Saturday, June 30, 2012

Best in the state!


Where did we go this morning? Well, I’m glad you asked.

We drove down to Little Rock for the 2012 Arkansas Press Association Editorial Awards presentation at the downtown Double Tree hotel.

Competing in the Larger Daily Division, which includes the Democrat-Gazette – the largest newspaper in the state – Maria won first place in the News/Political Column section. This is her second state-level first place award, the first being a few years back in Hoosier State Press Association competition when she worked at the Crawfordsville Journal-Review.

I can’t tell you how proud I am of her.

The Jonesboro Sun staff won a total of five first-place awards, plus Sun reporter Waylon Harris won the 2012 Outstanding Young Journalist Award for the state of Arkansas.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Three years later, one of my 2009 rally shots makes the cover


I was really pissed off when the BMW MOA Owners News editors didn’t use a single one of the scores of images I shot as a volunteer photographer at the 2009 national rally in Johnson City, Tenn.

I worked in a similar capacity the previous year at the rally in Gillette, Wyo. and several of my shots turned up in the rally wrap-up issue for 2008.

To make it worse, I was suffering from a very nasty case of plantar fasciitis at Johnson City that made standing and walking painful. (Happily, my chiropractor hooked me up with custom designed orthotics later that summer that cured my condition overnight.)

I got a message earlier this week from Indianapolis BMW Club friend Jim Stocking saying that one of my photos was on the cover of the July Owners News.

I pulled my copy out of the post office box today, studied the cover and was delighted to see one of my 2009 rally shots finally saw print – a nice portrait of Jim and his dog down in the bottom right corner of the cover. And Jim’s face is the most recognizable of all of those on the cover.

Now I feel vindicated.

But I’m done being an official rally photographer. I’m going for the fun this year.


Hot day, cool gas price


My car thermometer was reading 102° at 12:51 p.m. Now, two hours later, the temperature is up to 104°. Good day to stay in the air conditioning. The dogs seem happy to be inside.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI had to drive to Walnut Ridge this morning to retrieve a couple of Maria’s quilts from a consignment shop because we need to photograph them. Ordinarily I would go by motorcycle, but I wasn’t in the mood to sweat.

I found myself behind this pickup truck-trailer rig hauling a hobby horse, a 286gasbarbecue smoker and a guy. I think there may be a law against a passenger riding in a trailer like this, but nobody seemed to care.

The big surprise came when I got back to Jonesboro and topped off my gas tank at Sam’s Club.

Regular gas was selling for $2.86 a gallon. I haven’t seen gas that cheap in a long time. And I thought I was getting a great deal six days ago when I paid $2.97 a gallon. That explains the why the Sam’s Club pumps were swamped with customers. says the Jonesboro Sam’s Club has the cheapest gas in the whole freaking state!

But then I’m old enough to remember when gas was 33 cents a gallon and had lead in it.

How Chief Justice John Roberts sabotaged Obama and Obamacare

This is spot-on analysis.

"Before you look to do harm to Chief Justice Roberts or his family, it’s important that you think carefully about the meaning – the true nature — of his ruling on Obama-care. The Left will shout that they won, that Obama-care was upheld and all the rest. Let them.

"It will be a short-lived celebration.

"Here’s what really occurred — payback. Yes, payback for Obama’s numerous, ill-advised and childish insults directed toward SCOTUS."

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Buying from is way easier than communicating with them

I got an email yesterday afternoon from “Dustin M.” at telling me:

“It's come to our attention that your Profile name contains a URL. This is against our guidelines and I'm writing to request that you remove it from your Profile.
I'll check back in 7 days to verify that this has been removed. If it hasn't, we'll change your Profile name to "A Customer" and remove your Customer Reviews. I'm sorry for any concerns this may cause but we want to provide you with the opportunity to make these changes to your account.”

That’s a serious threat because my 130+ customer reviews are the basis for my membership in the Vine program where I get free stuff to review.

I followed the instructions and attempted to edit the URL out of the signature line in my profile, but repeatedly got an error message every time I tried to save the changes. It appears to be a problem with Amazon’s software.

I called customer service this morning and talked to some kid who, after learning that I also have a seller account with Amazon, passed me over to Seller Customer Service. But the Seller Customer Service guy ascertained that the issue concerns my buyer account profile, not my seller account profile, and passed me back to the buyer side where a young woman attempted to make the appropriate edits in my buyer profile and encountered the same problem I had. She put me on hold and, after several minutes, the connection was dropped.


So I took another run at it this afternoon, using the “chat” customer service feature.

Here’s the transcript with what I was thinking in parentheses:

You are now connected to Tahaj-wayne from

Me:Can't edit nameline in my buyer profile. I received an email from yesterday advising me that I could not have a URL in the signature line (it's been there for years) and telling me how to edit my profile. I have tried repeatedly, but the changes won't take. I had one of your reps on the phone earlier and she couldn't make it work either.

