Sunday, February 28, 2010

Yard work Sunday

austin logs

It’s warm and sunny today and our new neighbors are burning debris and staking out their foundation, so we felt motivated to get out into the yard and do something.

I cranked up the fire pit and Austin cleaned up the chaos from the monster oak tree that died last year in the wake of the ice storm. Specifically, that means he organized the trunk sections into an area nearer the fire pit for splitting and burning.

I was going to press the lawn tractor and wagon into service, but the battery came up dead, even though it ran fine yesterday. Fortunately, the guys from Greenway are coming tomorrow to take the John Deere in for spring service.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Ships ahoy!

marine traffic Want to know where the ships of the world are and where they’re going?

Check out It’s fascinating. At least I think so.

At least I got the shirt

bmw of daytona shirt

This shirt from BMW Motorcycles of Daytona is about as close to Daytona Beach Bike Week as I’m going to get this year. The long range forecast still calls for unacceptable overnight low temperatures.

Friday, February 26, 2010

This makes me wish for snow


Pizza man


Last night’s dinner (and my lunch today) came from Papa John’s Pizza in Paragould. It’s the best pizza we’ve found since we’ve been here.

Another BMW motorcycle dealer gone

The Little Rock BMW dealership is going out of business after 6½lrborder years.

Saturday will be the last day for the multi-brand motorcycle dealership that serves BMW riders in central Arkansas.

I got the word this morning from a guy in the Indianapolis BMW Club who I suspect saw an item about the closing on the BMW MOA Forum.

I called the dealership and they confirmed the report. They’re sending all of their inventory back to BMW rather than try to blow it out in a sale.

The word on the street is that they needed a new investor to stay afloat, but couldn’t find one.

Herb Anderson, who owns Grass Roots BMW Motorcycles in Cape Girardeau, Mo., told me this morning this has been the worst winter for motorcycles sales in the 15 years he’s been in the business.

All of the motorcycle manufacturers saw a drop in sales last year, including BMW. But, Herb said, BMW lost less ground than anyone else. Suzuki is hurting the most, he said, having sold only a third of the bikes in 2009 that they sold in 2008. Suzuki has closed 20% of their dealerships in the last year, he said.

On the bright side, there is huge interest in the new BMW S1000RR superbike, he said. He’s sold two of them and thinks he can sell as many as he can get.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

The post office box nobody wants



I was mailing some stuff this morning that involved a total of $6.66.

The postmistress shuddered and we ended up talking about the post office box that is forever vacant here.

“Nobody wants it,” she said, suggesting it might make more sense to just skip the numbering from 665 to 667, kinda like a lot of hotels don’t have a 13th floor. She said it’s not uncommon for Box 666 to remain unrented in lots of post offices.

The only drawback I can see to that is that it might throw off your sorting pattern for 667 and above if you’re on the other side of the wall, tossing mail into the numbered boxes.

While “666” is widely considered to be the Mark of the Beast in the Book of Revelations, some Biblical scholars think it was actually a coded reference to the Roman Emperor Nero. Apparently Nero’s name in Aramaic could be reduced by a numerological system to “666,” giving early Christians a way to write disloyal stuff about Nero without getting busted.

And there are some who think the number actually should be “616.”

All that aside, the Satanic suggestion is enough to creep out most postal patrons and make it the most unpopular box in the post office.

Your opinion counts – Vote now!


What to do about the killer whale who killed his SeaWorld trainer? Vote in the poll on the right of this column.

Just because I like it

The Ting Tings on Saturday Night Live.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

What happens to competitors when the government gets into the car business


Here’s an interesting piece from Hot Air on the zeal with which the government (which owns a big piece of General Motors) is pursuing Toyota safety defects.

It ends with this:

The larger issue is the Obama administration’s crony capitalism, and the way it erodes trust in our government. The administration staffed up with the people who caused the financial crisis. It cut backroom deals to turn our health insurance into a public utility. And it bailed out Government Motors to aid its Big Labor muscle. Against this backdrop, when the feds start investigating the steering on Toyota Corollas and Matrixes, one wonders whether the same zeal will be given to the Chevrolet Cobalt, which has more than ten times as many NHTSA complaints.

Hostage situation

I have several writing assignments for a special section of the paper involving profiles of local businesses or organizations.

Naturally, all of these require that I have conversations with spokespeople for these entities.

And that leads me to the thing I hate most about these assignments – playing phone tag.

That’s because our culture has reached a point where nobody in anything remotely resembling a position of authority answers their phone.

So the routine is to put out the calls, leaving callback messages, and then sit and wait. And wait. And wait.

You get the idea.

I’m stuck here until they call, and I freaking hate being held hostage like this. That was part of why I got out of the newspaper business 10 years ago.

Photography is a different story. You just go out and shoot. But writing (responsible writing, anyway) requires getting people to talk to you and it’s almost always at their convenience.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Happy accident


Discovering this movie on Netflix was a happy accident.

We watched it last night and loved it. I can say no more.


steve skype crop Son Steve quit his Las Vegas casino rock & roll job yesterday. It’s a good decision. He needs more time with his family and needs to get back to his jazz roots.

"I've been thinking about it for several weeks but gave notice yesterday. Everyone in the band is being very supportive and seem to recognize I need this for both the health of my family and my personal musical growth. A jazz musician can only pretend to be a rock-star for so long..."

The Memphis Blues again

Forbes magazine ranks Memphis as the third most miserable city in America in terms of quality of life.

The 200-city list is topped by Cleveland, with last year’s No. 1, Stockton, Calif., slipping to second place.

Living only 80-some miles from Memphis, we get the Memphis TV stations on our cable system and the newscasts are wall-to-wall murder and mayhem with a liberal sprinkling of governmental corruption. I realize there are lovely places in the metropolitan Memphis area, but a lot of it scares the hell out of me.

