Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Stuff I don’t care about

There is a lot of TV programming that I find singularly uninteresting.

Here is a partial list of stuff that some TV execs think is compelling, but I never cared about and never will:

  • Ice Road Truckers
  • Lumberjacks
  • Alaskan crab fishermen
  • Survivors of any kind (except maybe Holocaust survivors)
  • Any VH1 of MTV reality show
  • That lame divorcing couple and their eight kids
  • The midget family
  • Professional wrestling
  • Michael Jackson
  • The Bachelor
  • The Bachelorette
  • The Great Race
  • Dancing With the Stars
  • American Idol

And on and on. You get the idea.

Back from Batesville

june30 farmers market

Maria surprised me by only buying two bolts of cloth at Marshall’s, but they were a killer deal.

We got back to Jonesboro in plenty of time to shop at the Tuesday evening ASU Farmers Market (I have no idea who the woman writing a check is), then pop into Hastings for coffee and a blog update.

I’m sitting across the cafe from a young couple and their 50-something worman real estate broker. They’re preparing an offer on a house and itemizing the defects in the house they either want fixed or they want credit for.

And if  that stupid woman says “hot water heater” one more time, I’m going to scream, “Have you ever heard of a cold water heater? It’s just a goddamned water heater.”

Wifi at the Batesville Hardees – who knew?

hardeesWe took a lunch break from the fabric safari and asked Garmin to find us a barbecue joint.

It directed us to Cowboys, a roadside place a couple of miles out of town that turned out to be an excellent choice.cowboys

On the way to the restaurant, Maria spotted a Hastings, which I supposed would have free Wifi, just like the one in Jonesboro.

I dropped Maria off at the fabric store with the understanding that I’ll pick her up at 3 p.m. unless she calls me before that time. I drove to Hastings, went into the modest cafe area and asked the guy behind the counter if they had Wifi. They don’t.

“Do you know anyplace around here that does?”

“Yeah. Hardees.”

“The one right down here?” I asked, pointing toward the only Hardees I’ve noticed here.

“Yeah,” he said.

So I drove to Hardees, bought a small drink so as not to appear to be a complete freeloader, fired up the Mini 9 and discovered a five-bar unsecured network signal. After a few minutes of wrestling with my anti-virus software, I was online.


Looking around, I see no signs advertising Wifi, not a single clue. I checked the Hardees national website to see if this is a standard feature at Hardees and found no reference to Wifi, so this may be just an anomaly.

Whatever. Now I know where to get free Wifi in Batesville, Ark.

On fabric safari in Batesville

marshall maria

marshall We’re at Marshall Dry Goods Co. Inc. in Batesville, the premiere quilting fabric store in the Mid-South’ where Maria is spending part of her day off building her already imposing stash of fabric.

The 92-mile drive took about two hours.

I’m writing this in the car in the parking lot about 11:55 a.m., but won’t post it for a few hours because I don't have Wifi access and this is roam zone for my Sprit smartphome.

Monday, June 29, 2009

The deal is done

We went to the title company this morning and signed our names a couple of hundred times and now we have a new mortgage with a lower interest rate and lower monthly payment.


We don’t have to make a house payment until Sept. 1. Woo-hoo!

And besides that, the heat wave has broken and it’s only 83 with a heat index of 83!

Life is good.

And I just learned Bernie Madoff got 150 years and the Supreme Court reversed Judge Sonia Sotomayor’s deranged ruling in the New Haven, Conn., firefighter case.

Today just keeps getting better and better.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Forget MJ - BILLY MAYS is dead

American pitchman and advertiser Billy Mays has died at the age of image50. Mays was probably most known for his catch phrase ‘Billy Mays here’ and the pitching of the multipurpose cleaning product OxiClean.

According to reports, Mays’ wife Deborah, found him unresponsive Sunday morning their home located in Tampa, Florida. The cause of death is not yet known, but authorities say they do not believe foul play was involved.

Fox News reports Mays had been aboard a US Airways flight that blew out its front tires as it landed at Tampa International Airport on yesterday. None of the 138 passengers and five crew members were reported to be seriously injured immediately following the incident, but several passengers reported having bumps and bruises from falling objects. Mays told the local Tampa TV station that some of the objects “hit me on the head, but I got a hard head.” It is unclear whether Mays’ death was related to the incident.

Friends of Carlotta, enemies of Carlotta

I'm pleased to report only one of Arkansas's four Congressmen voted for the deranged American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 that narrowly passed Friday in the U.S. House of Representatives.deadmenp

The vote was 219-212. The measure needed 216 votes to pass.

Arkansas's Blue Dog Democrat Congressmen Marion Berry (my district) and Mike Ross joined Republican John Boozman in opposing the bill that, if it passes the Senate, will utterly wreck the U.S. economy and is based on the mistaken premise that human activity is causing global warming. Economic suicide based on junk science. These people are either hopelessly stupid or hope to line their pockets with "green" stimulus money.

