Saturday, May 3, 2014

My Father Had an Oldsmobile, and so Did I

I found this article -The Five Best Oldsmobiles to Come off the Line, while I was out surfing the net the other day. Not a bad piece, but, as always, I have some quibbles.

Number 5 car is the 1968 Hurst Olds. Without seeing the other 4 we can let this stand. But it does deserve higher ranking. The Hurst Olds was the hottest car in any showroom. Culminating in the 1970 version, they were a 5 passenger rocket ship. They handled like a late sixties car (meaning it cornered like Jello), but straight line, wow; what a ride.

Number 4 is the Toronado, the first front wheel drive car by an American company since Cord died during the Great Depression. An iconic car, it definitely belongs on the list.

Number 3 is the original Rocket Ship; the 1949 Olds 88. A small car with a big car engine; the same formula Pontiac would revive in 1964 with the GTO. As usual with Pontiac, following Oldsmobile's lead. definitely needs to be on the list.

Number 2 is a station wagon. A WHAT? Yep; a station wagon. available with a 455 cubic inch V-8 and a Hurst 4-speed, not exactly your standard depot hack. But what really set it apart was the raised rear roof and the glass roof over the back seat. we had a 1966 model Vista Cruiser when I was a kid. riding under that roof made you feel special; there wasn't another car on the road with a windshield in the roof. Yes, it deserves to be on the list, but higher than a Hurst Olds? I might have swapped the two, had I been writing up the list.

Number 1 is THE Iconic Oldsmobile; the 1901 Curved Dash Olds. Little more than a carriage with a lawnmower engine attached, this was the car that started it all for Oldsmobile.

And now; some quibbles. Limiting the list to 5 cars really is difficult, and because of those limitations some really special cars have been left off the list. Like the 1939 Oldsmobile; first with an automatic transmission; a design that was so sturdy, it was used in American tanks during WWII.

The 1978 Cutlass is also missing; the first downsized Cutlass, this car was so popular that for years it was the most-stolen car in the country; different years of the body series holding sometimes the top 5 spots. It's popularity was later eclipsed by the Honda Accord on this list, but still this body style Cutlass is a great car.

The article also disses the Alero; I have one and while I do find some issues with it, I do like it. Seats 5 comfortably, has the ability to get out of its own way, gets better than 20 MPG, and is still, at 15 years of age and over 200,000 miles, a good running automobile. And, again for its age, fairly trouble free. 

What are my issues? The doors seem a little tight, and getting in and out is troublesome, for somebody my size. The front cup holder is useless, except for change, and the middle armrest is a little short. The glove compartment is a little small too.

One last thing; it has a four cylinder engine; I wish it had a V-8. But it is a dual  overhead cam, fuel injected 4 cylinder. I would love to have that technology on an old 350 V-8 in a 78 Cutlass; that would be a Rocket.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Smoking Gun

So everybody says (but the Democrats) that the 'Smoking Gun' email is out; the one that proves Obama lied about the Benghazi attack on purpose and for political motives.

Those of us who know Obama well knew this two years ago. Obama does NOTHING that doesn't have a political motive.

Like the whole Minimum Wage Senate vote. The whole thins was a sham; Harry Reid knew it wouldn't make it to the floor- Hell; I'll even bet him and McConnell had the whole thing planned out. The way the vote went plays well with both bases. So it was win/win.

But it was political.

Sorry for another short post, but my real job is breathing down my neck today, and there are only so many hours in the day.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

I Must Be Missing Something

Well; first my apologies fro missing Sunday and Monday. Sunday was a up at dawn and work til dusk kind of day, and by the time I sat down I could stir enough mental acuity to say much of anything. I had a post written, but I doubt you wanted to see one that just said :"Tired".

And last night i had a minor family emergency to deal with; one that was more time consuming than a real emergency, but you know how it goes.

So tonight I am posting; but a short one. I have work work to do and I can't put it off anymore. But I will for a minute.

And I suppose I'd best spout off about that damfool billionaire who owns that one team or the other and said that stupid something.

As you can tell, I really care about basketball.

