Wednesday, March 31, 2010

What community organizers don’t know about economics and business

“Most of these people [in the Administration] have never had a real job in their lives. They don’t understand a thing about business, and that includes the President,” says a senior lobbyist for one of the companies that announced the charge. “My CEO sat with the President over lunch with two other CEOs, and each of them tried to explain to the President what this bill would do to our companies and the economy in general. First the President didn’t understand what they were talking about. Then he basically told my boss he was lying. Frankly my boss was embarrassed for him”…

Read the whole thing here.

An empty nest again…

austin hat

Austin is moving back to Indiana.

He got laid off from his warehouse/tractor parts distribution center job in late April 2009 and came down for a visit, arriving on May 3.

Assuming current plans don’t change, the visit will have turned out to be about three weeks shy of a year.

The original plan was that he would stay with us for two weeks, during which time he would get a job and an apartment. He’s still in our guest room because he couldn’t find a job that paid enough to pay rent on an apartment.

We were supposedly working on a solution that would have him living independently and restore our empty nest status, but nothing was happening on that front and I couldn’t imagine a scenario that would make it happen.

I hadn’t considered the influence of a girlfriend. In this case, it’s a Lebanon, Ind. girl Austin knew from high school. The first clue we had was the announcement on his Facebook page that he was “in a relationship” with the girl. Then we noticed the non-stop cell phone and Skype conversations. He went up to Indiana two weekends ago for a visit, which led to another trip last weekend (we’re talking at least 14 hours on the road each weekend) and the announcement that his old job is waiting for him. So he gave notice to his employer, our BMW friend Charlie who is a pharmacist and hired Austin to work in his drugstore in Paragould, and plans to leave for Indiana a week from tomorrow.

Happy Anniversary, Steve and Nicky!


My son Steve and his lovely bride Nicole are celebrating their ninth wedding anniversary today.

We think Steve is the luckiest guy in Las Vegas. Nicky did OK too. And their daughter Lisa has the most loving and attentive parents a little girl could ever want.


kia vegas

Did I mention that I really like these commercials?

SSD en route

My replacement 32GB SSD is on its way. Here’s the info from the U.S. Postal Service tracking system:

Your item was processed through and left our SYRACUSE, NY 13220 facility on March 30, 2010. The item is currently in transit to the destination. Information, if available, is updated periodically throughout the day. Please check again later.

Detailed Results:

  • Processed through Sort Facility, March 30, 2010, 10:20 pm, SYRACUSE, NY 13220
  • Electronic Shipping Info Received, March 29, 2010

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Back in the classroom

CMY_3748 I’m teaching an advanced digital photography class this spring at the Senior Services Center. Last night’s session was on portraits. This is a somewhat flawed (flash in the glasses) portrait of Jerry Smith, the indispensable and well-liked trash collector in our former hometown of Thorntown, Ind. His wife stuck the flower behind his ear for the picture.

I taught an introductory class in the fall of 2008. It was well-attended and my teaching got good reviews, but I had everything from experienced film shooters transitioning to digital SLRs to elderly novices with point-and-shoot digital cameras. I went into it with lofty goals of teaching stuff like f-stops, shutter speeds, ISO, depth of field, and the elements of good photographic composition. Those notions went out the window after a couple of sessions when I realized most of the folks in the class just wanted to know how to get their pictures out of their camera and into a computer and how to email pictures of their grandkids. At the same time, I had to come up with more sophisticated stuff to keep the more advanced students interested and engaged.

I’ll never do another introductory class.

But this time it’s different. I only have four students, but they’re all alumni of my introductory class and three of them have SLRs. The fourth has a high-end fixed-lens Fuji and a great eye for nature shots.

At last, I can share what I think is the really fun stuff about digital photography. Like what you can do with a picture once you get it into your computer, using Photoshop or even a free open-source image editor like GIMP (check it out at I mentioned GIMP at the first session last week and, wonder of wonders, one of my students actually tried it.

I would have loved to have been a teacher if I could be guaranteed interested, motivated students. That’s what I loved about being an instructor for the Motorcycle Safety Foundation’s RiderCourse for 10 years in the 1980s and ‘90s. I resisted taking on another class after that first introductory digital clusterfuck, but I would readily consider another of these.

Another guy volunteered to teach an introductory class a couple of months ago. I never heard how he did, but I know he went into it with the same ambitious goals that I had, only I was there to warn him how it would probably shake out. He seemed to think he knew better. But none of his students signed up for my advanced class, for whatever that’s worth.

Quotes of the day

"Character is destiny." - Sigmund Freud

"Chance favors the prepared mind." - Louis Pasteur

"You make your own luck." - Ernest Hemingway

"I find that the harder I work, the more luck I seem to have."  - Thomas Jefferson

"I've found that luck is quite predictable. If you want more luck, take more chances. Be more active. Show up more often."  - Brian Tracy

"Suit up, show up, and shut up." - AA aphorism, and the closely related Woody Allen quote: "Eighty percent of success is showing up."

Monday, March 29, 2010

Laying down some truth

I read something astonishing this morning in a BMW organization magazine.

The author was writing a testimonial for his Kevlar-lined jeans. He tells us he was riding behind and to the right of a friend when his friend made an unexpected right turn. The guy says he locked up his brakes but didn’t think he could stop in time so he laid it down.