So it's up to voters in Arkansas's Second Congressional District to make sure Democrat Victor Snyder gets the boot next year. I plan to donate to whoever opposes him and I'm sure I'm not alone.

Back in my home state of Indiana, two of Indiana's nine representatives drank the Waxman-Markey Kool-Aid: Democrats Baron Hill and, of course, Andre Carson. Kudos to Democrats Pete Visclosky, Joe Donnelly, and Brad Ellsworth for having the wisdom and integrity to buck the party line and vote against the bill.

Saturday, June 27, 2009



My stepdaughter Morgan, the last of our four kids still east of the Mississippi, is headed for Tucson.

Her boyfriend of six months, whose parents live in suburban Tucson, just landed an excellent job in Tucson and wants Morgan to join him.

Considering that she has finished her master’s degree in library science and has no compelling reason to stay in Bloomington, Ind., and considering that she’s kinda serious about the guy, Morgan has resolved to pack up and move to Tucson.

As I write this at 9 p.m. at Barnes & Noble, it’s still 90 degrees here with a heat index of 103, so living in the blazing heat down on the Mexican border sounds a little daunting.

Yeah, I know. It’s a dry heat.

Yeah, we're crazy about dogs

dogshake We spent a couple of hours this morning at the local dog pound, getting to know the people who work there and meeting some dogs.

Like this Saint Bernard, who ended up in the pound because he was an escape artist and his owner couldn't keep him at home. He got a flea and tick dip.

Austin, who loves animals and has pet store experience, is going to volunteer at the pound starting next week.

Maria and I are absolute dog crazies and end up wanting to take all of them home with us.

Especially Gracie the border collie, below, who has a litter of pups of dubious lineage.dog gracie 01

Shooting dogs

We're off to shoot dogs. More later.

Friday, June 26, 2009

219 malignant imbeciles pretend global warming is real, vote to wreck U.S. economy

WASHINGTON -- The Democratic-controlled House, dealing a legislative victory to President Obama, narrowly passed sweeping legislation Friday that calls for the nation's first limits on pollution linked to global warming and aims to usher in a new era of cleaner, yet more costly energy.

The vote was 219-212, capping months of negotiations and days of intense bargaining among Democrats. Republicans were overwhelmingly against the measure, arguing it would destroy jobs in the midst of a recession while burdening consumers with a new tax in the form of higher energy costs.

The House's action fulfilled Speaker Nancy Pelosi's vow to clear major energy legislation before July 4, and sent the measure to a highly uncertain fate in the Senate.

Obama lobbied recalcitrant Democrats by phone from the White House as the debate unfolded across several hours, and Al Gore posted a statement on his Web site saying the measure represents "an essential first step towards solving the climate crisis." The former vice president won a Nobel Peace Prize for his work drawing attention to the destructive potential of global warming.

On the House floor, Democrats hailed the legislation as historic, while Republicans said it would damage the economy without solving the nation's energy woes.

It is "the most important energy and environmental legislation in the history of our country," said Rep. Ed Markey of Massachusetts. "It sets a new course for our country, one that steers us away from foreign oil and towards a path of clean American energy."

But Rep. John Boehner, the House Republican leader, used an extraordinary one-hour speech shortly before the final vote to warn of unintended consequences in what he said was a "defining bill." He called it a "bureaucratic nightmare" that would cost jobs, depress real estate prices and put the government into parts of the economy where it now has no role.

The legislation would require the U.S. to reduce carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions by 17 percent from 2005 levels by 2020 and by about 80 percent by mid-century. That was slightly more aggressive than Obama originally wanted, 14 percent by 2020 and the same 80 percent by mid-century.

U.S. carbon dioxide emissions from the burning of fossil fuels are rising at about 1 percent a year and are predicted to continue increasing without mandatory limits.

Under the bill, the government would limit heat-trapping pollution from factories, refineries and power plants and issue allowances for polluters. Most of the allowances would be given away, but about 15 percent would be auctioned by bid and the proceeds used to defray higher energy costs for lower-income individuals and families.

"Some would like to do more. Some would like to do less," House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said in advance of the final vote. "But we have reached a compromise ... and it is a compromise that can pass this House, pass that Senate, be signed by the president and become law and make progress."

One of the biggest compromises involved the near total elimination of an administration plan to sell pollution permits and raise more than $600 billion over a decade -- money to finance continuation of a middle class tax cut. About 85 percent of the permits are to be given away rather than sold in a ceoncession to energy companies and their allies in the House -- and even that is uncertain to survive in the Senate.

The final bill also contained concessions to satisfy farm-state lawmakers, ethanol producers, hydroelectric advocates, the nuclear industry and others, some of them so late that they were not made public until 3 a.m. on Friday.

