Saturday, March 31, 2012

I love this jacket


I was riding home from the Post Office and stopped at a traffic signal at the south end of the Brookland bypass when a guy in a red car next to me rolled down his window and yelled, “I like your jacket!”

This is, without question, the most remarked upon and complemented copjacketfrontmotorcycle jacket I’ve ever owned, and I’ve owned a whole closet full, and more.

It’s the German Polizei motorcycle jacket I bought a few weeks ago from for a very reasonable $179.97.

It’s an XL and it keeps reminding me to lose a few pounds, but apparently looks good enough on me to garner good reviews.

While I’ll still opt for my waterproof FirstGear copjacketbackKilimanjaro jacket for touring and days with rain in the forecast, it has become my preferred fair weather riding jacket and all-around hanging out jacket.

And I haven’t been hassled by any cops over the “POLIZEI” in retroflective material across the back of the jacket.

Meet the Graduate

jack diploma

Jack graduated from Puppy School this morning after earning high marks on his final exam.jackgrad001

After the sixth and final class, we toyed with the idea of having breakfast at one of the outdoor tables at Panera, but decided Jack would probably be overexcited by all of the distractions and would be hard to handle.

That said, instructor Ruth Meador remarked that Jack is a changed dog over the six-week span of the course. We agree and look forward to even more improvements from our pup who has grown bigger than Pete.

11 years ago this evening


My son Steve and his beautiful bride Nicky were married 11 years ago this evening in Cincinnati.

I was very proud then. I’m even prouder now.

Happy anniversary, Steve and Nicky!

Friday, March 30, 2012

A spring afternoon with the Aussies

How many retired journalists does it take to change a motorcycle headlight bulb? Today, just one.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhen I pulled into my parking space at the Post Office this morning and glanced at my reflection in the glass door, I knew the day had come.
I always ride the ‘94 K75S with the headlight on high beam, but the reflection in the door told me the high beam was out. I flicked down to low beam and the headlight came on.
So after collecting our mail, I rode to AutoZone and bought a Sylvania H4 halogen headlight bulb for $11.92.
I’ve been anticipating this day with mixed feelings for years. Headlight bulb changes were a snap on my old ‘91 K100RS. I could stand in front of the bike, straddling the front wheel and reach around into the fairing to do a bulb change by feel. Nothing to it. Just pull the three-blade plug, remove the rubber seal, unlatch the locking mechanism and swing it to the port side of the bike and remove the old bulb. Reverse the procedure and you’re done.
But one look at the K75S fairing told me it wouldn’t be that easy, even though the mechanisms are identical.
Instead of reaching around from a standing position, a bulb change on the K75SOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA involves coming up from the bottom of the inside of the fairing – considerably more uncomfortable and awkward.
Nevertheless, when I got home, I put the bike on the centerstand, got my rolling mechanic’s stool to lean upon, and went to work. It turned out to be way easier than I’d expected, especially since the nightmare of a headlight bulb change on my K1200GT is still fresh in my memory.
I’m always somewhat apprehensive when I tackle a bike maintenance project for the first time, no matter how simple it is. After all, I’m a writer, not a mechanic.
But now that it’s done, I have the experience in my database and it will be no big deal at all the next time.
For what it’s worth, I think this was the original bulb, which means it lasted about 18 years and 11,000+ miles. At that rate, I’ll be 84 before I have to replace the bulb I installed today.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Fun with Jack


Jack likes this flying disc from Tractor Supply because he can get his teeth into it.



gannett benefits

As a retiree from a Gannett newspaper (The Indianapolis Star), I get a life insurance benefit from the company.

Today’s mail brought a form in which I am asked to provide the most recent information about my designated beneficiary. They thoughtfully provided a pre-addressed envelope in which to return the form.

When I sat down to complete the form just now, I noticed there is nothing there to link it to me. My name is not printed on the form, nor is there a space for me to add my name. I examined the back of the form which says, “GANNETT [Back of Designated Beneficiary Form] Please tear off this bottom portion, and send back to Gannett in the enclosed return envelope by April 15, 2012.”

So the geniuses at the Gannett Benefits Center will receive a slew of disassociated beneficiary forms and no way to connect them with the insured retirees.