Laid it down? WTF? With the proliferation of Motorcycle Safety Foundation rider training, riding tips and safety columns in bike magazines and the general spread of knowledge, I was surprised to see someone pretending that laying a bike down is a valid collision avoidance strategy. That is came from a BMW rider – widely acknowledged as the best trained and most safety conscious people on two wheels – is absolutely breathtaking.

He went down on his right side and admits that he can’t do much of anything with his right arm now, but by God those Kevlar jeans saved him from road rash!

Let’s examine this crash with the data he provided:

Unexpected right turn – Unless his buddy is more of an idiot than he is, I’ll bet the buddy signaled the turn. Otherwise, why in hell would you cut across the path of a closely following (don’t know precisely how close) rider without warning him? My guess is that Mr. Kevlar Jeans wasn’t paying attention.

Locked up the brakes – I suspect what he meant to say was that he locked the rear brake, putting the bike into a rear wheel skid. I’d be willing to bet serious money that he didn’t apply much front brake, if any.

Had to lay it down – That’s usually code for “I locked the rear brake, the rear wheel came around and the bike fell over.” Saying, “I laid it down,” is like Pee Wee Herman saying, “I meant to do that” after he crashes his bicycle in front of a bunch of other cyclists. My guess is that he tried to mix swerving with a rear wheel skid, which is guaranteed to but the bike on its side. I know because I did it once when I was practicing countersteering while learning to be a MSF instructor.

There is no way in hell that the coefficient of friction of plastic and chrome sliding down the asphalt is greater than what rubber tires and maximum braking can provide. Truth be told, this guy never had a riding course, probably wasn’t paying attention and proved once again that you don’t rise to meet the challenge in a crisis, you default to your level of training.

Here’s what has to say about it:

The Beginnings of a Dangerous Myth

Most motorcyclists have heard at least one story about someone who claims he was forced to lay down his bike to prevent a potentially fatal crash. In many cases, however, these stories end with broken bones, head injuries, and totaled bikes. So it's only logical to wonder whether this is truly the best technique for avoiding accidents.

The motorcycles you see today are much more technologically advanced than bikes of the past. In fact, motorcycle brakes were once so bad that riders could often stop better by sliding or tumbling off the bike. Back in those days, practicing how to lay down your bike was actually a standard part of learning to ride.

Fortunately, we now have tires with better traction and antilock brakes that let us stop in a straight line on any surface. Today's bikes are also capable of stopping faster than ever before, making the advice about always lying down to avoid a crash obsolete. For this reason, motorcycle safety instructors do not teach new riders how to lay down a bike.

Of course, it's also possible that this myth was merely started by motorcyclists who wanted to cover up the fact that they fell accidentally. However, accepting this lore as good advice can result in serious or fatal injuries.


Proper Crash-Avoidance Techniques

When faced with a potentially dangerous situation, it's generally best to remain upright on your bike. Remember, tire rubber has an immense amount of traction. However, plastic, steel, and chrome (the materials found on the side of the bike) offer almost no traction. When you stay on your motorcycle instead of letting it slide, you'll be better able to stop in time or swerve out of the way. The only possible time where it might be a better idea to purposely end up on the ground is when it's better than the alternative, like going over a guardrail down a cliff or into the middle of a ten-car pile-up. Once you lay down a bike, you have absolutely no control over where you will end up.

Knowing when and how to stop or swerve is the best way to keep yourself safe while riding a motorcycle, other than not getting into an accident in the first place. In fact, recent studies show that most accidents can be attributed to two factors:

  • The motorcyclist underbraked the front tire and overbraked the rear tire.
  • The motorcyclist did not separate braking from swerving or failed to swerve when appropriate.

To stop your bike quickly, apply both brakes at the same time. If your front wheel locks while braking, release the brake quickly before firmly reapplying and pressing on the rear brake. If you accidentally lock the rear brake, it's best to keep it locked until you have completely stopped.

If you are turning or riding on a curve, attempt to straighten the bike before braking. However, if you simply must stop while leaning, it's best to apply the brakes lightly while reducing the throttle.

Of course, if you have the choice, you can swerve to avoid an accident. But if you're in a situation that calls for both braking and swerving, apply your brakes before or after you attempt to swerve. Never try to swerve while braking simultaneously.


Motorcycle Safety Training

Even if you've been riding your bike for years, it's a good idea to attend a motorcycle safety course on a regular basis. Motorcycles can be dangerous, especially if you're not familiar with the latest safety practices.

The Motorcycle Safety Foundation is a national organization dedicated to helping motorcycle owners learn the skills they need to stay safe on the road. Safety courses are offered at 1,500 locations throughout the United States. The 15-hour curriculum covers essential skills for both novice and experienced motorcyclists. To find a course near you, call (800) 446-9227 or visit the Motorcycle Safety Foundation online.

I’ll be watching for next month’s issue of the magazine to see how many letters to the editor this guy generates.

Sunday, March 28, 2010


isuflo1 By John M. Flora

After 45 years in journalism, I still get a kick out of seeing my byline in print.

I was reminded of that this morning as I walked out to the newspaper tube to fetch the morning paper because this is the day the special Outlook sections published.