First; no matter how ignorant and opinion, you have the right to hold that opinion. If I want to believe that people who eat rice should not be allowed to vote, I have my right to that opinion. You also have the right to think I'm and idiot, and to call me an idiot. You have the right, as a private entity, to ban me from your insignificant little cabal.

So be it.

But the government has no right to do ANYTHING about my opinion. They can't fine me, they can't force me out of any insignificant little club I belong to; they can't put me in jail.

Does everybody understand that?

Now; can somebody explain why this damfool owner was set to receive a Lifetime Achievement Award from the NAACP? All reports say these comments are nothing new; everyone has known for years that he is a bigot. Apparently everyone but the NAACP. They gave him some award or the other just a few years ago.

So; before this new evidence broke that this damfool was a bigot, everybody knew he was a bigot and the NAACP was still ready to give an award; one he was willing to accept (again) from an organization full of, and dedicated to the advancement of, people he despised.

Am I the only one having trouble making sense of this?

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Blank Page

When I sat down this morning to do a blog post I had almost 2 hours to write something. Now I have 30 minutes, and you can see what's been done.

Some days there is nothing more intimidating than a blank sheet of paper. Just like a young life, a blank sheet of paper- or a blank computer screen- holds unlimited possibilities. We just need to make the right decisions to fill those possibilities.

The second question is always about the possibilities.

We can be anything our skills allow us to be. Yes there are some limits. If you are less than 6 foot tall I doubt you will make it in the NBA. If you are not mathematically savvy I doubt a career in engineering is in the works.

But those limits are internal, not external. No one will stop you from trying out for the high school basketball team because you are too short. You may not make the team, but you have the opportunity to try.

That is one of the great things about this country; we have the ability to try. We aren't guaranteed success, but we are guaranteed the try.

History is full of stories of the triers. We are most familiar with the succeeders, but we also know of some of the most spectacular also-rans. Like Samuel Pierpoint Langley; an also ran to the Wright Brothers. One of the most famous- and oldest- Air Force bases in the world is named after him. He did have some help becoming famous as an also-ran; he was the head of the Smithsonian Institute for many years.

How about Henry Clay? Best known as a brilliant Senator from Kentucky, he ran, unsuccessfully, for president 3 times. Eugene Debs is another well known also ran; he ran for president 5 times. As a Socialist.

The point is nobody stopped these folks from trying, multiple times. Just as nobody stopped the Wright Brothers. Can you imagine the audacity? Two self-educated bicycle mechanics from a small town in rural Ohio trying to do what nobody else was able to? Build a machine to fly?

That was 100 years ago. Today we would have a Congressional Committee, or even a whole branch of the Federal government set up to regulate who could try something like this. Trying to fly an unregistered device would mean jail time.

Would it be worth it to try, in this day and age?

Maybe not.  And that creates a lot of blank paper, and possibly blank lives.

Friday, April 25, 2014

A Little Taller Than That

Growing up the tallest thing I ever saw was the silo at the feed mill. 60 Feet maybe; 65 at best. 6 stories; give or take a foot or two.

And that probably would have been the tallest thing I ever saw, if it weren't for Pearl Harbor. Not the Harbor itself, but the attack, back in '41. those of us who couldn't get to the Enlistment Office fast enough to choose got drafted not much later. As long as Dad could handle the farm, the boys went off to War.

But not right away. Nobody handed us a gun and dropped us thousands of miles from home. First we had to train. For me, that was Navy. And for training that meant Great Lakes Naval Training Station. And that meant Chicago.

Before the War I had heard of Chicago. Everything we ordered from Sears an Roebuck came from Chicago. I knew how long to took to ship just about anything from Chicago. A day or two for new school clothes; 16 years for the toy you spent your birthday money on. Or it seemed that way any how.

It took twenty-six hours to ship me from Knotville Station to Chicago. I started off on a small, old engine and a 3 car train up to Louisville, then traded up for the Pan American into Cincinnati. From there we took a Military train into Chicago. When we stopped I stepped onto the rear platform at took this picture. You might notice we were in the freight yards. My days as a civilian ended in Cincinnati.

From here it was onto trucks and then a couple of hours of bouncing around in the back of a truck. It was long past dark when we stopped and managed to stretch our legs; the sights of Chicago were nowhere around. I had had one good glimpse, and had made the most of it.

