Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Poor old Ruthie

Ruthie has been a member of our family since before we were officially a family.

She was a rescue dog. Maria, her kids and I picked her out at the animal shelter in Crawfordsville, Ind., when she was about six months old. She had apparently run away from home and was in danger of being euthanized if nobody was willing to giver her a new home..

We walked up and down the aisle between the kennels, looking at the pathetic little faces. Then we came to Ruthie, who seemed to be grinning at us, as if to say, “Here I am. I’ve been waiting for you.”

I brought my laser pointer with me as a means of testing the various dogs for curiosity and playfulness. Most of them didn’t seem to notice the red dot, but Ruthie went completely nuts for it.

We put her on a leash and took her out for a walk and she bonded instantly with Austin and Morgan.

That was 12 years ago.

When Pete the Australian Shepherd puppy showed up four years ago, Ruthie grudgingly yielded the spotlight and took on the role of being his surrogate mother. He showed his apparent gratitude by never seriously challenging her for alpha dog status, but thanks to his herding instinct, Ruthie hasn’t been able to walk anywhere in a straight line since Pete showed up.

Now she can barely walk.

I’d noticed her favoring her right back leg on a couple of occasions over the last few days.

But this morning, when I opened the back door to let the dogs out to do their morning business, she struggled mightily but couldn’t stand up. I finally carried her out to the back yard and lifted her into a standing position, but she only took a few limping steps before she sat down again with a helpless look on her face.

I left both dogs in the back yard while I ran errands this morning and was relieved to see her and Pete standing at the gate when I drove up. But she was still hobbling badly.

I took her to the vet this afternoon and he determined she had snapped a ligament in her right rear knee. He said we have two choices:

  1. Have surgery to repair the torn ligament, which would restore her mobility completely and relieve the discomfort.
  2. Let it go and give her pain killers and vitamin supplements for the joint. He said she would probably seem to get better, but still limp. That is until the bones rubbing together created inflammation and an arthritic condition that would cripple her in about six months. At that point, surgery would be much more difficult, if not impossible.

Maria and I decided tonight that there really isn’t any choice. We have to give her the surgery. After all, she’s done a lot for us as a family. She humped my leg and my reaction convinced the kids that I was a dog person and could be trusted. She kept Austin company during a dark period in his life when he was struggling with the aftermath of his parents’ divorce. (Maria came home from work once when Austin was a grade school latchkey kid and found he had drawn a big black circle with a Magic Marker around one of Ruthie’s eyes, making her look like the dog in the Our Gang comedies. Ruthie thought it was great fun.)

Left-wing scientist deserts global warming movement

Calls it “a corrupt social phenomenon…strictly an imaginary problem of the First World middle class.”

Monday, August 30, 2010


deranged clown

How’s this for creepy?

Insufficient snark

Sheri Gilmour is one of my favorite snarky bloggers, but it looks like the stress of a world gone crazy may be getting to her.

She’s revamped her blog into a smiley face theme with the blandest of posts about doing laundry and watching the Wizard of Oz.

I hope she snaps out of it soon.

Choking the chicken

John Flora and Sally Kent with pets.

This is me with neighbor Sally Kent back around the summer of 1951 or so.

She’s holding my puppy named Spot and I’m choking her chicken. I don’t recall its name. That’s her sister Susan over her left shoulder and I think that’s their mother, Betty Kent, over my right shoulder. Susan and I are the same age, Sally is a year younger. This was in the back yard of my parents’ house at 609 E. Franklin Street in Delphi, Ind.

Life seemed so much simpler then.

And, yes, I colorized the photo.


BMW rider friends Charlie and Deb Parsons were in Indianapolis over the weekend for the MotoGP races and, bagels001remembering our fondness for bagels – an unknown food here in the Mid-South - bought us a big-ass box of bagels at Einstein Bros. Bagels.

They got back into town about 10:30 last night and Charlie caught up with me this morning at Seattle Grind.

And now I have to pack up my netbook and head up to the Brookland Post Office to dispatch three books I sold over the weekend on Amazon.com. One is going to New Zealand, the first international sale I’ve had in the year or so that I’ve been liquidating my surplus books.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Stick with fantasy, Mr. Cameron, you can’t handle facts.

So much for James Cameron’s credibility on “climate change:”

“Avatar” and “Titanic” director James Cameron challenged three noted global warming skeptics to a debate at an energy conference — then backed out of the debate at the last minute.

In March, climate change crusader Cameron said he was eager to debate the issue and show skeptics they are wrong.

“I want to call those deniers out into the street at high noon and shoot it out with those boneheads,” he said in an interview.

A few weeks ago his representatives contacted three well-known skeptics — Marc Morano, executive director of the Climate Depot website; Ann McElhinney, who co-wrote and directed “Not Evil Just Wrong,” a documentary critical of global warming crusaders; and conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart.

A debate was arranged to take place in Aspen, Colo., during the Aug. 19-22 American Renewable Energy Day (AREDAY) summit. The website for the gathering described the exchange as “AREDAY Climate Change Debate: Reality or Fiction?”

The plan was for Cameron and two scientists to confront the three skeptics in a 90-minute debate that would be streamed live on the Internet and perhaps attract media coverage, Climate Depot reported.

“We are delighted to have Fox News, Newsmax, The Washington Times and anyone else you’d like. The more the better,” one Cameron organizer said in an e-mail.

According to an article written by McElhinney, which appeared on the Climate Depot site, Cameron’s side wanted to change their team. Then they wanted to change the format to more of a “round table” than a debate. The skeptics agreed to both requests.

“Then they wanted to ban our cameras from the debate. We could have access to their footage,” McElhinney writes. “We agreed.

“Then finally, James Cameron decided to ban the media from the shootout. No media would be allowed and there would be no streaming on the Internet. No one would be allowed to record it in any way. We agreed to all that.

“Then, just one day before the debate, his representative sent an e-mail that Mr. ‘Shoot It Out’ Cameron no longer wanted to take part. The debate was cancelled.”

Cameron’s Aug. 21 cancellation came so late that Morano — former spokesman for Republican Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma — was already on a plane flying from Washington, D.C., to Aspen to attend, Climate Depot disclosed.

McElhinney wrote: “I was looking forward to debating with the filmmaker. I was looking forward to finding out where we agreed and disagreed and finding a way forward.

“But that is not going to happen because somewhere along the way James Cameron, a great filmmaker, has moved from King of the World to being King of the Hypocrites.”

Chip Comins, founder and executive producer of the Aspen event, claimed that the details of the debate had never been confirmed, according to Environment & Energy News.

Comins also said: “Morano is not at James Cameron’s level to debate, and that’s why that didn’t happen. Cameron should be debating someone who is similar to his stature in our society.”

But Morano said Cameron “let his friends in the environmental community spook him out of this debate. When he was warned that he was probably going to lose and lose badly, he ran like a scared mouse.”

