Wednesday, January 30, 2019


When considering my pick for the best action movie I had to include, The 13th Warrior.  It is a great Viking movie; but it can’t match the book.

Michael Crichton’s novel Eaters of the Dead (The 13th Warrior) gives an in-depth view of Viking life, customs and beliefs that was unable to be portrayed in a two-hour movie. 

The back cover of the Ballantine Books (NY) paperback best describes the story:

“In the year A.D. 933, a refined Arab courtier, representative of the powerful Caliph of Bagdad, encounters a party of Viking warriors on their journey to the barbaric North.  He is appalled by Viking customs – the wanton sexuality of their pale, angular women, their disregard for cleanliness, their cold-blooded human sacrifices.  But only in the depths of the Northland does he learn the horrifying truth: He has been enlisted to combat a terror that comes under cover of night to slaughter the Vikings and devour their flesh…”

EATERS OF THE DEAD is Crichton’s take of the story of Beowulf.  In the afterthought Crichton proposed that the terror’s that come by night were perhaps a colony of Neanderthal that had, in their isolated location, survived into the first millennium.

Check your library or look for this book at a used book store or order used from Amazon – it is a great read worth the price. 

the Ol’Buzzard


On Friday, April 13, 2029 the asteroid Apophis will make a close pass at earth dipping below the altitude of our communication satellites.  It will be a spectacular event worth noting on your calendar. 

If, however, the trajectory carries the asteroid through earth’s narrow gravitational spin area known as the ‘key hole’, the orbit of Apophis will be critically modified and seven years later (2036) Apophis will make a small splash into the Pacific Ocean between California and Hawaii; releasing the equivalence energy fifty thousand times the power of the bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945. 

Instead of the Big Bang we could call it the Big Boom.

What the fuck; if it misses the ‘key hole’ we’ll be alright – until the next event.  

Have a good day.

Sunday, January 27, 2019



Ghost and the Darkness


Catch - 22


The Muppet Christmas




Dr Zhivago (with Omar Sharif)


The Name of the Rose


Fearless Vampire Killers


The Godfather


Hamlet (with Mel Gibson)


Rocky Horror Picture Show

There may be better movies.  Perhaps different if I stopped to think about it.  But, these are definitely some of my favorites.

the Ol'Buzzard

Saturday, January 26, 2019





I have a routine I try an adhere to each morning.   Right out of bed I go downstairs and drink a small glass of orange juice to add electrolytes to my body; then back upstairs, stretch out, and workout twenty minutes on my Total Gym.   I go from one exercise to the next without a break in-between and by the time I am finished I am in an aerobic state.

I turn around on the gym seat and place both my feet firmly on the floor, place my right hand in my left palm with thumbs touching, close my eyes and focus on slowing down my breathing.   After about a minute I am conscious of my heart beat and I focus on slowing down my heart rate.  That done, I focus on breathing for a few breaths and then totally blank my mind.     I spend no more than five minutes in meditation after workout – and I don’t time it. 

Anyone can do this with a committed practice.   It begins with finding a quiet, private place to meditate.   Sit comfortably on a pillow, a stool or a chair.  Close your eyes and focus on your breathing: visualize the breaths going in as you expand your stomach and visualize the air exiting as you release the breath.   Breath with your diaphragm.  Relax.   If your mind wanders bring it back to your breaths.   Spend no more than five minutes – but don’t time it.   When you feel totally relaxed open your eyes, focus around you and then gradually, comfortably, move your body and continue your normal day. 

With a minute’s meditation (even in a doctor’s office) I can bring down my blood pressure ten points.    And you can too. 

As meditation becomes natural to you, you will find you can control anxiety, and relax your body, and focus your mind in times of stress; and with five minutes morning practice you can begin each day in a better frame of mind. 

