Monday, February 28, 2011

Nature's Silence

I have been visiting this ski condo with my friends for nearly 25 years. Their generous gift of a yearly invitation has created a mind book of memories with new chapters of laughter, enlightened conversations, and skiing experiences added every year.

I have skied in Europe and at many resorts in the United States, to me there is none finer than Beaver Creek, Colorado. It is self contained, if you want it to be, in other words you don't have to leave the mountain for quality restaurants or services. The trails and amenities are abundant and it serves all levels of skier.

I am a far more gentle skier than I was in my youth. Where once conquering  nature and her terrain was the goal; today becoming one with her is the joy. 

There is nothing like a graceful glide down a pristine powdered slope where mountain fir trees of all sizes poke whisker-like through the snow.

There is another aspect of skiing that I missed in my youth. The silence! When young we rush to get down the hill so we can rush back up and in doing so we miss one of the greatest gifts of nature. 

In my December years of life I slow down and stop and listen to the silence of the mountain. It is cleansing, inspiring, invigorating, and profound.

Silence is a gift from the Source that links us to All That Is.

Tomorrow some pictures.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Friday, February 25, 2011


It was an short travel day yesterday. The roads were icy and snowy so I hopped off the Interstate in the early afternoon. I did get caught up with all the events in the Middle East, particularly Libya. The loss of life is abhorrent and unconscionable.

There is another profound sadness from the actions in Qaddafi's Libya beyond the continuing loss of life. It is the omnipresent shame that once again in the human experience an oppressive authority uses force to prevent the empowerment of the people.

Force can kill and it can wound, but it will never conquer the desire or the active quest for freedom in all its forms.

History validates that truth, over and over again, on the crumbled actions of failed oppression.

Truth and tolerance, compassion and education, common courtesy and common sense are the only values that will sustain a government in power and elevate the condition of its people.

Personal note to Les W :

Thanks for the connection yesterday. How do I get it touch with you? My email is:

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Along The Road - Thursday's Post

Another day ( Wednesday ) driving across this magnificent country of
ours. I stayed on the interstates in order to get to my destination in
Colorado by Saturday. I've made great time due to good weather,
relatively little traffic and a steady pace through Indiana, Illinois,
Missouri and last evening I scooted into Kansas.

The weather folks are calling for either rain or snow storm all across
Kansas today, but whether it's rain or snow will depend on the
temperature and the track of the storm. I'm hoping I get rain, but, if
not, I'll travel carefully and hole up if necessary.

Yesterday on the road I saw a number of seemingly innocuous things,
but their images stayed within my mind and I thought I'd mention a few
unusual and disturbing observations.

I saw a small pond, a really small pond ,with a dock on one shore.
Moored at the dock was a pontoon boat with two big motors. Go figure.
It seems to me that by the time you'd start one motor you'd drift to
the other side of the pond.

I saw hugh flocks of Canadian Geese flying together at about a
thousand feet in the air. There must have been several hundred of
their v-shaped flight patterns all heading in a northerly direction.
Were they heading home? Maybe spring is coming.

I saw signs that our economy is still hurting. Along many of our
interstate highways there are tall signs, fifty or sixty feet in the
air, advertising something or another. I must have counted thirty
empty signs offering a phone number and the words, "Your ad here."
The only advertisements that were continuous were for fast food chains
and truck repairs.

Another of the disturbing observations was the continuous, mile after
mile, white plastic bags caught in trees, brush or on fences and
waving their polluting existence in the wind for all to see. I stopped
counting after a few hundred. What is it about some Americans who
can't crunch the bag and keep it in the vehicle until it can be
disposed of properly?

It wasn't until I got into Illinois that the snow pack was gone. I
even saw some winter wheat poking its tiny green blades through the
earth. It was just a hint of green, but it was there. I do love the
midwest with its flat terrain speckled with vast fields of potential
growth. Without these farmers and so many more like them we in the
suburbs and cities of America would starve. I silently thanked them
for their hard work and expertise as I sped by their silos poking
asparagus-like through the ground canvas of the great plains.

Dinner last night was fine, but damn too many Americans are fat. I was
eating in one of those mid-western eateries where saddles, steer horns
and cowboy hats festoon the walls. There were twelve tables for four
and booths in my section. At least, two of every four people at those
tables were way over weight.

Again thanks for tuning in....more when I can.


Life's Reminders

Good Morning,

My trip across Pennsylvania and Ohio and into rural Indiana was
pleasant. The roads were clear, but the the temperatures were frigid.
The cold kept the melting spray on the roads to a minimum so wind
shield clarity was a plus.

