Friday, January 31, 2014

Friday It Is!

Have I ever mentioned my Uncle Pete, the Plumber?

I doubt it. I have to be pretty far into my cups to bring up Pete. Or be introduced to a funny story that includes plumbing of some sort.

Then I bring up Uncle Pete. He was my great-uncle really. Well, he was married to my Great-Aunt Polly, but she wasn't really my great-aunt, either. She was the widow of my Great-Uncle Paul, who was a step-brother to my Grandad on my Mom's side. Except that ain't quite right either, since Grandad  was really my Mom's step-dad. Mom was was my real Mom though.

At least, as far as I know.

But if Pete had been blood kin he would have been my great-uncle. Pete used to drive a Pontiac, which was a good choice for a plumber. At least that's what he always said. Plumbers drive Pontiacs; butchers drive Buicks; carpenters drive Chevys and farmers drive Fords. He would always say that same thing when ever he was asked why he drove a Pontiac. I asked him one time why doctors drove Cadillacs and not Dodges. He called me a snot-nosed kid and took a swing at me.

Luckily he had a few trips to the barn to 'see the bull' and he missed. Otherwise I might not be here to tell you about Uncle Pete the plumber. Pete was a plumber back in the day; back when bathtubs were made of cast iron and not fiberglass. Back when pipe was cast iron, and ditches for pipe were dug with a shovel, not a tractor. Pete could dang near lift his Pontiac.

Pete usually saw the bull a lot when he was out at the farm. He lived in the city, and I guess they didn't have bulls there. Used to be the whole family gathered at the farm on Sundays. Grandma's family and Grandpa's family; cousins, uncles, aunts and who all knows. The women would gather near the kitchen, cooking Sunday lunch, swapping recipes, baked goods and rumors. The men would gather in the driveway commenting on everybody's cars, swapping rumors and lies and visiting the barn, to see the bull.

I wasn't allowed in the barn on Sundays. I was allowed in the other 6 days, but never did find the bull. Grandpa used to get upset with me, and Mom would laugh, when I would asked him about the bull, especially when Grandma was around. Grandma wasn't  a big fan or having the bull around, and told Grandpa so in no uncertain terms every time I would ask about the bull in the barn. She seemed especially upset that Grandpa would have the bull in the barn on a Sunday.

It was years later that I found out the truth about the bull in the barn. And it was Uncle Pete the plumber who let the cat out of the bag. In between talking bad about Uncle Ned's Nash (he was a newspaperman; funny how that worked out) and and running down the height of Grandpa's corn, Pete headed to the barn to see the bull. I snuck along behind him all the way to the barn and first he knew I was there was when he opened the door and I stepped in in front of him. He seemed surprised, and asked me what I was doing.

Why, says I, with all the confidence my 13 year-old voice could muster, I'm here to see the bull. Imagine my surprise when instead of heading toward the stalls, he headed toward the harness room. Once in the harness room he headed straight to the old bin we kept the head collars in; the ones we hadn't used since the tractor came around. I was even more surprised when he reached deep into the far right corner and came up with a earthenware jug, stoppered with an old corn ear.

Pete cradled that jug in the crook of his elbow, popped the corn ear and used his elbow to hoist the jug high talking a long, slow sip of what smelled like Grandma's liniment. Your turn to see the bull he said, handing me the jug.

Well, thought I, looks simple enough. And it was. Until the harsh country whiskey hit my lips and mouth like Sherman took Atlanta. To this day I can't say how much I actually swallowed, or even how much actually entered my mouth. I do know I inhaled a couple of lung fulls of those hot vapors and thought I had died. Pete grabbed the jug before I dropped it and did his best to stop me from dancing around the room like my ass was on fire, gasping for air and looking for water; banging off of, knocking over or at least causing a ruckus out of everything in the room.

Of course the noise drew attention, and before I could catch a whole breath the harness room was full of menfolk. Pete was caught red-handed, more or less, with the uncorked jug of pop-skull and me breathing as deep as I could through my nose and leaping from corner to corner like a cat in a kennel.

Then the laughter started. It started slow, with a half smothered snicker from Uncle Ned, and a stifled giggle from Uncle  Louis (he was a lawyer; drove a Lincoln) and built slowly when Grandpa let go a quick, sharp guffaw and Dad started to let a smile slowly creep up from under his mustache like speckled fawn's first appearance out of the honeysuckle. 

I was just starting to recover my health about the time the whole crew began to laugh out load, and was about to join in the mirth, when the room got as quiet as the first few minutes of a funeral. Apparently when all of the menfolk disappeared at once, Grandma got suspicious, and decided to check on the health of the bull herself.

And caught Uncle Pete with the uncorked jug, her half grown grandson red in the face from his first taste of liquor and every man in the family laughing like he'd lost what little sense God had granted him. Grandpa started to explain, but got cut down with a stare as dark and cutting as a midnight wind in January (in later tellings of the story he would swear that look gave him frostbite). Her look broke up that meeting of the bovine lover's society.

Uncle Pete and Aunt Polly missed the next few Sundays; the bull missed the next 48. It was the following Fourth of July before Grandma consented to overlook the jug 'hidden' in the barn.

I'd love to say that that day made a teetotaler out of me, but it didn't. Although it was many a year before I hoisted a jug again. It took my first broken heart to see if the bull was still in the barn. He was.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Old Technology

I found this article in Popular Mechanics through Instapundit.

Some is interesting; some a bit of a stretch. The idea of 'still in use' especially.

But there are some points that are inadvertently made. Points only I would probably notice, and point out.

Slide One of Nine talks about Philadelphia's 100 year old cast-iron water mains; yet shows the workmen building a Brick Conduit, probably from even earlier. Not the 1910 t0 `920 period, but 1885-1895. Are these even older brick conduits still in use?

Slide Two of Nine is the New York City Subway. it opened in 1904 with 24.7 miles of track. Subway track. Cincinnati is making a big deal about 2 miles of track on the surface 110 years later. The article mentions that the tunnel under the East River is over a hundred years old. Think about that the next time you are riding the subway between Manhattan and Brooklyn.

Slide Three of Nine is an even bigger stretch. Yes, the technology of the railroad is still in use, but the rails can't be more than 10 years old; the ties even less. And even the B&O is gone. Nice spot for an old picture, but a stretch for old infrastructure.

Slide Four of Nine is a true survivor; a one hundred and twenty year old piece of concrete street. Yep; they are still using it for cars. Maybe we need to revive that recipe for our modern Expressways.

Slide Five of Nine is a stone bridge in Pennsylvania,  one just a bit over 300 years old. No wonder it is still here. Being solid stone, it is less trouble to keep using it than it is to tear it down.

Slide Six of Nine is a beast. Or at least the men who built it were. in 1825 they blasted a 729 foot tunnel through slate and limestone. IN TWO YEARS. The feds have been working on a bridge replacement for I-75 for 10 years now, and don't even have a route. And you wonder why this country is going to Hell in a hand basket. A second interesting point; the tunnel isn't really in use as a canal tunnel, but as a tourist attraction. The County that owns it uses it for boat rides. Which is the third interesting point. These are small boats floating about a thousand feet in a 200 year-old canal. But the Coast Guard has shut the boats down for repairs. What?

Slide Seven of Nine (why does that have a familiar ring?) Another 200 year old waterway, and again, the term in use is a little suspect. Originally built as a canal with 8 locks, not it is a sluiceway for an electric power plant. Still in use, but not as originally intended.

Slide Eight of Nine is legit; a 120 year old hydro-electric power plant; still putting out electricity. Probably not with the original generators, but still; rather impressive. Probably a good initial design.

Slide Nine of Nine; another power plant; a 1969 vintage nuclear plant. Not quite as durable as the hydro-plant; it is scheduled to be shut down in 2019 after only 50 years of use.

Part of what this proves is that good engineering pays; do it right the first time and it will last. Something that needs to be  learned by our modern engineers. Maybe we can build a stadium that will last a hundred years, instead of forty.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Remembering When

Memory can sometimes be a fallible thing. What we recall as Gospel truth may be just a figment of our imagination.

