You're Crossing America On That?
The first 5 entries for April's Short-subject Commentary ended up longer than I anticipated -- and I have a lot more to write! So, this entry begins a new web site page, April 2010 Page 2. This will also shorten the time it takes for you to load the page. You can always revisit the April 5 through 18 entries by going to April 2010 Friends.
The first April page talked about Wichita Falls, where I stayed 5 days. The April 17 entry was titled, First, Wichita Falls, TX - The Real Story! and opened with this enticing lead, Find out why the downtown core is abandoned, but the city thrives!
April 17 then explained why the downtown core is abandoned. April 18 explained, Here's The Deal On Silver. Today's entry covers the remaining topics, The secret that makes Texas work -- cousins, well, not exactly. The railroad men and Warren Buffet. Why I left a bottle of burgundy in a Wichita Falls tornado basement.
The Secret That Makes Texas work -- Cousins, Not Exactly
Because I couldn't recall the details fully, not recite in Texas speak, I asked the Wichita Falls Wizard to recount meeting a new cousin.
Doug wanted a good steak; so I had recommended McBride's Steak House, range fed, aged, and they own their own processing plant. We sauntered over to the steak house and ordered a couple of martini's and couple of steaks medium rare.
In passing conversations with our wait person, I find out she is from a small town across the river where my daughter and her family live, and she tells us who her half-sister and step dad is. I mention his full name and she looks astonished and says not too many people know his middle name. My response; well we are cousins, though not exactly.
I told her last time I saw my cousin, we had catfish at the local fish house a couple months back. He is still President of that bank and doing ranching and wheat farming too. She agreed, yes, thousands of acres. I didn't know it was that much! We grew up together as I am about 4 years older, and we went different directions in our mid 20's but always stayed in touch. Back in our late teens, early twenties we drank a lot of beer and played many games of shuffle board at the F&L, First and Last Chance beer joint just inside the Oklahoma state line on US HWY 81. (long ago closed).
She goes on to tell Doug and me where her main job is and life in the Falls. She seemed to be doing pretty good and had a good attitude -- so I didn't pry any other than what was volunteered. Her husband has a good job, Around here you never know who is your cousin and who is your real cousin, second or third removed.
She volunteered when she would be working again and invited us back for a great steak and we do some more cousin-visiting -- cause we're cousins. If you live here very long, you learn if someone is your cousin, it is not a 'come on.' It's just being friendly. I would guess incest is heavily frowned on here in TX and other places as well.
Doug asked after we left the restaurant, jdo you have a cousin who is a rancher? Yes, and President of a small town bank. My cousin in Ft Worth has govt. contracts with the Navy on some gadget he has a patent on they put on Navy ships, He's been doing that for over 30 years. I guess we are kind of diverse. With your real cousins, you just never think about what their profession is. If you go to a family picnic, most everyone is driving a Chevy or Ford truck. Most of the Dodge or Toyota truck owners are cousins 'new on the scene'.
Texas may live on oil, cattle, cotton and wheat, but it runs on a cousins network.
The Railroad Men And Warren Buffet
In Wichita Falls, I stayed at the University Best Western, and frequent guests there were track maintenance men on the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway, just recently purchased by Warren Buffet, called the Wizard of Omaha for accumulating an immense amount of wealth -- and then completely blowing it by giving half to Bill Gates's foundation. Wealth requires Jupiter's wisdom, and clearly, Buffet has failed to see the forest through the trees.
Anyway, the railroad men were naturally big burly guys, all dressed in a weird color fluorescent orange shirts and vests. They looked liked huge awkward popcycles. But, and this was interesting, they talked among themselves about the economy and politics. I engaged them a little, when one complained his wages had dropped 4% and those damn liberals were socializing the country. I told them I did world forecasting and pointed out that Warren Buffet was worth about 60 billion, a truly obscene amount, that came to $2000 for each of them. A couple nodded and agreed maybe that was too much for one man to have.
Others dissented, saying a man should be free to make as much money as he can. I said, This country has been very good to Buffet, and he has a moral obligation to give something back. Two of the group agreed, but there were still two holdouts. So, I said, Well, at least Buffet should give you guys back some of the wages you lost! And since he'll make another bundle on your blood sweat and tears, shouldn't you be given a raise too? The sweet smell of victory filled the early morning as they all agreed!
One guy, though, was not about to give up. The next morning he complained about the liberal's activist Supreme Court. I sidled up to his table and pointed out that it was just a month or so ago that G.W. Bush's conservative Supreme Court decided that corporations could give money to candidates directly, in unlimited amounts. So, whose court is the problem? Well, he said, you got me on that. It wasn't right for them to do that. I said thanks, but what really mattered to me is that they were all talking about these issues, getting engaged, for that's what democracy is about, and really, we're all on the same side.
The next morning, this group was getting ready to check out, and as I sat at a nearby table on my Mac laptop, one of them said to his buddies, pointing to me, Ask that guy about money and politics. He knows a lot! I said thanks, and then we all enjoyed a guy joke about Sarah Palin's breasts not making her smart.
This is very cool, I thought. People are beginning to really think about this economic contraction, why it happened, what went wrong, and how they can help make it right. Popular protests really can begin to come up through the grass roots beginning this summer.
Why I left A Bottle Of Burgundy In A Wichita Falls Tornado Basement
The Wichita Falls Wizard had also gifted me a nice bottle of burgundy -- for my trip. I left it in the hotel room closet by mistake. But, I also noticed when he gave it to me from his liquor cabinet that all his wine bottles were standing up.
An hour out of Wichita, I realized my error and called, asking him to get that bottle and put it in his tornado cellar on its side, so the cork doesn't dry out. He said, what for? I really don't drink wine and don't need it. I replied, So when I come back to hide out, I have some wine to drink. He laughed, Bring as many silver bars as you can. You're gonna need em.
