Friday_ October 27_ 2006

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					Master Diary                                USA 2006-2007

May 21, 2006
   New Haven, CT
   Michelle‘s assurance that of course there‘ll be an ironing board and an iron was proven wrong but
the tag sale phenomenon plus the fact that people left stuff out on the street soon corrected the
deficiency; Baub had an iron while I retrieved an ironing board that was left with the trash, a kitchen
chair as well.
   Similarly, when booking the hotel in Memphis, Michelle insisted that I was being ridiculous in
wanting to be sure that car parking was included in the price. Then, after I‘d made absolutely clear
that it was and the hotel clerk said it wasn‘t and I‘d have to pay she turned around and said I knew all
along that I‘d have to pay, and that I‘d not made clear that it was not an extra charge. That pissed me
off no end.

Friday, August 18, 2006
    New Haven, CT, to Manhattan, NY
    Up and at it to leave by 5.15 am, the alarm went off at 4.30 am, about 40 minutes after Baub
finally stopped fucking around in the kitchen; neither of us slept well but we took our 7 bags
(suitcase on wheels, 2 laptops, Woolworths calico bag, Mommy Bag and a small Ann Taylor see
through bag with our cheese and tomato cut lunch) and set off walking the mile and a bit to Union
Station. Down Bradley to Orange and down to the end at the Knight of Columbus Building, under
the 91-5 freeway to arrive about 5.55 am. It started off dark but was light by the time we arrived. A
woman from Memphis, Tennessee, was asking question of the gathering of passengers and another
black woman in African attire was chagrined by the fact that not only was the ticket office as yet
unopened but the bus driver told here the expected time of arrival in NYC was 8.55 am. She was
shrugging histrionically, you might say, saying "Eight-fifty-five?" repeatedly. The trip was pleasant
enough and we went past the Barnum Museum - where we'd spent an enjoyable afternoon during the
stifling heat of out return from Stefan Tiersch's in NJ a fortnight earlier - at Bridgeport, CT. The
Greyhound driver, an African American, was likeable but, like another Greyhound driver we
encountered in 2005 on the chicago-Philadelphia route, he wore his Christianity on his sleeve:
"Everything has a purpose in God's universe," he informed us as we left New Haven headed for
Highway 95 South. We collected our Greyhound tickets for the NYC-Washington leg from 1.30 am
Tuesday and a couple of $24.00 weekly NYC transit passes and took a subway carriage to Columbus
Circle where we lugged the bags up those fucking stairs - again! At the 63rd Street West YMCA, our
normal hotel when in Manhattan, we paid $6.00 to store our bags even though we had a reservation
to stay 3 nights from that Friday; no point arguing, but it's a bit rich because, had our room been
ready, we would not have had to pay. We then walked up to the HSBC Branch on Columbus Avenue
to inform them of our new address and then back to the YMCA to retrieve some details about our
next walk - North up Central Park West to eat our lunch on a bench inside the entrance to the Park
opposite the American Museum of Natural History and then joined the queue to the Darwin
Sesquetenary exhibition. Entry was officially by donation but in fact was another sting - $37.00
between us to see it. The charge was the stated price of $14.00 each and the additional expense was
the unstated price on top: another $6.00 odd to enter the Museum itself. The Confidence Man is
alive and well in the USA. The exhibition was nothing to write home about but okay. Had we not
paid I would have gone back when I wasn't so fatigued. We stuck it out the walked back down
Columbus Avenue to the YMCA where we checked in and had an hour's rest. Then we mooched
about for a while, had our evening meal of rice and Kafta in the YMCA dining room (invariably good
value) then took a stroll through Central park (without the bloody camera), took a bus South along
7th Avenue, then walked some distance West along 39th Street until we reached the Hudson River at
the Ferry Terminal. Wonderful sights of the canyons of NYC with the white flecked blue sky in the
distance and the dark streets below continued all the way. We watched the sun go down over the NJ
side of the Hudson and then took a bus back to the Lincoln Center, a stone's throw from the

Master Diary                                USA 2006-2007

YMCA. We paid $5.00 through the nose for a very small bottle of Budweiser, listened to some blues
and country music (the female singer in the band was not really up to the job) and then paid heaps
for some orange juice in a shop on Broadway then came home a fell asleep without too much

Saturday, August 19, 2006
    Manhattan, 63rs Street W (YMCA) to Coney Island and back
    Coney Island: D,Q,N or F train to the last stop, Stillwell Avenue, 45 minutes from midtown
Manhattan; these were the instructions. But thee was some suggestion that the D train might be a
problem in the vicinity of Coney Island so we doubled our chances of catching a train in a hurry by
catching the A or C (I forget which) to 42nd Street and going to the N & Q platform. We took a Q
more or less immediately and headed for Coney Osland. An Indian woman asked me for help
figuring out how far she'd have to go to get to some stop. I had dificulty making sense of the map
she held with its biro ringed station some distance into Brooklyn. After some time I figured it out -
bad light with a combination of light colours - and it turned out she was on the right track so I
encouraged her to stay and went back to reading the New York Times we'd purchased at Columbus
Circle. Stories about all manner of things but most striking, for me, was the story of Ford and GM's
Detroit operations being headed for big layoffs. The USA hoisted on its own potard, it seemed to me
because the big manufacturers are tooled up to produce SUV' and Pickup Trucks - both huge gas
guzzling machines. If Connecticut was anything to go by, theses are modern dinosaurs as the price of
petrol rises. And has there ever been any doubt that petrol prices would rise as we progress
inexorably to a situation of demand far outweighing supply. So these two giants of industry have
made little concession to the times and a relatively small hike in oil prices has seen them unable to
sell their product. Instead of management having a plan B to put into effect when this situation arises
- and surely everyone knows it must - they are now caught with their pants down and have to retool,
restructure, re everything while the market is taken over by Asian car manufacturers who produce
fuel efficient models. Only in America. This is typical of the USA, methinks. There's no
benchmarking, it seems, because Americans simply assume they're dominant, invincible, and not
really part of the world. Insofar as they are part of the world, they imagine they're the trend-setters.
It's like watching the fall of Rome. And Rome is everywhere to be seen, here, in Manhattan. The
Indian woman looked perplexed so I went to show her where she was on the schematic map. She
was pleased to see that it was working out. When I went to assure her a third time, later, she was
across the map and able to make sense of it herself. She told me she was from Canada, that members
of her family had been killed in a car crash the day before and that she'd had to fly in to help out with
things at the home. Some injured members were in the Brooklyn Hospital. It struck me that the
family network was quite effective and efficient, though, of course, it seemed it was the job of the
women to do all the difficult stuff. Presumably she had to cook, clean, and so on while the family
who'd suffered the loss of their immediate family members shifted into another mode. We had
emerged into the daylight by the time she got off and now Michelle and I looked out the window to
the wide world of lower (Southern) Brooklyn. At Brighton Beach we took a 90 degree turn to the
west and the beach came in to view on our left. Then, as we neared the destination, we saw the
fairground on the beach front. The train pulled into Coney Island Station about 45 minutes after
we'd left from 42nd Street and we took in the sights of what would once have been an extraordinary
instance of American burlesque. Now it has a tired aspect of a former glory days. But there are still
many people there and numerous sideshows off the boardwalk which runs along the beach about
300 yards from the shoreline. I'm unsure what the tide was so it may not always be so far, of course.
A sad preacher wearing a sign that Jesus loves those who don't know about Him seemed to have
shot himself in the foot because most - apart from people like us who wanted to get a pic of the
American past-time of religious nutterdom - people were content to remain ignorant of the Lord and
his blessings. We walked out onto the jetty (pier) that jutted out into the sea and read the sings about
no commercial touting, no amplified music, no this, no that. In the USA such rules are honoured

Master Diary                                USA 2006-2007

more or less exclusively in the breach, and this was no exception. Mainly Latino, the people on the
pier were also mainly fishers. There were Anglo and Negro and Italian people among the Latinos but
the most vocal group was a handful of old Spanish speakers who danced to very loud and scratchy
Latin music. They performed for Michelle's camera. The fishers caught very small fish, perhaps a
type of sardine, perhapsnot, because one fellow whose novice girlfriend was catching fish every time
she cast her rod was throwing them back. We took many photographs and then walked up the street
to get a bus. The driver lectured me for not holding on while he drove off before I could swipe my
transit pass. We got off at Brighton Beach, under the elevated train track, and realised that it was a
Russian emigre stronghold. There wasn't a cafe and we needed coffee so we took the bus. A pair of
boys sat nearby and the more confident of the two told his friend that his aunty from Russia who
was staying with the family over the summer was weird. As the bus moved north we were aware of
passing through a Russian Jewish community, and then the Russian was left behind and we were in
an Arab Community where orthodox Jews walked. The bus came to a terminus at Prospect Park and
we had coffee and buns at a corner cafe called 'Connecticut Muffins'. There was a scene involving a
local drunk with a handicapped dog. This fellow harrasses the clientele of the coffee shop and the
owner discussed the problem with a couple of different customers.

Sunday, August 20, 2006
We started the day with an argument about my giving Michelle instructions. She hates me saying to
do this or do that and says she's quite capable. I argued that her perverse resistance to rules or to any
form of anticipation of what might happen as a consequence of actions (eg., she was shoving
something back into my suitcase but without bothering to open the zip enough) made it necessary
for me to say such things. It's not me who breaks things but her, I said. This did not augre well. Set
off for the Alexander Hamilton dueling ground at Weehawken on the bus South along Ninth Avenue
and then walked West along 39th Street to the Ferry Terminal. I asked a ticket seller for two to
Weehawken and she directed me, as I thought, to the other side of the main carpark. We walked
there. The sun was beating down and it was very humid. Michelle's foot was lacerated by the shoes
she bought but she said nothing about it. We walked all over the place and finally someone directed
us back to from where we came. It did seem entirely sensible that the ferry would leave from the
ferry terminal but who are we to argue? I approached the window again and this time the woman said
that she was asking where we had parked. We don't have a car I said so she sold us the tickets and
told us it would leave at 12.10 pm. It was just after noon so we decidced to go ahead. The ferry ride
across the Hudson was quite interesting, as everything is when the Manhattan skyline forms the
backdrop. We set off walking to the dueling ground. There's no indication that it's even there but I
knew it was more or less oposite 42nd Street. Foolishly, though, I didn't take a landmark of 42nd to
line up on. By now it was obvious that Michelle's foot was a problem. Those bloody shoes have been
trouble since before she bought them. (They were responsible for a wild goose chase to some
godforsaken warehouse 70 miles North-east of New Haven in Connecticut and when we gor there
the woman attendant was disinterested beyond belief and said they sold only rejects.)
Michelle walked barefoot on the concrete pavement but the rest of the walk was not so easy. The hot
sun and high humidity made matters worse. We walked up a very steep concrete and iron staircase to
the top of the cliffs overlooking the Hudson and tried to line up with what looked like it might be
42nd Street. Michelle was trying to convince me that the Empire State was on 42nd but even she
could see that wasn't a goer. We realised later that the Chrysler Building is next to Grand Central and
is therefore right next to 42nd.
In due course we came to Hamilton Park and took some shots of the skyline, and so on. But no
mention of hamilton's duel and stupid, pointless, death. There was a bride and groom and the usual
ogre of the professional photographer and his assistant (who arranged the wedding gown to suit his
master's artistic requirements). A halfwit stared at the couple through binoculars and called out that
she'd look good naked. His mother, who happened to be sitting next to us told him to stop being
silly. She handled the situation well.

Master Diary                                USA 2006-2007

Michelle suggested we walk further to where there was the inevitable Stars and Stripes flying from a
pole. I was concerned about her foot and thought it unlikely there'd be any point on going to this
spot further South but we did and she was right: there was a memorial plaque to the effect that the
dueling ground was 20 feet above the Hudson below that spot, as far as anyone now can tell.
Then we set off back to the ferry terminal but Michelle could only walk slowly. Her foot was worse
and threatended to turn septic. Best to wait until it's really badly lacerated before doing anything
seems to be her 'never think of the future' principle which, together with the 'never look where
you're walking' principle makes for trouble, in my view. We found a pharmacy on Eighth Avenue and
she purchased some antibiotic cream and gauze to try and fix the problem.
We sat in Central Park and read for the hour between 4.30-5.30 pm. and then Michelle felt ill so we
went back to have a meal. She felt better by 7 pm so we took a bus to 34th Street and then walked
West to Tenth Avenue. It was getting dark and there were too few people other than a group of
young men about so I hurried us back on a bus which took us back up to 63rd West, behind the
Lincoln Center near the YMCA.
Monday, August 21, 2006
   New York City: West Side YMCA
   Episode of the Frenchmen emerging from doors outside the elevator on the 12th floor.
Tuesday, August 22, 2006
    3.20 am: Greyhound from Manhattan Port Authority to Washington, DC
Excruciating wait for the bus - due at 1.30 am and not arriving until 3.10 am and departing at 3.20 am
or later, perhaps. the three black coves who we were pleased not to have to share the bus with.
Unpleasant, threatening teenagers. The episode with the bags repeated – i.e., ―Please look after my
bag while I go to the bathroom.‖
    Arrive DC on Greyhound
    We walked to the Thrifty on 6th Street, stopping for breakfast on the way. Quite a walk, and quite
a struggle. We were at each other‘s throats.

   Centreville, Virginia, to Morgantown, West Virginia.
   Picked up a Dodge Caliber from Thrifty, DC, drove to Seva's to collect keys to the house pending
our return on September 4th; all okay with Seva and then we drove - despite our long time standing
(until after 3 am in the Greyhound terminal) for our late bus - through backroads to We tried a
motel on Route 50 at Grafton, but it was for gamblers and smokers and not for the likes of us - as
the desk clerk subtly indicated. A long drive resultd in our finding a well appointed business class
room in the Super 8 at Morgantown, West Virginia. Unusual for being run by Anglo-Americans, i.e.,
whites, it was vey good, especially the young man working on the desk. We tried to buy dinner and
ended up at a Wendy's. Pretty awful. Michelle was so tense and ready to crack that I was beginning to
find it necessary to walk on eg shells lest she burst into tears over my being such a first rate arsehole.
This finally blew up bog time up in Wisconsin. The perennial problem of finding a pavement on
which to walk anywhere made tracking around the motel very dangerous and tricky.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006
    Morgantown, VA to Anderson, Indiana.
    Took a wrong turn as we set out and had a very time-consuming but pleasant drive through
scenic West Virginia; stopped for petrol in Pleasant Valley and had a conversation with an IT worker
from one of the mining companies; he liked the car and very much liked the idea of long service
leave, as we Australians earn it. A long trek, Michelle increasingly emotionally trigger fingered; I was
enjoying the whole trip but whatever I said was taken as the worse possible type of behaviour. I
daren't ask that we get going earlier than 10 am but we couldn't possibly make it to where I'd like to
go at the rate of miles we managed leaving so late. A few days later I suggested that since we were
awake early we might get going but Michelle made it clear that I could drive around and make myself
feel happy for being such a saint who was up and at it then come back and get her later. So, no point

Master Diary                               USA 2006-2007

whatsoever in trying to make progress. A complete frustration but buggerall to be done about it with
her ready to crack without mention of perhaps pulling her finger out and getting up.

Thursday, August 24, 2006
Friday, August 25, 2006
    From Davenport, Iowa, to Owatonna, Minnesota.
    En route to the Twin Cities I remembered that Frank Lloyd Wright had built homes in Mason
City, Iowa so we stopped there in the late afternoon and toured the area - realising after we looked
that it was primarily the site of an Walter Burley Griffin version of Castlecrag. We took many photos,
including that of a Frank lloyd Wright house. Wright's prairie style is more pleasing to the eye than
the Griffin approach with the rocky stone he uses in a setting of craggy rock. It just doesn't work as
Wright's houses do.

Saturday, August 26, 2006
    From Owatonna, Minnesota, to the Minnesota State Fair at the Twin Cities (Minneapolis-St. Paul)
via Northfield
    We turned back about 7 miles when I remembered that I wanted to go to Northfield, Minnesota,
to check out where Younger and James brothers came unstuck when they staged a robbery on the
Northfield bank where Jesse Ames son, Adelbert, a Union General and former Governor of
Mississippi during Reconstruction, was Jesse James target. The flour mill and the bank are still there
and we took photos. The fair was, as I feared, mostly small town agrarian based entertainment for
city folk entertainment. We saw a fellow selling one of those knives that can cut anything. It was a
good deal so we paid up and now use it in the house of blunt knives in Virginia.
    A long, tiring, and tedious day
Sunday, August 27, 2006
    From a Rest Area on Highway 35, Minnesota, to Hibbing, Minnesota and onward through
Duluth, along Route 13 to Ashland, Wisconsin.
    Drove from a rest area to Dylan's childhood home; we then went to the Iron Ore mine and
walked on a self-guided pathway tour. Thence to a downtown diner where we were served by a
woman who is a bear-baiter and hunter; 1 bear per hunter per season (from September 1st). Driven
to a table by the cook taking her cigarette break next to us.
    We took and then scenic Route 13 along the coast of Lake Superior, Wisconsin, where we could
see the Apostle Islands. It was on this road that Michelle had a very heartfelt emotional breakdown
and was sick to death of me; for my part, it felt that her happy pills had stopped working some weeks
before and more or less anything was enough to bring on tears. The occasion, this time, was my
saying something to the effect that I didn't mind one way or the other whether we did this or that,
went along this road or that road. Pretty hard to stay out of the dog house. We stayed at a motel
overlooking Lake Superior; it was a delightful location and a wonderful evening. the motel was about
$44.00 all up (i.e., quite cheap) and had a fridge, microwave and all the things we want in a place for
the night. The woman in charge for the night was very pleasant.

Monday, August 28, 2006
    Monday. Ashland, Wisconsin to the Highway 75 Rest Area just South of Indian River, Michigan:
    Drove 450 miles from Wisconsin to a 'Rest Area' on Highway 75 a few miles south of Indian
    We travelled along the northern coast of Lake Michigan along Route 2 and reached the
magnificent toll bridge spanning the fresh water of Lakes Michigan and Huron below and bought a
meal at a restaurant cafe in Indian River, Michigan. I had a small portion of porterhouse steak with
fries and Michelle had white fish with the same. We enjoyed the food more than we enjoy most
American fare. The waitresses played cards while waiting to serve customers; they were easy going
and not full of the usual mechanical niceness. I asked the woman in question to tell the cook or chef

Master Diary                               USA 2006-2007

how much I enjoyed what had been served. We then drove to a rest area and slept in the car for the

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

   Wednesday: Michigan, Detroit, to Cleveland, Ohio via Ann Arbor:
   En route to Ann Arbor we purchased food from the 'Whole Foods' store. At the university town
we stopped and had coffee in the university precinct. An impressive town.
   We drove along Route 20 to Cleveland, Ohio, and found the Museum of Art where I first saw
John Peto's 'Card Rack with Jack of Hearts' in 2003 during our enforced Amtrak stopover.
Serendipidity. Michelle remembered that the road we had taken on the bus 3 years ago was Euclid.
We followed it and came, sure enough, to the Museum. Unfortunately the renovations are still in
progress so we could not see the collection. However, we found the Gheary building and took many
   We left as the sun was going down and headed north-east along Highway 90 then slept in the only
Rest Area available. It was busy and many cars stayed overnight.

Thursday, August 31, 2006
    Thursday. Rest Area, Highway 90, east of Cleveland, Ohio, to Ellwood City, Pennsylvania:
We had breakfast in the pub where the chain smoker had beer with bourbon chasers; the blackman
as foreman came in with the specially selected hite hat and the overseers attitude; the semi trailer
leaving just as the drunkard did; the Hamish in the front yard; thereafer in the sulky.
    Spent another night in the Dodge Caliber at the Ohio rest area stop on the eastern outskirts of
Cleveland. We headed east along 90, south on 528 and east along 322 and stopped for breakfast in
    The cafe turned out to be a pub with a fellow at the bar smoking and drinking beer with bourbon
chasers. I wasn't sure I could stomach cigarette smoke for breakfast but we gave it a shot and
ordered the special for $2.50. It came with coffee and that alone was almost worth the price. Eggs
with biscuit and gravy - i.e., with white sauce covered bread and toast on the side. Edible but not my
cup of tea. Two men drank coffee either side of the beer man as he whinged about his wife. He told
of a young local teenage girl who allowed some fellow to drive her car while she sat in the passenger
seat. He was stopped by the police and when they found out there was a warrant out for him they
searched the car and found four loaded guns. So both were arrested and araigned on various charges
including inten t to commit a crime. Apparently the young woman cannot appreciate why she's
regarded as aiding and abetting a criminal.
    A stocky black man with a white stylised sports hat with a brim turned down all round and
shading his eyes appeared in the doorway and sized up the situation. He moved over to the man at
the bar who sat talking to the beer drinker. He whispered something in his ear and the fellow made
the excuse that his truck was overloaded and he couldn't drive 80 mph like those others who leave
late and arrive early at 8 am. Still, he gathered up his belongings and made a move for the door
through which his overseer, if that's what the black man was, had entered. The other fellow who had
been drinking coffee left with him and so did another who had turned up shortly before and had
simply sat at the bar.
    We continued to eat breakfast as the barmaid filled the beer man's whisky glass and then topped
up his ale. He tried to engage the overseer in conversation about his wife, his tale of misery having
not yet been told, but the black man was merely polite in his utter disinterest in the fellow - who
chainsmoked all the while.
    We were almost ready to leave when the beer man finished off another couple of cigarettes,
downed a full beer and then the whisky, bade goodbye to the barmaid and left. Moments later, a semi
trailer pulled up at crossroads outside the pub and Michelle and I looked at one another with one
thought in mind: who was driving that rig?

Master Diary                                 USA 2006-2007

    A couple of fellows had meanwhile come in and were being served. We paid the check and
continued east along 322 through Orwell and across the border into Pennsylvania. Soon thereafter,
we saw a couple of Hamish type children playing in their front road near the road. I slowed and
asked Michelle to get the camera. That brought the usual response of annoyance - just as if we never
want to photograph anything of interest unless we know well in advance that it will occur. Luckily,
this time, the annoyance was worth my while because we soon thereafter came across a Hamish
carriage on the road ahead. Michelle's frustration at being asked to get the camera out was just as
prominent this time but she calmed down when she saw what I had seen. We passed the horse and
buggy and Michelle took a camera shot but it wasn't a suitable position so we stopped some miles
ahead to prepare for a better shot. It turned out that instead of a man, his wife,and a child there was
that plus three more children in the back; one of them peered out at Michelle photographing them.
She seemed to like it and had probably seen it many times before.
    We carried on until we reached Meadville and then went through the carry on of Michelle being
pissed off that I suggested she phone Sal and his wife, people we were more or less duty bound to
meet on instruction from M's mother and her husband. Michelle went to the 'rest room' in a Burger
King and when, as she returned to the car, I suggested I was going to the the loo as well she was
pissed off again. I was learning to try and keep a low profile but it's getting trickier as the days
progress. I managed to coax her into getting the details from her laptop - I didn't put them on the
laptop because I carry a book with numbers and names I'm going to need but since her laptop
doesn't have a very bright screen except when powered from the grid (I would have counselled
against purchasing such an impractical laptop for travelling but knew not to stick my bib in on that
score) she was pissed off at having to improvise to obtain the info that she'd stored there. I managed
to get her to view the screen from under a blanket and she calmed down enough to get the necessary
phone #. Eventually she phoned and made arrangements for us to head directly to Sal's house near
Ellwood City due west of Highway 79.
    We arrived, Michelle being annoyed that I asked her to go inside and find out where we should
park (since I was in front of someone's front step). Touchy babe isn't in the race! Sal's wife came out
and directed me to a safe place in front of a garage, their garage. We went in and were more or less
told we'd be staying the night. I was happy enough with that and Michelle seemed to be too.
    Sal and Kathy were the perfect hosts, i.e., typically American. Sal, though - Michelle's mother's
husband's oldest and dearest friend - was especially easy to get along with. Kathy is an extraverted
feeling type whereas Salvatore is a thinking type who is amused by almost everything. Of Italian
extraction, he was wonderful.
    They took us up to an old mill where Buckwheat had once been processed - and is going to be
again, appaently. We learned that Sal and Kathy's politics were decidedly anti-Bush and ultimately
liberal, but liberal blue collar; i.e., there's an anti gay, anti illegal immigrant strain. Sal, though, is
willing to debate the issues in the usual courteous manner of the American.

Friday, September 1, 2006
   Friday. Ellwood City and tour of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania:
   Sal and Kathy took us into Pittsburgh for the one-day tour, including the aerial view of the Point -
where the Monagheny (spelling) and Allegheny Rivers pour their waters into the Ohio River at its
source. The Ohio is of such significance in US history and so we took many pics of it.
   Sal had boarded a train at the main train station in Pittsburgh - I forget the name and need to
check the pics - in 1953. It has now been restored as a restaurant retaining the railway era decore and
'Restroom' tiles. We showed K & S 'The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill' and Kathy cried through it
then cut Michelle's hair in her adjoining 'Beauty Salon' (hairdressing shop).

Saturday, September 2, 2006
   Saturday. Ellwood City, Pennsylvania, to Greensburg, Pennsylvania:

Master Diary                                USA 2006-2007

   Up about 7.10 am and packed ready to move on to Michelle's friend's place in Greensburg.
Arrived about 1.00 pm but Tina was at her mother-in-law's house and suggested we take coffee and
be at the house in an hour. We arrived about 2.45 pm and were shown around a bit and then to our
room. It seems like the manin bedroom rather than a guest room. A magnificent modern brick house
with open plan on the ground floor and living quarters upstairs; I'm writing this from the bedroom,
on the bed. Michelle again a little short-fused. we almost had an argument over the fact that I said
nothing because I was afraid that whatever I said would set her off. She was angry with me for not
saying anything when she was going off about losing the paper she'd written the directions to Tina's
house on. Very touchy. I'm enjoying everything about the experience of being in the USA for a year
but can't see how we're going to live together afterwards. I'll cross that bridge later, though.
   The journey here took us through Zelienople to Highway 79 South and then 279 South into
Downtown Pittsburgh to 376 East, 22 East and South on 819 to Greensburg.
   Tina's working with Michelle on a conference paper and we're here for 2 nights before heading
back to Centreville, VA, to take up a share house with Seva Raskin. that'll be interesting. She seems
open and straightforward, though I imagine it'll be easy to get the wrong end of the stick and have
problems through misunderstanding.
   Tina and Ted were the perfect hosts and their children – Owen and Ella – were delightful.

Thursday, January 12, 2012
    Sunday. Greensburg, Pennsylvania:
    Ted's father, mother, sister, brother-in-law and twin nieces had visited on the Saturday and were
present again on the Sunday. Professionals, all, their world revolved around the twins, naturally, and
yet Michelle managed to learn that Ted's sister designs highway signs and her husband, another civil
engineer, designs roads.
    I attended the local museum's display and dvd about the history of the steel industry in Pittsburgh
and the surrounding counties. It was curiously American, prosecuting an argument to the effect that
the US became great because of steel from Pittsburgh, that it would not be the wonderful nation that
it now is had it not been for the heroic captains of industry such as Carnegie who took up Herbert
Spencer's Social Darwinism philosophy to arrive at the conclusion that the workers must be screwed
for the society to thrive. The story of Pinkerton's detective agency came up again in this regard and
his 300 mainly inexperienced paramilitary troops were defeated by the heroic Unionists standing up
for their rights. These rights were grounded in the traditional artisan skills of puddling, and so forth,
skills which were being rendered obsolete by the coming of mechanization. Eli Whitney's armoury in
New Haven, Connecticut, had been the foot in the door for this development, had it not? Anyway,
the sentiment throughout the USA was on the side of the workers who'd defeated Pinkerton's men.
However, when the wives and mothers with babes in arms started jostling Pinkerton's hopelessly
outnumbered paramilitary innocents their gander was up and they then took to beating the lads.
According to the commentary, Americans turned against the Unions who were thereafter portrayed
as evil.
    I returned, changed into good clothes and joined the academic party at Tina's. I took to drinking
wine and disgraced myself in the usual manner, holding court, among other things.

Thursday, January 12, 2012
    Monday. Greensburg via Fallingwaters to Centreville, Virginia:
    Hungover, I drove to Falling Waters and we walked the grounds of the famous Frank lloyd
Wright designed house. The pictures show how it sits within the 'run' (a run of water, eg., Bull Run).
I took one of my 10 minute naps before driving on to another of Wright's houses, this one at x.
Michelle wasn't at all interested in going beyond the entrance pavilion because it entailed boarding a
tour bus and being part of a group. I was happy to keep moving. The hangover passed but as we
neared Virginia we lost the road in Winchester and that required taking a back road that had no
centre line without he

Master Diary                                 USA 2006-2007

Thursday, January 12, 2012
    Sunday.Centreville, Virginia:
    Centreville, Virginia, not only has British spelling but all of the streets have English names and
the layout is as per England's Midlands. The $350,000.00 house we're sharing with the owner and her
boyfriend might have been carried over from Stafford; it's tiny, like the other houses in the
surrounding neighbourhood.
    Michelle and I went for our mile and a bit walk to the local shopping centre - again a very British
arrangement of shops - this afternoon in the F90 degree heat. We collected mushrooms - as we
invariably do because it rains heaps - on the way and as we neared the shopping centre a huge bird
took to the air from a clump of trees just ahead of us. The American goes in for trees, not getting rid
of them as we Australians do; they can accept the fact of falling leaves here. The bird had an
enormous wing span and we talked about how the birds of prey we've often seen on the wing around
here look like Gosshawks and they're not normally so big. Then another took to the air, and again,
another. Huge creatures, almost the size of an eagle, I thought. Then we came upon a recently dead
animal - its carcase almost flat for having been cleaned out but with flies all around it and smelling
awful. It was freshly killed and not much of it was left, as I say, and was so fresh that the smell of
death hadn't yet set in.
    Then we came into the clearing and up on the roof of the shopping centre were 4 huge vultures
with their horrible drooping shoulders doing an imitation of Bernard Wooley from 'Yes, Minister'.
We did our shopping, still unable to find bread without sugar as one of the ingredients, and then
took a path toward the dead animal that would give us a good view of the vultures with their heads
down in the body of the dead creature. But they weren't there; the animal still smelled bad and had
flies all around it and it brought to mind the fact that Centreville was the site of the first major battle
of the American Civil War.
    Centreville is near the Manassas Railway Junction, and the Bull Run (Manassas, if you're a
Confederate) battlefield is close at hand. The sight and smell of 700 freshly killed soldiers must have
been appalling to behold on that day of fighting on July 21, 1861. Which makes the 7000 killed in the
July 1st, 2nd and 3rd, 1863 carnage at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, stand out starkly. When we arrived
at Gettysburg in the blazing August sun of 2006 it was simply too hot to walk around so we got back
into the air-conditioned car and drove toward New Jersey in search of coffee.
    The pics are of the Frank Lloyd Wright designed house at Fallingwater, south-east of Pittsburgh,
Pennsylvania. While passing through Mason City, Iowa, en route to Hibbing, Minnesota, we saw a
clutch of Walter Burley Griffin designed houses that resemble those from his Castecrag, Sydney,
group and the evidence is there to see that Wright was not indebted to Griffin at all. Maybe it would
have served him well had our man Griffin paid more attention to the master when he worked in his
Chicago studio. But you know me: I'm not one to voice my opinions; and I can't even draw.
Thursday, January 12, 2012

    Sunday. Centreville, VA to Bull Run battlefield:
    Walked for 4 hours around the Bull Run (Manassas) battlefield, particularly that of First Bull Run,
July 21, 1861.
    Seva drove us to the entrance in her Mercedes; we set off walking home at 2.40 pm and had
walked about 200 yeards when a woman turned around and came to offer us a ride back down Route
29 (the old Warrenton Turnpike) to where we had a 2 minute walk to home.
    Michelle had emailed a woman about the possibility of renting a place in Lancaster, Pennsylvania,
and we discussed it as we walked around the battlefield. We decided that if we could get it for the
month of December we could take it and rent a car for that month with the money we'd save from
giving notice, here, at Centreville, prior to going to England to see Michelle's family.

Master Diary                                 USA 2006-2007

Thursday, January 12, 2012
    Friday. Centreville to Fairfax:
    From the 'Washington Post', Friday, September 29, 2006, in an article concerning New York
Republican Jeanine Pirro's having been caught out asking Bernard B Kerik, former New York police
commissioner, to plant a listening device on her family yacht. Pirro is the ―longtime Republican
district attorney who is running for state attorney general.‖
    All normal US political stuff but what caught my eye was the squeamishness - common, here, in
the USA - about the use of colloquial language:
    "What am I supposed to do, Bernie?" she is heard replying on tapes obtained by a local NBC
affiliate. "Watch him [vulgar verb for intimate activity] her every night?"
    We took the normal 9.03 am Metro bus from Centreville to Vienna but instead of the
underground to DC we then took the local bus to Downtown Fairfax. A stroll around the old town
brought us to the Courthouse and a marker indicating that the first soldier killed in th Civil War was
shot 800 yards Southwest of the spot. There's a pic. The actual spot is a building site.
    We walked 7 miles over the course of the day, some of it from doubling back to find an
Antebellum Virginia plantation mansion and its slave quarters. Like everything else of an historical
nature in Fairfax, it was closed. Michelle took pics but the slave quarters seem to be in poor repair
and the 'mansion' in the process of renovation.
    I began a discussion with Michelle about the definite fascist tendencies in the inderbelly of the
USA. Michelle remains to be convinced.
    An inspired intuition had us walk directly from the Safeway on Lee Highway (Route 29) to the
bus stop at Vienna station.
    The worm has begun to turn concerning Donald Rumsfeld because the New York Times put the
essence of the ‗Washington Post‘ Woodward's new book on its front cover and now it's the talk of
the tv talking heads.
    The midterm Congressional elections are taking shape, with frontrunner Senator Allen (VA)
having made a hash of his easy circumstances because he addressed a local coloured Democrat
campaign worker as 'Macaca' and then denied that he'd heard the North-African racial slur (meaning
'monkey') for black folk from his North-African mother but had simply "made it up." Allen, touted
until recently as a front runner for the Republican nomination in the 2008 Presidential Race.
    Dreamt I was with my father last night, that he was not so much a father figure as a respected
older brother.
Thursday, January 12, 2012
    Sunday. Centreville, VA:                                                        Sunday morning.
Feeling the need to get on with things, like writing the Hamilton story, or at least a draft of it for
future use, and to redo the determinism article with a view to publication.
    Exerpts from Woodwood's 'State of Denial' dominates this morning's 'Washington Post': watch
this space for the midterm Congressional elections to really heat up. The snow job which normally
accompanies any pertinent criticism of the Bush Administration will be in overdrive. Tony Snow will
surely have to use all of his oil to hold the fort, here, and thre seems little hope of his turning this to
the advantage of the White House. But one never knows.
    In keeping with the apparent rules of the house, I again pulled back the curtains on their joined
rods; the little two-storey English doll's house is so full of chintz and the curtain rods sum it up. It's
the same with the shower curtain rod: a telescoped rod which does not allow for the curtain rings to
slide across; it catches them instead. That wouldn't be so bad except for the fact that the rings are
another of those catalogue type consumer items of which Seva's so fond. A house full of tat.
Outside, under a cloth cover, sits a Porsche convertible; that's Seva's toy car. The main automobile of
the house, a two-door Mercedes, is open to the weather.
    The air-conditioning's on all day every day and the energy bill is such that we pay $209.00 per
month for utilities. No recycling, constant creation of trash that is 99% recyclable, the dishwasher
must be used because washing of dishes in the sink is regarded as unsanitary. Jesus wept!

Master Diary                                 USA 2006-2007

   As Michelle notes, the developers managed to get away, here, with selling acres of housing devoid
of a garage in which to park a car, a development, incidentally (or, rather, added to which) there's no
public transport to speak of.

Thursday, January 12, 2012
   Tuesday. Centreville, VA:                                                   Hamilton's newspaper
stuff below: Presidential politics; Corporate confidence job; guns and sidewalks.

     Michelle's bedridden again today with her back pain. I came downstairs to read the paper but then
got involved in a conversation that made little sense and began an hour of frustration that has set me
on edge. Michelle, whingeing, asked me to come and pick up something or other because she can't
bend down. Then she said something about constipation. The whole story was that she is constipated
because of the anti-inflammatories she's been taking and that she needed to take some of my
psyllium but had no way to be able to bend down to reach it.
     But she didn't say any of this but was whingeing and mumbling and behaving as if I was
completely ware of what she was thinking despite the fact that she' told me none if the relevant
detail. And what was on the floor for God's sake? Well, it was my spare store of psyllium and she
thought that was enough to make the thing make sense. Add to this the fact that I had inadvertently
placed the normal canister of psyllium out of sight from when I last used it last night and not where
Michelle might have found it had I any inkling of the fact that she'd be looking for it without
mntioning the fact and the whole thing was another of those drive me nuts communication
breakdown scenarios that are relatively common since we've been in the USA.
     I went back to read the newspaper but then Michelle came in, obviously not feeling too well,
whingeing that I'd given her too much psyllium (I gave her half what I normally take everyy night,
aware that she'd be complaining about it because it's near to impossible to swallow) and then wanting
the Aleve out of the fridge. That, of course, given the hopeless set up that Seva's left us in respect to
having some space in the fridge, meant taking all of our stuff out of the fridge. So I set about the
task. that pissed Michelle off. Why didn't I just get the Aleve out and leave the rest in there? Well,
okay, you get it out, or tell me where it is. Then she could see the necessity of taking things out until I
found the small alfoil parcel of Aleve pain killers. This went on with additional extras until I was
ready to scream. I remained as quiet as I could.
     I wanted to have a coffee and read the newspaper. I started to and then realised that I'd have to
unstack the fucking dishwasher. I despise the dishwasher and the extraordinary waste of energy that
it's so much a part of.

   The 'Washington Post' Assistant Managing Editor, Bob Woodward, revelations concerning
Rumsfeld's botch of the post-invasionary strategy in Iraq (there was no such strategy) have now
turned the spotlight on the then head of National Security, Condoleezza Rice, denial of having being
specifically briefed by the then CIA director, GeorgeTenet, and then CIA counter terrorism chief, J.
Cofer Black, on July 10, 2001, concerning an imminent Osama Bin Laden directed multiple
simultaneous al-Qaeda attacks on US interests.
   A front page report conducted in Britain has confirmed findings that had previously shown up in
the USA but been ignored because they didn't fit in with conventional wisdom. The British study
showed that "Schizophrenia patients do as well, or perhaps even better, on older psychiatric drugs
compared with newer and far costlier medications ... "
                   "The study, funded by the British government, is the first to
                   compare treatment results from a broad range of older
                   antipsychotic drugs against results from newer ones." The newer
                   drugs can cost 10 times as much as the older ones."
                   "A U.S. government study last year found that one of the older
                   drugs did as well as the newer ones, but at the time, many

Master Diary                                USA 2006-2007

               American psychiatrists warned against concluding that all the older
               drugs were as good."
               " 'The claims of superiority for the [newer drugs] were greatly
               exaggerated,' wrote Columbia psychiatrist Jeffrey Lieberman: ... the
               aggressive marketing of these drugs may have contributed to this
               enhanced perception of their effectiveness in the absence of
               empirical information.' "
               "One drugmaker immediately questioned the findings." Others that
               were contacted "did not respond to requests for comment."
               "Last year, the U.S. government trial found that an older drug
               called perphenazine did about as well as the newer medications.
               Still, the belief in the newer drugs was so ingrained that many
               psychiatrists insisted that the results could not be extrapolated to
               other old drugs ... "
               Peter Jones, "a psychiatrist at the University of Cambridge in
               England who led the study, searched for the right word to describe
               what had happened to his colleagues."
               " ' 'Duped' is not right,' he said. 'We were beguiled.' "
   Jones and Rosenheck (a psychiatrist at the Department of Veterans Affairs)
               "said the problem with many drug company studies that seemed to
               show that new drugs are better is that they focused on short-term
               results - a symptom or side effect - rather than the big picture: how
               patients fare long-term."
               "The story of these newer anti-psychotic drugsis a story that reveals
               an institutional gap," Rosenheck said. "It should not have needed
               10 years to get 3 government studies."
               "Jones said the studies also illustrate the importance of trusting
               data, rather than judgment."

   Sidewalks and pedestrian corssings are prominent in the residential streets, here, in Centreville,
VA, but, as elsewhere that we've noticed, they're not part of the main road system. So, a walk to the
grocery store supermarket is a dangerous undertaking.
   It's much easier to drive to the store, purchase an automatic handgun, and then proceed to a
school, and shoot anyone in sight.
   Last week, on September 27th, a gunman walked into a school 40 miles from Columbine,
Colorado, and shot dead a girl student he'd taken hostage.
   A 15 year old student shot his School Principal in Wisconsin 2 days later, on September 29th.
   Then, yesterday, a milk tank truck driver walked into a school in the countryside near the
township of Bart, Pennsylvania, (60 miles west of Philadelphia in Lancaster County - population
about 3000, "and a landscape of grain silos, dairy farms and tobacco fields", an Amish area) and shot
a number of young girl students with an automatic handgun.
   He entered the Amish community school "armed with three guns, two knives and 600 rounds of
ammunition ... lined at least 11 girls against a blackboard and shot them 'execution style,' killing three
before taking his life, police said."
   Col. Jeffery B. Miller, commissioner of the Pennsylvania State Police "called it 'a horrendous
crime scene' and said the victims, at least one as young as 6, were shot at close range in the back of
the head."
   Charles Carl Roberts IV, 32, was "armed with a semiautomatic handgun, a rifle, a shotgun and a
stun gun".
                 "The Amish are named for Jacob Amman, a 17th-century Swiss
                 bishop whose followers in the Anabaptist movement were e for
                 their belief that infant baptism was invalid. The first Amish settlers

Master Diary                               USA 2006-2007

                 arrived in Lancaster Country in the early 18th century, accorsing to
                 the Dutch Country Welcome Center's Web site." [Dutch, here,
                 comes from Deutsch, I believe, i.e.; German].
                 "On Wednesday, a 53-year-old drifter took six girls hostage in
                 Platte Canyon High School in Bailey, Colo., sexually assaultd them
                 and fatally shot a 16-year-old girl before killing himself. Two days
                 later, a 15 year-old former student allegedly shot and killed a
                 principal in Cazenovia, Wis."
Thursday, January 12, 2012
   Wednesday. Centreville, VA to Richmond, Fort Monroe, Hampton Roads, et al.:
Fort Monroe: CM 20 Bernard Road.
   Fort Monroe, VA 23651
Thursday, January 12, 2012
   Wednesday. Wednesday, October 11, 2006
   A few years ago Michelle and I took a train to Richmond from Washington, DC. Amtrak.
America's most highly disorganised railroad company. The train was so late in leaving DC that we
had to catch the next train back as soon as we arrived at Richmond station. Since we're living in DC
now we figured it was appropriate to go see the old Confederate capital properly. We didn't know it
when we booked the car that it was for Columbus Day weekend; for a number of Americans that's a
long weekend. It cuts down the lucky ones' working week to 50 hours so they let their hair down and
take to the backroads. We regard those non-freeway routes as our own and were somewhat taken
aback at having to share the road. But we managed. We knew not that it was Columbus weekend but
noticed that the rain was increasingly heavy as we drove south on Friday morning.

    Fort Monroe - where escaped slaves became Union General Butler's 'contraband of war' soon
after the outbreak of hostilities in 1861 - was brilliant. Like Ulysses Grant in 1864, we had intended
to move on Richmond from Cold Harbor in the north-east. Grant squandered some of his best men
in an inglorious futile assault at that place but we didn't even make it to the battlefield before
nightfall. Trees were falling like Union infantrymen in the howling wind and driving rain so the
authorities had closed the truck stop we'd set our hearts on spending the night at. Disaster: we would
have to find a motel. We did. It was okay but we had to go without any dinner. We new not that we
had been motoring into the teeth of a Nor'easter as we headed south to Hampton Roads and Fort
Monroe, en route to Richmond.

    The weather channel folks in the motel told us that the Nor'easter wasn't as deadly as some of
these storms had been in the past. The infamous 'Perfect Storm' had begun life in the North-east
Atlantic, for instance. Nevertheless, Richmond was flooded, they pointed out, and the storm would
continue to strengthen overnight and into Saturday. They were right. We headed north to Cold
Harbor in absurd rain, expecting to find somewhere to have breakfast (and last night's dinner) on the
way. We reached Cold Harbor without a cafe in sight. Well, a cafe you'd be prepared to order a meal
in, that is. The weather had worsened so we took our umbrellas as we walked around the battlefield
in the rain. They were playthings for the storm, those umbrellas, so we abandoned the idea of
checking out the whole scene and accepted that momentous events had occurred just outside, a little
way beyond the windscreen, in 1864.

    We prepared to take Richmond despite the downtown flood. It too was a pointless undertaking
so, like General Grant in April 1865, we decided upon Petersburg, to the south of the Confederate
capital, as out best bet. Grant understood that he'd have Richmond in the palm of his hand were he
to capture Petersburg because the four railroads that supplied Richmond from the South converged
there. Robert E Lee was anxious to avoid being caught in Grant's trap (Grant invariably surrounded
and laid siege to the towns he set out to force to surrender) and so went west with his infantry.

Master Diary                                USA 2006-2007

    We didn't make it to Petersburg but went west with Lee, in hope of something to eat. We were
bloody starving and the storm would blow itself out in the west, we felt sure. We were driving fast
but the rain drove hard. Eventually we came to a place called Amelia Courthouse and Michelle
reckoned on it being our best hope of a meal in a country diner. She came to this conclusion because
her daughter-in-law's name is Amelia. We walked into exactly the sort of diner we'd been searching
for at 10.55 am on the Saturday morning and the waitress greeted us just as if she'd been waiting
since Thursday for us and was starting to worry about whether or not we might have fallen on the
wayside. Breakfast was on until 11 am. Brilliant: no grits, this time. We'd had them 24 hours earlier -
our last meal before this - and they would be better kept for the birds, we decided. Eggs over easy,
sausages, home fries (as against French or 'unpatriotic') and jelly on bread. We had been on our last
legs from starvation but now felt much better.

   A couple of hours later we were at Appomatox Court House. The trick is not to assume.
Appomatox Court House is no more about Court Houses than is Amelia Court House. It's a town.
Appomatox Court House is no longer where it used to be so once we'd sorted that out and arrived at
the C19th location we were almost home and hosed. A fellow was due to give a talk at 2.20 pm and
we must appreciate that he knows of nothing that's happened since 1865 so please don't ask
questions other than prior to that time and don't take flash photographs or have a mobile phone
turned on. Got it?

   Got it. The idea was kind of corny but we went along with it. When in Rome. you know. And we
were delighted that we had because this was a one act play by a consummate performer who was
completely in character and superb at doing what he does. We were quite absorbed, especially when
he explained that as one of General Lee's Confederate soldiers he had marched for 3 days as Lee's
men fled west from Petersburg to avoid being hemmed in by Grant. The soldiers were exhausted and
very hungry, having not eaten for those 3 days after leaving Petersburg. However, all would be well,
Lee told them, because a train had left from deep in the South and would be waiting at Amelia Court
House with plenty of supplies. That kept the soldiers going in April 1865. It had been raining cats
and dogs and their boots were sticking in the mud and they were wet through and ready to desert.
And of course they hadn't eaten for a few days. But they would be replenished at Amelia Court
House if they could just hang on.

    They made it to Amelia and the train was there, as promised. A Lieutenant ordered that the doors
be flung open and they were. All the guns and ammunition you could want, but no food or clothing.
Confederate management had sent the wrong train! The soldiers were ordered to march 55 minutes
in every hour for another 18 hours; 60,000 of them. When they bivouacked at Appomatox Court
House 30,000 were still part of the fighting force. The other half had deserted or gone raving mad.
They were not up to a fight and so Lee surrendered on April 9, 1865, in the house just down the lane
from where we heard the soldier tell his tale. He was brilliant, that actor, and I would gladly have shot
the fool whose camera flashed during the one act play, and the fuckwit who carried on a mobile
phone conversation during it.

Thursday, January 12, 2012
   Centreville, VA: A day of reading, reorganising and packing books to send to Australia. More
stuff on the USA:
   Edward Countryman/72
   See page 72 last paragraph for paradox support of my thesis;
   See pp129 Chapter 7 which starts with a quote from Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass for relevant
material re Dylan.

Master Diary                                USA 2006-2007

    Twin motif: pp 130 in Chapter 7 are relevant re the Indian pairs (Tecumseh, etc.)
    Americans as pairs of contradictory opposites: p134 "It makes more sense to think of .[the
frontier pioneer's] America as a social formation that contained contrasting possibilities than as a
situation with only one set of rules, despite there being a 'supreme law of the land'."
    "The image of nineteenth-century Americans as utterly restless people, constantly on the move, is
very strong."
    R. M. Devens' huge 1004 page volume, Our First Century, "was saturated with humbug. It also
hinted at the proud complexity that Walt Whitman wrote into his great poem of the same epoch,
Song of Myself: 'Do I contradict myself? Very well, then, I contradict myself. (I am large. I contain
multitudes.)' "
Thursday, January 12, 2012:
   Friday. Centreville, VA, to Alexandria, VA:
   An C18th village amidst a modern Riverside complex of Federal Government offices, including
that for patents. Some interesting relics but primarily a town for tourists and where, like the Horsy
Virginia town [name] seems to be inhabited by rich tinsel folk. An unappealing locale, except that the
Potomac is its usual magnificent self and the Metro train ride is mainly above ground and very
enjoyable, especially as it skirts Ronald Reagan airport.
Thursday, January 12, 2012
    Saturday. Centreville, VA, to Bull Run:
    Michelle's back seemed to be well enough for us to walk the 2.5 miles down Route 29, the Lee
Highway near here, to The Stone Bridge at Bull Run, site of the famous first serious engagement
between the Union and Confederate forces in the war of rebellion. I had read that one could walk
along the banks of Bull Run, that is was in a pristine state, a wood like it had been in the 1860s. We
battled to climb up from under the modern concrete bridge but succeeded and then made our way
along the western bank. We were in a thick wood and were aware of the danger of getting hopelessly
lost in the event of a wrong turn so we decided to stay close by the watercourse itself. But we kept
coming across (branch) tributaries to be forded - having to make our own fords in most cases - and
the wood was thick enough for us to recognise only Bull Run as the bearing by which to set our
course. But the branch tributaries had to be crossed further and further away from Bull Run and we
understood the danger of mistaking the tributary for Bull Run, and to become, thereby, disoriented.
Michelle suggested we follow a horse trail we found in a clearing; I agreed. We did so as it led further
and further away from Bull Run and eventually we came to a clearing and could see a roadway in the
distance. It turned out to be Highway 66, the freeway which runs east-west past Centreville. We were
at a rest stop tourist centre and asked for a map or directions to route 29. The couple running the
tourist centre, according to Michelle, could not get their head around the fact that we had arrived on
foot. Michelle managed to get a map of Virginia, but not of the Manassas battlefield national park
which the tourist centre abutts. So we took an educated guess about how to get back home and set
off across open fields toward the woods. We checked our compass but were unsure whether it was
accurate enough for the purpose. Besides, we knew that we could not make a beeline for home but
had more than likely to make it to route 29, somewhere, I thought, about the place we'd come to
through a cutting the time we'd walked the first Manassas trail. At the perimeter of the woods we
decided to head directly to where we thought Bull Run was and intended to follow it. I'd like to have
pushed straight on through the wood toward where I figured we'd either come across the other end
of the horse trail or to Bull Run itself but acquiesced, agreeing with Michelle that we were in danger
of getting disoriented and very lost. I have a good sense of direction and she has a terrible sense but
since a mistake might result in a costly night exposed to the elements or at least an embarrassing
phone call to be rescued, taking the long road was the way to go. We did, and soon picked up the

Master Diary                                USA 2006-2007

horse trail which led to where we would certainly have come across it had we pressed on into the
woods earlier. Eventually we came to a fork in the road and took the most likely route. It brought us
to an impassable ford in what looked very much like Bull Run. It was tempting to then retrace the
path to Stone Bridge but there was the possibility, still, that it was not Bull Run. Besides, there was a
trail and it was easier than bashing our way through virgin wood, as we had done on the way from
Stone Bridge. A horsewoman on a bay mare greeted us back at the fork to which we had returned in
search of the way out and we asked for directions to route 29. "You're going the right way," she
confirmed, anxious lest we startle her horse. We evedntually made it to the cutting I had expected to
find and we realised that had we instead bashed our way through the wood we might have saved at
least a half hour of extra walking. But the slow and sure way was the better move, despite it all. We
then walked the 2.5 mile back to Hatfield Square, Centreville, and Michelle's electronic measuring
device yielded the fact that we'd walked 9.5 mile since setting out. Our last such pedestrian effort had
beenon Saturday, ... when Michelle put her back out getting out of Seva's Mercedes the day she drove
us the 2.5 miles to the beginning of the First Manassas battlefield trail. Michelle was only yesterday
confident enough to go for a long walk, something we'd done regularly since arriving in the USA on
May 21, 2006.

