Sunday, May 11, 2008

Hot Air: The price of Gas

Its on everyone's minds. The price of gasoline. It wasn't that it dipped under $1.00 a gallon for a few days. I remember it going over $2.00 after Katrina. That was an interesting time since here in Mississippi there was a state of emergency which among other things meant that prices could not be inflated due to the nature of the emergency. So while our prices went up, we were the cheapest in the country, because it was at the time a crime to make too much money ripping off the consumer!

Now, as gasoline is supposed to top $4.00 a gallon, we once again have our heads in a tither as we try to figure out how to save a buck or stop the price gouging.

I was listening to my favorite radio show the other day, Dave Ramsey. ( He got on the band wagon. He pointed out that people are sitting in the drive through lane at Starbucks, idling their engines, complaining about the cost of gas, while waiting for their fancy coffee drink which they pay nearly 5x as much for as gas (gallon for gallon). The most interesting part of the show came when a trucker called in. The question was whether truckers are able to pass along fuel price increases to the consumer so they don't go broke. This guy pointed out that he had been having a record year in profits. His fuel bill doubled, his reimbursement for fuel doubled and he slowed his driving speed to 55, which decreased his fuel consumption by 33% (went from 6mpg to over 8mpg). The fuel problem turned into a fuel boon for this guy as he learned that a bit of conservation is a whole lot more profitable.

Then there is the rice shortage. I am not overly familiar with what is going on with this rice problem. It seems we are running out of food in some places in the world (which it seems we are always doing anyhow.)

So anyhow the next big thing in fuel is supposed to be ethanol, and supposedly if we convert to ethanol, we starve. Which is not necessarily a good thing.

Now of course there is Brazil, who converted to ethanol, and in fact make enough of a surplus that they could supply us with 50% of our energy needs (supposedly), but we have blocked their ethanol from coming into our country since it would compete unfairly with domestic ethanol..... Seems like we don't need to be competing, we supply them with food, they supply us with ethanol.... seems fair to me.

But then there is this whole, "it takes too much" business. It takes too much ethanol to completely replace our dependency on oil. The world cannot supply it. Or so says a bunch of scientists.

Then there was that trucker's idea....

I have this problem from the start. Here I am driving a 2000 Ford F150 pickup with standard transmission and 6 cylinder, getting the same gas mileage I got with my 1973 Dodge power wagon with full time four wheel drive and V8 engine. I am also getting 25% WORSE gas mileage then my 1961 Chevy pickup with its 6 cylinder engine and standard transmission.

So in the last 40 years, our vehicles have gotten WORSE at energy conservation.... not better. What happened to technology? There were breakthroughs of course. The emissions of my new truck are infantile compared to the 40 year old truck. But tell me.... where did they go? If I am burning 25% more fuel, and there are is even 1% less emissions, where did the rest of it go? There is that law of matter again, you can change its state, but you can't make it dissappear. When you send X number of hydrocarbons into the engine, X number HAVE to come out. They don't disappear, they may come out as water, oxygen, carbon, hydrogen, and any combination of the above, but they have to come out. So in actuality, my 40 year old truck has 25% less emissions than my new truck.... more of them have been deemed harmful to the environment, but none the less overall there were less.

Now the old truck had a real tough time going 60mpg. It would not make it on today's highways going 75, I think that was probably a bit over its capacity. The new truck also has more power, its quieter, more comfortable, and you don't have to double shift to get it into first gear. There is where our technology has taken us.

Einstein a few years back came up with this formula, Energy equals Mass times the square of a constant. It basically says that all mass contains energy. And not only that but it contains a lot more energy then mass.

The trick it would seem would be to squeeze more energy from our gasoline molecule then we are getting now. Now gasoline actually is made up from a bunch of different molecules but they average about 18 hydrogen atoms and 8 carbon atoms.