Not on purpose, but because things remembered are usually remembered to our best advantage. For instance, I remember the winter of 1977-1978 being the coldest, but it was actually the year before that we set the all time low of -25 degrees. How could my memory have failed me?

Probably because the Winter of 77-78 affected me personally, and because 35 years later things like that tend to run together. Like when you remember a Christmas when you got several things you absolutely remember getting because of the joy they brought you.

Then you drag out the old pictures to prove it, and find out that those toys came over the course of several years, and not all at once. The pleasant memories enjoyed each others company and congregated together, forming one memory, instead of several.

Does that mean all memories are wrong, or at least incorrect?

I don't thing so. As has been pointed out several times, we will always remember where we were when we heard the news on 9-11, or of the Challenger explosion, or of JFK's assassination. Or remember that feeling of standing in front of our families and friends and saying two simple words.

The important, life-changing events are usually etched indelibly into our memories.

Unless you are John Kerry.

The famous 'Christmas in Cambodia" incident isn't really a fair comparison; since the life changing event never happened, the memory was bound to be faulty.

There are certain things I remember about the day my first son was born. Like the trip to the hospital; the several conversations I had with her doctor, in the hallway, outside my wife's room discussing the issues she was having and the various ways to work around them; the risks and rewards associated with each.

And making decisions; decisions that would affect the life and health of both my wife and unborn child. 

I also remember the delivery room. And I remember the Doctor calling out a time of birth.

But I don't remember the time.

Memories are funny things.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

He's on ALL the Channels?!?!?!

Tonight is Obama's 5th State of the Union Address. Thank God for Netflix.

I am not a political junkie really, although I do follow politics and try to influence political thought. I'm not a junkie, a 'politics is the Alpha and Omega' type of person. I'm average; I do have other interests.  I don't think the average person will watch this speech; anyone with an interest to equal mine will just watch the reports on Wednesday morning.

Kinda like checking the box scores after a college game you be interested in, but not interested enough to actually watch. And already know how its going to be. Like if Notre Dame plays the Air Force Academy; you know who is going to win, and you know the score will be lopsided as Hell. You check the score to see just how badly they get whacked.

I know the speech will be full of blather, half-truths, out-and-out lies and 'misinterpreted' events. None of which will be called out in the lame stream media. And they all will be said with perfect elocution. 

There will be attacks on opponents and calls for new laws to correct things that are unjust. There will be points made of naming names of friends, and pointing them out. And whoever the unfortunate soul is who gets picked to sit next to Michelle will get introduced for some type of service to the country.

And if thee isn't a glowing report on the current status of Obamacare I'll eat my hat.

And I will miss it all; for many reasons. But mainly because the sound of Obama's voice grates on my every nerve like fingernails on a chalkboard. Initially anyway; then it starts to sound like the metal on metal squeal of a set of truck brakes, wore out and overheating as the truck slides past you on the interstate.

I'm not sure exactly what it is, but it think it is the tone; the one he uses when he is talking to us peons; where he tries to display his worthiness to be our ruler; the tone that sounds like- no matter how sophisticated the word- he is lecturing a first grade class on the finer points of toilet training.

I don't know why I intensely dislike Obama. Carter I respected as my President; Clinton too. Maybe because Carter was so damned ineffectual, and Clinton was a pragmatist, not an ideologue, so their Leftist principles didn't seem so prominent. Although they may have been trying to turn this country into a communist paradise, it didn't have that tone.

Obama doesn't care what you think. This will become a leftist country and he doesn't care who knows.

I know what some of you are thinking; its because he's, you know,.... (black).

Well, that, to me is a racist remark. It means no one not white has the ability to be wrong in any opinion. It means anyone who has a difference of opinion with any non-white holds that opinion solely because of a person's race. It means non-whites cannot be held responsible for the way they think or act. And you don't see that as racist?

Why not?

Isn't the definition of racism treating some differently because of visible differences?

Whether that treatment a harsh racism, like the KKK, or a softer racism, a failure of expectation, based solely on someone's looks?

Or is it only one side of the political debate has the authority to decide who is racist, and who is not?

Monday, January 27, 2014

Twenty- One Thousand and Counting

Yesterday I happened to look at my Blog stats, just as I hit 21,000 page views. About a thousand of those may be mine, but still; that's lots of visits by lots of folks over the last 7 years. Blogging was slow at first; I had a lot going on at the time, and I also treated each post as term paper.

And it has been sporadic through the years. Was it Monty Python who had the government Bureau of Fits and Starts? That is kind of how it has been on this blog.

But I'm not alone in the blogosphere in that. Looking for a blog topic I used an old trick of mine; the 'Next Blog' button on the top of the blog. It doesn't take you to the next blog alphabetically, but randomly.

I looked at maybe 30 blogs; only about 5 had posted in 2014, and only maybe 10 more had posted in the last year. Some hadn't posted since 2010 or 2011.

Blogging is both easy and hard. The writing is easy; the finding of time to write sometimes is difficult. I admire bloggers who can post not just everyday, but several times each day. Some of those posts are just links to other sites and information they wish to promote. Only a few, or maybe one, has the blogger's own comments attached.

Some had a final post; a reason for the ending of the blog. Others just kind of stopped. You have no idea why they stopped; was it lack of time, or did they just determine they had better things to do than pound on a keyboard, spreading trite tripe throughout the internet? Or did the blogger drop dead at his keyboard late one night, when a fit of vitriol became too much for a overstressed heart?

The world may never know. Or really care.

But because of Blogger there words will forever inhabit the Ethernet, occasionally to be read by wandering minds, searching the dark and cobwebbed corners of the world wide web for a spark to ignite their own imagination.

Yeah; like I just did.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Planning a Grand Vacation

I did not leave the house yesterday.

And, if I am lucky, I won't leave the house today either. Part of it is the weather; cold and snowy. And part of it is me being me; I have said many times that my idea of a perfect vacation is not leaving my property, unless I run out of beer.

Yes; I am the consummate homebody, bordering on the agoraphobic.

My wife, on the other hand, spends all week at home, and on Saturday and Sunday needs to get out of the house. If I spent all week inside these walls maybe I would feel the same. But I doubt it.

I have never been one of those people who needs to see and do. I find no attraction in beaches, resorts or theme parks. Yes, I do think there are interesting things in the world to visit, but most of them aren't worth the cost of the visit. Take the Statue of Liberty. I would love to visit the Monument, but that would mean going to New York City.

And that ain't gonna happen. When I can land a float plane next to Bedloe's Island step ashore and see the place and then back into my plane and head for home, I'll go. But if visiting the Statue means setting foot in the miserable mess they call New York City, I'll be content with pictures. The cost does not equal the value of the visit.

To me anyway. I am not a people person, and NYC equals people. Lots and lots and loads of people. Strange people, who are also strangers. Who talk funny.

It's not that I hate people. In the abstract anyway. I like the concept that there are 3 billion of us in this world and each of us is different.

Just don't put me in a room with any of those 3 billion.

And God Forbid that any one of those 3 billion show up at my place and ruin my vacation.

Saturday, January 25, 2014


I hope you will forgive the lack of posting the last few days; events overtook time, and something had to give.

But I'm back now; ready to go.

But where to? How about Facebook?

What? Facebook? Yes; Facebook. To share some BREAKING NEWS !

I don't care who you are or how you take it, that's funny right there....

Okay; now that I've gotten THAT out of my system...

The part that isn't funny is that we are talking about the 2016 Presidential race already and nobody bats an eye.

Because we started talking about 2016 in 2012. And there were brief mentions of 2016 in 2008. It has become a never ending cycle; one we have no relief from. The question is; is that a bug or a feature?

Face it; how many of us are big enough political junkies that we want to be immersed in politics completely and consistently? We have other concerns; other interests; hobbies, families, jobs.

Somewhere on one of my many bookshelves I have a copy of Theodore H. White’s Making of the President: 1964. The story starts in Dallas, November of 1963. Not particularly because of the assassination, but the reason for JFK's trip to Dallas- to kick off his re-election campaign. A year out from Election Day; not 4 years out.

