Thursday, May 31, 2012

Tell Us What You REALLY Think.

Illinois representative Mike Bost (Republican) has a massive meltdown on the state senate floor.  He sort of reminds me of myself during some of my better days when I worked as a Trust Operations manager at Mellon Bank in Philadelphia.


Wednesday, May 30, 2012

"Hi Grandpa!"

"Hi Grandpa!"  That's what I heard a a young woman ask me few minutes ago when I answered my phone.  "Grandpa?" Me?

First of all I'm not married.  I'm gay.  I have no children.  I never have had sex with a woman one in my entire seventy years of life.  I don't have any adopted children.  "Grandpa?"  Me?

Okay, maybe I got a wrong number.  Funny thing though, this is about the fourth time I've received the "Hi grandpa!" phone call in the last several months.  The last three times was from a young man from California.  The second time that young man called me he was pretty insistent that I was his "grandpaw."  When I finally got through to him that I have no children he hung up on me.  Oh yes, a quick "click!"  Just like those phone calls I get from the credit card service bureaus offering me a lower discount rate to transfer my credit balance.  I receive a recorded message and when hit the number on my phone to bring a live person on the phone so I can tell them to take me off of their call list they hang up on my fast than I can blink my eye.  I have received many of those phone calls even though I'm on the Do Not Call Registry.  Lot of good that registry is doing keeping me from receiving those annoying phone calls.

So here we go back to the "Hi grandpaw!" phone calls.  Know what?  This is just another scam.  Yep, yet another scam to cheat me out of what little money I have left in this world after the stock market scam of 2000.  No doubt if I was one of those addled old guys (like some of my former friends) I would probably stay on the line and listen to their Tale of Woe.  No doubt they want money.  Oh sure, it's all about money.

Everyday my mailbox is loaded with junk mail wanting money from me.  From charities to insurance companies to hearing aids.  I'm on the mailing list folks because I'm OLD.  Thank God I haven't lost my mind yet like some of my former friends.  I still have most of my wits about me.

As regular readers of this blog know I have a nature habitat backyard that is eco friendly to birds.  One would think my backyard would be very friendly to the birds I attract like bluebirds, Purple Martins and swallows.  Sure, those birds flock to my backyard but I also have uninvited "guests" like the starlings and sparrows.  The starlings and sparrows bully and attempt to take over the bird boxes I put out for the natives species of birds.  So far the starlings have killed one Purple Martin and one swallow.  Of course they also destroyed their nests.  Observing this struggle for life in my backyard I can't help but notice the similarity to my own life.  The bigger and the stronger are always attempting to take and steal from the smaller and weaker of the species.  That is just what these scum of the earth are doing who are calling me and asking for "Grandpaw."  They want what I have and the hell with me.  Well, I'm not that weak....yet.

The Gang That Can't Shoot Straight

The New Romney campaign iPhone app with "America" misspelled

Okay folks, here I go on a political rant again.  Seriously, I have been trying to restrain myself from boring everyone with stating the obvious stupidity and lies of the Willard Mitt Romney campaign but their latest flub deserves some attention.

So here we go folks, the Romney campaign put out a new iPhone app.  Yep, they have a new iPhone app that says "A Better America."  Only one problem - AMERICA IS SPELLED WRONG!  The liars at the Romney campaign spelled "America" as "AMERCIA".

I think this latest foul up is an apt metaphor for the Romney campaign.  I could go on about Romney's outright lies about Obama.  I could go on about Romney's tacit backing of the racist "Birther" argument that the "bloviating ignoramus" traveling clown show Donald Trump continues to blather through his girlish pursed lips.  I could go on about the lies about all the jobs that Romney "created" at Bain Capital while he and his fellow vulture capitalists were stripping failing companies of their employee's pension benefits while enriching themselves by millions of dollars.  Yes, I could go on and on.

But seriously folks, don't you think a serious candidate for the presidency of the United States should know how to spell America?  I bet he knows how to spell Cayman Islands.

"I'm Mitt Romney...and you're not"

Monday, May 28, 2012

Mad Men

All right folks, here is my take on the very popular TV show "Mad Men."  However, before I start be warned that I will probably say some "cringe worthy" things about this show so if you are one of those who is easily offended by my remarks, no need to read further.  I make this statement because I have lost friendships (shallow to be sure) and readers of this blog because they did approve of what I had to say.  Again, a helpful reminder - this is my blog and all the views expressed herein are mine and I take full responsibility for them and I am not fazed in the least by anyone who is so easily offended that they feel the need to leave a nasty comment or end a friendship because of words that I write in this blog that hurts their sensitive feelings.  It is ironic but I am posting my review of the TV show "Mad Men" but to me the real "Mad Men" are those who think they can rule my life.  To those folks, really.....get over yourselves.  If you don't like what I write, then don't read this blog.  I have no ads on this blog and I don't ask for money so I have nothing to lose by your departure.  I don't need you.

Now, for my take on "Mad Men."  I don't watch commercial TV because I can't get past all the ads.  When I want to see a TV show I wait until that show comes out on DVD so I can rent them through my account at NetFlix.  I've heard a lot about "Mad Men" and what a wonderful show it is.  Time from Ron to rent the DVD's and check this show out myself.  That I did and this weekend I watched the first six episodes.

Here is my take:

All the hype about Jon Hamm is true.  This man is one hunk and a half.  He is exactly the type of man a gay man like me is attracted to.  He is good-looking, masculine, and self-assured.  Jon Hamm is very watchable.  My only complaint is that some of the lines he is fed by the writers are worthy of a man like Jon with his gravitas.  I just don't believe some of the stuff that comes out of his mouth.

Overall I like "Mad Men" but here are my main complaints (you knew I would have them).

There are too many of the long soap opera pauses.  You know what I mean by that.  Long looks that kill time.  Probably works for the TV show for commercials but not when one is watching this drama on DVD like a movie.

Another complaint I have is all the smoking.  Man oh man.  Wow.  Hey, I started my adult work years in the early Sixties.  Yes, there was a lot of smoking, including me.  However, looking back on that time now with the hindsight of the dangers and nastiness of smoking, it saddens me to think we all took this "lifestyle" for granted.  For the record I stopped smoking my flip top box Marlboro's July 15, 1967.  I smoked for seven years a pack a day.  That was enough.  But watching this time recreated with the constant lighting up of cigarets in every environment, including mothers, saddens me.

I have more.  Another thing that saddens me (I can't really call it a complaint because it is true) is the misogyny displayed during that era (the Sixties).  Yes, it is true.  I remember when I first started to work for Girard Bank in Philadelphia in the trust department, only men had the responsible jobs.  Women were either file clerks or secretaries.  Thank God that has changes.  Still, it saddens me greatly to relive that misogynist time of our past when this kind of behavior was taken for granted.

And even more.  Do you see how minorities are portrayed in this series?  Yes, again all true.  That doesn't make it any easier to witness though a black man with a beanie on his head operating an elevator in the big downtown office building for the all white ad men.  To think we as a society took this for granted is very depressing.

Here is my number one complaint.  Too many sex scenes.  Too much sex.  To much chewing each other's faces.  Too long, too much.  Who enjoys watching those face sucking scenes?  Maybe it's me with my age related low testosterone levels but I find it boring.  Sure, I like seeing Jon Hamm with his shirt off but I would rather watch a good story.

Talking about a story, what is the story line anyway?  Is Don Draper (Jon Hamm's character?) questioning the value of what he is doing?  Is he questioning his marriage.  And what was the deal with his long lost brother showing up and Don Draper gave him $5,000 to go away?  What was THAT all about?  Sounds to me like poor script writing.

