Bob Ciminel lives in
Roswell, Georgia and has been employed in the commercial nuclear
industry for the past 35 years. Although a native Californian,
Bob considers Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania his home. Bob
became a Southerner while serving with the Navy in Charleston,
South Carolina, where he met and married Alice, his "Carolina
Girl," in 1971.
Contact Bob at:
Interruptus - Here I am ensconced in a new apartment in
Lynchburg, Virginia, only 900 yards from a brand new Home Depot
with nothing to fix. - More...
Sunday - October 07, 2007
Off - It has been over a month since my last article appeared
in Sitnews. I know many of you probably appreciate that, but
there are one or two readers who actually look forward to my
articles. I offer the lame excuse that I've been living out of
a suitcase since mid-April. The wife and I took a long awaited
vacation to Switzerland in April, and I came back to spend two
weeks in Kansas on business. The trip to Kansas did have fringe
benefits as I was able to spend a weekend with our newest grandchild
in Council Bluffs, IA. - More...
Monday - May 28, 2007
I Don't Care About - I don't care how Anna Nicole Smith died
or who fathered her daughter. I don't care what Sean Penn thinks
about George Bush. I don't care that the Justice Department fired
eight Federal prosecutors, just like I didn't care that Bill
Clinton fired 92 of them. Heaven knows we can always find more
lawyers! - More...
Wednesday AM - April 11, 2007
Thing About Trains . . - I received an email recently from
one of my two loyal readers asking when I was going to write
another article about the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway, which used
to be my home away from home before my company put me on the
road. Case in point, I just came back from three wonderful days
in Minnesota where I had the opportunity to experience a blizzard.
You know, I'm almost positive that when I hired on with my company
I distinctly told them that I did not want to go north Interstate
40 in any month with an "R" in it. They must have forgotten.
Wednesday - March 28, 2007
Me That Old Time Religion - Please! - A couple of weeks ago
I attended a christening at a Presbyterian church near downtown
Atlanta. From the size of its parking lot, this church had a
large congregation. Of course size is relative, and this house
of worship was small compared to the Southern Baptist church
out where I live. It has a parking lot that would put some shopping
malls to shame. - More...
Sunday AM - February 25, 2007
Honest Mistake - When I proposed to my wife in December of
1970, she had just stepped off a plane from Germany. I know she
was suffering from jet lag because she said, "Yes."
I thought I'd have to get her drunk first. - More...
Thursday PM - January 04, 2007
Best Defense . . . . Following the Atlanta Falcons' 31 to
13 loss to the New Orleans Saints last Sunday, quarterback Michael
Vick was fined $10,000 by the Nation Football League for making
an obscene gesture (one half of a peace sign, both hands) to
the home team crowd. Michael was given the option of donating
half of the fine to the charity of his choice. - More...
Tuesday PM - December 05, 2006
Thanks - As we drove south from Atlanta this past Thursday,
traffic on I-75 was heavy. The right lane was filled with 18-wheelers,
so my wife, who was driving, tended to stay in the far left lane.
We took an exit and she bought a cup of coffee to help shake
off the late afternoon drowsiness; I bought a bottle of soda
because I planned on napping while she drove the 60 miles to
Macon where I would take over. - More...
Monday AM - November 20, 2006
Wrath of Alice - My first clue was when she fired our lawn
crew. It made no sense; for the past year she's been saying how
nice the yard looks. Why did she fire them? She said she wasn't
sure the Hispanic workers were in this country legally. They
didn't speak English; the lawn service company would not confirm
or deny their status. So Alice fired them. I told her she could
start mowing, edging, and trimming because I didn't care if they
snorkeled across the Rio Grande with a broken Tequila bottle
in their mouths as long the yard looked good and I didn't have
to do it! - More...
Wednesday - November 15, 2006
Broken Circle - After two weeks in Colorado, it was refreshing
to return to Atlanta and look at unspectacular scenery for a
change. The Piedmont Plateau is decidedly less impressive than
the Front Range, and the North Georgia Mountains are mere bumps
on life's scenic highway when compared with the San Juan Mountains.
Monday AM - October 16, 2006
Korea Enters the "Nuclear Club." Now, They Must Pay
Their Dues - Having spent a good portion of my early
post-adolescent adulthood pushing 16 nuclear-tipped, submarine-launched
ballistic missiles around the Mediterranean Sea, I can attest
to the fact that, if it already wasn't, Pyongyang, North Korea
now has a plethora of computer-calculated crosshairs squarely
over Kim Jong Il's presidential palace and any other building
where he and his government may choose to park their sorry asses.
Why any country would envy being in that position is beyond me.
Monday - October 09, 2006
Nail in the Coffin - Would The Last Corporation Leaving California
Please Turn Out the Lights? No. Wait. They're Already Off. -
Tuesday - September 05, 2006
Unreality of Reality - I hate to admit it, but I have not
watched a single episode of "Survivor," nor any other
reality-based program. I guess that's what happens when you live
in the eddy and not the mainstream of life. Truth be told, I
don't watch any of the major network prime time shows. Lately
however, and much to my wife's displeasure, I have been watching
reruns of "CSI - Las Vegas." The computer graphics
showing bullets and blunt objects destroying brains and vital
organs has got to be the ultimate in voyeurism. CSI is not reality
television. - More...
