Saturday, October 29, 2005


We went to see the movie MARCH OF THE PENGUINS at the dollar theater yesterday. It was made by National Geographic. It thought it was excellent. It follows a big bunch of penguins over a year's cycle. It follows their courtship and mating habits, laying the egg, caring for the egg, getting food, raising their young, and after a years time go through the same process again. They are very much a part of nature but it is nature that is very destructive towards their survival. As far as caring for the young, the female and male are constantly swapping roles. It appeared (to me anyway) that there is not a leader, they just do what they do because of instinct. They have very little violence among themselves.... two females may have a gentle slapping match over a potential male mate - there are more females than they are males. And they are so passive on occassions a hawk-like something that must belong to the duck family swoops in and walks around to pick out a juicy little babe to gobble up, in front of the penguins, and they just stand by and watch it. What do you call a big bunch of penguins? Colony? Flock? chickens?

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Moses Harshaw

I do family research as a hobby. Genealogy combined with history is a big interest I have.
Our recent trip through the north Georgia Mountains reminded me of Moses Harshaw.
I am not related to Moses Harshaw. But we have common relatives. My g-g-g grandfather John Hunter's daughter and son married two siblings with the surname England. Their aunt Nancy England married Moses Harshaw. This was probably between 1840 and 1860.
Moses Harshaw was conidered at the time to be the "meanest man in Georgia".
He was considered the meanest man in Georgia because of the treatment he gave his slaves. They lived in a little community of The Sautee Valley just southest of Helen, Georgia. Moses had a beautil and big farm. When one of his slaves became ill or too old to work, Moses felt the slave, being unproductive was a libility. He would take him up to a cliff on nearby Lynch Mountain and forced him or her off the edge. That was the retirement plan Moses gave the people who worked for him.
Another story about Moses was when he went into town to buy supplies he would need a slave to do all the heavy lifting to put in the wagon. The slave was not allowed to ride in the wagon. Moses would attach a leather harness around the man's neck, attached to a rope and the man had to run behind the wagon and keep up. I suppose if the man tripped and fell and snapped the poor man's neck then Moses would have to go back and get another slave.
Moses was a lawyer and had a room or small house in the nearby county seat, about 20 miles away and come home on weekends. Another story: one time he came home and found out that a slave's daughter had died and Nancy bought a new little dress for the girl to be buried in. Moses had the little girl dug up and the dress removed, and he returned it for credit.
That was the last straw, Nancy divorced him.
Moses had to defend himself several times in manslaughter cases, where he had terminated a slave's life.
I have read that on Moses tombstone is: DIED AND GONE TO HELL". Although, I have not yet found the marker in any of the local church's cemeteries.
Their home, which I have visited is a bed and breakfast now.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Mountain Folk in North Carolina.

Anna and I went to the mountains of western North Carolina for a couple days Sunday. Some of the leaves had turned and some of the panaramic scenes of mountains and valleys were breath taking.
However, Highlands, NC, was a let down. The mountains are still there, but some city planners of that little town took all the quaintness out of it by making certain regulations to keep it quaint, such as no franchised fast food eateries. All the shops in town are little quaint shops such as bookstores, antique shops, gift shops, but most of all real estate offices. There are not enough eateries, but few enough that that they can demand high prices for little. We each had a simple turkey sandwich with a Diet Coke which cost over 20 bucks. The town is designed to cater to the elite. Why? Because the rich are more likely to spend higher prices for things.
It is kind of sad to remember how Highlands, NC, used to be in my youth. Then, there were plenty of poor mountain folk to balence things out with shacks by the road and junky yards - probably some much like the characters that were in "Deliverance". The closest you will see of dueling banjos in this town would probably be dueling grand pianos at a recital. I would think at one time the local little stores would sell plenty of chewing tobacco, snuff, and white socks.... but no more.
Now, they are expensive gated communities, with some houses on the ridge listing as high as 2 million bucks and plenty of goft clubs and country clubs.
If you see a pretty white church in the wildwood I doubt if it is an active church - more likely it is an ex-church converted to a gift shop, flower shop, or an expensive restaurant. I think they decided not to push the church thing until they figure out how to squeeze a camel through the eye of a needle.
We left the quaint money grabbing town of Highlands and drove through the mountains to Brevard, NC., which in my opinion had more authentic people in it. Why? They had fast-food franchise. The fast-food franchises have to have people to work there at a lower pay scale and they attract people that rather save money. I think this represents the more salt-of-the-earth kind of people, rather than the pretentious people of Highlands. Also, Brevard is the home of Brevard Music School - which makes it a college town, which help keeps costs low - to cater to the student population and their low budgets. They do have the quaint antique and gift shops on the Main Street downtown, like any other smaller town.
Brevard is in Transyvania County, which claims to have over 250 water falls, which they say there are more waterfalls than most states have. They also have a white squirrel community. The white squirrel are not albinos, or they would have pink eyes, but they are just white. Some have gray foreheads and some have gray strips down their backs, which looks like a small inverted skunk. Also, just about 4 miles away is the Pisgah National Forest which has waterfalls and around every bend a breath taking view.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Out with the old, in with the new