And if that doesn't work: smoke a joint.
the Ol’Buzzard


stolen from Yellowdog Granny

I have found it hard to find computer time lately because of the weather.   I am a winter person and I like the hardships that a northern winter can pose, because it reminds me that I could be a shit speck in a compost pile as far as nature is concerned. 

Winter is the time we enjoy kicking back, heating with the wood stove, reading, computing and occasionally making love – if I get lucky.

We had fourteen-inch snow storm that turned to sleet and rain at the end, followed a few days later by a twenty-hour rain storm with a high of fifty degrees, followed by temps dropping into the twenties during the day and single numbers at night.  This has left us with a single lane ice road leading to our house, bordered by three feet high Ice walls.   This is not the normal western Maine weather pattern for this time of year.

I am hoping for a TV series: The Ice Road Fucker.

Between moving snow, hauling buckets of sand, and supplying our wood stove, and our normal activities, I have been busy. 

So, trying to get back to a Zen frame of mind I will post another Zen post.

the Ol’Buzzard

Wednesday, January 23, 2019


Plug in your headset, light up a joint if you have one, turn up the volume and take a few minutes to grove out to ELO.    
Boogie Woogie at its best.  Dance if you feel like it.
I may be old but I have lived through all the great bands.

the Ol'Buzzard

Tuesday, January 22, 2019


I only remember one teacher from my High School in the small Delta town of Rolling Fork, Mississippi. 

Miss Long taught Language Arts.  It was my worst class that I passed with a D.     And yet, she is the teacher I remember.   She made us memorize poetry.   Sixty years later I still remember the Prologue to the Canterbury Tales in old English:

Whan that Aprille with his shoures soote
The droghte of Marche hath perced to the roote,
And bathed every veyne in swich licour,
Of which vertu engendered is the flour;

Why that has staid with me, I don’t know; but the poem that made the greatest impression on me was The Cremation of Sam McGee by Robert Service:

There are strange things done in the midnight sun
By the men who moil for gold;
The Arctic Trails have their secret tales
That would make your blood run cold;
The Northern Lights have seen queer sights,
But the queerest they ever did see
Was that night on the marge of Lake Lebarge
I cremated Sam McGee

I believe I had the Arctic in my soul even then, and story in poetry spoke to me. 

Years later I found Walt Whitman.  Much of his poetry doesn’t ring with me; but DRUM-TAPS, his memory of the carnage of the Civil War speaks direct to me as a combat veteran:

A sight in Camp in the daybreak grey and dim
As from my tent I emerge so early sleepless,
As slow I walk in the cool fresh air the path near by the hospital tent,
Three forms I see on stretchers lying, brought out there untended lying, Over each the blanket spread, ample brownish woolen blanket,
Grey and heavy blanket, folding, covering all.

Curious I halt and silent stand,
Then with light fingers I from the face of the nearest the first just lift the blanket;
Who are you elderly man so gaunt and grim, with well-gray’d hair, and flesh all sunken about the eyes?
Who are you my dear comrade?

Then to the second I step-and who are you my child and darling?
Who are you sweet boy with cheeks yet blooming?

Then to the third- a face nor child nor ole, very calm, as of beautiful yellow-white ivory;
Young man I think I know you- I think this face is the face of the Christ himself, Dead and divine and brother of all, and here again he lies.

My go-to is Robert Frost; a man of the homestead, of the north woods.   His stories in poetry are identifiable to me.  I feel I have known some of his people:


Something there is that doesn't love a wall,
That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,
And spills the upper boulders in the sun;
And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.

The work of hunters is another thing:
I have come after them and made repair
Where they have left not one stone on a stone,
But they would have the rabbit out of hiding,
To please the yelping dogs. The gaps I mean,
No one has seen them made or heard them made,
But at spring mending-time we find them there.

I let my neighbour know beyond the hill;
And on a day we meet to walk the line
And set the wall between us once again.

We keep the wall between us as we go.
To each the boulders that have fallen to each.
And some are loaves and some so nearly balls
We have to use a spell to make them balance:
"Stay where you are until our backs are turned!"
We wear our fingers rough with handling them.

