Thursday, June 30, 2011

Nuclear Plants - Fear or not?

I don't get concerned over too many things because I believe we create the material energy of our problems and over time we can solve the problems we created, but that is for another  post.

My long time friend, noted Japanese visionary Akio Matsumura has included a definitive assessment of the Akushima nuclear plant situation from a blog by Arnie Gundersen, chief engineer at Fairewinds Associates.

I read Akio's and Arnie's blog and I believe the information contained in it should be available to all who choose to read it.

I have always been interested in science, but I know so little about nuclear energy that this information about what's happening in Japan led to my concern.

I live not much more than 50-miles from the New York State Indian Point nuclear power facility along the Hudson River in Bucannan, New York.

If something similar ever happened to the New York facility, as it did in Japan, nearly 18 million people in the New York area could be affected. My amateur numbers may be off by a few million, but you get my point.

What is important here is not to be fearful. Fear compromises solutions. Fear inhibits process. Fear prevents clear thought and innovative intellectual computations.

My counsel is to the hold the vision that Japan's bright minds will find a solution before disaster strike again.

Here's the blog:

"Radioactive byproducts produce heat.

During the normal operation of a nuclear reactor, there is an accumulation of many man-made radioactive materials such as iodine-131, cesium-137, strontium-90, plutonium-239, and many others. 
These radioactive byproducts continue to produce a lot of heat, even after the reactor is shut down, because radioactivity cannot be stopped.  This unstoppable heat is called “decay heat.”

Heat damages fuel, releasing hydrogen and radioactive gases.

Unless the decay heat is removed as fast as it is produced, the temperature will continue to rise, eventually damaging the fuel and letting radioactive gases and vapors escape.

When you see hydrogen explosions, that means that the outside of the fuel has gone past 1000 degrees Celsius and the inside of the fuel is well over 2000 degrees Celsius. At that point the fuel gets brittle, and the zirconium coating burns, giving off hydrogen gas.

Inside the core, fuel starts melting.

Inside the containment vessels of Units 1, 2 and 3, the fuel gets soft and melts, then falling to the bottom of the vessel in a molten blob of lava.  So in each of those three reactors, there is essentially a blob of lava at the bottom of the reactor vessel. 

To cool the reactors at Fukushima, emergency workers used fire hoses connected to the ocean to pump seawater into the reactors, which had boiled dry either fully or partially.

Now, if the fuel had not melted, it would still be sitting there in a solid vertical configuration – individual fuel assemblies with channels between them, allowing the water to surround the fuel and completely cool it.

Water cannot fully cool a molten blob.

But when the fuel is a blob at the bottom of the vessel, the water can only cool the top surface of the blob and that will not stop it from melting.

At this point the blob is around 2800 degrees Celsius at the center.  Even though the outside surface may be touching water, the inside of this molten mass remains at 2800 degrees.

And at the bottom of each of these boiling water reactor vessels, there are about 70 holes where the control rods can be inserted.  I suspect that those holes were essentially the weak link that allowed the molten fuel to drip through to the bottom of the containment. So that’s where we are, with molten fuel on the bottom of the containment.  It spreads out at that point because the floor is flat.

How far will the meltdown go?

I don’t think it’s going to melt through the concrete floor, although it could gradually do so over time.  But the damage is already done because the containment has cracks in it and it’s pretty clear that it is leaking.

You pour water in at the top of the reactor to cool it and it runs out at the bottom, carrying with it more and more radioactive byproducts that were created in the reactor fuel.  Many of these materials escape into the environment as liquids and gases.

Unit 4 had no fuel in its core, but…

At the time of the accident there was no fuel in the reactor vessel of Unit 4.  All the fuel had been taken out and placed in the spent fuel pool.  But there was inadequate cooling there too, and the resulting overheating of the fuel led to a hydrogen gas explosion that blew the roof off.

But that means there is absolutely no containment for the nuclear fuel in that pool, unlike the molten fuel in the reactor cores of Units 1, 2 and 3, which still have a containment structure above them to limit radioactive releases directly into the air.