8 weeks later we left Great Lakes in the dark; all I saw of the Windy City was that one picture.

But in the next four years I saw plenty. You want tall? Pull up next to an aircraft carrier in a Higgins boat. That's tall. Look over the rail of a Battleship, knowing you will be jumping any minute to escape the flames; that looks even taller.

I saw lots of things that made the old feed mill silo look small.

But that doesn't mean it was any less friendly looking when I got home.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Foot-N-Mouth; Right Up to the Ankle

Well, apparently a couple of severe cases of Foot-N-Mouth disease have broken out.

One involves the challenger to the Senate Minority Leader, Mitch McConnell, Matt Bevin. The first question I have is why all of the hype?

At a rally to encourage the legalization of Cockfighting in Kentucky, Senate hopeful Matt Bevin spoke. Not about cockfighting, or even the legality/illegality of cockfighting, but on states rights and the over reach of the Federal Government. There was no cockfighting at the rally at all, and no one spoke about cockfighting while Bevin was there. If Bevin was a Democrat we would have never known about the incident.

But he's not. And he is probably beating Mr. Inside-The-Beltway himself, Mitch McConnell. So the media will, between now and May 20, find any reason to bad mouth Matt Bevin. If Bevin gave a 5 minute speech at a Baptist Nursing Home, the media would use that to say he was calling for a return to Prohibition.

This is where McConnell is going. No attack ads on Bevin's positions, no discussion of the problems in Washington; no debates on the issues with Bevin. Have a field day on the fact that one day he spoke to a group who are LEGALLY advocating for a relaxation of the rules on cockfights. And Bevin is right; historically cockfighting was the purview of the wealthy. Some of the Founding Fathers would have attended cockfights, and doubtless some of them raised fighting cocks.

I'm saying that makes the practice fine; I'm saying that the activity was once not only legal, but accepted.

Bear in mind, I am not a fan of cockfighting. I think it is cruel to the animals and should be banned.

But that doesn't mean the effort to have it legalized should be banned. You have the right to free speech, not matter how vile your goal.

Or your speech.

Which brings us to case 2 of the Foot-N-Mouth Club; Clive Bundy. He is our 67 year old Nevada Rancher who is locked in a fight with the Federal Bureau of Land Management.

Yes; he open his mouth way to wide. Yes; what he said was offensive.

Now explain to me how his opinions on Blacks, Slavery and The Modern Welfare State have any effect on his battle with the BLM? Mr. Bundy has the right to hold and express any opinion he wants to hold or express. Can we call those opinions crazy, offensive, out-dated and worthy of the KKK? Yes we can. Can we let his opinions, however bizarre, become an issue in a situation that has absolutely nothing to do with anything he has expressed a stupid opinion on?

I also have my issues with this quote. Just like with Phil Robertson a few months back, I think a left leaning reporter created a situation from whole cloth. Not that he has put words into Bundy's mouth, but I do think a lefty reporter- like there is any other kind-  took an old man who has spent weeks under incredible pressure and let him talk until he got himself into trouble.

That doesn't mean I don't think Mr. Bundy holds these opinions, and that doesn't mean I agree with him, but it does mean that a sneaky bastard got an old man to spout off without his filter. And now is using that quote to discredit him.

And its working. Bundy's support is dropping away like the fall leaves from a maple.

Why? Does his opinion on anything but the BLM case matter to the BLM case?

Or is it that easy for the left to win? Coax someone to say something not generally accepted as a mainstream opinion and then the fight is over?

Clive Bundy's opinion on Blacks, Welfare and Slavery may not make him a more likeable character,  but it doesn't change his fight over land with the BLM.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Agenda 21; Ever Heard of It?

Have you ever heard of Agenda 21?  How about the United Nations?

Way back in 1992 President Bush went to Rio de Janeiro and signed a non-binding UN treaty to basically outlaw private property.

Okay, that is a bit of a stretch, but it is pretty much a master plan to control everything. as Wikipedia says:

Agenda 21 is a non-binding, voluntarily implemented action plan of the United Nations with regard to sustainable development.

How to define sustainable development is the next problem. Most, on the right and left, see this as expanding the cities and ending the idea of ever expanding suburbs. The left sees that as a plus; the right as a minus.