Footnote: On the day the debate was supposed to take place, Cameron told an audience this about global warming skeptics: “I think they’re swine.”

From Newsmax.com



I’m not sure what to make of this – probably a high school kid going for an eclectic alternative to the dashboard plastic Jesus – but we noticed this shrine to Buddha (and Mickey Mouse) on the dashboard of a car parked at Sam’s Club yesterday morning.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

I hated my costume

I started a flurry of comments yesterday when I posted this photo on my Facebook wall.

My recollection of the date and occasion were fuzzy but Tina Tyner (fourth girl from the right) says it was a May Day festival during our first-grade year, which would be 1952. I’m the fourth boy from the right. My mother shot the photo with her little Kodak double-lens reflex camera at Riley Park in Delphi, Ind. Several of us would spend the rest of our elementary, junior high and high school years together in the same school building. About all I remember about the day was that I hated the nasty green crepe paper getup and was greatly relieved when I could take it off.

The kids in the photo (this is subject to revision as more people see it) are: Girls (from left)’ Diana Trapp, Nancy Jackson, Beth Andrews, Alexis Smith, unknown, Tina Wray, Susan Kent, Connie Downing, and another unidentified. Boys, Jack Klepinger, Lonnie Miller, Bill Sieber, John Trent, Jim Goyer, me, David McCain, Floyd Ryder (?), and Tommy Anderson.

Seeing as how it was 1952 during a period when Americans were especially concerned about Communism, it seems odd that we’d have festivities on a day traditionally celebrated as a worker’s holiday by Communists and Socialists. But then May Day as a spring festival predates all of that political stuff, so that must have been the driving concern.

I did a hasty job of colorizing the original black and white image to give a sense of how we looked.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

40 details

Some things you probably don’t know about me:
  1. I am an only child.
  2. I set the record for SAT scores in my high school.
  3. The first Transcendental Meditation (TM) center in Indianapolis was in my house.
  4. I refuse to use the word “awesome” (except to refer to it, like right now).
  5. I’ve visited all 48 contiguous states and ridden a motorcycle in 42 of them (still have to ride to New Jersey, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine.)
  6. I have a stainless steel plate and six screws in my left femur.
  7. My parents would have named me Victoria Elizabeth if I had been a girl.
  8. I owned the first pair of Earth Shoes sold in Indiana.
  9. I earned a marksmanship ribbon with the .30 carbine during my 41-day career in the U.S. Air Force.
  10. I am the first person in my family – going back directly through father, grandfather, great-grandfather, etc., to wear a military uniform. (I am descended from Amish/Mennonite/German Baptist/Dunkards.)
  11. I once saw a UFO.
  12. I was one of the first motorcycle skills test examiners for the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles and also taught the Motorcycle Safety Foundation’s Motorcycle RiderCourse for 10 years.
  13. I was at John Kennedy’s funeral.
  14. I have a fear of high places.
  15. I have ridden to the southernmost point in the U.S. (Key West), the northernmost point in the 48 contiguous states (Sumas, Wash.) and the top of Mount Evans, Colo. (the highest paved road in the U.S.)
  16. I once owned the rarest 45 rpm picture sleeve in the world (Street Fighting Man by the Rolling Stones).
  17. I was raised a Presbyterian and a Democrat. Now I’m Catholic and Republican. (Well, Tea Party conservative, actually.)
  18. I voted for Ross Perot. Twice.
  19. I used to smoke three packs of Viceroy cigarettes a day but quit cold turkey in 1978.
  20. I was awarded the key to the City of Carmel, Ind.
  21. My automotive history includes a VW beetle, a VW Karmann Ghia convertible, a first-year Mustang, a 1957 Ford Fairlaine 500, a 1960 Ford Galaxie, an English Ford Cortina, a Pontiac LeMans, a Mazda station wagon (Wankel engine), 2 Cadillac Sedan de Villes, a Mercedes Benz, a Chevrolet Chevette, a Nissan Sentra, a Mercury Topaz, a Honda del Sol, a Buick LeSabre, and a Subaru Forester.
  22. I have flown in a hot air balloon and a glider.
  23. I have held in my hands Eva Braun’s monogrammed pink silk slip.
  24. I have shaken the hand that piloted the Enola Gay over Hiroshima.
  25. I once fed bears from a car in Yellowstone National Park.
  26. I once reminded John Raitt that his daughter Bonnie Raitt’s birthday was coming up.
  27. My blood type is B-Positive.
  28. I love fried morel mushrooms.
  29. I can read upside-down and backwards as fast as I can read normal type (used to be a newspaper makeup editor during the hot type era.)
  30. I know how to use a slide rule.
  31. I’m on a first-name basis with an original Mickey Mouse Club Mouseketeer (Doreen).
  32. I can break an egg with one hand without breaking the yolk. Consistently.
  33. I never learned to juggle (but my son Sean founded the juggling club at Broad Ripple High School in Indianapolis).
  34. I once designed and built a 2-meter diameter icosahedron geodesic dome in my back yard.
  35. I’ve been to a nudist resort (multiple times back in the 1970s).
  36. I will not own or use a Ouija board.
  37. I once picketed former Alabama Gov. George Wallace.
  38. I was a member of Captain Midnight’s Secret Squadron.
  39. I refuse to renew my AARP membership.
  40. I was an early member of the Patriot Guard Riders (still am).

Thursday morning stuff

dylan desire I’m sitting at my (new) usual table at the Seattle Grind Cafe listening to Bob Dylan’s “Black Diamond Bay” from his “Desire” album and marveling at the insanely clever lyrics and rhyming schemes. I’m also impressed with Emmylou Harris’s background vocal work. It only took me one album to decide she’s sadly boring by herself, but she’s dynamite on background work.

I have a few things left on my plate today. I’ve already shipped a book to an Amazon.com customer via U.S. Mail and, in dewalt bifocal sunglasses the process, picked up our mail which included my new DeWalt DPG59-220C Reinforcer Rx-Bifocal 2.0 Smoke Lens High Performance Protective Safety Glasses with Rubber Temples and Protective Eyeglass Sleeve. The bifocal power is spot-on and they do a splendid job of keeping the wind off of my contact lenses while riding my bike. The rubber temples will surely last longer than the flimsy plastic temples on the Dr. Dean Edell bifocal sunglasses that I bought last month. So far, the only downside I can find is that the wiggly temples are a hassle to thread over my ears when I have my helmet on. I suspect there may be a technique that I haven’t discovered yet. Considering that they only cost $12.56, I can’t complain much.

I also got a pair of stick-on bifocal lenses that I plan to try on my clear Gargoyles and my Ray Ban shades. More on that later.