The entire spent fuel pool in Unit 4 is open to the sky, plainly visible from above. During the helicopter fly-overs you could look down into this blown-out shell of a building and see the fuel sitting there in the spent fuel pool.
That fuel is still producing a lot of heat, because the reactor was only shut down in November. So the temperature rise can easily damage the fuel and cause large radiation releases, as has been observed, from Unit 4.

Fuel pool fires are perhaps the biggest concern.

Brookhaven National Labs did a study in 1997 that showed that if a fuel pool went dry and caught on fire, it could cause 138,000 fatalities among the surrounding population.  So it’s a big concern.  In fact it is probably the biggest concern at the whole Fukushima complex.

The Chairman of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) stated that the reason he told Americans in Japan to stay 50 miles away from the Fukushima Dai-Ichi complex was his fear that the Unit 4 spent fuel would catch fire and volatilize large amounts of plutonium, uranium, cesium and strontium.  If the Brookhaven study is to be believed, such an event could eventually kill more than a hundred thousand people as a result.

What about earthquakes?

The Sumatra earthquake of December 2004 was a 9.1 magnitude quake, and the biggest aftershock, an 8.6 magnitude quake, occurred three months later.  So even now, if the Sumatra event is any indication, large aftershocks are still possible.

One of the concerns about Units 1, 2 and 3, is that if you pour too much water into the structures surrounding the cores of those reactors, they get very heavy – and they are not designed to sway [and absorb shocks] when they are so heavy.

With tens of tons of extra water in them, the mass in the core area exceeds the seismic design. So they are unusually vulnerable to earthquake damage. They are in real jeopardy in case of a severe aftershock.
The same applies to the already weakened structure of the spent fuel pool in Unit 4.  And as already mentioned, because the spent fuel pool is open to the sky, the radioactive releases from the damaged fuel in that pool could be exceptionally dangerous over a much larger area than previously envisaged.

What about entombment?

If all else fails, I think eventually TEPCO may get to the point of throwing up their hands and just pouring concrete on top of the reactor cores in Units 1, 2 and 3.  They can’t do that yet, because the cores are still too hot.  But at a certain point there won’t be anywhere near as much decay heat and you probably could consider just filling them with concrete, creating a giant mausoleum as they did at Chernobyl.

But Unit 4 is still a problem, because all the fuel is at the top – high up – and you can’t pour concrete onto it because you will collapse the supporting structure.  And the fuel in the pool is so radioactive, you can’t lift it out either.  I used to do this for a living, but Unit 4 has me stumped – I don’t know what to do about it."


Arnie Gundersen is an energy advisor with 39-years of nuclear power engineering experience. A former nuclear industry senior vice president, he earned his Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees in nuclear engineering, holds a nuclear safety patent, and was a licensed reactor operator. During his nuclear industry career, Arnie managed and coordinated projects at 70-nuclear power plants around the country. Read more at Fairewinds Associates.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Arlington - Grave Fraud?

Here’s an item from today’s Washington Post.

“The Justice Department is investigating the mishandling of remains at Arlington National Cemetery in a broad criminal inquiry that also seeks evidence of possible contracting fraud and falsification of records.
A federal grand jury in Alexandria has been subpoenaing witnesses and records relating to the scandal, and the investigation has been underway for at least six months, people familiar with the investigation said Tuesday.”

I am appalled! I know that in our country we are innocent until proven guilty, but just the allegations of fraud and a possible cover-up besmirch the integrity of service of our uniformed soldiers and it dishonors the sacred ground and history of Arlington.

Those who cheated on records and defrauded for dollars, if that is the case here, have no idea of what it takes to serve our country and the true sacrifice of life and limb for some and the dedicated service of others who are entitled to be buried in our national place of honor.

When we are gone, we are gone. The body dies and the memory of the person is placed in sacred ground for generations to honor and wonder at the individual gifts of so many.

I look forward to seeing what the grand jury finds in these allegations.