Monday - August 28, 2006
on a Plane - The latest airline scare, not counting the bomb
threat on a British airliner, involves a 59-year-old ex-Hippie
from Vermont. (I swear the acid rain must be doing something
to the maple syrup up there in New England because we are getting
more and more crazies coming out of those states.) Virginia Mayo
(I know that's not her name, but this is my article, so deal
with it) kind of went a little crazy on a United flight from
London to Washington, D.C. I'm not sure why someone from Vermont
would fly to DC to go to Vermont. Maybe she needed the frequent
flyer points? In the end, it worked out well because the plane
landed in Boston, which is closer to Vermont than Washington.
(I wonder if she knew that?) -
Monday PM - August 21, 2006
IN TONGUES - Let's face it; I'm not a religious person. Oh,
I started out on the right path, but I forgot my GPS and lost
my way - over and over again. Now don't get me wrong; I am not
a bad person. I've never been convicted of a felony or misdemeanor,
and I've never seen the inside of a jail - you can't do that
and have a 35-year career in the nuclear industry, thank God!
Fortunately, I married a fine Christian lady, who regularly attends
church and prays for me. It must be working; I'm still here.
Sunday - August 13, 2006
Sweet Humidity! - I've just returned from a road trip to
my old stomping grounds along the Mississippi north of New Orleans.
I haven't been there since 1996. I wasn't expecting to see a
lot of changes. The beauty of southern Louisiana is that change
rarely occurs. It is, as one pundit put it, "200 years of
history unmarred by progress." If you look at a map, you
can see why; southern Louisiana is not attached to the continental
United States. At least nothing south of Baton Rouge! - More...
Sunday - July 23, 2006
Nuts - Today's story is about lug nuts. You know, they're
those little things that hold the wheels on your car. If you've
got wheel covers, you've probably not seen your lug nuts, but
they're still there. - More...
Sunday - June 11, 2006
- I can't put it off any longer; I finally have to admit I'm
getting old. It's tough because most people who know me don't
believe I'm going to be 61. I didn't believe it either, so I
looked at my birth certificate just to be sure. Yep, it was right
there on that officially sealed piece of paper. I was born on
May 29, 1945 at the Muroc Army Air Force Base hospital (now Edwards
AFB), off of Route 66 in the Mohave Desert of California, home
of "Twenty Mule Team Borax." - More...
Friday - May 19, 2006
We Get It Right - What do an abandoned coal mine and a nuclear
power plant 75 miles away have in common? The answer is water.
Tuesday AM - May 09, 2006
Weather - Wednesday, February 20, 2002, dawned cold and rainy
in north Georgia. I was up at 5 a.m. for the one-and-a-half hour
drive north to Blue Ridge where I would meet Carl, the Georgia
Northeastern Railroad engineer I would be working with that day.
I had taken a day off from my full-time job in Atlanta to work
on the weekly "log train" the GNRR sent from Blue Ridge
to Tate, 42 miles south. - More...
Monday - May 01, 2006
Happened to Quality? - When I was a youngster, my mother
used an old Maytag wringer washer to do the family laundry. If
you don't remember wringer washers, or have never seen one, here's
a picture. And, no, that's not my mother; she was prettier. -
Tuesday AM - April 18, 2006
Test - The traffic problems around Atlanta are monumental.
I've been driving through Atlanta for over 30 years and have
lived in the metro Atlanta area for 12 years, and it has only
gotten worse with every passing year. Atlanta's roads and streets
are in much better condition than most cities, and particularly
cities in the northeast, because it is a young city, relatively
speaking. Many of our most heavily populated areas only recently
transitioned from dirt roads to paved roads, but not so much
because of progress. It's difficult to sell land for $350,000
and acre and homes for $500,000 and expect people to drive around
on gravel-topped red clay roads, particularly people who routinely
drive through residential areas at 55 mph. - More...
Sunday - April 09, 2006
Mess with Texas - I visited the charming town of Bay
City, Texas earlier last month. Located on the eastern shore
of the Colorado River, about 45 minutes southwest of Houston,
Bay City is noted for its beautiful horses and fast women. -
Monday - April 03, 2006
- As we age, we often spend more time reminiscing about the "good
old days," which weren't that good, just different. I find
the one thing today's environment lacks are the smells I remember
from my days growing up in the suburbs of Pittsburgh. They weren't
all good smells, particularly the odors wafting from the stockyards
and meat processing plants on Herr's Island on the west bank
of the Allegheny River just upstream from downtown Pittsburgh.
Today, Herr's Island is prime real estate, but when we drove
past it on the way to visit family, Herr's Island emitted a sickeningly
sweet smell of burnt pork. I still remember that smell. - More...
Saturday - March 25, 2006
Looking at You Kid - Longtime readers of this column know
that I am a big fan of the Allman Brothers Band as it existed
in the early Seventies. Two albums, "Filmore East"
and "Eat a Peach," to me, mark the band's highpoint.
Once the band lost Duane Allman, after a tragic motorcycle accident
in Macon, Georgia, it was never the same. True, Dicky Betts made
a passable substitute on the slide guitar, but Duane was a virtuoso.
