Just So Proud To Be Here

Minie_pearl_hat To our visitors from the national media,

Sorry about the mess, we just haven’t had time to tidy up yet. 

Unfortunately, while your eyes were somewhat understandably turned elsewhere, we had a bit of a “situation” here in Nashville.  Large swaths of our city and surrounding areas were flooded after unprecedented rainfall.  People were trapped in their homes, or in need of rescue, had their homes damaged or destroyed altogether.  There was much loss of life, health, and property.  Schools, businesses, even beloved landmarks were affected.

At one time, when water was impossibly flowing into the first floor of my own house, and the rain just would not stop falling, and sirens were going past my house on the way to Bellevue almost every 30 seconds, knowing I had friends who were either being evacuated or were trapped,  it almost became too much.

And it’s not over yet.

As a child, I played in many of the creeks and rivers which suddenly raged and caused so much damage.  I have lived and worked and played and worshipped and shopped and cheered in all of the places your cameras have shown underwater.  It is heartbreaking.

I have many friends and coworkers who have lost everything.  But even if I didn’t personally know so many victims of this disaster, its impact would still be enormous.  Bordeaux to Bellevue, Antioch to Bell’s Bend, Hermitage to Brentwood, Franklin to Ashland City to Murfreesboro – these are not just places where strangers live.  This is home.

These are not strangers, they are Family.

We will take care of our family.  Long after your cameras are gone, we will not rest until our neighbors are healthy and whole.  Come back in a few months or beyond, you’ll see.

Yes, in less trying times, we fuss and we fight and roll our eyes at each other.  But our disagreements end at the water’s edge, as it were.  Our hipsters and bumpkins alike have a fierce attachment to this place. And both can lay claim to its rich tradition and history.  We are like Minnie Pearl – country and bodacious and silly, sometimes embarrassingly so.  And we are also like her creator, Sarah Cannon – patrician, proper, educated,well mannered – yet always “in on the joke”.

Most of us overflowed with ecstasy and pride when the Music City Miracle happened (and we were ALL there, don’t you know?), and we wept and mourned last 4th of July when Steve McNair was killed.  I dare you – go to any part of Nashville, rich, poor or in between – and ask about these events, and you will find the reaction is exactly the same, be it in north Nashville or Brentwood.  Somehow, the Titans transcend all of the barriers others might try to put between us.  That may seem weird to you, but it makes perfect sense to us.

Before you take your cameras and move on to your Next Big Thing, take a few minutes to talk to the people who live here.  There is a spirit to this place – I’ve lived here all of my 45 years and I haven’t quite been able to put my finger on it.  You can see it in the celebrities and sports stars who move to town, many times supposedly on a temporary basis until they can move on to bigger and better things on the coasts.  Yet, they find themselves lingering here.  And they stay.  “It’s a good place to raise a family”, they might say, but there’s something more.  Perhaps even they cannot put into words the spirit of this place.

It’s the spirit that compels hundreds to gather at a moment’s notice to sandbag one of the few remaining riverside communities not yet flooded, saving it in the process.

It’s the spirit that has people in Bordeaux taking a flash collection for people in Bellevue, and vice-versa.

It’s the spirit that asks “what can I do?”, then does whatever is needed without hesitation.

It’s the spirit that causes emergency workers to carry on beyond the point of exhaustion.

It’s the spirit that causes our usually silly local media to become an extremely valuable information lifeline for hours upon hours straight.

It’s funny, normally we natives express our coolness by showing our ambivalence to the Grand Ole Opry.  I’ll be honest – I was born here, and I’ve never been to an Opry performance.  Yet, sometimes when I travel and I’m missing home on weekends, I tune into WSM and listen.  It is at these times I realize how much I love the city of my birth.  Hearing that the Opry House was flooded affected me in ways I cannot explain.