You know what the most interesting part of this show is for me?  It is the woman who plays Jon Hamm's secretary.  She is also working her way up.  At first I couldn't figure her out but now I think I have.  Actually, I sort of identify with her.  Not the female part but the part of starting at the bottom in an office environment and witnessing the foibles of my so-call "betters" and realizing that I am just as good as they are probably better.

What I find most interesting in a book, TV show or movie is a story about human needs and how they face their obstacles and come to terms with their lot in life.  That to me is always the best story.  Of course it always helps if there is a pretty face (and body) like Jon Hamm around to satisfy my more base needs.

Jon Hamm - Oh Yes!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Memorial Day Weekend

Baby bluebirds (a few minutes ago) - they will be out today - Mama bluebird is a few feet away coaxing them out with a worm

What are you, my dear blog reader, doing this Memorial Day weekend?  Bill and I are hanging out here at Casa Tipton-Kelly.  Believe me, there is not a day that doesn't go by that I know how lucky I am to live here in Vacationland, Sussex County, Delaware.

This morning I dropped Bill off at his friend's house in Milton while I visited a cemetery in Harbeson to fulfill a Find a photo request.  Sound exciting?  For me it is.  I get so much pleasure roaming through cemeteries taking photos to post to my Find a account.  Bill doesn't have a car now so when he visits his friends I have to drop him off which I don't mind at all.  Plus, not having someone eating for me in the car while I take photos.

This weather is just about perfect this first day of the Memorial Day Weekend.  Last night when I returned home from work on Route One after getting off of my shift at 11 PM at the hotel, I saw a steady stream of headlights headed down Route One towards Rehoboth and shore points beyond.  That is our industry folks here in the eastern shore of Sussex County Delaware folks!  On the other side of Route One our local farmers grow soybeans and corn and raise chickens.  Here on the eastern side we are in the hospitality business.  This is our Season.  This is what keeps us going folks.  Just make sure you bring your credit cards folks and charge early and often.

Flowers in full bloom in our backyard

I got a text message from my co-worker asking me if I could work for her Monday.  Her daughter is off and her husband is working and she asked if I could switch my Thursday shift with her.  I said I could.  Monday shouldn't be too bad.  Most of those credit card charging folks should be on their way back to points north by then.

Of course I will not venture into Rehoboth Beach at all this weekend.  Do you think I'm crazy?  Us locals turn over our beach resorts charms and amenities to the touristas on holiday weekends like this.  Oh no, I'm not crazy.

Last year on Fourth of July Weekend I agreed to meet two new friends in Rehoboth Beach.  What was I thinking?  I spent almost an hour and a half in traffic just to get into Rehoboth Beach and then I couldn't find parking.  Never again.  I have better things to do than sit in traffic on Route One, inching along just to find no where to park in Rehoboth Beach.

I'll tell you what I like.  After picking up Bill from his friend's house, I went out in our backyard and refreshed the birdbaths.  I checked the birdhouses.  The baby bluebirds will probably be out today.  Swallows have their babies in another birdhouse and yet another birdhouse swallows are making a new nest.  The Purple Martins are all settled in and incubating their eggs.  There is no sign of the starlings who were trying to hog the Purple Martin house.  I think by lowering the Purple Martin House discouraged the starlings from nesting there.

I just got up from my afternoon nap and I'm ready for a very pleasurable next two days here in the best place in the world for me and Bill, southern Delaware.  I love Delaware!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Lee Welcomes Home Navy Boyfriend Trent

After my God Awful posting of this morning of Facebook and Mark Zuckerburg, I had to find something inspiring to post to my blog.  I found it. 

I never thought I would live to see this but we are evolving as a society aren't we?  This simple welcome home of a young man and his Navy boyfriend brought tears to my old eyes.  Who knows, maybe in my lifetime gays and lesbians will no longer be second class citizens and can express their love as openly as anyone else in our society.  Just maybe.

Facebook's Faceplant

Is anybody surprised that the much anticipated Facebook IPO is now mired in controversy?

Recents news about the biggest IPO in history reveals that it was overpriced and SOME investors received information about Facebook that wasn't available to the rest of us, the Great Unwashed.


Well, all that counts in the end I guess is that the hoodie wearing Youngest Billionaire Ever, Mark Zuckerberg now has more money than God.


Over and over again Wall Street and the Insiders sell us the same snake oil.

P. T. Barnum said it:

"There's a sucker born every minute."

There was a time when I worked in the Investment Services Department of a major Bank (Mellon) that I believed that Wall Street and those who worked there were honest.  Not so folks, they're all crooks.  Yes, I said it.  THEY'RE ALL CROOKS.  

So now it's Ground Hog Day all over again.  The Greedheads hype up a business that PRODUCES NOTHING and we fools fall for it.

You want to invest in a company that actually produces a great product?  Buy Apple.

In the meantime, I thought I would never dislike anybody more than Mr. Softee, aka Bill Gates.

Move over Mr. Softee, you have been replaced by an even more odious and despicable creature, Mark Zuckerberg.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012


Thank you for all of you who prayed for me this morning when I updated my external hard drive backup system.  I installed (with help from Apple Support) the Apple Time Capsule with is also a Wi-Fi base station.
In our house we have an iMac, two iPads, two iPhones and one MacBook Pro.  I needed a dependable backup system.  Now I not only have a dependable backup with an external hard drive, I also have a strong WI-FI network here at Casa Tipton-Kelly.  And as a bonus I got rid of three pieces of equipment and exchanged all those wires and units for ONE UNIT which is the Apple Time Capsule.  The three pieces I got ride of was my Cisco Valet router, my Western Digital external hard drive, and my NetGear WI-FI extender.  I love it!  The less wires the better.

My Apple Time Capsule and router - love it!

I've said it before and I'll say it again, going with Apple is one of the best decisions I've ever made in my life.  With Apple my life is so much easier now.  Not for a second have I regretted leaving Mr. Softee's world of Windows.

Steve Jobs, wherever you are, thank you!

Pray For Me

The Apple Time Capsule external hard drive and Wi-Fi combination - new kid in town

All folks, I got my Fed Ex delivery yesterday at 5:30 pm.  What I got was a Time Capsule 802.11n Wi-Fi Hard Drive unit from Apple.  Today I call Apple support to install this thing.  Pray for me.

I am always reluctant to change my computer setup when everything is working.  "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."  I'm not sure if something was broke but I do know when I got back from vacation my external hard drive backup wasn't operating.  I don't know if this was because I hadn't used my computer for a week or it was a real problem.  I called Apple Support with my problem.  The guy on the other end of the line (who sounded foreign - first time I got someone from Apple Support with an accent - please don't tell me that since Steve Jobs has departed the scene Apple is outsourcing their Help Line to India) had me check a few things and he determined that my external hard drive wasn't big enough.  He suggested that I purchase (for $299) an Apple Time Capsule.  He said the Apple time Capsule was not only an external hard drive with two terabytes.  He also said it operates as a Wi-Fi and that my Wi-Fi connections would be much better.  I can also use wireless printers with this device, although I think I will pass on that option.

So here I am folks.  Involved in yet another techie operation for which I have little or no confidence.  Usually when I embark on these adventures they turn out to be disastrous.  I think it is a combination of my non-technological talent.  I am a photographer, Find a Grave volunteer, genealogist, cook, gardener and hotel front desk clerk personality after all.

I am going to call Apple Support as soon as they open this morning.  Pray for me.

