Friday, February 29, 2008

Blue Light Special on Pearl Street

Copy (2) of Copy of florahouse72

Thanks to the mortgage and housing market problems and the general gloom and doom associated with the economy, our Thorntown house remains unsold.

After a month on the market, our Realtor suggested it's time to cut the price - something we readily agreed was a good idea.

Having two house payments and paying to heat a house through another Indiana winter is playing havoc with our cash flow.

So we agreed to cut the asking price by $5,000 today, which is about six months of mortgage payments on the place. If we can unload it inside of six months, i.e., by August, I'll be a happy camper.

It really is getting better


This is how our garage looked this evening. As bad as it looks, it's really a smaller pile than what the movers left us back in late October.

Our cars remain in the driveway, but at least the bikes are sheltered and on a trickle charger.

We are slowly but surely absorbing the stuff into the house or giving it to charitable organizations or Ebaying it. My beer stein collection filled several boxes and this week I began the process of culling out the ones I could live without. So far I have seven up for auction online.

I just sold a copy of the original screenplay for the movie Goldfinger, believed to have come from the estate of the guy who played Odd Job, to a guy in Ireland for $54.08. My friend Dr. Mark Wadleigh gave it to me more than 20 years ago and I realized that it wasn't doing me any good by reposing in a box. So off it goes to the Emerald Isle.

My mother had a huge collection of Imperial Candlewick - glass cups, saucers, plates, etc. with knobby ball-shaped rims. She only trotted it out when she and dad hosted their bridge club and we would never use it in a million years, so off to Ebay it goes.

Who knows? I may even liquidate my collection of East German army and border guard uniforms. They seemed like a great idea at the time, but that was when I had more storage space and i was impressed with what great deals you can get when whole countries go out of business.

No more Lowe's

I answered the phone a few minutes ago, hoping it Maria calling to say she was on her way home from work.

No such luck. It was a followup customer satisfaction call from Lowe's about the installation (finally) of our bonus room carpet.

I'll spare you the long version and just say that we ordered carpet on Dec. 1 and 10 weeks later, on the third attempt, got a satisfactory slab of carpet installed. On the two previous attempts, the hapless doofus failed to notice he was putting in defective carpet and, in the process, beat the hell out of our new woodwork and newly painted stairway walls.

The final installation was done by the guy's father, who is more skilled and professional. I like the guy and I'm confident that this would have gone much easier if he had been the installer from the get-go.

So when the Lowe's lady asked me to rate the product and the installer on a 1-7 scale, with 1 being the lowest and 7 the highest, I gave both a 6.

Then she asked, "On a 1-7 scale, how likely are you to use Lowe's home installation services in the future?"

"Is there a zero on this scale, or does it just go down to one?"

"Just one."

"Then put us down as a 'one,'" I said.

Throughout this nightmare, we - Maria, mostly because I was having violent thoughts - had to repeatedly explain to each Lowe's employee we spoke with how to do their job.

They probably think they're doing a great job, and maybe they are by Lowe's standards. I've come to regard the store as a sheltered workshop for red-vested morons.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Killer deal

gas grill

The Home Depot was blowing out these $499 stainless steel grills for $250 last weekend. Seems they were last year's model - a model Better Home & Gardens called "the showoff grill."

Since we left our old grill in Indiana and were missing the grilling experience, it was a no-brainer.

Of course, it took Pete about four days before he stopped growling at this new addition to his back yard environment.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Adios, Bill

William F. Buckley Jr., author and conservative commentator and founder of the National Review, died today at his home in Stamford, Conn. He hosted the television show Firing Line from 1966 to 1999 and wrote a nationally syndicated newspaper column.

Buckley is credited with laying the philosophical groundwork for contemporary American conservativism as espoused by President buckleyRonald Reagan.

He was 82. And he was also enormously intelligent and witty. Even when I was still young and stupid enough to embrace a liberal political stance, I found him engaging and funny as hell.

My only personal encounter with Buckley was around 1967 or '68. To my surprise, he emerged from the elevator at The Indianapolis News, in town to visit editorial page editor M. Stanton Evans. Evans was at The News from 1960 until 1974.

My only clear recollection of the moment was that I was struck by how greasy his hair was. It looked like he hadn't washed it in days. Or maybe he was using Vitalis or some other hair preparation.