I recently spent some time in Lynchburg, Virginia. I visited a civil war cemetery for confederate soldiers. Southern Americans who fought and died for their belief and cause, as did so many Americans on the Northern side.

I was impressed that each grave marker had the name of the soul buried beneath the stone. The Civil War was a terrible war between brothers and families and it nearly tore our country apart. There are still lingering emotions, but we are still, “E pluribus unum,” out of many - one.

I bring this up because Arlington National Cemetery should be perfect. Bodies and names should precisely match. Anyone or any organization that hinders, alters or desecrates the process of identity should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Kayaking The Hudson River

I've seen the Hudson River from the air, from the Metro North train tracks that parallel the river and from big and medium size small boats, but never, till now, from the level of the water in a kayak.

My friends and I put in on the western shore of the river and paddled across the wide expanse to Pollepel Island on the east side and the home of the crumbling Bannerman's Castle.

I've included a couple of pictures of my kayak Hudson traverse in this post, but I've also posted a link to the history and some historic photos of what Bannerman's Castle looked like a hundred years ago.

Crossing this historic river just inches above the surface, feeling the wave chop and an even deeper spirit of the river’s history one can become at one with the river. It’s like sitting on your grandfather's lap and feeling the stories of a long and exciting life.

Midway across the expanse, looking south, you can see the bulwark and redoubts of the West Point Military Academy. Looking to the north you see the Newburgh Beacon Interstate 84 twin Span Bridge.

I've often written that your can find the surprise of nature anywhere you look. I saw a white spot bobbing on the water as I paddled across. As I got closer much to my surprise it was a shore bird resting on a small plank of wood. It didn't move as I floated by. I thought maybe it got tired as it flew across the Hudson and decided to rest for a while before resuming its flight.

The Hudson River begins in a small glacial tarn on the slopes of Mount Marcy in upstate New York. It’s called Lake Tear Of the Clouds. The river ends at the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor. Not a bad legacy for a short, but dynamic river.

Monday, June 27, 2011

NYS Gay Marriage Right

A same sex marriage bill passed in New York.

So What’s different?

Nothing has really changed. Gay couples are still together.

People who think a gay liaison is wrong are still thinking the same thing.

The legalities of property rights and spousal rights are now formalized and that has been a major hurdle for gays and lesbians, but the rest is as it was.

I understand the importance of the marriage legalities for any number of reasons, but for those who would never support such a law anyway…nothing has changed.

The Churches opposed the measure, but were basically out-maneuvered by the pro gay marriage forces and the measure passed. Governor Cuomo signed it into law.

Where it goes from here is anyone’s guess.

California passed a similar measure and then rescinded it.

Opponents of the measure may choose to consider and remember that gay and lesbian proclivities and relationships have been in the human behavior psychology for centuries if not eons.

What I find hypocritical is that many individuals and religious organizations teach unconditional love, but both do not practice it. They preach that judgment belongs to a higher authority, but do not accept it as they pass judgment with words like immoral and sinful.

I don’t know about you, but in all things considered absolute by dogmatic edict, I’ll take my chances hanging with an all-loving, non-judgmental All That Is and see what happen when the alleged judgment day comes.

I think there is only a self judgment day, but I’m willing to wait and see.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Doom and Bloom

Doom and Bloom
© 2011 Rolland G. Smith

Let’s choose some words and play a game
To fit our national mood.
For some it’s doom and some it’s blame;
And most are misconstrued.

But I am sad in what I read
For gloom is part of it.
Investors think the growing seed
Is tarred within a pit.

That may be true and times are tough
And loss does come to mind,
But don’t you think we have enough
And need not more entwined?

We really have a lot to count
For those who keep the score
And when it’s bad we all surmount
The issues we abhor.

When global markets scrape the tanks
And numbers breach and fall
Let’s change our thoughts to giving “thanks”
For what we have at all.

We have so much, we spoiled kids,
Complaining all the time.
Comparing us to real skids
Our lot is most sublime.

Can we not go from East to West
And turn and then head back
Without a stop to even rest,
No border stops to track.

