Trip Peek #56
Trip #17
Phoenix III

This picture is from my 2003 Phoenix III trip. This was the third of three business trips I made to Phoenix, Arizona, between September and November 2003. I extended each with a few days on my own. It was a technique I used whenever I could to get a little vacation far from home with the only costs being meals, motel, and car rental for the days I wasn’t working. I headed to Tombstone via Tuscon and checked out Biosphere 2 on the way. I was in Tombstone for the annual Clanton Rendezvous. On my return, serious traffic congestion prompted me to turn onto AZ-77 which led to AZ-79. In 1940, Tom Mix died in an accident on this road and the picture is of a nearby monument to the popular actor.


Trip Peeks are short articles published when my world is too busy or too boring for a current events piece to be completed in time for the Sunday posting. In addition to a photo thumbnail from a completed road trip, each Peek includes a brief description of that photo plus links to the full sized photo and the associated trip journal.

Hurrah for Cosmos (repeat)

Some of the blogs I follow repeat a post now and then. Until quite recently, with the exception of an article I’ve posted for the last three elections, I hadn’t. On Easter Sunday, with no ideas handy and no time to develop one if it appeared, I didn’t want to totally ignore the holiday so dug out and re-posted an existing article. This week, as I enjoyed and learned from the recent PBS series The Great War, I remembered another series I had enjoyed and learned from and even blogged about. That series had been about science and the memory made me think about the March for Science that occurred two weeks ago. I honestly can’t decide whether to be disappointed that the education that series provided was incomplete and the march was necessary or encouraged that enough people care about science to make the march possible. Hurrah for Cosmos was originally posted March 16, 2014.


Cosmos: A Personal VoyageBack in 1980, Dr. Carl Sagan wrote a book called Cosmos as a companion to a TV series named Cosmos: A Personal Voyage which he co-wrote and “starred” in. I watched the series and read (and still have) the book. Sagan was a smart guy and a darned good communicator. In the book and the program, he set out to share the scientific community’s knowledge of the universe — the cosmos — with the masses. It’s generally accepted that he did a pretty good job. Until Ken Burns came along with The Civil War series in 1990, Cosmos ranked as the most watched PBS series ever.

Cosmos: A Spacetime OdysseyNow another smart guy and good communicator, Neil deGrasse Tyson, is trying it again. We, the residents of Earth, have learned quite a bit in thirty-four years. The first episode of a new series, Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, aired last Sunday, March 9, on the Fox Network and Monday, March 10, on National Geographic TV. Additional episodes will be shown on subsequent Sundays and Mondays until thirteen episodes — same as the original — have been broadcast.

The chances are good that nothing I’ve said so far is news. The original Cosmos is legendary and the new one has been getting a lot of press. That first episode was even preceded by an introduction from President Obama. But there is at least a small chance that, like me, you missed the premier and that’s my excuse for making this post. Here’s my Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey episode one story.

It was the first TV show I’ve really wanted to watch in years. I got home from Bockfest in plenty of time and was parked in front of the properly dialed in TV as showtime approached. At this point, the accomplishment of a timely return home was nullified by the thing I returned home from. Last week’s post was on the Bockfest Parade which I had attended on Friday evening. I was back at the festival on Sunday and sampled some of the namesake product. With the odyssey start just minutes away, I dozed off.

For many, that would not be a problem. They would have had their DVRs all programmed and the show would have been recorded for viewing later. I have no DVR nor do I have access to National Geographic TV so watching the Monday night broadcast was out. Thankfully, Fox has provided a Cosmos On TV website. where I was able to watch the first episode, “Standing Up In the Milky Way”, as well as the President’s introduction and other related videos. It looks like future episodes will also be available there which I certainly appreciate since I’m guessing I might miss another broadcast showing or two.

