Eden Hill Journal

Comments, dreams, stories, and rantings from a middle-aged native of Maine living on a shoestring and a prayer in the woods of Maine. My portion of the family farm is to be known as Eden Hill Farm just because I want to call it that and because that's the closest thing to the truth that I could come up with. If you enjoy what I write, email me or make a comment. If you enjoy Eden Hill, come visit.

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Location: Maine, United States

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Indignant Indifference Act

Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld has recently been exemplifying a trait that seems to be pervasive in the Bush administration. Although this isn't new for him, he does seem to present a public image of being indignant whenever he is confronted or criticized.
Indignant: "feeling or expressing anger or scorn, esp. at unjust, mean, or ungrateful action or treatment"Websters
I've seen Bush, Cheney, Powell, Rumsfeld, and especially Rice act this way repeatedly in the face of criticism. It's as though they think criticism is beneath them somehow, that they don't deserve to be criticized by anybody, let alone by the lowly American public. Their indignation is almost reminiscent of royalty. How dare we criticize them!
What we most often criticize them for, though, is their apparent indifference to values dear to us, such as the value of the lives of our sons and daughters in service to our national defense, or the value of our environment, or the value of the positive reputation of our nation in the world, or the value of a strong economy, or the value of our civil liberties, or dozens of other values dear to us that Bush and his gang and their supporters and defenders seem indifferent to.
For the first few years of the Bush reign, their indignation seemed somehow inappropriate, but now we seem to all just take it in stride. We almost don't even notice it... almost... We do still notice some of the indifference and yes, the administrative indignation does still prod us to react sometimes, but we keep our reaction to ourselves. Bush has somehow earned enough political capital to avoid criticism for his indignant attitude toward criticism of his indifference.
However, I think it's time to institutionalize this phenomenon. It seems that the will of the American public is to not only tolerate but actually reward this behavior. Furthermore, it seems to be the majority consensus that we should all accept indignation from our leaders, particularly from the White House. We are indeed a nation prepared to have a king. It is time to take the first step.
So I propose that Congress pass legislation called the Indignant Indifference Act that establishes the right of our nation's leaders to practice both indifference to American values and indignation toward all those who are upset by that indifference. I leave the exact wording of the bill to the legal scholars who draft such legislation.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Bush Take Note

"Nothing builds confidence in a leader more than a willingness to take responsibility for what happens during his watch."
Rudolph W. Giuliani

Thursday, December 16, 2004

The house on the right is where I grew up. Posted by Hello

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Apparently I am not alone...

Here's something I ran across this evening. I hadn't heard of this before, although I have heard of Zogby polls. Do you suppose this is legit?
August 30, 2004
Half of New Yorkers Believe US Leaders Had Foreknowledge of Impending 9-11 Attacks and “Consciously Failed” To Act; 66% Call For New Probe of Unanswered Questions by Congress or New York’s Attorney General, New Zogby International Poll Reveals
But I was surprised to come up with this URL on the Zogby page:
No relation to me... although the philosophy seems familiar.

Social Security

I find this Social Security debate to be quite confusing, don't you? Of course I don't trust the rhetoric of the Bush administration. If this weren't some concoction to make the rich richer, it wouldn't make sense for the Bush people to support it.
But here is an interesting little read with a supporting graph:
If I were a Republican, would I read this differently? Perhaps I might say that the current and projected annual surplus in Social Security is responsible for the growing projected deficit in the General Fund? Like it's placing a drain on the economy? I don't know. How else can I explain it?
Will privatizing Social Security put more money into business investments and thus stimulate growth in the economy? Is that the idea? What would that be called when the payroll taxes of the working class are turned over to Wall Street for investment, trickle-up economics? I know nothing. Educate me.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Big Chicken

I am just a big chicken in my old age. Today was a beautiful day for a little while, but it is cold and windy, only 14 F when I first went out. So I have spent the whole day inside doing things like working in the kitchen, baking bread, washing dishes. This afternoon I've been working to reconcile the checkbook, something I do way too infrequently. Sarah baked some ginger cookies this afternoon so I am also working on a sugar high right now. WERU is playing a couple hours of African music right now.
If I weren't such a coward, I'd go out and take some pictures. It is very beautiful out there!

