People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it. Welcome to From On High.

Sunday, July 31, 2005

Throwaway Line Brings Flashback

Steve over at SW Virginia Law Blog has a brief mention of Judge Roberts and passes on conjecture relating to Roberts' being picked by President Bush for the Supreme Court. One sentence in particular caught my attention.

By way of contrast, the author refers to President Clinton as "a cheesy marching band geek if ever there was one." (link)
The "cheesy marching band geek" slap at Bill Clinton brought back memories of an accounting department head that I worked with a few years ago. He managed a rather sizeable group of tax accountants, receivables and payables accountants, general ledger accountants, etc. A whole mess of cheesy accountants.

We all know that accountants are, by their very nature, a bit strange. Or geeky. Well this guy was no different. He was friendly enough and we would do lunch together occasionally, but he was still odd - in an accountant sort of way.

What caused him to be forever burned into my memory was this:

The week each year that Michigan State University played the University of Michigan in football, Mr. Accounting Department Manager wore his Spartan marching band uniform to work.

That's right. He was a graduate of Michigan State. And was, when there, in the marching band. And was even willing to admit it lo these many years later.

Picture it: The Friday before Game day. A geeky 40-ish accountant type shows up at corporate headquarters wearing his (extremely) green and white uniform coat and pants - complemented with this ghastly hat with plume, visor, and chin strap.

I never quite knew what he was attempting to convey to those of us who looked on in wonder. Pride I suppose. Accomplishment. Team spirit perhaps.

It didn't work. He is the sole reason I became a big Wolverine fan.

But I've also been plagued by these recurring nightmares ...

A Lynching Story Hits Home

An article appearing in the Bristol Herald Courier this morning provides a fascinating account of a lynching of a black man that took place in nearby Wytheville, Virginia back in 1926.

'An exhibition of human savagery'
BY MATTHEW LAKIN, Bristol Herald Courier

WYTHEVILLE – Raymond Bird never heard the men slip inside the jail that summer night.

He slept peacefully as the mob of masked men headed past the jailer toward his cell. He never heard the door open. He never saw the guns.

He never heard the shot that killed him, according to newspaper and witness accounts.

Bird died Aug. 15, 1926, in a hail of bullets and flailing clubs. The mob shot him through the heart, pounded his skull "into a pulp" and dragged his body behind a car for miles to St. Paul, where they hanged it from a tree and "riddled" it with bullets, according to newspaper accounts. (link)

His crime?

Impregnating a white girl.

A different time. A very ugly time in our history.

Read the whole article.

More On Lynchings

Further research reveals the fact that there were a number of lynchings of white people in olden days as well as the many instances of mob executions of black men.

I took the time to look this up because I remember reading an account in my home town paper many years ago involving two white men who had been accused of robbery being dragged out of their jail cells and being hanged in the town square.

Though not proportional to the number of blacks having been lynched, the count of whites murdered by "the mob" was significant, as the chart below shows.
State          Black  White
Mississippi 539 42
Georgia 492 39
Louisiana 335 56
Alabama 299 48
Florida 257 25
Arkansas 226 58
Tennessee 204 47
South Carolina 156 4
Kentucky 142 63
North Carolina 86 15
Virginia 83 17
Source: Tuskegee Institute (link)

I Battle a Snake

Because of recent heavy rains, our gravel driveway had taken a bit of a beating in terms of erosion (we live on a spur of Big Walker Mountain and our drive curves about 300 yards up a hill; with a downpour, we can get a good bit of runoff from the hillside) so I decided to hitch my grader blade to my tractor (go here to learn more about my tractor) and level the driveway.

I find myself having to do this three or four times a year. It takes me about two hours and it ain't no big thang, as we say.

Because I don't use the blade much this time of year (I get lots of use out of it plowing snow later on), I keep it under a tarp out behind the fenced pasture.

One thing a person learns around here is that, in the summertime there is a snake lurking under every rock, behind every tree, in the rafters of every outbuilding.

So when I got to it, I intentionally lifted the tarp away from the grader blade carefully.

Sure enough, there were two huge black racers curled up beneath the tarp, all intertwined and not particularly pleased that I had disturbed them.

What was odd about the encounter was that the snakes, once disturbed, didn't slither off into the weeds. They untangled but circled the blade as if both of them were going to challenge me.

Under normal circumstances, I'd give the snakes their space. But on this day I needed my farm implement. They were, therefore, occupying my space.

As I backed the tractor up to the blade - to connect it to the three-point hitch and to scare off the pesky not-so-little reptiles - sure enough, one finally moved off into the tall grass.

The other one, though, wasn't going anywhere. He coiled up beneath the blade and signaled, "Come on, big daddy. Let's see what you got."


My thought was, "Look, you little reptile, go have your snake sex under someone else's tarp. I've got work to do."

So, with a good deal of effort and cajoling, I finally got the black snake to see things my way; he slithered away, obviously not happy with me.

I hitched up the blade and started heading off across the pasture toward the driveway. As I rode along, I began to think about the encounter. I'm no snake expert but it seemed the two that I had come upon had acted rather strangely. I thought it odd that they would be so aggressive, particularly the one that would not back off when confronted. Showing off in front of his mate is a commendable exercise - heck, I used to do it for Paula myself ... a few years ago.

But this was different.

Then an idea came to me. Perhaps I hadn't interrupted snake sex. It might be that I had unknowingly busted up a family. The two snakes might have been raising babies. That would certainly explain the aggression.

But I hadn't seen any babies when I lifted the tarp off the blade, and the blade is nothing more than a five-foot long steel ... well, blade.

Except ...

I brought the tractor to a stop, put it in neutral, and jumped off. I walked around to the back, knelt down, and attempted to peer into the space that existed behind the blade itself and a support beam that ran its length.

It was too dark in the confined space to see anything. So I walked around to the other side of the implement and stuck my eye up to the narrow opening. And looked inside.

Something was looking back.

I knew immediately that it had to be a snake; the cause for the parent snakes to be agitated. I knew too that I was going to use that blade - on my driveway - that day.

The snake had to go.

But how was I going to get him / her /it out?

I decided to drive the tractor up to my garage and to prod the little tyke out of its lair.

As I headed up the driveway, I looked back, only to see a snake head and about twelve inches of snake body dangling below the blade. He was attempting his escape. Which didn't upset me at all.

He slowly worked his way out of the blade and plopped down on the driveway. All three feet of him. The cutest youngster a mommy and daddy snake had ever produced. He lay there for a few moments, got his bearings, and then slid off into the grass.

And my day progressed.

Another day on Snake Mountain.

A Great Night For Baseball

The Salem Avalanche crushed the Frederick Keys 6-2 last night. The weather turned out, after threatening rain, to have been perfect for the game.

We were particularly glad to see the Av's crush the Keys because ... well, because the Keys had the gall to show up on our diamond. On our home turf. In our house. You do that, you should expect a good thrashing.

Attendance at the game was just over 5,500; not bad for a Carolina League game.

A band played on the lawn outside the stadium after the game. Little Kaid and Jayla danced the night away to "Cheeseburger in Paradise."

It doesn't get any better.