This is the series of onerous writing assignments I wrestled with over the past four weeks. It wasn’t really hard work. For someone with my experience, the five assignments were no-brainers. I just resent being held hostage by people who are too lazy or too rude to return my phone calls promptly. I hated it when I was a reporter for The Indianapolis News and The Indianapolis Star and I hate it even more now that I’m theoretically retired and the time being stolen is my own and not that of an employer.

How many writers remember their first byline? Nearly all of us, I’d bet.

Mine was 45 years ago next month when I wrote an obituary for legendary news broadcaster Edward R. Murrow for The Indiana Statesman, the student newspaper at Indiana State University in Terre Haute, Ind. That’s me at my desk in the Statesman office smoking a Viceroy and wearing my Alpha Tau Omega Fraternity badge. I think I knew, even then, that I was onto something – a fun, interesting way to earn a living that didn’t even remotely look like work to me.

I loved seeing my byline on a newspaper story then and I still do. I brought the paper in this morning, skinned off the protective plastic rain bag and paged through the four Outlook sections to find my stories. I also had three photos running in the section and was chagrined to see that they ended up on black-and-white pages, so the readers never got the benefit of their brilliant colors.

Indianapolis News photographer Nick Longworth once told a young reporter. “Never get excited about anything before the paper comes out. You’ll always be disappointed.”

Yeah, Nick, but after 45 years I still get excited, even though the final product usually falls short of my expectations. It’s still pretty damned cool to see my name in the paper.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Not buying it

Don’t expect me to turn off any lights at 8:30 tonight.

That’s when the Gaia worshippers at the World Wildlife Fund and elsewhere expect us to turn all of our electrics off to participate in Earth Hour.

It’s just another pointless way for the emotionally retarded Global Warming morons to feel good about themselves and I’m not buying it.

In fact, I think I’ll just turn on every light in the place for an hour.



We covered the local community Easter egg hunt today. Well, actually Maria covered it. I just helped and wrote down names of kids she photographed.

It was held at a church and the kids got about 45 minutes of religious songs and stories before they got a shot at what was probably an acre of eggs. There were also three political candidates on hand. They holed up in the men’s room during the church part of the program. I have no idea why.


Limp Biscuit


Austin’s turtle Biscuit is dead. Austin speculates that Biscuit got himself trapped under a piece of wood in his aquarium and drowned. At any rate, Austin was too distraught to deal with Biscuit’s mortal remains before he took off for the weekend. So he called this morning to ask if Maria would do the honors. They decided it would be more fitting to hurl his carcass into the woods where the coyotes and other animals could return him to the cycle of life than to entomb him in a shallow grave somewhere on the property.

Here’s Maria, removing Biscuit from his aquarium.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Holy Crap! A new look!

Yep. I got seduced by Blogger’s new design tools and decided it was time for a graphic overhaul. I’m not nuts about the background choices, but this one will do until I figure out how to upload my own.

What do you think?

Cognitive dissonance


Sorry. My head Exploded.

Sorry. My head Exploded.

Posted using ShareThis

Ben’s suggestion


Benjamin Franklin suggested this design for the reverse side of the Great Seal of the United States. It lost out to the more arcane pyramid. I kinda like it, though.

Read all about it at

Sherman, set the Wayback Machine for 1986

Here's my son Sean (on bass) with Don't Panic playing a gig in the Taco John's parking lot in Bloomington, Ind., back in the fall of 1986.
He was pretty good then, he's spectacular now.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

In fond memory of Edwin O. Park

The quality leaves much to be desired, being shot with a silent Super 8 movie camera more than 30 years ago, then transferred to videotape, then to DVD and finally to this version. But for those of us who were there, it's a priceless trip back to the halcyon days of The Indianapolis News and our favorite copy boy.
Edwin's services will be at noon Saturday at the Hartley Funeral Home in Arcadia, Ind.

Michael Yon - This generation's Ernie Pyle

If you're not reading Michael Yon's dispatches from Iraq and Afghanistan, you're missing some terrific writing and the kind of first-person coverage that TV, newspapers and the wire services only dream about.
Yon is a 42-year-old ex-Green Beret who is a gifted writer and a brilliant photographer.
Click the link at the bottom of this post and have a look. I think you'll be impressed.

Real conversation

Counter kid at the Books-a-Million Joe Muggs Cafe, handing me my 20 ounce cup of Joe’s Choice: How’re you doing today?

Me: Just trying to stay dry. (Having just come in from a pouring rain.)

Kid: I didn’t know it was going to rain today. I never watch the news.

Me: So every day’s a surprise, eh?

Kid: Huh?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


You don’t have to know a word of Chinese to be blown away by this guy.

SSD Drama (Not SS Drama) update


I got an email last Friday from Colleen at in ss general  cap02response to my March 17 query about my crapped-out 32GB SSD (solid state drive) for my Dell Mini 9 netbook.

She asked if I’d like an RMA (return merchandise authorization) for a replacement, to which I immediately agreed.

I was about to fire off an email to her this morning to see if it was in the works when an email from her popped in with a pdf attachment to fill out and send in with the defunct SSD.

Their web site shows the 32GB SSD as a back order item, just like it was when I ordered the first one late last year, so I expect it will be awhile before I see the replacement.

I’m at Hastings at the moment, but I’ll bundle the SSD up with the appropriate paperwork when I get home and hustle it off to the post office in time for the 4 p.m. pickup.

