Monday, June 12, 2006

It's a Girl! (published 6-12-2006)

Born at 5:08 PM, weighing 9 lbs., 15 oz., and being 23 inches long, the Appalachian Irishman has a new niece! My brother almost didn’t get his mitt on in time, but he caught her! I can’t wait to take my new niece hiking up House Mountain and Devil’s Nose! Congratulations to the new father and mother!

Baby Watch (published 6-12-2006)

No, I didn’t say Bay Watch! The Appalachian Irishman just returned from the hospital, where the wife of his youngest brother is waiting, with feet still several hours away from the stirrups.

I had to return home for the catcher’s mitt, as my brother, fully in expectant father mode, forgot his. A new socialized medicine rule is that the baby cannot be born until the father has his catcher’s mitt!

Anyway, I’ll try to catch a few hours of shuteye, and then return to join other bleary eyed family members, who are still sitting on Baby Watch!

Sunday, June 11, 2006

“Guvernment Edukashun” (published 6-11-2006)

Mrs. Appalachian Irishman, as I have admitted before, is a patient, long-suffering soul. Why she married me, I’ll never know. She also suffers as a government school employee. Of course, she is one of the good ones – trying to wield the sword of positive, responsible, moral (dare we say biblical) influence against the menacing socialist hordes that run, or are brain washed by, the system.

Mrs. Appalachian Irishman received a thank you note from a student, whom she had helped, at the end of the school year. The sentiment, the influence, and the result are all commendable.

Looking for the cloud in every silver lining, as I do; however, I must address the grammatical mistakes made by this product of government education. Here is just the first part.

Thank you fur being there for me whin
i needed you that ment a lot to me and
thank you for helping me . . . .

The letter continues for several more lines--totally unencumbered by any form of punctuation whatsoever! The first person singular pronoun is never capitalized. Is this the result of the socialist emphasis on the collective over the individual?

Of course, the aforementioned student may be valedictorian material, for after further thought, the note could have started:

thunk u fer bein thair fur me whin eye
neaded u thatthar mint a lot 2 me +
thunk u fer halpin me . . . .

The Appalachian Irishman is just thankful that he was taught phonetics in the first grade. (No, kindergarten wasn’t required then.) He is also thankful for the excellent grammar teachers, who taught him parts of speech, parts of a sentence (including diagramming), types of sentences, spelling, punctuation, and so forth. Now, as long as little Johnny feels good about himself, it doesn’t matter how well he writes or speaks!

Of course, to correct all these ills, all we need is more money for “guvernment edukashun!”

What say you?

Coke and a Snicker (published 6-11-2006)

“A dollar eighty for a 12 oz. Coke and regular sized Snickers?” I asked the resident scholar behind the counter at the zip-in-to-get-ripped-off convenience store. “Why, young man, when I was a boy, you could get a Coke and candy bar for 25 cents!”

Mr. Earring/Tattoo just looked at me, with the line growing behind me, and asked, “Look, Mister, are you buying?” Plunking down the $2.00 in silence was my answer, since I had a light lunch a few hours ago.

The worst part is that I sounded just like some old guy!

Just Plain Coffee! (published 6-11-2006)

Frou-frou coffee! That’s what’s wrong with the world!” I exclaimed, while talking with colleagues, over coffee. No, we weren’t at one of those yuppie coffee houses either. We were at the office for the Friday meeting. Yes, I was drinking regular coffee, black. Okay, I’ll add a few drops of cream when I’m feeling a bit more sophisticated, but that’s all.

In simpler times, choices were fewer--Folgers, Maxwell House, JFG, Sanka, and perhaps a few others. Now, however, a Google search of “coffee types” returns 64.7 thousand references! No time for all that, so I hit the Starbucks website, to find 32 types of coffee in five categories! They even offer multiple serving sizes! Not small, medium, or large, mind you, but Grande, etc.

Just give me a simple cup of coffee, please! I’ll add cream and sugar, if I want to.