My Cisco Valet Wi-Fi - soon to be gone

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Waiting For Godot

It never fails, when I'm expecting a delivery it never comes during the day.  I am expecting a FedEx delivery from Apple of a new super duper external hard drive backup combination router that requires a signature.  Yesterday FedEx called me and said the delivery would be today.  Normally, when I am expecting a delivery I don't hang around.  I do my thing.  I have found from years of experience that if I hang around the house waiting for a delivery it NEVER comes during the day, it ALWAYS comes at the END of the day.  Apparently today is no exception.

I have lived in the country in Pennsylvania.  All deliveries were always at the END OF THE DAY.  I have lived in center city Philadelphia.  All my deliveries, including furniture deliveries were always at the END OF THE DAY.  My question is, who gets the deliveries DURING the day?

I thought for once, just for once I would get his delivery early in the day or at least during the day.  Today I had planned to go to the East Coast Garden Center to check out their river birch trees.  Normally I would go in the morning.  But I knew sure as Republicans lie, that if I went early in the morning the FedEx delivery would be this morning.

Why do I have to hang around?  They need my signature.  If I'm not here to sign then I have to go to the nearest FedEx pickup location and God knows where that is down here in Tourist Season Traffic Jam Hell that is Rehoboth Beach at this time of year.  Probably somewhere down Route 1 in that mess of tourist trap restaurants and outlet stores.

So here I wait.  Just like that old queen Ian McKellan in "Waiting For Godot."  Waiting and waiting for my FedEx delivery.  How much do you want to bet they don't even come today?

Monday, May 21, 2012

Find a Grave Cemetery Hunt Part 1

Last week Bill and I embarked on our "Great Adventure" which in reality was to give Bill a taste of the mountain scenery, which he loves and me an opportunity to search for old family graves in the mountains of western North Carolina, where my father was born and grew up until he was ten years old.  Wow, that was a long sentence.

As regular readers of this blog know I am a Find a volunteer.  That means I search for cemeteries and take photos of headstones and record that information on the website Find A  I have been a member of Find a Grave ("FAG" for short, see the irony?) four years, two months and fifteen days as of today.

Searching for those out of the way, family cemeteries and taking photos and recording that information on Find a is my passion in life now. Perhaps to some that may sound like a weird hobby but again, as regular readers of this blog know I march to my own drummer.  Just last week I received a comment on my blog (which I didn't publish) from a person who felt the need to inform me that they "cringe" sometimes at what I write and that they no longer will be reading my blog.  You know what I say to that don't you?  BYE!  Of course this person signed as "Anonymous".  Notice at how cowardly the negative commenters are who feel the need to disparage what I write about?  I never cease to be amazed at how some people constantly try to tear down.  But I digress.

Back to something more positive.  This morning I posted all the videos I took with my iPhone while on vacation.  I'll be posting those videos to this blog and future blogs.  The video I'm posting today was the first cemetery Bill and I came across our first day out.  Oh, by the way, it was raining the first two days we went cemetery hunting.  That didn't deter us though, I had my hat and rain proof jacket and Bill had his rainbow umbrella.

The first cemetery we discovered was off Pigeon Roost Road in Green Mountain, North Carolina.  Bill and I stayed at the Hampton Inn in Johnson City, Tennessee which is right across the border from North Carolina.  The mountains form the border between North Carolina and Tennessee.  My father was born and raised (until he was ten years old when he and his eight brothers and mother and father left for Pennsylvania to work as farm laborers on his uncle Don Byrd's farm) at the Bailey Settlement, which was the next road ("holler") over from the road we were on last Monday.  His mother, my grandmother, was born and raised on Pigeon Roost Road, Green Mountain, which was the road we were on this day where I took this video.

The cemetery where I took this video was up Elvis Edwards Road.  How is that for a pure hillbilly name?  Sure fits doesn't it?  Well, this is pure hillbilly county of which I am very proud to announce as my roots.

Bill and I drove up the narrow lane, past the double wide (which obviously thee Elvis Edwards lived in) and hopped the fence to the cemetery.  We were met by a friendly dog (which is featured in this video).  A short while after we were in the cemetery a black T-shirted sheriff and his likewise black T-shirted deputies came up the road and asked me "Are you Elvis Edwards?"  Oh God no!  I'm thinking to myself "Do I look like an Elvis Edwards?" (now no negative "cringe" comments please because I won't publish them).  I told him I wasn't Elvis Edwards.  He then asked me if I knew where he was.  I told him that we were from Delaware and visiting relatives (which we were actually, my second cousin lives up the road).  By the way, their T-shirts had "Sherrif" and "Deputy Sherrif" emblazoned in white on the front.  Some adventure huh?

After they left we heard church bells.  We turned around and saw the small church summoning its parishioners for the Sunday service.  We had forgotten, this WAS Sunday.

Bill roamed around the cemetery while I took my photos (in the gently falling rain) of every headstone.

Thus we began our first day of our Find a Grave Cemetery Hunt.  I love it!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Ron and Bill's Excellent Adventure - We're Home!

Me at Tallulah Gorge, Georgia
That sure is one big crack.

We made it!  We got home safe and sound yesterday afternoon.  What a wonderful trip!

Thursday night we stayed at a Hampton Inn in South Hill, Virginia.  This was without a doubt the dirtiest Hampton Inn I've ever stayed at in my travels.  From the time I walked into the lobby and saw the dirty rug and encrusted dirt around the baseboard, I knew this wasn't going to be your typical, clean Hampton Inn.  It wasn't.  However, we were too tired to travel further so I decided to stay anyway.

When I got to my room my worst fears were confirmed.  The bathroom had a low counter (for midgets or short women?) and the rug was filthy.  I didn't expect much more from the TV and again, I wasn't disappointed.  It took three tries to even get the TV to stay on and once it did forget any HD TV.  This was the old fashion blurry TV images.  Oh well.

One of the reasons I wanted to stop at this Hampton Inn was because I was a Cracker Barrel nearby and I wanted to eat there.  No more taking chances with the local cuisine.

One good thing about this Hampton Inn, the breakfast was actually very good.  However, they were undergoing a renovation/upgrading so maybe that explains the shoddy, sticky decor when I checked in.

After breakfast we got out of there, headed towards Norfolk, Virginia.  Norfolk would be the last difficult leg of our journey.  We I always have trouble getting through Norfolk.  Too many signs and they are confusing.  This time instead of taking I-264 we opted for the old interstate US-58 (I think).  That didn't turn out any better.  Bumper to bumper traffic plus we were delayed for some time when one of the drawbridges had to open to let several sailboats (high masts) through whatever river runs through Norfolk.

When we finally got over the bridge, we inched our way up US-58 to the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel, not one of my favorite places.  After seeing Robin Williams character turned into road kill in a Holland Tunnel crash (from the move "What Dreams May Come"), I am as leary of tunnels under bodies of water as Janet Leigh was leary of taking a shower after performing in Alfred Hitchcock's "Psycho".  When taking the Bay Bridge tunnel not only to you go under the bay once, but you go under TWICE!  Mother of God.  But we made it.  I took a video with my iPhone but I was so shook up I took the video upside down so I had to delete.  Someone else will have to post their video of going under the Chesapeake Bay.

Once we to the other side of the Chesapeake Bay our trip was easy sailing.  We go up Rt. 113 then cut over to Rt. 13 until we get to Millsboro then we go through Millsboro (after a pit stop at BJ's to stock up) and turn onto Rt. 30 and we were on our way home!  I no longer had to give Bill directions from the shotgun seat.

Along the way up Rt. 113 in Virginia I spotted a few cemeteries along side the road so Bill stopped and let me do my thing.  I'll have to do another whole blog posting about those cemeteries.  Some of those graves had collapsed and I was afraid I would fall in.  Wouldn't that be something?  One grave I could actually walk in like steps going into the ground.  I took pictures.  Those pictures look like they could be on the cover of the old comic book "The Crypt Keeper."  Thank goodness yesterday was sunny, no vampires out and about to sink their fangs into my scrawny neck.  But I digress.

