Deep Subject

June 15, 1993


The Piedmont Plateau is a geographical region of the United States that stretches from New York State to central Alabama. Hardly the mesa-like topography that the name implies, It is neither fish nor fowl. It is an ancient region of rolling foothills and watery dells, scrunched between the Appalachian Mountains and the coastal plains of the Atlantic Ocean. Wikipedia says of the Piedmont, “The last major event in the history of the Piedmont was the break-up of Pangaea, when North America and Africa began to separate.” In the southern tail of the Piedmont where I was born and raised, that sounds about right. However, a change of scenery was never far away. My family and our fellows were located equidistant from the Gulf of Mexico and Great Smoky Mountains National Park. As we have discussed before, most of the citizens enjoyed seven days of vacation a year, when the textile mills closed for the week of July 4. As people tend to do, our community broke into distinct sub-groups: you went to the beach or you went to the mountains. We went to the beach, and I think that has had a profound influence on Arlo & Janis. However, this weekend I am breaking with form and going to the mountains, near Chattanooga, to spend a long weekend, my first real outing this year. I am very excited. I probably won’t post again until next Wednesday. That is what I set out to say.


77 thoughts on “Deep Subject”

  1. Have a wonderful time in the mountains! This year has certainly been one to make us all appreciate every opportunity that comes our way, so I hope you’re able to really savor this one.

  2. Enjoy your vacation!
    I, myself, love the beach (camped at Myrtle Beach – before the high-rises metastasized right to the water – every summer from ages 9-16) – but as a native Appalachian-American who has lived the last 46 years in the 2nd-flattest state in the union (except for most of one year in the flattest), mountains feed my soul!

  3. We are going up to Northern Michigan (Lower Peninsula) where the fall colors are at their peak. It is supposed to be cool (50° but below freezing early Saturday morning) but little chance of rain.

    Chattanooga is a wonderful place. I have a good friend (although we have never met) who lives there. Enjoy your time.

  4. Sounds like a wonderful trip! I’ve been to that area so many times, since I grew up in central Tennessee and still have relatives and friends there. Now I’m in the Dallas area, and I so miss the scenery — hills and mountains, tall trees, and fall colors! Getting old, so I may not get back there again, but I dream about it.

  5. My ancestors came from the Carolina Piedmont. Many never left. I believe I am related to everyone in Harmony, North Carolina if the Methodist cemetery is any indication.

    In 1800 about 200 familes left Edgefield, South Carolina heading west. The red clay hills of Louisiana reminded them of the Piedmont so most stopped there for another 200 years.

    Envy you in the mountains. I love anything higher than an ant hill.

  6. Jimmy:

    Love Chattanooga and Tennessee in general. I am sure that you will have a great time.

    My wife and I are headed to Westminster, Colorado, on Sunday, or, as I prefer to say, we are driving to Babytown (granddaughters).

    I have always been curious about your accent. Is a Deep South accent or more subtle? I have many friends in the South, and the accents are different everywhere.

    • According to people elsewhere, I have a rather pronounced southern drawl. I don’t think so, myself. To me, people from the Mississippi Delta and South Carolina have southern accents.

      • Thanks, and it makes sense. Around here, we think that our speech is fairly Standard but that the speech in Southeast Ohio has a strong accent.

        Have you ever considered attempting to attach an audio clip to your blog? I would enjoy hearing you read Arlo’s parts in one of the strips.

        By the way, drawls are the best.

  7. Rick where my family comes from in the South in the hills of central Louisiana my ancestors spoke an archaic English brought in 1800 from the Carolinas’ Piedmont.

    The Mississippi Delta where I was raised speak a heavy Southern accent. I sound more like a Georgia peach thanks to education. Ghost and I were separated by the Mississippi River most of our lives. We need subtitles and must spell to understand each other.

    I imagine Mark and Jimmy can understand each other, both being from Alabama and college educated.

    • Great information – and I am envious. I have always wanted to live in the South, but it seems that I never will, and I will never be surrounded by those who truly know how to speak English. I don’t say that in jest. In the mountains of Appalachia, you can still find some long-time inhabitants whose English more closely resembles the form of English spoken in Shakespeare’s day than it does today’s Standard English.

      Your comment about Ghost and yourself reminds me of a line attributed to Shaw: “The United States and Great Britain are two countries separated by a common language.”

          • I had thought it was Twain but can’t turn it up. But here’s a part of ‘A Tramp Abroad’ that was edited out, however, in which he writes about the variations and differences between the English and American spoken across not only two sides of the Atlantic but also across the American landscape. (Please pardon the sharing. I truly think some of you may enjoy it — especially some of the changes that have rolled into the American language since he wrote the passage.) http://www.online-literature.com/twain/3276/

    • Jackie, my accent changed from place to place when my family moved. At this point in my life I’m not sure what accent I have. You’ve heard me speak, so you can gauge it better. At one time I dated a lady from New Hampshire who didn’t seem to have a strong Northeastern accent. But I noticed when she got on the phone with her mother, it came through loud and clear. And when I mentioned this to her, she said I did the same thing when I talked to my mom on the phone. So I guess we can adjust it according to our audience.