Godspeed, Edwin


Edwin O. Park, the most beloved copy boy to ever work at The Indianapolis News, died yesterday in a Hamilton County (Ind.) hospital. He was recently diagnosed with advanced cancer in his liver, bladder, colon and lungs. This seems an appropriate time to reprise the blogpost I did on March 21, 2007 when Maria and I were both working at the Crawfordsville (Ind.) Journal Review:

Last night, as I asked Maria to take a sports page proof that I had just edited across the newsroom to the sports editor, I flashed on the old days at The Indianapolis News when we wrote with typewriters and had copy boys to do all the gopher work.
In that bygone era, before college degrees were considered important, being hired as a copy boy at a large newspaper was a first step toward becoming a reporter. When you finished a story, or in the case of a breaking news story, when you finished a page of a story, you yelled, "Copy!" and a copy boy would hustle over to carry your news copy (hence the name) to your editor for his scrutiny. Copy boys also made coffee, distributed newspapers throughout the city room as the various editions came off of the press, and carried stuff back and forth from the newsroom to the Statehouse bureau about four blocks west when the Legislature was in session.
We had a variety of copy boys in those days ranging from a photographer's young son whose chief interest seemed to be getting drunk as often as he could so he could brag about it the next day, to a scrawny little hillbilly with a tough guy surly attitude, to a gay black kid who dressed up in women's clothing and cruised Indiana Avenue on weekends, to Edwin.
Edwin O. Park was at The News when I started on Feb. 6, 1967, and he was there after I quit in October, 2000. At least I think he was still there. I'd been working in a suburban bureau since 1985 and lost track of the folks downtown to a large degree.
Edwin, I was told, was a graduate of Arsenal Technical High School in Indianapolis who came down with some horrible fever that left him brain damaged with the intellectual capacity of a 10-year-old. We loved Edwin and reveled in his quirks and habits. And we collected "Edwin stories."
His wardrobe was a kaleidoscope of stripes, plaids, polkadots and odd combinations. One day he showed up with a particularly hideous combination of bowling shoes, plaid pants and striped shirt. Copy boy Tom Healy announced Eddie's arrival, saying, "Do not adjust your set!"
Edwin wore short-sleeved shirts with a pocket protector and a half-dozen ballpoint pens,none of which worked. He used a handcart to haul stacks of newspapers around the building for distribution and kept his distribution list in that shirt pocket.
One day when Eugene C. Pulliam, the owner of the paper and an Arizona resident, was in town to visit, Edwin arrived at the elevator at the same time as Gene.
Eddie had his arms full of newspapers and had no idea who Gene was. He glanced at Gene, who was dressed in slacks and a Hawaiian shirt, and told the owner, "Hit three for me, will you buddy?" Gene, being a good sport, pushed the button for the third floor.
Sometime in the early 1980s, Eddie's dad died. On the day of the funeral, Edwin came back to the office after the services, still wearing a suit. A reporter, expecting Edwin to be overwhelmed with sadness, asked him how it went at the funeral.
"I came out pretty good on that deal," Eddie said, brightly. "I got my dad's watch."
Edwin continued to live with his mother, riding a bus downtown from their home on the far northside.
One morning he was called to the phone. Watching him take the call, we could tell it was something serious. After he hung up, someone asked what was the problem. "That was my mom. I forgot to turn her oxygen on last night."
Wendell Trogdon, who was city editor at the time, was solicited by the author of a popular Book of Lists to offer the name of a distinguished journalist to be included in the next edition of the book. When the next edition appeared, there was a paragraph about Edwin O. Park, full of bogus credits, right after the paragraph on TV newswoman Jessica Savitch.
So it was no surprise last weekend when I got an e-mail from fellow Newsie Skip Hess, who had gone to the funeral of former News television critic R.K. Shull. Shull wrote a TV column and also responded to letters from readers in a sidebar called Shull's Mailbag. In characteristic fashion, the subject line of Skip's e-mail was "Shull's Bodybag."
Skip said he and another News alumnus, Gerry LaFollette, had dropped by the nursing home where Edwin now lives to tell him of R.K.'s passing.
Here's the text:
He was playing bingo in the dining room with 10 others scattered about.
"Got five quarters," he said when we walked up.
"G 48," said the caller.
"We stopped to tell you that R.K. Shull died and we are going to his services,"Gerry said.
"We had one die here," Edwin said.
"B 10," said the caller.
"They're dropping like flies, huh, Eddie?" I said.
"Well, see ya later," Eddie said.
Visiting time: 2.20 minutes

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Fat Tire in cans


It’s sunny with a temperature in the upper 60s, so I rode across the state line to Mr. T’s Riverside – the supreme liquor store in the area in the Missouri Bootheel.

They have Fat Tire in cans.

Back at Hastings for the first time in more than a week


I parked my old del Sol with its blasted-out paintjob next to this 2-seat Mercedes Benz SLK280 in the Hastings parking lot this morning and had to chuckle over the license plate.

It’s something to celebrate. Maybe we can celebrate it someday…

I took Pete to the vet this morning for a blood test. When he was in for his checkup a month ago, they determined he has a liver problem and put him on a once-a-day pill with instructions to come back after 30 days for a re-test. Turns out he needs to stay on the pills, which cost $84.50 a month. That’s $990 a year. Yikes! I hope he realizes how much we love him.