I’ve not spent any time in Cleveland, but I have been to Stockton. Back in July 2001, Rich Nathan and I rode U.S. 50 from Indiana to its terminus in Sacramento. Since we planned to ride through Big Sur the next day, we had targeted a Motel 6 on the south side of Sacramento.

By the time we got to the motel, we’d covered 450 miles from Ely, Nev. that day. But one look at the neighborhood and the folks staying/living at the motel convinced us we should get the hell of there as fast as possible.

The next Motel 6 opportunities were about 50 miles south at Stockton. I think we got off of I-5 too soon, because we rode down what seemed like endless dark city streets until we finally arrived at the motel, which was situated a short distance from the Interstate.

I didn’t see enough of Stockton to form an impression, but I’m in no particular hurry to go back.

St. Louis, the other major metropolitan center in our part of the country, ranks seventh on the Forbes list.

The rankings only include cities of 250,000 or more, so there’s no danger of Jonesboro showing up on any of the major lists.

Little Rock, for what it’s worth, is on somebody’s list as the seventh most dangerous city in the nation.

Stein of the Day

95 award stein

This half-liter lidded stein was an award I received from the Indianapolis BMW Club for my services to the club as newsletter editor in 1995.

I have two other similar Munich steins. They, however, have the BMW roundel embossed into the pewter lid. This one has a small button-size BMW roundel affixed to a plain pewter lid. All were produced to be sold at BMW motorcycle and car dealerships in the 1990s.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Yes, there really is a Wolverton Mountain

I was surprised to learn that the Wolverton Mountain in the 1962 hit song of that name by Claude King really does exist. And it’s here in Arkansas.

The song is about Clifton Clowers, who lives on Woverton Mountain and has a pretty young daughter. But would-be suitors stay away because Clifton is “mighty handy with a gun and a knife.”

There really was a Clifton Clowers and he did live on Wolverton Mountain. He died Aug. 15, 1994 at the age of 102. The mountain is named for the Wolverton family who still live there and operate a dairy farm. The summit is 1,063 feet above sea level and the mountain is in Conway County in northwest Arkansas.

The video shows Clifton on his 101st birthday, sitting on his front porch and listening to Mike Redmond (no relation to my friend of the same name in Indiana) sing Claude King’s song.

Stein of the Day


This half-liter lidded stein bears the coat of arms of the German state of Bavaria. The lid has a small BMW roundel affixed to it because it is part of a series of steins offered for sale at BMW motorcycle and car dealerships back in the 1990s.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Stein of the Day


Another box of steins surfaced today, so I’m briefly reviving the Stein of the Day feature.weihenstephanlid

This half-liter lidded stein celebrates the oldest brewery in the world,  the Bavarian State Brewery Weihenstephan, founded in 1040 by Benedictine monks. This particular stein was produced for sale by BMW motorcycle and car dealers and has a BMW roundel on the pewter lid.

Weihenstephan was in the news last fall:

Freising, Germany (October 21, 2009) - Dr. Josef Schr├Ądler, managing director of Germany's Weihenstephan Brewery, and Jim Koch, brewer and founder of Samuel Adams, announced today their partnership and plans to unveil a new style of collaboratively brewed beer next spring. Weihenstephan is the world's oldest brewery, founded by Benedictine monks in 1040. The brewery is the guardian of a centuries-old beer purity law called the Reinheitsgebot and it has brewed according to this law since its beginning. Every batch of Weihenstephan's beer is evaluated by a panel of experts for color, aroma, froth consistency and flavor. Founded in 1984, Samuel Adams is an American craft beer pioneer. The brewery's original style, Samuel Adams Boston Lager®, helped spark the American Craft Beer Revolution by leading a return to flavorful beer brewed in small batches. While keeping an eye on tradition, the Samuel Adams brewers continue to innovate and explore boundary-pushing beer styles and brewing techniques. Both breweries share great passion for the art and science of brewing and pride themselves on using only the highest quality ingredients to produce award-winning, world-class beers.
"The Weihenstephan Brewery is a mecca for brewers and people around the world who are passionate about beer and brewing. No brewer can stand at the site of this brewery without feeling a sense of reverence for what has been done here," said Jim Koch, founder and brewer of Samuel Adams® beers. "It is a great honor to work together on this mission to explore the limits of the Reinheitsgebot and to brew a beer that represents the platinum standard in the art of brewing."
"This journey we've embarked on with Samuel Adams is unprecedented in the beer world," says Dr. Josef Schr├Ądler, managing director, Weihenstephan. "We are making history with Jim and his team of brewers; turning our traditional brewing techniques on their head will result in an innovative beer that is ground breaking, delicious and unique."
Working in tandem for almost two years, the brewers from Samuel Adams and Weihenstephan are perfecting an innovative beer style that explores new brewing techniques within the boundaries of beer law. Their yet-to-be-named crisp, pale brew is slated to debut in the United States and Germany next spring in cork-finished bottles. This effervescent, Champagne-like beer will weigh in at more than 10 percent alcohol by volume, yet remain very dry and crisp, shattering the preconceived notions of what can be done following the Reinheitsgebot Law.
The Weihenstephan/Samuel Adams beer marries new thinking from the world of American "extreme beer" with tradition and respect for the Reinheitsgebot, a German beer purity law that dates back to 1516 and states that all beer must be brewed using only the four ingredients: malt, hops, water, and yeast. By tapping 1000 years of brewing knowledge and coupling it with American innovation, the brewers at Samuel Adams and Weihenstephan will brew a complex, higher alcohol beer of distinction with only the four classic ingredients. This new beer will be ready to share with beer aficionados throughout the world in the spring of 2010.
The Boston Beer Company began in 1984 with a generations-old family recipe that Founder and Brewer Jim Koch uncovered in his father's attic. After bringing the recipe to life in his kitchen, Jim brought it to bars in Boston with the belief that drinkers would appreciate a complex, full-flavored beer, brewed fresh in America. That beer was Samuel Adams Boston Lager®, and it helped catalyze what became known as the American craft beer revolution.
Today, the Company brews more than 21 styles of beer. The Company uses the traditional four vessel brewing process and often takes extra steps like dry-hopping and a secondary fermentation known as krausening. It passionately pursues the development of new styles and the perfection of its classic beers by constantly searching for the world's finest ingredients. While resurrecting traditional brewing methods, the Company has earned a reputation as a pioneer in another revolution, the "extreme beer" movement, where it seeks to challenge drinkers' perceptions of what beer can be. The Boston Beer Company strives to elevate the image of American craft beer by entering festivals and competitions the world over, and in the past five years it has won more awards in international beer competitions than any other brewery in the world. The Company remains independent, and brewing quality beer remains its single focus. While Samuel Adams is the country's largest-selling craft beer, it accounts for just under one percent of the U.S. beer market. For more information, please visit
The Bavarian State Brewery Weihenstephan. Nearly one thousand years ago it was the monastery brewery of the Benedictine monks, then the Royal Bavarian State Brewery. Today, as a regulated enterprise of the Freestate of Bavaria, it is a company run according to the precepts of private business. As the oldest existing brewery in the world, the brewery occupies an exalted site atop Weihenstephan Hill in the Bavarian city of Freising, surrounded by the comparatively still very young Weihenstephan science centre of the Technical University of Munich. Yet it is precisely this unique combination of tradition and custom, proven knowledge, and modern science, which gives the brewery its incomparable identity and permits it to brew beers of the highest quality.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Feels like spring today

