Wednesday, July 30, 2008

...without a case

At the Gibson Showcase in Memphis. Way cool!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

How I spent my summer vacation - Part II

I left Chateau Balought high in the Colorado Rocky Mountains a little after 7 a.m. Thursday with Dom LoDuca and headed down Colo. 9 to Fairplay.
Dom turned left toward Denver and I turned right toward Colorado Springs as we headed to our respective homes.
Dom's goal was to ride to Marysville, Kans. on U.S. 36 and mine was to reach a Motel 6 at Topeka sometime around nightfall.
I picked up Colo. 94 eastbound from Colorado Springs and headed out across the wide- open, mostly empty spaces of eastern Colorado. The road connects with U.S. 40 and eventually would take me to I-70 at Oakley, Kans.
But it didn't work out that way.
As I slowed for a construction zone about 6 miles west of Kit Carson - some 113 miles east of Colorado Springs - I heard a disturbing noise from my rear tire and felt it go mushy. When I came to a halt near the flagger girl, I tried to put the bike onto the sidestand to inspect the back tire. I found the back of the bike was suddenly so low that I could barely deploy the sidestand. Oops.
When I finally did get it stabilized and dismounted, I found my back tire completely flat and too hot to touch.
So there I was, in the precise middle of nowhere - Kit Carson was the nearest town and it has an impressive population of about 300 and no significant services - under a blazing summer sun with the temperature well into the 90s.
I dug out my tire plugging kit and, with the help of CDOT worker Tom Richards, found the puncture site. I roughed up the puncture location and jammed a rubber cement-smeared plug into the tire. I'd done it a couple of times before on a practice tire at an Indianapolis BMW Club meeting, but never for real. In the meantime, Richards hunted up a tank of compressed air, so I didn't have to use any of my CO2 bottles.
I didn't feel confident that the plug would get me home to Arkansas, so my next choice was to find a new rear tire. I didn't have a way to shop for a tire at non-BMW dealerships, and my BMW dealer choices were BMW of Colorado Springs (113 miles west) or Engel BMW in Kansas City, Mo. (more than 500 miles east).
So I concluded the wisest course of action was to use my BMW/Cross Country Motor Club membership that I renewed earlier this year.
I got a cell phone call through to Cross Country and they dispatched a recovery vehicle from Colorado Springs, telling me it would be about 2½ hours. This was at 12:09 p.m.
Tom Richards escorted me through the construction zone to the Trading Post Restaurant in Kit Carson where I called Maria and reported my dilemma. She called BMW of Colorado Springs and confirmed that they had a rear tire to fit my bike and I settled in with a grilled cheese sandwich, a bag of chips and several glasses of iced tea.
Jeff (can't recall his last name) arrived about 3:20 p.m., having been held up by the construction zone west of town. He slid the flat bed of his truck to the rear and tilted it toward the ground while I rode the bike up the inclined surface until I had both tires aboard. Then he leveled it, moved it back forward and I rode to the front of the bed where he strapped the bike into place.
I told Jeff I needed to get to the BMW shop before they closed at 6 p.m. and he hauled ass across the lone prairie at 70-75 mph while I watched the bike nervously in the side-view mirror.
I called Jim Basset at the BMW shop as we approached town and told him we'd be a little late and hoped he could wait for us. He did.
The techs had all gone home, but Jim did the preliminary paperwork and I signed off on a $404 recovery truck bill that Cross Country is presumably paying. Then I rode to the nearby Travelodge where I booked an $84 room, had a quick Wendy's dinner and hit the sack.
I was at the BMW shop 15 minutes ahead of their regular opening time of 9 a.m. and Service Manager Larry Anderson had my bike on a lift by 9:10.
Larry is a year younger than I, was raised in Chicago and was delighted to learn that I live in/near Jonesboro because that's where he spent summers with his grandparents when he was growing up. Since I grew up in northwestern Indiana, Chicago radio station WLS provided the soundtrack for both of our pre-teen and teenage years. It was kind of like finding a long-lost brother as we batted back and forth names of WLS personalities and features, interspersed with his memories of Jonesboro.
I finally got back onto the road with two new Metzelers (Jim opined that my front tire was cupping and needed to be replaced) about 10:30 a.m.
I gassed at a Diamond Shamrock station on the east side of Colorado Springs and took U.S. 24 up to I-70 at Limon. From there it was an easy drone east to Goodland, Kans. where I stopped for a Wendy's lunch and discovered that my driver's license had vanished from my wallet. I'm reasonably sure I dropped it at my previous gas stop, but there was no point in going back for it. I resolved to ride conservatively the rest of the way home, so as not to attract police attention.
I rolled into the Topeka Wanamaker Road Motel 6 parking lot at 9:15 p.m. local time and noticed three sheriff's department cars in the lot. The desk clerk said they were there to handle a problem with a guest, which made me wonder if maybe I should have picked another motel.
I stripped the bike of everything valuable - GPS, tankbag, saddlebags, etc. - parked it in view of the office, put the cable lock onto the front wheel and hoped for the best.
I was awakened about 5:20 a.m. by the sound of Mexicans carrying on a very loud conversation right outside my door. I dressed, loaded the bike and thumbed the starter button at 6:06 a.m., riding into the hot steamy Kansas dawn.
Breakfast was at the Hardee's at the Topeka service plaza on the Kansas Turnpike.
The rest of the day was mostly a blur as the GPS led me around the west and south sides of Kansas City and southeast across Missouri.
I dropped my sidestand in my driveway about 3:15 p.m., gave my wife a kiss and slammed down two Beck's Dark beers to celebrate a mission accomplished.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

My bike's first-ever truck ride

This is Jeff, the recovery vehicle guy, strapping down my bike for the ride back to Colorado Springs after I had a flat back tire near Kit Carson, Colo. on Thursday. It's a long story, which I will detail soon, but we have guests coming late tonight and a house to clean.
The short version is that I used my BMA/Cross Country Motor Club account to pick up the tab for a $404 wrecker ride the 100-some miles back to Colorado Springs where I had both tires replaced at BMW of Colorado Springs on Friday, then rode to a Motel 6 at Topeka. I made the final ride home Saturday, arriving about 3:15 p.m.
Total miles (no counting the wrecker ride): 3,148

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Officer Woody on duty

You're driving into tiny Alma, Colo., and your radar detector goes off.
You reflexively stab the brakes and slow to the posted 30 mph.
Then you start scanning for a police vehicle.
Sure enough, there at the curb is a blue Chevy Blazer with a light bar. Through the heavily tinted window, you see the figure of a police officer inside.
More likely than not, it's Officer Woody, a mannequin dressed in police shirt and cap with stylish sunglasses masking his sightless eyes.
Officer Woody has been a member of the Alma Police Department for several years. His partners put him in a police vehicle and turn on his radar gun while they go off and attend to other police duties. They pull radar duty themselves often enough to make drivers on Colo. 9 unsure whether it's Woody or a real cop checking their speed.
I found Officer Woody parked on the south side of the highway near the west end of town this afternoon and he graciously posed for these photos.