I turned in my final story for the upcoming Outlook special section yesterday afternoon, so now I have my days back and don’t have to sit around waiting for people to not return my phone calls.

I figured out how to get the most elusive of my sources to return my calls last Friday. I learned she checks her email frequently on her Blackberry, so I sent her an email saying I’d heard the organization she heads has imploded and no longer exists and askied her to let me know if that’s true. I clicked the stopwatch on my Breitling Chrono Avenger as I hit the Send button. She’d been ignoring my calls and emails for a whole week, but she called exactly 12 minutes and 52 seconds later. Heh heh.

I also taught the first session of my Advanced Digital Photography class last night. I only have four students, but they’re all alumni of the introductory class I taught in the fall of 2008 and they’re tech savvy enough that I don’t have to waste a lot of time showing them how to work Windows. Their assignment for next week is to shoot a portrait.It should be a lot of fun. The class meets Monday evenings through April 26.


The beauty of this will doubtless be lost on my neighbors here in the mid-South where it snows infrequently, but my friends in Indiana will love it.

Monday, March 22, 2010

But we don’t want your “help”


Of all tyrannies a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victim may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated, but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.

C.S. Lewis

Another motovideo

This is Lake Frierson State Park, one of two state parks within 30 minutes of our house. Admission to Arkansas state parks is free.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

And indeed we shall

My Dad – a 20th century man


Today would have been my father’s 100th birthday. He was born on the family farm in Carroll County, Ind., on March 21, 1910, the eighth of 10 children. He died on Nov. 24, 1997 at the age of 87.

He was probably about 30 years old when this photo was shot on the east side of the courthouse square in Delphi, Ind., where he lived all of his adult life. Dad was an independent insurance agent, a Realtor, a two-term member and former president of the Delphi-Deer Creek School Board at a time when the current high school was designed and built. He enjoyed a good round of golf and was a Chicago White Sox fan.

Dad’s lifespan included the explosion of technology from aviation to space travel, from rural electrification to the Internet, the fall of the Czar in Russia through the collapse of the Soviet Union, two World Wars, the Great Depression, the sinking of the RMS Titanic and the discovery of its wreck site.

He was also a lifelong Democrat. His father, who was a township trustee and county treasurer was a Democrat. I have the receipt from grandpa’s donation to the campaign of William Jennings Bryan in 1908.

But I am confident that my dad and his dad would be horrified to see how their party has taken a sharp turn to the left and become the enemy of free enterprise and liberty.

Happy Birthday, Dad. I’m glad you didn’t live to see this day.

For my father

Time for a new motovideo

After a week of being held hostage by story sources who lacked the courtesy to return my calls promptly, I seized the chance to get out and do what I wanted to do yesterday.

That included trying a new camera angle for a motovideo. All of my previous videos on the bikes were shot with the camera mounted atop my helmet. The results were okay, but since I tilt my head to keep my eyes level with the horizon in the turns, they didn’t give a true sense of the lean angles. You can only get that by attaching the camera to the bike.

So I removed the tank bag from my K1200GT and used the industrial-strength suction cup mount to secure the camera in a position that showed the instrument cluster as well as the road. I wasn’t sure I could get the windscreen clean enough for a clear view and I also worried that the curvature of the plexiglass would distort the view. I needn’t have worried.

Here’s about 10 minutes of a romp up Ark. 351 and west on Ark. 358.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

The time is now


Saturday morning

It’s 11 a.m. Saturday and we’re having a late breakfast at Cracker Barrel.

Austin is in Indiana this weekend, so we’re enjoying our temporary empty nest status.

My Mini 9’s webcam doesn’t know how to deal with the lighting in here.

Friday, March 19, 2010

A whole week shot to hell

I put out calls and emails starting on Monday for this story I’m supposed to write and, so far, I’ve only talked with one person who is no longer on the board of the organization about which I’m writing.

The president is a woman who is notorious for not returning calls. I left a voicemail on her office phone on Monday, followed up on Tuesday and sent her an email (which I know she saw because a source told me she always checks her email on her Blackberry).

I left a message on the organization’s voicemail on Monday, but have since learned the organization ran out of money months ago and terminated its administrative assistant, so there is no one to listen to or respond to that message.

I should have guess that when I noticed their web site hasn’t been updated since June 9, 2008.

I now have a call out to a Realtor in hopes that she can say something useful to the story.

Because nobody answers their phone anymore, I have wasted an entire week waiting for people – mainly the organization president – to call me back.

I like to be helpful, but this is just not something I ever want to do again. Increasing difficulty in reaching sources is one of the things that made early retirement from The Indianapolis Star attractive. Well, that and the fact that Gannett practices Management By Fear and I was too old and too professional to put up with that crap.

So this will be the last of these pieces I agree to take on. My time is worth more to me than the modest compensation this work will bring.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Jesse James cheated on Sandra Bullock for this?

Another item for the World Gone Mad File

sandra_bullock_24I don’t ordinarily give a rat’s ass about the Hollywood marriage-go-round or celebrities’ chronic inability to keep their lives between the guardrails, but I like Sandra Bullock. She’s beautiful, smart and witty. So this week’s revelation that her marriage to Jesse James is on the rocks because he shacked up with another woman makes me wonder why she married such an Here’s what FoxNews says about the other woman:

Jesse James’ self-proclaimed mistress Michelle 'Bombshell' McGee told In Touch magazine she first contacted the “Monster Garage” star via MySpace, and it turns out McGee is indeed quite web savvy.

