Friday, April 30, 2010

Two kinds of stupid

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - David Kernell, the former University of Tennessee student who hacked Sarah Palin’s email during the 2008 presidential campaign, was found guilty today of unauthorized access to a computer and obstruction of justice by a Federal Court jury.

He was found not guilty of wire fraud and the jury failed to reach a verdict on identity theft, meaning the prosecution can re-file the identity theft charge.

Defense counsel Wade Davies said it was a prank, but prosecutors argued he was trying to sabotage Palin’s campaign for vice president.

The conviction for obstructing an investigation can carry a maximum 20-year prison sentence.

This is two kinds of stupid – first for hacking Palin’s email and second for not doing a plea bargain and rolling the dice in court when real prison time was on the table.

The world’s youngest 79-year-old gets married


My friend Ted Simon, author of “Jupiter’s Travels” and several other great books, is getting married. Or may have already gotten married. He and his Ukrainian bride planned to be wed in Ukraine this spring.

Ted also turns 79 tomorrow, which makes him the world’s youngest 79-year-old.

I had the pleasure of meeting the future Mrs. Simon (I believe her name is Lida) at the 2008 BMW Motorcycle Owners of America International Rally in Gillette, Wyo. while she was visiting the U.S. and traveling with Ted.

Ted has ridden motorcycles around the world twice – once in the 1970s when he was a young man and again nine years ago when he was 70. An expatriate Brit, Ted lives in northern California.


We went to the Miranda Lambert/Eric Church concert at ASU last night and had seats just to the right of the stage. By the speakers.

Fortunately, we remembered to take ear protection.

Not being a big country music fan, I’d never heard of either artist. Lambert’s a little rough around the edges for my taste, but Church plays the southern redneck image to perfection and it resonated big time with the crowd. Me too. I had the feeling a Tea Party rally could break out at any minute during his set. Bill O’Reilly would call him a patriot.

At one point, Maria found herself sitting next to a local radio personality who goes by the name of Booger. He was there with his mom.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Road trip


It was a splendid day for a ride and now, 248 miles later, I’m home with a lasagna in the oven and a glass of Rolling Rock.

I stopped for  a $1.23 double cheeseburger and cup of water at the horrid McDonald’s in Kennett, hometown of Sheryl Crow, then droned on up U.S. 412 to I-55 and on north to Cape Girardeau and Grass Roots BMW Motorcycles.

grassrootscofeeAs I feared, they didn’t have the pants I wanted in my size, so they ordered a pair, along with a bolt to replace the one that I lost last year from my saddlebag mount. I’ve been making do with a silver bolt I got from the former BMW dealer in Wichita, but want to replace it with a stock painted example.

I also cashed in the coupon from last fall’s Return to Shiloh Rally in exchange for the advertised Grass Roots insulated coffee mug, which turned out to be much nicer than I had imagined.

And while I was there, I raised the issue of how to renew my BMW Motorrad roadside assistance plan. (See earlier post for the initial drama on this subject..) Grass Roots co-owner Reno Anderson got on the phone and tracked down the newly contracted roadside service provider and I was able to renew over the phone.

So I managed to get all of that done without spending a dime. And I had two free cups of coffee while I was there.

I hit 104 mph while passing a couple of trucks a few miles west of Kennett. A few miles on at the Senath intersection, an idiot in a pickup truck pulled into my path. I would have hit him except that I was watching him and guessed that he wouldn’t wait for obscuring traffic to clear, so I was able to jam on the brakes, hit the horn, shake my fist and inform him that he is a stupid motherfucker.

Back on the treadmill


I’m cooling down after my morning treadmill workout. Here’s the view from the treadmill with an inset showing my Suunto Advizor heart rate monitor readout. Nothing heroic, just 20 minutes in my target heart rate zone and at least a mile on the odometer. I missed a few days over the weekend and it feels really good to get back into the routine.

I think I’ll make my much-postponed ride up to Grass Roots BMW Motorcycles in Cape Girardeau today to shop for a riding pants and a battery for Maria’s bike. There’s a favorable forecast today, but not so much tomorrow or Friday, so today is the day.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

My name is Betty, thanks you


Found on a community bulletin board.

How Much Do You Know About The Guy Who Is About to Make Your Health Care Choices for You?

How Much Do You Know About The Guy Who Is About to Make Your Health Care Choices for You?

Here's something to make your head explode.

Time to start drinking

GQ magazine has a list of 50 beers you must taste before you die.

I’ve had one of them. (Weihenstephaner Hefeweissbier)

I got some drinkin’ to do. I could probably put a pretty good dent in my personal list at the Flying Saucer in Memphis.

Shipping today (dog not included)

quilt pete

My most important task today is to pack and ship this fabulous wedding quilt to my stepdaughter Morgan and her soon-to-be-husband Andrew in Sierra Vista, Ariz.

In addition to the Priority, Express and Flat Rate boxes the Post Office gives away, they also sell larger boxes and that’s what this requires.

Maria put an enormous amount of work into this quilt which includes lots of fabric from Morgan’s childhood dresses and other significant family clothes. There’s even something from our granddaughter Lisa’s dresses in it. Quilts and dogs belong together, so we posed Pete the Aussie on it.

A Plague of "A" Students

A Plague of "A" Students

Posted using ShareThis

The always-brilliant P.J. O'Rourke.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Monday morning ramblings


Yikes! Here it is past noon on Monday and I haven’t blogged anything.

Let’s see. What’s on my mind today?

Here’s an ironic photo my BMW riding friend Rich sent me this morning.

It occurs to me that Arizona’s legislature and governor are doing a lot of good things lately – abolishing the need for a concealed carry permit a week or so ago and more recently the get-tough policy on illegal immigrants that makes it a state crime to be in Arizona illegally. Can’t say as I blame then, considering that they’re getting absolutely no help from the Feds as crime in Mexico spills over the border. Today’s Rasmussen Report says 60 percent of all American voters agree with the policy, so we may see other border states like Texas and New Mexico follow suit.

I’m sad to see Randy Alexander is trailing in the polls in the eight-way race for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate in Arkansas. I didn’t find much to dislike in any of the candidates who spoke at Saturday morning’s Associated Press Managing Editors forum in Little Rock, but Alexander got everything right from my point of view. I’d love to see him close the gap between now and the May 18 primary, but I think it will probably take more than just putting an Alexander bumper sticker on my Honda del Sol.

It appears the front-runners in the GOP contest all outpoll incumbent Democrat Blanche Lincoln and her challenger Bill Halter. I’ve taken an instant disliking to Halter. He reminds me of kids who thought they were hotshit politicians when they ran for student government positions in college. I almost feel sorry for Blanche. I think she honestly tried to do right by her constituents but caved under pressure from Obama and Harry Reid when it came to their socialist agenda. If she had had the guts to use her vote to kill Obamacare, she’d be golden and unassailable lauri morelpolitically right now. Instead, she will be out of a job at the end of the year along with a helluva lot of other Red State Democrats who should have known better than to let Reid and Nancy Pelosi take them over the cliff.

Tonight is the sixth and final session of my advanced digital photography class. Since only one person showed up last week, I’ll reprise the flash photography info I covered last Monday night and throw in a session on HDR (High Dynamic Range) photography.

Crawfordsville, Indiana friend Lauri sent me this rain-soaked iPhone self-portrait with a fabulous Indiana morel mushroom yesterday morning just to taunt me. It’s been three years since we were treated to a mess of fried morel mushrooms. They just don’t thrive in this soil and climate. If you’ve never tasted them, you must add them to your culinary to-do list. If I were on death row, my last meal request would be an all-you-can-eat feast of fried morel mushrooms, with genuine Hoosier sugar cream pie for dessert.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Saucers-3, Pharaohs-0

flying saucer

Here I am at the Flying Saucer in downtown Little Rock yesterday afternoon. If you join the club and drink 200 beers, you get your name on one of the plates hanging on the walls and ceiling.

I had a Spaten Oktoberfest, a Paulaner Oktoberfest and some other beer that was on special, but I didn’t join the club because I don’t get to Little Rock that often. They have a dizzying array of beers from all over the world. If I lived in Little Rock, I’d be a regular.

We needed some time at the Flying Saucer to take the bad taste out of our mouths from the Arkansas Arts Center’s really crappy Pharaohs lr museumexhibition of ancient Egyptian artifacts.

Despite the hype, there isn’t a single piece there that I would call stunning. It’s like the seeds and stems of Egyptian archaeology, all dressed up in temperature and humidity controlled Plexiglass boxes.

We paid $42 with a senior citizen discount (for Maria, not me) and felt like we’d been seriously ripped off. This thing is worth five bucks apiece, tops. Fortunately, transportation was provided by the Doubletree shuttle service, so we didn’t have to pay cab fare to get there and back.

The awards banquet was a pleasant affair and Maria picked up two awards for herself, one for her boss and one for the staff of the Sun.

We shaved maybe 20 minutes off of our travel time home by taking the new extended U.S. 67 and the Ark. 226 cutoff, blew through Jonesboro without catching a single red light and fell into bed about 11:45 p.m.

It’s about 3:20 p.m. now, so we have about 40 minutes before we drive down to pick up the dogs.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Oh, yeah. PBS. That says it all.

I shared a lunch table with a reporter from PBS, sent out here to the wilderness from San Francisco to cover the Arkansas U.S. Senate races for the PBS News Hour.

He made a point of letting us know he grew up with Sen. Diane Feinstein and has multiple familial connections with her, which I guess serves as his credentials as a member of the Mainstream Media Elite.

After the debate between incumbent Democrat Sen. Blanche Lincoln and her challenger, Lt. Gov. Bill Halter, I found myself sharing restroom urinal space with the guy and opined that I wished someone have asked the candidates about Cap and Trade. He responded that the subject came up at a debate last night and one of the candidates who was not here today made the shocking disclosure that “he doesn’t even believe in global warming.”

Interesting. None of the eight Republican senatorial candidates who appeared in an earlier panel discussion seemed worried about supposed global warming and several declared it a fraud based on junk science. So do I.

But then I don’t come from the vortex of political and social lunacy where he lives.

The GOP senatorial candidate panel gave me a chance to see and hear the man who will almost certainly be the next U.S. Senator from Arkansas. Given what I heard this morning, and since I don’t work for a newspaper and can now have my own opinions, I hope the winner in the primary and November election will be Randy Alexander. His three basic points are:

  • Freedom and liberty are self evident rights granted to us by God, not permitted to us by our government.
  • The proper role of government is to protect equal rights, not provide equal things.
  • It is never appropriate for the actions of a government established by the people to exceed the boundaries established by the people’s Constitution.
He’s got my vote and probably bumper sticker space on my del Sol.

Saturday morning

downtown lr02Downtown Little Rock in the morning.

My Olympus Stylus 850SW stitched three shots together to make this somewhat warped panorama.

Garmin says I’ve driven 144.8 miles since I left home yesterday afternoon. We have morning meetings and candidate forums (or is it fori, foriii?), lunch, a wide open afternoon and then dinner and home. The neighbors are watching the house and they have guns.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Downtown Little Rock

downtown lr

We’re in Little Rock tonight for the Associated Press Managing Editors annual meeting.

Nice view.

Rocky Mountain High

colo pot flag

I’ve always liked Alma, Colo.

My BMW riding friends Tim and Linda moved there a few years ago and I enjoy their hospitality as often as possible because I love hanging out with them and riding the Rocky Mountains.

Alma is south of Breckenridge, over Hoosier Pass, on Colo. 9. It used to be considered on the “wrong” side of the pass, since all of the trendy upscale real estate was in and around Breckenridge. That’s been changing over the past decade as savvy homebuyers and investors discovered the relatively cheap real estate in Alma, Fairplay and the wide open spaces of Park County.

Alma had an official population of 179 at the time of the 2000 Census. It will be interesting to see the 2010 number. My guess is that the population has grown by a factor of 9 or 10.

Alma now has two bars, a liquor store, no churches and – in keeping with its claim of being the highest (10,361 feet) town in the United States – three medical marijuana dispensaries.

Here’s all the pertinent info from the Colorado Medical Marijuana Registry:

Medical Marijuana Registry Program Update

(as of October 31, 2009)

In the November 2000 general election, Coloradoans passed Amendment 20, and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) was tasked with implementing and administering the Medical Marijuana Registry program. In March of 2001, the State of Colorado Board of Health approved the Rules and Regulations pertaining to the administration of the program, and on June 1st, 2001, the Registry began accepting and processing applications for Registry Identification cards.

Statistics of the registry include:

  • 24,176 new patient applications have been received to date since the registry began operating in June 2001. Twenty-seven (27) applications have been denied, 24 cards have been revoked, 253 patients have died, and 2,247 cards have expired, bringing the total number of patients who currently possess valid Registry ID cards to 21,625.
  • Seventy-four percent of approved applicants are male.
  • The average age of all patients is 40. Currently twelve patients are minors (under the age of 18).
  • Fifty-seven percent of patients reside in the Denver-metro and area (Adams, Arapahoe, Boulder, Broomfield, Denver, Douglas & Jefferson counties), with the remainder of patients found in counties throughout Colorado.
  • Patients on the Registry represent all the debilitating conditions covered under Amendment 20. Severe pain is a reported condition for 91% of all registrants; muscle spasms are the second-most reported condition at 31%.
  • Sixty-seven percent of patients have designated a primary care-giver (someone who has significant responsibility for managing the patient’s care).
  • Over 800 different physicians have signed for patients in Colorado.

As of June 14, 2004 care-givers are no longer issued cards.

As of January 25, 2008 only a portion of the patient’s social security number appears on their registration card.

As of October 27, 2008 all applications, renewal and changes to the Registry must be submitted via mail and include a legible photo copy of the patient’s Colorado Identification. Faxes and emails will no longer be accepted.

As of December 1, 2008 all changes to the Registry must be signed by the patient making the change in blue ink.

In addition to administering the Registry, CDPHE has been charged with accepting and reviewing petitions to add conditions to the current list of debilitating medical conditions/symptoms. To date, four petitions have been received, one for Parkinson’s disease, one for Asthma, one for Anxiety and another for Bi-Polar Disorder. All petitions were subsequently denied due to lack of scientific evidence that treatment with marijuana might have a beneficial effect.

There have been three marijuana-related convictions of patients on the Registry, and no physicians have experienced federal reprisals. However, reluctance to participate due to the inconsistencies between state and federal marijuana laws has been expressed by doctors and patients alike.

No general funds have been designated for this program, and the Amendment allows CDPHE to collect fees to cover the administrative costs of administering the program. Currently the fee is $90, and is evaluated annually by CDPHE. The fee was lowered from $110 on June 1, 2007.

Numerous questions have arisen regarding interpretation of statutory language. The law does not clearly state where marijuana plants may be grown or if two or more patients and/or care-givers may share one growing space. Statutory language also places certain burdens upon local and state law enforcement officers, such as the requirement of keeping alive plants that are confiscated until a resolution is reached (i.e. a decision not to prosecute, the dismissal of charges, an acquittal, etc.).

Thursday, April 22, 2010

I hate these glasses

hate glases

This is the worst pair of glasses I have ever owned and I’ve been wearing glasses since the spring of my third grade year.

They have gradient lenses, which are supposed to give a smooth transition from far to near, rather than the segmented approach seen in bifocals and trifocals. The problem is that I can’t find anyplace in their entire refractive spectrum that works for a computer screen. And distance viewing isn’t sharp either.

That’s why I’ve been wearing my contact lenses and using reading glasses for computer work for the past seven months. I haven’t taken them back because I just dread dealing with the dull-witted mouth-breathers at the optometrist’s office and the dispensary.

But enough is enough. I’m taking them in today and asking them to check them against the prescription. My bet is that they’re not even close.

I could have gotten better work for much less at Walmart.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

I’m blah and Ruthie’s deaf

This is a low key day in the wake of yesterday afternoon’s dental crisis. I had some moderate pain last evening and knocked it down with a couple of Extra Strength Tylenols and was able to sleep pain-free. I’m still pain-free today, but feel kinda washed out and brittle, so I’m spending the day hanging around at home.

Ruthie the Wonder Dog appears to be going deaf. We can speak to her in a normal tone with trigger words like “treat” and “laser” (she loves chasing the red dot) and there is absolutely no reaction until we crank up the volume to shouting level.

Ruthie will be 12 years old in June, which will make her 84 in dog years, so I guess this shouldn’t surprise us. She and Pete are going to the kennel for a few days soon, so I’ll ask the vet to have a look at her and give us an opinion.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

My lucky day

hastings ticket

Marisha, my favorite barista at the Hastings Hardback Cafe, gives me one of these scratch-off tickets every time I buy my morning coffee. The stated goal is to scratch off only three of the circles and to have all three match. I always quit after two because my first two never match.

Until today.

I scratched off the bottom right and found a crown with the number 645, then I scratched off the first one in the second row and – damn! – another crown with 645. Then I scraped off the second circle in the bottom row. Holy crap! Another crown with 645! I’m a winner!

I didn’t suppose I could be lucky enough to win the advertised top prize of $250,000, but three crowns ought to be worth at least $1,000 – maybe more. I started thinking of what I could do with my winnings. A new set of tires for my bike and cash for a long ride in the West, maybe.

Or just pay some bills.

So I took my golden ticket to the counter and presented it to the cashier.

“Scratch off the Prize Box and see what you won,” he said.

So I breathlessly opened up my Swiss Army knife and scraped away the coating on the Prize Box, expecting something fabulous.

It said, “20% off a Howard the Duck DVD.”

Now I know how those poor schmucks feel who get suckered by phony lottery tickets on America’s Funniest Videos.

And, no, I didn’t buy the stupid DVD.

My own damned fault


I went to the dentist this afternoon after the discomfort from a damaged tooth became too annoying to ignore anymore expecting to walk out with a filling.

It turns out that the months (probably close to eight or nine) that I spent trying to ignore the problem led to irreparable damage. So the able Kate Wagner, D.D.S. shot me up with local anesthetic and wrenched the wreck of a tooth out of my jaw.

No nitrous for me. That stuff is for wimps. Now I’m chilling at home with a lump of gauze where the tooth used to be while I wait for the numbness to wear off.

Let this be a lesson to me.

I know my rights

You’re fixin’ to get lit up…

Kwanzan Flowering Cherry Trees!

Kwanzan-Field-220wEver since the ice storm of January 2009 killed our flowering dogwood, we’ve talked about replacing it.

We planted a flowering dogwood near the front of the house a couple of weekends ago. We also noticed a gorgeous, spectacular Kwanzan flowering cherry tree at a nursery but it was about $100 more than we were ready to spend.

Then Maria discovered Sam’s Club has Kwanzan flowering cherry trees for something like $11 and change. She planted one yesterday morning back by our rear property line to provide a privacy screen between our house and the new house being built about 30 feet from the property line. And she picked up two more last night. If they bloom anything like the one we saw at the nursery, a stand of these things will be mind-bogglingly beautiful.

A little Google research informs me that the Kwanzan flowering cherry tree is the hardiest of all cherry trees and quickly grows to a height of 30-40 feet. Here’s what says about them:

The Kwanzan Flowering Cherry Tree is easily the showiest of all Cherry Trees. Its flowers aren’t just pink… but “Double Pink,” meaning you get twice as many blooms as found on other trees.

Kwanzan-blooms-220WYour new Kwanzan Cherry Tree blooms in large clusters of 3-5 flowers! These clusters are the thickest of all pink flowering trees and look similar to carnations.

Your Kwanzans will begin to bloom in April. Also a delight in the fall, when it will give you golden autumn leaves that grab everyone's attention.

One of the easiest flowering trees to grow! Thrives in almost any soil and climate. Easily grown in zones 5-9. A tree for many seasons!

That’s a helluva deal for eleven bucks, especially considering that the online nursery would charge $100 for these 5-footers!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Saved by Sprint again


McDonald’s Wifi fails again. Good thing I carry a Sprint 3G/4G network gizmo.


Sunday, April 18, 2010

Irony in Barcelona


No company tonight

Rick Nelson called from Amarillo last night to say he won’t need a place to stay here tonight because he realized it’s faster and shorter to take I-44 up through Tulsa and St. Louis than it would be to take I-40 east and then jog up to Jonesboro before continuing home to Indy.

And, of course, he’s right. Google maps says it’s 1,005 miles via St. Louis and 1,146 miles via Jonesboro. Not to mention that it’s about 3 hours more drive time via Jonesboro because of all of the secondary road mileage.

Which affirms my longtime contention that we’re not on the way to from anywhere to anywhere else. Anyone who comes here, does it just to be here.

See you at the BMW MOA International Rally in Redmond, Ore. in July, Rick.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

The Contract FROM America

The Contract from America

We, the undersigned, call upon those seeking to represent us in public office to sign the Contract from America and by doing so commit to support each of its agenda items, work to bring each agenda item to a vote during the first year, and pledge to advocate on behalf of individual liberty, limited government, and economic freedom.

Individual Liberty

Our moral, political, and economic liberties are inherent, not granted by our government. It is essential to the practice of these liberties that we be free from restriction over our peaceful political expression and free from excessive control over our economic choices.

Limited Government

The purpose of our government is to exercise only those limited powers that have been relinquished to it by the people, chief among these being the protection of our liberties by administering justice and ensuring our safety from threats arising inside or outside our country’s sovereign borders. When our government ventures beyond these functions and attempts to increase its power over the marketplace and the economic decisions of individuals, our liberties are diminished and the probability of corruption, internal strife, economic depression, and poverty increases.

Economic Freedom

The most powerful, proven instrument of material and social progress is the free market. The market economy, driven by the accumulated expressions of individual economic choices, is the only economic system that preserves and enhances individual liberty. Any other economic system, regardless of its intended pragmatic benefits, undermines our fundamental rights as free people.

1. Protect the Constitution

Require each bill to identify the specific provision of the Constitution that gives Congress the power to do what the bill does. (82.03%)

2. Reject Cap & Trade

Stop costly new regulations that would increase unemployment, raise consumer prices, and weaken the nation’s global competitiveness with virtually no impact on global temperatures. (72.20%)

3. Demand a Balanced Budget

Begin the Constitutional amendment process to require a balanced budget with a two-thirds majority needed for any tax hike. (69.69%)

4. Enact Fundamental Tax Reform

Adopt a simple and fair single-rate tax system by scrapping the internal revenue code and replacing it with one that is no longer than 4,543 words—the length of the original Constitution. (64.90%)

5. Restore Fiscal Responsibility & Constitutionally Limited Government in Washington

Create a Blue Ribbon taskforce that engages in a complete audit of federal agencies and programs, assessing their Constitutionality, and identifying duplication, waste, ineffectiveness, and agencies and programs better left for the states or local authorities, or ripe for wholesale reform or elimination due to our efforts to restore limited government consistent with the US Constitution’s meaning. (63.37%)

6. End Runaway Government Spending

Impose a statutory cap limiting the annual growth in total federal spending to the sum of the inflation rate plus the percentage of population growth. (56.57%)

7. Defund, Repeal, & Replace Government-run Health Care

Defund, repeal and replace the recently passed government-run health care with a system that actually makes health care and insurance more affordable by enabling a competitive, open, and transparent free-market health care and health insurance system that isn’t restricted by state boundaries. (56.39%)

8. Pass an ‘All-of-the-Above” Energy Policy

Authorize the exploration of proven energy reserves to reduce our dependence on foreign energy sources from unstable countries and reduce regulatory barriers to all other forms of energy creation, lowering prices and creating competition and jobs. (55.51%)

9. Stop the Pork

Place a moratorium on all earmarks until the budget is balanced, and then require a 2/3 majority to pass any earmark. (55.47%)

10. Stop the Tax Hikes

Permanently repeal all tax hikes, including those to the income, capital gains, and death taxes, currently scheduled to begin in 2011. (53.38%)


(Numbers in parenthesis indicate the level of popular support for each item.)

If you support the Contract, you can register your support at



I’m hanging out at Barnes & Noble while Maria shops at Dillard’s and listening to a Leo Laporte podcast.

rick award fHaving a relaxed Saturday.

Indianapolis BMW Club friend Rick Nelson called about 9 o’clock last night to say he is ferrying a friend’s new bike home from San Diego to Indianapolis and wondered if we could put him up tonight.

He said he was calling from Alamagordo, N.M., which is something like 1,054 road miles from here. He said he plans to ride until around sundown, which – taking into consideration that he will be in rain all the way from the Texas-Oklahoma border to here – makes it unlikely that he will get this far today.

Nonetheless, we have the recently vacated guest room standing tall and waiting. I’ll reshuffle the bikes and treadmill when I get home to make room for an additional motorcycle.

But if I had to guess, I’d say he’ll spend the night somewhere in the Ozarks tonight.


Later: Rick called me while we were having a late lunch at Olive Garden around 3:15 p.m. to say he was still in New Mexico – said he was the victim of an alien abduction at Roswell – and was aiming for Amarillo for the night. We agreed that Amarillo to Jonesboro would be a reasonable ride for tomorrow, especially since the rain should be out of the way by then. It’s a seven-hour ride from here to Indy, so he could be home by Monday evening.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Simpsons: The faces behind the voices

Julie Kavner was there, but we didn’t get to hear her Marge voice.

New (to the U.S.) BMW Motorcycle Magazine


Longtime friend Sandy Cohen, who edited the BMW Motorcycle Owners of America Owners News for several years, is back at the helm of a quality BMW motorcycle publication.

Sandy, who lives in Tucson, Ariz., is the U.S. publisher of BMW Motorcycle Magazine, the U.S. version of a quarterly slick BMW magazine that has been published for a couple of years in Europe.

Here’s how BMW Motorcycle Magazine explains itself on its web site:

BMW Motorcycle Magazine is a unique publication featuring the best of content about the ultimate brand of motorcycles.

What makes us unique?

Our featured content comes directly from the heart of Germany where BMWs are built and appreciated passionately. Our professional writers provide tests of the latest models, analysis of the tech, engineering and manufacturing, interviews from the decision-makers, reports on international events and interesting coverage of the people and riders that keep this huge enthusiastic crowd ticking. Access to the “Made in Germany” content means first-class information straight from the home of BMW motorcycles.

Our History

With more than 30 years in the publishing business, the German publishing house of MO Meiden Verlag currently prints 11 motorcycle and powersports titles including: Motorrad Magazin MO, Klassik Motorrad, BMW Motorräder, Motorräder aus Italien, Quad-Magazin, Motorrad Testbuch, Motorrad Jahrbuch, 9elf, and Auto Strada.

In the fall of 1999, the first issue of BMW Motorräder was launched. From the beginning, the magazine was a huge success in Germany and bordering countries of Switzerland, Austria and Holland. BMW is not the only German motorcycle manufacturer but it’s by far the most popular. In Germany, there are about 350,000 beemers on the road and most of the people riding are not just motorcyclists, they are true BMW aficionados. It was reasoned that this enthusiastic crowd would also love a motorcycle magazine featuring nothing else but the fascinating world of BMW motorcycles. That’s why it was simply named: “BMW Motorräder” (BMW Motorcycles).

The new magazine wasn’t on the road long when people started asking for an English language edition. It took some time to get going, but in late 2007, BMW Motorcycle Magazine was born.

At first sight this magazine may appear like a campaign from the corporate marketing department of BMW. Quite the contrary though, BMW Motorcycle Magazine is edited, produced and created at the desks of an independent publisher, someone who is not afraid to criticize if BMW’s overenthusiastic technicians have gone a bit far (again). Of course, we’re all motorcycle enthusiasts and we love BMW motorcycles. But it’s not our job to simply praise the Bavarian bikes. Our tests examine and explore every aspect of the machines and their performance to analyze the celebrated quality of BMW motorbikes.

And Now… Announcing the Latest Advance

After five issues and two years of distribution worldwide (including the U.S., Canada, Australia, Great Britain and South Aftrica), we have combined our resources with a U.S.-based publishing company to make BMW Motorcycle Magazine truly reflect the international readership we have gathered. The April 2010 issue is the first joint effort, bringing together a team of respected and experienced writers with an unrivalled passion for all things BMW. Our content will now include U.S. news, events, products, destinations and riders.

Our success has also made it possible to increase publication to four times a year, to fully cover the four seasons of riding and enable us to expand our content. The best news to subscribers is that, thanks to efficiencies of printing and mailing within the U.S., our annual subscription rate remains under $20 and the single copy price is now an affordable $6.95.

BMW Motorcycle Magazine is the only commercial, independent BMW motorcycle publication in the U.S. We are not tied to any club or organization. Our mission is to inform, educate and entertain, featuring all the best in BMW motorcycles and riding.

Distribution will be through newsstands, BMW dealer showrooms and direct mailings. Advertisers can also now be assured of reaching the market they want, whenever they want, with affordable pricing.

A one-year subscription is $19.95. Their advertising campaign launches May 1.

On the map. Almost.

The street that serves our little eight-home (soon to be nine) subdivision doesn’t show up on any Internet or GPS map, which makes things a little tricky for visiting friends and relatives and for people making deliveries.

ourhouseThat’s because it hadn’t been accepted into the county road network. We were afraid that would prevent the county from picking up our ice storm debris last year, but it got picked up after it became clear that the FEMA money the county received was based on everyone’s debris – not just the folks on dedicated county roads.

That non-official road status meant we had to have rural mailboxes down at the end of our road, where it joins the official county road.

We opted, instead, to rent a post office box in the interest of security.

I heard a rumor earlier this week that our road had finally been accepted by the county and I confirmed it with the Postmistress this morning. As of March 29, we’ve been living on a bona fide county-maintained road. That means we can put up a mailbox in front of our house and get residential mail delivery.

But now that we can have it, I’m not so sure I want it. The U.S. Postal Service is considering eliminating Saturday mail delivery, but they’ll continue to put mail in post office boxes on Saturdays. And it means changing our address on a dozen or so accounts and lists.  So I think we’ll keep using the P.O. box address at least until the rent on it comes due later this year.

But our road should start showing up on Google Maps and in GPS map updates in the next year or so.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Arkansas Post post

arkpost01 Arkansas Post National Memorial is hardly a glamour destination, but it’s a day ride that offered the prospect of a stamp for my National Park Passport, so I put 350 miles on the bike today riding there and back.

I was pleasantly surprised when the guy at the Visitor Center pointed out they have two rubber stamps – one for Arkansas Post and the other for arkpost02the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail. It seems that part of Andrew Jackson’s brutal relocation of Indian tribes from east of the Mississippi to alien lands in the Oklahoma Territory involved  shipping some of the unfortunates up the Arkansas River. In fact, he told me, one such group was forced to spend the winter at Arkansas Post before they could continue their journey into exile. (Native Americans are still pissed off at Jackson and avoid using the $20 bill that bears his likeness.)

Arkansas Post, the first European settlement in Arkansas was established by the French, existed briefly under the flag of Spain and became part of the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. It became the first capital of Arkansas Territory in 1819, but lost the title two years later to Little Rock. The population declined precipitously after that but it served as a Confederate strongpoint during the Civil War because it defended the river approaches to Little Rock.

Union gunboats shelled the hell out of the place in 1863 and there’s hardly anything left of it today except the water cistern. The Visitor Center has a crappy little museum and a movie that they show on demand rather than on a schedule. I didn’t demand a showing because I was pretty unimpressed with the place. After all, I was just there for the rubber stamps.

My GPS and I had a little misunderstanding as I was leaving Brinkley which led to a bizarre route over a dozen or so secondary state roads that involved a 90-degree dogleg turn about every 4 miles. The return trip was pretty straightforward – U.S. 165 north to I-40, east to U.S. 49 and north to home.

I stopped for gas at the Waldenburg BP station, but the pump wouldn’t take my credit card. So I went inside and paid cash for a bottle of Gatorade. The girl behind the counter eyed my lime green jacket and asked if it was a frog-gigging jacket. I assume she was making fun of my eccentric (to her) choice of riding apparel. I was not amused.

On the road again

key I’m stopping for a late breakfast/early lunch at the McDonald’s in Brinkley, Ark. That’s where U.S. 49 crosses Interstate 40. I’m enroute to Arkansas Post, the first pioneer settlement in Arkansas, to collect a stamp on my National Parks Passport.

Naturally, the McWifi is slow to the point of being useless, so I’m using my Sprint USB wireless device which has a whopping 2 bars of signal.

More later.

And, yes, I was back on the treadmill this morning.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Robbie Robertson

album-robbie-robertson We’re focusing on independent movies from Netflix lately and tonight’s fare was Pow Wow Highway, an odd road film released in 1989 that won the Filmmaker’s Trophy at the Sundance Film Festival.

It’s kind of an uneven film with occasionally awkward dialog and an improbable plot, but it features music by Robbie Robertson. Robertson was the lead guitarist with The Band who Bob Dylan once called a mathematical guitar genius. He’s also a Native American from Canada.

His “Sweet Fire of Love” runs with the end credits and it reminded me just how terrific his 1990 “Robbie Robertson” solo album is.

He hasn’t released a solo album since 1998, which is a real shame. He’s freaking brilliant.

Burning glucose, checking in with Doreen

161 So the doctor got on my case about weight and exercise yesterday – too much of the former and not enough of the latter.

Consequently, I resolved to get back onto the treadmill – something I’ve been planning to do since the first of the year, but have done only once.

I checked my blood glucose level before and after a 25-minute mile-plus hike this morning and was pleased to note the brief treadmill session knocked it down by 25 points. OK, now I’m convinced.

Besides, I have to shed a few pounds to be able to get back into my black suit in time for Morgan’s wedding in May.

On a completely unrelated matter, I had a delightful 45-minute chat with Mouseketeer Doreen Tracey yesterday afternoon on the occasion of her birthday. She sounds great and is as full of energy as every, putting together a production company and shopping movie concepts around Hollywood. She reports that Annette Funicello is clinging to life thanks to experimental drugs from the Multiple Sclerosis researchers, but she’s been on a feeding tube for a long time, is blind and is in a condition that would make me beg for someone to pull the plug. She had updates on several other Mickey Mouse Club alumnae, but I won’t bore you with them. Suffice it to say, the news from Doreen’s corner of Burbank is upbeat and good. (If you’re wondering why in hell I have a connection with an original cast member of the Mickey Mouse Club, go back to the blog archives. You’ll probably find the explanation on April 13 of a previous year.)

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

You get what you pay for in free McWifi

flo mcdonalds

I had a routine doctor’s visit at 9 a.m. today, so I went to McDonalds afterward for a parfait and coffee and Internet.

The Wifi at the McDonald’s at Nettleton and Caraway in Jonesboro took a good 10 minutes to load the McHome page, then refused to connect with the Internet. That, of course, is the downside to McDonald’s instituting near-systemwide free Wifi – entrusting a bunch of minimum wage burger-flippers with Internet Technology tasks.

What could possibly go wrong?

Fortunately, I have my Sprint 3G/4G USB card.

Macro photos


I shot a few photos yesterday for my lesson on macro photography last night. Mostly I used my 90mm Tamron macro lens, but I also did a few frames with my 50mm f/1.4 lens mounted on extension tubes for extreme magnification.

Here’s what my students saw last night.

$10 bill

Alexander Hamilton on a $10 bill.



Did you know that you can see the statue of Abraham Lincoln inside the Lincoln Memorial on the back of a penny?


Water drops form tiny lenses in a window screen.


My chainsaw needs sharpening.


A blossom on the dogwood tree we planted over the weekend.

Raindrops on peony buds.

A peony I shot on film several years ago.


Another look at that dandelion.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Catching up on Monday morning

dogwoodIt’s a sunny 65 degrees and I should be mowing the lawn, but I’m having my morning coffee and internet cafe fix at Hastings instead.

I can’t remember when I’ve gone through a whole weekend without posting to the blog, but this is my first post since last Friday. I guess it’s a consequence of being kinda busy and being kinda uninspired.

We spread about 400 pounds of red mulch amongst the shrubs in front of our house on Saturday and determined we need another 400 pounds to finish the job. Naturally, they were out of the stuff when we went to Home Depot yesterday morning to buy more. So we bought a flowering dogwood tree and planted it next to the garage, just to keep the home improvement momentum going.

We had a beautiful white dogwood in our back yard, but the ice storm of January, 2009, killed it. Maria still grouses about me letting it die because I didn’t run out and knock the ice off of it at a time when killer 100 pound-plus tree limbs were raining down all over our property. Sorry, but I’m not going to die or become a paraplegic for a tree.

I was pleased to be able to help son Steve sell a piece of electronic equipment on Ebay on Saturday and was interested to see the buyer is back in our home state of Indiana – Valparaiso to be precise.

I was going to ride Maria’s ‘94 BMW K75S over to Mr. T’s for some adult beverages yesterday afternoon, but discovered the battery is kaput. I’d had it on a trickle charger for more than a week, but it didn’t have enough juice to bump the starter when I thumbed the starter button. As far as I know, that’s the original battery, so I guess I can’t complain that it only lasted 16 years. That meant my ‘03 BMW K1200GT got to make the trip. I bought a six-pack of Weihenstephaner, a hefeweiss beer made by the oldest brewery in the world - Brauerei Weihenstephan in Freising, Germany, established in 1040, which also makes it one of the oldest companies in the world. I’m not a big fan of hefeweiss, so I’d like to try some of their other varieties.

My advanced digital photography students have asked for a session on macro photography this evening, so I’ll have to round up some tiny subjects for my macro lens and extension tubes this afternoon so as to have some examples to show them.

We’re transitioning nicely back to Empty Nest Mode now that Austin is back in Indiana. It almost feels natural to walk around the house in my boxer shorts.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Insomnia’s reward


When insomnia strikes around 3 a.m., I retire to the upstairs office rather than thrash around and disturb Maria’s sleep.

I often find strange and wonderful things on the Internet during these quiet times, but this morning I really struck gold: The Brooklyn Superhero Supply Co.

I won’t try to explain it. You have to see it for yourself. So start clicking.

Achtung hunden!


Gone to Indiana





The folks at the Paragould Super D pharmacy cut Austin loose three hours early last night, so he wouldn’t have to drive all night to get to Indiana. They also got a farewell cake for him.

Maria and I hustled up to Paragould with a bag of road snacks and saw him off about 5:30 p.m.

He sent a text message to Maria’s cell phone about 2 a.m. confirming he arrived in Thorntown, Ind. without incident.

Pete is confused. He strolled into Austin’s room several times last night, looking for his boy.

I bet he misses her

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Another Hoosier in exile returns home

This is Austin’s last day in Arkansas.

He works from noon to 8 p.m., then hits the road with a car loaded to the roof with his stuff. We expect he’ll arrive in Thorntown, Ind., sometime around 5 a.m. tomorrow.

He’s been with us since May 3 of last year. We’ve seen a lot of personal growth, so he’s leaving us in better shape than when he arrived.

We’ll see him again next month at his sister’s wedding.

It rained like a mofo last evening and I dumped 2.1 inches of rain out of the rain gauge when I went out to fetch the newspaper this morning. Lots of lightning and thunder, too, which freaked Pete out. He was cowering in the windowless guest bathroom until I carried him over to the couch, wrapped him in an old quilt and used him for an armrest until the storm abated.

The front yard, which I mowed for the first time on Sunday, is a sea of dandelion stalks. I let the back yard go over the weekend because we were still clearing sticks and limbs. Now with a couple of inches of rain saturating the ground, it will have to wait until tomorrow or Saturday. A cold front with sunshine and temperatures in the 50s followed the storms. It’s 51 at 10 a.m., heading for a high of 62. I see the high today in Crawfordsville will only be 48 – that’s only 4 degrees warmer than the high in Breckenridge, Colo. where they started the day at 15.

(I obviously don’t have much on my mind if I’m filling space with gibberish about the weather.)

Assaulted peanut

Asaulted peanut (2)

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Going to septic system school

septic fields I’ve always lived where there were sewers, so this is the first house I’ve owned that has a septic system. Needless to say, I didn’t know jackshit about septic systems.

Until this week.

I’ve had a nagging feeling lately that I should get up to speed on the maintenance of our septic system. I remembered we had a diagram of the layout that was part of the documentation we received at closing back in October, 2007 so I dove into the filing cabinet and dug it out.

About all I knew was that we had a capped piece of 4” PVC pipe sticking up in the back yard about 20 feet from the back door and a couple of other pieces of 4” PVC pipe – one capped and one open – way out beyond the chain link fence. We also had a funny looking steel tool that looked like some kind of a wrench with a long shaft for a handle.

I found some good information online and, upon close examination of the diagram, determined we have two separate septic fields. I scanned the diagram and color-coded them. The web sites I consulted said you need to alternate the fields every now and then. The valve that shunts the effluent from the septic tank to one field or the other is called a Bull Run Valve and it turns out the strange tool is meant to extend down into a hole in the ground to turn the valve from one field to the other.

All of the observational evidence points to the west (blue) field being the one in use because that’s where the grass grows lush and verdant.

We’ve lived here nearly 30 months and haven’t touched the valve, so I figured – based on what I read online – that we’re overdue for a change. I have no idea if the previous owners, who had the house built for them in 2005, ever had the 1,000-gallon septic tank pumped out. So that meant it had at least 2½ years of sludge accumulating the the bottom and maybe 5 years’ worth of the stuff.

So I called a septic service that just happens to be right across Pine Log Road from our subdivision and within two hours Bo Nuckles (really his name) had dug down to the access panel for the septic tank and was fixing to pump it out. Bo opined that the sludge buildup was substantial and that we were maybe just a few months from a serious problem, so it’s a stroke of luck that I decided to check it out this week. He also said we should switch septic fields every six weeks or so once the tank fills up with wastewater – a process he guessed would take a week or two.

Then he drove away with 2½ years of our sludge and my check for $215.

And now I know how to operate our septic system.

Oh, and he said that Rid-X stuff I’ve been flushing down the toilet in the belief that I was doing good things for the septic tank bacteria, is a waste of money. He cited the state board of health as the authority, so I’ll take his word for it.

Burning question


This is the house being built just 30 feet or so from our south property line, as it looked at 9:20 a.m. today.

Notice the big brush pile (red arrow) containing the trees and shrubs that were cleared from the site prior to construction. Before construction began, the builders tried to burn the debris using some kind of petroleum accelerant. It belched black smoke, which suggested to me they were using kerosene or diesel fuel. They tried a couple of times and it never really took off, probably because it was still very green.

The pile, which is considerably higher than a man is tall (hard to get the perspective in this shot) is obviously still there and we’re wondering how they plan to dispose of it.

Surely the don’t plan to burn it that close to the new house. Or are they? What could possibly go wrong?

Waking up with the iPod Touch


Here’s an unexpected use for my Wifi enabled iPod Touch – a first-thing-in-the-morning information source.

I didn’t realize other people were doing it too until I read a blogger writing about how she keeps her iPhone at her bedside to check on the world before she gets out of bed.

That’s what I’ve been doing for the last month or so. I use the Weather Channel app to get the current conditions, forecast and peruse the weather radar, then I check my email and next I hit the New York Times and USA Today apps to see what the lamestream media thinks is important. I find it’s a lot less intrusive than flipping on the TV, especially when I wake up before Maria, which is most of the time because we geezers always wake up early.