Do we not have a power source
Without a thought each day?
To me that is a gift perforce

And something we should weigh.

Do we not have a freedom’s grace
To say what all we please?
And let our thoughts then interlace
With others in degrees.

We have a vote where some do not
And choice to make it so.
Too many say, Oh, I forgot
To pull the lever row.

I’ll bet with thought a list would come
And climb within your mind.
So many gifts where we succumb
And be as if we’re blind.

There are so many things we need
To say we’re thankful for.
The sun is one and flower’s seed,
And mountains and the shore.

A gentle rain is in there too
As is an Eagles screech.
Let’s not forget the morning dew
And those who teach to reach.

So when we say we’ve not enough
Complaining here and there.
Perhaps we need to call our bluff
And make the choice to share.

A thank you is oft hard to do
And some think it means weak,
But we should say it and pursue
This way to always speak.

So I will end this post today
With lofty thoughts in mind
And hope that all who read will say
Tis bloom that I will find.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Spiritual Radar

I'm waiting for a storm to come. I hear the thunder in the distance and the skies are darkening. A light sprinkle is the harbinger of heavier pours.

When I was a youngster similar weather patterns would signal a thunder storm, but we would not know the severity or duration of the storm system. Today storm tracks are high tech. My smart phone and iPad alert me to severe weather in real time; colorful graphics show the intensity of rainfall and storm cell movement.

Our intuition is a lot like the modern high tech indicators. The problem is that most of us don't listen to the intuitive thoughts that move in and out of our awareness; they are our spiritual radar.

We lost the internal trust long ago of how to interpret our feelings, our gut instincts, our vibrations of something's wrong or not right and even sensing our hackles of danger. Our spiritual self however has not forgotten how to do it, only our mind has not remembered.

There is a way to tune into our spirit selves and remember what we think we've forgotten. Intention! Intention is the catalyst for atavistic sensing. Giving intent to be aware of our thoughts and their guidance under the aegis of free will will connect us to our intuitive selves and then the mind can make the appropriate choices.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

School Days

The kids are home from school early these days on my street.

It seems they go half-days for three or four days at the end of the school year in order to get state funding and complete the number of school days required by each state.

Most states are in a financial crisis and need to save money anywhere they can. Why not truncate the mandatory number of days that schools must be in session. They probably wouldn’t save much money, but maybe a few million or more considering all the school districts in my state.

The kids really don’t learn much on the half days. The learning for the school year is done. Most of the tests are finished and this is just a put in your time so each school district meets the state’s requirements for the number of days in session.

That’s another one. Who in the state legislature decided that X-number of days would be the optimum for attendance?

The whole thing is ridiculous. When the children finish the core curriculum for each year why not let them go home?

The schools are basically staying open to be tax payer “sitters” anyway.

Reform is on for all of the states and on the federal agenda. Why not start here?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

New Leadership

It's started. The political campaigns for the next presidential election. I'm wondering if civility will be part of the politicking? We need leadership that's visionary, inclusive, informative and most of all truthful.

Some people strive to be leaders, some are promoted to it, some are elected to it and some have it thrust upon them. There is gentle leadership, ego leadership, benevolent leadership, partisan leadership, inspiring leadership. Whichever one is chosen, by any individual, true leadership is still based on character and character is the outward quality of one's inner being and personal ethic.

Character is a visible piece of the heart that others see when action, inspiration and difficult choices are required.

In these times of political rhetoric of constant change, of interdependency and minute interconnections, where truly the out-breath of one is the in-breath of another, leaders, in all their forms, need to look for and then act for the greater good.

Anything less diminishes character and keeps leaders and the country from the potential of greatness.

Monday, June 20, 2011

A Dead Bird. A Dead Ant

I was sitting reading by a big picture window on Saturday when a Downy Woodpecker hit the window with a loud slam. The Downey’s are the smallest of the Woodpecker family in North America.

I went out on the deck and the little bird was breathing heavily and writhing. I was at a loss at what to do. I did not want to frighten it further by rushing to its side. I tried to send it healing thoughts of love and compassion, but quickly it turned over a few times and died.