Wichita Falls, TX To Paris TX 177 miles 1121 Miles Total
This was last Thursday, and I made it out of town just ahead of rain. A few interesting things happened that day.
Texas Is A State Of Mind
At a restaurant, I pointed this out, and one of the men there said, Those shoulders are for pulling over to fix a tire, but, about this pulling over to let others pass, well I guess you can do that.
When I got lost but didn't know it, at a gas station I asked about a two lane highway running next to 82 to go to Texarcana. Outside, a nice young fellow in a tie told me, you're headed for Forth Worth, not Texarcana. You missed the turn at Henrietta. A lot of people do that. Go on the overpass, turn left at the stop sign and take a right at Montague.
A little shaken by my error, I ask the cashier inside about getting to Texarcana. She said You missed the turn at Henrietta. A lot of people do that. Go on the overpass, turn left at the stop sign and take a right at Montague. I followed their identical directions, and at Montague I asked a lady outside an imposing three story courthouse to confirm I was on the road to Texarcana. She said, Yes. You missed the turn at Henrietta. A lot of people do that. Texas truly is a State Of Mind. I then asked her if there were enough criminals in that county to merit such a big courthouse. She replied, with a big Texas smile, Yes there are, and you better get going before we arrest you!
Here's The Deal On Scooters -- And the Washeteria
When I finally did get back on 82, I stopped at Gilbert's Freight Outlet, a general store out of the minteen forties. I found an ice cream sandwich in an old freezer and walked up to the cashier. An older fellow asked me where I was from. Arizona, I said. No you're not, he replied, but go ahead an pay for the ice cream before it melts on you. I paid the 75 cents, and told the fellow, well I lived in Arizona for 13 years. Doesn't count, he said. You're not from there. Where are you from? Caught in my lie, I softly said, New York. He kept boring in on me, Well, about 20 years ago, I went up there, to Rochester, to deliver computer parts I salvaged, and the people were real nice. Gee, I relied. I was born in Seneca Falls, the birthplace of women's rights, just 30 miles or so from Rochester. Thought so, he said.
You're on a scooter, he said, Let me show you this scooter I got at salvage down the road and sold to a fellow for $1000. It was a cheap Chinese scooter with the chrome covered muffler they all have -- copied from Honda. I explained that to him and then said, Here's the deal on scooters. His eyes narrowed just a little as he really paid attention, for I had said the magic words, Here's the deal on.
The scooters people think of are those little noisy and smoky scooters they see on TV and in movies about India and the Far East. Some call them Mopeds. Anthony Bordain, on the Travel Channel's No Reservations road on the back of one in Vietnam in a recent episode. They are 50 CC (3 cubic inches) give about 3 horsepower for a top speed of 40 MPH. The one I'm riding is a 150 CC (9 cubic inches) giving 11.5 horsepower and a top speed of 61 MPH. It has a much longer wheelbase, good tor the highway. I can cruise easily at 55 all day long and take hills without a problem. It has a base price of $2890 -- with freight, setup, tax and title, it'll run you $3900. It will last 30- years -- so you gotta put it in your will.
The 50 CC scooters are like your lawn mower, and the 150 CCs are like you garden tractor. Okay, he said. I got that. But, I'm not gonna ride my garden tractor to my cousins for barbeque. Well, what if he' not exactly your cousin, I asked. Well then, he smile, I guess I could ride a scooter like yours -- as long as my wife went along with it.
Here's the rest of the deal on scooters, I offered. What you got inside is a cheap, Chinese scooter they copy from other manufacturers, throw together with low grade parts and sell for about $1500. You can't build a decent scooter for $1500, just like you gotta spend $2500 or more for a good garden tractor. That scooter you have inside is junk that will start falling apart at 5,000 miles and isn't safe. I got that, he said.
We then talked about the economy and silver. I've been saving silver for a long time, he said. He liked my silver bars from the Wichita Falls Wizard and was impressed they save a couple of bucks over silver coins. He then said that when Nixon took us off the silver/gold standard, his cousin bought a washeteria. I had to think about that for a moment, and then it dawned on me he was talking about a laundromat, which is the very best way for his cousin to have scarfed up all the silver quarters still in circulation. Your cousin, I asked. Not exactly, he answered. It was a fella on my wife's side that married her aunt's half sister. But, I'll tell ya, if he were a first cousin, he wouldn't have kept that washetaia idea from me! He's sitten in a big house now with a new Cadillac. You can get $4 for each of those quarters now, he finished.
Below is a listing bringing you up to date on my journey -- I made it all the way from Sedona, AZ to Greenville, SC -- 1890 miles.
However, yesterday was a sensitive date, as shown News Flash section of the above April 19 posting. The perceptional Moon was approaching warrior Mars in Cancer, the sign of the home -- it blew my prearranged housing arrangements out of the water. So, at this point, it seems I'll be headed back to Atlanta to regroup.
Too, I'll add commentary to each day's trip -- lots of interesting experiences in traveling through the rest of Texas and all of Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and into South Carolina.
Below is the promised commentary on the second half of my journey -- from Paris TX to Greenville, SC. I chose blue type to distinguish today's entry from the previous entry. Mercury is, after all, retrograde now -- so every effort should be made to avoid confusion!
Keep in mind that with Mars continue to growl and howl in until the end of May, adding in this April 17 to May 12 retrograde of the planet of the intellect and nervous system, makes this interval the most tumultuous in Mars' 8 month transit through Cancer.
Friday, April 16
Paris, TX To Crossett, AR
231 Miles 1352 Miles Total
Paris, TX is like the bad art with a great name, or perhaps even more appropriate is the horse saying, Rode hard and put away wet, The way someone looks or feels when they've had a hard time of it. From a horseman's term, when someone has not taken care of a horse after a hard day.
