Monday, February 28, 2011

Monday morning report


I’m having a light breakfast at IHOP this morning while the guys at Gateway Tire fix the slow leak in the right front tire of my ‘94 Honda del Sol.

I noticed it was very low last night and found it was down to 11 psi this morning.

Once again, the Sears Craftsman air compressor earned its keep. The three other tires were about 5 psi shy of the recommended 32 psi, to I aired all four up to spec and hauled ass into town.

I’m helping out with a project for Maria’s paper and have an 11 a.m. interview with a bank president, so this is no time to be immobilized.

We had a pleasant low-key weekend that failed to inspire any blog entries. I hate to let a day go by without refreshing the content because it discourages readers, but I just wasn’t motivated.

We went to a gun show at the county fairgrounds yesterday afternoon. I used to haunt gun shows back in Indiana because some of them included vendors with Third Reich militaria, which I collected at the time.

The only such item I saw yesterday was an SA dagger that the guy wanted $300 for. It bore the Wusthoff proofmark and everything looked genuine about it, but:

  • The eagle and swastika weren’t flush with the grip, suggesting it was a “parts” dagger – one that was assembled after the war with leftover parts for the souvenir market
  • There was no scabbard, so there’s no way to know whether it was originally an SA (storm trooper) or an NSKK (National Socialist Motor Corps) dagger. SA scabbards were brown, NSKK scabbards were painted black.
  • It had been sharpened. All proper Third Reich edged weapons have dull blades, since they were intended to be big costume jewelry, rather than functional weapons.

So what we’re left with is a rather impressive letter opener of no particular value to anyone who wants to collect the real stuff. I thanked the guy for letting me look at it, put it down and walked away.

Sometimes I surprise myself at how much of this stuff I remember, since I haven’t been an active collector in almost 20 years.

And now breakfast is done, my blog entry is done and it’s time to go pick up my car.

Friday, February 25, 2011

We call it domestic violence

Gas prices up over $3/gallon–watch for price gougers

LITTLE ROCK – Turmoil in the Middle East is a major factor that has lead to higher prices at the gas pump for Arkansas consumers. The AAA said Friday that the national average cost per gallon for unleaded fuel rose by 5.9 cents overnight. That marks the third consecutive day of price-per-gallon increases, largely because of unrest in Libya.

With gas prices now over $3 per gallon in Arkansas, Attorney General Dustin McDaniel issued this special consumer alert to address some of the issues raised by concerned Arkansans.

McDaniel said his office has received dozens of calls this week alone from consumers troubled by the rise in fuel prices. And, with Spring’s arrival and more drivers hitting the road, there’s little chance that gas costs will subside in the near future.

“We are accustomed to paying less for gasoline in the winter months, because there’s usually less demand during this time of year,” McDaniel said. “However, the civil unrest in Egypt and now in Libya has caused a lot of uncertainty in the oil markets. We know that the cost of fuel directly impacts every Arkansas consumer.”

McDaniel pledged to monitor the situation, but said consumers have few options regarding the latest spike in gas prices.

Some consumers have asked about the Arkansas Price Gouging Law, Act 376 of 1997. The law prohibits sellers of certain consumer goods and services from taking advantage of a disaster resulting in a declaration of emergency by price gouging. After a state of emergency has been declared, the seller can raise prices by no more than 10 percent, unless the seller can show that his own costs have increased. The law would not be applicable in this situation because there is no current statewide declaration of emergency, and, even if an emergency is declared, retailers are allowed to raise prices when their own costs increase.  

“Like any free-market commodity, the retail price of gasoline is based on factors like supply, demand and competition,” McDaniel said. “It’s our understanding that these recent increases are brought upon by the increased prices charged to refiners, which gets passed along to wholesalers and then retailers.” 

One area of concern to McDaniel would be if any retailers or fuel distributors reach agreements with competitors regarding prices. Such agreements, or “price fixing,” would violate state and federal antitrust laws.

McDaniel encouraged consumers with direct knowledge of price fixing to call his office’s Consumer Protection Division.

“We want to make sure that Arkansans are getting a fair deal at the gas pump,” McDaniel said. “If there is evidence to suggest that gas stations are engaged in illegal price fixing, we will not hesitate to investigate.”

To register a complaint or for more information on other consumer issues, call the Attorney General’s Consumer Hotline at (501) 682-2341 or, toll-free, at (800) 482-8982. The Attorney General’s Office website is

The rain gauge mystery

There was .7 inches of rain in my rain gauge yesterday morning. I didn’t empty it because there was more rain coming and I wanted to know the total rainfall from this weather event.

Last night, peering at it from inside the garage while rain poured down, it was somewhere around 1.2 inches. I didn’t empty it.

This morning there is .1 – yes, 1/10 of an inch – of water in the gauge.

It’s not possible for that much water to evaporate overnight, so the only other answer I can think of is that someone emptied it.

But who? And why?

One of the neighbor boys showed some mild interest in it some months ago, but it seems unlikely that he could do it without being noticed by his eagle-eyed mother.


The reasoned debate continues in Wisconsin

Judging from the tepid response of the crowd, most of them understand how crazy this woman’s rants are. What you hear is sympathy applause because they’re embarrassed by her ignorance. She apparently believes that having to pay a small portion of her health insurance means that she’s going to die.