The fabulous Roomba

Meet Roomba, the robot vaccuum cleaner from iRobot.
Tim and Linda have three of them - one for each level of their home.
We got a demonstration yesterday when they launched the one on the main level. It goes back and forth in a seemingly random pattern, buzzing across the carpet until it hits an object - wall, furniture, foot, whatever - then veers off in another direction until eventually it has covered the entire room. It apparently builds an internal map of the space being cleaned and when it's done, it crawls back to its charging station to await a new mission.
It tends to get hung up in a tight space now and then and needs to be rescued.
We were particularly amused when it appeared to be humping the fluted pedestal of a table near the TV and had to be redirected.

Damn fine lasagna

Dom LoDuca was in charge of dinner last night and he delivered - bigtime.
Dom whipped up three big aluminum casserole trays of lasagna, according to his Sicilian mother's recipe. It got rave reviews and was easily the best meal I've had since I left home.
I took a short ride into Fairplay yesterday afternoon, then came back to Chateau Balough and dozed on the couch with my iPod.
I'm really enjoying the luxury and comfort of a bed and furniture, good food and friends after a week of living in a tent and eating fast food. In fact, I'm wallowing in it to the point where I don't have much ambition to go out and ride.
The construction at the foot of Hoosier Pass on the Breckenridge side also dampens my enthusiasm for riding in that direction.
I think there may be some group rides afoot today, so I may find myself motivated to go somewhere.
Tim went to bed early last night with a fever of 100. I haven't seen him this morning or heard a report from Linda yet, since I'm up earlier than most of the group, but I hope it's something he can shake off quickly.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008


Alma, Colo.'s Festival of the Clouds was last weekend.
Riding into town Sunday afternoon, I noticed this message on the sign at the South Park Saloon:
Alma Festers

Yes, I suppose it does.

Gunfire at 12,700 feet

Webb, Tim and Jeff blaze away at helpless targets high in the Colorado Rockies.

We're back from a morning of senseless destruction of soft drink and beer cans, water-filled gallon milk jugs and other targets at 12,700 feet.
Here I am flashing Tim's awesome (probably the only time you'll ever see that word in this blog) .44 magnum. It kicks like a mule but shoots with amazing accuracy. This is the gun I'd want in my hand if I had to face down a bear or some other critter that wanted to knock me off of the top of the food chain.
The road up the mountain is a one-lane boulder strewn nightmare for the average car driver. But it's just a walk in the park for a seasoned off-roader like Tim in his Jeep.
John Rode had his like-new .40 caliber Winchester lever-action rifle and Dave and Jeff (who rode up on his KTM) brought their own semi-automatics.
I took a turn with most of the arsenal, but passed on the 12 gauge shotgun, recalling the painful recoil from last year's mountain shoot-out.
As you can see, it was a perfect day - a nearly cloudless sky, just a light wind and unusual warmth for that altitude - and the wildflowers were in bloom and filling the thin air with a heady fragrance that mixed nicely with the gunsmoke.

Tim at the wheel, heading back down the mountain.


Breakfast at the Balough squirrel feeder.


Tim Balough enjoys a Budweiser while John Rode presides over the grilling of the burgers for last night's dinner.
We're planning a target shooting expedition this morning and are bent on doing violence to several water-filled gallon milk jugs and lots of empty beer cans.
We're talking about shotguns and heavy caliber rifles and pistols.
I'll also be shooting a camera, so expect some images here.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Rally flashback

I checked the BMW MOA website forum this evening and was pleased to find several of my rally photos have been posted, including this one from the Beer Garden taken Saturday evening just before the closing ceremonies.
The folks in the photo are Lida (never got her last name) Tim and Linda Balough and world traveler Ted Simon.
Ted rode a 500cc Triumph around the world in the early 1970s and wrote about it in "Jupiter's Travels," widely acknowledged as the best motorcycle travel book ever written.
He did it again six years ago, right after his 70th birthday, on a BMW. His most recent book is "Dreaming of Jupiter" and he was at the rally selling copies of all of his books.
Lida is from Ukraine and Ted met her in 1993 while he was walking across Eastern Europe for a book about his father. Lida teaches English and is in the U.S. for a three-month visit.
As I shook her hand and rose to leave for the closing ceremonies she offered, "You have very kind eyes."

A low/no adventure day

It's about 3 p.m. and I've accomplished what modest goals I had for the day.
I borrowed Linda's Subaru Outback - sweet little car - and Dom and Dave and I drove over Hoosier Pass, through Breckenridge and over Swan Mountan to Dillon where I bought an iPod charger and a hard case for my GPS unit at Office Max. I got a most welcome call from Maria as we headed across the parking lot for lunch at Subway.
I was a mile south of Breckenridge when I realized I'd forgotten to top off the gas tank, so that compelled us to drive to Fairplay to gas up and stop at Ice Cream & Coffee Beans for dessert.
Jerry & Judy Pearson and John & Mary Rode just arrived, so our group is now complete.