I was saddened by the visual experience of this little creature whose life just ended in front of me. I picked up the lifeless, but still warm bird. It was so soft and light, just ounces of weight.

My heart ached for this loss of a life force as I disposed of the little one with a private prayer and the unanswerable question of why.

A few hours later I killed an ant crawling on the kitchen counter. The second I did so I felt a questioning remorse.

Was the bird’s life and my sadness at its ending more sacred than the life of the ant? Why did I not feel sadness for the ant especially after my experience with the Downy Woodpecker?

These are questions we all need to ask ourselves as we go through the emotional experiences of conscious choice.

All life, whether our’s, a birds or an ants, is holy and purposeful.

One ending I witnessed and the other I caused.  The dichotomy of sensitive emotion is troubling.

Friday, June 17, 2011


I am old enough to remember a time when the career choices, that women were encourage to follow, were teaching, secretarial, nursing and housewife. All honorable professions.

Fortunately for humanity an attitudinal shift precipitated a social change and today the careers for women are as expansive as they are for men; there is not total equality as yet, but we are moving to it.  Society can only reach its full potential when it encourages the unlimited expression of creativity from both men and women and provides an opportunity for each to be that creativity.

When you have a high pressure, high public exposure job situation in which a man and women work closely together you are bound to have conflict, all relationships have some conflict in them, even personal ones.

The only antidote to either personal or professional conflict is courtesy.  Until all teams of the future bring respect from their hearts for the other’s individual success no pairing will be successful as a partnership.

Take note: TV news anchors.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Falklands War

June 14th 1982 was also the day that Argentina surrendered to the British in the brief, but deadly Falklands War.

It was a war that should not have been. 967 people died because of missinterpretation and bureaucracy.

Here's how the war began.

There was a 39 year old scrap dealer by the name of Constantine Davidoff, an Argentinean, who wishes today he could take back an innocent action.

Davidoff heard about three abandoned whaling stations on the Georgia islands. It was a chance to make some salvage money with scrap parts. In December of 81, Davidoff, and seven crewmen got permission from the British to inspect the stations. In March he started salvage operations. His men, either as a joke or excitement or pride or what have you raised a blue and white Argentine flag over the salvage operations.

The flag was spotted by a group of British researchers camped about 5 miles away. They got on their radio and called London.

Word spread among the British and in the Falklands.  800 miles to the west a group of patriotic islanders broke into the Argentinean National Airlines office in Port Stanley and put up the British flag and wrote on the wall '"Tit for tat."

The British Government protested that the Davidoff crew landed illegally. They didn't land illegally and had permission, but distance and time and inter-department bureaucracy didn't get permits to the right people at the right time.

Argentina said the Davidoff Salvage crew had a right to be there. Britain responded by sending in an Ice Patrol Boat. Argentina then sent a navy ship to protect the crew from forcible removal. More meetings were held between the British and Argentina. Words became angry. Ownership rights were stated and demanded and days later the Argentineans invaded and the Falkland’s war began. 

You know the rest.

The lesson here is simple. Your actions may not cause a war between countries, but will they could cause conflict between family, neighbors, ever strangers. Be responsible for what you do and say for the loss of personal and spiritual peace by anger and insult, and by misunderstanding. It is very a lasting pain.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Our Flag...its anniversary.

Yesterday was Flag Day. I missed it and I imagine so did many of you. Of all the national things that we each hold sacred, our flag is not something we should miss or have our children miss. If we each still believe in the ideals of this republic then our flag is the standard bearer of our beliefs and even though we are busy, and it's a weekday and the kids have homework and they need to get to soccer practice, we ought to remember this day.

There was a time in our history when our flag was empty of experience. It had the symbolism of a united people and the expectation of greatness, but we were a young country and as yet we had little collective history.

The United States wasn’t even a year old when Continental Congress adopted the flag design on June 14th, 1777. But now, centuries later we remember that our flag is much more than red and white cloth stripes and symbolic stars in blue.