Somehow, I just don’t trust the politics of someone who walks into a Starbucks and says, “I’ll have a Colombia NariƱo Supremo, size Doppio, please.” Just for fun, one of these days, I will walk into a Starbucks, which I haven’t done yet, and say, “Give me a cup of coffee, black.” How will the rocket scientist behind the counter reply?

Does anyone else want just a regular cup of coffee?

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Kiss Vs. the Graduate (published 6-3-2006; article #17)

The Knoxville Civic Coliseum ( was the site.

The year was 1979. Kiss ( was in the house! Two buddies and I stood only a few feet from center stage. We were there! What a show! The rock vibes were rolling from the speakers. Simmons, Stanley, Criss, and Frehley were in true form! What a performance! One very stout and tall friend hoisted me up from time to time, so I could take pictures above the crowd. What shots I took! Great shot of Simmons breathing fire! The house was packed. We were there! What a memory! I was young and felt great!

The year was 2006. Gibbs High School graduates were in the house. My niece, Trina "Biscuit," was graduating (the only National Merit Scholarship Finalist in the class, I might add). A score of family was seated to stage left. The commencement music did not rock. The speakers were adequate but not on a roll. I tried to stay awake. I was old and sick, still fighting varicella-zoster. Still yet, when Trina "Biscuit" walked across that stage, a chill of pride and sentiment ran down my back. Was this the little girl whom I used to “walk on the ceiling?” Congratulations, Trina! Yours was not a ceremony of mediocrity. Good luck and Godspeed in the future!

The Knoxville Civic Coliseum hasn’t changed; I have. I miss the thrill and fire of the concert of youth, but I relish the love of my dear, long-suffering wife and of those around us. Have I graduated?

What say you?

Marriage Melee (published 6-3-2006)

A marriage melee is raging in our country. On the right, knights gather in defense of marriage as the recognized union between a man and a woman. On the left, hordes pound their shields, shouting that two men or two women have the right to marry.

As Mason said to Dixon, “We have to draw the line somewhere!”

Logically, if, by definition, marriage is not the recognized union between a man and a woman, then it can be anything! The slippery slope will prevail. The line will be redrawn continually.

Today, two men or two women may marry. Tomorrow, a man may marry several women, or vice versa. Next week, a group of men may marry a group of women. Next month, a group of men may marry each other. A year from now, a man may marry his dog – or his truck! Who is to say what is wrong?

To argue “there are no absolutes” is an absolute contradiction. Absolutes must exist, in logical reasoning and in the law.

Marriage is by definition the union of one man and one woman! Anything else is a perversion.

Bring on your “logic” to prove me otherwise!

What say you?

Random Questions (published 6-3-2006)

Why is Knox County resurfacing Cedar Bluff Road, when the road was well-paved already? Was the asphalt just not dark enough? Why aren’t other roads, in less politically affluent areas, not resurfaced, when they are in desperate need?

Why do many public restroom doors open in? After having washed my hands, why must I grab that nasty handle or knob?

Why does the song end and the station go to commercials, just as I tune in?

Why do people insist on riding my bumper, since I have no catchy bumper sticker to read? Is my license plate that interesting?

Why does the downpour hit, when I’m trying to get through rush hour traffic, on the interstate in west Knoxville?

Why is there a wreck, blocking the back door route, when I, unwisely, get off the interstate, hoping to avoid the delays?

Why does the last train car pass by, just after I, finally, shut off the engine?

Why does the light turn red, just as I am next in line to turn?

Why do women with flabby bellies wear shirts that show their bellies? Is it an optometrist’s conspiracy to make my eye sight worse? Or do their mirrors deceive them?

Why do people lie to insurance consultants and think that God will not hold it against them?

The glass is still half full.

Shaking the Shingles (published 6-3-2006)

No, I did not say “singles!” Nor is this about a new dance step!

But seriously, folks, the Appalachian Irishman is finally returning to his former infamous self, after having engaged in a costly and prolonged battle against his archenemy – varicella-zoster, or Chicken Pox Part Deux ( Costly it was in medical expense and missed work – and prolonged in a month of suffering and slow recuperation. I wouldn’t wish the shingles on my worst political foe ( (Just kidding, Daffodil.)