There are two things (well; at LEAST two things) wrong with city living; it limits your space and it makes you dependent on the government for basic necessities. I don't like either of those things. I want a yard- even if I crab about mowing it- and I want to be able to do as I please in that yard.

Monday night we had my sons and grand kids over for Easter dinner. It was a beautiful day, so we sat in the yard all day. I can remember the last time I ate Easter dinner at a picnic table. After dinner the kids ran in the yard and the adults sat around and shot the breeze.

Agenda 21 says that is wrong. Mowing that grass is now allowing for natural growth, and the flowers I have planted are invasive species that are killing off the native plants. We should have been in our 800 square foot apartment, or at a park if we wanted to be outside. we should leave the planting and such to professionals, trained in how to allow the native plants to thrive.

A few years ago I was watching This Old House, and as usual they were doing a home in the Boston area.

There was a controlled area at the rear of the property that was very restrictive as far as plantings, because it was near a navigable waterway. I have no idea why being near a waterway should determine what you plant, but this is Massachusetts. At any rate, the homeowner had to remove a common flowering plant (iris if I remember correctly) because it was not native, and could not touch the poison ivy, because it was a native plant. Yes; that's right. Flowers are verboten, but poisonous plants are not. Its all about the natural world, don't you see. Humans are interlopers. Humans have no rights. Poison Ivy does.

Another example; the Delta Darter. The state of California has restricted water rights to the San Joaquin River because low levels are endangering the smelt. Instead of endangering this 2 inch long fish, the state has instead cut off water to one of the most productive farming valleys in California. The smelt may eat, but we won't.

Maybe instead of San Joaquin Valley vegetables, were supposed to eat Soylent Green?

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Another Day

Sorry about missing yesterday's post, but yesterday was Easter Monday, and with my boys and their families it is easier to get together on Easter Monday. Besides, that way I get ham two days in a row, so I'm not complaining.

But with Easter being a late night and an early morning, and then the same on Monday, I just had no time (or energy) for anything.

And then today was a bugger of a day. My mind was ready to go on strike about 4:30, but we negotiated a short coffee break into the schedule and averted the strike until 5:00.

In my job I read a lot of court papers. Today I read one that made my blood boil, for a lot of reasons. I can't give too many details, but I can give lots of generalities.

Basically a women and her boyfriend had a child that required special care. So the women- no husband of course- signed the girl up fro SSI- Supplemental Social Security.. She claimed she had $300 in assets. 3 years later, when the claim was reviewed, same story; same $300. and 3 years later same $300 in assets. And then the boyfriend- who is the child's father- gets busted for dealing crack.

And they find him and her have over $100,000 in cash, in joint bank accounts. Just a jot and tittle over the $300 she was claiming, ain't it? But hold on; a little more investigation is required.

She also has a gaming card at a casino local to her, which over the last 3 years she has used a total of 175 times. To gamble away almost one million dollars, both in new dollars and lost winnings.

All the while you and I were paying to raise her child.

What got her busted? The report from the casino on he winnings and losses? The Social Security Administration checking up on her application and renewals?

Nope; after the old man got busted they found out what was going on.

So apparently when you sign up for SSI they just take your word for it that you are broke. No bank check, no check with the IRS on income. Just lie through your teeth and they are happy.

Government bureaucracy; ain't it a wonderful thing?

Speaking of government bureaucracy, did you hear about the idiots up in Oregon? Some dumb kid pees into a 38 million gallon water reservoir, so the idiots are draining 38 million gallons of treated water because of a quart of pee. Really? 38 times 4 is 152, so we have 152,000,001 quarts of fluid in the reservoir, one which we KNOW is human pee. But, seeing as how this pool is open to the sky, how much bird pee and poop is there in the water? What about other animals? My guess is there probably more than 40 quarts of foreign substances in that water that nobody is complaining about.

But because somebody caught this young hooligan with his.... well; watering the garden shall we say,  it will cost the water customers a small fortune.

Personally, you can dump a quart of chlorine into the water and call it square. Heck of a lot cheaper.

And I really don't think anybody would notice. 

You probably have more pee than that in your bottled water.

