America Where Are You Now ?

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Once the religious, the hunted, the weary chasing the promise of freedom and hope

Came to this country to build a new vision far from the reaches of kingdom and pope

Like good Christians, some would burn the witches, later some got slaves to gather riches

But still from near and far to seek America, they came by the thousands to court the wild

But she patiently smiled and bore a child to be their spirit and guiding light

And once the ties with the crown had been broken, westward in saddle they went

And ’till the railroad linked ocean to ocean many the lives which had come to an end

While we bullied, stole and bought a homeland we began the slaughter of the red man

But still from near and far to seek America they came by the thousands to court the wild

But she just patiently smiled and bore a child to be their spirit and guiding light

The blue and gray they stomped it-they kicked it just like a dog

And when the war over they stuffed it just like a hog

And though the past has it’s share of injustice, kind was the spirit in many a way

But it’s protectors and friends have been sleeping, now it’s a monster and will not obey

The spirit was freedom and justice and it’s keepers seemed generous and kind

It’s leaders were supposed to serve the country, but now won’t pay it no mind

‘Cause the people grew fat and got lazy-now their voice is a meaningless joke

They babble about law and order, but it’s just an echo of what they’ve been told

Yeah, there’s a monster on the loose. It’s got our heads into a noose. And it just sits there watchin’

The cities have turned into jungles and corruption is stranglin’ the land

The police force is watching the people and the people just can’t understand

We don’t know how to mind our own business ’cause the whole world has got to be just like us

Now we’re fighting a war over there; no matter who’s the winner we can’t pay the cost

‘Cause there’s a monster on the loose. It’s got our heads into a noose. And it just sits there watchin’

America, where are you now? Don’t you care about your sons and daughters?

Don’t you know we need you now? We can’t fight alone against the monster.

(Repeat refrain 3x)

Steppenwolf, 1969, Monster/ Suicide/ America song lyrics

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For those unfamiliar with this song or band, this was one of a plethora of Vietnam war protest songs which also attempted to shine a light on the sad state of political affairs at the time. Draw your own conclusions about our politics, leaders, president, wars, policies and everything-else America. The only political statement I make is that these lyrics seem to fit our time. And, it would be wise for us to “look in a mirror” and to pray because we can’t fight alone against a monster.

Michael

FLUID

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Just a little stream outside of Yosemite National Park…not spectacular like Yosemite Falls or Bridal Veil Falls, but they both started somewhere!

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And, then, the grand Merced River rocks which line the bottom of this crystal clear river which flows through Yosemite National Park.

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Pure natural art…I love the colors and shapes, the movement of water passing over the sunlit rocks…and the ripples which distort and mesmerize.

 

May you be blessed this day and week as we, in America, celebrate our Independence Day ! And, may you rejoice when you encounter God’s creation in whatever form that excites your soul…wherever that may be.

 

Your Song

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It’s a little bit funny, this feeling inside

I’m not one of those who can easily hide

I don’t have much money, but boy if I did

I’d buy a big house where we both could live

If I were a sculpture, but then again, no

Or a man who makes potions in a traveling show

I know it’s not much, but it’s the best I can do

My gift is my song, and this one’s for you

And you can tell everybody this is your song

It may be quite simple, but now that it’s done

I hope you don’t mind, I hope you don’t mind that I put down in words

How wonderful life is when you’re in the world

Elton John

For better or for worse is what we spoke

Time has a different version than what we hoped

We’ve been through much pain and I’ve caused quite a lot

But we’ve also had much joy since we tied the knot

So you can tell everyone this is your song

I sing through my words to my most wonderful doll

I hope you don’t mind, I hope you don’t mind, but I can’t help myself

You’re the most precious thing in life…in the whole wide world

Michael

BLUE SKIES

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I can see clearly now the rain is gone                   

I can see all obstacles in my way                                             

Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind,

It”s gonna be a bright (bright)

Bright (bright) sun-shiny day

It”s gonna be a bright (bright)

Bright sun-shiny day

Oh yes I can make it now the pain is gone

All of the bad feelings have disappeared

Here is a rainbow I’ve been praying for

It”s gonna be a bright (bright)

Bright (bright) sun-shiny day

 

By Johnny Nash in 1972 & then Jimmy Cliff in 1993

 

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Freight Trains

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Back in my previous life as a locomotive engineer for the Santa Fe Railroad (now BNSF), I fell in awe of locomotives and trains in general. Although that was decades ago, I still love to hear the distant blare of air horns and feel the rumble of horsepower and wheels turning from these diesel-electric monsters. Yes, they burn fossil fuel unlike many transit trains on the east coast or in Europe, but there are three thousand miles to cover between New York and California which makes electric trains across America impractical. Besides, it is unlikely that electric locomotives can efficiently produce the horsepower needed to pull a 100 car coal or grain train. So, for now, diesel-electric is the main freight locomotive used in America, Canada and Mexico.

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I had a difficult time coming up with a title for this post as there are so many good songs about trains and railroads that I wanted to use. Since I couldn’t make up my mind, I thought of Iron Horses as this was the name given by our Native American ancestors when they first encountered the steam locomotive. However, the rail-line linking of the east and west in 1869 had devastating consequences for their way of life so I didn’t want to celebrate a cool name with such negativity. The past cannot be changed, but there is no denying that the trans-continental movement of freight plays a huge role in almost every segment of our lives.

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In the first two photographs, the westbound grain train is waiting for a mixed-freight eastbound train to pass so that it can proceed. There was track work being done east of here so trains had to share one track for a short distance. This double track runs from Chicago to San Bernadino and handles millions of tons of freight each year.

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Cabooses were replaced by signalling devices which feed the engineer with vital information about the amount of compressed air in the brake lines at the end of the train. As the eastbound leaves us behind, the westbound starts his movement. Destination unknown, but it will be up to speed within a few miles.

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