Web log? No way! I just managed to endure and to try to work as much as possible!

Well, to friend and foe alike, I’m back!

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

20 Years as But a Day (published 5-16-2006)

The Appalachian Irishman admits it; he can be hard to live with at times. Must be those Irish roots! Twenty years ago today, Mrs. Appalachian Irishman made the dubious decision to honor me by becoming my wife. Dubious on her part, because I dragged her, not by the hair, mind you, to the flat lands of Missouri for several years then on to Russia for a few more, before finally, finally returning to the true Garden of Eden--Upper East Tennessee.

Those twenty years have passed by as but a day. Mrs. Appalachian Irishman, at times, probably feels as if it has been forty years, but for me, it has been just a day. She is more lovely and dear to me now than then--and believe me, she was lovely and dear then too.

So, I raise my Guinness to you (no, I don’t drink, but let’s pretend), Mrs. Appalachian Irishman! Thanks, my dear, long-suffering wife, for putting up with me all these years. Here’s to twenty more!

Okay, okay, you may wipe your eye now! The Appalachian Irishman will return to his wit and witticism later.

What say you?

Sunday, May 14, 2006

ILLEGAL ANALOGY (published 5-14-2006; updated 6-26-2022)

We have a large, fine home with plenty of room. It is the envy of many in the neighborhood.

We regularly invite our neighbors over for the evening or to stay the weekend. They ring the doorbell and come in through the front door. They conduct themselves politely and properly. They leave willingly, when it is time to go. On occasion, an invited neighbor acts out of turn or over stays his welcome. He is not invited back.

Many in the neighborhood face difficulties in their own homes. We invite some of these neighbors into our home, not as guests, but as new family members. We take them in willingly, and we would take in more, if we had additional room. These neighbors are grateful, agree to obey the rules of our house, take on our last name, study our family heritage, and leave behind adherence to their old homes. We celebrate when we are able to help such neighbors!

Lately, however, some neighbors have tried to sneak in through a back room window. They do not have the dignity or courtesy to wait to be invited in through the front door. We ran them out at first, but they returned. So many started coming in! We couldn’t stop them!

Mother wanted father to increase security around the house, to keep out these uninvited neighbors, but father saw that some of them were cleaning the house, taking out the trash, mowing the yard – doing chores that house members did not want to do. So, he allowed them to keep sneaking in. Mother kept telling father that these neighbors were eating our food, using our medical supplies, and hurting us physically, but father didn’t care. He just noticed how the uninvited neighbors washed his car so well.

Some of the family even argued that we must allow these uninvited neighbors to come in, because we are so wealthy and they are so needy. “Why can’t we go to their homes and help them? Why can’t their own fathers and mothers help them?” I asked, to which I received no reasonable reply.

In time, these uninvited neighbors demanded that we take care of them! They wanted us to change our last name to theirs! They demanded their “rights” as equal members of the family! Our once well kept home is now in need of repair.

Why can’t these uninvited neighbors just wait to be invited in by the front door?

Hanging Up My Shingles (published 5-14-2006)

Chicken Pox Part Deux? Or varicella-zoster by its more scientific but less entertaining name. Yes, the shingles have floored the Appalachian-Irishman!

Too much dang work! Too much darn stress! These are the hammers that nailed me. It started with that little pain in the side, like a sore muscle. Nothing about which to worry--right? Wrong! Next, the malaise poured over me. “What’s this little rash on my side?” I wondered next. Then, over last weekend, the little pox belt appeared!

By the way, for you linguists, varicella, from the Latin, means "little pox." Zoster is Greek for “girdle” or “belt.” The word shingles comes from cingulum, Latin for “belt” or “girdle.”

Finally, the proud Appalachian-Irishman went to his family doctor, whose shingle hangs about 30 minutes from home. Having already done the research, I agreed with the doctor’s treatment--an antiviral medication, ibuprofen, plenty of water, and rest. In another country, I could have bypassed the doctor’s office charge by buying the antiviral drugs directly from the pharmacy--without prescription. Not so in the good ol’ US of A! No, I must pay the doctor to prescribe that which I know I already need! What a country!