Whatever. He was a giant on the political commentary scene.

Meet the next Vice President

mitchrideI predict one of these three guys will be the next vice president of the United States.

No, it's not the guy in the middle - that's the former publisher of the paper where Maria and I used to work, who was recently exiled to the bleak Texas panhandle for taking the paper to the brink of financial oblivion.

And it's sure as hell not the guy on the left - that's me.

It's Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, who would be the perfect running mate for John McCain. Mitch was senior advisor to Pres. Ronald Reagan and director of the Office of Management and Budget for the current Bush administration before he was elected governor of Indiana four years ago.

Mitch endorsed McCain on Feb. 22, 2007, saying, "John McCain is a longtime friend. More importantly, he is a principled leader with a history of integrity, opposing excessive government spending, and dealing honestly with the American people. The term 'great American' applies to very few people, but it indisputably fits John McCain."

McCain responded with, "Mitch is an impressive businessman and public servant who understands that common sense conservative principles and more effective government go hand-in-hand. Having the support of Mitch Daniels is important and I look forward to honoring our common values as I move ahead in this process."

For what it's worth, Indiana is known as the "Mother of Vice-Presidents" being home to five vice-presidents: Schuyler Colfax, Thomas A. Hendricks, Charles W. Fairbanks, Thomas Marshall and Dan Quayle.

Maria shot the photo above last June 1 when Mitch invited me to ride my BMW along with him (on his Harley) and the Commissioner of the Indiana Department of Correction from Crawfordsville to the Putnamville Correctional Facility.

mitch & john

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Attack of the She-Devil from Hell

mst3khillary Yes, it is starting to feel like a cheesy horror movie.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Ruthie strikes back

petefreak Pete the Aussie finds out what happens when he pushes Ruthie too far with his herding and his teasing.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Little Waffle House of Horrors

We went to the new Waffle House on Parker Road - the one next to Home Depot - for breakfast today.
We were seated at the counter because the booths and tables were full, which afforded us a view of the grill and food preparation area.
After about 10 minutes of reading the paper and chatting, we started to notice what was going on.
Nobody involved in food preparation and handling wore gloves and what little hand-washing was done was haphazard. And everyone used the same soggy germbag of a towel.
We saw one worker escorted out of the building with a bleeding hand, only to notice her returning to her ungloved duties a few minutes later. One girl was seen handling a wad of dollar bills, sticking it into a tip cup and returning to work without washing her hands. Food that fell from the grill was left on the floor. One girl fumbled a pan she had just washed and it fell onto the floor. She picked it up and stacked it on a presumably clean pan.
Another girl coughed on her hand, then handled food. I photographed a girl using her fingers to pluck a waffle from the waffle iron and slap it onto a plate.
Maria's eggs arrived with a hair in them.
When Maria complained to the manager about these things, the response was, "That's just how we do it."
We refused to pay and promised to report them to health authorities. The manager seemed unimpressed.

Friday, February 22, 2008

I got better at it...

John (perusing Polaroid photo) and Charles Flora at Niagara Falls around 1956.

This is me and my father somewhere in the Northeast - possibly Niagara Falls - circa 1955. I've just taken a photo with his Polaroid camera and he's apparently not impressed.

As the photo by my mother suggests, I was a geeky kid - sorta like Ralphie in the movie "A Christmas Story."

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Rescuing Rafael

floninja1I was still working for The Indianapolis Star at the Metro North Bureau back in the spring of 2000. Scott Miley and maybe Art Harris and Diane Frederick were on our lunch break when we noticed a local party store was blowing out costumes at a huge discount.

Among the items was the complete set of Teenage Ninja Turtle costumes - really deluxe versions, the kind you'd expect to see in a parade or at a theme park. So I plunked down about $25 for a Rafael costume, which I later modeled at the office (see photo).

It had a really nasty stain on the yellow underbelly that doesn't show up very well in this photo. But it detracted from the appearance.

dawnNow that we're in somewhat tighter quarters here in Arkansas, we're scrutinizing our mountain of stuff with an eye to selling what we can on Ebay. I'm ready to part with Rafael, but I was concerned that the stain would make it hard, or even impossible, to sell on Ebay.

