Saturday, April 30, 2011

Back from the Cape


This is a badly stitched-together three-shot panorama out the window of the restaurant where we had lunch today at Cape Girardeau, Mo.

Charlie’s Toyota SUV, with my bike on a trailer behind, is parked in the middle of the parking lot. To the right is the flooded Mississippi River, held back by a floodwall. The river is huge, swollen by a week of torrential rain, and the wind was whipping whitecaps up from the waves. Every now and then we’d see a massive tree floating down the river.

We delivered Deb’s R1200GS to the BMW shop for a new set of shocks and picked up my K1200GT. It was a good decision to trailer the bikes since there was a fierce wind out of the south this morning, complicated by a threat of rain this afternoon.

Scaling the learning curve

corel videostudio

I took Maria’s K75S out for a ride on Crowley’s Ridge yesterday afternoon and shot about 40 minutes of video, mounting the camera in seven different ways to get shots through the windscreen, along the starboard side and of me from various perspectives.

Then I pulled the resulting seven video clips into Corel VideoStudio Pro X4 and started exploring and learning. By 7 p.m., I had cobbled together a passable ride video, burned it to a DVD and viewed it on the big 42” flat screen. It’s rough, but I love the color fidelity and resolution.

The learning process is coming along nicely and I’m already at a point where I could scrap the editing I’ve done so far and create a better version in maybe one-third of the time.3D

I’ll post a video here in a day or two when I’m a bit farther along.

The software presumably can make 3D videos and came with a pair of 3D glasses. I’m weeks away from even thinking of playing with that feature, but the glasses look bizarrely cool.

In the meantime, I’m running up to Grass Roots BMW Motorcycles in Cape Girardeau, Mo. this morning with Charlie Parsons to haul his wife’s bike up and retrieve my bike with its new fuel pump. I’m taking my riding gear out of sheer optimism, but the forecast is for high winds starting at noon and rain starting around 3 p.m., so my K1200GT will most likely come home on the trailer.

Friday, April 29, 2011

The learning curve looks pretty steep from here at the bottom

videostudiopro x4

I got my Amazon Vine Program review copy of Corel’s VideoStudio Pro X4 this morning and installed it.

Now I’m staring at it, overwhelmed. This is serious, powerful software.

It’s my second encounter with Corel software, the first being CorelDraw several years ago. I never could get my brain around CorelDraw because of what I considered overly complex controls.

VideoStudio Pro X4 looks a bit more intuitive, but I can see right now that I’m going to have to spend a lot of time with the User Guide before I can produce anything worth looking at.

What the hell, it’s supposed to retail for $99.99 and I got it free. The least I can do is play with it and review it from the perspective of a rank rookie stepping up from Windows Live Movie Maker.

Yep, that’s what I saw too

Click the “Full Screen” icon at the bottom right for the best view

This is exactly what I saw when I downloaded the PDF file from the White House web site.

There is absolutely no way this is an unaltered PDF made from a scan of an original document.

There is some speculation that the fakery was intentionally obvious because Obama’s enemies in the White House want him to be found out.

Whatever. I’m not in a hurry to see Congress lose interest in fixing the economy just to chase this issue. The end result would be President Biden and an even worse economic situation.

The time to pursue this matter is after the Republicans regain control of the White House.

Thursday, April 28, 2011


damages dam·age

   [dam-ij] Show noun, verb, -aged, -ag·ing.


  1. injury or harm that reduces value or usefulness: The storm did considerable damage to the crops.
  2. damages, Law . the estimated money equivalent for detriment or injury sustained.

Above the cart corrals in the Walmart parking lot. I think they meant damage, not damages.

Sunny skies, the rain is gone

The sun is shining in a cloudless sky and the rain is gone.

The rain gauge readings:

  • 8 a.m. Sunday to 8 a.m. Monday – .55 inches
  • 8 a.m. Monday to 8 a.m. Tuesday – 1.1 inches
  • 8 a.m. Tuesday to 8 a.m. Wednesday – 1.7 inches
  • 8 a.m. Wednesday to 8 a.m. today – 1 inch

So we got 4.3 inches of rain from this miserable four-day rain event.

But you only have to glance at the TV this morning to see that it could be worse, much worse.

The closest we got to a tornado was yesterday when one was spotted south of Jonesboro that tracked northeast and did some damage in Lake City.

That’s nothing compared with the nearly 200 fatalities and the mile-wide tornado that stayed on the ground for an estimated 200 miles across Mississippi and Alabama, destroying whole towns as it went. One report had debris from Tuscaloosa falling out of the sky in Birmingham, about 50 miles to the east.

And we’ll be dealing with the flooding for weeks. The Mississippi is at an all-time high flood level, as are some tributaries in Arkansas.

So I’ll just shut up about our 4.3 inches of rain that quickly ran off to become someone else’s problem. It’s a beautiful morning and I’m going for a motorcycle ride.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

See for yourself

Go to the White House web site and download what is purported to be President Barack Hussein Obama’s honest-to-God birth certificate.