Thursday, January 12, 2012
    Sunday. Centreville, VA:
    Today, we're both feeling quite okay and none the worse for wear. We'll give notice to Seva that
Monday, November 16 will be our last night, here, at 14821 Hatfield Square 20120. The calculation is
as follows: Monthly rent is $859.68; 30 days hath an average month so one day is (not $28.65 but)
$28.18 and therefore 16 days comes to $450.88 (not $458.40 if 30 days); the 14 remaining days would
have been $394.52 = $845.40 whereas the 30 day yields $401.10 = $859.50 so that's probably dubious
and should be 16.25 days = 457.93 + 401.57 = 859.50 for the month.) So, we give notice that we're
leaving in a calendar month and that Monday night, November 16th, will be our last night here. So
Seva can take the $457.93 rent from the deposit so that she only returns $401.57 to us when we
leave. If she wants the rent paid in advance then we give her a check for $457.93 and she gives us
$859.68 when we leave a fortnight later.
Thursday, January 12, 2012
    Monday. Centreville to DC:
    One calendar month until we leave for Manchester. I gave notice to Seva yesterday but things did
not turn out the way Michelle and I had 'em planned because Seva, in her inimitable style, took
responsibility for misleading us about the public transport but aparently holds us responsible for the
rent and utilities until December 31st, 2006. Hmm. Michelle and I have a compromise to put to her
but Seva's difficult to catch and so I spent a sleepless night tossing and turning as I rehearsed the
various possible conversations and necessary moves to be made with respect to our regaining the
deposit. So we have packed our bags in a manner of speaking, but only in readiness, at this stage, for
removal of those belongings which we shall not be not carting to the UK on Friday, November 16.
Michelle's friend, Stef, has offered to store them in his basement until we're back on Tuesday,
November 28. So, we're rather hopeful of a win-win outcome, but we're relying on Seva being
reasonable, not on the letter of the law - because we wil not get ourselves into a legal entanglement.
In the meantime, today we did some important tasks in preparation for the leavetaking - which may
be sooner rather than later - and they included secure electronic banking at the Library of Congress
(thank God for the Library of Congress!), sent a parcel of books to Australia at a cost of $US22.00
odd, and purchased Bob Woodwood's 'State of Denial' ($US21.00) and the hardcover 'The Architect'
(US$25.95), written about Karl Rove by two Texans who've tracked [this trickster's] 'quest for
absolute power' for years. We now await Chris Mathews' 'Hardball' and an interview with James
Baker III, THE James Baker, oh, and of course, the conversation with Seva. Hmm.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Master Diary                                    USA 2006-2007

   Tuesday. Cenreville, VA:
   The American mask. Tony Snow, Bush's Press Secretary, is reported by a journalist to have
savaged a member of the press corp in public and then been perfectly charming, extending the warm
hand of friendship upon chancing upon the object of his fury in a corridor, or some such place.
Today we shall clean up in readiness both for the week drive in the country and the departure from
Centreville, should Seva find someone in advance of our departure for Manchester on November 17.

Thursday, January 12, 2012
   Wednesday. Centreville, VA, to Reagan Airport:
   We're picking up a car from Thrifty, reserved from 4 pm, at the airport and heading off to check
out the autumn leaves in New York State and Connecticut from tomorrow, for a week.
Wednesday. Centreville, VA, to Reagan Airport:
Today's 'Washington Post' has the following from a front page 'above the fold' report continued on
A14, a story about the Bush Administration's policy which was released, unannounced, at 5 pm on
the Friday of the Columbus Day long weekend, concerning the US intention to "deny access to
[outer] space to anyone 'hostile to U.S. interests'." i.e., just as the patriot act gives absolute power to
the US President to imprison anyone he declares is a bad person, this nation will choose who can and
who can't launch something into outer space.

                   In 2004, the Air force published a Counterspace Operations
                   Doctrine that called for a more actie military posture in space and
                   said that protecting U.S. satellites and spacecraft may require
                   'deception, disruption, denial, degradation and destruction.' Four
                   years earlier, a congressionally chartered panel led by Defense
                   Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld recommended developing space
                   weapons to protect military and civilian satellites."
                   Because of the political sensitivities, several analysts said, the
                   Pentagon probably will not move forward quickly with space
                   weapons but rather will work on dual use technology that can serve
                   military and civilian interests."

Detective Sergeant Hamilton came to visit last night just after 11.15 pm and I could not sleep for
God knows how many hours in consequence. His manner of approach may be a godsend if I can get
down what transpired. It requires revisiting all of the episodes of interest from May 21, 2006 and
even before, perhaps, back to the stage of the system for gaining a visa. Names changed to protect
the innocent, and to protect my job and standing in the community, I shall say. Baub and his
ridiculous conspiracy theory that Bush had his cronies plant explosives in the twin towers such that
they were timed to have each tower pancake down; the tin theme established from the start.
Hamilton tracing his lineage tells the tale he was brought up with that his family is from the
Dalrymple strain, with Lucia Di Lammermoor and Joan Sutherland but the Sergeant has determined
that he's not of such stock but of the 'barren ground' strain from a failed merchant in the West Indies
and that his family's forebears were from a weird lot who went in for duelling, and so forth. Seva and
her bag lady mentality, not wanting to recycle, etc. and the piles of stuff on the stairs. Don't forget
the Earl of Stair and Carstares, and so on, as well. Use all of the stuff as background. We had an
insurance policy but the 'gotcha' clause 'pre-existing condition' precluded my seeking help. So I had
to keep it from my partner, the story goes, and simply deal with it. The title could then be something
like Detective Sergeant Hamilton Held Me Hostage (Because Travel Insurance Doesn’t Cover Psychosis) as he suddenly
decides he has a lead on this Ron Dempster (alias Henry Carter, alias Henry Porter) and must go
after him. He needs a car. So we get Thrifty again because they‘ve done the right thing by us – i.e.,
this is a travel book which is not a travel book but will serve as one for those over 40s simply
wanting to know how to get around the USA on a shoestring.

Master Diary                                USA 2006-2007

Thursday, January 12, 2012

   Thursday. Centreville, VA, to Rest Area on Highway 17 near Livingston at the southern edge of
the Catskill Mountains. Up at 5 am, we packed the Chrysler PT Cruiser (an uncomfortable crap car)
with the stuff we need for the 'Fall colors' trip through the middle of Pennsylvania, through New
York State to Connecticut and the stuff we're leaving at Stefan and Carol's home in New Brunswick,
New Jersey. It was dark when we left Hatfield Square and there was a thick fog so I took Interstate
66 west. Michelle was grumpy and made such a fuss about my asking her to take a photo of the
driving conditions that we got off to the usual bad start when she gets up before 9 am. It is beyond
frustrating. Then there was the carry-on when we had to exit 66 and Michelle wasn't quite sure
whether it was the correct road. We were aiming for R15 but had to take right along 626 to
Middleburg then east on R50 weathered that normal tense hour but then were caught up in an
unbelievably dense traffic jam on Route 50 that put us 2 hours behind and we finally got to R15 from
R50 to Leesburg, VA, on 15 to Frederick, MA. R15 from Frederick to Gettsyburg and joined
Interstate 81 at Harrisburg, PA, where we crossed the magnificent Susquehanna River. We continued
on I81 but left in order to have lunch at a small diner on R443 near Friedensburg. Lunch was a Roast
Beef (Michelle) or Meatloaf (me) sandwich with gravy and mashed (M) or chipped (P) potatoes. We
then got caught in another 2 hour traffic jam north on R61 en route to I81 and made our way from
Scranton to I17, Upstate New York.

Thursday, January 12, 2012
    Friday. Rest Area, I17, NY, to Super 8, Hartford, CT: The Chrysler was very uncomfortable but
we made it through a night of pouring rain and left at 7.20 am to travel through the morning fog on
back roads through the Catskill Mountains, NY, to R28 and had a not very good traditional eggs and
bacon/sausage breakfast in Shandanken. We drove through Ashoken instead of stopping for news of
the 'Farewell' - it was raining cats and dogs at this stage although earlier the rain had not been such a
nuisance because not so heavy and the autumn colours were subtle and wonderful. I wanted to get
another chance to see the House near Woodstock where the 'Basement Tapes' had been recorded in
1967. We headed to Woodstock and Saugerties. A lot of driving around Saugerties later, I asked a
couple of young women in a shop if they knew where the house was located and their manager came
out and suggested I ask the bookshop proprietor next door " ... because he knows everything about
Saugerties." He was brilliant, and provided a map which he proceeded to mark such that I could
locate the property. We found it back along the road toward Centerville and Woodstock we'd just
travelled down. Off 212 down Pine Lane and then to Ponderosa Lane, an unsealed virtually private
road. See the map and pics.
Thursday, January 12, 2012
    Saturday. Hartford, CT to Maybrook, NY: We left Hartford around an hour and a half behind my
preferred departure time of 7.15 am and took I91 South to I2 south-east to North Westchester, CT.
Then Route 149 South to East Haddam where we crossed the Connecticut River and then on R82
South to R9 South and continued until R80 West to North Branford then I95 to New Haven. We
were surprised to find that Connecticut colour is not at its peak, not having changed much at all in
New Haven. A pic taken on the corner of Orange and Bradley like that taken in May, 2006, when we
first arrived shows only minor change in the (unknown) tree out front of our old address. We then
went up to East Rock Overlook (lookout) and realised that there wasn't much colour change across
New Haven so we checked out the Divinity School, Prospect Road, and Hillside Avenue, only to
confirm that the autumn leaves were not changed or had been torn off by recent wind and rain. I
found the Chernow biography of Hamilton in the second hand bookshop on Chapel Street, the one
with the courtyard, and then went to Atticus Books for lunch (black bean and sour cream soup for M
and leek and potato for me). Michelle purchased a hardcover book about Civil War surgery.
Afterwards we went to West Rock and the autumn leaves were a little more advanced but the whole
show was not as we'd hoped. We headed north-west toward the Hudson River and discovered en

Master Diary                                USA 2006-2007

route that Upstate New York had all along been the place to be. The drive toward the Bear Mountain
Bridge high up along the eastern bank was awe-inspiring and we then crossed the Hudson at that
bridge and made our way up 9W to the the scenic route high above the western bank on 218 (or
some such Route #). It was getting dark and we realised we'd not be comfortable enough in a Rest
Area so we drove miles away on I84 West to a Super 8 and then had to pay through the nose
($US91.00) for the last remaining room.
Thursday, January 12, 2012
    In the morning we learned that the demand for the rooms had been the outcome of a racing car
meeting somewhere nearby. The chaplain's white Chrysler PT Cruiser track car was parked next to
our rented PT Cruiser. We headed back down I84 to travel South along the scenic route and were
able to stop in the 'overlook' which had been full the previous evening and take some pics. Then we
went back to the Bear Mountain Bridge and took more pics before heading to Stef and Carol's along
Seven Lakes Drive - superb colours in the park - to R17 which we took South to a Tuxedo diner for
a hearty breakfast of bacon, eggs, and hash browns with coffee. We left R17 for I? and stayed on it
for nigh on 2 hours until we reached R1 and made it to Farrington Road, North Brunswick (though
Stef's address is New Brunswick). I gave Stef the Chernow biography of Hamilton and he was taken
aback at the prospect of being expected to read it. Carol served coffee and cake and we leared of her
research breakthrough at Rutgers: mammals pass a hormone to their suckling infants from the breast
but do not carry that hormone in their blood. So they've had to coin a new term - the lactocrine
system - for this. There are counter-intuitive outcomes associated with this system. To whit: women
with suckling infants in environments where there's dire scarcity convey to the offspring a facility to
get nutrition under the extreme circumstance such that they had a setting, as it were, whereby the
baby sucks the nutrition out of anything and everything. However, this sets the organism for life, to
some extent, and so the person in question stillhas this facility even when living in an environment of
plenty, such as th USA. Obesity is the outcome. This is not a psychological condition but an organic
one. We then continued toward Centreville on R1 but made precious little progress and so headed
for I95 and were caught in an hour-long traffic jam because of roadwarks closing 2 lanes between
Exits 1 and 3. Once through, the drive was a ball-tearer combining high speed (70mph was normal)
high density and night-time. I was beginning to flag when we came to a very welcome Maryland rest
area where the good quality coffee brewing machine was a godsend.

Thursday, January 12, 2012
    Monday. Centreville to Herndon, Marshall, Rectortown, Hume, et al, VA:
    We drove to the Herndon tourist centre to pick up a Civil War Trails Map which does not exist, it
turns out, and then to Fairfax Wal-Mart for octopus straps and blank DVDs. Thereafter, we headed
due west on I66 and turned off on R55 and others as we toured the area examining the Fall autumn
leaves. Virginia, it transpires, is close to peak and we drove to Connecticut for their dramatic colours
only to that those trees which had not already lost their leaves were well off peak. C'est la vie. Lunch,
today, was a watery beef and vegetable soup with a not very lemony lemon meringue pie and one cup
plus a refill of weak coffee. We each read our respective books (Bob Woodward - M - and How the
Scots invented the modern world, P. We shall swap when we're finished, and then start on 'The
Architect', the hardcover about Karl Rove).
    We drove through Hume, took a corrugated dirt road – the first we‘ve come across to a makeshift
bridge, thought about the possible headlines of the foolish Australians who drove up onto it, and
took off back down the dirt road to the tarmac and then back to I66 by 4 pm in time to get home by
5 pm for Chris Matthews‘ Hardball. We were here by 4.30 pm, the interstate highway being very free
running with all lanes operational.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Master Diary                                USA 2006-2007

    Tuesday. Centreville to Petersburg, VA: Up at 6 am, we were on the road to Richmond by 8 am
but we missed the turnoff to R234 and went the long way round via R17 to R1. We reached
Fredericksburg, VA, around 10.30 am and we surprised to find the old part of town as well preserved
as that of Alexandria and, like her, chock full of shopkeepers, except that Fredericksburg does not
have the awful Chintz that Alexandria shares with (pretentious equestrian) Middleburg. We did not
stay long because I wanted to at least drive through the Wilderness battlefield where Generals Robert
E. Lee and Ulyssess S Grant first encountered one another as field commanders. We went to the area
and drove throught the exquisite avenues of autumn leave bearing trees, taking the 27 mile route, in
due course, which Stonewall Jackson's ambulance took in getting him from the place where he'd had
his arm amputated to somewhere well behind Confederate lines. He died of pneumonia, not from his
friendly-fire wounds. I learned, too, that a year later Longstreet, too, was shot in the neck by friendly
fire, but he survived, at least. Was it Longstreet who went off on a wild goose chase inspired by the
noncombatant bushwhacker, Mosby, rather than following Lee's instructions in the build up to the
Battle of Gettysburg? And later in the day, after we were quite chuffed with ourselves at having
found the street outside of Richmond where the Amtrak train rolls down the main road. It was in
Ashland and we figured it out by pooling our knowledge. I mentioned the memory of it from to
Michelle and suggested it was from our wonderful July or August 2003 Amtrak month-long-pass
journey. She remembered it too but doubted my recall of it being en route to Richmond. I said I'd
stand corrected but was prepared to bet on it being so. So she checked the map and we decided that
her reasoning made sense that it could be where the trainline crosses R1 some 20 miles north of
Richmond. We went there and it was so. We shared an excellent ham and something or other bagel
and 2 weak coffees for lunch. Coffee, we agree, should be strong, and not decaffeinated. We took
some pics. Then I set out to drive the whole length of this road which the train takes and we did but
I then took an intuitive leap about directions and we lost our way for a half hour or so. Michelle had
a map - not our usual very detailed Ed map book which is now at Stef's but a basic one – and steered
our course so that we entered Richmond on R33 South.
    It was difficult to get a handle on Richmond in the mid-afternoon so we headed for Petersburg
on I95, exiting at the first of the Civil War battlefields and determining the price of local motels by
enquiring at the Econolodge on Exit whatever it was. $US54.00 with tax was reasonable so we put
that in our pipe and went to find the battlefield. We couldn‘t and so left and continued on I95 South
to Petersburg which we reached around 2.30 pm. I did a U-turn on Washington and quickly realised
we were heading the wrong way up a one-way street when a car came head-on at me down the
‗wrong‘ side. Oops. A quick 3 point turn (the PT Cruiser has a hopeless turning circle) rectified the
situation and we found our way back along the parallel east-west street one block to the south. The
Super 8 was there and when I enquired and found it around the same price as the Econolodge I
checked that it had MSNBC for the day long politics special with Chris Matthews we booked in for
the night. After a half hour of viewing I figured we should get out and about if we were to get
anything out of the trip and so we headed back down Washington to the visitors‘ centre to collect a
map. The women in there were helpful and gave us a local map with directions to the battlefield site.
She said we could purchase an entrance ticket up to 5 pm but could then stay in until dark so I made
a point of arriving at about 5.05 pm just as the ticket sellers were leaving. We walked around the old
city of Petersburg and found it to be cold and deserted, though with obvious signs of an effort to
rejuvenate it for Civil War tourist purposes. Poverty seemed to be the order of the day and we felt
like sitting ducks for a mugging as we made out way to the various ‗attractions‘, such as the trapezoid
shaped (for keeping evil spirits out) house. We returned to the car and then toured the excellent
battlefield site. The beginnings of trench warfare during the Civil War were depicted quite well and
here was the site of the famous Pennsylvania miner‘s tunnel under the Confederate lines during the
long siege of Petersburg, strategic site of the Grant-Lee battle for Richmond. We‘d left the camera in
the motel room (that frustrated me immensely) because Michelle decided not to bring her bag. I‘d
very much have liked to have the pics of the texts provided at stages along the way. In particular,
there were quotations from soldiers at the site of the Federal Fort that captured the American
paradox in this mad war. Union General Meade‘s last minute change of plan to remove the Negro

Master Diary                               USA 2006-2007

soldiers who‘d been trained for the attack on the Confederate embankments immediately following
the Pennsylvania miners‘ explosion – they were told that their idea was folly, that it could not be
done but a mining engineer among them worked out a brilliant system for ventilation and so the
explosion took place as planned but the last minute change of personnel to mount the attack resulted
in the Confederates retaining control of the area, using the explosion crater as their defence barrier
    We left the battlefield near dark and went in search of a place to get something to eat. The
impoverishment of the town really came to the fore, now, as we found nowhere open to purchase a
meal at, not even a ‗take-out‘, until we headed back toward the battlefield and went to a Domino‘s
Pizza joint. We didn‘t understand the security system at the entrance but soon learned that in this
town doors in general were locked to keep n‘er‘do‘wells and sleuthers out. The pizza cost $US17.00
and was quite small and unappetising – which was no great surprise. They don‘t do coffee. So we
went to the service station and while I filled up with gasoline Michelle went for coffee. Yes they had
coffee, as a rule, but only cold coffee at the moment. So she went to a food place next door. Same
story: a security door, and a security grill, but no coffee. We ate the pizza in our room, watched more
politics and went to sleep, ready to take Richmond on the morrow. I awoke in the night with the
constant passage of trains – the whole basis of Petersburg‘s strategic importance and why Grant laid
siege to it – but the first time I did so I was quite disorientated and found the room all round the
wrong way and the light on the opposite side of where I expected. I had imagined I was at
Centreville. That was another of my interesting disorientations, the main one being that the sun is in
the South and traverses the sky from left to right rather than, as in Australia, in the north and
tracking from right to left. The sickle moon, too, had been so thin and whispy that I thought it to
have been the very peculiar arc of a jet airliner‘s vapour trail. I‘ve not seen the sickle shaped new
moon take on such a large portion of the sky as it had here. Normally the arc would be from a circle
with a smaller radius.

Thursday, January 12, 2012
    Wednesday. Petersburg to Centreville, VA. The copy: Bush Administration and Rush Limbaugh
right wing stategy for winning elections is to create a straw world, a 2 dimensional world of fantasy
and spin which is as far away from the real world of substance as can be. Confidence is all important
in the USA; Karl Rove is a confidence man, who keeps a card up his sleeve to trick the gullible public
with a false picture of reality. 'Scarborough Country' coming from Las Vegas had a fellow from
Vegas say that if the entertainment presenters make it burdensome for the customer, "if the escape
isn't there then they're not free" and the whole money making enterprise will collapse. Linking escape
with freedom, just as in the John Wesley Harding album.
    On CNN‘s breakfast news headlines show the claim was made that despite the significant increase
in fuel economy of the modern car over that of its 1960s precursors, the fuel-consumption per
individual had increased greatly because the average weight of the occupants of motor vehicles had
increased even more significantly since 1960. I‘m unsure how this conclusion was arrived at but it
provides food for though.
    We left the Super 8 in Petersburg at 8 am and took I95 North to Richmond and drove around
looking for a park. We eventually found a free 2 hour park and walked to the Jefferson designed
Capitol built in 1788 and then added to later with two wings. It's based on a classical French
structure [check the details in the booklet]. A fellow approached us as we were checking out one of
those huge over-the-top statue monuments to George Washngton and the founding fathers. I had
been looking to see who was on the next rung down from Washington. The chap wanted to give us
the story of the Richmond Capitol and assumed, reasonably, that we were admiring it in the usual
tourist way. I then gave him a talk about what it was that struck me about the whole thing saying that
I'd come to the USA to find out what makes the nation tick, to try and understand why they think it
perfectly reasonable to invade Iraq, just as they invaded Vietnam and I said that the depictions of

Master Diary                                USA 2006-2007

Washington were so unrealistic and made of him such a mythical hero that it was not appreciably
different from the Chinese adoration of Mao Zadong which the Americans so much disparage. And
was that fellow Henry on the second level of mythical greatness, I asked, the "give me liberty or give
me death" Henry? He confirmed the fact that it was Patrick Henry. So I went on to point out that it
was interesting that he'd be there when Alexander Hamilton wasn't and that the Patrick Henry quote
that might have been used was his caution to his fellow Virginians not to sign the Federal
Constitution because if they did, he warned, "They'll free your niggers." So the thng that intrigued me
about Americans, I said, was the ability to ignore the facts of the matter, to mythologise people like
Washington and Henry and leave out the dark side, to paint a rosy picture of heroic myth and
imperial majesty. The fellow took the opportunity to note that it whilst it was true that Hamilton was
left out of account, the Capitol was Jefferson's work, that he had been the architect who fashioned it
after the [ ] and that it had been built in 1788. I now remembered the fact, having not made the
connection that Richmond had become the capital of the Confederacy precisely because it was
Virginia's capital. So the fellow explained that Jefferson was the sort of fellow who did comply with
the American ideal of using reason in place of myth, that he was a champion of democracy and
letting the people have their voice, that his Capitol building was not so much imperial as I had judged
the statue to be but a reminder of the Republic of the ancient world. Yes, I said, there's that same
theme of speaking of great ideals while acting quite contrary to them. The USA tells the rest of the
world that they're spreading the word, that we'll all be better off abiding by the rule of law. And yet
America acts in its self-interest, and much as an imperial power. Don't get me wrong, I said, my claim
that America is a paradox, a nation that endlessly proclaim republican ideals while wielding imperial
power is a criticism. It's not. I love this duality, which is quite apparent to the outsider, but I'm
surprised that Americans don't seem to appreciatethat that's what their nation is, that they ignore the
dark aspect of what their nation is and that Jefferson is one of the better examples with his endless
speeches about letting the people decide and living by the rule of law and abiding by the
Constitution. And as soon as he became president he promptly made the Louisianna Purchase
without consulting Congress and by ignoring the Constitution. Yes, he said "Jefferson is perhaps one
of the better examples of someone exhibiting cognitive dissonance." He had a tour group awaiting
him, he said, but suggested we be sure to visit the tourist information booth right here. He was
referring to the shipping container in front of us. This was, afterall, a building site for the upgrading
and refurbishment of Richmond's Capitol. We had a discussion about the Australian accent and
monoculture and then walked up to the site of the Confederacy's 'White House'. that the Patrick
Henry quote that might have been used was his caution to his fellow Virginians not to sign the
Federal Constitution because if they did, he warned, "They'll free your niggers." So the thng that
intrigued me about Americans, I said, was the ability to ignore the facts of the matter, to mythologise
people like Washington and Henry and leave out the dark side, to paint a rosy picture of heroic myth
and imperial majesty. The fellow took the opportunity to note that it whilst it was true that Hamilton
was left out of account, the Capitol was Jefferson's work, that he had been the architect who
fashioned it after the [ ] and that it had been built in 1788. I now remembered the fact, having not
made the connection that Richmond had become the capital of the Confederacy precisely because it
was Virginia's capital. So the fellow explained that Jefferson was the sort of fellow who did comply
with the American ideal of using reason in place of myth, that he was a champion of democracy and
letting the people have their voice, that his Capitol building was not so much imperial as I had judged
the statue to be but a reminder of the Republic of the ancient world. Yes, I said, there's that same
theme of speaking of great ideals while acting quite contrary to them. The USA tells the rest of the
world that they're spreading the word, that we'll all be better off abiding by the rule of law. And yet
America acts in its self-interest, and much as an imperial power. Don't get me wrong, I said, my claim
that America is a paradox, a nation that endlessly proclaim republican ideals while wielding imperial
power is a criticism. It's not. I love this duality, which is quite apparent to the outsider, but I'm
surprised that Americans don't seem to appreciate that that's what their nation is, that they ignore the
dark aspect of what their nation is and that Jefferson is one of the better examples with his endless
speeches about letting the people decide and living by the rule of law and abiding by the

Master Diary                                USA 2006-2007

Constitution. And as soon as he became president he promptly made the Louisianna Purchase
without consulting Congress and by ignoring the Constitution. Yes, he said "Jefferson is perhaps one
of the better examples of someone exhibiting cognitive dissonance." He had a tour group awaiting
him, he said, but suggested we be sure to visit the tourist information booth right here. He was
referring to the shipping container in front of us. This was, afterall, a building site for the upgrading
and refurbishment of Richmond's Capitol. We had a discussion about the Australian accent and
monoculture and then walked up to the site of the Confederacy's 'White House'.
    We had a good lunch in the very busy café which Michelle commented upon as being busy with
local trade (and therefore a good place to eat according to our calculation) when we‘d driven down
yesterday. Strong coffee, toasted bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwiches for each of us.

Thursday, January 12, 2012
   It‘s now 1.05 pm and I‘ve spent the whole day working on the diary, transferring the contents to a
Word document because the Excel text can‘t keep up with my typing speed, a reflection of the
application rather than my typing having sped up much, although it‘s not bad, these day, from the
   Michelle mentioned over lunch that Tina emailed her with an invitation to the Halloween Party
which was discussed at the party she had when we stayed with her en route to take up residence in
Centreville. I phoned and managed to get a car at $US17.95 per day ($US22.39 all up per day) for
tomorrow through Monday. So it‘s all coming full circle and we‘re going to attend just that type of
American celebration of its pagan roots which fascinates me, and of which we have no equivalent
other than the Catholic ‗All Souls Day‘.
Friday, October 27, 2006
    From Centreville to L‘Enfant, DC, and thence to Dulles Airport.
    We took the Orange Line to L‘Enfant Metro station and then walked to the Library of Congress
to do our secure banking before returning and catching the Bus to Dulles Airport, VA, in order to
pick up a rental car we had booked for 3 days from 4 pm. The bus fare arrangements are odd and
whilst the bus exchange ticket did not work because it was more than 2 hours since we‘d alighted
from the bus, the driver accepted our Metro rail transfer ticket and we obtained an 80 cent reduction,
or some such esoteric discount. The county seat system of government sure is strange to an outsider
and public transport is merely one manifestation of the phenomenon.
Saturday, October 28, 2006
   A long drive from Centreville, VA, to Greensburgh, PA along routes 28 East, 7 North, I-81, and
R40 West. R40 West‘s Scenic section was awe inspiring with its Appalachian vistas and brilliantly
coloured autumnal back roads. We stopped at some diner come public bar and had a filling if none
too nutritious pair of toasted sandwiches and much coffee and then drove on toward Greensburgh
along R[find out the #], heading inexorably into a massive black cloud of who-knew-what‘all until we
came down out of something labelled ―a dangerous mountain‖ path and were lashed by heavy rain,
then hail and sleet. We‘ve not driven through sleet before so can tick off another ‗first‘.
   We arrived at Tina and Ted‘s superb Greenburgh, PA, architectural mansion and re-connected
with them as friends. We took up where we‘d left off with them, Tina not too taken with my
description of Halloween as wonderfully pagan. It started off as a Christian festival, she informed me,
so your theory is wrong, there. Further investigation makes clear to me that it is indeed a pagan event
and has been by and large, despite the Chrstians getting in on the act. This exchange began when Ted
noted that Halloween was America‘s best secular celebration all year. The Fall, death, decay, Pluto,
and so on are clearly indicated and the Catholic ‗All Souls Day‘ equivalent is a poor cousin. Tina went
on to say, though, that where she comes from and where her mother still teaches, in Oklahoma,
there‘s a ban against the non-Christian elements – the scary stuff – associated with Halloween. The
thought immediately crossed my mind that the consumer candy feast would never be frowned upon,
of course.

Master Diary                                USA 2006-2007

    Ted and Tina wore very sophisticated outfits – Ted was exactly like Bella Lagossi [spelling check]
in his ghostly-pale makeup, modified tuxedo and cummerbund, and Tina was a very specific actress
from the 1930s, [get the famous actress‘s name, Helen something or other] with roller-curled hair
and matching ghostly-pale (yet bloodstained) makeup – to the Halloween party to which Chelle and
I‘d been invited as their accompanying guests. Michelle and I dressed as the Ned Kelly gang by
wearing brown paper bags with eye slits over our heads. Michelle couldn‘t maintain the masquerade
for more than a couple of minutes but I went on for about an hour and a half until Ted came over to
talk to me and I had to either drop the conversation or take off the paper bag. This paper bag mask
was Michelle‘s idea and it met the criterion of being very easy to don whilst being very effective as a
disguise. It unnerved a woman who‘d come in long gloves and swirling hat as a 1930s socialite. She
sat next to me but I didn‘t realise she was there until she stood up to move away and asked ―Who or
what is that?‖ of the figure on the couch with a paper bag over his head. She was clearly disturbed
and unsettled by the mask, and she was not alone. The masquerade must be unthreatening, or at least
the mask must be covering up something insubstantial, and present no threat. The unaverted
countenance, the blank expression (as seen in those portrait paintings which are hung in New
England museums) which gives nothing away is acceptable but the unknown is another matter
    Ted and Tina‘s masquerade was clearly the most sophisticated, as I say, but the couple who won
the prize were two people I had spoken to earlier and I picked them as being Neptune and Diana.
No, no, someone else said, quite seriously, and without any hint of irony, John is dressed as Poseidon
and Mary as Artemis. I can‘t recall what ‗John‘s‘ actual name was, nor ‗Mary‘s‘, but it‘s irrelevant.
Sunday, October 29, 2006
    En route back to Centreville, VA, from Greensburgh, PA, we detoured via New Providence, PA,
where we shall be living when we return to the USA from England, on November 28 – if allowed
back in. Very rustic, it is, with Amish horse drawn carriages clip clopping down Main Street, past our
window. We‘re very much looking forward to a month or more there.
    We didn‘t leave until quite late – 11.30 am – from Tina and Ted‘s and so took R31 East and
joined the turnpike at some place I forget the name of. The car was being blown about quite severely
in the wind and this reached the hair-raising heights of having those huge semi tailers coming too
close for comfort at 80 mph. We stopped at some god awful place for a sandwich and coffee. The
sandwich was packed with plastic turkey, made from some sort of attempt at foccacia bread, and near
to frozen. Truly repulsive, of course, but the regular coffee was alright and I revived enough to
continue driving. Michelle doesn‘t drive because it would cost us $US10.00 extra per day – which
defeats the whole point of hiring the car cheaply in the first place. We made it to Lancaster, PA, and
then drove the 12 miles to New Providence, reaching it with a good half hour of light in the day. We
drove around in an attempt to figure out how we‘d be able to lay in provisions without a motor
vehicle. It will be feasible, we think, but not without some difficulty, though worth the attempt. We
headed off in the direction of Route 1 and/or I-95 South but missed a turn and drove for about an
extra 45 minutes around the Hamish communities. R1 was very troublesome when we reached it,
because the oncoming traffic‘s lights made for poor visibility so we headed for I-95 and were caught
up in another of that highway‘s traffic jam snarls. It wasn‘t as bad as the previous week‘s – only 15
minutes, perhaps, rather than the full hour or more of last Sunday – but there was still the depressing
fact that we were 24 mile or more east of Baltimore and could surely have been past it by now had
we not taken a wrong turn. Negotiating the spaghetti immediately after emerging from the Baltimore
tunnel at night is no mean feat, especially since one is pushed to drive at break neck speed, but it‘s an
adrenalin inducing ride and I figured I could make it to the excellent Maryland Rest Area half way to
Washington, DC, where there‘s a very good coffee machine. We made it. The machine was ―Out of
Order‖. Bugger me! We hit the road and made it home along I-95, the Beltway (I-495) and I-66 to
R29 and ‗home‘ by 8.30 pm. We went straight to bed and I slept soundly after the long day of
Monday, October 30, 2006

Master Diary                                              USA 2006-2007

    We‘ve returned from a long trip in a cobalt-blue Suzuki 4-door sedan. Details later but there are
pics of the Halloween party which we were invited to by, and attended with, Ted and Tina, near their
home in Greensburgh, PA. En route back to Centreville, VA, we detoured via New Providence, PA,
where we shall be living when we return to the USA from England, on November 28. Seva is now
behaving as if our deposit of $US869.63 or whatever is not necessarily going to be returned in full. So
I am now angry and pissed off with her and may not sleep well tonight in consequence. She cannot
inspect the place prior to our leaving because ―that‘s not how it‘s done.‖ Reason does not come into
it with this impossible woman. She‘s an ogre whom we‘re desperate to get away from. The New
Providence apartment is well situated for us to enjoy some peace and quiet among the Amish. It
seems on the face of it to have been a good decision to move there. Today‘s drive was another ―full
circle‖ day with our finding the heritage market in Harrisonburg where we first heard the 2nd South
Carolina String Band in the Confederate store. So, that‘s now the Amtrak visit of 2003, the 2005
rental car trip up the Blue Ridge and back through the Shenandoah Valley and the 2000 trip in

Tuesday, October 31, 2006
    A sleepless night after another twist and turn in the Seva Raskin rental agreement case. The
following is my preliminary move in light of her not having responded to my request for the deposit
cheque on the day before we leave.
    Pawn to K-4
     Hello Seva,
     Thanks for the message about the plumber. Can you please reply to this message concerning your ―let me sleep on it‖ decision
concerning the full amount of our deposit - $US859.68 on HSBC cheque #0093 cleared on August 11, 2006 - which you have been holding
in trust just in case we had not looked after your property with due care? As is obvious (because you have had full access to the whole
property regardless of the fact that we‘re renting a room and using a separate bathroom), we have taken great care to look after your
     As I mentioned when we spoke yesterday, you can continue to check on the state of your property – the bedroom and bathroom – at
any time and we‘re confident that you‘ll find it in the same state that it was in when we moved into your home. In the event that you think
something is ‗not quite right‘ then we would expect you to inform us immediately so that we can ensure that there is no misunderstanding
when we leave on the morning of Friday, November 17, 2006.


    The email to our ‗landlady‘ brought a very disgruntled response, as if I‘d asked for special
treatment. Americans regard money and property as sacred, I know, but since the deposit‘s our
money it seems reasonable that we‘d like to dot the i‘s and cross the t‘s with respect to our imminent
departure. Much talking saw the problem pur back, and possibly resolved. Michelle scurried off and
left me to deal with the issue – making sure to criticise the way I handled the situation. I‘m
unimpressed with having to be the arsehole and getting complaint rather than, say, Michelle doing
her bit when it comes to such situations. And her refusal to take any form of preventative measure
with respect to anything is increasingly frustrating.

Wednesday, November 1, 2006
    Michelle woke up whinging because she has another cold. I daren‘t point out to her that my not
getting colds may be evidence that there‘s something to my habit of rugging up immediately after
getting out of the shower. She doesn‘t believe there‘s any merit in my doing so and will not
countenance doing so herself, even to humour me. She has come down with yet another cold and
I‘ve not yet had one. Living at close quarters with her has made it clear to me that it‘s not bad luck
which results in her breaking things, tripping over more or less regularly, spilling things, etc: it‘s a
perverse refusal to operate under any kind of rule. Moreover, Michelle has no truck with the idea of
learning from one‘s mistakes. Her being accident prone is the direct outcome of a point blank refusal
to consider what might happen if … So rather than remember that the last time she propped the
plate 40% on the table it fell off, she will do exactly the same thing next time, and the next time, and

Master Diary                                         USA 2006-2007

so on. And then she is pissed off with me for trying to remedy the situation by pushing the plate
onto the table, by closing the drawer over which she is chopping up vegetables or pouring out milk
or sawing bread.
    And the martyrdom is a pain in the arse, too. I suggested she stay home in bed and get over the
cold, or at least not go out until she feels well enough. Oh no. She will make the effort. So we
purchase an all day pass to get around DC for the day but of course Michelle is not really feeling well
so the whole thing becomes a complete drag and she really wants to be home in bed or tucked up in
the Congressional Library. If she‘d stay home and come out when she‘s well enough it‘s be a lot
better for both of us.
    We took the Orange line to its other end from Vienna, VA, in the west to north-west DC, near
the beltway. We didn‘t even get off because the place looked like an enormous park and ride, and not
much else. We then went back to Metro Central and took the Red line to Adams Morgan. We had
stayed in ‗Bed and Breakfast‘ accommodation near that Metro station in July or early August of 2003
and went to check it out. We were surprised at how close to downtown DC the place is. We could
easily have walked the distance, we realised, out past the HSBC DC Branch on Connecticut Avenue
and continued North for a mile or so, perhaps a little more, but maybe even less. We walked to the
premises and took a few pics. The B&B, ‗Adams Inn‘ still operates. What struck me most, though,
was the shrinking of the scale which seems to come with familiarity. An intersection which I
distinctly remember as one which required my full sensory repertoire in 2003 was now just another
step on the way. We‘ve now clocked up thousands of miles in rental cars and walked a good many
miles through DC, NYC, New Haven, and so on, and there‘s no longer the need to think the left-
hand – right-hand polarity through; it‘s second nature.
    Aside from the exquisitely colourful display of the decline and decay of the autumn leaves, here,
the Fall is much like Adelaide‘s in that there are beautiful sunny days where the temperature is just
right. I‘m surprised that we were wearing long underwear last week to keep out the creeping cold and
yet despite it being November, now, the weather is benign, wonderful.
                 Ticket ID:
                 Full Name:
                 Peter HORNE
                 Hosting Control Panel Login Details (related to this issue)
                 Control Panel Username:
                 Control Panel Password:
                 Domain name:
                 Email problem again
                  I have that same old email access problem which I've contacted you about before. While
                 online and in my account I click on Webmail and get this message:
                  Safari can‘t open the page ―http://localhost:2095/login.php‖ because it could not connect
                 to the server ―localhost‖.

                 Can you please examine this and fix it so that I can access my mail?

                  I have made no changes on my PowerBook G4, i.e., I've not reset anything but every so
                 often I cannot send or receive messages for about 4 days and all messages during that period
                 are lost - which is very frustrating.

                 So if you can get this fixed permanently I'd greatly appreciate it.


Thursday, November 2, 2006

Master Diary                                 USA 2006-2007

    I‘m sitting at the kitchen table in the doll house at Hatfield Square and the sun is pouring in
through the window. It‘s 9.10 am, and the clocks having been put back only last Sunday means that
I‘ve been awake since just after 6 am, possibly earlier. We‘re homebound awaiting Michelle to get
better. We‘re trapped in this ‗exurb‘ as they refer to the suburbs which lack any form of amenity such
as public transport and local shopping, here, and I have much to catch up on with respect to the
diary. I‘ve been working and reworking the Hamilton character but am yet to commence the writing.
    This morning‘s ‗Washington Post‘ has a story about re-training the people whose job it is to see
that the polling stations run smoothly come next Tuesday, November 7. The average age of these
workers is 67 (because retired folks are the only ones who can afford to ‗take a day off work‘, as it
were, to perform this civic duty) and they‘re expected to become au fais with electronic voting
machines. One 76 year old was quite frustrated when he was told the machines were similar to
                   ―Blackberries and other PDA‘s.‖
                   ―What‘s a PDA? He asked.
                   ―Personal Digital Adviser, Sir.‖
    The fellow was nonplussed. I turned the TV on to MSNBC to hear the presenter question a
fellow from the advisory body set up after the ‗hanging chad‘ debacle in Florida during the 2000
Presidential Election. I cannot recall his name but he wanted to re-assure Americans that the system
had been fixed so much in the past 6 years that more changes had been made than in the previous
200 years. On behalf of any elector still not convinced, she pressed him further and he made the
serious point that whilst it was true that there‘d be all kinds of electronic voting machines in use next
Tuesday and that many of them would be difficult to use, he felt certain that only the few who did
not bother to find out in advance what sort of machine was being used in their electoral precinct and
ensure that they practised and learned how to use that machine would have any difficulty on the day.
The woman conducting the interview accepted his remarks at face value and did not question him
further. Rather, she took him as having now put any unwarranted concerns to rest on the question of
electronic voting. Who was it who said of Jacksonian Democracy that ―In America the people is used
for voting‖?

Friday, November 3, 2006
    Michelle‘s still ill so we‘re at the Doll‘s House, Hatfield Square, Centreville, VA, again today. It‘s
sunny outside again and I shall take some pics of the last of the autumn colours. The plumber who
was due on Wednesday and for whom I dried out the shower alcove didn‘t turn up then and was
coming at 9 am today has yet to arrive. So it seems they‘re the same all over the world, or at least in
the 51st state of the Union. He‘s just arrived, the plumber, and been escorted downstairs by Seva
Raskin, our landlady.
    The Architect, James Moore, and Wayne Slater. The Architect, Karl Rove and the Master Plan for Absolute
Power. First ed. New York: Crown Publishers, 2006. This text gives emphasis, via the tales of
Republican gay men who‘re committed to Rove‘s campaign to win elections by kneeing homosexuals
in the groin just for being homosexuals, to my theme of ‗America as the nation of the hostile twins‘,
the unacknowledged opposite of whatever is being portrayed – from Washington the heroic Roman
General who‘s feet of clay are clearly visible but not noticed to American Christian religious
fundamentalism as the antidote to Muslim religious fundamentalists, Bush as leader of the free world
who promotes torture in the name of freedom, and so on: the ‗cognitive disjunction‘ between the
political agenda and the private lives of so many in the Republican Party‘s leadership, Ken Mehlman
being a particular case in point but with numerous others to cite, all gives plenty of ammunition (or
evidence if the ‗unfalsifiability‘ principle goes un-noticed) concerning the ‗America is a bizarre
paradox‘ theme.
    For an example of America the fantastic nation, see today‘s ‗Washington Post‘ article on A3 about
the 29 year-old woman who went into the gaols and nurtured the entrepreneurial instincts of various
inmates – who were in many cases inside, after-all, for their entrepreneurial preparedness to take a
                    As Release Nears, These Inmates Are All Business

Master Diary                              USA 2006-2007

               Street Smarts Are Put to Good Use in Tex. Program

               By Sylvia Moreno
               Washington Post Staff Writer
               Friday, November 3, 2006; Page A03

               BRYAN, Tex. -- His street name was "T-Murder"; his turf, the
               Deadly Nickel, as Houston's Fifth Ward is known in the 'hood. His
               business put $25,000 in his pocket monthly.

               Those were the days when Thomas Laqueá Harrell Sr. ran his own
               crack cocaine ring, a capital venture that landed him in the Texas
               prison system with a 25-year sentence. Seven years of incarceration
               later and a few weeks from being paroled, this entrepreneur is
               ready to go back to work. But he's going legit.
               Thomas Laqueá Harrell Sr., who graduated from the Prison
               Entrepreneurship Program, wants to start a mobile food business
               when he is released in a few weeks after serving seven years of a
               25-year sentence for running a drug ring. (By Sylvia Moreno -- The
               Washington Post)
               Harrell has a written business plan, a marketing strategy, a net
               profit/loss analysis, a projected income statement and a financial
               summary. All he needs, Harrell recently told a panel of business
               executives gathered inside the walls of the medium-security
               Hamilton Unit, is a start-up loan.

               "Hello, my name is Thomas Harrell Sr., the founder and owner of
               Yum Yum's Mobile Catering Service," the animated 31-year-old
               inmate announced. "We make hot, on-the-spot barbecue meals."

               This was Harrell's pitch for his new business, one of 60 similar
               plans presented by the graduates of an unusual Texas prison
               program designed to harness a convict's street smarts and funnel
               them into a legitimate venture upon release.

               "We are not so much in the business of creating entrepreneurs as
               leveraging their skills," said Catherine Rohr, founder of the Prison
               Entrepreneurship Program, a nonprofit organization based in
               Houston. "After all, it was their entrepreneurial skills that landed
               them in prison."

               Rohr, a one-time venture capitalist in California and New York,
               was inspired after visiting a prison ministry program in the spring
               of 2004 that was started by former Watergate conspirator Charles
               W. Colson. She heard a graduate say that he left prison after eight
               years and started a general contracting business that made $1.7
               million in sales in 18 months.

               "I thought I was going on a zoo tour of caged-up animals," recalled
               Rohr, 29, of that first visit to a prison in Sugar Land, Tex. "Instead,
               I saw human beings who are just as much in need of grace as I am,

Master Diary                             USA 2006-2007

               and I saw all this untapped potential, good sales skills and decent
               business sense."

               Rohr created a graduate school-style business plan competition
               there and, within months, quit her job in Manhattan, incorporated
               her program and moved to Texas. She obtained permission from
               the state Department of Criminal Justice to locate her program in
               the Hamilton Unit. The pre-release facility, 100 miles northwest of
               Houston, houses 1,200 inmates who participate in a special
               therapeutic program for six to eight months before their discharge.

               Rohr has instituted a rigorous business curriculum: more than 350
               hours of class time, taught by 100 business executives whom she
               recruits; exams; extensive writing assignments; and tough
               homework penalties for inmates who do anything from utter a
               curse word to fail a test. Prisoners are paired with Harvard and
               Texas A&M University students, online or in person, who help edit
               their business plans. The executives then judge the plans.

               First, though, inmates must qualify for PEP, as the program is
               known. They must have renounced any prison gang affiliation and
               must fill out a 23-page questionnaire, learn 10 pages of financial
               terminology, take four tests and be interviewed by almost a dozen
               corporate executives and PEP graduates. Important as the tests and
               interviews are, Rohr said, "the number one thing we look for in
               inmates is change."

               This summer, 150 prisoners applied for PEP's fourth class; 84 were
               selected, and 60 completed the four-month course. On a recent
               cool evening, the graduates marched single file in their blue caps
               and gowns into the basketball court in the middle of the prison
               yard, the concrete slab fenced off by a tall chain-link fence topped
               with concertina wire.
               "Pomp and Circumstance" played over a makeshift sound system
               operated by a white-uniformed inmate. The graduates' relatives and
               the corporate executives who earlier judged the business plans gave
               the men a standing ovation.

               For about half the graduates -- ranging in age from 20 years old to
               over 60, serving time for crimes from burglary to murder -- this
               was their first formal cap and gown ceremony.
               Thomas Laqueá Harrell Sr., who graduated from the Prison
               Entrepreneurship Program, wants to start a mobile food business
               when he is released in a few weeks after serving seven years of a
               25-year sentence for running a drug ring. (By Sylvia Moreno -- The
               Washington Post)

               "Families -- your sons, your husbands, your boyfriends, your
               brothers here tonight have probably robbed you and probably lied
               to you," Rohr said as the graduation began. "I stand here before
               you to vouch for these men. . . . They are capable of going out and
               being productive members of society."

Master Diary                               USA 2006-2007

                 Including this class, PEP has graduated 220 participants, and 175
                 have been released from prison. Rohr said 21 former inmates have
                 started or operate small businesses. Almost 40 have completed
                 PEP's post-prison executive course offered in Houston and Dallas
                 and are being mentored by corporate executives. The employment
                 rate among PEP graduates is over 93 percent, she said, and the
                 recidivism rate has been less than 5 percent.

                 During the graduation ceremony and throughout the day, inmates
                 often thanked the executives for volunteering as teachers and as
                 judges for the two-day business plan competition.

                 "They could be anywhere in the world but chose to be here with
                 me, and I can't even get a letter from my dad," said inmate Cory
                 Seago, 27, breaking into tears as he spoke from the graduation
                 podium. "I've been in prison two times. I lost everything: my hope,
                 my dreams, my confidence. PEP's been more than a business class
                 for me. I learned about love."

                 For many executives, the experience was transformative as well.
                 Geoff Jones, chief financial officer of Trico Marine Services of
                 Houston, conceded he was apprehensive when he first entered the
                 prison. "You think you're going to go in there and feel unsafe and
                 be surrounded by undesirables," he said.

                 Instead, Jones said, he was impressed by the quality of the business
                 plans and the presentations. "They believed in what they were
                 telling you, and it meant a lot to them. It was their chance to
                 impress somebody in the free world," he said.

Saturday, November 4, 2006
    Centreville, VA.
    Only one more Saturday morning here left after today, thank God. I listened to the plumber, who
turned up late but at least turned up yesterday, listened to his patter about the shower tap. He told
Seva he had to break the old tap into pieces because it was in such a state of deterioration that there
was no other ay to get it out in order to install the new one. Make sure that you turn it back before
stepping in to the running water, he reminded her, because it would scald it‘s now so hot.
    He left, and I checked the result: lukewarm, as before he came. With the boiler turned up full it‘s
just hot enough but there‘s no difference whatsoever from the old tap to the new. The American
plumber, too, is a confidence man.
    Confidence is what the American responds to as a matter of course. The constant refrain that
―this is the greatest country on earth‖ can only be made by those who never bother to compare their
living conditions here, in the USA, with conditions elsewhere: traffic snarls, and long delays
commuting, a lack of public transport except for weekday commuting, and even then having to drive
to the ‗park and ride‘ or ‗kiss and ride‘, excessive hours of work which amounts to a low wage per
hour, paying for a meal – and that‘s what everyone does a great deal of the time, more than anywhere
else – and having to pay the business the going price and then the staff must be paid (tipped)
separately. It‘s a great place to visit but only a nation of people used to being duped, sold a pup,
would be so vulnerable to the confidence game. Why, even the obvious fact that communities suffer
from the prevalence of gun ownership, that hundreds of innocents are slain by madmen armed to the

Master Diary                              USA 2006-2007

teeth, is twisted, here, such that a Wisconsin Congressman proposed that the unacceptable level of
violence meted out by gunmen in American schools should be stopped in its tracks. Since it‘s
absolutely out of the question to ban the use of firearms, he wanted to arm the teachers so that they
could gun down any person threatening the school students. Visiting America, then, is a wonderful
experience but the assumption that it‘s where everyone wants to live, that they‘ll do anything to get
here, and that the borders must be walled goes hand in hand with the paranoia concerning thise who
may want to do harm to the USA. They hate the American‘s freedom, and the fact that he has
fashioned a paradise on earth for himself. American Buncombe is alive and well.
    From today‘s ‗Washington Post‘:
                   Steel Rises Out of the Ashes
                   Maryland Plant Is Part of Global Consolidation Under Maverick

                By Chris Kirkham
                Washington Post Staff Writer
                Saturday, November 4, 2006; Page A01

                SPARROWS POINT, Md. -- The old brick warehouse where
                workers once heated steel ingots stands vacant, awaiting the
                wrecking ball. A baseball diamond where generations of
                steelworkers cheered home runs has fallen into ruin. Fine black
                soot coats empty buildings.

                But the Sparrows Point steel mill, once the mightiest in the world,
                is not dead.
                [The Sparrows Point steel mill, on the shores of the Chesapeake
                Bay, figures into a global realignment in the business of making

                Inside another old warehouse, sparks leapt skyward the other day
                as tons of molten iron flowed from a giant ladle. Slabs of new steel
                glowed at 3,000 degrees. Computers and precision switches
                choreographed the flow of ore, iron and steel through the mill as
                steelworkers tweaked the machines.

                This plant on the shores of the Chesapeake Bay may no longer be
                the heart of a company town, as once it was, but these days it
                figures into something much larger: a global realignment in the
                business of making steel.

                At the center of that transformation is Sparrows Point's new boss,
                Lakshmi Mittal. He is the first global uber-capitalist to emerge from
                the rising economies of mainland Asia. Starting from humble
                origins in India, he has turned himself into the fifth-richest man in
                the world, living in a $132 million mansion next to Kensington
                Palace in London.

                Since last year, Mittal has been the biggest steelmaker in North
                America. Few Americans have heard of him.

Master Diary                              USA 2006-2007

               He started building his empire when steel appeared to be an
               antiquated industry. But Mittal was just ahead of the curve. Global
               demand for commodities, steel included, is rising fast as the
               Industrial Revolution finally reaches China, India and their satellite

               Billions of people need cars, bridges, skyscrapers. They need steel.

