The Cumberland Post

The Cumberland Post
My Backyard, Six Miles from the Cumberland River

Saturday, April 14, 2012

100th Anniversary of the Titanic Disaster

On April 15, 1912, 100 years will have passed since the great ship Titanic went down, ending the lives of 1,514 people and becoming seared forever in the public's memory and imagination. In the century since the disaster, artists of all types have used the event as inspiration. They have created a huge body of work that is a testament to the sinking of the Titanic's profound impact on humanity.

The ship's name was taken from mythology, from that race of gods called the Titans and perhaps this choice indicates that its designers and builders thought they and the British nation they represented, were ready to assume the mantle of the gods and rule over Nature with their unsinkable ship. Instead of becoming gods, they (and the magnificent ship their pride built) crashed into one of Nature's dumb, indifferent icebergs.

I'm not blind to the similarities between our current situation in the U.S. and the sinking of the Titanic. The USS United States is presently on course to collide with a gigantic iceberg of debt. Our current captain apparently doesn't care about the danger of this iceberg and wants to make it even bigger. He apparently thinks our ship of state is unsinkable and that we can keep increasing the size of government and that gigantic iceberg of debt. That way lies disaster. I'm voting in November to change captains and course. I hope my fellow passengers recognize the dangers and act in a similar fashion. I also hope we aren't too late.

There are numerous videos on YouTube about the Titanic and I found this one interesting because of the images presented of the ship and its construction and the music, "The Mosquito's Parade," which is said to be one of the songs the famous White Star orchestra would have played on that fateful voyage. It's bright and cheery and in direct contrast to the tragedy that followed.

Two years after the ship went down, the novelist and poet Thomas Hardy wrote his famous poem, "Convergence of the Twain," not focusing on the individual and human suffering of the passengers but on his contempt for the wealth, vanity, and technological power of Britain. He of course also saw in the event a good example of what he called the Immanent Will, the all powerful, but, at present, blind force that drives the universe. 

Though Hardy's novels seldom end happily, he was not, he stated, a pessimist. He called himself a "meliorist," one who believed that man can live with some happiness if he understands his place in the universe and accepts it. He ceased to be a Christian; he read Charles Darwin and accepted the idea of evolution; later he took up Arthur Schopenhauer and developed the notion of the Immanent Will, the blind force which drives the universe and in the distant future may see and understand itself. This notion is not very optimistic for any one man's life, but it does leave room for hope.

I enjoyed this video of Hardy's poem from You Tube; it's basically a slow scrolling transcript of the poem with an excellent musical selection ("The Chamber" from Incompetech) to underscore the words.

I usually include a selection from country music when I do a post like this and this time I've chosen one of the unsung pioneers of the country music field, Ernest V. "Pop" Stoneman. Mr. Stoneman's 1925 song "The Titanic" sold thousands and thousands of copies and helped establish this kind of music with the public and as a major category in the commercial music industry. He had a most  interesting life; you can read more about him here and here.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

The News from Nashville This Week

1. Predators 3-Red Wings 2...Hockey fans in Nashville went wild after Wednesday night's opening playoff 3-2 victory over the Detroit Redwings, smashing and overturning cars, and setting fire to homeless people.

I made that part about the rioting up. But the Preds did defeat the Wings in a very rough (17 penalties) game with goalie Pekka Rinne getting 35 saves and defenseman Shea Weber getting fined $2500 .

Hockey fans are a special breed, and yes, Nashville fans are rowdy and loud but not destructive like certain basketball fans in that state to the North of Tennessee. (To any geography challenged readers, that would be Kentucky.) Which leads me to the next story...

2. Kentucky Man Gets On Opry...Speaking of Kentucky, one of that state's citizens made a brief stop in Nashville this week that  turned into a longer stay and an 'appearance on the Opry.' According to the Yahoo news story...

Police say he [William Todd] traveled there on a Greyhound bus from Kentucky before beginning his unprecedented crime spree. Upon arriving in Nashville, he allegedly broke into a local business called The Slaughterhouse, where he stole a Taser, revolver and shotgun. He then proceeded to steal a T-shirt from the Slaughterhouse before burning the business to the ground.

According to the news story, Todd allegedly committed ten felonies in nine hours in Nashville

After crashing his stolen cab into a local parking garage, Todd then quickly held another taxi driver at gunpoint. When police finally apprehended Todd, he was hiding atop Opryland, partially submerged in a water-cooling vat. The Metro Fire Department was brought in to assist in Todd's removal from the vat, using a bucket and ladder truck.

Okay, so he wasn't actually on the Opry, just on the Opryland Hotel which is nearby. And he was on the roof in a water cooling vat, not on stage.

When arrested, Todd had several water soaked original songs folded in his back pocket which he said he planned to show to singer Wynnona Judd in hopes of getting a recording contract. Not true. I just made that part up.

But, you just never know who's gonna get off the bus in Nashville.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Back Blues

This will be a short post. I haven't felt up to blogging since last Saturday a.m., the day I got up with some bad pain in my back. If you've had this problem, you know what I'm talking about. You tend to tense up in anticipation of the pain as you try to stand or sit or move and that just adds to the problem.