Here’s the link:

Now open it in Adobe Illustrator. Click window>Actions>Links and behold the nine layers of alterations made to the original document.

I’m absolutely stunned that they could be so amateurish and sloppy.

And even if you don’t have Illustrator, notice that the green background pattern was added and is not part of the original document because it doesn’t follow the curve of the page on the left. And that was not the name of that hospital in 1961.

But you’d better move quickly before they discover the mistake and replace it with a version where the history has been scrubbed.

Real-time stormtracker video


If you’re a stormchaser or a weather junkie, you’ll enjoy Severe Studios.

The site features real-time streaming video from storm chasers.

Attention, Walmart shoppers!

attn walmart shoppers

Rain gauge report

rainy april 27 11

A flash of lightning, a clap of thunder and Pete the Aussie creeps under my desk as the next round of storms begins this morning.

I empty the rain gauge every morning when I walk out to the newspaper box. Here’s the last three days worth of precipitation:

  • 8 a.m. Sunday to 8 a.m. Monday – .55 inches
  • 8 a.m. Monday to 8 a.m. Tuesday – 1.1 inches
  • 8 a.m. Tuesday to 8 a.m. today – 1.7 inches

That’s right – 3.3 inches of rain in three days with more coming today.

We’re high and relatively dry up here on Crowley’s Ridge at 370 feet above sea level (according to my GPS), but things are getting ugly down on the flat where the rivers run. Levees are failing, rivers are topping their banks, places that haven’t flooded since the 1920s are being evacuated, roads are closed because of high water and some people are talking about this being a 100-year flood event for northeast Arkansas and southeast Missouri.

Last night was just a rain event for us. The tornados stayed well to our south and the Brookland tornado sirens remained silent. The worst of today’s weather is supposed to track south of us again and then the skies will clear for a couple of days.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Performance, 41 years on


One of the fun things about our new Wifi-capable Blu-ray player is its ability to play streaming movies from our Netflix account.

I’ve been amusing myself with every episode of 30 Rock, starting from the first episode. I’m up to the latter part of the fourth season and still enjoying it.

The offerings also include a lot of old, obscure flicks. I watched the 1970 film “Performance” yesterday. It didn’t last long in the theaters and I never got a chance to see it. I hardly recognized the impossibly young, impossibly thin James Fox.

My friend Steve Power had a copy of the soundtrack album at the time of the movie’s release, which featured “Memo from Turner,” by the Rolling Stones and the tune stuck in my head for more than 40 years.

It’s an odd film – film noir meets psychedelia – with some particularly disturbing violence. On balance, Jagger’s performance of “Memo from Turner” is the high point and maybe the only reason to watch the movie. It has an interesting, unexpected ending that I won’t give away.

I can see clearly now…


This week’s rainy weather got me motivated this afternoon to replace the wiper blades on my ‘94 Honda del Sol.

The last time I drove in rain, I noticed the left wiper was pretty streaky and the right one was even worse, with a long strand of rubber dangling from the bottom.

So I stopped at AutoZone on my way in to town to buy new wiper blades. They have them ranging from cheapies for about $5, all the way up to the $34 Bosch blades.

“What’s the difference between a $5 wiper blade and a $34 wiper blade?” I asked the sales guy. “Do the more expensive ones last longer?”

“Nope. They all last about the same. The rubber deteriorates in the sunlight and you need to replace them about every six months.”

Six months? Hahahahahahahahahaha. Mine are at least five years old and maybe even twice that.

He never did give me a satisfactory answer about why it’s better to buy more expensive blades, so I opted for a pair of $12 Rain-X Weatherbeaters and a gallon of Rain-X windshield washer fluid.

Changing blades was a snap and, as you might suppose, brand new Rain-X blades do a helluva lot better job than blades with 50,000 miles on them.

Le deluge

The sun is out this morning, but the forecast calls for another round of storms tonight.

I dumped 1.1 inches of water out of the rain gauge this morning after a night that saw whole towns flooded, levees topped and rivers out of their banks throughout northeast Arkansas and southeast Missouri.

At last report, seven Arkansans died in last night’s storms, including four in Vilonia where I stopped for a late Subway lunch last July 28 on my way home from riding in the west. I wonder if the Subway survived. Vilonia is about 100 miles southwest of here and about 30 miles north of Little Rock.

For all their faults, the folks at the local TV station did a splendid job of keeping their viewers advised of the storms and the tornados they spawned. In my opinion, they completely outclassed the competition in Little Rock and Memphis.

I seized the moment yesterday afternoon and mowed the front yard while it was relatively dry.

The National Weather Service predicts the next wave of storms will hit us around 4 p.m. Flooding isn’t a concern up here on Crowley’s Ridge, but we get a little worried when we hear the Brookland tornado sirens.

Monday, April 25, 2011

I’m glad I don’t teach the MSF beginning rider course anymore

A Facebook friend and fellow BMW rider – she rides a blue ‘03 K1200GT just like mine – posted that she’s excited about her teenage daughter taking the Motorcycle Safety Foundation’s beginning rider class.

The first classroom session is this evening.