Oh, just another kind of out-door game,
One on a side. It comes to little more:
There where it is we do not need the wall:
He is all pine and I am apple orchard.
My apple trees will never get across
And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.

He only says, "Good fences make good neighbours."

Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder
If I could put a notion in his head:
"Why do they make good neighbours? Isn't it
Where there are cows? But here there are no cows.
Before I built a wall I'd ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offence.
Something there is that doesn't love a wall,
That wants it down." I could say "Elves" to him,
But it's not elves exactly, and I'd rather
He said it for himself. I see him there
Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top
In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed.

He moves in darkness as it seems to me,
Not of woods only and the shade of trees.
He will not go behind his father's saying,
And he likes having thought of it so well
He says again, "Good fences make good neighbours."

Thank you Miss Long
I am sure long gone
For introducing me to stories
In rime and meter.

(All poems are in the public domain.)

the Ol’Buzzard


The most immoral thing about this shutdown is that in nine days the Senators, Congresspersons, the President, Vice President and white house staff will all be depositing their pay checks in their banks.  

the Ol'Buzzard

Monday, January 21, 2019


Normally this time of year in western Maine we deal with nor’easters (storms coming in from the north east and dumping loads of snow.)

This past weekend we were hit with a storm coming in from the south west.  It dropped about a foot of snow overnight Saturday into Sunday and then, because of warm southern air at altitude, turned into sleet continuing until about midnight.

Fortunately, I attacked the snow with my new snow blower just before the transition.

Today’s high temperature was two degrees and at present it is two below. 

It is another beautiful day in the western mountains of Maine.

 the Ol'Buzzard

Wednesday, January 16, 2019


My wife was a school teacher.   I was a school teacher and principal.   I could go on at length over what is actually wrong with our public-school system and the logical fixes; but with today’s political cluster-fuck of a government shutdown I will only address one.

I was watching the news this morning and saw a poll that blamed 50% of the government shutdown on Trump, 45% on Democrats in Congress and only 5% on the Republic Congress.   This is just an example of political ignorance which ends up as partisan cultism.

Civics, how our government operates, if taught at all, is taught in the sixth grade.  The ignorance of the American population about the operation of their own government is astounding, and our bastardized understanding of political events comes from whatever TV channel we troll and our social media connections.  

Civics should be a required class for seniors, and should include a project on government followed up by a thesis. 

Of course, this is not up to the schools.   Curriculum is decided by federal and state legislators who have never taught a day in a classroom, and by for profit testing companies.   I don’t even need to point out the disconnect of the Department of Education

A more educated society would not find themselves in the morass we have today.

The Ol’Buzzard

Monday, January 14, 2019


Coming out of sleep I lay in bed
The fan blowing a gentle breeze across my body
I kicked off the covers and stretched
I cleared my mind from monkey dreams
And listened to the quietness of the house

I have been to a Zen sangha – a Buddhist teaching community – and have read extensively; and one lie that is promulgated throughout, is that it is necessary to have a physical teacher in order to achieve enlightenment – to become a Buddhist. 

Buddhism, and in particularly Zen, in its most basic teachings, is not about teachers or chants (Koan), not about robes, bells, whistles, icons or timed meditation.   Buddhism is simply a path to help a person achieve contentment by appreciating every conscious waking moment; and Zen is a path to achieve that consciousness through meditation.

The Buddha found enlightenment by himself and each of us have a Buddha nature.  When we are seeking a more contented nature we can distill Buddhist writings and lectures to a basic path that fits our own individual needs.  

Christianity became a formal religion in 325 AD at the council of Nicea (Nicaea) when men decided that Jesus was a god, and what writings would compose the bible, and what the laws and teachings should be.