  8. Yes, I was embarrassed in college th hear my professor tell of going to my ancestral “home” to study the preserved English carried there by the American colonists. He had studied Appalachia as well but asserted my relatives had kept it purer.

    It is gone now thanks to television and paved highways, education. But I have heard it with my own ears.

    • Again, great information. I was unaware that your ancestral “home” had kept it purer.

      I’m curious about the class. What was its subject? It strikes me as a class that I would enjoy now even more than when I was a college kid.

  9. As everyone knows by now, we have a major crisis going on since yesterday. How it will affect events remains to be seen. How much you know who’s mind may have been affected is the first question that comes to mind. Even faux news is covering the story.

  10. Dawn:

    Thanks for the link to the omitted section of “A Tramp Abroad.” I had never read it before, and I am a tremendous fan of Twain.

    Twain’s comment about the use of “got” pushed one of my buttons. The word and its variants are used incorrectly far too often for my tastes: get sick, got the point, got pregnant, got up, got out, got the dishes done, and on and on.

    I taught literature and composition for thirty years, and the first word that I banned in my students’ essays was any form of “get” because it is a vocabulary killer.

    By the time that I retired in 2006, I had banned a total of seven vocabulary-killing words: get, really (or “real” used in its place), very, good, a lot, stuff, and thing.

    On occasion, I see my former students, and they still remember the list and thank me for banning the words.

    • Rick, I’m a big Twain fan as well. The first of his books I ever read on my own (my father read out loud to the family when my brother and I were children, so I had heard Tom Sawyer at about age 8) was “The Prince and the Pauper.” I think I was in 7th grade. Early on there is an amazing line, something along the lines of it having been a time when the countries of Europe were so small that a man had to apply for a passport to lay out flat under a tree to take a nap. It was the first time I ever had that delicious experience of not only appreciating a story, but being delighted by the way words had been arranged to tell it. 🙂

      • Dawn:

        Your last sentence says it all.

        To this day, I have that feeling every time I read or re-read anything of Twain’s.

  11. Dawn:
    Not so sure of the reasons behind totally banning those words, though I know Brits often use got where many Yanks would not. Current word that I find so misused as to become meaningless is the noun “impact,” now also misused as a verb and in “impactful.” Think it traces back to the invention of “environmental impact statement,” now a legal and procedural reality. As an ecological and evolutionary biologist [who had no part in devising the term], I find it embarrassing.
    Peace,

  12. 3 Words that annoy me:
    .
    Hot Water Heater – It is a Cold Water Heater, (could be a Hot Water Tank)
    Unless you are making steam.
    .
    Qualifiers on Unique – Sort of, Kind of, Very, – it is or it is not!
    .
    Nauseous – when Nauseated is meant, though by usage it being accepted 🙁
    .
    When my father came from the Old Country he worked very hard to rid himself of an
    accent so he would not get picked on. It is probably why I have a very flat speech pattern,
    and also my mother would not tolerate slang or sloppy speech.
    .
    Scholars from Sweden came to Minnesota to study “Old” Swedish (Norway too maybe) since it did not evolve
    here like it did in the Old Country.
    France has/had a Department to create French words instead of using American/English words.(Jumbo jet, Computer are two)
    Watching “Professor T” a Belgian mystery program – televised in ?Flemish (English Subtitles) we
    notice many Americanisms spoken, some places where we know there is a ?Flemish equivalent.

    • Old Bear:

      Your dad and I have something in common.

      I had a pronounced Kentucky accent until my fifth grade teacher humiliated me in front of the class. From that moment on, I began imitating the speech of such newsreaders as Cronkite, Huntley, and Brinkley.

      I was successful in a matter of months, and, even today at 67, I still have no accent or dialect.

      The teacher was cruel, but she helped me open doors that would have remained otherwise closed.

    • Old Bear, I grew up (in the rural Ozarks) where we just called that plumbing device a “water heater.” Yeah, unique or not– there is no try. (Says Yoda). I agree with the nauseated vs nauseous, though it is interesting that there is no verb form for noxious– strictly an adjective. I guess if you are noxioated you are dead. :/

  13. From the Weather Channel (October 3, 2020): First-Ever Live Murder Hornet Caught In U.S. Wildlife officials in Washington State caught one live.
    2020, the year that just keeps on giving.

  14. One post? Ghost?

    I am cooking Mexican beans and rice for a friend going in for shoulder surgery Wednesday. Actually I am cooking a lot for her. So far, potato soup and green pea soup tomorrow vegetable soup and burst cherry tomato sauce on gluten free pasta, she is sugar and gluten free.

    Actually I find it rewarding to be able to cook for others to help them. My oncologists say I am only patient they know that does that or even cooks?

    • You remind me of a guy I know who also is battling cancer but refuses to let it take over his life. It may likely kill him, but he’s not going to let it stop him from pursuing his interests, from living a full life. Good on ya!