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Lightning in a Bottle

This afternoon I went to a matinee showing of the movie Lightning in a Bottle, a movie produced from a live performance of Blues artists February 7, 2003 at Radio City Music Hall in New York City.
My wife, my daughter, and I thoroughly enjoyed this movie!

All the women I know tell me this... Posted by Hello

The Oil Belongs to the People

Friday I picked up a book in the library that I had tried to read earlier this year but didn't finish. The book is called The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money and Power, written by Daniel Yergin, copyright 1991 and 1992. Although a long book, nearly 800 pages of text, it is written in a flowing and very readable English.
This morning I was reading in Chapters 11 and 12 covering the first three decades of the 20th Century. Chapter 12, titled "The Fight for New Production," starts out with a discussion of the exploitation of Mexican oil pioneered by Sir Weetman Pearson, also known as Lord Cowdray. His first major Mexican strikes began in 1910 while Mexico was under the control of President Porfirio Díaz. Díaz's overthrow in 1911 led to a revolution that affected the oil industry.
The question arose about who in Mexico owned the resources under the ground. Did those resources, including oil, belong to the government or did they belong to the landowners? Under Díaz they belonged to the landowners who contracted mainly with foreigners to exploit the resources. The revolutionaries wanted to nationalize the oil resources.
When I read this, I couldn't help but think back on what George W. Bush has been telling us about the oil in Iraq. Over and over again he has told us that Iraq's oil belongs to the people of Iraq. If I am not mistaken, hadn't Saddam Hussein nationalized Iraq's oil resources? So the question that arose in my mind this morning was this. What effect has the US-led "liberation" of Iraq had on the ownership laws of Iraq's oil resources? Who now owns the rights to Iraq's oil and who is now profiting from the exploitation? Are the Iraqi people that President Bush spoke of repeatedly in this context all of the Iraqi people, the nation of Iraq, or are they a small minority of now-wealthy resource owners? And is the real effect and purpose of this war to liberate foreign investors, primarily American oil and investment tycoons, to capitalize on Iraq's resources by changing the laws of Iraq that govern ownership rights to those resources?
All I have are questions. Does anyone have the answers?

Saturday, December 11, 2004

He Said, She Said

He said... Why don't you tell me when you have an orgasm?
She said...I would, but you're never there.

Friday, December 10, 2004

Spiritual Orgasm

I was watching a special on Public TV last night, Eric Clapton's Crossroads Guitar Festival. I only watched an hour or so of it, but I caught something that Carlos Santana said, something to the effect that he enjoys playing music that gives spiritual orgasms. He didn't explain what he said, so presumably it is a common enough experience for the general public to have understood what he meant?
I searched the PBS website for the term, but the only references that came up were four hits where the word orgasm appeared. Two were for a program about the Pope, one about Jesus, and one about sex slavery in India.
I looked it up in Google this morning and came across this interesting website:
and this:
and more...
But I don't exactly think that was what Santana was referring to. So I added "Santana" to my search and came up with this site:
in which Santana is quoted as saying:
"But I am passionate about turning on massive amounts of kids and pulling them out of that miserable state. I want to turn them over. You don't have to be Jimi Hendrix or Charlie Parker -- you can get it done in your own way. God made the world round so we can all have center stage. Everybody is important, as long as you're doing it from your heart. Frustration and depression lead to homicide and genocide, but inspiration and vision lead to a spiritual orgasm."
Another reference from Santana likened a live concert performance to a spiritual orgasm:
A lot of music gets you high. It's made to do that. Music can give us the direction, the energy, and the feedback we need to get high - whether it's rock, gospel, or the jungle drums, even bluegrass, blues, virtually any (I hate this word) "genre" of music. Music lifts our spirits, energizes our minds, releases and leads us to release spiritual energy into the space around us. But it only does that if we allow it to happen. I think it is more apt to happen if we are with other people and we are all listening to the same musical inspiration. That's what happens at live concerts. My guess is that's the experience Santana was referring to.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Curiously Interesting