I got up pre dawn to escape the seedy motel, walked across the highway to a convenience store for coffee and asked, Does every truck in Texas come through here? The clerk replied, Seems like every truck between Texas and Oklahoma comes through here. She was cheery and polite enough in the Texas way, seeming to not have allowed the fall of this once pretty town from grand Texas style wealth and grace. Others in Paris whom I met held the same Texas standard -- you can't get the Texas out of the Texan, and too, Texans don't hold Oklahoma in high regard. I made it back across the retread-strewn highway, massive trucks already roaring, with only one close call.
As the sun finally rose, I pulled out of town and stopped at a gas station to fill up and check on directions west on 82, the road I had been on since before Lubbock Texas. Route 82 is like a southern Route 66, going through all the small towns that had been passed by in the interstate highway system. A fellow outside the store asked about my scooter, which was happening a lot, for this was an exotic road machine. When I explained it got 75MPG, he said I gotta get me one of those. This was the standard Texas response, for Texas truly is such a State Of Mind, their speech is a litany of cliches. I asked if I should take 82 straight ahead or what appeared to be a loop, for I had stayed in Paris and was anxious to get out of the area quickly. He was kind and sympathetic, understanding the town for what it was, explaining that if I went straight ahead I would go into downtown Paris. But if I took the Loop, I could avoid that unpleasantness. I took the loop. Loop, by the way, seems to be a Texas idiom. In other places, they are called bypasses, or beltways.
While I can go 55 MPH on the scooter, I had to stop for a rest every hour or so. It's not hard riding, but you really have to pay attention to everything around you. After a while, I would feel my concentration ebb and stop to top of the gas tank, have coffee or a snack. That's why I couldn't average 55 mph but rather about half that. I think motorcycles have the same issue.
This graph shows the rise from $11 an ounce to $50 and then the drop down to below $11.
I stopped for breakfast in the quaint and charming town of Blossom at the local cafe, really happy that this time, the name was accurate. They had a great breakfast, even WiFI. The young fellow running the restaurant gave the Texas response to my scooter, I gotta get me one of those, and explained that while things looked good, they weren't. Had three farm auctions last week, he said. When I asked why, he replied, People aren't buying anything. When I asked if they were doing ranching or farming, he replied, Both, and that it's so bad, people are even selling their tractors. I thought to myself, that's like a Jeff Foxworthy, You Might Be a Redneck, joke, They auctioned off the farm, your dog ran off, you gun is broke, and you can still get along, but not if you have to sell your tractor.
I saw this throughout the 8 states I traveled.
Throw in a Walmart, and it's a knockout punch for downtown. It's saddest in places like Paris, whether there are handsome three story brick business buildings and grand old courthouses and city halls. Of course, Wichita Falls is different, for they just abandoned downtown. But, the pattern is the same, and as the Millennium Contraction continues, people will shift back into downtown areas, unable to afford driving all over and living in too-expensive and too-large single family homes.
I almost missed the sign leaving Texas and then a little further on, entering Arkansas. At first, things didn't look any different -- the same flat topography with crops and grazing land. When I stopped for gas in Arkansas, I saw a pretty woman and commented, Miss, it's nice to see that Texas doesn't have all the pretty girls. She turned quickly, showing me a big smile, huge blue eyes, tousled blond hair, great jeans, trim figure and shoulders back, Well thank you, she said, voice strong and confident, But I was born in Texas! She looked ready to give a Dallas Cowboy's Cheerleader cheer!
This was the final experience driving the nail all the way in that Texas truly is a country onto itself. That evening I received an e-mail from a longtime Celestial Wheel Participant that balanced the mental scales a little, Great stories. I enjoyed learning about Scooters and happy to hear you were able to educate a real Texan about something.
Lunch that day was in a little town, typically crumbling away, at the local diner. These Arkansas folks were really interested in my scooter and several came outside to see it when they learned I had traveled all the way from Arizona. A truck driver, complaining he couldn't make any money because 3 of his customers had shut down their factories, bristled when I brought up Bill Clinton's name, But when I said, I didn't stop on my way across Texas in Crawford either, he gave me a grin, and said, Yeh, you have a point. That boy Bush didn't do us any favors here in Arkansas.
As I left, the owner came outside and told me privately that he had to borrow $40,000 last year because business was so bad, but this last fall and winter, business picked up $50,000 -- not all of that was profit, you know, but Obama's policies are working for me, he said. When the Democrats run the country, it gets better for all of us. When the Republicans do, it only gets better for the rich for a while, and then it gets worse for everyone. I thanked him for sharing his thoughts with me but told him I felt things were going to get worse again before they got better. I understand, he said, and I think you're right, but Obama's helped us here, for a while at least. Last year was the worst I've ever seen in my 40 years of running this restaurant. I'm grateful to him, as are my employees, my customers, the whole town.
The houses and yards were neat and well kept, many very charming in spots with water, hedge rows and lots of corals with horses and cattle.
Saturday & Sunday, April 17, 18
Crossett, AR to Greenville, MS
69 Miles 1421 Miles Total
That night I stayed at the Ashley Inn, in Crossett, Arkansas. This is what's called the timberland region, and there's a huge Georgia-Pacific mill there. Crossett is literally a one company town, and the Ashley Inn exists only to accommodate business folks associated with the mill. The desk clerk expressed great concern because the mill has closed, even though I found out in the morning, it was only for a week for semi-annual maintenance. She said, We're barely surviving. She also made it clear it was American owned, making the distinction between this motel and the typical East Indian owned motels that has become so common. The motel was really nicely done, charmingly southern, even mints in the rooms on the pillows. I really don't know how much economic stress there actually is in Crossett, but the clerk's concern was real. She quickly gave me a discounted rate when I asked, although it's also true that I was able to get a discount at every motel during my trip. Business and personal travel has really been reduced as the economy has slowed, and the lodging industry is tremendously overbuilt -- both in the number of properties and luxuries.