Monday morning in Alma

A real bed felt pretty damned good last night after six nights on a Thermarest air mattress. No firm plans for the day. More later.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Rocky Mountain high

I'm sitting on the leather loveseat at Chateau Balough, trying to breathe in the thin mountain air and still vibrating from the 450-mile ride from Gillette. It was insanely hot coming into and through Denver and I was glad to have my Camelbak full of McDonald's ice from Cheyenne.
Our riding group consisted of the Baloughs, Dave Bernhardt and me.
Alma's Festival of the Clouds is going on this weekend, so dinner at the South Park Saloon isn't a good idea. There's talk of pizza from a new place in Alma.
We went to bed without dinner last night because Papa John's in Gillette can't find the campground at the Cam-plex - the monster venue the community built to host some national rodeo every other year.
I placed the order at 9:08 p.m. and was told to look for the delivery girl in 45 minutes. She was supposed to call my cell phone as she approached. She called, the call rolled over to my voicemail and she said she couldn't find us and was taking our three supreme pizzas back to Papa John's.
I called Papa John's and told them to call Crystal - the helpless delvery girl - and send her back our way with our dinner. It was 10:30 p.m. by this time.
I gave up and went to bed at 11 p.m. I think Crystal threw our pizza into a dumpster and went home.
The moral is: never order a Papa John's pizza from the Gillette, Wyo., Cam-plex campground.
We headed south on U.S. 59 this morning after a hearty Pekins breakfast, served with pleasant alacrity.
We rolled in to the Baloughs' driveway at 5:06 p.m. and don't plan to ride again today.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Saloon door Tim

Tim Balough in the Beer Garden.

Charlie, doing what a dog does

This is Charlie the basset hound who tagged along with his owner James Jantti, of North Kansas City, Mo. to come to the rally.

Meet the Dahlstroms

Meet Joan and David Dahlstrom of Vernon, Conn. touring the rally grounds Saturday afternoon on their bicycles.

Demo rides

Rally-goers take off for a demo ride on a variety of BMW motorcycles at 11 a.m. on Saturday.
The riders are divided into three groups, each led by an outrider from BMW Motorrad USA aboard a white police-style R1200RT.

Saturday afternoon rally report

Here are Webb Bernhardt and wife Cindy Fort starting a three-hour shift as driver and security person on the rally shuttle.

It's sunny and hot - about 90 - and I'm taking refuge in the air conditioned cyber cafe.
We're rolling out early tomorrow morning for Tim and Linda Balough's place in Alma, Colo. It's only about 450 miles, so we should be there just in time for the afternoon monsoonal shower.
We had a late lunch at a Mexican place Dom LoDuca found called Maria's. Then Webb and Cindy and I rode down the street to the Wal-Mart to use the ATM. I also took the opportunity to buy a $19.95 pair of reading glasses and a $3.97 hard case. As I type this, it's the first time this week that I've been able to see a computer screen or printed material clearly. I'm mildly surprised I was able to make it this long without being intolerably frustrated.
On the way back to the campground, I topped off my gas tank for tomorrow's ride at a Flying J truck stop at Exit 128.

Saturday morning rally report

Wayne Garrison, Peggy Rose and me at Devil's Tower.
The ATM that I used Thursday near the registration area has vanished and I found myself with only $1 in cash this morning. Fortunately, Tim Balough generously fronted me the money for a $3.50 ham, egg, and cheese breakfast sandwich and Ken Jacobson bought me a cup of coffee. I repaid my debt with $1.50 beer garden beer tickets. Who knew they could be used for legal tender at a rally?
We also discovered that Tim's Palm Pilot charger works with my Palm Treo 700p, so I can now recharge it on 110v AC rather than have it tethered to my bike's charging system.
I phoned Maria after breakfast and got updated on things at home, including the fact that Pete and Ruthie have been wandering around the house looking for me.
We had our 8:45 a.m. image dump meeting and now I'm at loose ends on what to do with my day. I suspect I need to cruise the vendors at least once more in case there's something that I just can't live without.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Freaky Friday night weather

A little scary-looking weather Friday evening.
After a lot of wind and a little rain, it blew off to the west, skies cleared and the temperature dropped into the 50s.
The New Riders of the Purple Sage performed in the entertainment tent. The beer garden is in the building beyond the tent.


Here's Charlie Parsons, back from the Arctic Ocean on his R1200GS.
Charlie is also from Jonesboro, Ark., and plans to head for the Top O' the Rockies Rally at Paonia, Colo., after this one winds down. He and his wife Deb provided garage space for our bikes during the move from Indiana to Arkansas.

Devil's Tower

No UFOs to be seen.
We got slammed with heavy rain, lots of lightning and thunder and violent gusting winds about 12:30 a.m. today.
I don't mind a little storm, but the possibility of hail is a little daunting when you have nothing to protect yourself with but a couple of layers of ripstop nylon. I found myself imagining baseball-size hailstones and wondering how to cope. My best solution was to put on my helmet and get under my Thermarest air mattress. But no hail developed, so it wasn't necessary.
The storm dragged on for about 3 1/2 hours before it blew itself out.
I'd had the foresight to park my bike on a concrete slab in the lee of a big steel electrical box, so it came through unscathed.
Dave Stech wasn't so lucky. His was one of several bikes in the camping area blown over and it cost him a mirror and a saddlebag mount.
My Galyan's/Eureka tent performed beautifully. Evertyhing stayed dry and it didn't wick any water in from the fly.
I got a breakfast sandwich and coffee from a food trailer in the camping area and, after dumping my images at the 8:45 a.m. photographers' meeting, hung out at the campground until Wayne Garrison and Peggy Rose finished their stint as shuttle drivers.
Then Wayne, Peggy, Michigan Mike and I headed for Devil's Tower, stopping for gas at Moorcroft and at a cafe where we all had breakfast - them for the first time and me for the second (I considered it lunch). Then it was up the road to Devil's Tower where I shot several images of BMW MOA rally attendees taking in the scenery.
We returned to the Moorcroft cafe for fried ice cream, then rode back to the campground.
Wayne and Peggy took off to teach their second country line dancing seminar and I read the local paper and drank beer with my fellow Indianapolis BMW Club campers.
Dinner was a cheeseburger and iced tea at the food trailer.
I'm in the cyber cafe to update the blog, then to the ATM and off to the Beer Garden for some socializing and libations.
It looked like we were going to get a bit of rain a few minutes ago, but it blew over and only dropped a few sprinkles. The forecast is for possible storms this evening, yielding to clear skies after midnight.

Thursday, July 17, 2008


In the cyber cafe.
This is where I'll do most of my blogging and communicating for the next few days.
Now, I'm off to lunch.