We're home and we're safe!  This was a hairy trip.  Bill isn't as confident driving and I never have been confident driving in unfamiliar territory and heavy traffic.  Neither one of us likes to drive on the Interstate highways with all those tractor trailer trucks boxing you in.  Dangerous stuff man.  Not fun.

I'm not a religious person but I do thank God (or whoever) that got us home safe and sound.  Maybe that Person was my guardian angle, Wesley (yes, that's His name).  Thank you Wesley.

Bill is out mowing the grass now on this beautiful, sunny, 72 degree low humidity Saturday.  I'm going to have a Ron prepared lunch, my favorite.  Restaurants are nice and all that but I much prefer what I make for myself.  That is until Panera finally opens its doors down here in Rehoboth Beach Land.

We accomplished a lot on this trip and we both have many new memories but this is probably the last trip we will make like this again.  I would like to go again and look for those cemeteries up in those Smoky Mountains that I missed.  I haven't ruled out another trip but for now we just want to relax and get back into the old routine.  Both of us are so tired.  We need to de stress.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Ron and Bill's Excellent Adventure Day Six

Bill enjoying a laugh with "Jack."

Tonight we are staying at the South Hill, Virginia Hampton Inn.  This is without a doubt the worst Hampton Inn we have stayed at.  From the time I walked into the lobby and saw the worn and dirty rug, the antiseptic smell in the air and the slovenly front desk clerk I had forebodings.

About two hours earlier, when we on I-85 headed north towards Emporia, Virginia I called and made reservations at that Hampton Inn because that is where we planned to lay our heads tonight.  However, when we turned off of Exit 12-A of I-85 and saw a Hampton Inn here and a Cracker Barrel nearby, I suggested to Bill that we stay here tonight before we take the last leg of our trip tomorrow. Bill was tired from driving all day and agreed that we could stay here.

Even though I had forebodings about this hotel that needs to be updated badly, I decided to stay here anyway because Bill was so tired from driving.  When the front desk clerk told me my rate would be $75.00 a night after my AARP discount, I knew for sure I would stay here.  I called the Emporia Hampton Inn and asked them to cancel my reservation, which they did.

I went out to our van where Bill was waiting for me and told him that we were staying here for the night.

We unloaded our luggage and sundries from the van and went to our rooms.  As I suspect, the rooms were also worn and outdated.  The bathroom counter top is one of those low ones (28 inches) they were standard for all bathrooms in the Fifties.  I like a higher bathroom counter, at least 32 inches high.  The room is "sticky".  Oh well, it won't kill me to stay here.  Bill doesn't care.  He's not as picky as I am.

Our day started out with a bad breakfast at our previous Hampton Inn in Anderson, South Carolina.  While the rooms were great, the breakfast lobby setup and hostess were not the usual quality Hampton Inn.  The layout was all wrong.  Also, the breakfast hostess didn't want to be there.  She had tight white jeans on and was more concerned with showing everyone her ass than providing apple juice for Bill.  When I worked at the Hampton Inn the breakfast hostess always came in by 4:30 am to get breakfast ready by 6 am.  It was obvious this morning that the breakfast hostess probably came in about ten minutes before 6 am because she was doing setups.  We managed.

Enough about my complaints.  Those who know me know that I have to rant when I'm upset about something. That's the way I let off steam and don't develop ulcers or a heart attack.

So here is what we did today.  No cemeteries today but we "did do" a church.  Specifically my brother John's church.  After checking out of our Hampton Inn hotel room in Anderson, South Carolina we headed toward my brother's home in Greenville.  Of course we weren't sure how to get there so I got our my trusty iPad and pulled up the Map app.  With my direction we got there!

John was waiting for us.  We went inside his home and sat and talked awhile with him and his wife Barbara.  Then John took us in his former backyard and showed (off) us his latest construction.  Both my brothers are very handy with there hands and can build things.  I can't.  I am always impressed with folks who are mechanically inclined and can build things.  Both my brothers are good carpenters and builders.  Not me.  I'm the gay one, remember?  I can bake a delightful apple pie. Neither one of them can.  So there.

After about an hour John then took Bill and I over to his new church.  He took us on the Grande Tour.  I won't recount every detail of our tour but suffice to say were were awed.  But what I really liked seeing was was watching my baby brother's enthusiasm in showing us every improvement he has made to his church.  I am proud of my brother.  I don't even hold it against him that he was a Bob Jones produced pastor.  While I"m not religious, I do respect those who are with the exception of religious zealots.  I'm happy when anybody else is happy with their job.

After The Tour, John took us to his friend Jack's house to show Bill the wonderful way this 83 year old widower customized his home with wood.  My Bill and Jack (the 83 year old widower) hit if off right away.  I was glad to see and hear Bill laughing.

I am so tired right now that I think I may flop over on my MacBook Pro laptop I may start sending them cash.  I'm going to wrap this up and go to bed.  I was up early this morning. Ill never relive those days.

I'm hitting the sack folks!  This time tomorrow night I will be "home sweet home".

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Ron and Bill's Excellent Adventure Day Five

Bill's hometown, Toccoa Georgia

If this is Wednesday this must be Anderson, South Carolina!  Remember that movie "If this is Tuesday This Must Be Belgium?"  That title has always stuck in my head when I travel.

Well, this was another adventure filled, frustrating, exciting, and productive day.  This is what I love about road trips.  Did Bill and I get lost again today?  Oh yeah.

Bill was determined not to get lost again so last night in his hotel room at the Hampton Inn in Franklin, North Carlina (high in the Smoky Mountains) he drew a map for himself.  After breakfast we would leave the Hampton Inn and get on Rt. 23 and zip straight down to Tallulah Gorge in Georgia.

We load up our Dodge Caravan rental and leave the Franklin, NC Hampton Inn and proceed to go the wrong way.  We were going west when we should be going south.  I thought we were going the wrong way but Bill wouldn't hear of it.  Okay.  As we were barreling down the road the wrong way I saw a small church cemetery along the side of the road and asked Bill if he would mind stopping.  He said he didn't mind.  He was probably feeling good because he thought he had his driving directions under control.

While Bill patiently waited, I took photos of every headstone in that small, beautiful cemetery on this cool spring day up there in those Smoky Mountains.  I even found a couple of Tipton graves!  Coincidentally the Tipton graves were located right behind gravestones for the Stroud family.  My first love was named "Stroud" and ironically he also lives in Georgia.  I haven't seen him since my Army days.  He's probably a great grandpaw now.  However, seeing that name again after all these years brought back fond, warm memories of my foolish youth and my first passionate love affair.  Man we were hot.  But I digress.

After I finished taking my photos and we got back on the road, THE WRONG WAY, Bill realized we were going the wrong way.  After I gave him several "I told you so's" we headed back to where we began and started over again!  Oh boy.  We were headed for the Tallulah Gorge.  Bill thought we wasted our time but I always try get something good out of mistakes.  I wouldn't have found that little cemetery if we hadn't gone the wrong way.

We eventually got to the Tallulah Gorge.  You know every time I say "Tallulah Gorge" I think of the old joke about Tallulah Bankhead which she used to say about herself but since this is a family blog I won't repeat it here.  Well, I was very impressed with the Tallulah Gorge.  Wow.  That was one deep gorge.  Looking down my fear of heights kicked in.

