A light, airy, effervescent, blog of grave consequence. (NOT!) Dedicated to those of us who must respond to negative stimuli by Chernobyling (entombing in concrete) our innermost thoughts.

Location: Slaughter, Louisiana, United States

A semi-gruntled corporate reliability engineer trying to make ends meet while keeping my wife happy, and myself out of the asylum.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Neutral on the subject

So nearly six years ago when I purchased this house, the inspector noted that there were no GFCIs anywhere. It wasn't an issue as they were not code when the house was built, but he recommended installing some to "improve" the electrical safety of the house.

I've had it on my list of things to do for a long time and finally got around, earlier this year, to ordering the correct breakers.

Of course, this house has an oddball panel (Siemens), so I had to go mail order to get the parts rather than go down to the 'Po.

They've been here about six months and I finally figured this morning that I'd get them installed. (Hell, The damned things are $50 each so I might as well install them.)

I picked all the circuits that have outlets near a water source.

The physical installation was pretty simple. They just click in place like the old ones, finding the right wires to use in the panel was another story. For the GFCI breaker to work properly, it needs to have the actual circuit neutral connected to it as well as the circuit power and then it is also tied into the panel neutral bus. Finding the corresponding neutrals for each of the power wires was a trip. (pun intended) Although, whomever wired the panel did a decent job so I was able to manage it without zapping myself more than a half dozen times.

I did uncover a couple interesting things. Each of the circuits for the front and back porch outlets seem to have either a loose or a split neutral. Neither of those circuits would work with the GFCIs.

Oh well. Got all but one installed and they are working correctly. Now you may feel free to drop a clothes iron into your bath and not kill yourself.

Friday, September 16, 2011

He was a friend of mine.

He died without a penny.
He didn't have a dime.
He was a friend of mine.

So for some time on and off I've been whining at the folks at Bluegrass Junction because I never hear any Greenbriar Boys. And I especially don't hear and Dian and the Greenbriar Boys.

That strikes me as unfortunate as the Greenbriar Boys were instrumental (heh) in the early formation of the New York folk scene in the late 50's and early 60's.

I might even go so far as to put them on a similar tier as the West Coast's Seldom Scene, although they were somewhat less prolific.

Potentially, because of their affiliation with the urban folk scene rather than the typical rural audience of Bill Monroe and The Stanley Brothers, they have been somewhat ostracized from standard playlists. (They did tour for some time with Joan Baez as her backing band. Additionally, in 1961, a little known "singer" songwriter named Bob Dylan, performed for the first time; as the opening act for the Greenbriar Boys in New York City.)

The longest serving members of the Greenbriar Boys have had some profound effects on the Bluegrass and Folk cultures in the US regardless of their lack of recognition.

Bob Yellin, banjo and vocals, was heavily influenced by the "new" Scruggs-style of banjo picking that was becoming popular in the years after Earl joined Bill Monroe's Bluegrass Boys, brought that style further into the heart of the New York folk scene than any other musician of his era.

John Herald, guitar and vocals, wrote many of the best known Greenbriar Boys songs, "Stewball" also recorded by Peter, Paul and Mary for example. After the Greenbriar Boys, John's career continued as a singer and session guitarist, recording with Bonnie Raitt, Doc Watson, Bette Midler, Ian and Syvia, and others.

Ralph Rinzler, Mandolin and vocals, credited with "discovering" Doc Watson, the greatest bluegrass guitar picker in history, as well as showcasing a vocal and musical arrangement style that foreshadowed the rise of the John Hartford String Band, after the Greenbriar Boys he went on to become the curator for American art, music, and folk culture at the Smithsonian Museum. The museum honored his life's work by naming the "Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives Collection" after him.

I'm sure, if I wanted to study it, I could find a lot more connections related to the Greenbriar Boys. Unfortunately, they will probably remain and obscure east-coast band because they are widely regarded as folk rather than bluegrass.

I've offered Sirius XM my copies of their CD's in case they want to add them to the rotation. We'll see if they take me up on it.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

On Ten Years Later

I slept through September 11, 2001. I was working night shift on an outage at my paper mill and arrived home about 8AM that morning, had my usual four fingers of bourbon and hit the sack as I had to be up by about 4PM to get back to work.

Dee Snider had a morning radio program out of one of the Hartford stations back then and I always listened to him. I fell asleep with the radio on. I remember waking up about a quarter to nine and Dee was saying something about a plane hitting the Trade Center. I didn't think much of it, shut the radio off, and went back to sleep.

When I awoke at four that afternoon and turned on the TV my first thought was, "They finally did it." as I instantly recalled listening to the first attack in 1993 live on WCBS 880 radio while I waited to pick up my youngest sister at St. Bernard High School.

The rest is history, I suppose.

That evening, there was work to be done and we set to it. I took a few minutes and walked outside near the clarifiers and wrote the following. It has not seen the light of day since my original email, which according to the copy my mother kept, was sent at 10:34PM, 11 September, 2001.

11 September, 2001
New Milford, CT
10:34 PM

Well, the sun has set on what will soon come to he known as the largest cliche-fest in the history of recorded media. A second "Day That Will Live In Infamy" has passed and all we are left with are disbelief, anger and shock at the fact that we, the only Super-Power on this earth, are ultimately vulnerable. There is but one correct response to this provocation - swift and utter destruction of all parties involved. Advocating that, however, is not my reason for writing.

I walked around outside this evening and peered at the stars. They were all I saw. Normally, there are many strobes and beacons visible because of all of the air traffic in this part of Connecticut, sixty miles from the epicenter of today's events. Their glaring absence is a stark reminder that something has changed. That our seemingly insular existence has been breached so easily and so thoroughly is mind-numbing.

All that remain are questions. "How am I supposed to explain to my children that we really ARE safe, and it's OK to go to sleep tonight because nothing is going to happen when I'm not even sure of that myself?" "How can I put into words the horror that comes from the realization that we, as a nation, may have just lost more people in the span of a few hours than were lost during our entire ten-year involvement in the Viet Nam war?" "Are these tears of rage or tears of sorrow that well up when we view the carnage left in the wake of these hideous acts of cowardice?" To these questions, I have no answers. To a few others, however, the answers are clear.

"Will we pull together as a people, putting aside the differences that suddenly seem so insignificant, and support our leaders as they make the necessary, harsh decisions regarding the pursuit, capture and punishment of all parties responsible for today's atrocities?" Emphatically, Yes.

"Will we, as a people, recover from these events and become a stronger and more cohesive nation?" Emphatically, Yes.

"Will we, as a people, continue to take for granted this wonderful democracy that allows us so many freedoms and abilities?" By God, I hope not.

Isn't it amazing how suddenly the great cultural divide that has split our country in twain seems like a mere rivulet in the sand? Our opinions may place us on opposite sides of an issue, but we, as a people are still on the same coin. Our country has recently been described as divided. Now is the time to unite. For the future of our children, we must stand as one.