This concern for the Georgia-Pacific mill brought to mind the concept of corporate responsibility for the community, which used to be a fundamental part of society. Not long ago, Hershey Chocolate was almost bought out by a foreign company, but someone found a provision in founder Milton Hershey's will that the company could never be sold. I remember visiting Hershey while in college, with its candy kisses streetlight deflectors and the smell of chocolate everywhere. It was like Disneyland, except it was real -- but so fanciful I thought I was on the set of Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. If Hershey had sold out, the factory would have been shipped overseas and the community destroyed. (I couldn't find a web reference for this Hershey story, so you'll just have to trust me on it.)
I had two reactions to this day in Arkansas. First, Arkansas, at least this part of the state, would be a good place to be during the Millennium Contraction, safe for its bounty of agricultural products, timber and very, very nice people. Manner survive in America! Arkansas seems underrated.
Second, I began to really understand that we are a product of where we come from, that the geography and history shaped us much more than we understand or admit. I'm a New New Yorker, as the Gilbert's Freight Outlet fellow made clear to me, not an Arizonian, nor a Floridian, despite having lived in those two stays 13 and 25 years each. Following this concept, it's the communities in which we live that truly make up America. Only as we participate within our towns and cities as communities can we resolve the serious and long term issues of the Millennium Contraction's transformation of the entire society.
As stated repeatedly in The Celestial Wheel, it's no longer me, me, me but rather we, we, we. The phrase, Think Globally, Act Globally, comes to mind. This means grassroots efforts to take care of our communities with a global consciousness, which The Celestial Wheel has predicted is actualizing in popular protests that will usher in the Second Progressive Age -- a rebalancing from Gilded Age greed to regain shared democratic values.
This transformation is from the greed and gluttony of the Second Gilded Age into the Millennium Contraction' cutting off the fat, through to the Second Progressive Age -- a trimmed down society with equality, opportunity and respect restored. Recall in the March 24 Celestial Wheel, I described how the U.S. health care system is bloated at 17% of GDP and needs to be brought down to 8% -- the level in the other first world countries.
There's an even more obvious slimming down, that of the fat U.S. population. I mentioned this in the April 13 entry (on the first web page for this month's Commentary), Crosbyton is a little burg, and it introduced me to Texas not having local cafes. Instead, gas stations tripled as general stores and cafeteria-style restaurants. The food ranged from hamburgers to burritos, from tacos to hamburgers, to hamburgers to enchiladas. I noticed too, the people were not just bigger but fat too.
I simply couldn't have ridden my scooter 2000 miles across country chubby -- although if I still had my old Lincoln Continental, I could have easily wallowed across the 8 states, guzzling fried food and at 4 times as much gas.
More to come!
Crossett Arkansas was a short day because I had made such good time the day before at 231 miles and wanted to slow down, see the scenery, including crossing the Mississippi River, and have my first taste of crawfish, a delicacy only found in this part of the country. Crawfish are freshwater shellfish resembling small lobsters which are found in flowing streams and bayous.
The land began to flatten as I approached the Mississippi, and as approached the river, I stopped for gas and to ask about gettin some of those crawfish. A burly fellow in his fifties with a wide eyed-boy about 10 walked past me after I gassed up and then pulled the scooter into parking. He didn't look happy, but he did glance at my scooter. When he came out of the store, the fellow stopped and asked about the scooter and where I had come from. He was actually a very nice fellow, just darkened a little with stress. When I told him I was recording how America was experiencing and handling the Millennium Contraction, he immediately opened up, I was a millionaire, and now I'm broke. I asked what was his business? He replied, I had gas stations, convenience stores and trucking. They're all gone. People stopped spending money, echoing what I had heard before. But, I'll make it back up. I gotta go now, nice talking to you, have a load of fish to deliver, and it'll go bad if I don't get going.. Best place for crawfish is Grandma's, down the road just a few miles. I thanked him and said he might want to get his sone a scooter when he's a little older. The man grinned, When I make it back, I will!
The November 2009 In-depth Forecast, Global Economic Outlook Into 2012 And Beyond, I used the U.S. and New York Stock Exchange Vedic charts to project the course of the Millennium Contraction through its end in 2015. In discussing the U.S. chart, I wrote, emphasis added,
This tough but kind Arkansas man truly embodied this Americanism, and his son is sure to grow up with his father's experiences and belief firmly fixed in his mind. Each of us truly is a product of our family and community.
I went to Grandma's but was sternly told they don't serve crawfish until 5, but I might be able to find some in Greenville, MS, just across the river. The land was really flat now, with lakes and streams all around the road, along with bait shacks and lots and lots of boats. I saw ahead the suspension cables from a big bridge on my right, but suddenly I was on the access road, with no shoulders, to another bridge, old and narrow, rusting steel girders overhead. Oh ***! I thought, and I bounced along the rough pavement, cars pressing in back of me, the roadway tilting up, the huge river below me. I hunkered down, kept a steady 40 in the 45 MPH zone and kept breathing, breathing, breathing til I was over and safe again on flat land.
I passed a casino and then a few miles later, found a service station. There, a friend black guy in a truck told me to stay at the casino -- cause you have out of state plates, and they'll give you a real good deal. He also said they had crawfish there. I then asked an older white fellow, and he told me the same thing. He also told me that if I tried to stay in town, they would steal my scoter. I mentioned there was a lot of road kill on the highway, and he said, In Louisiana, people come in the morning, drag the fresh road kill off and eat it! Wow, I thought, those folks get even less respect that Oklahomans! There was something more going on, for he wasn't talking about white people taking the road kill. In Mississippi, racism persisted, but then we are all products of our local cultures. Predispositions die hard, and while some are admirable, like the guy in Arkansas, others are not, but certainly I wasn't there to judge.
