Highway 431 Blog

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Confronting Griffith About Health Care ::






Thursday, July 2nd, 2009 5:30 – 6:30 PM

Davidson Center 3D Digital Theater

U.S. Space and Rocket Center

1 Tranquility Base, Huntsville, AL 35805

I might be a few minutes late, but I think I can make this one to let Griffith know in person how I feel about reforming our health care system and I hope we can fill the hall with reformers!

A Coral Snake ::

I forget where I ran across this story a couple of days ago, but I did save the link to the original post about this reclusive snake being found down in Coosa County. (I'm gonna have to get out a map to see just where that is) Apparently this is the first one to be spotted that far north in around 40 years!

I was driving from Andalusia to Shorter to meet Eric Soehren, with whom I’m co-editing a book on natural communities of Alabama. Later we were to drive to Auburn to meet with Debbie Folkerts, our other co-editor. I was still a few miles south of Montgomery when Eric called with the big news that Nick Sharp and Josh Landrum (his co-workers at ADCNR State Lands Division) had just gotten a CORAL SNAKE at one of the red-cockaded woodpecker sites that was recently acquired by Forever Wild. I was very familiar with this area of natural longleaf pine north of the Hatchet Creek arm of Mitchell Lake about an hour north of Montgomery, having monitored that woodpecker population for several years before the state acquired it. I’d seen a pigmy rattlesnake and an eastern coachwhip in that area before, and while coral snakes had crossed my mind, one had never crossed my trail the way Nick’s did. It happened fairly early in the morning, which is when Dr. Bob Mount says most Alabama specimens have been encountered. Nick gingerly scooped it into his backpack and called Eric, who was taking the day off to work on the book. Eric and I had nowhere to be until 4:00, so we decided to chuck the book for a while and run up to see and photograph the snake, so we planned to meet in Montgomery to ride together. Then I got the idea that we really ought to get a tissue sample for future DNA study, since we’d be releasing the snake rather than collecting it as a voucher. I called Jimmy Stiles, who had more experience than me in collecting snake tissue, and he advised a small clip off the tail tip. But what to preserve the tissue in? Eric and I ended up meeting at an ABC store and buying a small bottle of Bacardi 151 (75 % alcohol) rum, which had enough ethanol in it to do the trick.

I'm not sure why this story interested me so much, but it did.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Buying Face Time With Parker Griffith ::

This from Political Party Time:

* For: Parker Griffith (D, AL-5)
* When: 2009-06-16 (6 p.m.)
* Where: Bobby Van\'s Grill - 1201 New York Ave, NW Washington, DC
* Type of Event: Dinner
* Contribution Information: $5000 Host; $2500 Sponsor; $1500 PAC; $1000 Individual
* Make Checks Payable To: Parker Griffith for Congress - 499 S. Capitol Street SW, Suite 400, Washington, DC 20003
* RSVP: Lindsay Angerholzer | Alden Knowlton; 202-488-1445; Alden@Sutters-Mill.com
* Distribution Paid for by: DCCC

I wonder what the take was from this event!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Shopping For Food ::

I was at the Target on Bailey Cove earlier today and they had fresh ears of corn 10 for $1. Don't know how long this will run, but it's a great deal!

Dr. Kenneth Pitts ::

I have been seriously derelict in posting the past few days about things and people who I care very much about and I need to comment on the article in Friday's Huntsville Times about Dr. Pitts. Here are a couple of excerpts followed by my thoughts:

Usually, the nurses hear Dr. Kenneth Pitts coming before they see him: There's the singing, the tap of fancy dance steps in the hallway, the calls of "Where's my hug?" as he passes nurses and patients.

"He gets off the elevator dancing a gig - literally dancing," said Bonnie Rausch, R.N., a charge nurse on the fifth floor at Huntsville Hospital for Women. "Everybody is in a lighter mood when he comes here."


before she told her own pastor. She asked if he would go see her.

"I knew Dr. Pitts had a busy day planned, but I asked him anyway," Rausch said, taking a short break during a morning shift last week. "They had never met, but that didn't stop him from walking to room 327. He held hands with my frightened sister and with my mom and formed a circle, and they prayed. This helped ease my sister's fears and gave her peace."


Jasmine Hill, a unit secretary and patient care technician, knows Pitts both as a colleague at the hospital and as a patient. She and her husband's first child miscarried last fall.

"I could not imagine going through that with any other doctor," Hill said. "I don't think I've ever seen Dr. Pitts down or upset, even if something is not carried out according to his orders. And he's like that in his office, too. He doesn't start an exam or leave without a word of prayer."


Pitts, who only agreed to be interviewed when Dahlin, Rausch and some other nurses insisted it might inspire others, is glad if anything he does brings comfort to anyone.

But he insists he's doing nothing that can't be done by anyone else, too.

"The whole essence of what I do is, I enjoy the Lord," Pitts said. "The whole idea is: It ain't for you; it's for God's children."