Supporters and opponents agreed the result would be higher energy costs but disagreed vigorously on the impact on consumers. Democrats pointed to two reports -- one from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office and the other from the Environmental Protection Agency -- that suggested average increases would be limited after tax credits and rebates were taken into account. The CBO estimated the bill would cost an average household $175 a year, the EPA $80 to $110 a year.

Republicans questioned the validity of the CBO study and noted that even that analysis showed actual energy production costs increasing $770 per household. Industry groups have cited other studies showing much higher costs to the economy and to individuals.

The White House and congressional Democrats argued the bill would create millions of "green jobs" as the nation shifts to greater reliance on renewable energy sources such as wind and solar and development of more fuel-efficient vehicles -- and away from use of fossil fuels such as oil, gas and coal.

It will "make our nation the world leader on clean energy jobs and technology," declared Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., who negotiated deals with dozens of lawmakers in recent weeks to broaden the bill's support.

Pelosi, D-Calif., took an intense personal interest in the measure, sitting through hours of meetings with members of the rank and file and nurturing fragile compromises.

At its heart, the bill was a trade-off, less than the White House initially sought though it was more than Republicans said was acceptable. Some of the dealmaking had a distinct political feel. Rep. Alan Grayson, a first-term Democrat, won a pledge of support that $50 million from the proceeds of pollution permit sales in the bill would go to a proposed new hurricane research facility in his district in Orlando, Fla.

"This is revolutionary. This is a moment in history," declared Markey, a co-sponsor of the bill.

Republicans saw it differently.

This "amounts to the largest tax increase in American history under the guise of climate change," declared Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind.

The refi drama continues

Two weeks after I intervened to rescue our 4.75% mortgage refi interest rate when the dopes at the bank were about to let it lapse, I had to straighten out another of their screwups on the eve of closing.

Maria was able to prod them into setting a closing date earlier this week - 9:30 a.m. next Monday.

I've been checking since then to learn how much we need to come up with in property taxes. I was told we needed a cashier's check for property taxes at closing.

I called the bank yesterday and was told the woman who does that stuff would crunch our numbers and call me with the amount today.

So I stayed at home all day waiting for the call that never came. Finally, I called the bank at 3:45 p.m.

Turns out the woman had been calling the wrong number all day. But she didn't realize it was a wrong number because the woman who kept answering didn't tell her it was a wrong number. Duh!

I told her I was kinda eager to get the information so I could get a cashier's check in time for the Monday morning closing. Well, it turns out that a personal check will do.

So I wasted a whole day waiting for some moron who can't get a phone number right.

But wait, it gets better.

When she told me how much the new house payment would be, it was only $135 less than we're paying now. We expected something more like $250 in monthly savings.

She decided to check some numbers and said she'd call me back. I waited until about 4:45 p.m., then I called her.

It turns out that the underwriter (who is on vacation, of course), entered the wrong interest rate. Instead of the 4.75% we locked in way back in freaking April, the underwriter entered 4.875%.

That shaves another $14 and change off of our monthly payment, which is movement in the right direction, but not much.

And it leaves us wondering what else they've fucked up.

OK, so he's dead

I'm always sad when a fellow Hoosier dies, but the orgy of media coverage today of Michael Jackson's death shows how detached from reality we've become.

Here are a few of the things I think are being wrongly crowded out of our awareness by the Jackson death coverage:

  • Today's House of Representatives vote on the ruinous "climate change" bill.
  • The slaughter of Iranian freedom fighters.
  • Impending confrontation with the lunatic North Korean regime.
  • The supposed unveiling today of the Ark of the Covenant in Rome.

The morning news shows on cable and the big 3 networks were pretty much wall-to-wall MJ coverage. I think (or at least hope) all of them realize that this coverage is shamefully over the top, but they're afraid showing anything else will have their viewers reaching for the remote to change channels.

Pity. Some of us are still interested in real news.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Sometimes these things really do come in threes

ed-mcmahon-b_0 farrah_fawcett michael_jackson

Ed, Farrah and Michael - RIP.

A call to action

I just sent the following email to my Congressman, Rep. Marion Berry, D-Ark.:

Please vote against the Waxman-Markey bill tomorrow. Its effects on Arkansas's and the nation's economy will be disastrous and its environmental benefits will be negligible.
I firmly believe that no member of Congress who supports this legislation will be re-electable.

I'm apparently not alone:

WASHINGTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The Council for Citizens Against Government Waste (CCAGW) today announced that its members have flooded Capitol Hill offices with more than 20,500 strongly-worded e-mails urging members of Congress to defeat the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009, the Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade bill. The group has distributed e-mail action alerts to its members nationwide over the last month and members have responded aggressively. The CCAGW members’ message to their elected officials reads:

“What this plan really will do is place severe regulatory burdens on domestic industry that will ultimately drive up the prices I pay for electricity, gasoline, natural gas, and virtually every product I purchase that uses fossil fuels in its manufacture or transportation.