Likewise after the death of the Buddha, men who had been explaining the simple concept of achieving contentment through focusing on the beauty of the Now, began adding trappings and rituals and requirements that was not the intent of the Buddha.   Teachers venerate themselves, they set themselves up as somehow superior to us – again not the intent of the Buddha. 

If you are interested in alleviating stress and living a more conscious life I would suggest you read Buddhist materials – but not take them as gospel.   

Buddhism is not about beliefs and practices… it is not a religion.   It is about the teachings of awakening – about examining the world clearly.
Steve Hagen

The Ol’Buzzard

God Damn I

Many years ago, I knew an old man (probably not as old as I am now) that would swear ‘God damn I” every time he screwed up something.

I always thought that sounded strange, buy at that time in my life I wasn’t particularly concerned about anything that didn’t bring pleasure to me – or is it I…

Shakespeare’s Ophelia cried ‘Woe is me,” but can we really set our grammar on Shakespeare’s prows?   Should it have been Woe is I or Woe am I?  

Anyway, I kind of like the sound of God damn I, so that has been my go-to for years.

There are rules of grammar that make sense, but rules are meant to be broken.  To me there are three strands of language: one is to transmit information or relate a story, one is to express emotion and the other is art.   

God damn I expresses emotion, so who is to say it I am not correct?

I am Me, or am I?
the Ol’Buzzard

Saturday, January 12, 2019


Whenever we are out and I have to use a public bathroom I always notice that many men, especially young men, go into the toilet stalls to pee when there are urinals available.    This kind of pisses me off because if I have to take a dump it is likely I will find pee on the seat.

I don’t know if bathroom modesty is a societal thing or something imparted during childhood by mothers.

I have no shame, probably because of my Navy training back in the 1950’s.

The Navy head (bathroom) at boot camp was a room about thirty feet long with toilets side by side along one wall – at least a dozen toilets.  It wasn’t unusual, first thing in the morning, to take a crap with someone sitting next to you.  There was the advantage that if you needed a light for your cigarette you could probably bum one from someone down the line.      In the middle of the room was a circular fountain, probably six feet in diameter, with a circular peddle at the base for flushing, where men stood around to take a piss. 

There was no such thing as privacy in the bathroom: the shower was a big open room with shower heads.  Since that time, I have never been affected by bathroom embarrassment.

I may be wrong, but I don’t think women are as modest in a public bathroom as men are.

the Ol’Buzzard   

Friday, January 11, 2019


Buddhism is more than meditating.

Here in the west we hold ideas of how things ought to be and how we ought to live.  We are constantly at war with our environment trying to make everything fit into our desired outcome – and when we fall short, which we most often do, we carry the stress of failed expectations.

We hold a fixed idea of who we are and how we want to be perceived.   But there is no fixed I or Ego because everything changes – new causes produce new effects

“One and the same human being is, at various ages, under various circumstances, a totally different human being.
Solzhenitsyn:  The Gulag Archipelago

The Buddha realized that most often people were carrying stress, and that this stress prevented them from appreciating the refreshing taste of cool water – the beauty of a young girl – or the satisfying taste of rice (his awakening.)    Buddha also realized that the stress is most often self-inflicted.   He addressed this in The Four Noble Truths.

The Four Noble Truths

1.     Duhkha*: Life is often like a wheel out of kilter. We are constantly dissatisfied.    We feel we have to fight for control.   We move from one crisis to the next – reacting – never satisfied with our outcome.

2.     Our dissatisfaction originates from our own expectations and desires.   We become obsessed with our problems.

3.    Problems you have will pass.   By focusing on, and being content in the present, instead of fantasizing on future or obsessing with the past, we can alleviate much of our dissatisfaction.

4.    The Eight Fold Path is the Buddha’s teaching – a suggested path toward a fulfilling and contented life.

*(Spelled Duhkha in Buddhism Plain and Simple; spelled Dukha in The Essence of Zen; spelled Dukkha in Intro to Buddha – and probably other spellings.   There are four major sects of Buddhism: Theravada, Mahayana, Vajrayana and Zen; this probably creates confusions in spellings and definitions.  It is the concept that is important.)