Well here's an interesting tidbit of information that I didn't know before. For a long time I have been saying that I don't think this Zarqawi terrorist in Iraq actually exists. I have come to refer to him as a phantom, the Phantom of Iraq. I think his legend is the product of Paul Wolfowitz and Israeli intelligence conceived and used to justify the escalation of violence in Iraq and actually throughout the Middle East.
It just came to my attention that the November attack on Fallujah was originally named by the Department of Defense "Operation Phantom Fury." Imagine that...

Monday, December 06, 2004

Christmas Tree

Over the years, Sarah, my daughter, has been the driving force behind our getting a Christmas tree. Even during her years in college she still has managed to be the one who pushes me hard enough to get me out on the road for the hunt. Last year, though, she wasn't around when my wife and I went out on a frigid winter's day and trudged through fields of snow and trees trying to find that one special tree. We found it at Smith Farms on the back road from Sangerville to Dover-Foxcroft. Our tree last year was a large balsam fir growing in a field of overgrown trees. It was a tree that hadn't been trimmed in at least a year, probably more, and it was a delightful addition to our home both in its beauty and in its balsam fir scent.
This year Sarah is home for the season. She has been after me since about mid-week last week to get the tree. Originally we planned to do it Friday when we went to Bangor to see a movie but I dragged my feet long enough that day to avoid it. My wife and I went downriver on Saturday but once again I managed to avoid the tree thing. Finally yesterday, Sunday, Sarah and I took the pickup and went back to Smith Farms to see if we could find a tree like last year's tree. There was a strong northwest wind blowing and the temperature was well below freezing, but we were both dressed for the season in puffy down parkas and layers of pants and warm boots, hats, and gloves.
Again we got permission to browse the fields of trees, especially the fields of overgrown trees. The room where we set up our tree has a 9 1/2 foot high ceiling so most of the usual trees aren't tall enough for us, but this year all of the untrimmed trees had long, unsightly growth from the extra long, rainy growing season this year. The first tree that caught our eyes was a large diameter but recently trimmed fir. We both figured that was just too easy so we wandered the fields for over an hour looking for something a little more natural looking than that one.
Two things began to overtake my senses. One was fatigue. The other was the awe of how beautiful it was out there. The sky was bright deep blue spotted with bright white puffy clouds. Under our feet and covering the ground around all the trees was a thin blanket of snow but there was no snow at all on the hundreds of young, dark-green fir trees through which the bright sun was shining from its winter perch low on the horizon. We wound up in a distant corner of the fields, as far from the farm as we could be, with a small grove of tall pines just beyond the field. Around those pines a bald eagle was soaring in the brisk wind, at one point passing right over us, white on black against the deep blue sky.
We found several large trees in that corner so we walked back to the farm and drove my truck down the snow-covered grass roads. We ignored warnings that if we get stuck we would be there till next spring, but the ground was frozen solid and I was careful not to let the truck skid off the path on the hills. The tree that we finally agreed on was about eleven feet tall with limbs six feet in diameter at the base. It took both of us to drag it to the truck, load it, and tie it on. We got some looks from the owners when we drove back into the yard. They joked that for trees like that, they charge by the hour. I would have agreed to that, though. It was as much fun in their fields as being in an amusement park. But really, they should have charged by the pound! That tree was heavy!
The tree spent last night still tied in the back of the truck, but today Sarah and I moved a bunch of furniture, trimmed the tree to 9 1/2 feet, and dragged it inside. I haven't dared to look at the paint on the three doorways we dragged it through! But it's standing in place now ready to be decorated. The aroma of all that balsam fir is enough to put even Scrooge himself in the mood for Christmas.