It is clearly too early to know if “Cosmos II” will equal “Cosmos I”. There are plenty of connections between the two including the fact that Carl Sagan’s widow, Ann Druyan, was a co-writer of the first and an executive producer of the second. And there is a Tyson-Sagan connection, too. They first met when the seventeen year old Tyson was researching schools and the world famous scientist gave the aspiring one a personal tour of Cornell. Near the end of his first Cosmos episode, Tyson talks about that day. “I already knew I wanted to become a scientist, but that afternoon I learned from Carl the kind of person I wanted to become”, he says. Tyson also spoke of that day in an interview with Bill Moyers where he recalls thinking “If I’m ever in a position of influence the way he is, then I will surely interact with students the way he has interacted with me, as a priority.” That excellent interview, spread over three shows, is here, here, and here.

The new Cosmos has already received some attention and generated some discussion. I’m confident there will be more and I have hope that it will also have some impact. I don’t believe in miracles but having something on commercial TV that I actually want to watch is mighty close.

 

Movie Review
From War to Wisdom
Daniel R. Collins & Josh Hisle

I might not even be aware of this movie’s existence if I didn’t know one of the directors. Maybe someone else will learn of it only because they know me. If so, that’s a good thing. And it’s also a good thing if someone learns of the movie by stumbling onto this blog post without knowing either of us. If either of those things happens and someone watches From War to Wisdom who otherwise would not, I’ll be a happy man. It’s a movie that deserves to be seen with a story that needs to be heard.

It is primarily a story of Afghanistan and Iraq combat veterans. To some degree it is a new version of the oft told tale of guys going off to war then having difficulty returning to the civilian world. It’s a view that the tagline “When the war ends, the real battle begins” encourages and the movie’s general organization supports. The film’s front end focuses on the war and the second half focuses on the return. The “off to war” part is made extra effective through the use of gripping footage shot by embedded journalists Mike Cerre and Mike Elwell. The “difficulty returning” part is made personal through excerpts from interviews with those having the problems. But excerpts from those interviews also appear in the film’s early scenes and create a solid connection between the two halves.

Creating a marker between the halves is a text only shot. In front of the shot we see returning soldiers marching between welcoming signs and banners then being dismissed to reunite with their families while veteran Hans Palmer describes the time as “the proudest I’ve ever felt in my life.” Following the text is a scene with Josh Hisle talking about needing a “place to decompress — every day.” He’s sitting outside his apartment waiting for everyone else in the complex — his “area” — to go to sleep. “It’s not insomnia,” he says. “It’s duty.”

Five panels fade from one to another in that near midpoint text shot. The number of troops killed and wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan is mentioned along with the average number of veterans — a gut-wrenching 22 — that commit suicide each day. The last phrase is “many veterans are taking it upon themselves to help their fellow warfighters to truly come home.” That’s what this movie is about. It’s what makes this more than another war sucks story.

War does suck and From War to Wisdom makes that clear. It also makes clear the serious damage that war can inflict on those who survive it and it tells the stories of some of the veterans who overcame that damage. Then the stories go a little farther. Some of those veterans not only overcame their own issues but have made major efforts and established ongoing organizations to help others overcome theirs.

There’s Common Ground on the Hill’s Veterans Initiative that Josh Hisle was instrumental in establishing after he personally benefited from the Common Ground experience. There’s The Battle Buddy Foundation that veterans Kenny Bass and Joshua Rivers created to help other veterans obtain service dogs like Atlas who makes a normal life possible for Kenny. There’s New Directions for Veterans that was established in 1992 by a pair of Vietnam veterans and is represented in the film by Iraq veteran Matthew Lorscheider. Matthew does a pretty good job of capturing the spirit of this film when he says “That’s what we did in the military. Help a buddy out. I’m not going to stop now.”