1.    RIGHT VIEW:  accepting the way your world is, even though it is not necessarily the way you might like it to be.  Understanding that nothing is static and everything is changing.
2.    RIGHT INTENTION: address each action in your life with resolve; but always choosing the noble path – you instinctively know what is right and what is wrong.

3.      RIGHT SPEECH: speak the truth; but never to injure.

4.     RIGHT ACTION: consider each action with a clear mind, not from preconceptions or prejudices.
5.     RIGHT LIVELIHOOD: you should strive to choose an occupation that benefits others, and one that satisfies your needs; but you should apply ourselves in whatever endeavor you occupy.

6.    RIGHT EFFORT: live in the NOW.

7.    RIGHT MINDFULNESS: be conscious of how you are engaging with the world from moment to moment and how your actions affect others.

8.    RIGHT MEDITATION: practice zazen regularly

Notice that the Buddha does not give commandments – there is no ‘thou shall not…’   These are the Buddha’s suggestions – his clarity.
Buddhism is not a belief system.  It is not about accepting beliefs or following rituals.   It is about seeing the world clearly. 

It is said that at his death the Buddha told his followers ‘Look not for refuge to anyone beside yourself.’  

the Ol’Buzzard


Tuesday, January 9th began as any other winter January day in western Maine.   We had a snow storm that morning dropping about four inches of snow.   I went out about noon to clear the driveway with my 19-year-old Craftsman snow blower.

The snow kicked up again in the afternoon and the forecast was for a mixture of rain and snow overnight, so just before nightfall I went out again and removed another three inches of snow from the drive and cleared the roof over the front door where snow tends to build up.

Shortly after dark we lost power.  This is not a big thing for us as we have a wood stove for heat and gas lamps for lighting – our cabin was originally built as a camp and so is self-sufficient.   Since we are on a well we also lose water when the power is out, but we keep a number of gallon jugs stored to allow us to flush the toilet in such an outage.

The main inconvenience is that I have to get up a number of times during the night and feed the wood stove.

It snowed all night: a worst-case scenario with temperatures at 33 degrees and a six-inch heavy wet snow that clung to trees and power lines, and is difficult to move with the snow blower.


At seven-o-clock Wednesday morning I drank a glass of Ovaltine and headed out to move snow.  It took me well over an hour, slow going, and just as I was about to finish it began raining.   One last pass with the snow blower and when I hit the berm at the mouth of the drive the snow blower began shaking and banging.   The right auger blade had snapped into at the shaft.


BUGGER ##**#% !

The power is still off at in the house, our road hasn’t been plowed, the snow blower is broken with another snow forecast for next week and I’m soaking wet.  

I take a few deep breaths and focus: Shit Happens.

Nothing I can do until the light’s come back on; which happened about 3:30 that afternoon.


I called Sears to see about a replacement for the right-hand auger for the snow blower and their price was $200 plus shipping, “I don’t want a gold one: it is just a piece of spiral steel. 

I bring up U-tube (now my go to for any maintenance) to see how to replace an auger in my Craftsman machine.  

The man on U-tube had great difficulty just dismantling the machine.  It seems like a bearing on that holds the differential for the auger drive was damaged and had worn the differential shaft, so the whole unit would need replacement; he ended his video with some expletive without finishing the repair. 

Since my machine is 19 years old it is likely I will find the same problem:  differential is $550 dollars, bearing and washer $125, two auger blades $450 – it seems that a seven hundred dollar snow blower is made up of five thousand dollars’ worth of individual parts: Thanks for the support Sears!

Fuck it!   Home Depot has a Troy Bilt snow blower for $600 with $50 dollars off if you take out a Home Depot credit card, so Monday I will have a new snowblower: 


 the Ol'Buzzard