On January 23, 1998 my wife was in a horrific traffic accident and lingered between life and death for several weeks. Our oldest, D., was pregnant at the time and Dr. Pitts was her obstetrician. My wife was in a coma for 5 weeks eventually spending 8 weeks in Huntsville Hospital and another 8 weeks in the Health South Rehab hospital. During that entire time I don't remember a single day when Dr. Pitts didn't stop in to visit and say a few words of encouragement.

Taylor was born a week after J. was released and had the honor of cutting her umbilical cord! Dr. Pitts will always have a special place in our hearts!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Broken Masthead ::

The masthead should be back soon. The photograph is hosted on another web server and I unfortunately missed the renewal message so I'm waiting for the techies to get me back up on the web.

Let me put in a good word for Web HSP. They have hosted 2 of my web sites for several years and I only recall one time that we were down for something other than one of my boneheaded moves. They always respond quickly to any concerns and everything is extremely stable. You can probably find some cheaper hosting, but I'd rather pay a bit more for the service that Web HSP provides.

Earnest Is Back On The Trail ::

Earnest passed through here last November on a quest to reach California. The original post is here. Not long after leaving this area Earnest had a heart attack and spent some time recovering, but he is now back on the road. I don't know if he's starting over or starting from where he left off, but if you happen to see him on the road riding Snowey keep in mind that he could use some help.

Here is his explanation of his quest:

I 'm One Fat Cowboy (Ernest Nunley) and this is my horse Snowey.

I am traveling across America by horseback.
Please, keep the children for whom I am riding,
Snowey and myself in your prayers.
We have alot of rough miles ahead of us.
After completing 400 miles of our journey,
we have 3100 miles left to go.
Just me and my horse against the elements,
with no comforts of home.

Hopefully, this trip will accomplish several goals:

*Bring awareness that there are still way too many children
suffering from Catastrophic diseases and cancer,
as did four of my family members,
whom did not live to adulthood.

*Not all children that need help are physically
or mentally ill, but have parents that are too self involved.

*That you are the one who can make a difference,
by the donation of your time and/or money,
to the different charities, organizations or churches
that provide services for these children.

*To honor the memory of all the children who have succumbed
to childhood cancer and other illnesses like my family members.

As for me personally, it will give me a chance to meet people
and talk about my favorite subjects. Those subjects being
children and horses. It will, also, reunite me with my brother in
California that I have not seen in 17 years.
I will, also, join the ranks of a very few, in recent times,
that have ridden horseback from coast to coast.

The only way I can accomplish this is
with God's help through you.
Any donations, horse food, use of pasture,
food, board, cash, etc. will be appreciated!

I am not affiliated with any charity or group
so anything you give is strictly to help Snowey and Myself
complete this Quest.

I also just found this You-Tube video of a conversation with Earnest posted just a couple of days ago:

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Blackberries ::

While cutting grass yesterday afternoon I noticed that the blackberries are starting to ripen. Seems to be a little earlier this year, maybe because of all the rain we had earlier. I guess I'll brave the chiggers and ticks and pick some later today.

Ticks have been especially bad this year. A couple of weeks ago I was cutting grass on the riding mower and I found 8 or 10 on me from one corner of the yard. That had never happened before.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Hot Days ::

I spent a good portion of the day on the riding lawn mower and was it ever hot out! I can't wait 'til August!

Flag Week-Saturday

We're looking at mid 90 temps today so I thought that I'd post the flag and snowman photograph.

Everyone have a great weekend!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Flag Week-Monday ::

This monument is erected over the mass grave site of 67 victims of the Cleveland School Fire of May 17, 1923 at Beaulah Methodist Church in the Charlotte Thompson community outside of Camden, South Carolina. My stepfather and baby brother are buried in this cemetery and my brother lives just down the road!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Flag Week-2009 ::

The Huntsville Times Bows To More Wingnut Pressure ::

From this morning's Huntsville Times:

Beginning Monday, readers will see two new names in our mix of writers billing themselves as conservative commentators: Linda Chavez, who debuts Monday, and Michelle Malkin on Thursday.

Chavez replaces Kathleen Parker, whom many of our conservative friends have been unhappy with. Malkin will substitute for one of the two days conservative Thomas Sowell is published each week. Our picks were among the recommendations offered by readers when asked in December for suggestions

Kathleen Parker is one of the few conservative writers who generally espoused a rational point of view from the conservative side and I could read her columns without a gnashing of teeth. Given that the editors of The Times bowed to pressure and will be publishing the hate-filled screeds of Michelle Malkin I expect little more from Linda Chavez with whom I am not familiar.

As an aside, Kathleen Parker splits her time between Washington, D.C. and my hometown, Camden, S.C. where she is associated with Reid Buckley's The Buckley School Of Public Speaking. I always thought that sharing a cup of coffee with her in the coffee shop on Camden's Broad Street would be an interesting experience!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Still Around! ::

I haven't dropped off the face of the Earth-just been busy with stuff around the house including working on my redneck convertible, shown below:

I broke a drive belt a couple of weeks ago and replacing it has been a struggle, but I think I have it done now and I'll start putting everything back together this evening after work. Since I had it up on blocks I went ahead and put on a new blade. May as well do it all at once.