Rally Report - Thursday morning

I was up about 6 a.m. and into the showers without a wait. Lots of hot water and way better than average facilities.
Dom LoDuca, Tim Balough, Dave Bernhardt and I rode to McBreakfast where I determined that the local newspaper had no coverage of the rally.
I made it to an 8:30 a.m. organizational meeting of rally photographers where the four of us looked over the schedule and kinda figured out what we're going to shoot today.
I got some nice shots of Charlie the beagle and his owner from North Kansas City before moving on to the vendor area.
Old friend Ted Simon seemed genuinely pleased to see me - I think we last met in Spokane about four years ago. Ted looks characteristically fit and chipper and will do a seminar on his globe-circling rides here tomorrow.
I replaced my smashed Oakley sunglasses with a $12 pair with red frames and the word "Turbo" on the wings. They look oddly cool.
Thinking of having Sean Franklin's guys put a mount for my GPS on the bike so I can see it properly while riding. Peering down into my tank bag for GPS clues is frustrating and dangerous.
Wayne Garrison and wife Peggy Rose are teaching a country line dancing seminar at 4 p.m. which I plan to photograph.
Gonna try to get in a ride to Devil's Tower tomorrow or Saturday.
As BMW MOA rallies go, this one is pretty good.
Even if there is ear-splitting sprint car racing going on about a half-mile east of the quiet camping area where the Indianapolis BMW Club gang has our enclave.
The campsite is far from the beergarden and other rally stuff, but Indy Club member Rick Nelson is one of the two guys in charge of the shuttle service and made sure we are well served.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

At the rally

Here's rally registration, where they yell "Greenhorn!" and whoop and holler every time a first time rally attendee shows up.
Easy ride over from Rapid City, except my XM radio is misbehaving.

Bastille Day '45

Meet Ann Arnold of Melbourne, Fla. She and her older brother are camped next to me.
She mentioned that she had a life-threatening axle problem with her Suzuki Boulevard on her birthday yesterday. What year? 1945 - same day as me.
What are the odds of that?

$10 to park a bike???

Parking at Mount Rushmore used to be free. WTF?
Do I look happy about paying 10 bucks?

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Day 2 - Onawa, IA to Rapid City, SD

Greetings from Rabid City.
My tent is pitched in the blazing afternoon sun and I'm rehydrating in the patio shade at the KOA.
I've ridden 1,115 miles since yesterday morning, with another 150 or so to go tomorrow morning to Gillette.
This KOA is jammed with motorhomes pulling cars. I shudder to think how much those people are spending a day on gas or diesel. It's just obscene. I cringe when I calculate I've burned $90 worth of gas getting here.
I discovered this morning that I accidentally smashed my sunglasses last night because I left them unprotected in a jacket pocket that got stepped on in the tent.
No reading glasses and now no shades. Crap.
I gained an hour today, crossing into the Mountain time zone, so I have an extra hour to kill this evening.
I was up before the sun and hit the showers at the Onawa KOA at 5:30.
My hairdryer tripped the bathroom circuit breaker - something it has done elsewhere - and I skulked out hoping I could flee the campground before the next guy came in to shower. (The management was still in bed and I didn't want to roust them to fix it at that hour.) I threw the offending dryer into the trash, packed, loaded and fled into the rising sun.
Rabid City is in Sprint roam territory so I may or may not be able to post this.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Fun with filters

It was comparatively cool (86) here today so I decided it was time to clean the permanent filter on the furnace/AC in the attic.

The furnace owner's manual says it needs to be flushed with clean water every 90 days or so. We've not done it in the 180+ days we've lived here, so I wanted to take care of it before I leave for Wyoming tomorrow morning.

Sweating profusely in the hot attic, I removed the filter access plate and discovered nobody ever installed a filter. In its place was a bracket with a label that explained it was there for shipping purposes and should be discarded at the time a filter is installed..


The HVAC guys who installed the furnace never put in a filter and didn't leave one for us.

And the moron who lived here for two years never thought of checking his furnace filter and thus didn't know he was heating and cooling the house without the benefit of a filter.

There are replaceable fiberglass filters on the cold air returns, we discovered today, and the one at the west end of the house was filthy. Fortunately, I recalled seeing a fiberglass filter in a closet when we moved in and we were able to change it out.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Chilling in the heat

It's crazy hot here today - 96 actual with a heat index of 107.
We got out early to hit the farmers' market, Sam's Club and Kroger.
Maria's been working on the drapes and I've been gathering my travel stuff, reorganizing my tankbag while playing my iPod on shuffle through the home theatre sound system.
It clouded over and the radar shows rain coming in from the northwest, so I did a quick lawnmowing blitz of the back yard - the only part I didn't mow the other day.
After crunching numbers and reviewing routes, I've concluded that it's wiser to do the ride to the rally in three easy days, rather than in two hard days.
So I'm leaving Monday, rather than Tuesday, and aiming for Omaha on Monday evening - 547 miles.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Sew it goes


Maria, whose quilting skills with her Bernina sewing machines never fail to impress me, is making drapes for our two dining room windows.

Since she's been here in Arkansas, she's cranked out at least three quilts and a couple of dresses for granddaughter Lisa.

Which brings up the reason for this photo of me at my campsite at Grattan Raceway Park near Belding, Mich. It was the Fourth of July weekend of 1987 and I was on a long weekend ride with Tim and Linda Balough and Doug Poucher. That's my 1981 BMW R100RS and behind me is the backpacking tent I made during the winter of 1973-74.

It was during my "backpacking period" when I was reading every mountaineering and backpacking book I could get my hands on and dragging my wife and kids off on weekend treks -including winter camping - to various Indiana state parks. Backpacking gear wasn't nearly as sophisticated or widely available as it is today. Mostly, you had to buy from REI in Seattle.

Or you could make your own stuff from Frostline Kits. For a fraction of the cost of a ready-to-use tent or parka or down vest, you could buy a Frostline kit that included all of the pre-cut fabric and other materials and detailed instructions. I taught myself to use my wife's Kenmore sewing machine and over the course of a year or so made this three-man tent, a couple of 60/40 mountain parkas, a pair of down-filled booties and a couple of rain ponchos.

The tent came in handy when I transitioned from backpacking to motorcycle camping and went along on my first transcontinental ride to the BMW Motorcycle Owners of America rally at Monterey, Calif.