If she is a teacher in Wisconsin, God help the kids in her classroom.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

I spell it B-a-t-s-h-i-t C-r-a-z-y

Thursday morning report

rainy feb 24

It’s a chilly, rainy Thursday morning. I’m sitting at my great-grandmother’s kitchen table with a cup of coffee at my side and a very wet Australian shepherd at my feet.

The rain started around midnight and has continued in fits and starts ever since. The rain gauge had .7 inches of water in it when I checked about 40 minutes ago. The weather radar shows the big blob of rain that passed through overnight is almost gone, off to Tennessee and Kentucky. But there’s another, even bigger and more menacing blob approaching from the plains of Oklahoma and Kansas, so it looks like a good day to stay inside.

That’s just as well, since I have a couple of writing assignments and a 5 p.m. Monday deadline.

The White House can’t spell Libya


I bet they can’t find it on a map, either.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Kansas addresses motorcycle stoplight sensor issue

As far as I know, Kansas is the first state to address the problem of traffic signal sensors that don’t detect motorcycles.

This has been a long-standing problem for motorcyclists. Back in the 1980s when I wrote a weekly motorcycle column for The Indianapolis News, I raised the issue with engineers at the Indiana Department of Transportation.

Traffic signal actuators, in most cases, are triggered by a wire loop embedded in the pavement where a vehicle stops for a red light. The loop is designed to detect changes in its electromagnetic field – changes that occur when a large metal object like a car or truck or bus enters the loop.

Unfortunately, most motorcycles don’t have enough steel to make a significant change in the electromagnetic field. Engineers have had some modest success by double-looping the wire, but nobody has come up with a definitive fix.

I’ve had some success by making sure the bike’s engine mass is directly over the top center of the loop, as defined by the sealed cuts in the pavement.

Some companies make powerful magnets that can be attached to the underside of a motorcycle. Some riders like them and say the work. Some don’t.

The police agencies I checked with back in the ‘80s advised that riders take matters into their own hands and proceed when it appears safe.

I never tried it in the presence of a cop, so I have no idea if this was just one guy’s opinion or widely accepted policy.

Here’s the story from FOX News:

Ever been itching to run a red light that just won't change? Kansas lawmakers think motorcycle riders should be able to do just that. 

The Kansas House on Tuesday approved a bill that would allow bikers to run a red light if the signal "fails" to turn green after a "reasonable period of time." The proposal leaves the discretion in the hands of the motorcyclist, but is aimed at ensuring riders don't get trapped in perpetuity at intersections because of signals that either malfunction or don't detect the motorcycles. 

Motorcycle riders testified this month that their bikes were often not big or heavy enough to trigger the sensors that cause red lights to switch. For fear that riders would have to choose between being stuck on the Kansas tundra or running a light and risking a ticket, they urged the legislature to approve the so-called "Dead Red" bill giving them a free pass. The riders testifying in support of the bill belonged to a group known as ABATE, or A Brotherhood Against Totalitarian Enactments. 

"Cars and trucks have no problem with it, but motorcycles have always been an issue," Crawford County Sheriff's Deputy Bob Peters said, according to Fox 14. "You may be on a section or roadway where you may wait for five minutes and there may not be other traffic along to trigger the sensor."

Though Peters supported the bill, it was opposed by Kansas police organizations that want their officers, not motorcycle riders, to have the discretion. One Republican lawmaker unsuccessfully tried to strip the red-light provision, saying, "I see no skeletal remains of motorcyclists sitting at red lights that never change," according to The Wichita Eagle

The bill passed the House Tuesday as part of a broader road safety package. The other component in the package would prohibit local jurisdictions from imposing extra fines on drivers for seat-belt violations. The bill kept the statewide fine at $5 -- that would eventually rise to $10 or $60 depending on the severity of the violation. 

The language in the motorcycle bill also covered bicycle riders.

Read more:

Notice that the reporter said “bikes were often not big or heavy enough to trigger the sensors ?”

Weight has absolutely nothing to do with it. The sensors respond to electromagnetic fluctuations, not physical pressure.

Help! My body is 28½ years older than my brain!

brain age

My mother-in-law sent me the link to this site that purports to measure your “brain age” for comparison with your chronological age.

The assertion is that if you get a brain age score significantly lower than your chronological age, you’re at less risk of developing dementia and/or Alzheimer’s disease.

Both of my parents had rather iffy cognitive skills at the end of their lives, so it’s something I think about.

According to the test, I have the brain of a 37-year-old, which is pretty good for a guy about to turn 66.

Click on the image, take the test, and let me know how you did.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

George Will gets it right. Again.

A few days after Obama submitted a budget that would increase the federal deficit, he tried to sabotage Wisconsin's progress toward solvency. The Washington Post: "The president's political machine worked in close coordination . . . with state and national union officials to mobilize thousands of protesters to gather in Madison and to plan similar demonstrations in other state capitals."

Read more on Wisconsin Battles Bloated Union Demands

Monday, February 21, 2011

Public relations suicide

Organized labor, especially unions representing government workers, are committing public relations suicide.

As this and many other videos vividly illustrate, these people are embracing the leftist belief that the end justifies the means and that no lie or dirty trick is too extreme to get what they want.

Whether it’s handing out fake medical excuses for demonstrators or Democrat Wisconsin state senators fleeing the state to avoid voting or trying to damage the sound system for a Tea Party counter-rally, they make a mockery of their claim to the moral high ground.