Lunch and dinner were similar. Terrible!

I acknowledge I have a cultivated taste based on years of fine cuisine
availability. I had lunch at a truck stop. I was the only one in the
dining area. In retrospect that should have told me something. I
always thought truck stops had the best food. Not!

I ate a little bit and figured I'd wait till dinner. Wrong!

I was tired of driving and pulled into what I though was a upscale
roadway Inn. Wrong!

Its marketing on signs along the I-70 Interstate was inviting. It
said it had a nice rating. It said it had a lounge. Whoa! It did, but
it was the size of a large closet. The food was horrible, the wine
bad, the service questionable. I didn't want to think about what the
kitchen looked like.

The experience was wonderful. It reminded me of the gifts I have and how often I
forget to remember how fortunate I am.

More tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

On The Road

Good Morning All,

By the time you read this missive this morning I will be well on my way to join friends in Colorado for a short skiing vacation.

I’ve decided to drive. I know, it’s a long way, but I have some time and I enjoy observing the American portrait of life and living. A few blogs will result, I am sure, as I bend and wind my way across the Ohio Valley and the great plains into the majestic Rockies.

Some posts will be of regular length and some will be a sentence or two depending on the time I have and the access I have to the proverbial internet.

I trust you will stay tuned.


Monday, February 21, 2011

Zero Thinking

When did we change? In recent weeks there have been stories of intolerance and adult reactionary idiocy dealing with school children and the absurdity of zero tolerance.

There was a nine year old kicked out of school for couple of days because he slapped a sign on the back of some classmates that said, “kick me.”

Another grade school child was arrested by police for assault because he put spit wads in a straw and fired at other students. When asked, police said, “assault is assault.”

Kids can’t be kids anymore.

Good grief!  Are our authorities really that stupid? I know the world has changed since I was a kid, but this is ridiculous.

Zero tolerance is for intricate machines and component parts that must mesh exactly. Micrometer measurements are not for humans, adults or children. Let us get back to reason and understanding.

I will never understand why the TSA at airport checkpoints will take away a nail clipper, but some airlines still serve food with real knives and forks; even a plastic one could be a lethal weapon in the wrong hands.

Where is the common sense?

Fear has truly usurped our freedoms.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Lara Logan

Once again, in this old world, I am disappointed in the morality and actions of humankind. I know, I know, I should think differently because of my long time reportorial observations of what is seemingly a sordid planet, but …

I am referring to the brutal beating and sexual attack on correspondent Lara Logan, a South African national working as a war correspondent for CBS News in Egypt.

I will not belabor this point. The Egyptian goons who did this are not worthy of the nation of Egypt nor should they be embraced into the family of man. Human scum comes to mind, but then I should try to be more tolerant and non-judgmental. I’m working on it!

The slogan has always been don’t shoot the messenger, as the old journalistic metaphor goes.

From the time of ancient Greece people have a tendency to react badly to a person who delivers bad news, especially when the person who actually caused the unwanted event is not around.

In the Lara Logan case she was not delivering bad news, not inciting revolution as some Mubarak supporters insinuated for all journalists. She was just doing her job. She did get separated from her crew and that was unfortunate. It was an aleged time of celebration for the protestors in Egypt. Most were reacting to the news that President Hosni Mubarak stepped down. What happened to Ms. Logan was pure cruelty and mob rule.

It is unfortunate that those responsible will not be prosecuted or jailed. In all abhorrent actions the frenzied participants slink home to wallow in the self-shame of guilt. They never get the courage for even a remorseful thought.

There are goons and low-life in all cultures. I wish I knew why.

Thursday, February 17, 2011


Ah Watson!

If you didn’t see the victory that the IBM Watson computer won over the two most winning contestents in Jeopardy’s history it’s OK. It was fun and helps all of us realize that the factual intelligence of a computer is only as smart as it’s programmed.

Watson may have won the three-day contest money, but the demonstration was just a beginning of what computers can do. They can analyze facts and conjugate verbs and quickly give a best guess answer based on the informational input, but could Watson, or the Watson’s of the future synthesize emotions?

Can computer calculations embrace or at least consider, empathy, compassion, prejudice, jealousy, emotion, courage, sympathy, kindness, concern, sentiment, passion, valor and even love?

The human mind is capable of including all of these factors instantaneously within a probable answer. Watson is not.

We, as a society must be careful we do not give away our emotions to the programmed intellect of a super computer and let it decide or choose for us.

The world needs facts to make a determination; decisions need emotion to make a judgment and only human's can do that, so far.

