Friday, May 31, 2019


My wife and I are somewhat reclusive.   As such, our opinions on matters are viewed through our personal prism: our backgrounds, our experiences and our personal prejudices. 

But I must admit I was shocked, when I ran across an educated man – a medical doctor – that espouses a belief in intelligent design.

Of all people in the world you would think a medical doctor could see the glaring deficiency in believing an infallible architect deity would be responsible for the design of the female body. 

Females are the ultimate beauty.    Their features, their movements and their aura are intoxicating.    But after that the design falters.  

What kind of an incompetent deity could design the outer structure so perfectly, then screw up so badly in the infrastructure?   You would have to believe this magical designer started putting the female together, and then lost interest before the job was completed.

The problems begin in young womanhood: one week out of every month the body has to reboots: often beginning with weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth, and ending with a bio-hazardous discharge resulting in abdominal pain, general discomfort and breast tenderness.  Women regularly suffer from vaginal infections, urinary track infections and uteri infections.  Twenty percent of all women will require a hysterectomy before age forty.  Then there is the physical distortion of pregnancy, the pain, the anxiety, and actual physical damage from giving birth.   As if that is not enough, there is menopause to look forward to: hot flashes, night sweats, abdominal pain…

If you bought an automobile that had that many problems, you would return it for a refund claiming the lemon law. 

Though I do not believe in an infallible creator, I do believe in magic; and women are the personification of magic.   There are magical secrets passed down through virgin, mother and crone that can beguile males of the species.   The resilience of women facing physical difficulties as they age, results in matriarchs that are the strength of the family unit.

I absolutely adore my wife.  To me she is the most beautiful creature that ever walked this earth; but I feel sorry for her for a physical design that often results in her pain and discomfort. When I go with her into doctor’s offices, the waiting rooms are full of women who would attest, that if their bodies are the result of intelligent design, then the standard for intelligence must be extremely low. 

the Ol'Buzzard

Friday, May 24, 2019


Many women are outraged by the Republican Party’s move to reverse Roe vs Wade.    Ire at the Republican Party is misdirected – the Party is just the avatar for a base that Republican politicians are anxious to keep united.   Republican politicians could care less about women’s rights and the abortion issue; as always, their main concern is keeping their plush jobs; and in this case, it means placating the Religious Right.

Let’s put this squarely where it resides.   The roots of anti-abortion reside in the churches.   To fundamentalist Christian and the Catholics hierarchy, the outlawing of abortion in a major step toward their goal of legislating a version of Christian Sharia Law.

For years, Fundamentalist have declared the United States a Christian Nation and have declared God’s laws above man’s laws.   With each step of outrage against homosexuality, gay marriage, abortion…, the Religious Right is trying to consolidate a move toward a theocratic Christian government.

In the fourth century the Catholic Church drove Europe into a thousand years of Dark Ages, where science philosophy and enlightenment were crushed by religious superstition and zealotry.   Now a vocal minority wishes to turn the clock back by systematically integrate religion into government.

If you are outraged by the attack on Roe vs Wade you need to boycott religion.   Call out religion for the bigotry it is, and its danger to our democracy.

If you attend church on Sundays, and are outraged against the reversal of Roe vs Wade, then you need to reassess your values – for they are conflicted. 

the Ol’Buzzard 

Saturday, May 18, 2019


I think it is important that people share experience with consumer products.   You get a lot of spin when you do a web search for products, and it is often difficult to make an informed purchase.

I have posted about my Total Gym and highly recommend it – provided you make a self-commitment to use it.   I have had mine for a number of years and use it almost every morning for fifteen minutes.   I honestly feel that my physical conditioning, here in my eighth decade, is due largely to the exercises I do, year- round, on my Total Gym.  The product is well built and models can be had for around two-hundred dollars.   If anyone is interested in the exact routine, I do on the TG, let me know and I will share.


 I do most of the cooking, my wife does most of the cleaning.   Cooking is a creative experience for me, and I like to eat.    I have three Cuisinart products.  A pressure cooker that I bought over thirty years ago.  It is heavy stainless steal and still serves me well.  I have had to replace the rubber gasket one time.  I do not think they make this model any more, and doubt if Cuisinart’s current models are as well built as this old one.


I had a Walmart thirty-dollar toaster for years and it worked OK.   It was a light weight, cheap, colored plastic model made in China.   I complained about the flimsy workmanship for years, but it toasted toast.   When it gave up the ghost, I broke down an purchased a Cuisinart, about a year ago.   It is supposed to be stainless steel, but it is very light weight.   The toast tends to come out dark in the center and light around the perimeter.   It is made in china and I have a feeling it probably has the same heating elements that the cheep Walmart brands have.   I am not really pleased with this toaster and will probably replace it with another Walmart toaster sometimes in the future. 