It’s 58 springlike degrees under a partly sunny sky here in northeast Arkansas. It’s actually 1 degree warmer here than it is in Las Vegas at the moment. And 18 glorious degrees warmer than it is in Crawfordsville, Ind.

It’s tempting to declare winter to be over, but I know better. I postponed my departure for Daytona last Feb. 28 when we got the last snowstorm of the winter.feb2809snow

And I was up to my eyeballs in ice storm debris at this time last year and paid a tree crew from Illinois to do some serious chainsawing a year ago today.

We’re nowhere near out of firewood from that storm and I’ll probably spend some time this weekend collecting and burning the most recent deadfall – branches broken in the January, 2009 ice storm that only recently hit the ground.

For the moment, though, I’m hanging out at Barnes & Noble, blogging, surfing and listening to my iPod.

Friday, February 19, 2010

My first 6 bike miles of 2010

full tanks It’s 55 degrees, the sun is shining brightly and I must have seen 50 motorcycles on the road when I went into town earlier today.

So I dug out both bikes and rode my first motorcycle miles of 2010 – taking the K75S and then the K1200GT down to the Brookland Citgo station to top off the gas tanks. Total combined mileage: 6 miles.

Well, it’s a start.

truckdogHere’s a dog we saw waiting in a pickup truck bed outside a Japanese restaurant today.

I still don’t care

tiger-woods Considering all of the issues on our plate – the economy, terrorism, domestic political upheaval, fake global warming, etc., Tiger Woods’s domestic drama ranks as the non-story of the year.

I don’t give a rat’s ass if he was/is a man-whore and I don’t give a rat’s ass if he apologizes. I don’t even give a rat’s ass about golf or any of his sponsors.

This media bullshit can’t go away soon enough.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The insurgent learning curve

Here we see some guy name Achmed, making a video of his buddy, Achmed, as he fires mortars at British and American troops. Since our countries have actually evolved out of the bronze age, the Allies use computer technology to track incoming mortar rounds back to the launcher’s precise location.

Pete: Stoned, immaculate

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         I took both dogs in to the vet to get their teeth cleaned this week.

Ruthie went yesterday and today was Pete’s turn.

Since dogs aren’t about to sit still for this process, they knock them out. Ruthie seemed OK when I picked her up yesterday afternoon, but Pete was a different story.

He didn’t seem particularly pleased to see me when I picked him up and he was downright mopey and sullen in the car. He just sat with his back to me, leaning up against the passenger seat backrest and stared vacantly out the window.

I found myself wondering what horrible thing they had done to break his spirit.

When we got home and I released him into the back yard, it became apparent that he was still buzzed from the general anesthetic.

Hours later, he seems to be back to his old playful, responsive self.

That’s a huge relief. I’d hate to think he was harboring a grudge over what happened at the vet’s today.

Think before you click on “Forward”

An Yahoo group message board to which I subscribe carried one of those hysterical Internet scare messages this morning – this one about the risks of returning calls to area codes that turn out to be outside the U.S.

The message ends with:

Please forward this entire message to your friends, family and colleagues to help them become aware of this scam.

Well, first of all, the request to forward the message to everyone you know should be a tipoff that it’s time to do some checking.

And anyone who goes ahead and forwards it after checking the AT&T and Snopes links has serious reading comprehension problems, because both sites emphasize that the message grossly overstates the problem and the risks. Like, for instance, people who fall for the phone scam do not incur charges of more than $2,400 a minute. It’s more like $25 to maybe $100 total.

I agree that it’s good to know schemes to rip you off, but people need to have a little discrimination about what they pass on.

I’m not ready to freeze in Florida again


Unless the weather forecast changes dramatically, I’m going to pass on Daytona Beach Bike Week this year.

The Weather Channel 10-day out look for here and for Daytona indicates I would be very uncomfortable riding to and from Florida and would freeze in my tent every night. That’s not my idea of a good time.

I spent two miserable nights shivering in my tent last year before I gave up and fled for home. It was an unacceptably high price to pay for being able to sit and stare at the ocean at Flagler Beach, ride down A1A and Main Street and visit Daytona BMW for a shirt.

My trip records show Daytona Bike Week 2009 cost me $348.34, including $108.90 for gas and $164.44 for lodging. I’d have to eat whether I went to Daytona or stayed home, so the food expense is pretty much a wash.

I might reconsider if it looks like temperatures will warm up by 10-15 degrees across the board, but as it stands right now, count me out.

(But they do have a very nice logo this year.)