Anyhow, I am recovering but not completely well. But, alas, this is not the nail point to the story!

Upon arrival at the doctor’s office, promptly, for my 9:45 AM appointment, I had to take a place in line behind one of those well dressed, overly-friendly-to-the-medical-staff, pharmaceutical sales representatives--pill pushers, by another name. Great! I almost asked the young thing, “Are you here to see the doctor for a medical reason?” Assuming her negative answer, my next line would have been, “Well, since I’m actually sick, you shouldn’t mind if I cut in front of you!” But, being a southern gentleman, I brushed aside those thoughts. Instead, the added stress, caused my side to hurt more. I’m sure that another red streak appeared as well. Thankfully, the receptionist made pill pusher chicklet sit down to wait also.

The good doctor took my advice and prescribed the antiviral medication that I recommended--the generic that works as well as the high dollar brand name, which he first suggested. The brand name drug was probably the one that the sweet young thing out in the lobby was pushing!

Upon leaving the examination room, what did my wandering eyes see? Yes, another pill pusher--standing just outside the door, like a vulture awaiting its next victim! This time, it was a young man, slickly dressed in the traditional dark suit. “Hello, Dr. Cox!” he cheerfully chortled. He caught my eye, and I glared at him.

Oh, by the way, before getting in to my family physician, I tried out a foreign doctor, whose shingle is only about five minutes away. “With the price of gas these days, why not try the local guy?” I had concluded.

Well, arriving for the 8:00 AM appointment, I filled out the traditional reams of new patient paperwork. To my surprise, the receptionist started talking about payment--before Dr. I’m-from-India even saw me! “Well, with my HSA health insurance plan, I pay doctor’s office visits, for a reduced premium,” I told the one-brain-celled young lady. I added, “I am ready to pay the $70.00 with my HSA debt card.” Well, to my surprise, the debt card frightened to death the educationally challenged chick! She asked me to go home, get the HSA checkbook, and return, before I could be treated!

Having arrived home, with additional pain and reddening in my side from the experience, I called my regular doctor, mentioned, above, to set an appointment. I then promptly called the give-me-money-who-really-cares-about-curing-you doctor’s office, politely told brain cell babe that I didn’t like her approach, and told her that I had arranged to see a real doctor.

Fortunately, the Appalachian-Irishman is from hearty stock and doesn’t need a doctor more than once a year, if that. This experience, however, illustrates the sad state of medical practice in this country. First, the lack of true market forces continues to drive up health care costs. Set aside the stinking co-pays, to which millions think they have a constitutional right, and dicker directly with doctors on office visit charges. Second, pharmaceutical companies should not advertise nor send their minions of pill pushers to bribe doctors into prescribing their high priced product. Third, people should put down the Twinkie and get some exercise, instead of neglecting their health and expecting the doctor to fix them. Finally, tort reform should eliminate frivolous medical lawsuits and limit settlements. Other measures, I’m sure, could be taken.

Despite the need for reform and improvement in our medical system, we must not seek salvation by further socializing healthcare! I’ve been to Russia and seen the effects of socialized medicine. We don’t need that here!

Well, it’s time to take another pill. Maybe America will do the same.

What say you?

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Cloth Towel Dispensers (published 4-25-2006; updated 8-17-2022; article #10)


8/17/2022 Note

On 8/17/2022, I checked my website's “all-time” analytics, which I do rarely. I was surprised to see that “Cloth Towel Dispensers,” published on 4/25/2006, was my sixth most viewed article! It was my tenth article. As of 8/14/2022, I have published 346 articles. I had to read what I'd written, over sixteen years ago.

Analytics on the article (for 6/30/2010 to 7/31/2022) indicate that my article is still being viewed. I searched “Gaggle” by the article title. I found twelve pages of various articles and advertisements. My article was not included. The reason why folks still view my article is a mystery. I'm just glad that my article remains relevant, sixteen years later.