So how much energy is there in that? Well as mass goes up, so does energy in an equal fashion. So Carbon is roughly 6 times heavier then hydrogen and therefore the average molecule in a gallon of gas has the energy potential of 76 hydrogen bombs (or whatever the power of 1.5 trillion pounds of TNT is) Just guessing here, but it would seem that if someone unlocked the true potential of a gallon of gas they would have enough energy to power the world's energy supply well past the end of the universe.... which some scientist believe will happen in the next 100 million years.

Now technology has indeed been helping us gain energy from the gallons of gas we use.

In 1961, there was no such thing as a car that had an engine that got 1 horsepower from 1 cubic inch of engine size in a gasoline engine. That happened a few years later and within 10, you could buy custom cars that had such high energy efficiency. Now days, many cars on the road have engines that attain 1 horse power per cubic inch and higher. However in all cases, they are for BIG engines so the car can go faster.

So back to our trucker.

Conservation was the key for our trucker.... He no longer whines about the price of gas. The higher the price, the more he is reimbursed, the more money he makes over last year because his key is conservation.

It takes about 30 horse power to keep a vehicle at a constant 60 mph on flat terrain. Using 1 hp per cubic inch, we end up with a vehicle needing to have an engine roughly the size of a small motorcycle to maintain speed. Combine this with an electric motor to help propel the vehicle up to speed, and we end up with a car that is getting 100mpg off the shelf. It would be a dog. Probably 0-60 in ten minutes (just guessing) but then depending on the size of electric motor, and battery tech, it could be pretty hot off the line.

Now back in my high school days, a friend of mine had an old Datsun Pickup truck. It had a 37 horsepower engine. It also got good gas mileage. It could go the posted speed limit which was 55 at the time while carrying 3 or 4 of us teens in the back.
My mother drove an old Opel Kadette at one time over the mountains of Montana. It would slow down going over the mountains, and in our speed driven minds, that was bad. But even back then, it got good fuel economy, with its 60 horsepower engine.... and it did do much better then 0-60 in ten minutes.

So maybe the trick is conservation. Not trying to substitute (yet). If the United States used 1/4 of the current gasoline use, it would become an oil producing and EXPORTING country. (a part of OPEC)

IF the United states used 1/4 of its current gasoline use, Brazil would be able to export to us more ethanol then we would need.

The technology exists.... off the shelf.

It requires a change of mindset.

It means that we don't need a TAX HOLIDAY on gasoline. It means we need to tax the bejeebies out of over indulgence.

For instance. If starting next year, all vehicles over 100 horse power were taxed at a rate that would gradually go up over the next 10 years. It would start at 1 dollar a hp, and work its way up to 10 dollars an HP. This "overindulgence" fee would be applies every time the vehicle is sold (or the title is transfered) So my Pickup in 10 years would have 2600 fee applied to it, if I decided to sell it. It would make the pickup pretty much worthless. (Which is what overindulgence is anyhow)
Add to that, 55 mph speed limits. (to help keep the 100hp vehicles being run over by those who can afford the faster vehicles) Tax incentives for taking mass transit (paid for of course by over indulgence fees), and last but certainly not least, tax incentives for businesses who have at least 50% of their employees living within 1 mile....

Would it be illegal to own a 2006 800 horsepower quad turbo Viper? No, just real expensive to buy it.

Finally there is this thing called "The Law of supply and Demand" The day that such a drastic measure is put in place will cause panic in the oil markets. Prices will most likely drop...alot. I am thinking (hoping) that it would cause the average price of a gallon of gas to drop in half. So once again we are paying $2 a gallon for gas. The oil companies would then be in competition with somebody. They would be in competition with the U.S. govt. As the tax of overindulgence goes up, the price of overindulgence goes down. In 10 years my truck would be worthless. However I baby it, and it will still be running, and getting 15mpg, and gas will be 99cents a gallon and my other (future) car will be able to drive back to Montana for 10 dollars worth of fuel, albeit.... a lot slower.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Whether the weather is cloudy

Here in Mississippi, we take our weather seriously..... seriously.