And at that year out point it was only the political junkies paying attention; not the media. Real public interest didn't start until the Conventions, in July and August. You got whipped into a political frenzy for a few months, voted in early November, and packed away the political trappings like a child would pack up his room before heading off to college; it would be 4 years before the fever hit again.

Today we are constantly bombarded with the political. Hell; we have been told since 2000 that Hillary was inevitable in 2004; 2008; 2016. 

Just like a kid facing another week of school in June; we don't care. We are burned out.

And this is where the bug turns into a feature; we are burned out; we tune out and stop caring. The media doesn't stop bombarding us with 'information' we just stop listening.

And by the time we enter the voting booth in Election Month, it is Name Recognition Lottery Time, and the name(s) we have been bombarded with for YEARS require a Pavlovian response.

Bug, or Feature?

The thing is (HOPEFULLY) this; maybe it will all backfire again. Maybe 2008 wasn't a fluke. Maybe Obama wasn't the "Magic Negro" he is purported to be, but just a latter-day Bill Clinton; an alternative to what else there was. He was the only one to even consider running against the "Inevitable" Hillary.

Was it just palpable Hillary burnout in 2008 that has saddled us with this fiasco?

I am also not discounting the Bush burnout in 2008. The Hillary fatigue got us Obama the Candidate; the Bush fatigue got us Obama the President.

2012? That was just massive voter fraud, up and down the board.

But that is another post.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014


I hope you'll forgive me for not doing much of a post today; there is just nothing going on that can compete with yesterday's news, and I need to reflect on it some more. Writing is a cathartic exercise, and certain events require more of that type of exercise than others.

It has been said that some all people bring joy to a room; some by entering, others by leaving, and I think death affects us just the opposite; the deaths of most are not reasons for joy, although deaths are more personal than most things.

Death does not affect the deceased as much as it does those left behind, provided you are a believer in the Risen Christ. We know that a better world awaits us, as soon as we have finished our punishment on Earth. Everlasting Joy; reunion with lost family; Heaven itself.

The sadness we experience is for ourselves, for our loss,  No more to hear a treasured voice; the familiar laugh. The feel of a much loved hand, weathered and wrinkled, calloused with years of work; work done for the love of those around him.

But death should be celebrated, not decried, if you are a Believer; it is one of the reasons TO Believe. Those we have lost are no longer suffering. They are with the Lord, and if we are lucky, preparing a spot for us in Heaven.

It's hard to be joyful. We cannot think of what we have gained, as our minds are full of what we have lost.

We have to think about it; concentrate on it; Believe IN IT.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Sad News.

I received a call this morning at 7:20; I didn't immediately recognize the number, or the tearful voice on the other end. And I didn't want to recognize the news.

My Father-in-law had passed.

The news was unexpected. He, like most men his age, had a few health problems; problems he addressed when he had too and ignored when he could. but he hadn't been unwell recently. Death has grabbed him while he was still full of life.

I actually met my wife through her Dad. We worked together, driving school buses for the county. The drivers would gather and drink coffee after the morning runs and before the afternoon ones at the garage, swapping stories. He never said too much, but when he did it always seemed to be the right thing to say.

He never said anything to me directly, but the grapevine was full of rumors that he was not a big fan of me dating his second oldest daughter for a variety of reasons. I hope he changed his mind in the last 30-odd years. I lost access to the bus garage rumor mill 30 some years ago, but I think he must have; I never got thrown out of the house when we went to visit.

It is often said of people that there is never a bad word said against them; but that is seldom true. But it is in his case. Generous to a fault occasionally, the only vice he ever had that I was aware of was his pipe, if you could consider that a vice.

Husband, Father, Grandfather, Great- Grandfather and Father-in-law; he will be missed by all who had the great blessing to have know him.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Yeah, It's Been a Year Already

Today is once again my Birthday.  I usually keep the celebrations low key, not because of any inherent hatred of getting older, but because we just exited the Christmas season, and I, for one anyway, am flat partied out.

Today is my 54th birthday. Well, actually it is the 54th anniversary of my birth day, but no need to become semantic. Unless I want to become semantic. And it's MY birthday, I'll do as I dang well please.

Sorry; I had to get that out of my system.

I use my birthday as a day to review the last year and preview the coming one. To calculate the gains and losses; who I saw born and who I saw buried. To determine if I feel as old as I am.

To me, age is really an average of two things; how old the calendar says you are and how old you feel. When we are young, those two generally coincide, if we ever give any thought to it. 40 is when things start to go awry, usually because that is when we are first asked how old we feel. And then we start thinking about it. I don’t think being 40 is the cause of all of our aches and pains; I think being 40 and acting 25 is the cause of all of our aches and pains.

But the truth is I don't feel any older than I did at 25. Unless I am trying to get up from lying on the floor. Used to be I could pop up like a jack-in-the-box. Now it’s more like watching bread rise, and takes almost as long. That is proof of my failing memory; I can't remember NOT to get down on the floor in the first place.

I know I’m not alone. Everybody I know is facing the same thing, whether they want to admit it or not. But the fact that everybody is in the same boat doesn't help; it just makes it a very crowded boat.

Jimmy Buffet has an old song (from 1980; yeah, I know to my peers, that ain't old) "I'm Growing Older But Not Up"; it is, in my opinion, an anthem of the American over 50. He was 34 when he wrote it. And 64 when he performed it here.

None of us wants to admit not how old we are, but how much we have aged. Like the old joke says; Anybody who claims they can do at 50 what they did at 20, didn't do squat at 20. None of us wants to admit that we are incapable of doing the things we used to do. Toby Keith said it best; “I Ain’t As Good As I Once Was”; another anthem of the over 50 crowd.

You can see, I guess where I am going with this? The calendar tells me that in 366 more days I will be closer to 60 that to 50; closer to 70 than 40; and I'll stop before decide to grab a beer at 9:00 on a Sunday morning.

Which is something I would have done when I was younger. When 9:00 Sunday morning was just late on a Saturday Night.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

To Make a Short Story Long

Last night we had Cincinnati Chili for supper. Over spaghetti; with onions. And beans; don't forget the beans.

Typically we also shredded cheese and oyster crackers too; a true Cincinnati style 5-way. Apparently while she was out shopping my wife picked up the chili spice mix, the beans and the spaghetti, but missed the crackers and the cheese.

Not a problem in this day of instant communication. She calls me and lets me know we are having Chili for supper; bring home some Cheese and Crackers. Kroger's is on the way home, I have money in my pocket; why is this a long story?

Here's why this is a long story.

When I was young Friday was Shopping Day; just like Monday was Wash Day and Tuesday was Ironing Day and Wednesday was..., well, you get the picture.

Mom and Dad would go shopping on Friday after supper, and when they got home, after the car was unloaded and everything stored away, it was time for a snack. Snack on Friday nights was Cheese and Crackers. Usually a Sharp Cheddar and Ritz Crackers. The cheese came in a foil wrapped block, and had to be sliced first. ANTICIPATION!!

I don't know why Cheese and Crackers is a favorite snack of mine still. Maybe its the cheese; loads of fat and protein. And loads of taste, because of the loads of fat. Or maybe even then this was a sign that the week had ended, and the freedom of Saturday was fast approaching. Or maybe it was because we could eat our Cheese and Crackers in front of the TV, in the living room. Everybody gathered around the plate of carefully sliced cheese and half empty roll of golden brown crackers, set up on Dad's footstool.

Anyway, on Friday I get a call to bring home Cheese and Crackers. For Chili. Simple, right? Well, part two of the story: There is also a chili, cheese and crackers connection. My Grandma made chili that was sweet- my sister has the recipe and does a great batch as well- and Dad would always eat his chili with Ritz crackers and cheese.

So there I am in the store, on a Friday, picking up Cheese and Crackers for Chili. So I pick up a box of Ritz and- SCORE!- a pound of Sharp Cheddar is on sale for five bucks!


The Chili is ready when I walk in the door. The family has been eagerly awaiting my arrival so we can eat the Chili that has been simmering all day, filling the house with the wonderful smells of cooking spices and meat.

And they were expecting shredded cheese and oyster crackers. D'oh!