On 8/17/2022, I redacted my original article, for style, and I added a few more words. The basic content is the same, as it was, on 4/25/2006. My 8/17/2022 podcast, “Cloth Towel Dispensers (published 8-17-2022; episode #5),” adapted my written words, of sixteen years ago, to my spoken word.


The Appalachian Irishman was out trying to make a living today, on 4/25/2006. By the way, was today Tax Freedom Day? Government-educated types don't realize that their income, through late April, goes to Uncle Sam, do they? Also, they think that they're sticking it to ol’ Uncle when he gives them a meager refund. Right! Uncle takes too much, in federal income tax, through the year. Then, Uncle gives back, as a refund, the excess money that he'd taken. Why doesn't Uncle pay interest on the excess he took?

Anyway, back to the story! I made a pit stop at a convenience store. After addressing mother nature’s urging, I washed my hands. Argh! It was another one of those push the button and stand there all day, trying to dry your hands, air drying units! Just give up! Wipe your hands dry on your pants!

It Was Easier Back Then

Do you recall the old cloth towel dispensers of years ago? You'd pull down on the corners, and a clean section of towel emerged. Wiping your hands, and possibly face also, was a snap! Ah, those were the days!

Life was so much easier back then. Cars had character. They all didn't look like the same type of little Matchbox Cars, as now. Gas was inexpensive, and someone else usually pumped it – and checked the oil and washed the windshield.

Football players stayed with the same teams for years. Kids played outside and didn’t get fat – by only playing video games indoors.

Families stayed together. Neighbors knew each other. Parents, not grandparents, raised their children. Churches were not metal building, mega-marketed monstrosities – filled by Christianettes, who hear sermonettes, preached by preacherettes.

Dirt roads led somewhere. Rock was classic, and country didn’t rock. There was no rap or hip-hop. Students could carry their pocket knives and use them in shop class, and they were spanked by teachers – and then by their parents. Doctors could make house calls and didn’t charge an arm and a leg for an office visit.

Folks bought goods at Mom and Pop shops and ate at locally owned restaurants. Carhops wore roller skates.

In schools, principals led morning prayers, heard by all, through the speaker system. Everyone could say “Merry Christmas!” There were Christmas and Easter breaks – not winter and spring breaks.


Yes, I know that some things have improved, but we have lost so much.

We need to pull down the towel, in the towel dispenser, and wipe away the bad. We can keep what little good remains.

What say you?

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Too Much Work! (published 4-23-2006)

To those who are wondering where I've been lately, the rumor of my demise at the hand of a Yankee, tree-hugging, quiche-eating liberal are mistaken! Such a one couldn't take me anyway!

No, instead, I've been working and taking care of family business. Good ol' Uncle Sam took some time -- and dollars -- also!

A warning to you leftists out there: I'll be back soon!

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Cereal Serial (published 3-28-2006)

Kellogg’s Special K Red Berries. Yes, I ate them, and I’m sorry. I apologize to all the red-blooded Irish-American men out there. But, confession is good for the soul.

Here’s my excuse. You can’t eat eggs, sausage, bacon, biscuits, and gravy every morning – even thought our corpuscles cry out for it daily. So, I usually eat a bowl of good ol’ IGA generic raisin bran cereal in the AM. Yeah, yeah, it’s healthier for me. I can hike up House Mountain in 25 minutes, easily, so my ticker is fine. I want to keep a healthy ticker a while longer, so I eat cereal.

Well, neither my long-suffering and precious wife nor I had gone to the store lately, and the cupboard was bare. No generic raisin bran for the Irish-American. Not enough time to whip up a good country breakfast. Not enough time to go to the Huddle House to tank up.

Decision time! Either go hungry, which my stomach was forbidding me to do, or eat (yuck, gag) my wife’s frou-frou, namby-pamby, get-in-touch-with-your-feminine-side Kellogg’s Special K Red Berries cereal.

As I said, I ate it – not one morning but two in a row! Finally, my wife brought in my regular morning staple, but the deed was already done.

And, guys, it wasn’t that bad!

What say you?

P.S. Yeah, yeah, I know. The photo is a Kellogg’s Raisin Bran box from 1967 (, but I couldn’t find a photo of an IGA box!