We have to, for one thing its hot. 90 degree days are as common here as sub-zero days were back in the mountains of Montana. Maybe more so in fact. Also, there is this stuff in the air here called 'humidity'. It is hard to describe accurately, but there are times when I really feel I know what the lobster is feeling when it hits the boiling water.

The heat and humidity messes with the brain too. I notice it in my self and have always noticed it in others. The stereotypical Mississippi redneck is dumber then a fence post and their slow southern drawl reflects the image. Put the same guy in air conditioning for 8 hours and you realize he is a nuclear physicist from the power plant down the road.

Occasionally we have snow. Here, snow is a big event. It has snowed 3 times in my tenure in MS, (though it did snow a couple of other times while I was not at home, but off visiting far away places) each event was foreshadowed as the worst event to hit here since..... of course the last event. I have yet to see Ice on the road. It just never gets cold enough, long enough. But schools are canceled, businesses close, in anticipation of the big event.

It is the anticipation that is always the worst.

We also have hurricanes, and tornadoes. Once again however it is the anticipation of the tornado that is the nightmare.

Last week, 5 tornadoes ripped through our small town. They caused a lot of damage, but people had been anticipating them for a week. Some people were caught off guard, the tornadoes came down on us very quickly, but after anticipating them for a week, nobody got killed.

Today we have another bout with the storms. Once again anticipation is high. It is supposed to be even worse then last week.... though it hasn't even rained yet. Just to prove a point, our city decided yesterday at 9:30 a.m. to test its sirens. Businesses went into tornado procedures, school children were sent into the halls, shoppers and drivers were sent scurrying to safety.... all in anticipation of the big event. The storms never came yesterday, though everyone will be keeping a watchful eye today, and if the sirens go off.... we will react the same way once again....

Friday, March 14, 2008

Physics 101

Just a quick note to keep you guessing.

There is a law of physics that says that energy is constant. It is the law of "conservation of energy".

This law tells us that energy cannot be created, it can change forms but it can be neither created nor destroyed.

For instance you take a ball and place it at the top of the ramp. It takes a certain amount of energy to place the ball at the top of the ramp. When the ball is at the top of the ramp, the ball has all that energy stored. As it goes down the ramp the energy is released in the motion of the ball.

My question has always been, where did the energy go?

Now lets blow this way out of proportion.

At this very moment humans are 'consuming' vast quantities of stored energy in the form of fossil fuels, wind, solar, nuclear and hydro power.

But the law of the conservation of energy says that the energy was not 'consumed' but rather changed form, or was dissipated.

So where did it go?

There is another law, "for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction"

Now I don't know if there is a law about this or not, but Superman used to fly around the world backwards, so fast that he would change the rotation of the earth and time would reverse.

He was using energy (that he got from our yellow sun) and expending it in such a way that it was reversing the rotation (re-storing the energy) and then for some reason we all went back in time....

So can we do that?

If we all jumped in our cars and drove to the west at the same time, would it have an effect on the earth's rotation?

What effect does it have on the earth's rotation anyhow, even when we aren't all going in the same direction? Or on the earth itself?

Think about the trillions of watts of power we as humans switch from the stored form into a heating/cooling/moving form..... per hour!

And as you think about that.... here is another puzzle to ponder:

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Paradigm shift

There is a radio commercial here, it may be local or may not. There is this guy who speaks jargon and some guy who 'translates' for him.

It starts off, "We needed a shift in our spending paradigm"

A paradigm as used above means: A set of assumptions, concepts, values, and practices that constitutes a way of viewing reality for the community that shares them, especially in an intellectual discipline.

So the commercial's translation, "We needed a way to save money" was not entirely correct.

Here in Mississippi, we usually have some of the lowest gas prices in the country. Last week they started creeping up. We are now paying over $3.00 a gallon.

This is probably cheap compared to some parts of the country. I hear tell, that last time someone saw prices under $3.00 a gallon their children were in diapers. Well here is Mississippi we are a bit slower then some I guess.... and sometimes it pays off.