As a matter of course, I told her what I used to tell all of my students’ parents or significant others when I taught the course – don’t hang around and be a spectator for the range exercises.

She responded that she’s talking two days off to do just that.

One woman who has had the course chimed in with, “I would have killed Dave had he done that.”

Another instructor offered: ‘The organization I hope to work for as an instructor actually discourages spectators. It tends to put extra pressure on the students.’

Undaunted, the mom replied: “I actually have to show up to sign off on her liability papers. But then I'll be hanging out doing doughnuts in the parking lot, snapping pics...the usual Mom stuff.”

I elaborated with: “I taught the course for 10 years and we always cautioned family members to stay away. Students consistently do worse if they know a family member is watching them. It really needs to be all about the student. If you have to watch, do it from a secluded spot where she isn't aware that you're there.”

To which the mom responded that she has a blog to run and presumably has to be there to document the girl’s experience for the blog.

“So this is all about journalistic endeavor, eh?” asked the other instructor.

Another guy, who obviously has more testosterone than judgment, capped off the discussion with: “I say make it as nerve raking(sic) as possible - if students do worse when spectators are there all the better. The idea is to prep for the real world right? I'm sure she'll do great either way though - its not like she's entirely new to bikes. Just sliding forward a bit on the seat:) True story: I rode a wheelie into a stoppie for the accel/braking test of my license test and still passed with a perfect score. Nowt wrong with a bit of showing off.”

That guy would have lasted about 10 minutes on my range.

Free cookies. Yum!


Today’s mail brought a package of Newtons Fruit Thins for me to review for the Vine program.

Here are my impressions:

The label says one serving is 3 cookies, totaling 140 calories, but I'll bet you can't stop at three.
I'm not sure what I expected, but the flavor is delightful. To my palate, the orangey and oaty flavors dominate and the cranberries whisper to me as an aftertaste.
The packaging, with its plastic inner tray and metal tab closures assures that the cookies (or should I call them Newtons?) stay fresh and intact. There are 30 (10 servings) to a package, which works out to 22.75 cents per cookie, a little pricey.
Nevertheless, they're a fun alternative to other snacks and well worth a try.

So there.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter!


Me and my mother on Easter Sunday, 1947.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Earth Day

I remember the first Earth Day, back in 1970.
It started innocently enough as a well-intentioned, harmless hippie holiday. People would go to the park, bask in the sunshine and contemplate ways to generate less waste and rid their environment of trash and pollution.
That was before it got hijacked by the Cult of Gaia and the oh-so-emotional purveyors of the junk science of man-caused global warming.
Somewhere along the line, people stopped worshipping the Creator and decided to deify His creation.
Today, it’s just another day to pity the well-meaning folks who think their green lifestyle somehow offsets pollution generated by Third World countries. And another day to hate and resist those who would wreck our economy, destroy our quality of life, and enrich themselves on the basis of the myth of climate change.
And, oh by the way, Earth Day (April 22) is also Vladimir Lenin's birthday. What an odd coincidence. Just like the Oklahoma City bombing and the Columbine massacre were only coincidentally on Adolf Hitler's birthday.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The big question is why didn’t this happen a long time ago?

Day after day, I wade through news stories about the despicable stuff the malignant imbeciles of the world perpetrate on the rest of us.

And most of the time these acts and insults go unanswered and unpunished.

So I was practically giddy this afternoon when I discovered this delicious story about the Westboro Baptist Church morons getting their come-uppance when they showed up in a small Mississippi town to demonstrate at the funeral of a fallen Marine.

This is from There’s no way I can improve on it, so here’s the full text:


On Saturday USMC Staff Sgt. Jason Rogers, who was killed in action in Afghanistan April 7, was buried in Brandon, Mississippi.

That, by itself, is a sadly unremarkable – though certainly noteworthy and solemn – occasion for us to mark.

And in fact when Sgt. Rogers’ body returned to Brandon it was greeted by hundreds, or perhaps even thousands, of well-wishers who gathered at the roadside to honor the fallen American hero. The dashboard camera from Mississippi state trooper Elmo Townsend’s cruiser gives an indication of the scene last Thursday.


What is most notable about Sgt. Rogers’ funeral in Brandon, however, is what didn’t happen.

You see, the troglodytes from Westboro Baptist Church had threatened to spew their poison at Sgt. Rogers’ funeral.

But the Westboro mob wasn’t on the scene, and Sgt. Rogers was laid to rest without incident – thank God.

Why weren’t there protestors?

Planning ahead by the locals, as it turns out.

From an Ole Miss sports message board, a tidbit of information…

A couple of days before, one of them (Westboro protestors) ran his mouth at a Brandon gas station and got his arse waxed. Police were called and the beaten man could not give much of a description of who beat him. When they canvassed the station and spoke to the large crowd that had gathered around, no one seemed to remember anything about what had happened.

Rankin County handled this thing perfectly. There were many things that were put into place that most will never know about and at great expense to the county.

Most of the morons never made it out of their hotel parking lot. It seems that certain Rankin county pickup trucks were parked directly behind any car that had Kansas plates in the hotel parking lot and the drivers mysteriously disappeared until after the funeral was over. Police were called but their wrecker service was running behind and it was going to be a few hours before they could tow the trucks so the Kansas plated cars could get out.