I used it for several rallies and trips until a violent windstorm at the Rapid City, S.D. KOA ripped seams and bent poles on the night of July 15-16, 1990. I went to a local sporting goods store in Rapid City and bought a Timberline tent to use the next three nights at the BMW MOA rally. I carried the old Frostline tent home and finally sold it at a yard sale a few years later for $1.

Frostline went into decline and disappeared for a few years A company calling itself Frostline Kits has a website at, but it appears to be a work in progress.

Another hot one yesterday in Las Vegas

124F Yeah, but it's a dry heat.

It's 91 here at 12:42 p.m., but the heat index is 101.

The Weather Channel says it's also 91 in Vegas, with a heat index of...91.

That's the difference between 59% humidity here and 32% humidity there.

I think I'd rather be in Vegas.

(By 3:20 p.m., it was up to 95 with a heat index of 107 here in northeast Arkansas.)

Oh, Canada!

This comes from BMW riding friend Rich Nathan. If you're at all squeamish, don't play the video - just move on to the next post:

They never saw it coming. Canadian Sniper wiping out Taliban snipers in Afghanistan. These video shots are not made through the shooter's telescopic sight - they are made looking through the spotter's scope. The spotter lies right next to the sniper and helps the sniper find and home in on the target. The sniper is using a .50 caliber rifle. A 50 cal. round is about 7-8 inches long and the casing is about an inch in diameter. The bullet itself is one-half inch in diameter and roughly one and one-half inches long.
Pay close attention to the beginning of the video. A Taliban is lying on top of the peak in front of you. When you hear the shot fired, watch what happens. The sniper is also about a half mile away... or more.
A Canadian sniper in Afghanistan has been confirmed as hitting an enemy soldier at a range of 2,310 meters (1.43 miles), the longest recorded and confirmed sniper shot in history. The previous record of 2,250 meters was set by U.S. Marine sniper Carlos Hathcock in Vietnam in 1967. The Canadian sniper was at an altitude of 8,500 feet and the target, across a valley, was at 9,000 feet. Canadian sniper units often operated in support of U.S. infantry units, who were grateful for their help. The record lasted only one day, until a second Canadian sniper hit an enemy soldier at 2,400 meters (8,000 feet). The Canadian snipers fire special .50 caliber McMillan tactical rifles, which are bolt-action weapons with five-round magazines. The Canadian snipers were the only Canadian troops operating without helmets or flak jackets as they had too much other equipment to carry. Each three-man team has one sniper rifle, three standard rifles (Canadian C7s), one of them with a 203mm grenade launcher. The power of these .50 caliber shells literally causes the target's body to explode. Messy!

Sorry, no 3G iPhone for me

3g iphone

The new 3G iPhone went on sale today, but I'm sticking with my Treo 700p. Mostly because I have years to go on my contract with Sprint.

If and when Apple extricates itself from its Satanic deal with AT&T and offers the iPhone to Sprint customers, I'll jump on it.

Tech Guy Leo Laporte opined the other day that people will bail out of line at AT&T stores when they learn about the added charges that go with 3G use - like about $90 a month for Internet access and the $18 fee to transfer your account from your v1.0 iPhone to the new model. He also asserted AT&T is the worst business partner choice Apple has ever made.

Jennifer Westhoven, the business reporter on CNN Morning Express, flashed the new iPhone, fumbled and very nearly dropped it. Slippery little things, aren't they?

It's a brilliant design triumph, just like the whole family of iPods, and I'd love to have one - but not on AT&T's terms.

Travel log time

trip log

With my departure for Wyoming only four days away, my thoughts are turning to gathering all of the stuff I want to pack.

That's why I printed a couple of weeks worth of trip log sheets from my For Two Wheels Only software. I've been using FTWO to track my motorcycle travel, maintenance and general operating expenses since 2001 and never leave for an extended trip without a sheaf of log sheets in my tankbag.

Here's the first log page for my ride to Colorado last August showing I left home at 5:48 a.m. and spent the first night on the road at the U.S. Center Motel in Smith Center, Kans., with fuel stops at Crawfordsville, Ind., Monticello and Barry, Ill., Charleston, Mo., and Seneca and Smith Center in Kansas.

The next day saw gas stops at St. Frances, Kans., and Byers and Silverthorne in Colorado, arriving at Tim and Linda Balough's place at 4:20 p.m.

And once again, it shows my gas mileage improves with altitude: 38.22 mpg at Smith Center, Kans., 39.27 mpg at St. Francis, Kans., 43.53 mpg at Byers, Colo., and 45 mpg at Silverthorne, Colo.

Congratulations, Roy

beebe & roy

Jonesboro Sun Editor Roy Ockert, the guy on the right chatting with Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe, was installed today as president of the Arkansas Press Association.

Roy and I were both born in the summer of 1945 and got our start in newspapers back when the work was done with typewriters and Linotype machines. He's a newspaperman through and through and a champion of the Second Amendment - the kind of guy you want at the helm of a state press association.

The APA, founded in 1873, includes all of the legal newspapers in the state - 33 dailies and 104 weeklies. It's the oldest professional association in Arkansas.

Oh, those Baptists!

I love history. It was my favorite subject in school. That's probably why I went into journalism which, after all, is the writing of contemporary history - one day at a time.

So I was utterly fascinated this week when I discovered that Jonesboro, Ark., our new hometown, was the scene of religious violence in the 1930s.

Here's the account of the Jonesboro Church Wars I found on the

website of the Encyclopedia of Arkansas History & Culture:


Jonesboro Church Wars

The Jonesboro Church Wars were a series of early 1930s religious conflicts within the Baptist community of Jonesboro  comprising attacks on the mayor and the police chief, public gunfights, and the calling of the National Guard to restore order. The conflict attracted national attention and poisoned relations among some townspeople for generations.

At the center of the Jonesboro Church Wars was Joe Jeffers, an actor-comedian turned traveling evangelist who, at the invitation of the First Baptist Church and Jonesboro Bible College, began a series of tent revival meetings on June 29, 1930. Jeffers proved to be so popular as he preached through July that, when First Baptist pastor A. W. Reaves resigned in early August, the congregation elected Jeffers his replacement. But a large faction of the church body claimed not to have been represented at the election, and Jeffers took a leave of absence while the congregation worked on a compromise. They eventually chose as their pastor Dow H. Heard of Big Spring, Texas, and Jeffers left Jonesboro to continue his ministry elsewhere.

