is a young, slight actor named Caleb Jones.  Yesterday was the beginning of the end as they started doing night filming.  They are burning down the Ebbing Police Department.  Someone throws a Molotov cocktail out the upstairs window of Ebbing Advertising and burns up the Police Department.  I would have loved to have stayed in town to watch this, but after working all day, my energy was used up.  I did drive by while they were setting up some unusual looking equipment.  Today the Police Department looked perfect and pristine again.  Movie magic!  After tomorrow, everything will go back to normal and we will wait impatiently for the movie release next year.  They should have a premier here!

Hey, Truckasaurus!  Tonight Colbert was doing a sketch about the “presumptive Republican candidate” and speculating on his running mate.  Up comes a picture of a robot Tyrannosaurus Rex called “Trumposaurus.”  Sue them for stealing your name!

I don’t feel like typing out 10 days worth of weather records.  We have been as cold as 40 degrees and as warm as 83 degrees.  Many days were very windy and there has been less than 1/2 inch of rain in the last 10 days.  I have used the furnace and the air conditioner, the fireplace and the ceiling fans.  It keeps me busy!

A few of the following pictures are mine, some are from the Sylva Herald and some are from my friend, JC.  Out-of-town readers:  don’t you wish you were here?



Sunday, 5/8/16

In the past week, while I have not been blogging, the people at Word Press who encourage people to blog more often have started a series where they post one word as a suggested topic for a blog post.  Today’s word is STROLL.  My mind immediately starts singing the song and dance from the 50’s that were so popular at American Bandstand.  “Come let’s stroll-0-0-0l, stroll across the floor-or-or-or-or.”  Check this out:

The facial expression — total disinterest indicating super coolness — is essential to the dance!

I had every intention of strolling through town in the latter days of last week, spying on the movie making and trying to get good pictures of my own.  I was otherwise busy on Monday and Tuesday, and on Tuesday night a friend sent me an article that included the filming dates, which did not include the next 3 days!  Last week they filmed on Monday and Tuesday, then took off.  They start again this coming Tuesday and I WILL be there!  Meanwhile, the remake of Dirty Dancing stayed in WNC after all because they were too far along in their planning to move when NC’s offensive “bathroom bill” was enacted.  Word came out that they, too, were looking for more extras, but they only wanted brunette women.  Hmph!  Here are some pics and links from local newspapers and TV stations:

This clip showed up on Facebook.  Woody stopped into the music/vaping shop next door to the Ebbing Police Department where he was allowed to try out a vintage Gibson.

I just can’t believe I’m missing all the good stuff!  I must go strolling in wonderland.

A cold front came through last week and for a couple of days it was more like March than May.  It has been very windy for at least four days, although it’s calmed down tonight.  The trees are fully green, but there’s still plenty of pollen zooming around on these winds.  It’s itchy eye time!  We had some rain last week, but not nearly enough.  After only 2 1/2″ in all of April, we are now officially in a “light drought.”  I have 9 days of weather records to report, so here goes.

Sat., Apr. 30:  Low 58.8, High 79.3, Rain 0.64″.  Sun., May 1:  Low 60.6, High 78.1, Rain 0.37″, Wind 7mph.  Mon., May 2:  Low 57.9, High 78.1, Rain 0.64″, Wind 6.5mph.  Tue., May 3:  Low 58.8, High 70.0, Rain 0.16″.  Wed., May 4:  Low 47.8, High 65.8, Rain 0.04″, Wind 7mph.  Thu., May 5:  Low 42.6, High 54.3, Rain 0.02″, Wind 13.2mph.  Fri., May 6:  Low 43.2, High 60.6, partly cloudy, Wind 8-10mph.  Sat., May 7:  Low 46.0, High 72.7, Sunny, Wind 10-12mph.  Sun., May 8:  Low 59.9, High 80.1, Sunny, Wind 11mph.

My rhododendron bushes are blooming.  I tried to do some gardening, mostly yanking out weeds and spreading some mulch, but the wind blew all the dirt right back onto me.  It was not very productive.



Friday, 4/29/16

I should begin recording my thoughts as I drive around my normal routes, noting changes and mentally writing blogs, which I then forget completely when faced with a blank, white page.  One thing has me so disappointed!  Some of you have been with me when I’ve pointed out, with glee, the old dump trunk rusting away beside the main road with a fully grown tree growing happily between the cab and the trailer.  I kept meaning to stop and get a picture of it and combine it with others of rusting cars and equipment that seem to litter front yards around here for a pictorial called Leave It Where It Lays.  Well, a few days ago all the weeds and volunteer trees were cleaned out of the yard where the old truck sits.  Before long I expect to see the truck and the falling-down trailer next to it disappear, too.  The area is near the road in front of the largest church in Tuckasegee.  My guess is the church finally acquired this piece of property and is cleaning it up.  And I missed my chance at a picture that captures a junky, but picturesque representation of the area.

One of the pictures below was taken last Saturday at the Greening Up the Mountains festival. From my vantage point in the Democratic Women’s tent I enjoyed watching the passing festival goers.  This guy absolutely won “Best Hair.”

Right here I am going to try to recreate the large paragraph about the movie that disappeared when my cursor jumped around again.  Tech Support:  I need help with this!!

So, I am not going to be a movie star.  Filming is scheduled to begin on Monday and I’ve heard nothing from Billboard Extras.  I’m so disappointed!  I did hear tonight that an acquaintance, Nilofer Couture, DID get the call.  (large picture of a group of people, far right).  Also, another young man, whom I have been asked not to name, was asked to stand in as a policeman.  He would be perfect, but he’s afraid his full-time job won’t allow him the time.  I will just have to hang around town as much as possible, spying on the action and hunting for stars.  Woody Harrelson has been spotted in Asheville playing chess in a park.

They have already been filming some stuff in Black Mountain, another cute town east of Asheville.  This is where they have set up the titular 3 billboards.

Around Sylva they are finishing up the transformation of the consignment furniture store to the Ebbing Police Department.  Signage just went up today and they have even renamed the local newspaper.

If it doesn’t rain before they start filming, all their outdoor shots will probably have a hazy appearance.  The pollen is really thick.  There’s no way they’ll be able to keep their camera lenses from collecting a film of yellow dust in no time.  Of course, since it hasn’t rained much at all in April, now,  that filming is about to begin May will probably be a complete washout!  Meanwhile, it has been hot and dry.

Sat., 4/23: Low 51.6, High 73.0, Rain 0.01″, Wind 4.0 mph.  Sun., 4/24: Low 43.9, High 83.0, sunny, light wind.  Mon., 4/25:  Low 51.1, High 78.6, pc, 3.0 mph.  Tue., 4/26: Low 57.0, High 81.3, pc, 6.4 mph.  Wed., 4/27: Low 57.4, High 78.6, pc, 4-6 mph.  Thu., 4/28: Low 59.7, High 81.7, Rain 0.03″, Wind 9.8 mph.  Fri., 4/29: Low 58.3, High 84.9, sunny, Wind 4.0 mph.