So sure of themselves and their power are the union bosses and thugs that they think they can bully and intimidate governors and legislators into giving them the kind of preferential treatment they’re used to getting at the hands of Democrat politicians.

And it’s precisely this overplaying of their hand that will be their undoing. They’re already outnumbered by the Tea Party folks and their ham-fisted tactics are turning the rest of the country against them, including many from within their own union ranks.

It should be noted that the union agitators, including several from out of state, who tried to hold Wisconsin government hostage last week, were far outnumbered by the thousands of teachers, police, fire fighters and other government workers who stayed on the job and refused to participate in the public tantrum.

Barring any unforeseen developments, I think we’re watching organized labor destroy itself.

Americans, in increasing numbers, are taking a stand with the union members who recognize they have an obligation to help rein in government spending and are willing to be part of the solution.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

From the battlefield in Madison, Wis.

I’d be especially pissed off about this if I were a Wisconsin resident. This doctor needs to lose his medical license over this.

Friday, February 18, 2011


Some days, I get so pissed off at developments in this country that I can’t even focus.

And it gets compounded when some of my Facebook “friends” demonstrate that they’re part of the problem instead of promoting solutions. I’ve decided the most diplomatic way to deal with things like attacking Congressman Mike Pence and expressing solidarity with the union goons in Wisconsin is to just hide all of their posts in my News Feed. I’ve done that with one of my libtard motorcycle friends. It spares me the annoyance of reading their moronic posts without the confrontational approach of un-friending them.

Although I did unfriend one bully who presumed to lecture me on the subject of media bias. After nearly 50 years in and around newspapering, I don’t need some chickenshit high school teacher explaining the liberal media to me.

I’m sure he’d be out chanting union slogans today if he were in Wisconsin. And who’s to say he isn’t, since Obama’s Organize America and the Democrat National Committee are busing demonstrators in from outside of Wisconsin to pump up the numbers?

It’s time for all of us to bite the bullet and get this economy under control before Obama and his cronies destroy the dollar and plunge us all into global financial chaos. If that means I have to give up part of my monthly Social Security check or Medicare benefits, so be it, although I could argue that those programs represent money I paid into the system during my working years.

The handful of Wisconsin government workers who have been raising hell this week need to shut the fuck up and notice that most of their coworkers stayed on the job and are presumably willing to pay half the health insurance rates that their neighbors in non-government jobs have been paying.

Auf Wiedersehen, BMW Motorcycle Webring

My blog is no longer a link in the BMW Motorcycle Webring.


Because something has caused the webring to go crazy and jump out in front of my blog when people visit here.

So I deleted the Webring link at the bottom of the page.

Amazing comparison

Be sure to set your viewer to its highest resolution for the best effect

I have a standard GoPro Hero video camera that I bought a couple of years ago at MotoGP in Indianapolis. It’s a great little camera, but this comparison with an insanely expensive Canon HD video camera has me jonesing bigtime for the GoPro Hero HD, which costs about 1/17 the price of the Canon camera:

The ultimate Hero HD shootout: Eye Of Mine Multimedia has put a $4500 Canon XH-A1 HDV video camera against the $259 HD Hero in a video shootout.
Watch in HD to see all the detail. Both cameras were shot 'out of the box' with no editing enhancements.
Obviously we're not saying buy the GoPro instead of the Prof. Canon, but we are saying 'look how amazing this little camera is'. It's a great compliment to whatever prof. or consumer equipment you already have. After all, if you wanted a shot looking at the driver through the steering wheel, how in the world would you do that with your big prof camera? Not a problem with the GoPro HD Hero.
For more information or to order:

Over the Atlantic

Jim Shillings is aboard United Airlines Flight 917, somewhere south of Iceland. His Boeing 777 is cruising at an altitude of 36,000 feet at 594 mph on a heading of 269 degrees.

His ETA at Dulles International Airport in Washington, D.C. is 2:43 p.m. (ahead of schedule) and Lauri expects him back in Indianapolis around 7 p.m.


Thursday, February 17, 2011

Time to get out of Dodge

jim in bahrain
We’re paying more attention to developments in Bahrain this week than we normally would because we have a friend there.
Jim Shillings has been there since Jan. 30 on his first overseas assignment for his company. He was scheduled to fly home on Saturday, but Facebooked yesterday that they’re sending him home a day early because of civil unrest.
Things got uglier last night when the police used tear gas, clubs and rubber bullets to break up a growing anti-government protest. Depending on who you listen to, somewhere between two and five people were killed and hundreds were injured in the melee in Manama, the capital city.
We’ll all breathe easier when we hear he’s out of there.


Jim's wife Lauri posted this afternoon to Facebook:
Jim is on the plane! He should be in Germany by 11 pm our time. Then Dulles by early evening tomorrow- with a jumper back to Indy by 7 pm. Yay!


tombstone, the premiere motorcycle accessory store, is no more.

BMW riding friends Sean and Laurene Franklin went out of business in mid-January, shutting down their online store and their physical store in Eureka Springs, Ark.

Here’s Sean’s explanation:

It's certainly no secret that the economy has limited a lot of people's discretionary spending, and motorcycle accessories in general have taken a pretty good hit. From 2000-2006 we saw year after year of steady business growth and profit, and when we made the decision to move to Eureka Springs, Arkansas we made aggressive plans with a large building and big investments in equipment and software to allow us to continue to grow. Unfortunately that saddled us with a lot of debt and ongoing fixed expenses. When business failed to continue growing, and in fact shrunk considerably (down now nearly 70% from 2006), we fell further and further behind in keeping up with those debts. We have attempted to find investors and even listed the business for sale, but have not been able to work out an arrangement that would allow us to avoid bankruptcy and to continue operating.

