Reflections, Revelations, and Rants

The entries to follow will be dated according to when they were added – with the most recent first.  An entry date may not necessarily indicate when the piece was actually written because it might have been pulled from a file of compositions written at some other time.  In those cases, I will indicate the “original” date whenever I am reasonably sure of it.

Tonie Ansel Toney




This subject is an easy one for me to write about.  My mother, who died on the first day of summer, 2004, was such a special and unique lady who endured more hardships than most ladies I know from her generation.  If she were alive today she would admit that she made some really dumb mistakes which contributed to some of the hardships she experienced.  One great thing about her, though, was her willingness to help others profit by her mistakes.  She was not shy about telling me, up front, where she went wrong and why it was wrong.  On the other hand, from my point of view she was a terrific mother who was close to perfect in many ways.  I miss her so much.  Today, my 71st birthday, is a time when I predictably think of her even more than usual.  Of course – without her (and my father) I would not be here.   I urge you, if either of your parents still lives, make a special point to thank them on your birthdays and make it as much their day as your day (if not more).  For more on the subject, here’s a link to an item I entered earlier today:


Thanks to the brilliant and prolific Pat Bagley of the Salt Lake Tribune for this cartoon.



click the following link for this writing:




From my point of view – this cartoon pretty much “says it all.”

As a “born-and-raised-in-the U.S.A.” man who is coming up on 71 years of being a citizen of this country, who joined the U.S. Air Force at an age when I was not even allowed to vote, and who gets teary-eyed often when I think of how lucky I am to be what I am (and where I am) – I have been extremely disturbed over the prospect of a mosque or anything akin to a mosque being established near ground zero in New York City. Earlier today I was sent the political cartoon (above) by Dana Summers of the Orlando Sentinel. It triggered more thoughts on my part of the ridiculous insensitivity of those who would flaunt their right to do such a thing. To be sure – it is not likely to improve my view of the religion – if it is indeed, a religion.

I’m firmly against the efforts to place a mosque at the proposed site and don’t expect that to change; I think those who are pushing for it are making a mistake. I “flat-out” don’t like it! I hope it doesn’t happen!

In preparation for composing a “rant” on the subject, I consulted the views of many others. After reading Kathleen Parker’s piece which recently appeared in the Washington Post, I decided to let it go.

If you are interested – you should be able to read the article from at least one of these links:


One gallon = 8 pounds. Click image for smaller version.



Well – it’s hard to believe – in 31 days away from Florida I gained 8 pounds!  I have no idea what caused it to happen.

Was it the 8 oz. flat iron steak I devoured at Mountain View Restaurant in Spruce Pine, N.C. last week (the place with the million dollar view) or perhaps the garlic mashed potatoes or the great bread with “real butter?”  Or maybe it was the home made peach pie “al-uh-moody” that stuck to my ribs?

Or perhaps it was not many days earlier – the breaded tenderloin sandwich and fries at the Chocolate Moose in Farmland, Indiana – or maybe the 3 different kinds of pizza at Pizza King in Farmland during a family gathering the next night!  Or perhaps that root beer float at the Choc-Moose the evening before we returned to N.C.  The lunch at Muncie’s Olive Garden with cousin Elizabeth seemed healthy enough.

That huge prime rib at Spruce Pine’s Grassy Creek Country Club Restaurant could not have had much fat. Oh was it delicious! I’m sure that my Lovastatin took care of any harm it might have done.

Or maybe it was the two fine meals at Fatz in Marion, N.C. – both with desserts (peach cobbler “al-uh-moody” the first time and a banana split the night my son and I helped his mother celebrate her birthday).

Then again – it could have been the weenie roast we had at our Mountain Cove community with our neighbors.  It’s up above 3000′ and is situated less than 5 miles from Mt. Mitchell.  The external pressure is less at that altitude allowing for greater stomach expansion (I think that’s how it works).  To account for that tendency I didn’t have any hot dog buns with mine – I just ate them solo.  But there was the cake and ice cream afterwards.

At the cabin I fried cornmeal mush one morning – but I can’t imagine that being a problem – unless the fact that I ate 3/4 of the entire one quart batch might be a factor.  But we had turkey bacon for our health and I had only one “pre-recall” egg and the yolk was hard – I didn’t dip my toast in it!

I suspect a culprit might have been the McGriddle breakfast that I had at McDonalds on the way up to the cabin and then again on the way back home to Florida.  It’s so easy to handle while driving!

I’m not sure which of those vittles did me in – but I do know that I’m one gallon of milk heavier than I was a month ago! Yep – that’s right – a gallon of milk weighs 8 pounds – exactly what I gained!