It’s everything that’s ever happened to this country and everything we’ve ever done. It’s victory and defeat. It’s protests and pageantry. It’s honor with humility and shame with remorse. It’s living and dying for principle.

A nation is not its flag. Our flag is the collective body and history of our nation. It’s not only the rights we are constitutionally guaranteed, but it’s also the personal human rights we embrace and grant to others through courtesy and compassion and character.

Above all the flag is our waving symbol for the entire world to see our courage, our liberty, our freedom and our belief in the God we trust.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Voyeurism and The Constitution

The Anthony Weiner self destruct brought this story to mind.

A few years ago, in Salem, Oregon, there was a late night cable access television program where the host could be seen dancing nude and even defecating on camera. His actions, however offensive, were protected under the constitutional guarantees of the expressions of art and protected from censorship.

Within each of us is an vast potential for individualized creative expression. We all have a choice of how we manifest our expressions, our art.

Under the umbrella of art comes a plethora of expressions: paintings, from oils to illustrations, music, both composition and performance, literature, with its story and poetry, film and theater with its drama and comedy and form, from sculpture to carvings, but the most important expression of all is appreciation of things beautiful.

Perhaps there ought to be a litany of requirements before anyone may use the public airwaves to express prurient, voyeuristic and lewd creations as art, they must first demonstrate a knowledge and appreciation of the other arts that express the beauty and grace of humankind.

Weiner is a different issue, although voyeuristic and lewd is part of his Modus Operandi.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Mea Culpa - Oil Companies

I was riding in the car with my son Gregg awhile back and I was railing against the oil companies for raising oil prices and I said, it was, “greed.”

Gregg said that’s not true Dad. Before I had the chance to debate it and listen to his argument, the subject changed and we passed to other topics.

Gregg is a learned son with expertise in the commodities market.

I did some research and some analysis. So then, this Mea Culpa.

Hello Oil Companies…

You who….Rolland here. The blogger who keeps dumping on you for raising your oil prices…

I think I’ve been wrong and I apologize to you for my inappropriate tirade against your rising oil prices and for you not paying taxes.

Here’s why.

I read recently form sources I trust that your price gouging, your windfall profits and your not paying your fair share taxes are not fair accusations.

Between 2006 and 2010 U.S. oil companies were taxed more than all the Fortune 500 companies. Oil companies were taxed at an effect rate of 27 percent. The other big guys like GE were taxed at nine percent. Verizon and Coke at 21 percent and pharmaceutical giant Pfizer around 15 percent.

There’s more:

I learned that U.S. oil company profits per dollar of sales was six cents compared to nine cents for manufacturing companies, 17 cents for computer companies and 22 cents for beverage and tobacco.
Here are some other facts I did not factor in to my tirades.

U.S. oil companies hold a combined 3-percent of the world’s reserves. That limits them from participating in setting a global price. I also did not know that the oil industry’s ROI has lagged in the S&P listing since 1982.

Then why the fluctuations on oil prices?

Politicians!  Government needs to focus on America’s fiscal and debt situation to strengthen the dollar. If the dollar buys more oil, gas prices will decline.

Guess who needs to get down to real work instead of continually casting blame?

Congress comes to mind.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Primal Thought

Beware the black of fear and graying light
When earthly reason cannot see the bright.
For now’s the time to bide your mind and soul
As spirit swallows all illusions whole.

Now move your thoughts to where it’s empty space
To thus acknowledge true the wholesome grace
Of joy and wisdom coming from the Source
And sadness and old pain have no recourse.

Love holds us in the brace of lasting peace.
It is a blessed gift that does release
The primal thought of life you've chosen now
As right and just and what you did avow.

Avow, you did,  before the counsel light
Before your body formed into its might
For density is hard to comprehend
When spirit and a form in matter blend.

The poets of all time will tell us truth
When preaching to the learned and the youth.
For death does not diminish what they say
It is the listening mind that does decay.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Hot Here! 95 plus yesterday and today.