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Global warming for children


Operator error!

doh Forget all that pissing an moaning about my Windows 7 platform and iTunes not working together.

As I prepared to synch my new iPod Touch this morning, I started exploring the little tabs across the top of the iPod page.

I’d seen them before but never clicked on them to see what they did.

They do what I’d been expecting iTunes to do automatically. Like it used to do in earlier versions. They add video and podcasts to the synchronization process.


So much for my two days of cranky bitching about Microsoft and Apple’s alleged shortcomings.

So, as embarrassed as I am about being a technofeeb, I’m almost giddy with delight over having my videos and podcasts on my new iPod. Woo-freaking-hoo!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Are these things really that hard to park, or what?

jackass01 I had a couple of errands to run after lunch today, the first of which involved going to Best Buy to get a protective case for my new iPod Touch. All of the “fuel efficient vehicle” parking spaces were taken. The only one close to the store was partially eclipsed by this big SUV.

Fortunately, my del Sol doesn’t take up a lot of space, so I was able to slip into what was left of the parking space and still squeeze out of the car.

Then I went over to Office Depot to buy padded envelopes for my used book store.

jackass02 And lo and behold, there was another big white SUV parked all whopperjawed.

What the hell is it with these people?

I love these commercials

kia commercial

I absolutely love these commercials for the KIA Sorento. The use of “How You Like Me Now” by The Heavy is brilliant.

I want a Sock Monkey suit.

Monday, February 15, 2010



We saw Avatar in 3D Sunday evening. And we enjoyed it.

After hearing so much criticism about the alleged Green propaganda in the movie, I came away a little puzzled at all the controversy. It didn’t strike me as especially preachy.

As far as I’m concerned, Avatar is just a sci-fi version of Dances With Wolves. And, like Dances With Wolves, Avatar is longer than it needs to be. At 162 minutes, it’s 19 minutes shorter than Dances With Wolves. Mel Brooks once opined that no movie should be longer than 90 minutes. I tend to agree.

Deleting Photoshop

Less than 24 hours after I got my Dell Inspiron Mini 9 working again last weekend, it showed me the Blue Screen of Death and crashed.

The BSD advised me to remove any recently installed software and hardware as a first step to sorting out the problem.

I recalled that I never had any of these problems before I installed Photoshop a few weeks ago. So I deleted Photoshop from the 32GB SSD and I’ve not seen the BSD again.


Bye Bye Bayh

Evan Bayh, the two-term junior Senator from Indiana and a Democrat announced today he won’t seek a third term.Evan Bayh

I am amazed. Bayh is a whole lot smarter than I thought. In  announcing his decision, he said his true vocation is as an executive, like when he was governor of Indiana for two terms.

FOX News political analyst Brit Hume said this evening that he didn’t think Bayh was comfortable all of the Washington bullshit and was especially uncomfortable as a moderate in a party controlled by leftist radicals like Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid.

And, like all Democrats – incumbents especially – he faced almost certain defeat this fall.

I suspect he’s harboring presidential ambitions – maybe not in 2012, but eventually.

Dogs and iPods

pete vet I took Ruthie and Pete to the vet this morning for their semi-annual checkup and immunizations.

They were both kind of freaked out, even though they’ve been to this vet several times before and presumably had OK experiences.

Here’s a shot of Pete cowering under my chair while Ruthie was off getting a stool sample taken. The both came away with a clean bill of health, other than needing their teeth cleaned. Ruthie goes in for dental hygiene Wednesday and it’s Pete’s turn on Thursday.

The long-awaited iPod Touch arrived at 11:55 a.m. today. It took more than twice as long to travel the 91 miles from the FedEx facilities in Memphis as it did to travel the 12,000-some miles from China to Memphis.

I am less impressed than I thought I would be. Here are the surprising/disappointing things about it:ipod at bam

  • The 64-bit version of iTunes I installed when I got my new computer last November didn’t work right with my old iPod and it doesn’t work 100% with the Touch. Specifically, it loads music but not playlists, podcasts or videos.
  • The Wifi is nice, but the touch keyboard leaves me longing for my old Treo 700p.
  • The Touch is not compatible with the devices we use to play music through our car radios.
  • The voice recognition software leaves a lot to be desired.

That said, it’s sleek, attractive, feather-light and oh-so elegant. I’ll like it a whole lot more when Apple and Microsoft figure out a way to make iTunes work with the 64-bit Windows 7 platform.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

I’m a weiner!

The Indianapolis BMW Club’s annual awards banquet was last night 001and, since we live 7 hours away, we were absent.

With only 8,522 BMW motorcycle miles ridden in 2009, I failed to qualify for a 10,000-mile award, but club President Jim Stocking notified me this morning that I won the “Average Rider” award and a $25 gift certificate at the Indianapolis BMW dealership.

Since I haven’t paid my $25 annual club dues, and since it would be kind of bad form to accept a prize without paying my dues, my check for 2010 dues and my gift certificate will cross in the mail later this week.

And I must remember to take the gift certificate with me next time I go to Indiana. 

Godspeed, Kenny Jagger

Kenny Jagger was a founder of the Indianapolis BMW (Motorcycle) Club and a good friend.

Kenneth R. Jagger 91, of Indianapolis, passed away Tuesday, February 9, 2010. He was born in Columbia City, IN on December 23, 1918, the son of the late Ray and Mary (Gaff) Jagger.

Kenny started his career as a professional musician at the Colonial Hotel and Gardens at Lake Manitou, Rochester, IN. After graduation from Rochester High School, he studied theatre-radio organ under Mildred Fitzpatrick at the Sherwood Music School in Chicago.

During his career, he traveled all over America as an exclusive Music Corporation of America (MCA) artist playing organ and piano at celebrated hotels and lounges.

One of the choice locations was the Midtown Manhattan Sheraton Hotel. He had his own radio show nightly on WNEW in New York. He recorded phonograph records for the F.M. label, as well as the Gold Seal label. His most popular record was Pinetop's Boogie Woogie disc. His records were distributed worldwide. He had the distinction of being the last organist to play at the Indiana Theatre.