“The Heritage Foundation has estimated this cap-and-trade tax could increase my family's energy bill by $1,500 annually!

“What's more, the Waxman-Markey bill will hit me not only as a consumer, but as a taxpayer, as it significantly grows the size and cost of government. By requiring the Environmental Protection Agency to establish a greenhouse gas (GHG) registry, create a GHG emission allowance transfer system, and set emission allowances from 2012-2050, this cap-and-trade scheme empowers bureaucrats to dictate virtually every aspect of commercial and individual energy use. It also opens the door to the potential for political manipulation and corruption.

“I see very little environmental pay-off for the enormous costs this bill will impose on my family, American businesses, and our economy. Again, I urge you to reject the Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade bill.”

“Members of Congress should be under no illusions,” said CCAGW President Tom Schatz. “The responsiveness we have seen from our members indicates that American taxpayers are viscerally opposed to this legislation. They recognize it for what it is: a job killer, a massive new drag on an already weakened economy, a down payment on a massive wasteful new bureaucracy, and a crushing new financial burden on working Americans and businesses. The time has come to reject the Washington gamesmanship and the backroom dealing. Members of Congress who are sitting on the fence or who think they can bargain their way to a safe ‘yes’ vote on Waxman-Markey must put sound policy-making above partisan politics and defeat this bill,” concluded Schatz.

CCAGW is the lobbying arm of Citizens Against Government Waste, the nation’s largest nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to eliminating waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement in government.

This bill is the poster child for Deranged and Economically Destructive Legislation.

Please, please, please phone or email your Congressional Representative and ask them to vote against it.

12 again

John took the How Old Do You Act? quiz and got the result: 12.

I took the "How Old Do You Act?" test on Facebook and this is how I scored.

I can't decide if this is better or worse than 64...

Ark of the Covenant to be revealed?

From WorldNetDaily:

The patriarch of the Orthodox Church of Ethiopia says he will announce to the world Friday the unveiling of the Ark of the Covenant, perhaps the world's most prized archaeological and spiritual artifact, which he says has been hidden away in a church in his country for millennia, according to the Italian news agency Adnkronos.
Abuna Pauolos, in Italy for a meeting with Pope Benedict XVI this week, told the news agency, "Soon the world will be able to admire the Ark of the Covenant described in the Bible as the container of the tablets of the law that God delivered to Moses and the center of searches and studies for centuries."
The announcement is expected to be made at 2 p.m. Italian time from the Hotel Aldrovandi in Rome. Pauolos will reportedly be accompanied by Prince Aklile Berhan Makonnen Haile Sellassie and Duke Amedeo D'Acosta.

Abuna Pauolos, patriarch of the Orthodox Church of Ethiopia

"The Ark of the Covenant is in Ethiopia for many centuries," said Pauolos. "As a patriarch I have seen it with my own eyes and only few highly qualified persons could do the same, until now."

Want to know more about the ancient box holding the Ten Commandments? Get "Exploring the Ark of the Covenant" – a two-DVD set!
According to Pauolos, the actual Ark has been kept in one church, but to defend the treasure, a copy was placed in every single church in Ethiopia.

He said a museum is being built in Axum, Ethiopia, where the Ark will be displayed. A foundation of D'Acosta will fund the project.
The Ark of the Covenant is the sacred container of the Ten Commandments as well as Aaron's rod and a sample of manna, the mysterious food that kept the Israelites alive while wandering in the wilderness during their journey to the promised land.
The Bible says the Ark was built to the specifications of God as He spoke to Moses. It was carried in advance of the people and their army by priests. It was also carried in a seven-day procession around the walled city of Jericho.

Sketch of Ark of the Covenant based on a description by the late explorer Ron Wyatt (wyattmuseum.com)

The idea that the Ark is presently in Ethiopia is a well-documented, albeit disputed, tradition dating back to at least 642 B.C. The tradition says it was moved to Elephantine Island in Egypt, then to Tana Kirkos Island in Ethiopia and finally to its present site at St. Mary's of Zion Church in Axum.
Ethiopians believe it is destined to be delivered to the Messiah when He reigns on Mount Zion – the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.
Jeremiah 3:16 points to a time when the Ark will vanish not only physically, but from the minds of the people: "And it shall come to pass, when ye be multiplied and increased in the land, in those days, saith the LORD, they shall say no more, The ark of the covenant of the LORD: neither shall it come to mind: neither shall they remember it; neither shall they visit it; neither shall that be done any more."
The Book of Revelation says the Ark is in the temple of God in heaven (Rev. 11:19). Muslim scholars say it will be found near the end of times by the Mahdi – a messianic figure in Islam.

And while we’re on the subject…

The stupidest thing I’ve seen this month:

Motorcyclist westbound about 45 mph on Johnson Avenue in Jonesboro at 5:11 p.m. yesterday.