I'm blaming the wife. She said "Cheese and Crackers", not "crackers and cheese".

More proof that words have meaning, and should be carefully chosen.

Friday, January 17, 2014

New Friday Feature

I see this blog as a writing exercise; somewhere to display some creativity and to let my writing loose on the world and see what happens.

Tuesday I tried something new, for me anyway, and cut loose with some Flash Fiction. I had some fun with it, and it didn't turn out to bad. So I decided to start Flash Fiction Fridays.

After all, a picture is worth a thousand words, right?

The first installment is here:

Luxury was a word they didn't know how to use. Necessity they used seldom, but Luxury not at all.

What was necessary, anyway? Food on the plate was one. Sweet food, tasty food- Luxury. Anything He could shoot on the patch they still had, and anything She could grow behind the house or barter a few eggs from the chicken house for.

A roof that didn't leak; that was a Luxury too, but one they had, as long as He could still split a shake and climb onto the roof to patch it. Although she worried when he did. An old friend over toward Redbud had fallen off his roof; broke a hip. Them folks had had to survive on the kindness of friends for nigh on a year. But He wouldn't fall. He wasn't a dam fool like that old buzzard in Redbud.

Heat was a Luxury when they didn't have wood. She would run the stove to cook a hot meal and when the embers burned out they would climb under the stack of quilts she and her mother had made years ago and keep warm until breakfast.

A photograph; that was a Luxury. They couldn't even afford a wedding photo those many years ago. 40 was it? 45 now? It had been a while. But when time becomes meaningless, time isn't kept. Her uncle from down Nashville way had brought along his Brownie Camera to the Wedding, and took their picture outside the church. A luxury, and a precious memory, She had the picture tucked up in the family Bible. She forgot exactly where. Genesis? Numbers? Or was it New Testament? She would have to drag The Book down and see.

They hadn't read the Bible much lately. Too much work to do, and no hands to help. The Good Lord had not seen to Bless them with children. Well, adult children anyway. 4 young She had borne, and 4 were buried on the hill.

She was the more thoughtful of the pair. Maybe because She could work her hands without her mind needing to keep up. She was worried about what they would leave behind, and to who. The farm was down to a few acres. She wasn't sure how many, but it seemed every year a few more would need to go to pay the tax man.

All the young'uns died young, with no children of their own. They had a passel of nieces and nephews, but none wanted to be tied to a dirt poor farm so far from town. The barn was about down- She kept trying to get Him to start burning some of it when wood got scarce, but he always said a farm has to have a barn; if you ain't got a barn, you ain't a farmer. He wouldn't burn his barn.

Then one day that nice young man showed up with his camera. Taking pictures the young man said. Part of something the government was doing.

He became suspicious; He hadn't ever trusted the government, and wasn't about to start now. No thanks young man. Now go away.

But She convinced him, like she always had, to listen a little more. Neither He nor She had ever heard of the Smithsonian Institution, but that nice young man explained it. They were taking pictures so people in the future would know how folks lived around here. So, She asked; you take our picture and it will be around forever?

I can't guarantee forever, the young man smiled, but yes, for a very long time.

He still hated the idea. Dam government had taken him off the farm and sent him to some Hellhole called Cuba. Dam government had taken his son and killed him in France; Dam government had taken his farm, 2 and 3 acres at a time. And now the Dam government wanted to take his picture.

But she convinced him. We'll sit on the steps She said. Go put on your Sunday overalls, although it had been many a Sunday since those clothes had seen the inside of a church, they were still his Sunday overalls. She ran a brush through his hair, until He had all the fuss he  could stand, and waved her away. Then She sat down beside him, in front of the home they had shared for innumerable years, and that nice young man took their picture.

Part of the program was that the folks who sat got copies of the pictures; that was the photographers job. The government paid for the prints and the postage. That nice young man never could explain why he did it, but of the thousands and thousands of pictures he had taken and mailed, only one did he spend his own meager funds on to frame first.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Teaching Economics

A few weeks ago while on a long (30 minute) car ride with the Youn'un, I struck up a conversation on the topic of the cost of things, and how they are paid for. We were rolling through a Mickey D's at the time, and she was asking about money. I figured it would be a pleasant way to spend the time. And I'll tell that story in a minute. But first I have to rant.

This place screwed up our order like you wouldn't believe. I drink unsweetened ice tea, and can't strand the sweet version. I ordered a Sausage Egg and Cheese McMuffin and a Sausage Egg and Cheese McGriddle and 3 hash browns, plus my tea. I'm still at the window when I sip my tea- I have been screwed with the Sweet Tea too often- and sure enough; Sweet Tea. I knock on the window and hand it back. I verified I have the right tea when they hand me the second cup full (it was) and we leave the place. I am a block up the road when the Youn'un realizes they have not given us any hash browns. Another block to find somewhere to turn around, and three blocks back to the Mickey D's.

The drive through is a hot mess, backed up almost to the street, so we park and go inside. Which is also backed up 3 deep at all of the cash registers. IS all this time really worth 3 hash browns? Yes; yes it is. We finally get to the counter and get our hash browns, get back into the car and leave for a second time. 3 blocks up the street I reach for my McGriddle. No McGriddle. I only have one sandwich, not two.

And the one I have is an Egg-White and Ham McMuffin. No cheese.

Have I mentioned yet that I am about an hour late for an appointment to do a couple of small jobs for my brother?

This is where I start discussing the various ways of assigning cost and value to things. With a 9 year-old.

And I think she caught on. It helps to have concrete examples.

We talked about what a  McGriddle cost in money, and what the cost would be for returning to the store to get the right order; again.

We talked about how things will have the same cost, but different values. Like a McGriddle that costs $3.00; if I earn $30.00 an hour, a McGriddle costs me 6 minutes; if I make $3.00 an hour that same sandwich costs me an hour.

We discussed what it would cost to make another return trip to the store, and how the store cost me more than the money spent for what I received.

We talked for the entire ride to my brother's place, and not once did I have to utter any words that had anything to do with her TV shows or her music. She was also holding up her end of the conversation, asking pertinent questions and asking for details and more examples.

How much of it did she retain?

I'm not really sure, but when we stopped as a family at a Mickey D's a week or so later we checked the bags to make sure we had everything. Right afterward she asked if they had cost me anything this time.

Maybe some of it sunk in.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Yes; Again

You have probably read about the latest Florida shooting. One version of the details are here. Another set here, and a better set here.

First and foremost, this is a tragedy for both families. A young family is now without a father and husband, and, if the Zimmerman/Martin fiasco is any indicator, the Reeves family will be stressed to the point of fracture by the media and the courts as well.

That being said; so many things I find interesting in the case. First is the fact set.

Based on the published reports (which don't seem to have too much variance in the facts reported, just the number of facts reported).  Chad Oulson, the victim, only really has 3 things known about him; he is 43, married, and father of at least one child. Our shooter, Curtis Reeves has a more detailed history. 71, a retired police captain who also spent at least some time as head of security for Busch Gardens. We are not dealing with a neighborhood watch wanna be; this man has been there, done that, for 50 years.

Fact 1: The victim was texting during the opening previews of the movie. Our shooter asked him to stop, most likely because the noise and light were distracting and bothersome. Strange thing 1: He is texting his 3 year-old daughter. What? I'm sorry, that is just goofy.

Fact 2: The victim declines to stop texting his 3 year-old daughter. After several requests, the shooter leaves the theater and supposedly talks to management.

Fact 3: The shooter returns to his seat, and is confronted by the victim. The victim seems concerned that the shooter has reported him to management. A shouting match ensues.

Fact 4: Popcorn is thrown; how much and by whom isn't clear, but the shooter claims he was hit by the popcorn.

Fact 5: Feeling threatened, the shooter pulls his weapon out of his pocket and shoots. Strange thing 2: he manages, with one shot, to hit the wife in the hand and the victim in the chest.

Fact 6: An off duty police officer is nearby and disarms the shooter, maintains control of his weapon and keeps him in custody until armed officers arrive.