After over 30 years without organ music, arrangements were made with the Thomas Organ Co. for Kenny to play for the 1967 showing of Gone with the Wind. Locally, he is best remembered for his engagement at the Graylyn Hotel Blue Room. During this period he had two television shows a week on WFBM-TV Channel 6. He was also the organist on Channel 4 for the Billie Boucher show. In addition to these TV shows, his music was aired on WISH, WIRE, and WFBM radio.

Over the years, he played extensive engagements at the Shrine Club, Columbia Club, Plainfield Elks Club, Highland Country Club, Indianapolis Country Club, Indianapolis Athletic Club and Lutz Supper Club.

Kenny was an avid motorcyclist and always strove to improve the image of the sport. While on the Billie Boucher show he created a TV motorcycle special. He was the recipient from the BMW motorcycle factory in Munich, Germany of a 300,000 Mile Award for riding BMW motorcycles over 300,000 miles during a 34-year period. He was the President of the Indianapolis BMW Club numerous times and was the creator of the nationally attended Christmas in June motorcycle rally held on Floyd "Pop" Dreyer's acreage near Mount Meridian, Ind.

He was a Charter Life Member of the Local 3 American Federation of Musicians, the American Theatre Organ Society, and the Indianapolis Organ Club where he performed numerous programs. He was also a Charter Life Member of the American Motorcycle Association, BMW Motorcycle Owners Association, and the BMW Riders Association. Additional memberships included the Indianapolis Art Center, the Masonic Lodge Evergreen Chapter, Scottish Rite and Shrine.

His wife of 52 years, Florence Zigas Jagger and a brother Robert Dale Jagger, preceded him in death. Relatives include a daughter, Jacqueline Ann Harris (husband Richard) of Muncie, IN; a son, John Raymond Jagger (wife Leslie) of Maryville, TN; four granddaughters, Michelle Weaver, Teresa Hayes, Kathryn Hilleson and Meredith Jagger, and two great-grandchildren, Bailee and Brock Weaver.

A memorial service will be held Saturday, February 20 at Northminster Presbyterian Church, 1660 Kessler Blvd., East Drive, Indianapolis. Visitation will begin at 1:00 p.m. followed by a service at 2:00 p.m. Please visit his online guest book at

Saturday, February 13, 2010

The Mini 9 – one year later

EXIF_JPEG_T422 It’s been almost a year since I got seduced by a netbook.

Specifically, it was the Dell Inspiron Mini 9. The Mini 9 was introduced in 2008. It was nearing the end of its production life by last February and was about to be supplanted by the Mini 10 which has a full size keyboard and an inch wider screen. Consequently, the Mini 9 was being sold in various places at a big discount. I got an email from Sam’s Club advertising a special online deal for $245, shipping included, and immediately ordered one in red.

I’ve been searching for years for a way to surf, blog and email from the road on my motorcycle trips. I’ve used Treo smartphones for several years, but typing with my thumbs and only being able to blog from places with Sprint coverage was less than ideal. What I needed was a notebook computer small enough to pack on the bike and robust enough to handle the vibration of motorcycle travel.

When I discovered the Mini 9 had Wifi and a solid state hard drive with no moving parts, I was sold.

But the Mini 9 had some limitations. Like no CD/DVD drive, and 1 GB of RAM and an 8GB SSD (solid state drive).

So I shopped around and found compatible memory that doubled my RAM to 2GB. And I found RunCore, which makes SSDs in 16GB, 32GB and 64GB sizes. The 64GB SSD costs nearly as much as I paid for the Mini 9, so I settled for the 32GB SSD. I also bought a 32GB SD card that lives in the SD card slot and functions as my D: drive. Everything I download or create goes onto the SD card, so I don’t load up the SSD with anything but essential software.

The SSD upgrade made it possible for me to add Photoshop, copying the install CD to a USB thumb drive and installing from the thumb drive.

The Mini 9 runs Windows XP SP3, which is just fine with me since it’s reasonably stable and less of a memory hog than Vista. At this point I see no particular advantage in upgrading to Windows 7.

I also bought a combination card reader/USB hub and last month added a Sprint 3G USB card to the ensemble. That’s the Sprint gizmo sticking up from the right side of the keyboard in the photo above. The case I bought at the same time as the Mini 9 can be seen in the upper left corner. It has a zippered pouch on the front that accommodates a Logitech wireless optical mouse, the Sprint 3G device and the AC power cord.

The Mini 9 arrived while I was at Daytona Beach Bike Week last year, so my first chance to use it on a bike trip came in July when I took it to the BMW MOA International Rally at Johnson City, Tenn. They had Wifi at the rally and the Mini 9 performed like a champ.

I gave it a serious workout in late August and early September when I rode to the MotoGP in Indianapolis and then to the Colorado Rockies for a week with my BMW friends the Baloughs. It was relatively easy to find Wifi wherever I went. It’ll be even easier this year now that McDonald’s offers free Wifi nationwide, plus I have the Sprint 3G access.

So I feel like I’m finally properly equipped to blog from the road. Now all I need is a destination and good weather. That may come in a few weeks if the Weather Gods smile upon Bike Week.
Naturally, about an hour after I wrote the above, I got a terminal Blue Screen of Death (BSD) on my Mini 9. Obviously, something had gone horribly wrong with Windows XP.
I'll spare you the details except to say that I ended up putting the 8GB SSD back into the computer, formatting the 32GB SSD and re-cloning the old drive to the new one.
I had to reinstall a few programs, which went smoothly except for Photoshop which refused to activate online because I had exceeded the number of permitted installs on various machines. I called Adobe and got the new activation code and now I'm back in business.
Keeping my fingers and eyes crossed.


john cow  It seemed like all of northeast Arkansas came to town today. Stadium Avenue was in gridlock from Stallings south to the Mall at Turtle Creek.