The tattoo model is featured on a site called, where viewers can pay to see her on a webcam, or chat with her on the Internet.

FOX411: Tattoo Model Says She Slept With Sandra Bullock's Husband.

"I am the hottest busty tattoo and fetish model you will ever meet on a webcam,” her profile reads. “Come have a hot and steamy affair with inked girls like me on live video."

On the site, McGee claims that she’s currently working on her Masters degree in biochemistry.

SLIDESHOW: Meet Michelle 'Bombshell' McGee.

Stating that she has a BS in biology, the Internet performer also claims to have completed two years of medical school.

However, she’s listed as 24 years-old on the site, so unless she’s some kind of leather-clad Doogie Howser, her college curricula just barely adds up.

Noting that she’s “really wild in the sack” and “looking for the right sugardady” [sic], Michelle, continuing her medical theme, says she especially loves “to have affairs with doctors.”

The inked Internet entrepreneur also mentions her foot fetish and dominatrix work, stating “I mostly wear leather and chains for my video chat customers.”

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

SSD Drama


The RunCore 32GB Pro PATA Mini Zif Solid State Drive I bought from My Digital Discount has crashed and died.

It was on back order when I made my purchase last Nov. 2 and it finally arrived Dec. 21. I followed the enclosed instructions and cloned my Windows XP operating system and files from my original 8GB drive onto the new SSD. It worked pretty well for a month or so.

Then it started giving me the Blue Screen of Death with increasing frequency. I re-cloned the old drive onto it and it worked ok for a few days before reverting to the BSD routine.

So I bit the bullet, bought an external CD drive (since my Dell Mini 9 has no CD drive) and did a clean install of XP and reloaded all of my programs and files. It worked like a champ and my Mini 9 was faster than ever. I was a happy camper.

For two weeks.

Then last Friday morning I fired up the computer and the motherboard searched and searched and finally reported it could find no operating system, i.e., no SSD. So I put the old 8GB SSD back in and it runs fine, albeit slower and with less than 700 megabytes of free space.

Consequently, I sent the following message to My Digital Discount’s Customer Service Department this morning:

I purchased a RunCore 32GB Pro IV 50mm T-Style PCI-e PATA Solid State Drive SSD on 11/2/09 and received it 12/21/09. I initially cloned my 8GB drive to it and it ran fine for a month or so before it started crashing. I did a clean install of WindowsXP and it ran perfectly until last week when it crashed to the point where my Dell Mini 9 can't even see it. I have since gone back to the old drive.
What are my warranty options?
Sorry about the lack of an order #. It's not on the confirmation email I received when I ordered the SSD.

I’ll let you know how they respond.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Benjamin Franklin on entitlement programs and the poor

…I am for doing good to the poor, but I differ in opinion of the means.—I think the best way of doing good to the poor, is not making them easy in poverty, but leading or driving them out of it.

In my youth I travelled much, and I observed in different countries, that the more public provisions were made for the poor, the less they provided for themselves, and of course became poorer. And, on the contrary, the less was done for them, the more they did for Benjamin Franklinthemselves, and became richer.

There is no country in the world [but England] where so many provisions are established for them; so many hospitals to receive them when they are sick or lame, founded and maintained by voluntary charities; so many alms-houses for the aged of both sexes, together with a solemn general law made by the rich to subject their estates to a heavy tax for the support of the poor.

Under all these obligations, are our poor modest, humble, and thankful; and do they use their best endeavours to maintain themselves, and lighten our shoulders of this burthen?—On the contrary, I affirm that there is no country in the world in which the poor are more idle, dissolute, drunken, and insolent. The day you passed that act, you took away from before their eyes the greatest of all inducements to industry, frugality, and sobriety, by giving them a dependence on somewhat else than a careful accumulation during youth and health, for support in age or sickness.

In short, you offered a premium for the encouragement of idleness, and you should not now wonder that it has had its effect in the increase of poverty. Repeal that law, and you will soon see a change in their manners. St. Monday, and St. Tuesday, will cease to be holidays. SIX days shalt thou labour, though one of the old commandments long treated as out of date, will again be looked upon as a respectable precept; industry will increase, and with it plenty among the lower people; their circumstances will mend, and more will be done for their happiness by inuring them to provide for themselves, than could be done by dividing all your estates among them.

[From Benjamin Franklin, "On the Price of Corn and the Management of the Poor" (1766), Writings (New York: Library of America, 1987), 587-88.]

Just in time for the riding season


The 2010 BMW Motorcycle Owners of America Anonymous book was about the only interesting thing in today’s mail.

Now that I’ve scanned it for this blog entry, it’ll go into the tank bag on my K1200GT.

anonymous2 The Anonymous book is a 5”x7” 222-page paperback that has a state-by-state, city-by-city list of BMW MOA members who stand ready to help you if you have trouble on the road. Each listing is anonymous, in that there is no name – just a phone number – and codes like c (camping or tent space), ws (space to work on a motorcycle), wt (tools for working on a motorcycle), ss (storage space), or t (truck or trailer available). It also lists all of the BMW motorcycle dealers in the U.S. and Canada (including the recently defunct dealership in Little Rock), as well as important contacts worldwide. There are lists of phone numbers for motel chains, airlines, car rental, railroads, traveler’s checks, and on and on.