REMINESS:  My grandmother had the same toaster my entire childhood.  It was heavy steel; you could probably drop it from a second story building and not damage it.   Back then (1940’s and 50’s) they had appliance repair men.  If your radio, or stove, or lamp, or refrigerator, or toaster…  didn’t work you would get it repair.  I seem to remember we had new heating elements put in that toaster at some time.

Two years ago, I bought a Cuisinart three-in-one slow cooker.  I love it.   I can sauté onions, celery and garlic (the trinity) in the slow cooker; then brown my meat with the trinity; finally add any liquid and vegetables, all in the same unit.   However, there is one big negative: The aluminum, removable pot with the non-stick coating is pitted in the bottom.  I have never used anything other than wooden spoons in the unit and I clean it with a sponge and soapy water, yet it looks like someone stippled the bottom of the pot.   Tiny holes in the non-stick: I suppose we have eaten it.  I am going to order a new pot and stay with the unit as I do love its convenience – being able to cook all phases of a slow cooked meal without dirtying other pots and pans.

That's all for now.  The weather here in western Maine in mid-May is still cold and damp.  The high today will be in the forties and overcast.  We have had heavy rains at least two days a week all month - actually we had snow one day last week.  I hate to say I am looking forward to warmer weather, which also means bug season, but I have so many outdoor projects waiting for the weather to dry, I feel antsy to get them started.  

the Ol'Buzzard   

Wednesday, May 15, 2019


Republicans in Georgia and Alabama have just passed draconian anti-abortion laws forcing women to give birth against their will, and aimed at eventually overturning Roe vs Wade.

Alabama governor and legislature  

I have a suggestion that I would like to see go viral.   Everyone should call Republican Congressman and Senator and ask them to propose a law requiring all pubescent boys to undergo a (reversible) vasectomy.

The law should read that the vasectomy can only be reversed when a female, wishing to have a child by the man, is willing to sign a consent form for the reversal.  At any time after conception, the female can withdraw her consent, and the male is required to re-vasectomize.  

If a woman can be required to undergo a reproduction procedure (birth) without her consent in order to prevent abortion of a fetus, then there should be no double standard in the law.   The obvious solution is to prevent unwanted pregnancies, and this law would accomplish that; elevating the need for abortions.    Furthermore, many states, including Maine, have passed laws requiring children be vaccinated in order to attend school, regardless of parent’s objections.  So, the precedence is established - the government can require medical procedures for the good of the population.   If a woman’s reproduction can be regulated by the state, so should the man’s.

This law would also be environmentally sound, as it would aid in curtailing population growth, which is the root cause of climate change and global warming.

Many men would rave that the government has no right to legislate their bodies; but what’s good for the goose is good for the gander.

the Ol’Buzzard

Tuesday, May 14, 2019


One out of four people do not believe in climate change; but that doesn’t matter.   As Neil deGrasse Tyson stated, ‘People are entitled to their own opinions, but not their own facts.’

Ninety-seven percent of climate scientist agree that climate change is happening and it is the result of human activity – the consensus is in. Now the question is how bad will it be.

The results are visible now.   NASA has charted:

·       Global temperature rise
·       Warming of the Oceans
·       Shrinking of the Ice Caps
·       Glacial retreat
·       Decreased snow cover
·       Sea Level Rise
·       Declined Ice Sheets
·       Extreme Weather Events
·       Ocean acidification

Carbon dioxide traps heat in the atmosphere, increasing global temperatures, leading to a greenhouse effect.

The carbon release from industry, farming and consumption is increasing carbon emissions at an unsustainable rate; and still, the global population is steadily increasing, resulting in a further increase in consumption of energy and natural resources;  and as the ice sheets in the arctic recede, tundra that has been trapped below the ice for thousands of years is releasing carbon dioxide, further accelerating the effect.

Atmospheric carbon dioxide over the last 400,000 years, according to NASSA, has never exceeded 300 parts-per-million – until 1950.   Today it is 400 parts-per-million, and climbing at an unsustainable rate.

The results are, by 2050 we can look forward to Extreme droughts, higher flood stages, severe food shortages, wildlife extinction, cataclysmic sea level rise and mass movement of climate refugees.

What can we do about this?   The reality is that nothing will be done. 