I downloaded and installed a free iPhone/iPod app called Wi-Fi Finder that accesses a large, user-supplemented database of free and pay Wifi hot spots. It has a few hot spots around Jonesboro that I didn’t know about but doesn’t have Seattle Grind or Books-A-Million. I’m submitting both for inclusion in the database. (Seattle Grind is free with a purchase – the password is on your receipt. The password has been “redwolves” for the last month or so. They also have fabulous tiramisu. It is made of cake dipped in coffee, layered with a whipped mixture of egg yolks and mascarpone, and flavored with liquor and cocoa. BAM is a pay Wifi hotspot. You can pay by the day or join their Millionaire discount club with an annual membership fee of about $25. The club membership also gets you a discount on everything you buy there.)

Garmin sent me an email yesterday announcing a recall on several GPS units because of potential problems with overheating batteries. Turns out my 2-year-old 200W is on the list, so I printed out the free UPS shipping label, boxed it up and will drop it off at the Office Depot UPS desk down the street when I finish here. They promise to install a new battery and ship it back in a couple of weeks. Happily, the Garmin 205W we gave Maria’s parents for Christmas last year is not on the recall list.

I also had my third back-cracking session with a chiropractor. Turns out that I have severe arthritis in my neck – a few vertebrae have fused – and my spine is out of alignment. The neck issue isn’t painful, but I have limited range of motion which can be a hassle when it comes to looking far left and far right at angled intersections. The X-rays show I lean to the right. But then we already knew that, didn’t we?

So I have a quarter-inch lift in the heel of my right boot and am going in four days a week for the snap, crackle, pop treatment. It’s not particularly painful, just startling when it happens.

My chiropractor is also a BMW motorcycle rider. She has a 1997 R1100RT with a sidecar.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

It’s Lynda’s birthday

lynda mccain brooks

I got an email this morning from the Delphi High School alumni site reminding me that today is Lynda McCain Brooks’s birthday.

That means she’s 65 and gets her Medicare card, among other things.

I had a crush on Lynda from the third grade through the sixth grade, but now I regard her as kind of a sister, just like Sue Crumbo, whose hospitality I enjoyed last month in Oklahoma City. You get close to people when you go through all or most of 12 grades of elementary, junior high and high school together.

Actually, Lynda and I are distant double cousins, related by two separate branches of ancestors.

We’ve strayed from our native Delphi. But state-wise Sue and Lynda are right next door: Sue in Oklahoma and Lynda in Baton Rouge, La.

Happy birthday, Lynda!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Ray gets it

Think you’ve got traffic problems?



grateful dead

I’m chilling at Books-A-Million with a cold coffee drink and the first Grateful Dead album playing on my iPod.

Their self-titled first release came out on March 17, 1967 and I had my copy a few weeks later.

The Summer of Love was a looming and I had a choice: Two college friends – Steve Power and Michael White – were preparing to head for San Francisco and the Haight and invited me to come along on the great adventure. But I was engaged to be married on June 24 and my fiancé was pregnant with our first son. And I was a few months into a newspaper career.

That was a supremely exciting time to be 21. The hippies were inventing a new way of living based on love and drugs. The music scene was exploding with creativity. The pull to be part of it, to go to the epicenter of that renaissance and experience it all firsthand was stronger than I can describe.

What to do? What to do?

Call it cowardice, call it a sense of honor and duty, call it good judgment – whatever you call it, I chose to stay in Indianapolis, make money at a job that felt more like fun than work, get married and start a family.

When I see the bitter fruit the hippie revolution bore, I’m supremely grateful that I didn’t go west. The illusions and fantasies of the hippie culture are still with us today, except they’ve mutated into the utopian absurdities being perpetrated by the Obama administration.

The last I heard, Steve was living on disability as a consequence of a near fatal motorcycle head injury. Whitey was homeless and living on a Florida beach.

They were victims of naiveté, building their lives on simplistic romantic notions and trying to create a world that can never be. Most of us ‘60s idealists outgrew that childish world view. Now we’re doomed to struggle against those who still cling to it.

But I still enjoy the music.

My son Steve

steve gig

Steve flew to Oklahoma earlier this month to play a gig with singer Darla Zudhi.

I never heard of her either, but Wayne Newton seems to like her.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

A disturbing discovery

I got a Facebook friend request the other day from a guy in Indiana who did a lot of work on our house there – new porch floors and ceiling, siding work, etc. He and his wife are longtime friends of Maria and he’s a good reliable contractor.

I looked at his Facebook page this morning and concluded that he just j0ined Facebook recently. His wall included a number of people who he “friended” over the last few days. And one name jumped out at me. It was the contractor who ripped us off for about $30,000 on our abortive garage project in the spring of 2007.

I still have a photocopy of the check we gave him for $13,230 on April 20 (Hitler’s birthday), 2007 for building supplies that he presumably purchased for us at Lowe’s. After he quit returning our calls and vanished, we checked with all of the area Lowe’s stores and found no record of a purchase being made in his name or in ours.

We asked the Indiana Attorney General’s Consumer Protection people to go after him, but they declined because there were no other outstanding complaints against him. Two lawyers assured us that we would win any suit we brought against him, but would never collect a dime.

So there he is, with a Facebook page and pictures of himself and his family. And he is apparently continuing to make a living as a contractor, hence his ongoing relationship with our friend.

I thought I had moved on, but this morning’s discovery has stirred up some powerful feelings of animosity and pain. Now I have to figure out what to do with them.

Saturday, August 21, 2010


petting zoo We spent five hours this morning (7 a.m.-noon) introducing little kids to a couple of piglets in the petting zoo of the St. Bernards Foundation “Kidz Fun Fair.”

We got there a little late because the folks at the McDonald’s on Johnson Avenue couldn’t figure out how to get their smoothie machine working this morning.

Maria, being a farm girl, was a natural when it came to answering questions and showing kids how to approach the two 6-week-old pigs.

One boy wanted to know where the bacon came from, so Maria pointed out the appropriate part of the pig. Then she showed him where ham came from. Then another boy piped up, “I don’t think it’s very polite to talk about that in front of the pig.”

The St. Bernards Foundation handed out more than 1,000 t-shirts, about 1,500 backpacks filled with school supplies and countless other goodies at the annual event. We went prepared to swelter, but the open tent, overcast skies, brief shower and gentle breeze kept us surprisingly comfortable throughout our morning.

Last night was the Northeast Arkansas Humane Society’s annual gala at the Holiday Inn Express Holidome. We didn’t find anything to bid on in the silent auction, but enjoyed the food, drink and music.

Among the live auction offerings was a pet portrait painted by a local artist. Here’s a sample of her Picassoesque work:


This is how a REAL President conducts himself

He loves and appreciates the troops and they know it. This is my President in action.

Friday, August 20, 2010


It’s Friday night – Saturday morning in Iran. Looks like the Israelis are letting the nuclear car go off the cliff.

