Category: Musings


Managed to make it from Arlington to Floyd and back again Wednesday without too many tragedies.

Ran into the usual delay on I-81 at Route 11 near Staunton when traffic went down to one lane while a team of tow trucks and rescue personnel pulled yet another 18-wheeler out of the median.

This one lost it while headed northbound on I-81, taking out about 30 feet of guard rail and a dozen or so trees before coming to rest near the southbound lane.

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Day Trip

The log will be short today. I have to leave in a few minutes for what will be a 600-mile commute: 300 miles from Arlington to Floyd for a meeting at The Jacksonville Center and then 300 miles back to Arlington so I can be in DC for meetings on Thursday.

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Saying No

Maybe I’m learning, maybe not. A few days ago, two friends who run a media firm offered me $20,000 for one-month’s work shooting a documentary in several foreign countries.

On the surface, it sounded like a dream assignment (and the money wasn’t bad either) but when I met with the client, she said they would be cooperating with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security on the project.

That killed my involvement. I cannot, and will not, work with DHS because I think the mere creation of such an agency threatens what little is left of our freedoms.

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After nearly 10 years of creating, designing, managing and hosting web sites, I’m working to consolidate everything into something that is manageable.

I realized the other day that I have more than a dozen web sites, 17 email addresses and six cellphones. Since opening the studio in Floyd, I’m working seven days a week, 12 hours a day.

So much for quality of life.

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Damn, That Was a Lot of Rain

I don’t much care for driving through thunderstorms, but it is sometimes necessary when trying to get from point A to B.

Driving through the same thunderstorm three times, however, is hell with water — lots of water.

Happened like this. We left Sunday for our drive from Floyd County to Arlington. Got away later than hoped and, just north of Roanoke, ran into the thunderstorm that swept in from the west.

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Oh No, Don’t Let the Rain Come Down

We head back to Arlington today for our week in urbanization and, of course, it is raining.

It usually rains whenever we are going or coming between Arlington and Floyd County. Maybe we should rent outselves out as rainmakers and just go visit places that need the wet stuff.

With the knees, hip and ankle still screaming from the ill-fated climb up the Buffalo Friday morning, the 300-mile drive in the wet stuff should be a masochist’s delight.

Speaking of masochism, consider this: Is a sadist a person who does nice things to a masochist?


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Which Way is Up?

LimbsPhotojournalists, as a rule, don’t shoot ambiguous photos.

Our photos are supposed to tell a story and clarify things for the reader (as in "a picture is worth a thousand words").

But former photojournalists who now own galleries do shoot photos that leave the viewer guessing.

For some reason, people seem to like that sort of stuff.

Like this shot from the masochism tango (otherwise known as our Friday hike up the Buffalo).

Yes, these are bare limbs against the fog, shot at the very top of the mountain.

But they could be a tree just about anywhere. And which way is up.

I let four fellow tenants at The Jacksonville Center look at this shot when it first came out of the printer and asked each to tell me which was the top and/or the bottom.

There were four different guesses. When it comes to fog shots, some of us don’t have the foggiest notion of what it all means. Which may be good. Or bad.

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Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time

GhostFred First (of Fragments from Floyd fame) started planning this madness several months ago.

"Let’s hike up the Buffalo," he said with usual Firstian enthusiasm. "We can get some great shots."

Normally, this little voice injects sanity into my thought process and I realize that a 56-year-old body with bad knees, a bum hip and an ankle that’s been broken too many times should not be climbing up a mountain but insanity ruled and I agreed.


We set the last day of April (Friday) as the time for the great Buffalo Mountain trek. Friday, of course, dawned cool, cloudy and foggy and the little voice surfaced to say "don’t waste your time. The light sucks."

"It’s gonna clear," Fred declared. "Trust me. It will be worth it."

So we headed for the mountain after picking up a third partner in misery. Halfway up the mountain, Fred swore the fog would lift. I just swore as the knees, hip and ankle screamed for mercy.

At least the fog provided an errie backdrop for some good mood photography, including a tree that looked like a woman dancing (or perhaps she was warning us to stop and go back because she — unlike Fred — knew the fog would not lift).

And it didn’t lift. We made it to the top to find the view blocked on all sides by an ever-thickening layer of fog.

Faced with the harsness of reality, Fred finally admitted defeat and suggested we head back down the mountain to the warmth of the car and the sustinence of banana bread. "OK," Fred admitted, "so maybe it didn’t clear. But you gotta admit the climb was worth it."

Depends, I suppose, on one’s definition of worth. The fine companionship made the pain in the joints palatable and the light, while bad, provided some interesting opportunities. But damn, my knees, ankle and hip hurt.

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No Need

When Mike Royko, the legendary Chicago newspaper columnist, was in his prime, Washington Post publisher Ben Bradlee came to the Windy City to try and lure Royko to Washington.

Bradlee offered Royko everything sort of the keys to Katherine Graham’s bedroom, but the columnist wanted nothing to with either the Post or Washington.

“Wouldn’t work,” he told Bradlee. “I don’t hate anyone in Washington.”

Thought about that today when an email arrived asking why I haven’t written a new column for Capitol Hill Blue in a while.

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Word for Word



ColleenSpent a relaxing two-and-a-half hours listening to local poets and writers recite their works at "Spoken Word Night" at Oddfellas in Floyd Sunday evening.

Most belong to the Floyd Writer’s Group, a collection of published and unpublished writers and poets in the county.

Stories ranged from serious reflections on life to a belly-splitting tale about losing one’s virginity.

Most of the selections centered on personal experiences of the righters, which included Fragments from Floyd blogger Fred First, poet and potter Jayn Avery, acerbic political commentator-poet-novelist-writer Colleen Redman (right), who stayed away from politics, and several others.

Surprisingly, Fred managed to tear himself away from his new Nikon D70 digital SLR long enough to return to the printed word. Our gain. Photography’s loss (for the evening). Kid
I’ve been writing professionally for more than four decades now but don’t know if I’d ever have guts enough to get up in front of a group and actually read something I’ve written.

Generally always thought writing was something others were supposed to read.

Yet, watching this group of writers translate their words from paper to spoken word adds a dimension you may not get from seeing those words printed on processed wood pulp.

Most displayed varying degrees of emotion that added to the effect of their words. Many made me want to read more of their writings. As with so much else that has happened in Floyd County in recent years, the growth of writing talent is a pleasant surprise.

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