Too, I sensed Mississippi's grinding poverty, made worse by the Millennium Contraction. Along with this, I noticed people were buying really bad food for their lunch, and I saw this again the next morning when I went to the same place to get some fresh air. Salty peanuts, sugary cakes and soda These folks didn't look healthy but rather sallow with bleary eyes, bellies sticking out, testimony again to the need to clean up; our diets. That reminded me of my 1992 bicycle trip through the Carolinas, where the favorite was what they called an RC Co-Cola and A Moon Pie. So, the food quality issue is not a new one, but it has become increasingly important as health care costs have escalated, and health care advances have extended longevity. When people would pass on a 65, diet didn't matter much. But, living another 15 years, bad eating habits degrade health and bring chronic illness like heart disease and diabetes, requiring more, and more expensive medical treatment, including mediations.
But maybe too, this was comfort food to them as they scraped along under really heavy money stress. People become careless about their own well being. Too, they seek relief with alcohol and drugs, which further harms their bodies and stimulates more junk food. So, as the economy spirals down, so do the people, especially those who were poor to begin with.
So, I scootered back to the Harlow's Casino and parked right in front so they could see the scooter and asked about a room. A suite at $155 was old they had, for it was Saturday night, but if I spoke to one of the Casino Hosts, well they could help me. A host appeared, a sharp looking, sharply dressed woman in her forties who reminded me of a time share salesman. I don't like casinos, for I believe gambling no economic value and harms the poor, who roll the dice -- play the slots -- hoping to get lucky and get out of poverty. But I also knew that this Casino Host thing was a con game to rope in big betters -- so I played along. The easiest person to con is another con man. I mentioned I may stay two nights, and pulled out roll of twenties, payment from a Texas client. I then mentioned silver was a good investment and went out to the scooter to bring back those one ounce silver bars the Wichita Wizard had given me. Well, this brought a a second Casino Host, and right away I was given a $55 rate for Saturday and $35 for Sunday, with the promise they would comp my room completely, depending upon my play.
And yes, Mississippi's economy was stressed. At the casino hotel, when the middle-aged maid came to clean the room the next morning, I told her, No, it's okay. I'm doing some work, and since it's Sunday, you had a full house, you too many rooms to clean. Thank you, thank you sir, she said. When I explained about my trip, she said, There used to be good jobs here at $11 or so, but they're all gone, and all I can get is this hotel maid job at $7.50 an hour. I just can't even make ends meet, but I'm grateful for this job. No, I don't like gambling myself, but this new casino is saving a lot of us.
She would do well, maybe even catch the new American Dream.
The entire casino was so smoky that I scootered back to the service station the next morning for coffee and fresh air, where I saw the horrible breakfasts people were buying. Later that day, I went into Greenville, which has a big port, but the downtown was pretty sad looking. There were some pretty streets with old southern houses, but too, there were boarded up buildings and a lot of grime. At a grocery store store I spoke with a nice looking black fellow with a Notre Dame University shirt who first was put off, but then realized I was just a traveler. Yes, there is a separation in the races here. He explained there were big hopes a few years ago when the movie-themed Harlow Casino opened, for it was just over the bridge from Arkansas. They hoped to draw folks from there, but the economy went sour, and the casino never became a success.
I spent my time writing the Celestial Wheel entries, stayed two nights at the bargain rate, got fresh air when I could and actually had crawfish, catered by Grandma's! The waitress showed me how to eat them -- pull off the tail and then pull out the meat. It was a lot of work for not much food, and I figured you had to eat about a 100 to get a meal. Too, some people eat the heads, others the entire crawfish, and some folks liked them and others hated crawfish. This crawfish thing was weird.
Monday, April 19
Greenville, MS to Gordo, AL
99 Miles 1520 Miles Total
I had been staying ahead of a big storm since Wichita Falls, and it almost caught up with me in Greenville, MS. I left in between light showers and again escaped getting wet -- but to do so, I had to leave close to noon.
This, then, was short day, and I crossed into Alabama, where I stayed in little Gordo -- at a pretty good Indian-owned hotel. The people here were very strange, though, not poverty stricken like Mississippi but nervous and disconnected. Away from the river, the land began to rise, and there was a more even mix of black and white people without the racial tension. Still, I couldn't connect with Alabama. A waitress explained there weren't any jobs, the jobs to be had paid under minimum wage and the town sheriff didn't care. She said the whole town was corrupt. There was a young fellow at a gas station, convenience store, fried chicken place who seemed very aware. But it turned out he had just moved from San Francisco to go to college. I told him this would be a real learning experience and extreme cultural shock
Tuesday, April 20
Gordo, AL to Atlanta, GA
225 Miles 1745 Miles Total
I stopped for breakfast at a Waffle House and met two older fellows who had been looking my scooter over. We had a pretty good conversation -- so maybe Alabama wasn't all strange.
I made tracks that day. Feeling I was within striking distance of my destination in Greenville, South Carolina, realizing that route 82 ended in Tuscaloosa and that I would have to take the interstate for the first time, I got on my scooter and rode, rode rode.
Have cut my teeth on Texas state roads as big as interstates, the ride was okay. You can make much better time on the interstate. I got used to the trucks, although the buffeting after they passed was unnerving. The timber trucks were bad because the unevenly stacked logs disrupted the air flow. 100 yards after they passed, I was still being hit with gusts. Someone should invent a cover for these trucks, not just for safety but also to smoother the air flow to increase fuel mileage.
As the interstate system opened up highway commerce, it bypassed towns and cities, isolating me from fellow Americans. Alabama, then, didn't get another chance, but it's okay. Those two guys at the Waffle House were real southern gentlemen, intelligent and open minded. Both understood the Millennium Projection will be worse before it gets better and were genuinely concerned about their community, state and nation.
I checked into a nice Best Western in Smyrna GA, that client S.K suggested. Now, I was just 145 miles from my destination. Atlanta is certainly a very clean, green and beautiful city, as least Smyrna is. Too, having a local guide was terrific.
