Monday, January 31, 2011

My favorite blogging tool


I have no way of knowing, but I suspect most people who use for their blogs, compose their posts within the Blogger online software. That’s what I did for several years before I discovered Windows Live Writer.

It comes as part of a suite of free software from Microsoft called Windows Live Essentials and gives me much more control over sizing and placing images and videos. If you’re using a Windows operating system and want to try it, you can check it out here. The suite also includes Windows Live Mail, which makes it a breeze to manage multiple email addresses.

John Deere back from the dead

I started our riding lawnmower this afternoon.MJF_0567

Not because I was going to use it, just to make sure that 24 hours on the battery charger did its job. It did. The engine on the John Deere LA125 fired right up, filling the garage with heavy exhaust fumes.

I hadn’t run the mower for probably four months and the battery was stone cold dead when I checked it yesterday.

I don’t plan to mow for another three months or so, but I want it to be able to climb aboard the dealer’s trailer when it comes to take the little tractor in for its spring tune-up.

Crazy fast shipping


When the AC adapter for my Dell Inspiron Mini 9 died last Friday, I figured it would be a week or more before I could get a replacement and have the use of my netbook restored.

Not so.

The AC adapter I ordered Friday afternoon was in our post office box this morning! That’s less than 72 hours, shipped by First Class Parcel Rate!

Thank you and

And it was only $11.34, compared with the $49.99 price of the official Dell replacement. Ho ho.

The only downside is that it looks like it will be a tighter fit in the accessory pouch on the carrying case I use for the netbook, but I think I can make it work.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Calling my name

During our 300-mile round trip to Cape Girardeau yesterday, the subject of Daytona Beach Bike Week came up.

Charlie says he’s not interested – he’s saving his days off for a ride to Alaska this summer. I’m having Daytona thoughts, not because I love Bike Week. I don’t. It’s a freak show that gets less interesting every time I see it.

I went in 1992 and ‘93 and again in 2009. The ‘92 trip was the best of the three. I camped with several friends from the Indianapolis BMW Club at the Space Coast BMW Club enclave at Bulow Plantation and we hit all of the high spots – the Jap bike bash, women wrestling semi-nude in coleslaw at the Cabbage Patch, the Harley-Davidson style show, Main Street and the Boot Hill Saloon, the vendors at Daytona International Speedway… I had a great time.

The ‘93 trip was motivated largely by a desire to relive the previous year’s experiences and to connect with a woman from the Florida Keys I’d established a long-distance relationship with. It fell short of my expectations on all levels and left me with no desire to go back.

Over the years, the Bulow venue went away and the BMW folks established a new enclave at a campground northwest of Daytona along I-95.

Encouraged by the fact that several of my Indy club friends would be there, and that I now had a more southerly route to Daytona from my Arkansas home, I decided to revisit Bike Week in 2009. It was a mistake.

My Indy friends left the campground the day before I arrived, fleeing to South Florida in search of warmer weather. I spent two long teeth-chattering nights in my tent wondering why in hell I was there before I finally packed up and rode home. The only thing I enjoyed about being there was sitting on a bench at Flagler Beach and gazing out at the ocean. The most fun I had was the adventure of riding there and back. I made one circuit of Daytona, cruising Main Street and hitting the local BMW shop for a new cap and t-shirt.

So why am I thinking about Bike Week 2011? Beats the hell out of me. I think maybe I just want to go for a ride. Maybe I’d be better off taking a few days to look for sunny beaches and warm breezes in Texas.

All I know is that I hear a BMW K1200GT softly calling my name from the garage.

Mom’s ham loaf. Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

recipe ham loaf

My mother was a good, but not exceptional, cook. She tended to overcook hamburgers. Her turkey was sometimes as dry as cardboard.

But she made a ham loaf that was absolutely wonderful. It was like candy meat.

Happily, I still have her recipe file. Even better, Maria enjoys treating me to my mom’s ham loaf on special occasions.

Try it. I think you’ll like it.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

To the Cape and back

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         Charlie Parsons and I loaded up friend Susan’s ailing BMW R1100RT this morning and hauled it up to Grass Roots BMW Motorcycles at Cape Girardeau, Mo. It’s just shy of 300 miles for the round trip, so it took about 8 hours from start to finish.

The bike, which has a California sidecar, has an electrical problem that causes the battery to discharge and we’ve been unable to start it, so Susan agreed to turn it over to the pros. Her aim is to get it back in running condition and sell it, OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         so if you are in the market for a BMW sidecar rig or know someone who is, let me know and I’ll hook you up with Susan.

After we dropped the bike off, I persuaded Charlie to let me buy him lunch at White Castle – the nearest one to our part of the country. We each had 5 cheeseburgers and a drink. Charlie had sweet potato fries as well.

Charlie and Deb and Susan are coming over for dinner this evening, so we stopped at Mr. T’s, the fabulous liquor store on the Missouri-Arkansas state line and loaded up on German beer.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         On the way back to the SUV, I noticed this guy who was carrying a dog in a satchel lashed to the back of his metric cruiser motorcycle. The dog seemed very happy to be going for a ride.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Riding and problem solving

k75 seattle grind

It’s a glorious sunny 54 degrees this afternoon, so I suited up and took the K75S for a 50-mile jaunt that included a stop at Seattle Grind for coffee and internet.

After a few minutes online, I noticed my Dell Inspiron Mini 9 netbook was running on battery power, even though it was plugged into the outlet next to my table. I jiggled the cord, checked the connections and packed everything up lest I wipe out the battery completely. I noticed that the AC adapter rattles, like something is loose inside.