Here is the scene, as I see it. Once the argument heats up things will get fuzzy on both sides, but the shooter is not only a trained officer, he setup the Tampa Tactical Response Unit. He knows how to defend himself, not just in normal circumstances, but in tense situations. In his mind he saw one of two things that heightened his sense of awareness and made him fear for his safety. First he has a much younger, angry man within a couple of feet of him. A method of distraction used prior to a physical attack is the throwing of something at the eyes or face. It distracts the target and puts them off balance.

Once the popcorn flew the shooter reacted to his years of training and experience. He may have pulled his weapon at this point.

Fact 7: The wife's injured hand. Was it her motion towards her husband, in a vain attempt to stop a bullet with her hand, cause our shooter to think the victim was trying to disarm him, causing him to shoot?

Remember; these folks aren't feet away on a brightly lit street; they are inches away from each other in a dark or darkened theater, in the middle of a confrontation. it wouldn't take much, I would think, for the training ingrained by years of working the street to take over when an action, or actions, perceived as threatening takes place.

Just like in the Zimmerman/Martin event of a  year or so back; a few minutes changes the course of many lives forever.

A friend of mine sent me a text as we were discussing this topic in which he said: I just think we should live in a country where it's not okay to shoot people because you got into an argument with them.

Well, I agree with that.

But I also think we should be able to live in a country where we don't have to walk around in fear. For old folks, fear of the younger. For women, fear of the men. The weak of the strong, the small of the large. The honest of the crooked. The unarmed of the armed.

It wasn't the argument that got our victim shot; it wasn't the flying popcorn either. It was that he had no fear of an old man, and thought he could bully him.

And, tragically, found out he was wrong.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Some Days It Comes Easy

The topic is right there, the prose fall easily from my dancing fingertips and a post is done.

Other days I struggle. There are things out there to blog about, but nothing catches my eye, or my ire. Either my interest level is low or I am just not tuned into the world in the right way.

Since I am writing this on Monday night, it could be the rain. Or the fact that it is a Monday. Who knows? Who cares?

But I have to post something. Worse yet, something Interesting. and I got.... Nuthin'.

Then I thought about a writing genre I heard about called Flash Fiction. basically, you pick a random image from somewhere, and write about it.

And hope it turns out good.

No; its not for sale. It may look like scrap iron, but it ain't.

That sir, is Grandpa's tractor. First one in the neighborhood that ran on gas. Everybody else was still plowin' with mules and Grandad bought a tractor. The Johnson's over toward Miller's Junction, they had a steam tractor from way back when. They'd rent it out at threashin' time; one bushel outta ten went home with them, and you supplied the fuel.

My ole' Dad would complain about spendin' a week cuttin' and splittin' cord word and that steam belchin' monster would eat it up in an afternoon.

Then Grandad managed to get a few coins together and bought this tractor.. He'd take one bushel outta 15, and supply his own gasoline. Bought it down at the hardware store; 36 cents a gallon in a glass jug. how he managed to rattle that thing all over the county with foot well full a' glass jugs a' gasoline and never bust one I'll never know.

I'd go with him sometimes, when we went to a close neighbor's place. Rattlin' down the hard packed dirt roads, 5 jugs a' gasoline bangin' against each other and the hard metal of the foot well. The engine makin' the whole thing shudder like the devil himself was draggin' on the rear and the iron treads slappin' on the road, jarrin' my eyeteeth loose.

But we was kings then. Me and Grandpa. Ridin' the wave a' the future while everyone else rode the back of a mule. I can still hear the pop of the exhaust, and smell the fumes, mixed with other smells; smells that were mixed and separate, all at the same time.

Hot metal and hot oil and hot water. The smell of dust hanging raw in the air, and burning where it landed on the exhaust. And occasionally a whiff of Grandpa's bay-rum after shave. 

Grandad did his last threshin' run about '24 or '25 I believe. There weren't but one or two farms left still usin' mules by then. Money was flush and everybody had a machine on the farm; Henry Ford had seen to that. He parked old Avery in a corner of the machine shed, and only fired her up once in a blue moon, to do some little job around the farm. Dad was running the farm then, and Grandpa was like Avery; re-tired.

A few years after Grandpa died Dad needed the room in the machine shed for some new piece of equipment or the other and pulled old Avery out into the snow. I got her runnin' a few times, kept her oiled and all. Just like Grandpa did, I'd find some small job she could do and put her to work. Till the War anyway. Then we couldn't spare the time or the gas and oil.

So there she sits. And it ain't scrap iron; that's Grandpa's tractor.

Monday, January 13, 2014

What a Comment on our Society

I did a screen capture yesterday morning of my Bing homepage.

As usual, the photograph is stunning. Capturing an owl in flight, and starring directly into the camera; incredible.

But not as incredible as the line of text across the bottom of the screen.

These are the current 'hot' search terms. Isn't it nice to know that with everything going on in the world, in this country and in Washington DC. the biggest concern on everyone's minds is David Cassidy's second DUI? Or that some actress may be anorexic? Amanda Knox? Do we really care what happens to Amanda Knox?

Bing has a whole list of the top 20 search terms (With Pictures!!!) that will scroll across the bottom of the screen. I took a look at the whole thing. Even the Chris Christie bridge debacle, the hot topic among the media darlings, is no where to be found.

There were reports from last year of Google 'scrubbing' certain terms and search results of any reference to Daniel Snowden, so that he would not appear as one of the hot topics from 2013 as far as the Google search engine goes.

Here is my problem: aren't these search engines supposed to deal in information? Maybe it is just me who thinks they should be dealing in UNBIASED information.

Can we assume, for the sake of discussion, that you are on the board of directors of a corporation. You and the board are responsible for staffing a manufacturing plant, and already have a team in place, but are considering making changes. You hire a head-hunting organization to report on the fitness of the current staff and the applicants, and believe their report to be the truth.

After decisions are made and the staff are in place, you discover that certain members of the current staff and some of the applicants had conspired with the organization you hired to falsify some of the data you had used in your hiring decisions. These falsifications varied from ignoring some minor infractions of company policy to the commission of felonies that were not reported against some of the employees/applicants. Personal habits and family misadventures of some applicants were given prominent spots in the reports, while in other cases this derogatory information was completely ignored.

Would you feel betrayed? Both by the organization you hired and the people who had conspired with them? People who were now your contract employees?

You know where I am going with this, don't you?

In a few months- May and November to be exact- we will be hiring new staff to serve us our employees in Washington. To use their talents to best serve us. And they will be under contract for 2 or 6 years.

We need valid, unbiased information to choose which employee to hire. Where will we get this information?

Isn't it strange that in the era we are calling The Information Age we are having all kinds of trouble with our information?

Since we seem almost unable to control our personal information, and because of the failure of people we have relied on to supply us with correct information, perhaps (especially since 2008), we should call this The Disinformation Age.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Whats worse?

I don't know what is the worst thing about this post; that there are people in college with a third grade education; that these people have sports scholarships; that people are actually surprised that you can get a sports scholarship with a third grade education, or that I have actually linked to something that inhabits the dregs of internet society, Huffington Post.

I saw and read this the other day, but didn't do anything with it. But them this morning I saw it linked on Instapundit, and thought, Well; If Glenn thinks its post worthy, who am I to argue?

Here is the problem, one I have been making an issue of for years: college teams in Football and Basketball are nothing more than farm teams for the NFL and NBA, with one exception. If you're playing AAA ball for a MLB farm team, your career is over when you want to retire, and YOU GET PAID. NFL and NBA: you get paid with an "education", and after 4 or maybe 5 years you are out on the street.

And since you went into college reading on a 3rd grade level, your 'education' consisted of the few remedial classes you actually showed up for when you were a freshman, before you realized as long as you could hold the line or drop a ball in a basket, nobody cared if you showed up or not.

Well, except for the guy the college was paying to tutor you. And he was happy when you quit showing up; he was tired of trying to educate a brick that knew a little ball handling. And now he gets paid to show up and do his own homework.

Is there anybody out there who doesn't know about the 'we pretend to educate them' payment clause? Yes there are exceptions; it is the exceptions that prove the rule.