No helmet (blue baseball cap on backwards)

No shirt

Holding a cell phone to his left ear.


cheep Sign on the post office bulletin board.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Las Vegas weather report

122 Can’t top that.

North Korea threatens to wipe us off the map

kim Oh, really?

Bring it, twerp.

One more thing off of my plate

I wrapped up my magazine photo shoot about 12:30, had a quick lunch with Maria and went home where I burned the images to a DVD. Then it was back to town where I fired the DVD and associated paperwork off to Fargo, N.D.

I was chagrined to discovered when I looked at the images on my 24” monitor that I had dust on my camera sensor. Nothing the PhotoShop healing tool can’t handle, but I’m embarrassed nonetheless.

Time to invest in some serious sensor cleaning tools.

Or a D300 with self-cleaning sensor.

We’re scheduled to close on our mortgage refinance next Monday. I’m still waiting to hear whether they expect me to make the July payment at the old rate. Seems wrong to do a new deal on June 29 and then have to make a July payment under the old deal.

But, given our bank’s communication skills, the only way I’ll find out is to take the initiative to ask.

On assignment

Shooting a house for a magazine this morning.

Wrecking the economy for a bogus climate theory

Click on the map to view it larger.
Waxman-Markey would be a very stupid bill even if it were true that 1) the earth is getting warmer, 2) human activity is mostly responsible for climate changes, and 3) a warmer earth would be a bad thing. Given that all three of these premises are false--we cannot, in fact, control the weather--Waxman-Markey is a suicidal monument to human folly.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Old and new

windmills Longtime friend Lonnie Miller forwarded this cool photo of windmills - old and new - at the Fowler Ridge Wind Farm in northwest Indiana.

I took the liberty of cropping the original photo for a more dramatic effect. Jerry Gibson of Lafayette shot the original with a cell phone camera.

High Anxiety


This scene from “High Anxiety” is, to my way of thinking, one of the all-time funniest moments in the history of cinema.

I’ve got a copy of the movie and I’ve seen it dozens of times, but I always laugh hysterically at this scene.

If you’ve never seen this classic, go rent it.


Monday, June 22, 2009

Just in time for the Dog Days of Summer

dogdoor Maria has long lamented the fact that we don't have a dog door that would let our dogs to and fro between the screened back porch and the yard.

Austin solved the problem last week with a birthday gift to his mom of a new screen door that has a separate pet door.

Rather than risk the distress involved in struggling with the installation in 90-degree heat, I paid the additional $65 to have Lowe's send out an installer.

He arrived as expected about 10 a.m. today and had the job all wrapped up within an hour. I'm confident that Austin and I would OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         have taken three or four hours and ended up with a job that wouldn't look nearly as professional.

The next step was to train the dogs to use the flap with magnets on the bottom.

Both dogs are crazy about cream cheese, so we used it to lure them  back and forth through the opening.

Ruthie was the first to catch on and now goes through with little or no coaxing. Pete, always the wary and cautious pup, has yet to make the passage on his own, but can be persuaded to step through the opening if you lift the flap a bit and invite him through.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Given time, I expect it will become second nature to both of them. In the meantime, I've ShopVaced what I hope are the last of the flies and mosquitoes and made the porch considerably more inviting for human habitation.

Just for the record, it's 96 degrees with a heat index of 100 at 4 p.m.

Here's looking at you, kid


I'm back from the eye doc's office, my pupils dilated in the blazing sunshine.

Fortunately, they have little disposable sunglass inserts for glasses, which made the drive home marginally bearable.

Now that I'm home and working on the laptop, I'm still working with fuzzy vision because dilated pupils give you very little depth of field. Stuff is either in focus or it isn't.

The report is reasonably good - no signs of diabetic damage and the early cataracts that were diagnosed three years ago are still well OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         below the threshold of needing attention.

Unfortunately, I had a chocolate chip FiberOne breakfast bar before I went in for my appointment this morning, which ran my blood sugar up to 230 - a level the doc deemed too high to get an accurate measure of my vision for the purposes of writing a prescription for new glasses or contact lenses.

So I have to get it down to a reasonable level before I go back for a re-test.

So much for getting new contacts in time for my ride to the BMW MOA rally.

Later yesterday


Sunday, June 21, 2009

But it’s a WET heat

98 degrees

We’re hanging out at Books-A-Million after a run to the southside Walmart to pick up a prescription.

The Subaru’s exterior thermometer has settled on 98 degrees after flickering between 100 and 101 en route to Walmart.

Summer began here at 12:45 a.m. today.

Father’s Day thoughts

johnchas Today is Father’s Day, so here’s a photo of me and my dad at Niagara Falls, circa 1957. I was 12 and dad was 47.

This is probably the coolest my dad ever looked, at least I can’t find a better photo: slim and trim, pleated slacks, stylish belt and Pendleton shirt, natty tweed jacket, cap and shades. And he’s smoking a cigarette – almost certainly a Winston.