               Mittal wants to supply the world. He has gained control of 10
               percent of global steel production, a feat unsurpassed since the
               days of Andrew Carnegie, and he aims for more. But it's unclear
               how the far-flung pieces of his empire will fit together over the
               long run. Even with global demand rising, he idled blast furnaces in
               Ohio and Indiana in recent weeks in response to softening demand
               in the U.S. market, where much steel is used by the now-troubled
               automotive industry.

               The workers of Sparrows Point -- battered by decades of layoffs,
               bankruptcy and bruising competition -- are uncertain about their
               place in the new, more globalized marketplace Mittal is creating.
               They're worried about competing against his lower-paid workers in
               other countries. There's even an outside chance the Justice
               Department will force Mittal to sell the plant, propelling workers
               into competition with his empire.

               "We've been through so much for so many years that we're numb,"
               said Larry Burns, a Sparrows Point worker since 1976. "Now they
               throw us in a bigger pot. It's spooky."

               Burns's brother works in the mill, as did their father. A half-century
               ago, the mill and a nearby shipyard employed nearly 30,000 people,
               making it the largest private employer in Maryland and the
               backbone of the Baltimore economy.
               For generations, a man with no college degree could find well-
               paying work there; people lived in the company town, shopped at a
               company store and sent their children to company schools.

               Today the town, the store and the schools are gone. The mill still
               produces a huge amount of steel, 3.2 million tons last year, but with
               a payroll of 2,460 workers. That number is shrinking, with the
               average worker's age nearing 50.

               Sparrows Point is a landmark on the Eastern Seaboard, and in the
               history of American capitalism. Iron ore from Cuba first moved by
               boat up the Chesapeake Bay in 1889, and the plant started shipping
               steel by rail toward the nation's heartland two years later. But after
               115 years, does steelmaking have a future in Maryland?

               An Ailing Industry

               In the early 1990s, few people had heard the name Lakshmi Mittal.
               He was running a family steel mill in Indonesia. He owned a plant

Master Diary                              USA 2006-2007

               on the Caribbean island of Trinidad and, against his father's wishes,
               was eyeing a mill on Mexico's Pacific coast.

               At the time, the steel industry was recovering from its worst crisis,
               a recession in the 1980s that had put tens of thousands of workers
               on the streets. Historians say the industry in the late 20th century
               was a showcase of business ills -- excess capacity, inefficient plants,
               failure to invest in new technology.

               By the mid-1990s, failed Communist states were selling off their
               steel mills, aging rust buckets that could not even pay workers'
               salaries. Virtually nobody wanted the plants.

               Nobody, that is, except Mittal.

               He had decided only a massive, global consolidation could solve
               the industry's problems, by creating companies big enough to
               exercise some control over supply and prices.

               In 1995, he bought a plant in remote Kazakhstan, one that sat on a
               trove of iron ore and coal 500 miles from China. He later bought
               plants in such places as Macedonia, Poland and Romania. He
               moved into the United States in 1998, buying Inland Steel Co. of

               "Consolidation of our industry has already started, but it is
               important that it continues so that we can move away from being
               seen as a volatile and erratic sector," Mittal said in a 2003 speech.
               "The sustainability of the steel industry is what matters."

               Last year he became North America's largest steelmaker, with 20
               percent of production, when he took control of International Steel
               Group Inc. of Cleveland, which had been cobbled together from
               ailing or bankrupt companies, including the old Bethlehem Steel
               Corp. Among the plants Mittal gained was Sparrows Point, which
               Bethlehem had owned. Once the world's largest mill, it is still
               among the top five in the country.

               His greatest coup came this year, when Mittal Steel Co., the world's
               top producer, launched a bruising corporate battle to gain control
               of the second-largest, Arcelor SA. When the dust settled, Mittal
               controlled a tenth of world steel production.
               "Was Mittal ahead of the curve?" said Michael Gambardella, a steel
               expert at J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. in New York. "He was the
               curve. He was there with a great concept: I'm going to buy when
               everyone wants to sell."

               Mittal has locked up vast reserves of the iron ore and coal essential
               to making steel. And Arcelor Mittal is big enough to employ a
               tactic steel companies could rarely afford before -- idling plants
               temporarily when demand slackens. So far, Mittal has not tended to
               shutter plants permanently.

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               The Sparrows Point steel mill, on the shores of the
               Chesapeake Bay, figures into a global realignment in the
               business of making steel.

               "The inevitable consequence of globalization in all industries is
               consolidation," said New York financier Wilbur L. Ross Jr., who
               sold Mittal many of his U.S. plants and sits on the Arcelor Mittal
               board. "If you're going to be operating in eight, 10, 12, 15 countries
               on a big scale, you've got to be a huge company to do that."

               Though Mittal is little-known in the United States, he has become
               tabloid fodder in London. In a mini-scandal, British Prime Minister
               Tony Blair wrote a letter on Mittal's behalf to the government of
               Romania after Mittal contributed $236,000 to Blair's Labor Party.

               Forbes magazine pegs Mittal's fortune at $23 billion. Not only has
               he moved next door to the British royal family, he threw his
               daughter a $60 million wedding. He has groomed his dashing son,
               Aditya Mittal, for a role in the company.

               But he hasn't forgotten his origins. He committed $9 billion to
               build a steel plant from scratch in an impoverished province of

               People who know him say Mittal's origins have strongly shaped his
               views. Steel may be perceived as a mature, Rust Belt industry in the
               United States, but in the rising economies of mainland Asia, it is
               the future.

               "Coming from the developing world, he had a very different view
               of the industry and its prospects," said Lou Schorsch, Arcelor
               Mittal's top U.S. executive. "In a period when it was all doom and
               gloom in the developed world, he brought a much more positive
               view of what was possible."

               A Shrinking Workforce

               Down a gravel road on the outskirts of Baltimore, two generations
               of Sparrows Point steelworkers gathered one recent evening in a
               modest living room.

               Robert Burns Jr., 86, is the patriarch of the Burns clan. He started
               at the mill in its heyday, 1950. He once set fire to hydrogen gas
               with a lit cigar, singeing his face. In those days workers would heat
               their lunches next to hot pipes. He recalled the aroma of sweet
               potatoes and fried chicken.

               George Lunz, 68, whose daughter married into the Burns clan, said
               that in the 1970s and '80s, fistfights would erupt in the crowded

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               union hall. "People had shorter fuses back then," he said. His son-
               in-law, Robert Burns III -- Bob to his friends -- laughed and cut
               that story short: "We were younger."

               Bob Burns started at the mill in 1973, three years before his
               brother Larry. They lived through the worst times, in the 1980s,
               when Bethlehem Steel laid off thousands of workers, a crippling
               blow to Baltimore.

               The brothers lacked confidence in Bethlehem Steel. "We always
               said, 'How can you manage a company so poorly and still survive?'
               " Larry Burns said. Bethlehem declared bankruptcy in 2001, setting
               off retrenchment and ownership changes that finally resulted in
               Mittal buying the plant, along with several others, last year.

               It isn't clear whether Mittal will be allowed to keep it. His
               purchases have given him a lock on North American production of
               a type of steel called tin plate, used for cans. Mittal wants to sell a
               Canadian plant to resolve antitrust concerns, but the U.S. Justice
               Department could force him to sell a U.S. plant that makes tin
               plate, Sparrows Point being one.

               For now, workers are trying to fit into the globalized steel industry
               Mittal is creating.

               Sparrows Point was built on the bay in the 1880s to take advantage
               of newly discovered ore deposits in Cuba. These days, Mittal can
               tap ore and other supplies from across the planet. The other day, a
               ship called Amalia docked at Sparrows Point and offloaded
               Brazilian ore into 29 miles of conveyor belts.

               Production at the plant remains high, but modern technology
               allows the steel to be made with fewer workers. The historical peak
               of steel shipments, 5.8 million tons, occurred in 1969, with the mill
               and a nearby shipyard employing 26,510. Today, a tenth as many
               workers can ship 3 million tons of steel a year.

               One looming question is how much of the steel market China will
               grab. It produces four times as much as the United States,
               consuming most of that domestically, but Chinese exports are

               The shrunken workforce helps explain why the vast landscape of
               "The Point," as it's called in Baltimore, looks like a post-industrial
               ghost town. Hundreds of buildings have been knocked down, and
               much of the area is a dun landscape of rails and power lines. People
               driving Interstate 695 over the Key Bridge can see it to the east.

               These days union meetings feature no fisticuffs. Instead workers
               discuss how to give Mittal what he wants from them, maximum

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                 efficiency. They work under a union contract that slashed the
                 number of job classifications, but offered them flexibility and
                 production bonuses.

                 "I think if we continue at this pace, we will convince Mittal Steel
                 that Sparrows Point was a good investment," said Tom Blackburn,
                 who works in the tin-plate mill. "I do believe that if we stay
                 competitive with the rest of his empire and accept the changes that
                 need to be made, we'll survive."

                 Staff researcher Richard S. Drezen contributed to this report.

    The midterm elections to be held this coming Tuesday, November 7th, take place in a climate of
dissatisfaction on the part of the majority of people polled. The polls have remained steady for more
than a year, now, apparently, and they betray the fact that Americans are unhappy with Congress and
with the President, with the revelations about Iraq – the lies told to get them into the war and
subsequent lies designed to prevent them knowing that the whole debacle has been a completely
botched job. The lies about Weapons of Mass Destruction, and lies about Sadam Hussein having
purchased aluminium rods from wherever in order to make an atomic bomb having been exposed, it
took the corruption scandals of Republican snouts in the trough and of Evangelicals engaged in
purchasing meth-amphetamine and paying for sex from male prostitutes for the penny to really drop.
    So as it comes down to the wire there‘s 2 quite distinct schools of thought about what is likely to
occur. The old school is that with poll numbers like this the Republicans will lose the House and go
close to losing the Senate. The American public, say these old schoolers (such as the female ‗Wall
Street Journal‘ journalist who was on Gwen Eifel‘s Washington Week last night, and the Catholic gay
conservative republican who wants conservatives to vote Democrat as the only way to force the
president to face reality) will use what the founding fathers provided when they set up a government
with institutionalised checks and balances: they‘ll toss out the Republicans in order to put an end to
the executive‘s excesses. The new school says that maestro Karl Rove‘s extraordinarily detailed data
base pinpoints the republican base so accurately that the Tom Delay, Jack Abramov type corruption
and the myriad of other scandals won‘t matter because the people will turn out and vote Republican
because the republican machine is so well tuned that the vote for a one-party system of government
is assured. Apart from the Evangelicals who can be got at from the Church pulpit on the Sunday
before the election, there‘s the new situation of voter registration. By targeting specific precincts (this
being a county seat system of government where people vote for everyone from the dog catcher and
attorney general to the Senator who‘ll represent their state), Rove and his minions can still snatch this
out of the fire. Those republicans who‘re from the old conservative bloc are increasingly disturbed by
the reversal of their expectations of fiscal restraint on the part of an all Republican Party government.
Government spending is increasing at an exponential rate under the Bush Administration, so that
instead of ‗small government‘ the government is out of control and reaching into every nook and
cranny of America‘s lives. So, will the micro-management of a Karl Rove see the radical right
returned to go on their merry way or will the macro world reality assert itself as it has apparently
done in the past, and sweep the Democrats in as the only realistic means of reining in the madmen in
the White House.
    Tales from America #10
    The U. S. midterm elections take place next Tuesday (American elections take place on the first
Tuesday after the first Monday in November - so I'm less sure, now, about my formerly ingrained
belief that they are invariably held the same day as the Melbourne Cup. Was 'Rain Lover' the same
day as Nixon?)

   There's two main schools of thought on what will determine next week‘s outcome: the macro
(longstanding traditional) view is that the people will use what the founding fathers bequeathed to

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them in the way of checks and balances and vote Democrat in consequence. Old style conservative
Republicans, Independents, and Democrats will vote Democrat in order to restrain an increasingly
worrisome executive branch of government. Conservatives point out that the Bush Administration's
excesses are the outcome of a White House presided over by a man who has lost his grip on reality.
The job of Congress is to check the president but since this Republican Party dominated Congress
has performed a rubber stamp role the overall effect has been that the USA is in danger of becoming
another of those one-party states Americans find anathema.

   So the Republicans deserve to be thrown out of the House and Senate, and will be, goes the 'old
school' analysis.

    The alternative view is that Karl Rove, George W. Bush's longtime puppeteer and jester, has
micromanaged the electoral process to such a degree that he has already succeeded in consolidating
the Republicans as America's one party state, and that, corruption and sex scandals notwithstanding,
his minions having been following their instructions and sticking doggedly to making personal
contact with each of the many millions of eligible (and ineligible) voters in the Rove database, will
turn out the vote in favour of more corruption and a Republican Party stranglehold on power. This
micro view is a modern version of Republican President McKinley's 1894 model - and first used in a
federal election by Rove in 1994 when the Republicans took Congress in a wave of discontent with
the Democrat controlled Capitol.

    There's much greater discontent, now, than there was in 1994 it is generally agreed, and so the
traditionalists conclude that it's all over and that the Democrats are a 'shoe in' for the House, if not
both the House and Senate. But the micro view holds that that's all pre-Rove buncombe. The
difference, nowadays, is that Rove's 'get out the vote' strategy is far superior to anything the
Democrats ever had, even when compared to the industrial era Democrat method of ensuring
everyone stuck to the Party line. Back then, the mechanical voting machines were given a coat of coal
dust by the local officials, and anyone who voted other than according to the prescribed formula
would be betrayed as having done so by the black marks on his lever-pulling hand.
    And just in case you don't already know, the greatest democracy on earth does not have an
electoral commission or any such animal. No, here it's all done at the local level; i.e., America's
county seat system of government allows for party officials to run the elections. The American sees
nothing wrong with this. (Nor does he overly concern himself with the fact that 80% of the vote on
Tuesday will be registered and counted by privately supplied and programmed electronic digital
voting machines that have no paper trail and are a black box device where the voter can only know
what he puts in but has no idea what comes out as being his vote; tests showed that putting in
'Democrat' resulted in a 60% likelihood that 'Democrat' came out the other side - so that's not bad
odds, I guess.)
    In the past the cooking of the vote has worked in favour of the Democrats, of course, but, post-
Rove, things have changed. Rove has divided Americans into absolutist and non-absolutist types.
There are many more non-absolutists - eg., Catholics who believe it's a woman's right to choose
whether or not to have an abortion; Protestants who are squeamish about homosexuality but who
think that what goes on in (and who is in) the bedroom is a matter for consenting adults. These
people are not regular church-goers, by and large, and only attend once a week if they are regular.
The absolutist, on the other hand, is likely to go more than once a week to church - especially on
Wednesdays and Sundays - and he or she is much less concerned with the war in Iraq, or the
madness of the president, or the level of corruption than he is about gay men being allowed to marry.
Gay marriage really makes him see red and he'll turn out to vote in a blizzard, just in order to put a
stop to the Gomorrah of gay men tying the knot. He's very easy to find, this voter, because he's at
church 3 days before the election. And Karl Rove has been watching him for years. He is guaranteed
to get a personal visit from a roving Rovian, and a series of follow-up phone calls to remind him that
he simply must vote Republican if the president is to have any hope of holding back the tide of

Master Diary                              USA 2006-2007

homosexuality poised to swamp all good men and bring this great nation to its knees. As a matter of
fact, our absolutist fundamentalist Christian is so afraid of the legion of homosexuals wandering
abroad that he no longer goes down on his knees for fear that evil Satan will slip a dick into his
mouth and tempt him to suck it and see.
   So that's the way they line up three days out from America's world famous biennial horse race.
   Will the people vote in overwhelming numbers to use the constitution to rein in an increasingly
manic Administration or will Karl's minions work the absolutist Christians into enough of a lather to
vote against having to swallow what comes at Thanksgiving? Gobble, gobble.

   Will the late-breaking news that the Evangelical adviser to the White House had been using the
money from the Wednesday and Sunday collection plates to purchase meth-amphetamine and gay
sex from a male prostitute-cum-drug dealer for the past three years be enough to make the
fundamentalist choke on his porridge? Who knows, but just in case you haven't heard enough and
want more, I've included an article from this morning's 'Washington Post' to give you something of
the flavour of the debate, here, at the heart of the Empire, in DC.


   From today‘s ‗Washington Post, and article concerning the gay marriage debate:
               Marshall Admits No Doubts About Marriage
               Senator's Campaign Against Same-Sex Couples Outrages

                By Chris L. Jenkins
                Washington Post Staff Writer
                Saturday, November 4, 2006; Page B04

                The debate was over, and the stately atrium at the University of
                Virginia School of Law was nearly empty. But Del. Robert G.
                Marshall, a Prince William County Republican who wryly refers to
                himself as Virginia's "chief homophobe," was just warming up to
                his next showdown over same-sex marriage.

                "There is a natural order of things, a natural order where gay
                marriage is an impossibility," he said, books tucked under his arm
                and waving a hand for emphasis, like the disheveled college
                professor he often resembles. "For example, a woman's arm is
                constructed at a certain angle so that she can adequately cradle a
                baby. This is the way we're created. There are just certain things
                that nature intended."

                Three law students stared at him. One shook her head. Another
                gave a loud sigh and walked away.

                "I know that might not be a popular view around here, but there is
                a created order that we must all follow," Marshall said.

                For nearly 15 years, Marshall, one of the conservative state's most
                conservative lawmakers, has been wielding a heavy stick marked
                with his brand of moral and religious certainty. With the values he
                learned in a staunchly Catholic household, mixed with years of
                work as a legislative researcher on Capitol Hill and the pugnacious

Master Diary                              USA 2006-2007

               spirit of the amateur judo combatant he once was, he has become
               one of the leading voices in Virginia's conservative movement.

               Marshall's latest effort to promote his moral code is as an author
               and chief champion of an amendment on Tuesday's ballot that
               would constitutionally ban same-sex marriages and civil unions and
               prevent Virginia from legally recognizing any relationship that
               seeks to "approximate the . . . effects of marriage." Marshall has
               spent this fall campaigning for the measure across Virginia -- in
               debates and on TV, before civic organizations, college students and
               anyone else who will grant him a few minutes and an open ear.

               For Marshall, the amendment is a way to ink a view of traditional
               values into the state's highest document and to stop what he calls a
               "homosexual agenda" from further damaging society.

               "If you have no definition for marriage, and if it's based on a whim
               rather than some reasonable classification, you're all over the
               ballpark . . . you cannot contain it," said Marshall, 62, during the
               forum at U-Va., where he debated Evan Wolfson, a leading
               national supporter of same-sex marriage rights. Two students had
               their backs turned in protest as Marshall spoke. "There is no
               middle ground here," he said.

               Some opponents of the measure say that existing statutes outlawing
               same-sex marriage are sufficient and that the amendment would
               jeopardize rights of all unmarried couples. Others, including Gov.
               Timothy M. Kaine (D), also say the measure would hurt the state's
               business environment.

               Marshall's critics said what they see in his push for the amendment
               is what they have always seen from him: an effort to thrust his
               narrow view of religion into law -- in this case, in conflict with the
               religious freedoms that they say the state constitution enshrines.

               "He will go to any lengths to promote his religious view, and I
               think that's dangerous. He's doing the same thing with this
               marriage amendment," said Del. Katherine B. Waddell (I-
               Richmond), who clashed with Marshall for several years when she
               was the state chair for a national Republican abortion rights group.
               "He's imposing his own religious views onto us. That's exactly what
               he's doing. He's interjecting his religion into legislating."

               That Marshall, a devout Roman Catholic, is one of the front men
               on the same-sex marriage debate is no surprise. Since he first went
               to Richmond in 1992, he has become a leading social warrior in the
               General Assembly, fighting against abortion rights, sex education,
               feminists and "eco-terrorists." He has challenged James Madison
               University for stocking morning-after contraceptives and objected
               to George Mason University using public money to host liberal
               filmmaker Michael Moore. In 1998, he defended the family of a
               Virginia man who was kept in a vegetative state against the wishes

Master Diary                               USA 2006-2007

                 of his wife, saying Hugh Finn had a right to be kept alive with a
                 feeding tube.

                 If Marshall's moral views are clear, he is more circumspect about
                 what motivates him. He says that much of his work is informed by
                 his interpretation of Christian principles, but beyond that he only
                 says, "To allow ourselves to succumb to these deviations is to miss
                 out on the whole of human existence."

                 A District native and one-time Kennedy Democrat who
                 abandoned the party when George McGovern became its standard
                 bearer, Marshall is strong on other issues, part of the reason he has
                 been able to withstand political challenges. He is just as passionate
                 about limiting growth in Washington's outer suburbs as he is about
                 abortion and same-sex marriage, often waging as intense a battle
                 against developers as he does against Planned Parenthood.

                 "He isn't a one-trick pony," said Sen. James K. "Jay" O'Brien Jr. (R-
                 Fairfax). "You go up and talk to people in his district, and they may
                 not agree with him on abortion, but they support him on land use."

                 Still, Marshall's political skills have not lessened concerns from
                 detractors that as he has tried to promote his moral code, he has
                 infringed on the rights of others.

                 "He's extremely bright and can be very funny, but what he can't see
                 is how his beliefs are cruel to other people," said Sen. Janet D.
                 Howell (D-Fairfax). "He doesn't get that connection."

                 Marshall dismisses such attacks with characteristic aplomb. But he
                 also describes tussles with his opponents in the same way he talks
                 about his days of getting into schoolyard brawls: "Once you're in
                 the battle, you never give up. Never."

Sunday, November 5, 2006
   Guy Fawkes Day, I seem to recall.
   Have I noted, anywhere, the fact that Seva ran the air-conditioning during perfect weather just in
order to drown out the noise of the Dulles Airport aircraft overhead, and that she does not do
recycling as a matter of pride?

Monday, November 6, 2006
   Centreville, VA, to Washington, DC.
   The bus arrived early and left a minute early from Centreville Park & Ride (or Kiss & Ride) this
morning, and did the same in the afternoon, leaving a minute early from Vienna Metro.
   Seva still advertising strong for a person to take over the room. She gives little detail to the
prospective tenant.
   Michelle, still unwell, got up from her sick bed and we went for our second visit to the Portrait
Gallery, both of us surprised to find that Metro-Central is not the same stop as Gallery-China Town.
So we walked east along F Street from 12th to 6th, only to find that the Gallery doesn‘t open until
11.30 am. We went in search of flat shoelaces, my shoes having been continually coming undone
since I started wearing them with new (round) laces. We searched high and low, we went to Barnes &

Master Diary                               USA 2006-2007

Noble to check out the price of the book that has a walking tour of DC (too expensive at $US19.95)
and just prior to 11.30 am we asked in a clothing store about shoelaces and were directed to a CVS
Pharmacy around the corner. We‘d already been into a CVS in Chinatown but Michelle wanted to go
in, despite the fact that the gallery was now open and we had until 2.45 pm before we had to catch
the Metro back to Vienna. We took pics of a strange building façade opposite the CVS Pharmacy
store and then went in and Michelle asked whether they had shoelaces. The assistant didn‘t know but
asked her colleague who directed us to aisle 11 (or 13?) We found them but the staff were packing
shelves and were in no mind to let us muscle in on their territory and actually take something that we
wanted to buy off the shelf. We muscled in nonetheless, and now my shoes stay done up (though,
admittedly, a concentrated effort on an intricate double knot had already ensured that the knot did
not ride up the lace, as it does on single knotted round shoelaces).
    We checked out the exhibition of an artist whom we‘d hear on Radio National some months ago,
the fellow who had his Ku Klux Klan works stolen from his studio. His work was fascinating, and
encouraged me to make sure that we head to the Deep South for more than a cursory glance. There‘s
an opportunity from January 1st until February 20th or thereabouts, ie., 7 weeks.
    We left the Gallery and went to E Street Barnes & Noble café to buy coffee and eat our cut roll
lunch. We had been to the place before and had sat at the only available table – and that same table
was all that was available this time, too. I purchased the coffee‘s and Michelle had a coughing fit and
went off, just as she had done the last time we were there, some weeks ago. All those weeks ago I
had gone to use the ‗Restroom‘ and encountered a fellow who was just finishing shooting up, and
who had made only a cursory attempt to hide the fact from me. Now, sitting alone for 5 or 6
minutes, I became aware of the fact that nearly all of the seats in the café had been taken up by black
guys, a good number of whom were on the nod, and none of whom were eating or drinking. They
were moving about and doing deals, or so it seemed to me, they may have been homeless and
keeping out of the weather but there was a definite undercurrent of surreptitious but none-too-subtle
dealing. Next to where I sat, a big black man with a stack of books on one café table and the book he
was reading on another which had been dragged next to the first table was counselling one of the
fellows who seemed to be part of the dealership circle. There was much talk about religion and
having respect for another‘s personal religious belief. The counsellor, if that‘s what he was, was
advising the other man that he had rights and could not be thrown out on the street during the day.
He asked where else this fellow went during the day and he answered, Michelle tells me because she
was back now and heard the conversation, ‗the Library of Congress.‘ That would make lots of sense,
we decided when discussing this after we finished our coffees and walked back to the Portrait
Gallery. We come across people who‘re clearly using that facility as a refuge. They often talk to
themselves, sometimes very loudly, and the librarians come over and ask them to keep their voices
down. It would make sense that they‘re people with psychiatric illnesses and who‘ve been ―returned
to the community‖, which is to say, abandoned to their fate on the street. American capitalism is
great for the rich but deals a cruel hand to the poor.

Tuesday, November 7, 2006
    Having caught Michelle‘s cold, I‘m tucked up in bed this afternoon. We stayed home to watch the
election reports but there‘s been nothing to report, other than the now commonplace Republican
Party‘s dirty tricks – including phone calls to intimidate prospective Democrat voters, threatening
them with arrest if they turn up to vote, telling them they polling station has been changed, and so
on. Traditional Republican voters are very sceptical about such reports, and by and larger refuse to
believe this would be done by the GOP.

Wednesday, November 8, 2006
   Centreville, VA, to Library of Congress, DC:
   We sorted out the funds transfer and I paid my income tax debt of $A1200.00 odd online.
I‘m not well, having caught Michelle‘s cold. But we‘re in the home stretch for leaving Hatfield

Master Diary                                USA 2006-2007

Square, Centreville, Virginia, and that is a great relief. It‘s been a weird and confining two and a half
months and we‘ll be more than happy to get out and get back our deposit from this hideous woman
who is the epitome of everything awful about the USA.
   We walked to Market Square from the Library of Congress and there we purchased some flax
seed. Then we caught the Blue as far as the station one stop beyond the stadium, more or less due
east from the Capitol. A long and tiring day followed our long night of election viewing.
Thursday, November 9, 2006
    Centreville, VA, to Georgetown, DC:
    We took the bus and Metro train to Foggy Bottom and then walked back through Georgetown
down M Street (each purchasing books in a first rate second hand store just off M . Michelle‘s a story
about the Amish of Lancaster, PA, and mine a biography of H L Mencken) then up to Prospect
Street and along it to the old staircase down to M Street and the bridge over the Potomac then back
along Prospect to Wisconsin. We bought coffee at the Barnes & Noble in M Street and ate our cut
lunch ham, red capsicum, goat cheese and mushroom rolls in the café. This was totally different from
the B & N café in E Street, downtown DC because there were no smack addicts and drug dealers,
and the young fellow who was running the café was interviewing prospective staff and asking
questions of the existing staff about how to do x and y. He, too, was a great contrast to a downtown
DC bookshop manager-type, the horrid up himself arsehole at the bookstore opposite the Au Pain in
Union Station. When we left there – and incidentally, it was a perfect Autumn day, so good that we
were too hot for having erred in wearing long silk underwear to keep us warm in the open air which
we had expected to be cold at this stage of November – and walked North along the canal until we
reached the bridge and then continued North along the eastern bank of the Potomac River, sharing it
with many bicycle riders and joggers. Then we walked back and across the bridge to Rosslyn where
we took the Metro and bus back to Centreville, VA, and the news that George Allen has conceded
defeat in the Senatorial contest. So the Democrats have taken both the House and Senate so George
Bush has to compromise big time, at last. World reaction has apparently been of great relief at the
resignation of Donald Rumsfeld.

Friday, November 10, 2006
    Centreville, VA, to Arlington Cemetery, VA, and the Watergate Hotel and George Washington
University, DC
    We took the bus and Metro train to Arlington, strolled around the war cemetery – saw and took
pictures of the exquisitely understated Kennedy eternal flame burial site and Robert Kennedy‘s very
minimalist grave with its single white cross below Robert E Lee‘s house on the hill. The changing of
the guard ceremony at the grave of the unknown soldier was very over the top, with Marines saluting
empty stands upon which they were about to place a bouquet of flowers, and clicking the toes and
heels of their very shiny shoes. All very much a display of precision and disciplined routine that took
me back to my childhood and The West Croydon & Kilkenny RSL and memories of the horrid
fellows my father was so fond of. They were probably quite okay but they invariably struck me as
ignorant rightwing oafs and bullies. We walked back across the Arlington Bridge, the Potomac
majestically spread out below and beyond us and then I managed to coerce Michelle in walking
toward the George Washington University from the West rather than approaching from the Vietnam
War Memorial, as we had done so on an earlier walk, some weeks ago. It turned out to be a good
thing, too, because we came across the Kennedy Centre and next to that the site of Richard Nixon‘s
undoing, the Watergate Hotel – where we had an excellent Greek chicken wrap and good coffee for
lunch. We found the George Washington University, arriving very near the place where we had
arrived when we had previously walked there from the Vietnam Memorial. It was another balmy
Autumn day, Veteran‘s Day, as we learned, and Michelle learned, too, that the post office she was
seeking had been in the Watergate Hotel building. It was too late, now, to go back so we walked
around the block and then took the Metro from Foggy Bottom to Vienna, and the 3.10 pm bus back
to Centreville Park & Ride.

Master Diary                               USA 2006-2007

Saturday, November 11, 2006
    Centreville, VA:
    An interesting follow-up article in this morning‘s ‗Washington Post‘ concerning the religious vote
in the mid-term elections:
                  Democrats Win Bigger Share of Religious Vote
                  Parties Disagree on Why The Gap Has Narrowed

                 By Alan Cooperman
                 Washington Post Staff Writer
                 Saturday, November 11, 2006; Page A01

                 As the results of the midterm elections sank in this week, religious
                 leaders across the ideological spectrum found something they could
                 agree on: The "God gap" in American politics has narrowed

                 Religious liberals contended that a concerted effort by Democrats
                 since 2004 to appeal to people of faith had worked minor wonders,
                 if not electoral miracles, in races across the country.

                 Religious conservatives disagreed, arguing that the Republican
                 Party lost religious voters rather than the Democrats winning them.

                 Either way, the national exit polls told a dramatic story of changing
                 views in the pews: Democrats recaptured the Catholic vote they
                 had lost two years ago. They sliced the GOP's advantage among
                 weekly churchgoers to 12 percentage points, down from 18 points
                 in 2004 congressional races and 22 points in the 2004 presidential
                 contest. Democrats even siphoned off a portion of the Republican
                 Party's most loyal base, white evangelical Protestants.

                 "The God gap definitely didn't disappear, but it did narrow. And it
                 narrowed in part because evangelical voters had major questions
                 about the direction of the country," argued Democratic pollster
                 Celinda Lake.

                 In House races in 2004, 74 percent of white evangelicals voted for
                 Republicans and 25 percent for Democrats, a 49-point spread,
                 according to exit polls. This year, Republicans received 70 percent
                 of the white evangelical vote and Democrats got 28 percent, a 42-
                 point spread.

                 Democratic activists joyfully compared the overall seven-point shift
                 in the evangelical vote to the inroads that President Bush made in a
                 core Democratic constituency -- African Americans -- in
                 battleground states in 2004. "Boy, have we come a long way since
                 2004," said Mara Vanderslice, who was director of religious
                 outreach for Sen. John F. Kerry's presidential campaign.

                 "We still have a long way to go, but what this election showed is
                 that Democrats can begin to compete for the evangelical vote.

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               Moving seven points within a community that large can absolutely
               swing tight races," she said.

               Evangelical leaders blamed corruption and big spending by
               Congress -- rather than the party's positions on social issues such as
               same-sex marriage -- for the GOP's defeat.

               Evangelical Christians are "fed up with the Republican leadership,
               particularly in the House," said the Rev. Richard Land, head of the
               public policy arm of the 16 million-member Southern Baptist
               Convention. "They're disgusted that Republicans came to
               Washington and failed to behave any better than Democrats once
               they got their snouts in the trough."

               Roberta Combs, chairman of the Christian Coalition, said
               responsibility for the GOP's loss of the House and Senate "goes
               right back to the leadership, the corruption among Republicans."

               And James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family, issued a
               statement saying that "many of the Values Voters of '04 simply
               stayed at home this year" because the Republican Party has
               "consistently ignored the constituency that put them in power."
               In fact, white evangelical Protestants turned out this week as
               heavily as they did in 2004, making up roughly 24 percent of the
               electorate both times. "This is a solidly Republican voting bloc that
               there was reason to believe might stay home. Given the polling
               before the election, the amazing thing was that the Democratic
               swing wasn't bigger," said John C. Green, a senior fellow at the
               nonpartisan Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life.

               The finger-pointing came as conservative Christians absorbed the
               gravity of their losses, including the defeat of congressional
               standard-bearers such as Rep. John N. Hostettler (R-Ind.), Rep. Jim
               Ryun (R-Kan.) and Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.).

               In addition, voters in South Dakota overturned the nation's tightest
               abortion ban. In Missouri, they passed a measure supporting stem
               cell research. In Kansas, they defeated Phill Kline, an attorney
               general who had aggressively investigated abortion clinics.

               Seven states passed constitutional amendments barring same-sex
               marriage, but by much tighter margins than in the 11 states that
               adopted similar measures two years ago. In Arizona this week,
               voters rejected a marriage amendment, the first time gay rights
               advocates have beaten such an initiative anywhere in the country.

               In the view of religious liberals, the results showed that wedge
               issues have lost some power.

               "People really care about right and wrong more than right and left,
               and their antennae were up about corruption and the war in Iraq

Master Diary                              USA 2006-2007

               and kitchen-table moral issues -- health care and poverty," said
               Alexia Kelley, executive director of Catholics in Alliance for the
               Common Good, a group that set out this year to challenge the
               religious right's hold on moral issues.

               Kelley noted that Democrats received the support of 55 percent of
               Catholic voters and Republicans got 44 percent, a sharp reversal
               from 2004, when the GOP won a narrow majority of the Catholic
               vote in congressional races.

               In the states where Democrats fielded candidates who were able to
               speak credibly about their faith, they made larger gains, according
               to Vanderslice, who served as a consultant to half a dozen
               Democratic candidates. Among her clients was Ted Strickland, a
               minister who won 58 percent of the Catholic vote and 51 percent
               of the white evangelical vote in the Ohio governor's race against
               Ken Blackwell, a Republican who has championed conservative
               Christian causes.

               As they contemplated the results, religious conservatives
               anticipated attacks by business interests and fiscal conservatives
               within the GOP who think the party should focus on budget
               deficits and Iraq -- and put less emphasis on culture-war issues
               such as opposing embryonic stem cell research and keeping Terri
               Schiavo on life support.

               David Barton, head of WallBuilders, a Texas-based evangelical
               group, predicted that fiscal conservatives would cite California's
               Republican governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, as a model.

               "They will say, 'Schwarzenegger won and won big; the guys that
               lost are the social conservatives -- Hostettler, Ryun.' And so there's
               going to be a push within the Republican caucus to move further
               away from social conservatives," Barton said.

               Even before the election, former House majority leader Richard K.
               Armey (R-Tex.) called Dobson a "bully" who diverted the GOP
               from its core mission as the party of small government. On
               Wednesday, Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) said the GOP needs to
               become "a lot more progressive and a lot less ideological."

               Despite the GOP's losses, conservative religious leaders gave no
               indication they plan to engage in the kind of introspection and
               repositioning that religious liberals did two years ago. And despite
               their anger at congressional Republicans, they did not suggest that
               they were about to abandon the GOP.

               "Even though a lot of Democratic candidates talked about faith,
               and even though a lot of them are devout people who hold similar
               values, they are part of a party that is liberal," said Janice Shaw
               Crouse, director of Concerned Women for America's Beverly

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                  LaHaye Institute, a conservative Christian think tank. "So the only
                  hope social conservatives really have is the Republican Party."

Sunday, November 12, 2006
    Centreville, VA:
    American political burlesque; McLaughlin conducts his TV show like an old school disciplinarian
university tutor demanding from them and shepherding his students towards clear thinking.
    Noon: The McLaughlin Group panel TV programme on NBC Channel 4 Sunday mornings is a
superb instance of American political burlesque hosted by a man, John Mclaughlin I think, a latter
day Julius Sumner Miller, who plays the role of a school master who asks questions of his school
students and then marks them for their contribution and tells them what the correct answer to his
statement followed by an interrogative ‗True or False?‘ That‘s the first half hour; it‘s followed by his
One on One, another half hour with 2 ‗students‘, one from the Republican Party side and the other
from the Democrat side, just as, in the previous show it‘s 2 from the republican side and 2 from the
    Don‘t forget the ―Fifty Red Roses‖ woman in the wheelchair on the bus in the ‗return from
Thrifty, New Haven, story. ―And she said to me, ‘Fifty red roses for me?‘ ‖
    The Washington Post story of the deer; see the Sunday version where the deer managed to get the
lantern off and the discussion was about the people who may have shot it in the about to start
hunting season having to be warned not to eat it just in case the tranquilliser was still in its system. It
would need, therefore, to be held for a fortnight before being released:
                  Halloween No Treat for Young Deer

                  Associated Press
                  Saturday, November 11, 2006; Page A10

                  CASCADE TOWNSHIP, Mich., Nov. 10 -- A plastic jack-o'-
                  lantern meant for collecting Halloween candy is threatening the life
                  of a small deer that frequently visits a gated community.

                  The fake pumpkin has been stuck on the animal's snout for at least
                  six days. It appears to be snagged on the young buck's ears or horn
                  buds, and it is keeping the animal from eating and possibly

                  A deer in Michigan put its snout into a plastic jack-o'-lantern days
                  ago and has been unable to get the bucket off. (Courtesy Of Deb
                  Larson -- Grand Rapids Press Via

                  Officials from a Grand Rapids zoo could not get close enough to
                  the animal Friday to shoot it with a tranquilizer. They intended to
                  try again Saturday. If successful, they plan to remove the jack-o'-
                  lantern and take the animal somewhere to recover until it can be
                  released into the wild.

                  "He seems to be doing pretty well," said Bert Vescolani, director of
                  the John Ball Zoo. "I'm always amazed at how wildlife makes it
                  sometimes, even under the hardest conditions."

                  But Wendy Swift, medical director of the Humane Society of Kent
                  County, disagreed with that assessment, saying the animal was

Master Diary                                 USA 2006-2007

                 "debilitated and dehydrated." She warned that the deer might not
                 survive being tranquilized.

                 The deer would have to be held until after the two-week hunting
                 season -- which begins Wednesday -- because the anesthesia could
                 be harmful to humans who would consume it, Swift said.
Monday, November 13, 2006
    Centreville, VA to Washington, DC:
    We went through the rigmarole of changing our HSBC check account address without knowing
the correct zip code. The post office people were kinda helpful but the online machine was out of
order and the old method was easy to misunderstand. Michelle was in another of her crabby and
whingeing moods and it was a walking on eggshells situation to try and point out that we were in the
right place at the right time to change our address and so I intended going through with it, despite
the setbacks. I approached another Post Office employee and incurred her scorn but extracted,
nevertheless, the requisite information from her and looked up the zip code book that had defeated
Michelle and learned the new code. Then I returned to the HSBC branch and changed the bank
account address to our Pennsylvania address as of December 1, 2006.
    I‘m on the final page of The Architect, and should note that there‘s good information about Rove
and his conception of the role of confidence in the American political landscape and of his not
having an ethical sense so much as a view of honour, in the final few pages.
    There were other things which occurred today and which I should note but I can‘t recall them
adequately. There were 2 related synchronicities which impressed Michelle and I, though, and they
were these: a woman who regularly catches the same bus as us – the 9.03 am from Centreville
Park/Kiss & Ride – wasn‘t on it this morning. She was one of 2 who weren‘t aboard and we were
intrigued by this. Then, as we uncharacteristically took the red Line North from Metro Central,
Michelle nudged me at the platform because there, awaiting the same train was the woman from
Centreville. We have never seen her get off the train, and had had no idea of where she went in the
morning over the two and a half months that we‘ve lived in Centreville.
    The 9.30 am train is the first at the reduced fare each day and so there‘s a relatively stable body of
people who‘re there to go through the turnstiles at that hour. And there‘s invariably someone who
catches our eye, oftentimes for demonstrating that they‘re new to the game. this was the case from
the start; we‘re never the rookies because any type of knowledge about how it all works is bound to
be enough to ensure that there‘ll be someone more innocent and ignorant than thou. So this
morning, as we waited, a fellow in the early stages of Parkinson‘s caught my eye as he stood a short
distance away on the ‗not yet 9.30 am‘ side of the turnstiles. I wondered about him, where he fitted
into the great commuter scheme of things. Then, while awaiting Michelle to sort out her CD disks
with the postal clerk attending her, I looked up and there was the man in question – walking into the
North Farrugut post office on the corner of Connecticut and L Streets. The odds against such a
thing are surely staggering. I‘ve once before been in that Post Office, and it was Michelle‘s first time.
We‘ve been to that location around near the HSBC DC branch twice before.
    At lunch in the Library of Congress cafeteria Michelle noted that the fellow who came and sat
near us at lunch was yet another victim of Parkinson‘s disease. We have had these theme days often
enough, on one day it was women with huge breasts coming at us from every which way, and never
to appear in quantum packets ever again; the last time we went to HSBC was the day we saw blind
men everywhere.
    We attended the first session of the lame-duck Congress, sitting in as the House debated a bill to
secure the necessary entitlements to the land required for the Cherokee Trail of Tears historic park
[the Jackson Presidency‘s forced removal of the Cherokee from their traditional lands to Oklahoma].
When we entered the Senate Chamber, though, the cupboard was bare, with only a few officials and
pages in attendance. Still, we‘ve now seen sittings of both the House and Senate of the 109th
Congress. The 110th does not sit until January, 2007.

Master Diary                                 USA 2006-2007

    I‘ve been waking up around 3 am a lot recently and not being able to get back to sleep for a flood
of ideas concerning the narrative I‘m planning. The upcoming trip to Scotland is now taking on a
significance it never had before as I think about how to integrate that whole other story into the true
story. And I was running through the apparently liberating effect of telling the true story as openly as
possible, with the one true love business being a possible explanation of why I‘ve come to this stage
of accepting that the one deeply sought after union never occurred. The theme of union can begin to
take on the grounding metaphysic of the two sides of the tale. The union with another, the
sometimes unhappy union of Scotland with England, and the Union of the USA, with its dark
brother, the hostile twin. Geoffrey Hamilton as the hostile twin can start to question me about union,
why I didn‘t marry, and so on. He never married, either, you see, or perhaps he did, though probably
not. This story is starting to write itself and I‘m ready to write it, too, but am still girding my loins, in
preparation for the 6 weeks in Pennsylvania and a period of intense writing to lay down the main
story which can then be worked on until it‘s complete, and the story I want to tell is told, whatever
that story now turns out to be.
    One of the thing I though of during the long wake last night was that in telling the story of
accompanying the young woman to the Dollar Store on Whalley Street, New Haven, I can tell how
Baub said the 3 streets were names for the guys who invented the town. Well, not quite, and then go
on to tell the story of West Rock. This can be linked in with the story of Scotland.
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
   Centreville, VA:
   On American confidence. Two articles from The Washington Post, today:
                 Ohio Jury Convicts Ex-GOP Fundraiser

                  By Peter Slevin
                  Washington Post Staff Writer
                  Tuesday, November 14, 2006; Page A03

                  CHICAGO, Nov. 13 -- A federal jury in Toledo concluded
                  Monday that former Republican fundraiser and coin dealer Tom
                  Noe swindled the Ohio government in a risky investment scheme
                  that raised doubts about GOP leadership and contributed to last
                  week's virtual Democratic sweep of statewide offices.

                  Jurors convicted Noe, 52, a former county chairman who helped
                  raise more than $100,000 in 2004 for the Bush-Cheney ticket, of 29
                  of 40 counts, including theft, corruption and forgery. He faces at
                  least 10 years in prison for stealing from the state workers'
                  compensation fund and trying to hide his actions.

                  Noe's trial, with its vivid testimony of lined pockets and bogus
                  transactions, made headlines in the three weeks before Election
                  Day. The details -- starting with the very idea of investing $50
                  million in rare coins -- provided fodder for Democratic
                  advertisements and voter angst.

                  The damage to the chances of Republicans, who held every
                  statewide office before last week's vote cost them a seat in the U.S.
                  Senate, as well as the governor's chair, was significant even before
                  the 12 jurors and four alternates took their seats in the courtroom.

                  Along the way, the investigation touched Gov. Bob Taft (R), who
                  pleaded no contest in August 2005 to accepting secret gifts from

Master Diary                             USA 2006-2007

               Noe and others. Members of the governor's staff admitted to
               borrowing money from Noe or using his Florida home.

               Noe pleaded guilty this past May to a charge of illegally funneling
               $45,000 to President Bush's 2004 reelection campaign. Prosecutors
               said he arranged for friends, including elected officials, to donate
               money, then reimbursed them. He was later named one of 19 Ohio
               "Pioneers," who had raised more than $100,000 for the ticket.

               Critics used the charges against Noe, who soon resigned from the
               Ohio Board of Regents and the Ohio Turnpike Commission, to
               argue that Republicans had become the party of corruption from
               Columbus to Washington.

               Noe's misdeeds were mentioned in tandem with wrongdoing of
               Rep. Robert W. Ney (R), who quit the House after pleading guilty
               to accepting gifts and contributions in return for official actions.
               Among the benefactors and beneficiaries were lobbyist Jack
               Abramoff and his clients.

               The Toledo coin case involved two chunks of money entrusted to
               Noe by the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation, which gave
               him $25 million to invest in 1998 and another $25 million in 2001.
               The idea was to diversify a $15 billion portfolio, but things did not
               work out.

               Evidence from Noe's bookkeeper showed that on the day he
               received the first $25 million, he paid off a $396,000 bank debt and
               transferred $1 million to his coin shop. As time went on,
               investigators said, Noe wrote himself $1.8 million in checks,
               bought a boat and wrote $1.5 million in checks to contractors and

               He bought only a few coins.

               "Tom thought that we could always make up the money and always
               make it good," testified Timothy LaPointe, Noe's business partner,
               who said he falsified invoices to trick state auditors and profited

               "I did it for the money," LaPointe said, "and I did it for Tom."

               Noe did not present any witnesses in his defense. His attorney told
               the jury that his client had done nothing wrong.

               Assistant Lucas County prosecutor John Weglian offered a
               different version, telling jurors in closing arguments on Election
               Day: "The moment he got control, he began stealing."

               Ohio Jury Convicts GOP Fundraiser

               By JOHN SEEWER

Master Diary                             USA 2006-2007

               The Associated Press
               Tuesday, November 14, 2006; 5:19 AM

               TOLEDO, Ohio -- Less than a week after Republicans lost their
               grip on state politics, a former GOP fundraiser who played a role
               in the party's Election Day defeat was convicted of stealing from a
               state investment in rare coins.

               Tom Noe, accused of taking at least $2 million, was found guilty of
               theft, corrupt activity, money laundering, forgery and tampering
               with records. The jury found Noe guilty of 29 of 40 counts.

               Tom Noe, center, talks with his lawyer Bill Wilkinson, left, and
               John Mitchell while waiting for a verdict in his trial Monday, Nov.
               13, 2006, at the Lucas County Courthouse in Toledo, Ohio. Noe,
               52, a former GOP fundraiser was convicted Monday of embezzling
               from a rare-coin investment fund in a scandal that contributed to
               the rout of Ohio's Republican Party on Election Day. (AP
               Photo/Jeremy Wadsworth, Pool) (The Blade/jeremy Wadsworth -

Rep. John P. Murtha (D-Pa.) has been a longtime backer of Rep. Nancy Pelosi. (Bloomberg

               Voters fed up with government corruption scandals broke the
               GOP's 12-year lock on state government, electing Democrats to
               the governor's office, a U.S. Senate seat and three of four other key
               statewide offices.

               The Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation gave Noe $25 million
               in 1998 to invest in rare coins, followed by $25 million in 2001. At
               the same time, he began his rise to prominence in state politics.

               Prosecutors accused Noe, 52, of spending money from the coin
               fund on his business, his home in the Florida Keys and other
               luxury items. They did not say whether he used the money to make
               campaign contributions to Republicans, including President Bush.

               Defense attorneys, who did not present any witnesses, said Noe
               had permission from the bureau to invest the money, had wide
               discretion how to invest it and produced profits over the years.
               They said Noe was the victim of bad bookkeeping and that not one
               witness said Noe asked them to falsify or misrepresent anything.

               Noe stood still and stared straight ahead when the verdicts were
               announced. He was led away in handcuffs by federal marshals to be
               held in the county jail until his sentencing Nov. 20.

               He faces a mandatory 10-year prison sentence on the corrupt
               activity charge.

Master Diary                               USA 2006-2007

                 As he left, his wife and daughters huddled, hugged and wept.

                 "It's sort of a sad day in a way because of the things we've learned
                 about a system that has gone on here," said Lucas County
                 Prosecutor Julia Bates. Defense attorneys declined to comment
                 after the verdict.

                 The scandal led to charges against about a dozen people, including
                 Gov. Bob Taft, who pleaded no contest last year to failing to
                 report golf outings and other gifts. Investment operations were
                 overhauled at the insurance fund for injured workers, and its
                 administrator was forced out.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006
    The bitch dropped us in it good and proper yesterday morning just after she did her ―I‘m the
powerful landlady holding your deposit‖ tour of inspection prior to our Friday morning departure
when she declared that we had to be out by this morning. We could fight it but the hassle wasn‘t
worth it, and, besides, we were so gob smacked with her gratuitous nastiness that we didn‘t fight.
Actually, though, it was because we needed that deposit back and weren‘t prepared to jeopardise the
fact. She‘ll keep. We then spent the day finding and arranging accommodation on verge of the
Thanksgiving weekend. Rental car rates are up by 200% and 300% and hotel rates are similarly
inflated. The bitch. Michelle found a Super 8 at New York Avenue in the North East and we booked
it as the bird in the hand. Neither Michelle nor I has ever come across someone so positively awful
and nasty, though Muriel Poulton was close, for me, and Michelle worked with a woman at the
Office of Consumer Affairs during the Mary Beasley ‗trial‘. Nasty beyond belief.
Thursday, November 16, 2006
   Centreville, VA, to Washington DC (for the last time)
   We have the deposit cheque and have made our way from Centreville, VA, to the Super 8 at 501
New York Avenue, Washington, DC. What a relief, after 2 and a half months of being around that
thorough bitch.
Friday, November 17, 2006
    Washington, DC, to Manchester, United Kingdom, via O‘Hare, Chicago, Illinois.
    Apart from the absurdly sensitive security check at Dulles – Michelle had to take her whole
computer case apart to prove her bona fides – we both felt that this international trip was more or
less another commute. While waiting to board the BMI flight to Manchester at O‘Hare, Michelle was
noticing and commenting upon the behaviour of a woman opposite. She had dropped her Pepsi
bottle and Michelle judged that she was unlikely, given her performance so far, to take that into
account when she sought to open it, later. Michelle was disparaging when that‘s exactly what
happened: the woman was taken completely by surprise when the drink subsequently fizzed
everywhere. I said that‘s what it‘s like watching her, Michelle, set a plate down half on and half off
the table, or leaving the drawer open as she cuts up bread and other foodstuffs. The outcome is
equally predictable, and just as frustrating for the onlooker, the more so for being a regular
Saturday, November 18, 2006
    Manchester, England, to Stockport, England.
    The flight to Manchester was not up and over Iceland as had been the London to Chicago flight
in 2000 but in a beeline due North-east; it was a pleasant flight in a near new Airbus. The arrival in
Manchester was event free and easy. Hazel met us at the airport and drove us to her house at

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Stockport. We slept for 3 hours and then friends, Graham and Ann, arrived. Michelle was somewhat
annoyed with my asking Graham about his work as a scriptwriter. He has written for Coronation Street
and is credited with having saved Emerdale Farm. I was interested to know what he thought his
greatest achievement as a writer had been and whether he thought his best work was yet to come. He
seemed to have little interest in the topic, the job being something of a routine, from what I could
tell. Of course, what I really wanted to say was, ―Well, as satisfying as it must be to have rescued
Emerdale Farm, do you have any ambition to write something of the calibre of a Dennis Potter drama
series? The idea of writing being a 9-to-5 job seems odd, I confess.
     I drank a little more than I should have but had enough water through the night to stave off the
dreaded hangover.