Next up was a visit to Bill's hometown of Toccoa, Georgia.  The past two years we have visited Bill's hometown and he always felt I rushed him.  So this time I agreed he would drop me off at the Toccoa Cemetery while he went and did his thing.  That worked out well except it was a very hot and humid day in Toccoa and that cemetery was big.  By the time Bill came by four hours later I was soaked with sweat.

I enjoyed my time in the cemetery but I was unable to fulfill even one of the twelve outstanding photo requests.  Sometimes I think people requesting photos are fishing.  They aren't sure where the deceased person they are looking for so they are quite willing to take advantage of us Find a Grave volunteers and waste out time going on their fishing expeditions.  Those kind of people I don't like but we all know it take all types.  There are always those among us who take advantage.  Oh well, I did enjoy having time to cover that whole cemetery.  There are so many interesting stories that are revealed by the type of headstones and reading the dates of birth and death.  I always feel sad for the little headstones.  Those are children whose lives were cut short.  Make me think that perhaps I am past my expiration date on this earth.

Bill came by later to pick me up to head for our next destination, a Hampton Inn on the interstate near Greenville, South Carolina.  We're visiting my brother John and his wife Barbara tomorrow.  We didn't want to stay in Greenville, we've done that and it is just too much stress with all that big city traffic.  We prefer staying as far away as possible from big city streets and rush hour traffic. Less stress for us two old guys.

Oh, I forgot.  We had lunch in Toccoa today.  Toccoa is an old cotton mill town that is almost dead since the Interstate was to built near it.  Both Bill and I wonder how the people who live in the town now survive  since there is no industry or business in town.  Last year we tried to have lunch but everything was closed by three in the afternoon.  Talk about rolling up the streets!

This time we saw a restaurant open.  So we were going to eat "local."  How was it?  Terrible.  The food that is.  I had something called the "Cuban Panini" sandwich.  I had one of those at Panera Bread in Johnson City and it was delicious.  That was the first time I had it.  The sandwich consisted of bits of grilled chicken, ham, mustard, and dill pickle on sour dough bread.  That was the Panera version.  The Cuban Panini I had today?  Not the same.  This baby consisted of ham, mustard, dill pickle and....wait for it:  OLD PULLED PORK.  I was so hungry I ate it anyway.  Ever done that and regretted it?

Bill enjoyed lunch because he kibitzed with the waitress who was very friendly.  Bill likes to flirt with women.  He was having fun teasing her.  She was giving as good as he gave.  Because Bill was enjoying himself I decided not to ruin their good time.  My ice tea tasted like a dirty dishrag.  The one good thing was the dessert.  Our waitress recommend their Orange Cream Cake.  It was scrumptious!  Our waitress asked me if I wanted coffee with it.  I took her advice, hoping by drinking the coffee I could wash out the dishrag taste .   Guess what?  They used the same dishrag to make the coffee.

So here I sit now at my desk in my room on the third floor of the Anderson, South Carolina Hampton Inn.  I have the TV on, listening to The Ed Schultz Show on MSNBC while I hear thunder in the night sky outside my hotel window.  More rain!  By the way, I'm glad this Hampton Inn has MSNBC on their channel line up.  At least I have more choice tonight than I did last night in Right Wing Country of Franklin North Carolina where my only choice was Fox News!  All low information voters up in those hills for sure.

Oh boy am I tired.  I was watching Rachel earlier and I kept dropping off.  Time to wrap this up now and get ready for bed.  The Hampton Inn has the most comfortable beds.  Last night I was so tired I woke up in the same position I went to sleep.  That's when you know you're tired.

Another big day tomorrow.  The adventure continues.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Ron and Bill's Excellent Adventure Day Four

Me after my dining experience this afternoon

We're at the Hampton Inn in Franklin, North Carolina tonight.  We checked in this afternoon.  We wanted to extend our stay at the Hampton Inn in Johnson City, Tennessee but they were full.  So we had to go to our backup plan.

Since we're a day ahead ourselves (today seems like Wednesday and not Tuesday just like Sunday seemed like Monday and Monday seemed like Tuesday).  We wanted to get on the other side of the Smoky Mountains to position ourselves to make a run for Talluhah Falls Georgia.  Bill wants to visit his hometown of Toccoa Georgia on Thursday.  This will probably be his last visit.

The picture at the beginning of this blog is of me in the front of a local barbecue restaurant just below the Hampton Inn where we're staying.  Willy's Barbecue, notice that there isn't a line waiting to get in.  This isn't Panera Bread or Outback Steakhouse.  Oh well.  Bill had French Fries.  He usually get soup but they didn't have any (of course).  I got a grilled chicken (OK), French Fries, and barbecue backed beans (which were very good but probably because I was hungry since I haven't eaten since breakfast).  I'm eating a chocolate decadent brownie that I stocked up on from the Chick A Fil A in Johnson City.  My sweet tooth is insatiable.

This morning we had time so I took advantage and visited the 3,000 grave Evergreen Cemetery in Erwin, Tennessee.  Erwin is located on the Tennessee and North Carolina at the base of the Pisgah mountains where I spent the last two days visiting those small family cemeteries.  I have Tipton relatives also buried at the Evergreen Cemetery.  I found them!  Mission accomplished.

After taking about 800 photos of headstones, I got back in our rented Dodge Caravan and headed south to Asheville, North Carolina.  My great-great grandmother is buried in a small church cemetery just outside Asheville.  Again we had great stress traveling on unfamiliar roads.  I used my iPad Map to navigate and Bill drives.  Bill is depending on me for step my step driving instructions but by the time I give him the turn instructions he's already passed the street or exit.  Part of the problem is that he has a hearing aid which he refuses to wear.  He also has trouble seeing the road signs because he's concentrating on driving.  I think this is probably our last road trip unless we can figure out a way to go where we avoid heavy traffic patterns.  We're just too old to contend with all these stress.

We found the Berea Church Cemetery in Ashville, were my great-great grandmother Tipton is buried.  What a thrill!  I never thought I would even know where she was buried let alone visit her grave.  Her husband John, my great-great grandfather was killed by Confederates in 1864 during the Civil War in those North Carolina mountains where I have been visited the past two days.  My great-great grandfather has an unmarked grave somewhere up there in this mountains.  When he was ambushed and killed by a Confederate Calvary, his body was delivered to his widow and she and her neighbor buried his body on their property, the location of which is no lost to history.  I feel fortunate that I found her grave and was able to visit it today.  I am having a very productive vacation.  Now it's Bill turn on this vacation.

After spending a couple of hours this morning in that cemetery taking pictures we both loaded our weary bodies back into our rented van and headed to the Great Smoky Mountains Expressway.  This is the first time we have been on this road.  What fabulous views!  I took pictures which I will share on a future blog posting.  We wanted to get over the mountains and find a nice clean, comfortable place to stay for the night. We found it!

We're staying in a beautiful Hampton Inn which has a lobby that looks like a mountain ski lodge resort.  We got in at around 3 pm, washed up and they headed out looking for a place to eat.  This Hampton Inn is located off of the I-26 highway so our choices are limited.  We drove around a bit but decided to go to Piggy Wiggly's "Willy's Barbecue".  First clue was there was only two other folks in the restaurant (other than the cashier, waitress and cook).  And that person obviously was a friend of the waitress and a single mom there with her four year old boy.

Of course we were waited on immediately. Our waitress handed us our menu and the first thing I noticed was "Catfish Hoagie."  Uh....okay.  "We're not in Kansas anymore."  Panera Bread Wiley's Barbecue isn't.

Bill asked if they had soup.  Not surprisingly, our waitress said they didn't have soup.  Grease yes, soup no.