Is there a list somewhere of inner-city kids who went to college on a sports scholarship and then was successful, outside of the NBA or NFL?  If there is, I'll bet its a shorter list than of the ones who wound up dying from a gunshot wound on a street corner. And that is a BIG IF; the NCAA does not want you to know what the real purpose behind these 'scholarships' is.

To make the colleges money.

Which is probably where the death threats are coming from. Not the kids who got ripped off playing for these schools for nothing- the ones who SHOULD be angry- but the NFL/NBA/NCAA officials who don't want anybody to upset the free labor applecart.

So; my modest proposal: colleges should have two levels of sports teams; the farm team level and the amateur level. Let Ohio State keep its football program that had millions of fans world wide. But also let them have a team of real students; students who are in college for an education, and happen to be good at a sport. These students may get a partial scholarship, or may not.

But then we come to the farm team; what is the cost of a years tuition at Ohio State, for an out of state student?

Hmmmm. Apparently it is a little over $25k; plus another $10k for room and board. How about we pay the farm team players that amount in either cash or trade, which ever they prefer? If the player wants to live in a dorm and get an education, he can. If he would prefer to live off campus and ignore the whole college thing while he prepares for an NBA career, give him the cash.

The point is transparency and honesty. Show of hands; who doesn't think this wouldn't be a better system? Anybody really believe that 95% of the sports scholarship students, in Football or Basketball, really leave college with an education?

It's time to do what is right by the athletes, the real students and the public; end the charade of the major sport student athlete. Stop the charade of the 'no-pay-for-play'.

Lets bring some honesty back into college sports.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Is a Polar Vortex a Rock Band?

I hate to constantly blog about the weather, but right now the weather is a hot topic, no pun intended.

Few days ago we had a high of -10 degrees. Today we are looking at a high in the low 50 degree range; a sixty degree difference in less that a week.

Almost like I had hopped a plane from Alaska (which was actually warmer than Kentucky last week) to northern Texas. I went from sweating how I would pay my heating bill to sweating inside a light jacket.

What a January this has been. And it is supposed to be chilly again this coming week, as the Polar Vortex swings back into town.

I want to be on the committee that sits around and dreams up these names, I swear I do. Okay; I'm not certain there is a committee, but I'd bet there is. Not bet the farm certain, but bet a strawberry milkshake certain.

How else do we wind up with meteorological terms like Polar Vortex? Or Wintery Mix? Or my personal favorite: microburst event.

I mean seriously; Polar Vortex? it sounds like a movie title, for a cheap James Bond style rip-off. Or maybe a Captain Video style Saturday Morning Serial Hero.

I can hear the snorts and laughter in the background; So I think I could do better?

Yes; I think I could.

Just off the top of my head, how about:

Cold Snap

It describes the weather event, conveys all of the information the listener needs to know and doesn't require anything more than a free phone app to understand.

Of course , it does fail in some ways that really don't matter.

It can no way be connected to "Global Warming"; "Global Cooling" or even "Climate Change".

Which I don't actually consider a fault.

Isn't that where these newfangled terms come from? I mean it is Really hard to connect a cold snap to any Man Caused Global weather change. My Great-Grandma lived through cold snaps.  My Dad knows what a cold snap is. They were common when I was growing up. Nothing new about a cold snap.

BUT a Polar Vortex; that is something new. We have never had cold weather caused by a Polar Vortex before. There just might be something to this "Global Weather changy-thingy" after all.

But I would be willing to bet that every cold snap this area has ever lived through was caused by the same phenomenon that is now gloriously called a Polar Vortex.

This may sound like a meaningless issue, but it isn't. Language has to mean something. Not just once, but consistently. And it has to be free.

The idea that a cold snap can suddenly become a Polar Vortex means some part of the language has lost its meaning. How far is it from the point where language is controlled to the point where language is forbidden? And then the concepts behind those words forbidden?

We have a lot of freedoms in this country, but the freedom from being offended isn't one of them.

Unless you happen to be in a legally protected group. As a male Christian, I am not in any protected group. I am legally not allowed to be offended by anything, but am legally bound to not offend anyone that may disagree with me.

So I think a Polar Vortex is a cold snap, dressed up in a borrowed tuxedo, and I dare you to disagree with me.

Arguing about the weather is still the one area we can discuss without me causing any offense. At least it was the last time I checked.

Friday, January 10, 2014

If You Don't Laugh, You Ain't Normal

That first post was short, but with a long video.

So how about another short post with another long military related video.

I found this over at the The Borderline Sociopathic Blog For Boys site; always very entertaining.

I did spend a few years serving, but I don't remember anything like this video happening. But then maybe we were this young and dumb.

Or, maybe its because I see lots of Green- Army and Marines.

Didn't see any blue in here at all.

But then again I could be prejudiced.

Cool or What?

A friend of mine sent me a link to this video.

No, to this AWESOME video.

Can you imagine being on the trigger side of that thing? How about the business end?

And the base technology was patented while Lincoln was President. Hows that for an update on an old idea?

If you read the comments they talk about the cost of each shot. Around $.75 to $1.00. Approximately $2300 a MINUTE.

Owning one of those things is like a owning a Ferrari; the purchase price is only half the cost; the upkeep is like buying a second one.

The US Military owns hundreds of those weapons, and shoots them on a regular basis.

And you wonder why we spend so much on the military budget.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

A Street Car Named Disaster

There are I would imagine, some very upset voters in the City of Cincinnati.

For those of you from out of town, or in town and under a rock somewhere, the last election was a referendum on the Cincinnati Street car. And all of the candidates who came out in favor of the Street Car Named Disaster lost.

So it was toast, right? No more Choo- Choo through The 'Nati?

Well, yes. And then maybe. And then no.

Half of the folks elected solely because they opposed the Streetcar CHANGED THEIR MINDS.

Yep; within a week of being sworn in the the Little Engine That Shouldn't was once again the Little Engine That Was.

Here's the thing: I ain't got a dog in this fight, so to speak. I don't live, work or pay taxes on that side of the river. The only thing I will spend money on in Ohio is a 12 -pack of Yuengling, and then only because I can't get a 12-pack on this side of the river.

And then I drive far enough to avoid giving Hamilton County any money, just in case.

So they can do almost anything they want over there; it won't effect me. Except for when they will try to export that insanity down South, or will try to form a 'Regional Coalition' to force me to pay for something I didn't even get to vote on. Like that mattered to the newly elected City Council anyway.

But here are a few facts they need to consider:

1) All of the cities with an extensive mass transit system had that system in place prior to the invention of the Automobile.
2) All of these 'viable' systems (New York; Chicago; London; Paris, etc.) have had over 150 years of building and investment; Trillions of dollars.
3) These 'viable' systems work because there are concentrated living areas and concentrated work areas.
4) All of the cites with those 'viable' systems grew UP because of the need for mass transit.
5) Any city that has grown since the advent of the automobile has grown OUT.
6) All of these 'viable' systems Still Need Taxpayer Funded Support.

These are facts that are inescapable; they can't be whitewashed, and shouldn't be ignored. and Cincinnati does not meet any of the points that would lead me to believe that mass transit would be viable in Cincinnati.

Viable mass transit is a pipe-dream, and in this case, most likely a crack-pipe dream.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

BC Ain't PC?

I was looking for a subject for today's post and found this cartoon strip. Which hits the nail on the head.

Nobody is happy with either party, but for vastly different reasons.

Dems are unhappy with Repubs because they are Repubs, and are angry at the Dems because they aren't Left enough.

Repubs are unhappy with Dems because they are Dems, and unhappy with Repubs because they aren't Right enough.

Okay; so maybe they're reasons AREN'T vastly different, just the reasons for their reasons.

The question each party has to ask (and successfully answer) is where do the voters stand?

Kind of simplified, but we can break it down into 5 positions:

Far Right: Right: Center: Left: Far Left.

Earth shattering isn't it? Yeah I know; nothing new to see here.

The chart isn't new, but maybe my analysis of it is. Because the question is where are the voters?

First; they aren't evenly distributed; Second; they aren't static and Third; they aren't mobile.