Wednesday, April 21
Atlanta, GA to Greenville, SC
145 Miles 1890 Miles Total
I headed out mid morning for an easy run to Greenville, SC, finding I was getting the hang of scootering on interstates. Arriving mid afternoon, I followed my Google Maps directions to the house where the entire downstairs floor was awaiting me. And then, as the perceptional Moon approached aggressive Mars to fire up desire, and retrograde Mercury confused, I couldn't find the house! I searched for two hours on a stretch of road no more than 6 miles long, after having navigated successfully across 8 states in 15 days, just under 1900 miles.
Later when I got on line, I realized I actually gotten with a couple hundred feet of the house.
Exhausted after the long trip, and completely flummoxed by this problem, I gave up and started asking directions to a motel. The answers again were either wrong, or I misunderstood them. It took an hour to find a motel.
The gory details of communicating with my old Sedona friend, who was a major reason I had chosen Greenville, aren't necessary, nor appropriate. It was a bad day, but not as bad as the Wizard e-mailed me the next morning -- in Wichita Falls, Seven shot, at least one dead in Tuesday night rampage. Do I take responsibility here? You betcha.
I not only knew my fatigue but I knew the Moon was close to Mars. I missed, though, in my travels, seeing the Mercury retrograde in my 7th house of relationships. I thereby thought, incorrectly, I could power through to find the house. Sometimes the waves of karma simply overwhelm.
The next morning, I finished some work, including e-mailing my Atlanta client, who replied right away from her Iphone, :( u always have a place to stay in atl. Ok keep me posted. I left Greenville at 1:30 and was checked back into the Best Western by 6:30. I had mastered the interstate by then, which was good. I also kept humming to myself inside my helmet the old Bee Gees song, Stayin Alive, alternating with the Beetles, The Long And Winding Road. One way to look at this event is that this was my last tie to New Age Sedona, for my friend did energy work there before moving to Greenville. Well, it's what is is, I thought, not nice, sad but really just another leg on my journey.
S.R., with her Indian heritage and great karmas ready to unfold, has been a savior, and I'm delighted with the opportunity to share with her each day more information about her Vedic chart -- to enable her to take advantage of opportunities and deal with upcoming challenges. She truly values my work, and the combination of Indian and southern belle, is absolutely delightful. Most of you know of India's movies, called Bollywood. Some of you know that Vedic Astrology in India is called Jyotish, and its practitioners Jytotishi. So, I call her Bollywood Babe, and she labeled me American Jyotishi. After all, having escaped from Sedona, Darth Vedic is passe. It's good to laugh.
I'll continue in Atlanta another week, at an extended stay hotel, which is very reasonable, and get caught up on work Several clients have been patiently waiting for me to land. Atlanta truly is beautiful, the people gracious and pretty aware. There's a sense of style here, the restaurants are almost too hip and offer healthy food -- compared to the best thing on menus I had seen for weeks, deep fried okra. The economy seems fine. There is, though, even here an undercurrent of economic anxiety, which I'll write about as I spend more time here.
Too, I can not only travel by scooter but also have become adept at working on the road. I did several chart tasks during my trip, including recording and burning CDs. The only limitation is printing, but with a Mac, you can plug into any printer, and it works by just selecting the built in drivers.
Too, Mars does afflict my home now, the worst is until May 12, but with Mars, It's not over til it's over -- and that's May 27. This is the journey I'm supposed to have, and I'll continue to make lemons into lemonade -- if I can!
PS I changed the oil in my Piaggio -- so I'm good for another 2000 miles!
Entire Trip April 5 to 21 17 Days
1890 Miles Total
April 28 Sensitive Date Events
Below is a listing of some of Mars' major violences yesterday,
Late-season storm blankets northern N.Y., New England with snow, A rare late-season snowstorm dumped up to 2 feet of heavy, wet snow on northern New York and northern New England on Wednesday.
New leak discovered as Coast Guard mulls options to clean oil spill, The estimated amount of oil leaking from a sunken rig in the Gulf of Mexico has increased to as much as 5,000 barrels a day -- five times more than what was originally believed. ...Additionally, a third underwater oil leak has been located in the pipeline that connected the rig to the oil well... Note, April 21 was also a sensitive date, and the oil rig... exploded (April 20), caught fire and then sank 36 hours later (April 22)...
As regards earth crust events, Subscriber B.R. in Colorado wrote, Well the Euro crisis we knew was coming & obviously being effected by planetary forces you mentioned yesterday in your CW heads up - like a economic earthquake. I replied, Ah, yes an earth crust event that rattled the vaults! Yesterday, Greece's debt was downgraded to junk, World markets tumble as euro debt crisis escalates. Hours later, another country was slammed, Spain downgraded as Europe debt crisis widens. The rescue to Greece will cost perhaps $158 billion, and it's economy is just 1/4 the size of Spain's, Greece and Portugal -- up to now the focus of alarm -- are relative economic minnows. But Spain's economy, at four times the size of Greece, is considered by many too big to rescue. Well, that's certainly bad news, but Portugal? It wasn't even in the headlines! Here's an article about that, which credit downgrade occurred, April 27, Greek borrowing costs at new highs after downgrade.
What does this mean, if only to the U.S.? The April 18 Celestial Wheel entry, in Here's The Deal On Silver, explained this fundamental issue in the simplest way. If you bypassed this or have forgotten it, please read it again!
These are the debt bombs, discussed in the December 12, 2009 In-depth Forecast, U.S. And Global Economic Trends For 2010, Following are countries have been recently reported at risk because the government bail outs have bloated their debts. Future economic pain is inevitable -- since they just traded private debt for public debt, and debt must be either repaid or their fiat currencies will crash. (Fiat currencies have no intrinsic value -- are not backed by gold, silver, etc.) Notice that Greece, Portugal and Spain are just part of a much longer list for countries that may threaten to blow up. These may all be rescued this year, but that just creates more debt and is just a short term cure, like putting the finger in the leaking dike. What's really needed here is like the the fable, adults must come in to cooperatively rebuilt the entire dike.