All capitalistic societies main concern is making money and creating a rich, elite social class.   The very wealthy, invested in fossil fuels and polluting industries, will oppose the elimination of their carbon footprint.  They will decry climate change as a hoax and fund politicians to champion their claim.     The average citizen will not be willing to carry the burden of increased cost in taxation to move the country to sustainable energy.   And no one is willing to give up their beef.

We talk about cow farts.   Adults and kids alike love fart jokes, so we do not take seriously the effect the beef industry has on the global environment.   

Actually, it is cow burps.     As cows digest greenery they burp methane gas, that is thirty times more potent than carbon dioxide.  Beef production is the worst climate offender in agriculture.   The world cattle population has the third highest emissions on earth, behind the United States and China.  In the United States beef farms require forty percent of the agriculture land to produce three present of U.S. calorie intake. 

So, here we are.  Incremental changes over a period of time will not have a significant effect on the rapid rate of carbon dioxide increase; and the time is too short. 

The UN Climate Chief, Patricia Espinosa, stated: “If we continue to produce, consume, to function as we are doing now, we know that we are going toward a catastrophe.”

It would be interesting to live in the distant future and look back on how global warming drastically changed human society.

I am looking forward to a nice beef chuck roast stew, cooked in my slow cooker, tomorrow night.  

I saute onions, garlic and celery; cube the roast and liberally cover with Paul Prudhomme meat magic; add one cup of beef broth and one half cup of Madeira wine.   I cook on high for six hours then add boiled potatoes, carrots and onions (I find vegetables that cook with the meat take on the flavor of the meat.)

the Ol’Buzzard

Sunday, May 12, 2019



I’m a foodie.   I love good food and am willing to pay the price at a good restaurant for a good meal.    I am also easy to please as I eat most anything someone else prepares. 

I don’t particularly like overly hot foods.  If the food is so hot that it burns your taste buds and everything you eat after that taste bland – then I don’t see an enjoyment; and enjoyment is what food should be about.

Being from the south I like cat fish, raw oysters, Louisiana Hot Sauce, cornbread, and grits with my breakfast.   It bugs my wife, but I like fried spam, deviled ham, Vienna sausages and other can foods that are supposedly not good for me.

I like a good barbecue and I like my meat well done.  I love a good chuck roast cooked in the slow-cooker until it falls apart.

For desert give me pie: any kind of pie, but especially pecan pie.

I could eat eggs three time a day and never get tired of them.  And my toast I like burnt: when it’s brown it’s cooking, and when it’s black it’s done.  

the Ol’Buzzard  

Wednesday, May 8, 2019


I became interested in snakes as a kid in the Delta of Mississippi.   There were two books in the school library on snake identification, and as I was enthralled with wildlife and the outdoors, and snakes were so prevalent in our area, I made it a point to study them.   As a teenager, I handled numerous snakes, including poisonous ones.

Snakes get a bad rap.  Even the Bible portrays the snake (and Eve) as evil.

Actually, snakes are one of the most beneficial creatures to man.  They eat bugs, slugs, mice, rats and numerous vermin.  

Poisonous snakes are dangerous and should be avoided.  There are over seven thousand snake bites recorded each year, but deaths are rare.   There were 23 deaths from venomous snakes in the United States between 2010 and 2018.   Four were from copperheads, four from exotics and 15 from rattlesnakes. 

Four of the deaths were from exotic snakes owned by the deceased.

 Three deaths (2012, 2014, 2015) were from snakes handled in Pentecostal Churches in Kentucky, and West Virginian.  

Three died while messing with the snake trying to remove it from an area. 

 One died while trying to extract venom from a copperhead, 

and one bitten on the ass while taking a crap in woods.    Death is not funny, but I couldn’t help it – I had to include the last.  

There are eight species of snakes in Maine and none of them poisonous.   There is a record of a timber rattler found in southern Maine in 1901, but that was an anomaly.   

However, there were no ticks in Maine forty years ago but now they are plentiful.    Climate change is causing many animals to extend their habitat northward. 

Snakes should be treated like any other wild animal.  Leave it alone and don’t harm it. 

the Ol’Buzzard

Monday, May 6, 2019


I am a Sherlock Holmes enthusiast.  Back in 2000 I wrote this essay for The Occupants of the Empty House, a scion society of the Baker Street Irregulars.  It would help to read The Adventure of the Sussex Vampire, by Conan Doyle to fully understand the context.  However the essay covers some interesting history of Vampirism in 1600 and 1700 Europe.