I never leave for a trip without mine. Last year’s will go into the saddlebag of Maria’s K75S.

Monday, March 15, 2010


peter graves Somebody at American Advisors Group didn’t get the memo to pull the commercial featuring Peter Graves.

The actor died yesterday, but the commercial is still running today.

Monday, Monday

weiner merger This headline probably doesn’t strike anyone around here as humorous, but it made me snicker.

We passed a quiet weekend at home and now. I took the rest of the week off from my writing assignment that’s due on March 22. Now that the new week is upon me, I’m back in procrastination mode. I do, however, have semi-firm plans to make some phone calls in search of information starting after lunch today. Unless something more interesting comes up.

I discovered a new (to me) blog this morning that, if you’re of a conservative inclination, is a fun read. Of course, now that I’m on board as a reader, she’ll probably abandon it, but Bride of Rove is worth the effort.

Also, friend Lauri has invited me to contribute to her blog: Mad Meanderings. That’s incredibly flattering and I’ll have to give some thought to what I should write.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

And it’s cold and cloudy too…

bam march13 It’s 1:20 p.m. and I’m having my first cup of coffee of the day. I’m at Books-a-Million, having hit the post office and the Parker Road Walmart pharmacy and Kroger.

The entire medical insurance world has figured out that I turn 65 on July 14 because they’re flooding our mailbox with offers for Medicare supplemental insurance. I suppose I should start thinking about it, but not today.

There are two Walmarts in Jonesboro – an older store on Highland and the newer Super Walmart way the hell down south on Parker Road. (We live about 8 miles north of town.) I would rather have a rat in my mouth than go to the Highland Walmart. So when I asked my doctor’s nurse to phone a prescription in for me, I specified the PARKER FUCKING ROAD WALMART.

When I showed up to claim it the pharmacy tech checked and reported they had not received a prescription from my doc. I asked her to check with the Highland store and, sure enough, it had been called to that pharmacy. Did I want it transferred to the Parker Road pharmacy? Well, that’s where I’m standing with charge card in hand, so the answer is yes. Actually, it’s FUCK YES, but there’s no point in taking it out on her.

So instead of a simple grab-and-pay, like I would normally experience when dealing with alert, competent people, I got to piss away 20 minutes while the pharmacist filled the prescription from scratch. Oh, and when I was talking with the doc’s nurse yesterday, I asked her if this stuff was on Walmart’s $4 generic list. Yes, she said.

So imagine my surprise when the charge was $8 and change.

How can this be so hard?

And I should also mention that the 32GB Solid State Drive (SSD) I bought a few months ago for this netbook died yesterday after working wonderfully for a week or so on a clean install of Windows XP. The system can’t even see the drive.

Consequently, I put the original 8GB SSD back in and will limp along with less than 700 megabytes of free space until I figure out a new solution.

It’s always something.

Happy Birthday, Lauri

lauri flowers2 Here she is with the flowers we sent.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Freakin’ Frog

steve freaking frog My son Steve on bass at Tuesday open mic night at the Freakin’ Frog in Las Vegas. It’s good to see him playing jazz again.

Sunny Thursday

earplugs It’s 61 degrees and I’m on the bike for the day.

My first stop was the post office where I noticed someone had dropped their ear plugs. I left them there on the pavement. Using someone else’s ear plugs is like using a stranger’s toothbrush. Besides, I didn’t want to get hearing AIDS.

After not enough thought, as it turns out, I decided on breakfast at Waffle House.

Even though I was wearing my fluorescent lime green riding jacket, I was apparently invisible to the waitress for several minutes. When wh01 she brought my silverware, she apparently noticed a problem with the knife – or else figured I couldn’t be trusted with it - and left only the fork and spoon on a napkin.

I ordered coffee and a 3-egg ham and cheese omelet with hash browns and toast. Naturally, the meal showed up with a packet of mixed fruit jelly. Who the hell likes or buys mixed fruit? I’ve long contended that Mixed Fruit is what they package at the end of the day with the leftovers.

When the waitress brought my check, I asked her for a packet of wh02strawberry jelly in exchange for the mixed fruit. She brought it, but still hadn’t noticed that she’d shorted me a knife. Have you ever tried to apply jelly to toast with a fork or a spoon?

And, by the way, Waffle House coffee is fucking awful.

Now I’m at Hastings sipping some real coffee and using their free Wifi.

I thought long and hard yesterday about driving up to Indiana for my cousin’s memorial service this afternoon. I don’t know that my presence would have made that much difference to her sisters and brother. They might have been impressed that I’d care enough to drive all the way from Arkansas, but mostly their minds would be on other things and 14 hours is a long time to spend in a car for a short event like that.

Instead, I sent flowers and resolved to make time later this year to drive/ride over to Nashville and spend time with her brother, Sam. Sam is close to my age and at various times in our lives, we could pass for brothers, or maybe even twins.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

From the post office bulletin board

wrestling This flyer showed up on the post office community bulletin board this week.

Midnight Cowboy isn’t a particularly imaginative wrestler name, but I kinda like Family of Pain and Loose Cannon.

Godspeed, Cousin Susie


Edens, Suellen G.