Thank you IBM, but it’s back to the lab.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Justice v's Vengeance

There was a story in my area the other day about a Grand Jury that exonerated two police office from a criminal action that killed a college student several months ago.

A Grand Jury found the officers not guilty of any criminal malfeasance.

The family of the student is furious and the reporters of the story kept saying that the family demands  “justice.”

The family and the reporter are misunderstanding the word, “justice.”

One of the meanings of justice is the maintenance or administration of what is just by law, as by judicial or other proceedings.

The Grand Jury proceedings, compromised of 23 jurors, listened to months of testimony and looked at reams of evidence and collectively decided that the Police Officers were not guilty of any criminal action. That, to me, is justice.

The family of the victim is angry at the Grand Jury's decision and said they did not get justice. What they  are really saying is that they did not get vengeance. Justice was served in this case.

Rightfully the family is devastated at the death of their college student son. He was an apparent good kid and student who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time and was involved in actions that led police to feel threatened.

When anyone loses a loved one, either by violent action or accident, the natural reaction is to blame, to find someone or something to blame and litigate.

I don’t blame the student’s family. It is their right to sue under the laws of our land. I do find fault with some lawyers who encourage clients to litigate in order to get a percentage fee. Somewhere down the line the family will probably agree to a settlement and the story and our memory of it will pass and the lawyer will get his or her cut.

What I would like our media and all those who think authority has wronged them to realize is that once the adjudication process reaches a verdict the case is over for whatever charge was originally leveled. There may be other judicial paths to take in other courts, but initially justice was served. The demand for  revenge has never been a legal recourse.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Valentine and Birthdays

Yesterday was Valentine's Day as we all know. Today is the 15th birthday of my twin granddaughters Morgan and Alexa. So today is really my Valentine's day. What a treat they are in my life and in my heart.

In the meantime here is a thought on why we have a Valentine's Day.

Perhaps we are victims of a manufactured holiday, perpetrated by the greeting card, florists and candy companies.

It would be nice if all these expressions of affection were to last more than just a day. Imagine having less argument and more communication, more love and less selfishness everyday.

Valentines day wasn’t started by the marketing merchants of hype; they only take advantage of our sentimentality. The early Christian church actually proclaimed this event to counter a pagan festival that had a little too much celebration and debauchery for the ascetic beliefs of the time.

Why they chose Saint Valentine to be their champion no one knows for sure. Historically it may be a strange choice. The Valentine who became the Saint and surrogate lover for this day was actually beheaded for his Christian beliefs and became a martyr. Maybe it is appropriate to name the day after him...people in love tend to loose their heads too.

Monday, February 14, 2011

The Wind

“It depends upon the wind”

It’s an atavistic expression. I imagine sailors of old and even ones of today know their distance for the day depends upon the wind.

We know that animals depend on the wind for both safety and prey.

As a pilot I understand the importance and safety of landing into the wind.

The wind is a dichotomous gift to humankind. It can be our ally or our enemy. It can cool. It can warm. It can soothe and it can harm. It can smooth the seas and calm the waves. It is invisible, yet its presence is felt in soft touches as well as in a raging force.

To see the wind with our eyes another element must be employed. Rain gives it expression. Leaves give it direction. Dust and dirt give it shape and it can be the harbinger of hot or cold weather.

We preoccupied human souls in the narrow focus of our every day lives give it very little thought or thanks. We do, however, give it names: Mariah, Santa Anna, Chinook, Zephyr and so on.

We also acknowledge the wind in slogans: “let me see which way the wind blows,” “May the wind be at your back,” “It’s an ill wind that blows no good.”

From the sea and sailing come great truthful sayings: "wind before rain, topsails remain, rain before wind, top sails take in."

Joining the native peoples of the earth, I believe that nature is an echo of our selves. The wind is emblematic of our spirits. Both wind and spirit are invisible, yet both are destined and determined in their direct flow to the Source.

Friday, February 11, 2011


I suppose everybody is frightened by something sometime. We have all sorts of phobias documented by science that give legitimacy to our fears. Acrophobia, thristadeckaphobia, hydrophobia and so on. Phobia is a Greek word meaning fear.

After 9/11 and rightfully so many of us developed terrorphobia. We are worried that some misfits who have no concept of the real world will again kill indiscriminately in order to effect fear or punishment.

In many ways terrorists are a lot like the road terrorists. It’s their way or no way. The road "rager" will dart dangerously in and out of traffic creating fear and anger and counter rage among other motorists.

This is where we have to be careful. If we let our counter rage, our anger, or fear, encouraged by government comment or actions, to control our common sense then we give up our franchise of free will choice and the freedoms that come with that franchise.