A few made it to the funeral but were ushered away to be questioned about a crime they might have possibly been involved in. Turns out, after a few hours of questioning, that they were not involved and they were allowed to go on about their business.

Fred Phelps, the disbarred lawyer and Democrat activist who leads the Westboro congregation, will undoubtedly pursue some form of legal action for the way his people were thwarted in Brandon. Let him try. There isn’t a jury in Mississippi which will see things his way.

This is a template for how to handle the Westboro people. If lawsuits don’t work, other means will. Whatever it takes to keep them from harassing bereaved military families on the day their fallen loved ones are laid to rest.

UPDATE: Some of the feedback we’ve received from this piece came along the lines that it’s inappropriate to refer to Fred Phelps as a “Democrat activist.”

We stand by that characterization. If anything, it’s an understatement.

Fred Phelps ran for major office in Kansas as a Democrat no less than four times. He ran for governor on the Democrat ballot in 1990, 1994 and 1998 and for senator in 1992. Phelps received 11,000 votes, or seven percent, in 1990, he received 5,000 votes, or three percent, in 1994 and he picked up 15,000 votes, or 15 percent, in 1998. And in the senatorial contest in 1992 he garnered 49,000 votes, or 30 percent. Phelps furthermore ran as a Democrat candidate for mayor of Topeka in 1993 and 1997.

Phelps also has been closely associated with Al Gore on several occasions throughout Gore’s career – Phelps’ son Fred, Jr. was a Gore delegate at the 1988 Democrat convention and the Phelpses hosted a Gore fundraiser in Topeka that year. Phelps claims that Westboro members “ran” Gore’s 1988 campaign in Kansas.

Phelps may not fit within the typical definition of “Democrat activist” some of our readers expect – but a six-time Democrat candidate is an activist Democrat. That is quite clear, as unknown to the public as it might be.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Silver is the new gold

silver coins and ingots

Silver is trading at $45.06 an ounce this morning. That’s up from $23.12 six months ago, $32.30 just 60 days ago, and $36 a month ago.

Nobody knows where all this is going, but some folks expect the demand for silver and the berserk Federal Reserve policy of devaluing the dollar to push the price of silver as high as $250 an ounce. They’re also predicting that silver will out-perform gold by 400 percent.

As one of the investors who got burned by the “Silver Bubble” of the 1970s, I remain wary, but the dynamics of this market are significantly different than when the Hunt brothers of Texas tried to corner the silver market and ran the price up from $1.95 an ounce to $54 an ounce. A change in trading rules on the New York Metals Market and intervention by the Federal Reserve caused a collapse in the silver market, culminating in a 50 percent one-day decline on March 27, 1980, when the price dropped from $21.62 to $10.80.

What makes the 2011 silver boom different is the high demand for industrial silver, particularly in China, the relatively limited supply, and the wobbly U.S. dollar. If the dollar crashes, as some analysts worry, silver – particularly the old 90 percent silver U.S. coins – could become the hard currency of commerce in this country.

There is an historical precedent for the government confiscation of gold. Franklin Roosevelt did it by executive order shortly after he took office in 1933. There’s a provision requiring gold dealers to report their sales hidden in Obamacare, which could be a prelude to a similar measure in the near future. But silver, so far, is under the government radar and it looks like an ideal hedge against inflation.

A 3,000-year-old trumpet


One of Tutankhamen's trumpets was among the rare artifacts stolen from the Cairo Museum during the recent uprising. Tut’s tomb contained a trumpet made of silver and one of copper. The copper trumped has vanished. The 3,000-year-old instruments are rarely played, but a 1939 BBC radio recording captured their haunting sound.

Listen to it here.


In the BBC recording, soldier and bandsman James Tappern was chosen to play the instrument. Just before the instrument was about to be played all the lights in Cairo went out and the broadcast had to take place by candle light. The broadcast was heard by 150 million listeners’ world wide. This had to have been the most amount of people to ever hear this ancient instrument being played. Shortly after the broadcast World War II broke out.

Due to the very delicate state of the trumpets they have only been played a handful of times. Once just before the first Gulf War and once just before the latest Egyptian uprising by a member of staff in the Cairo Museum. The curator of the Tutankhamen section of the Cairo museum claims the trumpet is responsible for causing these wars.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

A sobering perspective

Government can’t balance a checkbook. They’re idiots. I know finance math. I do it for a living. And when I look at the numbers involved here, (and the interest!) it makes my head swim. Okay, for you non-accountants, when they start bandying numbers about on the news of 4 trillion such and such, and a hundred billion this and that, I know that your eyes glaze over. You think to yourself, “Oh, it is just the same old same old, bunch of politicians spending too much money, blah blah blah.” 