At 3 p.m. there was more than an hour’s wait to be seated at Olive Garden, so we settled for a semi-quick late lunch at Taco Bell before going to the 25th annual Arkansas Sportshow at the ASU Convocation Center.

I didn’t see anything at the show that I can’t live without – I already have my obligatory waterproof camo jacket and pants and a box turkey call.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         But I did see this fabulous flag and get my photo taken with the Chik-fil-A cow.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Slow boat from China


According to the FedEx tracking site, my 64GB iPod Touch left Kunshan, China at 9:47 a.m. yesterday and was listed as being in transit from Shanghai as of 11:32 p.m. (local Shanghai time – 9:32 a.m. CST) today.

They estimate delivery sometime next Wednesday, which is a full seven days after I placed my order and paid $10 extra for 2-3 day delivery. WTF?

It seems absurd to try to guarantee 2-3 day delivery from China to Arkansas anyway, but we shall see.

Bad manners at the cafe


Picture this: There are three electrical outlets in the Hastings Hardback Cafe – one next to the table on the far left, one behind the two easy chairs and one next to the table on the far right in the background (where I have my netbook set up).

I was set up at that table yesterday about noon and there was a guy with a Mac laptop at the table on the left. A young woman comes in, surveys the situation and decides to work from the easy chair on the right. But she doesn’t like the height of the coffee table in front of the chair, so she drags the table in the right foreground back to the easy chair, leaving four table chairs standing in the middle of the room. Somewhere in this process, the Mac guy packs up his stuff and leaves. She ignores this opportunity to have a table next to an outlet and fires up her laptop where she is.

And then she whips out a bag from Chik-fil-A and eats her lunch.

After rearranging the furniture and using the cafe’s Wifi and electricity, she buys nothing.

I don’t know how you feel about stuff like this, but if I were the manager, my blood would be boiling. This is a for-profit business, not the Christian Science Reading Room or the public library.

Whenever do my bookstore Internet stuff – be it here, at Books-A-Million, Barnes & Noble or anywhere else – I always buy something. (Here, it’s a 97 cent Rio Azul coffee.)

That this young woman felt entitled to rearrange the furniture, use the electricity and Wifi and bring in food she bought elsewhere is stunning in its boldness and arrogance.

But however outraged I was, I chose not to say anything because I am quite certain she would decide I was attacking her for some reason other than her behavior. (Read between the lines here.)

So she gets a pass and will almost certainly keep doing it until some manager somewhere explains the unwritten rules of social responsibility to her.

Out with Avast, in with AVG 9.0

When I fired up my netbook this morning in the Hastings Hardback Cafe, I noticed my free copy of Avast antivirus wouldn’t launch.

I opened its control panel and tried repeatedly to start it, to no avail.

So I did a quick Internet search for free antiviruses and decided to try AVG.

(I’ve been getting the blue screen of death and, worse than that, the black screen of death repeatedly over the past week and wondered if my antivirus might be the problem.)

I uninstalled Avast and installed AVG and hope things will settle down now.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Nobody cares what you think, Joy and Eve

ENSLER: Well, I just think the idea that she (Sarah Palin) doesn't believe in global warming is bizarre.
BEHAR: Every scientist of any note believes in it but Sarah Palin doesn't believe in it.
ENSLER: And I think we just kind of have to walk around the world at this point and look at what is happening to nature and earthquakes and tsunamis.
BEHAR: Right.

Not only do these nitwit harpies believe in the anthropogenic global warming junk science fantasy, they think human activity causes earthquakes and tsunamis.

While they behave as if everyone shares their view, a Rasmussen poll found last month that only 37 percent of American voters think human activity results in global warming. And 68 percent of voters support offshore oil drilling.

And if there is any question about how irrelevant Joy Behar and her pals are, here are the cable news channel viewer numbers from last week for the 9 p.m. time slot she occupies:

  1. Sean Hannity – 2,731,000 viewers
  2. Rachel Maddow Show —976,000 viewers
  3. Larry King Live —946,000 viewers
  4. Joy Behar – 655,000 viewers

Dead last and less than 24 percent of Hannity’s audience.

In case you wondered what would happen if you dropped your digital camera into the ocean

Cruise photos intact after camera hauled from seabed

The woman seen posing on the QM2 with the QE2 in the background

A Spanish trawlerman is trying to trace the owner of a digital camera after it was hauled from the Atlantic seabed in his nets with the photos still intact.

A woman can be seen on the deck of the QM2, with the QE2 in the background.

Benito Estevez believes the camera was dropped overboard from the QM2 cruise liner in the middle of the Atlantic.

The camera's memory card revealed five photographs, including a woman posing on the deck of a ship, with the now out-of-service QE2 in the background.

Mr Estevez is now trying to trace the people in the pictures.

The QE2 made its last ever voyage to Dubai in November 2008.

BBC South Transport Correspondent Paul Clifton says the ship the woman is posing on is the QM2, and the two liners sailed together from Southampton to New York in October 2008.

The couple may have been US tourists returning home after visiting Britain

It was the QE2's last ever transatlantic round trip between the two cities.

A man is seen in one of the photographs wearing an Oxford tourist hat

Mr Estevez caught the camera in his nets off the west coast of Europe, so the camera was probably lost in the early days of the crossing.

It may be that the couple are from the US, as one picture shows a man wearing a woolly tourist hat from Oxford.

Cunard, the shipping company that owns the QM2, said no-one had reported a lost camera and the firm had not been able to trace the people in the pictures.

Hey, Pete! Don’t eat that!

This showed up in an email this morning from, the outfit that makes and tracks the microchips that our dogs have implanted under their skin.

It’s good information for any pet owner:

Plants that are Poisonous to Pets

Some plants are obviously harmful to pets, such as poison ivy, oak, or sumac. But there are many common plants and flowers that pose a big danger for dogs and cats as well. Seasonal bouquets, in particular, often contain flowers that are lethal to pets. And with Pete SmilesValentine’s Day right around the corner, it’s a good time to read up on the plants and flowers that are dangerous for your pets. This article will help you keep an eye out for both indoor and outdoor  dangers.