Saturday - March 11, 2006
- The sign shown in the photo is located in the Chattahoochee
River Park, administered by Fulton County and the City of Roswell,
Georgia. The park is located on the west bank of the "Hooch"
about four river miles above the Morgan Falls Dam. The park is
home to a huge flock of Canadian Geese. - More...
Monday - February 27, 2006
There; Done That; Didn't Get the T-Shirt - Back in the mid-Sixties
when I was a twenty-year-old submarine sailor, the Navy Submarine
Service had a tradition similar to those practiced by many fraternal
organizations in those days. When a sailor qualified in submarines
and was awarded his "dolphins," the metal insignia
worn on the chest, he was expected to undergo a rite of passage
known as "drinking your dolphins" the next time the
ship entered port. - More...
Friday PM - February 17, 2006
of the South (with Apologies to Uncle Remus) - Longtime readers
of this column know that my wife was raised in the South; her
father's family once owned two large plantations, South Hampton
and North Hampton, along the Sampit River near Georgetown, South
Carolina in the heart of the Low Country. Alice and I have had
a good life together, although we are complete opposites. Had
my life taken a different turn and I instead married a steelworker's
daughter from Pittsburgh, I would have never acquired a taste
for cold beets, sliced cucumbers in vinegar, grits, boiled peanuts,
and Moon Pies, although I have not lost my fondness for kielbasa,
sauerkraut and Iron City beer. - More...
Monday PM - February 13, 2006
the Rain Never Falls and the Sun Never Shines - The recent
coal mine tragedies in West Virginia reminded me of the dangers
that my grandfathers faced shortly after the turn of the century
when they entered the coal mines. Both of my grandfathers came
over with the wave of immigrants from southern Europe in the
early 1900's. The larger coal companies wanted immigrants because
they provided a large, inexpensive labor force. The enticements
included free transportation to the mine site, the opportunity
for steady work, and company-provided housing that allowed immigrants
to send for their families. All that was needed was youth, a
strong back, and a willingness to accept the hazards and working
conditions that existed underground. - More...
Wednesday - February 08, 2006
Made a Profit; Shame on Them! - Exxon, the company we love
to hate, raked in $36 billion in profits last year with over
30% of that coming in the fourth quarter. As one economist said,
"It's not difficult to make a profit when oil is $68 a barrel."
Liberals and Democrats are screaming for Congress to impose a
windfall profits tax. The last time Congress did that was in
1980 when oil prices skyrocketed to $30 a barrel. By 1986 oil
was back down to $10 a barrel and the windfall profit tax looked
like another failed attempt by the government to take money from
profitable businesses and give it to people who won't work for
it. - More...
Wednesday - February 01, 2006
Day - Atlanta has been lucky so far this winter; we've not
had any snow or sleet, and only one day with freezing rain, and
that was cleared up by mid-morning. You don't want to be in Atlanta
when it snows. -
Saturday - January 28, 2006
a Coincidence? - Nothing ever happens to me.
I was in the second grade the
last time my name appeared in a newspaper, and that was only
because a friend of mine who was playing Captain Marvel broke
both arms after jumping from a second-story fire escape while
wearing a blanket for a cape and then ratted on me and gave my
name to a newspaper reporter and told him it was my idea and
we'd been doing it every day for a couple of weeks. Of course,
I lied and said I'd only mentioned it in passing, and I wasn't
stupid enough to jump off a fire escape while yelling, Shazam!
Look, it was either him or me, and that little prevarication
saved me from a big old can of "Whoop-Ass," which one
or both of my parents would have opened up if they thought I
was trying to fly. - More...
Monday - January 23, 2006
Eminent Domain - With the media and conservative talk radio
hosts going ballistic over the recent Supreme Court decision
reaffirming the right of local governments to condemn private
property for development, I thought eminent domain would be a
good topic for the New Year. - More...
Tuesday - January 17, 2006
Sad to Say, I'm On My Way - With respect to Harry Belafonte's
comments about George Bush, and the great pluralistic (read socialist)
state Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is trying to create, I
can only repeat the words of that great Negro "spiritual"
we've heard a thousand times on United Negro College Fund commercials,
"A mind is a terrible thing to waste." - More...
Thursday - January 12, 2006
The Closing Of The Year - I have the soundtrack from the
movie "Toys," starring Robin Williams. It is one of
the two or three soundtracks I own. I'm not into movies in a
big way, but I have watched "Toys" several times. The
movie was only so-so, but the song "At the Closing of the
Year," sung by Wendy and Lisa, is one of my favorites. -
Thursday - January 12, 2006
We Learn From Movies - I was cleaning out my email files
today after receiving one of those "Your mailbox is full"
messages and came across one I received back in 1998. Yes, I
have files that are seven years old, and, no, I don't know why
I keep them. Anyway, given the bad news I've had to deal with
last month, I thought I'd share some humor with you. I don't
know who to attribute these to, but whoever he or she is, we
share the same wit. - More...
Thursday - January 12, 2006
Changing of the Guard - We buried my father on Monday, December
12th. At age 86, and beset with heart problems and prostate cancer,
Dad held on as long as he could. He went peacefully, early in
the morning, while sitting in a recliner at his new home in the
Asbury Heights assisted living center. He had just moved in on
December 5th and passed away on December 8th. Perhaps he relaxed
too much. - More...