Sunday, November 19, 2006
   Stockport, England.
   We spent a day girding our loins, walking around the local neighbourhood, having coffee and
cake at the local café on Heaton-Moore Road. Michelle sat up with Hazel and watched the realithy
TV show set in Queensland rainforest. Lucky Michelle.

Monday, November 20, 2006
    Stockport to Manchester.
    A brilliant walk around St Peter‘s Square and the local environs. We used the internet at the
library but it was largely unsatisfactory – 20 minutes and most of that with the assistant stuffing
about getting the thing online. Still, it‘s for locals with a card and for them it seemed to be a good set
up. The community getting something good from its government. We then walked through the open
air food market and Michelle purchased a nutmeg grater. We went into a Boots Chemist and a
department store where I checked out the price of conversion plugs. Too expensive, given that I was
probably not going to carry my laptop to Scotland. Michelle wanted to go to the canal and so we
headed there, walking into the Science Museum along the way. A wonderful museum which employs
an imaginative use of hologram technology. We went back to the open air food market for lunch –
something of a rip off – and then headed back to the museum for a 3 pm demonstration of cotton
processing – from boll to woven cloth. No jute. The fellow who conducted the ‗class‘ (it was aimed
at schoolkids but there was a couple older than Michelle and I making up a foursome) was very good
at his work and I wrote as much on a feedback form.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006
    Stockport, England, to Glasgow, Scotland, via Manchester.
    Note: at Stevenston, the narrator may realise that Hamilton is a pair of hostile twins. Maybe,
maybe not, too.
    Manchester had a good feeling – normal, civilised people. There are superb pockets of Autumn
leaf trees, even in this latitude at this time in late November, Thanksgiving. The National Bus left
right on 9 am and arrived at a God-awful roadstop at 10.55 am. High, comfortable, the bus is not
overheated but I‘m too hot, nevertheless, in my silk long-johns. I was acutely aware of the need to
wash clothes and the uninviting smell of greasy food accosted me. A small filtered coffee cost £1.85
and a scone £1.50. The latter came with butter but no implement to spread it with. It was raining and
overcast. No smoking signs were everywhere but a large group of men who were surely bovver boys
not so long ago were milling around in a menacing manner, and one of them smoked ostentatiously,
as if daring the authorities to confront him. No-one did, and that at least was an intelligent thing to
do for he was not the sort to be reasoned with. A thuggish oaf, to be sure. So many smokers; too few
Americans. Geezers, gits, and skinheads predominate. I was relieved at being away from Michelle‘s
whinging but apprehensive at having to find affordable accommodation upon arrival in Glasgow, and
aware of the sense of isolation that comes of being alone again – and the possibility that this may be
the upshot of my frustration at having to walk more and more on eggshells with Michelle. Will I be

Master Diary                               USA 2006-2007

able to find Lennoxlove, 25 miles SE of Edinburgh? Will I be able to get to Stevenston, 25 miles SW
of Glasgow? The quest takes the place of seeing and being. ―Different strokes for different folks,‖
Cathy from Pontefract, Yorkshire, often reminded me, and it‘s true.
    Michelle‘s cousin, Hazel, has a designer‘s eye that orders the visual; extreme ordering combined
with a hoarding complex contrasts with my similar complex accompanied by an ingrained lack of
order and untidiness. Un-attuned to ideas, Hazel comes at the world from a quite different angle.
Though increasingly ordered, now, as I try and maintain my grip and keep a foothold in a rapidly
changing world, I get older and less secure all the while coming around to the conclusion that I need
to be free of Michelle and yet am dependent upon having someone like her. So the diary is probably
the place to work this through.
    We left the service area at 11.15 am on the dot – National Bus and all other buses ran tightly to
schedule – and at some stage a Muslim fellow about 25 years of age boarded the bus with a child
about eighteen months old. The kid has a heavy cold and was crying and whinging most of the way
to Glasgow. Approaching Carlisle, not Hadrian‘s Wall, there‘s the smell of coal. The young child is
crying again and a heavy chest cough. A man walks down a Carlisle street pushing a pram through
the rain. We‘re coming down toward the High Street of Carlisle and every third or fourth house is for
sale. Michelle and I were in Carlisle in 2000. Another touchdown on the travel phase which began
with a trip to China, or even earlier with Michelle but which took off in earnest from March 2000
with our arrival in the USA. All those planets in the ninth house. There‘s the link to causality and my
life‘s ‗discovery‘ about the metaphysics of modernism. The lack of water in all the women. Why not a
water woman? Because unless blended perfectly I never last three weeks.
    Use Carlisle to introduce the Jacobin revolt and make the connection with the theme of Union
and, thereby, the other strand of the story not dealt with by Geoffrey Hamilton. Ahreem is afoot.
The conjunction and opposition of the horoscope.
    By 12.15 pm the bus is north of Carlisle and the sun is out in the South. At 1:28 pm we arrived at
Hamilton, SE of Glasgow and my purpose in being in Scotland further crystallised. The bus arrived
at the Buchanan Street station around 2.15 pm or thereabouts and I walked directly to the Tourist
Info place, in keeping with Hazel‘s advice that they‘d have the low-down on where to stay. It would
be easy to get a place at this time of year, she said, and I agreed with the reasoning and lugged my
heavy bag up the hill to Glasgow‘s main square, cursing my lack of foresight in leaving the trolley
wheels at Hazel‘s in Manchester.
    I asked for an accommodation guide at the Info office and, feeling somewhat ill at ease with the
sun very low in the sky and the relatively cold weather (very mild, in fact, for that time of year), I
joined a line to ask about the best way to go about the business of obtaining a room. A fellow on that
line turned to me and said, ―You were on the bus, weren‘t you?‖ I was. ―There‘s no accommodation
in town. Everything‘s booked out for the football. We‘ve finally found a place 20 miles out for
£50.00 per night. Good luck.‖ The woman behind the desk confirmed that there was no room at the
inn and my hear sunk at the combination of expense and difficulty I was about to experience. She
showed me the crossed out accommodation guide, crosses indicating places already full. Further
sinking of heart. I thank ed her for her assistance and was all ears as I remembered the aggressive
bunch of unsavoury characters at the service centre stop on the M6 earlier in the day. At some stage
the woman said ―Of course, if you were prepared to take a room in a hostel there‘s one at the Youth
Hostel.‖ I was more than prepared. She phoned for me and booked the bed. ―I won‘t charge you the
£3.00 booking fee.‖ I have no idea why this was waived but it was all good as far as I was concerned
and it made my stay in Glasgow that much more enjoyable. I set off walking to the YHA and saw
many drunk men near the pubs in Sauchie Street, or whatever that major thoroughfare is called. I
cheked into the dorm and when it turned out to be a room with four bunks, a shower and a toilet,
went down and booked a second consecutive night. I tried to book for the Saturday night prior to
my departure but the inn was full again, for that. The person behind the desk had no idea why it
would be booked out but assured me it‘s be easy enough to get a room in Glasgow on the coming
Saturday night.

Master Diary                                USA 2006-2007

Wednesday, November 22, 2006
    Glasgow, Scotland.
    I‘d intended to walk to central Glasgow but then, over a good breakfast of bacon, egg and
sausage, and great coffee in the café adjoining the hostel, I thought better of it and started phoning
for Saturday night accommodation. I changed a couple of pounds into 20p coins at the YHA desk
and spent some time on one of the public phones there contacting hostels and guest houses listed in
the Tourist Info guide. Not much luck. So I cashed in my 20p coins for 50p coins and discovered
that I could have used my Credit Card. Still, it was better that I hadn‘t because none of the guest
houses had sites, only email (which I‘d not be able to access or be sure about). I tried reading my
webmail, but the PC was not up to the job. So I wasted that money and then changed my coins for
20p at the desk again. I found a place near the Kelvinbridge Underground but got cut off as the
woman asked a question about what time I‘d arrive on Saturday. So I walked around to the guest
house, it being relatively close by my walking standards. Much (largely unnecessary) walking later I
knocked on the door and greeted the woman whom I‘d been speaking with. She explained that the
house was not staffed all day so my arrival in the morning would be more helpful than at a later time.
She was anxious about this, solicitous on my behalf, and with a view to costs as well.
    I took a post 9.30 am £1.90 day pass on the underground and went down to catch the train. Both
the platform and the train itself are of toylike proportions and I boarded with my bag of tricks –
camera, binochulars, copy of Broken Signs, and a sense of amusement and rode the service to the
vicinity of Buchanan Street Bus Station. The underground consists of an outer and inner loop and
was not much use for me, with time on my hands. I went to the aforementioned Bus Station and
boarded the X36 (I think) 10.10 am bus to Ardrossan, which went via numerous towns including
Stevenston, so far as I could tell. There were signs to every small hamlet along the way, but no
mention of Stevenston. Still, I had a map and was able to follow the route so I calculated that I was
approximately so many miles from my destination at any given moment, added to which was the fact
that the whole trip should take about an hour. I wondered whether the return fare of £6.20 was a
good deal since the one way fare was £3.00? At least I was headed in the right direction and it wasn‘t
raining. About 6 mile from Stevenston a number of retired folk boarded the bus at a series of stops.
They greeted one another with pleasure at seeing the laddie or lassie again after not having seen
him/her in a wee while. I couldn‘t discern what they were talkijg about but sat back and was able to
hear a regular ―Aye‖ coming from the passive one of the various interlocutors such that there‘d be a
garbled breakneck delivery followed by a short interval and the word ―Aye‖ coming from the person
who‘d been spoken to. The men near me spoke about celtic having beaten Manchester United one-
nil in a most unexpected victory. The sign that we were at Stevenston saw me gather my hat and bag
and head for the door but I checked, first, with the driver, that I was not under a misapprehension
concerning my whereabouts. Bugger me if he didn‘t ask where, precisely, in Stevenston, I wanted to
go! No other town along the way, all of them signposted, was more than a High Street with the
occasional intersection, but the driver said I should not get off for another couple of stops if I
wanted Stevenston‘s High Street. I took his advice and alighted when he gave me the nod at the next
stop, the other having presumably been skipped due to lack of passenger interest.
    It was raining steadily as I walked into the vestibule of the Public Library where I intended to find
out about Kerelaw Castle and plant a copy of Broken Signs. Closed on Wednesdays. So I crossed the
High Street to the local supermarket opposite the Pharmacy and asked about an umbrella. ―You‘ll get
one at the Shoe Shop, love,‖ the helpful woman informed me. ―You‘ll need the one in the next
street, about half way down.‖

                 ―Ooh, noo. We do not stock gentleman‘s umbrellas. You‘ll need to
                 go to the Pharmacy.‖
                 ―On the High Street?‖
                 ―Ooh, noo. Two doors along.‖

Master Diary                                USA 2006-2007

     I went there and an attractive young woman sold me an umbrella for £1.50. Super. Not the
umbrella, so much as the fact that I had something to get through the rain with and which, when
torn apart by the howling winds of Glasgow, would not have been such a waste. I asked if she‘d any
idea where of the whereabouts of Kerelaw Castle ruins and she told me that it was not a well known
landmark but that she used to live near it and could direct me there along the burn. She then came
out into the rain and wind to point the way. It was a long and winding road affair, by the sounds of
it, and so I took in as much as I could and then set off, assuming that someone would put me back
on the path were I to stray. There‘s a series of pics for that path which I took by heading up to the
Kirk on the hill, through the gate to that Kirk, and onwards across a road bridge, and then down a
muddy path where I surprised a couple taking their dogs for a walk coming from the opposite
direction who were unused to encountering anyone else on this path, they informed me. The burn
was a fast running creek which veered off to the left as the path emerged onto a road with a nearby
intersection. There were no signposts, though there had been one pointing the way to the
Cambuskieth Kerelaw Castle on the road bridge. The Cambuskieth Hamiltons were my men so I was
getting warmer back there and did not want, now, to get colder. But which way? I took a guess that it
would most likely be toward the burn so I followed the road that ran nearest where I‘d seen the
creek‘s upstream course. I soon came to a sign – Campbell Road – high up on a house. Brilliant! I
knew I was headed in the right direction since my Pharmacy guide had mentioned Campbell Road. I
walked on and when I came to a path between two rows of houses it felt like the way to go. A
postman was delivering mail so I approached him with a view to zeroing in on the location but just
as I put my question the castle itself peeked out from behind the corner of my eye and so I asked if
this be the Kerelaw or some other castle ruins. He confirmed that I had come to the right place so I
spent some time up there with the camera, and overlooking the burn which ran below a stone bridge
next to the castle. I then retraced my steps, taking pics in reverse order of the stages along the way of
my outward journey. I captured the ruins, the stone bridge, the brook swollen with all manner of
consumer refuse, and various shots of the Kirk and its adjoining graveyard as well as the Forth of
Clyde in the distance. Alas, the Island of Arran was lost in the mist on this occasion, but I shall
weave in the story of my Arran knit pullover, purchased in 1978 and not thrown away until my
radical jettisoning of unnecessary baggage just prior to leaving Alexandra Street for the year. The rain
had abated during the time I walked to and from the Hamilton Grange and now it came down in
torrents so I went quickly to the Pharmacy, took a photograph of my umbrella guide who‘d been so
helpful, telling her that she‘d given excellent directions and that in doing so she‘d helped enormously
with my website project about a famous American whose forebears came from that castle
overlooking Stevenston. She almost posed and was delighted to be part of it all.
     Having returned to Glasgow and checked the time table for the Edinburgh bus and found the
service more or less regular and easy to access, I had lunch, again with excellent coffee, in the café
next to the YH, and phoned Edinburgh YH intending to have a couple of days there – Geoffrey
Hamilton will have insisted upon the necessity of leaving a sign at Lennoxlove and would throw a
tantrum and complain bitterly ever after of the signs having been interfered with – which the narrator
can call ‗broken‘ at some stage – but found, once again, no room at the inn. Rather than undergo the
stress and buggerising around getting accommodation there, in Edinburgh, I decided to cut my losses
and spend the remaining time in Glasgow, where there was much to see and do. I phoned around
and found a room in central Glasgow at the McLay Guest House for Friday night and booked a third
consecutive night s at the YH. I then walked back in the dark and very wet afternoon and arrived at
Kelvinbridge underground station around 4.20 pm and took the toy train to Cowcaddens station
then walked in a big circle in search of the McLay Guest House Hotel and the route back to the
underground. I found that I could walk a much more direct route from that station directly to the
Renfrew Street Hotel. I then caught the train back to Kelvinbridge and walked ‗home.‘ Alas, that
night, I found the copy of Broken Signs I‘d meant to plant in Stevenston. So Geoffrey can solve that
problem for me, and make a virtue of necessity by whinging about the discontinuity of signs which
my foolishness created. I can point out to him that I‘d planted his sign in a suitable Glasgow location
and that should be just as good as the Stevenston drop. Then mention the numerous possible

Master Diary                                USA 2006-2007

suitable locations around Glasgow, such as the Robert Burns love corner, the site of the Market
Street Book Store from yesteryear – Geoffrey has little concept of time, of course – and so on but he
can conveniently ask that I say no more about it because it‘s bad enough that the sign was not
planted precisely in either Stevenston or, more appropriately, in Lennoxlove, the home of his ‗newly
discovered‘ ancestors, it‘s better not to know where, precisely, in Glasgow it was deposited. Geoffrey,
then, can complain of having not only been done out of going to Lennoxlove, 25 miles SE of
Edinburgh (whilst I, for my part, had a great desire to pay homage to the memory of David Hume in
Edinburgh and had that wish thwarted) Geoffrey can bitch that the sign should have been left at
Lennoxlove, site of the Dukes of Hamilton ―the pre-eminent nobles of Scotland and are the
country‘s most senior aristocrats,‖ but failed. I had intended leaving it at the site of the Cambuskieth
Hamiltons, I can claim, but Geoffrey had changed horses in midstream and decided he was not
descended from them afterall but from the more pedigreed Lennoxlove line. So he‘d complained
bitterly and I, meanwhile, had determined to leave it in Glasgow, home of all those merchants who
traded with the New World on the other side of the Atlantic.
    See AH/162 for a reference to Landon Carter that can possibly give Hamilton a wild goose chase
notion that Henry Carter (alias Porter) had relatives here, too, and that is the possible backdrop to
their having crossed paths. Hamilton, afterall, doesn‘t live in time, and doesn‘t appreciate that
ancestors are people from a bygone era. AH/163 Paradox – Gallowgate – the road to the gallows.
    Conjunction, union, opposition. This is Geoffrey Hamilton‘s obsession (maybe taken over from
his still mistaken belief that he‘s operating in the spirit of Rosemary DeBlatt) and it starts to present
itself to the narrator as so much in keeping with the theme of the Union of the American States that
he comes to view America as a union of warring opposites. Then he moves toward the spirit of
Mercurius which he sees a statue of in Glasgow and he begins to make the connection with the
mercantile traders, the tobacco Lords, and so on to build a narrative of the spirit Mercuries as pagan
trickster divinity governing the United States of America. So he ‗interprets‘ Geoffrey Hamilton as
having been the creative impulse which, had he not gained control of and governed himself, might
have taken him over in the form of a psychosis but which, having been controlled, corralled,
marshalled via the use of firm mastery on the part of the narrator was the hostile twin who did not
over-run ego consciousness.
    Union: Glasgow and Edinburgh were the twins of the Scottish Enlightenment; Glasgow was the
more down to earth and pragmatic of the two whereas Edinburgh is airy and cerebral; Glasgow
intertwined the practical and intellectual; e.g., In 1762 James Watt built Scotland‘s first dry dock at
Port Glasgow.
    The title of this non-fiction might be something like
    Killing My Twin. How I Overcame Psychosis And Discovered What Makes America Tick
    I Murdered My Brother And Discovered What Makes America Tick
    I Discovered What Makes America Tick When I Murdered My Brother
    The Role Of Insanity in the Discovery of America
    The Part Insanity Played in the Discovery of America
    though none of them quite nails the apparently non-sequitur surprise effect required. The two
parts are (i) I cured psychosis & (ii) I discovered what makes America tick and the surprise is that
there‘s a causal relationship between them, the murder having opened a window on America.
    I was the only person in the four-bed room 17 at the YH that night. That was good. However, I
knew that someone might come in at any time so not to trap myself in a situation where I left things
around. Late at night, I was woken when a black youth entered the room. He looked at me with utter
contempt, perhaps because I was so old, maybe because he thought it was an old woman in the bed –
my ballooning grey hair giving that impression, unfortunately – but whatever it was it made me

Thursday, November 23, 2006
   Is today the 43rd anniversary of the JFK assassination or was it yesterday? I had an impulse to
walk a different way to the old part of town and so headed down the nearby steps South, I guess. I

Master Diary                               USA 2006-2007

was going to press on further South downhill but checked my progress that way and struck out east
in the belief that I would possibly have headed away from the Old tobacco Lords district. As it
happens, I wouldn‘t have. However, I came to the pedestrian overpass and crossed the M8. Then, for
no good reason I gave in to the impulse to continue on up the street instead of making for
Sauchiehall Street which is level, and has shops and pedestrians. Wet and pinched I walked with
other such Glaswegians east along this featureless Street. But not for long. It became strangely
familiar the further I walked and I soon realised that McLay‘s Guest House was coming up on my
left, where the night before it had been on my right. I was approaching it, that is to say, from the
West whereas late yesterday afternoon I‘d come at it from the East after a long walk to Kelvinbridge
Underground Station and a ride on the tube train followed by another long walk from Cowcaddens. I
had in fact travelled in a large circle and walked a lot further by taking the subway than if I‘d looked
more closely at the larger map of Glasgow. The chance discovery set off a great wave of satisfaction
and I felt Ahreem‘s hand at my elbow gently guiding my footsteps. Certainly, it‘s enough for the
narrator to be amused and satisfied with the timelessness of Geoffrey Hamilton‘s world.
    Among other delights today was coming across the statue of Mercuries, written Mercvrivs in the I
Clavdivs style (see the pic). Strong winds and persistent penetrating rain rendered me YH bound after
2 pm. I spoke to a couple of young Australian men and read a strange and interesting essay in the
Virginia Quarterly Review (which someone had left on the bookshelf) about presidential primaries in
New Hampshire and Iowa distorting and undermining the whole political process. Constrained, and
anxious to be able to get on with my story, I went early to bed at 8 pm and woke up when an older
man came in. He pointed out to me that my wallet had fallen on the floor near my bed. I thanked
him and went to sleep.
Friday, November 24, 2006
    Glasgow, Scotland.
    I stayed in bed until 8 am, then showered and went to the café next door for breakfast. A woman
whose hair was just greying came in an took off her coat and scarf. She looked at me with some
curiosity, or was it interest. She resembled Mandy Simondson. I wanted to stay and strike up a
conversation with this Scottish Mandy, who was part Scottish herself. I went back to pack and leave
the YH for the Renfrew Street guest house and thought of how the phrase ‗ring of confidence‘ is
typically American. The old fellow who had brought my attention to the fallen wallet was a 55 year
old Spaniard from Bilbao who lived and worked in Madrid and who was very much on my
wavelength. We agreed about the ‗softening‘ which the Latinos from the impoverished regions bring
to the USA, and, he says, to Spain as well. We discussed the nastiness of John Howard and the
Australian immigration authorities‘ disrespect for non-English speaking travellers. ―I‘m not a tourist
so much as a traveller,‖ he said. Yes, like Tony Carey‘s pilgrim. He had resigned from his job in order
to get out and about and experience life while he was still able to, he told me. I told him how much I
agreed, and how I have the luxury of still having my job when I return.
    Once I‘d checked in I turned on the TV and became absorbed in a movie which I soon realised
was The Dish. Brilliant. I greatly enjoyed it. Later, at night, I watched an intriguing Simon Scharmer
(spelling?) programme about Vincent van Gogh being not so much insane as having kept insanity at
bay by giving expression to his creative muse.
Saturday, November 25, 2006
    Glasgow, Scotland.
    The McLay guest house single room was very good, as was the Scottish breakfast of filtered
coffee, eggs, bacon, baked beans, fried tomato, as well as butter and jam on toast. Polonium 210 is all
the news with the London poisoning of a Putin critic. At 8.30 am I returned to the YH in search of
my silk dressing gown cord but it had not turned up. It was another sunny start to the day, a beautiful
morning to be sure, after the howling winds and rain of the previous night. I had the camera and
took a number of pics as I walked to the River Clyde and along its embankment. As I came back to
the hotel to check out I came across a group of people preparing for a demonstration, and took pics
of them and a group of police nearby. I continued to be surprised by how mild the temperature was.

Master Diary                               USA 2006-2007

I hadn‘t worn the silk thermal underwear since arriving, and still had no need of it, not even wearing
my pullover as I walked east along the Great Western Road toward the Buchanan Street Bus station
after checking in to the North Woodside Road Amadeus Guest House for my final night in Scotland.
On the way back – for I failed to press on closer to the heart of the Saturday morning throng in
town, and that way missed out seeing or even hearing the Scottish pipe band that accompanied the
protest marchers, Unionists and others, making a point against racial intolerance that had flared
recently when a pair of disaffected youths assaulted and killed a young Pakistani or someone like that.
The EEC has seen to it that people from all over the place now live and work in Glasgow, including
a Polish couple who have a café on Great Western Road where I had a coffee and lemon cake.
    While walking back to my hotel, I conceived the idea of putting a proposition to Lora that I
somehow job share with her, becoming her Pam Kelsey #2, and emailing her now, concerning it.
Ridiculous, really, how the Lora stuff never goes away. Once back in the room I poured myself a
glass of Sicilian red wine that I‘d purchased the previous night. I watched an excellent Eminem dvd
song clip ‗Do It‘, or something like that. I spilled some wine. Then I lay on the bed to read more of
Arthur Herman‘s How the Scots Invented the Modern World and flicked the channel onto number four to
hear Miss Jean Brodie telling her ‗gelz‘ about Mussolini‘s fascists as they walked about the streets of
Edinburgh. A brilliant movie, the one which Lora used rave about as being streets ahead of the
American imitation, Dead Poets’ Society. The woman who played a role in Fawlty Towers as the wife of
some landed gentleman with a twitch to whose wife Fawlty said ―Don‘t get up‖ played a very similar
role in The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie. I‘d have to write to Lora now, not about work but about fond
memories brought back with the viewing of this movie.
                   ―Mary McGregor died fighting for Franco against the forces of
                   ―You, Sandy, have more of my confidence than anyone … ‖
                   ―I am teddy‘s lover … ‖
                   ―Mary McGregor is dead.‖
                   ―I‘m no longer in my prime.‖
Sunday, November 26, 2006
    Glasgow, Scotland, to Stockport, England via Manchester.
    The sun was out most of the day as the bus which departed from Buchanan Street at 11 am
headed South. I had a nervous time tracking down the bus stop for Ann‘s house which I had to get
to in order to rendezvous with Hazel. I figured it out and managed to turn up at the birthday party
without any major difficulty. Hazel invited me to watch the ‗reality TV‘ show about celebrities in the
Queensland rainforest. Brain numbingly awful stuff, I managed to sit through it, and longed to be
back in the USA.
Monday, November 27, 2006
    Stockport, England.
    I had a day to write up notes but not to type them – since we had no electrical plug for the
laptops. I walked up the street and purchased tickets to the airport for the following morning then up
to the bakery for a sort of mini pizza which I ate as I walked back and had coffee at the nearby café.
When Michelle arrived at night we took Hazel to dinner at another café nearby. We had a good meal
and left on a high note, wishing her well and suggesting that we might catch up when she comes to
New York in February.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006
  Stockport, England, to Manassas, Virginia, via Manchester-Piccadilly and Manchester-Airport,
England, O‘Hare-Chicago, and Dulles-DC.

Master Diary                               USA 2006-2007

    Up at 5.15 am we spend the usual inordinate time unpacking and re-packing – this time because
Michelle had imagined they‘d let her take her shoe horn into the cabin and was persuaded by my
amazing powers of reason that the authorities would surely confiscate the very sharp and pointy
object, that conclusion resulting in her changing her shoes and unpacking the whole case. Our other
argument concerned my having been told by an Australian in Scotland that cabin baggage in England
extended to one item only, not a laptop and something else. Michelle pointed out to me that this
could not be the case because women simply had to have a handbag as well as a laptop. I reiterated
what I‘d been told, suggesting it would be a bummer to get to the gate and have to jettison valuables.
Michelle knows best.
    So, we left Hazel‘s house having had no breakfast and wheeled our luggage to the train station in
the dark and wet. The rain abated for most of that perambulation and we boarded the invariably late
train for Piccadilly where I stood guard over the bags while Michelle went into Sainsbury‘s for salad
sandwiches and, subsequently, a large Cornish pasty. The pasty booth had been the first port of call
but the story was that the wares would not be hot for another quarter hour. This, at a time when
thousands of people were pouring through the station on the way to the office, or department store,
or whatever.
    We joined the wrong line for BMI at the airport to begin with and getting to the correct place was
a tricky business. That went off without further difficulty, however, and we checked the bag and
trolley to O‘Hare then approached Security where Michelle was put out to learn that she would not
be able to take both her laptop and her handbag as hand-luggage. More re-packing. By the time we
made it though the security check I had a headache and Michelle was beyond grumpy. She was angry
with me, now, because I wanted to do what we usually do, and which makes air-travel less stressful:
get to the boarding lounge and have one sit with the bags while the other goes in search of coffee, to
the ‗Rest Room‘, for a ‗stretch the legs‘ stroll, or whatever. Not today. Oh no. Michelle was making it
clear that we should do anything else first. She could do what she wanted, I made clear, but I was
heading straight for the departure gate lounge. She followed, and soon realised that sitting down and
not having to move was what she most wanted to do. I went in search of coffee but returned with
the news that a £2.00 regular was not filtered but instant coffee. I opened one of the sandwiches but
Michelle decided to take the remaining sterling and go in search of real coffee. She returned
sometime later with real coffee. It was a great relief, and my headache began to abate and her mood
to soften. The BMI flight was once again comfortable and pleasant – though a foolish young woman
used her cell phone during the critical part of the landing which saw the fellow opposite me shake his
head in amazement and disgust, Michelle and I make suitably loud comment concerning her life-
endangering ignorance, and the air hostess emerge from backstage and issue a firm directive. The
Aircraft touched down without incident at O‘Hare but we seemed to skid to a halt without the
reversal of engines (perhaps the Airbus doesn‘t do that anyway?) and were then informed that we had
no steam of our own and would have to be towed to the arrival gate. This took an additional hour. A
fellow at the airport gave us a lift on his motorised baggage buggy to immigration and we prepared
for the big moment. The line moved relatively quickly and I reviewed the plan that since Michelle
had so much at stake with respect to re-entry I would say as little as possible and she would do the
talking. I checked out the officials in the various entry booths and saw only one whom it would be
good to avoid. Then a woman approached us and directed us to a new section then corralled all there
and instructed Michelle and I to go stand on the red line right there, where she pointed. It was THE
man I had no desire to negotiate re-entry with.

                 I fly into O‘Hare, Chicago.
                 My heart goes boom boom boom
                 I know that immigration man
                 He's going to take me
                 To that little room
                 Oh no, no. Oh no, no.

Master Diary                               USA 2006-2007

     Michelle went first. I took off my hat. He asked how ling we intended staying. Michelle said ―Six
months.‖ Oh no, no, no. Whatever gave us the idea we could stay six months. Michelle went through
the explanation about having a paper to deliver at a university. He turned to me. ―What do you do in
Australia?‖ ―I‘m a computer programmer.‖ (I didn‘t admit to being an ex-programmer – my leave
agreement having left it open for me to become a car park attendant upon return to work – or even a
make-believe programmer but simply ―Computer programmer.‖ Why was I in the USA? ―I have
leave from work. I have the authorisation from my employer to that effect here in my bag.‖
     ―Put your left index finger on the red light.‖ My left index finger was doing as it was told.
     ―Press harder.‖
     Pressing, pressing.
     ―Right index finger, now, Sir, please. Look into the camera. Madam,‖ he raised his eyebrows, and
Michelle‘s finger was on the red light. I handed over the leave authorisation signed by my employer.
―Right index finger, now, please. Look into the camera.‖ He ignored my slip of paper, signature and
     Michelle pressed her case. Please take your passports and stand over there by the glass panel. We
stood aside, many ducks dependent upon this one slotting into its allotted place. A very big man,
armed to the teeth, came and escorted us to the little room. We sat down upon a wooden bench with
what looked like the cast from Alice’s Restaurant. The hour delay on the tarmac was a worry but even
were we to get out of here there‘s every chance we‘d miss the connecting flight to Dulles. We were a
long way down the queue of sleuthers and n‘er‘do‘wells striving to be in the land of the free, the
world‘s greatest democracy. I was relatively calm, philosophical. I wanted to spend the next few
months in the USA but it would not be the end of the world to have to return home to live out the
remaining six months of my Long Service Leave. I‘ve not been to Tasmania, for instance, and could
be there within a few days of arriving in Adelaide. But would we be able to use our existing return
ticket? And what of our rental car and motel reservations, not to mention the pre-paid rent for the
apartment in New Providence, Pennsylvania? Would we be deported and have the ridiculous expense
associated with traveling on the next available flight? Michelle, though, was reading from the other
script, Paul Simon‘s classic ‗Paranoia Blues‘, and she doesn‘t even listen to music. ―What if they strip
search us?‖ They don‘t think we‘re smugglers. This isn‘t Customs. It‘ll be okay. We‘ll be right. I think
the Anglo looking woman has our passports. The Latino who stopped us will be cancelled out by this
Anglo woman who‘ll see that we‘ve been here numerous times and never over-stayed. A minute or
so later a woman in an air hostess uniform entered the room and asked after us of the Anglo woman.
―These nice people,‖ she said, looking straight at us as if we were well acquainted, or had ever
spoken, will be right with you. ―Please come up to the podium.‖ We did. I thanked the air hostess for
taking the trouble to ensure that we would be able to make our connecting flight. She was concerned
that we‘d not collected our luggage.

                 And what is it that you do research in, Maam?
                 American hospitals in China.
                 Why not travel to China, then?
                 Because the records are held in the United States.
                 Here are your passports. I hope you will enjoy your stay.

    We collected our bags, walked straight through Customs, checked the luggage to Dulles, DC, and
lined up at Security. There were people who‘d been on our BMI flight not very far ahead of us in the
queue. Off with the jacket, off with the shoes, take out the laptop, no more hard-travelling blues. We
went directly to the departure gate lounge and soon boarded the international flight to Kuwait. Yeah,
Kuwait, via Dulles, DC. They‘d allocated both of us window seats, one in front of the other, so I got
to talk to a business woman who ran a consultancy about raising venture capital for starting up a
business. She‘d been to Canberra recently in order to train some would be entrepreneurs.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Master Diary                               USA 2006-2007

    Manassas, VA, to Rest Area, I-95, NJ, via New Providence, PA, and North Brunswick, NJ.
    We drove from Northern Virginia to New Providence, setting out from Manassas in dense fog
and trepidation as we took I-66 toward the Beltway. The fog was most troublesome in Manassas and
eased considerably by the time we were on I-66 heading East. We made good progress to I-95 North
and followed Emily‘s instructions to R-222 and New Providence. All went well, and we felt very
positive as we journeyed through rural Pennsylvania. We stopped at a diner and had to harass the
waitress in order to get the basic service so she received no more than a 10% tip when we left. We
arrived at 56B main Street, PA, as we said we would, in the early afternoon – shortly after noon, in
fact – and met Barbara Musser. She was entertaining the women from her Bible study class,
providing lunch, so we learned the basics, got the key, and left for North Brunswick, NJ, where we
intended collecting our goods and chattels from Carol and Stefan Ziersch. We had a map of
Pennsylvania but none of New Jersey so it was an achievement to arrive around the time we said we
would, at 5.45 pm. Carol was stressed looking, fatigued, and getting the evening meal prepared. Her
youngest daughter, Lauren, was doing math homework so our arrival set the dog off and gave Lauren
an opportunity to abandon the homework. Carol invited us to dine with them and we did – enjoying
steak slices with rice and beans as well as lettuce and tomato. Stef was in a more communicative
mood than normal and we didn‘t leave until around 9 pm. We headed down I-95 with a view to
staying in a motel but when we came to a Rest Area a few miles into the journey we unpacked and
prepared to sleep in the car, warnings of being towed away for doing just that notwithstanding. It was
a mild night but we each of us awoke in the night from the cold. It wasn‘t enough to wake either of
us completely, though, and we slept from around 10 pm until 4.15 am the next morning.

Thursday, November 30, 2006
    We left the Rest Area truck stop on I-95, New Jersey, at about 4.15 am and drove toward the exit
for the Pennsylvania turnpike or another such toll road that would take us west toward Lancaster.
The road was not too busy but there were still numerous semi-trailers to give us cause for care. We
realised as we neared the exit that we had no available cash for the $US8.00 or more toll and so
continued along I-95 toward a turn off that Michelle calculated might take us west eventually.
Pennsylvania‘s a tricky State for avoiding the turnpike at the best of times and in the dark it was not
at all easy. We decided to press on down I-95 for a number of miles because the way around the
turnpike would require getting beyond Philadelphia. So we did that, intending to pull into a gas
station or something like that in order to find a way through in due course. But it‘s funny how things
don‘t turn out the way you have ‘em planned: the only option soon became to survive the fog. We
marvelled at the extraordinary sights of yellow lit industrial sites belching plumes of smoke amidst
the increasingly dense fog as we neared Philadelphia. The benign and gentile Philly of the 2000 train
arrival on the one hand and the 2005 Greyhound on the other was now a gigantic metropolis way
beyond human scale with its spaghetti looming out of the darkness of I-95 and leading to God
knows where. The wonder of it all soon gave way to fear as we were swallowed up by a fog so dense
that it became impossible to find an exit and something of a feat to find the road or stay in lane. A
Chrysler PT Cruiser that had dangerously tailgated us until I could get out of the way almost came to
grief as an exit loomed up unexpectedly on the inside lane and the driver veered suddenly left. My
strategy to remain in the next lane over had paid off in that instance, at least. We crossed the Delare
River, I think, and Michelle calculated that we should have to exit sometime soon. But we could not
see where we were, and exits were confusing and liable to take us off somewhere hopelessly far from
our intended destination. It became so dangerous that I picked the next exit that I could find,
regardless of where it dumped us. We simply had to get off. Miraculously, there was no-one else
around in the darkness, no-one to crash into nor even be tailgated by. High beam headlights were no
better than low, and they were only barely more useful than no light at all as we drove through a
green light into the void, and then another green light, and so on until we found a Safeway Shopping
centre and were able to stop and read the map. We‘d stumbled onto the exit that would take us more
or less directly to R-41 which Michelle had hoped to find. The fog was so thick you couldn‘t even
spy the land, let alone stand up to some businessman‘s haulage contractor. We headed off into the

Master Diary                                USA 2006-2007

darkness again, this time in the knowledge that if we could only find R-41 West we‘d be heading for
home, and a new life in Lancaster, PA. Michelle figured it was a long way off and that there was no
need at this stage to try and find the relevant intersection. That tactic went wrong when R-261 or
whatever it was came to a sudden end and I had to make an instant decision to go hard or soft.
Michelle figured I was making executive decisions and became agitated. She wasn‘t convinced that I‘d
had no choice but only one of two alternatives. We executed a dangerous U-turn in the foggy
nothingness and headed back to from where we‘d come and managed to pull into a well lit parking
lot. Well, it was, but as we entered the lights all went out – and this wasn‘t anywhere near
Massachusetts. We concluded that we must have missed the turnoff to R4 and calculated that we
could get to it by continuing North along the road we were on; i.e., had I turned soft instead of hard
when faced with the instant decision to make it would have been better. We came to what we figured
should be R-41 but there was no indication of the fact so I went into a gas station on the corner and
was told that it was indeed R-41. We took it and were then directed to turn into the driveway of a
locked business premises. The car behind us did exactly the same. Poor signposting, and in dense
fog. Bloody hell. We found the road and then struggled to stay on course for about 6 or 7 mile until
it settled down and we headed unmistakably toward Lancaster, according to the signs. Mad tailgating
pickup trucks mad life a misery for many miles and we longed for a place to pull over and have
coffee, and maybe a donut, if that was all that was on offer. None was to be had so we pressed on
into the night, it being now sometime after 6 am and not a glimmer of light apart from that of the
oncoming traffic and the occasional red of a receding pickup that managed to cross the double
yellow lines and escape the tyranny of a driver sticking to the speed limit in the pa soup. Then,
around 6.25 am, a diner – The Chuck Stop – loomed up on the left. It was a truck stop café and would
no donut be smoke filled but we‘d at least be able to get a coffee and a bun or something similar to
keep us alive. We walked in and I went to the counter and asked where the non-smoking area was.
The bar stool area was covered in a cloud of smoke from the resident truckie and I was confused for
the moment by the waitress‘s directions to the little corner area right behind the juke box. I had it all
reversed, of course: the isolated corner with the empty boxes wasn‘t for smokers but for the likes of
us, the weird non-smoker pansies with their unruly hair and stupid accents. We sat down. The
melancholy twang of a lonesome man‘s tale of woe about some no good long gone still-loved woman
blasted us out of our complacent sense of well being as we anticipated a cooked breakfast. No donut
necessary; this was the real thing: an American diner. It was beyond that, even, with a slot machine
alley. The waitress brought us coffee and took our order for eggs, bacon, and hash browns.
                   Gee but it‘s good to be back home.
                   Home is where I wanna be.
                   I‘ve been on the road so long, my friend. And now …
    While eating breakfast, a glimmer of light appeared in the window so we knew that from here on
in it was a matter of fog alone, no longer fog and darkness. We were through The Gap and heading
for Strasburg and, subsequently, New Providence, soon thereafter. We each felt that this was what
we‘d hoped to find in coming to rural Pennsylvania. Emily, Barbara and Rob‘s daughter, says that
reservations for the apartments have increased considerably since the tragic murder of the children at
the local Amish school. That‘s America, I guess, or human nature more likely.

Friday, December 1, 2006
    Up at 4.15 am to write up much of the story of the journey from the I-95 Rest Area, NJ, to New
Providence, PA, I worked until 5.40 am and then went back to bed until 8.15 am. We had porridge
for breakfast. I cooked it in the microwave but, the bowl being too shallow, the contents climbed out
of it so tomorrow I‘ll use the traditional method (if I can get use of the one saucepan for the job at
hand). We drove about 13 miles to Paradise and arranged an Enterprise car rental for next weekend at
$US16.98 per day. The woman will pick us up, apparently, and we assume she‘ll drop us back when
we return the vehicle. So we‘ll see how that goes. While returning to New Providence we stopped at
Strasburg and I withdrew $US400.00 from my Australian HSBC account because New Providence is
something of a cash economy. We had soup for lunch at Merenda Zug and had an interesting

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conversation with a customer who was reading from the newspaper and remarking on international
travellers being allocated a terrorist rating. He is the proprietor of the local toy railway museum, and
our type of American. Merenda Zug’s proprietor was equally taken aback by all of the terrorist
nonsense. I told them of the article I‘d read where New York‘s Mayor Bloomberg said Americans are
paranoid about terrorism and that smoking poses a greater risk for most. We returned and took a
wrong turn somewhere such that we re-entered New Providence from east of Quarryville to our
South and went with our cash to the Amish B&B grocery store. Once again, Michelle sneered at my
reaction when, saying I thought canned peaches might be suitable to have with our morning porridge
she produced a tin of apricots. I said I didn‘t really like tinned apricots and would prefer peaches. She
took umbrage, denying that she‘d rolled her eyes at my not being satisfied with her ‗find‘. She sees
the problem as being mine, whilst I find her increasingly disparaging and contemptuous of me. So we
are still not getting along very well, despite having had a week apart while in Britain. I think we‘ll drift
apart once back in Australia, or at least make it a case of just friends. It seems I‘m destined to have a
lonely old age, like that of my early years, my forties being the time of peace and lovelessness. C‘est la
vie, I guess.
    We spend most of our time in the Van Gogh room, here, at the Musser apartment, and both find
it very much to our liking. We‘d like to watch TV tonight but there‘s no picture, seemingly due to
there being no aerial. Hmm. That‘s a shame. I‘ve begin reading Bob Woodward‘s State of Denial and
am enjoying the insider‘s point of view of Donald Rumsfeld‘s struggle to wrest power from the Joint
Chiefs of Staff, and Colin Powell in early 2000.

Saturday, December 2, 2006
   Up at 6.15 am, I made some headway catching up on the diary – writing up the important
November 28th record. Michelle had granola but I stuck with porridge for breakfast, and we both had
tinned peaches with the cereal. We then drove to the oldest farmers‘ market in the USA (continuous
since 1730, according to the Lancaster County Official Map and Vacation Guide. We bought much stuff
– meat to freeze, soup vegetables (what we call ‗Swede‘ they refer to as ‗rutabaga‘) pearl barley, so
that we can be without a motor vehicle for much of our stay here. We parked in a paying carpark @
$US1.50 per hour and had to be quick about it. Michelle took a photo of a group of musicians who
entertained the crowd in the market.
   We drove in along R-222 North and back along R-222 South, surprisingly enough, and listened to
a PBS Radio Programme from ―Downtown Chicago‖ named Wait For It … - and enjoyed it very
much. President Bush‘s $US500,000,000.00 library was discussed with much hilarity concerning his
probably having never been into a library. If he‘s going to go into one, they figured he must have
concluded, it‘s going to be a good one. On one of these Public Radio programmes, the one
mentioned, here, probably, there was the story of a Negro woman who was most disturbed by her
female employer‘s racial insensitivity in calling her employee Mammee, or something similar. So the
employee took her employer to task whereupon the woman so charged was horrified to think anyone
might consider her racially insensitive and prejudiced. ―I‘m not racist at all,‖ she insisted, ―I‘m very
fond of Aunt Jemima.‖ The commentator thought she might have gone the whole hog and included
lawn jockeys.
   Michelle had ascertained from Emily that we could use the washing machine in the cellar of the
main house so we‘ve now washed a heap of clothes, which is a relief.
   Negotiations with Tony Carey concerning his coming to stay with us for a fortnight are coming
along. I shall be delighted if he can be here with us.

                  The swede, known as rutabaga in the US, is a comparative
                  newcomer to our table. It was developed in Bohemia, possibly in
                  the 17th century, though there are no written records of its
                  development. Swedes can be purple, white or yellow in colour with

Master Diary                                USA 2006-2007

                 white or yellow flesh. It's a common winter vegetable and is usually
                 used in mash, stews and casseroles.1

Sunday, December 3, 2006
    New Providence, PA.
    Natalie‘s birthday; Joseph Conrad born on this day, too. Tennessee Williams‘ Streetcar Named
Desire has some important reference to this date.
    Awoke at 7.15 after a long sleep from 10 pm or 10.20, perhaps. This morning there‘s an
Appalachian guitarist, Richard Johnston, whose instrument is named Vern McAllister, being
interviewed on Public radio (FM1 89.5 mhz); he‘s not my cup of tea but is interesting with his
strange kind of American personal journey of redemption via music. Vernon McAllister was an
itinerant musician who appeared at a Memphis Church service in the 1930s and inspired some fellow
to copy his work.
    We took a 3.25 mile walk around the local area and wished we‘d taken the camera. We saw a
couple of large grey herons, a cardinal finch, a couple of vultures not quite as large as the turkey
vultures of Virginia and we saw, too, very elegant open Amish carriages with fine horses trotting
down the blacktop, the bitumen roads. Lunch was ham and Gorgonzola cheese on Michelle‘s
homemade flatbread, eaten with orange juice and finished off with half a Danish pastry each with
coffee. We‘re now listening to Prairie Home Companion broadcast from Buffalo, NY.
    Barbara and Bob Musser took us for a drive to a couple of local antique showrooms. I saw a
framed scarf with the visage of both the 1880 Democratic Party presidential and vice-presidential
candidates on it. Presumably, these were used to promote the campaign, for women to show their
colours, perhaps? We then went across a covered bridge – covered to protect the timbers from the
ravages of the weather – to a place where a well heeled couple got out of their car and walked two
big black French Poodle dogs into a barn from which amateurish sounds of Christmas song
emanated. We went first to a purple room reminiscent of that silly feminist who used to pop up
without warning on Australia television, a shed on the property, and into a garish display of local tat
made from bees wax and twigs for the most part, but with a dozen copies of a (presumably self-
published) hard cover novel, Mary Magdalene, on a lone bookshelf on the floor. Rob purchased some
oatmeal Christmas cookies from the proprietor, a stylised woman who was bickering with another
like her, a customer – much older than the woman who brought her purebred Collie pup on a leash
into the purple cubby house – who suggested that this or that item for sale must have come from or
been made by … , and so on. Whatever suggestion she made, the woman up at the podium, for that
was her way of sitting at the little desk she had for a sales counter conveyed, would promptly knock it
down. Mad as snakes. We then went to the barn and interrupted the Christmas carols being churned
out by a ragtag group of musicians including a guitarist who neither sang nor played, a banjo player
who sang but didn‘t strum and a couple of zither-ers, or one such instrument played by a woman,
and a dulcimer (the instrument which Richard Farina played, and which Joni Mitchell used for one of
her great performances, that musical instrument) which a fellow was playing whilst looking askance
at a group of antique hunters huddled together and talking over the belted out rendition of Oh
Christmas Tree, with its communist overtones. Upstairs there were more antiques, of course, including
cradles and cribs of European inspiration, most likely from boat building folk. Before long,
mercifully, we were heading for the barn door. I was being particularly careful not to tread on one of
the poodles‘ feet, or to get within coo-ee of these monsters, when the woman with the collie put her
head in and the poodles drowned out the vocalist with their ferocious barking and serious efforts to
bite the little collie in half. I was almost through the door but tripped over the fleeing collie‘s leash.
That little doggie had as much interest in being introduced to the pair of hounds as I did and we both
made a beeline for the carpark. Rob and Barbara then took us to the Merenda Zug café in Strasburg
where we had lukewarm coffee and Rob‘s oatmeal star cookies and an animated conversation about
their favourite movie, The Castle. We recommended they follow up with The Dish. Rob then drove us

Master Diary                                USA 2006-2007

back along Bunker Hill road, looming up behind a pair of Amish carriages in what would have felt to
me like an intimidating manner but which seems to be standard practice around here. We climbed
into bed, for that is what it requires to get to our night aerie, and Michelle drew my attention to the
Sunday night passage of Amish carriages as the young move to and from their weekly frolic. Surely
not, I said. That‘s the sound of low flying B-52s. But she was stuck to her guns. Carriages‘ iron
wheels set up a deep rumble, just as the Amish horse shoes scarify the black top – what we call
Tuesday, December 6, 2006
     New Providence, PA to Washington, DC, and back
     Up at 5.10 am, I showered and dressed then had breakfast walked out the back door with the just
past full moon low in the west and climbed into the car to return to Dulles Airport. The sweat
spraying off of the horses harnessed to Amish carriages gleamed in the headlights as I drove South
along 222 in the pre-dawn darkness. A subtle orange-red sky emerged on the horizon as I made my
way toward R-1. School buses, the increasingly thick passage of commuters, all heading toward I-95,
like me, stored the memory of another American weekday morning in my head and I was at ease,
making good time, but with the inevitable and predictable delays as we all neared the Baltimore
tunnel. I had my $US2.00 cash ready and was through the bottleneck and well on the way to I-495,
the beltway around Washington by 8.30 am. I imagined being delayed somewhat in the next part of
the journey but still expected to be at Dulles by 10 am, or even earlier.
     Unfortunately, I-495 West – which I believed I was supposed to take – was banked up for miles. I
heard on Public Radio that there‘d been an accident and long delays were expected so I made a virtue
of what had now become a necessity (in that I‘d not got into lane early enough) and headed down
the lane toward Washington, DC. I was unsure just where this would take me but I soon learned it
was a southern entry into DC. Hmm. I‘d best not get lost, here, I realised and so took the first exit
which mentioned Downtown DC. It happened to be R-50 and that became New York Avenue, and
clogged. There was an accident in the vicinity of the White House, the radio announcer said. I
needed petrol and a wee, the latter being more pressing than the former at this stage. I recognised the
area as that where we‘d had to seek accommodation one night early in consequence of Seva Raskin‘s
duplicity and nastiness. So at least the area was somewhat familiar, and I knew the Verizon Center
would be coming up and that I could scoot down past the Downtown Thrifty garage and on to I-66
west from there. But when I eventually managed to get to the turnoff I worried about the hold up
near the White House and decided to stay on New York Avenue, aware that I would come to
Connecticut Aveune and that from there I could get to M Street and head along that through
Georgetown to cross the bridge into Rosslyn and there find R-29, if not I-66. Well, the traffic got
very quick and I was in situations where it would have been very easy to dent the car. I came to a sign
for R-29 but it spoke of South and North when it should rightly have been East and West. Which
one to take. South? Yes, but I was in the wrong lane. Or North? Too hard. Best to find M street.
Alas, I was now headed in the wrong direction and crossing the Potomac en route to I-495 for
Maryland. Not good, I decided. So I set about turning back and found myself in the familiar
surrounds of Adams-Morgan Metro Station. I managed to head back across the Potomac – perhaps
it‘s not the Potomac – but across the bridge, nonetheless, and chose to go back and take R-29 South.
I did. But the signs ran out and I lost all guidance and was relying upon educated guesswork, all the
while aware of the low fuel and high bladder pressure. Luckily, I‘d guessed correctly and was soon
going through Georgetown toward the required bridge across the Potomac. I crossed, and,
mercifully, the sign for I-66 West immediately camne into view. Phew! No appreciable delays, as
would be most likely heading west at this hour – it was now around 10 am. I took the turnoff to
Dulles and negotiated the ridiculous signage concerning toll and toll free passage. It was a long ride
up R-267 or whatever the road is that links I-66 West with Dulles Airport. I stopped to get petrol just
prior to dropping the car back at Thrifty. I had a wee. Oh bliss. I drove back and deposited the car
intact at Thrifty. The fellow asked for my petrol receipt. That was the first I‘d ever heard of having to
prove that the petrol was purchased within 10 miles. It‘s a good idea but I‘ve never been asked to

Master Diary                               USA 2006-2007

provide the evidence – other than the fuel gauge eye check- before. Still, it‘s a good idea, and if
everyone else has to be checked all the better for us honest folk. We‘re all honest, in our way.
    The shuttle took me staright away to the airport but I‘d just missed the 10.40 am bus, it being
10.45 am. I put on my scarf and gloves but the wind chill was ripping through the garments so I went
inside and found a chair and sat in the window and waited for the bus to come. A couple of women
emerged from some doors. ―There is nothing good about this airport,‖ the one said to the other, and I
had to silently agree. ―The car rental shuttles are good, but,‖ I re-considered. I took the bus to
L‘Enfant with the pleasant drive from Rosslyn to L‘Enfant being something I‘d forgotten and which
was now a bonus last hurrah look at DC from the South, around the Pentagon and Jefferson
Memorial. I took the Metro to New York Avenue and walked to the Greyhound Station where I
collected my tickets by inserting our credit card into the machine. I had a half hour up my sleeve
before the time of departure so I purchased a hamburger and coffee and settled down to eat when
the bus pulled up and the driver started taking people aboard. I scrambled over with the coffee and
half-eaten snack and was advised that, yes, this was the bus and I should climb aboard.
    A woman in her 70s, but perhaps only 50s, was yabbering at a fellow who sat in the front seat
opposite and one row behind the driver (above the entrance). ―Yes Maam,‖ he would say to her
nonsense, ―No, Maam, I don‘t believe it is‖ as she would go on about the perils of travel that people
like her encounter, , she assumed, people like him.
    ―You get all flustered and make mistakes that you don‘t choose to make. It‘s so scary, isn‘t it,
    ―Yes, Maam.‖
    He was a gentleman, but clearly at the end of his tether and rather hoping to sit quietly, by my
    ―Do you think we‘ll leave early.‖
    ―No Maam, I don‘t believe so.‖
    ―Well, we‘re all ready. Why can‘t we go now.‖
    The driver boarded and sat in his seat, closing the door. ―Are we going now?‖ she wanted to
    ―If I do that I‘ll lose my job,‖ said the benign black driver. The gentleman smiled.
    At 1.15 pm the bus pulled out and headed back up New York Avenue from where I‘d come that
morning. There was a considerable delay caused, as it transpired, by a small number of people
working with a front-end loader off to the side. It might have been organised such that there was
minimal delay but the Americans exaggerate everything to such an extent that delay is built in to road
    The gentleman asked the driver what was under the bonnet, or hood. I didn‘t catch the phrase in
question. It was the answer that caught my attention. ―A V-six.‖
    ―V-six? Is that diesel?‖
    ―Yes Sir, a diesel V-six.‖
    ―Where do they make those?‖
    ―Don‘t know.‖
    ―Detroit, driver,‖ came a voice from the middle of the bus.
    Loud music and fumbling from behind the gentleman caused the woman to speak loudly into her
cell phone. ―Yes, I‘m here. We just left Washington. I had a cup of coffee.‖
    ―V-six, wow.‖ He pulled his baseball cap lower and glanced out the window.
     ―We had trouble with exhaust on the other bus. So they give me this one,‖ the driver said,
struggling with the lack of synchro-mesh.
    The other bus?
     ―When we get to Harrisburg I‘ll let you take a peek.‖
    The gentleman and driver seemed to be carrying on a conversation that began prior to my having
joined the troup. ―My daddy grew up around here. There was a bicycle shop. It‘s still there. You have
probably been to a few games there,‖ he said, referring to the sports stadium to our right. ―No, not

Master Diary                               USA 2006-2007

there or that one in front,‖ the driver corrected, explaining that he followed some team no longer
based in Baltimore.
    We pulled into a Greyhound Bus Station in Baltimore.
    ―Do I have time to use the Rest Room?‖ the gentleman wanted to know.
    ―You have 10 minutes. Be back at two-twenty,‖ our driver spoke up to no-one in particular.
    I had a wee and the urinal overflowed. That‘s a first, for me. Pride and horror combined to see
me out of there without washing my hands.
    Back on the bus I walked the aisle in order to get a good look at the Baltimore spaghetti that
we‘ve so often driven a rental car through. An unsightly mess to view, it was nevertheless awe
inspiring in its late industrial age utility.
    ―Why is there smoke coming out of that pipe?‖ the woman asked the gentleman.
    ―That‘s what it‘s for, Ma‘am.‖
    ―But won‘t it pollute the air?‖
    ―It‘s been there a long time, Ma‘am.‖
    ―Why does it have lights?‖
    ―When you go up so many feet you have to have lights, Ma‘am. For the aircraft.‖
    ―How many feet?‖
    ―Don‘t rightly know, Ma‘am.‖
    The driver backed out.
    ―Stop driver, stop. There‘s people waving,‖ said the woman.
    ―Never interrupt the driver. People wave to wish us a pleasant ride,‖ he said, opening the door to
a couple of non-English speaking Latinos, who‘d have missed the bus but for the woman.
    A second stop in Baltimore was followed by a difficult climb up the steep outer edge of the
spaghetti to I-95 South. We had to take the tunnel under the Chesapeake and so joining I-95 was a
necessary manoeuvre. But only the necessary leg would be included, the driver told the gentleman.
We‘d be run over the top of on I-95 if we took it to reach I-83, he explained as he crunched the bus
into a lower gear. At the top of the ramp we did a 90 degree turn and made it to the tunnel then on
toward York, PA, along I-83.
    We arrived at York bus station in the cold at 3.30 pm, right on time, but the connecting bus to
Lancaster was 30 minutes late. I arrived, phoned Rob (the landlord), and he picked me up 15 minutes
later and drove me home.