But they make sure you use black ink and print clearly.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Getting better

pete ball

After four weeks of Leventa oral solution, .6 ml/day, for his thyroid deficiency, Pete is much improved. He’s more energetic and seems to be enjoying life on a whole new level. His coat is still thin and lackluster, though. That’s supposed to improve eventually.

He even tried to jump up onto our bed the other day. He might have made it if we hadn’t raised the bar on him with the addition of a 3” memory foam mattress topper. We hate it that he had to suffer so long, but we’re delighted that the vet came up with the right diagnosis and treatment.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Tuesday morning check-in

starbucks slide

The dogs are dozing – Jack in his kitchen kennel and Pete at my feet under the table – while I enjoy my mocha cappuccino and contemplate my day. (I just discovered that the free GIMP image editing software includes some nifty special effects, like the filmstrip you see here.)

Jack, our Aussie pup, talks in his sleep. He just let out a series of yips, suggestive of a bad dream. I called his name and he cast a sleepy glance in my direction, as if to ask why I disturbed him.

The burning of the big oak stump is proceeding well. I kept the fire going all day yesterday and we stoked it well before going to bed last night. It’s hard to tell just how much of the stump we’ve destroyed because the process generates so much ash. The ash holds glowing coals, so I’m loathe to brush them aside to assess the damage. I’ll wait until rain halts the burning process, possibly as early as tomorrow.

I fished the tire gauge out of the rear pouch on my K1200GT’s Marsee tank bag Sunday and noticed that the pouch’s seams have come apart, threatening to spill the contents – a tire patch kit, several CO2 cylinders, a solar-powered calculator, tire gauge and other odds and ends – onto the roadway as I ride. The fabric is unraveling and would not lend itself to an easy repair, so I decided it was time for a new tank bag.

I emailed several friends for suggestions, including Harold Patterson, who once had a bike like mine. Turns out Harold still has the Marsee tank bag he bought with his GT and offers to let me have it. Free. All I have to do is go to Indiana to claim it. I’m going up next month to see Indianapolis News compadre Skip Hess inducted into the Indiana Journalism Hall of Fame, so I can pick it up then. Problem solved and $100+ expense averted.

Well, my cup is empty and it’s time to tend the stump fire.

Monday, March 26, 2012

He needs to lighten up


This is Dane (yeah, I know), the biggest dog in the Saturday morning puppy class.

Dane disgraced himself and embarrassed his owners last Saturday by copping an attitude and menacing his two Australian shepherd classmates.

When he showed up for class, he greeted Jack with growling. He made cranky noises toward Cowboy too.

The instructor suggested I take Jack for a walk-by down the aisle at the class venue – a pet food store. When Jack got within reach, Dane lunged and tried to bite him. Jack freaked out and screamed and I quickly yanked him out of danger with his leash.

Dane never has socialized with the dogs in the class. He was fearful and trembling at the first class session five weeks ago. Clearly, he has issues. We hope his owners can adjust his attitude, but we fear they won’t show up for the sixth and final session next Saturday.

Maria said he growled at her after she shot a half-dozen eye-level photos of him.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Burning the stump


The massive stump of a big oak tree that was split during the January, 2009 ice storm has been a lumpy eyesore in our back yard ever since.

Maria, who has some experience with burning stumps from her farm days, suggested this morning that we give fire a chance. So she gathered wood from around the yard, including from a post-ice storm kindling pile and got a fire going on the side of the stump about 9:30 a.m.

I went out about 5 p.m. and threw more fuel on the fire as it slowly chews into the stump. This is a process that will take several days. There’s no rain in the forecast until Wednesday, so I’m guardedly optimistic that we can make some progress before nature puts out the fire.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Collecting stamps on a sunny late March afternoon

