Sunday, October 28, 2012



Last night in Maine a 16 year old driver and his 16 year old passenger were killed in a fatal car crash.   The state police said the driver was going at an excessive rate of speed when he topped a hill sending him into the right shoulder.  Over-correcting he crossed into the oncoming lane hitting another car head on.  The three passengers in the other vehicle were transported to local hospitals and are in stable condition. 

This begs the question of why is a 16 year old allowed to drive a car unsupervised?

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) put out a fact sheet on teen driving fatalities in 2010.   It found that young people ages 15-24 are 14% of the population but account for 30% of traffic injuries.

In 2010 for drivers age 16-19 there were 2,700 teen deaths and 282,000 injured.  The CDC found that drivers age 16-19 were three times more likely to be in a fatal crash than drivers over 20, with male teens twice the risk of female teen drivers.     

CDC Conclusions:
1.    Teen drivers tend to underestimate dangerous situations, and the presence of teenage male passengers increases the likely hood of risky behavior.
2.    Teens are more likely to speed than older drivers: 39% of the fatal crashes involving teens were the results of speeding. 
3.    In 22% of the fatal crashes the driver had been drinking.
4.    Teens have the lowest rate of seat belt usage.
5.    One half of teen deaths from motor vehicle crashes occurre between 3pm and midnight, with 55% of these occurring on Friday, Saturday or Sunday.

The CDC went on to declare that the answer to the teen accident rate is more driver training classes and the possibility of graduated licensing.   They went on to say that parents were the key to safe driving. 

The statistics were telling, the conclusion right on, but the corrective measures were bull shit. 

When you visit your local high school you will find that the parking lot is overflowing with student vehicles.   When school is let out the parking lot turns into the Indy-500.   Young male drivers rev their engines and burn rubber on their way onto the rode system.

The fact is that 16 and 17 year old drivers should not be driving a motor vehicle without adult supervision.  They are not responsible enough to understand the possible implications of their often irrational behaviors.   You would not allow a 16 or 17 year old to carry a fire arm to school but you allow them to drive an automobile.  

An 18 year old, that is old enough to join the military, should be given the privilege of a driver’s license. But, privilege is the optimal word.

Driving should be looked as a privilege and not a right: Privileges should come with responsibility.  

The bottom line is that we have irresponsible teen age drivers on the road because parents support it.  

The only practical answer, that will work, to address the dangers of teen driving - is legislation.  

1.    A 16 year old driver should not be allowed to drive an automobile without a licensed adult (21 year old or older) supervising. They should only be issued learner permits until they turn 17. 
2.    Drivers 17-19 years of age should be issued a Privilege License.  This license should be contingent on safe driving practices and any moving violation (speeding, reckless driving, any amount of alcohol use - or alcohol in the vehicle) should result in the revocation of the license to age twenty – no exceptions.

If the teens knew that their privilege to drive hinged on their behavior behind the wheel they would protect that privilege by driving responsibly.    A few teens would have to loose the privilege to drive to establish the precedence. 

Teens would not like this solution, and many parents would object for fear they would end up having to taxi their teens.  I also believe that our spineless politicians would be afraid to enact such a strict teen driving regulation – for fear of voter backlash.  

Where does that leave us?  Here in Maine, with two teens dead and three adults in the hospital – and no means of teen behavior modification for teens driving dangerously. 

the Ol-Buzzard    

Wednesday, October 17, 2012


I watched the presidential debates last nights and was pleased with the President’s performance.  It seems he finally realized that a debate is a confrontation of ideas, and that just defending his own policies is not enough.   

Throughout the debate the President had Romney on the ropes on every issue.   The combativeness of the President and the frustration of Romney reminded me of the final court scene in Inherit the Wind: the President often left Romney babbling in defense of his canned statements.   Toward the end I almost expected Romney to start naming the books of the Bible. But that is not my issue.

It seems that the panel was made up of undecided voters.   Now, one year into election politics, with 24-7 news coverage on the candidates and their policies, and with only three weeks before election it seems incredible to me that anyone could still be ‘undecided.’     

Where have these people been: living in a cave?  Did they just come out of a comma or recover from a lobotomy?   Did they just wander away from their West Virginia church where they speak in tongs and dance with snakes; or escape from the front porch of their deep south home where their brother-grandpa-uncle-daddy forgot to keep an eye on them while they were playing Deliverance on their banjo?

If three weeks before the election you are still waiting for the dramatic sound bite to decide who you will vote for, then just don’t vote.  You are not informed.  You are a moron.  Just stay home on November 6 and watch reruns of Honey Boo Boo; because flipping a coin in the voting booth does not mean you are a responsible citizen.

the Ol’Buzzard 

Tuesday, October 16, 2012


Just once I want to hear you scream.   Play some Rap Music.