Based upon what I know about myself and how my various systems work, I’d say that at least half of my body’s 8 additional pounds is composed of a brown substance (and I don’t mean chocolate milk)!  Garbage in and garbage out is what “they” say but it seems to me that the output has not been keeping up with the input. In other words, what you have suspected about me for years is probably true – I’m full of it!

I’m encouraged though – already having lost nearly two of those extra pounds in the last 3 days. And – this morning I sat here at the kitchen table with my laptop watching my wife go through her 3-Mile Walk DVD. My foot tapped in time to the music which I’m sure burned some of those extra calories. At this rate, I’ll be back in shape before Thanksgiving!

I think we are having salad only for dinner tonight.  Oh boy!  But – there are no Oreo cookies in the pantry.  What am I to do? How will I sleep?

Cloudman23 (Tonie Toney)




Tuesday, January 12, 2010

This entry is an extension of a very abbreviated version at

Even if the sorry way we have been polluting the atmosphere is found to have no effect whatsoever upon climate change we must stop the assault upon the air we breathe; we should be engaged in an all-out effort to use clean sources of energy and stop using the polluting sources as quickly as possible.

We should not be fooling with Mother Nature. Even in the face of doubts concerning the human impact upon climatic change, we should definitely err on the side of caution. Our government’s weakness in dealing with environmental issues and concerns is “politics.” If our leaders make decisions counter to environmental protection, we should struggle for justice and in doing so – be willing to sacrifice. We should insists that our elected and appointed leaders sacrifice too. I believe that it is up to us, the U.S.A., to lead the world in developing clean energy to convert water to it’s chemical components, hydrogen and oxygen, the recombination of which yields energy of an almost non-polluting quality – in fact, the result of the combustion is water molecules which return to the hydrologic cycle. This energy can be used in place of petroleum products and coal. We should make sure this technology is available to other countries because we all breathe air from the same atmosphere. We hear and read often about China’s development of coal-fired power plants at a rate of at least one per month. Often we are not reminded that their new power plants are more efficient and less polluting than ours in the Western World. But we should not be committing to coal just because there are ways to burn it more cleanly. It still pollutes and everything is relative. I don’t believe that our President gets it. We need truly clean sources of energy. I advocate geothermal over and above all others – even solar. There are ways that heat from rock beneath us can be used to flash water into steam and that steam pressure can turn turbines linked to generators for making electricity. Much of that electrical energy could be used to make hydrogen fuel from our natural resource, water. Remember, in the manufacturing of electrical energy there is no current means for storing it. So it we make too much that surplus is wasted. It needn’t be. We can use it for making hydrogen fuel.

It finally happened. On January 9, 2010 I received an e-mail from an old buddy containing the cartoon that appears at the beginning of this posting. He wrote: “We have a chance for SNOW here tonight — so this joke is so true right now.” Larry lives in West Palm Beach, Florida so I can understand his comment. It’s the “right now” part about his remark that makes me proud. This tells me that he is not a die hard conspiracy advocate and at least considers global warming to be a credible consideration at the very least. Larry knows that a heat wave could just as easily be in the cards for this coming Summer.  It appears that he has an open mind.

The cold waves that have visited much of the United States this Winter (2009-2010) surely must have many people wondering what all of this global warming fuss is all about. On the extreme end it has many opponents of global warming gleefully using the cold weather as evidence that it (global warming) is all some gigantic worldwide scam – a plot by right wing politicians working with unethical scientists who are hoping to make huge amounts of money from our fear and ignorance. I think they are wrong – very wrong. To me, such thinking is akin to declaring a lake devoid of life because no fish were caught there on one particular day or issuing flood warnings in the Atacama when cirrus clouds appear overhead.  I’ll leave you to research that last little scenario.  Incidentally, as Winter Olympic fans will attest, a belt across Canada has had record low amounts of snow and unusually warm temperatures.  Is there a global warming frenzy going on up there in the news?

As to recent setbacks triggered by the hacking of a server at the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit last year – I admit that there are dishonest scientists – just as there are dishonest lawyers, politicians, ministers, policemen, reporters, doctors, athletes, teachers, etc., etc., etc. It is my opinion that those people who deny that humans could have anything of consequence to do with climate change, if not ignorant, are simply not thinking. I suspect they perceive the earth to be so big, and our impact so small, that any climatic trend observed today must be of causes not related to humans. My guess is that most of either have little if any understanding of (or wish to ignore) positive or amplifying feedback, points of no return, the current solar minimum activity, the straw that broke the camel’s back, linear vs. exponential changes, and erring on the side of caution.

