Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy birthday, Steve!

John and Steve dodge Lake Michigan waves on the pier at Frankfort, Mich., summer of 1982.

Today is my son Steve’s 41st birthday.

That makes him 4 years older than I was when his brother Sean shot this photo of him and me on the pier at Frankfort, Mich. in the summer of 1982.

Steve and Sean have grown into splendid men who never fail to make me proud. And Steve has become an excellent father to his daughter Lisa.

Clay in his Schuberth helmet


This is our neighbor Clay. I gave him one of our old Schuberth motorcycle helmets a few weeks ago and it seems to have become a permanent fixture on his head.

Maria and I have seen him wearing it several times while zooming around the neighborhood on his bicycle.

Maybe one of these days I’ll have to tell him about all of the places that helmet has been – from Vermont to California and from Daytona to Spokane.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

At last

I bought some deer corn from a local hunting outfitter several weeks ago and put it out as bait for the trailcam.

It has gone largely unnoticed, probably because there’s a bumper crop of acorns this fall which deer seem to prefer over corn.

The corn finally attracted a buck about 2 a.m. today – a young six-pointer.

Time to put out fresh corn.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Ef you don’t watch out…

littleorphantannieIn 1885 Hoosier Poet James Whitcomb Riley penned one of the creepiest poems ever written.

It seems apropos to remember it here on the eve of Halloween:

            Little Orphant Annie

            Little Orphant Annie's come to our house to stay,

            An' wash the cups an' saucers up, an' brush the crumbs away,

            An' shoo the chickens off the porch, an' dust the hearth, an' sweep,

            An' make the fire, an' bake the bread, an' earn her board-an'-keep;

            An' all us other childern, when the supper-things is done,

            We set around the kitchen fire an' has the mostest fun

            A-list'nin' to the witch-tales 'at Annie tells about,

            An' the Gobble-uns 'at gits you

            Ef you




            Wunst they wuz a little boy wouldn't say his prayers,--

            An' when he went to bed at night, away up-stairs,

            His Mammy heerd him holler, an' his Daddy heerd him bawl,

            An' when they turn't the kivvers down, he wuzn't there at all!

            An' they seeked him in the rafter-room, an' cubby-hole, an' press,

            An' seeked him up the chimbly-flue, an' ever'-wheres, I guess;

            But all they ever found wuz thist his pants an' roundabout:--

            An' the Gobble-uns 'll git you

            Ef you




            An' one time a little girl 'ud allus laugh an' grin,

            An' make fun of ever' one, an' all her blood-an'-kin;

            An' wunst, when they was "company," an' ole folks wuz there,

            She mocked 'em an' shocked 'em, an' said she didn't care!

            An' thist as she kicked her heels, an' turn't to run an' hide,

            They wuz two great big Black Things a-standin' by her side,

            An' they snatched her through the ceilin' 'fore she knowed what she's about!

            An' the Gobble-uns 'll git you

            Ef you




            An' little Orphant Annie says, when the blaze is blue,

            An' the lamp-wick sputters, an' the wind goes woo-oo!

            An' you hear the crickets quit, an' the moon is gray,

            An' the lightnin'-bugs in dew is all squenched away,--

            You better mind yer parunts, an' yer teachurs fond an' dear,

            An' churish them 'at loves you, an' dry the orphant's tear,

            An' he'p the pore an' needy ones 'at clusters all about,

            Er the Gobble-uns 'll git you

            Ef you




Why was this never brought up in the Obamacare debate?

Don’t believe it? Read the legislation. Click here and scroll down to page 1312.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Four years an Arkie

driving dogs to arkansas

Today is the fourth anniversary of the day I became an Arkansas resident.

Oct. 27, 2007 was the day I loaded Pete and Ruthie into a single kennel in the back of the Subaru and made the seven-hour drive from Thorntown, Ind. to our new house between Buck Snort and Goobertown.

I shot this photo on I-74 somewhere east of Champaign, Ill.

I made a few more trips back to Indiana for odds and ends and to oversee projects at the house, but I no longer considered myself an Indiana resident.

We had a TV, a computer, and an inflatable bed, but the pods containing our furniture wouldn’t be delivered for a few more days.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

New specs

My eyes needed a break from contact lenses this week, which forced me to wear new glassesmy glasses, which I freaking hate.