Saying that this is the same old same old, is like saying that gophers digging up your lawn is the same level of disaster as Krakatoa. Over the last couple of years we’ve reached a whole new level of crazy. Our spending has gone insane. We’re spending more money, faster, than all of mankind, throughout all of recorded human history. Economists aren’t sure what’s going to happen, because this has never happened before. Ever. On Earth. We’ve strayed into strange new territory here and there are many possible outcomes if we don’t stray the hell back out. And don’t for a second think that any of those possible outcomes are remotely good. No. They range somewhere between the Great Depression and Mad Max.

From the blog of Larry Correia, New York Times bestselling author. Read it all here.

Way to go, Arkansans!


Trumann, Ark. Police Officer Jonathan Schmidt was murdered last week during a traffic stop.

His funeral was Saturday.

A one-day fundraising effort yesterday generated more than $60,000 for his family.

Monday, April 18, 2011


These disingenuous enemies of the Second Amendment would have you believe that we target-shoot little girls.

They also don’t understand the difference between a magazine and a clip.


This is a magazine.


This is a clip.

There is no such thing as an “assault clip.”

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Gone too soon

lauri leaving

Lauri left about 12:30 p.m. CDT, so she’ll probably be home in Indiana by 10 p.m. EDT, easily.

We hope she had a good weekend. We did.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Hey, Lauri’s here!


Our friend Lauri is here from Indiana this weekend. She drove down Friday and she and Maria have been fabric shopping and sharing sewing projects ever since she arrived.

Here she is at a new fabric store in Jonesboro where she and Maria did some serious shopping this afternoon before a late lunch at Couch’s Barbecue.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Happy Birthday, Morgan!


My stepdaughter Morgan is 26 today.

We’re more proud of her today than we were when she graduated Phi Beta Kappa, Magna Cum Laude, from Indiana University.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

I think Rush may be holding back…

Rush Limbaugh blasted President Barack Obama on Thursday, calling him a “vindictive little guy” and saying there was “nothing presidential” about his budget speech.
Limbaugh said he was offended that Obama had invited GOP Rep. Rush Limbaugh, Barack ObamaPaul Ryan, who has offered his own budget plan, and other Republicans to sit in the front row at Wednesday’s address, “and then he proceeds to insult them.”
“It was a disgusting display. It was in no way presidential,” Limbaugh said on his talk show Thursday.
He said the incident revealed Obama’s real character.
“He’s not this cool, calm collected guy,” Limbaugh said. “Obama’s not a good guy. He’s a mean, vindictive little guy. He’s very cold.”
He also accused Obama of pandering to liberal supporters as part of his re-election strategy.
“His base is made up of people even more vile than he is,” Limbaugh said. “A lot of it is just walking human debris on the Democrat base side and they’ve got to be stoked.”

Read more on Rush: Obama a 'Vindictive Little Guy'

Heading for the Cape


BMW friend Charlie and I hauled my K1200GT up to Grass Roots BMW Motorcycles in Cape Girardeau, Mo. today for a new fuel pump and a 12,000-mile service.

It’s a long way to go for service, but Herb and Reno Anderson are good people and I’d rather take my bike to them than to the quasi-BMW dealer in Memphis. They have it scheduled for work next Tuesday, assuming they can get the parts in time.

Here’s Charlie gassing up south of Sikeston, Mo.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011



No, the dollar sign goes in front of the number. Like $1, not 1$.

Promising book

I just listened to an interview on WIBC radio (Indianapolis station, I access on the Internet) with Thomas Sowell on his new book, “Economic thomas-sowell2Facts & Fallacies.”
I’m familiar with Sowell through his columns and think he’s one of the smartest guys around.
So I’m ordering his book from

Tank bag inventory

My BMW K1200GT is going to Grass Roots BMW Motorcycles in Cape Girardeau, Mo., tomorrow for a new fuel pump and periodic service.

So I’m stripping all of the extraneous accessories from the bike this morning to make the bike easier to load on a trailer.

And this gave me an opportunity to do an inventory of the stuff in my Marsee tank bag.

Here’s a list of the stuff I carry in the main compartment and lid pockets:


From left to right, top to bottom: BMW Gore-Tex rain gloves, BMW vented summer gloves, sidestand foot plate, the bag itself with insurance card and pens, custom solid earplugs, in-ear stereo monitors, BMW tire plugging kit, DeWalt bifocal sunglasses, National Park Passport, special wrench for changing MotoLight bulbs, Nikon binoculars, LED headlamp, BMW rally pocket knife, LED flashlight, MotoLight replacement bulb and 2 o-rings, mosquito repellant disc, spare bolt for saddlebag mount, BMW MOA Anonymous book, BMW plug-to-automotive plug connector, owners manual, service manual, envelope for GPS sunshade, postcards and stamps. From the forward pouch: cotton helmet skullcap (that I never use), BMW road service manual, tank bag rain cover, 3 packs of matches from Nepenthe in Big Sur, BMW buff, registration certificate, instructions for my tent.


And then there’s the aft pouch: a second tire plugging kit, cleaner for glasses and helmet visors, microfiber cleaning cloth (dirty), tire gauge, 2 Garmin GPS screwdrivers, BMW power plug, screws for GPS mount, solar powered calculator, three screws of unknown origin or purpose, stereo extension cord with right-angle connector and volume control, fuse puller, fuses, two valve caps and a pair of foam earplugs.