So I tried a stain-removing combination that Maria discovered recently - Zout foam and Dawn Power Dissolver. Maria used it as a last-ditch effort to rescue a new yellow blouse that was ruined by an ink purex_zout_oxy_foam_topstain. The ink had dried and maybe even gone through the wash once. She soaked the stain with a combination of Zout and Dawn, then laundered normally and was amazed to find the stain was gone and the blouse was like new.

So I decided to try it on the Ninja Turtle suit. Keep in mind, this is a stain that's had at least eight years to set, alternately baking and freezing in the attic of our Thorntown house.

When I pulled the suit from the dryer the other night, I was astonished to find all traces of the stain were gone. A-freaking-mazing!

This is too cool to keep secret. We have yet to find a stain that this combination can't handle and it has yet to harm or discolor the fabric to which it was applied.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Godspeed, Marian

This is Maria's Aunt Marian. She died at 12:49 p.m. today in her home in Indianapolis after a short struggle with cancer. She will be missed by a lot of people.

Meet the new boss...

raul-castro-ruz-5 Raul Castro

Same as the old boss.

House for sale


Our Thorntown house is on the market and there have been four showings so far. Here's the online listing.

Monday, February 18, 2008

My prediction

Here's my shoot-from-the-hip prediction of how the election will shake out:

Obama will beat Hillary in the primaries, but will be denied the nomination by backroom political shenanigans - probably involving the Super Delegates - at the Democratic National Convention. After all, the Clintons have way more political in-fighting savvy than Obama and his team and they also have the greed and arrogance to think they can get away with using their leverage.

The result will be a bitterly fractured Democrat Party, reminiscent of 1968 when Chicago Mayor Richard Daly ordered a police riot and the party ignored the emerging youth vote. The convention nominated party hack Hubert Humphrey and the consequence was the election of Richard Nixon.

So it will be John McCain taking the oath of office on the Capitol steps next January.

The Angry White Man

My longtime BMW riding buddy Rich Nathan forwarded these strong words from Gary Hubbell in the Aspen Times Weekly to me today. I find much to agree with here:

There is a great amount of interest in this year’s presidential elections, as everybody seems to recognize that our next president has to be a lot better than George Bush. The Democrats are riding high with two groundbreaking candidates — a woman and an African-American — while the conservative Republicans are in a quandary about their party’s nod to a quasi-liberal maverick, John McCain.
Each candidate is carefully pandering to a smorgasbord of special-interest groups, ranging from gay, lesbian and transgender people to children of illegal immigrants to working mothers to evangelical Christians.
There is one group no one has recognized, and it is the group that will decide the election: the Angry White Man. The Angry White Man comes from all economic backgrounds, from dirt-poor to filthy rich. He represents all geographic areas in America, from urban sophisticate to rural redneck, deep South to mountain West, left Coast to Eastern Seaboard.
His common traits are that he isn’t looking for anything from anyone — just the promise to be able to make his own way on a level playing field. In many cases, he is an independent businessman and employs several people. He pays more than his share of taxes and works hard.
The victimhood syndrome buzzwords — “disenfranchised,” “marginalized” and “voiceless” — don’t resonate with him. “Press ‘one’ for English” is a curse-word to him. He’s used to picking up the tab, whether it’s the company Christmas party, three sets of braces, three college educations or a beautiful wedding.
He believes the Constitution is to be interpreted literally, not as a “living document” open to the whims and vagaries of a panel of judges who have never worked an honest day in their lives.
The Angry White Man owns firearms, and he’s willing to pick up a gun to defend his home and his country. He is willing to lay down his life to defend the freedom and safety of others, and the thought of killing someone who needs killing really doesn’t bother him.
The Angry White Man is not a metrosexual, a homosexual or a victim. Nobody like him drowned in Hurricane Katrina — he got his people together and got the hell out, then went back in to rescue those too helpless and stupid to help themselves, often as a police officer, a National Guard soldier or a volunteer firefighter.
His last name and religion don’t matter. His background might be Italian, English, Polish, German, Slavic, Irish, or Russian, and he might have Cherokee, Mexican, or Puerto Rican mixed in, but he considers himself a white American.
He’s a man’s man, the kind of guy who likes to play poker, watch football, hunt white-tailed deer, call turkeys, play golf, spend a few bucks at a strip club once in a blue moon, change his own oil and build things. He coaches baseball, soccer and football teams and doesn’t ask for a penny. He’s the kind of guy who can put an addition on his house with a couple of friends, drill an oil well, weld a new bumper for his truck, design a factory and publish books. He can fill a train with 100,000 tons of coal and get it to the power plant on time so that you keep the lights on and never know what it took to flip that light switch.
Women either love him or hate him, but they know he’s a man, not a dishrag. If they’re looking for someone to walk all over, they’ve got the wrong guy. He stands up straight, opens doors for women and says “Yes, sir” and “No, ma’am.”
He might be a Republican and he might be a Democrat; he might be a Libertarian or a Green. He knows that his wife is more emotional than rational, and he guides the family in a rational manner.
He’s not a racist, but he is annoyed and disappointed when people of certain backgrounds exhibit behavior that typifies the worst stereotypes of their race. He’s willing to give everybody a fair chance if they work hard, play by the rules and learn English.
Most important, the Angry White Man is pissed off. When his job site becomes flooded with illegal workers who don’t pay taxes and his wages drop like a stone, he gets righteously angry. When his job gets shipped overseas, and he has to speak to some incomprehensible idiot in India for tech support, he simmers. When Al Sharpton comes on TV, leading some rally for reparations for slavery or some such nonsense, he bites his tongue and he remembers. When a child gets charged with carrying a concealed weapon for mistakenly bringing a penknife to school, he takes note of who the local idiots are in education and law enforcement.
He also votes, and the Angry White Man loathes Hillary Clinton. Her voice reminds him of a shovel scraping a rock. He recoils at the mere sight of her on television. Her very image disgusts him, and he cannot fathom why anyone would want her as their leader. It’s not hillarythat she is a woman. It’s that she is who she is. It’s the liberal victim groups she panders to, the “poor me” attitude that she represents, her inability to give a straight answer to an honest question, his tax dollars that she wants to give to people who refuse to do anything for themselves.
There are many millions of Angry White Men. Four million Angry White Men are members of the National Rifle Association, and all of them will vote against Hillary Clinton, just as the great majority of them voted for George Bush.
He hopes that she will be the Democratic nominee for president in 2008, and he will make sure that she gets beaten like a drum.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Yet another reason to like living here

It's Sunday and I'm drinking a beer I bought at a package store about an hour ago. Legally.

Not bad, considering that I live in a dry county.

The solution is Mr. T's, a 7-day-a-week, 365-days-a-year liquor store just across the state line in Missouri. It's just east of Paragould, optimatorArk., and 20.5 miles from my driveway.

And, in addition to the usual domestic offerings you would expect, they have a nice selection of imports including my personal favorite, Spaten Optimator.

But the beer on my desk at the moment is a Birra Moretti, an Italian import. I bought a six-pack of it along with my Optimator because Maria is of Italian heritage and fancies things Italian.

I'm not all that dazzled with Birra Moretti, so the remaining five are all hers.birra

But knowing that I'm less than a half-hour away from a source of Spaten Optimator, the nectar of the Teutonic gods, is a glorious discovery, made even sweeter by Sunday and holiday sales. I was at least 35 minutes from the nearest store that sold Optimator when I lived in Thorntown and that was Kahn's Liquors in Carmel. Kahn's has a dizzying array of stuff, but very abbreviated hours and, of course, no Sunday or holiday sales.

I think this move is gonna work out just fine.  

Saturday, February 16, 2008

It really happened

We're at Lowe's - the one we've been fighting for more than two months over carpet.
A woman in a red Lowe's vest walks past and says hello, but chokes.
"Sorry. I choked on my bubblegum."
They actually have people who can't walk and chew gum.

Reba, Kelly, and the little Nazis

R&K01Reba McEntire and Kelly Clarkson played to a sold-out crowd last night at the ASU Convocation Center. Their 15-show tour winds up tonight in Kansas City.

The media was corralled behind a barrier in front of the sound mixing console far, far from the stage and limited to photographing the first two songs.

Naturally, everyone stood during the first two songs and I had to find whatever was handy to stand on to be able to shoot over the heads. It was one of the most irrationally restrictive concert photo setups I've ever seen, aggravated by its enforcement by ordinarily insignificant little people whose temporary authority went to their heads and made them little Nazis.