I hate them because the graduated multi-focal design puts the magnification I need for computer work so far down toward the bottom of the lenses that I have to tip my head up to an unacceptable and painful degree in order to see a computer monitor.

In that regard, they are the worst glasses I have had since I started wearing eye correction in the third grade.

I had a newer prescription, issued in August of last year, that I never had filled because I was too cheap.

Well, being cheap will only get you so far. I decided today that I was long overdue for new lenses and frames, so I went down to Lens Masters at 320 S. Church St. in Jonesboro and plunked down $417 and change for the specs in this photo.

I suppose I could have gone down to Walmart and got their “two pairs for $99” deal, but being able to see well is important and you get what you pay for.

Medical-based fitness comes to Jonesboro


This is Monica Specking, a fitness specialist at the new $15 million St. Barnards Health & Wellness Institute that opens today at One Wellness Drive.

The facility offers a medical-based path to fitness that begins with an extensive assessment of your physical condition, including cholesterol levels, metabolic rate and other factors. The result is an 18-20 page report that trainers use to create a workout program tailored to your unique strengths, weaknesses, risk factors and goals. That’s something you can’t get at a generic fitness center.

I joined fitness centers on four occasions when I lived in Indiana. The first was the Executive Health Club just off Monument Circle in downtown Indianapolis. It was easy walking distance from my work at The Indianapolis News and I went there during my lunch break five days a week for more than a year. It got me into the best physical shape of my life and I was doing full weight stacks on several of the Nautilus machines. The whole thing came crashing down when the owner sold the space to a restaurant and transferred our memberships to his other facility in a shopping center across 16th Street from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. I went a few times, then quit because it wasn’t convenient and didn’t fit my schedule.

I joined other fitness centers later and eventually learned that they intentionally oversell memberships in anticipation of a high dropout rate. Why drop out? Because the places get so crowded that you have to wait for each machine and can’t maintain a good rhythm to your workout. It happened at a fitness club on Indianapolis’s northeastside, in Carmel and again in Crawfordsville. And, in each case, I had travel to work out and could never get a routine going in my day-to-day schedule.

I plan to give the St. Bernards facility a try. They have a café with Wifi and a host of other amenities that could lure me to make a habit of daily visits. I will, of course, report how it goes.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Twitchy bank

I guess I should be grateful, but my bank’s anti-theft software is a little too twitchy for my taste.

I decided to save a check and use my debit card to pay the Safelite guy after he installed a windshield on the Subaru at our house yesterday afternoon. He made multiple attempts, including calling the card numbers in to his home office, but it wouldn’t fly, so I ended up writing a check anyway.

Later that evening, my card was declined when I tried to pay for dinner at a local restaurant.


Fortunately, Maria’s card was not declined so we didn’t have to wash dishes to pay for our meal.

I called the bank first thing this morning and learned that the Safelite charge was refused and the card was locked because it was too big ($242???) and out of state (the billing site is at a Safelite facility in Ohio). So, what if I had actually been in Ohio and wanted to buy something costing $242? It would have been declined?

I guess it’s a good thing that I didn’t need to buy anything expensive when I was in Las Vegas in July or in Indianapolis and Colorado a couple of  months ago. I think they need to work on their algorithm and come up with something a bit more sophisticated.

Or they could dump it altogether. After all, that’s why we have LifeLock.

Department of Injustice seeks to gut FOIA

From the Daily Caller

By C.J. Ciaramella   11:50 PM 10/24/2011

A proposed revision to Freedom of Information Act rules would allow federal agencies to lie to citizens and reporters seeking certain records, telling them the records don’t exist.

The Justice Department has proposed the change as part of a large revision of FOIA rules for federal agencies. Specifically, the rule would direct government agencies who are denying a request under an established FOIA exemption to dept-of-injustice“respond to the request as if the excluded records did not exist,” rather than citing the relevant exemption.

The proposed rule has alarmed government transparency advocates across the political spectrum, who’ve called it “Orwellian” and say it will “twist” public access to government.

In a public comment regarding the rule change, the ACLU, along with Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) and, said the move “will dramatically undermine government integrity by allowing a law designed to provide public access to government information to be twisted to permit federal law enforcement agencies to actively lie to the American people.”