President Roosevelt was right when he said: “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."

Sometimes we forget that truth.

Thursday, February 10, 2011


Gratitude is a little used emotion.

Life’s simple experiences, the ones we enjoy doing, our hobbies, our passions and even the ones that we don’t pursue, but are presented to us, sunsets, the feeling of a warm breeze, a field of flowers, a child singing, a lovers touch, a strangers smile, all of these things engender joy and appreciation, but rarely gratitude.

I wasn't going to mention snow, because of shoveling and plowing and we've had a lot of that this winter in the northeast. But the silent beauty in a pristine snowfall is without equal. It is peaceful and calming provided you can let go the travel worry.

We take much for granted. Our sight, that lets us see the beauty of the world. Our hearing, that lets us enjoy the harmony of nature and each other. Our freedom, both physical and political, that lets us follow our hearts and interests.

It’s generally not until we are shocked into loss or incapacitation through illness or injury or cataclysmic events that we begin to truly appreciate what we had and perhaps acknowledge that if we had it again gratitude would be part of our daily ritual of thanks.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011


I live in a small rural community. My road is what you would call a “dead end”. I’ve always disliked that term and would prefer “no outlet,” but preferences and rules always have a conflict with rules winning out. Anyway, my “dead end” is a microcosm of age and interests.

At the start of my road is a boarding house for transient folks who come and go as needed. Some of my neighbors with little kids don’t like it and I understand their concern, but community is just that: a community of people living in the same vicinity each trying to survive as best they can.

We are not a tribe where mutual trust is the rule. We are a collection of unrelated people who happen to be living in proximity at the same time for the same purpose. Life!

When you travel the world you witness much more of this type of living than you do in the United States. In Malaysia I saw mansions side by side to shacks; the same thing in Nairobi, Kenya. It is what it is.

What is seemingly unique to this neighborhood, based upon my experience of living in many other places is that, apart from the transient rooming house, we each know the other's name and we each look out for the other.

We have the elderly and infirmity close by. We have the young with babies. We have pre-teen youngsters. We have all spectrums of income and all political ideals. We rarely socialize, but we talk with each other and our commonalty is concern for the other. I’m not sure you can find that in a lot of places, but it flourishes here.

I am thankful for this place.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011


A story on one of my local news channels raised my journalistic ire the other day.

The reporter asked a question to the viewers in MOS interviews. (MOS= Man on the Street.)

Should Astronaut Mark Kelly the husband to Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords fly into space on the next and last mission of the Space Shuttle?” The last part of the question was left unasked, “ leaving his recuperating wife behind?”

Once again, in my continuing ascertainment of current television news, I mocked the screen saying, “It’s none of anybody’s business.”

To me this kind of report and reporting is not news. It is not even gossip. It is a poor attempt to get the audience, the viewer, to stay tuned for the next fifteen-minute news segment.

FYI: local ratings in the New York Market are recorded in fifteen-minute segments.

The object of this kind of story is to hold the audience, always presuming you have one, for the next rating segment and thus accumulatively sustaining or increasing your overall rating for the news broadcast when Nielsen adds it up at the end of the sweeps.

February is an important local ratings month so stations do almost anything to win the time period. To me, putting in sensational or controversial sweep stories to get a higher rating is not much different than the NYC union members working inflated overtime before they retire to get a higher pension. Both are unethical and wrong.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Super Bowl XLV

Super bowl XLV.

With pride the fans came to the bowl,
Thinking their team would control
The ball on the ground
In the air all around
To the other, the bell would toll.

The match is the super big game,
Teams basking in fortune and fame.
Bowl forty and five.
One only survives.
Will next year the teams be the same?

The Packers from GreenBay did fight
The Steelers from Pittsburgh all right.
The temperatures fine
The weather divine
From Texas the game did excite.

But today with hindsight and woes
And healing the scrimmaging blows.
No media hype
No snipe or a gripe
The Steelers, their bragging, must stow.

In this life of struggle and fears,
In this time of laughter and tears.
We needed a game,
To help us stay sane
And Texas did send us the cheers.

The season's now over and done,
I didn't really care who won.
The game is the thing
As long as it brings
A code of competitive fun.

Friday, February 4, 2011


I have been watching the changes and the conflict in Egypt. I cannot, not watch. Every news program; all the major news organizations have a presence in that ancient area. I almost feel like a voyeur as I watch brother fight brother and ideology battle ideology.

Revolution, conflict, demands for change, and uprisings are not new to Egypt.

Egypt has been involved in disputes and conflicts since its revolution in 1952. The July 23rd Revolution was aimed at overthrowing King Farouk I. It worked.