There are many other examples of veterans helping veterans both in the film and out. They are bright spots and their successes are to be celebrated but they aren’t enough to make From War to Wisdom a feel good movie. It is, however, an encouraging movie and an informative one. Most of the veterans that appear in the film fought in either Afghanistan or Iraq. There is one notable exception. He’s a Vietnam vet who’s legal name is now Ragtime. He is a stained glass artist who teaches at Common Ground and started 1,000 Points of Peace back in 2006. The warriors recorded in this film say many wise things; The “wisdom” in the title is there for a reason. But I found a couple of Ragtime’s utterances particularly memorable. I don’t really think it’s a generational thing but maybe. From Ragtime: “America forgot what it was supposed to be doing… but I remember.”

The movie’s website lists a number of ways to see it. They include purchasing a DVD or watching online as either a rental or purchase.
DVD Online


This is my third movie review. When I did the second, I had actually forgotten the first (which I called a video review) and repeated a line about being even less qualified to review movies than books. I had done a few book reviews before starting this blog so doing some here didn’t feel too awkward. I wasn’t quite as comfortable with music reviews. I remember the circumstances behind that first one. Josh Hisle was working on an album and I knew I wanted to review it when it came out. I reviewed other albums so it would not be the first. Josh got distracted. Not by something shiny but by this movie. Between it and his work with Common Ground and being a full time husband, father, and student there was no time left for an album. That’s OK. It’s a lot more than OK. The album still hasn’t been released but we instead have this movie which I have a hunch is going to do a whole lot of good for a whole lot of people.

Even though I’m still waiting for that album and this is the first chance I’ve had to review a Josh Hisle product it is not his first mention here. He was the subject of this blog’s ninth post (There’s Something Happening Here) in 2011 and appears in at least three trip journal entries: February 19, 2010, July 23, 2010, and October 10, 2011.

My Wheels – Chapter 25
1985 Buick Century

Apparently I wasn’t the only one who didn’t think the 1985 Century was particularly photo worthy. Not only have I no pictures of mine but the only internet picture I found of something similar is the one at right. Mine was new so had wheel covers and all its chrome bits but it may have looked much like the picture at some point in its life.

The Century was Buick’s member of the A-Body family which included the Chevrolet Celebrity, the Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera, and the Pontiac 6000. I was drawn to the family by a company owned Celebrity that the service manager drove and praised. I found my car in a newspaper ad where I think it was the low-end come-on among pricier and more desirable LeSabres, Regals, and Rivieras. It had the inline 4-cylinder which was not, I’ve read, very popular. Neither was it, I soon learned, very peppy. It was hooked to a three-speed automatic. The car had power locks but not power windows. Nor did it initially have a right hand mirror.

The absent mirror is easy to remember because it was the last piece of the deal. I had come to really depend on mirrors on both sides and ended negotiations with, “I’ll take it if you include a passenger side mirror.” The factory installed mirror on the left side was flat black and in a day or so I had a matching one on the right of my new purchase.

Although it wasn’t very powerful, smooth, or quiet the 2.2 liter engine did an adequate job and delivered pretty good mileage. Actually, “adequate” is a pretty good description of the whole car. It once carried two adults and four kids, one a teenager, to and from Myrtle Beach. It wasn’t roomy or particularly comfortable. It was adequate.

The American auto industry was not known for its quality in the mid-1980s. The Century’s materials may have been slightly better than those used in the company’s Celebrity but the build quality was about the same. A couple pieces of interior trim were already falling off when I traded the car at about a year old.

Book Review
Exceptional Ordinary
Jim Grey

I’m guessing that most people buying this book do so because of an interest in old cameras. Or an interest in film photography. Or an interest in photography as art. Those are all reasons that I bought it but none of them is the primary reason. Or even the secondary reason. It might seem a little crude to admit it but my number one reason for buying Exceptional Ordinary was that I know the author. The number two reason was curiosity. Old cameras, film photography, and art were reasons three, four, and five for the purchase but turned into my top reasons for enjoying it.