At this point I can't say whether will return in some form with Laurene or me as a part of it.  I hope that it can. In the meantime, we are job hunting. I (Sean) may be doing some motorcycle consulting on the side, check back here for information on that later. We hope to remain in the Eureka Springs area but as of right now we can't say whether that will happen or not.

Sean and Laurene have been good, solid citizens in the motorcycle community. Their absence from the BMW MOA rally last year in Redmond, Ore., left a big hole in the vendor lineup.

I’m kicking myself for never making the ride over to see them at Eureka Springs after we moved to Arkansas in 2007.

Good luck, Sean and Laurene. I hope we get another chance to buy stuff from you.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Found dog

found dog

Brookland Animal Control has begun posting photos and descriptions of found dogs on the public bulletin board at the Post Office. Here’s the latest.

Error corrected

One of the first things I do when I open my eyes every morning is reach for my iPod Touch and check email, weather, news and Facebook.

My email included this message from H&R Block:

We've detected an issue with your e-filed federal return. You must correct your return and resubmit it.

Crap! I had hoped it would be notification that the IRS had accepted the return and was processing our refund.

I came up to the office, launched the tax software and determined that the IRS disputes that I received a $250 Economic Recovery “stimulus” payment last year. I thought I did. But when I went to the IRS website and checked, it turns out that I did not.

So I went to Form M and unchecked the “yes” box and checked the “no” box and closed the form.

And much to my amazement, the amount of our refund increased by $250.

Allrighty then.

I refiled the return and now patiently await notice that the money is back in our checking account.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

You may file when ready…

The IRS is accepting e-filed returns that involve itemized deductions, effective today:

IRS Begins Processing Tax Forms Affected by Late Tax Changes; Taxpayers can e-File Immediately

IR-2011-15, Feb. 15, 2011

WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service announced today it has started processing individual tax returns affected by legislation enacted in December and reminded taxpayers that they can begin filing electronically immediately.

On Monday, IRS systems began to accept and process both e-file and paper tax returns claiming itemized deductions on Form 1040, Schedule A, as well as deductions for state and local sales tax, higher education tuition and fees and educator expenses.

“The IRS is now accepting all the 1040 forms,” IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman said. “We worked hard to update our systems and get the changes in place as quickly as possible. We appreciate the patience of those impacted by the delay. We urge taxpayers to use e-file with direct deposit, and they can get their refunds within days.”

In late December 2010, the IRS announced it would delay processing of some tax returns in order to update processing systems to accommodate the late tax law changes. These tax law provisions were extended by the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization and Job Creation Act of 2010, which became law on Dec. 17.

For the vast majority of taxpayers, the filing season this year began on time in January. Most taxpayers claiming itemized deductions and the other delayed forms file later in the year.

The IRS urged taxpayers who haven’t filed yet to use e-file instead of paper tax forms to ensure accuracy and to get refunds fast. Taxpayers can do their taxes for free through Free File, which is brand-name software or online fillable forms. Free File is available exclusively at  Anyone who makes $58,000 or less can use Free File software. There are no income limits to online fillable forms. Both Free File software and Free File Fillable Forms allow taxpayers to prepare and e-file their federal returns for free.

The IRS worked closely with the tax software industry and the tax professional community during the reprogramming process to minimize disruptions for taxpayers and ensure a smooth tax season.

As a result of these efforts, many major software providers and paid tax preparers started accepting impacted returns before the Feb. 14 start date, which they held and started submitting after the IRS systems opened.

Due to the expected increase in tax return volumes being transmitted this week, the IRS cautioned a small number of taxpayers may experience a brief delay in receiving their e-file acknowledgement, which is normally provided within 24-48 hours. The IRS continues working with the software industry to minimize any impact to taxpayers.

Business taxpayers who use the 1040 series can file now as well. However, the Feb. 14 start date does not apply to non-1040 business tax forms (add link) affected by the recent tax law changes. The IRS will announce a specific date in the near future when it can begin processing those impacted business tax forms.

Updated information has been posted on, including Schedule A and updated state and local sales tax tables. For a complete list of affected individual tax forms and business tax forms visit

They didn’t have to tell me twice. I e-filed our return this afternoon. Thank God for the mortgage interest deduction!

Trail camera contest entries


One of my favorite features at last weekend’s Arkansas Sportshow was the trail camera photo contest.

There were hundreds of entries and a lot of really fascinating images. I was particularly impressed by this trail cam shot of a bobcat grabbing a possum by the neck.

You can see 25 pages of contest entries here.

I’m itching to buy a trail camera and strap it to one of the trees in our back yard to see what’s out there.


A doctor analyzed the video on FOX News Tuesday and concluded it was some kind of neurological glitch, but since she recovered almost immediately, couldn't be classified as a stroke. Either way, it's slidu wqklkeu etaoin shrdlu...

Monday, February 14, 2011

Let the riding season begin!


It’s probably just a false spring, but after a cold and snowy January, I’ll take any kind of spring I can get.