Back at home, I checked the AC adapter with my multimeter and confirmed that it’s not putting out any DC current. Close inspection reveals it’s held together with a nearly microscopic Allen screw, for which I have no wrench. I figured the odds of me getting a tiny Allen wrench, opening the compartment, finding the problem and fixing it, were not good. I’d have more invested in gasoline, parts and labor than it would cost to replace the adapter.

So imagine my shock when I found the Dell replacement part costs $49.99!

As I often do when confronted with an irrationally high price, I looked for a replacement on Sure enough, I found one for $11.34. One mouse click and it’s on the way to me.

They really are our best friends


Texting ain’t all bad

spam-textA suicide bomber planning an attack in Moscow on New Year’s Eve was killed in her apartment when her bomb was prematurely detonated by an unexpected text message.

According to Russian security sources, the text message — a remote trigger for a cell phone belt bomb — wished her anelson haha happy new year, accidentally setting off the blast. The accident may have saved hundreds of lives, these officials believe, as the woman intended to use the bomb in a suicide attack near Red Square later that night.

The woman is believed to be part of the same group that struck Moscow’s Domodedovo airport on Monday, killing at least 35 people and wounding another 100. Officials haven’t directly said who they believe is behind the terrorist attacks, but anonymous sources have pointed to Islamic North Caucasus rebels, which have been in conflict with the Russian state for over a decade.

Cell phones have become a remote detonator of choice for terrorist groups the world over.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

If you care about the Constitution, and you should, watch this

Sprint 4G? Hah!

Seems like every time I turn around, I have an email or snail mail from Sprint trying to sell me one of their fabulous new 4G phones.

That might interest me if I had access to the Sprint 4G network. If you go to the Sprint 4G Coverage page, you’ll see just how limited the new coverage is. The Sprint 4G network is only available in major metropolitan areas in 29 states.

Their 4G service isn’t available in Arkansas (or Indiana) and the only city in Tennessee with 4G is Nashville. Not in Memphis.

To experience Sprint 4G service, I’d have to drive about 220 miles north to St. Louis.

Besides, I already have a 4G-capable USB dongle for my netbook, just in case I ever find myself within the range of a 4G signal.

Hey, media morons!

clipThis is a clip. In this case it’s an 8 round clip for an M1 Garand rifle.


This is a magazine. The 9mm Glock semiautomatic pistol used in the Tucson shootings is fed by a magazine, not a clip. If you want to be taken seriously, learn the difference.

Frank finds a free breakfast for himself and Zeb


I was seeing Maria off to work this morning when Frank, the free range Jack Russell terrier who nominally belongs to David Head, whose Nine Oaks Cattle Co. ranch borders out property to the west, scampered up to greet us.

Frank is always exploding with happiness to see me, Maria, you, anyone. We petted him, Maria drove off to work and Frank trotted after me as I walked to the garage to get the small bag of kibble we keep there for visiting dogs.

I scattered some onto the driveway. Frank sniffed, took a piece and tore off at full speed toward the Hollands’ workshop next door to the east. Frank goes everywhere at full speed. It’s what Jack Russells do.

I was puzzled until I saw him stop behind the shop and moments later his buddy Zeb, a black lab also owned by Head, got to his feet and followed Frank back to the free food.

I gave Zeb a pat on the head and tossed down a couple more handfuls.

I love it when neighborhood dogs come visiting.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Stepping in it

Pete the Aussie has a serious dislike for and fear of fireworks and gunfire. And he has exceptionally good hearing, considering that Ruthie insists on barking in his ears.

So when it came time to get up and go outside Sunday morning, poor old deaf Ruthie charged out into the yard. Pete, however, refused to go outside because he had heard the sound of hunters firing shotguns in the distance. I tried to drag him to the back door, but he pulled away and tried to hide under our bed.

I decided to humor him and closed the back door, got out his leash and took him out through the front door without resistance. He trotted merrily down the driveway with me as I walked to the paper tube, extracted the Sunday paper and tucked it under my arm. He also seemed calm when I walked him back past the garage door to the gate to the fenced back yard. I unclipped the leash and he strolled off to do his business.

I went inside through the back door and immediately noticed I had stepped in dog poop and it was embedded in the cleats of my left hiking shoe.

I changed shoes and put the offending shoe on the back porch to dry for a couple of days.

I retrieved it this afternoon, cleaned it as well as I could with a stick from the yard, and headed in to town with the aim of walking off the remainder.

Which is why, as I sit here at Seattle Grind with my netbook and coffee, I smell faintly of dogshit.

How embarrassing.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

1892 flashback

hinkle sharpshooter

This 1892 U.S. Army sharpshooter certificate was another unexpected discovery as I probed some of my parents’ long neglected family records this morning.

It was issued to 25-year-old Pvt. Anthony Hinkle of Logansport, Ind., while he was serving at Vancouver Barracks, Vancouver, Wash.

Uncle Tony was my maternal great-uncle, having married the sister of my mother’s dad. He was a rural mail carrier. I never knew him because he died in 1930 at the age of 63 – 15 years before I was born. His widow, Daisy Hinkle, lived into her 90s and I recall visiting her at her Logansport home with my parents many times.

Celebrating Big Sur


Speaking of stamps, as I was a couple of days ago, this is a first day cover of one of my all time favorite U.S. postage stamps – the California Statehood Sesquicentennial commemorative issued at Sacramento on Sept. 8, 2000.

It celebrates the beauty of the Big Sur coast south of Monterey along the most glorious road I’ve ever ridden in my more than 300,000 motorcycle miles.

I bought several sheets of this stamp and still have most of a sheet left. I’d forgotten all about having the first day cover until I discovered it while rooting through boxes in the garage this morning.

bigsurstamd detail

Friday, January 21, 2011

Rooster approved

I found this gem on Laura’s Fetch My Flying Monkeys blog and had to share it.