Knowing the author really needs no explanation as a reason for buying the book. We all buy things from friends and relatives simply because they are friends and relatives. I first met Jim through a mutual interest in historic roads then learned we also had mutual, but not quite identical, interests in cars and photography. That we both blog probably helped; That we’ve both been involved in software development maybe not.

Buying the book out of curiosity might not be so easily understood. In my limited experience, print on demand photo books were either really expensive or really crappy. By going with a “magazine” format and keeping the page count down, Jim had kept his book from being expensive. I wanted to see if it was crappy.

It’s not. The photos are crisp and the colors look right on the semi-gloss pages. I don’t doubt that offset printing with an expert spending some time on color matching could produce something better but it might not be much better and I — and maybe you, too — might not know the difference. Construction and general quality seems good and the book was nicely sealed and packaged when it arrived.

So Blurb, the company doing the printing and order fulfillment, did their part of the job properly. What about Jim’s contribution? There are thirty photos in the book plus an un-cropped (or less-cropped) version of the cover image and a small photo of the author. Each of the thirty main photos is accompanied by a paragraph or two describing the picture and something about its creation. Sometimes the picture gets a page all to itself with text on the opposing page and sometimes picture and text share a page. No page has more than one photo. The lens and film are always identified. More often than not, the text will include what it is that Jim likes about the picture. In other words, why it’s in the book. There seems to be a roughly even mix between color and B & W. Subjects range from buildings to people and from automobile trim to pets. Surroundings range from sunlit outside spaces to dark interiors to midways at night. It’s really quite the sampler and every image is worthy of study. Jim also did his job properly.

I know that part of what Jim wanted to accomplish with this book was to satisfy his own curiosity about publishing one. A more general goal was to show that art can be produced while having fun and that high priced gear isn’t required.

The book’s subtitle is “Everyday Photography with the Pentax ME”. The reason that only lens and film need be identified for each picture is that the Pentax ME is used exclusively. Jim talks about the camera in a short introduction and explains that, while quite capable, the ME is usually overshadowed by the better known Pentax K1000 along with some other popular 35mm SLRs. As a result, the ME can often be found for under $50 which not only gets you a very good camera but includes access to a large selection of extremely good lenses. Jim put this very ordinary equipment to work producing some exceptional images. Goal accomplished.

The book can be previewed and purchased here.

Jim’s blog, which is typically but not exclusively about photography, is here.

Exceptional Ordinary, Jim Grey, Published via Blurb (March 21, 2017), 11 x 8.5 inches, 44 pages, ISBN 978-1366200280

Remembering Timmy

Tim Goshorn has been gone just over a week. He died of cancer last Saturday. During that week, photos and memories from friends, fans, family, and other musicians have filled the internet. The few photos I have don’t begin to compare with the many great ones I’ve seen and my memories don’t go back as far or go nearly as deep as many. But I do have memories. Lots of them. All good. Most with tapping toes and a big grin.

I didn’t really know who Tim Goshorn was before that day in 1994 when I walked into Tommy’s on Main. Prior to that, I thought of the Goshorn Brothers as Larry and Dan who had teamed up in the Sacred Mushroom in the 1960s. I must have seen Tim play at least once before, though. I had attended one Pure Prairie League concert and I’m sure Tim was on stage that night but it didn’t really register. Although I liked Pure Prairie League’s music and very much appreciated the talents of its members, I was not a big PPL fan. I was a Larry Goshorn fan.

That first night at Tommy’s, Larry and Tim played alone. That continued for a few more nights then PPL drummer Billy Hinds came in with a snare and some brushes. Before long Billy was sitting behind his full kit and bassist Mike Baney and keyboardist Steve Schmidt had joined what always comes to my mind first when I think of the Goshorn Brothers Band. There were other lineups over the years and every one was impressive but the classic Larry-Tim-Billy-Steve-Mike lineup is the one that impressed me most.