In August 1931, Jeffers announced that he would return to Jonesboro to inaugurate an ongoing revival meeting. His sermons included prophetic warnings that the Second Coming was to occur in May 1932, as well as charges of immoral conduct against Heard and Mayor Herbert J. Bosler. On September 9, a brawl occurred at First Baptist Church between supporters of Jeffers and Heard. George L. Cox Jr., a supporter of Jeffers, was arrested and charged with being the aggressor; he was scheduled to be tried the next day. The morning of the trial, Jeffers led a large group of followers to the courthouse in protest; during a prayer there, he asked God to strike the mayor dead, and his supporters physically attacked Bosler and Police Chief W. C. Craig.

To restore order, Governor Harvey Parnell authorized the use of troops stationed at Arkansas State College (now Arkansas State University), reinforced by other troops from around the state. Until they were withdrawn on September 14, the soldiers stationed themselves throughout town, mostly near Jeffers’s tent, which at times held 5,000 people. Two days after the soldiers left, someone dropped a tear-gas bomb outside Jeffers’s tent; each faction blamed the other. Tensions grew between the two Baptist factions until twenty-one followers of Jeffers were expelled from First Baptist and, on October 25, Jeffers’s revival tent was burned down. But the preacher had already planned to establish a tabernacle, named the Jonesboro Baptist Church, at Matthews and Cobb streets, and soon his congregation was meeting there.

Shortly after the church was built, Jeffers left again, and at his suggestion, the church hired as its pastor Dale Crowley of Denton, Texas. Eleven months later, Jeffers returned to Jonesboro and demanded his church back. He had veered from his fundamentalist beliefs, and he and Crowley fought as much over theology as over the control of the church. Sometimes, the two factions of this new church would hold services at the same time, with two sermons and two choirs going simultaneously. After an August 14, 1933, scuffle in which a fistfight occurred and shotguns were brandished, the two men decided to leave the matter to the courts. On October 9, 1933, the Chancery Court ruled in Crowley’s favor.

The next day, when Crowley went to claim possession of the tabernacle, he found himself in a shootout with J. W. McMurdo, whom the Jeffers faction had hired as a watchman and janitor. Crowley was unharmed, but his bodyguard, L. H. Kayre, was wounded; McMurdo was shot twice in the legs and once in the abdomen and died later. Crowley was arrested and, at his October 14 hearing, claimed to have acted in self-defense. On October 17, an unknown assailant tried to assassinate Crowley by thrusting the barrel of a machine gun through the bars of his cell at the Craighead County Jail and firing; Crowley was not harmed. His trial began on January 3, 1934, in Piggott (Clay County), the venue having been changed because of the emotional climate in Jonesboro. After four days, Crowley was acquitted on the murder charge and set free.

Jeffers left for Miami, Florida, shortly after the shooting and later renounced his Baptist ministry, becoming a leader of the Pyramid Power Yahweh group and a self-proclaimed prophet in Missouri. Heard and Crowley soon left Jonesboro, too, but the absence of the chief figures in the conflict did little to alleviate people’s strong opinions of them. Scholars and others have had difficulty researching the Church Wars, as few people through the years have been willing to talk about the events. The main treatment of the subject, written by Dusty Jordan, contains information from four individuals who, even fifty years after the fact, refused to be identified in print.

For additional information:
Jordan, Dusty. “Baptists Bring War to Jonesboro.” Craighead County Historical Quarterly 21 (Winter 1983): 1–9.

Guy Lancaster

Encyclopedia of Arkansas History & Culture

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Having the right of way means nothing

This came to me from a member of the BMW Riders Association of the Mid-South.
Judging by the voices, it sounds like it was made in China.

Al Dente Sauce!

al dente

There's a restaurant up the road from us that serves passable pizza - nothing great, but better than anything else we've found in this region that is apparently devoid of Italian immigrants and their culinary skills.

Here's Maria, whose mother's maiden name was Guerrinni, smirking over the restaurant's menu, which features spaghetti and meatballs with Al Dente sauce.


Just to make sure I wasn't misunderstanding something, I went to the Busy Cook website to verify my understanding of the term al dente.

Here's their definition: Al dente refers to the desired texture of cooked pasta in Italian cooking. It literally means "to the tooth." When the pasta is cooked al dente, there should be a slight resistance in the center when the pasta is chewed.

So how in hell can there be such a thing as al dente sauce? I ordered the spaghetti and it arrived with plain old red tomato-based sauce. And the sauce wasn't chewy in the least.

Al Dente sauce, indeed.

Maybe they have a cook named Al Dente.

Pat Condell on Islam

Pat Condell and his British rant on Islam.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008



I found this image on a strip of negatives in an envelope dated Oct. 10, 1986. It's a picture of a couple being taken to prison from the Hamilton County (Ind.) Courthouse after being convicted of murder.

I can't recall their names and I spent about an hour poking around the Internet in a fruitless search for information about the case. It was one of several murder trials I covered for The Indianapolis News and I believe they picked some guy up in a Noblesville, Ind., bar, drove with him out to a remote county road east of town and for reasons that were never made clear in court, shot him to death.

I do recall quite clearly, however, that the husband swore at me when he saw my camera.

That was 22 years ago. I wonder if they're both still in prison.


It's 84 degrees, with 58% humidity and a heat index of 87. I'm sweating buckets, but the lawn is done and I did it with nearly 4 minutes to spare on a 1 hour 20 minute Windows Weekly podcast.

And the snakes fear me enough to stay hidden.

Heading for the snakepatch

jmf jd

It's coming up on 9 a.m. and the temperature is 79 - as cool as it's going to be for the next 24 hours.

The John Deere gas tank is full, the dew is off of the grass and I've run out of excuses.

It's time to poke the in-ear monitors into my ears, hook up the iPod and attack the lawn.

Damn the snakes! Full speed ahead!

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Mr. Food or Robin? Easy choice

mr food Is it just me, or is this guy really creepy?

His website calls him "hugely popular and beloved by millions," but the sight of Art Ginsburg in his chef's hat make me grab for the remote control to get him off of my TV screen as quickly as I can.