And no, the last two aren't contradictory.  Very few voters will change their minds on a specific issue. Other than the change from young liberal to older conservative. But in this case they are just replacing their dying parents and likewise being replaced by their growing children. And most of the time they go from left leaning Center to right leaning Center; that aren't going from Left to Right.

Then there are those who start at Far Left. They tend to stay there. Nobody who shouted "Power to the People" in the 1960's grew up to join the John Birch Society. Unless they only shouting "Power" to pick up chicks. Trying to attract women will make men do strange things; sometimes Very Strange things. But you see my point; they are static in their position.

Same with those on the Far Right. If they are God, Guns and Country at 18, they will be God, Guns and Country at 68.  Static.

The Center is a little more fluid. Sometimes they are left leaning Center, bumping up against being Left, and other times they are right leaning Center, bumping up against being Right. A great swilling mass, always stable in ultimate position, but always in motion within the position. Kind of like stirring a big bowl of pudding. right around the spoon the pudding is always deeper than anywhere else n the bowl, but not really deep enough to make a big difference in the depth anywhere else.

The spread breaks down like this: Far Right- 21%; Right- 21%; Center- 25%; Left-20% and Far Left- 13%. The far left has the fewest adherent, but they are the most vocal. Power to the People!, remember?

Assuming all of there groups are static, how can they also be mobile?

Because changes in government will cause their relative positions to change. the problem is they aren't on a line, but in a circle. Your 'Power to the People' Lefty isn't too far away from a limited government Tea Partier when you get right down to it. They want the same thing, just have different methods of trying to get it.

Which brings us back to my premise; where do the voters stand?

It depends; what is the issue?

So much has been made over the years of the Reagan Democrats, and why they were willing to cross party lines to vote for a Republican. Here is my take on it: Reagan said it best; "I didn't leave the Democratic Party. The Democratic Party left me". Reagan carried the old line Democrat principles into the Republican Party, and bridged the gap between the two. It hasn't worked since, and will never work again. All of the old line Democrats are gone already, and no one will follow a so-called Progressive from the Dems to the Repubs, even if one was so foolhardy as to try.

And no Repub would bother to vote for them either, knowing the conversion wasn't Saul-like, but one of opportunity.

So, after all of this prattling; WHERE DO THE VOTERS STAND?!?!?!!?

Right where you would expect the to be; in favor of limited government, less taxation and a strong defense. They may say it different ways, and define 'limited' or 'less' or 'strong' a little differently, but other than the 13% fringe left, this is what they want.

So why won't either party give it to them?

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

New Year's Resolutions

I have found the perfect way to not break a New Year's Resolution.

I don't make any.

It's not because I am already perfect- depending on who you ask either I am durn near or far from the ideal- but because I have realized nobody keeps the Resolution they have created.

Sometimes the change they are making is not well thought out. Sometimes the liquor induced resolve of New Years Eve evaporates in the light of New Years Day. Sometimes events conspire against the Resolution, like when your resolve to lose weight runs up against a buy one get one free sale on Big Macs.

I have usually failed to keep a Resolution because the goal I set one day seems irrelevant the next. Yes, losing weight is a great goal. But compared with working toward World Peace? Can't hold a candle.

Really; think about it. Could you sacrifice losing 10 pounds in order to work toward World Peace? Isn't the goal of World Peace worth almost any cost?

Besides, working toward World Peace will help you meet Miss America, or Miss USA, or Miss World. Aren't all of those young women working toward World Peace? Think about it; when they are asked what they hope to accomplish in their year as Miss Whatever, have you ever seen ONE of them declare that they hope to lose 10 pounds?

Nope; they're all working toward World Peace. Or ending hunger. Ending hunger is easy; see the aforementioned BOGO Big Mac Sale.

Yes, I am kidding.

Another reason Resolutions aren't kept; they are too esoteric. You have all met the individual who has decided to "become a better person".


Based on what standard?

Right now I am a better person than at least half the world ; especially if the half I am compared to involves anyone in Washington DC.

And then we need to look at what makes me better. After all; there are some changes that in one group's eyes would improve me, and in another group's eyes would devalue me. Going on the Atkins diet would be a great move in some circles.

But not if that circle is full of vegans.

Everything is relative; even losing weight. Ever seen a Ruben's painting? If any of those girls would have dropped 10 pounds they would have been out of a job. Sumo wrestler? 10 pounds is the difference between winning and getting thrown out of the ring.

All in all though improving yourself is a worthy goal. My criticizing the goals folks have set for themselves is probably overly judgmental.

I could resolve to be less judgmental, but I'll bet if I did this is the year I would be called for jury duty.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Well, That was a Big Bust

Well, that was a big to-do about nothing, wasn't it?

They were predicting 4-6 inches of snow for yesterday. All of the TV weather talking heads and hands have been talking about nothing else for DAYS. The Bengals game and the commute home afterward were going to be a flat mess because of the SNOW. Kroger's has been swamped since Friday; sold out of milk, eggs, bread and bathroom tissue.

The wife and I went shopping Thursday and got two loaves of bread. She was out again Sunday morning, and wanted to pick up BREAD, because of the snow. WHY!?!?!? We have two unopened loaves in the kitchen already! But the SNOW she says. What if were snowed in? Long enough to eat two loaves of bread? Not hardly.

And what did we get? 50 degrees and rain. Lots and lots of rain. Probably 2 inches of rain.

Not that I am really complaining mind you; I would rather have the rain. It's a lot easier to deal with. I have never in my life shoveled any rain off my driveway.

It's the disappointment; I was promised SNOW bygawd; DEEP SNOW. And I got nuthin'.

Well; its only January. we've still got a few weeks to get dumped on.

But here is my question; will any of these TV 'experts' explain WHY we didn't the storm they have spent a week hyping?

My guess is no. Why won't they? Is it because they won't own up to the error, and will dump this whole episode down the memory hole, or is it because they don't know why we got 2 inches of rain instead of 6 inches of snow?

I sometimes think I could do as good a job as any TV weatherman.

After all; I've got the free app on my smart phone.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

I'll Take the Ferrari, Thanks

I was perusing Instapundit this morning and saw this headline: "When Going to College is Like Buying a Ferrari on Credit.". Yeah, that caught my eye. It linked to this article on The Blaze, which references an article by Glenn Reynolds, aka Instapundit. If it wasn't such a good article I'd make some comment about shameless self promotion.

It is especially timely because I was talking to my nephew last weekend, and he mentioned some schools he was interested in, and at one of them a four year degree costs $200,000.00.

I checked. You can't get a Ferrari for $200k. At least you can't get a NEW Ferrari for $200k. That amount of cash will get a very nice 2 year old Ferrari however.

The thing is, the government will lend an 18 year-old kid that $200,000.00 IF he spends it at a college of their choice.

They will not lend an 18 year old kid that amount for a used Ferrari.

I think that's a shame. How about a little analysis?

Lets say I buy an indocrina... I mean 'Education' with that money. What will that education be worth in 10 years? How about a show of hands? How much of what you learned during your four years of undergrad do you still remember and/or still use? And I mean what you learned in THE CLASSROOM! How many of you are earning a living based on the field your degree was in? How many of you are using your Geology Degree as a basis for your management position in the growing field of fast food?

Now lets buy that used Ferrari!

First; having a car like that will open lots of doors. Not a member of the Hill 'n Dale Country Club? Roll up in a Ferrari; I'll bet they let you in. Roll up in your 10 year old beater Taurus and flash you degree from the University of Beer and Broads; my guess is they will hand you an employment application. For kitchen help.

Roll up to ANY hot spot in the city: Ferrari- you have a girl. Degree- you may get a free beer and some commiseration from the bartender, using his $200,000.00 Humanities Degree to mix drinks and change out empty beer kegs.

I could go on (And on. And on. And on...) but you get the picture. Plus; most, if not all Ferraris appreciate in value. Historically, the older a Ferrari gets the more it is worth. So your $200k investment today will net you double that in 15 years. Give or take.

Economists talk about something called 'Opportunity Cost of Money'; spending your cash one way means, as money is individually finite, you cannot spend it another way. Meaning every dollar you spend on rent is one less dollar you have for beer. Or vise versa. Every dollar you spend repaying that $200,000.00 in student loans is one dollar less you have for a house payment, car payment, 401k funding. Or beer.