The warmup continues today, so I went for a couple of rides: one on my long-neglected K1200GT this morning down to the main post office in Jonesboro to mail a payment that’s due soon and the other on Maria’s K75S this afternoon up to Paragould and east on U.S. 412, across the Kalua-colored waters of the St. Francis River, which is also the Arkansas-Missouri state line, to Mr. T’s Riverside for some margarita mix. I could have bought it at the county line liquor store that’s 4 minutes and 53 seconds from our house, but I felt like getting out of Arkansas for a few minutes.

The time and temperature sign on the county line furniture store proclaimed it was a glorious 68 sunny degrees.

Stay classy, San Diego.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

The Arkansas Sportshow


The Arkansas Sportshow is this weekend at the ASU Convocation Center and I was itching to get out and see stuff so we headed down to town about 10:30 this morning.

Among the many vendors and attractions was a guy with a monkey. He was charging $5 a pop for people to sit in a chair and pose with the monkey. The monkey would also take coins from you and put them into the pocket of his overalls.

I gave Maria a nickel, which she offered the monkey. He glanced at it and turned away. What’s up with that?

“He only takes quarters,” explained his owner.

A monkey who can spot the difference between a nickel and a quarter at a glance? How cool is that?

So I gave him a couple of quarters while Maria took the shot.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         We spent about three hours wandering around and looking at stuff including the Arkansas Game & Fish Commission’s huge trailer aquarium that features most, if not all, of the fish species found in Arkansas.

Maria noticed there are small holes in the backboard, making it possible to get behind the aquarium and photograph the fish in the foreground and the spectators beyond them. The holes were too small for the big lens on her Nikon D200, but my little Olympus point-and-shoot worked just fine.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         The Sun ran a trail camera photo contest that turned out to be a huge success with hundreds of entries – enough to cover a 30-foot wall. My favorite was a bobcat halfway up a tree with a possum in its mouth.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         The Sportshow continues from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. tomorrow and it’s a sure cure for cabin fever.

Stuff I learned from my father


From time to time, I notice myself doing something I learned from my dad.

I got a heightened awareness of these learned habits when my stepson Austin was living with us, largely because he hadn’t learned some of the basic walking-around stuff that you pick up from your father. That’s because his father was generally absent for several formative years. I did my best to fill in the gaps whenever I noticed them.

So here are a few of the things I learned from my dad:

  • Never leave the house without your wallet, watch and keys. Never.
  • Cottage cheese is better with some black pepper sprinkled on it. Not paprika.
  • Be a good listener.
  • Always know which direction North is.
  • Carry a pocket knife and a ballpoint pen.
  • Treat your possessions carefully, so they will last a long time.
  • Dedicate the top drawer of your dresser to neat stuff.
  • Always carry a handkerchief.
  • Know when it’s time to pay an expert to do mechanic-type work.
  • Morel mushrooms are the most delicious thing in the world when battered and fried.
  • Be sympathetic to the underdog.
  • Root for I.U. and the Chicago White Sox. (I gave up on the Sox after they blew the 1957 World Series.)
  • Don’t interrupt or talk over other people. Wait for an opening to speak.
  • Always have a dog in your life.
  • A nap with a dog at your side is a wonderful thing.
  • Make sure your kids know you love them and are proud of them.
  • Know your country’s history.
  • Pay your bills on time.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Found dog


From the post office public bulletin board.

OK, McAfee, you win

When you spend as much time in front of a computer as I do, a computer crash can be a very unbalancing thing.

The McAfee Security Center subscription that came with my desktop computer expired today and I decided to replace it with a free copy of Bitdefender Internet Security I got awhile back.

Some of you can see where this is going already.

Realizing that two anti-virus programs can’t coexist, I went to Control Panel and the Uninstall Programs section to remove McAfee. It launched the proprietary McAfee uninstall program, which offered me a last chance to renew my subscription, then went through the uninstall routine. When it finished, it told me to reboot to complete the process.

I clicked OK and Windows 7 went into shut-down mode, presenting me with a Windows is Shutting Down screen… that remained on my monitor for more than 10 minutes.

I went to Maria’s computer and played several games of Free Cell while I waited for the computer to shut down and restart.

Finally, I decided it was hung up (terrible mistake) and did a forced shutdown by holding the power button down for several seconds.

When I turned the computer back on, I found it wouldn’t boot to Windows. Or at least it wouldn’t boot to Windows as quickly as I expected. So I fiddled around with Boot Options (F12) and eventually launched the Windows Startup rescue software. It presumably reset my configuration to a date prior to this morning’s fuck-up and took about 15 minutes. Eventually, it initiated startup and got as far as the Windows 7 startup screen. Then the screen went black. And it stayed black.

By this time, I was close to freak-out, so I went downstairs for a cup of coffee and to do some laundry, thinking it was time to call my computer wizard buddy Tim in Colorado for some help.

When I came back up to the office about a half-hour later, I fully expected to see the same black screen. Instead, there was my logon screen, waiting patiently for me to enter my password.

Password entered, Windows 7 launched and apparently everything is working properly. I just launched my tax software and confirmed the tax calculations I did a few days ago are still there, awaiting some final tweaks before I e-file our Federal and Arkansas returns.

Also, McAfee Security Center was still there. Not wanting to press my luck, I caved in and bought another year’s subscription.

And wonder whether this is what McAfee meant to happen all along…

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Suicidal newspaper management

We’re still reeling from the news that our friend Lauri Shillings, who is arguably the best ad designer in Indiana and a brilliant graphic artist, got cashiered yesterday by the Crawfordsville Journal Review. lauri mug

That was a day after they canned another brilliant and loyal newspaper man, Kevin Cothron.