So now I am hearing from others (at last) that we need a shift in our paradigm. Granted they do not use such words, but of course we talk a lot down here, so explaining it the long way around seems just natural.

My son an I were talking the other day about the end of the world..... He actually knows the date, which I can't remember.... its a few years from now. I remember going to Universal Studios in California the last time the world ended. It wasn't too bad if I remember right and my sister didn't even get eaten by Jaws (family joke.) He explained to me that it was based on the Mayan calender. However I am also a big fan of the history channel and I saw more than one program on this whole Mayan thing (not to mention a couple of classes at college about the concept.) You see the Mayans didn't do time like we do time. Their time is circular, ours is linear. If you can imagine a small circle with a guy inside of it. Like a hamster wheel. The guy runs and the wheel goes round in circles. Then stick that wheel inside a bigger wheel. As the guy runs, he moves his concept of time (his wheel), which moves the bigger wheel which is a larger concept of time (like a millennium). You keep getting larger wheels and larger concepts of time until you get to the biggest wheel of all. It would be the wheel that started moving when the earth was created. THAT'S the wheel that makes its full revolution in a few years. Under the Mayan concept of time, the world cannot end, because there is no such thing as an end, only a new beginning. I would think that its a time of celebration as we all celebrate the coming of spring, or the anniversary of our birth. After all, the Mayans are dead now.... maybe they get to come back and join our world again :)

History repeats itself, that is the Mayan concept. As we look upon our world which is rapidly heating up, scientists point to "THE LAST TIME" there was such global warming. History repeats itself. We have cycles of global warming, and global cooling going back to the beginning of time. History repeats itself. Also in the weather, there are cycles of drought and rain, there are cycles of sunspot activity. We know about these cycles because history repeats itself.

There was a time a few thousand years ago, when the Athenian empire expanded their reaches across much of Europe. Those in Athens had it pretty easy, but change was coming, and a paradigm shift occurred.

Then the Romans took over, conquered 1/3 of the known world. Those guys in Rome had it pretty easy, in fact they made it so if you joined their army, you got to be a Roman citizen and lots of people all over the world had it pretty easy. But change was coming and history repeats itself.

There were more empires, there were more shifts. The Eastern Block vs. the Western Block, paradigm shift and history repeats itself.

Now we are looking once again at a paradigm shift. The guy that makes $100,000 a year and drives a Hummer, is looking at spending 10% of his pay to keep the Hummer on the road. The guy who makes $15,000 a year and drives a '62 ford falcon, does not have the $65 it takes to fill the gas tank. He no longer can drive to work.

I see this as I tool along in my bus. One young guy walks to work every day. He got a job about 3 miles from his home and is walking to it as I drive by in the bus. Sometimes he is on his bike, and sometimes he is walking in the rain.

There was a time in my memorable past, when there was a phrase, "Sunday Driver." It was referring to those who only drove on Sundays. They drove for recreation, they were typically not the best drivers since they did not have the daily experience driving like many of the others. They were dinosaurs, remnants of a past when people did not drive, except as a hobby or a sport. When the only driving done was for recreation.

When I first moved to Mississippi I remember going to a "walking trail." This was a trail that wound around back and forth in the space of about 1/4 a city block. You could not get anywhere walking on that trail. You could walk a mile and find yourself right back where you started. Then repeat yourself. At some point in time my doctor told me to start walking 2 miles a day. I would get on the trail, always with a clear vision of the end which was also the beginning and walk around in those tight little wandering paths not going anywhere.

Thats what you do for recreation when you drive everywhere. Unfortunately in Mississippi, not too many people are into recreation and so there is a big campaign from the Governor's office called, "Walk Mississippi" which is suppose to get people moving, and lower our obesity rate.

But history repeats itself....

Gas prices are getting to the point that people can no longer fill the cars. The economy is either doing an about face (I remember the last recession, and history repeats itself) or at best not doing to well. (more on that later)

People are starting to look at where their new job is. How far do I have to drive, can I walk? Taking that job that makes $1000 a month more isn't a great deal if you have to spend $1200 a month to get there.