It lasted less than two years but it taught me who Tim Goshorn was. A typical week had the GBB playing three nights at Tommy’s and I was often there for at least one of them. Sometimes more. I got to know Tim as an outstanding guitarist and as at least a casual friend. That GBB version ended in December of 1995 when Mike Baney was shot and killed in the parking lot during a robbery.

There were other reasons involved but that murder was sort of the beginning of the end for Tommy’s. The Goshorn Brothers Band continued with various members for many years and I saw them many times. Watching Larry and Tim trade off leads was one of my biggest pleasures. I also saw the duo a lot. A wonderful period for me was when they played Friday evenings at the Golden Lamb’s Black Horse Tavern in Lebanon. They started at 7:00 which meant an old man like me could have a couple beers and hear some great music and still get home before bedtime. It was there that Tim and I helped each other finish off what we think was the only bottle of Buffalo Trace in an Ohio bar at the time.

After brother Larry eased into retirement in 2012, I often saw Tim with the Tim Goshorn Band and the pretty much identical Friends of Lee. I also saw him with other groups and duos. I enjoyed them all. Tim was always entertaining, always seemed to be having a good time, and always made an effort to say hi.

In October of 2014, I saw Tim perform with the current Pure Prairie League. This time his presence registered very much. This time I was a Tim Goshorn fan. I wish I had a better picture. They’re out there. The last time I saw him play was at DeSha’s on US-22. It’s nearby and, as I have on other occasions, I stopped in for one set on the way to somewhere else. I spoke with Tim at the break and actually stayed for a few more songs. Damn, he was good.


My favorite Tim Goshorn song is Colors. The version from the 1994 True Stories (Live at Tommy’s) can be heard via YouTube here. A 2011 Chuck Land produced video of the brothers performing it can be seen here. All the Lonesome Cowboys might be my second favorite (It’s neck and neck with Sun Shone Lightly.) Tim Goshorn song. It opens a nearly hour long 1995 concert video of the original Tommy’s GBB line up (minus Steve) that can be seen here.

Happy Easter Island

This post first appeared last year. I’ve brought it back, with date appropriate updates, due to its uncommon concentration of useful historic facts.

 
eiflagTwo years ago I noted with surprise that Easter and my birthday have coincided only twice in my lifetime. But it has happened several times outside of my lifetime and that includes 1722 when Dutch sailor Jacob Roggeveen came upon a tiny South Pacific island which the residents may have called Rapa. Whether they did or didn’t mattered not a bit to Roggeveen who decided to call the island Paaseiland. Dutch Paaseiland translates to the English Easter Island. The island is now part of Spanish speaking Chili where it is known as Isla de Pascua. Its modern Polynesian name is Rapa Nui.

hcafeiheadThe opening image is the Isla de Pascua flag. The red figure represents a reimiro, an ornament worn by the native islanders. At left is an image more commonly associated with Easter Island. The island contains nearly 900 statues similar to the one in the picture. I’ve never been to Easter Island and have no pictures of my own although there are plenty to be found around the internet. This photo is one I took of an imitation at the Hill County Arts Foundation near Ingram, Texas.

The true significance of the statues, called moai, is not known but we do know that they once outnumbered inhabitants by roughly 8 to 1. The island is believed to have once held about 15,000 people. A number of factors reduced that to maybe 3,000 by the time Roggeveen came along. Contributing causes were deforestation, erosion, and the extinction of several bird species. The population probably remained around 3,000 until 1862 when Peruvian slavers began a series of raids that resulted in about half of that population being hauled away. The raiders were somehow forced to return many or perhaps most of those they had captured but they brought smallpox to the island when they did. Tuberculosis arrived just a few years later and disease, violent confrontations, and a major evacuation reduced the human population to just 111 by the late 1870s. There are currently 887 moai on the island. In the past there may have been more.

Today is the 296th Easter Sunday that Easter Island has been known by that name. The population has grown considerably and is now around 6000 which must make for a much happier island than when barely a hundred hung on. Of course the actual calendar date of the naming (and my birthday) passed more than a week ago. I hope everyone remembered to wish their friends and family a Happy Easter Island Anniversary.