I, on the other hand, was going through that horrible awkward geeky phase that pre-teen boys often have to endure. I think I still have the black-and-gold cap with the D for Delphi.

The waist-level camera point of view tells me my mother shot it with her twin-lens reflex Kodak. A lot of the classic Depression Era photos by Dorothea Lange and the other greats of that time were shot from that POV with more sophisticated twin-lens reflexes and they have a quality I think is often more interesting than what you get with eye-level view finders.

But I digress.

This my 12th fatherless Father’s Day. I miss him every day.

On the other hand, this is my 41st year as a father and my eighth year as a step-father.
We got our dates crossed up and initially thought last Sunday was Father's Day. Consequently, my stepson Austin dazzled me last Sunday morning when he returned from his morning run in Craighead Forest Park with a Father’s Day gift for me – a Blu-ray copy of Clint Eastwood’s “Gran Torino.” What a good kid.
Today is also the first day of summer. As I write this, the heat index is somewhere above 100 degrees. The weather here is definitely in synch with the calendar.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Rally countdown

rally09_big_logo It’s on.

I pre-registered online this afternoon for the 2009 BMW Motorcycle Owners of America International Rally next month at Johnson City, Tenn.

I also posted to the BMWMOA online forum the observation that the rider in the rally logo really ought to have his head tilted and his eyes level with the horizon. Otherwise, it looks kinda unnatural. I’m sure my constructive criticism will be warmly received.

The Face of the Revolution


If this still photograph taken from the video goes viral, this unfortunate young woman has just become the face of the revolution. As a galvanizing force, this photo is the most important image to come out of Iran.

Please feel free to copy and use it wherever and whenever possible.

From the Facebook page of Hamed Rad, a physician in Tehran:

Basij shots to death a young woman in Tehran's Saturday June 20th protests
At 19:05 June 20th
Place: Karekar Ave., at the corner crossing Khosravi St. and Salehi st.
A young woman who was standing aside with her father watching the protests was shot by a basij member hiding on the rooftop of a civilian house. He had clear shot at the girl and could not miss her. However, he aimed straight her heart. I am a doctor, so I rushed to try to save her. But the impact of the gunshot was so fierce that the bullet had blasted inside the victim's chest, and she died in less than 2 minutes.
The protests were going on about 1 kilometers away in the main street and some of the protesting crowd were running from tear gass used among them, towards Salehi St.
The film is shot by my friend who was standing beside me.
Please let the world know.


Here's the link to the Facebook page and the extremely graphic video.

Attention: Twitter and Facebook users

free iran Change your location to Tehran and help confuse the Iranian authorities trying to track down Iranian Freedom Fighters on Twitter and Facebook.

It's one small thing we can do to help these people.

These kids need guns

Let’s pray that they succeed


Your move

chessatBAM It’s Saturday morning and the chess players are doing battle in the cafe at Books-A-Million.

I’m surfing and blogging while Maria shops next door at Kroger. Earlier, we stopped at the Farmers Market for some blackberries and tomatoes and to give a CD of last Saturday’s Maggie dog pictures to the Whitton Farms kids.

It’s not 11 a.m. yet and the temperature is 90 with a heat index of 96, so we’re in for another warm, horribly humid day.

i heart We stopped at the post office on the way into Jonesboro and I noticed a guy getting into his pickup truck with a license plate on the front displaying the sentiment: “I (heart) my wife.”

I suppressed the urge to ask him if his wife put it there.

Steve Jobs lives in Memphis?

It appears Apple CEO Steve Jobs is a neighbor of ours.

Well, almost and maybe.jobs

It was reported this week that Jobs underwent a liver transplant "in Tennessee" two months ago.

People who are checking into the story think he's been living near medical facilities in Memphis.

Here is Alexander Haislip's report.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Friday morning report

barnes&noblejune19 I noticed my cell phone battery was almost flat as I left home this morning, so that meant I’d go to Barnes & Noble.


Barnes & Noble does not have free Wifi, but they do have convenient electrical outlets, which means I can use my Sprint cell phone for a modem and in doing so, let it charge through my Mini 9 being plugged into AC.

The wallpaper on my Mini 9, BTW, is a photo I shot about 6 years ago at Arches National Park. They call that part of the park Park Avenue because of the rock formations’ resemblance to a New York City skyline.

I’ve been recruited to shoot a local home next week for a home design/furnishings magazine. This month’s issue is emphasizing kitchens, but the home selected is in the middle of a kitchen faucet/tile backsplash project, so I’ve been instructed to work around the sink problems. And the shoot is scheduled the day after the stated deadline. Strikes me as a very odd choice, but I’m just getting paid to do the shoot and fire the images off by FedEx to the publisher asap. Whatever.