Not pictured are my windstopper balaclava and glove liners which are in the saddlebag of the K75S, but normally live in the forward pouch.

In emptying the bag I also found most of the gasoline and motel receipts from last summer’s trip.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Day by Day

sun king

Do you trust Government Motors and the UAW with your life?

Imagine turning your car’s steering wheel, or giving it a gentle tug, and having it break away from the steering column. Now you’re speeding along holding the suddenly useless wheel.

Click here for the whole story.

Sun Senior Classic 2011

senior classic 02senior classic 01

The Sun’s annual Senior Classic was Sunday afternoon at Valley View High School. It’s a charity event that raises money for the Newspapers In Education program.

I volunteer as a back-up photographer and Maria does whatever is needed.

One of our tasks was the hanging of a couple of big Sun banners. We used zip ties to secure the larger banner to cables at one end of the gym. The other was not so easy. We finally managed to poke zip ties through tiny gaps in the wooden trim of what I suppose is a press box at the top of the bleachers and in a spot where the TV camera would see it as the players ran up and down the court.

We were pretty proud of our ingenuity until we noticed these folks who completely negated our effort.

sun banner

It made a good back rest.

150 years ago this morning

fort-sumter-fireOn this date in 1861, at 4:30 in the morning, South Carolina forces opened fire on Fort Sumter in Charleston harbor.

It was the beginning of the Civil War and a 150-year argument over the Constitutional right of states to secede from the Union. Some say the matter was settled at Appomattox, but many Constitutional scholars hold that since the states created the Federal government, they have an implicit right to withdraw from participation in it.

My four years in one of the western Confederate states and the growing perversion of the Interstate Commerce clause have piqued my interest in ways to curb the power of the Federal government and restore the proper authority to the states.

Coincidentally, Dick Morris has some thoughts on the matter that I find interesting and hopeful.

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Can-Am Spyder Roadster

Longtime friend Mark Wadleigh posted this to my Facebook wall this morning:

Just saw a TV ad for the "Can-Am Roadster." A $15K tricycle with a hot babe you'll never date riding bitch pad. Despite the "La Grange" soundtrack for the spot, I am thinking "not." As a car, not enough. As a motorcycle, too P7130054much. As a faux youthenator for dork 50-something stockbrokers, it's probably right on. What thinkest thou?

I got my first close-up look at the Roadster last July at a truck stop in Wyoming. I thought it looked interesting, but not interesting enough to want one. They're obviously going for entry-level riders, since their commercial says you can take your motorcycle license test and be riding the next day. Having taught the MSF course for a decade and riding for more than 30 years, I find the implicit suggestion that no skill is required to be very troubling.

I've watched several Roadster videos on YouTube and think the bike's handling characteristics look a little scary. Well, maybe a lot scary. I might re-think all of this if I were handicapped to the point where I couldn't ride a conventional motorcycle, but I doubt it. I just see it as a great way for novice riders to get in over their heads.

Storms and storm troopers

It’s another stormy Monday morning and Pete is staying close to his people.
Pete hates thunder and lightning, having been terrified to the point of running away from home during a storm when he was about six months old.
We can gauge the severity of a storm by where Pete goes to hide from it. A mild storm will send him to his kennel. A strong storm will find him cowering in the back of our walk-in bedroom closet. During some storms, we find him hiding under the toilet in the guest bathroom. He took refuge this morning under the toilet in the master bathroom while Maria got ready for work.
Now, as I sit at the kitchen table with my netbook and mocha cappuccino, he’s lying a couple of inches from my left foot, pretending to sleep as the rain splats onto the concrete patio and thunder rumbles in the distance.
Ruthie, being old and mostly deaf, doesn’t notice the thunder and only know that water is falling from the sky.
The rain is expected to blow off across the Mississippi River to Tennessee by about 1 p.m., so I may delay my trip to the post office until then. Besides picking up our mail, I have to dispatch a book I sold on
In the meantime, I need to write an book review of Erik Larson’s “In the Garden of Beasts,” a fascinating look at the early days of the Third Reich scheduled for publication May 10.
I got an advance uncorrected proof from the Vine Program, in which those of us who write a lot of product reviews get free stuff – mostly books, but sometimes other products – to check out and review.
“In the Garden of Beasts” is the story of U.S. Ambassador William Dodd and his family, notably his daughter Martha, during his time as ambassador to Germany. Dodd, a university professor appointed to the post by President Franklin Roosevelt, served as ambassador from July 13, 1933, to Dec. 29, 1937, and witnessed the transformation of Germany into a totalitarian state. Adolf Hitler had been appointed chancellor in early 1933 and spent the next few years ruthlessly consolidating his power through brute force and political murder.
Dodd’s daughter Martha was a free spirit in her 20s, estranged from her New York banker husband, who bounced from one romantic relationship to another, all the time moving from being an enthusiastic supporter of Hitler’s New Germany, to becoming an apologist for the Nazis, to finally detesting Hitler and his regime.
The book is full of interesting nuggets, like the efforts of Foreign Press Chief Ernst “Putzi” Hanfstaengl to set her up as Hitler’s mistress. They had one meeting during which Hitler kissed her hand twice, but showed no other interest. Lucky for Martha who lived until 1990 instead of dying in Hitler’s bunker as Eva Braun did in May, 1945. And we learn that King Kong was Hitler’s favorite movie.
Larson is a facile writer and a diligent scholar and the book is a real page-turner. If you’re looking for a new perspective on the early days of Nazi Germany, this book is a real gem.
Well, I guess I just wrote the review. I’ll do a copy/paste and it will be off my plate.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Caught in the act

A well-fed raccoon discovers some lunch meat in our side yard at 4 a.m. today.