I was told in yesterday's email that I have 7 days to make the change or lose my 130+ reviews and buyer ID.

I'm trying to comply, but your software won't permit it.

Tahaj-wayne:Hello John, my name is Tahaj-wayne. I'll be happy to help you with this issue today (Call me racist, but the name “Tahaj-wayne doesn’t inspire confidence in me.)


Tahaj-wayne:One moment please while I research on this for you


Tahaj-wayne:Thanks for waiting

Me:Do you have a solution?

Tahaj-wayne:At this time I'm doing some extensive research on this matter (Extensive? Ooooo. Sounds impressive, but we both know it’s bullshit.)


Tahaj-wayne:Please wait a few more minutes. thanks for your patience


If the option of you editing the URL out of my signature line exists, know that I am perfectly fine with that solution.

Tahaj-wayne:Let me ask

the issue you're encountering is regarded to Associates are "affiliates" ? (WTF?)

Me:Is that a statement or a question? Makes no sense.

Tahaj-wayne:As it regards your buyer profile can you tell me more about it I really want to provide solutions

Me:I thought I laid it out concisely in my first statement. Scroll up to the top and read it again. (Starting to get pissed off here and realizing Tahaj has a reading comprehension problem.)

If I seem a little cranky, it's because I wasted an hour on the phone with customer service earlier today with no resolution to the issue.

Tahaj-wayne:Thanks for waiting

I'm almost through with some research on this issue


Tahaj-wayne:May I ask

Are you a seller on the website (Oh, no. We’re not going there. You can’t foist me off on the seller customer service people.)

Me:Yes, but this concerns my buyer account profile. I've already had a long and fruitless conversation with a guy on the seller side who determined I need to work with someone on the buyer side.

Tahaj-wayne:Thanks for waiting  as it regards you buyer account nameline which is John M. Flora

Is that what you're having the problem with? (Jesus H. Tapdancing Christ! I just told you that!)

Me:Yes. The signature line, which appears beneath my name, contains the URL of my blog. I have tried repeatedly to edit it out, but the changes don't get made. It appears to be a problem with your software because another customer service person tried to make the change and couldn't do it either.


In this case it appears there's an issue with the website

I'll send some information over to our technical team so that they can do some investigation on this issue

Me:The notification I got about this yesterday warned that I have 7 days to get the URL out of my signature line or I will lose the 130+ product reviews and my ID, which would really be bad, since I'm a participant in the Vine program.

So you can see why I attach a lot of urgency to this problem and want it resolved immediately.


We'll have our technical team contact you withing the next 24 hours to get this issue resolved

Me:Ok. Thanks.

Are we done here?

Tahaj-wayne:Yes John

Is there anything else you'd like me to assist you with?

Me:No. That's all.


have a good evening


Tahaj-wayne from has left the conversation.

To be continued…

Autographed photo of the day

jamie-lynn sigler

Here’s yet another Ebay purchase – an autographed “To John” photo of Jamie-Lynn Sigler, who played the clueless, self-absorbed Meadow Soprano, daughter of Tony Soprano. She turned 31 on May 15.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Autographed photo of the day


Here’s another Ebay acquisition, an autographed “To John” photo of Marion Ross, who played Marion Cunningham – mother of Richie Cunningham – for 11 seasons (1974-84) on “Happy Days.”

Marion is 83.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012


AC quilt

Maria is designing patterns for baby quilts on her computer while I work at my desk this morning.

The window air conditioner, which is 3 feet from my left shoulder and running on its lowest setting, makes me uncomfortably cold, so I’m borrowing one of her little quilts to keep the chill away.

Yesterday’s high was 102° and although today’s forecast is for a high of 91°, it’s still warm enough in our upstairs office to need air conditioning.

Monday, June 25, 2012

The prime suspect


This is what I think has been biting me in my sleep - 6 times in the past two months. We sprayed the bedroom with RAID yesterday and found him and four others against the baseboard, dead, this morning.
I've emailed this image to an Arkansas State University entomologist for identification and suggestions on how to exterminate his kind.

Living well really is the best revenge

karen kleinYou almost certainly have seen the video of the 68-year-old bus monitor being driven to tears by verbal abuse from a bunch of middle school sociopaths.
And you probably know there is a web site dedicated to raising money so Karen Klein will know that people care about her and want her to be able to quit that chickenshit $15, 506 a year job.
As of 9 a.m. today, the site has raised $646,047 and the total is rising by about $10,000-15,000 a day.
Go here to check the total and/or add to it.

Is your voter registration current? Check here.


Eighteen percent of potential voters who think they are registered, are not.