Last Saturday evening I went to the first horse show at the New Hope Saddle Club arena. Everything seemed a bit stiff, but this is the first show and should loosen up for the next one in July. I still shot a bunch of photographs and here is one:

Oh yeah, the computer. I have everything to put my new computer together since the old one was fried by lightening so that will be this weekend's project!

No shortage of things to do!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

More Baby Birds ::

Each year the little wrens like to nest in my fern and this year is no different.

We've already had a successful nesting in the wreath on my front door. That one was easier since I don't have to water the wreath. This will make 10 baby birds this year on the front porch and I think there were some on the back porch but the nest is in a corner that is very difficult to get to.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Music For Meds ::

A reminder that there is a benefit show this Sunday at Crossroads benefiting the Huntsville Community Free Clinic. Information is here. Festivities start at 2pm with a suggested donation of $10 and should run well into the evening. A very worthy cause and I'm hoping to spend some time down there.

Good music for a great cause! Hope to see many friends listening to the music and drinking a cold adult beverage or 6!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

New Computer ::

I've finally got all of the new ingredients for my new computer and I'm getting ready to start putting it together. This one should be a pretty kick-butt box although I hate the thought of reloading all of the software. Here are the components:

Gigabyte EP45-UD3R motherboard
Intel 2.6ghz DuoCore processor
320Gig Western Digital C drive
2 500Gig Western Digital hard drives on a raid 5 array
4 gigs of Crucial ram (Mobo will handle 16 gigs)
Gonna reload XP-pro right now as an operating system

I haven't bought an off the shelf desktop computer since 1998. The prices are great from Dell and the other manufacturers, but I like knowing exactly what is inside my boxes. If there is a problem I generally know exactly how to fix it and the hardware upgrade path is much easier.

The new laptop has served me well since my old desktop was killed by lightening, but I just don't like doing any sort of graphics with the laptop screen. Hopefully I'll be back up running early next week at the latest.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

A Response From Parker Griffith ::

I e-mailed Griffith about a month ago specifically stating my thoughts on the health care debate and expressly emphasizing my support for a single-payer system covering all residents. What I got back was a boiler-plate response which only marginally addressed my health care concerns.

Here is the response in its entirety:

Thank you for your message. Your input has been very helpful to me as a freshman member of the 111th Congress. The concerns of North Alabama are always my top priority, and I am grateful for the time you took to raise your concerns.

Let me tell you about some of the issues Congress has focused on since the beginning of this year.

Our most pressing issue has been the economy. Congressional mail bins have swelled with Tea Bags that symbolize the frustration at Congress's recent spending measures. I meet with small business owners, educators, laborers, and local representatives to listen to problems brought on by the recession and to develop solutions. In short, I am working to ensure that the tax dollars deducted from your paycheck are spent wisely and with great care.

Families are cutting back to preserve the lifestyle that they have worked to achieve. Easing the burden shouldered by honest, hard working taxpayers who have taken out responsible mortgages and paid their bills on time should not be the victims of an irresponsible and deceitful financial system. My fellow conservative Blue Dogs and I are doing all that is within our power to keep Congress on the fiscally conservative path.

Congress is also taking on the challenge of solving our nation's energy problem. When having this debate, I believe it is important to consider every possible outlet. We must take an "all of the above" approach that would include alternative fuels, increased domestic drilling, nuclear power, renewable energy, and an investment in the technology of tomorrow. We must find a path that lowers the cost of energy and lessens America's dependence on foreign oil. This is essential to our economic security and our national security.

As you know, Congress is aiming to overhaul our health care system before the year is out. As a physician for nearly 30 years, health care is an extremely important issue to me. I have seen firsthand the need for improvements to our health care system. Being able to access affordable care is not a Republican or Democratic issue; it is an issue that affects every person throughout our nation.

I believe that any reform we consider must focus on critical issues including: increasing access to primary care, investing in prevention and well-being, reducing costs, eliminating the disparity between care in our rural and urban areas, and ensuring that those that like their current health care plan get to keep it.

Also, missile defense is one of my top priorities as it affects so many aspects of life in North Alabama. From job security to national security, the Tennessee Valley's quality of life depends on the success of our missile defense program. Recent missile tests in Iran and North Korea have reinforced the need for a strong missile defense budget that will keep our homeland safe. As the 111th Congress continues with its legislative agenda, I will fight for our successfully proven missile defense projects to be properly funded.

Again I thank you for your input, and I encourage you to continue to contact me in situations where I can provide you assistance. It is an honor to be your representative

This seems to me to be nothing more than a form response intended to cover any and all constituent communications. I expected more from Parker Griffith when I campaigned for him and donated a bit of time to aid his campaign!

We need a true progressive challenger to Griffith in the next election cycle, but I'm afraid that the North Alabama moneyed interests are far too happy with his blue dog philosophy!