I'm not against a college education. In fact, for certain positions I am positively for it. What I'm against is the ubiquitous nature of the college degree. One purchased at fantastic cost, on credit, and never used.

What are you buying for your Two Hundred Thousand Dollars and no sense (pun intended)? The piece of heavy stock paper with you name on it (which cost the college $1.45- it pays to buy in bulk) or the education that you allegedly obtained in your chosen field of study?

So; just how often will a discussion of the finer points of Women's Studies come up in the slack times between asking "do you want fries with that?"

I know some folks in the Payday Lending field. Before you can borrow $200 they must fully disclose the terms, interest rate and how much you will be paying back.

When you borrow $200,000.00 in student loans, some student- working at the school to avoid student loan debt- will advise you to "sign here to pay for next semester".

How many 18 year-olds would hesitate to sign if they knew the money they were borrowing today would still be coming out of their paycheck when they they are 40?

And that this debt will cost them that used Ferrari?

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Goodbye Holiday Season!

The Holiday Season is over; I can tell. This is the first Saturday in weeks that I don't have a party to attend.

And the Christmas decorations are starting to disappear from the house.

The decorations usually start appearing in October. While everybody else is carving pumpkins, my wife is digging out some of the innumerable Christmas chotchkies; the smaller Santas and Frostys, the Christmas themed dishtowels and the 6-inch tree she keeps on the kitchen counter. Then all through November, bit by bit, like watching a slow motion video of a lava flow taking over a small Pacific village, the house turns from a home for people to a Christmas village we have to live in. The coasters disappear, to be replaced with the Christmas set that we can't use (who am I kidding? like I use a coaster at home anyway); then the guest towels and the poinsettia shower curtain appear in the bathroom, and one afternoon on the way home I notice the wreath up on the front door.

Thanksgiving Day the Tree goes up; another sacrifice my wife makes. She loves a live tree, but has an issue. I won't get a live tree until after December 15th. And since none of the boys will help her get a live tree before Thanksgiving, she has to have an artificial one. And the boys will help her drag it out of the attic in November.

Christmas may have been creeping up on me since Halloween, but on Thanksgiving it arrives with full gale force. Every window sill has a Dickens village; the stocking hanger army has arrived on the fireplace, with their stockings in tow; the Shelf Elf is patrolling the living room nightly and I have to move some sort of Christmas paraphernalia just to find a spot to rest my beer.

New Years Day it all ends (personally, I think she has set out the last of the decorations the day before); like a movie fog that slowly recedes leaving the landscape visible once again, the decorations start to find their summer homes. And there are always a few new ones; the after Christmas sales always tend to have a few MUST-HAVE bargains.

But every year a few more things don't summer in the attic. We have lived with the Christmas soap dispenser in the bathroom for a few years now. and we have gotten accustomed to the snowman and reindeer glasses year round. The Santa snow globe has been a summer squatter for a while now, and there are probably others that I just have blinded myself to. I learned years ago that there are decorations that 'don't fit' into the attic, and have to be displayed.

I also learned years ago that my offers to help make things fit only earned me an icy stare. I may be dumb, but I'm not stupid. I quit volunteering to help.

I really don't mind the small things she does to keep Christmas around her year round.

It's much better than putting up with the Tree all year, like she would like to do.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Yeah; About That Global Warming Thing

It snowed last night. Not a lot; about an inch and a half here, but it was a wet, sticking snow. The kind that lands on the branches and barbed wire fence and gives everything a white frosting that makes the world look like a real-life Christmas display.

I love that kind of snow.

At least until I have to scrape it off my windshield and then drive in it. Like I had to do today.

And then it got COLD. not cold, or even Cold; but COLD. Single digit all day cold. It isn't COLD yet, but they are forecasting it. Another 29 days of this and the river might freeze again.

Don't tell me you are young enough that you don't remember when the river froze? Back in '77-'78? 'Course that was back in the day when it got COLD. We went an entire month below 0 degrees, and two months below freezing. and the half mile wide Ohio River froze over. Froze to the point that people walked on it. One young idiot even drove his car across from Ohio to Kentucky. It was a Volkswagen, but only a Beetle, so it wasn't like it was an expensive car, but still.

But, I digress. I was talking about today, not 35 years ago.

I took the picture on my way to the car this morning, just before I found the doors frozen shut. Yeah; that improved my mood alright.

And then, after find one door that would open (passenger side rear) and climbing through the car to get the driver's door open, then getting the car started I reached for my new $10 ice scraper (that I have used twice) and couldn't find it. Struggled to get the trunk open- yeah, it was frozen shut too- and still no ice scraper. For some reason it had migrated from the front seat to the back seat.

So by the time I did get the windows scraped and ready to go I was already in a foul mood. The snow that had looked like a fairyland frosting now looked like a salt encrustation  from the Dead Sea.

But I had a decent day while I was out, and coming home I grabbed some good Friday Night Beer, and went through a few back roads to get home.The road did look like a fairyland tunnel, withe the snow still on the trees and the snow covered branches reaching across the road toward each other like long-lost relatives at the airport.

And the road was clear; that really was the thing that improved my mood.

They are forecasting more snow for the weekend. With luck I will be able to enjoy it.

By staying home with a glass or two of bourbon.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Now is the Future's History

It is hard in the short term to judge how history will eventually judge the events of 2013, as we don't know the long term impact of the events of the last year. What will the events in Benghazi mean in 10 years? In 20? Will Obama's reaction, or lack thereof, to the events that night lead to the first President to be thrown out of office by impeachment, sealing those events into the history books, or will they drop into the rabbit hole of history, studied only by the random scholar, delving into the most forgotten recesses of the early 21st Century?

I can certainly say that I don't know. I don't have a crystal ball or functioning Tarot deck, or even a bag full of old chicken bones.

But I do know History. Thousands of years of History. One fact stands out in the thousands of years of recorded history; it is the winners who write it.

So much of the last year's events will become history as told by the winners of the 2014 General Election.

Will the multitude of scandals currently slinging mud around Washington stick to Obama, as they should?

It depends; will we have 60 Conservative Senators?

Notice I didn't say Republican.

That is where the history will be written; in the Chambers of the 114th Congress.

If We The People win in 2014, then History will be written to include every misdeed the current Administration has made; Obama, Holder, Clinton, Sibelius, Kerry and the seemingly endless list of others will be held accountable for their seemingly endless list of crimes against the country.

If They The Government win, it all disappears down the proverbial rabbit hole.

It isn't enough to vote Republican (Boehner and McConnell are two traitors that immediately come to mind); we need to be able to vote for the RIGHT Republicans.

I registered to vote in 1978 as an Independent. I'm not a big joiner; I don't like big organizations, and I like joining big organizations even less.

But a few weeks ago I became a Republican. Not because of what they have become recently in a positive way, but in a negative way.

Since 1978 I have relied on the members of the Republican party to provide me with competent people to vote for. Apparently I can no longer make that assumption.

One of the best men in Congress, Thomas Massie, my Representative from Kentucky's Fourth District, has been an accurate voice for me in his term. The Republican Party wants to Primary him; he tends to tell the "Leadership" NO too often. I became a Republican to protect Thomas Massie.

One of my Senators is Mitch McConnell, who long ago stopped being a voice for me in the Senate.I can't say Matt Bevins will be any better. But there are two things in his favor: He can't be much worse, and he AIN'T Mitch McConnell. I became a Republican to vote against McConnell.

I am a Logical Libertarian. There are certain planks in the Libertarian Party Platform that I have issues with. Basically, the only legal function of the Federal Government is to deal with other countries, which may or may not mean militarily. The Libertarian Party seems to think if we leave the rest of the world alone, they will leave us alone. I find that position illogical. Besides, we need the rest of the world to buy what we are selling.

So while I may agree with most of the Libertarian platform, they seem naive on the way the world works. Or, if not naive, at least a little too trusting.

Which brings me back to the Republicans.

They seem to be taking my support for granted. I am not a big fan of being taken for granted.

So it's time to let the Republicans know that.