Anne Weismann, the chief counsel of CREW, said the Justice Department has a legitimate purpose behind the rules: to protect sensitive information about ongoing investigations. However, she said lying about the records “is an overbroad and improper response.”

“The problem is, if you’re a FOIA requester and the agency says they don’t have the records, you have no reason to doubt that,” Weismann said. “But if they cite an exemption, you have the option to sue.”

Those groups have suggested an alternate federal response that would not require any revisions to the rules. “We interpret all or part of your request as a request for records which, if they exist, would not be subject to the disclosure requirements of FOIA pursuant to section 552(c), and we therefore will not process that portion of your request.”

Conservative government watchdog Judicial Watch has also lambasted the proposed rules change. (RELATED: Obama admin. pulls references to Islam from terror training materials, official says)

The news is “not surprising, coming from the Obama administration,” said Christopher J. Farrell, director of investigations and research at Judicial Watch.

“The Obama administration is already doing it right now by actively misleading the public concerning White House visitor logs,” Farrell said. “Every day, the Obama administration misrepresents and conceals the true, complete record of who is going in and out of the White House — all the while proclaiming themselves champions of transparency. It’s truly Orwellian. The proposed rule change should be rejected.”

If the rule were to go into effect, it would likely be challenged in court. Courts have traditionally given the Justice Department fairly broad powers regarding records disclosure, but recent precedent may give the DOJ trouble.

In a case involving the FBI and records disclosure, U.S. District Judge Cormac Carney wrote that the “Government cannot, under any circumstance, affirmatively mislead the Court.”

Under current FOIA practice, the government may withhold information and issue a denial saying it can neither confirm nor deny the existence of records. Such a denial is known as a “Glomar response” — named after the legal battle between the Los Angeles Times and the CIA in the 1970s over records concerning the CIA’s attempts to salvage a sunken Soviet submarine.

Upon taking office, President Obama released a memorandum declaring his administration was “committed to operating with an unprecedented level of openness. Specifically, he pledged to bolster the strength of the FOIA act, calling it “the most prominent expression of a profound national commitment to ensuring an open government.”

The DOJ did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Read more:

Monday, October 24, 2011

New windshield for the Forester

jason safelite

Jason St. John, our local Safelite technician came to our house today and replaced the broken windshield on our Subaru Forester.

We picked up a couple of chips in the glass since our arrival in Arkansas four years ago and the most recent one opened up into a crack on the driver’s side of the windshield last week.

Maria was concerned that it might worsen into a real hazard, so I called our insurance agent who recommended Safelite. Since we have a $500 deductible on our policy, this had to be covered out of pocket.

To my delight, the whole thing came to $242.92 – much less than I expected, especially since the windshield has embedded heating elements for the wipers.

Jason showed up earlier than expected, which was a big help since I wanted Maria to have the finished product in time to drive the Subaru to work. He even vacuumed the car and washed all of the windows, inside and out.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Coupon fraud, my ass

We just got a flurry of indignant calls from Maria’s daughter, who is the sharpest couponer I know.

She tangled with a CVS Pharmacy clerk with a room temperature I.Q. over her use of coupons to buy a bunch of Skittles.

The bitch had the temerity to accuse my stepdaughter of “coupon fraud” in front of a bunch of other customers.

“This,” as Daffy Duck was wont to say, “means war.”

It is supremely unwise for a CVS clerk to challenge a Magna Cum Laude, Phi Beta Kappa economics graduate of Indiana University over the proper use of store coupons.

Clearly, Linda the clerk is going down.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

As practical as unicorns on treadmills

Ever since I first laid eyes on the wind turbines west of Palm Springs, Calif., I’ve been captivated by the idea of wind-generated electricity.

The wind farms of central Kansas fascinated me as I rode past them on I-70 four years ago. It was an exciting new concept and it seemed like free energy to me. I thought anyone who opposed wind energy was a fool.

I had fallen into the liberal trap of letting my emotional response form my opinions on the issue. I thought it looked cool and bought into the seductive notion that wind farms would quickly pay for themselves and bring down the price of electricity with no damage to the environment.

And I was excited that Nordex, a German wind turbine company, chose Jonesboro as the home of its North American manufacturing facility.

Turns out, like most emotional-based arguments, it can’t stand up to the facts.

This video lays it out.