Friday morning report

We have 2 inches of snow on the ground, but it will probably be gone by Monday. Yesterday’s snow was only the second measureable snowfall of the season and, with any luck, will be the last.
Naturally, all of the schools are closed.
The concrete apron in front of our garage and the front sidewalk are completely clear of snow because they retained enough heat to melt it when it fell yesterday, so I have no snow to shovel – not that I'd bother for 2 inches of the stuff.
The baristas at Seattle Grind must think I’ve died. I haven’t been in for coffee in a couple of weeks and I’m not going in today either.
Ever since I realized I could make my own mocha cappuccino at home, I’ve lost my enthusiasm for driving in to town and paying for coffee. And after the equivalent of a vente mocha cappuccino first thing in the morning, I’m pretty coffeed-out for the day. And I rather enjoy thinking about the money I’m saving on coffee and gasoline.
Our tax documents are trickling in slowly and I have a copy of H&R Block’s tax software for 2010, but there’s no rush. The IRS says it will take them at least until the middle of next month, and maybe longer, to update their computers for those of us who itemize our deductions.
Speaking (or writing) of which, I need to go to the post office to pick up the mail and maybe buy some stamps. I just checked the list of stamps to be issued this year by the U.S. Postal Service:
  • Lunar New Year - Year of the Rabbit
  • Black Heritage - Barbara Jordan
  • Kansas Statehood
  • Ronald Reagan
  • Garden of Love - a set of 10 flower stamps
  • Jazz
  • Legends of Hollywood - Gregory Peck
  • Helen Hayes - The "First Lady of Theater"
  • The Civil War, 1861 - souvenir sheet of stamps and the first in a five-year series
  • Indianapolis 500
  • Owney the Postal Dog
  • American Treasures - Edward Hopper, The Long Leg - the stamp that was canceled in 2009
  • Mercury Project & MESSENGER Mission - a set of 2 stamps, one featuring Alan Shepard
  • U.S. Merchant Marine - a block of 4 stamps featuring historic vessels
  • American Scientists - Melvin Calvin, Asa Gray, Maria Goeppert Mayer, and Severo Ochoa
  • Latin Music Legends - Tito Puente, Carmen Miranda, Selena, Carlos Gardel, and Celia Cruz
  • Romare Bearden - set of 4 stamps
  • Pioneers of American Industrial Design - set of 12 stamps
  • Flags of our Nation - set #5 in the series
  • Literary Arts - Mark Twain
  • Christmas - Madonna of the Candelabra
  • Holiday Contemporary - Holiday Baubles
owney800My favorite from the list is Owney the Postal Dog. Here’s what Wikipedia says about him:
Postal workers in the Albany post office found a puppy asleep on their mail bags in 1888. It seems that he had been attracted to the texture or scent of the mailbags and traveled with them as they were transported around the country on the Railway Mail Service train. He was considered to be good luck by postal workers, since no train he ever rode on was in a wreck.
As his trips grew longer, the postal clerks at Albany became concerned that the dog be identified, and, if necessary returned to them. They bought Owney a collar with a metal tag that read: "Owney, Post Office, Albany, New York" at which point he became the unofficial mascot of the railway mail service.
The dog was later adopted by Railway mail clerks as their unofficial mascot. They marked his travels by placing tags on his collar. Throughout his life, Owney accumulated 1,017 tags, tokens, trinkets, and medals which are now on display at the National Postal Museum.
In 1895, Owney made an around-the-world trip, aboard trains and steamships. Starting from Tacoma, Washington, he traveled throughout Asia and across Europe, before returning to Albany.
Owney retired from the Railway Mail Service in 1897 due to poor eyesight and old age. However, as a world-traveled dog he was difficult to contain and slipped out of the Albany post office in June 1897.
The exact details of the incident which lead to his death are unclear, but according to the National Postal Museum website, "Owney was mistreated while being shown off to a newspaper reporter in Toledo, Ohio and became so mad that he bit a postal worker." Days later the man died from the injury. Word spread that Owney was mad, so on July 11, 1897, a police officer shot the dog.
Postal workers took Owney’s body to a taxidermist and his remains can be seen today at the U.S. Postal Museum in Washington, D.C.
The date of issue for Owney’s stamp is Wednesday, July 27.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

My buddy Pete


What would we do without dogs?

They say people who have a dog are less likely to have a heart attack or a stroke. And if they do have a heart attack or a stroke, they recover much faster if there’s a dog in the house.

Pete the Aussie is a sweet tempered, whip-smart dog who hangs out with me every day. I think he kinda likes me too. He leans against my legs and rubs up against me like a cat.

What a deal


Here’s the latest hot deal from the post office public bulletin board – a nearly 40-year-old trailer for $850.

This is a slightly more professional advertisement for the same trailer that was offered for sale a few months ago. I suspect the owner will end up having to pay someone to haul it away.

Flash crash

flash crash

I see this several times a day, mostly when I return to my blog on an already-opened tab in Firefox. It freezes my browser for maybe a minute or more while the software and hardware try to sort things out.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Hoosier Pass between Alma and Breckenridge

I was delighted to find this YouTube video by StromRoadie of the ride up and over Hoosier Pass, from south to north. The camera is mounted on the bike rather than on the rider’s helmet, which makes for great lean angles. I find myself tilting my head to compensate and looking as far as possible through the turns, just like I was riding.

The gravel road that flashes by on the left just as the video starts is the Park County road that I take to visit my friends Tim and Linda Balough.

Inexplicably, the video ends before we get to the last tight right switchback at the northern foot of Hoosier Pass. Even so, it’s a happy reminder of past and future rides.

A different kind of photo contest

deerAfter all these years of photography, I’m no stranger to contests. I’ve entered some and won a few accolades.

But it never occurred to me that there might be a contest for trail cameras.