This was after Lauri spent a week or so driving through hellish winter weather to make sure the paper got published, even bringing her two young sons along because their school was snowed out. They called it a layoff and said it was for economic reasons. No severance package. Just clean out your desk and get out.

It was the most clueless, moronic, idiotic, suicidal – I could go on for an hour – management decision I’ve ever heard of. The malignant imbeciles (owner and publisher) who made this decision clearly have no idea how their own newspaper works and how crucial Lauri’s skills and dedication were to the day-to-day operation.

S/W Ver: 96.B0.0FRI have no doubt that Lauri will get a call this week or next from someone at the paper wanting to know how to do this thing or the other. I hope she puts on her consultant hat and makes them pay through the nose for the information. Or else just hangs up on them.

The good news is that Lauri said she woke up this morning with a feeling of liberation. I imagine it was the same feeling I experienced after I walked away from Gannett wage slavery at The Indianapolis Star. Her time is her own. No more deadline pressure and the humiliation of having to suffer fools. Her husband Jim recently went through a substantial career upgrade and now Lauri’s opportunity is here.

Staying at the Journal Review would have meant more frustration, insufficient pay, insufficient respect, and the depressing prospect of watching criminally incompetent management put the ship on the rocks. It’s a sad, sad thing to see a once great newspaper die. I watched it happen to my paper, The Indianapolis News. Gannett is slowly killing The Star, and the Journal Review’s days are surely numbered.

Lauri will have the last laugh.

This video is the best 3 minutes 11 seconds you’ll spend today

Happy Thorsday


Today is Thursday, named for the hammer-wielding Norse god Thor.

Thor is associated with thunder, lightning, storms, oak trees, strength, destruction, fertility, healing, and the protection of mankind.

Wikipedia says:

By employing a practice known as interpretatio germanica during the Roman Empire period, the Germanic peoples adopted the Roman weekly calendar, and replaced the names of Roman gods with their own. Latin dies Iovi ("day of Jupiter") was converted into Proto-Germanic *├×onares dagaz ("Thor's day"), from which stems modern English "Thursday" and all other Germanic weekday cognates.

So go out and have a kick-ass Thorsday.

The Fence

fenceIf you ever wondered which side of the fence you sit on, this is a great test.

If a Conservative doesn't like guns, he doesn’t buy one.
If a Liberal doesn't like guns, he wants all guns outlawed.  

If a Conservative is a vegetarian, he doesn’t eat meat.
If a Liberal is a vegetarian, he wants all meat products banned for everyone.  

If a Conservative is homosexual, he quietly leads his life.
If a Liberal is homosexual, he demands legislated respect.  

If a Conservative is down-and-out, he thinks about how to better his situation.
A Liberal wonders who is going to take care of him.  

If a Conservative doesn't like a talk show host, he switches channels.
Liberals demand that those they don't like be shut down.  

If a Conservative is a non-believer, he doesn't go to church.
A Liberal non-believer wants any mention of God and religion silenced.

If a Conservative decides he needs health care, he goes about shopping for it, or may choose a job that provides it.                     
A Liberal demands that the rest of us pay for his.  

If a Conservative reads this, he'll forward it so his friends can have a good laugh.
A Liberal will delete it because he's "offended."

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

You can have your RV, I’m taking the bike

I’ve always thought of a motorhome with towed car as kind of the opposite end of the spectrum from motorcycle touring.

I’ve passed thousands of them and always wondered who owns those things and why.

I recently discovered an old friend is into RVing with a 36-foot, diesel powered Monarch Cheetah coach, towing a VW beetle.

That piqued my curiosity about the economics of that kind of travel versus what I do.

Based on cursory Internet research, I see that the Monarch has an 88.5-gallon fuel tank and reported mileage figures range from 6.5 mpg to 11 mpg. According to, diesel fuel is running around $3.40 a gallon, which means it costs about $300 to fill the tank and drive 885 miles.

My bike averaged 41.1 mpg of 92 octane gasoline on my 17-day trip last summer. I can fill the tank for less than $15 and ride about 200 miles. To compare apples with apples, with mid-grade gas going for about $3.10/gallon here, I can ride the same 885 miles on 21.53 gallons of gas for a cost of $66.75. That’s only 22.2 percent the cost of the Monarch.

Since one of the big selling points of RVing is not having to pay for motels and having more of your stuff with you, plus having heat in the winter, air conditioning in the summer and being enclosed in the rain, I concede the Monarch is a more comfortable way to travel.

There have been several times when I’ve ridden past RV drivers and envied their cushy air conditioned comfort while I’m sweltering in 100-degree heat.

RVers make much of the friendships and cameraderie they find whenever they set up in a campground. I’ve found the same thing with touring riders.

I covered 5,414 miles on my summer ride. I stayed with family and friends four nights, spent seven nights in motels and camped for four nights at a BMW rally, so my lodging expense amounted to $353. The KOA up the road from here charges $34 a night for a 36-foot motor home. Using that as an average, we’re talking about 16 nights on the road for a total of $544.

But I guess the main reason why I prefer motorcycle touring is that I think it keeps me young. I’m not ready to give up the wind in my face for an RV captain’s chair. To my way of thinking, there’s a lot more adventure in motorcycle touring than there is in riding around in an old person’s box on wheels.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011


The sky is falling. Again.