If your dog or cat does get into a flower bouquet or other plant, call theHomeAgain Pet Emergency Medical Hotline, 1-888-HOMEAGAIN (466-3242) prompt 2, for help right away. Licensed ASPCA veterinarians are standing by to coach you through the crisis.

Dangerous plants you find indoors

Some popular holiday decorations can make pets very sick. American and English Holly are toxic to animals. The ASPCA believes that the unpleasant taste keeps animals from eating a lot of the plant but recommends keeping pets far away from them. Mistletoe is also poisonous.

Different flowers in the lily family are extremely poisonous to pets. Cats are more common lily poisoning victims than dogs, but they are toxic to both species. They are also extremely popular bouquet items. Lilies, Tiger Lilies, Easter Lilies, Tulips, and Calla Lilies are just some of the toxic plants found in the lily plant family.

Other bouquet favorites are also likely to make your dogs and cats sick if eaten. Keep flower arrangements that include these plants where your pets can’t get at them:

  • Baby’s Breath
  • Bird of Paradise
  • Carnations
  • Daffodils
  • Dahlias
  • Daisies
  • Irises
  • Peonies

You can still keep your favorite flowers inside where you can appreciate their beauty, but lock them away when you’re not at home and keep a close watch when your pets are near the bouquet. By being aware of the danger and taking proper precautions, you can keep your favorite flowers and pets safe.

Poisonous outdoor plants and trees

It’s not advisable to let pets out unsupervised, but we can’t watch them every second. You can help keep your pet healthy by knowing which plants and trees are toxic in your area.

Azaleas, Buttercups, Chrysanthemums, Gardenias, Gladiolas, Hibiscus, Hyacinth, Hydrangeas, Mums, Primroses, Rhododendrons, and Sweet Peas are popular garden items that are poisonous. That’s just another good reason to keep your dogs away from your neighbor’s award-winning flower bushes.

Trees like Yews and Red Maples have toxic leaves. Wilted Red Maple Leaves are especially dangerous and theASPCA states most poisonings take place between late summer and early winter.

Gorgeous climbing plants, like Ivy and Wisteria should be off limits to your dog. Even medicinal and recreational plants are unsafe. St. John’s Wort, Aloe, Tobacco, and Rhubarb plants are no good for dogs or cats.

How to protect our pets

The complete list of poisonous plants from the ASPCA contains over 400 items. It’s helpful to keep a short list of the most common dangerous plants tacked to your fridge as a constant reminder. Visit the longer list periodically to refresh your memory, and a good rule of paw is to keep your pets away from any plants you don’t recognize or are unsure of.

Happy Birthday, Sarah!

sarah_palin_2 Today is Sarah Palin’s birthday.

Not a Stein of the Day

sq1 This was my drinking vessel of choice when I was in the fifth and sixth grades and a proud member of Captain Midnight’s Secret Squadron.

Actually, the one I had as a kid has been nearly washed to death and the decal is faded and degraded. This pristine example was an Ebay purchase and is as good as new.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

iPod decisions


I’m edging sideways in a crablike Cancerian fashion toward ordering a 64GB iPod Touch from

And, since they offer free engraving, I’m chewing on what to do with my two lines of engraving space.

I don’t have any favorite quotes that rise to the level of wanting them engraved on the back of an iPod, so my name and point of contact is the logical choice.

When Maria bought her 80GB classic iPod about three years ago, she had them engrave her name and home phone number on the back. In less than a year’s time, the Thorntown, Ind. phone number was a thing of the past because we’d moved to Arkansas.

Being mindful that things change, sometimes very quickly and unexpectedly, I think I’ll just go with my name and my Gmail email address. I realize something could happen that would drive me away from the Gmail address, but it’s the closest thing to a stable contact point I have, so I guess I’ll gamble on it outlasting the iPod Touch.

It’s the Constitution, Stupid: What the Tea-Partiers Really Want

It’s the Constitution, Stupid: What the Tea-Partiers Really Want

FOX News continues to kick cable ass

Viewers seem to agree that flakes like Chris Matthews, Wolf Blitzer, Keith Olberman, Nancy Grace, Joy Behar, and even Larry King, are largely irrelevant.


Morning programs (6:00AM-9:00AM) P2+ (25-54) (35-64)
FOX & Friends- 1,042,000 viewers (372,000) (596,000)
American Morning- 393,000 viewers (150,000) (220,000)
Morning Joe- 291,000 viewers (108,000) (177,000)
Squawk Box- 134,000 viewers (34,000) (70,000)
Morning Express w/ Robin Meade- 351,000 viewers (228,000) (230,000)

5PM – P2+ (25-54) (35-64)
Glenn Beck – 2,858,000 viewers (835,000) (1,448,000)
Situation Room—556,000 viewers (89,000) (158,000)
Hardball w/ C. Matthews —457,000 viewers (a scratch w/46,000) (175,000)
Fast Money —237,000 viewers (56,000) (122,000)
Prime News —246,000 viewers (119,000) (160,000)

6PM – P2+ (25-54) (35-64)
Special Report w/ Bret Baier – 2,671,000 viewers (629,000) (1,232,000)
Situation Room—557,000 viewers (109,000) (146,000)
Ed Show —529,000 viewers (112,000) (233,000)
Mad Money— 169,000 viewers (66,000) (103,000)
Prime News – 238,000 viewers (97,000) (149,000)

7PM – P2+ (25-54) (35-64)
The Fox Report w/ Shep – 2,133,000 viewers (559,000) (1,031,000)
Situation Room – 524,000 viewers (158,000) (191,000)
Hardball w/ C. Matthews – 674,000 viewers (205,000) (312,000)
Kudlow Report – 176,000 viewers (53,000) (76,000)
Issues – 392,000 viewers (129,000) (191,000)