There’s an ad in this morning’s paper advertising a trail camera photo contest at the 2011 Arkansas Sportshow, Feb. 11-13, in Jonesboro.

There’s a $250 prize for best photo, a $100 prize for most interesting photo and aold_evolution random drawing for $50.

For the uninitiated, a trail camera is a motion-activated camera used by hunters to identify paths of travel of game animals remotely. The camera is strapped to a tree and the hunter returns periodically to download whatever images it has captured. Some have a built-in flash and some photograph in the infrared spectrum, either using ambient infrared radiation or employing an infrared flash. I’ve had thoughts of buying one to mount on the wooded fringes of our property, just to see what kind of wildlife turns up.

It will be interesting to see what criteria the judge or judges use for this contest, since the “photographer” has no significant control over the composition of the photo and the quality of the shot depends on the quality of the camera and random chance.

If you want to enter, email your shot to:

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

A bellyfull of Starbucks


Bob on the Tucson shooting

It’s been awhile since I checked in with Bob. Once again, he nails it.

Less than brilliant

A longtime friend posted a link on Facebook to a Paul Krugman column the other day, hailing it as “brilliant.”

In the spirit of fairness, I clicked the link and read Krugman’s New York Times column in which he sought to lay out, in the loftiest of terms, how liberals and conservatives have different visions of what kind of country the U.S. should be.

Of course, he couldn’t help but paint liberals as loving people who care passionately about the less fortunate and seek to create a level playing field for all Americans. And, in his view, conservatives are stupid, callous. greedy people who are willing to see the poor starve or freeze.

Strangely, he didn’t venture into the question of what the Constitution says about limits on how far government can go to take from the rich and give to the poor, i.e. redistribute wealth.

The subtext was that the Utopian liberal vision is the correct one and anyone who resists it is a criminal. That’s how it worked in the Soviet Union, you may recall.

My friend who admires this disingenuous steaming pile of horse shit will turn 68 in a few days. I find it astonishing that a seemingly smart guy can live that many years and still cling to the childish fairytale beliefs of the ‘60s.

I stewed over it for a few days – these things really get to me sometimes – and finally decided the best thing was to use the “hide” option and remove the offending Facebook post from my news feed. I’ve done that with another friend who posts liberal propaganda and I unfriended a bully who presumed to lecture me about journalism.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Steve McQueen

A great actor and a great motorcyclist, McQueen was born in Beech Grove, Ind. He died at the age of 50 of cancer.

Sunday, January 16, 2011



I saw a poster last night advertising the Feb. 2 appearance in Jonesboro of “The Original Harlem Globetrotters.”

The exhibition team was created in the 1920s, so the original Globetrotters would be pushing 100 years old.

This I gotta see.

Spirit or bad sportsmanship?


We watched Arkansas State narrowly beat Middle Tennessee State University last night – the first ASU basketball game we’ve been to in a couple of years.asu game jan 15a

The final score was 69-65, but the ASU Red Wolves enjoyed a substantial lead for much of the game, threatening to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory in the final minutes.

I’ve always been struck by how hard the ASU pep band, cheerleaders and fans try to distract opposing players during foul shots, as you can sorta see in the photo above.

I always thought that was poor sportsmanship. I have a dim recollection of Bob Knight forbidding such behavior when he coached at Indiana University, but maybe I’m imagining it.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

He created Gumby, dammit!

gumbyclokeyArt Clokey, the creator of Gumby, died last year.

You can read all about it at The Weasel Times & Stoat Intelligencer.

Clokey’s father died in a traffic accident when Clokey was 9 years old. His dad’s somewhat eccentric haircut was the inspiration for the shape of Gumby’s head.

How to Write About Firearms

How to Write About Firearms - Robert VerBruggen - National Review Online

Friday, January 14, 2011

Craving White Castle cheeseburgers


There are no White Castle restaurants in Arkansas and none in western Tennessee, so when I start Jonesing for White Castles, my easiest solution is the frozen food section at Sam’s Club.

And that’s what’s for dinner tonight.

I did discover, however, that there is a White Castle in Cape Girardeau so I know where I’m having lunch the next time I take a bike up to Grass Roots BMW Motorcycles for service.

I’m done with the sideshow

I am done, completely done, reading about or listening to the ridiculous political sideshow that has absolutely nothing to do with a certifiable loon going on a shooting spree in Tucson.

I absolutely detest the spineless weasels who insist there is a connection between Jared Loughner, whose friends say didn’t give a rat’s ass about politics, didn’t follow the news and didn’t listen to talk radio, and the supposed “heated political rhetoric” in the country.

“Heated rhetoric” are the left’s code words for anything said in opposition to their post-Constitutionalist agenda. Using the Tucson tragedy as an excuse to tell those of us who sent them a cease and desist order last November to shut up is reprehensible and every rational person in America knows it.

So from now on, whenever some libtard starts jabbering about “heated rhetoric” or some conservative feels compelled to respond to the jabbering, I’m changing channels.

This fucking circus has gone on way too long.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Expect to hear more about this Kokomo, Ind., kid

His parents picked the right state for their son.

Cappuccino art

mocha[5]While waiting for Sean to finish some business last July 20, I ordered a cup of mocha cappuccino at The Blend Coffeehouse and Café in Portland, Ore. The barista topped it off with this lovely design in milk froth.
I got to thinking about that this morning as I made my own mocha cappuccino and unceremoniously topped it off with steamed milk and foam in an amorphous blob.
So I went to YouTube and did a search for “cappuccino art” which led me to a whole bunch of cool videos, including this one. Enjoy.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

High Flight

As the news media puzzles over how President Obama will eulogize the victims of Saturday’s Tucson massacre, they’ve harkened back to speeches by President Clinton after the Oklahoma City bombing and President Reagan after the Challenger disaster.