Even so, I got some fairly decent stuff. Here are a couple of examples. R&K02

Friday, February 15, 2008


We're covering the Reba McEntire-Kelly Clarkson concert tonight.
I shot the first 2 songs, then hustled down to the paper to download photos. Maria stayed at the show so she could write a review for Sunday's paper.
I'm sitting in the car back in the parking lot waiting for the show to end.

One step forward, one step back

The carpet installers - the good ones - were here yesterday and we now have satisfactory carpet in our bonus room above the garage.

I tested the cable outlet in the room today, preliminary to moving the computer and office up and discovered, of course, that the cable running to the outlet isn't attached to anything. So I'm off to buy a splitter and other materials to fix that problem.

No problem, officer. Watch me delete the pictures...

A photographer friend emailed me a link to Amateur Photographer, a British photo mag, and its story about a photographer who was shooting street scenes in Blackpool when a local cop forced him to delete his images.

You can read the whole thing here, but the essence of it is the policewoman objected to being in the guy's photos and asserted that you can't take pictures of people without their permission.

Oh, really? What about the estimated half-million surveillance cameras in London? The Wall Street Journal reported in July, 2005, that "since 2003, the license plate of every car driving into central London during weekdays is filmed as part of a program to reduce traffic congestion."

The WSJ also cited a study that a Londoner could expect to be captured by one of those cameras 300 times.

Amateur Photographer reported that the photographer complied with the order, presumably by letting her watch as he killed each of the offending images with the delete button on his Nikon D40.

What Amateur Photographer didn't say was that the "deleted" images were still on the card and wouldn't be truly destroyed until their locations on the card were overwritten by new images.

So all the photographer had to do was take the card home and retrieve all of the images with SanDisk RescuePRO or Lexar's ImageRescue or some other disk recovery software.

Then he could mail the officer some prints of herself with a terse greeting.

Thursday, February 14, 2008


Stamp out postal rate hikes!

I guess I wasn't paying attention last April 12 when the U.S. Postal Service announced planned issue of the "Forever Stampforever."

It came out in time for the rate hike last May from 39¢ to the present 41¢ for a one-ounce first class letter.

The rates are going up again this May. The one-ounce first class rate will creep up by a penny to 42¢.

The deal with the Forever Stamp is that it sells for whatever is the current one-ounce first class rate, making it possible to continue mailing at the present rate as long as your supply of Forever Stamps holds out.

“The Postal Service developed the Forever Stamp for consumers to ease the transition during price changes,” said Postmaster General John Potter. “We encourage Americans to buy Forever Stamps now for 41 cents, because like the name suggests, they are good forever.”

The Postal Service has sold 5 billion Forever Stamps since the launch last April and plans to have an additional 5 billion in stock to meet the expected demand before the May price change.

Your recollection of the basic postal rate is a pretty good way to gauge your age. I'm old enough to remember the 3¢ letter and the 1¢ postcard.

Here's a chronology of basic U.S. postage rates:

July 1, 1885 .02
Nov. 3, 1917 .03
July 1, 1919 .02
July 5, 1932 .03
Aug. 1, 1958 .04
Jan. 7, 1963 .05
Jan. 7, 1968 .06
May 16, 1971 .08
March 2, 1974 .10
Dec. 31, 1975 .13
May 29, 1978 .15
March 22, 1981 .18
Feb. 17, 1985 .22
April 3, 1988 .25
Feb. 3, 1991 .29
Jan. 1, 1995 .32
Jan. 10, 1999 .33
Jan. 7, 2001 .34
June 30, 2002 .37
Jan. 8, 2006 .39
May 14, 2007 .41
May 12, 2008 .42


Notice that the rate actually decreased once - in 1919. Don't expect to see that happen again.

Validation for our Arkansas move

When Philip T. Smith made the decision to switch publishers between his Crawfordsville (Ind.) Journal Review and Pampas (Tex.) News, he created a scenario that almost certainly dooms the person in the Journal Review managing editor's office.

That's because Pampas publisher Sean Smith is married to Kerri Smith, the Pampas managing editor. So who do you suppose he will want to be his ME in Crawfordsville?