Oh well, Bill ordered a basket of French Fries.  I ordered a grilled chicken, French Fries and barbecue beans.  The barbecue beans were obviously out of a can but since I had not eaten since breakfast, the beans tasted great!  I filled my stomach up.  I was no longer hungry.  We could have went to the KFC that is on the other side of the Hampton Inn.  That's the problem with staying at hotels off the Interstate instead of in a city, dining options are limited.

Tomorrow we head south to the natural wonders of Georgia and visiting Bill's hometown of Toccoa, which is a dying dead town.  Toccoa's problem is that it isn't near a major road and what little industry they had (threads, like in sewing) was outsourced long ago.  Bill if fascinated walking down the deserted main street of Toccoa.  It's like "High Noon".  This is the third and probably last year we visit Toccoa.  There is NOTHING going on in that town.  Bill likes to visit his old haunts which I understand.  I like to do the same thing in my hometown of Downingtown, Pennsylvania.

After visiting Toccoa we'll swing up to Greenville, South Carolina and visit my brother John.  He wants to show me his new church construction.  I am so happy my brother has a job that he loves and does so well.

It is now 8:15 pm.  I am sitting at this wonder desk setup at the Hampton Inn.  Things have change at the Hampton Inn since I last worked there in the late 90's.  I love this setup.  It is so comfortable.

Bill is sleeping and I'm thinking about taking a shower and just vegging out watching TV tonight before I drift off to Dreamland.  We're leaving early tomorrow for the next leg of Ron and Bill's Excellent Adventure.  I hope we don't run into any more confusing, unfamiliar big city traffic patterns.  We'll be ready to veg out at home after this adventure.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Ron and Bill's Excellent Adventure Day Three

The church on the mountain top with the most fabulous view I've ever seen in my life

A very productive day today folks!  Of course it was raining AGAIN when we started out this morning.  I decided to head over to the "homeland" over the Tennessee state border to North Carolina mountains, where my father was born and brought up until his family left for Pennsylvania when he was ten years old.

I wanted to find a few more of those family cemeteries in those hillbilly mountains before we left for Bill's hometown of Georgia tomorrow.  We got lucky and had a very productive day!

Unfortunately we again had confusion getting out of Johnson City, TN where we are staying at a Hampton Inn. Both Bill and I are older now and we both have problems handling heavy traffic in a city in which we are unfamiliar with the traffic patterns.  Bill is doing all the driving and I am navigating.  So far so good, with only a few glitches which was this morning getting out of Johnson City.  But once we were on I-26 headed towards the North Carolina mountains we were alright.

This morning I contacted the man (Glenn)who I met eighteen years ago who now lives in my great grandfather Ike Lewis' house on Upper Pigeon Roost Road.  His wife is my second cousin although we've never met.  Her grandmother Pansy Tipton (yes, "Pansy", no smart remarks from the Peanut Gallery) was the sister of my grandfather Fieldon Tipton.  I thought Bill and her husband would hit it off and they did.  Both of them are 83 years old and both veterans.  I was so glad Bill had somebody he could connect with instead of just wandering around cemeteries while I take my pictures.

I asked Glenn to ride shotgun in our rented Dodge Caravan (he was suitably impressed) and show us where the cemeteries were located.  I was so happy he agreed because I would never have found these cemeteries on my own.  All of those small family cemeteries up there in those mountains are up little winding paths on the very of the mountains.  They don't have any cemeteries on the low parts of those mountains, too much water.  There seems to be a stream everywhere  If they had cemeteries near those streams...well you know what would happen.  I don't have to paint that picture.

While talking to Glen he casually mentioned a rental property right above his house that he and his wife take care of while the owner was away.  A rental property?  I was just talking to Bill yesterday that we WOULD LOVE to rent a house for a week or two in the fall.  I know my brother John would rent a house for a weekend, he and his wife Barbara are only two hours away.

Glen told me the owner (an airline pilot) was there today but he was leaving tomorrow.  I asked if I could see him and his cabin.  He said "Yes!"  I met him and I liked him!  Great.  I his house/cabin!   It is small and rustic but right next to a babbling stream. I LOVE IT!  I know my brother would love it.

Bill so loves the mountains and hates the shore where we live now.  I like both the mountains and the shore.  I told Bill I would rent the cabin for a week in the fall.  I've never seen the fall foliage.  I bet it is just beautiful up there in those mountains.  I would love to see it and I will.  When I get home I'll check my work schedule and see what week is open. I'll probably go the week after my Tipton Family Reunion in October.

We got a break today and it didn't rain until I finished taking photos of my last cemetery.  That cemetery is located on top of a mountain with the most fantastic view I've seen in my life.  It was literally breathtaking. Bill said he would like to build a house on that hill and live the rest of his life looking at that view.

When I get home I'll upload a short video I took of that view and post it to a future blog posting and share it all with you.  I wish everyone could see this view in person.  Absolutely breathtaking.

I have to post some of the cemetery pictures I took today, make my personal journal entry today and then to bed.  I was up until 1:30 am last night or this morning posting cemetery photos to my Find a account.  I can't do that tonight because we're leaving Johnson City early tomorrow morning.  The rest of our trip South is for Bill now.  He wants to go to Talulah Falls Georgia tomorrow then to his hometown of Toccoa Georgia.  Then we'll swing up to Greenville, South Carolina to visit my brother John and his wife Barbara on Thursday.  John wants to show me all the new construction around his church.  I'm looking forward to seeing that.  I am very proud of my brother and what he has accomplished at his church in Greenville.  He is in the perfect job for him.

So there you go folks.  The adventure continues!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Bill and Ron's Excellent Adventure Day Two

Bill in the rain at one of the cemeteries in the mountains we visited today

Today folks we ventured out into the steady rain and visited family cemeteries over the border up in the Pisgah Mountains where my father was born and grew up until he was ten years old.

After a nice breakfast in the Hampton Inn lobby this morning, I gathered my cameras and we headed over the border to the mountains that form the border between Tennessee and North Carolina.  I was hoping to visit the cemetery where my great grandfather Isaac Lewis and his wife Mary Jane Hughes are buried.  They are on the top of a mountain at the end of Pigeon Roost Road.  Last year when Bill and I visited, we couldn't find that small Lewis family cemetery.  We found it this time but not without a lot of effort.  They are way on the top of the mountain.  I was exhausted by the time I reached the top.  The last time I visited this cemetery was eighteen years ago when I was 56 years old.  Now I'm 70 and I'm telling you I felt it this time.  But I got there and took pictures which I will publish when I get home.

Next we drove around those "wiggle roads" up in the mountains looking for family cemeteries.  We were successful beyond our wildest hopes!  I found five cemeteries, including one cemetery containing many of my direct ancestors in Tipton Hill.  Pictures and videos will follow when I get home and can post them to You Tube.

The only problem today in addition of not being sure what roads to travel, was the constant rain.  At least it wasn't raining hard.  This was actually a good rain because it was light and steady.  The hills and valleys seemed to be washed clean with the birds chirping their approval.

We returned exhausted.  Bill is sleeping now.  We spend one more day here and then we take off to Bill's hometown of Toccoa, Georgia.  Bill wants to revisit where he grew up and of course I will be taking pictures of as many cemetery headstones as my legs can take the constant knee bending to take those photos.

We had dinner at Panera Bread this evening.  Wonderful!  I can't wait for the Panera Bread to open in Rehoboth Beach.

Hopefully the rain will end tomorrow.  This must be like what it is to live in Seattle or London.  I don't like it.  The rain is good but.....let's have a little sunshine.

Time for me to end this missive and start reading my new book "The Real Romney."  A real page turner I'm sure.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Ron & Bill's Annual Excellent Adventure Day 1

We're here folks! In Johnson City, Tennessee.