While Reagan was indisputably eloquent, it’s a mistake to think he or his speech writers conceived the lines “… slipped the surly bonds of earth to touch the face of God.”

He was loosely quoting the poem High Flight, written by Gillespie Magee, an American pilot serving with the Royal Canadian Air Force in the early days of World War II.

I was surprised to learn, while researching Magee, that he did some of his RCAF pilot training at the RCAF base in Trenton, Ontario, right next door to the venue of the 2002 BMW Motorcycle Owners of America rally. We were entertained daily by the landings, takeoffs and low passes of the RCAF Hornet fighters.

He joined the RCAF to fight the Germans several months before the U.S. entered World War II. Magee was killed in a mid-air collision with a trailer aircraft in clouds over the English village of Roxholm and is buried in England. He was 19 years old.


High Flight

Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I've climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds - and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of - wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov'ring there
I've chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air.
Up, up the long delirious, burning blue,
I've topped the windswept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, or even eagle flew -
And, while with silent lifting mind I've trod
The high untresspassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand and touched the face of God.

Pilot Officer Gillespie Magee
No 412 squadron, RCAF
Killed 11 December 1941

BMW Motorcycle Pin of the Day

bmwmoa 30 year pin

My 30-year membership pin arrived today from the BMW Motorcycle Owners of America.

Somehow, my membership renewal back last October slipped through the cracks and, after a couple of email exchanges with Beth Cooper, the BMW MOA membership manager, I got my card, patch and pin in this morning’s mail.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Barn in the USA

sb stamp x
Maria got a letter from her mother this morning that had this return address stamp and a clever Bruce Springsteen reference.

Dogs Decoded

I have weird sleep patterns.
I almost always fall asleep quickly, but several nights a week I wake up in the 2:30-3 a.m. range and toss and turn, unable to get back to sleep.
Since Maria is the one with a job and needs her rest, I used to throw on some dogs decodedclothes and go up to the office where I’d surf the Internet until 6 a.m. or so. But Maria finds it disturbing when I’m missing.
So now I grab my iPod Touch and surf the Internet in bed, checking email, weather and news. Sometimes I use the Netflix app and watch a movie.
This morning was one of those sleepless times and I went to Netflix for entertainment. Among the TV show offerings was a PBS NOVA episode titled “Dogs Decoded.” The hour-long show, which isn’t scheduled for broadcast on PBS until Nov. 15, explores the relationship between dogs and humans – why dogs are unique in the way they relate to us, the evolutionary origin of dogs, how dogs can read human facial expressions (but not those of other dogs), how dogs are smarter than any other animal, and more.
If you love dogs, you owe it to yourself to check this out. It’s worth losing sleep over.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Is Sheriff Dupnik covering up his department’s prior knowledge of Loughner’s dangerous lunacy?

From the Tucson blog The Cholla Jumps:

Jared Loughner is a product of Sheriff Dupnik’s office

This is the report that Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik has been dreading since the tragic event on Saturday January 8.
The sheriff has been editorializing and politicizing the event since he took the podium to report on the incident. His blaming of radio personalities and bloggers is a pre-emptive strike because Mr. Dupnik knows this tragedy lays at his feet and his office. Six people died on his watch and he could have prevented it.  He needs to step up and start apologizing to the families of the victims instead of spinning this event to serve his own political agenda.
Jared Loughner, pronounced by the Sheriff as Lock-ner, saying it was the Polish pronunciation. Of course he meant Scott or Irish but that isn’t the point. The point is he and his office have had previous contact with the alleged assailant in the past and that is how he knows how to pronounce the name.
Jared Loughner has been making death threats by phone to many people in Pima County including staff of Pima Community College, radio personalities and local bloggers. When Pima County Sheriff’s Office was informed, his deputies assured the victims that he was being well managed by the mental health system. It was also suggested that further pressing of charges would be unnecessary and probably cause more problems than it solved as Jared Loughner has a family member that works for Pima County. Amy Loughner is a Natural Resource specialist for the Pima County Parks and Recreation. My sympathies and my heart goes out to her and the rest of Mr. Loughner’s family. This tragedy must be tearing them up inside wondering if they had done the right things in trying to manage Jared’s obvious mental instability.
Every victim of his threats previously must also be wondering if this tragedy could have been prevented if they had been more aggressive in pursuing charges against Mr. Loughner. Perhaps with a felony conviction he would never have been able to lawfully by the Glock 9mm Model 19 that he used to strike down the lives of six people and decimate 14 more.
This was not an act of politics. This was an act of a mentally disturbed young man hell bent on getting his 15 minutes of infamy. The Pima County Sheriff’s Department was aware of his violent nature and they failed to act appropriately. This tragedy leads right back to Sherriff Dupnik and all the spin in the world is not going to change that fact.

Walking in place on a snowy morning

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         I measured a half-inch of snow in our driveway this morning, but of course it was enough to cancel all of the schools in the area.

It did not, however, deter me from my 20-minute stroll on the treadmill.

I popped the garage door up momentarily to give a view of the snow, but lowered it for the rest of my walk since it’s a brisk 28 degrees out there.

I use a slightly obsolete iPod Shuffle to keep my brain entertained during these workouts. It’s astounding how much energy you can get from such a tiny device.

Here’s what came up in the random rotation this morning:

  1. I’ve Got a Lover (Back in Japan) – Eurythmics
  2. Jerry’s Yelling at the Man in the Moon – John Mellencamp
  3. Would I Lie to You? – Eurythmics
  4. Snatch it Back and Hold it – Junior Wells
  5. Supermassive Black Hole – Muse

I had a one-mile route laid out when we lived in Thorntown and I find myself visualizing it as I watch the numbers roll by on the distance readout.