The National Weather Service office in Memphis, which likes to type in ALL CAPS, not realizing that’s INTERNET SHOUTING, says we’re gonna get another inch or two of snow tomorrow:


Monday’s snow is completely gone, the way snows usually disappear here. After this little cold snap, things are forecast to warm up, with highs in the 50s Sunday and most of next week.

I took advantage of the relatively mild weather this afternoon to replace the bulbs in both of the carriage lights that flank the garage door. The one on the right had burned out and the one on the left hasn’t worked since I replace its bulb the last time. I discovered why today. I’d cross-threaded the bulb and it wasn’t making contact. Doh! Now they’re both blazing away, albeit with 75 Watt incandescent bulbs.

Monday, February 07, 2011

Super Bowl

As imperfect as it was, last year’s Super Bowl halftime show with The Who, was infinitely more enjoyable than last night’s tribute to pointless excess by the Black Eyed Peas.

I kept waiting for it to make sense and it never did.

That said, it was a pretty fun game, especially if you were rooting for the Packers, like I was.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Go Packers!

Just for the record, I'm rooting for Green Bay tonight.

My Indianapolis News buddy Welton "Art" Harris is the son of Welton "Jack" Harris who played for the Packers in the 1925-26 and 1926-27 seasons.

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Snowy Saturday morning


We got about a half-inch of crusty snow overnight and the finches are swarming the thistle seed feeder this morning.

Maria tells me this is the last of our thistle seed, so we’ll have to resupply next time we go to town.

Indianapolis BMW Club friend Wayne Garrison says our friend Howard Mudd’s retirement from the NFL lasted less than a year after his Colts lost in last year’s Super Bowl:

Just got off the phone with Howard Mudd.
He has come out of retirement to coach offensive line with the Philadelphia Eagles.
He sounded so excited to be back in football again.
He will be coaching with his old friend Jim Washburn who was the defensive line coach at Tennessee.
Howard and Jim took a bmw trip to south Africa together.
Go Howard

Howard says he expects to be at the BMW MOA International Rally in Bloomsburg, Pa., in July, so I’ll see him there if I make it to the rally. I hope he wears his Goobertown, Arkansas t-shirt.

Friday, February 04, 2011

On the South

It has been suggested that I use this blog to “bash the South as being full of stupid people.”

Not so. Let me state for the record that I don’t think Southerners are, as a group, any more stupid than folks in any other region of the United States. I have found many of the cultural differences puzzling or amusing, but if I had to bash a region for being full of stupid people, it would probably be a toss-up between New York and California.

In fact, I find much to admire in the South. People here tend to be friendlier and more generous and that counts for a lot in day-to-day living.

And, the evils of slavery notwithstanding, I completely get the States’ Rights basis for the Confederacy. If you read the Constitution closely, you can come away with the understanding that it tacitly recognizes the right of a state to leave the union.

Given the state of affairs in this country since the beginning of 2009, I wouldn’t be all that upset if Arkansas decided to secede from the Union.

No, I like the South and its people just fine and I have no desire to move back to Indiana, especially not at this time of year.

Global warming

Stepdaughter Morgan and her husband are shivering today because the natural gas pipeline serving Tucson and Sierra Vista can’t handle the demand during the current record cold snap.

It’s 18 degrees in Sierra Vista this morning, compared with 30 here in northeast Arkansas.

Here’s how the Sierra Vista Herald covers the story:

SIERRA VISTA, Ariz. — The coldest temperature on record for Sierra Vista caused an array of heating and water issues for thousands of people in and around the city Thursday.

Southwest Gas estimates 4,500 customers in the country club area, south of Buffalo Soldier Trail to Hereford and on either side of Highway 92 were without gas after weather issues, as well as increased demand and a limited means of delivery, resulted in shutting down an area of service.

Residents should not expect to have gas restored for another two days, said Libby Howell, spokeswoman for Southwest Gas.

High demand for the only natural gas pipeline serving southern Arizona, coupled with increased demand on the suppliers of the gas itself, resulted in the outage, Lowell said. 

To prevent the dropping pressure from affecting even more customers, the decision was made to isolate one area of service.

“It’s like cutting off the tip of your finger to save your hand,” she said.

A record low of 3 degrees on Thursday morning saw that hundreds of residents throughout the area were without water due to frozen or burst pipes.

Area plumbing services reported a deluge of calls throughout the day.

“I’m answering phone calls probably every five minutes,” said Pam Whitecotton of Huachuca Plumbing and Blue Diamond Electric.

Calls were coming in from as far as Bisbee and Tombstone to Sierra Vista Plumbing, said Secretary Charity Urias.

“I’ve gotten at least 50 or 60 calls about frozen pipes,” Urias said.

Sierra Vista Fire Marshal Paul Cimino said that “at least 40 businesses have been affected by the freeze,” such as frozen sprinkler systems.

Cimino also said that the majority of medical calls that fire department personnel responded to in the first half of the day were the result of people whose chronic medical issues were aggravated by the weather in some way. 

On Fort Huachuca, more than a dozen buildings were without water due to freezing temperatures, said Media Relations Officer Tanja Linton.

Selected boiler systems on the fort will be turned down, while all those living on post have been asked to turn down their thermostats “to the lowest possible setting but not lower than 50 degrees.”

Linton said, “We’re trying to stay abreast of the situation and one of our priorities is to keep the barracks warm.”