I didn't announce our trip in advance because Bill didn't want me to advertise that we were leaving our beautiful home in Milton, Delaware. However, do not worry folks because our good neighbors Bob and Barbara Murphy are keeping a watchful eye on Casa Tipton-Kelly.

First things first: I'm typing this post on my iPad so my typing speed is impaired. Of course I did bring my new MacBook Pro but I just found out that my power cord for the iPad doesn't work with my MacBook Pro. I left that one at home. So I will cart my useless MacBook Pro arou d with me all week here in the south, hoping I don't forget it or someone steals it. This is what I hate about leaving my home base, as much as I plan I invariably forget something. The older I get the more of a wreck I am when I leave my comfortable, secure surroundings.

Back to the first day of our trip. Bill and I picked up our Dodge Grand Caravan rental at Enterprise ip. Rehoboth Beach this morning at 9:30 am. It is a beauty! This is the third year we've rented a Dodge Grand Caravan. We love it! It is big and comfortable. I love my Subaru Forester but I took my brother John's advice years ago, never take your main car on a long road trip. Brother John almost got squished by a tractor trailer behemoth in Texas some years ago while he was driving his personal car. We Tipton boys do rentals now.

Bill and I took our Dodge Caravan back home and loaded up for our annual trek To the Southland.

Bill is from Toccoa, Georgia. My brother John and his wife Barbara live in Greenville, South Carolina. And last but not least, my father was born and raised just over the Tennessee state line in the hillbilly hills of North Carolina. Both John and I like to visit our "roots". This year I want to visit as many family cemeteries as I can up there In "them thar hills" to take photos for my Find a Grave account.

When we go south Bill and I usually go onto the end of the Delmarva peninsula and through the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. Even though I hate going through the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel (so claustophobic and that scary oncoming traffic while we're traveling beneath the bay), and the confusion of going through Norfolk, Virginia, we go that way to avoid the perceived worse traffic around or through Washington, DC. This year we decided to brave the Washington, DC nightmare traffic. Keep, we did it and it was every bit as bad or worse than we thought.

First all that winding roads through Delaware to get to the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, which is an erector set bridge waiting to collapse into the blue waters of the fish and oyster depleted Chesapeake Bay. Then, I screwed up my navigation. Responsibilities (Bill was driving), I advised Bill to take the wrong exit to the Baltimore-Washingotn Parkway. So instead of going north around Washington we went south around Washington. Yes Virginia, we got caught up in the Saturday morning gridlock of Alexandra, Virginia traffic. The way we were creeping and crawling on that eight lane highway bringing back memories of that time many years ago we visited Rehoboth Beach on a Fourth of July weekend. Oh - My - God.

We both agreed that should we make this trip again next year we'll take our chances and go under the Chesapeake Bay again and aim our Dodge Caravan through that narrow, scary tunnel with the oncoming traffic that we freverently pray doesn't cross the solid yellow line and send me and Bill to our heavenly maker, or worse.

However , once we got on I-81 south our trip was clear sailing. This is the part of the trip we were looking forward to, a pleasant, stress free, scenic landscape od the Blue Ridge Mountains. That we had until we entered Johnson City.

We couldn't find the Hampton Inn! I've been here before but we couldn't find it. Up on down the main thoroughfare of Johnson City which is Old Franklin State Road. We even stopped several times and asked directions. A couple of times we were given wrong directions and twice the folks we asked didn't know. One guy said "I'm only a student here.". Uh, okay.

Finally, I figured out to call the Hampton Inn. And tell them where I was and ask Sean, the front desk clerk who had the misfortune to take my frantic and stressed call (we had been driving ten hours) and he held on to the phone giving me step by step directions to the Hampton Inn. Yes, I was now one of THOSE guests.

Viola! We finally got here. After checking in our two rooms for two nights (yes, we get separate hotel rooms) we were ready to have dinner.

Unfortantely, The Hampton Inn is like a lot of hotels today, you need a car to get to an eating establishment. We did 't use our rented car. We had been in it long enough today. In fact I think I have the beginning of a bed sore on my left cheek from sitting so long today in one position.

So there we were this evening, crossing the four lane highway that runs through the center of Johnson City. How did we get across? We ran. Guess what, I run like a old Dodo bird with a stubbed toe.

We passed up Taco Bell, (no one was in there) and Arby's (three people were in there but they looked like they had voted for their state's constitutional amendment against same sex marriage). I think Bill and I holding hands gave us away that we were one of THOSE same sex couples. We were too tired today to take up The Cause this evening.

There was a little mix up with my order at Chick Filet (they forgot my order) but I decided to Be magnamous and overlook it. Stuff happens I say. I got a couple of 2,000 calorie brownies to take back to my luxurious accomdations at The Hampton Inn and Bill and I risked our lives again running across multiple lane highways in the center of downtown Johnson City. God I hope no one took a video of us running. Sad thing to see two old men running, especially two old gay men. I used to be able to run, I don't know what happened. Weak knees I guess.

So here I am now in room 301 (Bill is in room 323 at the other end of the hallway, same as home sort of) of the Johnson City Hampton Inn typing this sad little post of our first day of Ron and Bill's Excellent Adventure Down South.

Tomorrow we head for the hills over "thar" in North Carolina looking for those small family graveyards. Treasures that they are.

Right now I feel my Cracker Barrel lunch and Chick Filet "dinner" backing up in my throat and I DID forget to bring my Nexium.

Saturday Funny

Hey folks, a new feature here.  The "Saturday Funny."

My friend Don sent me this (along with some other great photos which I will not post because I don't want to offend anybody.

However, I think most will appreciate the sentiment this photo represents:

Have a great day (and I hope none of you run into this cat!)

Friday, May 11, 2012

Mitt Romney, Prep School Bully

Hey folks, this item about the young teenage presumptive Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney appeared in the Washington Post today.  Young Romney, son of American Motors President George Romney, who also ran for the Republican nomination for president back in 1968 before he blew up his campaign by announcing he was brainwashed by the American generals in Vietnam into believing the U. S. could win that war, was (of course) a prep school student. 

Young Mitt noticed a fellow classmate who many assumed was gay because he was soft spoken and dyed his hair blonde and styled his hair over his eye a la Veronica Lake, decided to jump his fellow classmate and cut his hair because he didn't like "the style." 

Is anyone suprised by this bullying action of young Mitt?  I'm not.  Haven't we all known at one time in our lives someone of privilege who didn't like us and considered us the "other" and had to be dealt with?  I know, that's the way I grew up.  I was fortunate in that I fought back.  I attribute that to my Mother's Hadfield genes.  You attack me and I attack you right back.  You throw something in my face and I throw it right back in your face.  Of course this hasn't won me a whole lot of friends over the years but it is what it is and kept the

Read this article about the young bullying Mitt Romney.  Of couse I know I'm not going to win over any of the die hard conservative, right wing tea baggers  because they have their horse blinders on and hate Obama
so much that no matter what truths are revealed about Mitt Romeny (or any Republican candidate) they will blindly vote for him (or her).  However, the question remains:  do you to vote for a bully as president of the United States?  Oh, excuse me, we had one for eight years, his name was George W. Bush. 

Mitt Romney’s prep school classmates recall pranks, but also troubling incidents

By Jason Horowitz, Updated: Thursday, May 10, 12:07 PM

BLOOMFIELD HILLS, Mich. — Mitt Romney returned from a three-week spring break in 1965 to resume his studies as a high school senior at the prestigious Cranbrook School. Back on the handsome campus, studded with Tudor brick buildings and manicured fields, he spotted something he thought did not belong at a school where the boys wore ties and carried briefcases. John Lauber, a soft-spoken new student one year behind Romney, was perpetually teased for his nonconformity and presumed homosexuality. Now he was walking around the all-boys school with bleached-blond hair that draped over one eye, and Romney wasn’t having it.