At .25 mile I’ve covered the distance from our house to the old Marathon Station at Pearl and Main and am turning left to walk past the frame shop on the south side of Main Street.

At .50 mile, I visualize myself turning left onto West Street by the Presbyterian Church. The .75 mile mark is another left turn onto Mills Street by the elementary school, from which I can see my house.

My time in high school marching band and the Air Force left me programmed to bring my left heel down on the first and third beats of a song, which sometimes requires a little stutter step to achieve. But once I’m in the groove, walking along in time with the music, the process seems almost effortless.

I took it relatively easy this morning and knocked out a mile in 18:30, but the goal is to get my heart rate into the target zone for 20 minutes, so it doesn’t really matter what my time is for a mile.

My Suunto Advizor heart rate monitor tells me I averaged 119 bpm, with a high of 131 and a low of 99.

No, these are not impressive numbers. They’re not supposed to be. This is about crawling back into long lost levels of physical fitness, not about competition.

Saturday, January 08, 2011

The Tesla Roadster

steve tesla

Son Steve posted this picture on his Facebook wall this evening and I’m dying to know more about his time in this $101,500 electric sports car.

He says if you punch it at 60 mph, the Tesla Roadster slams you back into the seat with a 1G force.

You get a $7,500 federal tax credit when you buy one of these because it has zero emissions.

Yes, it’s very fast. Video is from the Tesla web site.

A 22-year motorcyclist


Rep. Gabrielle Giffords is a BMW rider. Nice classic R75/5 toaster tank.

We’re praying for a full recovery.

Jared Lee Loughner’s YouTube message

This guy is a total nut job. We used to get crap like this in the mail at the newspaper everytime there was a full moon.

Even better than Jimmy Kimmel’s clip

Friday, January 07, 2011

“The American people love government…”

WTF, Harry?

The American people hate government. Check the polls.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Once again, Lowe’s blows

The indicator light on our Whirlpool side-by-side refrigerator water filtration system has changed from green to orange, indicating it’s time for a new filter.
I remembered that they are kind of pricey, so when I went to Lowe's yesterday and bought a cyst-reducing (not eliminating) refrigerator water filter for $48.69 I almost screamed at the price.

I came home and found the non-cyst reduction version on for $24.99 with free 2-day shipping. Paying extra for cyst reduction is stupid unless every drop of water we consume goes through the fridge filter, and even then it only claims to "reduce" cysts.
So, I ordered the unit and returned the Lowe's purchase this afternoon.

My treadmill playlist

I did another turn on the treadmill this morning and after only six days, I’m seeing results.

My pace is picking up and I’m shaving seconds off of my time for a mile. Today it was down to 18 minutes and 43 seconds, and I’m having to increase the slope to get my heart rate up.

I wouldn’t be able to handle the tedium were it not for my iPod Shuffle and the “Treadmill Mix” loaded into it. I just set it on shuffle and enjoy whatever pops up next. Here’s my playlist, organized by song title:

  • Abracadabra - Steve Miller Band
  • Addiction - Lecture On Nothing
  • Admit It - EMF
  • Ain't That a Shame - Cheap Trick
  • Are You Gonna Go My Way - Lenny Kravitz
  • As Heaven Is Wide - Garbage
  • Avalon Hideaway - ZZ Top
  • Bad Romance - Lady Gaga
  • Bang And Blame - R.E.M.
  • Beautiful Stranger (William Orbit Radio Edit Version) - Madonna
  • Berry Rides Again - Steppenwolf
  • Blinded By The Light - Manfred Mann'S Earth Band
  • Blues Attack - Sonny Landreth
  • Born to Be Wild (Single) - Steppenwolf
  • Bourgeoisie Blues - A3
  • Can You See the Real Me - Pete Townshend
  • Cheap Sunglasses - ZZ Top
  • Come On Up - The Young Rascals
  • Connection - The Rolling Stones
  • Corazon Espinado - Santana
  • Deadbeat Club - The B-52's
  • Devil Inside - INXS
  • Diddyboppin' - The J. Geils Band
  • (Don't Go Back To) Rockville - R.E.M.
  • Everybody Have Fun Tonight - Wang Chung
  • Get Over It - The Eagles
  • Get The Party Started - Pink
  • Get Your Kicks on Route 66 - Asleep at the Wheel
  • God Gave Me Everything - Mick Jagger
  • Gone - Movin' On - Paul Revere & The Raiders
  • Gone Pecan - Sonny Landreth
  • Good Thing - Paul Revere & The Raiders
  • Goodbye Stranger - Supertramp
  • Groovin' Is Easy - The Electric Flag
  • The Heat is On (Extended Mix) - Glen Frey
  • Hot N Cold - Katy Perry
  • How You Like Me Now (Single Edit) - Heavy
  • I've Got A Lover (Back In Japan) - Eurythmics
  • I Kissed A Girl - Katy Perry
  • I Love You Like A Ball And Chain - Eurythmics
  • I Need A Man - Eurythmics
  • In This Town - Eurythmics
  • It's My Life - No Doubt
  • Jerry - John Mellencamp
  • Jumping Jack Flash - The Rolling Stones
  • The King & Queen Of America - Eurythmics
  • Kiss (Aon Mix) - The Art Of Noise
  • L.A. Woman - The Doors
  • Land Ho! - The Doors
  • Lets Go! - Eurythmics
  • The Little Things - Danny Elfman
  • Livin' La Vida Loca - Ricky Martin
  • Lonely Too Long - The Young Rascals
  • Longtime - EMF
  • Losing My Religion - R.E.M.
  • Love Her Madly - The Doors
  • Maggie M'Gill - The Doors
  • Messin' With The Kid - Junior Wells
  • Messin' With The Kid (LP Version) - Buddy Guy & Junior Wells
  • Mickey's Monkey/Love Lights - The Young Rascals
  • Midnight Confession - Grass Roots
  • Mirror Star - Fabulous Poodles
  • Miss Amanda Jones - The Rolling Stones
  • Missionary Man - Eurythmics
  • Mississippi - Dixie Chicks
  • More Than This - Roxy Music
  • One Thing Leads to Another - The Fixx
  • One Vision - Queen
  • Our Candidate - Paul Revere & The Raiders
  • Paper In Fire - John Mellencamp
  • Peach - Prince
  • Peter Gunn - Featuring Duane Eddy - The Art Of Noise
  • Poker Face - Lady Gaga
  • Queen Of The Highway - The Doors
  • Radar Love - Golden Earring
  • Raspberry Beret - Prince
  • Rock the Casbah - The Clash
  • The Rockafeller Skank - Fatboy Slim
  • Saint Of Me - The Rolling Stones
  • Satisfaction - The Rolling Stones
  • Shake It - Ian Matthews
  • Sharp Dressed Man - ZZ Top
  • She'd Rather Be With Me - The Turtles
  • Shock The Monkey - Peter Gabriel
  • Sisters Are Doin' It For Themselves - Eurythmics
  • Smooth - Santana Feat. Rob Thomas
  • Snappy Kakkie - ZZ Top
  • Snatch It Back And Hold It - Junior Wells
  • Star Star - The Rolling Stones
  • Start Me Up - The Rolling Stones
  • Stealin' All Day - C.C. Adcock
  • Stupid Girl - Garbage
  • Supermassive Black Hole - Muse
  • Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This) - Eurythmics
  • Take A Chance On Me - ABBA
  • Take On Me (Album Version) - A-Ha
  • Take Your Pain Away - Eurythmics
  • Teeth - Lady Gaga
  • Telephone - Lady Gaga
  • Theme - The Monkees
  • This May Not Be The End Of The World - John Mellencamp
  • Thorn In My Side - Eurythmics
  • Tighten Up Your Wig - Steppenwolf
  • Too Legit To Quit - MC Hammer
  • Too Much Talk - Paul Revere & The Raiders
  • Tube Snake Boogie - ZZ Top
  • Turn The Beat Around [The Specialist] - Gloria Estefan
  • Twilight Zone - Golden Earring
  • U + Ur Hand - Pink
  • Unbelievable - EMF
  • Up Around The Bend - Creedence Clearwater Revival
  • Walking Down Your Street - The Bangles
  • Weapon Of Choice - Fatboy Slim
  • White Light White Heat - Lou Reed
  • Who Are You - The Who
  • Wide Eyed Girl - Eurythmics
  • Wild Night - John Mellencamp & Me'shell NdegÃocello
  • Wild, Wild West (LP Version) - The Escape Club
  • Woke Up This Morning - A3
  • Word Up (7" Vocal Version) - Cameo
  • Work Shy - Fabulous Poodles
  • Would I Lie To You? - Eurythmics
  • Y'all'd Think She's Be Good 2 Me - C.C. Adcock
  • You Baby - The Turtles
  • 28 - Steppenwolf

Domestic enemies of the Constitution

Yesterday’s New York Times’s editorial page included a screed mocking the Republican takeover of the House of Representatives.

The extremely self-revelatory rant against the reading of the U.S. Constitution on the floor of the House of Representatives and the requirement that every bill cite Constitutional authority is what really set me off:

In any case, it is a presumptuous and self-righteous act, suggesting that they alone understand the true meaning of a text that the founders wisely left open to generations of reinterpretation. Certainly the Republican leadership is not trying to suggest that African-Americans still be counted as three-fifths of a person.

There is a similar air of vacuous fundamentalism in requiring that every bill cite the Constitutional power given to Congress to enact it.

In particular, calling the U.S. Constitution “a text that the founders wisely left open to generations of reinterpretation” reflects a childish desire to twist a parent’s words to mean whatever the child wants them to mean.

No, the founders didn’t “wisely” give us a document we could distort to suit our whims or lust for power. They wrote in clear, understandable language to be read and comprehended by the average citizen. It means what it says, not what The New York Times editorial board would like it to mean.

And the sophomoric attempt to play the race card is particularly egregious and irrelevant. Article 1, Section 2, Paragraph 3 of the Constitution, written in 1787, states:

Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons.

No one, especially the Party of Abraham Lincoln, thinks the three-fifths provision still pertains. The New York Times editorial board would have us believe Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation and the subsequent 13th Amendment never occurred. The 13th Amendment abolished slavery and rendered the three-fifths provision moot. It will also be read in the House, along with all of the other amendments.

But the most telling phrase is “vacuous fundamentalism.”

It’s clear that the NYT thinks the U.S. Constitution – the document presidents, Congressmen and soldiers swear to defend against all enemies, foreign or domestic – is an inconvenient, irrelevant annoyance.

To my way of thinking, that makes The New York Times and those who share their belief in a post-Constitutional America, domestic enemies of the Constitution.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

If Obama can get the Nobel Peace Prize, surely there’s a Pulitzer waiting for Snooki.

No, it's a snore thing.

Shall we deface the Mona Lisa while we’re at it?

I was going to blog about the new edition of Mark Twain’s “Huckleberry Finn” in which the PC publishers substitute the word “slave” for the N word.

But nothing I could say would top this piece from the Wall Street Journal.

Alan Gribben is the misguided academic asshat responsible for the mutilation of Twain’s work.

Ironically, Gribben is an honorary lifetime member of the Mark Twain Circle of America. How’s that for stunning? Why am I not surprised that he did his post-graduate work at Berkeley?