Friday - December 30, 2005
In the Bag - While in the kitchen preparing my morning cup
of coffee today, I happened to notice a brown paper shopping
bag lying on one of the kitchen chairs. Normally I would not
pay much attention to something as mundane as a shopping bag,
but lately we seem to be bringing home more and more plastic
bags. That is intentional; we need something to put the kitty
litter in after we've "mined" the litter box in the
garage. - More...
Friday - December 02, 2005
the Winner is: Alaska! - A month or so ago, I wrote a letter-to-the-editor
taking a tongue-in-cheek poke at Alaska Airlines' "Flying
Salmon" Boeing 737. I was rightly admonished for not having
my facts straight, so I really can't disagree with those who
challenged my position. - More...
Wednesday - November 23, 2005
Anybody Really Know What Time It Is? - As I was running around
setting the clocks back one hour when we changed to standard
time, which is no mean feat when you consider there are 27 clocks
in our house, a thought occurred to me. I couldn't help it; I
have thoughts all the time. Sometimes they just pop in there
like the Stay Puff Marshmallow Man in the first "Ghost Busters"
movie. At work, my co-workers accuse me of "thinking off."
I tell them I'm an intellectual and thinking is what intellectuals
do, so leave me alone and let me think. It's a lie. I'm not an
intellectual by any stretch of the imagination. I was lucky to
graduate from high school. However, the folks at work haven't
figured that out yet, so they think I'm an intellectual and they
leave me alone. Most of my co-workers are engineers, and that
explains a lot, if you know what I mean. - More...
Monday - November 14, 2005
Wildlife: Use Metal Barbeque Spits - With the huge number
of cars and trucks traveling metro Atlanta roads these days,
one is exposed to a lot of specialized license plates, not to
mention bumper stickers that run the gamut of everything currently
going on in our society. Add to that the stick-on Support Our
Troops ribbons and a lot of cars are moving advertisements that
can tell you more than you probably want to know about the driver
in front of you. - More...
Saturday - November 05, 2005
Yours - Although I avoid grocery shopping like the plague,
I occasionally will stop at the local supermarket to pick up
a few things for the wife. I try to keep the number of items
at a minimum so I can use the express lane. - More...
Thursday - November 03, 2005
of the "Robber Barons" - Following the devastation
of Hurricane Katrina, many organizations failed New Orleans.
FEMA failed New Orleans. The State of Louisiana failed New Orleans.
New Orleans' city government failed New Orleans. The railroads
did not fail New Orleans. - More...
Monday - October 31, 2005
Ed - I've only been driving about 45 years, so I don't consider
myself an expert; experienced, yes, but an expert, no. I've driven
the Los Angeles freeways at rush hour, Highway One in the fog,
the Mohave Desert in the heat, and the West Virginia turnpike
when it was only a three-lane road. I've passed snowplows in
winter storms, done Three-Sixties on ice-covered two-lane roads
in Pennsylvania, dealt with black ice in the high desert of Idaho,
and dodged oak trees driving under the influence on the back
roads of coastal South Carolina. But I've never driven "from
Tucson to Tucumcari, or Tehachapi to Tonopah." So I'm not
an expert. - More...
Friday - October 21, 2005
Questions - Do you start out with negative calories
if you walk up eight flights of stairs to buy a package of Pop
Tarts from the vending machine? - More...
Thursday - October 13, 2005
the River and Through the Woods . . . ." - It seems
a bit early to be talking about Christmas songs, but this one
is appropriate to my story. - More...
Thursday - September 29, 2005
Job Security - In case you've never heard of Yucca
Mountain, Nevada, it is the proposed location of a national repository
for spent fuel from commercial nuclear power plants and high
level waste from government production facilities. - More...
Thursday - August 18, 2005
Carl! - As an amateur photographer, I've always been impressed
by the Carl Thompson's photos that grace the homepage on sitnews.us.
And now that I think of it, Lisa Thompson's photographs aren't
bad either. Living in such a beautiful part of the country helps,
but as most photographers know, the camera only takes the picture;
it's the photographer who composes it. - More...
Wednesday - August 03, 2005
for Profit and Preservation -
Given my fondness for
railroads, I was pleased to learn that two railroads with which
I am intimately familiar are now associated with major recycling
projects. One project will resurrect a recently abandoned rail
line that connects with the Blue Ridge Scenic Railroad tourist
operation in the North Georgia Mountains, where I've volunteered
as brakeman and conductor since 1998. Another project involves
an abandoned railroad that operated in the southern suburbs of
my former hometown of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Unfortunately,
the project will not resurrect the railroad because the right-f-way
was converted into a Rails-to-Trails project soon after abandonment.
Wednesday - June 29, 2005
Door Neighbors - My wife puts a flowery wreath on our back
door every spring to celebrate winter's end. And every spring
the birds pull apart the wreath as they gather material for their
nests. They particularly like the Spanish moss. - More...
June 13, 2005
on Turning 60 - I celebrated my 60th birthday over Memorial
Day weekend. It might be appropriate to give my thoughts on reaching
this milestone. - More...