Friday, October 21, 2011

See you there, Ruthie

rainbow bridge

This was enclosed in a sympathy card from neighbors Tony and Misty Micenhamer following Ruthie’s death.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

A minor adventure for Pete


Here’s Pete, waiting patiently in the passenger seat of my Honda del Sol as I retrieve the mail from our post office box this morning.

We normally keep him on a leash when outside the fenced back yard or house, but I gambled that he would hang with me and he proved trustworthy. We even took an unleashed stroll around the yard when we got home.

Preoccupied with puppies


We’d been talking about getting an Australian shepherd puppy for months before Ruthie took a turn for the worse.

Now that she’s no longer with us, the discussions have turned more serious.

I love Aussies. Pete has turned out to be the smartest, most affectionate dog I’ve ever had and I’ve had a desire for a long time to breed and raise Aussies.

We had Pete neutered when he was six months old, so breeding him is not an option. Besides, he has no papers and his dad was a miniature Aussie.

We talked about getting a male and a female from separate litters for breeding purposes. Then Maria suggested we just get a female and pay a stud feed when we want puppies. At the moment, that sounds more reasonable.

Maria wants a puppy yesterday. I want to wait a bit, until December at the earliest.

In the meantime, we’re enjoying the quiet and realizing how noisy Ruthie was. She developed the annoying habit of deciding there was some nefarious threat in the back yard and exploding into furious barking while we were trying to watch TV. Considering that she was mostly deaf and blind, the threat had to be imaginary. She would jump up from her place on the living room rug and bolt out the back door, onto the screened porch and then out the dog door to the yard, where she would run around barking in all directions. Then she would trot back to the living room and plop down, only to repeat the outburst 10-15 minutes later.

Pete has no use for such hysterics and is happy to lie on the couch with us and be petted.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Saying goodbye to a wonderful friend


This is me saying goodbye to Ruthie at the vet’s office.

I told her how much we love her. I told her to go into the Light and I told her we’ll see her on the Other Side.

(I’m typing with tears in my eyes.)

As a Catholic, I believe euthanasia and assisted suicide are murder when it comes to people and Ruthie always felt like a little person to me, so having her put down yesterday afternoon left me with a horrible guilty feeling. She trusted me and I had her killed and I’ll never be OK with that.

But the vet, Dr. Jon Huff, did his best to make us understand we were doing the right thing for Ruthie. Her Canine Cognitive Dysfunction (Alzheimer’s for dogs) was filling her with confusion and terror, especially at night when she roamed the house endlessly, scratching on doors whether they were open or closed, panting hysterically and trembling uncontrollably. Increasingly heavy doses of Valium did little to calm her.

I did my best to make sure she enjoyed her last day with unlimited treats and petting. We spent her last hour at home sitting on the back porch with her gazing out at the woods through her cataract-hazed eyes and me petting her.

She climbed eagerly into the passenger seat of my Honda del Sol and we drove down to Maria’s office where we transferred into the Subaru. Ruthie sat on Maria’s lap and poked her nose out the open window, taking in the kaleidoscope of city smells on the way to the vet’s office.

Dr. Huff gave her two injections – one to sedate her into unconsciousness and the second to stop her brain and heart.

She was trembling violently as she lay on the table for the first injection, but began to relax immediately. The right side of her face, contorted for the last five years or so by something akin to a stroke, relaxed and she began to look like a puppy again.

Maria and I sat on either side of the table and stroked her gently as she drifted off. I’m confident that she never felt the second injection or any pain from her heart stopping.

Knowing how much she loved to chase a laser dot, I like to think she saw the Light and went to it eagerly, reveling in the release from the limitations of her worn-out body and mind.

She came into our lives around this time in October, 1997. We chose her from dozens of dogs at the animal shelter in Crawfordsville, Ind. I had my laser pointer with me to test the alertness of dogs in the kennel and she had the most enthusiastic response by far. And she seemed to know that she was our dog. She looked at Maria as if she had been waiting for us.

She was a very very very good dog girl. Even though Pete is dozing behind me on the carpet, the house feels empty and lonely without her. Pete spent much of last evening searching for her in every room of the house.

I’d write more, but it’s getting hard to see the monitor.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Thanks, Bo

bo nuckles This is Bo Nuckles, owner of Bo’s Septic Service, emptying our septic tank this afternoon.

It’s not a job I would want, but I’m glad he doesn’t mind it.