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

They’re baaaaaack…

I thought Earth Shoes were lost to the distant past, a relic of the 1970s (disregard the idiotic apostrophe in the picture I found on the Internet).
They were a mandatory part of the “uniform” of people in the Transcendental Meditation movement. The guys wore these clownish bulbous shoes and the women wore similarly bulbous clogs. Some of the guys of questionable masculinity wore clogs too. A Swiss Army pocket knife was also earth shoespart of the uniform, since Maharishi Mahesh Yogi was training TM teachers in Switzerland in those days.
I have the curious distinction of having bought the first pair of Earth Shoes sold in Indiana. Lots of people in Indiana had them before me, but they got them from out of state, either from distant stores or by mail order. I bought the first pair sold by Dan and Carol Bolling’s Earth Shoe store on Kirkwood Avenue in Bloomington.
Earth Shoes are built with the heel lower than the toe, a configuration that’s supposed to be good for your posture because it makes you stand up straighter. They can be damned painful for the first week or so until the muscles and ligaments in the backs of your calves stretch to accommodate the new regime.
Anyhow, I haven’t seen a pair of Earth Shoes in decades.
So imagine my surprise when I found the Home Shopping Network hawking several new styles of Earth Shoes last night. Curiously, they cost twice as much from the HSN as they do on
I’ll bet most of their audience thinks this is a brand new thing.
I still carry a Swiss Army knife, but I’ll pass on the Earth Shoes this time around.

Does anyone really trust Janet Napolitano to keep us safe?

My stepdaughter, her husband and her husband’s family live in Cochise County, Ariz., which is one of the three border counties south of Sheriff Babeu’s Pima County and through which illegals pass to get to Tucson and Phoenix.

I worry about their safety and Sheriff Babeu speaks for me when he complains about the criminal neglect of our national security by Washington.

Mmmmmm, mocha cappuccino

My son Steve gave me a Mr. Coffee espresso/cappuccino maker for Christmas in 1998 or 1999.
I used it for awhile, then went back to the simplicity of making coffee.
Maria, who is not a coffee drinker, bought some super dark roasted coffee at Sam’s Club – the kind you grind yourself. I tried a couple of pots of it in theOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         coffee maker and then got to thinking about the fineness of the grind – somewhat finer than normal for a drip coffee maker, closer to the fine grind you’d want for an espresso machine.
So I pulled Steve’s gift down from the top shelf of the kitchen cabinet last week, dusted it off and re-read the owner’s manual.
It’s all perfectly straightforward: fill the coffee strainer, pour a carafe full of water into the boiler, fill the stainless steel steaming cup about a third full of milk, and flip the switch to the “cup” icon. When the espresso reaches the “steam” mark on the carafe, turn the switch past “off” to the “steam” icon and put the nozzle of the steamer just below the surface of the milk. When the froth reaches the top of the steaming cup, switch back to the “cup” icon and let the carafe fill up. When the dripping ceases, turn the switch to “off.”
Rather than sip the espresso from a tiny cup the way proper people do, I prefer to dump it into a big mug, toss in three packets of Sweet & Low and a teaspoon of Hershey’s chocolate syrup, pour in the steamed milk and spoon the froth onto the surface.
I now have the rough equivalent of a vente cappuccino mocha. It is also enough caffeine to carry me through the morning.
Thanks again, Steve!
Checking with, I see the machine's cosmetic appearance has changed a few times over the past decade, but the function remains the same and the price is molto ragionevole (very reasonable).

Monday, January 03, 2011

The rest of the mail report

Our tenant’s rent check was in our post office box this morning – three days before the late penalty kicks in!

Of course, he neglected to add the late penalty from last month and a couple of months before that.

This was also the first day of mail delivery in our little wooded subdivision. Only four of the nine houses have put out mailboxes, but apparently that’s enough to lure the carrier up our road. We’re among the holdouts. I have a frequent need to take packages to the post office and we like the relative security of a P.O. box, so I’m in no big hurry to spend money on a mail box I’ll have to mow around.

West meets East

ram map

I got an email this afternoon concerning the January meeting of the local (Mid-South) BMW Club on Saturday. The author says it’s at a restaurant on Germantown Parkway in Cordova, Tenn., west of Memphis.

I don’t think so. West of Memphis is the Mississippi River and Arkansas. (Restaurant location is “A” on the map.)

Like she said, “It’s always something.”

This time it’s my Gannett pension. Checking my online bank link on Saturday, I noticed the automatic deposit was short $154.
When I picked up the mail this morning, it included the monthly pension earnings statement and the reason was revealed. They’ve started deducting for medical insurance again.
The deductions stopped when I went on Medicare last summer and should never have resumed. I have a call in to the appropriate people to get it fixed.

LATER: An HR person at The Star returned my call, apologized and said they will send me a check for the deducted amount and that no further medical insurance deductions will be made.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Sunday, Sunday

Some days I don’t get inspired to write anything. This was one of those days.

I did, however, knock out another 20-minute mile on the treadmill and fill the bird feeders.

Just call me Mr. Excitement.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Storm dog

pete storm

Pete took refuge at Maria’s feet under her sewing table when the storms rumbled through yesterday afternoon.

That is, until a nearby lightning strike sent him running.

We figured he was headed for his kennel in our bedroom, which is his safe place in times of anxiety. But when we checked, he wasn’t there.

Then we noticed him hunkered down in the back of our walk-in closet. Must have been a pretty scary lightning strike.

Happy New Year


We’re having a laid-back New Year’s Day.

I did a 20-minute mile on the treadmill, having resolved to do 20 treadmill minutes a day, every day, in 2011.

Now I’m blogging while Maria Skypes with her son and her parents at her parents’ house in Thorntown.

I checked my online bank account this morning and was alarmed to see my Gannett pension rolled in but was about 23 percent less than it was in December. WTF? Naturally, this will require a phone call on Monday.