I've had problems with a couple of herniated discs since the late '90s and had three or four major flare ups starting in 2000. That one in 2000 was a doozy and took a couple of months to subside. Besides my regular doctor, I even visited a chiropractor, which helped.

The other episodes since then have been manageable with pain meds (including cortisone injections) and a few exercises the physical therapist gave me. I feel sure this episode is not major, but it's painful and pretty well incapacitating nonetheless. I had hoped to avoid the doctor and the cortisone (those shots really wire me up for a couple of days), but I'm going tomorrow.

I've started a couple of other posts that I might get around to tomorrow but I just wanted to let you know I haven't fallen off the ends of the earth. At least not yet.

Time for some "Back Ache Blues." An original by Derek J. Holak. His lyrics are right on the money.

Friday, April 6, 2012

I Can't Explain It

I just finished a great cup of coffee and I'm starting on my second as I write this. The first cup was New England decaf, as is the second, but this one I've laced with about a half bottle of Starbucks Mocha Frappuccino to clear away the cobwebs. I know, I know. What's the point of drinking decaf if you're going to add a caffeinated beverage to it? Why not just start with a cup of regular coffee and be done with it. Can't say exactly. I gave up trying to make sense of everything I do years ago.

Spring has definitely sprung here at the Post. As a matter of fact, Spring started springing over a month ago, way back in late February when our little patch of buttercups out by the shed popped out. I can't explain what was going on with these hardy flowers, but they survived two different hard freezes, I'm talking low twenties, and yet still stayed strong and beautifully yellow for almost four weeks. Usually they last about half that time. Maybe "no pain, no gain" works for flowers too. This pic was made at the end of February. They had already been out a week, survived one cold snap, and still looked that way about 3+ weeks later. Again, I can't 'splain it, but I like it.

On the automobile front, I mentioned that we sold the Jaguar to Joyce's brother who reports that he is enjoying the car down in sunny Florida, especially since he can drop the top. Soon after we sold the Jag, we made another automotive change back in late October. Our main vehicle, a 2009 Toyota Avalon, was continuing to give us problems. We decided to trade and first looked at the Buick LaCrosse sedan. It was (is) a very nice car, but seemed a little less roomy inside than what we had in mind. The salesman suggested we try an Enclave.

An SUV? What? One of those big old people haulers?

Well, we never thought we'd like an SUV, but we fell in love with it. Actually, only I fell in love. Joyce is a little more realistic about cars, and didn't exactly fall in love, but really liked it. So we leased a black one and we're enjoying the heck out of it.

We've taken three fairly long trips in it already, including two to Texas. On the highway we're getting 24 mpg, which ain't too shabby for a nice large vehicle like the Enclave.  The ride is smooth and the cabin is quiet, I mean really quiet, even at 75 mph. There's also that Sirius radio thang, which we've enjoyed immensely. There's even a dedicated Bluegrass station. And among all the choices, Joyce found one under the Jazz heading called "Escape" that she loves. And we got room inside. Lots of room.

We've never owned an SUV before, but we have owned three station wagons: A '57 Ford Country Sedan, a '72 Pontiac, and a '75 Toyota Corolla. So our decision to buy an SUV was not entirely unprecedented. A station wagon is not exactly a Sport Utility Vehicle, but it's in the same general "non sporty" category in my book of categories. I realize that "Sport" is part of the name, but you know what that's all about: marketing. "Sport" is relative. An SUV is sporty if compared to a van. But compared to a BMW M coupe or a Corvette, not so much.

Now Joyce and I have always liked fairly sporty cars. So, even though our going for the Enclave was not unprecedented, it's still something of a mystery. I can't explain it. It just happened.

I like my decaf mixed with a little Mocha Frappuccino. Buttercups don't usually last over a month, especially after a couple of hard freezes, but mine did this year. I like sporty cars, but I also like the Enclave. Like I said above, you just can't make everything make sense.

Some things come straight out of your gut brain. Not everything is logical. But The Who's 1965 classic 'splains it better than I...

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Cumberland Post Gets $1 Million Federal Grant, Endorses Obama

The Cumberland Post is pleased to announce that we are the recipients of a $1 Million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy. The money will be used to develop windmill driven power for using computers to access and blog on the internet. The Post made no application for the grant but we were contacted by the Obama Administration yesterday. An enormous black, hybrid powered Escalade pulled into our driveway and delivered a package which included a kit for developing the experimental windmills, a check for $1 Million, and a letter and contract. Sec. Stephen Chu himself was driving and made the delivery.

After carefully examining the kit materials, the Post has decided to accept the government proposal. Here are the windmills we'll be using in this experiment.

We like the patriotism shown by the two with the American flag motifs and we deeply appreciate the international and diverse appeal of the other two.

Also, in related news, we have decided to endorse President Obama for a second term. Those of us on the staff have noted in the past that reasonable people do sometimes change their minds and that's the case this time. Although we disagree with almost all of Obama's policies and despise his racially divisive approach, we think he makes a lot of sense in certain areas. Nobody's perfect.

The Post will be offline for the next four weeks as we take the first of several vacations, this one in Aruba.