Bruce Willis in The Last Boy Scout

For those of you that have ever wondered about the roots of Rap music let me give you a suggestion:

Chuck Berry 1956

and then
Bob Dylan early 1960's

Then a lot of Rap I can't understand 
but finally
Blue Grass Rap I kinda dig.
(somebody lock up Yellow Dog Granny's pencils)

Tomasia and Wrench: The Big Branch Mine.

I could be wrong
probably am
the Ol'Buzzard


At the beginning of each spring I write a to-do list for the coming summer. 
This year my list included:
1.    Replace knob on bathroom door – done.
2.    Install new water heater – done.
3.    Replace water lines under house with PEX tubing - done.
4.    Replace slid track on pocket door upstairs bedroom – not done.
5.    Install baseboards in living room – not done.
6.    Install coat hangers in mud room – not done.
7.    Install weather flap on door of motorcycle shed – not done
8.    Install gutters on front of house – not done
9.    Install gutters on wood shed – done.
10.   Repair tile on front step – done.
11.   Install overhead storage in motorcycle shed – not
12.    Paint canoe – not
13.    Finish back porch – not
14.     Paint front door – not.
15.     Install new front storm door – not.
16.     Replace porch light with motion light – not.
17.     Build storage shelves on back porch – not.
18.      Install shade (which I purchased and is still in a box) on sun roof window at top of stairs – not done.
19.     Haul stones from quarry for walkways and drive way – not.
20.     Build a new raised bed and fill with compost – not done.

I was complaining to a friend of mine while bowling that I felt guilty about not completing my TO-DO List for this summer.   He is a man near my age and he explained to me the problem is not my lack of commitment in completing the list, but the problem is the time frame itself.  

He has me convinced and it makes sense.
Next year instead of a 2013 SUMMER TO-DO List I will put together:
And if I am still alive and the list is not completed at the end of ten years I will add an extension and kick it down the road like the U.S. Congress.

the Ol'Buzzard


The candidates from both parties constantly throw out numbers about our Nations debt and indebtedness.   As TV consumers we hear these numbers but they don’t register:   ten million dollars to Sesame Street – three billion dollars for a new military aircraft - sixteen trillion dollar national debt.

Let’s break this down to Sesame Street understanding.   The Count might instruct:

If you take a drum stick and bang it on the table once every second, it will take you twelve days (24 hours a day seven days a week) to bang out one million.

It will take you thirty-two years to bang out one billion.

It will take you thirty-two thousand years to bang out one trillion. 

Honey Boo Boo’s sister has two thumbs, and she is the only one in her family that can count to eleven without taking off her shoes.   How can we understand numbers that we are physically unable to count? 

the Ol’Buzzard


A man joins a monastery that is known to be very strict: the monks at this monastery are only allowed to speak two words every ten years.  

After ten years the man comes before the master and is asked, “What have you to say?”

The man answers, “Bed Hard.”

Ten years later he again comes before the master and is asked, “What have you got to say?”

“Food stinks,” the man replies.

Again, ten years later the comes before the master and is asked, “What have you got to say?’

“I quit!”

“Well I am not surprised,” replies the master, “all you ever do is complain.”

It is all right to quit.
the Ol'Buzzard

Sunday, October 14, 2012


We have moved from fall to pre-winter here in northeastern Maine.  A big wind the other night pretty much stripped the trees.   The night temps are in the thirties and day temps in the fifties and it is time to pull out the winter clothes.  

Our house is small so I pack all my winter duds in a duffle in the spring, and bring them back out in the late fall.  I am at heart a winter person and I actually love dressing in long johns, jeans, wool shirts and boots – that is what I have worn most of my life and what I am most comfortable in. 

The Ol'Buzzard in winter mode.  

Last night I put together a blueberry bread in the bread machine, and even though I messed up on adding ingredients it came out great. The blue berries are local – we buy them at the farm market and freeze them for winter use.    I had a piece of blueberry toast this morning with a cup of tea and tonight we will have French toast (made with the blueberry bread) and bacon. 

My lovely wife and I have been using  bread machines since 1985  when we began teaching in an Athabascan Indian village in Alaska and store bought bread wasn’t available.   The machines are great, and once you get use to using them you can turn out a perfect loaf of bread every time. 


½ cup of water
½ cup of milk
1 egg
4 cups of stone ground white flour
½ cup of oatmeal
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1 teaspoon of nutmeg
1/3 cup of sugar
¾ teaspoon of salt
3 tablespoons of butter
1 ½ teaspoons of yeast
2/3 cups of blueberries

Mix the water, milk and egg and pour into the bread pan.  Place all the rest ingredients in the pan except for the blueberries that you will add later.  Set the machine to the two pound (or medium) fruit and nut cycle and press start.   After one hour remove the dough and the paddle from the bread machine.  Place the dough on a counter top and using your hands press it into a long sheet as wide as the bread machine bread pan is long and down to about ¾ inch thick.  Distribute the blueberries on the sheet of dough and then roll the dough into a loaf and put it back into the bread pan without the paddle.  Place the pan back into the bread machine to continue rising and baking.   When the bell rings remove the blueberry loaf and let it coon for an hour before eating.