Trip Peek #55
Trip #10
A Few Indiana Towns

This picture is from my 2003 A Few Indiana Towns day trip. The picture is from Columbus, Indiana, which was the trip’s destination. The town is known for its architecture and painting these vents to look like a pipe organ is the kind of thing that makes the place interesting. Other Indiana towns visited along the way include New Trenton, Cedar Grove, Brookville, Metamora, Oldenburg, and Versailles.


Trip Peeks are short articles published when my world is too busy or too boring for a current events piece to be completed in time for the Sunday posting. In addition to a photo thumbnail from a completed road trip, each Peek includes a brief description of that photo plus links to the full sized photo and the associated trip journal.

Trip Peek #54
Trip #74
Easter Weekend 2009

This picture is from my Easter Weekend 2009 trip. I found the VW Rabbit in appropriate holiday garb on the second day of the three day outing. The trip was something of a catch-all with some old roads, a stop at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, and a stop at Pymatuning Reservoir spillway “Where the Ducks Walk on the Fish”. A highlight of the trip, and one reason for its direction, was a Patrick Sweany concert with his father, “Hot Tub” Sweany. accompanying him on washtub bass.


Trip Peeks are short articles published when my world is too busy or too boring for a current events piece to be completed in time for the Sunday posting. In addition to a photo thumbnail from a completed road trip, each Peek includes a brief description of that photo plus links to the full sized photo and the associated trip journal.

My Wheels – Chapter 24
1983 Renault Alliance

There was a time when I was truly smitten with this car. Others were too. It was Motor Trend‘s “Car of the Year” and it was included in Car and Driver‘s “10 Best”. Many were the automotive writers who praised the first offering from AMC under Renault ownership. That experts praised the little car certainly influenced my opinion but I recall that I sincerely hought it was physically attractive. Yeah, that’s the kind of smitten I’m talking about.

Much of the praise that the gurus heaped on the car had to do with its economical operation and good value pricing. Recent changes in my job, living arrangements, and family size brought on the need for an efficient people hauler so maybe I just fooled myself into liking the looks to make the super practicality palatable. Whatever the full thought process was, I was quite proud of myself when I bought a shiny new dark gray four-door four-speed.

For many the shine wore off quite quickly. Mechanical problems were fairly common and rust often appeared quicker than it should. In 2009 Car and Driver actually apologized for putting the car in their “10 Best” list twenty-six years earlier. I don’t know that Motor Trend or any of the other publications that had climbed on the Alliance band wagon delivered their own apologies but neither do I know of any that actively defended their 1983 behavior.

My own problems were minor. The coil sometimes arced in wet weather until I upped the insulation by applying an ugly wad of electrical tape and a starter connection vibrated loose — twice!.

I guess I really didn’t have the car long enough to get hit with rust or any more serious mechanical issues. In their apology, Car and Driver point out that one of the first acts of Chrysler after taking over AMC in 1987 was “the mercy-killing of the Alliance”. My personal Alliance had been the target of its own mercy killing two years earlier. For the first time ever I was at the wheel of a car when it was totaled and it wasn’t even slightly my fault.

I was the last in a line of cars stopped at a light in heavy rain when I was rear-ended by a teenager driving with his mother on a learners permit. The Alliance was advertised as having reclining seats although what they really did was lean back as a unit like a rocking chair. When the other car hit, my seat completely “reclined” so that I was momentarily nearly flat on my back. Then my car was pushed into the one in front of me and I sprang upright and cracked a rib against the floor shift. I’m not sure of specifics but I understood the the boy and his mother had minor injuries of about the same severity and that there were no injuries at all in the car in front of me. I was obviously quite lucky that my injuries weren’t worse and I maybe I could even be considered lucky for being spared the pain of watching my Car of the Year rust away.