Dennis E. Powell's View from Mudsock Heights

Dennis E. Powell is crackpot-at-large at Open for Business. Powell was a reporter in New York and elsewhere before moving to Ohio, where he has (mostly) recovered. You can reach him at

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The View from Mudsock Heights: Pay-As-You-Go Cellular Service Has Gotten Cheap!

By Dennis E. Powell | Aug 27, 2010 at 5:09 AM

Some of you may remember when it was a very big deal to make a long-distance telephone call. I have actual photographs of my grandparents, on the occasion of their golden wedding anniversary in 1956, at the telephone, the notes on the backs of the pictures saying that they were receiving calls from Dallas and Nebraska. This was thought remarkable at the time.

The View from Mudsock Heights: Getting Prickly From the Heat, Humidity, Horseflies, and Humans

By Dennis E. Powell | Aug 20, 2010 at 10:49 PM

Despite the warmth of the day, swinging the maul down on the hunks of black locust wood was satisfying. In every case, the pieces of log had blown apart with that satisfying sound good wood makes when it’s split.

Then came the hidden knot.

The View from Mudsock Heights: Once a Cultural Icon, Mitch Miller Died and Hardly Anyone Noticed

By Dennis E. Powell | Aug 15, 2010 at 1:27 PM

Fame, even great fame, tends to be fleeting. What brings this to mind is last month’s news that Mitch Miller had died. He was 99 years old, so he had a good innings as they say, and that fact must temper our mourning. The chief sadness about his passing is that so little notice was paid to it. Mitch Miller was once as famous as anyone in the country.

The View from Mudsock Heights: A New Electronic Twist to an Age-Old Addiction

By Dennis E. Powell | Aug 06, 2010 at 5:16 AM

It’s been a month, so I suppose there’s a chance it will hold: after several decades, I’ve quit smoking. Indeed, the last time I’d gone this long without a cigarette I was probably 16 years old. There is nothing that would delight me more than to be able to tell you that it has been an heroic struggle, unless maybe it would be to say that I feel oh-so-much better. Neither of those things would be true, though.

The View from Mudsock Heights: Good News Reminds Me I Have a Lot of Work to Do Before Winter

By Dennis E. Powell | Jul 31, 2010 at 3:37 AM

Happy surprises are so rare that when one occurs it’s worth passing along. I had been worried that I was running out of propane. It had been a year or more since the big tank got filled and, glancing at the gauge a few weeks ago I saw it was pretty low.

The View from Mudsock Heights: Sea Salt? Organic Sugar? What Exactly are We Talking About Here?

By Dennis E. Powell | Jul 20, 2010 at 5:15 AM

The chips tasted pretty good — then I saw the words that made me put them down. No, the bag did not say “contains triglycerides” or “full of transfats.” It said — proudly, if you can believe it — “with sea salt.”

The View from Mudsock Heights: I Thought I Knew About Tomato Growing, But I Was Wrong

By Dennis E. Powell | Jul 16, 2010 at 2:01 AM

This year I may have to can some tomatoes. The “putting up” of vegetables was an annual ritual when I was a child, and as a grownup I’ve threatened to do it from time to time, but this year it might just happen.

The View from Mudsock Heights: Pictures Need Captions if They're to Be Worth a Thousand Words

By Dennis E. Powell | Jul 07, 2010 at 11:57 PM

Who are these people? What is this place? If I had a dime for every time I’ve asked those questions in the last week, I’d be well-set financially.

The View From Mudsock Heights: A Dreaded Task Brings My Sister and Me in Touch with Long-Dead Relatives

By Dennis E. Powell | Jun 28, 2010 at 3:06 AM

The attic was hot, very dusty in a way that attics full of boxes can be, and peculiarly exciting. My family has usually succeeded in resisting an alarming tradition, that of getting rid of everything a relative owned as soon as possible after his or her death. When my mom died three summers ago, all her stuff got packed into boxes and taken to the attic of my sister’s house in Milwaukee. Now my sister was moving and my mother’s possessions needed to be dealt with.

The View from Mudsock Heights: Memories of an Old Vacation Spark New Appreciation of How Safe We Are Right Here

By Dennis E. Powell | Jun 20, 2010 at 5:38 AM

Looking at the old picture, I had to laugh. I took it in the summer of 1986 in the Texas panhandle, while on vacation with my girlfriend. She was from New England and had as much knowledge of the space between there and California as most of us have of, say, Madagascar. This is not a condition at all unusual in the northeast.

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