Leaving the paddle out at this stage keeps from having the hole in the bottom of the loaf that you always get from bread machines. 

We use a Breadman Ultra that we bought at Target for less than $100. We have had four bread machines and this is the best we have used.   You can get cheaper but they do not stand up to regular use, and there is no need to ever pay more than $100 because you are just getting name recognition and options that you will never use.  In Alaska we bought an expensive Swedish bread machine with two paddles and were never satisfied with it.   When we returned to Maine we repurchased a Breadman.

Well, the frost is definitely on the pumpkin and we are switching to our winter mode. We had some snow to the north of us this week; but I am holding off winterizing the motorcycle in hope of one or two more moderate days to ride.  When we were younger (I was forty and she was in her twenties) my wife and I road a motorcycle (Yamaha 650) in all sorts of weather as our primary source of transportation: we don’t have to do that now.

We have our oil tank filled and our wood supply is in, the truck has 5w-30 oil and there is a new spark plug in the snow blower.   So bring it on.   I may complain in late February, but now I am looking forward to those dark, snowy, grey days when my wife and I will bask in front of the wood stove with good books and a bottle of wine. 

the Ol’Buzzard

Thursday, October 11, 2012


This is an excerpt from a letter I wrote to a friend this morning :

 The VP debates are tonight.  I don’t know if I will watch.  The debates leave me in such an aggravated state I don’t think if it is worth the annoyance. Any way, over the next week, which ever side is down will try to spin it.  I can’t believe that this late in the election season people will switch their vote on the basis of debate charisma.    

What can we do (other than cast our vote) – we are really powerless on the outcome.   One person one vote really doesn't elect, because the way the system is set up a President can win the popular vote and lose the election…The founding fathers ( I hate that phrase) felt that the average man was not knowledgeable enough to be trusted to vote  his own best interest so they came up with the electoral  college – they have been proven right on the first assumption, but the manipulated system of the electoral college is little better.   

Humans are pack animals, or cult animals, or mob animals – which ever you prefer…we need to belong to a group…we need to identify with a group…and groups can be manipulated by charismatic alpha males.  It doesn't matter if the group is a clan, a religion, a race, a party, a state or a nation.    The greater good usually turns out to be the grater bad for some sub section – minority without power.   Group power throughout history has always been destructive to the human race in general – wars, genocide, suppression, the inquisition: all manners of atrocities against our own kind are committed by people in power manipulating their group.  These people who manipulate are themselves part of a group - and their agenda is personal power and wealth.  This election is a macrocosm of that premise.   

There is no answer; there are too many people in the world to be able to live an independent libertarian life; and the need for group identity often trumps our best interest.     It is not our nature to be concerned beyond our own group and never will be – we are the base human animal: we will interact only with the group of our identity, and we can not change.  

With the world population doubling every forty years we are bound to come into more and more conflict for energy, food, and land space.  The idea that our group might cooperate with all other people in the world – other groups, for the greater good of humanity is a pipe dream.   Not a great proposition to look forward to (never end a sentence with a preposition – fuck it, rules (like spelling) are meant to be bent as long as the understanding is clear.)  

I want to belong to the group that looks out for me - but at what cost?  

the Ol'Buzzard 

Sunday, October 7, 2012


He stands before
Her porcelain throne
Watching liquid
Into the small pond
Clean water turning
a golden hue.


Friday, October 5, 2012


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by the Ol'Buzzard


Supper tonight was chicken sandwiches and a delicious chicken/vegetable soup that my wife made.      My wife puts in bok choy, onions, sweet potatoes, chicken breast with rosemary, a garlic clove and chicken broth in the slow cooker.   The first night we have the chicken breast and vegetables and then she added peas and butter beans and more broth to turn the left over into a soup.  

 We do a lot of cooking in the slow-cooker.

When she cooks pork she adds apples, onions, sweet potatoes, white potatoes, the pork and chicken broth.  The apple onion combination goes together well.  

We have wine every night.  The wife usually has a glass – I have two or more…   We buy good bottles of wine for special occasions, but we (I) go through so mush weekly that we buy Carlos Rossi Paisano by the gallon for our vino de mesa (wine of the table.)   My wife likes Clean Slate Riesling for a white wine.  We particularly love Portuguese wines – they are great wines at a great price…Portuguese wines are hugely underrated.  

the Ol'Buzzard