I used to flee his morning food tips on WTHR in Indianapolis and WLFI in Lafayette, Ind. Once I moved to Arkansas, I was dismayed to hear his haunting, "Oooooo, it's so good!" on KAIT in Jonesboro.

Our alarm goes off at 6 a.m. and we usually go through one or two 10-minute snooze cycles before we switch on the bedroom TV to cnn robincheck out the local news and weather.

Fortunately, the local anchors usually do a one- or two-sentence intro for the Mr. Food piece, which give me time to yell, "Ack!" and punch a 4 and a 9 into the remote.

That's takes us over to Morning Express and Robin Meade on CNN Headline News.

And given the choice, which would you rather wake up with?

A little history

centennial medallion

Here's something that makes me feel old if I think about it much.

It's the 2½" diameter solid bronze medallion that was given to attendees at the Alpha Tau Omega Fraternity Centennial Celebration in August, 1965, at the then-national headquarters in Champaign, Ill.

I have one because I was one of maybe three or four members of the Indiana Zeta Omicron Chapter in attendance. I remember it like it was last month. But it was 43 years ago.

And in a scant seven years, ATO will mark its sesquicentennial. And if I attend, I'll look as decrepit and ancient to the undergraduate members as the guys who were around for the 50th anniversary looked to me back in '65.

Kinda creepy, isn't it?

Think pink


Granddaughter Lisa models a pink dress her Nonna Maria made for her. She has a flair for accessorizing.

Ouch! Politically incorrect!

Here's a politically incorrect image for you, guaranteed to make the guys at BMW Motorrad USA scream.

I used to collect Third Reich militaria back in the 1980s and '90s and my collection included a couple of big boxes full of flags and banners.

If memory serves, I think I had just bought this tall building-size banner at an estate auction nazi r100rsand wanted a photo of it. So I hung it from my son Sean's bedroom window on the back of our house and posed my '81 BMW R100RS in front of it.

It must have been very weird for my sons to grow up in a house where so much Nazi crap was on open display. Especially since they had Jewish friends.

For the record, Hitler and his followers were evil vermin who richly earned the destruction the rest of the civilized world visited upon them. And I find today's neo-Nazis equally distasteful. That said, this stuff is a part of history and must be preserved so the mist of time doesn't obscure the hideous crimes of the Third Reich and the ease with which an otherwise cultured people were seduced into unspeakable savagery.

A life-changing event

moped theft report

Here's an illustration of two of Cancerian traits:

  1. Hanging tenaciously onto the past, and
  2. Approaching things in an indirect, sideways crablike manner

I was cleaning out some files the other day and found this piece of paper that heralded the beginning of my life as a motorcyclist. It's an Indianapolis Police Department crime report concerning the theft of my 50cc Tomos moped from my garage on June 16, 1980. According to the report, I was 34 at the time.

I'd bought the moped from a Broad Ripple bicycle shop the previous summer and rode the hell out of it. I used it to commute the seven miles from my house to the newspaper office downtown and even rode it to a story assignment in Rockville, some 70 miles west of Indianapolis.

When I got the insurance settlement, I decided it was time to move up and a few weeks later walked into Keystone Kawasaki and bought a KE175 dual purpose bike. I had no training, but I knew I wanted to ride motorcycles. I bought a $25 cheapo polycarbonate open face helmet from a discount store and started riding.

I somehow managed to avoid crashing for the next few months until the Motorcycle Safety Foundation's first beginning rider course was offered in the autumn of that year. I was so impressed with the course that I became an instructor and taught in the ABATE of Indiana Motorcycle Safety Program for 10 years.

All because some neighborhood dirtbag kid stole my moped.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Looks happy, doesn't she?


Her boy, a quilt and our leather couch - Maria was a happy mom yesterday morning as she hung out with Austin before his departure.

Like a good boy, he called to let us know he made it home safely to Crawfordsville.

And, yes, I Photoshopped the image for artistic effect.

Monday morning stuff

We inadvertently packed and brought with us part of Austin's Christmas village collection last fall.

He and I did a bit of excavating in the mountain of boxes still piled up in the garage yesterday morning before his departure, but failed Sean and Diane in July, 1970 at Busch Gardens, Tampa, find the box with his his stuff.

But we did turn up a box I've spent hours searching for since last October - the one containing my Nikon Coolscan IV negative scanner and my Epson flatbed scanner. And, as an added bonus, the box contained the remote control for my DLO Homedock Deluxe - a device that lets me play my iPod through our TV/home theater setup. It's useless without the remote and I'd toyed with the idea of buying a new one.

So I set up the negative scanner this morning and this photo is the first test image I scanned. It's a really grainy black-and-white negative shot on Kodak Tri-X iso 400 film in July, 1970 of Sean and Diane at Busch Gardens in Tampa, Fla. Sean was about 2½ and Diane was pregnant with Steve, who was born three months later on Halloween.

The pleasure of having the negative scanner working and finding the DLO remote this morning helps a bit to counter the effects of the rude awakening Ruthie gave us.

Ruthie has been sleeping at the foot of our bed for the last few months because she decided that is her proper place and because she will bark all night if left in her kennel in the garage. Pete, on the other hand, has better manners. He loves to sleep in our room too, but maintains a dignified silence when we banish him to his kennel. Pete sleeps in his kennel outside our closed bedroom door because when he sleeps in our room he gets me up at odd hours to go out and do his business in the yard. He's able to hold it until about 5:30 or 6 a.m. when confined to his kennel.

We're loathe to kennel either dog in the garage now that the weather has turned beastly hot.

But I digress.

While Maria and I were waking up, watching what passes for local TV news - I heard Ruthie barfing on the carpet at the foot of the bed. I investigated and found her staring at a couple of lumpy puddles on the beige carpet. I hustled her and Pete outside and decided the wet/try ShopVac was the appropriate tool to lift the stuff off of the carpet and minimize absorption.

That done, I headed for the bathroom and discovered that Ruthie hooverhad suffered an attack of the brown squirts on the tile bathroom floor. Thank God neither of us shuffled in there in bare feet in the pre-dawn darkness. She also peed, making the mess even more interesting.