In 1954 Egypt had the Muslim Brotherhood conflict. It was suppressed.

There was a brief involvement with the Yemen Civil War in 1962. It was costly for Egypt for they supported the side that lost.

The Six-Day War was an embarrassing loss to Israel. Fingers were pointed. Ministers resigned. The national face was never restored until Sadat agreed to a peace treaty with Israel during the Carter administration stunning the Arab world.

Revolution is often a misunderstood word. It comes from the Latin “revolutio” which means “a turn around.”

Egypt today is certainly in a turn around.

What does it mean for the rest of the world? I would suspect the meaning to the subdued in Egypt and elsewhere, to the other have not’s of the world it means a passage out of sameness. It means a power shift and change and the invisible inevitable struggle that comes with change.

I don’t know what the ramifications will be in the political, regional, economic arenas of the world. I leave that to the prognosticators and the soothsayers and the pundits of our current media.

I do believe that the human spirit is one that has always desired to be free and to choose one’s individual destiny. It happened here 235 years ago and its atavistic DNA still lingers in all Americans today.

Let us hope that the quest for freedom in Egypt and everywhere will prevail over the diabolical control of all extremes that always emerge from under the rocks of revolution to spoil the quest.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Not What They Seem To Be

You know that famous painting of Washington Crossing the Delaware? It’s inaccurate. He crossed the Delaware, but the painting is of the Rhine River. The painting by 19th century American Painter, German-born Emanuel Leutze was actually painted in Dusseldorf, Germany and the Rhine River was used as a model.

Even allowing for artistic license the painting has its share of errors. The American flag in the painting shows thirteen stars and stripes. George crossed the Delaware the day after Christmas in 1776. The flag design was not adopted until 1777.

Leutze's painting also shows Washington in a rather small boat. Actually Durham boats were used. They were 40 to 60 foot long flat bottom boats used to transport freight on America’s Northeast rivers.

The painting could not show what George did after he crossed the river. The enemy was encamped at Trenton. The Hessian commander Colonel Johann Rall was snug in his headquarters. Christmas was celebrated with cheer and some card playing.

Colonel Rall told his aides – no interruptions. When a loyalist spy rushed into camp with word that Washington had crossed the Delaware, the aides made him write it down on a piece of paper. A porter brought it to the Colonel. He stuffed it in his pocket and went back to his cards.

Hours later Washington’s forces opened fire on the surprised enemy camp. The battle was short. The entire Hessian army encampment surrendered. Colonel Rall was mortally wounded. The note still stuffed in his pocket.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Snow, Ice, Sleet and more

I watched it snow again today. It was a six inch snowfall with intermixed large and small flakes that drifted, floated and swirled onto the already snow covered ground.

If you look very carefully at the snow coming down you can choose one flake, among all the others, and watch it as it settles to the ground. Its individuality seemingly disappearing into a sheet of white, but if you were able to take some tweezers and find that same snowflake and pick it up, extract it from the collective white blanket, it would still have its uniqueness, its individuality hopefully unaltered by the impact with the ground snow.

Snowflakes share only one specific to sustain their individuality. Cold! Without it, their individuation transforms into a unifying drop of water whose only mission then is to join with others and ascend to the source by ultimately descending to the sea and starting all over again as weather.

We humans also drift through life, but we maintain our individuality despite the climate of being. We do have another thing the snowflake does not have. We have conscious awareness and the sentient gift to make individual choices. We can love. We can hate. We can teach. We can create and we can destroy. Wow! What power.

We humans and snowflakes do have something in common.

In the end we too ascend to the Source and start all over again.

We can find profound introspection in all of nature if we go beyond the obvious.

Let it snow with ice and sleet and more and then bring on the rebirth of spring. Quickly.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Lee Rolland Smith

Good Morning All,

The post this morning is personal. Today would have been the 43rd birthday of my son Lee Rolland Smith. A gentle, but vociferous soul who came to teach by the grace of his personality and the truth of his actions.

Rivers of Passing Light
© 1999 Rolland G. Smith

The sunlight mourns upon a mountain stream
And holds its sad within the water’s flow
Releasing luster light in shimmer gleam
To paint the eye in tearful cameo.
I see the future in its draining course.
The cradle of the past is passing now
And sets the present with a wet discourse
Weeping, aching for death to disavow.
Unlike dispassion’s flow swift o’er the stones,
Hard sorrow seeps within the human heart
To reach long past the body’s flesh and bones
Where spirit’s love can never be apart.
Rest you, in Peace and light and love, my son.
You have left the Earth with nothing undone.
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