Wednesday, December 6, 2006
    New Providence, PA.
    Listening to the radio, yesterday or the day before, I heard something that struck me about the
American sense of the copy being more significant than the real thing: a report on what happens to
the volunteer soldiers who return from a tour of duty as psychiatric basket cases made clear that the
prattle about heroes and serving one‘s country contrasts greatly with the actual treatment of the
servicemen and women. Rather than provide the necessary help and medical assistance to these
hundreds and possibly thousands of young men and women whose lives are destroyed by a tour of
duty witnessing stark horrors such as a 4 year old having his leg blown off in front of your eyes, that
and worse, the military simply finds a way of using the psychological symptoms to dishonourably
discharge these individuals; i.e., whatever misdemeanour he/she may have committed due to being in
a fragile state (not being on parade when called, or something petty like that) is routinely used to
dismiss the person and to thereby avoid the responsibility of due care. The military is not liable for
the psychiatric and other medical or legal expenses associated with an individual‘s life beyond their
time in the army, navy, air-force or whatever. Which reminds me: get the story from Michelle about
Rob speaking in the café about something to do with dressing up or whatever. It was yet another
instance of the world of the copy, of the make believe being more highly valued than the real thing.

Master Diary                              USA 2006-2007

   We did our first walk to the B&B Amish store with the trolley and box. It went down very well
with the locals, and the young and very attractive Amish girl on our checkout was as taken with our
exotic accents and behaviour as we were with hers. The dry, cold day was wonderful but not as cold
as we‘d expected so we had to carry our clothes in the box with the groceries. Suggested to Tony that
he consider flying in to Houston at the beginning of February for a fortnight‘s tour of Galveston,
Brownsville, Vicksburg, and Memphis. He wrote to say that appeals. I hope I‘m not biting off more
than I can chew, here, but having him travel with us has great appeal for me, too.

Thursday, December 7, 2006
   New Providence, PA.
   Dipped into the Hamilton biography, Willard Sterne Randall. Alexander Hamiltion: A Life. First ed.
New York, NY: Harper Collins, 2003. Pretty good stuff about Hamilton‘s pre-American life on St
Croix and the other islands, and makes clear how important was his working for the merchant family
from New York City.

Friday, December 8, 2006
    New Providence and environs, PA.
    See the New York Times article from today‘s paper, copied below, concerning the hostile twins.
    Tanya, from the nearest Enterprise Car Rental 7 mile away at Paradise, PA, picked us up at 8.45
am after phoning to give a half-hour warning of her arrival. She drove us back to Paradise, completed
the paperwork, and then informed us that we‘d have a Dodge Neon – the car we most want when
renting and which we‘ve not been able to get on any previous occasion in 2006. It‘s as good as we
remember from when we had one last year for the Chicago, Illinois, to Birmingham, Alabama 3 week
round trip.
    We left the rental place and went directly to the shop where Michelle sought to purchase wool for
her needlework project. She hadn‘t warned me that this would involve my sitting around for an hour
without a book to read. I was busting for a wee and the car became colder and colder so that I was at
the limit of my restraint. I went in and asked about the euphemistic Rest Room and was directed to
the restaurant. Relief. We eventually set off and drove around in search of a diner. But the one we
settled upon had a big sign on the door that there was NOT a Non-smoking area. We got the
message and went off to check out ‗Intercourse‘ and ‗Bird in Hand‘, tourist villages trading on the
Amish brand, and awful.
    We decided to drive home and have coffee and lunch there. We experimented with the back
roads to New Providence and had another delicious lunch of Gorgonzola and smoked pork chop
with plain bagel with orange juice then coffee and blueberry bagel. We then went to the local library
at Quarryville and did some secure internet banking, transferring more funds from Michelle‘s $A
account to our $US Chase account. After that we went to the supermarket and stocked up, taking
some pics of the horse and buggy stalls used by Amish shoppers, an Amish woman who said hello to
me in a supermarket aisle having emerged and stowed her groceries in the back of the enclosed
carriage and tended to the horse to which it was harnessed. Another carriage backed out from the
stall and drove off, the man with the reins giving us the one-handed Amish wave. We drove back
toward New Providence but instead of returning to the apartment we took New Oak Road and set
about finding the same route Tanya had used to get to Paradise this morning. We found it and then
deviated to find the Needlework-tapestry shop to purchase some skin cream Michelle took a sample
of this morning and which we figured would be good value. Of course, Michelle had told me it was
$US12.00 for a relatively large container of the stuff, and it turned out to be $US15.00 for a quite
small quantity – so she purchased two, and we had to pay cash. Hmm. Once home, Michelle found
that our online order of silk underwear had been delivered. It‘s cold out there, so the package is
welcome. Time to re-hear the pearl barley vegetable soup which I made the other day and which
we‘ve been having each night since. Delicious. As is the bread Michelle bakes and the cranberry pie
we finished off last night. An easy life.

Master Diary                               USA 2006-2007

  From today‘s New York Times comes an article which I think sums up the hostile twins as
Hamilton (James Baker‘s position) and Jefferson (Condoleeza Rice‘s utopian dream) yet again.

                WASHINGTON, Dec. 7 — President Bush moved quickly to
                distance himself on Thursday from the central recommendations
                of the bipartisan Iraq Study Group, even as the panel‘s co-
                chairmen opened an intensive lobbying effort on Capitol Hill to
                press Mr. Bush to adopt their report wholesale.

                One day after the study group rattled Washington with its bleak
                assessment of conditions in Iraq, its Republican co-chairman,
                James A. Baker III, said the White House must not treat the report
                ―like a fruit salad,‖ while the Democratic co-chairman, Lee H.
                Hamilton, called on Congress to abandon its ―extremely timid‖
                approach to overseeing the war.

                But Mr. Bush, making his first extended comments on the study,
                seemed to push back against two of its most fundamental
                recommendations: pulling back American combat brigades from
                Iraq over the next 15 months, and engaging in direct talks with Iran
                and Syria. He said he needed to be ―flexible and realistic‖ in
                making decisions about troop movements, and he set conditions
                for talks with Iran and Syria that neither country was likely to

                The president addressed reporters after meeting in the White
                House with his closest ally in the war, Prime Minister Tony Blair of
                Britain. In light of the report‘s stark warning that the situation in
                Iraq was ―grave and deteriorating,‖ Mr. Bush came close to
                acknowledging mistakes. ―You wanted frankness — I thought we
                would succeed quicker than we did,‖ the president said to a British
                reporter who asked for candor. ―And I am disappointed by the
                pace of success.‖

                But Mr. Bush, and to a lesser extent, Mr. Blair, continued to talk
                about the war in the kind of sweeping, ideological terms the Iraq
                Study Group avoided in its report. While the commission settled
                on stability as a realistic American goal for Iraq, Mr. Bush cast the
                conflict as part of a broader struggle between good and evil,
                totalitarianism and democracy.

                If extremists emerge triumphant in the Middle East, Mr. Bush
                warned, ―History will look back on our time with unforgiving
                clarity and demand to know, what happened? How come free
                nations did not act to preserve the peace?‖

                While the president said he would give the report serious
                consideration, he said he did not intend to accept all 79
                recommendations. ―Congress isn‘t going to accept every
                recommendation in the report,‖ Mr. Bush said, ―and neither will
                the administration.‖

Master Diary                             USA 2006-2007

               Three other reviews — one by the Pentagon, one by the State
               Department and one by the National Security Council — are under
               way, and Mr. Bush reiterated Thursday that while he believed that
               the nation needed ―a new approach‖ in Iraq, he would make no
               decision until he received those reports. The current White House
               plan is for Mr. Bush to receive them over the next week to 10 days,
               then make a decision about what both he and the Baker-Hamilton
               commission are calling ―the way forward‖ in Iraq. He intends to
               announce his plans in a speech before the end of the year, probably
               before Christmas, according to administration officials.

               Pentagon officials are scheduled to brief Mr. Bush soon on the
               department‘s recommendations for a strategy shift in Iraq. The
               department‘s recommendations are likely to differ in some respects
               from the ideas presented by the Iraq Study Group, particularly over
               the role to be played by American combat troops over the next 12
               to 18 months.

               Mr. Bush and Mr. Blair have long stood side by side on the war in
               Iraq. The White House insisted that Mr. Blair‘s appearance on
               Thursday was not timed to coincide with the release of the report,
               but it did help them underscore — as Tony Snow, the White
               House press secretary, put it — that ―the president isn‘t standing

               The Pentagon recommendations, which are still being completed,
               are the product of discussions in recent weeks among ground
               commanders, the Joint Chiefs of Staff and civilian officials in the
               department. While department officials are likely to present Mr.
               Bush with one set of recommendations, differences remain.

               Some officials still back the idea of a temporary surge in American
               troops, though the top commander in the Middle East, Gen. John
               P. Abizaid, has been urging recently that any troop shortfall to
               restore security in Baghdad should be filled by more Iraqi forces or
               by repositioning American forces now in Iraq.

               Military officials are also concerned about the Iraq Study Group‘s
               call for pulling back all American combat brigades over the next 15
               months, a goal that some uniformed officials see as desirable but
               possibly unrealistic. Pentagon officials remain skeptical about the
               timetable, and they are leaning toward an approach that pulls back
               some combat brigades but keeps others in Baghdad and other
               violence-ridden areas of Iraq until Iraqi units can better handle the
               fight on their own.

               Though the Iraq Study Group also called for keeping enough
               American troops in place to provide protection to expanded teams
               of American advisers attached to Iraqi Army units, Pentagon
               officials fear that the panel‘s recommendations, if adopted, could

Master Diary                              USA 2006-2007

               lead to withdrawals of substantial American troops before the Iraqi
               units can stand on their own.

               The study group said combat brigades could withdraw from Iraq
               by the first quarter of 2008 if conditions on the ground permitted.
               Some analysts say that phrasing gives Mr. Bush wiggle room to
               ignore the call for withdrawal, and on Thursday Mr. Bush seized on
               that ―qualifier,‖ as he called it. ―I thought that made a lot of sense.
               I‘ve always said we‘d like our troops out as fast as possible.‖
               A Closer Look
               Recommendations of the Iraq Study Group
               A bipartisan commission urged stepped-up diplomatic and political
               efforts to stabilize that country.

               Mr. Bush was sensitive about commenting on the military
               recommendations put forth by the Iraq Study Group until he heard
               from his own commanders, according to a senior administration
               official, who was authorized to discuss the president‘s point of
               view. ―When you have your military leadership who are tasked with
               fighting this war, who are in the process of giving him military
               advice, you also have to be deferential to that,‖ this official said.

               On Iran and Syria, Mr. Bush stuck to the conditions he set long
               ago for talks: Iran must abandon its nuclear program, and Syria
               must give up its support for the Lebanese militant group
               Hezbollah. ―If they want to sit down at the table with the United
               States, it‘s easy — just make some decisions that will lead to peace,
               not to conflict,‖ he said.

               The Baker-Hamilton panel — five Republicans and five Democrats
               — made an intense plea for a bipartisan consensus, and Mr. Bush‘s
               aides say the president has taken at least that part of their effort to
               heart. He met Wednesday with leaders of committees that oversee
               foreign affairs, defense and intelligence, and plans to meet with
               Republican and Democratic leaders on Friday.

               The Wednesday meeting opened with Mr. Bush making an
               overture to Democrats, the senior official said, and telling them
               that although they may believe he has made the wrong decisions,
               they needed to work together. ―The president started by saying
               that, you know, there‘s a lot of water under the bridge, but that
               while we may not share all the views of this report, we ought to use
               it as an opportunity to work together,‖ the official said, adding,
               ―I‘ve been through a lot of those meetings, and sometimes you feel
               like people are going through the motions. And I felt yesterday that
               there was really a sincere effort, both Republican and Democrat, to
               say this could provide us an opportunity to find common ground.‖

               On Capitol Hill on Thursday, Republican and Democratic senators
               pressed Mr. Baker and Mr. Hamilton for ways that Congress could
               be involved in shaping the president‘s response to the report —
               noting that the original impetus for the study group had come from

Master Diary                               USA 2006-2007

               Capitol Hill. ―We‘ve now heard from the Iraq Study Group, but we
               need the White House to become the Iraq Results Group,‖ said
               Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, Democrat of New York.

               Mr. Baker replied by asking Congress to accept the report, saying
               that would put pressure on the administration to do the same. ―If
               the Congress could come together behind supporting, let‘s say,
               utopianly, all of the recommendations of this report, that would do
               a lot toward moving things downtown, in my opinion,‖ he said.
               Both he and Mr. Hamilton argued that cherry-picking the
               suggestions would not work.

               ―I hope we don‘t treat this like a fruit salad and say, ‗I like this but I
               don‘t like that. I like this, but I don‘t like that,‘ ‖ Mr. Baker said.
               ―This is a comprehensive strategy designed to deal with this
               problem we‘re facing in Iraq, but also designed to deal with other
               problems that we face in the region, and to restore America‘s
               standing and credibility in that part of the world.‖

               Article about bi-polar mental illness:
               Her mother called it a negotiable proposition. But to Jean Lynch-
               Thomason, a 17-year-old with bipolar disorder who started college
               this fall, her mom‘s notion to fly from their home in Nashville to
               her campus in Olympia, Wash., every few weeks to monitor Jean‘s
               illness felt needlessly intrusive.

               Troubled Children
               A Difficult Transition
               This is the fourth in a series of articles about the
               increasing number of children whose problems are
               diagnosed as serious mental disorders. The earlier
               articles examined one family‘s experience, the
               uncertainty of diagnosis and the use of combinations
               of psychiatric drugs. Later articles look at the role of
               Previous Articles in the Series »

               Readers' Opinions
               Should colleges involve parents in the treatment of
               their child's mental illnesses or should the privacy of
               these young adults be protected?
                              Read Comments
               College Students and Mental Illness

Master Diary                             USA 2006-2007

               Navigator: Information on Mental Health
               Enlarge This Image
               Josh Anderson for The New York Times
               "We can set up all the protective measures we want
               and still there is just no way to tell what is going to
               happen, and man, that’s hard." JEAN LYNCH-
               THOMASON At 17, she wanted some distance from her

               ―I am so totally aware of the control you have over me right now,‖
               Jean said, sitting in her parents‘ living room one evening last June,
               before coolly reminding her mother of her upcoming 18th
               birthday. ―In a few months the power dynamic is going to be

               For Chris Ference, 19, who is also bipolar, the fast-approaching
               autonomy of his freshman year held somewhat less appeal. His
               parents had always directed every aspect of his mental health care.
               Last summer, over Friday night pizza at his home in Cranberry
               Township, Pa., he told them that assuming control felt more
               daunting than liberating.

               ―If it was up to me, I would just have it so you could make those
               decisions for me up until I was like, 22,‖ he said. ―I mean, you‘ve
               raised me well up to now. You know me better than anyone.‖

               The transition from high school to college, from adolescence to
               legal adulthood, can be tricky for any teenager, but for the
               increasing number of young people who arrive on campus with
               diagnoses of serious mental disorders — and for their parents —
               the passage can be particularly fraught.

               Standard struggles with class schedules, roommates, and sexual and
               social freedom are complicated by decisions about if or when to
               use campus counseling services, whether or not to take medication
               and whether to disclose an illness to friends or professors.

               Keeping a psychiatric disorder under control in an environment
               often fueled by all-night cram sessions, junk food and heavy
               drinking is a challenge for even the most motivated students. In
               addition, the normal separation that goes along with college
               requires new roles and boundaries with parents, the people who
               best know the history and contours of their illness.

                Like Jean and Chris, young adults approach the move to a new life
               differently, some with defiant independence, some with avoidance.
               Each approach, say psychiatrists, counselors, dormitory assistants
               and other campus leaders, comes with its own risk. The students
               who are most dependent on their parents may be dangerously
               unprepared for the inevitable stresses of college life. On the other

Master Diary                              USA 2006-2007

               hand, students who are adamant about doing everything on their
               own may be afraid to reach out for help when they stumble.

               For parents, the anxious pride at seeing children go off to college is
               often tinged with fear that their child might fall apart, spiraling into
               depression or becoming suicidal. Are they going to therapy as they
               promised? Are they taking the right dose of medication at the right
               time? Should they as parents inform the school that their child has
               an illness? Is a fight with a roommate part of a normal transition to
               college life or a sign of impending trouble? Does an emotional e-
               mail message written at 3 a.m. represent a transitory moment of
               turmoil or a reason to get on an airplane?

               Once teenagers legally become adults, which in most states
               happens at age 18, they, not their parents, assume control over
               decisions about therapy and medication. If trouble arises, parents
               may or may not hear about it because college counselors are bound
               by confidentiality when dealing with adult students.

               The Trauma of Separation

               For Jean, as for many teenagers coping with mental disorders, just
               getting through high school was an ordeal. After experimenting
               with home schooling, a high pressure prep school and an outdoor
               learning academy geared to nature activities, Jean, a bright student
               with inconsistent grades but high SAT scores, decided to forgo her
               senior year and find a college that would take her without a high
               school diploma.

               She was accepted at Evergreen State College in Olympia, Wash., a
               nontraditional college of roughly 4,400 students that issues written
               evaluations in place of letter grades.

               Evergreen‘s environmental focus — the campus has its own
               organic farm, composting program and a contest for commuters
               who bike, walk or carpool to campus — felt like a good fit for
               Jean, who is passionately committed to the environment and social

               A consciously quirky teenager who sews her own clothes (to avoid
               crass consumerism, she says) and who prefers bus trips to flying (to
               avoid contributing to the pollution caused by air travel), Jean is
               disarmingly straightforward and self-aware.

               She said she stopped taking medications when she was 14 because
               the side effects left her feeling ―out of whack and emotionally

               She is determined to stay off medications during college, and she
               devoted considerable advance thought to possible triggers for her
               illness, like the long rainy winters of the Pacific Northwest.

Master Diary                              USA 2006-2007

               ―I don‘t feel vulnerable about this transition because this is very
               much my decision,‖ she said. ―This is a very autonomous move,
               very much me structuring my own life. I feel like I am putting
               myself in a situation with really clear intentions.‖

               Enlarge This Image

               "Things are just going so good. So far." CHRIS FERENCE
               Initially, he was reluctant to go to college far from home.
               Troubled Children
               A Difficult Transition
               This is the fourth in a series of articles about the
               increasing number of children whose problems are
               diagnosed as serious mental disorders. The earlier
               articles examined one family‘s experience, the
               uncertainty of diagnosis and the use of combinations
               of psychiatric drugs. Later articles look at the role of
               Previous Articles in the Series »

               Readers' Opinions
               Should colleges involve parents in the treatment of
               their child's mental illnesses or should the privacy of
               these young adults be protected?
                              Read Comments
               College Students and Mental Illness

               Navigator: Information on Mental Health

               Jean’s parents, Amy Lynch, 52, and Phil Thomason, 53, were
               hesitant when Jean, the younger of their two daughters,
               refused to take medications after eighth grade. Her childhood
               and early adolescence had been a whirlwind of depression,
               rage and experiments with different medications and

               But when Jean was about 14, Ms. Lynch and Mr. Thomason
               said, she began to seem more stable. Her developing coping
               skills, combined with reports about negative side effects of
               psychotropic drugs in children, persuaded them to acquiesce
               to her demands to ride out the swings of her illness drug free.

Master Diary                             USA 2006-2007

               They said they believed Evergreen would be a good college
               for Jean. Still, the move — to someplace so far from home —
               made them anxious. In the months before Jean left, Ms.
               Lynch said she wanted her to go back on medication to
               smooth the adjustment to college life, a suggestion that Jean
               adamantly rejected.

               Ms. Lynch worried that Jean took for granted the tacit
               stability of being at home.

               When Jean’s depression sets in, she tends to close herself off
               from people. At home, Ms. Lynch said, “I can look at Jean
               and know in five minutes what’s going on with her and how
               to respond to it.”

               At such a distance it will be difficult to catch the signs.

               “I feel like we’re doing a high-wire act,” she said, “and I am
               not sure we have a strong enough net.”

               Rummaging through the accumulated possessions of
               adolescence in her bedroom over the summer, Jean singled
               out the items that she could not leave without: her sewing
               machine, her coffee maker, the social justice posters that
               covered her wall.

               With her mother out of earshot, she acknowledged that she
               understood her parents’ angst. “I get that this is intense for
               everyone,” she said. “I do.”

               Hesitant to Leave the Nest

               The uncertain months between high school and college were also
               anxious ones for Chris Ference and his parents.

               Still groggy from an early morning drive to campus, his husky 6-
               foot-2 frame jammed into an auditorium chair in the student union,
               Chris shifted uncomfortably as a freshman orientation coordinator
               welcomed new students and their parents to the Behrend College, a
               Pennsylvania State University satellite campus in Erie, Pa.

               ―Today really is the first day of your freshman year of college,‖ the
               cheery administrator told the group on a June morning more than
               two months before the start of fall term.

               Chris had initially been reluctant to go away to college. Though
               eager to leave the rigid structure and peer pressure of high school,
               where he told few friends about his illness, he preferred the idea of
               living at home during college and commuting to an engineering
               program in nearby Pittsburgh.

Master Diary                              USA 2006-2007

               It was his mother, Debbie Ference, a service director with the
               southwestern Pennsylvania division of the National Alliance on
               Mental Illness, an advocacy group, who nudged him to move away.

               He chose Behrend for its strong engineering program and small
               student body of about 3,700.

               A boyish and fidgety teenager who likes heavy metal music, Xbox
               games and anything having to do with electronics, Chris said he
               had given little advance thought to his new responsibilities in

               Just days before his orientation, he listened passively as his father,
               Michael Ference, and Ms. Ference talked about his care at school.
               They wondered aloud about whether he would be able to continue
               seeing his longtime therapist in Pittsburgh, more than two hours
               away. They raised the possibility of putting an advance mental
               health directive in place, so that they could be contacted if Chris
               was ever in crisis and unable to consent to parental notification.

               They discussed how they worried about the possibility of Chris
               mixing alcohol with his medications. Chris huffed in annoyance
               and told them he was ―smart and moral enough‖ not to fall into
               that trap.

               The fact that Chris was willing to engage in the discussion at all was
               a sign, they said, of progress.

               Chris was first hospitalized and received a diagnosis of bipolar
               disorder at age 10 after a severe episode of depression, mania and
               suicidal thoughts. He was hospitalized again briefly in sixth grade,
               after the lithium that had stabilized him for two years became
               But successful therapy and medication since then have kept the
               illness at a manageable level. He graduated from high school with
               honors, and in his senior year saw his therapist only every six
               weeks. A recent medication adjustment has left him able to feel and
               express more than he has in years.

               Troubled Children
               A Difficult Transition
               This is the fourth in a series of articles about the
               increasing number of children whose problems are
               diagnosed as serious mental disorders. The earlier
               articles examined one family‘s experience, the
               uncertainty of diagnosis and the use of combinations
               of psychiatric drugs. Later articles look at the role of
               Previous Articles in the Series »

Master Diary                            USA 2006-2007

               Readers' Opinions
               Should colleges involve parents in the treatment of
               their child's mental illnesses or should the privacy of
               these young adults be protected?
                              Read Comments
               College Students and Mental Illness

               Navigator: Information on Mental Health

               “This whole move is like a coming-out process,” said Mr.
               Ference, 50, a service coordinator for families with autistic
               children. “Up to now it’s been all parental motivation. But I
               think this is a healing process for him after so many hard

                In a 2005 national survey of the directors of college
               counseling centers, 95 percent of counseling directors
               reported an increase in students who were already on
               psychiatric medications when they came in for help. While
               universities grapple with how to serve the growing number of
               students with mental disorders, students are taking the
               initiative by helping one another.

               Active Minds, a student-led mental health advocacy
               organization founded in 2001 at the University of
               Pennsylvania, now has 56 chapters at schools including
               Georgetown University, Columbia University, the University
               of South Florida and the University of Maryland.

               The National Alliance on Mental Illness has 30 campus
               affiliates, with 18 more in formation, groups that are set up as
               student clubs and are financed by school activity budgets and
               fund-raisers. Programs like the Jed Foundation, a suicide
               prevention program, and National Depression Screening
               Day, held each October, offer additional resources.

               While the overall message from the groups and programs
               focuses on the potential for success, students who have been
               through the transition of leaving home for college say it is
               also important to be honest about the challenges.

               Difficult Experiences

               Stacy Hollingsworth, an honors student at Rutgers University who
               suffers from major depressive disorder, dropped out of college in

Master Diary                              USA 2006-2007

               the fall semester of her sophomore year after the routine aspects of
               college life left her so incapacitated that she became suicidal and
               was hospitalized.

               At home in Old Bridge, N.J., she could retreat to the isolation of
               her bedroom when she was depressed — an impossibility in her
               crowded dormitory. The staggered class schedule left her lacking a
               dependable rhythm. Even getting dressed and walking to the
               cafeteria became an insurmountable task.

               ―I was in excruciating pain. I couldn‘t breathe,‖ she said.

               Though she had been suffering from depression since her early
               teens, she hid her struggle from family and friends. She sought
               counseling help for the first time in college, but still could not

               After a two-year absence and the loss of $15,000 in state
               scholarships, Ms. Hollingsworth, now 22, is back at Rutgers
               finishing her degree in exercise physiology and psychology. She is
               founder of the Rutgers‘ affiliate of the National Alliance on Mental
               Illness, one of the organization‘s newest student chapters.

               At 37, Robert C. Haggard III, who three years ago founded a
               chapter of the same organization at Washburn University in
               Topeka, Kan., is still working on his bachelor‘s degree in studio art.

               During his first attempt at college, right out of high school, Mr.
               Haggard said, ―I wasn‘t honest with myself that I needed

               He tried to blunt the increasing severity of his bipolar disorder with
               alcohol, a common tactic for students with psychological disorders,
               experts say.

               He was on academic probation when, in 1992, he withdrew from
               school. He struggled though several jobs, a variety of medications,
               and a suicide attempt at age 29 before he started to get his
               condition under control.

               It has only been within the past four years, he said, that he has
               gained stability. ―I study during the day, sleep at night, eat right and
               maintain a lot of structure and routine,‖ he said. ―It sounds simple,
               but it can be a hard place to get to.‖

               Dr. Richard Kadison, chief of mental health services at Harvard,
               said there were things students with mental illness could do before
               starting college to increase the chances of a manageable transition.

               Most important, he said, is establishing local health support on or
               near campus. Maintaining a relationship with a counselor from
               home can be helpful, but ―you don‘t want to end up in an

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               emergency talking to someone at school that you have never laid
               eyes on,‖ Dr. Kadison said.

               Last-Minute Worries

               After the opening session of freshman orientation at Behrend
               College back in June, Chris Ference disappeared into a pack of
               students to begin selecting his classes.

               His mother headed in the opposite direction and wandered into a
               session on student support networks led by Sue Daley, the director
               of the counseling office. She listened intently as the counselor
               talked about problems students had encountered in recent years.

               She winced when the counselor related the story of a young
               woman who had a psychotic episode the previous year, during
               which she ripped tiles from her dormitory room ceiling because she
               believed the F.B.I. was monitoring her.

               ―We sent her home so she could get her emotional self together,‖
               Ms. Daley told the group.

               After the session, Ms. Ference complained that it sounded as if the
               goal of the counseling center was to get the ―crazy kids‖ out of the

               ―I was offended by that,‖ she said to Ms. Daley. ―I want to be
               comfortable enough with this school that I know you will take care
               of my son.‖

               In the car on the way home from the campus visit, Ms. Ference
               mentioned her discomfort with the counseling presentation.

               ―We definitely have to put some outside counseling support in
               place, just in case you don‘t like it there,‖ she said to her son.

               Looking through his thick pamphlet of brochures from the day,
               Chris responded, ―Hey, we get a discount on computers and

               Ms. Ference took a hand off the steering wheel to rub at the stress
               headache pulsating at her temple.
               About the same time in June at Bongo Java, a trendy coffee shop
               near her home in the Belmont-Hillsboro section of Nashville, Jean
               Lynch-Thomason pulled out a tattered journal, held together with
               silver duct tape. A picture of herself in the third grade, taped to the
               cover of the thick diary, stared back at her as she gathered her

               Troubled Children
               A Difficult Transition

Master Diary                           USA 2006-2007

               This is the fourth in a series of articles about the
               increasing number of children whose problems are
               diagnosed as serious mental disorders. The earlier
               articles examined one family‘s experience, the
               uncertainty of diagnosis and the use of combinations
               of psychiatric drugs. Later articles look at the role of
               Previous Articles in the Series »

               Readers' Opinions
               Should colleges involve parents in the treatment of
               their child's mental illnesses or should the privacy of
               these young adults be protected?
                              Read Comments
               College Students and Mental Illness

               Navigator: Information on Mental Health

               As she prepared for college, she had been writing in the
               journal several times a day.

               More pensive than during the previous meeting when she
               matched wits with her parents about her desired
               independence, Jean confessed that she had been thinking
               quite a lot about her move in the fall.

               “There is a lot more fear and anxiety about this transition
               than I am letting on,” she said. “We can set up all the
               protective measures we want and still there is just no way to
               tell what is going to happen, and man, that’s hard.”

               She remained determined not to let her mother fly out to
               Washington to check on her. And she resolved to limit her
               own trips home, to cut down on unnecessary air travel.

               But she said she felt confident that she had done the most
               optimal planning possible. She had decided to have an
               apartment by herself so that she could prepare her own vegan
               meals. Living alone, she said, would also afford her the
               privacy to sleep well and have the solitude she craves when
               her depression sets in.

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               That solitude, she added, might be a double-edged sword in a
               new environment where she would be more reluctant to
               engage with people during dark periods of depression.

               “I am in a good, copacetic place right now,” she said. “But I
               also know that there is every possibility that things could go
               bad. I just sort of feel like if I get out there and don’t do well,
               then I am letting everyone down.”

               Back at home soon after, she breezed past her mother,
               confident as ever.

               A New Perspective

               Three months after arriving on campus, Jean‘s anger at her parents‘
               concern seems to have receded. Her mother‘s hotly debated first
               visit came and went in October. There were no confrontations
               over medication, no accusations of heavy-handedness.

               Mother and daughter said little at all, in fact, about the illness that
               has so defined their lives, and their relationship, choosing instead
               to ride bikes, work at a free store for the needy, and play in a
               fountain one night in the center of downtown.

               ―I‘m more settled, I guess,‖ said Jean, who will turn 18 next week.
               She was surprised that she so enjoyed the visit. ―I was in a good
               place. She was in a good place. My illness just didn‘t particularly
               seem relevant.‖

               Some ideas that had made sense in the abstract — like living alone
               — felt unwise after she arrived in September and looked at a few
               apartments. When a friend from Tennessee offered her a tiny crawl
               space of a room in an overcrowded home he shared with several
               other students off campus, Jean said it felt just right.

               ―It‘s not like I‘m going up to people saying, ‗Hi, I‘m Jean, I‘m
               bipolar,‘ ‖ she joked. ―But I‘m surrounded by beautiful supportive
               people, and I know if I need it, they will call me out.‖

               She has maintained sessions by telephone with her therapist back
               home every two weeks. But she has also met people at the campus
               counseling center. She said she liked that they encouraged holistic
               as well as purely medical approaches to treatment, and that she
               would not hesitate to seek help there if the need arose.

               Back in Nashville, Ms. Lynch said she may have underestimated
               her daughter‘s ability to make good decisions for herself. The
               lushness and environmental consciousness of Evergreen and the
               surrounding area seemed to have a stabilizing effect on Jean, she
               said. There was not a trace of the early signs of mania or
               depression that Ms. Lynch could usually spot in her daughter well
               before others.

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                She said she had decided not to raise the issue of medication again.
                For now. ―I may have a different answer a few months from now,‖
                she said. ―But what I know today is that she seems to have learned
                a lot about coping. And that‘s how we get through this, by what we
                know any given day.‖

                Chris Ference has also changed since he packed his things and left
                home in late August. Sitting on the bed in his dorm room,
                sounding more mature than he had a few months earlier, he said
                the transition was smoother than he had anticipated.

                But he was still working out some of the particulars of dealing with
                his bipolar disorder. He told his roommate about his illness in mid-
                October, only because a reporter was coming to their room for an

                ―It‘s cool. He‘s cool. It‘s fine,‖ he said, with a hint of wariness. ―It‘s
                probably good for him to know anyway, so he can understand it, in
                case I ever need him to help me out.‖

                Discreetly taking his medications in a dorm room typically
                crammed with engineering students until the wee hours of the
                morning is also a challenge. In an effort not to draw attention to
                himself, he said, he takes his two medications late at night, right
                before he lays his head down to sleep. If anyone notices, they have
                not let on.

                He and his mother met with Ms. Daley, head of the counseling
                center, before school started. After the unpleasant encounter at
                summer orientation, Ms. Ference wanted some assurances that the
                school‘s services were adequate. She left satisfied, she said, and
                Chris seemed comfortable enough with the counseling center to go
                there if he needed to.

                Chris said he doubted he would need help from Ms. Daley or
                anyone else at the center. He has friends and is playing guitar in a
                band, he keeps his partying ―under control,‖ and he loves his
                engineering classes.

                He is under no illusions about his illness, he said. He knows it will
                be something that he has to learn to manage throughout his adult

                ―But things are just going so good,‖ he said. ―So far.‖

Saturday, December 9, 2006
   New Providence to Valley Forge and York, PA.
   We put on our newly arrived silk thermal underwear and headed off early to Valley Forge,
stopping for coffee and buns in a genuine diner. The buns were awful but the experience was good,
and the coffee, too. This was a place where locals socialised and breakfasted. A warm environment.

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The sun shone brightly and it was about 35 degrees Farenheit – lower with the wind chill – so we
gained some idea of how difficult it must have been for the 12,000 revolutionary army men who
wintered at this place not far from Philadelphia from December 1777 through to June 1778. The 18
minute documentary film about Washington‘s encampment gave us a clear idea of why this event was
so important, despite no battle having been fought at Valley Forge: the 12,000 rag tag ill-disciplined
and ill-equipped soldiers who entered were transformed into a 6,000 strong well drilled and highly
motivated military force who were able to take on the British. A quintessential story of the USA and
its myth of redemption, something so prominent in the American psyche. I purchased two books
from the bookshop – David Freeman Hawke. Everday Life in Early America. New York, NY:
Perennial, an imprint of HarperCollins, 2003 & Thomas Fleming. Washington's Secret War: the Hidden
History of Valley Forge. New York, NY: Smithsonian Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers,
2006 – and planted another copy of Broken Signs on a shelf in there. We walked to the replica soldiers‘
huts and then drove to the Pott‘s houses and Washington‘s headquarters. Unfortunately, we forgot
the camera so there‘s no pics. Bugger.
    Having driven back to the new providence apartment, we had lunch, went to the B&B and
purchased some ham, and then drove west across the Susquehanna River and north to York then
east to follow the river southwards and, after dark, had some trouble finding our way through to R-
272 and back home, but we managed. We‘re listening to the Prairie Home Companion radio show from
West 41st Street, Manhattan and it‘s embarrassing, especially as compared with what Robert Altman‘s
film presented.

Sunday, December 10, 2006
    Toured the local area – starting off by driving to the Nickel mine a couple of miles due east of
here, as it turns out – for about an hour and a half. The area around the old nickel mine is that where
the milkman went off his trolley and murdered the Amish children of a one-room school back in
September, or October sometime.
    Things are not what they seem in America, we know, so when I commented on the showroom
for new carriages which we passed Michelle might have been more insistent on demurring. But since
we shortly thereafter came across a used carriage advertisement outside a farm house right next door
to one advertising an auction, come January 3rd at 9.30 am, of ‗Tools and Mules‘ she accepted the
conclusion, more or less. But when we subsequently drove by yet another such showroom – and that
along a stretch of the White Oak Road we knew well – and realised that the house in question had
not been a showroom on any previous occasion of our passing it dawned on us that the Amish had
gathered at these various houses in order to conduct their weekly church service. They do not
congregate in churches, having split off from the Mennonite Church in order to be more disciplined
in living according to the biblical injunctions.
    Nearer home, somewhere around the junction of Smithville and Pennsy Roads, we saw not only
the stable of buggies but those young members of the community who had gathered together to give
thanks and praise the Lord in their Sunday best, saw the young men carrying church pew benches
into the barn, or so it seemed. We‘d love to have photographed these people but felt it too much of
an intrusion, the taking of a graven image being unacceptable to some among the Amish. We then
headed north to Schaefferstown. It was not at all tourist orientated, though a roadside pretzel bar a
few miles south of it was, and as godawful as one might imagine of an eating establishment whose
sole purpose seemed to have been to hook suckers. We had one of our rows, Michelle and I, when
she believed I‘d gone into a sulk over her having left the map behind. I hadn‘t, but my silence – I‘d
slammed the car door into my jaw 10 minutes or so earlier and it was smarting so I was deep in grin
and bear it mode – gave her to believe I was brooding. We pulled into a roadside beer joint because
my hunger demanded attention and this would have to be checked out for its potential as a lunch
stop. I went in to check it out and found the young woman so helpful and friendly that I considered
it verging on the suitable. Michelle had entered by now and she concurred. We had a roast beef and

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salad roll between us, plus 2 coffees. The coffee could have been improved upon but the roll was
very good so we were happy with our $6.00 meal and tipped the young woman a dollar into the
bargain before retracing our steps and finding our way to R-222 South and along that to Lancaster.
Michelle went onto the farmers‘ market in search of a leg of pork while I drove around the block and
picked her up without any meat (the market being closed) and we drove to a gigantic shopping centre
called an Outlet. There we found al manner of shops whose claim to fame is that the consumer is
buying direct from the manufacturer. Maybe. Maybe not. It had nothing for me but a restroom.
Michelle was not especially enamoured of the wares on display either and we left there to go to New
Providence when we remembered we needed soap – which we purchased at the K-Mart at Willow
Street. The woman in front of us was another jaded Christmas shopper who had the stress of the
festive season written all over the lines on her face. We drove back to New Providence and missed
the Pennsy road turnoff. But we found our way out of the maze more or less immediately and came
home to finish off the soup we‘ve been having since some time last week. Tony Carey‘s email
messages concerning his traveling around with us are now coming regularly; he‘s warmed to the idea
and is excited about the adventure in a Tony kind of way.

Monday, December 11, 2006
   New Providence, PA
   I returned the Dodge Neon to Tanya from Enterprise at Paradise by 8.40 am and she drove me
home 40 minutes later. Michelle and I went for a walk in the warm weather – upper 50s F – and
noted that the horses had more curiosity than America‘s president Bush. Michelle reckoned the cows
had more curiosity than he, from what those in the know say.
   The Fleming book makes the point, pp 30, that Congress and the powers that be suffered from
the delusion that patriotism alone was enough to win wars, that America‘s soldiers could succeed
without proper supplies. Nothing‘s changed, it seems to me, in that the modern soldier was sent to
Iraq with inadequate armour and, upon returning from a tour of duty, is given a dishonourable
discharge in order that the military not be financially liable for the medical treatment needed by such
mentally ill service men and women.
   I finally made a start on the latest writing project, under the provisional title, I Went To America and
Heard Voices. It was good to get going, even if it‘s not what‘s ultimately needed. At least I know how
the story goes and need only to write it well to get something to edit for publication. The website
could be more significant than the book, should there be a book.
   Barbara and Rob invited us to spend Christmas with them at their newly acquired property near
Williamsport, PA, north of here. Maybe it‘ll be a White Christmas afterall?

Tuesday, December 12, 2006
    New Providence, PA
    I overslept after a night of dreams about sexual encounters with Mandy Simondson. She was as
prickly as she‘d ever been but as sexually excited by me, too. Where that came from I don‘t know,
but I was able to point out to her that though I‘m ripe for sex and romance, I‘m philosophical about
the fact that those days seem long gone; i.e., I was not carried away with this opportunity to recover
that sexually alive phase of life.
    Dull, with a head full of cotton wool, I walked down to the bridge and watched the fast flowing
creek run north. An Amish carriage with a woman holding the reins and a small child peering out at
me waved as they rode across the bridge from R-22 and headed up Main Street. The horse broke out
of a trot and into a gallop as the carriage rounded the bend.
    Michelle excelled herself in the kitchen again. Her flat bread is wonderful, and the cranberry pie
superb. Now she has made a batch of delicious oatmeal cookies. I read a good article about the Iraq
debacle in the November 20, 2006 New Yorker magazine.

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Wednesday, December 13, 2006
    New Providence, PA
    More dreams about Mandy Simondson, this time repeating one of the night before‘s themes that
she had never properly made the connection with the childhood sweetheart and could not be with
him as she had wanted. Flights were missed, or cancelled, and he was over there while she was in
Adelaide. She was sad but philosophical, and not especially interested in me, but not dismissive
either. I could try my luck with her again, if I wanted to, it seemed.
    56°F and raining today. Michelle and I are sitting at the kitchen table at our laptops – I‘m working
on my story about Geoffrey Hamilton – while some sort of Christian Rock Music is being played
quite loudly next door. I‘m unsure whether it‘s Christian but there seems to be some sort of
counselling session or bible class being conducted in the rumpus room of the Musser House. We
can‘t quite make out what‘s going on but a fortnight ago today Barbara Musser held a luncheon for
her bible study group. Today there seems only to be Barbara and one other woman present.
    Michelle baked bread and I made another stew this afternoon, while we each worked at our
respective projects. Then we went out at 4.10 pm – near sunset, and with a golden ball devoid of heat
energy slipping down the western sky. The following email which I wrote in reply to one from my
sister, Nita, tells the story of that walk:

                 Yeah, Americans seems to love the Aussie accent, that's for sure. It
                 sounds bloody awful to me and I can't believe I speak that way but
                 there you go.
                 Most people we meet think we're English - not because we sound
                 English so much as because we don't sound American and can
                 speak the lingo so we must be English because who else could we
                 They're quite ignorant about the rest of the world.

                 Trish seems hell bent on suffering. It's Christianity that does it -
                 bad for the health, I reckon. Understanding the aged, be buggered.
                 Feeling like she has to be around them because she doesn't want to
                 be and so that's what she should do because Jesus would have done
                 that instead of playing with Greg Freeman and Butsy (spelling) is
                 what that's about.

                 That's the advantage of being an arsehole: you don't have to hang
                 out with the aged but can examine dead horses on the side of the
                 road. Or at least you can around here because that's what we were
                 doing a half hour ago. We figure that an Amish buggy must have
                 been in a road accident, but we don't know for sure. The horse
                 hadn't started to smell and it's not very cold so it must have
                 happened in the last little while. There was a car crash just down
                 the road a bit from our apartment late this afternoon and a little kid
                 thought that an Amish horse had broken a leg but it hadn't. An
                 Amish woman came over and said, as Americans invariably do, "I
                 guess you want to know what happened. Well, the grey SUV was
                 passing the … " and she explained it to Michelle. I couldn't hear
                 because of the passing traffic, and because the Amish man had
                 engaged me in conversation about whether it was okay to have
                 parked his horse and buggy where he did. I told him it was okay.
                 Well, best to say so, I thought. But we were just walking by. It
                 wasn't my house to give him permission to tether his horse and

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                 carriage to but I was feeling in a charitable mood - not an arsehole
                 at all.
                 When the little kid heard the story of how the accident occurred he
                 said to Michelle "It's kinda sad." She's not sure what was so sad.
                 The horse hadn't broken its leg, no-one was injured, another SUV
                 was off the road. What was sad? So it was a strange coincidence,
                 we thought, when we walked on for another half hour only to
                 come across the dead horse.
                 Does this story make you want to buy a pie for lunch?


Thursday, December 14, 2006
   New Providence, PA
   Barbara dropped us off at the supermarket in Quarryville while she drove to the library where she
volunteers for a two hour stint on Thursdays.
   I heard a story on the radio about a Missouri religious community where women are charging
their 65 year old pastor with child sexual abuse after he told them that the Lord wanted them to take
off their clothes and lie on the bed, etc. In this community the women do not read the bible since it‘s
men‘s business. One of the pastor‘s accusers was on the radio yelling and screaming about how she
decided to read the bible and discovered there was nothing in there about having to lie down with
the pastor. She felt she‘d been had. Well, yes.

                 Missouri Church Leaders Accused of Child-Sex Abuse

                 by Doualy Xaykaothao

                 About This Story

                 Extended reports on the Grand Valley child sexual-abuse case will
                 be broadcast on Thursday, Dec. 14, and Friday, Dec. 15, on All
                 Things Considered.

                 Pastors Raymond Lambert (left) and George Otis Johnson lead a
                 small religious community in a remote part of the Ozarks. Several
                 young women who grew up in the community have accused the
                 two men of molesting them when they were children. Tara
                 Brown/ Newton County Sheriff's Office/Courtesy John Ford,
                 Neosho Daily News

                 A view of the approach to the Grand Valley farm in southwestern
                 Missouri. The 100-acre farm was founded as a religious commune
                 in the 1970s.

                 Morning Edition, December 14, 2006 ·Early next year, the first of
                 several child-sexual abuse cases involving church leaders is
                 expected to be heard in a courtroom in southwest Missouri. The
                 sex charges were filed this summer by women who grew up in a

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               religious community deep in the Ozarks. Most of the accusers and
               the accused are related by blood or marriage.

               The five women who have pressed charges are all now adults. They
               attended Grand Valley Independent Baptist Church in Washburn,
               Mo. If what they say is true -- and that's still to be proven -- they
               were lured into sexual conduct by some of their church leaders
               when they were children, one as young as 8.

               At a preliminary hearing in the Newton County, Mo., courthouse in
               October, 20-year-old Mackenzie Kyle Amey testified against her
               alleged molester, 63-year-old pastor George Johnston, a man she
               used to call Grandpa. Her younger sister has also made claims
               against Johnston. Attorney Andy Wood represents Johnston. He
               says his client is innocent.

               In neighboring McDonald County, Duane Cooper, an attorney for
               Raymond Lambert -- the other pastor accused of multiple counts
               of statutory sodomy and child molestation -- also questions the
               timing of the accusations. Cooper says Lambert is innocent, and
               Cooper isn't happy about all the publicity the case has received

               "There's an assumption of guilt," Cooper says. "As soon as people
               see it on TV, hear about it on the radio, read about it in the
               newspapers, they assume because the great powers of the state
               have charged a crime, that a person is actually guilty."

               Cooper and other lawyers representing Raymond Lambert say they
               don't want to try their client's cases in the media, but they agreed to
               let NPR ask pastor Lambert about the effects of the accusations on
               his life.

               "It's been tough on everyone, but I believe we're going to make it,"
               Lambert said. "My vision of what our farm would be -- a school, a
               farm -- in a moment of a few days, and seemingly a few hours, it all

               One accuser, who fears reprisals for speaking out, tells NPR she
               left the community in April. Since then, she no longer attends
               church because she finds it hard to trust any religious figure. She
               doesn't want to be identified by name. She alleges her sexual
               relationship with pastor Raymond Lambert started when she was

               Another woman who left is Charyn Epling. She says she wasn't
               encouraged to read the Bible in this community because it was
               preached to her that only men of God read it.

               Charyn Epling is now reading the Bible. The first thing she learned,
               she says, is that "nowhere in the Bible does it state that you can

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                 touch a child. Nowhere. You cannot sexually touch a child, and
                 that's basically what this is all about."

                 Next week, a hearing is set for one of the accused church leaders in
                 McDonald County. Other cases are pending, and one trial is set for

Friday, December 15, 2006
   New Providence, PA

Saturday, December 16, 2006
   New Providence, PA

Sunday, December 17, 2006
   New Providence, PA
   Colder this morning, as I walked up to the horse corral over icy grass. Still, not really cold once
the sun‘s up – and it was peeking over the south east horizon as I strolled. The horses were still in
their barn and only a few cars were on the road, Main Street, and three or four Amish carriages
together with an open buggy cart. A couple with a young girl about 3 years old went by in a carriage
and a young couple, courting perhaps, were in the cart.
                 MTP Transcript for Dec. 17
                 Newt Gingrich, David Brooks, Tom Friedman
                  Meet the Press on your schedule
                 Updated: 1:43 p.m. ET Dec. 17, 2006

                 MR. TIM RUSSERT: Our issues this Sunday: the president
                 explores new options for Iraq.


                 PRES. GEORGE W. BUSH: I‘m not going to be rushed into
                 making a difficult decision.

                 (End videotape)

                 MR. RUSSERT: The tension between the First Amendment and
                 the war on terror. And will this man, the former speaker of the
                 House of Representatives, run for president of the United States?
                 With us: our guest, Newt Gingrich.