Schools and all nonessential services on the fort were closed Thursday in an effort to “avoid the possibility of a complete gas shutdown to Southeastern Arizona communities, to include Fort Huachuca.”

The Post Exchange and Commissary will remain open, she said.

For those living in the Sierra Vista area who are without heat and cannot find shelter with friends or family, city officials, with the Sierra Vista Unified School District, established a temporary warming center at Apache Middle School.

“It will remain open as long as we need it,” said Sierra Vista Police Chief Ken Kimmel, who directed city staff as the incident commander of the Emergency Operations Center that was established at Sierra Vista Fire Station 3 in order to deal with the gas outage.

The shelter is designed to provide only heat, running water and basic facilities like restrooms for those without them.

Those who will be utilizing the shelter are asked to bring their own food, as well as sleeping bags, pillows and any pertinent medication or infant necessities. If arrangements can not be made for pets, they may be brought to the shelter as well, though they must remain in kennels or pet carriers at all times.

Similar temporary warming stations have been established throughout the county in Benson, Bisbee, Douglas and Willcox.

This is Southwest Gas’s press release:

Due to the unusually cold weather throughout many parts of the country, Arizona's natural gas supply has been impacted. Southwest Gas is working as quickly as possible to restore service. Additional Southwest Gas crews have been sent to area. It is anticipated that it may take several more days to restore service.

In the Tucson area, natural gas customers in the Rita Ranch and eastern foothills areas, and those in the Sierra Vista area south of Buffalo Soldier Trail, on both sides of Highway 92, and running south to Hereford, have been impacted.

If you live in these areas, you do not need to notify Southwest Gas because we are currently working to restore service as soon as possible. Customers are advised not to turn off their gas meter, use their natural gas appliances, and are also advised to set their thermostat to the off or into a non-demand position so that the furnace does not cycle on/off.

When service is being restored to homes and businesses, Southwest Gas personnel will directly contact customers. At that time, they will need access to the natural gas meter and entry. Also, inside and outside lights must be on and an adult home during the dark, evening hours.

Customers who currently have natural gas service are asked to conserve while service is being restored.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Got silver?

liberty 1 oz front

liberty 1 oz rear

Just in case the Obama administration succeeds in its effort to destroy the U.S. dollar and trigger a hyperinflation crisis, I bought a few of these the other day.

50millionmarknote[3]But God help us if we have to go through the hellish inflation that Germany experienced in the 1920s. If this 50 million Mark note were good today, it would be worth about $34 billion.

Intermittent motorcycle pin of the day

ama halloffame 20

This pin commemorates the 20th anniversary of the American Motorcyclist Association’s Motorcycle Hall of Fame in Westerville, Ohio. It showed up in the mail awhile back and I just got around to photographing it.

Shock the monkey, pet the owl

Since I have to blog something…

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Two years later…


You can’t see it very well in this photo, but there is a large broken branch hanging from the circled treetop. The shot was taken a couple of days after the Jan. 27-28, 2009 ice storm that paralyzed northeast Arkansas and left a swath of devastation from Oklahoma to West Virginia.

The branch was one of several “hangers” that have dangled from trees all over our 1.23 acres. This one was over the west end of our house.

We were watching TV about 10:15 p.m. yesterday when we heard a horrendous crash and thump. I knew immediately what had happened.

We took flashlights to the attic to make sure we didn’t have a tree limb through the roof. We didn’t.

We found the branch in several pieces on the ground with a few bits still on the roof, but no apparent roof damage.

It could have been much worse.

Actually, it seems kind of trivial compared with what our friends and family are enduring up north.

Burning the clock

My iPod Touch earphones have gone all nasty and tinny. I get better bass response with the earbuds that came with my iPod Shuffle.sgfeb2

I’m hanging out at Seattle Grind, being the designated driver today. That’s because the del Sol door opened this morning, but wouldn’t latch when closed because of internal freezing. So, rather than chance having to hold the door shut while driving, I drove Maria to work in the Subaru Forester and did my to-ing and fro-ing in it.

But I’m not drinking coffee. I’ve been feeling the effects of too much caffeine lately, what with my daily homemade vente mocha cappuccino. I’d had some tightening of the throat and chest that came and went over the last several days. It showed up yesterday morning about halfway through my cappuccino, so I decided to take a break from coffee for awhile. No caffeine so far today and no jangled feelings.

I’ve decaffeinated myself a few times and managed it with only a little crankiness, so this should be fairly easy.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Tim Balough is not stranded in London. Or anywhere else.

timgs I got a call this morning from Greg Miller, a BMW riding friend in Indiana, who said he received an email from Colorado friend Tim Balough who is presumably stranded in London after being robbed of his cash and his cell phone.

Tim supposedly had to make a quick trip to the U.K. which, if you know Tim, is completely off the probability scale. Getting no answer on Tim’s cell phone, Greg called Tim’s wife Linda, who said Tim is pulling a 24-hour shift at the Alma, Colo. fire station where he is a volunteer fire fighter.

It appears that malware has gotten into Tim’s Gmail account and is sending bogus emails to random contacts in his address book. I didn’t get one, but I’m grateful for the heads up, even though I would have been immediately suspicious too.

This is a fairly common scam. The scammers usually target the elderly, pretending to be a grandchild who has been the victim of a crime or is falsely imprisoned in a foreign country, requesting that money be wired to help them out.