One of the sunflower seeds from our back yard birdfeeder has taken root and the flower opened up yesterday morning. It was even fuller this morning, sunflowerso I set my Olympus point-and-shoot for macro and captured its sunny radiance before I left home for town.

It was 82 degrees and impossibly humid at the time and my glasses and camera immediately fogged up, having just come from a dry, air conditioned house.

(The air conditioning at Barnes & Noble is about to freeze me out. I don’t much care for their musical choices, either.)

Austin’s birthday present for his mother arrived yesterday afternoon in a big Lowe’s box truck – a replacement for our present screened patio door with a dog door in the bottom panel. Maria has wanted one of these since we moved in nearly two years ago.

We’ve kept the original screen door propped open so the dogs can to and fro at will. But the consequence is that mosquitoes, wasps, flies, birds, raccoons and God knows what else can also find their way onto the porch. If you’ve been reading this blog for awhile, you’ll remember the ShopVac Mosquito War of 2008. The dog door should make those daily mosquito massacres unnecessary.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Deadbeat report

The couple who used to have our phone number and who left a trail of ripped-off creditors all over the landscape, have filed for bankruptcy.

As a result of the filing, we now have a current address for them that we can pass on to the creditors who continue to call our number, so maybe, just maybe, we can put an end to these calls.

Nordex, wo bist du?

nordex wind turbine2

As far as I can tell, work has not yet begun on the planned Nordex USA North American manufacturing facility here in Jonesboro.

The most recent reference to it on the Nordex web site is in a press release in early March announcing the opening for the German wind turbine manufacturer’s new North American headquarters in Chicago.

You have to read nearly to the end of the press release to find this reference to the Jonesboro plans:

In October of 2008, Nordex announced plans to build a manufacturing plant in Jonesboro, Arkansas. The company will invest approximately $100 million in the factory, which will employ more than 700 people in Arkansas and around100 people in Chicago by 2015. It will manufacture every component of a wind turbine except the tower, with a target annual assembly capacity of 750 megawatts. Construction is slated to begin this year, with production planned for 2010.

“Establishing a firm operating and manufacturing presence will enable Nordex to keep better pace with strong demand in the US, which has outstripped our ability to import turbines manufactured abroad fast enough,” said Sigrist. “From Chicago we will be in the capital of the wind industry, and from Jonesboro we will be at a geographic center for product distribution.” Nordex is also gearing up to build a home-grown supply chain in the US.

Has the drop in oil prices since October 2008 sucked the wind out of the wind turbine business? What has to happen to get this project moving?

And do you remember that insensitive question the TV reporter asked the despondent manager of the soon-to-close Circuit City here?

“Well, do you think we’ll get a Best Buy?”

It could happen, even though we’re not on the list of new Best Buy stores recently released.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

They want freedom. We give them Chickenshit Diplomacy.

17iran4-600 The Iranian government is accusing us of meddling, despite Obama’s steadfast refusal to stand up for freedom and democracy because he doesn’t want to be accused of meddling.


These people are prepared to die for freedom and the Great Apologizer, the Apostle of Change and Hope, can’t offer them a shred of hope.

Is this the Smart Diplomacy we were promised? Looks more like Chickenshit Diplomacy to anyone who’s paying attention (that is just about everyone but Juan Williams).

As Charles Krauthammer pointed out earlier this week, an overthrow of the jihadist looneytune theocracy is the only scenario that eliminates the need for us or Israel to get medieval on a country that ought to be our friends.

How old is your dog?

petefreak I found an interesting (to me, anyway) web site this morning that computes the age of your dog in human equivalent years based on a lengthy set of questions.

According to the DogAge Test site, Ruthie – who is 11 years old this week, is 44 in human years. Pete the Aussie, who is 3.5, is 11 in human years.

Using the old standard formula of 1:7, Ruthie would be 77 and Pete would be 24.5.

If you have a dog, or know a dog, or are a dog, check it out.

It’s starting again…


I was going to mow the lawn today.

The grass is still relatively short, but there are foot-high weeds all over the place.

I shuffled through the grass coming back from getting the newspaper out of the tube at the end of the driveway this morning and noted my shoes were wet with dew. I decided to let the dew dry before attacking the lawn with the mower.

The next thing I knew, the stifling heat was upon us. As I write this in late afternoon, the temperature is still 95 and the heat index is 106, down a degree from an hour ago.

Even with the luxury of a riding mower, I’m not remotely interested in sweating a couple of gallons just to have a tidy lawn. I noticed my neighbors are exercising good judgment in that regard as well.

Maybe tomorrow…

Wolfram Alpha


Wolfram Alpha launched a few weeks ago and even after listening to Leo Laporte interview creator Stephen Wolfram for a half-hour, I still don’t have a feel for what the hell it isl

It’s not a search engine and half the queries I give it get bounced back as not understood. It does, however, tell me the significant statistical differences between Indiana and Arkansas and where the International Space Station is at any particular time.