June 01, 2005
Excuses, Excuses - I must apologize to all of my loyal readers
out there in cyberspace - at last count, that would be two, June
Allen and Gigi Pilcher - for my few and far between articles.
The week after we returned from Germany, I was off to Council
Bluffs, Iowa for my grandson's third birthday. I spent a week
out there with the Children of the Corn. In the process, I managed
to acquire a virus that affected only my left eye and did not
manifest itself until the day I left, and specifically as my
plane climbed to cruising altitude on the flight back to Atlanta.
Tuesday - May 10, 2005
Who Needs It? - I was working in Germany last week and the
company provided me with a rental car equipped with one of those
onboard GPS navigation systems that talks to you. It was a neat
little feature considering the car was just a VW. Well, to be
more exact, it was a VW Phaeton, a $67,000, two-and-a-half ton
monster made for 210 kilometers per hour on the Autobahn. Of
course, I had to verify that claim, and, yes, it could do 130
miles per hour with ease. I didn't ask why they rented such an
expensive car for someone who usually sits in Atlanta traffic
and rarely goes faster than 80 mph. I thoroughly enjoyed the
Monday - April 18, 2005
Do Not Feel Guilty - Okay, I'll admit it. I drive one of
those gas-guzzling SUVs. I don't carpool either. Add that to
the fact that I work in the commercial nuclear industry, and
I feel certain my name is not on the Greenpeace or the Sierra
Club mailing lists. Even National Geographic has stopped sending
me invitations to join their Society. The SUV gets 21 miles to
the gallon and sits in a parking lot all day. I think that qualifies
as helping to reduce our reliance on foreign oil. I imagine the
people driving Hummers and Ford Excursions think they are helping
if they switch from 89-octane to 87-octane gasoline. - More...
Thursday - March 31, 2005
South Defined - So I said to the girl with the wooden leg,
"Peg, where is the South?"
Peg looked at me with her one
good eye and said, "Why, Bob, it is the land where kudzu
grows." - More...
Sunday - March 27, 2005
in the Wind - With Germany set to phase out its nuclear
power plants by 2020 (although there are rumors they may be changing
their minds about that ill-advised decision), the Social Democrats
and their partners, the Green Party, are still trying to push
through a plan to have 20% of the country's electrical power
generated by wind no later than 2015. -
Tuesday - March 08, 2005
Warming: Is it really such a bad idea? - The "Kyoto
Protocol" (Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework
Convention on Climate Change) went into effect in February. Fortunately,
the United States did not ratify, despite the best efforts of
Al Gore and his ilk (I will not refer to them as "tree huggers"
because the true supporters of the Kyoto Protocol are more anti-technology
than they are pro-environment.). ... More...
Thursday - March 03, 2005
Law - As spring approaches, tornado season begins in the
southeastern United States. Although we normally don't experience
tornados as frequently as the folks in the Midwest, ours are
very sneaky.... More...
Saturday - February 26, 2005
Geese - I got a laugh when I saw Carl Thompson's photo of
the Canadian Geese in Ketchikan. Oh, don't get me wrong; it was
a great photograph, as Carl's photos always are. But, gee whiz,
seven geese? That hardly qualifies as a gaggle in my book. Let
me explain. - More...
Monday - February 14, 2005
Free Lunch - Proponents of hydrogen-fueled automobiles encountered
a setback last week when scientists announced that, although
hydrogen is a clean-burning fuel, the process of making hydrogen
could introduce nearly the same amount of pollutants into the
environment as today's gasoline-fueled engines. - More...
Friday - February 04, 2005
Depression - I hate to admit it, but I am suffering
from depression because of the outcome of last November's elections.
If the Kerry supporters think they are upset, they need to consider
my feelings too. I am a conservative who voted for George W.
Bush. - More...
Monday - January 24, 2005
is the Big Deal? - "This textbook contains material
on evolution. Evolution is a theory, not a fact, regarding the
origin of living things. This material should be approached with
an open mind, studied carefully and critically considered."
Thursday - January 20, 2005
Mighty Wind - With the world focused on the catastrophe that
befell Southeast Asia, we tend to forget that people in this
country are also dealing with the lingering effects of a natural
disaster. Of course, there is absolutely no comparison in the
number of lives lost, the economic cost, or the effect on the
people by that terrible tsunami. However, for a few days last
week I was able to tear away from the events in Southeast Asia
and hop on Delta Flight 1491 for a trip down to south Florida
to the St. Lucie nuclear plant. - More...
Tuesday - January 11, 2005
Hostage Situation - California utility, Pacific Electric
and Gas Company (PG&E), owns and operates the 2,100-megawatt
Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant located on the coast near San
Luis Obispo, an area often referred to as the "Middle Kingdom,"
with apologies to J.R.R. Tolkien. As part of the plant's owner-controlled
area, that area where the owner can control access to the property,
PG&E owns 12,000 acres, which includes 11 miles of pristine
coastline. None of this coastline is accessible to the public,
and for good reason. - More...
Saturday - January 08, 2005
of a Lifetime - The Blue Ridge Scenic Railway's 2004 season
ended on Thursday, December 30. This was the 13-mile tourist
line's seventh year carrying passengers between Blue Ridge, Georgia
and Copperhill, Tennessee, along the banks of the Toccoa River
in northwest Georgia. It was a record year passenger-wise, but
it remains to be seen if it was a profitable year. - More...