Didn't think about that, did ya?

Sunday, April 20, 2014

One More Today

I had to do another quick post this morning, otherwise my Happy Easter post was number 666.

I just couldn't allow that to stand, could I?

I may expand this post later, but right now I have a chocolate bunny hidden somewhere that requires my attention.

Happy Easter!

Yesterday was a beautiful day, and every window in the house was open. I slept with the bedroom window open last night, and was blessed with a natural alarm clock at dawn this morning.

It sounded like every bird in the world had decided to rest in the trees around my window and explode into song the minute the first ray of light burst over the hill top. A wondrous cacophony of sound, punctuated by the rhythmic honking of a flight of geese.

It was if every voice in nature joined in to sing 'He Has Risen'.

And maybe they were.

Today we celebrate the day that Jesus Christ conquered death and gave all who believe in him Eternal Life.

Easter is the greatest day in the Christian calender. The day we celebrate as when Christianity began.

There are those who don't believe, for a variety of reasons, that the events we celebrate today actually happened. I'm fine with that. Faith is a very personal thing, and my Faith in something does not make your faith in something else, or your lack of faith in anything, wrong.

A huge percentage of the world's population will celebrate the founding tenets of Christianity today. They believe that 2000 year ago, give or take a decade, God sent his only Son to Earth, to live among men, to die for humanities sins and be buried.

Do you want to talk about Faith? How about being one of the Apostles, or an early believer that Jesus was God on Earth. To watch him be betrayed, mocked, tortured and then put to death. Did any of them see that coming? Were they prepared to watch a Man they believed to be the Son of God die like, and with, common criminals?

I do know they weren't prepared to find his Tomb empty 3 days later. They weren't prepared to find him appearing to them in the coming days, and even when some of the group accepted the truth, at least one did not, until he himself was able to personally see and touch the Risen Christ.

And then Thomas believed.

Faith is not only a personal thing; it is also an exploration. None alive today has seen God, in any of his manifestations, face to face. We can't touch the nail holes in his hands, yet we believe. Others are like Thomas; they only believe in what they can see or touch.  They won't believe because they see the stories not as truth of a fantastic life, but fantastic myths, invented by men and used to entrap the gullible.

I pity them, not only for their lack of Faith in God, but also for their lack of Faith in themselves. To not believe that our life on Earth is only a preparation for a Life Eternal means that we are no better than the grass I mowed yesterday or the ants I sprayed for moving in to close to my patio. A brief existence and gone.

I have more Faith in myself than that. I not only have a life on Earth, but a Heaven waiting on me. Yes, that Faith allows me to accept that there will be bad things that will happen to me. To accept that I will not always win, that I won't live a life of ease. That doesn't mean that Faith is an opiate; a drug to keep me insensate to what is happening.

It means I know, like Job, that God has a plan, this is a part of his plan, and I don't need to understand. I just need to have Faith.

So, this Easter morning I am not only wishing you a Happy Easter, but I am hoping you have the Faith to believe that 2000 years ago the son of man walked the Earth, died for our sins and Rose from the Dead to insure that my Life is Eternal.

That is something even the birds will sing about.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Consequences be Damned

Can you imagine a time when grown men would sit around a bar room sipping on unadulterated soda pop?

Friend, I don't have to imagine such a time, I lived it. It was called Prohibition by the Government. 

We called it Hell on Earth.

We could get beer, and booze, if we wanted. But we couldn't do it legally. No stopping by the corner bar for a quick one; no drive thru Pony Keg on the way home. No, you had to know a man who knew a man, who had some. Dead of night runs to a seedy part of town, or trusting a shady character you just met with a wad of bills and hope that he would return with a drop of whiskey, or a few cans of home brew. You would hope that the whiskey was real, and not wood alcohol and food coloring. The beer you hoped was brewed like beer should be, and not aged in the tub somebody would have to wait two Saturday nights to use again.

Desperate times lead to desperate measures. Folks you wouldn't have talked to prior to the ban of beer were now your best companions. Things that would have been used to clean a clogged drain before were now mixed with a fruit juice and consumed. Not enjoyed mind you, but consumed.