“He can’t look like that. That’s wrong. Just look at him!” an incensed Romney told Matthew Friedemann, his close friend in the Stevens Hall dorm, according to Friedemann’s recollection. Mitt, the teenaged son of Michigan Gov. George Romney, kept complaining about Lauber’s look, Friedemann recalled.

A few days later, Friedemann entered Stevens Hall off the school’s collegiate quad to find Romney marching out of his own room ahead of a prep school posse shouting about their plan to cut Lauber’s hair. Friedemann followed them to a nearby room where they came upon Lauber, tackled him and pinned him to the ground. As Lauber, his eyes filling with tears, screamed for help, Romney repeatedly clipped his hair with a pair of scissors.

The incident was recalled similarly by five students, who gave their accounts independently of one another. Four of them — Friedemann, now a dentist; Phillip Maxwell, a lawyer; Thomas Buford, a retired prosecutor; and David Seed, a retired principal — spoke on the record. Another former student who witnessed the incident asked not to be named. The men have differing political affiliations, although they mostly lean Democratic. Buford volunteered for Barack Obama’s campaign in 2008. Seed, a registered independent, has served as a Republican county chairman in Michigan. All of them said that politics in no way colored their recollections.

“It happened very quickly, and to this day it troubles me,” said Buford, the school’s wrestling champion, who said he joined Romney in restraining Lauber. Buford subsequently apologized to Lauber, who was “terrified,” he said. “What a senseless, stupid, idiotic thing to do.”

“It was a hack job,” recalled Maxwell, a childhood friend of Romney who was in the dorm room when the incident occurred. “It was vicious.”

“He was just easy pickins,” said Friedemann, then the student prefect, or student authority leader of Stevens Hall, expressing remorse about his failure to stop it.

The incident transpired in a flash, and Friedemann said Romney then led his cheering schoolmates back to his bay-windowed room in Stevens Hall.

Friedemann, guilt ridden, made a point of not talking about it with his friend and waited to see what form of discipline would befall Romney at the famously strict institution. Nothing happened.

(What’s your opinion: Are Romney’s high school actions relevant to his campaign?)

Romney is now the presumed Republican presidential nominee. In a radio interview Thursday morning, Romney said he didn’t remember the incident but apologized for pranks he helped orchestrate that he said “might have gone too far.”

His campaign spokeswoman, Andrea Saul, said in a statement that “anyone who knows Mitt Romney knows that he doesn’t have a mean-spirited bone in his body. The stories of fifty years ago seem exaggerated and off base and Governor Romney has no memory of participating in these incidents.”

Campaign officials denied a request for an interview with Romney. They also declined to comment further about his years at Cranbrook.

After the incident, Lauber seemed to disappear. He returned days later with his shortened hair back to its natural brown. He finished the year, but ultimately left the school before graduation — thrown out for smoking a cigarette.

Sometime in the mid-1990s, David Seed noticed a familiar face at the end of a bar at Chicago O’Hare International Airport.

“Hey, you’re John Lauber,” Seed recalled saying at the start of a brief conversation. Seed, also among those who witnessed the Romney-led incident, had gone on to a career as a teacher and principal. Now he had something to get off his chest.

“I’m sorry that I didn’t do more to help in the situation,” he said.

Lauber paused, then responded, “It was horrible.” He went on to explain how frightened he was during the incident, and acknowledged to Seed, “It’s something I have thought about a lot since then.”

Lauber died in 2004, according to his three sisters.

Romney came of age during his six years at Cranbrook. First as a day student and later as a full-time boarder, he embraced and became emblematic of the Cranbrook way — a strict disciplinary code and academic rigor that governed the school by day and a free-wheeling unofficial boys code of “Crannies” at night. Wherever the action was, so was Romney. He wrote the most letters to the girls at the sister school across the lake and successfully petitioned to get placed in the top classes. He was not a natural athlete, but found his place among the jocks by managing the hockey team and leading megaphone cheers for the football team. Although a devout Mormon, one of the few at the school, he was less defined by his faith than at any other time in his life. He was a member of 11 school organizations, including the Spectator’s Club and the homecoming committee, and started the school’s booster outfit, the Blue Key Club.

It was at Cranbrook where he first lived on his own, found his future wife and made his own decisions. One can see the institution’s influence on his demeanor and actions during those years, but also how it helped form the clubbiness and earnestness, the sense of leadership and enthusiasm, apparent in his careers as a businessman and a politician. “He strongly bought in to community service,” said Richard Moon, a schoolmate at the time. “That hard work was its own reward.” What is less visible today is what was most apparent to his prep-school peers: his jocularity.

Now, nearly half a century later, Romney’s presidential campaign has turned to the candidate’s youthful antics as evidence of his capacity for harmless, humanizing pranks and as an indication of his looser, less wooden self.

“There’s a wild and crazy man inside of there just waiting to come out,” Romney’s wife, Ann — a graduate of Cranbrook’s sister school, Kingswood — attested in a television interview this month, evoking what she saw as his endearing and fun-loving prep-school persona. Many of Romney’s peers from his high school days echo that version of the candidate, describing him as the humble son of an automobile executive-turned-governor who volunteered at the nearby mental hospital. They recall an infectious laugh, a characterization first documented in his senior yearbook.

“If you should ever by chance be walking down the [Stevens Hall] corridor at 2:00 a.m. and hear rising tones of boisterous, exuberant laughter, you are almost sure to find its source is Mitt Romney,” the yearbook reported. “A quiet joke, a panicky laughter and another of the Friedemann-Romney all-night marathon contests has begun.”

But Friedemann and several people closest to Romney in those formative years say there was a sharp edge to him. In an English class, Gary Hummel, who was a closeted gay student at the time, recalled that his efforts to speak out in class were punctuated with Romney shouting, “Atta girl!” In the culture of that time and place, that was not entirely out of the norm. Hummel recalled some teachers using similar language.

Saul, Romney’s campaign spokeswoman, said the candidate has no recollection of the incident.

Teachers were also the butt of Romney’s brand of humor.

One venerable English teacher, Carl G. Wonnberger, nicknamed “the Bat” for his diminished eyesight, was known to walk into the trophy case and apologize, step into wastepaper baskets and stare blindly as students slipped out the back of the room to smoke by the open windows. Once, several students remembered the time pranksters propped up the back axle of Wonnberger’s Volkswagen Beetle with two-by-fours and watched, laughing from the windows, as the unwitting teacher slammed the gas pedal with his wheels spinning in the air.

As an underclassman, Romney accompanied Wonnberger and Pierce Getsinger, another student, from the second floor of the main academic building to the library to retrieve a book the two boys needed. According to Getsinger, Romney opened a first set of doors for Wonnberger, but then at the next set, with other students around, he swept his hand forward, bidding the teacher into a closed door. Wonnberger walked right into it and Getsinger said Romney giggled hysterically as the teacher shrugged it off as another of life’s indignities.

“I always enjoyed his pranks,” said Stu White, a popular friend of Romney’s who went on to a career as a public school teacher and has long been bothered by the Lauber incident. “But I was not the brunt of any of his pranks.”

In later years, after Romney went on a Mormon mission, married and raised five sons, he seemed a different person to some old classmates. “Mitt began to change as a person when he met Ann Davies. He gradually became a more serious person. She was part of the process of him maturing and becoming more of the person he is today,” said Jim Bailey, who was a classmate of Romney’s at Cranbrook and later at Harvard.

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Random Observations on a December Morning

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