Monday - January 03, 2005
Traditions 2 - What began as friendly rivalry over the local
tradition of lighting Christmas Eve bonfires along the Mississippi
River above New Orleans erupted into a verbal brawl last weekend
as opposing sides challenged each other to prove who really started
the bonfire tradition. - More...
Saturday - December 25, 2004
Traditions 1 - People were stunned today to learn that the
world-famous Mormon Tabernacle Choir may have lip-synched during
their traditional Christmas Eve performance of Handel's "The
Messiah." - More...
Saturday - December 25, 2004
Christmas - We have finally finished decorating the house
for the holidays, and not a moment too soon. There have been
years when we did not finish until Christmas Eve. Our outdoor
decorations are not nearly as impressive as the Ketchikan homes
featured in Carl Thompson's photographs on Sitnews, but we manage
to brighten up the neighborhood a little bit. - More...
Tuesday - December 21, 2004
Inverted Mine Shaft - On September 27, 1926, the University
of Pittsburgh broke ground for a new 42-story gothic skyscraper
called the Cathedral of Learning. Locals referred to the building
as the Inverted Mine Shaft. Today, the Cathedral houses a unique
collection of classrooms known as the Nationality Rooms. Many
Pittsburghers don't know the classrooms exist, and I was part
of that group until my wife began teaching at the Cathedral in
the early Seventies. - More...
Tuesday - December 14, 2004
I Can't Hear That Lonesome Whistle Blow. - Although
I was born in the California desert, my earliest memories are
of steam locomotives struggling up the hill behind our house
near Pittsburgh. The sound of whistles and staccato exhaust were
foreign and frightening to me, especially at three o'clock in
the morning. The railroad behind our house was a great mystery,
a place of strange noises made by strange beasts at all hours
of the day and night. - More...
Tuesday - December 07, 2004
in the Sky - Having spent a good part of my life moving around
the U.S. as an Air Force dependent, a sailor, and a nuclear professional,
I have had many opportunities to learn about the regional foods
in the areas where I have lived. - More...
Wednesday - November 24, 2004
Position on Gun Control - I prefer a two-handed stance, with
my feet spread about a yard apart, sighting with both eyes open.
I like to use armor piercing, incendiary ammunition because it
is good for a variety of situations. I use small-capacity magazines
because you shouldn't need more than one shot to hit your target.
If there are more than eight targets, you probably couldn't hit
them all, even with a 30-round clip. - More...
Saturday - November 13, 2004
Gloating Allowed - Okay, I'll admit it, I voted for George
W. Bush. I tried quite hard to keep politics out of my articles,
and you'll never know how many I started, finished, and then
deleted. Most of them were vents over something the Kerry campaign
said about Bush's intelligence quotient or the Vice President's
family. It's one thing to criticize a man's decisions, but to
equate bad decisions with his intellectual capacity is wrong.
After all, Bill Clinton was a Rhodes Scholar and look at the
bonehead choices he made while in office. I've always told my
children, education doesn't make you more intelligent, it just
makes you more educated. - More...
Monday - November 08, 2004
New War Between the States - The city of Augusta, Georgia,
is located on the west bank of the Savannah River, directly across
from North Augusta, which is in South Carolina. The state line
is located approximately mid-river. Clark's Hill Reservoir is
a large lake located north of Augusta. The Army Corps of Engineers
created the lake by building a dam across the Savannah River
to reduce flooding in Augusta. Although the Clark's Hill Reservoir
is a very large lake, the state line remains in the middle of
the old river channel. - More...
Wednesday - November 03, 2004
Daddies: Low Country Ghostbusters - I cannot think of a better
way to celebrate Halloween than an article about ghosts, goblins,
and witches. These creatures live In the South Carolina Low Country
too, but we call them haints, plat-eyes, and hags. - More...
Friday - October 29, 2004
Left-handed Friend - My very good friend, Maralyn Lois Polak,
writes a weekly column for the Commentary section of the World
Net Daily online newspaper. Maralyn recently polled her friends
on why we should not vote for George W. Bush. Okay, that's cool.
It's a free country. The Constitution and Bill of Rights protect
pollsters too. - More...
Thursday - October 21, 2004
it Really Matter? - I'm one of those weird persons who like
buttermilk. I acquired a taste for it in Fifth Grade. As a class
project, we took whole milk that had not been homogenized - I
assume it was pasteurized - put it in a butter churn and all
took turns mixing it until we ended up with buttermilk and butter.
We ate the butter with Saltine crackers and drank the buttermilk
in little paper cups. It was delicious. - More...
Tuesday - October 19, 2004
Then a Hero Comes Along - On March 12, 1904, Andrew Carnegie,
founder of the United States Steel Corporation, established the
Carnegie Hero Fund, endowing it with $5 million in US Steel bonds
bearing 5 percent interest. That initial investment has allowed
the Fund to award over 8,800 medals and more than $24 million
in grants and scholarships over its 100-year history. Recipients
of the Carnegie Hero Award are people like you and I who suddenly
find themselves in situations where someone needs help. Often,
these awards are given posthumously, as was the case for the
award's first two recipients. Carnegie's intent in establishing
the Hero Fund was not to reward heroism. In describing the Fund,
Carnegie said, "I do not expect to stimulate or create heroism
by this fund, knowing well that heroic action is impulsive; but
I do believe that, if the hero is injured in his bold attempt
to serve or save his fellows, he and those dependent upon him
should not suffer pecuniarily." - More...