Go play with it at wolframalpha.com.

Indianapolis artist still faces charges, but the "victims" love his work


RALEIGH, N.C. - When Joseph Carnevale chopped up three stolen orange and white traffic barrels from a construction site to create a massive sculpture of a roadside monster thumbing a ride, the N.C. State University student saw it as a form of street art.

Raleigh police saw vandalism.

They dismantled the 10-foot "barrel monster" and arrested Indianapolis native Carnevale. But hundreds of online supporters want the charges dropped, and the publicity has turned the history major and part-time construction worker into a local celebrity.

Even the construction company has become a fan and wants the 21-year-old to create a replica of the figure that led to his arrest on June 10.

"It's surprising how many people have called attention to it," Carnevale said.

The college junior hadn't spent much time planning when he set out the night of May 31 and snatched the barrels from the site near the N.C. State campus.

"I had the idea in class that morning, and it kind of grew in my head, until it was something I had to do," he said. He went back to his Raleigh apartment and in an hour and a half returned to the site to assemble the freshly painted pieces before driving away.

What emerged was a hulking figure that seemed to extend a thumb, seeking a ride from passing cars. The next morning Raleigh police dismantled the creation and took the pieces in for evidence while they searched for the perpetrator.

Although photos quickly spread on the Internet featuring the "barrel monster," it was an N.C. State newspaper article that offered enough clues to lead police to a Web site that identified Carnevale. Police charged him with larceny and destruction of property, both misdemeanors, and he's scheduled to appear in court next month.

Carnevale himself on his street art, but said he's most interested in guerrilla photography -- making art and snapping images from restricted locations.

"If you can break the rules, and no one knows they were broken in the first place, then there's no point," he said.

His apartment walls serve as a canvas, covered in various hues of paint, with images on the walls and doors of sharks, hollow skulls and even Gandhi. His 1997 Volkswagen Jetta is almost completely covered in hot-glued beer bottle caps.

Carnevale has made other street art pieces with stolen barrels, including an alligator and caricatures with small arms.

Hamlin Associates, the construction company whose barrels were turned into a monster, doesn't want to press charges.

"We've had a fair amount of vandalism, but never anyone turn it into art," Steven Hussey, the company's president, said. "I actually thought it was pretty neat."

Hussey said the value of the publicity his company has received is well above the $365 cost of the traffic barrels that Carnevale used.

"It's been positive publicity for us," he said. "If we'd known he'd do that good of a work, we'd have given him the barrels."

Carnevale said he's weighing Hussey's offer to reconstruct the monster for the company's offices, possibly for pay. Meanwhile, at least three Facebook support groups have formed to support Carnevale, including "Don't Charge Joseph Carnevale," boasting more than 800 members.

Raleigh police spokeswoman Laura Hourigan said the charges wouldn't be dropped, despite the company's stance.

"The police department obviously has a job to do," she said. "And if someone is going to destroy property, we're going to take care of that situation."

Hourigan said police are speaking with the district attorney's office to investigate other street art by Carnevale, though she would not discuss details. Hourigan said Carnevale's Web site displayed photos of destroyed property.

Their grandfathers who died on the Eastern Front must be spinning in their graves

germansinafghanistan From The Times of London:

They have a beer ration of up to a liter a day, and wurst for dinner. Taliban or no Taliban, Germans take a little bit of home with them when they serve in trouble spots. Even their carefully sorted rubbish gets dumped in wheelie bins before being sent from Afghanistan to Germany for recycling.cross

Now Germany’s most senior officer has berated his troops for going soft. “We cannot guarantee soldiers that they w ill have an all-round feel-good experience,” said General Wolfgang Schneiderhan.

His outburst follows complaints made by German soldiers to the official ombudsman about their tours abroad. Some have grumbled about unsuitable sleeping bags for their Congo peace-keeping mission. “There is no reason why this issue should have come before Parliament,” said General Schneiderhan — while others moaned about the long hours, a lack of childcare for their families at home and poor medical care.

Army doctors say that they are on the brink of leaving because pay and conditions are so bad. So many have returned to civilian life that there is a shortage of medics in the field.

“Perhaps the problem is down to the general tendency in society to delegate responsibility to someone else, or perhaps it is the stress associated with change,” he told several hundred army officers and politicians at an official reception.

In 2007 German forces in Afghanistan consumed about 90,000 bottles of wine in addition to 1.7 million pints of beer; that figure has stayed constant. British and US bases by contrast have an alcohol ban.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Three months and I'm obsolete

mini 9 The Dell Inspiron Mini 9 is no more. At least it's not being sold by Dell.

According to the Dell.com web site, the only minis are 10- and 12-inch models. And it was just three months ago that I bought my Mini 9.

No matter. I prefer a mini with an SSD (Solid State Drive) for the dust and vibration of motorcycle travel and the price ($250) was right.