The Mississippi Mountain Man is working towards a shift in the paradigm of his city. He has proposed to the city, that they 'encourage' city businesses to become bicycle friendly by installing bike racks at their locations. Our little community has already a network of "multi use" trails that dissect the city. They are currently used for recreation. In the paradigm shift that I foresee, they will become arteries for people getting to work, going to the movies, grabbing a gallon of milk, going out to eat.

I came to the realization the last time that I filled the tank of my truck (yes we Mountain Men are required to drive pickups.... its in the rules somewhere, just can't remember where), it cost $71.50 to fill. It costs $53 plus tax for a bicycle at Walmart. $15 for a helmet. Nothing to drive it the next 1000 miles....

Now in actuality I already have a bike in my garage, so what else does $71.50 buy? 3 trips for two to the movies with popcorn and drinks. 11 Little Ceaser's pizzas. Cable TV with HBO for a month. A family outing to the minor league baseball game (including the gas to get there and back). What can you do with $71.50?

Then I really got depressed....

I fill up my truck 2.5 times a month.

$71.50 x 2.5 = $178.75

The payment on my first house was $174.00 a month.

Its time for a shift in our spending paradigm.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Watch for flying machetes....

Yep, watch out for flying machete jokes in Mississippi. I heard a few references last night, and this morning the headlines caught my eye.

It would seem that a local judge built an addition to his house.

So the tax assessor had to come look at the addition.

Well the tax assessor went to the door and rang the doorbell, nobody answered..... So he went around to the back of the house to look at the addition. While inspecting he was surprised to find a knife at his throat, and not just any knife, but a machete.

And who should be holding the machete???? Yep the judge.

Well in the assault case, it came out that the judge thought his life was in danger, and so he was protecting himself and his property (yep I can see that, I wouldn't mind protecting my property from the tax assessor too)

In the civil suit, the tax assessor felt his life was in danger (and it probably was)

The judge in the assault case threw out the case. He decided that since the judge thought his life was in danger, he was within his rights to use the machete.

Kinda sounds like the judges are sticking together right?

Well a year or so ago, the legislature enacted a bill that said that a person had the right to use deadly force if they felt that either themselves, their family, their home, or their car were in danger.

So last year the joke was about the guy who might get shot for running a stop sign. "Oh, but he was approaching my car at a high rate of speed, officer, I feared for the safety of my car and so I had to shoot him"

Now its all about the machete's. Last night I was asked on two occasions if someone needed to bring machete's to the soccer game.... just in case we feel that our kids are in danger on the field I guess.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Amazing Ideas attract Petractors

Sorry for not posting for a while, I am in the process of changing vocations once again and seem to have my thought process focused on that.

However last night I did go to church.

At our church, we have a computer hooked to a video screen. The person running the video screen always goes through the slides before the service so that he can familiarize himself with the screens and does not get surprised.

Now I was sitting there watching him go through the screens, which my daughter and I like to as we get to see which songs we are going to be singing and what the sermon will be about.

Well up pops the screen saying something like, "Amazing ideas attract petractors" and off he went through the rest of the screens.

Now the person running the computer is a very smart man, and I was having a terrible crisis in that I had no idea what a petractor was. So I approached him and asked. (he does not make up the slides by the way)

He was not familiar with the word either, we brought up the slide again and worked it out. He said that "petra" is greek for rocks or earth, so it must have something to do with rocks. I sat down and with my daughter worked over the word in my head and finally came up with a word that meant acting like a rock.

Well we sang some songs, and got to the sermon which was about building the wall around the temple. Part of the sermon was about how some people were not doing their fair share, some were working hard, and some weren't working at all. All the while I am sitting there thinking 'petractor' a person acting like a rock, not doing any work, acting like a rock, OK, maybe this can work.