I sure as hell hope they’re on top of this situation, because it’s abundantly clear that they can’t rely on the Obama administration to protect them from a nuclear Iran.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

No poser like Arnold, Mitch is the real deal

I’m sorry I missed the Aug. 13 Governor’s Ride with Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, but I’m glad I had a chance to ride with him in a much smaller group – Mitch, me, the head of the Indiana Department of Correction, and a couple of state troopers – a few years ago.
Mitch is the real deal when it comes to motorcycling – definitely not a poser like California Gov. Arnold Schwartzenegger. He also knows how to run a state better than Arnold.
I’m up at Grass Roots BMW Motorcycles in Cape Girardeau, Mo., again this morning. I left home a little before 7 a.m., stopped for McDonald’s coffee and a fruit parfait at the Benton, Mo. Boomland, and arrived a few minutes early for my 10 a.m. appointment.
The goal is to replace the right combination switch that holds the starter button/kill switch, right turn signal button, turn signal cancelling button, and switches for the heated seat and heated grips. It sometimes takes five or more pushes of the starter button to make it work and the right turn signal only works intermittently. When I described the problem to the service techs, one of them opined that since the unit houses several microswitches, it seems unlikely that there would be multiple failures. More likely, he said, it’s a ground connection problem. Whatever. Just make it work.
This is my third trip to the Cape for this problem. The first time, I got here to discover that the part had not arrived. The second time was to install a replacement.
I got here before it got hot – 75 degrees when I arrived – but going home will be a different story. Fortunately, or unfortunately, there’s no rain in the forecast.
Later: The techs poked and prodded and checked circuits and concluded there isn't anything wrong with the combination switch. They were unable to replicate any of the problems. The bike started on the first push of the starter button every time and the right turn signal worked consistently. They put all of the plastic back on (they had to remove much of the fairing and the gas tank to get at the connections) and technician John went for a lengthy ride, even taking the bridge over the Mississippi River into Illinois, but couldn't get the turn signal to fail.
They offered to lend me a 2010 K1300GT and let my bike sit in the shop for a day or so, since the starter issue seems to only happen after it's sat idle for a day or more. I appreciated the offer, but wasn't keen on riding back to the Cape on Saturday, which is when they wanted the GT back.
So I resolved to ride my bike home and wait until some function of the combination switch failed bigtime.
As it turned out, the right turn signal worked fine throughout the 150-mile ride home, leading me to wonder if they didn't accidentally fix something while they were jiggering the connections around.
It was 97 degrees with a heat index of 101 by the time I rolled into my garage at 4:21 p.m. and I was glad to have the trip behind me.
What did fail on the return trip was the left temple of my Dr. Dean Edell bifocal sunglasses. The sucker cracked when I put my sunglasses on under my helmet in front of Grass Roots. I put them back in their case with the thought to try a superglue repair at home.
This evening, however, I found a pair of tinted DeWalt bifocal safety glasses with rubber temples on Amazon.com for $11 and change, so I've ordered a pair to see how they work. I also ordered a pair of +2.0 magnification bifocal stick-ons that can be applied to any sunglasses or safety glasses. I plan to try them on a pair of Gargoyles that I've carried in my tankbag for years for eye protection when it's not bright enough for shades.
I will, of course, report my findings here.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

No wonder the Pope wouldn’t be photographed with her

If we needed any more evidence that Nancy Pelosi is batshit crazy and has a grotesquely inflated notion of her importance, we have her statement Pelosi-Queen this week that there should be a government investigation into the organized opposition to the proposed mosque near Ground Zero in New York City.

She says the opposition poses a “distraction” and that some organized force is behind it.

A distraction from what? Democrat lies about Obamacare and cap and tax?

And yes, Nancy, there is an organized force behind the opposition. It’s called the American People. A Rasmussen poll on July 22 found that 54 percent of us are against a mosque being established so close to the place where Islamic fundamentalists slaughtered more than 2,600 innocent people. Rasmussen released a poll the next day that showed 58 percent of New Yorkers oppose the Ground Zero mosque.

How about an investigation into foreign funding sources for the mosque project?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010



I got a free birthday haircut from Sports Clips early last month and there was apparently a miscommunication between me and the young lady who did the work.

I was preparing to spend about three weeks on the road with my head inside a motorcycle helmet much of the time, so I asked her to leave me just enough hair to part. She must not have taken me seriously because she left way too much in the front. So much that I had to fight hair in my eyes every time I pulled on my helmet. And every time the wind blew when my helmet was off.

And since hair continues to grow, it only got worse, to the point where it has become downright maddening. It was particularly vexing this morning as I drove in to town with the top off of my Honda del Sol, seeing that it’s a delightful 80 sunny, breezy degrees here in Jonesboro. My hair is very thin with little body, so it won’t stay put unless I immobilize it with spray or gel or some other kind of goop, which I am loathe to do.

So a serious haircut is at the top of my to-do list today.

(And, no, my right eye didn’t miraculously turn blue. That’s the reflection of my netbook screen in my reading glasses.)

Monday, August 16, 2010

VJ Day in Honolulu

Richard Sullivan writes: 65 Years Ago my Dad shot this film along Kalakaua Ave. in Waikiki capturing spontaneous celebrations that broke out upon first hearing news of the Japanese surrender.

Amazing color for 65-year-old film.

Random crap

A cold front crept in last night, bringing a late night thunderstorm and the coolest day in weeks. And weeks.

It’s 83 at 10 a.m. with a pleasant breeze and the temperature is expected to top out at just 91 this afternoon. Yeah, I know. Just 91.

It hit 100 here yesterday with a heat index of about 1,000.

(You know this will be a dull blogpost if I lead off with the weather.)

I’ve transferred my admiral’s flag from Hastings to Seattle Grind and am sipping a mocha frappe and using their Wifi.

My favorite barista Marisha is enjoying her first day at work here and I made a point of telling her coworkers that she was the reason I am here and why I’m not going back to Hastings.

There’s a guy sitting in the corner who I’m sure is watching porn on his iPhone.

After a few Saturday mornings at IHOP, we tried a new breakfast place on Saturday – the Front Page Cafe – where they claim to throw rolls, just like Lambert’s. I didn’t see any rolls being thrown, but I did have a nice cheap breakfast of 2 eggs, a sausage pattie and biscuits and gravy for something like $4.99.

chocolate gravy Now I was raised in a Hoosier household where biscuits and gravy were not considered legitimate breakfast frontpagecoffeecupfood, so I pretty much never order biscuits and gravy in a restaurant. But the Front Page offers three gravy  choices: white, sausage, and chocolate. I first encountered chocolate gravy in a restaurant in Savannah, Tenn. They only serve it on Sunday mornings there because it’s supposed to be a big deal. My friend Tim Balough tried it, but I didn’t. So I gave it a shot on Saturday just to see what the fuss was all about. Turns out it’s something between chocolate pudding and chocolate icing with no discernable gravy taste. I managed to choke down half a biscuit slathered in the stuff and decided diabetics have no business eating that stuff.