Friday, December 03, 2004

Frost on the Windows

This morning there was frost on the upstairs windows. This old house still has the old storm windows and double-hung summer windows and on cold mornings, the inside surface of the storm windows grow frost. Sometimes the patterns can be very beautiful, but the frost represents significantly sub-freezing temperatures outside. If the windows downstairs have frost, that's a sign of an even colder night. So far this winter, only the upstairs windows have frosted and only on two nights.
Frosted windows is a memory from my past. I grew up here in this same town, but a few miles out of town, out past the airport. My parents' house was in an open field on an east-facing hillside overlooking miles of lake, forests, and mountains. In winter, when the wind blew we knew it. The wind would make snow drifts that sometimes encircled the house, usually no more than a couple of feet deep, but as much as six or eight feet deep by winter's end in March or April. We couldn't see the drifts, though, till we opened the door. All the windows were frosted, even the two "picture windows" that faced the view to the east.
I remember one particular year when I was five or so, it snowed and the wind blew for days, a genuine blizzard. I remember my father going out in it and walking up the hill to the garage where we kept the car. For some reason, I went out after him without his knowing it. I can still feel the sting of the icy snow pellets blowing horizontally in the wind against my face. When my dad saw me, he walked me back to the house where I was instructed to STAY! After that storm was over, we were stranded for another couple of days until a large bulldozer came to clear the heavily drifted roads. The drifts were up to eight feet deep and solid enough to walk on, even jump up and down on without even making a footprint.
Another year when I was around 12 we had another blizzard like that. My mother was with her mother in New York state so my brother, dad, and I were doing our own cooking. It was several days before we were able to get to town so we perfected baking powder biscuits in place of bread. Once the storm had stopped and the sun returned, my brother and I engaged ourselves in tunnel building through the biggest drift around. The snow was unbelievably hard-packed that time, almost impossible to tunnel in with just a square steel shovel.
My second year in the Air Force, the winter of 68-69, my home town got a total accumulation of 220 inches of snow - that's over 18 feet of snow! I have seen pictures of the downtown, which is on the southern shore of frozen-over 40 mile-long Moosehead Lake, with snowbanks so high the store owners tunneled through to get to their store entrances. One mid-winter double snowstorm left 59 inches of snow behind.
One winter after I was out of the Air Force, I was working at the ski area at Squaw Mountain. We had a heavy wind-blown snowfall overnight one night and I had the following day off. I shoveled out early and drove up to the mountain to ski and was on one of the first chairs on the lift to reach the top, even before the ski patrol. Coming down, the snow was so deep and so heavy that at one point it stopped me right in my tracks on one of the steepest sections of the trail leaving my skis buried in heavy snow!
So a little frost on the windows isn't all that bad after all.
Pass the bottle of rum? ...

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Al-Jazeera’s Psyops



Although it is not yet officially winter here in Maine, take it from me... it is winter here in the northern woods of Maine. Yesterday's heavy rain didn't completely melt the snow that preceded it and the memory of that rain lingers only in the ice that has resulted from it.
Maine gets its cold from northern Canada, from gusty northwest winds and large high pressure centers that bring heavy, cold air down to us from the frigid northern plains and Hudson's Bay regions. Punctuating that cold are storms that come to us from the Ohio Valley or even from the Gulf of Mexico. If the storms pass west of us, we get rain and temperatures above freezing, but storms that pass to the east, out over the Gulf of Maine bring snow. Yet within a day, each storm is swept away by another mass of cold, gusty air from Canada.
I was just outside for a minute. The sky is gray with clouds but I could see the sun low in the sky trying to break through. The sun doesn't get very high in the sky in Maine from November through February. But on days like today, the sun bears no heat at all. One of the most discouraging experiences I can recall from my years in Maine is the experience of standing outdoors in the sun in winter, turning my face to the sun, and feeling no warmth on my face, no relief from the sharp winter wind. Today is that kind of day.
It's still early in winter. The thermometer is still high on the scale for a winter day. Within a month, it will be plunging to -20, possibly even -30 or -40 on occasion. The daytime sun will be even lower than it is today and will bear even less warmth than today's sun bears. Some years bring an unbroken string of below freezing temperatures from now till the beginning of March. And the only consolation that I know is that there are places on earth even colder than Maine!