Monday - October 18, 2004
Low Can You Go? - A member of the Tennessee state legislature
produced the poster included with this article. The man, who
has been distributing the poster for the past couple of weeks,
is the Democratic incumbent. He is running for reelection. His
campaign office serves as the local headquarters for the Kerry-Edwards
ticket. - More...
Friday - October 15, 2004
from Slightly South of North Georgia - It was another beautiful
autumn weekend on the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway. We made history
this weekend. Well, at least we made local history. The Atlanta
Journal-Constitution might not find it that remarkable. We ran
our train (two engines and six passenger cars) south from Blue
Ridge, Georgia to the tiny community of Cherry Log. It was the
first passenger train to stop at Cherry Log in over 60 years.
Even back then, Cherry Log was only a flag stop. It had a passenger
shelter, but trains would only stop if passengers needed to board
or disembark. However, unlike those trains of old, we came to
Cherry Log with 200 passengers and they were all getting off.
Tuesday - October 12, 2004
Prophet in Her Own Time - I first became aware of the religion
of Islam in the mid-1950s while a fifth grade student at St.
Alphonsus parochial school in the riverside community of Springdale,
Pennsylvania. - More...
Monday - October 11, 2004
Submariner's Worst Nightmare - Next to uncontrolled flooding,
the worst thing that can happen to a submarine crew is an onboard
fire. As I write this, the Royal Canadian Navy's HMCS Chicoutimi
wallows in the Atlantic off the coast of Ireland, under tow by
a British frigate. Yesterday, one of the sub's crewmembers died
of injuries from smoke inhalation. It is small consolation to
his family, but, unlike most submarine disasters, they will at
least be able to lay their loved one to rest in a marked grave
on his home soil. - More...
Saturday - October 09, 2004
Boy's Toys - I received my first Lionel model train in 1954,
the year my sister was born. The day Mom came home from the hospital,
I arrived home from school to find a new baby sister, two diesel
engines, several freight cars, and a caboose. I immediately suspected
that something was up. - More...
Wednesday - October 06, 2004
Bill Gates Where It Hurts - It was a tough decision, turning
my back on Bill Gates. In the end though, I really didn't have
a choice. I had to dump Microsoft Network. - More...
Thursday - September 16, 2004
Day at TVA - I was back in Chattanooga last week for another
visit to the Tennessee Valley Authority's Sequoyah nuclear power
station. I spent Monday morning observing activities in the plant's
control room.- More...
Wednesday - September 08, 2004
Case of the Disappearing Bomber - January 31, 1956 drew to
a close as most mid-winter days do in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
It was 27 degrees with a 10-knot wind out of the northwest creating
a 10-degree wind chill. The steel mills stretched out along the
banks of the Monongahela River began casting an orange glow into
the sky, periodically punctuated by the brilliant white light
of the Bessemer converters turning molten iron into molten steel.
For the crew and passengers aboard U.S. Air Force bomber 44-29125,
a B-25N twin-engine "Mitchell" winging its way eastward,
the day would end in tragedy. - More...
Wednesday - August 19, 2004
Course, I'm An Environmentalist! - Those of you who have
read my articles in Kanoe and Sitnews over the years have probably
formed the opinion that I don't like "tree huggers"
or "envirowhackos." Nothing could be farther from the
truth. I view environmental activists as people who truly believe
that man has been damaging the Earth ever since God granted Adam
and Eve access to the Garden of Eden. - More...
Saturday - August 14, 2004
a Dangerous Business, But Not for the Reasons You Expect
- An accident at the Mihama-3 nuclear power plant in Japan resulted
in the deaths of four workers and severe injuries to seven others.
The story only made the headlines because the accident happened
at a nuclear power plant. Had the accident happened at a fossil
power plant, we probably would not know about it. - Read
Tuesday - August 10, 2004
the Road Again - I will be out of pocket next week doing
some work in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Chattanooga is my old stomping
grounds from the early 1980s, so I will not be a stranger in
town. If you have never been to Chattanooga, it is well worth
the trip. - Read
Friday - July 30, 2004
Dry - The Atlantic Blue Crab population is returning to normal
in the salt marshes along the Grand Strand this week. The Ciminel
family has returned from its annual vacation to Pawleys Island,
South Carolina. Between the smelly fish heads and rotten chicken
necks we used for bait, we were able to entice about two dozen
crabs a day into our crab trap, or dally around in the shallows
long enough to scoop up with our dip nets. A couple of rented
boats from Murrells Inlet also gave us the opportunity to harvest
a sizeable number of clams from the State shellfish reserve.