Now I’m off to Harbor Freight Tools to buy a cheap multimeter and to Sports Clips for a haircut.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

My Amazon.com review of Dr. Dean Edell bifocal sunglasses

bifocal shades I have a Garmin Zumo 550 GPS mounted on my BMW K1200GT motorcycle but at age 65, I have to squint to read the display. Worse, it takes a longer look to gather the pertinent information from my GPS, which means my eyes aren't on the road as they should be.
Halfway through a 5,000-mile ride through the West last month, I was visiting my son in Portland, Ore. and he suggested doing a search on Amazon.com for bifocal sunglasses. We did and, voila, the Dr. Dean Edell Invisible Bi-Focal sunglasses turned up. This was on a Monday and I planned to leave for California early Wednesday morning. There were only a few minutes left to get next-day delivery on my order, so there was no time to run down to the drugstore and try on reading glasses to determine the correct power. So I guessed at +2.0. The UPS guy brought them the next day and I was delighted to find I had guessed right. They take all of the hassle out of using my GPS while riding and are a pleasure to use.
I'm ecstatic to have this problem solved so inexpensively.
The only downside is they need soft nosepads for extended wear and are a little awkward for walking around and climbing stairs.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Nothing left to prove

There’s a club meeting today at the BMW dealer in Cape Girardeau, but I’m staying home.

I like Herb and Reno, who own and operate the dealership. Their place is where I take my bike for service. They’re great hosts and work hard to support the BMW Motorcycle Riders Association of the Mid-South.

But the temperature is 100 degrees with a heat index of 115 this afternoon.

And I ran out of motorcycle things to prove to myself a few years ago.

I’ve ridden in blazing heat – hours in the saddle in a steady blast of air so hot it feels like someone is ironing my shirt and pants with me in them – crossing the Mojave Desert in July. Twice.

I’ve ridden in rain and sleet and snow and sub-zero cold.

I’ve never done a 1,000-mile day, but I’ve ridden 900+ miles from Goodland, Kans. to Carmel, Ind. and felt like I had at least 100 miles left in me, but I was home and it was time to stop.

So I figure I’ve earned the right to hole up in the air conditioned comfort of my home on a day like this and let the bike sit in the garage. Besides, I’m riding up to Cape Girardeau on Thursday to get my defective right combo switch replaced.

Friday, August 13, 2010

As Israel prepares to strike Iran, Obama goes on vacation

John Bolton, former U.S. ambassador to the United nations, says Israel will likely attack the Iranian nuclear reactor at Bushehr sometime next week.

image Bolton bases his remarks on the announcement that Russian technicians will load fuel rods into the reactor on Aug. 21 – a week from tomorrow.

Bolton believes the Israelis must strike before the fuel rods are loaded in order to avoid a release of deadly radioactive materials that could cause widespread civilian deaths and pollute the Persian Gulf.

The Israelis attacked Saddam Hussein’s Osirak reactor outside Baghdad in 1981 and a reactor being built by North Koreans in Syria in September 2007. Both attacks, Bolton noted, occurred before fuel rods could be loaded.

Once the reactor is operational, it can begin producing plutonium for nuclear weapons.

Read the details here.

As Armageddon looms in the Middle East, President Obama plans to vacation with his family at Martha’s Vineyard until Aug. 29.

Friday the 13th

fridaythe13th SwipeFile1-Churchy2ByWK

Today is Friday the 13th, which is supposed to be unlucky. So far, so good.

Cartoonist Walt Kelly had a thing about Friday the 13th. He almost always pointed it out in his Pogo comic strip whenever it rolled around. And sometimes, on months when the 13th fell on another day, one of his characters would observe, “Friday the 13th fell on a Tuesday this month.”

Marisha, my favorite barista, tells me this is her final day at Hastings. She starts at Seattle Grind on Monday.

So Seattle Grind, which I discovered has a very pleasant ambiance – much better than Hastings – will become my official favorite coffee and Wifi joint starting next week.

Hastings seems rather indifferent about customer service (with the exception of Marisha), and I was somewhat put off when they moved the coffee carafes behind the counter and no longer allowed customers to pump their own refills. It makes more work for the baristas and suggests they don’t trust the customers.

And the unwashed masses don’t seem to have discovered Seattle Grind yet. So there’s no problem finding a table near an electrical outlet. All of the outlet tables were occupied when I walked into the Hastings Hardback Cafe this morning, so I’m working on battery power.

How they get the celebrity news in Taiwan

The Lindsay Lohan saga, borrowing heavily from the Lady Gaga “Telephone” video, with a cameo appearance by Herbie, the Love Bug.


Thursday, August 12, 2010


"A wise and frugal government which shall restrain men from injuring one another, which shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government."

Thomas Jefferson

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


From the National Review Online:

August 11, 2010 10:30 AM

By Peter Kirsanow

kirsanow The contempt for ordinary Americans displayed by the ruling class is reaching critical mass. There may never have been a time in American history when the governing, academic, cultural, and media elites have been more manifestly disdainful of the country’s values, traditions, principles, and people.

Individuals who express sincere concerns that the polices and practices of the elites are imperiling the nation’s economy and security are branded as racists and xenophobes by the anointed: A diminutive mayor who appears to conflate a talent for acquiring wealth with omniscience lectures that anyone who opposes the erection of a mosque on the site where 2,700 Americans were slaughtered by radical-Islamic terrorists must be motivated by religious intolerance; tea-party activists who protest the federal government’s insane spending spree are motivated not by horror at a $13,300,000,000,000 debt but by racial animus toward the chief fiscal incontinent residing in the White House; those who voted to maintain the central institution of civilization were actually voting for bigotry and oppression.

The same elites who lecture incessantly refuse to listen  to the racist rabble populating flyover country. They have no problem listening, apologizing, and bowing obsequiously to our declared enemies, but insist on acting imperiously toward their fellow Americans.

When thousands flooded town-hall meetings to express opposition to Obamacare, they got Obamacare shoved down their throats. When twenty states sued, calling Obamacare’s dictatorial provisions unconstitutional, legal elites scoffed that the Commerce Clause permits the federal government to compel the unenlightened to eat their vegetables. And when 71 percent of Missouri voters rejected the abominable bill, Robert Gibbs proclaimed that the vote meant “nothing.”