I thought I’d try something today to get a little relief from the heat in the northeast. I wrote a paragraph in the freeze of  winter a few years ago to describe the cold. I looked it up and re-read it to see if I could feel a little cooler.

Here it is from wintertime.

“This day is a draining, shivering cold. There is a frigid thunk to the wind chimes on the porch, not the usual resonate ring of atoms in easy motion. The chime sound is tight, quick and solid as if it is too hard and too stiff for even the ring to move beyond its source. Everything has stillness about it except the wind and it too shivers as it seeks the elusive warmth of icy friction”.

I read it twice and it didn’t help.

Stay cool.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Johnny Miller

Johnny Miller died around these days back in 2008. He was 102 when he passed. I got to thinking about him because of my continued interest in aviation and because I recently looked at a documentary I did that included him. The documentary was entitled, "Gyroplane Refrain." It was produced by Frank Basile of Fresh Produce Productions.

Johnny was born just two years after the Wright Brothers flew their historic flight.

Miller had an extraordinary life in aviation. He learned to fly by teaching himself in a World War One Jenny and was proficient in Gyroplanes and many other aircraft culminating as a captain for Eastern Airlines flying jets.

Even though he reached the century mark two years ago, Johnny Miller stayed as active as he could. A couple of years ago, when I was interviewing him for a documentary called Gyroplane Refrain, I offered to help him bring his Bonanza out of the hanger, but he said, “No, I’ll do it” and then at nearly one hundred he flew it to two perfect touch and go's.

I marveled then at his youthful spirit and I wonder what makes some of us old at fifty and some of us young beyond ninety.

Health, I’m sure, has a lot to do with it, and I suspect the inner attributes of a youthful demeanor: enthusiasm, attitude and the joy of adventure are part of it. And perhaps pride in still being able to make perfect landings.

It was Longfellow who once wrote:

“for age is an opportunity no less than youth itself, though in another dress. And as the evening twilight fades away, the sky is fitted with stars, invisible by day”.

Reportedly Johnny Miller's last words were: "I guess my flying days are over". No, Johnny, I think they have just begun. Your spiritual flight has made the Eternal Light much brighter. Requiescat In Pace.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Anthony Weiner

Poor Anthony Weiner, the democrat congressmen from Queens in New York. First he lied and then he admitted he lied about sending a lewd photograph of himself via Twitter to a woman on the Internet.

What was he thinking? A twitter account? Certainly “twit” comes to mind, but beyond that, here is a seven-term congressman admitting to sending inappropriate photos to several women over three years.

This kind of behavior has been going on in congressional lives since I can remember and I go back to covering the hill in 1969. I remember congressman Wilber Mills and his assignations with stripper Fanny Fox back in 1974.

 A blog by Paul Jenks, published in May of 2006 puts it succinctly.

“Congressional scandals and cries of corruption are as old as Congress. In fact I submit the proposition that there has never been a single day in the history of the Congress that there has not been some scandal, corruption probe, or embarrassing Congressional peccadillo being bandied about town. The recipe for scandal and corruption is very simple and all the ingredients are always in the Congressional pantry. Take 535 people, predominantly men, give them some power and prestige, put them in Washington, DC, often away from stabilizing family influences, give them some money and presto! You have everything you need for scandal and corruption, or at least salacious misbehavior.”

Weiner is married to Huma Abedin, a top aide to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Abedin and Weiner were married less than a year ago.

Weiner says he won’t resign; that remains to be seen.

Congressmen, both in the House and Senate, need to be above reproach. They, these elected representative of us, need to set the standard for the country in ethics, in morals, in behavior, in honesty, and in the utterings of truth.

Without these attributes our leaders are nothing more than spoiled souls who think their elected privilege allows prurient behavior without reproach and that an apology will suffice for blatant public lies.

I don’t think so!

Monday, June 6, 2011


It is an anniversary today. A terrible remembrance of sacrifice and courage. It is D-day, June 6th, the storming of the beaches in Normandy, France in an operation called "Overlord." I was there at Normandy on the June 6, 1999 anniversary with six army and air corps veterans who had not been back since they fought and parachuted and crawled on and near those beaches in 1944.