                 Then, is there any good options for Iraq? And how will the war in
                 Iraq affect Republicans and Democrats in the 2008 race for the
                 White House? Insight and analysis from two columnists for The
                 New York Times, David Brooks and Tom Friedman.

                 But first, for four years, he was speaker of the House of
                 Representatives, he‘s been touring the country contemplating a run
                 for the White House, talking about American solutions. He‘s with
                 us this morning.

                 Newt Gingrich, welcome back.

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               FMR. REP. NEWT GINGRICH (R-GA): It‘s good to be here.

               MR. RUSSERT: Let me start with Iraq, on the minds of all
               Americans, and show them what you said a few weeks ago up in
               New Hampshire. ―Former House speaker Newt Gingrich told a
               New Hampshire audience that unless the Bush administration
               admits that the war in Iraq is a ‗failure,‘ it will never develop a
               strategy to leave the country successfully.‖ Why is the war a failure?

               FMR. REP. GINGRICH: Well, the war‘s a failure in part because
               the strategy, as I told you on this show in December of ‗03, has
               been wrong consistently, it‘s been a strategy that was far too
               American. Second, it‘s a, it‘s a failure because the instruments of
               national power don‘t work. And it‘s important to understand we all
               focus on Maliki‘s government. The, the Baker-Hamilton
               Commission reports that out of 1,000 people in the American
               Embassy, 33 speak Arabic, eight of them fluently. Now, at some
               point we have to have a national conversation about the fact that,
               outside of the uniform military, none of the instruments of national
               power work, and they need to be fundamentally overhauled. This
               isn‘t about policy. It‘s as though you wanted to go to Boston, I
               wanted to go to Los Angeles, and the car standing outside was
               broken. Doesn‘t matter what our policy agreement is, the car
               doesn‘t run.

               And so I think the administration shouldn‘t just focus narrowly on
               Iraq, they should look, first of all, at the larger war, which does
               include Iran, it does include North Korea, it does include al-Qaeda.
               And they should look second at what are the strategic changes
               necessary to win in Iraq? And if you have to do that, how are you
               going to get the job done when Treasury doesn‘t work, Justice
               doesn‘t work, State doesn‘t work, intelligence doesn‘t work? And
               this is a very severe problem for our effectiveness.

               MR. RUSSERT: When you were here in October of—December
               of ‗03, however, you were very supportive of the war, concerned
               about where it was heading, but supportive of it. Let me show you
               what you said and come back and talk about it.

               (Videotape, December 7, 2003):

               FMR. REP. GINGRICH: I don‘t believe we should be arguing
               about American commitment in Iraq. The only exit strategy in Iraq
               is victory. Now, if that‘s true, then we should be able to reassure
               every Iraqi we‘re not leaving till the bad guys are defeated.

               (End videotape)

               MR. RUSSERT: ―The only exit strategy is victory. We‘re not
               leaving till the‖...

Master Diary                             USA 2006-2007

               FMR. REP. GINGRICH: I believe that today.

               MR. RUSSERT: So what do you do, send more troops?

               FMR. REP. GINGRICH: You, you only—look, the president‘s got
               to make a very hard decision, and that‘s why I used the word
               ―failure.‖ This president is a very proud, very stubborn man, has to
               come to grips with the fact that the policy he has followed—with
               all good intention—is not succeeding. Now, if that‘s true, it should
               be possible to build a bipartisan commitment to rethink from the
               ground up what we‘re doing, how we do it, and what it takes. And
               it‘s not just 30,000 more troops or not, it‘s very important to surge
               troops if they‘re going to bridge to a better future. But unless
               you‘re going to design that better future—let me give you a simple
               example where Hillary Clinton and I ended up in agreement at a
               meeting on this topic. I‘m a relatively conservative Republican, I
               think you‘d accept that statement, I believe a Franklin Delano
               Roosevelt civil conversation corps designed to mop up every young
               Iraqi male who‘s unemployed would be as big a strategic step in
               Iraq towards victory as whether you have more troops or fewer
               troops. The fact you have 60 percent unemployment among young
               males in Iraq is a disaster.

               Now, if we can‘t—but we have no instrument of national power
               today other than the military that could possibly run a program that
               was a civil conservation corps for young Iraqis, and that would be
               an example of a totally different approach that would, I think, work
               significantly, that‘s a component of how you get to a stable self-
               governing, self-defending Iraqi future. But the challenge I have for
               all of our good friends who are honest, well-meaning people, who
               say, ―Well, we can afford to run, we can afford to leave, we can
               afford this,‖ describe the cost of, of defeat.

               In 1979 under Jimmy Carter, America was seen as weak; there were
               hostages held in Iran against all international law, there was an
               American Embassy under siege in Pakistan, there was an American
               ambassador killed in, in, in Afghanistan. If we summarily get beaten
               in Iraq, and what‘s what we‘re talking about, if we are defeated in
               Iraq, there are not enough Marine elements in the world to
               evacuate the embassies that‘ll come under siege.

               MR. RUSSERT: So in order to avoid defeat, would you send more
               troops—American troops to secure Baghdad?

               FMR. REP. GINGRICH: I would send more troops if it was in a
               context of a new strategy with a dramatically new commitment,
               with a bipartisan resolution in the Congress. I mean, the center of
               gravity for American policy right now is the president finding a
               bipartisan agreement in the Congress in the first two or three
               months to send a signal to the world that it is America‘s—this, this
               can‘t be Bush‘s war. This is either an American commitment to

Master Diary                              USA 2006-2007

               victory or it is a defeat. And if the Democrats decide it‘s a defeat,
               fine, then let‘s—then let‘s withdraw. And when we withdraw, let‘s
               understand why we withdrew. But stubbornness is not a strategy.

               MR. RUSSERT: When the war was first conceived, you were on
               the Defense Policy Board of Secretary Rumsfeld. I went back and
               re-read Michael Gordon‘s book, ―Cobra II,‖ and you‘re—play a
               role in that. Let me share that with you and our viewers and come
               back and talk about it. ―At the Pentagon, Rumsfeld and his advisers
               saw that the plan [to invade Iraq] was at a formative stage and that
               this was the time to shape it. Newt Gingrich was one of them. The
               former House Republican leader ... had Rumsfeld‘s ear. Gingrich
               had been appointed by Rumsfeld to the Defense Policy Board. ...

               ―As the Pentagon‘s focus shifted to Iraq, [retired Navy Admiral
               Doug] Macgregor received a call from Gingrich, who told him that
               Rumsfeld was frustrated with the military‘s suggestion that
               hundreds of thousands of troops would be needed to defeat and
               occupy Iraq. ... Gingrich asked Macgregor to draft a briefing, which
               the former lawmaker could quietly slip to Rumsfeld. ... [Macgregor]
               argued that the Army, properly restructured, could attack Baghdad
               with 50,000 troops and win within two weeks.‖

               Now, General Shinseki, the Army chief of staff, had advocated
               hundreds of thousands of troops. That was rejected. It appears that
               you were on the side of Secretary Rumsfeld for a much smaller
               force, which turned out to be quite wrong in terms of securing

               FMR. REP. GINGRICH: No. Well, let, let me start with—that‘s
               technically wrong. Doug Macgregor‘s a retired Army colonel. He‘s
               not a Navy admiral. But having—with that minor correction in the
               book, what I said was I thought it would take 135,000 to 150,000
               men, I thought that—and I wrote a paper in August of 2002 called
               Operation Switch, which said you can only go in light if you hire
               the Iraqi Regular Army. But that you have to have a plan to have
               Iraqis patrolling the streets within two to three weeks—which, by
               the way, the British did in Basra. You had to have a plan that said
               you‘re going to have an Iraqi interim government exactly like
               Afghanistan, which Khalilzad was prepared to do.

               MR. RUSSERT: So we had too few troops going in.

               FMR. REP. GINGRICH: No. We—you—there were two
               strategies. Shinseki is exactly—if you‘re going to appoint Bremer
               and have an American domination, you‘d better send a half million
               to a million men. If you‘re going to convert the Iraqi Regular
               Army, do what we did in Afghanistan—have a very light footprint,
               have no national resistance to us—then 150,000 was exactly the
               right number. The problem was we had a perfect strategy for a fast
               war, and then converted to deciding we were an American
               occupation. And from the day Bremer entered—and I‘m not

Master Diary                             USA 2006-2007

               picking on Bremer as a person, because I assume he represented
               the president.

               MR. RUSSERT: Yeah. A decision like that to eliminate the Iraq
               army couldn‘t have been made just by him, it had to be supported
               by the secretary and the president.

               FMR. REP. GINGRICH: I, I assume in the end the president‘s
               commander in chief. But the point is, they had then adopted a
               strategy which would only work if you had a half million men. And,
               and that, that‘s why, frankly, I went public in the fall of ‗03,
               because it was very clear that, that—the two things that were the
               most startling to me were that we had imposed American
               nationalism—I mean, Bremer was giving speeches on television.
               Made—it made no sense at all to have an American speaking to the
               Iraqis on television.

               The second difference was it became startlingly clear that all of our
               civilian instruments of power are absolutely broken. I mean, I
               cannot overstate this. They are absolutely broken. They cannot
               function. And the Agency for International Development is an
               absurdity. The State Department is totally unprepared for this kind
               of war. And, and I‘m not—these are not negatives. I think you
               need a 50 percent bigger State Department with a dramatic
               investment in information technology, with an entire new training
               program. So I‘m not picking on the current State Department. I‘m
               saying by any objective standard, none of our civilian instruments
               work. And this is a huge national problem. It‘s not a Bush problem.
               This is an American problem.

               MR. RUSSERT: But there were some fundamental judgments
               made that we would be greeted as liberators...

               FMR. REP. GINGRICH: Yeah.

               MR. RUSSERT: ...that we would need—we would not need
               hundreds of thousands of troops, that there were weapons of mass
               destruction, that the oil would pay for the reconstruction, that
               there wouldn‘t be sectarian violence. Some of those fun—most of
               those fundamental judgments were just plain wrong.

               FMR. REP. GINGRICH: It de—it de—well, you and I have a
               disagreement here.

               MR. RUSSERT: It‘s a question.

               FMR. REP. GINGRICH: No, well, you said it was a judgment.

               MR. RUSSERT: A question.

               FMR. REP. GINGRICH: A question. Good. OK. Dave Petraeus
               in northern Iraq hired 15,000 Iraqi soldiers in six weeks. The U.S.

Master Diary                             USA 2006-2007

               Marine Corps had Iraqi generals teaching professional education
               courses about how they‘d fought the Iraq-Iran war. There was a
               program under way in April or May that would‘ve reintegrated that
               society probably by the end of summer. It required dealing with the
               sheiks, it required a whole range of things.

               There‘s, there‘s a tragic package on the Internet, which, which I‘m
               going to send you personally. I want to get—there‘s a—I want to
               get this out, because there‘s a Marine captain I want to name,
               name—I want to make sure I get his name right. I think it‘s
               Patikian. And, and he, he was—he‘s been killed, and it‘s very
               unfortunate. I had the wrong paper. But Captain Travis Patriquin.
               P-A-T-R-I-Q-U-I-N. He did a stick figure briefing on how to win
               in Al Anbar and it will break your heart. Because he said, ‗Look,
               there are sheiks in Al Anbar who‘ve been the local power structure
               for 1300 years and they know how to run the place. They know
               how to track down the, the, the bad guys. They know what to do.
               And a bunch of 26-year-olds come in with Bremer and write a law
               that said, ―The sheiks are irrelevant. We now represent modernity.‖
               And we‘ve now spent three years not knowing what we‘re doing,
               not knowing who the bad guys are, not knowing who the good
               guys are. And you, and you see this stick figure presentation by this
               young Marine who was killed just a few weeks ago and it makes
               you want to cry because we, starting in June of ‗03, violated
               virtually every principal I know about how to be effective in this
               kind of country. And we did—that was not true in April or May.

               MR. RUSSERT: But that‘s part of planning.

               FMR. REP. GINGRICH: No.

               MR. RUSSERT: That‘s part of, that‘s part of war.

               FMR. REP. GINGRICH: No. No. It was an absolute decision to
               change what we were doing. The army—the military had a plan.
               They were rapidly reintegrating the Iraqis. I discussed this with
               General Abizaid when he was the deputy commander in Qatar
               three weeks before the, the campaign. And that—ask Abizaid
               something, he‘ll tell you, there was a clear path which we decided
               not to take. And when we didn‘t take it, it has gotten steadily worse
               and I think that‘s why I‘m saying unless the administration‘s
               prepared to say we need a new strategy with new resources, we
               need to fundamentally restructure our instruments of national
               power, they will not win in Iraq.

               MR. RUSSERT: Let me turn to the broader war on terror and
               some comments you also made in New Hampshire about the war
               on terror and the First Amendment. ―This is a serious long-term
               war and it will inevitably lead us to want to know what is said in
               every suspect place in the country. ...

Master Diary                             USA 2006-2007

               ―And, my prediction to you is that either before we lose a city, or if
               we are truly stupid, after we lose a city, we will adopt rules of
               engagement that use every technology we can find to break up their
               capacity to use the Internet, to break up their capacity to use free
               speech. ...

               ―This is a serious problem that will lead to a serious debate about
               the first amendment.‖ Which freedoms, rights of speech would you

               FMR. REP. GINGRICH: Well, let‘s start with an incident recently
               in Illinois where the FBI sold hand grenades to a jihadist who
               wanted to go into a mall at Christmas and blow up himself and as
               many people as possible. The FBI now reports—and by the way,
               the local Muslim community thanked the FBI for trapping him,
               and the ACLU was worried that entrapment was involved. Just take
               those two standards. The local Muslims who are Americans and
               patriots and don‘t want to be blown up in the mall thought it was
               terrific to arrest this guy for trying to buy hand grenades, and the
               ACLU thought there‘s probably a real infringement of his legal
               right to be stupid.

               MR. RUSSERT: But they‘re Americans and patriots as well.

               FMR. REP. GINGRICH: Yeah, Americans and patriots as well,
               but they‘re suicidal in my judgment. So second, the, the FBI now
               reports that this jihadist almost certainly became a jihadist—he‘s an
               American living in Illinois, and he‘s getting on the Internet and he‘s
               reading hate and he‘s reading recruitment and he‘s reading how to
               be a jihadist. Now, why would you tolerate that? I mean, in a free
               society that‘s trying to survive? You know...

               MR. RUSSERT: So close down Web sites.

               FMR. REP. GINGRICH: You close down any Web site that is

               MR. RUSSERT: But who makes that judgment?

               FMR. REP. GINGRICH: Look, I—you can appoint three federal
               judges if you want to and say, ―Review this stuff and tell us which
               ones to close down.‖ I would just like to have them be federal
               judges who‘ve served in combat.

               MR. RUSSERT: Are you concerned, however, that with carte
               blanche, that the government could move in and say, ―This
               mosque is closed, this Web site is shut down‖?

               FMR. REP. GINGRICH: No. You have—you have more
               censorship in the McCain-Feingold bill, which blocks the right of
               free speech about American campaigns than you have from the
               FBI closing down jihadists. We‘ve already limited the First

Master Diary                             USA 2006-2007

               Amendment right of free speech by a set of rules that are
               stunningly absurd. In California, you can raise soft money to run
               negative commercials attacking your opponent through the state
               party and you cannot raise soft money to run a positive commercial
               on behalf of your own candidate. That‘s California state law. It‘s
               stunningly stupid and a clear infringement of free speech.

               So we‘ve had a 30-year period of saying it‘s OK to infringe free
               speech as long as it‘s about politics. But now if you want to be a
               jihadist, and you want to go kill people, well who are we to say
               that‘s morally wrong? I think that‘s suicidal. I‘m using the word
               deliberately. A country—a Supreme Court justice once said ―The
               Constitution is not a suicide pact.‖ This country has every right to
               defend itself, and you saw the same thing recently on this U.S.
               Airlines provocation, where you had six people go way out of their
               way to cause trouble, and then claim they were infringed upon.
               And I think, frankly, the president should invite that U.S. Airlines
               crew to the White House and thank them, because we ought to set
               a standard that if you‘re provocative about killing people, we‘re not
               going to show you any mercy.

               MR. RUSSERT: Let me turn to what is going on with your life, and
               travels around the country, the 2008 presidential election as well.
               Your old colleague in the House, Tom DeLay, made this prediction
               the other day, according to The New York Post. He predicted that
               ―Hillary Rodham Clinton will win the presidency in 2008 - and that
               Barack Obama would likely be the vice president. ... ‗Hillary will be
               the next president of the United States.‘‖ Here‘s the cover of
               Newsweek magazine with Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. Do
               you agree with Mr. DeLay that Hillary will be the next president?

               FMR. REP. GINGRICH: I think she certainly has an opportunity
               to be the next president.

               MR. RUSSERT: Will she be a formidable...

               FMR. REP. GINGRICH: So does—so does Barack Obama, and I
               would say so does John Edwards. On the Democratic side, I think
               those are the three clearly serious contenders.

               MR. RUSSERT: What about Al Gore?

               FMR. REP. GINGRICH: I—look, I‘ve known Al Gore for many,
               many years. If he runs, he‘ll be a serious contender, but I think he
               would be fourth on that list of plausible people. I actually think
               Barack Obama‘s having as good as run as anyone could hope for,
               and he‘s doing it by being positive, by being engaging, and by being
               above all the negative Washington-based, you know, this morning‘s
               hotline nasty attack, you know, e-mail kind of stuff. And I think if
               he can sustain that, despite the best efforts of many of my good

Master Diary                             USA 2006-2007

               friends in the media to drag him down to mere issues, he could
               become very formidable.

               MR. RUSSERT: Does he have enough experience to be president
               of the United States?

               FMR. REP. GINGRICH: Well, Abraham Lincoln served two years
               in the U.S.

               House, and seemed to do all right.

               MR. RUSSERT: Will Hillary be a formidable candidate?

               FMR. REP. GINGRICH: Hillary Clinton is one of the hardest
               working professionals I know. I mean, she is serious, she is married
               to the smartest politician in the country, they have an enormous
               network of fund-raising. No one has made any money betting
               against the Clintons since 1980.

               MR. RUSSERT: So she could win?

               FMR. REP. GINGRICH: Oh, of course she could win. And
               anybody who thinks she can‘t win must have been living on a
               different planet, I mean this—I, I watch Bill and Hillary with deep
               professional admiration. It‘s like, like watching a formidable
               opposition football team. You coming from Buffalo will appreciate
               this. You know, there are years when it‘s good, and there are years
               when it‘s bad, and they are formidable.

               MR. RUSSERT: Let me show you the latest NBC poll about the
               Republicans. Rudy Giuliani leads the pack, 34 percent; John
               McCain, 29; Newt Gingrich at 10; the governor of Massachusetts,
               Mitt Romney, at 8. And yet, when asked about
               favorable/unfavorable attitudes among all voters: favorable, Newt
               Gingrich, 28; unfavorable, 44. High negatives.

               FMR. REP. GINGRICH: Absolutely. And look, I, I was a very
               aggressive Speaker of the House, I was very controversial. I had
               121,000 negative ads run against me nationally. That‘s—but I‘m
               not running for president right now. I mean, what I‘m doing is
               talking about ideas, and even, I think, most people agree that we
               could use a new generation of solutions—solutions on energy,
               solutions on education, solutions on national security, solutions on
               health. I founded the Center for Health Transformation as a non-
               partisan program that reaches out. American Solutions, the, the
               organization we‘re creating, is going to reach out to every candidate
               in both parties. And I‘m, I‘m pretty happy to try to develop a very
               positive, very solution-oriented future for the country. And then
               we‘ll see what happens over time.

Master Diary                              USA 2006-2007

               MR. RUSSERT: But that‘s a change in your demeanor. When you
               ran for speaker, you did call Democrats grotesque, dishonest, you
               said Jim Wright, the former speaker, was a crook. I mean, there‘s a
               long history of very aggressive partisan rhetoric from Newt
               Gingrich. Do you regret that now?

               FMR. REP. GINGRICH: No. Look, first of all, it was a different
               time. I mean, you had a 40-year monopoly of power in the House
               by the Democrats. You, you were in very different kind of
               environment. You didn‘t have a war that, that should focus every
               American on our own survival, which we—we have a big war, of
               which Iraq and Iran and Afghanistan are sub-sets. But we have a
               much bigger threat to our very survival. We didn‘t have the rise of
               China and India. I mean, I think we‘re entering a period where, as
               Americans, we have to pull together in what I think will be the
               largest complex challenges since the Civil War. And I don‘t think
               there‘s any period since 1861 in which the nation has been—will be
               as tested as it‘s going to be in the next 15 or 20 years.

               And part of it, I think I‘ve, I‘ve reacted—again, we‘re all creatures
               of, of the world we‘ve lived in. I‘m now a grandfather, I have two
               grandchildren who are five and seven, and I think you, you think
               differently about time when you think about your grandchildren‘s
               future, and you think about, ―What kind of country am I going to
               leave them?‖ And I also think the country‘s at a point where it—
               where, where the negativity has gotten to the point, whether it was
               right or wrong in ‗94, it has now gotten to the point where it‘s
               pathological. I mean, where you have consultants who, who don‘t
               know how to write a positive commercial. That‘s bad for the
               country. Maybe good for their candidate, it‘s bad for the country.

               MR. RUSSERT: You said you‘re not running for president yet. In
               every article that assesses your presidential prospects, starting with
               today‘s New York Times, your home state paper, the Atlanta
               Constitution, it always talks about your liabilities. I want to talk
               about that and give you a chance to respond.

               FMR. REP. GINGRICH: I can‘t imagine you‘d do that, Tim.

               MR. RUSSERT: Well, it‘s, it‘s in case you‘re going to be a
               candidate. This is how you‘re—this is the Atlanta Constitution.

               FMR. REP. GINGRICH: This is what it would be like.

               MR. RUSSERT: ―Gingrich‘s liabilities, as Americans would
               certainly be reminded in a campaign, run the gamut from personal
               to political. Twice divorced, he has been accused of having
               extramarital affairs—including one while he was leading the
               movement to impeach President Bill Clinton for lying about an
               affair. ...

Master Diary                             USA 2006-2007

               ―And then there are the ethics charges first raised in 1996. ... The
               House Ethics Committee investigated Gingrich‘s use of tax-exempt
               charities to fund a college course he was teaching at two Georgia

               ―Critics charged that the course was political in nature and violated
               the groups‘ tax-exempt status. Gingrich was reprimanded and
               ordered to pay $300,000 for improper use of funds and for twice
               providing the Ethics Committee with false statements.‖ How do
               you deal with that in a presidential campaign?

               FMR. REP. GINGRICH: First of all, you do it honestly and
               openly. We could take them one by one if you want to, but let‘s
               start with the ethics stuff, OK? On every ethics charge, in the end,
               I was exonerated. The one thing that happened is I signed a letter
               written by one of our lawyers that was technically wrong, and I
               paid the cost of investigating that letter.

               MR. RUSSERT: But you were reprimanded by the full House later

               FMR. REP. GINGRICH: For having signed a letter.

               MR. RUSSERT: And that you paid a fine or...

               FMR. REP. GINGRICH: That‘s right.

               MR. RUSSERT: Three hundred thousand. It‘s significant. It‘s

               FMR. REP. GINGRICH: That‘s right—it, it is, I just said it‘s
               significant. And I vol—and I paid the $300,000. Now, but here‘s
               the point: the rest of the stuff in that article about my—the ethics
               charges, are false. The Internal Revenue Service said there was
               nothing wrong with the course. I am a PhD in history. I was
               teaching a college course. It was totally—it goes back to free
               speech. I was allowed to teach courses. The Federal Election
               Commission was reprimanded by a federal judge and told that the
               charges against GOPAC were totally false. All of the courses—
               those things didn‘t make page one. And, and I fully expected my
               opponents—remember, the Democrats were very mad after the ‗94
               election. They had lost power. They—for the first time in 40 years.
               They knew it couldn‘t be their fault, so it must be mine.

               But if you go back and you took—if you were to some day take
               item-by-item what the charges were, and what the results were,
               again and again and again they turned out to be false. Now, I‘ve
               had a very long career, and there‘re lots of things people would be
               able to pick out from votes to attacking my life to attacking, you
               know, the ethics stuff. But people have to decide at some point
               down the road, first of all is, are the ideas good? I didn‘t come here
               today and say you should put me in the White House. I came here

Master Diary                              USA 2006-2007

               today and said, ―We need solutions on health; we need solutions on

               If the ideas are good, then let‘s see how many candidates‘ll just take
               the ideas. I‘m, I‘m pretty happy to have written the Contract with
               America. I‘m pretty happy to have reformed welfare, balanced the
               federal budget, cut taxes, been the only person cited by the 9/11
               commission for strengthening the intelligence community in the
               ‗90s. And if over the next 10 years I can help my grandchildren live
               in a safer, freer, more prosperous country by creating a wave of
               new ideas and new solutions, that wouldn‘t be a failure.

               MR. RUSSERT: But do you, do you regret pressing the
               impeachment of President Clinton so hard?

               FMR. REP. GINGRICH: President—you know, I‘m—I‘ve been
               divorced twice.

               Both times I‘ve been deposed. Both times I was told, ―Perjury is a
               felony. You should tell the truth under deposition.‖ President
               Clinton lied under oath as a lawyer in front of a sitting federal judge
               in a civil rights case. This was not about his personal behavior in
               the Oval Office. That‘s a matter of judgment, and people can
               render judgment. The question is, do you want to go down the
               road of Nigeria and corruption and have a country in which, as
               long as he‘s popular, he can break the law? And if Clinton gets to
               commit perjury on this topic, then what does the next president get
               to commit perjury on, and then what does the next president get to
               commit perjury on? This was entirely about something I knew
               personally. We have an obligation as citizens to tell the truth to a
               federal judge under oath. The president failed that.

               MR. RUSSERT: You said this in Newsweek, which was quite
               interesting. ―I‘m not a natural leader. I‘m a natural intellectual

               FMR. REP. GINGRICH: I think that‘s right. I mean, I—I think
               my—what I bring best to American public life is trying to find
               ideas and solutions—what I‘ve tried to do for the administration is
               find ideas and solutions and, and try to find a way to get a path to
               victory. You know, I don‘t know that I would have done better or
               worse than Bremer. I don‘t know that I would do better or worse
               than other people at specific jobs. I think what I can do pretty well,
               as we have done at the Center of Health Transformation, is think
               through what America needs to do. And I‘m always struck when I
               talk to reporters because on the one front they say, you know, there
               aren‘t enough ideas in politics. And then they say, so who‘s your
               consultant going to be? And you say, well, let‘s talk about AIDS.
               They say, we don‘t have time for ideas right now. Who‘s your—
               who‘s your finance chairman? I mean, you can‘t have it both ways.

               MR. RUSSERT: But...

Master Diary                              USA 2006-2007

               FMR. REP. GINGRICH: I‘m, I‘m happy to be in public life. I‘m
               thrilled and honored that you to have me on this extraordinary
               program that several million people will see a conversation and
               there‘ll actually be three or four ideas involved in the conversation.

               MR. RUSSERT: On the American solutions, is it possible to get
               liberal Democrats, conservative Republicans, to find common
               ground on Social Security as opposed to, ―We want privatizing,‖
               ―We don‘t need any changes‖; on abortion: ―It‘s the taking of a
               life,‖ ―It‘s a woman‘s choice‖; on gay marriage: ―It‘s, it is
               something that‘s immoral‖ or ―It‘s civil rights.‖ How do you find
               common ground on those issues?

               FMR. REP. GINGRICH: Well, you‘re—that is the great
               opportunity that Barack Obama‘s describing. I mean, Obama gives,
               makes some superb speeches. I quoted him Friday night in
               Manchester from his speech the previous Friday night, I might say,
               to a bigger crowd. And—but I said, I said positively, he is talking
               to Americans. He‘s talking about finding a way to come together.
               You know, and maybe it starts by saying, what is it we can agree on
               that we can work on together and then accept the fact that we‘ll
               fight on these things.

               But I—I think, for example, I would love to see hearings on what
               would a 21st-century State Department be like, and how big does it
               have to be so you have enough personnel to have training, and
               how much do you have to invest in order to have modern
               information technology? And, and, and I would be very happy to
               have Democratic committees holding those hearings. Because
               there‘s a conversation as Americans we ought to be able to have in
               a positive way.

               Similarly, I think the president should ask the Congress to hold
               hearings on the larger war. What does Ahmadinejad‘s threats as the
               leader of Iran mean to America? What does it mean that the North
               Koreans have set off a nuclear weapon? What should we make out
               of the missile firings in North Korea and Iran? I think if the
               Congress started out here and then came in to say, OK, if this is
               the nature of reality, then here‘s how we Americans can work
               together, I think by May or June you might see a totally different
               tone in this city. But real change requires real change.

               MR. RUSSERT: And the president has to drive it.

               FMR. REP. GINGRICH: No. The president has to be open to it
               because the American people have to drive it.

               MR. RUSSERT: You said you won‘t announce your presidential
               plans until September.

               FMR. REP. GINGRICH: Right.

Master Diary                             USA 2006-2007

               MR. RUSSERT: Isn‘t that too late? Won‘t the other candidates be
               so well financed, so well organized?

               FMR. REP. GINGRICH: You are a great student of this business.
               When we were young, I think you were younger than me, but when
               we were young, John F. Kennedy announced on January 2nd, 1960,
               the year of the election. In 1975 and again in 1979, Ronald Reagan
               announced in November, OK? My view‘s this. If—and you—and
               you put up the numbers. Romney‘s had a good year. He‘s emerging
               as a serious player. Giuliani is wildly popular for national security
               reasons. John McCain has built a base for years of hard work. If
               one them seals it off by Labor Day, my announcing now wouldn‘t
               make any difference anyway. If none of the three having from now
               to Labor Day can seal it off, the first real vote is in 2008. And
               there‘s plenty of time in the age of television and e-mail between
               Labor Day and 2008.

               MR. RUSSERT: So you‘re thinking about it.
               FMR. REP. GINGRICH: Of course I‘m thinking about it. I mean,
               I can‘t have guys like you talk about it and not think about it.

               MR. RUSSERT: And you‘re going to position yourself that if
               there‘s a vacuum in September, you‘ll probably go.

               FMR. REP. GINGRICH: And I hope between now and
               September to help create with every candidate in both parties, a
               wave of new ideas, a wave of new solutions. And see how that
               ferments. I‘m going to send a letter to the state parties, both
               Democrat and Republican, in Iowa, New Hampshire and South
               Carolina urging them to hold bipartisan forums. Get the candidates
               on the same stage. I mean, have Obama and McCain. Have Hillary
               and Romney. Have a real dialog of Americans. Not just two
               partisan groups getting their armor on to fight each other.

               MR. RUSSERT: When you sending that? This week?

               FMR. REP. GINGRICH: Send out in early January. My—and my
               goal is to make 2007 a year of, of solutions and dialog. Really
               modeled off Lincoln-Douglas. We‘ll, we‘ll have the 150th
               anniversary of the Lincoln-Douglas debates in 2008. And I hope,
               possibly, that they could be launched at Cooper Union where
               Lincoln gave his great speech in, in 1860.

               MR. RUSSERT: Newt Gingrich, we thank you for joining us and
               sharing your views on American solutions. We‘ll be watching.

               FMR. REP. GINGRICH: Thank you. Great.

Monday, December 18, 2006
   New Providence to New Holland, PA

Master Diary                              USA 2006-2007

     Public Radio reported a story about it being a crime to sleep on the sidewalk in Los Angeles and
that there‘s a police group whose members live on the street in order to fight drug crime. Pushers
leave artificial flowers from China for their customers to pick up. Such and such for cocaine,
something else for amphetamines, etc. Homeless people arrested in this way have the option of being
taken to a charity whose people provide shelter and job contacts. If the person completes the
programme offered by the charity his criminal conviction is quashed.
     Barbara responded to a remark we had made about wanting to get to a mule and horse auction on
January 3, 2007, by phoning and getting the information for an auction, today, from 10 am at New
Holland, about 10 miles from here. She loaned us the Green Volvo and we arrived while the
auctioneer was wrapping up bids of 70 cents and other trifling sums on barnyard paraphernalia, and
saddles, etc. He had a black straw hat atop black hair and Amish whiskers – the face is clean shaven
down to the jaw line and the beard starts from there. His auctioneer‘s song doesn‘t give that
impression on the recording (
but it flowed like a river round the bleachers and back through the stalls where mules brayed and
mares neighed in readiness for the big event.
     Come 10.10 am, the auctioneer announced that this here gathering was for selling horses and so
the main business of the day would begin. He took his cue, no doubt, from the rapidly filling
bleachers and the flurry of baseball hats and nineteenth-century bonnets lining the rail which marked
the perimeter of the tenth of a furlong sand and sawdust race. A numbered yellow sticker slapped on
its flank made clear to bidders which piece of horseflesh was up for sale. The riders – most of them
in cowboy shirts and genes from the same part of the pool – geed it up or walked backwards down
the pitch. The auctioneer‘s radio microphone and his old greybeard clerk‘s computer keyboard were
the only concessions to modernism. We might have been in William Faulkner‘s Yoknapatawpha
County with Flem Snopes and those Texas ‗ponies‘. These weren‘t all from Texas, it‘s true – some
were from Oklahoma, and South Dakota, and one of the mules had only ever been ridden by an old
lady in Colorado. I‘m no judge of Equidae, nor of any other beasts of creation which go about on all
fours, but I was surprised nonetheless when the prettiest fillies went for $200 odd while mules
fetched over $700. I was. It‘s ploughing time again, I guess? (See the pic at
     We stayed in the bleachers so long that Michelle put her back out and I soiled my pants. And
though I dusted myself off, the old mare‘s still not up for any horseplay. We found a non-smoking
diner for lunch. The clientele‘s tell-tale basin hairdo‘s and uncanny resemblance to one another made
clear that this eating establishment was not part of any commercial chain. The coffee was good.
Michelle had the oyster soup but, having taken Virginia‘s side in the Oyster wars of Chesapeake Bay
that raged from the 1720s until the 1960s, I felt ideologically bound to go for the hot roast beef
sandwich with gravy.
     After lunch, we drove to a dairy and lined up on the ice-cream line for a pound of rich cream
butter. That this was no backwoods operation was made apparent when the woman held onto her
bonnet with one hand while opening a side window with the other in to serve an SUV customer.
Drive-in hamburger joints might have been first cab off the rank but since there‘s now drive-in banks
and drive-in donut dealerships a modern dairy must offer that automotive facility if business is to
     We weren‘t forward enough to photograph the scene prior to lunch but you can get some idea of
the sales yard from the pic at
     The Amish auctioneer appears behind the horse on the immediate right. Greybeard, his clerk, is
still up at the keyboard but the day was more or less done with the crowd departed and the riders
smoking cigarettes out the back.

   Five minutes into the From where I sat it seemed at times that the whole show was being staged
to provide jaded jewelers with imagery for this month‘s star sign – ―Dozens of Christmas glyph ideas
for the asinine.‖

Master Diary                               USA 2006-2007

    The sand and sawdust catwalk surrounded by paunchy, bowlegged men in baseball caps and
anachronistically attired men and women from the various Lancaster County communities
Sometimes the proud vendor rode the commodity up and down the sand and sawdust catwalk
surrounded by paunchy, bowlegged men in baseball caps and anachronistically attired men and
women from the various Lancaster County communities but Equus was mostly ridden bareback by
young men with basin cut hairdos, Amish genes and cowboy shirts. From where I sat it seemed at
times that the whole show was being staged to provide jaded jewelers with imagery for this month‘s
star sign – ―Dozens of Christmas glyph ideas for the asinine.‖
     But, as the auctioneer declared around 10.10 am, this here auction was to sell horses so the
horseshoe rails, saddle blankets, and other accessories had to be dispensed with and the main
business of the day begun. He took his cue, no doubt, from the rapidly filling bleachers and the flurry
of baseball hats and nineteenth-century bonnets lining the rails which marked the perimeter of the
‗catwalk‘ where goods for sale were paraded. His radio microphone and the electronic keyboard
manipulated by the Amish greybeard at the desk behind him were the only concessions made to post
nineteenth-century technology. We were in William Faulkner‘s Yoknapatawpha County with Eck and
Flem Snopes and those Texas ‗ponies‘. These weren‘t all from Texas, it‘s true – some were from
Oklahoma, and South Dakota, and one of the mules had only ever been ridden by an old lady in
    I‘m no judge of Equidae, nor any of those beasts which go about on all fours. The prettiest fillies
went for $200.00 odd while mules fetched over $700.00. It‘s ploughing time again – see the pic [url] –
I guess? We stayed in the bleachers so long that I soiled my pants, Michelle tells me, and she put her
back out. I‘ve dusted myself off, now, but Michelle‘s still bent over and crippled – not up for any
horseplay. We found a non-smoking diner for lunch. The clientele‘s tell-tale basin haircuts and
uncanny resemblance to one another made clear that this eating establishment was not part of any
commercial chain. The coffee was good. Michelle had the oyster soup but, having taken Virginia‘s
side in the Oyster wars of Chesapeake Bay that raged from the 1720s until the 1960s, I felt
ideologically bound to go for the hot roast beef sandwich with gravy.
    After lunch, we drove to an Amish dairy and lined up on the ice-cream line for a pound of rich
cream butter. That this was no backwoods operation was made apparent when the woman held onto
her bonnet and opened a side window to serve a customer in her SUV. Drive in hamburger joints
might have started it all but there are now drive-in banks and drive in donut dealerships so a modern
dairy, too, must offer the drive-in facility. America is the home of the automobile, afterall, and you
don‘t want business to suffer. We rubbed noses with some calves and then jumped in the car and
returned study the goats and cattle at auction.
    This is how I sent the above story out on email as ‗Tales from America #12‘:
    On Monday, December 18 Thrifty Car Rental announced its new deals for the period to February
6th. Ten miles from here, out in New Holland, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, little attention was
paid to the fact, presumably because of the livestock auction being conducted near the railway siding.
    Michelle and I arrived while the auctioneer was wrapping up bids of 70 cents and other trifling
sums on barnyard paraphernalia, and saddles, etc. He had a black straw hat atop black hair and
Amish whiskers – the face is clean shaven down to the jaw line and the beard starts from there. His
auctioneer‘s song doesn‘t give that impression on the recording
( but it flowed like a river round
the bleachers and back through the stalls where mules brayed and mares neighed in readiness for the
big event.
    Come 10.10 am, the auctioneer announced that this here gathering was for selling horses and so
the main business of the day would begin. He took his cue, no doubt, from the rapidly filling
bleachers and the flurry of baseball hats and nineteenth-century bonnets lining the rail which marked
the perimeter of the tenth of a furlong sand and sawdust race. A numbered yellow sticker slapped on
its flank made clear to bidders which piece of horseflesh was up for sale. The riders – most of them

Master Diary                               USA 2006-2007

in cowboy shirts and genes from the same part of the pool – geed it up or walked backwards down
the pitch to demonstrate that a given nag was sound.
     The auctioneer‘s radio microphone and his old greybeard clerk‘s computer keyboard were the
only concessions to modernism. We might have been in William Faulkner‘s Yoknapatawpha County
with Flem Snopes and those Texas ‗ponies‘. These weren‘t all from Texas, it‘s true – some were from
Oklahoma, and South Dakota, and one of the mules had only ever been ridden by an old lady in
Colorado. I‘m no judge of Equidae, nor of any of the other beasts of burden, but I was surprised
nonetheless when the prettiest fillies went for $200 odd while mules fetched over $700. I was. It‘s
ploughing time again, I guess? (See the pic at
     Alas, we stayed in the bleachers so long that Michelle put her back out and I soiled my pants. And
though I dusted myself off, the old mare‘s still not up for any horseplay. We found a non-smoking
diner for lunch. The clientele‘s tell-tale basin hairdos and uncanny resemblance to one another made
clear that this eating establishment was not part of any commercial chain. The coffee was good.
Michelle had the oyster soup but, having taken Virginia‘s side in the Oyster wars of Chesapeake Bay
that raged from the 1720s until the 1960s, I felt ideologically bound to go for the hot roast beef
sandwich with gravy.
     After lunch, we drove to a dairy and lined up on the ice-cream queue for a pound of rich cream
butter. That this was no backwoods operation was made apparent when the woman held onto her
bonnet with one hand while opening a side window with the other in order to serve someone in an
SUV. Drive-in hamburger joints might have been first cab off the rank but since there‘s now drive-in
banks and drive-in donut dealerships a modern dairy must offer that automotive facility if business is
to prosper.
     We weren‘t forward enough to photograph the scene prior to lunch but you can get some idea of
the sales yard from the pic at
     The Amish auctioneer appears behind the horse on the immediate right. Greybeard, his clerk, is
still up at the keyboard but the day was more or less done with the Snopes's having departed and the
jockeys smoking cigarettes out back.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006
   New Providence, PA
   Spent the day writing up the story of the day in New Holland.
Thursday, December 21, 2006
   New Providence, PA
   Jan‘s birthday; Ian Drake‘s birthday.
   Email messages aren‘t getting through, I feel almost certain. Tony Carey has ceased
communicating, as has Nita – 2 of the more regular correspondents of late. It‘s Christmas, so they
may be preoccupied, but Tony has reason to write concerning the trip. Ying‘s messages got through,
though: the new gas water heater spewed water everywhere so she looked through the folder I left
with her and phoned Paul‘s Plumbing. A double hit. I‘ve not heard from either of them yet about the
cost of the repairs but it‘ll be exorbitant because Paul charges top dollar and overstates the time he
spends on a job.
   I‘ve spent the morning copying in records from the calendar, records I thought were included
when I made this version of the diary to avert a disaster with the automatic removal of records being
built in.

Friday, December 22, 2006
New Providence, PA
   Invited to their Christmas party, Rob and Barbara – we learned the next day – had decided that
they should open up to us about their Christian viewpoint. We were invited to attend from 7 pm and

Master Diary                                 USA 2006-2007

so arrived just after the appointed hour to meet Vicki, her 2 children (one of whom had already come
through into our section of the house, the self-contained unit we have rented for December and half
of January) and a Gary, I think his name was. I was talking to Gary, a real estate auctioneer, about
how Australia‘s roots are of being a convict colony and that there‘s some sense in which we‘re still
like that; he asked for examples and I cited how, in the USA, I have realised that keeping to the speed
limit will result in an accident, a car wreck as they put it, here, that while it‘s illegal to cross double
yellow lines it‘s nevertheless a custom honoured in the breach, and so on. We were joined by Steve,
and by that time I was on to pointing out how I‘d a jaundiced view of the USA as a consequence of
the Vietnam War and had not travelled here prior to Michelle‘s needing to come here to conduct
research in 2006. So I‘d rejoiced to find that Americans are so easy to get along with, that their
government‘s foreign policy was still anathema to me – I cited Iraq – but that the people behave in a
very civilised manner. I didn‘t go into how this seeming anomaly is explained by the fact that whilst
the individual American is all ‗hail fellow, well met, his outlook on life is so narrow and insular that
it‘s not surprising that the government that‘s elected is more or less duty bound to throw its weight
around ensuring that the rest of the world not interfere in any way with the American way of life, or
even be perceived as a possible future threat and that in consequence we get the invasion of Korea,
Vietnam, Iraq, and so on – and would have seen the invasion of Cuba but for that country being too
shrewd for the Americans.
     At one stage I noted that it‘s my job to be the arsehole when people, mainly American archivists,
make trouble for Michelle. Steve was all ears until around that point. He was a computer
programmer, like me, he said. But he soon moved away and I was on my own for a while. Then we
were all called into the lounge room, the large room adjoining our unit, and Steve did a little bit of a
song about Christmas and then gave a ―Jesus loves you‖ and handover to Rob. Rob made some
observation about Christmas being the celebration of the birth of Jesus, and don‘t anybody forget it,
and Michelle and I looked at one another with that ―Oh, I see!‖ understanding between us. We
should have been aware, especially given that this was a ‗dry‘ party – lolly water and water – we
weren‘t all that surprised. Steve announced that we‘d all sit down together and eat, then play games
and meet one another. Then they all prayed that the partygoers would spend the evening in the way
that Jesus had planned they should, and that it be what they wanted.
     We ate at a large table and Michelle and I talked to a carpenter and his wife. Well, why not? We
both had the desire to mention how the wife was more or less on a direct route to The Lord in
having a carpenter for a husband. She was quite money orientated, but not caught up in
consumerism; rather, she was shopping for genuine C18th furniture on the internet – and was proud
of what she had purchased for their new house which the carpenter had made in a community of
C18th houses. They were quite okay, this pair, and the woman had a passing resemblance to my sister
Jan, except that she was much taller, and overweight. Various people, including the carpenter‘s wife,
sought to get us to go to all manner of local places where there was this wealthy person‘s house
(Vanderbilt) or garden (Dupont) or both (Dupont). All well meaning. Merle, a shy man under the
thumb of an extrovert wife and 2 lovely daughters, runs a local dairy and he was most impressed with
the Vanderbilt mansion but he had to break off the conversation because Vivki and Steve were
calling us to the lounge room to play a game. Michelle and I sat together, awaiting whatever mad
stuff came out of this gathering of Christians. I wasn‘t listening at all to the rules of the game and
next thing I know I‘m on the couch with Rob and Steve and part of the first group. I still didn‘t listen
and so had to carry on in a most ridiculous manner to bluff my way through the dam thing. Weirdly,
I was able to convince the majority of people present that I was the only one telling the truth when
answering the questions put to me by members of the audience. Silly. Then there was another game
and this time Vicki sought me out and I had to remember all this stuff about her. I was ready this
time, though, and managed to keep asking her questions about herself until there was no time for her
to ask me. But she pulled rank and had the time extended. I had to introduce her and say what
Christmas habits she had. I completely distorted what she‘d told me and had the distinct impression
that she was unimpressed with my making fun of the whole affair.

Master Diary                               USA 2006-2007

    Michelle, meanwhile, had quietly found out stuff about the group from the woman she had to
introduce to us all. Then the dairyman‘s wife and her daughters sang Christmas carols and one or two
real songs. They‘re very good singers, and the harmonies were first rate, that and the obligatto
(singing in rounds). Then, at 10 pm. Steve announced that the party was over and everyone set about
packing up to go home. Michelle and I spent another 20 minutes talking to the dairy maids and their
husband and father, Merle. Merle told us that his dad had been kicked out of the Amish in the 1930s
for getting rubber tyres on his tractor. He told us, too, that William Penn granted land for settlement
of Pennsylvania in accord with the principle that the pacifist inclined Quakers and Germans should
move inland to arreas where we now find Allentown, etc. and the Presbyterian Scots and Scotch-
Irish would have the Maryland border region – the idea being that Maryland‘s Irish Catholics would
be kept at bay by their fiercest enemies. That‘s why there are Presbyterian Churches along the
Mason-Dixon line. A wonderful observation.
    We got to bed after midnight and had to be ready to pack our stuff in the car for a 10am
departure for the Williamsport Mountain property Rob and Barbara Musser had recently purchased.
The many hundred acres must have cost a packet – the commission alone was over $30,000.00 Rob
informed us later. They were taking us with them to the family Christmas gathering at an architect
designed 1940s house (called a ‗cabin‘) near where their land is. Before we turned over to sleep
Michelle told me that she‘d found out that Steve and the carpenter were praying to Jesus, listening
closely and expectantly to His guidance in their striving to set up a new church. Rob, Barbara, and
many of the others who‘d been at the party were potential members of this new initiative.

Saturday, December 23, 2006
New Providence, to Williamsport Mountain, PA
    We left home about 10.40 am and took in the sights of Lancaster County‘s farmland en route to
Williamsport. We had a conversation about Barbara‘s experience of home schooling her three
children – Emily, Chester, and Wesley – as we took in the subtle colours of the rolling hills. By the
time we were barrelling down the highway our hosts were explaining that they felt it was time to
include us in their Christian lives and that‘s why they‘d invited us in for the party. They went on to
say that they had been churchgoers for 40 years and had grown disenchanted with the institution,
that they‘d then joined a church group whose members felt, like them, that reading the Bible and
listening to the what Jesus wanted was all that mattered. The fuss over getting a pastor and building a
church was not what it‘s all about, they said, and not what the Apostles had set up with Jesus‘
guidance. They eventually left that new church when, inevitably, Rob figured, the emphasis was
increasingly palced on the building and the authority of the pastor. So now they were meeting with
those former members of that church who‘d abandoned it to its fate, just as they had. So they were
praying for guidance that Jesus would tell them whether or not to join Steve and the carpenter in
building yet another new Church.
    We arrived late in the day and went immediately to the property with Patty and Chuck. Chuck‘s
the archetypal Pennsylvania hunter, and an extraordinarily interesting example of the tall tale telling
backwoodsman. We walked until well past sunset and I was trying to keep my bearings as we scoured
the land in search of God knows what. Eventually we reached the roadway and Chuck was there to
meet us in his SUV so we all climbed in the back and went to pick up the other cars for the ride back
to the cabin.
    Chuck entertained us with hunting stories until called for the evening meal which began, as I‘d
imagined it might, with them all joining hands while Rob prayed to Jesus – thanking Him for the
drive, the walk on the new land, and asking His guidance in how to do what He had in mind for
them until bedtime, and to give them a comfortable night‘s sleep. Well, whoopee doo. Christ
Almighty! We‘re amongst lunatics – and two of them are university degreed lawyers. That evening,
Chester and Wesley came over from the bunkhouse with their TV and we watched the Australian
movie The Dish. I‘d said it was of the same calibre as Rob and Barbara‘s favourite movie, The Castle. I
should never have recommended it. It is a good movie, I still think, but not funny enough for the
Mussers. Patty and Chuck fell asleep on the couch.