It’s certainly evident that it was, indeed, “nothing” to the ruling class. That class will pass a 2,000-page, $800 billion spending bill without even reading it. They will “redistribute” billions from disfavored groups to favored constituencies.They will rack up ethics charges like frequent-flier miles. They will take over giant car companies and financial institutions despite never having run so much as a pop stand. They will drop missile defense and open our borders because we’ve been on the wrong side of history all these years. They will shut down oil drilling in the Gulf, thereby sacrificing the livelihoods of thousands, without any empirical justification whatsoever. They will abandon our nation’s allies and embrace our enemies for no other reason than that it’s a different policy than George W. Bush’s. They will prosecute Navy SEALs but wink at the release of convicted terrorists. They will exhibit galactic ineptitude in cleaning the Gulf but assure us they can completely reorder the economy in response to the non-debateable evidence of global warming. They will raise our taxes so that our comparatives in the federal government can be paid twice as much as we are. They will sue Arizona for doing the job they refuse to do themselves. They will grant amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants by bureaucratic fiat. They will tell us what light bulbs to use, how much fat we may have in our diets, and how much water we may have in our toilets . . .

They’ll do this because they’re smart. They went to the best schools. And they agree with Rep. Pete Stark that “the federal government can do anything.”

Perhaps in the recent  past, with a compliant, JournoList-infected media providing cover, they could do anything. Not anymore. Americans have had enough.

Average citizens are showing remarkable levels of engagement — more than in 1994. They seem to actually like America. They will fight against spending the country into bankruptcy. They will fight against erosions of our freedom. They will fight against slow-motion surrender to our enemies. They will fight against corruption of our values. They will fight for what’s best about America.

This is a fight about first principles. I’ll bet on the great unwashed.

And then there was Little Oscar


George A. "Little Oscar" Molchan was the face of Oscar Mayer when I was a kid. He was usually in the Wienermobile commercials.

He was born June 5th, 1922 in Lanfair, Pennsylvania. He attended Columbia College in Chicago and worked for Pepsi Cola Distribution in Gary, Indiana from 1940 to 1951.
In 1951 he joined Oscar Mayer & Company and eventually retired in 1987. He worked at Walt Disney World for ten years at the Town Square Cafe as "Little Oscar." He died on April 12th, 2005 at the age of 82.

Cops have rights too


BMW makes motorcycles for police that are clearly superior to the competition.

I was really bummed several years ago when the Indiana State Police launched their motorcycle officer program with Harley-Davidsons. The superintendent of state police at the time was a BMW rider, which makes it all the more alarming that the bid specs were written to favor Harley.

My Thorntown friend Larry Parker’s daughter and son-in-law’s two BMW dealerships, doing business under the name of BMW Motorcycles of Western Oregon, have contracts with several police agencies for authority bikes. I was pleased to notice that the police in Sierra Vista, Ariz. ride BMWs.

Here’s a BMW ad targeting police agencies that I found amusing. Especially the last sentence.

Offered without comment

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

At last!


As goofy as it sounds, I fulfilled a lifelong dream this evening – I saw the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile!

Shortly after she got home from work, Maria mentioned casually that one of her reporters came across the Wienermobile today and photographed it.

“Where was it?’

“At the Hays supermarket in Paragould. They were selling hot dogs for charity.”

“What?!?!? Is it still there?”

“I think so.”

“Get your shoes on, we’re going to Paragould.”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         I’ve been fascinated with the Wienermobile since I was a kid in the 1950s and have always wanted to see it in person. I even have a link to the Wienermobile Blog over on the right side of this page.

It was 6:45 p.m. when we roared down our driveway and headed for Paragould. I worried that the event would be over and the Wienermobile would be gone.

Sure enough, as we approached the intersection of U.S. 49 and Kingshighway in Paragould, the Wienermobile rounded the corner and headed right at us. I whipped a U-turn in a parking lot and got behind it, handing my point-and-shoot camera to Maria.

We shadowed it at a steady 50 mph to just north of Goobertown, where I sped up and ran on ahead to get a shot when it reached Pine Log Road. I made it and that’s what you see at the top of this post.

There have been Oscar Mayer Wienermobiles since the General Body Co. of Chicago created the first one in 1936.

Wikipedia says:

There are seven Wienermobiles in existence currently, with each assigned a part of the country. The hotdogger position of driving the Wienermobile is an open position to U.S. citizens and the duration of the job lasts for one full year: from the first of June until the following first of June. Every March at Kraft and Oscar Mayer headquarters in Madison, Wisconsin there are final round interviews held for the hotdogger position. Each vehicle holds two hotdoggers, and twelve people are chosen from a final pool of 30 candidates brought to Oscar Mayer headquarters. The 30 candidates are screened across the country from over an average of 2000 applicants. Both current hotdoggers and Oscar Mayer recruiters visit college campuses across the country in search of the next round of hotdoggers. Only college seniors who are about to graduate are eligible for applying to this hotdogger position. Currently there are about 300 hotdogger alumni.

All are plated in Wisconsin and use the following vanity license plates:


Yeah, I know that’s 11 plates. No explanation about that from Wikipedia. The one we saw was WEENR.


Now do you get it, Bob?

Jan Brewer BillboardThe owner of the Phoenix Suns basketball team, Robert Sarver, opposes Arizona's new immigration law. Gov. Jan Brewer, released the following statement in response to Sarver's criticism of the new law:
  "What if the owners of the Suns discovered that hordes of people were sneaking into games without paying? What if they had a good idea who the gate-crashers are, but the ushers and security personnel were not allowed to ask these folks to produce their ticket stubs, thus non-paying attendees couldn't be ejected. Furthermore, what if Suns' ownership was expected to provide those who sneaked in with complimentary eats and drink? And what if, on those days when a gate-crasher became ill or injured, the Suns had to provide free medical care and shelter?"

Monday, August 09, 2010

It’s the humidity

It’s 95 degrees here and in Las Vegas. The difference is that the heat index here is 107 and in Vegas it’s 90.

Looking for a new eye doc

The eye doc proclaimed my right eye healed. That is after he remembered that he had seen me a week ago today.

Dr. R. Lowell Hardcastle gave me a followup exam this morning that involved dilating my pupils. After putting the dilating drops into my eyes, he left the room, saying he’d be back in a few minutes.

The walls are thin in that office and I could hear him in a nearby examining room with another patient. When he finished up and exited the other examining room, I supposed he would be back with me.

Not so. Instead I had to listen to some woman from their corporate office jabbering nonstop about insurance procedures for another half-hour.

Finally, after sitting there for 40 minutes, I decided I’d had enough. I stepped into the hallway where I could see the woman sitting in Hardcastle’s office still rattling on. Fixing my dilated pupils on the doctor, I announced, “I hate to interrupt, but I have to be somewhere at 10:30 (it was 10:10 a.m. at the time).”

A chubby officious little woman hustled me back into the examining room, saying, “The doctor will be with you in a minute.”

“I hope so,” I said. “I’m ready to walk.”

Hardcastle came into the examining room about 5 minutes later, apologizing for the interruption from “corporate.”