Then finally the slide pops up

The minister says, "Whenever someone has a great idea, like building a wall around the temple, petractors are attracted"


"Whenever someone gets a great idea, there are those who want to shoot it down, the petractors"


Petractors have nothing to do with rocks, it is a misspelling of the word "protractor" which is being misused instead of "detractors" which would have been the proper word and spelling.

At this I decided I needed to write about it in my blog.

My first inclination was to write about the education system in America. My daughter had announced that they were going to have spelling tests in 6th grade now, but the tests are stupid (according to her) because they are 1st grade words. Like: Their, they're, neighbor, weigh..... you catch my drift, they are words that should have been learned in 1st grade, but by 6th grade it seems nobody knows which witch is which.

I will admit that the Mountain Man is fairly lazy with his spelling too. My computer automatically tells me if a word is misspelled, no matter where I write it.

So when I see something on the computer, especially for a presentation, I assume that the spell checker caught it, and that it really is a word....

But that is not what I need to write about, because that was not the intent of the sermon. After the service, my friend the computer operator and I talked about the word. "Do you think it was intentional?" "Wouldn't it have been great if it was?"

We decided it probably wasn't.

The sermon was about "High Definition Living". Being so in tune, so focused, that you accomplish the goal without regard to the 'detractors'.

If it was intentional, it was great. Here I was totally in a fog, paying almost no attention to the task at hand, worrying about a word that was only a detractor for the task at hand. It would have been great. Lesson learned.

But I don't believe that was actually the lesson......

I think the lesson was far beyond the intent.

I am thinking, maybe, just maybe, we aren't supposed to know the end.

Maybe the fault was not in the person misspelling the wrong word, but rather the person reading ahead in the book.

I have learned over the years that a book, a really good book, needs to be read in the order it was written. Skipping chapters, skipping ahead, reading the end.... ruins it.

Life might be the same way.

Maybe the lesson was to not look ahead at what was going to happen, that I would have enjoyed the songs, enjoyed the lesson, a lot more if I did not know the ending. Worse yet I got the wrong ending. By taking a moment in time, and looking at it before it happened, I got the wrong conclusion, thereby ruining the story.

I remember back in the late 80's the "Prophecies of Nostradamus" were all the rage. He predicted Hitler's rise to power and may other things. I remember those people saying that it was theorized that he has predicted that WWIII would start around 1990, and shortly after NYC would be attacked. I remember this because around 1990 the world went to war to rid Kuwait of Sadam Hussein. Later NYC was attacked, and the world went back to war to rid itself of Sadam Hussein.

I remember he also predicted a major calamity that would devastate the earth. Followed by a very long period of peace.

I don't remember when that was supposed to happen.... and I am thinking I am not supposed to know.

What Nostradamus did not predict was that in 1994 I would meet the love of my life, and my son, and a year later my daughter. Nobody told me that we were going to live on a street a block away from an ice cream store or that after we dropped off my son at school, my daughter and I would go get a freshly made bagel and a cup of coffee.

Or that we would live in a house in Mississippi with a pond in the backyard and multiple rose gardens spread throughout the yard.

Nostradamus totally left out the part about living in Alabama, and swimming in the pool, not to mention being a substitute teacher, or reading parent and working with all those kids.

I don't remember him ever saying anything about the school plays, the band concerts, the Christmas at the Chinese buffet....

I don't think I am supposed to know the future. Sometime in the future something WILL happen. So many things will happen that if we focus on one thing, all the other things get lost. This may be the root of High Definition Living. Maybe its NOT about focusing on one thing, but letting all things happen as they were meant to happen and being a part of all things. A HDTV screen is not about one pixel. Its about all of them, and to focus on one thing means losing the picture. Focusing on the picture means losing the story, focusing on the story means losing the life.

So I guess I need to stop going through the previews of the Wednesday service.....

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Was a madda, yow hands not workin?

I have lived and visited many different places in the United States. As I think back, though, I realize that I surrounded myself in each of those places with a limited group of people. There were our neighbors, the people that I worked with, the people my wife worked with and sometimes a small group of friends.

So I guess maybe I did not get to know how diverse each place was....