Master Diary                                USA 2006-2007

Sunday, December 24, 2006
   Williamsport Mountain, PA
   After praying that breakfast would be as good as it looked and for Jesus to guide our steps in
going to look at the property, Patty and Chuck ate the quiche Michelle had prepared and departed –
though not before the penny dropped that she was Rob‘s sister. She was as wonderful as Chuck and
probably as rightwing, too, for she figured it was a good thing her son had joined the Marines and
gone to serve his country in Iraq. She did let it slip, though, that she though George Bush was no
good. I suspect she‘s one of the Karin Kwiatkowski conservatives. Neither her nor Chuck could
make the slightest sense of the fact that we – Australians – don‘t own guns. ―Well how do you
defend yourselves?‖ Patty asked, dumfounded. When we said that since no-one else had guns we felt
safer, and that we didn‘t have to concern ourselves with weapons getting into the hands of children
or maniacs. We were pleased to leave the question of security to the police. Utter disbelief on the
part of Patty and Chuck. They soon departed for the weekend. This was not because of us but had
been the plan (of Jesus, presumably) all along.
   Once again, we were taken to the new property late in the day, though this time it was not
necessary that we struggle around in the dark. Emily and Flannery (the dog) arrived at the cabin that
night and we watched a brilliant movie called Little Miss Sunshine. Hmm.
Monday, December 25, 2006
    Williamsport Mountain, PA
    We walked up the mountain to Smith‘s Knob. Michelle had sinus trouble – seems like she‘s
allergic to a grass, or to the Cedar tree, Barbara suggests, and so turned back while we went on. It
was a good climb and Rob, Barbara, Emily and myself went to the top. They sat down on a tuft of
grass and went to take a photo. Rob casually suggested that I move back closer to them and I learned
only then that I was standing at the very edge of an overhang with a sheer drop of hundreds of feet.
Certain death would have accompanied my fall. I still cannot believe they failed to warn me at all
until I was standing there. I shudder to think of it.
    There was a substantial flurry that afternoon so it was technically snowing at Christmas, but it
never made any impact. That night we ate the soup I‘d prepared while chatting with Chuck and Patty
the previous morning. Emily, her parents, Michelle and I then sat at the kitchen table and Rob and
Barbara told us more about their religious beliefs. We wanted to tell them we‘d never heard such a
crock but remained circumspect. Emily, Rob, Michelle, and I drank the bottle of Shiraz Michelle and
I had purchased.
    Rob spoke in the same way about Jesus that Barbara had with Michelle; i.e., that they hope He
will continue to help them get what they want. Rob claimed his Christianity was primarily mystical,
that he wanted no part of the materialism he saw around him. Barbara spoke of how her Bible Class
had recently discussed Daniel and how America today is like Babylon of old. Neither they nor Emily
seemed to appreciate just how bizarre their religious beliefs sound to a normal person prepared to
give them a hearing. I‘ve yet to hear such a load of contradictory balderdash as compares with what
these people hold to be the case. Basically, all one has to do is place one‘s faith in Jesus, accept Him
as their Saviour and Lord, acknowledge that He‘s running everything and then get as much of the
material good life as one can grab. The only difference between them and the consumer society
around them is that they have taste and they ‗know‘ that bountiful Jesus is behind it all. Fruitcakes all.
What‘s with Emily? I cannot understand how an intelligent young woman with the wide experience
that she has believing such nonsense. I would love to have had the opportunity to take her down the
path to the logic behind her belief system but despite making a good start with a discussion about
biology and her experience as a midwife, some training in philosophy, and study and practise of the
law she seems to have no inclination to critically assess her religious outlook. I had hoped to take her
to the gates of Darwin‘s theory of evolution by natural selection but never managed it because
Barbara interrupted the conversation. For her part, Barbara‘s conviction stems from having been a

Master Diary                                USA 2006-2007

young widow at age 19. There had to be some explanation of why her husband was killed in a road
accident and she prayed to Jesus and the whole thing fell into place. Looney tunes.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006
    Williamsport Mountain, to Williamsport, PA
    We‘d been told we‘d be heading home Tuesday but the stay was extended. I‘d nearly finished
Thomas Fleming. Washington's Secret War: the Hidden History of Valley Forge. New York, NY:
Smithsonian Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, 2006 and wanted to get on with writing
up this diary; Michelle had more or less insisted that I not take my laptop with me to the cabin and
now she realized that we should have had them with us. So I went with the Mussers and Michelle to
Williamsport because I figured I could buy a book to get me through. Barbara offered me some book
of hers but soon got the point that I don‘t read for the sake of reading so much as to keep up with
what I‘ve set out to learn.
    The whole day was a nightmare of shopping for crap, none of which I had the slightest interest
in. Michelle purchased some fine cotton sheets and we did make the most of a walk around an
outdoors emporium with everything for the hunter. There was a ‗Borders‘ bookstore near this great
eyesore but we only saw it as Rob drove out of the carpark. The shopping ‗mall‘ was a vast collection
of giant warehouses full of stuff, so big that one needed a car to get from one to the other.
    The day was topped off with our having to watch the 1983 movie that the Musser‘s ran all over
Williamsport to rent: A Christmas Story. Utterly stupid – despite it‘s having cult status. We went to bed
at 10 pm – thank Christ – and I managed to make a getaway the next morning.
Wednesday, December 27, 2006
    Williamsport Mountain, to New Providence, PA
    At the last minute I took Michelle‘s advice to push for a ride back here to New Providence with
Chester, Wesley, and their friend Derek. Barbara arranged a last minute seat for me in the back of
Derek‘s 4 door sedan, next to the TV set and a pile of stuff. Michelle will bring the bulk of our stuff
back with her. I had to put up with listening to a band all the way, and it was quite loud. But the early
arrival was worth it. I like Derek, and wish the Musser brothers were as calm and introverted. They‘re
okay, and will probably turn out to be fine adults but have been given to believe that women do all
the shit work and they make the important decisions. The route back was the reverse of that up; i.e.,
R-87 to R-15 following the mighty Susquehanna River on R11-15 South and I-283 to R-30 then R-22
near Lancaster all the way to New Providence.
    I turned on the laptop and then went straight into the Adelaide time syndrome and booked a car
for the weekend without stopping to think and consider. I could have done it 24 hours later with the
same deal. But we‘d have no doubt taken it and so I guess it‘s not such an issue. My neck‘s under
strain from the long hours of looking down at the (ergonomic) laptop screen

Thursday, December 28, 2006
    New Providence, PA
    I slept from 10 pm last night until 3.10 am this morning and then, after putting on warmer
clothes, slept until 8.45 am. Phew. Too much sleep, but I feel okay. In the night I remembered the
fact that the Mussers never use the word ‗God‘ except in reverence. So, we hear a lot of ―Oh my
word,‖ and ―Oh my gosh,‖ and even ―Gosh.‖
    I started reading David Freeman Hawke. Everyday Life in Early America. New York, NY: Perennial,
an imprint of HarperCollins, 2003 and pp 12-14, Chapter One, seem to support my idea that
America‘s greatness is less a function of the people‘s superior organizational ability so much as the
product of a land of abundance, with trees and major rivers affording navigation on the one hand
and mills (for sawing, milling, etc.) on the other. Trade was immediately set up with the export of
lumber to England where wood was so scarce that noblemen had more difficulty obtaining it in
England than the lowliest of men in America.

Master Diary                                 USA 2006-2007

   Michelle told me of a couple of jokes rob told about couples arriving at the Pearly Gates: Money,
Alcohol, and Fanny

Friday, December 29, 2006
    New Providence, PA, to Frederick, MD, and back.
    Received the bill from Paul’s Plumbing today. What a piss off! We‘re renting an Enterprise car for
the next four days and heading for Gettysburg. Tanya took my phone call but I‘m unsure who‘s
collecting me this morning.
    Well, Brad was supposed to phone and didn‘t; he and Dominic have swapped places with Tanya
and Erika – who‘ve moved to Lancaster from Paradise. So I was unable to leave the rental yard
before 9.50 am because of his tardiness in not checking who had booked for the day. But Dominic
was good, and we have a Dodge Neon which we would not have had otherwise, apparently – i.e.,
because we picked the car up late.
    This, compounded with the delay caused by my attempt to make up time by heading west below
Route-30 and not succeeding, resulted in our getting to Gettysburg around 1.15 pm – after lunch at a
diner which made good hamburgers and poor coffee. We made a snap decision to go to Frederick,
Maryland, and check out the National Civil War Medicine Museum.
    Another of those bitter exchanges occurred when Michelle became very upset when I could make
no sense of her directions, some of which were her thinking out loud and others being directives.
Phew. She is impossible to be with in these circumstances, and has no sense of what it‘s like to try
and drive in traffic with contradictory instructions about where I should be headed. Added to which,
she has no sense of direction and therefore no idea when she says such and such a place is ―over
here‖ or ―over there.‖ We weathered the storm, though, and spent 2 hours walking through the
exhibits. Not bad, but privately funded, and therefore not nearly as good as its military competitors.
    Michelle was for finding a motel for the night but agreed with my calculation that it‘d save us
about $US50.00 to drive back to New Providence and set off early tomorrow. Early. Hmm.

Saturday, December 30, 2006
    New Providence, to Harper‘s Ferry, WV, and back
    A superb experience at Harper‘s Ferry, West Virginia; we took a while to get there because we
took back roads which limited our travel to 35 mph for too much of the journey but once there we
found the experience of the confluence of the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers so enjoyable and
informative that we stayed all afternoon and once again drove back to New Providence. En route to
Harper‘s Ferry, we heard a snippet of radio discussion about hw whatever state of the USA it was
they were talking about, agreed with the partners in a gay relationship being able to obtain the
financial benefits of superannuation, and so on, in the event that their other half died, or retired, etc..
There was a rider, however, and that concerned the parties in question having to establish that theirs
was a sexual relationship. This would have been okay but for the fact that it might create trouble for
heterosexual married couples because stipulating that a marriage must involved regular sexual
intercourse would be far too restrictive in setting the perameters for what passes as for the married
    The story of the C & O canal and the race to Harper‘s Ferry with the B & O Railroad Company is
the story of the triumph of the railroad over water transport in general, that battle not really won
until the famous Rock Island Bridge collision in May, 1856.
    Barb and her daughter, Emily, came in more or less as soon as we turned on the lights and said
we‘d been invited to Merle and Denise‘s house while Denise, Alison, and Emily, mother and
daughters, ran through their act for the performance they‘re giving on New Year‘s Eve at the
retirement home. Merle showed us a book of Amish family records, with his details in there – born
September 14, 1957. He invited us to come around to his farm at 4.30 pm to see the milking of the
cows on their comfort mats. He‘s a wonderful fellow.

Master Diary                               USA 2006-2007

Sunday, December 31, 2006
    New Providence, to Antietam, MD, and back
    We could find a diner in neither Boonsboro nor Sharpsburg and purchased coffee and chicken
rolls from the BP ‗gas‘ station in Main Street, Sharpsburg and then went to the Information Centre at
the Antietam battlefield. We learned that there‘d be a 1 hour film at noon and since that gave us a
half hour to eat lunch and drink the coffee we did just that. The film was very informative and so
from 1 pm until 2.40 pm we drove around the battlefield and took pics, seeing the actual locations of
the 3 phases of what should have been an integrated battle had McLellan the drive that Lincoln
wished that he had to take the fight up to Robert E Lee.
    Upon returning to the Information Centre, we saw a 20 minute documentary about Lincoln‘s visit
to speak with McLellan and the soldiers after the battle. McLellan saw the whole thing as a victory
but Lincoln was unimpressed with the leader of the Army of the Potomac and his failure to pursue
the Confederates and stop their retreat.
    We stopped in at the ‗Crosskeys Diner‘ on Route-30 just east of the centre of New Oxford and
had while Michelle had a bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwich, I had their hamburger. We had a plate
of ‗fries‘ with it, and the waitress filled our coffee cups a few times – which was good. But the place
was a study in consumer eating – alienation – and the waitress tried so hard with the full gamut of
techniques which must have been presented at the training course they send them on that we were
ready to scream.
    It was raining steadily when we came out and it was then we learned that the windscreen wipers
needed new blades and, later, that the tyres are not too good at holding the road. It was a nerve-
wracking drive home but we made it.
    New Year‘s Eve. I suggested we open the bottle of wine but Michelle doesn‘t feel like it. She is
such a misery child much of the time and I could really do with some spark in my world. Alas, it‘s
unlikely from here on. Hmm.
    Early to bed, anyway, because I was very tired from driving, we slept through midnight and heard
Rob and his family around 12.20 am.
Monday, January 1, 2007
    New Providence, to New Holland, PA, and back.
    I awoke at 4.40 pm with a splitting headache and have had one, on and off, all day since. We went
to the New Holland horse and mule auction again, except that this time we used the camera‘s movie
making function and Michelle was able to get both sound and pictures – not as we‘d wished for, but
not too bad. Afterwards, we went to Ephrata, to the C 17th-C18th celibate community cloister. We
had intended going to the dairy-shop on R-222 to speak with Merle but just as it was time to leave
for there Barbara came in and invited us to Jeff and Tammy‘s C18th house in the woods south-west
from New Providence.
    Tammy and Jeff‘s daughter, Crystal, nearly drowned when involved with the Mercy Ship; her
boyfriend, Luke, from Switzerland, is the son of Zurich parents who‘ve made their money from
investing in real estate and marketing mobile phone software.
    Jeff, great bloke, wonderful carpenter, goes hunting wild deer with a bow and arrow; he laughed
out loud when we were talking about our visit to the C17th Cloister of Christian celibates. ―How did
they ever imagine that they were going to survive as a community,‖ he chortled. ―It‘s not mentioned
in Scripture!‖ Tammy followed up with the observation – obvious to everyone there who was not an
atheist like Michelle and me – to the effect that the individual cannot be expected to simply sit down
and read the bible and expect to know what is being said. We each have to be taught to read the
Bible (like that ultra leftist Communist Party sect who said more or less the same thing about Louis
Althusser‘s Reading Capital).
    Well bugger me! Jeff and Tammy‘s daughter, Chrystal, met her boyfriend Luke aboard ‗The
Mercy Ship‘ – the ship which sails around the world dispensing Christian Charity whilst its young
shipboard staff develop their personal adult relationship with Jesus – and with other young
Christians, if Crystal‘s experience is anything to go by. Tammy, Crystal‘s mother, is somewhat wary

Master Diary                               USA 2006-2007

of Luke, and of Crystal‘s desire to attend College. It‘s better to take a job rather than waste a whole
lot of money going to College and learning how to flit from one idea of what would be a suitable job
to another when all the while they might have been working and earning a living and getting
    I told the joke Chuck had told us when we‘d mentioned Dick Cheney. ―You shoot one man,‖
Chuck shook his head in disgust, ―and you never hear the end of it.‖
    Barbara could not take too much of my anti-Republican party stuff any more and said she‘d head
someone say to her that she‘d rather go hunting with Dick Cheney than driving with Edward
Kennedy. So I followed up with ―We heard another show on the radio the other day, one where they
were reviewing the year just gone, and someone told the Cheney hunting story and his shooting of
trial lawyer Whittington. A Jewish woman then cried out. ―Enough already. What is it with you
people and Dick Cheney‘s hunting exploits. I mean, it happened, okay. But the victim has apologised.
What more do you want?‖

Tuesday, January 2, 2007
    New Providence, PA
    I returned the Dodge Neon to Paradise this morning and was given a life back by Brad this time.
He told me that there are numerous accidents involving Enterprise rental cars and wild deer. He said
that the Paradise branch rents about 10 cars per Monday and Friday and less on other days, on
average, but that the main Lancaster branch would do 40 per day on each of those days. I‘ve written
to Enterprise about a monthly deal from January 25th for three weeks, and so on until April when we
will return from the trip to Boston.
    We purchased our Greyhound tickets for Durham, NC, to stay with Ed and Diane Halloran for a
week from today fortnight.

Tales from America #13
     Barbara Musser, our landlady, invited Michelle and I to spend Christmas with her and her
husband, Rob, and their three children, Emily, Chester, and Wesley, at their mountain cabin a couple
of hours drive north-west of here. Well, yeah, thanks, we said. Prepare a couple of meals, Barb said,
and be ready to leave on the Saturday morning before Christmas. The Mussers are our kind of
people: they like creature comforts but are not consumerist; their sense of humour meshes with ours,
they appreciate good food, and you could take a book from the shelf in the common room between
their house and our apartment and expect to enjoy it. Moreover, they have offered us a car to tour
the area, arranged for visits to the New Holland Stock Yard (see Tales #12) an Amish dairy farm,
local dairy, and so on. They‘re wonderful people, in short.
     We weren‘t surprised, then, when Barbara asked us to join them and their friends for a Christmas
party at their house. The house, in the old Main Street of New Providence, is a tastefully restored
C19th General Store. Motorists used to fill their automobiles with gasoline from petrol pumps outside
the front door. Our apartment was the Post Office (but only during periods when the Republicans
held sway in Congress) and the railroad station was nearby. Be there at 7 pm, Barbara told us, and we
were – along with all other guests. Odd, we thought. Lucky it wasn‘t Jan and Gary. Michelle and I
don‘t have a car except on special occasions so we were on the wagon, there being no purveyor of
fine wines within 20 mile of here, and no grog shops either. Lucky again – because most people were
sipping water, and the rest were sitting on a half-glass of chocolate milk. Ugh, oh.
     Introduced to various wholesome looking women and their daughters, we chatted about our
experience of the USA, etcetera, until splitting up to begin the fact finding pincer movement. I was
telling Gary (the auctioneer, not Jan‘s husband) that it‘s a mistake to imagine that Australians and
Americans are alike. How so? he wanted to know. Steve had joined us so he heard my explanation
about how we still have a convict mentality, that we might thumb our collective nose at authority but

Master Diary                                USA 2006-2007

yield to it nevertheless whereas Americans open almost every conversation by presenting their
credentials as ‗ant-eye government‘ – any government – and mention freedom and/or liberty more or
less immediately. We discoursed on the American Government‘s foreign policy, of September 11,
1973, and the overthrow of the democratically elected government of Chile. ―But Allende was a
Marxist,‖ Steve said, incredulous. Gary breathed a sigh of relief and hung his head in embarrassment
on my behalf.
    The frying pan was getting hot so I jumped into the fire and expressed the wish that U.S.
governments were as ‗Hail fellow, well met‘ as the individual Americans we meet. This went on for a
while until I had to acknowledge that there is a chink in the national armour of good grace and a
striving for excellence and that‘s the archivist. The American archivist lets the side down, I told them,
and gave a few examples of Michelle‘s experience of dealing with these dungeon dwellers. ―And of
course it‘s my job to be the arsehole, you see. It invariably falls to me to phone the person in
question and give them what for … ‖ It was immediately clear to me, somehow, that the word
‗arsehole‘ belongs in neither Steve nor Gary‘s lexicon. Or at least as pronounced with a guttural
accent. Steve took his leave more or less straight away and left poor Gary to find a diplomatic
departure tunnel shortly thereafter. I upended my glass – thankful to providence that I‘d stayed off
the chocolate milk.
    Summoned one and all to the main body of the old General Store – the common room – we
gathered round Steve, as directed. He welcomed everybody, the two Australians and one Swiss in
particular, and broke into song. I didn‘t quite catch the words because he sang only the first line but
it had a hymnlike quality. Michelle caught my eye as Steve went on to talk about how he hoped we‘d
all have a joyous time together and that the party would go pretty much along the path that Jesus had
mapped out for it. Michelle and I nudged one another, keenly aware of blood in the water. We had
hoped to run into a fundamentalist during our time here and if the partygoers‘ reaction to Steve was
anything to go by we were in the midst of a whole school. The problem, of course, was that we were
to leave on the morrow for Pennsylvania‘s Endless Mountains with our hosts. I was going to have to
shut my mouth and listen. That water sure tasted sweet.
    The party ended at 10 pm sharp but Michelle and I lingered, talking with a mother and daughter
team who sang Christmas carols in three-part harmony. The husband and father, Merle, had been
raised among the Amish but the family had been excommunicated and banished from the
community when Merle‘s dad got rubber tyres on his tractor. The women sang sweetly but suffered
from a lack of anything worth singing about – in my opinion. No matter. We hit it off with Merle
and the girls and were invited to come to their dairy.
    Pillow talk that Friday night turned on my standard question to Michelle when something
important is abroad which we need to know about: ―Well?‖ Michelle, too, had stuck with the water.
She had learned from Abby, one of the young women, that most of the people gathered, there, in
Jesus‘ name belong to a group of His like-minded followers who sought to find Him outside of the
Church, in their daily lives, reading the Bible in order to find the path to an intimate and personal
relationship with Him. This group, Steve‘s group, is a subset of a larger group which had lost its way
after acquiring enough money to build a Church and bring in a pastor from Delaware. But Steve has
been praying to the Lord and is getting a pretty clear message that Jesus wants him to build a Church
upon the rock of this group‘s community spirit. Jeff – I haven‘t mentioned Jeff and Tammy but we
broke bread with them at the supper table and they told us about the C18th house they found
somewhere and had deconstructed and then reconstructed on their property in the woods nearby –
Jeff‘s a carpenter, and he and Steve have joined up and are praying together that Barbara and Rob
and Emily, Chester, and Wesley will go with them.


    You may imagine that I was pretty keyed up and ready to roll next morning. Sure enough, we
hadn‘t gone far when Rob and Barbara spilled the beans and told us they‘re Christians. They went on
to confirm all that Michelle had already determined from her interrogation of the hapless Abby. This

Master Diary                               USA 2006-2007

listening lark was turning up trumps. But it has its limitations, as you will see. Anyway, we arrived at
the ‗cabin‘ in the mountains. It‘s an architecturally designed house from the 1940s with en-suite
bathrooms in each bedroom. Rob‘s Mennonite colleague – not a Dick Tracy Mennonite, I‘ll have you
know – owns the house and has a liking for vinyl which Rob and Barb and Emily try to curb. They‘re
for preserving the late art deco atmosphere of the house and would be willing to do the upkeep in
order that it stay the treasure that it is but the owner likes smooth, easy to clean surfaces – and who
can blame him. He doesn‘t like Rob and Barb‘s labrador licking the plates in the dishwasher either
but that‘s a whole other story.
    Chuck and Patty rolled up and we all went to look at Rob and Barbara‘s new land acquisition –
120 acres adjoining the game park. Chuck liked that because he‘s a deer stalker, the archetypal
Pennsylvania flint-lock-rifle hunter. When we got back we all watched The Dish. Rob and Barbara‘s
favourite movie of all time is The Castle. Rob, a real estate lawyer, does an extraordinarily good
rendition of the characters from that Australian movie. And the whole family erupts into cries of
―That‘s goin‘ straight to the pool room!‖ when the situation demands. I had happened to mention that
I‘d seen the last half of that ensemble‘s other movie on TV in Scotland recently so Barb had bought
the dvd from Amazon (the UPS man delivers within a couple of days, here) and here we were
watching it. I‘m still unsure about the cause – perhaps the lack of a real estate angle, or maybe man‘s
landing on the moon was a form of trespass, a final sundering of the immutable crystal spheres and
destruction of the myth of seventh heaven – but The Dish crashed. I still like it but.
    Come breakfast Sunday, everyone except Michelle and I joined hands and Rob prayed that we‘d
enjoy breakfast and have a good day walking around the new property. Then we all tucked in to the
egg and bacon pies Michelle had baked. Chuck didn‘t seem too keen on being seen eating quiche but
enjoyed them with grace while he regaled us with tales of his favourite turkey shoots in scent free
socks. We could not resist mention of Dick Cheney and Chuck gave us the eye before lamenting the
sorry pass to which the nation has come. ―You shoot one man,‖ he noted, ―and you never hear the
end of it.‖ After breakfast I started rooting around washing rutabaga (swede), parsnip, turnip and
other vegetables in preparation for the broth I intended making. Chuck looked over his coffee at me
as I picked up the potato peeler. Somehow or another we got onto the topic of immigration –
perhaps it was in my ‗Australia‘s Prime Minister is a mean-spirited, nasty fellow who plays on
ignorant people‘s prejudices to create fear in order to manipulate the outcome of elections‘ spiel that
did it? – and Chuck was horrified to hear that I work with a highly cultivated Russian. ―Who let him
in?‖ he wanted to know. I had overlooked the fact that the Ruskies remain a ―clear and present
danger‖ in the Charlton Heston sphere. No matter. Michelle changed the subject to the difference
between Australia and America, saying that it‘d be less likely for someone to walk into a school in
Australia and shoot half a dozen children at point blank range. How so, Patty enquired. Well, because
we‘re not allowed to own automatic pistols. Patty was horrified. ―Well how do you defend
yourselves?‖ she demanded, looking up over her spectacles from her needlework. Chuck and Patty
will not be coming to Australia, though Chuck would like to have a go at the wild boar so he might
come as a farmer.
    Chuck and Patty took their leave and Michelle went for a walk with Barbara. I stayed to peel the
vegies. Later, Michelle told me how Rob and Barbara had asked Jesus to guide them in the purchase
of the land. They had missed so many good properties and were really concerned about what He had
in mind when yet another deal fell through. Barbara‘s dad decided he‘d had enough of their
seemingly endless disappointment so he cashed in some cell-phone stock options he‘d had the
foresight to purchase in the 1980s and loaned Rob the funds to buy out some other bidder and get
120 acres of the prime stuff. The real estate agent‘s fee alone amounted to $US33,000 odd, Rob told
us. Pretty good land, I guess. Jesus had really come through for them, they said without the slightest
intimation of irony concerning the nature of the god they pray to.
    Meanwhile, Emily, Rob and Barbara‘s 25-year-old daughter who studies law in Washington DC,
had arrived. Sharp as a tack, she is home schooled and has delivered numerous Amish women of
their babies. She‘s seen the Victoria’s Secret lingerie in Amish boudoirs, and sent many a husband
running to the edge of the farm to use the phone. The Amish have no truck with electricity because

Master Diary                                USA 2006-2007

it would connect them with the outside world. And they don‘t drive cars or own power tools. But
they trade, and have a phone in what to non-Amish looks like an outhouse a quarter mile away from
the farmhouse. The main thing is never to own up to having the fancy undies or the outhouse
communications centre, to only ever sit in the passenger seat of an automobile, and to leave the
power drill and electric saw in the trunk when the day‘s work‘s done. Emily has taught us how to
read the signs when it comes to the Amish but what we want to know about is how she reconciles
her knowledge of science with her belief that the Bible is to be taken literally.

    Michelle has not had the benefit of having grown up with Bible stories so she almost fell off the
chair when Emily and Barbara made it clear that they believe Adam and Eve were real people and
that it all started with them. Emily is an experienced midwife, has an extensive knowledge of human
anatomy, has a degree from Oxford University, and thinks analytically. So when she and Michelle and
I sat talking around the fire on Christmas morning I had the opportunity to cut to the chase. We
started off with establishing just how much she accepts of scientific knowledge. She accepts it all, she
told us. So what about the theory of evolution? As if by supernatural means, Barbara entered the
room and the conversation switched to needlework. Michelle is a dab hand at it and Barbara is an
expert quilter so Michelle fell prey to yarning about that and we lost the thread of the Biblical
account of the little devil with the apple in the Garden of Eden and how it might be embroidered by
the story of evolution by natural selection. I knit my brow but there was nothing for it but to take
comfort in the flurry of snow that played outside the picture window. Not exactly a White Christmas
but our first hint of snow since arriving in the USA.
    That night we tempted Emily with a bottle of Shiraz and sat at the kitchen table with her and her
parents and got down to tin tacks about this Christian thing. Unfortunately, Emily deferred to her
dad, and he told us that he‘d had a personal relationship with Jesus for some time, now, and that
once one understands that the truth is a person – Jesus – then it all falls into place. Epistemology
seemed to be an inappropriate discipline to introduce but somewhere along the line we were going to
have to set some ground rules about what constitutes knowing something as distinct from merely
believing it. Merely stating that Jesus says ―I am the way, the truth, and the light‖ (John 14:6) doesn‘t
cut it for me. For Rob, though, that‘s the end of the matter; i.e., Jesus is the alpha and omega.
Barbara said that when her first husband had been killed in an auto wreck she simply had to know
what had happened to him after death and had prayed and learned that he was in heaven so from
that time on she had studied the Bible to know what God wanted of her. We looked to Emily for
something a little more compelling and she told us that though she had gone to Oxford to study the
works of Charles Dickens she had instead learned to read the New Testament in Greek and found it
to be so poorly written by a man of limited learning that it must be the word of God. Jesus wept.
    So you see, then, that merely listening is a mistake; it affords fruit-cake ideas to flourish. Surely
any detached reading of the Old Testament reveals the figure of Yahweh as one of the nastiest
bastards that human imagination has ever dreamed up? These otherwise rational people, savvy folk
who know which way is up, really believe this sorry story of power and might is a prescription for the
good life. But the main problem with merely listening to the fundamentalist is that you can‘t be too
sure what he believes and how he it all fits together, because he makes no effort to volunteer the
ingredients of an even vaguely coherent picture. You must prise it out. I managed to get a ride back
to New Providence with the boys but I hoped Michelle would wangle that conversation with Emily
concerning the cognitive dissonance between the creationist and scientific account of how come so
many of those little Amish babies are born with six fingers and toes when they‘re not even
Melungeons. She didn‘t. But she did tell them about The Architect, James Moore and Wayne Slater‘s
excellent book about the machinations of Karl Rove in cynically exploiting hot-button
fundamentalist Christian issues to get out the vote for the George Dubya Bush Republican agenda.
The Mussers had seemed to us to be moderate Republican types but we‘ve learned that they had
turned out to vote for the crazy right lunatic ticket – Rick Santorum, et al – in order to hold back the
iniquitous tide of gay marriage on the one hand and Satan driven abortionists on the other. Karl

Master Diary                               USA 2006-2007

Rove is just one more trickster in a long line of confidence men who have played the American for a
    Barbara came to us a few days later with a request that we accompany the Mussers to Merle‘s
house and be his wife and daughters‘ audience for a rehearsal of their New Year‘s performance at the
aged care facility in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. After they‘d exhausted their extensive hymn repertoire I
asked whether they ever intended to sing from the American songbook, to carry on their nation‘s
musical heritage in such classic numbers as ‗Oh Susannah‘ and ‗The Lone Pilgrim,‘ and so on. They
knew the first verse and chorus of ‗Blue Moon‘ so they did that, and a fine rendition of the ‗Boogie
Woogie Bugle Boy of Company B.‘ For their pièce de résistance they launched into ‗How Much is
That Doggie in The Window?‘ I do hope that doggie‘s impaled, I said, and promised to take up a
collection. We retired to the kitchen for sweetmeats and Merle told Michelle and I the history of the
dairy farm, of the narrow gauge railroad that had serviced it, and about the destruction of the barn by
a hurricane. Widely read, and not given to too much devotion to anything but his women, Merle
talked to us about an importer of Swiss chocolates who was really a currency trader. I mentioned that
that‘s how George Soros – ―the one the mad wing of the Republican Party paints as the devil who‘s
bankrolling Hillary Clinton‘s White House run … ‖ – made his fortune, by shifting paper around,
and Merle was amused. Barbara and Rob seemed less so. But we all went home happy and bright,
with the girls serenading me at the door with the verse and chorus of ‗Blue Moon.‘
    Barbara subsequently took us to Merle‘s dairy and he showed us the process of bottling milk from
arrival by tanker through separation, pasteurisation, and homogenisation to bottling for retail sale.
Merle‘s eldest daughter, 19 year-old Alison, conducted us all through the farm that Merle rents out to
an Amish family – mother, father, and three sons. We toured the comfort stalls where the contented
cows have their tails tied to strings so that when they plop the dung falls freely into the manure
trough where it can be collected to fertilise the fields. We met the farmer and his four-year-old son,
Chris. Chris, like all Amish children, is dressed as a miniature adult. The Amish have preserved many
of the ways of colonial life in America, and that‘s just one of them. Chris‘s mum and dad are 25 years
old and his eldest brother is six. He will be husbanding cows by the age of eight, and his friends will
be ploughing fields for days on end with a team of mules. Merle had arranged for Michelle and I to
be taken for a horse and buggy ride by the farmer but mercifully he had an emergency with the day
old calf we‘d seen him hand feed earlier. It just wouldn‘t have seemed right. I slipped Alison my flash
drive as we parted and suggested she download the mp3s – including The Yearlings‘ arrangement of
Stephen Foster‘s ‗Oh Susannah‘ – from it that I‘d selected as possible additions to the trio‘s
repertoire and then we headed off to another farm where an auction of ‗Mules and Tools‘ was
scheduled. Emily and Barbara took us there.
    Michelle and I were as pleased as punch to find that Tim Weaver, the Amish auctioneer from
New Holland, was the master of ceremonies. And so was his sidekick in the distinctive hat. Barbara
and Emily told us that those from the religious sect who wear the fedora are known as Dick Tracy
Mennonites. We checked out the mules – horse and dolly mules both – and then called to the
basement of the farm house for ‗eats.‘ Very salty. Very Amish. Lots of miniature adults with cute
smiles. I didn‘t have my specs with me so I couldn‘t hear what Barbara was telling Michelle but I
subsequently learned that this was a fundraiser for the family whose farm it had been and who were
forced to sell everything – mules and tools included – and leave the area. No, they‘d not been
banished. Their daughter is one of the victims of the milk delivery man who had laid waste to the
local community‘s one room school a few months ago. You know the one: he got out of his tanker
and into an automobile loaded with the sort of weaponry that Patty and Chuck regard as necessary
for the protection of one‘s self and family. Well, this particular Amish family had no protection, no
medical insurance. For all its wealth and all the advertising money generated by the media event
courtesy of a deranged milkman, this nation shuns those who cannot look after their own, banishes
them to the dung heap. As the naked civil servant put it all those years ago, Americans are benign but
their system‘s hostile.

Master Diary                                USA 2006-2007

    Barbara knocked on our door on Monday night and said we were invited to go with them to see
Jeff and Tammy‘s C18th house. It‘s a marvel with its dovetail joints and extraordinarily well preserved
timbers – the outcome of chinking on the one hand and exterior and interior cladding on the other.
Tammy had prepared sauerkraut and pork, a Pennsylvania Dutch (Deutsch) tradition on the first day
of the year. Jeff said grace before meals – i.e., a variation on Rob‘s prayer to the effect that the Lord
will watch over the conversation and guide the evening in accord with His divine plan, that we all
sleep well, and so on, though Jeff added something in there about thanking His Almightiness for the
safe arrival of the Australians – and we all ate heaps. Christel, their daughter, was there with her Swiss
boyfriend, Luke, the young fellow who was at the Christmas party. They met on the Mercy Ship which
ministers to people worldwide, bringing succour and medicine to the needy while providing the crew
members with their first opportunity to develop an adult personal relationship with God – and with
one another.
    Asked where we‘d been and what we‘d done we felt pretty chuffed to be able to report that on
that very day we had been to the Cloister at Ephrata, Pennsylvania. Jeff said that Tammy had cajoled
him into going to that same place the previous Friday so he knew exactly what we were talking about.
You could have fooled me. The Cloister was a C17th community of religious types (what else?) who
had adopted celibacy as their way to reach Jesus. Jeff laughed himself silly at the thought of it. Wasn't
it obvious, he said, chortling, that a celibate community could never have succeeded? Celibacy‘s not
mentioned in Scripture.
    Fuck me!
    Michelle and I got around to talking about Chuck and Patty. Jeff does a bit of deer stalkin‘, too –
but only with a bow and arrow. I told the story about Chuck having said, straightfaced, ―You shoot
one man …‖ but it was the straw that broke the camel‘s back and Barbara fired back with something
a friend of hers had said: ―I‘d rather go huntin‘ with Dick Cheney than driving with Edward
Kennedy.‖ Touché, Barb. Dinner came to a more or less abrupt halt after we relayed the details of a
radio programme we‘d heard on the Saturday. They were playing highlights from 2006 shows. A
fellow was making fun of the Dick Cheney hunting mishap, saying something to the effect that Harry
Whittington was the world‘s most obscure trial lawyer until Dick Cheney shot him. He went on to
entertain the appreciative audience with other remarks about Cheney‘s trip to the woods when a
Jewish woman on the same show cried out. ―Enough already. What is it with you people and Dick
Cheney‘s hunting exploits. I mean, it happened, okay. But the victim has apologised. What more do
you want?‖

   [Should have known they were Christians when we heard the boys saying ―O gosh!‖ and ―Oh my
word.‖ By way of expletives, and this at the time when Watergate is back in the news with the death
of Gerald Ford. This is Pennsylvania. We‘re leaving here for North Carolina on January 15th.]

Wednesday, January 3, 2007
   New Providence to Nickel Mine, PA, and back
   Barbara took us to Merle‘s dairy and we saw the bottle washing, milk filled bottles on the
conveyor belt, manual capping – the mechanical set-up relied upon the previous style of cap and it‘s
uneconomic to change the machinery just for his relatively limited production run. He showed us
where the milk enters from the tanker bay and is piped into the mechanism, going first to the
centrifugal separator where the cream is retained and the lighter material is thrown off and is piped
into the pasteuriser and stored for 1 minute at 65°F then is cooled and passed through the
homogeniser. Chocolate milk is mixed in a large vat (which used to be how the milk was collected
prior to the introduction of the stainless steel tankers); most of the vats that fell into disuse with the
coming of the tanker were purchased by boutique wineries in Europe.
   At the farm, rented from Merles by an Amish family where the parents in their mid-twenties and
three boys aged 6, 4 and 2 run the dairy farm. Whether Merle owns the farm or just rents the
property we‘re unsure but the work is done by the Amish couple and their kids. The farmer was hand

Master Diary                               USA 2006-2007

feeding a one day old calf that had been separated from its mother and was shaking from something
that didn‘t look too good. Calves are a necessary part of the dairy herd process since it‘s nursing
mother‘s that give milk. We then went to the main barn where the huge Holstein dairy cows stood in
their stalls, prevented from bucking upwards by electric prods suspended about 4 inches above their
standing height. To the rear, strings held their tails to prevent them from slopping around in the
dung trench behind the cows, and over which their bums projected. This trough was used both as a
sewer and as a canal for collecting cow dung as fertiliser.
    We came home and went to the auction of Mules and tools at Nickel Mine about a mile from
Georgetown. An Amish farm‘s contents were up for auction. The auctioneer, the man we are familiar
with from the New Holland Stock yard sales on Mondays, was the Amish fellow with the normal
straw hat but which he has painted black. He gave his name as Tim Weaver, and made sure the
fellow who spoke to him got it right. It took about four tries for the bloke to get it. Tim Weaver is a
marvellous auctioneer to watch and listen to. We didn‘t take photos today because this was an almost
exclusively Amish gathering and they do not like to have their image captured. We had a pastry at the
‗Ears‘ place, a converted basement made into a café for the occasion. Outside, Tim‘s sidekick was
taking a turn at auctioneering some of the knick knacks on sale and Barbara referred to him as being
one of the Dick Tracy Mennonites – he wore a black (not painted but woven from coloured straw)
Dick Tracy straw hat.
    Emily suggested to Barbara that they take us to the shop in Georgetown and I foolishly walked
with them and was bored half to death wondering around yet another shop for over an hour. We
then returned and the mother and daughter impressed me by retrieving a door that an Amish family
had thrown out with the trash and carrying down the road. I helped, and told them we found this to
be most fitting, to be walking down the road with an old door; it says much about the Mussers. We
put the door in the Volvo station sedan and drove home via an Amish house where the woman will
cook a meal for a couple; Barbara is anxious that we go there. She told us that Merle‘s family‘s having
been banished because his father had shod his tractor with rubber wheels was not the half of it: she
knows of women who‘ve been threatened with excommunication for the sin of attending Bible class.
Now there‘s a thing.
    I was disoriented somewhat, this morning, when eating a sausage roll while at the Amish auction,
because I had left my spectacles in the car and couldn‘t lip read in the normal fashion that we often
do without realizing it. So I did not grasp the fact, as Michelle did because she heard what Barbara
and Emily said, that the farm tools and mules were being auctioned off by the owner who was
leaving ―to become a herdsman in another location.‖ Well, the fact of the matter is that his daughter
was in the one room schoolhouse schoolhouse – since demolished to allow the community to avoid
the media and tourist onslaught – when the mad milkman got out of his tanker and into a car loaded
with gunswith ‘s victimsa victim of family was caught up in the murder perpetrated by the mad
milkman carrying a ridiculously powerful arsenal into the little schoolhouse – since demolished to
allow the community to avoid the media and tourist onslaught – in the Nickel Mine community on
White Oak Road. The family has no medical insurance and huge hospital bills as a consequence of
the insane weaponry assault. That‘s the cruel and awful aspect of the American way of life; it‘s

Thursday, January 4, 2007
     New Providence, PA
     Up early, I spent most of the day writing tales From America #13. It‘s over 4000 words so I split
it into 4 sections of 1000, 1000, 1500 & 500 words each. The first section‘s gone out.
     I made root vegetable stew (we‘ll be sick of swede, onion, parsnip, and turnip by the time we
leave New Providence) that we ate for dinner. Michelle and I set off for a walk in the afternoon but
felt compelled to help Barbara lug parts of a huge pine tree that has been cut down and sectioned
onto various piles. We ended up with sticky sap all over our clothes and Michelle quickly washed
both her top and my pullover.

Master Diary                                USA 2006-2007

Friday, January 5, 2007
    New Providence, PA
    Porridge, again, and then coffee and one of the iced donuts from the $2.00 pack. Chris Timms
asked for the whole 4 sections of Tales #13 but no-one else paid it any mind. Tony Carey has yet to
reply to my email about the rendezvous. It‘s cold and wet today. I have the oven on, and am about to
get back to my main work – Geoffrey Hamilton‘s story – after more than a week away from it.
    Barbara knocked on the door and invited us to go with ‗them‘ to ‗First Friday in Lancaster.‘
There‘d be entertainment, art works, museums, and then we‘d go to a café and catch up with Pat
after that. Pat? Who‘s Pat? Michelle saw that I had no idea and reminded me after Barbara left, saying
to be ready at 6 pm, that she was referring to Chuck‘s Patty. Great. I like Chuck and Patty.
    I could have kicked myself when we got to Lancaster because it was a trap. To begin with, Rob
wasn‘t with us but Emily and Barbara – so it was a woman‘s thing. And woman‘s thing it was indeed.
I traipsed around with Michelle, Emily, and Barbara for a couple of hours looking at knick-knacks
and crap as well as some art works of merit. But I wish I‘d been more on the ball about just what it
was we were going to be doing. Still, I got $US100.00 cash out of the HSBC account for tomorrow
night‘s Amish meal – another of those things I‘d prefer not to have had to go along with.
    We got to Chuck and Patty‘s and I carried in the rocks from the Musser property, river stones
which patty collected at sunset the day we were with her. Patty, the spit of Pie in the Sky’s Maggie, had
just finished cutting Chuck‘s hair and took us upstairs to show what they‘d done with the house
while Chuck vacuumed the kitchen-cum-hairdressing floor. Prior to my heading upstairs he came
across and shook my hand in a warm greeting. Well I was delighted because I was as pleased to see
him as he me. Upstairs I was waving around a replica gun, the sort Wyatt Earp used on TV. It made
quite a scene and my lack of awareness of how to handle a lethal weapon was apparent to all apart
from me. We went back downstairs and I realised that the country music that I had heard was
coming from a dvd, the movie about the life of Johnny Cash. Chuck came over and shook my hand
again and offered me a beer or iced tea or … ―I‘d love a beer, thanks,‖ I said, aware, now, that he‘d
already had a few. He told a pathetic dirty joke about heat and getting a woman‘s pants down which
he believed to be hilarious. Rob shrugged. I knew rightaway that we were in for a great evening.
    Rob, Chuck, and I sat at the kitchen table and the women – Barbara, Michelle, Patty, and Emily –
sat on the couch. Chuck asked Emily if she was still doing ―that lawyering.‖ She was, is. Chuck made
some derogatory remark about the government, but I can‘t remember what it was about. I do recall
that he gave me a confidential eyebrow and finished off with words to the effect that the government
doesn‘t know about something that he does and he has no intention of them ever finding out.
    Michelle dobbed on me for having been waving the gun around upstairs and Chuck said that it
was only a replica, and seemed kinda proud of me. He paid scant attention to the Wyatt Earp citation
and told me that Colt revolvers of that type were carried in holsters on either side of the saddle. Rob
asked Chuck about two pistols mounted on the wall and recoiled in horror when Chuck let slip his
brother had stolen them from a museum. I was too delighted with the opening up of this additional
chink in the Christian wall to be overly concerned about such wanton behaviour. Rob got them
down and Chuck, slurring his words, showed how they were simply cap guns – the sort we all had as
kids in the 1950s. Chuck then produced a flat pistol and removed the magazine. Even Rob was
somewhat taken aback at the fact that it was a real gun, and had been loaded.
    ―No point having it if it‘s empty,‖ he reckoned, then turned to let me in on a secret. ―I got a
licence to carry a concealed weapon.‖ The tiny open plan kitchen-cum-dining-and-lounge-room did
not allow for such confidences, of course, and Michelle asked me, later, why he had this licence –
from the government, presumably? I hadn‘t found that out, unfortunately, hadn‘t even tried. One pot
screamer. Chuck went on to talk about how the Colt revolver was not really up to the job, that only
when the German, Browning, had figured out the design for the flat pistol had the handgun been up
to much. I mentioned that Michelle and I had witnessed the process for making a rifle – lock, stock,
and barrel – at Harper‘s Ferry the previous week and asked why the barrels had been so long back
then. ―Akkarrassee,‖ Chuck told me, ―Akkarussee.‖ What about pistols, does that mean they‘re not
so accurate? ―Yup,‖ he pointed to the window about 10 foot away, smiling, ―about that far.‖

Master Diary                              USA 2006-2007

    ―Is the bullet rifled in a handgun?‖
    ―A little.‖
    ―So those wild west gunfighters would have had to be standing that close to one another,‖ I, too,
pointed at the window, ―to have done much damage.‖
    ―Mostly they missed,‖ said Chuck. ―I‘ve had a coupla weeks huntin.‖
    ―With the bow and arrow or the flintlock?‖
    ―Flintlock. Jus‘ me and the dogs.‖
    Johnny Cash caught our attention at this point because he was pulling a sink off the wall.
    I was going to say something about rock stars and cocaine but thought better of it.
    ―The demon drink,‖ Chuck noted.
    ―How‘s the flooring work going?‖ Rob changed the subject.
    ―The boss has checked himself in for rehab. Cocaine abuse. Checked hisself in. We didn‘t notice
    ―Where does that leave you?‖ Rob wanted to know, concerned no doubt for his sister Patty‘s
welfare, as I learned from Michelle later. (When his previous employer had gone belly up, Barbara
had told her, Chuck and Patty were looking down the barrel of the gun for a while, unsure of where
their next meal was coming from.)
    ―In charge,‖ Chuck laughed, opening another beer. ―We didn‘ notice. He‘s jus‘ like nothin‘ was
    ―That‘s the second time this has happened, isn‘t it?‖ Rob elaborated for my benefit. ―Didn‘t you
end up fighting with your old boss?‖
    ―Yup. Fistfight. Right out there,‖ he pointed to the driveway.
    Rob went on to tell the story of the two men rolling around in the yard.
    ―Yeah. Made a lot of money and loss focus. Chasin‘ after women he weren‘t married to,‖ Chuck
explained. ―Loss focus. His wife though. She didn‘ lose focus. Took the lot,‖ he said, still amused.
    ―Yeah. Checked hisself in to rehab. And it‘s one of those expensive places, too. Cost a lot of
money. Cocaine. So I‘m the boss, now. Told my brother and he said ‗That hardwood flooring game
sure must be stressful‘.‖
    ―What will happen. Will you get paid?‖ Rob, not so sanguine, persevered, focussed.
    ―They pay him a lot of money for those hardwood floors. We gotta get paid. We‘re the only ones
doin‘ the work now. We never noticed. He weren‘t no diffrnt.‖
    ―If you can do it without him maybe you should become an entrepreneur. Is there a lot of work
    ―Hardwood floors. People pay big money for hardwood floors.‖
    Johnny Cash was singing ―It Ain‘t Me Babe‖ and I said it was a Dylan song.
    ―Yeah, The Four Horsemen. Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, and uh, uh, Kris Kristofferson.
That‘s the best in country music there in that one group. The Four Horseman.‖
    ―What other music do you like, Chuck?‖ I asked.
    ―Country music. Johnny Cash. He‘s my favourite, and the four horsemen,‖ and turning to Rob he
said, ―They‘re runnin episodes of Hee Haw on the TV. I saw it the other day.‖
    ―Yeah, Buck Owens,‖ Rob said, from somewhere back behind the kitchen cabinet.
    ―Is that the old 1960s or 70s show with Roy Clarke?‖ I said.
    ―He used to play down here about three or four mile. Can play anythin‘. George Jones used to
play there but he was drunk most of the time and never came on. ‗No show‘ Jones, they call him.
Loretta Lynn played there too, the coalminer‘s daughter. We thought it was alcohol he was on but it
was probably drugs. Like Elvis. We thought they was drunk but they wuz probably on drugs. Why
would they sing those tunes and do drugs. It don‘ make sense.‖
    ―Well, imagine what it‘d be like to be just out of school and suddenly you‘re famous and people
are treating you as if you‘re a divinity. You‘d have to keep up appearances, and perform on stage
when you‘re exhausted from gruelling schedules the manager‘s organised. So it‘s not surprising
someone‘d offer you a wonder drug …‖

Master Diary                               USA 2006-2007

    Rob was looking around as if the Devil was afoot.
    ―Do you ever listen to The Stanley Brothers? Ralph Stanley‘s the only one still alive.‖
    Chuck had never heard of them.
    ―What about that film, Oh Brother, Where Art Thou? Did you ever see it?‖
    ―Oh yeah,‖ said Rob, ―that‘s a great movie,‖ and the whole gathering chimed in. I hadn‘t realised
the girls were listening but all agreed – and Chuck, too – that it is a fine film.
    ―Remember the scene in the recording studio near the crossroads? When they sang that song with
the line ―… the place where he was born and raised…?‖ They were miming to the Stanley Brothers
recording of ‗Man of Constant Sorrow‘.‖
    ―I saw Alison Kraus on TV. She sang the songs from that movie.‖
    ―She‘s married to Elvis Costello.‖[Dianna Krall‘s married to Elvis Costello]
    ―Cain‘t say I know him. My son likes all those old songs. He‘s interested in history. Started out
gettin‘ interested in World War II and listens to music from the 1930s and 40s. Knows a lot of that.‖
    ―Big bands. Glen Miller and that music.‖
    ―Yeah, all kinds from then. Knows a lot. He found our we wuz all from Austria. Came ‘ere in
1670. Carpenters – and distillers,‖ he said proudly. ―Yeah my son found it all out. He likes history.
Carpenters and distillers, 1600s. ‘Bout no mor‘n‘five mile from here they came.‖
    ―And you‘re laying floors. You say it‘s hardwood. What timber do you use mainly?‖
    ―Oak. White oak. There‘s all kinds of oak. Black oak, red oak, all kinds of red and black oak. But
only a few types of white oak. That‘s white oak right there,‖ he said, pointing, ―and that there‘s
chestnut,‖ still looking at the floor while pointing to the sky. He was talking about the heavy timber
used in constructing the wall of the house. ―Got a bug from Asia, chestnuts, and were wiped out.‖
    I called Michelle over and told her about the white oak, and had Chuck repeat what he said about
the chestnut tree. She engaged him in conversation about chinking, having learned about the
technique over pork and sauerkraut from Jeff. The walls meet in interlocking dovetail joints and leave
gaps, chinks, between the massive beams. These gaps are then filled with a mortar made early-on of
mud, sticks, stones, and broken bones (no, not really, not bones) and later on of more concrete
substance over which chicken wire is placed. Jeff uses steel mesh and caulks with a very modern
flexible mortar which expands and contracts without cracking; he then finishes off with an insulating
material that he colors to give it the timeworn appearance of yesteryear. Chuck‘s looks less ancient
because he has stuck with the more traditional compound. Chinking creates the effect of a layered
chocolate and cream cake. ―Folks who didn‘t want to seem poor used to cover these walls with thin
strips of pine wood and plaster over the top of it.‖
    ―Lathe and plaster,‖ Michelle said, reminding me of when I‘d cut out an inspection hole in the
ceiling of my house.
    ―That‘s it - lathe and plaster,‖ Chuck nodded, and talked further about the original structure.
There‘s been four rooms downstairs, he told us, shaking his head at how small those rooms must
have been. This was indeed a small two-storey house – quite a contrast to his brother-in-law‘s
expansive home in New Providence.
    Emily had been over near the back door for some time, now. Barbara and Rob had joined her.
Patty asked Rob about their father, and then they talked about their mother, and how the old man
had his marbles and was frail, while their mother was fit as a fiddle and balmy. Patty asked Rob
whether he‘d taken their dad to the new Endless Mountains property as he‘d said he would. Yes, he
had, and their father said he‘d have to tell their mother that it was just a bunch of rocks and stuff.
They thought this hilarious, and it turned on the fact that the old man had always liked to go hunting
in the woods and the mother had implied to Patty that he was more than likely off with another
woman. There was a lot of unspoken knowing between the middle-aged siblings.
    ―Well, did you ask them?‖ Patty addressed Chuck, who looked bewildered, and then Michelle and
I. ―Did he ask you about how you can protect yourselves without guns? Is it true you had to give
back all your guns?‖
    ―Well, ten years ago a fellow went on a rampage and shot thirty odd people. It was the day my
father died. He wasn‘t one of those shot, but. There was a great outcry, as there should be when

Master Diary                                USA 2006-2007

someone gets to walk about shooting at will. Our leader, the equivalent of your president, the Prime
Minister, saw an opportunity to ingratiate himself with the electorate and buy a swag of votes so he
outlawed it. Most people agreed with him so yeah, they took people‘s guns from them. But guns
aren‘t part of our culture. We don‘t think of it as our right to carry a firearm. But we understand it is
part of your culture. You guys have insisted on carrying guns since you arrived from Europe. The
Puritans of Massachusetts marched to Sunday church service with loaded guns and rested them on
their lap. That‘s not how our culture developed. It strikes us as a recipe for trouble.‖
    ―Like the melting pot,‖ says Chuck. ―Yeah I know it‘s gotta come but I don‘t want my daughter
marryin‘ into no melting pot. We‘ll all be speakin‘ Spanish. I hear it all day long at work. Don‘t need
to hear it from anyone in my family.‖ He came over and told Michelle and I that Pennsylvania‘s
extensive natural woodlands had been preserved by the efforts of the hunting fraternity. All that land
had been saved for posterity because they had lobbied the government. ―Bicyclists, trail hikers – they
all get to use it now,‖ he said, ―but it was hunters that got it protected.‖
    ―In game parks?‖ Michelle wanted to be sure.
    ―So it‘s regulated?‖
    ―Yup. But Pennsylvania‘s got a huge area. And Maryland‘s only got a few hundred acres. Yet they
get reciprocal rights.‖
    ―They have a lot of woodlands,‖ I pointed out, ―Are you saying they‘re not game parks?‖
    ―All tied up by private ownership,‖ Chuck explained. ―New York State‘s the same. They get
reciprocal rights and can come and hunt in our woods but we cain‘t go to theirs ‘cos they‘re all
    ―What about Virginia?‖
    ―Virginia!? Huh. Ain‘t nothin‘ there. They‘re Southerners. Still fightin‘ the war. We wupped ‗em
but they still fightin‘.‖
    He turned and spoke sotto voce to both of us. ―I‘m a Yankee.‖
    We laughed and agreed with him that the South did seem to be still fighting the Civil War. ―We
wupped ‘em,‖ he said again, pleased with himself.
    Barbara and Emily were waiting in the car. Rob had the engine running. Chuck took us into the
barn to introduce us to his two-year-old basset hounds. They looked at him with great affection and
he kissed the one nearest him. ―She always wets in her box and not where she should,‖ he told us,
kissing her, ―But she‘s a real good hunting dog and I don‘t like to make her feel bad.‖

    no, we‘ve been talking about music,‖ I said, ―but spoke of how The walls were thick chestnut
beams using the chinking method. Chinking consists in laying heavy logs one atop the other using a
dovetail joint, the gap which necessarily results from this is filled with a weak mortar and chicken
wire or mud and sticks (olden days the chink in the wall was small because they could be fussy about
which timbers they used but later builders had to take what was available and so the chinks were
large, and had to be filled with more chinking mix so they used sticks and stones and broken bones,
and mud); the chinking is the filling of this cavity with the mortar. This is then smoothed off and you
get a sort of dark and white chocolate effect. Caulking is the mortar. Lathe was placed on the inside
wall and then plastered over so that it would not look like a poor man‘s cottage. Mention how Jeff is
using steel mesh and flexible foam modern chinking which gives and is ideal for the job and he
includes a layer of insulation then colours the yellow stuff to look old.