Here is a trend I noticed: Cities and towns have poor sections. In the poor sections are the retired and other people on limited income. This section is also a pain in the ass because crime is plentiful in low-income areas. This area takes up more police time and other services' time. Not only that, but from the elite point of view the area is an eye-sore - old unpainted houses; idle people on corners; unpicked up trash; and the list goes on.
So, it appears their solution is to replace these down-and-out old neighborhoods with new little Yuppielands. The city buys the homes at a good price because the fair market value is not that much for run-down houses in run-down neighborhoods, get rid of the people dwelling in them, then turn around and sell the area to developers and bulders. And the new owners bulldoze away the old homes and replace them with neat expensive homes.
And now that the area has a higher average income per household the crime goes down and the real estate taxes go up, and last but not least the neighborhood is now more eye pleasing.
And what happens to the poor people that were ousted from their homes. I'm sure the officials could care less - they got rid of them, that is what counts.
It just doesn't seem right. It seems like a sure plan in favor of the wealthy, which I am sure is somehow unconsitutional - but I am not sure the Supreme Court would agree, after all they just approved an Eminant Domain case where a Home Depot had a right to buy and seize land.
All I can say, is tch tch, shame on them.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Down and Out Friends

Yesterday Anna and I went to the funeral home and paid our respects to the family of an old friend that I grew up with. I had ran into this friend off and on in downtown Marietta in the last several years.. I enjoy walking in the downtown area to be among the old buildings I grew up with, so after a doctor's appointment or something I go a little out of my way to take a walk in the area. And that is where I would run into the old friend I was in school with. He was there to hang out on a street corner to be picked up as a day laborer. He wasn't much in demand, he looked years older than he really was, and walked with a pronounced limp. Who would hire him?
And where are your friends when you are down and out? At the funeral home there were only about a half dozen people there, and that included his ex-wife and his daughter.
Once, several years ago, Anna and I was in Mrs. Winner's one Sunday morning. In line, when ordering our food, the old stinking man in front of us, ordered a biscuit and a senior coffee. I picked up on his idea and ordered a senior coffee also, a buck is a buck. A short time later in the dining area I heard the old man telling some friends of his, who looked to be day laborers that were still learning English, about what used to be that corner, what was up the street, down the street, and what was across town. He had seen Marietta through my eyes as I was growning up. I asked him his name and he told me. It was an old childhood friend, who time has been unkind to.
Once I saw him pick up a cast away smoking cigarette butt. He didn't recognize me then, so I didn't embarrass him by speaking.
I was talking to another old friend, Larry, that I kept in touch with over the years and told him I saw our old friend and he said he sees him out from time to time too and gives him a ride when he sees him walking. He told me the old down and out friend was stabbed in the back by two brothers which messed up his spine and that is why he walks with such a pronounced limp. The next time I saw him in downtown Marietta I told him what Larry had told me about his stabbing. And with a blank but- not- blank expression he told me the two brothers that stabbed him were both shot to death in some woods just outside their father's apartment. I have seen him use that same innocent expression when the principal had us on the carpet because of some mischievious deed we had been suspected of. Life is different kind of jungle for the down and out.
When I last saw him in the mid '50s he had a head of bushy hair, which made his head look bigger than it actually was, he looked something like Pogo Possum then. He always had a smirk on his face and a dazzle in his expression that he could see the humor in just about any situation. Even lying in his casket I could see his slight smirk which they couldn't wipe off, but they did close his eyes.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

No Sex Offenders Here

Not long ago a website of sex offenders in the U.S. was forwarded to me. Out of curiosity (and being nosy) I tried it out. It asked you to key in your home address and it would elaborate itself into a map of your community with little symbols as to where the sex offenders resided. One that was .83 miles from me happened to be across the street from a grammar school. And one was less than a half mile from me was next door to a middle school.
I forwarded the site to a friend who could not get it to work, because he used Webtv. However, he did find the GBI website on sex offenders and sent it to me. On that site you key in the zip code you are interested in and it would tell you of the people in that zip code, their names and pictures, and their offenses. I got to see somebody I was in high school with. In his mug shot he was showing his age.
However, I noticed that the two that I mentioned above that was pointed out on the U.S. sex offender's site were not on the GBI site. Shouldn't the two be the same?
There must be an accounting flaw here.
I don't know, but this is what I speculate. On my daily walks I noticed about a half year ago the house across from the grammar school changed hands. A middle age couple moved out and a younger couple moved in. The middle age couple loved yard work. The younger couple sort of concentrated on other things, like they had dirt motor bike. But from which couple was the sex offender? I think possibly the law states that sex offenders must register when they move into a community. But does the same law require them to de-register when they move out? Or even if it is a requirement to inform the autorities to when you move out, are the people who input the data see the importance of keeping the minuses as updated as the additions?

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Job Fair in Atlanta for Orleans

Last week Atlanta had a job fair. All unemployedwere unemployed to come and network and possibly meet the right person and be hooked up with a job. However, it was mentioned that Katrina survivors would be given first consideration.
Is that fair? Yep, it is the Atlanta Job Fair - who said the Fair had to be fair?
I am sure there is a limited time one can draw on unemployment insurance. Supposing a potential hiree was near the end, but he qualified for a certain job at the job fair. And, the theme was hire misplaced New Orleaners first - even though their unemployment has just begun, and knocked out a person who was about to run out of benefits.
It is terrible what they had to go through in New Orleans, but it just doesn't seem right that they should be first considered - why should anyone be given priority? They all want and need a job.