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Sunny Spring Saturday morning


It’s a breezy, sunny 74 degrees here at our house in the woods and I’m sipping mocha cappuccino on our screened back porch, listening to a blue jay calling from somewhere deep in the oak and hickory forest.

The Kwanza cherry trees are filling with pink blossoms and the SSW wind carries the sound of traffic on nearby U.S. 49 and my neighbor’s lawnmower. Pete the Aussie has finished his breakfast and is lying at my feet. It’s a toss-up as to whether he’s guarding me or, given his timid nature, I’m protecting him.

I’m wearing my Ted Simon – Jupiter’s Travels t-shirt, personally autographed by my friend Ted at the 1995 BMWMOA rally in Durango, Colo.

Although it’s a little windy for my taste, this is the warm full-of-promise spring morning we’ve longed for all winter.

I Windexed our glass topped patio table last evening when we were preparing to eat dinner on the porch. I had to repeat the exercise this morning because it was coated with a thin layer of yellow-green tree pollen. No wonder my allergies are making my eyes itchy under my contact lenses.

April in northeast Arkansas feels like May in Indiana and I feel a little sorry for our Hoosier friends who have to wait a month for days like this. Checking the Weather Channel web site, I see a cold (51F) rain is falling as a thunderstorm sweeps over Thorntown.

Now, I think I’ll throw a leg over the K75S and ride down to the post office to pick up the mail.

Friday, April 08, 2011

Friday morning stuff

I ran out of excuses yesterday afternoon, fired up the mower and cut the grass in the front and side yards.
Maria finally connected via text message with our Thorntown tenant to inquire about the overdue rent check. He and his family are on a Spring Break vacation in Clearwater, Fla. and he apparently just spaced the rent payment. I’m delighted to hear he and his wife have got their finances on track and can afford a Florida vacation. They’ve gone through some tough times coming back from a bankruptcy.
I’m just puzzled and disturbed that he could overlook something as fundamental and essential as making a rent payment on time. I just don’t understand.
Our internet was down this morning, so I saddled up and rode the K75S in to town for coffee and internet at Seattle Grind. It’s a balmy 70 degrees with no rain in the forecast for a few days, but the heavy overcast makes it feel gloomy and impending. The skies are supposed to clear some as the day wears on. That will be a great relief, since I love sunshine and find gray days downright depressing.
Which can give rise to a venting of opinions:
  • White chocolate is not real chocolate.
  • I have a strange indifference to the question of a federal government shut-down.
  • I reflexively change channels when Geraldo Rivera makes his obscenely egotistical Friday morning appearance on Fox and Friends
  • I don’t like Romaine lettuce.
  • Baskin-Robbins Peanut Butter & Chocolate ice cream is like heroin to me.
  • I miss my sons and granddaughter.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Cherry blossoms in our back yard

The three surviving Kwanza cherry trees we planted last spring are showing blossoms. I didn’t really expect blossoms this year, but what do I know?
We will, of course, plant more of them this spring.

How do I clean it?


I bought this Fieldsheer jacket at the BMWMOA rally in July 2009. This photo was shot a month later as I set off on a three-week ride to MotoGP in Indianapolis and then the Colorado Rocky Mountains.

Notice how clean it is.

Now, after nearly two years and 10,000 miles, it’s not so clean. It has picked up dirt in several places, most noticeably where my torso contacts the back of the Marsee tank bag.

So I decided to pull the CE armor out of the elbows, shoulders and back and toss it into the washing machine.

But first, I checked the care tag inside. And to my utter amazement, I discover I can wash the liner but not the outer garment. WTF?


Somehow I don’t think gently sponging the outer garment with a non-biological detergent is going to work very well.

Godspeed, Bernie Clayton


Bernard Clayton Jr., 94, author of best-selling bread baking cookbooks, a fellow alumnus of The Indianapolis News, and father of my boyhood friend Jeff Clayton, died March 28 in Bloomington.

The New York Times gave him a splendid obit in Tuesday’s editions. You can read it here. Times writer William Grimes failed to mention that Bernie was on the deck of the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay when the Japanese signed the surrender documents ending World War II. He was there as a war correspondent for LIFE magazine.