It was an extraordinary experience for me. These men opened up their hearts and the secured mind-vaults that held the pain and fear and terror from so many years ago. I felt it and I cried along with them as they relived the experience of death and dying.

The concluding part of the documentary of their return to Normany was the following poem.

“Lest we forget.”
© 1999 Rolland G. Smith

It was the day and the month the warriors returned
To the place where many died, the dawn the beaches burned.
The hard of then, now softened by the passage of the years.
It freed again the feelings that surfaced with the tears.

The mind and step would falter returning to the scene
Their bodies now are different. The beaches now pristine.
So many came to witness the warriors return
And wondered if their courage was something they could learn.

Valor comes in time of need, for courage is within
When tyranny oppresses it rises once again.
Old warriors we thank you, for life and limb you gave
To hold the sacred honor of the free and the brave.

You came from planes and gliders and from the ships at sea
And moved across the beaches to free French Normandy.
You now return to see, the place of battle fears
The combat dead now hold you and wipe away your tears.

The world too rejoices in thanks for how you fought
It weeps for lives that lost and too for lessons taught.
And if there is a legacy, besides long rows of white,
Let it be a world call, never the need to fight.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Distortion Again!

Once again the Obama haters use an untruth to promote their political position.

The sign's caption purports it to be from an Atlanta neighborhood on Memorial Day.

The sign is a fake!

Look closely at the long shadows of the tree and the piece of building block on the ground to the right. The shadows lean to the angled left. The sun is obviously shinning brightly, but there is no sunshine on the alleged sign and no hint of a shadow cast from the sign.

It is an obvious photo shop insert.

The font on the sign is a well known computer type face.

There is another element of this email distortion. To suggest that anyone exercising their free choice franchise to prove they are not a racist is ludicrous and to intimate that anyone who voted for Obama is an idiot underscores the blatant prejudice of those who perpetuate and distribute this crap.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

An Observation


I’m behind a woman in the grocery store. She watches all of her items get scanned and the total rings up on the cash register. Then she opens her purse, takes out her wallet and fumbles for her store discount card and then her credit card. She swipes her card and pushes the appropriate buttons and the printed receipt is presented for her signature.

THEN…she helps pack her items in her personal bags, which she just unrolled for the checker. In my store if you bring you own grocery bags you save five cents a bag. I don’t begrudge her…her 25-cent savings, but…


Why not have your store card out, your credit card ready and pack while all the electronics are taking place.

I was thinking it, but the woman behind me said it, “Good Grief, some people are never aware.
”Note: Young guys have everything ready or they pay cash. Old men linger and talk and are just as slow as if they had a purse. There must be something for me to learn in all this…I just have not figured it out as yet.

I was waiting for a lunch order the other day; one that I put in forty minutes earlier. The entire specialized deli was seemingly disorganized. I ordered lunch for four people before anyone else was at the counter. It was not ready forty minutes later. Why?  Organization. I won’t go back right away.

I know that we live in a fast food and fast paced society and sometime’s I detest that modality, but if a business wants to survive in a fast paced social culinary structure it needs to be focused and organized.

The other part of it is courtesy. Be aware of what you’re doing and the time it takes especially if you are in line for some transaction. Everyone these days needs to get somewhere and being part of the needed pace is just as important as taking time to “smell the roses.”

OK, OK, it’s a rant.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

River Ride

River Ride
© 2011 Rolland G. Smith

To float, to glide, astride, and slide
Upon the rivers surface side
With friends and talk and laughter too;
These times are true, but all too few.

The river calls from fathom’s place
O’er depths and flow we must retrace
Returning to the put in point
Where nature’s crown will thus anoint
The souls who push ‘gainst currents flow,
And fight the wind in heading blow.

When last we dock and Kayak’s out
I know the joy without a doubt
To float, to glide, astride, and slide
Where friends and nature coincide.
Free Blog CounterEnglish German Translation