  15. Mountains? What mountains? We recently travelled through the “Great Smokies” and when I called them the Smoky Hills a local tried to correct me and said they were the “Smoky Mountains” I replied, “Are you kidding, I get up every morning at a higher elevation than this.” I jest of course, the Smokies are beautiful. But, mountains? Until you’ve tried to breath at 13,000 feet you haven’t been to the mountains.

  16. Sadly many cancer patients give up when diagnosed. Ghost and I had to attend an orientation program 3 years ago. Everyone there were so obviously extremely ill, yet we had all just been diagnosed. Ghost and I were the healthiest there yet in our 70s.

    Going in to make GOOD beef soup/stew with wine and steak chunks. My friend brought a stash of gluten free stuff over for me to use. I was on gluten free myself due to a celiac like disease caused by autoimmune disease I am a good choice for volunteer cook.

    Were it not for coronavirus we would be doing interesting things. I am going to pick up a good walker tomorrow so we can begin a walking program now that beautiful cool fall weather is here

    Old Bear tonight I get to part of our cross country trip where my Granny hysterically insists I execute a U-turn in my 1961 Ford convertible at the highest point on the road through Rocky Mountain National Park. It as two lane and often one lane in 1961

    Granny had panic attacks due to an almost fatal injury in a runaway buggy

    • Apparently Maurice Switzer according to the NPR website. Most people attribute it to Abraham Lincoln, but there’s no evidence that he said it.
       
      ‘The earliest evidence that I was able to find was a 1907 book by Maurice Switzer. And it seems to contain a lot of original material and it includes the statement “It is better to remain silent at the risk of being thought a fool, than to talk and remove all doubt of it.” So it’s slightly different phrasing, but I believe that is what evolved to generate the modern common version.’

      https://www.npr.org/2017/04/04/522581148/hemingway-didnt-say-that-and-neither-did-twain-or-kafka

      • “Si tacuisses, philosophum manisses.” goes back about 1500 years. I’ve seen the final verb as “remanisses”, too. Translation is “If you had been silent, you would have remained a philosopher.”. Nice example of the subjunctive for a contrary-to-fact condition, if I remember my Latin teacher [Miss Grace Light] & her advice after all these years.

      • I hate to come back to the author I tried to cite before and couldn’t. But, well, this quote really is from Mark Twain. It’s in Pudd’nhead Wilson published 1894: “Better to keep your mouth closed and be thought a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.”

    • Jerry et al, I hate to come back to Twain when I couldn’t place the earlier quote. But this time it really is his. “Better to keep your mouth closed and be thought a fool than to open it and remove all doubt” is from his novel “Pudd’nhead Wilson” published 1894.

  17. Jerry, Ron, and Curmudgeonly, I have tried to post this twice and can’t get it to work. So I will warn you it’s liable to show up repeatedly if I ever get it to work. BUT I am excited about this particular quote because this time it really IS one from Mark Twain: “Better to keep your mouth closed and be thought a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.” It’s from his novel “Pudd’nhead Wilson” published 1894.

  18. Dawn, I don’t know what it is about this new site of Jimmy’s, but some comments appear immediately upon posting, and others drift around and pop up hours later. It’s happened to all of us who post here, so no need to slink away. It’s not you, it’s the site.

  19. Re 10-6-20 real-time cartoon: I’d been wondering when Arlo would come up with a ploy to get Janis to sit up in the tub and defeat the Bumstead’s “opaque bathwater”. Thanks, Arlo!

    • Well Ghost, you may have pegged it. I can never fill out those “prove you’re not a robot” things, checking every box with a traffic signal in it. (Does the pole count or not? I go nuts trying to figure it out.) So maybe now I have an online reputation as shady, potentially a robot out to intending to foul the works. 🙂

      • I read once that those “check every box with an X” tests weren’t really there to verify your humanity but to help train AI to recognize those items. Same goes for those frustrating, often unreadable Captcha letters and numbers.

  20. Never figured out why someone up to no good wouldn’t just program their robot to answer “No” to the question “Are you a robot?”.
    Oops. If Dawn is a shady robot, I may have just told her how to beat spam filters. 🙂

    • The human delay and process of moving to check the box can’t easily be mimicked by programming. Also, the website can confirm that the email/user id clicking is coming from an address where it has been used before or that other clues on the computer match with stored data on the email. It’s sort of a mini Turing test.

  21. I always loved Twain, Hal Halbrook was best next to real deal. I inherited a copy of every Twain book ever published ( a lot) in his lifetime (a lot) dating back to late 1800s.

    Mike’s aunt was librarian in Sunflower, Mississippi so don’t know if library closed or how they ended up in my FIL library?

    In effort to thin out a move I sold in a garage sale. Buyer was very happy.

  22. Going back to the last two days strip….. My wife is 56 and I still believe she is the prettiest woman ever and try to get a personal peak at every opportunity I can. She thinks I’m a pervert! Go figure

  23. Jerry, blame it on the software. If we can have artificial intelligence, why not artificial stupidity? After all, the product can’t be any better than the programmer.

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