Farewell, Ruthie


We have to put Ruthie the Wonder Dog down this afternoon.

She’s 14 years old and has developed Canine Cognitive Dysfunction (doggy Alzherimers).

She sleeps all day and roams the house in confused terror most of the night, trembling uncontrollably. She scratches at doors, whether they’re open or closed, as if she thinks they’re a portal to another dimension.

When we first noticed this condition several months ago, the vet prescribed Valium. A half tab of Valium did the trick early on, but 2½ tabs didn’t faze her last night. I awakened at 2:15 a.m. to the pungent stench of dog poop and found that she had relieved herself in a half-dozen spots on the recently-shampooed dining room carpet.

Unable to sleep with that smell in my nostrils, I picked up the poop, dragged out the carpet scrubber and re-did the soiled spots, spraying the air with Febreze and opening windows on opposite sides of the house to flush out the bad air.

I called the vet this morning to explore our options. The news wasn’t good. He said it was almost certainly CCD, but maybe a brain tumor or liver shutdown. Since she’s fine in the daytime and freaky at night, everything points to CCD, which can only get worse.

The vet said there used to be a medication for CCD, but it didn’t work well and was withdrawn from the market. He said we could try to sedate her with stronger doses of Valium or maybe Xanax, but that might only work for 3-4 weeks.

If she was his dog, he said, he’d free her from these nights of terror and put her down.

So Ruthie goes to Doggy Heaven sometime around 2:30 p.m. today.

I hate this. She has been a wonderful member of the family and we will miss her terribly.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Finally! A rational voice from Occupy Wall Street

Well, I’m convinced. I’m packing my backpack and going to Wall Street to join the Moron Revolution.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Maria’s 1994 BMW K75S


Maria doesn’t ride much these days so the duty of keeping the bike running and the battery charged falls to me and I love it.

This bike is a blast to ride – quick, powerful and nimble. It’s definitely my choice for running errands around town and day rides in the country.

The low profile Bridgestone tires are 10 years old. They have plenty of tread left, but aren’t as grippy as they once were. I’ve got a new set of tires in the garage. I’ll put them on some weekend when my friend Charlie is available to help me with his No Mar tire changing equipment.

The bike has a custom paint job from the wizards at Holt BMW in Athens, Ohio. The color is “acid green” and, as far as I know, this is the only ‘94 K75S in the world with this paint job.

That’s my HJC FS-15 “Terror” helmet on the seat, but it could just as well be Maria’s, since she has one just like it.

Another look at what the idiots have done to us


Thursday, October 13, 2011

My 2003 BMW K1200GT

k1200gt hdr

That's a whole riding season's dirt and bugs from Arkansas, Tennessee, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, and Colorado.

My Generation–46 years on

On this day in 1965, The Who recorded “My Generation”, at Pye studios, London. When released as a single it reached No. 2 on the UK chart, held off the No.1 position by The Seekers “The Carnival Is Over”, (it should’ve been a No.1). Roger Daltrey would later say that he stuttered the lyrics to try to fit them to the music. The BBC in the UK initially refused to play the song because it did not want to offend people who stutter.

“My Generation” was named the 11th greatest song by Rolling Stone on their list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time and 13th on VH1's list of the 100 Greatest Songs of Rock & Roll. It's also part of The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll and was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame for "historical, artistic and significant" value. High praise indeed. And it deserves it; the song is 3.19 of pure energy and attitude. When you hear “My Generation” you hear the Who on their way to becoming one of the greatest British rock groups.

The song went through various stages as they tried to perfect it. Written by a 20-year-old Pete Townshend, it began as a slow song with a blues feel, and at one point had hand claps and multiple key changes. The final product was at a much faster tempo than the song was conceived; it was the Who’s manager Kit Lambert's idea to speed it up.

Like all great songs from a group defining their sound and feel, all four members made valuable contributions.

Townshend who reportedly wrote the song on a train is said to have been inspired by the Queen Mother who is alleged to have had Townshend's 1935 Packard hearse towed off a street in Belgravia, London, because she was offended by the sight of it during her daily drive through the neighborhood.