The last time I saw Bernie was maybe 30 years ago when his son and daughter Susan were in Bloomington for the holidays and my then-wife and I were invited down for a dinner party. Bernie had the most amazing kitchen I’ve ever seen with pots and pans of every description hanging from overhead racks. He served up steaming bowls of bouillabaisse that was like nothing I’ve ever tasted before or since.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Not mowing today

It’s a sunny 63 degrees and our lawn wants desperately to be mowed.

The first dandelions have gone from brilliant yellow to white spheres of seed and there are foot-tall sprouts of wild onions all over the place.

The John Deere LA125 mower is serviced, gassed and ready to roll, but there is no way I’m going to mow this afternoon.


Because there is a strong wind out of the SSW at 20 mph, gusting to 40 mph and the trees are full of broken limbs left over from the January 2009 ice storm. Many of them are hanging by a thread and several are big enough to injure or kill if they hit someone in the head.

A lethally big limb came crashing down just short of our chain link backyard fence a week or so ago and a small branch speared into the ground last weekend as we dined on the screened back porch with Maria’s parents.

I realize the odds of being hit are pretty slim, but why tempt fate? We’re at the end of a cul-de-sac and our yard can be seen from only three neighboring homes, so the mower will sit in the garage until we get a windless day.

And so it begins…

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Mmmmmm, chocolate cake!


My mother-in-law Sandra brought a fabulous chocolate cake when she and her husband Gene came for a visit last weekend.

She bakes insanely good cakes and this was no exception. We fell upon it like ravenous wolves and split the last piece after lunch yesterday.

Now my taste buds are looking forward to their autumnal visit.

Monday, April 04, 2011

Here and gone

gene&sandra leaving

Maria’s parents, Gene and Sandra, rolled out about 7:45 a.m. today, a few minutes ahead of the rain, on their seven-hour drive home to Indiana.

I think they enjoyed their visit, which included a road trip to Marshall’s Dry Goods in Batesville, the St. Bernards Threads of Life Quilt Show, a bunch of flea markets, the Crowley’s Ridge Nature Center, and dinner last evening with our friend Susan. Sandra’s mobility and stamina are much improved since her knee surgery last year and Maria had a hard time keeping up with her.

The temperature was a balmy 72 degrees when they left. By the time we got around to going in to town this afternoon, the cold front had arrived and the mercury was at 48 and continuing its downward slide, heading for an overnight low in the mid-30s.

A place for PDA?


Buses – the plural of bus.

Busses – two or more kisses.

Observed at the Crowley’s Ridge Nature Center on the southside of Jonesboro.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

I was wrong and I apologize

Back when I was a newspaper reporter, we had an admonition to “always remember that we’re firing real bullets.”

That means we should choose our targets carefully and not shoot from the hip because our words are being read by other people and can wound.

I was reminded yesterday that I’ve been shooting from the hip as far as our cable TV/internet provider is concerned.

I got an email from Kennieth Goodwin, CEO of Fusion Media, taking issue with the way I have represented his company’s service and content in my blog.

Here’s what he wrote:

It has been brought to my attention that you have been making snide or slanderous remarks in your personal blog regarding Fusion Media, which you like to pre-pend with the term "Con".  While I applaud of your blogging and free speech rights, I do wish that before you make slanderous or incorrect remarks that you address any issues with us.  It seems that most of the issues you refer to are "non-issues" as you are just un-happy about what we do not offer.  I have reviewed your account and do not notice any service calls.  We do appreciate you as a customer and if you have any issues, please don't hesitate to contact us.  We cannot fix what we are not aware of.

I would also like to add that we are a small, locally owned and operated company.  It is very costly to run cable, internet, and telephone services in the rural community and this is quite evident in the fact that major operators, such as Suddenlink, Comcast, Time Warner, etc... are not your service provider.  If we passed 1,000 homes per mile as in the Jonesboro city limits instead of the 25 homes per mile that we average, we could afford to offer you limitless services that you so often compare us with.  Keep in mind that we also offer these services at an average of $10.00/month or less than any other local service provider.

P.S.  We offer IFC and previously offered Fox Business.  Not a huge demand for Fox Business, no sense in making everyone pay for something very few will watch.  Programmers charge per subscriber.

Mr. Goodwin is absolutely right on all counts. I shot from the hip as grumpy old men are wont to do. My gripes, which were highly subjective, had no place in a public forum such as this and I have systematically expunged them from the blog.

Truth be told, our cable and internet have been more stable and reliable since Mr. Goodwin’s company bought the operation from the folks at Batesville.

I hope he will accept my apology.

Friday, April 01, 2011

Fabric shopping in Batesville


BATESVILLE, Ark. – Maria’s parents arrived about 5 p.m. yesterday and today’s big adventure is a fabric shopping expedition to the fabulous Marshall’s Dry Goods in Batesville.

Maria and her mom got in an hour’s worth of shopping this morning before we adjourned for a big lunch at Josie’s Steakhouse on the east bank of the White River.

Now Gene and I are hanging out at the Cinnamon Stick coffee house about a block north of Marshall’s while our wives dive into the bottomless pit of fabric bolts. Turns out the coffee house was a general store with an opera house upstairs. After that, it was the original location of Marshall’s before they moved down the street.