By William Gilliland
© 2000

But first, on earth as Vampire sent,

Thy corpse shall from its tomb be rent:
Then ghastly haunt thy native place,
And suck the blood of all thy race;
There from thy daughter, sister, wife,
At midnight drain the stream of life;
Yet loathe the banquet which perforce
Must feed thy livid living corpse.
Thy victims are they not yet expire
Shall know the demon for their sire,

Whether we should consider the Vampire included in the study of Flora and Fauna in the Canon would be a matter of interpretation.   The Random House College Dictionary defines fauna as “the animal of a given region or period.” 

Baring-Gould set the date for “The Adventure of the Sussex Vampire” as taking place between Thursday, November 19, to Saturday, November 21, 1896.   Charles Darwin had published The Origin of Species in 1859, and a case could be made that even by 1896 many enlightened persons would consider man to be included in fauna. 

Holmes: “The idea of a vampire was to me absurd.   Such things do not happen in criminal practice in England”

Between 1600 and 1800 while Britain and Western Europe were in the throws of witch mania, Eastern Europe was experiencing a vampire frenzy.   In the east, even government officials frequently were involved in hunting and staking vampires.   Westerners never seriously considered the existence of vampires until the mid-eighteenth century when there was an outbreak of alleged vampire attacks in East Prussia (1721), and Austro-Hungary (1725).

Two famous cases involved Peter Plogojowitz and Arnold Paole.   Plogojowitz died at the age of 62, but returned to raise havoc among his family and neighbors, many who died from loss of blood.  Plogojowitz’s grave was opened and his body was found to be fresh. 

Arnold Paole was an ex-soldier who claimed to have experienced a vampire attack while serving in Greece.   Upon returning home he died from a fall while working on his farm.   Within two months after Paole’s burial there were attacks attributed to him.   All of the victims died shortly after.   Two military officers, two army surgeons, and a priest exhumed Arnold Paole’s body; and the corpse was found to be fresh.   Over the next five years there were a number of inexplicable deaths.   A mass exhumation was carried out in 1732, and eleven corpses were found to display the same trait as Paole – no decomposition. 

Both of these cases were well documented by government officials who examined the facts and the bodies.   These two cases created an epidemic of alleged vampire attacks in rural villages resulting in a score of bodies being exhumed.  Eventually the Austrian Empress Marie Theresa sent her personal physician to investigate.   He reported back to her that vampires did not exist.   The Empress passed laws prohibiting the opening of graves and the desecration of bodies, bringing and end to the vampire frenzy of Austria.   (Vampires in Myth and History, by Beverley Richardson)

One reason for the dichotomy of folklore between Western and Eastern Europe can be attributed to the split that took place in 1054 between the Orthodox Church in the east and the Roman Catholic Church in the west.   A difference that can be linked to centralizing the vampire myth to Eastern Europe was the belief of the Catholic Church that the bodies of saints would not decay in the grave, while the Orthodox Church believed that undecayed corpses were a sign of evil and a link with Satan. 

In 1486 the church had published The Malleus Maleficarium as a handbook for the discovery and eradication of witches.   It also covered vampires and how they should be dealt with.  By 1600 this treatise was being used as the ‘bible’ by witch and vampire hunters across Europe.  (Christianity and Vampirism, by Angie McKaig)

Holmes: “Make a long arm Watson and see what V has to say.”   I leaned back and took down the great volume to which he referred…  “Hello!   Good old index.  You can’t beat it.   Listen to this, Watson.   Vampirism in Hungary and again Vampires in Transylvania.  

Vampire myths go back thousands of years and occur in almost every culture.   The Vampire folklore spreads out along the Black Sea Coast to Greece, the Balkans and Carpathian Mountains, including Hungary and Transylvania.   The Slavic people from Russia to Bulgaria and Serbia to Poland also had rich vampire folklore (B. Richardson)

He turned over the pages with eagerness, but after perusal he threw down the great book with a snarl of disappointment.  “Rubbish, Watson, rubbish!  What have we to do with walking corpses who can only be held in their graves by stakes driven through their hearts?   It’s pure lunacy.”