I acknowledged his apology and pointed out that I very much mind that they took my time to have their little chat.

I don’t doubt the guy’s competence, but his distant brusque manner and disregard for a patient’s time is unacceptable. I’m done with him and with that practice.

The good news is that now, more than four hours later, my eyes are back to normal and I a fresh set of contact lenses in for the first time in more than a week. That means I can finally see my computer screen properly.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Trip stuff

Some random thoughts, recollections and observations from my ramble through the West last month:

I did the whole 17-day, 5,414-mile ride without ever once consulting a paper map. I either trusted my Garmin Zumo 550 or, during the brief period that it wasn’t working, followed a friend who was being guided by GPS. On at least one occasion, I found the Garmin route to be quicker and more straightforward than a route suggested by someone who had lived in the city in question for several years. The GPS routinely took me easily to addresses in unfamiliar cities without the hassle and safety issues of trying to follow a map in the top window of my tank bag. I lost the Glare Stomper sunshade in the early morning darkness of July 26 in Las Vegas. I had taken it off and apparently not secured it properly a day earlier when I removed the GPS to fiddle with it inside the house. I remember feeling something fly off of the bike and hit my right leg moments after I got onto the freeway and I’m pretty sure that was my sunshade. I managed without it for the rest of the trip and bought a replacement from Cyclegadgets.com when I got home. $20 and change.

Riding across the Mojave Desert from Barstow to Las Vegas in 100+ degree heat, I noticed several disabled cars and trucks along the roadsideimage . Obviously, the extreme heat takes its toll and finds weaknesses in automotive systems. I also noticed that several of the folks who were stuck had umbrellas to protect themselves from the blazing hot sun. The California Division of Agriculture maintains inspection stations at the state line on every major highway. The concern is that someone will bring fruits or vegetables into the state that carry insects or disease that could damage cash crops in California. When I entered the state from Oregon on I-5, the traffic was light and I paused only momentarily while the inspectors asked the driver in front of me if they had any fruits or veggies. When they saw me on my bike, they waved me through without questions. But when I left the state at the Nevada state line, California traffic was backed up two or three miles at the inspection station. That might have been just an inconvenience for people in air conditioned vehicles, but motorcyclists trapped in that line on a crazy-hot summer day, it could be life-threatening. I made a mental note to never, ever enter California on I-15. I did it on I-40 on a Sunday back in July, 2002, and don’t recall any hassle there.

Free Wifi at McDonald’s is a very handy thing. I had expected to make extensive use of it with my netbook, but that’s not how it worked out. I carried my netbook buried deep in a saddlebag and it was kind of a hassle the few times I dug it out at a McDonald’s. I used the Wifi on my iPod Touch instead to check and send email and scope out the weather ahead. I carried the iPod in a jacket pocket, so it was just a matter of taking it out, turning it on and signing on to the McDonald’s server – a process that usually took less than a minute. Also, I was usually trying to get as many miles behind me as possible, which mitigated against taking the time to get out the netbook and boot it up.

I have the XM satellite radio premium traffic feature on my Garmin Zumo 550, mostly because it includes a basic weather feature. However, I saw no evidence of the traffic feature as I rode around the east and south side of the San Francisco metropolitan area. I know there aren’t a lot of cities in the U.S, where this feature is functional, but I’d certainly expect it there. WTF?

Friday, August 06, 2010

Existential nihilism on a Jonesboro side street

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         My little Olympus point-and-shoot has its limitations but it does make it possible for me to have an 8 megapixel digital camera with me at all times, including this afternoon when I noticed this discarded bedding behind what used to be a Howard Johnson’s motel.

For Steve

I think my son Steve is in here somewhere…

Can’t see, dammit!

My blogging has been less than prolific this week, partly because I don’t have much to say and mainly because I can’t see worth a damn.

The episode of conjunctivitis I had in my right eye over the weekend forced me to put my contact lenses aside and use the glasses that make computer use a real challenge.

They’re graduated multi-focals and force my head into a really uncomfortable position to see the computer monitor through the very bottom of the lenses. They’re only slightly better with the netbook. I can hardly wait to get back to my contacts and reading glasses so I can see stuff properly.

The guys at Grass Roots BMW called this morning to say my new right combination switch is in and to schedule time on the 19th to replace the faulty one they installed in early July. I’m hopeful that the heat wave will break by then and I won’t have to make the trip in 100+ degree weather.

Thanks, Paul


Thanking Paul Tibbets for what he did 65 years ago.

BTW, he drove a Toyota in the latter days of his life. It wasn’t personal.

Thursday, August 05, 2010


ICE agents ordered not to do their job

Here’s an interesting detail to inject into the discussion about why the Feds aren’t enforcing immigration laws. Notice that the no-confidence vote was unanimous. Also notice that the Lamestream Media has not and likely will not report this story broken this week by the Washington Examiner.


Immigration enforcement union took a no-confidence vote in its leadership

By: Joel S. Gehrke Jr.
Special to the Examiner
08/04/10 5:35 PM EDT

Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents believe overwhelmingly that their department leadership has become so politicized as to compromise the effectiveness of ICE and the safety of American people. Their union has released a letter announcing its recent unanimous “vote of no confidence” in ICE agency heads, accusing them of “misleading the American public” regarding illegal immigration in order to further a pro-amnesty agenda.

In June, the National Immigration and Customs Enforcement Council — an AFL-CIO affiliate — and affiliated local councils cast a unanimous 259-0 vote of no confidence in ICE Director John Morton and Assistant Director Phyllis Coven. In a letter announcing the vote, the National Council criticized the directors for “misguided and reckless initiatives,” and said their leaders have “abandoned the Agency’s core mission of enforcing United States immigration laws and providing for public safety, and have instead directed their attention to campaigning for policies and programs related to amnesty.”

Janice Kephart at the Center for Immigration Studies has the letter, which includes several biting indictments of ICE failures by ICE agents. For instance:

Senior ICE leadership dedicates more time to campaigning for immigration reforms aimed at large scale amnesty legislation, than advising the American public and Federal lawmakers on the severity of the illegal immigration problem, and the need for more manpower and resources within the ICE ERO to address it. ICE ERO is currently overwhelmed by the massive criminal alien problem in the United States resulting in the large-scale release of criminals back into local communities.

Kind of puts the Arizona illegal immigration enforcement in perspective, doesn’t it?

While ICE reports internally that more than 90 percent of ICE detainees are first encountered in jails after they are arrested by local police for criminal charges, ICE senior leadership misrepresents this information publicly in order to portray ICE detainees as being non-criminal in nature to support the Administration’s position on amnesty and relaxed security at ICE detention facilities.

The majority of ICE ERO Officers are prohibited from making street arrests or enforcing United States immigration laws outside of the institutional (jail) setting. This has effectively created “amnesty through policy” for anyone illegally in the United States who has not been arrested by another agency for a criminal violation.