The Final Mars Sensitive Dates
This May calender shows the sensitive dates for the end of the challenging 8 months Mars transit through its fallen sign of Cancer, which negative energy stimulates the planet of wars' destructions and conflicts. This list was first published in the April 19 Celestial Wheel. Look for major bad news 4/21, 4/25, 4/28, 5/5 - 5/8, 5/16 - 5/19. May 25 has been added to these dates.
While Mars'-inspired events occur globally, these are more prevalent and serious in the U.S. for that chart being particularly afflicted by Mars. For example, the massive April 24 tornado in Mississippi killed 10, and other tornados struck 4 other states. Notice this was just one day before the April 25 sensitive date.
These sensitive dates also impact your individual experiences, especially if you're in the U.S. where the planetary seas are turbulent. Pay attention to them to safeguard your interests. Of course, if the charts of Greece, Spain and Portugal were available and analyzed, they too would reveal serious stresses -- although these would tend to be more financially destructive and less and physically so.
So, please, pay attention these next several weeks until Mars ends his terror May 27. Then, relative calm will return, and too, fear will be replaced by objective judgment.
The Long Term
There's one more topic that should be made clear -- what's happening now in 2010 is just part of a much larger process. The 10 year Second Gilded Age ended in November, 2008. The 7 year Millennium Contraction has followed. During this interval, Gilded Age excesses and gluttony are wrung out of society. We all must transform our lives, fitting our old square pegs into new round holes. Next, in 2015 will come the Second Progressive Age -- restored ethics and values in a reshaped economy with shared democratic values. Obviously there is overlap. The Millennium Contraction's stresses stimulate popular protests initiating reform. Gilded Age monied interests strive hard to maintain their positions of privilege.
The U.S. And Global Economic Trends For 2010 forecast also focused upon energetic Mars' aspecting ethical Jupiter all year to early September, This stimulates popular protests, of which we've truly only seen so far in the radical Tea Party radicals -- plenty of complaints but truly, not solutions. That forecast stated,
Today ended that mainstream protest void with action, Unions Members March, Demand Bankers ‘Fix The Mess’ (Update1), AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka led thousands of labor-union protesters in a march on Wall Street, chanting that investment banks must “fix the mess that you made” by paying more taxes and lending more money.
There is another Mars/Jupiter signification, allergies, which have been really plaguing people all spring.
The graph comes from a financial newsletter that succinctly states the issue, Many of you know the importance we place on the big picture. The big picture is most important, and knowing where the mega and major trends lie is a key to good investing. Investing, whether in gold your your own life, requires understanding the big picture and long term planning.
The big picture here is the transformation required during the Millennium Contraction. No one is exempt. Consider that, as detailed earlier in my scooter journey that the economies in Roswell, NM and Wichita Falls, TX are stabilized by military bases and higher education facilities. If you live in one of these, or another similar community, could those facilities be scaled down, or even close, as the Federal and State governments run out of cash?
The Celestial Wheel has focused on this big picture, the long term planetary cycles. Shorter term influences are also detailed, but these must not distract.
Yes, a bad weather coming today, tomorrow or next week or season impacts your life journey, just as I have had to deal with wind, cold and storms on my scooter trip. But, I've also had to regroup after my initial destination didn't work out. I've kept my eye on my long-term personal transformation I began in 2005 -- to carry me through successfully into the Second Progressive Age. As longtime Subscriber M.L. in Annapolis, MD e-mailed, Sorry to hear that Greenville didn't work out, but that promise must just have been the ticket out of AZ and not your destiny. I had a similar thing moving out here with a supposed...connection...turning out to simply be the incentive to get moving.
Back-east, the economy is more resilient and ample rainfall protects against the Southwest's drought, deepening with global warming.
The Goldman Sach's scandal is another key in dismantling Second Gilded Age excesses. It was announced in the above April 9 entry and hinted at earlier in today's entry, While Mars' inspired events occur globally, these are more prevalent and serious in the U.S. for that chart being particularly afflicted by Mars. This topic will be discussed in the next Celestial Wheel, along with some observations about Atlanta, GA, the city of u-turns.
This entry is added to the April page because it completes the commentary on my journey.
Atlanta -- The Unfailingly Polite City Of U-turns
The continuous grass medians result in a curious thing -- u-turns at stoplights wherever you want to go. Even if your destination is 1/4 mile down the street to the right, you can't turn left back onto the road and head home. No, you turn right, go to the next light, make a u-turn, go to the next light, make another u-turn -- and only then be able to turn into your street. If you have to go left onto the street, the sequence of left and right u-turns is reversed. And, everyone drives very fast here, in nice cars, well kept, but not ostentatious. It would be a nightmare except that everyone is unfailingly polite! No one tail-gates, there's no horn honking, burning rubber to pass you, cutting you off. Instead, the cars flow smoothly along the roadways, a kind of automotive southern waltz, which means to turn or spin.
And this behavior was everywhere. People opened doors for one another, stepped aside rather than push in front, smiled and greeted you like they actually meant it! Motionless, they are mostly ordinary looking people, although always well groomed, often understated in their dress and general demeanor. But when they spoke and moved -- well it was like being in the reception line for the colonel's spring dinner party. They all just came alive, with southern-slow charm, grace, beauty and smoother southern drawls. All the women were named Ashley or Charlotte. All the men, Ben or John. I found this everywhere, convenience stores, restaurants or even the local ACE Hardware, where John loosened my scooter oil plug with a huge wrench, checked on-line to make sure I bought the right oil, and then when I returned because my pliers still couldn't loosen the plug, he apologized for not loosening it enough! He even made arrangements with Ben for the next morning to help me if I had any more problems.