If Maria hadn't seized the opportunity for career growth in Arkansas last summer, it would be her instead of JR ME Jay Heater staring into the abyss of joblessness. (Heater aspires to work at The Indianapolis Star. As a career journalist who took early retirement in October, 2000, rather than work another day for the management at The Star, all I can say to Heater is to be careful what you wish for.)

Whether new management can resurrect the Journal Review remains to be seen.

The core of the advertising sales staff has defected to the startup daily, The Paper of Montgomery County.

Fired General Manager and Ad Director Mark Deacon is now living a more lucrative and stress-free life in Chippewa Falls, Wisc.

Fired Circulation Manager John Marshall has opened channels with The Paper and is working on a book chronicling the tragic mismanagement that took the Journal Review from a solid moneymaker to its present desperate straits in just three short years.

Talented former Assistant ME Sam King has returned to his first love - sportswriting - at the Lafayette Journal & Courier, where he works with former JR page designer Karen Taylor, arguably the best newspaper page designer in Indiana.

Shaylan Owen, who was named the top ad designer in Indiana in last year's Hoosier State Press Association competition, is also gone - living the good life at the Bloomington Herald where he is better paid and has more perks. He offered to stay at the JR for a trifling $1/hour raise, but the publisher refused.

I feel compelled to add that these are my opinions and observations alone and do not reflect the views of my wife, who has a considerably more compassionate take on the events of the past three years. I, after all, am the grumpy old man of the family and this is how grumpy old men see things.

How to overthink a problem

When Maria returned from a page design class in Little Rock last night, she shut off the Subaru engine and pulled out the key. That's when she noticed the parking lights were still on, as evidenced by the amber glow shining on the garage door.

I investigated and I found the brake lights on as well. Although it was counterintuitive, I wondered it if might be a fuse problem. I pulled the appropriate fuse and examined it. It was fine, and the lights - of course - went out when it was out of the circuit. I put in a fresh fuse and the lights came back on. So I left it out so as to avoid draining the battery overnight and resolved to make an appointment with the nearest Subaru dealer (Memphis) for Monday, which would be my next opportunity to deal with the problem. I figured something had just gone hopelessly wonky with the electrical system.

I called the service department at Jim Keras Subaru in Memphis this morning and the woman who answered the phone announced she could solve my problem immediately. And, yes, it was the parking light switch - a pretty much never-used switch atop the steering wheel assembly, that Maria had inadvertently flipped sometime yesterday.

Fuse in, switch off, problem solved.

She also told me that the clock, which quit working about a month ago despite intact fuses, is almost certainly hosed.

"They just die sometimes," she said, adding that it will cost about $150 to replace.

Since Maria doesn't wear a watch, that clock and her cell phone are the only devices she has handy to tell the time, so it's probably worth the expense to replace it.

parking light switch

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Only 48 governors to go...

beebe This is Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe addressing the local Kiwanis Club today. I can now claim to have met 4 percent of the nation's governors. Beebe comes across as genuine, articulate and competent - all admirable qualities in a governor.

Now, if he rides a motorcycle like Mitch Daniels, the impression will be complete.

A newspaper in free-fall


One more gone, and this time it was the publisher.

Sent back down to the minors - a smaller six-day (no Saturday paper) daily in the Texas panhandle. Checking the paper's website, it appears that news writing is not their strong suit.

During his tenure, he drove out nearly all of the talented people in the building. Some were fired on a whim because it became embarrassingly obvious that they saw through the publisher's bluster and incompetence. Happily, everyone who left is now better off for getting out.

Unfortunately, the damage has been done and the door has been opened for the start-up paper in town to triumph - something that would have been unthinkable a year ago.

Fashion and controversy

fashion01      Shooting spring fashions for a special publication.

pc02This is Dr. Eddie Cooper. He wants to establish a Christian home for abused children in an upscale neighborhood. Here he tells the plan commission about how he and his wife chose the site and how God confirmed their choice with a double rainbow.

pc01This is attorney Skip Mooney, who represents residents of the upscale neighborhood who think the home, called King's Ranch, will harm their property values.

pc03This is a member of the plan commission, scoping out the King's Ranch website on his laptop computer during the plan commission meeting.


And this is Dr. Cooper's wife Lee, whose expression suggests she is not quite ready to join the Skip Mooney Fan Club.