Here in Mississippi however.....

People from the north smile when they here a 'southerner' speak. There is that nice little drawl with the occasional ya'll. I remember coming to Mississippi the very first time, house hunting. We were staying in a hotel, and I was searching the channels on the TV for the local news. I was anxious to hear 'southern'. I was most dismayed to find that most of the news anchors speak 'northern'. I did finally find an old guy on the PBS channel talking about Mississippi state parks, with that deep southern drawl. I watched him for an hour wondering if I was ever going to sound like that.

We found our house. Nice little neighborhood, a subdivision.... which is the first time I had lived in a subdivision. Our neighbors were a mix, from Illinois, Mississippi, Texas. Most all of us spoke 'northern' but every one of us would ad ya'll in whenever we could, just to sound a little less out of place.

By the time we moved to Alabama, we could not discern a southern accent anymore. There were other accents however. My wife worked with a guy from Louisiana, big difference in the way they speak.

Then we came back to Mississippi and moved, once again into a small gated subdivision full of 'diverse' people. There's the Filipinos up the street, the Chinese couple who hesitantly speak English, but claim to have come from Texas. The couple from India, the family from Minnesota,
and a few odd mixed others. And we continued to live our lives in our 'diverse' community.

Then I went to work....

Not only did I go to work, but I went to work driving a school bus. School bus drivers are typically old. There are about 150 drivers working at our company a dozen are white, there are probably 5 or 6 my age or younger, and the rest are old black men and women who really don't care if you understand what they are saying or not.

I have heard of the Mississippi Delta (I remember the song Delta Dawn from my youth), I even visited the Delta (reminded me of eastern Montana, around Sidney, mostly flat, and very agricultural). I knew a few people from the Delta, mostly white business people that cared greatly if you can understand them or not. But I had not met the soul of the state.

It is the birthplace of many genres of American music, it is rich in agricultural history, it is written about, sung about, and told about. But the people of the Delta are not a proud group. They are humble and reclusive.

My friend John who showed me around some parts of the Delta last year, explained how it is in the Delta. It reminded me of small town Montana. Not the Livingston or Bozeman type small town, but Clyde Park, Ringling, and many other very small towns. The people know each other in a very intimate way. They are in each others business, because it affects each of them so much. Its a hard group to join, and once in, it does not matter where you go, you are part of the family.

So it is with these people I work with now. There are a few who I know, and there are more who are allowing me in, that don't quiet down when I walk up to their group. There are a lot of differences that I need to overcome. Age, most of these guys are old enough to be my parents. Race, I have always considered myself an innocent when it comes to race and the more I live in the south, the more I realize this is true, luckily my innocence shines through and people of all races down here try to teach me how I should act (and I pretend to learn).

The biggest however is Language. It isn't that there is a more noticeable southern drawl, maybe there is and I just don't notice it. There is a 'mumbling' characteristic which I know affects me more and more as I live here... (I attribute it to the heat/humidity; it frys the brain)
But primarily its just the words and the phrases they use.

So last week I was filling up the bus, long story short, I had to fill up a second bus so it was my second time in 2 days being at the station. Another driver approached me:

R: Hay, yow feel evera day?

Me: No, different bus, remember mine broke.

R: Oh, ya, ya, ya.... Thisun ...mumble....mumble....mumble....

Me: What?

R: Ya empty?

Me: Don't know

R: Mumble mumble mumble

Me: What?

R: Yow hand broke?

Me: (looking at my hands) I don't think so

R: Then why ya feelin

Me: Cuz I don know how much I got

R: Why? Dun yow hand work?

Me: What?

R: Yow hand, yow Fuel Hand

At which time I understand.... Fuel Hand is the fuel gauge, and no I didn't trust the fuel gauge which turned out to be fairly accurate after all. Probably the only bus that the fuel hand works on though....

So now, after nearly 9 years in this place I am just starting to break out of the 'diverse' subdivision and learn more about the soul of Mississippi. Who knows maybe I'll even learn how to Mash a Button!