We had to buy our shrimp because the state does not allow shrimp
boats to work near shore during the tourist season. - Read
Wednesday - July 21, 2004
Log Train - It is uncanny how a minor topic of discussion
in Ketchikan can segue so nicely into the article I planned for
this week. I am speaking, of course, about the debate over the
Great Alaskan Lumberjack Show. Now, being as I am a descendant
of Pennsylvania coal miners, I am not the least bit qualified
to offer an opinion on the credibility of the people who participate
in the lumberjack show, or how they would stack up against "real"
lumberjacks (no pun intended). One only has to watch the Discovery
Channel or TLC to realize that today's lumberjacks no longer
use many of the skills displayed at the lumberjack shows. - Read
Wednesday - July 07, 2004
Little Church in the Valley - The Talona Valley in northern
Georgia would not make anyone's Top 10 list of scenic wonders,
nor would you expect to see a Travel Channel special about such
an unremarked place. As for tourist amenities, the Fall Festival
at nearby Talking Rock and the Talona Creek Campground are about
all the valley has to offer. A lightly used rail line runs down
the valley. The weekly, but unpredictable, log train from Blue
Ridge raises the ambient noise level for a short time, but everything
soon returns to normal, with Talona Creek bubbling over the rocks
and an occasional mooing cow. - Read
Saturday - June 26, 2004
Criticism - When I'm not working on the tourist railroad,
I am usually at my desk on the 9th floor of Building 700, in
the "trendy and posh" Galleria Office Park. My office
building is "inside the Perimeter," officially known
as I-285, the six-lane racetrack that encircles Atlanta. I work
in Cobb County, the last bastion of Republican conservatism in
the metropolitan Atlanta area. Yes, the same Cobb County that
lost the 1996 Olympics volleyball venue, which was no big deal
as far as I'm concerned. - Read
Tuesday - June 22, 2004
Country Crabbing - Being raised in the environs of the formerly
"Smokey City" of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, I entered
adulthood with a profound lack of knowledge about seafood. I
thought "seafood" was a breaded and fried fillet of
some generic fish served on a bun. For years, I thought I was
eating Flounder, but later learned it was Whitefish or Turbot,
those ubiquitous denizens of the deep hauled in by the millions
off the Grand Banks. - Read
Saturday - June 12, 2004
a Week! - The weekend of June 5 was auspicious for several
reasons; all of them linked to current or former Presidents of
the United States. President George Bush was in France celebrating
the 60th anniversary of D-Day. Former President Jimmy Carter
was in Groton, Connecticut launching the U.S.S. Jimmy Carter,
the nation's newest fast attack nuclear submarine. Former President
George H.W. Bush was in Maine vacationing at the Bush family's
summer "cottage." Former President Ronald Reagan was
in California taking his last breath. -
Saturday - June 12, 2004
on Red, Returning - One of the major causes of traffic accidents
in the Atlanta area is violation of a law that allows you to
make a right turn on a red light. The law is clear about what
constitutes a legal right turn when facing a red light. "Vehicular
traffic facing a steady CIRCULAR RED signal may cautiously enter
the intersection to make a right turn after stopping . . . .
Vehicular traffic shall yield the right of way to other traffic
lawfully using the intersection." Unfortunately, most drivers
in Atlanta treat a right on red as if it is a YIELD sign. Meaning,
"If I can make it without you running into me I'm going
for it because once I make that turn I own the road." -
Thursday - June 10, 2004
Member of the Family - Last Friday, my son gave me a kitten
for my birthday. We sent him to the store for bread and milk;
he came back with a 6-week-old kitten. He found it at one of
those "Free to Good Home" kiosks. I wonder if the kitten's
owners would have wanted money if we were a "Bad Home".
How does one define a "Good Home" kittenwise? Is it
a home with no dogs, or with a backyard full of small birds?
Thursday - June 03, 2004
Southern Veteran - Memorial Day is a time to honor those
Americans who gave their lives in the service of their country.
I am going to take literary license today and write about a veteran
who is still alive, but may not be for much longer. -
Tuesday - June 01, 2004
Flags and Friends - Memorial Day is a time when Americans
pay tribute to the men and women who gave their lives in defense
of our freedom. In my mind, that also includes the men in gray
and butternut who fought for the Confederacy. - Read
Monday - May 31, 2004
for Crying Out Loud! - As I write this article, the 12 northbound
and southbound lanes on Interstate 75 north of Atlanta are closed,
two television helicopters are hovering over the highway like
vultures, and all because some jerk is standing on the overpass
at Windy Hill Road threatening to jump. - Read
Friday - May 28, 2004
Rests His Case - The headline reads: "Hormel Foods Corp.,
the maker of . . . Spam luncheon meat, Thursday reported
a 59 percent increase in quarterly earnings. . . ."
I knew it was a conspiracy.
Oh, sure, the rest of the article says the profits came from
increased sales of Hormel's refrigerated meat products. That's
misleading; you can refrigerate Spam too, in or out of the can.
Friday - May 21, 2004
City Cynicism - We have a traffic problem here in Atlanta;
too many cars and not enough roads. Toss in several million transplanted
Yankees, who didn't know how to drive when they got here, and
a few million native Southerners, and you can see how it happened.
Wednesday - May 12, 2004
To Be Back in Ketchikan! - Boy, it's great to be back in
Ketchikan! It's been about three years since I wrote my last
article for Kanoe, and I have literally felt like a fish out
of water. Writing is like exercising; if you don't do it regularly,
you quickly get out of shape. - Read
Friday - May 07, 2004