Why don't you all f-fade away (Talkin' 'bout my generation)

And don't try to dig what we all s-s-say (Talkin' 'bout my generation)

I'm not trying to cause a big s-s-sensation (Talkin' 'bout my generation)

I'm just talkin' 'bout my g-g-g-generation (Talkin' 'bout my generation)

Various stories exist as to the reason for Roger Daltrey's distinctive vocal delivery. One is that the song began as a slow "talking" blues number without the stutter. Another reason is that it was suggested to Daltrey that he stutter to sound like a British mod on ‘speed’. It is also proposed, albeit less frequently, that the stutter was introduced to give the group a framework for implying an expletive in the lyrics: "Why don't you all fff... fade away!" However, producer Shel Talmy insisted it was simply "one of those happy accidents" that he thought they should keep.

“My Generation” features one of the first bass solos in Rock history. John Entwistle used a new-on-the-market Danelectro bass to play it, but after he kept breaking strings trying to record it, the bassist ended up recording his parts on his trusted Fender Jazz bass.

Entwistle (aka The Ox), was the least visible member of the band, and his bass solos on this song threw off directors when The Who would perform the song on TV shows. When it got to his part, the cameras would often go to guitarist Pete Townshend, and his fingers wouldn't be moving.

And drummer Keith Moon’s contribution to the song? Well, he played like he always did - like the complete madman that he was. And it sounds superb.

In a 1987 Rolling Stone magazine interview, Townshend explained: "My Generation' was very much about trying to find a place in society. I was very, very lost. The band was young then. It was believed that its career would be incredibly brief."

In 1965, Daltrey claimed he would kill himself before reaching 30 because he didn't want to get old. He continued to perform the song, explaining that it is about an attitude, not a physical age.

The performance of "My Generation" on the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour was another defining moment in the television comedy series. As they often did during that period, The Who destroyed their instruments at the conclusion of their performance. However, a stage hand, at the request of Keith Moon, had overloaded Moon's kick drum with explosives. When they were detonated, the explosion was so intense that Moon was injured by cymbal shrapnel and bandmate Pete Townshend's hearing was permanently damaged.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

8 track flashback


I was cleaning out a file cabinet this morning – well, cleaning out isn’t an accurate description, since I haven’t thrown anything away yet – when I found most of the Nov. 29, 1969 issue of Rolling Stone.

I think I saved it because it had a lengthy interview with Bob Dylan, but there were also stories about the Stones on the eve of their disastrous Altamont Speedway gig, the Who using 46 big speakers to wow the crowd at the Fillmore East in New York, and Elvis signing a major contract for live performances. There was also a condescending story out of Nashville about how much “shitkickers” love Johnny Cash.

But what caught my eye this morning was this ad for an 8 track recorder.

Considering that the median age of Americans is 36.9 years, it’s likely that most people living today never saw or heard of an 8 track cartridge.

The 8 track cartridge held a continuous loop of tape that contained four tracks of stereo music and could accommodate the contents of most record albums of the day. The 8 track gained popularity in the 1960s as a way to play music of your choice in your car. I had an 8 track player in an English Ford Cortina, the worst car I ever owned. Improvements in the sound quality of the Compact Cassette and the proliferation of cassette recorders doomed the 8 track.

Cassettes were obsoleted by CDs and now we find ourselves in the age of digital music.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Hey, it’s that Rick Springsteen guy


Here’s a rather unflattering photo of singer Rick Springfield, who performed Oct. 1 at the Downtown Jonesboro BBQ Festival.

It’s a police mug shot

Singer Rick Springfield was arrested by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department in May 2011 for suspicion of drunk driving. The 1980s pop star, 61, was pulled over by officers in Malibu along the Pacific Coast Highway. A Breathalyzer test showed his blood alcohol content at .10. The “Jessie’s Girl” singer was then booked into jail where he posed for the above mug shot before posting $5000 bail.


In case anyone cares, here’s the second anvil shoot from Saturday evening’s closing ceremonies at the Falling Leaf Rally in Potosi, Mo.

Sprint has iPhone 4S!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

sprint iphone

The other big revelation of the weekend – after learning that Simichrome removes haze from MotoLight lenses – was the discovery that the brand new iPhone 4S is available, for the first time, to us Sprint users.

And, as the web site points out, “Only Sprint gives your iPhone unlimited data!”

I had abandoned hope long ago of ever owning an iPhone because of my long-term commitment to Sprint.

This, my friends, changes everything.