8PM – P2+ (25-54) (35-64)
The O’Reilly Factor – 4,366,000 viewers (1,154,000) (2,093,000)
Campbell Brown – 556,000 viewers (141,000) (190,000)
Countdown w/ K. Olbermann – 1,154,000 viewers (302,000) (620,000)
Planet of the Apps — a scratch w/93,000 viewers (a scratch w/48,000) (57,000)
Nancy Grace – 689,000 viewers (245,000) (365,000)

9 PM – P2+ (25-54) (35-64)
Hannity – 2,731,000 viewers (734,000) (1,303,000)
Larry King Live —946,000 viewers (178,000) (311,000)
Rachel Maddow Show —976,000 viewers (230,000) (451,000)
Welcome to Macintosh — a scratch w/66,000 viewers (a scratch w/34,000) (a scratch w/41,000)
Joy Behar – 655,000 viewers (167,000) (301,000)

10 PM P2+ (25-54) (35-64)
On the Record w/ Greta—1,947,000 viewers (478,000) (839,000)
Anderson Cooper 360 — 759,000 viewers (225,000) (317,000)
Countdown w/ K. Olbermann – 661,000 viewers (181,000) (258,000)
Put It On The Map (9:00 – 9:30pm) – a scratch w/95,000 viewers (a scratch w/35,000) (52,000)
Welcome to Macintosh (9:30 – 10:00pm) — a scratch w/66,000 viewers (a scratch w/34,000) (a scratch w/41,000)
Nancy Grace –439,000 viewers (155,000) (271,000)

11 PM P2+ (25-54) (35-64)
The O’Reilly Factor— 1,656,000 viewers (448,000) (812,000)
Anderson Cooper 360 – 483,000 viewers (184,000) (228,000)
Rachel Maddow Show —458,000 viewers (157,000) (242,000)
Mad Money – a scratch w/76,000 viewers (a scratch w/51,000) (a scratch w/46,000)
Showbiz Tonight– 370,000 viewers (143,000) (176,000)


P2+ = viewers over the age of 2

(25-54) = Adults 25-54 viewing

(35-64) = Adults 35-64 viewing

Prime Time = 8-11pm

Kind of a disappointment

super-bowl_the-who As much as I hate to admit it, The Who’s halftime show at the Super Bowl was a big disappointment.

The staging was spectacular. I’m always amazed at how quickly those folks at the Super Bowl can assemble and tear down a huge stage. The lasers and fireworks and lights were dazzling.

But the sound mix was horrible. I guess that goes with the territory when there’s no time for a sound check and the guy on the mixing board has to do it all on the fly.

I also thought Pete looked like he’s been putting on weight and would have looked better without the silly hat and the floppy shirt that exposed his belly whenever he did his signature windmill. It pains me to say anything negative about Pete Townshend because I consider him the greatest composer and guitarist in the history of rock and roll. We share the same birth year (1945) and he is a continuing inspiration for everyone of My Generation.

After the game, I put on my DVD of The Who concert in Indianapolis in March, 2007, to remind me just how spectacular Pete, Roger, Zak and Pino can be when properly presented. It still stands out as the best, most exciting concert I’ve ever attended. I guess that’s why it’s such a hard act to follow.

Stein of the Day

crapstein I don’t recall how this half-liter lidded stein came into my possession.

I do know, however, that I didn’t buy it. I would never buy a cliche stein like this. Apparently the maker isn’t proud of it either because there’s no maker’s mark on the bottom.

Judging from the cheap graphics, I’d say this “gift” or “souvenir” stein has never been in Germany and came from somewhere in the Third World, most likely China.

It has no connection with history or the brewing industry or any other link that makes it even remotely interesting. I keep it around as a reminder of what a stein isn’t.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

No Weiner Delight


There will be no Weiner-Delight, the Arkansas Education Board ruled yesterday.

The board unanimously rejected a merger proposal that would have created one of the most humorously bizarre school district names in the nation.

School officials in tiny Wiener, situated south by southwest of WEINER DELIGHT MAPJonesboro in northeast Arkansas, started looking for a district with which to partner when it became apparent that their enrollment was  dropping below the state-set minimum of 350 students.

Not wanting to lose their identity by being absorbed into one or more adjacent school districts, they finally settled on the idea of a consolidation with the Delight School District, which also has an enrollment under 350.

But Delight is about 200 road miles southwest of Weiner – a 3 hour 37 minute drive according to Google Maps. It was the first proposed merger of non-contiguous school districts in Arkansas history.

School officials believed the proposed merger would benefit both districts through the use of distance learning, which presumably would expand curriculum offerings.

The Arkansas Education Board didn’t buy it.

The two school corporations will most likely be absorbed by their neighbors, losing their individual identities, whether they like it or not.

Well, it does look pretty…


This is the scene out our back door and beyond the fence this morning as the first rays of the rising sun light up the snow-clad trees.

Needless to say, this is turning into a remarkably snowy winter for northeast Arkansas and there’s more in the forecast for late this week.

I’m stuck at home all day, unless I decided to take a chance with my snow-challenged Honda del Sol. The overnight high was 31 at midnight and the temperature has been dropping steadily as a cold front rushes into this part of the Mid-South. That means last night’s feb9snow02 slushy roads are today’s ice-covered roads. The local TV station had a telephone interview with the head of the county highway department this morning. He has very few resources to meet a winter challenge of this magnitude and the subtext of his remarks was “just be careful because we can’t do anything about this.”

So far, I only have one new book order to fill and it can wait until tomorrow if necessary. Ditto picking up the mail.

Stein of the Day


It’s not really a stein since it’s made of plastic, but we’re getting down to seeds and stems here and this may be the last Stein of the Day.

Sorry if you were expecting one yesterday. It was a Steinless Day.

I picked this one up cheap on Ebay. The lid lever has a button that, when pushed, makes the frog say “Bud-weis-er” like in the old Bud commercials. I rescued it from a box in the garage last night just for this occasion.