I believe that the vast majority of the people in this country have an “out of site, out of mind” mentality and I do not deny that I often have that mindset.

  1. When I put clean plastic bags in our two large garbage cans last Wednesday I reminded myself that this was a once a week routine. That’s 104 bags a year! Yet, once it’s picked up and carried away, I don’t think about it. I massage any guilt I might experience with the knowledge that the five residents in my house are “in” to recycling.
  2. In the “old days” when I was a kid I had the fun chore of burning the flammable garbage. I didn’t think much about what I was putting into the air. After all, those were just little fires. It never occurred to me that I was but one of many engaged in that practice.  Seldom did I encounter things that would not burn. The moisture-laden organic stuff went into the garden and that was good.
  3. When most people flush the toilet, they no longer care about the “stuff” evacuated from their bodies not to mention the huge amount of water used to transport that “stuff” elsewhere. Not until adulthood with some education in the matter have I grown to look upon human excrement as a wasted resource – the source of quality fertilizer and also methane which can be used as fuel. I might not forget about the matter that goes down the toilet as quickly as most people because I clean our septic tank filter twice a year to make sure we don’t get an unpleasant “back up.” That chore alone causes me to at least think about it. It’s difficult to smell it without at least thinking about it.
  4. Most of us use gasoline and diesel as energy sources for our vehicles. When we fill our tanks the fuel is then out of sight. When we look in our rear view mirrors we seldom, if ever, see exhausts coming from our vehicles. It’s as though we think that all of that liquid we paid for is being converted to energy. We don’t think of the waste products or the heat generated. The waste is mostly invisible. We don’t think about the heat loss being a physical tragedy in that it is no longer available for further energy transformation. Our lubricating oil gets dirty – we have it changed. Most of us don’t know what makes it get dirty in the first place and few of us know about the deterioration of lubricating qualities. Some of us know that we are polluting the air but most who think about that see the atmosphere as some sort of self-cleaning receptacle that can handle all that we dump into it. It is a rare person, I think, who sees the atmosphere as but a very thin and fragile envelope surrounding the earth’s surface. This next image from space hopefully illustrates that it is not thick but rather, a thin sheet – a small part of earth rotating with it. In fact, technically speaking, the earth’s surface is really the top of the atmosphere (wherever that is). That the thin skin of our atmosphere exists and that the lower levels are breathable are miracles to me.

I am naïve. When Neal Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed on the moon in 1969 I distinctly remember telling myself and a few others, “Now people of the world will get their acts together and there will be harmony after this great example of how small and insignificant is the individual and how our planet earth is but a fragile object in space – not really so big – which must be protected.” What a dreamer I was! When images from space clearly emphasized how very thin our atmosphere is I told myself that this will get people all over the world to think more seriously about what they are putting into the air. I was wrong. It’s still “out of sight – out of mind” for most people.

To imply that there is a huge conspiracy over global warming and that it is a contrived and engineered lie is, in my opinion, simple minded. Of course there are dishonest scientists and petty, immature behaviors within certain groups but that does not erase the basic truth that what we are putting into the air can’t be in our best interest – that is unless we are only thinking of ourselves within our very short lifespans. We don’t like to have the wool pulled over our eyes but a few “wrong-doers” don’t make all the rest corrupt. Those who scream conspiracy and try to discount all of the honest efforts and data collected by honest scientists are doing far more harm than good. I don’t mean to sound as though I’m generalizing but I envision those same people as thriving on any scandal they can harp upon. They, like me, probably know plenty of “Tiger” jokes.

I believe that an existing warming trend for the earth’s atmosphere is a reality and I believe that it has been at play since at least the beginning of the industrial revolution. I concede that as time goes, I am talking about a very short period of time and that if you look at the diagrams of temperature increases through the years you will see that there are countless upward and downward spikes. However, the general rising trend can’t be missed. It is easy for me to understand why a person would associate global warming with human activity because I am one of those persons. Human activity is but one factor and it could be less than what some “experts” are implying. But – that doesn’t make it O.K.!

We humans should do what we are reasonably able to do to reduce our role in global warming – even to the point of making sacrifices. It is my belief that since we are bound to make mistakes, we should err on the side of caution.