Because the alternative was a cold Dr. Pepper down at what used be a corner bar. You felt sorry for yourself, but you pitied Charlie. The local barkeep used to be a man of substance. Held his head high in the local courthouse and the local Church. A donation to any cause was yours for the asking. His accounts were always marked 'Paid In Full' at any of the local merchants.  When Volstead got his act together, we all treated like a joke. Saturday nights we would still gather at the bar, sip a few Sody pops and shoot pool. By the second month the joke had worn thin.

By the third Charlie was feeling the pinch. 6 months in his kids were wearing hand-me-downs. A year in so was Charlie.

Five years in he was still hanging on by his shear will to beat that a-hole Volstead. His friends at the grocery and the hardware store were still able to carry his tabs. They were sure that any day now the rest of the country would come to it senses; see the mess they had made and restore beer.

And the day; the week; the month; the year would pass, and you were still buying what you hoped was liquor out of the rumble seat of a clapped out Model -T.

Charlie kept hanging on. As a former purveyor of spirits, he knew the law was hoping he would sell a drink. A short beer, a small snort; a jigger of something remotely resembling alcohol and he would go to jail. That bum kid who used to beat up his Johnny in 5th grade could sell a case of pop-skull rot-gut out the trunk of used Hupmobile- and make a small fortune doing it- but he couldn't have a snort in the house for medicinal purposes without risking jail time.

Something was wrong with the country when honest folks were starving and the crooks were getting rich. When the mayor walked by your bar to buy some 'hooch' from a Hupmobile.

Something had to be done. We couldn't see Charlie lose everything. We couldn't stand by and watch that Roberts kid from over tracks buy his way into society.

Drastic times call for drastic measures.

And that Roosevelt fellow; he says he'll give us back our beer. Consequences be damned. I'm voting for the Democrat.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Your Offense Offends Me

I was on the internet looking for another article I saw today about London's Billionaires (yes, with a 'B'; apparently the Millionaires can't afford to live there any more) Row, where almost 20 percent of the houses are abandoned to rot and ruin. Apparently its a tax thing; its cheaper to let them rot for 20 years and then repair them (sales tax wise, on repairs the tax is 20%; on rebuilds its 5%). Wouldn't it be nice to be able to let your 70 million POUND house rot for a few years to save 15% on the sales tax on rebuilding it? More Dollars than sense if you ask me.

But while I as looking I found this article, going on up in New Jersey. Apparently 2 Senior boys wore a Confederate Flag to an after-school sporting event. And got permanently suspended for it. Apparently some other students found it offensive. Okay; fair enough. I can see that there may be some narrow minded folks who fail to see the historical significance of and what the Confederate Flag actually stands for, and have placed their own values on it. and those values offend them.

So what? Where in the Bill of Rights, or the Constitution, or any government document does it say you  have the Right not to be offended? If you find it, let me know; there are lots of things going on that offend me, and I want to start doing something about it.

But I said the other day, one of the things about rights is that they cost you nothing for me to exercise any of my rights. You exercising some right not to be offended, cost me my right to Free Speech; something enumerated in the Constitution, and not divined from some penumbral emanation.

Why would you have a right not to be offended? How would that right have come into being? How could you EVER exercise that right without trampling on someone else's right to something? And even if this right existed, who would determine whether your right not to be offended was greater or less than my right to Free Speech?

I know who decides; the left in this country have already determined these rules, and are working their damnedest to enforce them.

Wear a Confederate Flag and offend someone? You have no right to Free Speech. Wear a Gay Pride Flag and offend someone? You have no right to be offended. See how easy it is? So how WRONG it is?

Your right to Free Speech cannot be determined by what you will say with that right. There are limits obviously; the old Fire in a crowded theater chestnut applies. (Which is one of my goals. One day I want find a crowded Fire and shout "THEATER") but that is a safety issue, not a Opinion issue. If your right to Free Speech can be determined by those in power its not Free.

And why would you choose to never be offended? Galileo's ideas offended the Church; and he was silenced, before he was proven right. Martin Luther King's ideas offended those in power, and he was silenced, before he was proven right. Thomas Jefferson's and James Madison's ideas offended those in power, and the King tried to silence them. And failed.

And now the left is trying to silence them again.

Its up to us whether they fail or succeed.