NEWPORT, Ark. - I’m collecting stamps in my Arkansas Civil War Sesquicentennial Passport this afternoon. Garmin says the nearest stamping destination, now that I’ve been to Chalk Bluff and Pocahontas, is Jacksonport State Park near Newport.
It’s about a 125-mile round trip ride to the park and a pleasant ride it was with sunny skies and temperatures in the mid-70s.
So what does Jacksonport State Park have to do with the Civil War? Here’s what the park’s web site says:
In the 1800s steamboats made Jacksonport a thriving river port. During the Civil War, the town was occupied by both Confederate and Union forces because of its crucial locale. Jacksonport became county seat in 1854, and construction of a stately, two-story brick courthouse began in 1869. The town began to decline in the 1880s when bypassed by the railroad. The county seat was moved in 1891 to nearby Newport, and Jacksonport's stores, wharves and saloons soon vanished.
Today, exhibits in the park's 1872 courthouse and programs by park interpreters share the story of this historic river port. Admission to the courthouse is free.
Here’s my bike parked in front of the information center with the historic courthouse in the background. The center was locked up tight when I arrived, but a young woman drove by in an SUV, made a cell phone call or two and I barely had time to clean my visor and windscreen before a guy showed up to let me in and stamp my passport. Seems the woman who was supposed to staff the information center today called in sick. Whatever. I got my stamp.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Damned sleazy Chinese!

miloWe bought some dog treats at Petco this week but quickly discovered they are the subject of an FDA consumer alert.

Needless to say, we didn’t give any of the suspect treats to our dogs and plan to return them to Petco for a refund.

The most recent warning states that the “FDA is advising consumers who choose to feed their dogs chicken jerky products to watch their dogs closely for any or all of the following signs that may occur within hours to days of feeding the products: decreased appetite; decreased activity; vomiting; diarrhea, sometimes with blood; increased water consumption and/or increased urination. If the dog shows any of these signs, stop feeding the chicken jerky product. Owners should consult their veterinarian if signs are severe or persist for more than 24 hours.”

Brands that use chicken imported from China include Waggin Train, Canyon Creek Ranch and Milo’s Kitchen. China has long been under fire over food safety for both pet and human food. More than 100 brands of cat and dog food were recalled when at least 14 pets died after ingesting grain from China that was tainted with melamine, a chemical that can make products appear to have more protein.

Petco also sells Waggin Train chicken treats. The Waggin Train and Milo’s Kitchen treats are on sale, which I find particularly cynical.

Actress Suzi Barrett announced today on her Facebook page that she is cutting ties with Milo’s Kitchen:

suzian update for you guys: i've been on the phone with my agent, lawyers, and the ad agency for the last few days. the process of breaking my contract with milo's kitchen is going to take a few weeks, but it is in the works. by next month, my ad will no longer be running. thank you for bringing light to all of this so i can do my part. i'll keep you posted.

A coyote finds the chicken bait for the trailcam in a rainstorm early this morning

Not me


When I went through fraternity rush at Indiana State College (later Indiana State University) in the fall of 1963, I decided early in the game that Alpha Tau Omega was the only fraternity on campus that interested me.

I don’t think I even attended a Theta Chi rush party, but when the bids came out I had two – one for ATO and one for Theta Chi, mainly because Dennis Fach, a Theta Chi, thought I would be an asset to his fraternity.

Now, 49 years later, the national Theta Chi organization has decided I’m one of their own. Actually, they have an alumnus with my name – albeit with a different middle initial – who they have guessed is me, with my post office box address here in Arkansas.

The post card I received this week announces the impending publication of the Theta Chi Fraternity Alumnus Member Director 2012 Edition and invites me to call their toll-free number to update “my” information.

My first impulse was to pitch the card, but then it occurred to me that if I let this mistake go uncorrected, I may be hearing from John W. Flora’s Theta Chi brothers and/or prevent W’s bros from tracking him down.

So I called and told them to look elsewhere for W.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Home from the Alps


I spent about five hours in the car today, driving to Little Rock and back in constant rain to pick up my Breitling titanium Chrono Avenger that I sent in for cleaning and refurbishing back on Dec. 22.

I had to trek to Little Rock because Roberson’s Fine Jewelry is the nearest authorized Breitling dealer. They sent it home to Switzerland where the chronograph makers gave it a complete overhaul, including new hands and face. It’s like having a brand new watch. But it wasn’t cheap.

I suspect it would have been less if I hadn’t waited seven years instead of sending it in at three-year intervals.

At any rate, it’s back on my wrist and ticking away. (Yes, it’s self-winding and mechanical. No battery. Serious old school chronograph stuff.)

Happy 102nd birthday, Dad!


My dad, who died in 1997, would have been 102 years old today.

Here he is with me on our old burgundy wine colored couch in the living room of our first house at 609 E. Franklin St. in Delphi, Ind. sometime around 1950. My mom took the photo with her Kodak Duaflex II camera.

I was particularly fond of my cowboy style shirt, which was black with green satin accents.

Hardly a day goes by that I don’t think of something I wish I could share with my dad. I know he would love our two Aussies. Dad was a dog guy.

I see hints of my two sons in his face in this photo.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Best buddies


We had to miss the fourth session of puppy school last Saturday because Maria had to be in Little Rock for her stem cell therapy.

We stopped by the pet supply store where the classes are held this morning to pick up some stuff and the instructor told us that Jack’s best buddy Cowboy, a miniature red merle Aussie, clearly missed seeing Jack and kept looking around for him.

We’ll be there this Saturday, Cowboy.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Putting an end to 8 years of pain, we hope

harshfieldDr. David Harshfield, M.D., M.S.

I haven’t blogged anything for the past three days because I’ve been busy helping Maria recover from long-term injuries resulting from a head-on car crash 8 years ago.

Maria thought she got off with just a concussion and minor airbag and seatbelt injuries when a woman with macular degeneration made a left turn in front of her at a Crawfordsville, Ind. intersection in March, 2004.

But not long after that she began having discomfort and then outright pain in her SI joints and lower and upper back. She went to specialists in Crawfordsville who, it turns out, were completely out of their depth when it came to treating her condition.

It wasn’t until she hooked up with Dr. Susan Myshka, a Jonesboro, Ark., chiropractor, that we got to the bottom of the matter and started putting her dislocated spinal structure back in place.

But the years of walking around out of whack took their toll in her knees and hips and neck and it wasn’t until Dr. Myshka heard a lecture by Dr. David Harshfield, an interventional radiologist from Little Rock, that we had any hope of a permanent remedy.

Guided by MRI scans, Dr. Harshfield uses platelet rich plasma (stem cell) therapy to regenerate damaged or degraded bone and tissue.

Susan has a shoulder problem and also needed Dr. Harshfield’s help, so I drove her down to Little Rock for an MRI scan on Friday. Maria got her MRI a week earlier here in Jonesboro.

Yesterday, I drove them both to Little Rock for the stem cell therapy.

Dr. Harshfield takes a dozen vials of the patient’s own blood, spins it down with a centrifuge to separate out the components and pulls out the stem cells from the blood. Then he injects it into the areas that need regeneration. You can read a detailed description of the procedure on his web site here.

He differs from some others using this therapy in that he coordinates with a chiropractor who can keep the various skeletal structures in place during the regeneration period.

I was highly skeptical when Susan told us about Dr. Harshfield and his work, but my doubts evaporated yesterday when I met him, listened to him discuss Maria’s problems and read his credentials. I’m persuaded he’s on the cutting edge of a medical breakthrough that will change the way we treat all kinds of medical problems.

Maria goes back for a followup visit in three months, by which time we hope she will be fully recovered. Dr. Harshfield claims about a 90 percent success rate.

In the meantime, she’s recuperating from the multiple injections and enjoying some powerful pain meds. while I do the cooking and other caregiver stuff.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Well, it’s a start…


Two down, 21 to go.

I took a little 150-mile ride today and collected the first two stamps in my Arkansas Civil War Sesquicentennial Passport.

The Battle of Chalk Bluff near Piggott was a minor engagement. The passport is kinda vague about the Pocahontas River Walk connection, saying only that the River Walk “commemorates many Civil War activities that occurred in the region.” Whatever. I rode to the Randolph County Heritage Museum on the Pocahontas courthouse square and got my passport stamped, then rode home amid blustery 20 mph winds from the south all the way from Walnut Ridge to Paragould.

About 2 miles south of the Paragould McDonald’s, I spied a red Coca-Cola route driver’s money bag in one of the southbound lanes. I know what they look like because Maria and I found one last year in the local mall.

I chose not to get involved this time.

Collecting stamps

piggottI’m having lunch and Wifi at the McDonald’s in Corning, Ark., having ridden up to Piggott to collect the first stamp in my Arkansas Civil War Sesquicentennial Passport.

The stamp for the Chalk Bluff Battlefield resides at the Piggott Chamber of Commerce Visitors Center which, despite the stated hours, was closed. Turns out it was closed because the Chamber is having a bit of a personnel emergency since the secretary quit without warning. I called one of the numbers posted on the door and the guy who answered showed up a few minutes later to stamp my passport.

There’s another site at Pocahontas, a relatively short distance west of Piggott, so I’m on my way to bag a second stamp before heading home.

hemingwaymuseum While in Piggott, I cruised by the house where Ernest Hemingway did some writing.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The joys of being a landlord

I did a walk-through inspection of our Indiana rental property last Aug. 30 and discovered that the built-in overhead microwave oven and the stacked washer/dryer weren’t working.

We carry home warranty insurance on the place and I made the renter promise that day that he would call the 800 number and file a claim to get the appliances fixed. We pay for the insurance. It costs him nothing.

Fast forward to this afternoon when I got an email from the warranty insurance folks saying they were unable to bill us because we changed credit card numbers. In the course of the conversation, I asked if they had received a claim for service on the microwave and washer/dryer.

As I expected, they had not.

So I initiated a claim, having kept my inspection notes that included the model numbers for the appliances.

But it still falls to the renter to call the service contractor to arrange an appointment for service – the service contractor will not call him.

What do you want to bet he’d rather keep going to the laundromat and using his own countertop microwave than pick up the phone and set up an appointment?

Monday, March 12, 2012

Done. And this time I mean it.

164337Okay, now all of the special project stories are off of my plate.

The final story turned out to be the biggest PR clusterfuck I can remember in all of my years in newspapering. I won’t bore you with the details, but it took all of my diplomatic skills.

Now, maybe I can turn my attention to more important things like riding motorcycles and playing with Aussies. And maybe mowing the lawn for the first time this year.

I got a call from my cousin in Nashville Sunday evening. He retired a few weeks ago and wants to make good on our longstanding plan to ride bikes together. With some luck and planning, we should be able to make that happen this year.

Our friend Jim Shillings was scheduled to fly out of Cairo around 2 p.m. CDT, so he should be well out of Egyptian airspace now and in a relatively safe and secure place. Here’s hoping that’s the last time he gets sent to such a scary place.

New toy for Jack


BMW riding friend Charlie Parsons stopped by on his way to work this morning to drop off a big orange traffic cone for Jack’s amusement.

Charlie tossed it over the fence into the back yard. When I went downstairs a few minutes ago, I found Jack had dragged it through the dog door onto the back porch and was happily gnawing on it. (Sorry for the blurry photo. I shot it with my Olympus point-and-shoot and it suffers from a low ISO/shutter speed.)

Sunday, March 11, 2012

I need a laugh, Jack


Jack the 6-month-old Aussie pup makes me happy. Here he is grinning at Maria yesterday morning at Puppy School.

I need a happy image right now because:

  1. The neighbors, who bought the lot between their property and ours, have begun raping the forest with a bulldozer and a backhoe. We were relieved when we heard they were buying the last unsold lot in the subdivision because prospective buyers/builders were checking it out. We supposed they would leave it wooded to preserve the natural habitat for deer, coyotes, turkeys and other critters. So imagine our surprise this morning when the bulldozer showed up and started cutting swaths through the woods. I haven’t worked up the energy to go ask them what their plan is, but my guess is that it involves building a third garage or more parking space for their fleet of boats and trailers.
  2. I started doing our taxes this afternoon and discovered I didn’t have enough deducted last year when I cashed in my retirement annuity. It will be a very painful check to write.

So I need something like Jack’s smiling face to dull the pain.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

On a positive note, the Wallace China El Rancho plate that got detoured to northwest Arkansas from the USPS Little Rock Sorting Center finally appeared in our post office box yesterday morning, thus completing the five-plate purchase I made on Ebay a couple of weeks ago.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Puppy School: Session Three

puppy school three 001

Jack had his third session of puppy school this morning.

The new behavior we were supposed to work on last week was walking on a leash without pulling.


Jack spent the first 45 minutes trying to pull my arms out of their sockets until the instructor introduced him to the pinch collar – it’s a metal chain affair with dull spikes pointing inward. It’s designed to give him an uncomfortable pokey sensation when he pulls, but not enough to really hurt him and the chain can’t choke him.

The improvement was dramatic, so we bought one and will use it for walks until he loses the desire to pull.

Jack had great fun at the end of the class tussling with his best buddy Cowboy, a red merle miniature Aussie. They seem to recognize something interesting and fun in each other.

Friday, March 09, 2012

Incompetence abounds


Maybe it’s just me, but it feels like I’m being thwarted by incompetent fools at every turn this week.

The most recent example came this morning when I discovered that the plate, which was part of a 5-plate lot I bought several days ago on Ebay, that was supposed to be delivered on Wednesday, is wandering around northwest Arkansas.

The USPS tracking site says it made it from Portland, Ore. to Little Rock in less than two days. Then, instead of putting it on the mail truck to Jonesboro, some imbecile sent it to the USPS Sort Facility in Fayetteville. Fayetteville! That’s 200 freaking miles in the wrong direction. We live in northeast Arkansas and Fayetteville is in the northwest corner of the state.

It left Fayetteville sometime last night, bound for God knows where, but the tracking site still doggedly insists on an expected delivery date of March 7.

And then there’s the matter of the spokesman for the bank I’ve been trying to reach. When I called the bank on Monday, I was told he had gone to lunch and they would ask him to call. He did not call on Monday and when he failed to call on Tuesday, I called back and was told he would be out of the office until Thursday. So the woman who is the branch manager said she would ask the bank president to call me. He never called.

The deadline for the story was Wednesday and, absent a call from someone who could speak for the bank, I couldn’t write the story.

Then yesterday, when I figured it was over and off my plate, the guy I called in the first place leaves two voicemails on my phone late in the day saying he had been out of state since last Friday and was catching up on his messages. So the woman who told me he was out to lunch on Monday had no idea that he was out of town and wouldn’t be back until Thursday. She just guessed and she guessed wrong.

And speaking of idiocy, when you get your copy of MRI scans from St. Bernards Imaging Center to pass on to a specialist, don't you think it would be important that it say somewhere on the DVD sleeve that it WILL NOT RUN IN WINDOWS 7???? (The current, and soon to be replaced by Windows 8, version of the world's most popular operating system.) That means whoever tries to read it will have to hunt up a machine running the obsolete Windows XP or Vista operating systems. And, by the way, no one is answering the phone at the St. Bernards Imaging Center help desk.

Just before I started writing this, I got a call from my bank telling me my debit card number is on a list of compromised cards they received this morning and they have cancelled the card. That means I have to go to a branch and get a new card issued. And I have to contact PayPal, and everyone else who synchs with my card and update them.

But I don’t have time to mess with that right now because I have to call the not-out-to-lunch bank guy and lash together a late story.

And then I have to go to our doctor’s office and get lab work papers that they refuse to FAX to a specialist because the receiving FAX number isn’t an office or a hospital.

LATER: Oh, great. Now the bank spokesman wants to see and sign off on the photo that one of our people shot of a teller last week. I told him that would be fine if it were an advertising photo, but it’s an editorial photo and we don’t do that. He insists otherwise, so I kicked the matter up the chain of command.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Free at last, free at last

skinit My onerous writing assignments are off my plate, mostly through my efforts to pull together the needed information and one – the bank – because nobody returned my calls in time to make the deadline. Whatever.

This means I have my life back for awhile and I’m celebrating with a four-egg soufflĂ©, coffee and Wifi at Panera Bread. This is also the debut appearance of the custom skin for my Dell Inspiron Mini 9 netbook. It’s an HDR image of my 2003 BMW K1200GT made into a netbook skin by It has an optional cutout in the middle if I want the Dell logo to show through. I don’t, but it was useful to temporarily remove the cutout so I could center the skin on the logo.

If I had my druthers, this would be the day I’d leave to ride to Daytona for Bike Week. I write that with some reservation as I gaze out the window and see the parking lot awash in a heavy downpour. Beginning a trip in a rainsuit is not my idea of a good time. But it doesn’t matter because Bike Week is off my calendar this year because Maria needs me here next week. There will be other Bike Weeks.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Attention, Red Cross blood nags

Memo to the local Red Cross Chapter:

Stop calling to beg me for blood.

I know where you are and I’ll give you a pint when it suits me, but these phone calls every few days are really pissing me off.

So far, I’ve spared your feelings by not picking up the phone when Caller ID says: AMER RED CROSS

But if it keeps up, I’m going to get snarky and neither of us wants that.

I knew this was going to happen when I donated last year at a blood drive organized by Maria’s paper. Once you get into their Rolodex, they’ll hound you forever. I have absolutely no interest in joining the multi-gallon club, or whatever they call it.

And, no, I’m not one of those pussies who’s afraid of needles. My mother was a nurse and needles don’t mean shit to me.  I just resent the hell out of being bothered.

Still a hostage

hostageThis is me being held hostage by rude, inconsiderate people who don’t appreciate that I’m trying to do something that will benefit their business.

I have lots of things I'd rather be doing, but I’m stuck here at my desk waiting for people to return calls or emails.

I’m supposed to be writing pieces about live entertainment in the recently revitalized downtown area and a profile on a local bank.

People at two of the downtown venues promised on Monday to email schedules of performers at their restaurants. It is now Wednesday morning and my story is due and I don’t have the schedules and they’re not going to be reachable until late today.

I called the bank on Monday and asked to speak with someone in public relations. I was told there were two such people, but one was off and the other was at lunch. Fine, I said, ask the lunching guy to call me when he returns.

He didn’t call.

I called again yesterday and was told the PR guy was off until Thursday (the day the story is supposed to print), so the woman said she would ask the bank president to call me.

He didn’t call yesterday and I haven’t heard from him today. Maybe he’s hiding out because, a web site that shows comparative data on U.S. banks and credit unions, reported a steady decline – 9.3 percent - in his bank’s assets over the past three years, and a 20 percent decline in deposits over the same period.

This is not rocket science. It’s just communication and common courtesy, both of which seem to be in extremely short supply these days.

And, yes, I’m very cranky because this same lack of cooperation from sources has kept me tethered to my desk for the better part of three weeks. And because circumstances have conspired to make it impossible for me to ride to Daytona Beach Bike Week again this year – a year when the forecast is for near-perfect weather.

Monday, March 05, 2012

Take a few minutes and listen to this. Please.

If you only do one thing online today, it should be to listen to this 11 minute, 38 second homily by Father Maletta.

And, if you believe as I do that this is a vitally important issue, not just for Catholics, but for all Americans, link it and send it to as many people as you can.

Sunday, March 04, 2012

Suddenly last summer…


I found this photo from last summer while clearing out unwanted images from my hard drive.

The author took two shots at spelling “bushel” and missed both times. It was on the public bulletin board at the local post office.

Saturday, March 03, 2012

Jack’s second session of Puppy School


Puppy School Aussies (from left) Hannah, Cowboy, and Jack. Hannah and Cowboy are minis.

Jack had his second weekly session of Puppy School this morning and made us proud.

He continues to be high spirited, but has more moments of calm than last week. He was very interested in Hannah and Cowboy, the two other Aussies in the class. He met Cowboy last week, but Hannah was new to the class today.

The other dogs in the class are a Great Dane, Dachshund and a miniature Poodle.

All of the dogs took a turn at fetching a ball and Jack was the most accomplished by far. He also has a good handle on “sit,” “focus” and “down.”

The only unfortunate part was when he got car sick on the way home and barfed in his kennel. No problem. I’ll just hose it out.

Friday, March 02, 2012

Four and done

Please don’t feed the humans–it makes them dependent


How obvious can it be?

(It has been pointed out that the National Park Service is part of the Department of the Interior, not the USDA, but they’re all part of the same Federal government and the point remains the same and remains valid, no matter what the bleeding heart morons on the Left say.)

Motion Induced Blindness

This is fascinating and very scary in its implications.mib

It also goes a long way toward explaining why car drivers fail to see motorcycles.

I can’t replicate the flash graphic here, so you need to click on the image and it will take you to the Motorcycle Safety Foundation’s web site.

The essence of it is that if you stare at the blinking green dot in the center of the field, the yellow peripheral dots will appear to vanish even though they are constantly on.

Click it and try it.

In this morning’s mail–1, 2, 3, 4…


You can’t tell from this angle, but this is a stack of four Wallace China El Rancho dinner plates that arrived in this morning’s mail.

The problem is that the Ebay auction was for five plates. I got an email yesterday from the seller in Portland, Ore., saying, “Please let me know when your package arrives that you have the correct number of plates as I may have made an error.”

He has been notified and presumably will ship the fifth plate today.

Thursday, March 01, 2012

A great way to experience Spring


I took Maria’s ‘94 BMW K75S in to town this afternoon to pick up Pete’s medication from the vet’s office.

I really enjoy riding the little 750cc bike. It’s much more nimble and flickable than my 1200cc sport touring machine and, to my way of thinking, provides a more basic, elemental motorcycling experience.

It was a sunny 70 degrees when I rolled out, taking the back way to town. On the way, I passed our cattle rancher neighbor on his tractor and we exchanged waves.

Spring has arrived in the Mid-South. The flowering trees are showing their colors and there are riots of brilliant yellow daffodils everywhere. I even caught a whiff of wild onion a couple of times.

I only rode about 30 miles or so, but they were filled with wonderful sights, smells and sensations that I’ve missed during the cold weather.

Pete’s vet visit

I took Pete to the vet this morning for a Bordetella booster shot, heartworm test and intestinal parasite exam.
It was his first ride in the Lexus and he handled it with resignation once I got him into the passenger seat and explained to him that he could not come across the console and sit in my lap.
Once in the examining room, he hunkered down under my chair and came out for his procedures with great reluctance.
The vet opines that a thyroid deficiency may be the cause of Pete’s weight gain and thinning rump hair. She said they drew blood and will run tests to check.
We’d noticed the thinning hair and hope this leads to a fix for that and some weight loss too. He weighed in at 61.1 pounds today.
LATER: The vet says the optimum thyroid level is between 2 and 4 on the scale they use. They can measure down to .5 and Pete's level was below that.
Got him on Leventa oral solution, .6 ml/day.
 It is important to give LEVENTA® oral solution for a minimum of 6 to 8 weeks to allow enough time for it to positively affect the metabolism before evaluating its effect. Most dogs begin to show improvement in their activity level within 2 - 7 days of starting thyroid hormone replacement therapy. It takes a longer period of time to see improvements in the skin and hair coat. In fact, the hair coat may actually appear to worsen initially as the old hair coat is shed before it can be replaced with a healthier hair coat. It may take several months for complete regrowth of the hair coat to occur. Healthy weight loss will likely be observed over the couple of months following initiation of therapy as exercise naturally increases and improvements in fat metabolism occur. During this time frame it is advisable to gradually increase the level of exercise to avoid fatigue or injury in your dog.

Andrew Breitbart 1969-2012

Andrew_Breitbart_portrait_2 (1) jpeg

As a lifelong journalist who is deeply embarrassed by the shameful liberal lap dog transformation of my profession, I am stunned and saddened by the untimely death today of Andrew Breitbart.

Breitbart was my hero. He practiced journalism the way it should be done, by going after stories the corrupt mainstream media ignored and tried to squelch like the ACORN corruption sting and Rep. Anthony Weiner’s peccadillos.

I can only hope that the team he assembled at will carry on with his work and build upon his successes to provide a vital counterbalance to a hideously corrupted news media.

Six months old and still growing


Jack is six months old today.

He’s grown considerably since we brought him home from Briarbrook Kennels in Carthage, Mo., on Nov. 20. He was 18 pounds then, pushing 50 pounds now. He’s taller than Pete, has a much greater reach when he’s up on his back legs, and can run circles around Pete the way Pete used to do to Ruthie.