    Patty looks like Maggie from Pie in the Sky Chuck, beer, handshake, heater, pants down, guns,
Browning, Hunting with dogs past 2 weeks, ―where does that leave you?‖, ―In charge.‖ Cocaine, fist
fight, focus, took the lot, game parks fought for, government interference, regulation, privately
owned hunting grounds. Working man‘s Country Music – 4 Horsemen (Cash, Jennings, Nelson, and
Kristofferson), Hee Haw, Coal Miner‘s Daughter, ‗No show‘ Jones, realization that entertainers are
on drugs, melting pot but not my daughter, son in marines, Iraq, married, love of WWII history,

Master Diary                                USA 2006-2007

history per se, family history – Austrians from 1670, 5 mile away, carpenters and distillers,
Pennsylvania‘s ―we wupped ‘em and they still keep fightin. I‘m a Yankee.‖

Saturday, January 6, 2007
    New Providence, PA
    Barbara knocked on the door with our Greyhound tickets, HSBC statement, and Volvo keys. She
suggests we drive to check out the bald eagles on Susquehannock Road, west of here.
    We've been out in the Musser's Volvo all day; Barbara came in this morning with the keys and
said that since it was going to be 70 degrees Fahrenheit today - last at this temperature in January, in
1870, apparently - we should drive to the Susquehanna River National Park and check out the bald
eagles. So we went. There were many people there, just opposite one of America's largest nuclear
power plants, and many of them say they've never been there without seeing at least two or three
eagles. Alas, we saw one Osprey, and that was a long way off. The eagles – a woman told Michelle
that bald eagles do not get their white head and tail feathers until they‘re three-years-old – too, were a
long way off, probably having enough sense to have gone South just in case the cold weather
eventually hits. No-one we met had seen one all day. It's a mighty river to look out on but.

   Tonight we were booked in by Barbara for a meal at an Amish household. It was a strange
evening because an American Italian family from Philadelphia was there. The youngest daughter-in-
law of Papa, she, a journalist, had arranged for the whole family to drive up for the weekend so they
could do the buggy ride and all things Amish extravaganza. Michelle was at her wits end with the
somewhat overbearing woman but I wasn't too put out. Amish tourism is big, here, and we've been
fortunate not to have to go that way to learn a lot about their way of life. For my part, I was quite
happy to have the company of the American Italians and not be just an Australian couple dining in
an Amish home. I would have felt as if I had to do the right thing but this way I could melt into the

    There was a huge fireworks display in the backyard of where we live when we arrived home.
There's a guy who uses the cornfield, here, to test his latest pyrotechnic developments. Pyrotechnics
is his business. It was quite spectacular, big booming stuff with brilliant displays. It sort of typifies
our experience of America as being nothing if not unpredictable.

Sunday, January 7, 2007
   New Providence, PA
   I spent the day writing the above, Chuck and Patty report.

Monday, January 8, 2007
   New Providence, PA
   We worked all day on sorting out the Greyhound and Car rental ducks and had a lucky break
when a young man at Thrifty in Des Moines, Iowa, warned me that ‗unlimited miles‘ does not mean
what it says, necessarily: read the small print, he advised. And lucky we did because it left us with
Memphis, TN, or Chicago, IL, as the only practical places to use as a base. We‘ve purchased the
greyhound from Durham to Memphis and booked a car for three weeks from January 25th to
February 15th for our tour of the South.
   We watched George Clooney in Syriana on the laptop last night. It‘s not satisfactory, watching
movies thus, because the sound‘s too low apart from anything else, but it was a good film
nonetheless. It seemed to need subtitles but may not have had them in the original. Ability to
understand whatever Arabic dialects were being spoken would have helped.

Tuesday, January 9, 2007
   New Providence, PA

Master Diary                               USA 2006-2007

  I sent off the Chuck and Patty report to Trish, Chris, and Martin – the three who asked for the
whole of Tales #13.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007
    New Providence to Harrisburg, PA, and back
    On the Tuesday night Barb insisted we take the Green Volvo sedan and drive to the Pennsylvania
State Agricultural Fair in Harrisburg but by Wednesday morning there was a note to take the cream
Volvo station wagon instead. The sedan was carted off because it had been flooding, according to
Emily. We drove around Lancaster looking for the second-hand bookshop Emily had taken us to last
Friday and while it took some doing, found it. A superb collection of books which I had to prevent
Michelle from buying up – since we‘d only on Tuesday sent back a 22 lb package of accumulated
books, and that morning, a 28 lb parcel of clothes and computer accessory connections.
    We drove to Harrisburg and checked out the show. It was marvellously understated, not full of
glitz and nonsense but more or less like a 1950s Adelaide Show, not at all the place for the urban
sophisticate to be seen. Shearing a sheep (in one case a goat), carding the fleece, spinning the yarn
(mainly on spinning wheels but in one case involving the use of a drop spindle), and weaving a shawl
on a loom was the first major event on our calendar for the day. It was a good start. The food was
not up to much and expensive, though we each had a complimentary ice cream in a ‗dandy‘ (i.e., as
per Peter‘s and Amscol from the 1950s) cardboard bucket.
    Lukewarm, non-coffee tasting coffee, at $2.00 each was awful but the home-town naïveté of the
demonstration Polka Dancing in the equestrian arena was hilariously American. There‘s not a hint of
cynicism here. The main arena, an oval of sandy dirt with seating for about 7,000 people, hosted the
carriage racing event where two people (just as many women as men) and a pair of horses has to race
at breakneck speed around a very tight slalom obstacle course against the clock. Very exciting and a
fine display of skill which we interrupted to attend the auctioneering challenge where 35 auctioneers
pitted themselves against one another in selling items to a crowd. We had a good quality soup each
while watching and recording (mp3 and digital film) the event. We then returned to the small sheep
shearing arena where the six shawls that contestants had woven were auctioned off at between $300 -
$870 each. We checked out the main hall prior to leaving and saw a fellow from Penn State College
demonstrating the types of animals to be found in Pennsylvania backyards: a turtle, black rat snake
(boa constrictor), dead ground hog (Michelle and I saw a live one in a Centreville backyard a few
months ago), and a juvenile red-tailed Hawk with an injured eye. Then we walked back to the Volvo,
noting that it was not as cold at 7.30 pm at night as it had been around 1 pm when we arrived that
same day.
    The drive back was delayed by an accident on I-83 but we made good time afterward, driving at
60 mph for most of the way. We stopped at the shopping centre just off the freeway, and as we
slowed down to pull in to the carpark I noticed that there was something not quite right with the car.
The drive home was a nightmare. Flashing light on the dashboard – ‗Service‘ ‗1‘ – told us nothing
useful. I pulled over and stopped. It was impossible to see what gear the auto shift pointed to –
Neutral or Drive or Reverse – so we had to open the door to read it. Stopping fixed the problem
long enough for us to make a mile or so‘s progress but stopping was a disaster, and dangerous,
especially as we turned off the combined 272-222 near the K-Mart for the 222 split. We made it
home with me a nervous wreck and wrote a note to Barb. When I heard someone in the adjoining
room I went in to explain what had happened. It was Chad. He said he‘d tell Barbara what I had told
him of the car behaving as if the clutch (had it been a ‗manual‘) was slipping, the engine revving way
beyond the speed of the car, and having to turn off, put on the hazard lights, then wait a while and
take off again.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Master Diary                               USA 2006-2007

   New Providence, PA.
   I knocked on Barbara‘s door but no-one answered. The lack of cars suggests no-one was home,
but I can hear footsteps in there now. Tony‘s San Francisco – Memphis February 16th flight will not
be so straightforward as I‘d imagined.

Friday, January 12, 2007
   New Providence, PA.
   In the apartment all day, I‘m beginning to feel hemmed in. But we‘re leaving for North Carolina
on Monday so that‘s going to be the solution. Bedtime reading, Carl Bode. Mencken. Baltimore, MD:
John Hopkins University Press, 1986. pp 100 for American puritans.
   See the next chapter for a treatment of Dreiser, and p109 for a comment about the sleight of
hand used to equate unconventionality with being unpatriotic.
   Public Radio story of soldier in Iraq who didn‘t get paid on time and had his stuff in storage
auctioned off. He had advised the storage company but they went ahead and auctioned the
belongings. He was compensated for the loss by a payment of $4000.00 from the storage company
but the goods were worth double that.

Saturday, January 13, 2007
   New Providence, PA
   See Carl Bode. Mencken. Baltimore, MD: John Hopkins University Press, 1986. Bottom123-top-
124 for Mencken‘s observation about American burlesque. About 5 pages earlier ‗Burlesque‘
appeared in a title of one of his books or essays.

Sunday, January 14, 2007
   New Providence, PA
   Tonight‘ll be our last in New Providence; tomorrow we take the Greyhound for Durham, North
Carolina, where Ed Halloran will collect us to spend a week with Diane and him in their gated
community outside of Chapel Hill.

Monday, January 15, 2007
    New Providence, PA, to Chapel Hill, NC
    Barbara and Rob came to invite Michelle and I to lunch at a diner on Route 222. Michelle was
asleep and I felt I should say yes despite the fact that we had food we needed to eat. So we went, and
it was okay. As if to really sum up the whole 7 weeks that we had just experienced, Barbara prayed
out loud, in the diner, in front of whomever was in the place at the time. It was excruciating. It was
all we could do not to laugh out loud. But it was an experience, and that‘s what we were there for so
I was prepared to go along with this nonsense. The sacredness of the moment was lost on the
waitress, though, because she came up and asked whether we wanted more coffee. Now here was a
dilemma. If we declined the offer we‘d be left off the replenishment circuit, and that would not do,
of course. So I lifted my cup up toward her pot saying ―Yes, please,‖ and enjoying the moment as
Barbara, clearly offended, awaited this crude commercial transaction to pass while she resumed her
communion with the Lord, thanking Him for the fact that Michelle and I had come into her and her
family‘s life, and asking that He ensure that we have a safe and wonderful journey.
    Barbara said that Wesley, her youngest, at 19, had said that they should pray for him, and that
Emily, their eldest (25 years old) had told them how wonderful it was going to the gathering with
fellow members of their Christian group so I used the opportunity to ask if their kids would feel
they‘d be banished if they declared that they were not believers. Oh no, they said, but implicit in the
response was that there‘s no way they could doubt that they were having a personal relationship with
Jesus – notes: how we got around to another approach to the Creation versus Evolution problem
with my saying religion is more a sociological than a personal belief system for Australians.

Master Diary                                USA 2006-2007

    Waiting for bus in York – the man behind me saying ―I just got outa jail‖; the terminal clerk,
ticket seller, cleaner and the contrast between his cleaning of the waiting room versus his ability to
handle the machine; the lack of lights, the fellow wanting to get $37.50 in cash to go to Allentown,
the woman at Baltimore, Maryland, striking up the conversation with Michelle and the three gross
blokes (Michelle‘s account); Village idiot
    use was hat would happen

Tuesday, January 16, 2007
    Durham, to Chapel Hill, NC
    the carry on at Richmond as the bus had to be cleaned and we had to use our re-boarding pass,
the easygoing driver, the marines (aged about 16 or 17) who delayed the bus while they went in
search of their fellow marine in the trio; the village idiot who commented on the fact that someone
hadn‘t done his job when the bus was called back yet again, this time for the luggage laying on the
ground but which turned out not to belong to the people on the bus, staying awake until the
Petersburg battlefield exit, the marines laying around the terminal with their brand new kits, the
fellow getting frustrated with me because he thought I didn‘t believe him about which gate to use to
catch the Durham connection when it was a case of me not grasping what he was saying, the fellow
in the crutch-to-knees pants and sunglasses whom the woman attendant was having to mother back
from where he came because he caught the bus in the wrong direction, his pride in himself in
contrast with the hopeless mess he‘d made of his bus journey; Ed‘s arrival and the old Chapel Hill
tour, arrival at the new house in the gated community.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007
    Chapel Hill, NC
    Ed and Diane took us to a Chinese art exhibition in Durham, NC. En route, we stopped off and I
collected the Greyhound tickets for our trip to Memphis, TN, next Tuesday, January 23, Michelle‘s
64th birthday. We came home via Hillsboro, where Cornwallis‘ command in fighting the American
Revolutionaries was a significant historical event. More research required for this.
    Over dinner, Ed filled me in on the details of the Fair Haven tour from June or July, 2006. The
blizzard of 1888; the house bought and extended by Patrick King with a rail road line to New
London and Providence, RI. New Haven was one of the first stations built outside of New York.
New Haven to Hartford was one, to New London wasn another – and that‘s what went through the
backyard. behind the premises; the drive to the premises from which he showed us the place where
his paternal great grandfather‘s body was taken, when recovered from Lighthouse point in New
Haven Harbor, 1892. Had drowned when a sudden wind gust saw the boom swing around and
knocked the 56 year old senseless and into the drink. 42 feet long, 18feet wide with 2 masts. Patrick
King‘s two daughters, Anne (Annie) and Mary (Minnie - Ed Halloran‘s grandmother); witnessed the
drowning of this oyster fisherman who operated the very small draught but sizeable yacht [get
dimension] in the oyster beds around where the Quinnipiac River flows into Long Island Sound.
    Ed‘s maternal great grandfather, Patrick McMahon, fought courageously at Fort Wagner
(mentioned in dispatches) and was at Fort Fisher when the Union succeeded in taking it. Since it was
General Ames, General Butler‘s son-in-law, who was in command then Ed‘s great-grandfather must
have fought in the same unit as Sim Younger, the black cousin of the confederate bushwhacker and
outlaw, Col younger. Sim Younger fought for the North against the Confederates. In 1905 an old
Civil War veteran was writing a newspaper article about how when they assaulted Fort Wagner the
Connecticut 6th got up on the parapet alongside the Massachusetts 54th (coloured) and while there
they captured a Confederate Officer and they asked a plucky little Irishman named ‗Mac‘ to take him
back and ask for reinforcements. This ‗Mac‘ may have been Patrick. It was Company G and there
were only 2 Macs in the company and it‘s most likely that it was a private who escorted the Officer
back and Patrick was a private.

Master Diary                               USA 2006-2007

    The McMahon‘s came over in 1860 – mother and 5 boys: all 5 boys fought in the Civil War and
all came home.
    Patrick King‘s brother, John, was in the Third Connecticut volunteers for 90 days and then came
back in the 6th Connecticut volunteers. He was at Hilton Head Island and promoted to Lieutenant
just prior to the attack on Fort Wagner, Charleston, where he was captured. He spent the rest of the
war in Richmond and they call his release a parole, he was paroled in March 1865. Patrick‘s grave is
in New Haven; we visited it with Ed and Diane – the grave of Patrick, his wife, and his children.
    Patrick, John, Thomas, ―his mother, and a sister or two‖ King came on a ship in 1851 to New
York and with relatives in Connecticut moved straight to Connecticut. Patrick McMahon‘s brother,
Dennis, re-enlisted in 1864 in the 4th New York injured at Antietam and then re-enlisted when
Lincoln promised $800.00ish (check this). He decided to join the artillery because infantrymen had
the worst of it. He was sent to Petersburg where being an artilleryman was more dangerous than
being in the infantry.

Thursday, January 18, 2007
   Chapel Hill, NC
   Michelle gave her seminar to a handful of women and one man at Chapel Hill University. She did
a good job but only the man, who was a professor of dentistry who‘s recently lived nearby to and
worked at Adelaide University, was intrigued and interested enough to get right into what she was on
about with her Peter Parker study
Friday, January 19, 2007
   Chapel Hill, NC
   Diane told the story of her meeting with Collette many years ago: invited to a party, there was a
couple there – Collette and Tom – whom Ed and Diane immediately took to. Ed, being Ed, asked
Collette her maiden name and when she revealed it Diane proceeded to tell her details of her family‘s
habits and rituals.
   Ed took us on a tour of a retirement village with a cattle raising centre; it had a marvellous
bookshop with the content Michelle and I could take seriously. He took us to [name] millhouse
shanty. A primitive artist, [name] hacks critters from tree trunks and gives them to locals to populate
their yards with. A worker at what is now an abandoned and dilapidated textile mill, he was injured
and so stayed in his timber shotgun shack, leaving it un-regenerated like the surrounding homes.
There‘s a pic. Ed then took us to a shopping centre which is designed to draw one on. He bought us
Starbuck‘s coffee so that Michelle and I walked into the wine section with him each nursing a coffee.
Very American.
   We returned in time for dinner with invited guests, Tom and Collette. Tom, a retired Oxford
University Press businessman, told the same story of foolish management practices leading to his
chagrin and decision to get out of the firm after 37 years. Collette is a history major and did primary
document research on the Bronk‘s farm in New York – the modern day Bronx. Both were
entertaining and delightful, and Collette encouraged me to press on with the writing project I‘m
currently embarked upon – though I never mentioned Geoffrey, of course.
   Ed showed some interest in the Dylan angle so I proposed a CD of the essential Dylan for him to

Saturday, January 20, 2007
   Chapel Hill, NC

Master Diary                                 USA 2006-2007

    I shall get started on the Ed Halloran CDs. Exactly filled an audio CD with 80 minutes of Dylan
(see iTunes Ed Halloran-01). Ed asked for me to send him some explanation of what Brownsville Girl
means to me so that he can gain some appreciation of why I regard Dylan as a genius.
    Ed and Diane took us to an extraordinary bookshop in Franklin Street, Chapel Hill, where we
whiled away an hour before adjourning to a new hotel just down the road from where they used to
live. We paid through the nose for sherry and port and then went to a health food shop up the road
before coming back for the next lot of guests – Dennis and Maureen. Dennis is a laconic hospital
architect; he, his wife, and their kids did a round trip to the west coast years ago and told of him
sleeping with a knife in his mouth for fear of a break-in, and then the next night as he slept soundly
the wife went out only to discover that they were in a brothel strip in Wyoming.
    Ms – an extraverted feeling type – met a blind woman on the train to the border with South
Carolina last September and now they‘re firm friends; she told of men and women who travel for
free in the capacity of greeters – greeting old folks on the train and ensuring that they‘re okay and all
is well. They told a story of a car accident they witnessed when air bags went off and obscured the
view of the brake, of the car crashing into a brick wall.
    We watched Saturday Night Live for the first time. Mildly amusing, not as good as the best
Australian and British variety, or perhaps on a par but nothing to write home about.

Sunday, January 21, 2007
    Chapel Hill, NC
    ‗The whole 9 yards‘ – a common phrase adopted from grid iron.
    Ed and Diane‘s eldest daughter, Jennifer, visited with Scott, Jennifer‘s husband. I commented
upon the strange clothes worn by America‘s young Negroes with the crutch of their pants down
around their knees, and shoes falling off their feet. ―What style is there,‖ I said, ―in struggling to keep
one‘s pants up whilst walking down the street. It‘s as if the point is to try and appear dignified while
having to hold one‘s pants up and shuffle.‖ Jennifer explained that it is a fashion which makes a
statement about the numbers of prisoners in the USA: it‘s normal for blacks to go to prison and once
in there it‘s normal to have to walk around with your pants falling down and your shoes falling off
because the guards take your belt and shoe laces from you. A large percentage of the black male
population has done time. Jennifer also told us that the World Series Baseball got its name from the
fact that it was originally sponsored by the New York World newspaper.

Monday, January 22, 2007
     Chapel Hill, NC
     Diane told us the following
     Yoyo – Your own your own; Amfyoyo – Adios mother fucker, you‘re own your own; and ―I was
loaded for bear‖ (My gun had ammunition that‘d bring down a bear; i.e., I was ready for heavy duty
lifting), used when explaining that she was prepared to do what it took to get that man, Ed, told us
these things during the week (as well as the story about Collette‘s background) and then over lunch
today she told us about how her friend explains her shoe fetish as the outcome of having a poor
body image of herself. Whenever she has to try on clothes she has to look at herself in the mirror so
she doesn‘t like to do it but when buying shoes she can look at them without seeing herself in the
     We booked a room for 2 nights in Memphis using (800 … ) at The Artisan Hotel 1837
Union Avenue, Memphis, TN.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007
   Chapel Hill, to Charlotte, via Durham, NC
   Ed and Diane took us to lunch and we paid the bill again, since that‘s the only time we had an
opportunity to add anything to the kitty. Their choice of eating establishment is no better than ours
but the cost of the meals is at least double what we would pay, so the week cost us about $US160.00

Master Diary                                USA 2006-2007

for the few contributions we were able to make. The bus was half hour late to Durham and Ed and
Diane waited for 15 of those 30 minutes.
    Michelle turned 64 so at breakfast I set up the laptop and played The Beatles‘ song from Sergeant
Pepper. Ed had been talking to me about his proposed book on the struggle of the Allopaths (old
humoural medicine inspired physicians who carried out blood-letting, purging, calomel, etc) to head
off the ‗do no harm‘ physicians led by Oliver Wendel Holmes (who gave a paper at the outbreak of
the Civil War) who had concluded that allopathy was not only ineffective but worse than doing
nothing. Diane had wanted to interrupt, she said when I noticed that the newspaper she was reading
had a coloured photo based on the Sergeant Pepper album. She didn‘t interrupt to point out the
coincidence but was as excited as me by the fact. Michelle has kept a copy of that newspaper article
with the photograph.
    I took up Ed‘s point again later and though he doesn‘t think of it quite the way that I do I feel
sure, nevertheless, that this is another way of stating my point about the need to shift from the causal
to the statistical approach, as per – at least it adds up to being – Fogel‘s method. Fogel uses statistics
to arrive at conclusions, and makes a convincing case for the fact that Americans a re increasingly
healthy insofar as they take the generalised medical advice and do not overeat, get exercise, and so
on. He also argues, incidentally, that slavery was economical. The important point is that his
metaphysics accommodate something of an Aristotelian causality – and can do so because he does
not rely upon causality as his basis for drawing conclusions. His work is eminently falsifiable.
    My essay on causality, then, can be revamped using the allopathy versus non-allopath argument,
as well as including the academic from Philadelphia‘s strange point of view. The argument comes
down to saying that whilst the metaphysics of the scientific outlook does not allow for any but the
mechanical cause, scientific conclusions do not necessarily rely upon the discovery of causes but,
instead, can be mounted from the statistical angle. That then leads to a confusion about the
metaphysics of causality and we end up with a divide like that between the North and South, an
ultimately unsustainable divide such as that which Lincoln noted just prior to the Civil War: the USA,
he said, will be a slave-labor or a free-labor nation, not both. Likewise, we live in a world wherein
there is one type of cause, the mechanical, or there‘s not. Statistics will settle the matter, and digital
technology offers the means of arriving at the conclusion. This will have as great an impact, more in
fact, than Heisenberg‘s uncertainty principle, because it will shift the age old metaphysical problem of
determinism from metaphysics to science. Now that‘d be a breakthrough. The article should still start
off with the declaration of the fact that the paper is a proposal to resolve the freewill and
determinism issue once and for all by shifting it from unfalsifiable metaphysics to falsifiable science.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007
    Charlotte, NC to Memphis, TN, via Atlanta, GA, Birmingham, AL, Tupelo and New Albany, MI,
to Memphis, TN.
    Pert young woman waiting for the Greyhound in Atlanta, GA, happened to sit in the front seat,
opposite us, on the bus to Birmingham, and was noticed by the driver and immediately engaged in
conversation with him as he asked her to go into the shop around the corner from the bus station
and buy a soda drink for him. She had style. The gas station shop where he‘d stopped – and where he
could easily have gone in and purchased his own drink had she been uncooperative in his plan to see
her walk back and forth across the service station forecourt – was not yet open for business, it being
5.30 am, and she might have simply acquiesced and walked back to the bus and given the driver his
cash back, but she knocked on the window until the owner came and let her in to start the day‘s
trade. She returned and gave the river the drink and change. He offered her a tip but she politely
declined. The driver then introduced himself to the people on the bus as William, and explained how
the rules worked, where he‘d get them to, and so on, making a little speech for the benefit of the
young woman in the white woollen waist jacket and fishnet stockings. Her conversation was
priceless, and I lamented not having the flash drive sound recorder accessible. I cannot reproduce the
dialect but she was clearly very used to being flirted with and this driver was flirting beyond any
version which might be called subtle. He asked her, for instance, how she was and when she said

Master Diary                               USA 2006-2007

―Fine,‖ he took the cue he‘d set up and said ―I can see that but I wanna know how you is.‖ She
parlayed back and forth with him getting increasingly personal. He went around the point of wanting
to say ―How come you‘re on the Greyhound when you‘re so well dressed and stylish. You are not the
sort of person to ride the Greyhound, so what‘s with you being here?‖ He approached the subject by
suggesting that she was like a red SL parked in a back alley. She replied that she was unfamiliar with
which car was which so he went on to elaborate on the image of a two door, soft-top, top of the
range Mercedes convertible sports car which stands out among the broken down models he‘s used to
seeing in this environment. She was enjoying the attention but maintaining decorum, playing him like
a fish she had every intention of throwing back as soon as he was reeled in and unhooked. He gets
out of her that she‘s going to Birmingham to catch a plane, and that it‘s not on work time. He
doesn‘t pry further.
    William asked the pert young thing her name and when she told him it was ―Shira‖ he asked what
they called her for short. She replied that they didn‘t call her anything for short, only Shira. He had
her spell it and then asked other personal stuff about her. She answered with questions of her own
such as ―And how long have you been driving Greyhound buses Mr William?‖After a while he
started to get the sense that he might be pushing it too far so he stuck to driving. She let it go until
the tension was quite palpable and then said ―Where do you come from Mr Willie?‖ He was from
some suburb in outer Atlanta. He asked where she got such a soft voiced accent from and she owned
up to being from Tennessee.
    ―Which part of Tennessee?‖
    ―The west.‖
    ―Are you from [name of a town in western TN]?‖
    ―[another town]‖
    She plays him along and then tells him.
    We arrived after a relatively straightforward trip at the Union Avenue bus station, Memphis, TN,
at 1 pm, CST. The woman from the bus MATA bus struggle

Thursday, January 26, 2007
   Memphis, TN
   Michelle and I went for breakfast to what looked for all the world like a local diner but which
turned out to be part of a chain, perhaps a local chain, but a china nonetheless. It was quite good but
there was no non-smoking section for sitting at the counter. Afterwards, we went to Burke’s Bookshop
across the road and while I had to leave and return to the hotel because the psyllium did its thing,
Michelle stayed for an hour and purchased Jon Krakauer. Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent
Faith. First ed: Doubleday, 2003. She had another of her heavy falls on the way home and then, after
we‘d collected the car using public transport – a feat in itself – she fell heavily again as we walked
down Union Avenue in search of a place to eat.

Friday, January 26, 2007
    Memphis, TN, to Vicksburg, MS
    Left the Artisan Hotel around 7.20 am and drove down Union Avenue to Highway 51 and drove
south to Vicksburg, MS, via Parchman Farm on Highway 49 and Indianola. Michelle is in pain from
the two heavy falls. Not looking where she is going is a major folly taught her by her father and
learned too well. Her bifocal specs don‘t help.
    We went to see the juke joint in Indianola, after a somewhat expensive lunch at a Christian store.
The ‗Eatery‘ seemed to be a haven in amongst the decay of the town. Decay – that‘s the apt word
Michelle used to describe what we saw on our way down Highway 51, and Routes 6 (from Batesville,
MS) then R-03 to meet with Highway 49W about 7 mile south of Clarksdale. It was while taking this
route to Indianola that we chanced upon Parchman Farm. Indianola is the birthplace of B B King,
and where he busked on street corners. The waitress at the ‗eatery‘ gave me directions to the juke

Master Diary                                USA 2006-2007

joint. (See pics for B. B. King‘s busking corner and The Ebony Club.) The woman in charge of the
eatery was a tall woman who is up herself. She seems to have created an oasis of cleanliness in what
is no doubt perceived as a desert of Negro blues backwardness. The place was spotless and the
‗Restrooms‘ had rolled up white face washers for hand towels which will have to be washed for
reuse. She looked like the woman who plays the role of the Dentist‘s wife in the English sitcom As
Time Goes By and gave us a welcoming spiel about having not seen us around Indianola before. She
employed a black woman in the kitchen and the young woman on the counter, the waitress, was both
friendly, efficient, and full of recommendations about what we might like to try. $US15.90 for what
we had is on the expensive side but it was refreshing with the salad dressing giving the piece of
lettuce a piquancy that complemented Michelle‘s bowl of chilli and my pumpernickel type sandwich.

Saturday, January 27, 2007
    Vicksburg, MS
    Lora was in my dreams again. Just can‘t get her out of my head lately. There seems to be nothing
I can do about it. We paid the $US8.00 entry fee to the Vicksburg battlefield and watched the
introductory film. It was amateurish but informative and the tour was similarly informative. I
purchased a copy of Grant‘s memoirs – Ulysses S. Grant. Personal Memoirs of U.S. Grant. Cambridge,
MA: Da Capo Press, 2001. We returned for lunch and are now heading over to check out the rest of
the battlefield tour, including Grant‘s canal.
    After another fall in the carpark of the Casino at the river end of Clay Street, Michelle took
umbrage at something I said and we hade yet another of our altercations. What a pain in the arse. We
then had trouble finding a catfish restaurant she‘d spoke to the woman at the information centre
about but went to one anyway; it‘s called Gregory’s Kitchen and we were asked to write something in
their book so I asked if they wanted it to rhyme. ―Yes!‖ the owner, David Darby, said, so I spent
some time and came up with three verses which went something like the following:

                 Came on down to Big Muddy
                 From 51 to 49
                 Skipped on past Parchman
                 ‘cos we didn‘t do no crime

                 I bowed to the Father of waters
                 As he flows on down to the sea
                 Was that the voice of Vicksburg
                 Calling out to me?

                 ―Head on up to Gregory’s Kitchen,‖
                 The Old Man granted one wish
                 And we are here to tell you
                 It serves the South‘s best catfish.

   While writing this, Michelle read out an email message from Ruth Yeatman informing her that
Vera died a couple of days ago after becoming egg bound. I should have been able to give Michelle
the affection she deserves but am so self-centred – is that it; is that how others would describe my
behaviour? – as to be unable to do so. It doesn‘t feel like that to me, and goes back to when I arrived
so full of affection in China and realised that Michelle had no love for me but more of a need. So
mutual need for company has been the basis of the relationship ever since. And it works as a stopgap
for love and affection, but we‘d both be better off with love.

Sunday, January 28, 2007
   Vicksburg, MS

Master Diary                                USA 2006-2007

    My efforts to push Lora from my mind are to some extent successful. I simply look at the facts
and conclude that there‘s no likelihood of anything ever being rekindled on that front, think of the
reality of having been rejected, and accept it again, as I had to do all those years ago.
    American paradox.
    We completed the Vicksburg siege tour on this sunny, cold, dry day, checked out of Motel 6 and
into Days Inn on a coupon which has us paying $US40.70 per night; we decided to take 2 nights.
While touring these national parks the complete lack of commercial involvement is quite apparent -
no tat, no crass stalls and gimmicks, well educated and trained staff, superb organization, and so on.
This, by way of contrast with the private corporate sector and its disorganised confusion, crass
money grubbing, and presentation of and trade in tat. Americans celebrate the private sector when it
comes to the daily necessities and consumer durables which they purchase and yet they will not stand
for it when it comes to their reverence for American history: the Revolution, Civil War, and so on are
the preserve of the government sector and so crass commercialism is not tolerated in this realm of
life. This is typically American: they want small government, private enterprise, free trade, and so on
and paradoxically demand government to provide well stocked Rest Areas with free coffee for
individuals to traverse the country in their automobiles and they want to drive these cars to
historically significant and well preserved parks which must be properly run by the federal
    We drove across the Mississippi River to Louisiana and asked about General Grant‘s Civil War
exploits at Milliken‘s Bend and Hard Times. The white woman at the desk told us there was no such
place and directed me back to where we‘d been yesterday; i.e., Delta, where Grant tried once again to
complete the canal that would enable him to bypass Vicksburg and for trade to continue. Once again,
this time in pursuance of the anaconda strategy, trade is the vital element of the story of the USA. I
took a photo of a signpost outside and Chelle used it to navigate. We took a series of back roads,
including our first serious drive on a corrugated (they call it corduroy) road. We took one while in
Virginia months ago but not for the 6 or more miles we took today. We made it to somewhere near
the area of Milliken‘s Bend and then headed for Hard Times using the same navigational aid. This
proved successful, and we toured a plantation house into the bargain. Grant spent one night in the
house, Winter Quarters, just north of Hard Times, and took a series of pics. Then we drove right
around the lake until we returned to Highway 605 at the intersection with [check out the number, 8
something] and stopped at a restaurant. A delightful young Negress in a striking outfit – green top
and red pants – served us coffee; Michelle ordered hot tamales while I had a hamburger on a plate so
small that it seemed to be a spoof. The tamales and hamburger were delicious and the young woman
was both beautiful and warm, a most pleasant waitress.

Monday, January 29, 2007
   Vicksburg, to Jackson and Clinton, MS, and back.

    Pronunciation: Down here in the Mississippi Delta the sound for ‗o‘ as in cotton is pronounced
    Murder of Medgar Evers: Jackson, MS, the capital of Mississippi, unappealing town where
Medgar Evers was murdered by a sniper at home on June 12, 1963.
    Once again, what I discovered more or less immediately upon taking up residence in new haven,
CT, is regularly reinforced: Americans are so carried away by ‗freedom‘ and the right to do what he
or she wants, that they‘re allowed to roar around on Harleys throughout the night, and to start up
their pickup trucks and leave them idling for twenty minutes from 5.30 am or whatever. There‘s no
sense of impact on their fellows, and yet they‘re invariably polite and will let one break into traffic,
and so on, will give a big smile and greet one as an equal, wave at you should you be a pedestrian and
they‘re driving by, even offer you an unasked for lift.
    The Scooter Libby trial is heating up and Chris Mathews is zeroing in on the fact that the same
man who blamed the CIA for misleading him into pushing for the war on Iraq – Dick Cheney – was
pushing the clearly cooked up and false notion that Saddam Hussein had been buying the

Master Diary                                USA 2006-2007

wherewithal for making weapons of mass destruction from Africa. So Cheney pushed the CIA to
report that the Iraqi leader was obtaining aluminium rods from Africa for the purpose of enriching
uranium and then ducked the accusation that he‘d taken the USA to war without due cause by saying
that the false and misleading info came from the CIA. Very duplicitous, very American. Guatemala‘s
democratically elected government was toppled by a military coup backed by the USA; Chile‘s
democratically elected government was toppled by a military coup backed by the USA; the Bush
Administration used the military dictatorship of Pakistan to back him in his war against the tyranny
of Saddam Hussein, in order to install a so-called democratically elected government in Iraq. But the
institutions of democracy aren‘t necessary, in the view of the U.SS. leadership.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007
    Vicksburg, to Natchez via Grand Gulf and Port Gibson, MS, on Highway 61.
    I went to bed early, having not slept long enough on Sunday night into Monday. Rested, I feel
well but am strangely homesick. There‘s nothing to go back to, and this experience is most enjoyable
so why I‘m in any way homesick I don‘t know. The decision about whether Michelle and I can go on
like this when back in Australia is increasingly taking over. I fear making a dumb decision but to
acquiesce is similarly foolish.
    We left Vicksburg at 8.15 am and I drove in the wrong direction for a couple of miles before
resuming the journey south. We went to the museum at Grand Gulf (where we heard the
unmistakable sound of a woodpecker and then saw woodpeckers but never saw and them pecking,
unfortunately) and checked out the Civil War embattlements as well as looking out over the
Mississippi River from a 75 foot high tower. We caught the Negro woman from the museum on the
flash drive recorder and have it as an mp3 file in iTunes. Michelle then had us do a great 10 mile or
more circle from Port Gibson, along R-552 and Rodney road – the road taken by General Grant‘s
soldiers en route, ultimately, to Jackson – back to Port Gibson.
    Arriving at Natchez at 1 pm, we checked into the Travel Inn motel on Highway 61 and then drove
downtown and took a walking tour. Virtually devoid of people, Natchez is nevertheless a splendid
city, albeit long past its prime. This is an ideal place to take photos of the symbolic America, i.e., the
dualistic nation where fabulous wealth exists side by side with extreme poverty.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007
Natchez, MS – ―tall white mansions and little shacks‖

We did some banking at the library in Commerce Street – I transferred $A1500.00 to Michelle‘s
account in readiness for the next injection to our $US account in Connecticut. I paid an
$A418.00 BillPay account for provisional tax due on February 28 on receipt #304952144;
1/2/7;1:55:28am and the most recent HPS account.
We came home for lunch, found the fridge had frozen our vegetables and ham but made a meal of it
anyway and then drove to Longwood Mansion – owned by the fellow whose winter quarters on the
Louisiana side of the Old Man we visited (see pics) on Sunday, the place where General gran t spent
a night with his troops poised to cross the Mississippi from Hard Times. LA. The fee of $US8.00 per
person saw us head off instead across the River toward the Bayou. We drove around that for an hour
or so and then back, checking motel rates along the way. The cheapest, Natchez Inn, charges
$US198.00 all up for a week and $US38.90 all up per night. Driving along the featureless lowlands,
along the bottoms through the bayou and elsewhere down here in the Deep South is very tiring and I
soon have to stop for a rest. We purchased another couple of frozen $US1.00 meals, plus some
frozen vegetables (last night we tried these $1.00 frozen meals and liked it enough to have one each
again tonight, this time with the additional vegetables at $US1.89

Thursday, February 1, 2007

Master Diary                                USA 2006-2007

    Natchez, MS to Baton Rouge, LA
    We checked out of the Travel Inn, Natchez after breakfast around 8.20 am and headed south along
Highway 61, taking a 3 mile (6 there and back) detour to Locust Grove (where we stayed for five or
six minutes as we read about Jefferson Davis and his first wife having gone there and contracted
malaria, his 21 year old wife – daughter of Zachary Taylor – dying from it, as well as a 4 mile round
trip detour to Port Hudson, LA – at which we chose not to stop, the rain making it uninviting a
prospect. The Baton Rouge sphagetti junction was alright as long as we stayed on it but having got
off we had the devil of a time finding our way back on to continue along Highway-10 toward New
Orleans and Crestwood Suites. Heavy rain made the drive difficult but the coupon deal which enabled
us to take a room with cooking facilities and all the mod cons at $US56.00 per night all up proved
such a good one that Michelle went back and booked for tomorrow and Saturday nights. We will
drive to New Orleans and return here rather than try and get accommodation and parking in the
crescent city.
    I feel the urgency to get that determinism essay up and running again and shall try the Rabiner
Agency once more.
Friday, February 2, 2007
    Baton Rouge to New Orleans, LA
    On this Ground Hog Day 2007 We drove to New Orleans and walked around the French
Quarter, and drove past the bed and breakfast house on Dauphine that we stayed at in 2000 on our
first visit to the USA. The Bourbon Street bars had signs on them saying things like ―Minimum 2
drinks upon entry. Strictly enforced.‖ After the walk, we returned to where we had parked the Dodge
Caliber in Barracks Street between Bourbon and Decatur and drove through the lower ninth ward en
route south to the mouth of the Mississippi. We didn‘t expect to get to the mouth but to take a trip
below New Orleans. We somehow went in a great circle around the lower ninth ward and ended up
revisiting it. I had New Orleans on the south side of the Mississippi River with Lake Pontchatrain on
the north but it is in fact on the north, a few miles south of the Lake. We drove up to the lake to the
other area where the waters of Lake Pontchatrain inundated 80% of New Orleans when the levy
walls of the canals connecting the Lake to the River were breached. Miles and miles of destroyed
housing said it all. New Orleans is black America‘s lot writ large: poverty and decay. We didn‘t see so
many blacks there this time, though. Presumably there‘s bugger all to come back for. The road
system down through the bayou is America at its best: extraordinary enterprise and feats of
    ―Go fuck yourself Cheney‖ remarks in Spike Lee‘s movie about Katrina.

   Groundhog day, 2007. Up in Vicksburg – home of ―tall white mansions and little shacks‖ – an
industrial Mississippi barge had collided with the River bridge and lit up the night sky by setting the
Old Man on fire. When the sun came up the rodent cast no shadow so there‘ll be an early Spring,
they say. We drove south-east from Baton Rouge, along the old Highway of the blues for the most
part, to New Orleans for the day. Decay – that‘s what you see down there, like the South in general.

    New Orleans was the first American city we spent a night in, back in March 2000. We loved it
then and so returned to the French Quarter – Shoney called it a simulcrum, I think it was – post
Katrina. It seemed a natural thing to drive up Bourbon Street, and park in Barracks to talk another walk
around Stanley Kowalski‘s town. Dylan alludes to Blanche Dubois‘ Southern madness in ‗Things
Have Changed‘ and Spike Lee captured that same other America in his movie about the national
response to Katrina. The look on the cynical bastard‘s face when he cottoned on to what courageous
young man calling out ―Go fuck yourself Cheney‖ was doing as he (America‘s vice president) staged
a sound bite routine amidst the ruins of those little shacks in the aftermath of the flooding of eighty
percent of the Crescent City is priceless. But we wanted to see this America for ourselves so we
drove around the suburbs. Utter decay. The South writ large. We had a map of the area which
detailed where the breaches in the levy system had occurred. The English, like us, would call this
sticky-beaking but the Americans provide a map so that you can get the facts straight. It‘s invariably

Master Diary                               USA 2006-2007

assumed, here, in the USA, that one is curious – that you will be just as curious as they are about
disasters, and so forth – a whole lot more curious than their president is.

   We inspected the lower ninth ward and the other places where the breach in the levies along the
canals taking the water from Lake Pontchatrain to the Mississippi River had occurred. Devastation is
everywhere apparent, as is the enterprising struggle of middle class individuals to take the next step
despite the situation being so hopeless, but it‘s the overwhelming sense of decay, and those now
empty, bent, little shacks – for the blacks have done gone from New Orleans and left the whites to
their fate – that struck me, today, down there at the end of Highway 61.

Saturday, February 3, 2007
    Baton Rouge, LA
    We had a quiet morning working on our projects, me on my determinism article and doing
clothes washing. In the afternoon while Michelle did clothes shopping at the Ann Taylor store near
the Wholefoods supermarket I went into the coffee shop of the market and read the Mencken
    Check out Mencken‘s 100 page Preface to The American Credo because Carl Bode says it‘s Henry
Mencken‘s essay on the American character.
    Afterwards we went Downtown and walked around for about three hours, checking out the
Spanish Street near the Capitol and the Mississippi River walk along the levy; there was the inevitable
riverboat casino, as gaudy and horrible as those at Vicksburg. We then stood on the street in the cold
and partook of the Jupiter Krewe‘s Mardi Gras parade – a display of American burlesque and
gaudiness. I caught beads that the people threw from the floats and we wore them just as everyone
else did. It was a non commercial parade, by and large, and the homely atmosphere we‘ve witnessed
in general at these celebrations of American life was apparent. The drive home was direct and swift –
along Highway 10. The school marching bands with the boys caps down over their eyes and the girls
doing their sassy dancing manoeuvres.
    There was something else about Baton Rouge this day which I meant to record but have

Sunday, February 4, 2007
    Baton Rouge, LA, to Mobile, AL
    We‘re here at the Rest Inn close in to Mobile, AL, and it‘s a dump with only 1 electrical plug and
no microwave. Michelle was in tears this afternoon because I showed disgust at her trying to balance
a hot coffee on the bonnet of the car while she took the lid off of the coffee and put sugar in it.
When she spilled coffee on the bonnet I tsk tskd and that was the straw which broke the camel‘s
back. Tears flowed and she said she couldn‘t take it anymore, having me watching her every move.
For my part I said that I was frustrated beyond belief at how she seemed to go out of her way to set
up an accident; I cited the fact that she walked through dog shit and then walked all over a towel in
the bathroom in the same shoes that she trod in the poo with, that it drives me nuts this constant
refusal to take any kind of care with where she‘s walking or what she‘s doing. She has brought up
three children and managed without me for most of her life, she says, and I acknowledged that it‘s
true but that nevertheless the fact that she‘s forever tripping over, cutting herself, and so on is too
much. Earlier in the day she wanted to stop and get ―Hot Boiled Crawfish‖ advertised on the
roadway as we drove along the coast toward Biloxi, MS. I wanted to point out that it would be
impractical but baulked at saying anything lest she see me as some sort of father figure who says
―No‖ to everything. It went pretty much as I expected: the shell fish (like very small yabbies) had to
be eaten straight away if they weren‘t to stink the car out. But there was nowhere other than a
shopping centre carpark to stop and eat. I stopped but Michelle wasn‘t satisfied and wanted to drive
to a picnic area. Where on earth she thought we were going to find one of them in this godforsaken

Master Diary                                USA 2006-2007

town I had no idea. So then she wanted me to pull over and eat where we were – i.e., in a shopping
centre parking lot exactly like the one I‘d stopped at earlier. We then had to get sticky fingers eating
the 2lb. bag – Michelle nearly purchased 10 lb., and would have had I not listened to what the
woman was saying back to her when we were purchasing the stupid bag of shellfish. We finished off
the 2 lb. bag and I was clearly unimpressed with the foolishness of this impulse madness. Cleaning up
was a problem but luckily there was a McDonald‘s across the street and we could use their
‗Restroom.‘ Earlier still, as we were packing up to leave from the Baton Rouge extended stay we had
for three nights, I was doing one of those last minute checks which drives Michelle balmy. She has as
much trouble with my rule approach to things – i.e., because I cannot remember anything I have to
rely upon rules to be sure to cover the bases and checking under the beds, in the fridge, and so on is
one such set of rules. So when I found the plastic bucket from the cooler in the freezer I immediately
went to retrieve the cooler from the car before it leaked water all over the place. Michelle had
thought the bin belonged to Crestwood Suites and was pissed off with my going straight out to the car
as if it was an emergency. Very frustrating.
     Mobile is an appalling hole of a place – or at least Highway 65 where we‘re in this motel for the
night is. The relationship with Michelle is suffering increasingly as we come to the last weeks of our
year together here. I recognise that our not being in love makes it very difficult to deal with these
moments when Michelle is in tears. I try to reason with her but that‘s the last thing required in these
circumstances. I guess we‘ll drift apart when we get home but perhaps I should end it properly so she
can perhaps take up with David again? Christ, who knows what‘s the appropriate course of action in
these circumstances?

Monday, February 5, 2007
     Mobile to Montgomery, AL.
     A message from Ying telling me that the lizard went into the study at Alexandra Street and that
Yang put it in the bin. This Chinese couple is strictly urban.
     In the shower, I thought more about having to tell the story of Michelle and my difficulties when
telling the story of the USA. A story of having been unable ‗if you can‘t be with the one you love‘ to
‗love the one you‘re with,‘ and of her comment about my being angry so much of the time, that that‘s
why I have such a wrinkled face. Geoffrey Hamilton is a more plausible explanation, here, than
anything else, and so I can make the case by putting Michelle in a good light and presenting myself as
having failed to get over Lora. That‘ll work and improve the story I have to tell but I would rather
have been able to leave this situation out of it. Still, handled with subtlety, it will be as much a story
as that of the journey across the USA.
     We‘re heading to a bookshop this morning and then on up to Montgomery, AL, where we‘ve
booked an extended stay motel for 4 nights, leaving one week to drive back to Memphis and await
Tony‘s arrival for the leg to San Francisco. Now, to the determinism essay, and the editing process
which leaves the freewill aspect aside, and does so explicitly.
     Michelle decided that the bookshop was an unnecessary delay to our travel (thank goodness) so
we went Downtown and drove around Mobile for a couple of streets, the main historic route
including a ride past the stately homes of yesteryear, whenever that may have been, and stopped for
gasoline at the best price I‘d seen in Alabama until arriving in Montgomery at the Extended Stay
motel at Exit 6 off I-85; both Michelle and I were approached by beggars at the gas station, a place
where the petrol pump did not shut off and the air for the tyres was charged for. We have a slow
puncture and getting air is a costly business @ $US01.75 a run. Once we were back on I-65 we were
surprised to learn that Montgomery is not 50 mile from Mobile but a 170 mile journey. We arrived,
here, at Montgomery just after noon but drove 4 or 5 mile beyond the turn off to I-85 because we
didn‘t remember what we‘d found out when we looked it up last night. Still, a relatively easy run, with
only minor bickering – when Michelle suggested that the reason a fellow was tailgating me so
dangerously was because he was not allowed into either of the two outer lanes. Well I took umbrage
at that – a clear case of Michelle wanting me to admit that it must be something wrong with me. I

Master Diary                                USA 2006-2007

was driving in the slow lane – i.e., I was travelling at only 10 mph above the speed limit and that
wasn‘t fast enough for the fuckwit behind me.

Tuesday, February 6, 2007
    Montgomery, AL
    Flip: Americans use this word quite differently from Australians; they flip their car, house, laptop,
and so on – meaning to exchange it for another one; this strikes me as being a card playing term put
to general use; i.e., turn it over.
    I awoke at around 12.10 pm and could not get back to sleep until well after 3 am; added to which,
the new thrifty deals are out and there‘s not much of a discount on offer. Still, we can use the
coupons which we have for free days so they‘ll come in handy.
    Today we‘re checking out the local Civil Rights trail.
    Instead, we did Confederate Montgomery – the Capitol and White House – and took the trolley
bus on its green and gold route, buying lunch at Bandanas, a good meal. Down Dexter Avenue from
the capitol, and before you reach the Judiciary building where the Ten Commandments were set up
as the law, is the Baptist Church where Martin Luther King was pastor from 1954 to 1960, and it was
in the basement of the Church that Rev David Abernathy, NAACP activist E. D. Nixon, King, and
others planned the bus boycott following the arrest of Rosa Parks on December 1, 1955.
    We spent some time at Maya Lin‘s superb Civil Rights Memorial on the corner of Washington
and Decatur Streets. Her memorial, here, like the Vietnam Veterans‘ Memorial in Washington, DC, is
starkly different from the usual memorials in the USA. Her sculptures deal in facts and clear symbols
associated with the facts; there‘s no hero nonsense as in most American iconography. She would no
more portray George Washington as a towering divinity than reduce the Civil Rights Movement to a
mawkish response to the fascism of the Deep South.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007
    Montgomery, AL
    My problem, I know, is that I‘m too self assured, overly confident of my own ability, and being
with Michelle brings me down to reality. But I‘m finding it too restrictive and feel the need for
someone who loves me for what I am, arrogant ningnong, and encourages what I seek to do. For my
part, I‘m no more n love with Michelle than she is with me but with respect to her work I‘ve always
built her confidence, assured her of the value of her contribution. Admittedly, having lived in such
close quarters for so long, now, in the USA, I‘ve increasingly reacted to her clumsiness and the dumb
way she goes about doing things to create an accident in potentia. She has found that too much, and
I don‘t blame her; I‘m behaving as my father did towards my mother, ―doing a Dad‖ as my siblings
would describe such behaviour. But unlike my father, I‘m not trapped, and so I think I shall have to
get out. I hope Michelle can link up with someone who loves her, and that I can too. She had a
greater likelihood of that than me but so be it. I wonder, on that score, whether I should somehow
play matchmaker between her and David, her former husband? That‘s between them I know, but
Michelle‘s pride and ‗fixed-sign-ness‘ might stand in the way of her greater happiness. For me, the
escape from this situation will more than likely be an escape from relative contentment to bitter
loneliness. But perhaps I‘ve learned a thing or two about being alone this past decade, and can
manage, leaving open that small crack wherein opportunity for love and romance might open out
into happiness?
    We went back and walked around Montgomery today and again there was a tension from our
needing to have time apart. Still, the walk did us both good, again, and the hour or so we spent in the
Civil Rights Memorial Center – including a film based around the people selected by Maya Lin for
her superb sculpture. We learned in there that the Winter Building at #2 Dexter Street, on Court
Square where slaves were auctioned, was the building from which Jefferson Davis sent the telegram
that set the American Civil War in train. Pics of all of these places, including martin Luther King‘s

Master Diary                              USA 2006-2007

parsonage on Jackson Street, and the Baptist Church on Dexter, a block down from the Capitol
where the Selma to Montgomery march in March 1965, a violent and bloody affair which required
numerous attempts on the part of the protesters. King was not allowed to mount the steps of the
capitol nor go inside, even after the National Guard had been mobilised to protect the marchers. A
white woman from Detroit, I think it was, was murdered, shot dead at the wheel of her car, by the
Klan as she drove marchers, including a black man, back to Selma from Montgomery. The ignorant
racism of the white Southerner is astounding, and the 23-year-old Dylan‘s ‗Only a Pawn in Their
Game‘ is still powerful.

Thursday, February 8, 2007
   Montgomery, AL


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