My family will find somewhere and someone to help this week.  Then, uncharacteristically, this weekend I will listen to the Opry, if it airs.  I need to hear it.  It will serve as both a salve and a reassurance, as an expression of grief and of hope. 

Through the Opry, that Mother of Churches, we will thank God for his provision, mourn those who were lost, and dedicate ourselves to finishing the job of helping our neighbors.  Mostly, we will declare to the world that we are still here, and it’s going to take more than a little water to stop us from singing.

Like Minnie Pearl, I’m just so proud to be here.

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Snow Big Deal

In tribute to recent weather events.

Kudos to Vince Pinkerton for another awesome video.

Of course this song is available on our latest CD, “On The Air”. More info at the X-Alt Website.

A Climate Change Question

I want you to do me a favor, and read this speech given by Micheal Crichton at the Washington Center for Complexity and Public Policy in Washington DC on November 6, 2005.  It’s long, but it’s VERY important that you get where Crichton is coming from so you can get where I am coming from.

I love when he talks about how our worst fears are mostly unfounded, but that’s not what I’m here to talk to you about.

Complexity Theory is very dear to me, and key to the way I look at the world, both at work and at home.  At work, it manifests itself in changes to programs, which in turn cause incredible problems in other programs that on the surface do not seem to be related.  Sometimes I fall prey to linear thinking, when computer systems, no matter what Cobol programmers tell you, are in no means linear.  It is EXTREMELY important to view a computer system in a holistic way.  I think this is also true in “the way the world works”.

So, I want to apply this thinking to our modern discussion about climate change.  (By the way, if you think the name of the crisis changing to “climate change” from “global warming” is happenstace – you have a thing or two to learn about marketing).

Now, don’t worry, I’m not appraoching this as a “denier”. In fact, I’ll grant every assertion ever made by Al Gore for purposes of this discussion.  But, understanding how the world works (especially from a systems engineering perspective), I wonder if we know what we’re doing as much as we claim.

Here’s my question: Let’s say we institute every proposal out there, and it works.  We reverse the upward temperature trend to a downward one.  Have we given any thought to how we’ll stop the downward trend?

Do the scientists who study these things know, really know, what the ideal concentration of CO2 would be to maintain the ideal temperature? And do we know the ideal temperature?  What happens if we overcompensate, as one would do when his car begins sliding on ice?  How do we reverse THAT trend?  Start burning wood and coal on a massive basis?

There are no Change Control policies in complex systems such as the earth’s climate.  We have to think these things through, and I’m not sure we have, because we’ve been so focused on the problem.

Certainly there are scientists who have given thought to this, right?  Can one of you point me to a layman’s synopsis, because I am genuinely curious.

Snow: The Big “IF”

In Nashville, every year we have a snow that almost completely takes everyone offguard.

Check.

We also have one that everyone expects, and it goes about how the weather-folks said it would.

Check.

We also invariably have one predicted, the Storm of the Century, batton down the hatches!, invade Kroger while you can!, they have to put Nancy Van Camp on her meds kind of snow.  And this one invariably turns out to be a dud.

I’m wondering if that might be this time.  The majority of the needed moisture is east of here, and it’s all moving NE.  But, I’m no meteorologist

Or, will  I finally get my wish, and we’ll get enough to make a decent snowman?  Stay tuned.

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It’s A Blizzard

For around here, at least

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The kids’ school inexplicably closed this morning, but now I think it’s a good thing. The driveway here on Mount Crumpet is covered.

Here are some lyrics from my song The Great Southern Whiteout:

The govenor called the National Guard
To defend the milk at Kroger
It seems a housewife had pulled a gun
Over the last loaf of bread
And by the time we got four inches
They had closed I-65
And the state homeland security
Had taken us to red.

And the TV tried to warn all of the masses
Stay off the bridges and the overpasses.

It’s always fun around here when we get a surprise snow, dontcha think? If it keeps snowing, I’ll upload better pics.

Update: Of course, less than an hour later, the sun’s out.  Dang Nashville weather!