Tuesday, February 12, 2008


nostalgia04Tim Balough send me a link to this web page.

At 62, I'm old enough to remember most of the things referenced.  This is me with my original Captain Midnight Ovaltine cup, circa 1956.

Catch 22 with Sprint

We have cell phone service with Sprint and I've been paying my Sprint bill online for years. Without a problem. Until now.

Sprint revamped their website security last month, requiring new passwords and PINs. So I jumped through the appropriate hoops in mid-January so as to be able to keep using the site for bill-paying.

Since the bill comes due at the end of the month, I immediately started checking the site for the January bill. I checked it daily from mid-January until yesterday - Feb. 11 - when I finally found a bill posted. And to my shock, it showed I had failed to pay my January bill by the due date of Jan. 31.

The question, of course, is how in the hell can I pay a bill that I can't access? This is one of the pitfalls of going to paperless billing - a process that benefits Sprint but makes this kind of snafu possible.

I spent a couple of hours on the phone yesterday morning with Sprint representatives getting this sorted out and getting them to deduct the $2.32 late fee.

Yesterday's effort

Here's some of what I shot yesterday:floristThursday is Valentine's Day, you know.

Last evening James Byard (the new guy whose presence will make it possible for me to return to retirement) and I shot a ninth-grade basektball game between the two junior high schools that feed into the local high school. It's apparently a big rivalry, which makes it worthy of coverage at a level we don't normally pay attention to. jamaldunks

Here's MacArthur Junior High ninth-grader Jamal Jones going up for a dunk during the first quarter of play. Who knew freshmen could dunk? This was the dominant photo on the sports section cover this morning.

the stealHere's one I just noticed this morning. The kid in black is being stripped of the ball. I love the intensity on the faces.

Shooting 9th grade basketball


Monday, February 11, 2008

Well, the nomination counts for something...

Wincing_the_Night_AwayLast night's Grammy Awards were a bit of a disappointment. The Shins album "Wincing the Night Away" was up for independent album of the year and producer Joe Chiccarelli was nominated for producer of the year. Both awards went elsewhere.

I had an interest in the outcome because my son Sean was an engineer on the project.

But even though they didn't win, a Grammy nomination is still a very big deal and I'm enormously proud.


Marty Crandall, Joe Chiccarelli, James Mercer, and Sean Flora in the studio.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Fingers crossed

Our Realtor uses a special website to keep us posted on when prospective buyers schedule a visit to our house.
I just got notification that a showing is scheduled for 4-6 p.m. tomorrow. That would be the second showing, so far. The first was yesterday afternoon.
It sure would be nice to get a reasonable offer in the next few days.
My son Steve and his wife Nicky sold their Cincinnati house to the first person who looked at it. I'd say it was great luck, but they put a lot of work and effort into the place.

Friday, February 08, 2008

What I did today

hotdogI'll lead off with what I think is the most eye-arresting photo of the day - a shot of Samantha Aitken offering up the first Nathan's Famous Hot Dog to be prepared at the Bruster's Real Ice Cream store on Jonesboro's southwestside.

hotdog2Here's an exterior shot that I did mainly for the owner's benefit.


The first assignment of the day was the county spelling bee, which was held in a TV studio on the ASU campus. That made for excellent lighting conditions. Here's a shot of a kid listening to the pronouncer give a definition of a word he subsequently misspelled.spellingbee2

I noticed this bumper sticker on a car in the parking lot outside the spelling bee site.ths

And this shot - an environmental portrait of a woman I was photographing in her home.

Busy day yesterday

HDR7391_2_3An HDR composite image from about 4,000 feet. highland01CAT Aviation out of Walnut Ridge gave me an hour-long photo recon flight over the tornado devastation from Ash Flat to Highland yesterday.

Here are some shots of the trashed Highland shopping mall and a couple of houses.

highland03highland02 cyclisthit As I drove back to the office, I came upon an accident scene. The pregnant woman being treated on the gurney was on a bicycle when she was struck by a motorist. She was not seriously injured.

bobfellerAnd lastly, Cleveland Indians Hall of Fame pitcher Bob Feller made an appearance at ASU last night. Here's the 89-year-old Feller giving tips to an aspiring 9-year-old from Paragould, Ark.