When I was 10 years old I lived with my grandparents a half mile from the Kuhner Packing Plant in Muncie, Indiana, later to become Marhoefer. The image above is one I took in August, 1970 when I was 31 years old.  I was standing at the west edge of my grandparents’ back yard.  The smokestack might appear further away than it was (311 yards) because of the lense I used.  The slaughtering, butchering, processing, and packaging of meat is “hot water intensive.” The packing plant burned coal for heating water as well as other purposes. From my grandparents yard and from the two west windows of the house I could see the black smoke belching from the stack and I saw the black soot that landed on our white sheets and the clothing hanging out to dry on my grandmother’s line. In short order any blanket of snow would be dirty from the emissions. I distinctly remember even then thinking, “This can’t be right!”  Additionally, when I was a kid living there (age 10 through 15), untreated waste from the plant flowed freely down Kuhner Creek past a city park and into the White River to the south.

What I didn’t know about the stack emissions was that I should have been more concerned about what I could not see rather than the visible particulates. For it’s the greenhouse gases that play the most significant role in preventing a natural heat balance between the sun’s radiant energy (mostly visible) and the earth’s radiant energy (mostly infrared).  I won’t take time now to address health issues for residents of the area – that’s a whole separate ball of wax.

Our mean temperatures are less likely to change if we are in radiative equilibrium with space – that is, if the total electromagnetic energy incoming from the sun were to be equal to the total electromagnetic energy emitted by the earth. But when we increase the amount of greenhouse gases in the air we make it more difficult for outgoing radiation (mostly infrared) to escape into space. One cause of global warming can be more energy coming in than escaping. The greenhouse gases absorb outgoing infrared and then radiate infrared (of a slightly longer wavelength) in all directions – and half of those directions are some component of downward. So, the greenhouse gases are acting like a blanket. Surprising to some – it’s a good blanket. What I’m saying is that the greenhouse effect is a good thing! The average temperature of the earth’s surface is about 59 or 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Greenhouse gases are a blessing because if all of the infrared were allowed to escape freely without it’s departure being postponed by greenhouse gases it is estimated that the average surface temperature of the earth would be about negative 1 degree Fahrenheit (33 degrees below freezing). The earth would not be a suitable place to live at that cold temperature. What would we eat? How could we tolerate the temperatures?

Please note that though I am emphatic about the greenhouse effect being a good thing, I am not advocating increasing the greenhouse effect by adding greenhouse gases via pollution of the air. That is what we are doing.

When you look at a list of the greenhouse gases it is usually led by carbon dioxide. In some cases, water vapor (water in the gaseous state) is not even mentioned. Yet water vapor is more responsible for the greenhouse effect than any other gas. I leave it to you to look up the details.

There are sources other than the sun that can heat up the earth. The earth is very hot inside. In fact, it is believed that the earth’s core temperature is that of the surface of the sun! Most of that heat is derived from the decay of radioactive isotopes in both alpha and beta decay. In fact, it is that heat which is believed to be driving the hypothesized convection currents in the earths mantle which in turn are believed to be the force behind the movement of lithospheric plates, the assimilation of subducted plate material at depth, and the creation of new plate material at divergence boundaries. Heat gets to the surface (e.g. volcanic activity) and some of that heat enters the atmosphere. Gases enter the atmosphere from volcanic activity the most abundant of which is water vapor.

The manner in which we have handled environmental issues and concerns though the years has convinced me that we are lazy, complacent, and almost always looking for the path of least resistance. Just look at what we continue using as fuel for our vehicles and look at the fuels we use in order to convert energy to the electrical form. Had we engaged in an all-out effort for the cleanest sources of energy back in the early 70’s when the “modern” environmental movement welled up, I believe we would be driving hydrogen powered vehicles today using hydrogen from water molecules that had been disassociated using very clean energy (e.g. geothermal, solar) and that we would be much further along in superconductivity research so that we might soon be transporting electrical energy with far less waste (waste in accordance with the Second Law of Thermodynamics). I believe that we are short-minded fools, too stubborn and too self-centered to go to war against environmental degradation like we went to war against our enemies in World War II.

Considering climate changes that have occurred long before erect walking mammals inhabited this planet, the fact that continental glaciers have covered much of middle latitude Eurasia and North America in the past, that a desert as large as the U.S.A., the Sahara, was at one time a humid place, makes it clear to me that there have been significant atmospheric changes and will be in the future. Some documented climatic changes have surely been due to latitudinal repositioning and oceanic gyre reconfiguration by plate tectonic influences but there have been other agents of change having nothing to do with plate tectonics – long before we humans were polluting But does that give us license to disregard our effect upon climate? Absolutely not. Do we have an obligation, particularly to those who live here long after we are gone, to work hard to minimize our degradation of the environment. You bet! Is global warming merely a phenomenon contrived and/or advocated by those who hope to profit from it all. No, I don’t think so. But even if global warming is not occurring, we should forge ahead with great vigor and dedication to clean up our act!


z RogerJanis

Entry 1 – FREEDOM

Monday, August 3, 2009

Probably my favorite line from a song lyric comes from Kris Kristofferson’s “Me and Bobby McGee.”  It was first popularized by Roger Miller in his terrific 1969 rendition and quickly exploded exponentially  in popularity once Janis Joplin’s version was released.  Here is the line I refer too:

“Freedom’s just another word for “nothin’ left to lose.”