The vampires of folklore of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries have only basic similarities to the vampire fiction of today.   The vampires then did not fly, or wear capes, or change into bats.   A man who was contaminated died, then returned to feed on the blood of his family and neighbors.   After a while (anywhere from a few days to a few years, depending on the country of the occurrence) he became more humanlike and was indistinguishable from living humans.   He was able to remain out in the daylight and eat normal food.   At this time he would move to another town and often get married and have children, reverting to his blood lust only on weekends or certain saint’s days.  (The socially Sophisticated Undead in Folklore, by Patrick Johnson)

Considering the original vampire legends, the action of Delores Ferguson could well have been interpreted as vampirism.  Though vampire fiction became popular in the eighteen hundreds in Britain, the stereotype of today’s vampire fiction was not yet embedded.   In 1813 the vampire appeared in Britain in Lord Byron’s poem “The Giaour.”   In 1819 John Polidori wrote The Vampire on a challenge from Lord Byron (Mary Shelly wrote Frankenstein at the same challenge/time).   And, in 1848 Varney the Vampyre began serialization as a penny dreadful.   If we accept Baring-Gould’s date of the Sussex incident as 1896, Holmes was conducting his investigation one year before Bram Stoker introduced Dracula and set the pattern for vampire fiction, as we know it today.

Accounts of vampirism in the rural areas of Eastern Europe were not unheard of even in Sherlock Holmes’s time.   In Twelve Years’ Study of the Eastern question in Bulgaria by S. B. G. St. Clair and Charles A. Brophy (London: Chapman and Hall, 1877) the authors account an episode that alleged to have taken place in the 1840’s in the village in Bulgaria in which they were presently living.   The Locals told them that a man had arrived in the village and established himself as a tradesman.  He married a local girl, but his new wife complained that he was out every night until dawn.   Cattle and horses became sick and died and it was noted that blood had been drained out of them.   The village suspected the man of being a vampire and   when they examined him they found he had only one nostril – a sure sign that he was a vampire.   The villagers bound him, took him to a hill outside the village, and burned him alive.   Surely with Holmes’s penchant for the unusual he had knowledge of this and other incidents.  

Watson: “A living person might have the habit.   I have read, for example, of the old sucking the blood of the young in order to retain their youth.”
“You are right, Watson.   It mentions the legend in one of these references.   But are we to give serious attention to such things?”

The reference is obviously of Elizabeth Bathory who was born a noblewoman to a powerful family in Transylvania in 1560.   Elizabeth was married as a teenager, but lived with a constant fear of aging.   Her husband died in 1604 and she moved to Vienna.   Countess Elizabeth became convinced that the blood of young girls was the secret to eternal youth and beauty.   She is believed to have murdered more than six hundred young women in order to have blood to drink and bathe in.   In December of 1610 she was put on trial for her crimes, but being a noblewoman she was not allowed by law to be sentenced to death.   She was sentenced to life imprisonment in her castle in Cachtice, where she died in August 1614.  (Who is Elizabeth Bathory? By Angie McKaig)

Holmes constantly reminds us that it is a capital mistake to theorize in advance of the facts (SCAN, SECO, STUD) – yet in the case of the Sussex Vampire he does exactly that.   Before leaving Baker Street he had decided the outcome of the case, and he commences to pursue his investigation to secure the facts to support his theory.   Considering the extensive vampire folklore of Eastern Europe that goes back for centuries, why is Holmes so adamant and closed-minded in considering the possibility of the existence of vampires?   Is this an indication of some prior experience with the preternatural, supernatural, and things that go bump in the night?   This is the real mystery in “The Adventure of the Sussex Vampire.”

the Ol'Buzzard

Saturday, May 4, 2019


Every time my wife and I go to Augusta, a trip of about forty miles, we always end up at the Barnes and Noble book store for a latte and expresso before returning home.   Books are our weakness and we always wind up buying yet another.  

During our last trip I came across the paperback A HISTORY OF VAMPIRES IN NEW ENGLAND by Thomas D’Agustino.   How could I resist.  

It seems that during the 1700 and 1800’s consumption, the wasting disease (tuberculous), was a pandemic in rural New England.   Members of whole families would die within a few years of each other. Each person contracting the disease became emaciated, pale, bled from the mouth and eventually died.   There was no cure.   Doctors did not understand the disease and religious leaders often saw it as demonic.   Many rural families steeped in superstition believed that a vampire or undead spirit was returning to feed on family members in order to remain alive in the grave. 

There are records of over forty graves being disinterred throughout New England and the corps being violated in order to protect those left alive.  There were probably many more, as family members were often buried on family farms and records not kept.

I finished the book last night, and this morning typed New England Vampires into YouTube and up came a lecture given by Thomas D’Agustino – the book author.  

I am including D’Agustino’s lecture on the blog, but also placing a link to the lecture so viewers can watch it full screen if they so choose.  It is interesting.  

At the time of the witch mania in Western Europe, vampire panic was gripping Eastern Europe and Russia.  I wrote a monologue on The Sussex Vampire for a Sherlock Holmes scion society of the Bake Street Irregulars.  If I can find it, I will post it later.

the Ol’Buzzard      


the Ol'Buzzard