Good to know.

Fuel efficient? NFW.


By what stretch of the imagination is a Ford Explorer a “fuel efficient vehicle?”

I found this bloatmobile parked in one of the “Reserved for fuel efficient vehicles” spaces in front of Best Buy this afternoon.

The 2011 Explorer is expected to deliver 18 mpg in the city and 26 mpg on the highway, the best of any iteration of the model. Older Explorers, like this one, guzzle even more gas.

I gave the owner a break and blurred the license plate, but he/she knows who they are.

Fortunately, there was still a space left for my 30 mpg 1995 Honda del Sol.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

104º but it feels like 112º

It’s 104 degrees with a heat index of 112 and it’s only 3:35 p.m. It will almost certainly get hotter over the next few hours.

I’m reminded of a Dave Barry column years ago in which he wrote about “when birds are bursting into flames in midair and nuns are cursing openly on the street…”

This is that kind of heat wave.

I decided to stay home for lunch rather than banish the dogs to the back porch while I drove downtown to dine with Maria. They deserve all the air conditioning they want, being stuck in fur coats as they are.

Here’s what the National Weather Service has to say about it:

Issued by The National Weather Service
Memphis, TN
3:12 pm CDT, Wed., Aug. 4, 2010









More Information




This is serious stuff and I pity the poor bastards who are suffering through this without air conditioning. CNN counts nine heat-related deaths in the South and Midwest so far, but I expect there will be more. Considering that much of our electric distribution system got rebuilt about 18 months ago after the January, 2009 ice storm, and much of it was hurry-up patchwork just to get the grid back up, I’m pleased and surprised that we haven’t had any power outages. Things could really get ugly if the A/C shuts down.

It occurs to me that I could shift the office window air conditioner down to the bedroom and run it with a generator if need be, but I hope it doesn’t come to that. I don’t expect it and I’m not panicked, but it’s always a good idea to think ahead and anticipate worst-case scenarios.

Dear Mr. Thatcher,

This is an actual letter from an Austin woman sent to American company Proctor and Gamble regarding their feminine products. She really gets rolling after the first paragraph. It’s PC Magazine’s 2007 editors’ choice for best webmail-award-winning letter.

Dear Mr. Thatcher,
I have been a loyal user of your ‘Always’ maxi pads for over 20 years and I appreciate many of their features. Why, without the LeakGuard Core or Dri-Weave absorbency, I’d probably never go horseback riding or salsa dancing, and I’d certainly steer clear of running up and down the beach in tight, white shorts. But my favorite feature has to be your revolutionary Flexi-Wings. Kudos on being the only company smart enough to realize how crucial it is that maxi pads be aerodynamic. I can’t tell you how safe and secure I feel each month knowing there’s a little F-16 in my pants.

Have you ever had a menstrual period, Mr. Thatcher? Ever suffered from ‘the curse’? I’m guessing you haven’t. Well, my time of the month is starting right now. As I type, I can already feel hormonal forces violently surging through my body. Just a few minutes from now, my body will adjust and I’ll be transformed into what my husband likes to call ‘an inbred hillbilly with knife skills.’ Isn’t the human body amazing?

As Brand Manager in the Feminine-Hygiene Division, you’ve no doubt seen quite a bit of research on what exactly happens during your customer’s monthly visits from ‘Aunt Flo’. Therefore, you must know about the bloating, puffiness, and cramping we endure, and about our intense mood swings, crying jags, and out-of-control behavior. You surely realize it’s a tough time for most women. In fact, only last week, my friend Jennifer fought the viole nt urge to shove her boyfriend’s testicles into a George Foreman Grill just because he told her he thought Grey’s Anatomy was written by drunken chimps. Crazy!

The point is, sir, you of all people must realize that America is just crawling with homicidal maniacs in Capri pants… Which brings me to the reason for my letter. Last month, while in the throes of cramping so painful I wanted to reach inside my body and yank out my uterus, I opened an Always maxi-pad, and there, printed on the adhesive backing, were these words: ‘Have a Happy Period.’

Are you f———kidding me? What I mean is, does any part of your tiny middle-manager brain really think happiness – actual smiling, laughing happiness, is possible during a menstrual period? Did anything mentioned above sound the least bit pleasurable? Well, did it, James? FYI, unless you’re some kind of sick S&M freak, there will never be anything ‘happy’ about a day in which you have to jack yourself up on Motrin and Kahlua and lock yourself in your house just so you don’t march down to the local Walgreen’s armed with a hunting rifle and a sketchy plan to end your life in a blaze of glory.

For the love of God, pull your head out, man! If you have to slap a moronic message on a maxi pad, wouldn’t it make more sense to say something that’s actually pertinent, like ‘Put down the Hammer’ or ‘Vehicular Manslaughter is Wrong’, or are you just picking on us?

Sir, please inform your Accounting Department that, effective immediately, there will be an $8 drop in monthly profits, for I have chosen to take my maxi-pad business elsewhere. And though I will certainly miss your Flex-Wings, I will not for one minute miss your brand of condescending bullshit. And that’s a promise I will keep.

Always. . .
Wendi Aarons
Austin , TX


seancard01 seancard02

I had the pleasure of sitting in on a meeting between my son Sean and one of his recording clients while I was visiting last month.

The client came to him with a dozen or so songs about the parent/child experience – stuff like sharing and tantrums – that were catchy and clever, but all he had was the basic melodic structure and some thoughts about how they might sound.

Sean helped him flesh them out into a product that is more densely packed with great musical ideas than any album I’ve ever heard.

Sean brings an astounding level of creativity and good musical taste to these collaborative efforts while respecting the integrity of the original concept and the unique personalities of the artists. I’m sure he would be embarrassed and maybe a little disturbed to be called a genius, but that’s the only name I can come up with for this kind of brilliance.

Here’s his business card (front and back).

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Did I mention I hate snakes?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         This guy turned up in our driveway this morning. He was about 6 inches long. I first thought he might be a copperhead, but the markings don’t match any copperhead photos I see online. So he’s a mystery snake who has been banished back into the woods.

Maria's research suggests it's an Eastern Hognose snake. That's what Stan and Joy Trauth, the foremost reptile experts in the state say.

The eye – 24 hours later


The eyedrops are working. Much less redness and the pain is gone.

Monday, August 02, 2010


I’m just glad this didn’t happen when I was on the road.
I woke up Sunday morning with painful inflammation in my right eye. It was worse this morning, so I went to my ophthalmologist and got a prescription for tobramycin and dexamethasone opthalmic suspension, which is startlingly expensive, even at the Walmart pharmacy. I’m supposed to apply two drops four times daily for a week.
This is what I get for pulling my contact lenses out in the middle of the night without washing my hands first. Looks like I won’t be wearing contacts for awhile.
Sorry about the creepy picture.