Suellen Groninger Edens 70, Indianapolis, died Mar. 8, 2010. Memorial service: 2 p.m. Mar. 11 in Myers Chapel of Memories, Lebanon. Interment: Deer Creek Cemetery, Deer Creek, IN.

Suellen Groninger Edens

Ms. Suellen Groninger Edens, 70, of Indianapolis, died Monday, March 8, 2010, at Westview Hospital in Indianapolis.
Suellen Edens was born January 4, 1940, in Flora. She was the daughter of the late Herbert U. and Ruth L. (Dietz) Groninger. She graduated from Lebanon High School in 1958 and attended Purdue University.
She married Tony Edens in 1959, in Indianapolis; they later divorced. EdensSuellen
Ms. Edens lived in Lafayette, Bloomington and Grand Rapids, Mich. She moved to Indianapolis in the early 1980s, and  remained there.
She was a member of Tri Kappa Sorority in Lebanon.
Survivors include two children, Kimberly S. Faison of Santa Barbara, Calif., and Kent A. Edens of Hoboken, N.J.; one brother, Samuel H. Groninger and wife, Mary Ann, of Nashville, Tenn.; two sisters, Kay L. Boatman-Sampson and husband , Richard, of Lebanon and Jo Anne Sutter of Elkhart; and one grandson, several nieces and nephews, and several great-nieces and great-nephews.
Memorial funeral services are to be held at 2 p.m. Thursday, March 11, at Myers Chapel of Memories, 1502 N. Lebanon St., Lebanon, with the Rev. Vey Kidney officiating. Interment will follow cremation at the Deer Creek Cemetery in Deer Creek.
No Visitation is planned.
Memorial contributions may be made to Heartland Hospice, 931 E. 86th St., Suite 208, Indianapolis, IN 46240.
Online condolences may be made at

Those are the obits from this morning’s Indianapolis Star and yesterday’s Lebanon Reporter for my cousin Susie. Her mother and mine were sisters and she was my favorite girl cousin when I was a little kid. She doted on me and I had sort of a crush on her.

She was all flash and glamour as a teenager and a young adult. She modeled and did TV commercials, but her marriage fell apart when she was in her 30s and she struggled with mental illness and alcoholism for the rest of her life.

It’s hard for me to get my brain wrapped around the image of her as an old woman, suffering from emphysema in an Indianapolis nursing home. She turned 70 in January and I guess she decided that was enough.

She’ll be buried tomorrow in the little church cemetery north of Deer Creek, Ind., where our Dietz and McCain ancestors lie.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

I love these commercials


This is the new wallpaper on my netbook.

Successful operation

lisa hangover My granddaughter Lisa had outpatient surgery this morning to have tubes put into her ears. She’d become so congested that she could hardly hear.

Here she is with her mom, Nicky, after the surgery. Steve says everything went well.



This is Lauri’s latest creation. See it and others at

You gotta see this

Happy work

maria dresses 02

Church Women United has an annual project to sew Easter dresses for little girls in the area.

Maria has wanted to participate the last few years, but has been too busy. Until this year.maria dresses 01

She’s been holed up in her sewing room for several evenings and weekends. I can hear her giggling over the hum of her Bernina. She calls me in every now and then to show me the latest frock, pointing out nifty little details that I might not have noticed or appreciated.

She took six of her creations – all made from leftover quilting fabric – to work this morning to hand over to the church ladies. She was smiling when she left.

Hygiene for idiots


I was left speechless last night when I saw a commercial for this no-touch hand soap dispenser.

It shows people touching the pump of a conventional hand soap/hand sanitizer dispenser which, on closer inspection is teeming with cartoon germs. Horror of horrors. Why would anyone want to touch this disease ridden surface?

Now for only $16.95 (the best price), you can just wave your hand under the spout and catch a squirt of soap.

But wait a minute.

Why does it matter if there are germs on the conventional pump, since they’re about to be washed off of your hands anyway? And people who wash/sanitize their hands frequently probably have fewer bacteria on their hands to begin with, making the conventional pump marginally cleaner than most surfaces you touch during the day – like money or door handles.

This, then, is a product that meets a non-existent need.

This is the kind of thing that makes people in the Third World think we’re imbeciles.

Monday, March 08, 2010


I found this story, with an Arkansas connection, over at Ace of Spades HQ:

An all-white girl group from the University of Arkansas performed at the 2010 Sprite Stepping Contest and came in 1st place. The audience was not happy about this and booed the Zeta Tau Alpha team. Sprite huddled and decided that hey what do you know the 2nd place, all-black team also won the contest and were co-first place winners. Sure a black man can be president but everyone knows that white girls can't step.

Burrito on the porch


It’s a delightful sunny 68 degrees here on Crowley’s Ridge at midday and I just finished a burrito on the screened porch.

I knew it was going to be a nice day when I was able to walk out to the newspaper tube this morning in shirtsleeves and listen to the cardinals singing.

I think the worst of the nasty cold weather is behind us. Now it’s time for tornado season.

In the meantime, I’m watching the time ticking away until my 5 p.m. deadline and waiting for calls from the chairwomen of a couple of local charitable foundations. If worse comes to worst, I can throw something together with what I have so far, but I really do want their voices in this thing.

After that, I can procrastinate two whole weeks before my next and final deadline on this project.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Arkansas chain saw massacre


Maria shot this last weekend, but the weather is the same today.