I’ll bet I think of that simple statement at least once a day.  I recalls memories of times when everything I owned would fit into my vehicle in this great country where I could drive anywhere within it without being stopped at the borders between states and bask in the beauty of so many of our natural wonders.  As late as 1976 I took a 15 week trip like that in my little car and lived on a dime.  Though I still had a job to return to and responsibilities, I had numerous occasions to feel reasonably free with no strict agendas to follow.

Now I have two homes – a big one in a peaceful wooded portion of North-Central Florida and a tiny one in a beautiful part of the North Carolina Blue Ridge, two vehicles, a small sailboat that is the source of great pleasure and very little grief, a relatively normal and happy family family life, an adequate retirement, and reasonably good health.  I have lots of “things.”

Realizing that and acknowledging my tendency to advocate “Freedom’s just another word for ‘nothin’ left to lose’ ” – I’m wondering:  Do people with virtually nothing advocate such a notion or is my suspicion correct – that the vast majority of people who promote the concept are people who have loads and loads of THINGS – people who have never been in a position to remotely know what it’s like to have “nothin’ left to lose?”

1 comment so far

  1. J Stockment on

    As an initial disclaimer, obviously context will determine the meaning of any word [words supply options, context determines meaning]. That being said I will attempt to respond to what I best understand to be the point of this “Reflection/Rant”.

    I would guess that the notion that “Freedom’s just another word for ‘nothin’ left to lose'” is far more commonplace with more a more seasoned demographic who have at some point in their life lost much, but are now able to live [in retrospect] “comfortably”. This is merely a guess, as at only 24 years of age I am not able to speak with much authority here.

    However, what I see to be the increasingly common mindset of my peers is the idea that “Freedom is my ability to do whatever I want” -with the implicit addendum of “at no personal cost”. We live in a time where from our youth we are told the lie of the “American Dream”; that we can be anything we want to be. What’s worse is that this so called dream has been dumbed down so that now it reads something like: “You can be anything you want to be, without exerting any effort to get there, because you deserve it”. This simply is not the case.

    Perhaps a humorous illustration of this can be seen in the popular television show American Idol. The first few weeks of the show are devoted to contestant auditions. And every season there are scores of people auditioning who have absolutely horrible voices. Yet, after they miserably fail the audition they all express what they perceive to be a violation of their entitlement to flourish. Whether it is because mommy lied to them and said they sing beautifully, or some other combination of unfortunate events, they believe that they intrinsically deserve to succeed.

    We live in a time when people expect everything to be handed to them on a silver platter. This necessarily results in a lowered work ethic. If I am entitled to success, why would I work for it or try to earn it? We see this in our education system where [many] teachers accommodate this mentality by lowering academic standards providing an illusion of success. We certainly saw this leading up to our current economic-failure, where everybody deserved the privilege of being extended credit, regardless of their track record of being financially responsible.

    I see the aftershock of this on a daily basis with my friends, most of whom are college graduates. Many of these products of the university are living in their “apartment” [which is a euphemism for their parents’ garage with a futon and a TV set up], and working part time at Starbucks while deciding what it is they “really want to do with their life”. There is a delaying of growing up and taking responsibility because responsibility is neither taught nor enforced. Mom, Dad, and society at large deem this behavior as acceptable…possibly the norm. Ultimately this attitude is nothing more than waiting for something nice to fall in your lap without lifting a finger.

    The result of the equation Freedom = Entitlement, is that it harms those who truly want to work for things. We need Mommy and Daddy to quit telling little Johnny that he can do whatever he wants, and not teach him the value of working to get there. Little Johnny needs to understand that freedom in this context means he has the ability to strive to learn what he is gifted at [because let’s be honest, even if he works hard his entire life he may not have the natural giftings to do some things, and that’s ok] and pursue excellence in these gifted areas. Freedom then, is the ability to work hard to pursue that which we are good at doing, be it science, math, art, etc.

    And even pursuing things we are good at is not an excuse to avoid or be sloppy with that which does not come naturally to us. Perhaps once one has worked hard and achieved something worth losing we can say that “Freedom’s just another word for ‘nothin’ left to lose'”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: