Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Weather’s great, but that’s as far as it goes

The heat wave has broken, but it’ll fix itself and be back.

It’s sunny and 85 with a 43 percent humidity, which means the heat index is 85 also. There was no dew on the grass this morning, so I seized the opportunity to mow the lawn in relative comfort.

Other than that, my day has been one of frustration.

I took yet another run at activating the XM NavWeather feature on my Garmin Zumo 550 this morning. I got through to a woman in XM Tech Support who told me my problem was that my Garmin GPS should be displaying the map during activation, rather than being on the XM radio screen with Channel 1 selected. In all of my conversations with XM listener service reps or tech support people, this is the first time I’ve heard that advice, so I had high hopes when she said she was refreshing the signal and I should be all set in 15-20 minutes.

Twenty-five minutes later, I still had no XM NavWeather. Ditto an hour later. Failed again.

So I decided to cut the grass and, as is my habit, I got my custom in-ear monitors from my bike tank bag so I could listen to my iPod while mowing. But I fumbled a piece of paper and yanked the wire out of the left earpiece as I grabbed for it. Crap. I immediately left a voicemail for Marilyn Navia, the Miami audiologist who made the monitors for me at the 2002 BMW RA rally in Red River, N.M. asking if she could do a repair for me in time for my July 11 departure for the West. I also tried to contact her through her web site, but found the site isn’t functioning. WTF? She’s listed as one of the vendors at the BMW MOA rally, as are two other companies that make in-ear monitors, so I can get a repair or replacement in Redmond if it comes to that.

I went to Best Buy in search of a short-term solution in case Marilyn can’t turn the repairs around before my departure. After scanning their ear bud offerings, I settled on the $21.99 Sony Bumpin Buds, which have three sizes of ear attachments. Unfortunately, the smallest of the three is still too big for my ear canals and I suspect there are no commercially available ear buds that will give me a good seal, so I very well may be looking at 2,000+ miles of silence on the ride to Redmond.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Lunch and a surprise

We had lunch today at Cregeen’s (pronounced KREE-gen’s) Irish Pub, downtown Jonesboro’s newest bar and restaurant. cregeens

As usual, the food was great. They have the best Reuben sandwich in town and it’s a welcome relief from the usual Arkansas fried brown food. They also have a great assortment of beer and ale that will require much further research on my part. Cregeen’s has a nice ambiance for a fake Irish Pub with an Arkansas accent.

This is the second Cregeen’s, the first being in North Little Rock. I have to admire their spirit of adventure and imagination to venture into a dry county to expand the business. As per local regulations, it’s a “club” and you have to show I.D. before you’re seated. Craighead County isn’t really wet yet, it’s just damp.

I have to admit that I was a little startled when I found a beer glass containing a yellowish liquid perched on the urinal in the men’s room. Was it beer or something else? I wasn’t going to touch it.


Monday, June 28, 2010

Who used who?

The more I think about it, the more I believe Gen. Stanley McChrystal knew exactly what he was doing when he and his staff talked to the Rolling Stone reporter.

McChrystal is way too smart and savvy to let his people jabber uncontrolled to a reporter whose anti-war, anti-establishment bias is so well known.

The reporter may think he’s very clever, but my belief is that he got used by McChrystal who wanted the world to know what a clusterfuck Obama and his people have made of the Afghan war.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Dog Days of summer start next weekend

The term “dog days of summer” came up today and Maria asked why the period is so named.

I didn’t know, but quickly found this explanation online.

The brightest star in the night sky is Sirius, named the “Dog Star” because it is in the constellation Canis Major (bigger dog). The Romans believed it was so bright that it gave heat to the earth. Sirius can be seen easily in the winter sky, but it rises and sets with the sun in the summer. Sirius is in conjunction with the sun in late July and the Romans believed its heat, added to that of the sun, made for a period of hot, sultry weather. They called the period from 20 days before the conjunction to 20 days after it “dog days” after the Dog Star.

The gradual drifting of earth’s relationship to the constellations over the centuries has advanced the period so it runs from July 3 to August 11.

So now you know.

After two weeks, this is what they get

A guy I know who served in the Army during the cold war and participated in black ops helping Poles and Czechs flee to the west points out that the Iron Curtain countries had no problem at all securing their borders. All it takes is the will to do it.

What’s an Arkansas soiree without a shotgun?


We cleaned up and put on our social faces last night for the annual St. Bernards Development Foundation Triple Swing Dinner and Dance.image

The event is an element of a three-day fund raiser for the foundation and the Flo and Phil Jones Hospice House here in Jonesboro and it always features a great buffet dinner (huge tenderized steaks this year), free adult beverages, a silent auction, a regular auction, doorprize drawings and an excellent band. There was also a raffle for a shotgun since this is, after all, Arkansas hunting country.

Maria was the successful bidder on a small painting in the silent auction, but we didn’t win anything spectacular.

It was great fun, but I worried a bit about the dogs since there was a tornado warning out for the area and it was storming. Pete gets all freaked out by lightning and thunder and we had left them out in the fenced back yard – with dog door access to the screened porch – in the belief that there would be no storms. Of course, they were fine and glad to see us when we got home.

I dumped another .2 inches of water from the rain gauge this morning. That’s 3.1 inches in two days. I was keen to get out on the mower this morning before it heats up, but the grass is too wet to cut.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Saturday stuff

It’s been another toasty day here in northeast Arkansas (it’s 91 with a heat index of 99 at 6 p.m.), but things are going well.

We went to the Farmers Market this morning where we scored big on steaks from our rancher neighbor, several pounds of heirloom tomatoes and a dozen ears of sweet corn for $2.5o.

I dumped 2.9 inches of water out of the rain gauge from last night’s deluge. There was more thunder this afternoon, but the rain passed us by. Even so, it was enough to worry Pete. We kept him calm by grooming him with the Furminator. By the time we finished, we had an enormous pile of gray fur to dispose of and he looked considerably cooler and more sleek.

I still haven’t gotten my XM NavWeather sorted out on the Zumo 550. I got through to the second tier of tech support twice yesterday, but XM dropped the call both times. I didn’t even try today. Maybe tomorrow.

Friday, June 25, 2010


This is a portion of today’s post by the Bride of Rove.


az shirt webcam “If this was Texas, which is a state that is directly on the border with Mexico, and they were calling for a measure like this saying that they had a major issue with undocumented people flooding their borders, I would have to look twice at this. But this is a state that is a ways removed from the border,” Milwaukee County Board Supervisor Peggy West

I am just going to repeat what I said over on in the comments:

True story. I was volunteering in my son’s fifth grade science class with two other moms and the topic of the day was the moon. I asked why there was no material on astronauts and moon landings? The two moms said they were relieved that fiction wasn’t being taught to kids.

Me: But. Lovell’s book Lost Moon. NASA. All of the video and science that has resulted in from the space program … velcro and Tang for crying out loud … do you really believe it was a hoax? Mrs. (teacher) help me out here.

Teacher: I don’t believe we actually went to the moon either so I don’t teach it.

Me: Interesting. So somehow all of those companies were in on the biggest lie ever perpetrated on the world.

I was unable to change their minds, though I made a valiant effort.

My point is … how do any of you even know if Arizona is on the border with Mexico? If the government can lie about something as large as the moon, it can certainly f with maps here on earth. For all WE know, Arizona is IN Mexico.

There are days when I don’t want to know just how far the national IQ has fallen. Lots and lots of days ….


I am reminded of a conversation that took place in the newsroom of The Indianapolis News back in the early 1980s. Two other reporters and I were discussing states we had visited, using a map of the U.S. – showing just the outlines of the states without any text – for reference. The education reporter walked over, saw what we were doing and offered, “How do you know which state is which without the names? I could never do that.”

She went on to become the public information director for Indianapolis Public Schools.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Ruthie’s summer cut


Ruthie has been looking absolutely miserable, carrying around a couple of pounds of fur in this heat.

So we took pity on her yesterday and I drove her to Petco where they shampooed and sheared her. The transformation is always amazing and this was no exception. She looks and acts years younger and is clearly pleased with the change. She certainly likes it better than when I had her shorn last winter. Maria had to sew a couple of polar fleece dog coats for her to stop the shivering.

Cool at last!


I’m sitting at my desk in the heretofore blazing hot upstairs office and – wonder of wonders – I’m perfectly comfortable. It’s 88 with a heat index of 97 outside, but I’m actually feeling a bit chilly thanks to the General Electric window air conditioner I found at Sam’s Club yesterday for $168. It has an advertised capacity of 8,000 BTUs and presumably can cool a 400-square-foot room – more than enough for our office since the partially sloped ceiling makes for fewer cubic feet of air than a standard room of its square footage.

It seems like an outrageous improvement, considering that I could only stand to be up here for brief periods over the last several days and I always left drenched in sweat. And I don’t have to worry about the heat killing our electronics.

It’s an inelegant fix – I’m not happy about having an air conditioner poking out of a window on the front side of our house – but it’s a helluva lot cheaper than paying an insulation contractor to blow insulation into the ceiling with no guarantee of satisfactory results.

And it came with a remote control. How cool is that?

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

I think Roger Simon may be onto something here...

Roger L. Simon » Does Barack Obama want to be president?

Neep repair in side


An old woman just swept past me in the Hastings Hardback Cafe trailing a dense cloud of Old Lady Perfume. In hot weather like this, well bred old women must live in mortal fear of body odor.

But I digress.

My point this morning is to share this notice posted on the postoffice community bulletin board. “It got central air & heat” but it “neep repair in side.” I suspect the seller had better be prepared to settle for “best offer” or maybe even be prepared to pay someone to haul it away.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

It’s the heat

It’s been hotter than hell here for weeks. We’re under a heat advisory until 8 p.m. Thursday, but I’m sure it won’t end then.

I’m reminded of a Dave Berry column in which he said it was so hot that birds were bursting into flames in midair and nuns were cursing openly on the street. That’s how hot it is here in northeast Arkansas. We’re averaging 10 degrees warmer than usual and summer just started yesterday.

The heat has pretty much sucked all of my energy, ambition and creativity away, which leaves little left for blogging.dom skype2

I had a Skype conversation with Indy BMW Club friend Dom last night.

He and I will rendezvous in Omaha next month to ride to the BMW MOA  rally in Redmond, Ore. We had planned to ride together after the rally to Portland where he would hang out for a few days while I visit my son Sean. Then we planned to ride down the California coast through Big Sur and then head for home, via my son Steve’s place in Las Vegas.

We were working with some rather tight time constraints because Dom has relatives flying in from Sicily. First they were coming in on the 29th, then it was the 28th and now it’s the 27th. That deadline abbreviates my time with my sons so much as to make the visits pointless, so Dom begged off and said he’ll figure out his own route home.

I like traveling with him, but I’m glad he saw it the same way I do. Now I can have more flexibility in my travel plans and not feel pressured to keep a rigid schedule.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Meet Al, Al Paca


I picked the hottest day of the year – so far – to take a photo assignment shooting alpacas.

They were nice alpacas, as alpacas go. Semi-friendly, but not particularly cooperative when it came to standing still in the right place. And the lady who owns them and spins their wool was a pleasure to meet.

But I must have sweat a quart and I’m sure I smell like a goat now that I’m cooling off with a mocha frappe at Books-A-Million.

My black Honda del Sol spent the hottest part of the day baking in the sun in the newspaper parking lot and it was extremely painful to grip the steering wheel and work the gearshift for the first 5 minutes or so until the A/C started to cool the interior.

Now I’m going to finish my drink, drive home and take a cool shower.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Fun with Storm Troopers


A French guy named Stefan has done a 365 project (one photo every day for a year) with a couple of Star Wars Storm Trooper action figures on Flickr. Some of the pics are a scream. Check it out here.

Fabric and bagels

klassy katz I started this post at Klassy Katz, Maria’s favorite quilt/fabric store in Memphis. Owner Toni Katz graciously gave me table space in one of her classrooms to set up my Dell Inspiron Mini 9 netbook for surfing and blogging while Maria takes her time and examines everything in the store.

The alternative was sitting in the car on a day when the heat index is topping 100. The guys at Gateway Tire couldn’t find any leaks or other conspicuous malfunctions with the Subaru air conditioner, but once we got into stop-and-go city traffic in Memphis it started to flag. I found that it perked up if I stood on the accelerator and sped up to 50 mph or so, which should be a good clue for the next guys to tackle the problem. It also kept the car reasonably cool on the way down here at highway speeds.

And, we finally tracked down the elusive Memphis bagel.bagel co of memphis

I tried to find the Bagel Co. of Memphis last spring when Dom LoDuca was here, but apparently gave my GPS the wrong information. It took us right to the place today where we had a delightful lunch and loaded up on a baker’s dozen of bagels of various flavors. Our waitress assured us that this is the only place in Memphis to get genuine bagels. She said it’s a two-day process and none are held over from one day to the next. She said whatever is left at the 2:30 p.m. closing time each day is given away or the staff takes them home or donates them to the nearby Jewish  Community Center or some other such facility.

I haven’t had a decent bagel since I was at Shaprio’s Delicatessen and Einstein Brothers in Indianapolis last December, so this was an important culinary development.

Westbound I-40 traffic over the Mississippi River bridge was backed up for several miles because of construction when we came into town about 11:45 a.m. Fortunately, there were no such problems on the old I-55 bridge.

Can you see me now?


One of a motorcyclist’s biggest challenges is to make sure car drivers see him.

Hundreds of riders are killed every year by car drivers who pull into their paths and later claim they never saw the bike.

The leading cause of death to riders in two-vehicle crashes involves a car driver violating the rider’s right-of-way at an urban intersection. That can either be an oncoming driver making a left turn in front of the bike or a driver pulling out from a side street. Either way, the rider loses.

I taught the Motorcycle Safety Foundation’s RiderCourse for 10 years back in the ‘80s and ‘90s and we spent hours hammering home the point that motorcyclists should ride as though they were invisible. I taught my students to never trust that a driver sees you just because you see him looking at you. If you want to know what a driver is going to do, look at his front wheels, not his eyes. That habit saved me last month when a pickup truck driver looked in my direction, then pulled out into my path on U.S. 412 at Senath, Mo.

We also taught our students to make themselves and their bikes as conspicuous as possible. The late Dr. Harry Hurt, who did the first scientific analysis of motorcycle accidents back in the 1970s, found that riders who turned on their headlights in daytime were underrepresented in crash statistics and that riders who rode with the high beam on didn’t show up in the accident stats at all. Since then, all bikes have the headlight on when the engine is running. We also recommended that riders increase their conspicuity with additional driving lights, headlight modulators and bright clothing in daytime and highly reflectorized garments at night.

So I wasn’t particularly offended this morning when this guy came into IHOP where I’m having breakfast and waiting for Gateway Tire to fix the Subaru air conditioning. He’s with a group of Harley-Davidson riders and their wives who apparently make breakfast here a regular Saturday morning ritual.

“Can you see me now asshole?” seems a bit rude, but it’s understandable when you realize the consequences of not being seen.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Read it closely

Click the image to see it full-size.
Offered without comment.

Lost dog in Jonesboro, Ark.

lost terrier

Adios, James

senor james Photographer James Byard is leaving to accept a new position with a college in extreme southern Texas.

James is a first-rate photojournalist and he will be missed.

Deluge at the Cape


The National Weather Service says Cape Girardeau, Mo. got .67 of an inch of rain yesterday. My guess is that the reading was taken at the airport on the southwestside of town. Meanwhile, an inch or more fell in the space of about 15 minutes on Spanish Street down by the Mississippi River. That’s where Grass Roots BMW Motorcycles is and where I was waiting for the mechanic to test ride my bike after he performed a 6,000-mile service on it.

Spanish Street turned into a river for a few minutes as rainwater overwhelmed the storm sewers and blew off at least one manhole cover about a block up the street, sending a geyser at least 20 feet into the air. You can see the water was almost up to the rear wheel hub on the white GS across the street.

Fortunately, the storm passed quickly and the water drained away almost as fast. I left on dry pavement about 45 minutes later. Riding south on I-55, I was treated to an air show as the Navy’s Blue Angels practiced for their performances this weekend at Cape Girardeau.

I stopped for gas and lunch at Boomland where I loitered in hopes that isolated rainstorms would drift east and out of my path south of Sikeston. I overtook a storm around New Madrid and stopped to don my rain gear. By the time I reached the U.S. 412 exit at Hayti, the rain was gone and it was blazing hot. That, of course, necessitated a stop at the Kennett Dairy Queen to get out of the rainsuit and cool off. It was 96 with a heat index well over 100 by the time I got home.

The really good news was that the 6k service only cost me $181.61, so I celebrated by adding a Grass Roots BMW t-shirt to my wardrobe.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Hanging at Grass Roots

xm hold I’m hanging out at Grass Roots BMW Motorcycles in Cape Girardeau, Mo. this morning while my K1200GT gets a 6,000-mile service.

I noticed on the ride up here that my Garmin Zumo 550 has stopped displaying weather information, so I tried to log onto my account on the XM radio website. The site refused to acknowledge my login ID but after several attempts emailed a password reset link to my email address, which I claimed is my ID. But when I tried to use it, I got a message saying it was not a valid ID. WTF?

So I called XM and after several minutes on hold, started working through my issues with a tech support operator, but she dropped the call. I tried again and again the call got dropped. This is all too exasperating for now, so I’ll just wait until I get home to continue the effort.

The Conservative Tsunami gathers momentum

Election 2010: Arkansas Senate

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The conclusion of the pants saga

It took about a week, but Magic Touch Cleaners finally found the pants to my black suit.

If you don’t recall the beginning of this saga, go back to the May 31 blog entry to learn how I discovered I had the wrong pants when I dressed to give my stepdaughter away at her May 30 wedding in Arizona. Fortunately, the pants they had given me were a near perfect fit and close enough in color that hardly anyone noticed.

Charlie came by this morning to collect his pressure washer and when I came back into the house after seeing him off, I noticed I had a phone message. It was Magic Touch inviting me to come claim my pants.

So I did and, sure enough, they’re mine.

Given what other people have said about Magic Touch, it was completely unexpected. Even so, I won’t trust them with any more of my dry cleaning.

Happy Birthday, Mom


Today would have been my mother’s 95th birthday.

Mom was born on a farm near Deer Creek, Ind. in 1915 and this was her high school senior portrait. She and dad were married in 1939 and I came along in 1945.

She was a graduate of the Indiana University School of Nursing and, except for a few years before I went to school, she worked as a Registered Nurse. Most of her nursing career was in the office of Dr. George Wagoner in Delphi, Ind. and she took her duties and status as a nurse very seriously. Even as an 85-year-old retirement home resident, she often rolled her wheelchair up to another resident’s wheelchair and checked their pulse.

When she died in October, 2000, we buried her in her nurse’s uniform.

Happy birthday, mom. I miss you.

I’m writing this on her kitchen table, which belonged to her mother and her grandmother before her.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

All washed up

The temperature is down to 90 and the heat index is only 92 now that the sun is low on the horizon and hidden by the woods, so I was able to finish up with the Honda pressure washer we borrowed from Charlie and Deb.

The vinyl clad railings on our north-facing front porch have taken on a greenish cast of late, kind of a precursor to moss that detracted from the appearance of the house. We attacked it the weekend before we left for Arizona last month, but frustration with wheels vibrating off and the heat and humidity defeated me about one-fourth of the way into the job.

kerstan_2229Since Charlie and Deb need their machine back this week, I got out early this morning right after Maria’s brother left for home, and finished the front porch. I did the back porch and the patio furniture this evening, but the left wheel refuses to stay on. I think we’re missing a bushing or a couple of washers which Charlie doubtless has in his shop. At any rate, we’ve got our porches washed and the machine is ready to be hauled back home.

I keep hoping this heat wave will break, but there is no relief in sight. I have to have my K1200GT at Grass Roots BMW Motorcycles in Cape Girardeau, Mo. for a 6,000-mile service at 10 a.m. Thursday, so I plan to leave as early as possible so as to beat the heat. I pre-registered online today for the BMW MOA rally in Redmond, Ore. I’ll be there this time next month. Probably should start gathering all of my gear. That’s a good indoors-in-the-air-conditioning job.

Kerstan had a car to haul to Effingham, Ill. yesterday and decided to come the rest of the way down to our house. It’s the first time he’s been here and we enjoyed his company. He took a load of Austin’s tools and other stuff back to Indiana with him.

Florida secedes where others fail

Florida secedes where others fail
Bride of Rove reports Floridians are slashing through red tape and daring the Feds to stop them as they take matters into their own hands and move to protect their beaches from BP oil.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Saudis open their airspace for Israel to attack Iran

From the TimesOnline:

Hugh Tomlinson

Saudi Arabia has conducted tests to stand down its air defences to enable Israeli jets to make a bombing raid on Iran’s nuclear facilities, The Times can reveal.

In the week that the UN Security Council imposed a new round of sanctions on Tehran, defence sources in the Gulf say that Riyadh has agreed to allow Israel to use a narrow corridor of its airspace in the north of the country to shorten the distance for a bombing run on Iran.

To ensure the Israeli bombers pass unmolested, Riyadh has carried out tests to make certain its own jets are not scrambled and missile defence systems not activated. Once the Israelis are through, the kingdom’s air defences will return to full alert.

“The Saudis have given their permission for the Israelis to pass over and they will look the other way,” said a US defence source in the area. “They have already done tests to make sure their own jets aren’t scrambled and no one gets shot down. This has all been done with the agreement of the [US] State Department.”

Sources in Saudi Arabia say it is common knowledge within defence circles in the kingdom that an arrangement is in place if Israel decides to launch the raid. Despite the tension between the two governments, they share a mutual loathing of the regime in Tehran and a common fear of Iran’s nuclear ambitions. “We all know this. We will let them [the Israelis] through and see nothing,” said one.

The four main targets for any raid on Iran would be the uranium enrichment facilities at Natanz and Qom, the gas storage development at Isfahan and the heavy-water reactor at Arak. Secondary targets include the lightwater reactor at Bushehr, which could produce weapons-grade plutonium when complete.

The targets lie as far as 1,400 miles (2,250km) from Israel; the outer limits of their bombers’ range, even with aerial refuelling. An open corridor across northern Saudi Arabia would significantly shorten the distance. An airstrike would involve multiple waves of bombers, possibly crossing Jordan, northern Saudi Arabia and Iraq. Aircraft attacking Bushehr, on the Gulf coast, could swing beneath Kuwait to strike from the southwest.

Passing over Iraq would require at least tacit agreement to the raid from Washington. So far, the Obama Administration has refused to give its approval as it pursues a diplomatic solution to curbing Iran’s nuclear ambitions. Military analysts say Israel has held back only because of this failure to secure consensus from America and Arab states. Military analysts doubt that an airstrike alone would be sufficient to knock out the key nuclear facilities, which are heavily fortified and deep underground or within mountains. However, if the latest sanctions prove ineffective the pressure from the Israelis on Washington to approve military action will intensify. Iran vowed to continue enriching uranium after the UN Security Council imposed its toughest sanctions yet in an effort to halt the Islamic Republic’s nuclear programme, which Tehran claims is intended for civil energy purposes only. President Ahmadinejad has described the UN resolution as “a used handkerchief, which should be thrown in the dustbin”.

Israeli officials refused to comment yesterday on details for a raid on Iran, which the Prime Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, has refused to rule out. Questioned on the option of a Saudi flight path for Israeli bombers, Aharaon Zeevi Farkash, who headed military intelligence until 2006 and has been involved in war games simulating a strike on Iran, said: “I know that Saudi Arabia is even more afraid than Israel of an Iranian nuclear capacity.”

In 2007 Israel was reported to have used Turkish air space to attack a suspected nuclear reactor being built by Iran’s main regional ally, Syria. Although Turkey publicly protested against the “violation” of its air space, it is thought to have turned a blind eye in what many saw as a dry run for a strike on Iran’s far more substantial — and better-defended — nuclear sites.

Israeli intelligence experts say that Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan are at least as worried as themselves and the West about an Iranian nuclear arsenal.Israel has sent missile-class warships and at least one submarine capable of launching a nuclear warhead through the Suez Canal for deployment in the Red Sea within the past year, as both a warning to Iran and in anticipation of a possible strike. Israeli newspapers reported last year that high-ranking officials, including the former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, have met their Saudi Arabian counterparts to discuss the Iranian issue. It was also reported that Meir Dagan, the head of Mossad, met Saudi intelligence officials last year to gain assurances that Riyadh would turn a blind eye to Israeli jets violating Saudi airspace during the bombing run. Both governments have denied the reports.

As close as I’m gonna get to good mushrooms in Arkansas

morelshirtjpgMaria’s birthday package from Lauri arrived in the mail today and it included this t-shirt for me.

I’m wild about morel mushrooms and despair every spring because the delicacy that abounds in the woods in Indiana is not to be found here in Arkansas, so the shirt is especially appropriate to me.

But I can’t shake the nagging thought that she’s taunting me…

Napping ferrets


I went to Petco today for dog treats and noticed that all of the ferrets were napping.

Geezer stuff

I turn 65 next month and companies pushing their Medicare supplemental insurance have been flooding my mailbox for months.

I have a shoebox full of their stuff that I haven’t read, or even opened. I’ve been in denial about losing my Gannett/Blue Cross Blue Shield health care coverage and having to go on Medicare. The idea of the federal government having anything to say about my health care is profoundly disturbing to me, especially in this year of Obamacare.

I finally decided last week, however, that I was going to have to come to grips with it and pick a Part D provider for my pharmaceutical needs. Since my Gannett/CVS Caremark coverage goes away at the end of this month, I figured it was important to pick a company soon so as to assure a seamless (hah!) transition.

But how to choose? I was completely overwhelmed. I called my BMW friend Charlie who is a pharmacist and he said he directs people to an independent insurance agency in Paragould. Maria suggested I go see Bev Parker at the Northeast Arkansas Center on Aging. I wasn’t eager to admit I could benefit from visiting anyplace with “aging” in the name, but I gave it a try.

Sure enough, Bev hooked me up with a woman in her office who specializes in solving problems like mine. She used a database of Part D providers and plugged in the medications I’m taking and came up with a perfect, inexpensive fit and signed me up on the spot. I was in and out of there in 30 minutes and presumably all of my Part D problems are solved. Maybe so, maybe not, but it took all of the anxiety out of the decision making process and I’m very happy about that.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

It’s 96 with a heat index of 103




And it’s ridiculously hot up here in the office. The heat killed a case for two of my external hard drives yesterday. I think the drives are OK, but the thing they connect to is toast.

I’m shutting the desktop computer down and going downstairs.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Threads of Life Quilt Show

maria quilt show

Maria has this jack-o-lantern quilt entered in the St. Bernards Women’s Advisory Council’s third annual Threads of Life Quilt Show this weekend at St. Bernards Auditorium in Jonesboro. This is the one she completed earlier this year with Austin’s help in arranging the various faces.

Admission is free and hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. today and 1-4 p.m. and Sunday.

If you go, vote for quilt A-32 for best in show.

Also, today is her birthday!!!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Alvin Greene – my hero

alvin-greene It’s going to be interesting to see how the South Carolina Democratic Party persuades Alvin Greene to give up the nomination for U.S. Senate that he won this week.

Now that the White House is under scrutiny for trying to bribe candidates in Pennsylvania and Colorado to get out of congressional races, South Carolina Democrats are on notice that it’s a federal crime to offer someone anything of value – like a job or a house or a vacation in Aruba – to influence the outcome of an election.

The Democrats never had a chance of unseating Sen. Jim Demint in this year of Conservative Payback, but it’s fun to watch the party that supposedly loves minorities agonize over a seeming nobody, and a black nobody at that, getting the nomination. The Congressional Black Caucus must be freaking out.

Actually, it’s kind of inspiring that a 32-year-old guy who doesn’t own a cell phone or a computer and who faces a felony obscenity charge for allegedly showing an 18-year-old college coed a pornographic web site and then propositioning her – that such a guy could win a Senate nomination without even campaigning.

And as further proof that Greene has achieved celebrity status, he has his own Wikipedia page. There are already bumper stickers for Greene alvin stickeravailable from Cafe Press.

If I lived in South Carolina and if there weren’t so much at stake in this year’s elections, I would be sorely tempted to give Greene my vote. I predict he’ll get 90 per cent of the black vote in November, which may be enough to put him into the Senate. It’s not inconceivable. The same thing happened two years ago when a coalition of crazies and haters put an un-vetted, inexperienced, incompetent black man with no real executive credentials into the White House.

Free Stuff Friday

curt JMF_2215

Today was Free Stuff Friday, an annual project of the Sun and First Security Bank. Today’s paper is loaded with valuable coupons and the paper and the bank spent a couple of hours at midday giving away stuff – hot dogs, soft drinks, helium-filled balloons, frozen yogurt, lots of promotional items and even an iPod Shuffle.

Maria volunteered my services, so I got to play photographer for awhile. The weather was perfect – breezy, overcast and not unbearably humid. I think everyone had a good time. Here’s reporter Curt Hodges chatting with a family at the event.

My mood was enhanced by the fact that our tenant’s rent check arrived in this morning’s mail, so I can relax for another three weeks. Plus, I sold two more books on

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Go listen to my son

From Pitchfork, the essential guide to independent music and beyond:

sean studio

The Levi's Pioneer Sessions online series has given us free mp3s of people like Dirty Projectors, She & Him, and Nas covering classic songs. And today, Levi's is offering the world the Shins' cover of Squeeze's new wave nugget "Goodbye Girl".

This is the first new piece of Shins music we've heard since their lineup shakeup last year. For this recording, (James) Mercer was joined on guitar by longtime Shins guitarist Dave Hernandez, on drums by Joe Plummer (Modest Mouse, Black Heart Procession), and on keyboards by producer Sean Flora.

Stream "Goodbye Girl" above or head over to the Levi's site to download it.

Sean, of course, is my son. He also produced and engineered the track. Go download the song. I think you’ll like it.

Did I mention he makes me proud?

Hispanics flee Arizona ahead of immigration law

From USA Today:

By Alan Gomez, USA TODAY

Arizona's tough new immigration enforcement law is fueling an exodus of Hispanics from the state seven weeks before it goes into effect, according to officials and residents in the state.

Though no one has precise figures, reports from school officials, businesses and individuals indicate worried Hispanics — both legal and illegal — are leaving the state in anticipation of the law, which will go into effect July 29.

Schools in Hispanic areas report unusual drops in enrollment. The Balsz Elementary School District is 75% Hispanic, and within a month of the law's passage, the parents of 70 students pulled them out of school, said District Superintendent Jeffrey Smith. The district lost seven students over the same one-month period last year, and parents tell Smith the Arizona law is the reason for leaving.

"They're leaving to another state where they feel more welcome," he said.

The measure, signed into law April 23 by Republican Gov. Jan Brewer, requires a police officer to determine a person's immigration status if they are stopped, detained or arrested and there is "reasonable suspicion" they are in the country illegally.

About 100,000 illegal immigrants left Arizona after the state passed a law in 2007 that enhanced penalties on businesses that hired them, according to the Department of Homeland Security. Some early signs suggest another exodus.

Businesses serving the Hispanic community say business is down, signaling that illegal immigrants are holding on to cash in anticipation of a move from the state, said David Castillo, co-founder of the Latin Association of Arizona, a chamber of commerce for nearly 400 first-generation Hispanic business owners.

"(Brewer) signed the law, and everything fell apart," Castillo said. "It's devastating."

Jorge Vargas plans to move to New York City because his air-conditioning business relies mostly on Hispanics. "My business is completely dead," he said.

Juan Carlos Cruz, an illegal immigrant who has worked in plant nurseries for 20 years, huddled with dozens of relatives over the Memorial Day Weekend in the backyard of his brother's Phoenix-area home to plot out the family's next move to avoid what they say will be harassment by police. Virginia and California are the front-runners.

"If I were alone, I'd try to stay. But I have a family, and I have to find a place where we can live with more freedom," said Cruz, who hopes to move July 4 to blend in with holiday weekend traffic. "This is getting too hard."

Paul Senseman, a spokesman for Brewer, said it's difficult to gauge how many people are leaving because of the law, but he said he hears similar reports of people leaving the state.

"If that means that fewer people are breaking the law, that is absolutely an accomplishment," he said.

The albatross around my neck: our house in Indiana

Our tenant is now 10 days late on his June rent.

He told Maria last Friday that he mailed the check that day.

Maria contacted him today and he said he had entrusted it to his daughters to mail and found out yesterday that they hadn’t mailed it. So he mailed it yesterday, he says.

He mentioned that he’s painting a condo for someone this week and Maria asked if he got laid off from his job at a business that is downsizing as a result of Obamacare. He replied that he’s still employed, just working extra jobs to pay his bills off faster.

She stopped short of asking him, “How’s that working for you?”

Maria is in charge of all communications because we’re afraid of what I might say to him. I’m planning a two-week motorcycle trip next month, but will have skip it if we have to make the Indiana house payment without a rent check to back it up.

Yes, I’m cranky.

Oh, yeah! Now I get it!

City of Glass: Stan Kenton Plays Bob Graettinger

Fifty years ago (yikes!) my high school band director played this album for me. He was fresh out of Indiana State Teachers College and said it was so atonal and bizarre that college music majors all over the country who believed this was the future direction of American music were committing suicide.

It was just structured noise to my high school sophomore ears.

I don’t recall how he got his copy of the LP, but it was virtually unobtainable. For years, it . was my answer to record shop owners who claimed to have everything. “Oh, really? How about Stan Kenton’s ‘City of Glass’?” An uncomfortable silence always followed.

Then, about 11 years ago, I found it on CD at the Carmel-Clay Public Library in Carmel, Ind. I made a copy and now it lives on my iPod.

I’m listening to it right now and my musical comprehension must have evolved because it’s gone from noise to listenable, interesting, surprising, and impressive. Kenton and Bob Graettinger were at least a half-century ahead of their time.

Pure insanity

Is it just me, or is this pure insanity?

I first thought it was a joke, but after going to their web site I realized they are actually advocating iPad use while driving. And they are so proud that it’s much safer than trying to text and email with your Blackberry.

Check this testimonial from the idiotic Steve Holland of Seattle:

firefoxI don't think that I am exaggerating when I say that the iPad Steering Wheel Mount probably has saved my life. Before I bought the mount, I was always trying to text and read E-Mail on my Blackberry while driving on my daily commute in Seattle. Just south of the I-5 / I-90 intersection, traffic slows down very abruptly and I cannot tell you how many times I was finishing up an E-Mail on the Blackberry and almost rear-ended an SUV. Now when I am using my iPad on my steering wheel, I can keep my eyes right on the traffic at all times. I feel so much safer. Keep up the good work.

I’m glad he feels so much safer. I sure as hell don’t. As a motorcyclist, I’m already especially vulnerable to the consequences of distracted driving. So the idea of sharing the road with self-indulgent shitheads like Steve Holland who think they can safely text and email from an iPad on their steering wheel absolutely horrifies me.

Apparently these people haven’t noticed that texting while driving is already illegal in at least 23 states and the District of Columbia and the laws generally make no distinction about what kind of device the driver is using. I’d love to be there the first time Holland gets stopped for a traffic infraction and the cop sees an iPad on his steering wheel. Or when he gets a facefull of iPad when his airbag deploys.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

A warning label on the Constitution? WTF?

This is from and it’s absolutely astounding.

By Diane Macedo

Published June 09, 2010


A small publishing company is under fire after putting warning labels on copies of the U.S. Constitution, Declaration of Independence and other historical documents.

Wilder Publications warns readers of its reprints of the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, Common Sense, the Articles of Confederation, and the Federalist Papers, among others, that “This book is a product of its time and does not reflect the same values as it would if it were written today.”

The disclaimer goes on to tell parents that they "might wish to discuss with their children how views on race, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, and interpersonal relations have changed since this book was written before allowing them to read this classic work."

Walter Olson, senior fellow at the Cato Institute, says the company may be trying to ensure that oversensitive people don't pull its works off bookstore or library shelves.

"Any idea that’s 100 years old will probably offend someone or other," Olson told "…But if there’s anything that you ought to be able to take at a first gulp for yourself and then ask your parents if you're wondering about this or that strange thing, it should be the founding documents of American history."

The warning seems to be offending more people than the documents themselves.’s customer reviews of Wilder’s copy of the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, and the Articles of Confederation show an overwhelming number of people speaking out against the disclaimer, describing it as “insulting,” “sickening” and “frankly, horrifying.”

Another review for Wilder’s edition of the Federalist Papers calls for an all-out boycott of the publisher, sarcastically pointing out the "dangerous ideas" it’s trying to protect children from: "limited government, checks and balances, constrained judicial review, dual sovereignty of states and federal government, and deliberative democracy."

And though warning labels are usually posted to protect a company from potential lawsuits, constitutional attorney Noel Francisco says this disclaimer has no legal benefits.

"Would it ever be a legal concern that selling the Constitution would expose you to some kind of liability? No. Never,” Francisco told "The Constitution is the founding document of the country, an operative legal document."

As for the idea that this warning label might help keep these works from being yanked off bookshelves, Francisco says it is more likely to have the opposite effect: people not carrying the book because it has the disclaimer.

"By putting on the warning, you’re making controversial something that’s not controversial: our Constitution, our Declaration of Independence," he said.

Amazon customers appear to agree. Almost all of the reviews discussing the disclaimer end with the same thought: don't buy from this publisher.

Efforts to reach the publisher were unsuccessful.

A warning label on the Constitution? WTF?

This is from and it’s absolutely astounding.

A small publishing company is under fire after putting warning labels on copies of the U.S. Constitution, Declaration of Independence and other historical documents.

Wilder Publications warns readers of its reprints of the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, Common Sense, the Articles of Confederation, and the Federalist Papers, among others, that “This book is a product of its time and does not reflect the same values as it would if it were written today.”

The disclaimer goes on to tell parents that they "might wish to discuss with their children how views on race, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, and interpersonal relations have changed since this book was written before allowing them to read this classic work."

Walter Olson, senior fellow at the Cato Institute, says the company may be trying to ensure that oversensitive people don't pull its works off bookstore or library shelves.

"Any idea that’s 100 years old will probably offend someone or other," Olson told "…But if there’s anything that you ought to be able to take at a first gulp for yourself and then ask your parents if you're wondering about this or that strange thing, it should be the founding documents of American history."

The warning seems to be offending more people than the documents themselves.’s customer reviews of Wilder’s copy of the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, and the Articles of Confederation show an overwhelming number of people speaking out against the disclaimer, describing it as “insulting,” “sickening” and “frankly, horrifying.”

Another review for Wilder’s edition of the Federalist Papers calls for an all-out boycott of the publisher, sarcastically pointing out the "dangerous ideas" it’s trying to protect children from: "limited government, checks and balances, constrained judicial review, dual sovereignty of states and federal government, and deliberative democracy."

And though warning labels are usually posted to protect a company from potential lawsuits, constitutional attorney Noel Francisco says this disclaimer has no legal benefits.

"Would it ever be a legal concern that selling the Constitution would expose you to some kind of liability? No. Never,” Francisco told "The Constitution is the founding document of the country, an operative legal document."

As for the idea that this warning label might help keep these works from being yanked off bookshelves, Francisco says it is more likely to have the opposite effect: people not carrying the book because it has the disclaimer.

"By putting on the warning, you’re making controversial something that’s not controversial: our Constitution, our Declaration of Independence," he said.

Amazon customers appear to agree. Almost all of the reviews discussing the disclaimer end with the same thought: don't buy from this publisher.

Efforts to reach the publisher were unsuccessful.

The suit saga continues


I took my suit jacket and the mystery pants back to Magic Touch cleaners this afternoon and presented my case to the woman who claimed to be in charge.

You may recall that they told Maria on Saturday, May 22, that the pants had some spots on them and needed further treatment. We picked up the suit on Monday, May 24 and flew to Arizona that afternoon. When I pulled the suit out of the bag to dress for Morgan’s wedding the next Sunday, I discovered a pair of Hart Schaffner & Marx pants had been substituted for the pants to my Joseph & Feiss suit. As you can tell from the photo, the trouser fabric is noticeably darker. Had it been an accident, I would expect the pants to be a different size. The fact that the pants were exactly the right waist and inseam size suggest to me that they wrecked my suit pants and pulled the HS&M pants off of the “unclaimed” rack and hoped I wouldn’t notice.

So I filled out a claim form and await the results of their search. Considering that a Washington, D.C. attorney sued his dry cleaner for more than $67 million over a pair of pants, I think the least they can do is buy me a new suit.

Wrong, but glad

I was wrong and I’m glad.

Sen. Blanche Lincoln beat SEIU candidate Bill Halter yesterday by a 52-48 percent margin.

Blanche will still lose in November, but her victory yesterday is a huge rebuff to union muscle. It also means the SEIU threw away about $10 million, and that makes me absolutely giddy.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Splendid profile of Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels

Ride Along with Mitch

Predicting, not voting today

Since I voted in the Republican primary three weeks ago, I’m excluded from casting a ballot in today’s Democrat contest between Sen. Blanche Lincoln and Bill Halter for their party’s nomination for U.S. Senate.

If I could vote, I’d vote for Blanche because I detest Halter and his SEIU thug backers.

But I can’t, so I’ll be content to make a prediction.

Halter will win because he has thrown so much union money into the race and because he keeps making the argument that if you keep sending the same people to Washington, you can’t expect different results.

And he will doubtless use that argument in the fall against Republican John Boozman. Boozman is a five-term Congressman. Whether the voters put any stock into that line of reasoning remains to be seen, but the fact remains that whatever qualities the voters didn’t like in Lincoln are even stronger in Halter. He is deeply in the pocket of the radical Left and I suspect most motivated Arkansas voters think the Left has to be stopped.

So I predict Halter will win today, but lose in November to Boozman. And it makes me happy to think of all that SEIU money effort going up in smoke.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Why am I paying AT&T for a land line?

I noticed during our recent visit to southern Arizona that none – absolutely none – of our frequent telephone communications with each other and other members of the wedding party and family involved the use of a land telephone line.

It was all cell phone. In fact, I don’t believe Morgan and Andrew have a land line at their home.

Morgan hasn’t bothered with a land line for years in the various apartments she had in Bloomington, Ind.

I went looking for data on this trend away from land lines in favor of cellular and found the Federal Communications Commission report Trends in Telephone Service, 2008, which is apparently the most recent data published by the FCC. Among other things, it showed growth in the number of land lines stopped in the early part of this decade and the number of land lines actually decreased by more than 20 percent by 2006.

landline vs cellThis graph shows monthly personal expenditures for cell service eclipsed wired service in 2006. It also shows that the cost of wired telephone service peaked in 1999 and 2000 and has been in decline ever since. At the same time, the cell expenditures have steadily increased. It will be interesting to see if they ever reach the 1999-2000 wired level. My guess is that they will due to the proliferation of 3G and 4G wireless data services and the effects of inflation.

Which brings me to the reason for this discussion: I paid our AT&T phone bill this morning and wonder what I got for my $70. We had several calls to relatives in other states, but we also had to put up with several calls urging us to vote for various candidates in the Arkansas Democrat primary, other solicitations, calls for the people who previously had our number and other wrong numbers.

We get our Internet from our cable TV company, so the AT&T land line is irrelevant to our online lives. And our AT&T line can’t do text messages or share photos, or compete with Skype for video conversations, or follow us around in any meaningful way. Our home phone number is unlisted, so we don’t have it just to be in the phone book.

I’ve had this conversation with Maria a couple of times and she’s not ready to dump the land line and go completely cellular. One argument on her side involves the inability of some 911 emergency systems to display the caller’s exact location and the uncertainty that a 911 cell call will go to the right emergency responders. But those problems are being addressed by the cellular community and will doubtless be resolved soon.

Cellular lines can be overwhelmed in times of crisis, but then our AT&T land line was out for several days during the ice storm of 2008.

We’re not quite ready to make the jump, but the day is coming when we’ll pull the plug on AT&T and find something else to do with the $800+ we pay them every year.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Charlie made it into the paper

charlie r12

Stunning anti-Semitic jabbering from Helen Thomas

NEA Baptist Biker Classic


NEA Baptist Hospital is putting on its annual Biker Classic in downtown Jonesboro this weekend, so Charlie and Deb Parsons and I went downtown to see and be seen with our bikes.

bikerclassic01 Even though it wasn’t a Harley-Davidson, Charlie’s bike was probably the most admired among those lined up along the curb. It’s a 1939 BMW R12 done up in Afrika Korps livery, complete with repro leather panniers and a replica machine pistol.

It is one of two discovered sin crates ome years ago in the basement of a Spanish tavern where a couple of German soldiers left them for safekeeping after WWII. They were partially restored by a former Fort Worth, Texas BMW dealer. The other was painted in Wehrmacht gray. Charlie bought this one in 2005 and had Craig Vechorik complete the restoration at his shop in Sturgis, Miss.

Charlie chose not to enter it for competition in the bike show, but he surely would have won something if he had.

Lisa Godsey, co-owner of Godsey’s restaurant in downtown Jonesboro asked Charlie to bring the R12 and park it next to her H-D in front of the restaurant. We flanked those two bikes with my K1200GT and Deb’s R1200GS and spent the evening regaling onlookers with the saga of the R12.

Charlie wore his replica Afrika Korps M43 cap. I was halfway to town when it occurred to me that I should have brought my authentic Afrika Korps pith helmet for him to wear. I’ll bring it next year.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Shoot to wound? Yeah, sure.

I'm coming down with a cold, so I took a couple of Benadryl tabs this morning to turn off the faucet in my nose.
It worked, but left me feeling thick and stupider than usual - too stupid to compose a coherent blogpost.
So in the meantime, read this:

Thursday, June 03, 2010

A wedding portrait

important people JMF_1822

Maria’s son Austin shot this photo and mercifully framed it to exclude the pants that Magic Touch Cleaners substituted for my suit pants. They were a reasonable match if you believe there is anything reasonable about that kind of stupidity.

But I digress.

Morgan and Andrew are an exceptionally well matched couple and we wish them a long and happy life together.

And I’m delighted to have been able to spend some tourism dollars in Arizona last week. I talked to enough Arizonans, Anglo and Hispanic, to know there is a genuine need to secure the border that runs 15 miles south of my stepdaughter and her husband’s home.

Random notes

Facebook friend and former compadre at Revard BMW Motorcycles Randy Miller suggested I write a review of the Palo Verde Inn & Suites in Tucson on So I did. With pictures of the bloodstained bathroom wall, the cigarette burns in the blanket and the smoke detector dangling from its wires.

I haven’t confronted the people at Magic Touch Cleaners yet about losing my suit pants and substituting someone else’s. I just haven’t been in the mood for blank slack-jawed stares and lame excuses. Maybe this afternoon. Maybe tomorrow.

And my son Steve, his wife Nicky and their daughter Lisa lost their dog Frank this week.

Steve’s comments: “Seizure, impairment, x-rays... rife with cancer... Nicky got him fully grown from a shelter a couple of years before we met and we've been married 9+ years. Best dog ever.”

Frank was a good dog with character and dignity. Although it’s been more than three years since I saw him last, I remember him well and am saddened by his death.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Hey, my Zumo 550 has weather!


I rode my bike this morning for the first time since Charlie and I put new tires on it a week ago last Saturday. The tires feel spectacular and my zumoweather01Garmin Zumo GPS seems to have sprouted a new feature.

When I tapped the XM Radio icon on the main menu screen I got the familiar XM Radio button plus buttons for Local Weather and Weather Map.

I suspect this feature became active June 1, but I never saw it coming. The Zumo owner’s manual doesn’t mention it and it has to be coming from Sirius XM. The Local Weather and Weather Map each show five days’ worth of forecasts including high and low temps and chances of precipitation. It’s not as deluxe as the weather radar feature on Charlie’s new Zumo 665, but it’s useful information and a welcome addition. Who knows, maybe Sirius XM will find a way to upgrade its Weather Map to show radar.

zumoweather02The illustrations here are crappy because I was parked in bright sunlight and even with the GPS sunshade, I couldn’t see the screen on my Olympus point-and-shoot camera to properly frame the pictures.