One really odd thing is that in one day, three residents asked where I came from, and upon hearing Arizona, they all said, I used to live in Mesa, Arizona. Welcome to Atlanta! It must be something in the air here, or maybe it's the u-turns that somehow bend their minds? Another Atlanta uniqueness is in asking about my scooter, which everyone did wherever I was in America. Atlantans did this without any prompting, appreciating it as a true Italian work of art. They weren't just being polite either -- these are esthetically refined folks.
A Model For The future?
But, I thought, is this truly a sustainable model for the Second Progressive Age coming in 2015. Certainly the social and cultural qualities were conducive to the cooperative and supportive needs of the future -- where who you are is defined by your achievements and how you treat others, not how big your house is, nor big screen TVs.... If you recall the various Star Trek series and movies, those were the qualities of the future. Both Captain Kirk and Jean Luc Picard were very clear on that issue when dealing with brusque aliens and humans from the past.
I turned to my hostess and client, S.R., born in a small town south of Atlanta. She explained that although she lived on large acreage, and the community was well, backward and somewhat red neck, everyone knew everyone else. There was the wonderful sense of security and warmth living in a community where people cared about you, and you cared about them. Her parents moved to a McMansions in Smyrna in 2003, well after she had become an adult. When visiting her parents, she found an isolated lifestyle -- people backing their cars out of McMansions garages, commuting to the city into parking garages, taking elevators to their offices and repeating the sequence at days end -- a home where your neighbors were never seen, except in their cars. It was like being entombed, completely disconnected. She said that when her father, a prominent professional, passed away, not one neighbor said or did anything. Well, she said, How could they? They didn't know us, and we didn't know them!
Besides the tasteful franchise row, there were tasteful McMansions, although S.R. pointed out some were unfinished or had been turned into rentals. She also agreed that while the restaurants and shops were humming along, there was some tension -- people were maintaining their lifestyles with plastic. After all, it would be impolite not to meet with friends and not tip well.
While Atlanta's social and cultural qualities are great, the post World War II suburban sprawl, carried out to an extreme in the housing boom throughout much of America, is simply not sustainable. As S.R. e-mailed meat noon after I had moved out to Acworth -- another twenty miles beyond Smyrna, to be near the lake, Well now that you are way, way, way OTP (that's outside the perimeter), and in more southern slang- bumble f***k), I'll have to wait til traffic calms down. Rush hour seemed to be anytime in Atlanta, but then, there are just buckets of McMansions all over the area.
What she meant in distance is that I was 25 miles from Smyna. And Smyrna was another 20 miles to downtown -- a 45 mile commute from Acworth -- which is actually an exurb. Smyna is a suburb.
Stresses Behind The Facade
Besides the busy Cobb Pkwy and the noise, there was a lot of cigarette smoke and alcohol. I asked for a different room after two nights, but even the second room stunk. The high speed internet didn't have enough band width -- I had to go to Starbucks 3 miles away. Fortunately, Ashley helped jump through the ATT hoops to get on line, and I was able to post Celestial Wheels.
Below left is a Mini-McMansion development across the street from my hotel. These a pretty big houses, though, some three stories. When I took the photos, there were no people outside, and nobody said anything to me.
Just a block away was an older, very established neighborhood, and this little house on the right under big old trees is representative. You can't see the truck in the driveway.
After I took two pictures and got ready to ride away, a fellow called out from across the street, Mind if I ask you what you're taking pictures for?, he asked, not unkindly. I answered, I'm doing a travelogue of my trip across the country, and thank you for asking me. You have a sense of community in this neighorhood. I like that. He became interested and took my card when I told him he could read some of the entries free on the web. The conversation turned to his neighborhood being sustainable, local folks working locally in reasonable homes and caring about their neighbors -- but the Mini-McMansion folks dirivng 50 miles to Atlanta -- well that probably won't work out for too long, he said. I replied, Neighborhoods like yours are what we need, not the Mini-Mcmansions around the corner where nobody asked me anything when I took pictures.. He really, really appreciated that. I mentioned homes here probably didn't have any mortgages, but those Mini=McMansions must all have big mortgages. He agreed, A heavy load for them to carry in tough times. We'll be fine here.
I asked about Asheville, NC, and he said I would like that because it's in the mountains, similar to Arizona. I told him that Atlanta folks were so polite and friendly, I may stay here. We would welcome you here, he replied. I thanked him and in closing, said, By the way, is your wife's name, Charlotte? (It was on the mailbox -- Ben and Charlotte>0 Yes he said, not surprised, But sometimes we call her Ashley cause that's her middle name.
And I thought Texas was a state of mind!
In the midst of this discussion, the neighbor whose house I had photographed came out, listened in and agreed. Then he said, The difference here is God! He was a little wild-eyed. There are a lot of Confederate flags around, and Deliverance was about Georgia. When some of the real red necks, hillbillies or whatever they are called, asked me about my scooter, What kind of mileage do you get on that?, it came out something like, Wa ki miles yu ge on thaa? Still, they seemed to like the scooter a lot.
These country people thought Goldman Sachs was a fancy downtown suit store. But that didn't matter because their economic lives don't involve banksters, though the MiniMcMansion folks certainly bought into the cycle of greed and downfall.
Please Support The Celestial Wheel
I hope you've enjoyed, and have gained some useful information, from this free April Celestial Wheel Commentary. It has come during a particularly tumultuous time, making The Celestial Wheel's The news before it happens, especially helpful.
I invite your Participation in The Celestial Wheel. The fee schedule begins at just $4 -- enough to take me another 100 miles on my scooter! Go to, TheCelestialWheel.com and scroll down the page. If you prefer not to use PayPal, call my (cell), 928 203-4347, and I will post your debit or credit card charge to my VedicPredictiveAstrology merchant account.
Before you reflexively reject this suggestion, recall as I heard on my journey several times, businesses are suffering because, People aren't spending any money. Minimizing your expenses is shortsighted, for effective long term planning requires you re-prioritize them.
Click on the horn!