Maria graciously volunteered to do the preliminary bathroom cleanup and I followed up with our Hoover Floor Mate floor scrubber, trying to avoid stained grout.

Both dogs have remained outside for the past four hours and I'm inclined to leave them out there all day.

Our local BMW friend Deb says her dogs have occasional digestive problems like this when they eat acrorns. Our back yard is littered with acorns from all of the oak trees, so that's a likely explanation for Ruthie's problems this morning.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

I can see for miles

Reading the BMW Owners News over lunch, I noted the 25th anniversary of the water-cooled K bike will be celebrated at the BMW MOA rally this month.
The author of the article claimed some expertise on K bikes with 80,000 K bike miles in his mirrors.
That started me wondering about my K bike mileage. Turns out that I have 200,412 K bike miles on my '91 K100RS, '03 K1200GT and Maria's '94 K75S. Add totals from my '81 R100RS and my '71 R50/5 and I have an estimated 310,412 BMW motorcycle miles.
But the same issue of the BMW Owners News puts my miles in perspective with a story on Mac McHugh, who has more than 1 million BMW miles.

Auto maintenance 101


Austin and I are topping off the coolant in the Subaru Forester on a trip yesterday to Memphis.

We made a gas/restroom stop just north of West Memphis, Ark., on I-55 and noticed the engine smelled very very hot. We found the oil was down 2 quarts and the coolant was low, even though the oil warning light hadn't come on and the temperature gauge was in the normal range.

So I bought a couple of quarts of oil and a couple of gallons of coolant. We put all of the oil and a little of the coolant in, then drove on to the Pink Palace Museum in Memphis where we wandered through a couple of miles of a hodgepodge of rather unremarkable exhibits. It reminded me a lot of the chaotic collection of crap at the House on the Rock at Spring Green, Wisc.

When we came out, we checked levels again and topped off the coolant again (photo above).

The Garmin Nüvi 200W GPS unit guided us to Graceland, where we cruised the parking lot and decided to flee for home.

After years of scorning GPS, I'm becoming a convert. It took all of the hassle out of navigating in a strange city and made the trip much more enjoyable.

Once back in Jonesboro, we stopped at Andy's for refreshment, bought some Sam's Club steaks and came home for a grilled steak dinner and the movie "King of California" courtesy of Netflix.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

1,215 pledge their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor


Go over to for the full story of yesterday's swearing-in ceremony in Baghdad where 1,215 U.S. military personnel told the world what they think of our work in Iraq by re-enlisting.

They know far better than you or I - sitting comfortably at our computers over here on the other side of the world - the realities of our mission in Iraq. I, for one, trust their judgment.

Here's a video of the ceremony.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Austin & Maria

Having a late lunch at Lewis' BBQ.

The did it for us - value it


In CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,
When in the course of human Events, it becomes necessary for one People to dissolve the Political Bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the Powers of the Earth, the separate and equal Station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent Respect to the Opinions of Mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the Separation.
We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.
That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed.
That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these Ends, it is in the Right of the People to alter or abolish it, and to institute a new Government, laying its Foundation on such Principles, and organizing its Powers in such Form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient Causes; and accordingly all Experience hath shewn, that Mankind are more disposed to suffer, while Evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the Forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long Train of Abuses and Usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object, evinces a Design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their Right, it is their Duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future Security.
Such has been the patient Sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the Necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The History of the Present King of Great-Britain is a History of repeated Injuries and Usurpations, all having in direct Object the Establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let the Facts be submitted to a candid World.
He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public Good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing Importance, unless suspended in their Operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the Accommodation of large Districts of People; unless those People would relinquish the Right of Representation in the Legislature, a Right inestimable to them, and formidable to Tyrants only.
He has called together Legislative Bodies at Places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the Depository of their public Records, for the sole Purpose of fatiguing them into Compliance with his Measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly Firmness his Invasions on the Rights of the People.
He has refused for a long Time, after such Dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the Dangers of Invasion from without, and Convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the Population of these States; for that Purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their Migrations hither, and raising the Conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the Tenure of their Offices, and Amount and Payment of their Salaries.
He has erected a Multitude of new Offices, and sent hither Swarms of Officers to harass our People, and eat out their Substance.
He has kept among us, in Times of Peace, Standing Armies, without the consent of our Legislature.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a Jurisdiction foreign to our Constitution, and unacknowledged by our Laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislaton:
For quartering large Bodies of Armed Troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from Punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all Parts of the World:
For imposing taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us, in many Cases, of the Benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond the Seas to be tried for pretended Offences:
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an arbitrary Government, and enlarging its Boundaries, so as to render it at once an Example and fit Instrument for introducing the same absolute Rule in these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with Powers to legislate for us in all Cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our Towns, and destroyed the Lives of our People.
He is, at this Time, transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to complete the Works of Death, Desolation, and Tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty and Perfidy, scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous Ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized Nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the Executioners of their Friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic Insurrections among us, and has endeavoured to bring on the Inhabitants of our Frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known Rule of Warfare, is an undistinguished Destruction, of all Ages, Sexes and Conditions.
In every stage of these Oppressions we have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble Terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated Injury. A Prince, whose Character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the Ruler of a free People.
Nor have we been wanting in Attentions to our British Brethren. We have warned them from Time to Time of Attempts by their Legislature to extend an unwarrantable Jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the Circumstances of our Emigration and Settlement here. We have appealed to their native Justice and Magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the Ties of our common Kindred to disavow these Usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our Connections and Correspondence. They too have been deaf to the Voice of Justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the Necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of Mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace, Friends.
We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the World for the Rectitude of our Intentions, do, in the Name, and by the Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly Publish and Declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be, Free and Independent States; that they are absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political Connection between them and the State of Great-Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm Reliance on the Protection of the divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.
Signed by ORDER and

Happy 4th

Stars & Stripes FOREVER!

What warning label?

moron fireworks

Since it's Independence Day, I figured I should post some pictures of morons with fireworks. These were shot July 4, 2004 in the Lebanon (Ind.) High School parking lot where townspeople had gathered to watch the official fireworks display and to put on one of their own.

mo fireworks 03 

Sorta looks like Prometheus drawing down fire from Zeus in the heavens. But it's just some guy who yelled, "Hey, hold my beer and watch this" and survived to tell about it.