Monday, October 10, 2011

BMW Motorcycle Rally Pin of the Day

2011 falling leaf rally pin

The 2011 Falling Leaf Rally, Oct. 7-9, at Potosi, Mo. This was the 36th year for the rally sponsored by the Gateway Riders BMW Club of St. Louis.

Simichrome removes headlight lens haze!!!


The lenses on my MotoLights have gone hazy, like the headlight lenses in those commercials for the stuff that removes haze on car headlights you see advertised on TV.

I didn’t want to pay for the TV stuff just to clean two little 2” diameter lenses, since the lenses on all of our other automotive lights are clear.

So I mentioned my dilemma to Indianapolis BMW Club friend Dom LoDuca at the Falling Leaf rally over the weekend and he said Simichrome does the trick.

I’ve had one or more tubes of the fabulous German polish ever since I bought my first BMW motorcycle 30 years ago, so I grabbed a tube, a soft cloth and my creeper seat and went to work on my MotoLights this morning.

Damned if it didn’t work. Beautifully.

Thanks, Dom.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

My weekend in Potosi, Mo.

I rode up to Potosi, Mo., Friday morning for the Falling Leaf Rally, presented at the Potosi Lions Club Park by the Gateway Riders BMW Club.
This will almost certainly be my only rally of the year, since the season is winding down and we’ll not see glorious fall weather like this much longer.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         My main motivation for riding about 180 miles, besides the pleasure of the ride, was to commune with my Indianapolis BMW Club friends. We made a good showing, with about 17 members and guests, most of us camped in a group around a fire circle.
I didn't hear an attendance figure announced at the Saturday evening closing ceremonies, but was told later that 805 people showed up. We had attendees from as far away as the Florida Keys.
The closing ceremonies always include an anvil shoot or two in which an anvil is blasted skyward with a charge of black powder. I shot video of both shoots with my GoPro Hero HD video camera, but will only include the first shoot since it was the better video of the two.
Unlike my Indy friends who are probably still on the road, I was home by 12:30 p.m., since it’s only a three-hour jaunt for me.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Walmart triumphs again

I spent a good 20 minutes this afternoon walking around the local Target store searching for wooden coat hangers and a shoeshine kit.

I got a blank look when I asked about a shoeshine kit and wrong directions when I asked for hangers.

So I went to Walmart.

They had a Kiwi shoe shine kit with cans of black and brown shoe polish, two applicators, a horsehair brush and a polishing cloth – the same basic equipment I used to get a mirror gloss on my boots in the Air Force. (I tried a shoe store earlier this week and came away with a goofy little tube of black polish with an applicator tip. (I only bought it because the owner of the store used one to shine my Bates boots in an effort to prove how good it was. When a guy gets down on his knees and shines your shoes to make a $5.50 sale, you kind feel obligated to buy the stuff.)

And Walmart had a whole freaking aisle of hangers – plastic, wooden, shirt hangers, pants hangers, suit hangers.

And it wasn’t even the Super Walmart.

Shareef or Cleveland?

Shareef-Allman cleveland-200x225

The ‘Hunger’ Hoax - Thomas Sowell - National Review Online

"Those who see social problems as requiring high-minded people like themselves to come down from their Olympian heights to impose their superior wisdom on the rest of us, down in the valley, are behind such things as the hunger hoax, which is part of the larger poverty hoax."
Read it all here:

The ‘Hunger’ Hoax - Thomas Sowell - National Review Online

Steve and me

I got my first Apple product – an iPod – on my 60th birthday. It was a gift from my sons and my wife.

I wouldn’t have bought it for myself because, like so many people’s first experience with Apple products, I didn’t know I wanted it until I got my hands on it.

It changed the way I experience music. Instead of taking stacks of CDs on vacations to play in the Subaru’s six-CD changer, I now take an iPod with my entire music collection and an accessory cord that lets me play the content on the car stereo.

I had a 100-CD capacity player that suddenly became obsolete. I’ve sold almost all of my massive CD collection and am slowly digitizing my vinyl music collection for inclusion on my iPod.

I’ve used Mac computers, but I still prefer the Windows user interface. Even so, I’m mindful that the pioneering efforts of Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak were essential to the development and success of the personal computer.

Steve Jobs made a difference in my life and I suspect his influence on our lives will be felt for many years to come.

Thanks, Steve. I know you were just doing what made you happy, but thanks anyway. It made us happy too.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

11 years gone

eileenMy mother died 11 years ago this evening.

I think I covered this subject fairly well last year, so go here to read that blogpost.

A new chapter of Daphne’s story

daphbook[6]Daphne Cavin’s story is perhaps the most memorable of all the stories I’ve been privileged to tell in my newspaper career.

Daphne shared her memories and her scrapbook documenting her brief marriage to a soldier who was killed in action in southern France in 1944. I wrote her story in February, 1998 and it took on a life of its own when Tom whenyoucomehomeBrokaw’s researchers discovered it and included it in the best-selling “The Greatest Generation.” Brokaw put Daphne on the NBC Nightly News multiple times and she became something of a symbol of the sacrifice made by war widows. You can read what I wrote HERE.

Much of what Daphne told me that day in 1998 when she opened her scrapbook was completely unknown to her family – children she had with her second husband.

Now her daughter Nancy Cavin Pitts has published “When You Come Home,” a much more thorough and detailed memoir of Daphne’s journey.

At the moment, it’s only available as an e-book from I have a copy on my iPod and have been asked to write a few lines to be included in future editions.

Several reviewers said Daphne’s is the most poignant of all of the stories in “The Greatest Generation.” I agree.

Daphne died last year at the age of 91.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Parting ways with a room temperature I.Q.

I haven’t had a lot of jobs in my life.

I worked 33 years for the company that published The Indianapolis News and The Indianapolis Star – most of that time for The News, which I still contend was the superior paper despite its circulation and eventual demise.

Since I took early retirement from The Star 11 years ago this month (possibly to be discussed here later), I’ve done part-time and fill-in jobs for papers where my wife was the managing editor.

Four years ago today is the only time in my working life that I’ve been fired from a job. And it was a firing I welcomed.

Maria had already begun working for a paper here in Arkansas, but I was helping her successor at the Indiana paper by working as a night copy editor and obit writer.

Her successor was an arrogant twit who was conspicuously jealous and envious of Maria’s achievements at the paper. He figured out she was an impossible act to follow and thus went out of his way to ridicule some of her best work, in particular two extra sections we published in the wake of a major downtown business district fire that killed a young man who lived in an upstairs apartment that burned.

It didn’t take me long to take his measure as a journalist. Editing his attempts at editorials and columns and noticing his misuse of words made it apparent that he was out of his depth.

He was clearly uneasy around me, largely because my presence reminded him of Maria and likely because he knew that I recognized him for the poser that he was.

I walked off the job four years ago last night after I discovered that someone (I know who did it and bear no grudge) had switched computer mice with me, leaving me with a defective mouse that caused my antique Mac to crash repeatedly. I had a house full of furniture and other stuff to pack for Arkansas and I didn’t need the aggravation of trying to work with crippled equipment.

It gave the new editor the opportunity to get rid of me.

But rather than having the courage to deal with me face-to-face, he chose to do it the next day by voicemail, saying he felt we should, as he put it, “part ways.”

I was amused and relieved.

He and the paper have since “parted ways” and he has moved on.

Monday, October 03, 2011

Robbie Robertson on recording The Basement Tapes

Robbie Robertson is one of my all-time favorite musicians and song writers.

Robertson, 68, played with The Band and Bob Dylan and was praised by Dylan as "the only mathematical guitar genius I’ve ever run into who doesn’t offend my intestinal nervousness with his rearguard sound."

I’ve admired his solo work and only last week discovered he released his fifth solo album, “How to Become Clairvoyant,” in May – his first album in 13 years. He’s a natural born storyteller with a perfect voice for narrative lyrics.

I had the great good fortune to see The Band at the Indiana University Auditorium in the late 1960s and again with Dylan at the I.U. Assembly Hall in the early ‘70s.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Janine Turner on Hollywood's hypocrisy

Living amid Hollywood hypocrisy | The Examiner | Op Eds | Washington Examiner

Off to the zooooooooooooooooooo!

john panda

We went to the Memphis Zoo yesterday with our friend Susan and her two young foster daughters.

The weather was dead solid perfect and the kids had a great time with no emotional meld-downs, which is surprising for a long day with a 3-year-old and a 7-year-old. It was the first trip to a zoo for both of them.

One of the giant pandas consented to pose with me.