Use this link to find out if your voter registration is current and, if it isn’t, how to get registered.

The only way we’re going to take our country back in November is to get out the conservative vote in big enough numbers to overwhelm the votes of illegal aliens, dead people, and other fraud.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Nose-to-nose with Jack


Jack is tall enough to peer through the glass on the back door, which is why there are nose print smudges all over the glass.

Here he is this morning, rendered in HDR, of course.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Is your computer infected? Better deal with it before July 10.

Here’s a timely warning from one of my favorite blogs, Maggie’s Farm:

A whole pisspot full of computers are going to lose their Internet connection this July 10th.  Let's find out if yours will be one of them.

It's actually kind of a bizarre story.  Your computer connects to the Internet using DNS numbers.  Some bad guys in Estonia ran a fake advertising scheme and infected a shitload of computers around the world with a DNS hijacking program which changed the computer's DNS numbers.  It would still connect with the Internet just fine, albeit occasionally the user might find some new browser window open advertising this or that, which is how the bad guys made their money.

Enter the authorities, who catch the bad guys but then are faced with a problem.  If they had just confiscated their servers, every infected machine on the planet would have immediately lost its Internet connection — and without the owners having the slightest idea why.

Rather than risk global anarchy, the FBI substituted the servers with some rental servers to give people time to clean up their computers, but time is running out and the servers are going to be unplugged this July 10th.  There's already been one court-ordered 'stay' of 3 months, and it doesn't look like there's going to be another.

The reason anti-virus programs don't catch the little rascal is because it's not actually a virus; it's not even a program, just a web file.  The second someone clicked on the original fraudulent ad, the damage was done.  No file was ever downloaded so there wasn't anything for the anti-virus program to analyze and stop.

The official FBI info file is here.

The Tests

To be fairly certain you're not infected, visit this and this page.  If they say you're infected, there will be some instructions to follow.

If you want to be absolutely certain you're not infected, go to Start Menu, Programs, Accessories, open 'Command Prompt'.  Type in:

   ipconfig /all

and hit the Enter key.  Start looking down the list and you'll see 'DNS Servers', with one or two DNS numbers over to the right.

If any DNS number fits into one of these ranges, the machine is infected: — — — — — —

If so, head here for some fix-it tools, and please let us know in the comments which tool you used and on what operating system.

Mac users:  If you use a browser with a Windows emulation program, check the FBI file for how to access your DNS numbers so you can compare them to the above list.  If you're not running emulation, don't worry about it.

Also, if you're using a router, check the router section in the FBI file.  The router has its own DNS numbers that need to be manually checked against the list.

I suppose I should note the historical impact of the event.  While there have been innumerable viruses, worms and trojans over the years that were expected to ignite on a certain date, creating Gawd knows what kind of havoc, almost none of them ever panned out.  This time, however, we're being given a specific date and it's a damn good guess it'll actually happen.

After all, this one's backed up by the FBI.

Happy Jack


I was going to blog a photo of the Sam’s Club gas pump showing regular at $2.97 a gallon today, but I’d rather share this portrait of Jack that I shot about an hour ago.

It’s an HDR composite of 8 images, but blended in such a way as to prove that HDR images don’t have to look freaky.

Jack will be 10 months old on July 1.


And the Friendly Fox is still his favorite toy.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Vegas oddsmaker says Obama will lose. Big.

Las Vegas oddsmaker Wayne Allyn Root predicts that Romney will crush Obama in the November election.

Here’s what he wrote back on May 30 – and that was before Fast & Furious blew up:

Most political predictions are made by biased pollsters, pundits, or prognosticators who are either rooting for Republicans or Democrats. I am neither. I am a former Libertarian Vice Presidential nominee, and a well-known Vegas oddsmaker with one of the most accurate records of predicting political races.
But as an oddsmaker with a pretty remarkable track record of picking political races, I play no favorites. I simply use common sense to call them as I see them. Back in late December I released my New Years Predictions. I predicted back then- before a single GOP primary had been held, with Romney trailing for months to almost every GOP competitor from Rick Perry to Herman Cain to Newt- that Romney would easily rout his competition to win the GOP nomination by a landslide. I also predicted that the Presidential race between Obama and Romney would be very close until election day. But that on election day Romney would win by a landslide similar to Reagan-Carter in 1980.

Understanding history, today I am even more convinced of a resounding Romney victory. 32 years ago at this moment in time, Reagan was losing by 9 points to Carter. Romney is right now running even in polls. So why do most pollsters give Obama the edge?

First, most pollsters are missing one ingredient- common sense. Here is my gut instinct. Not one American who voted for McCain 4 years ago will switch to Obama. Not one in all the land. But many millions of people who voted for an unknown Obama 4 years ago are angry, disillusioned, turned off, or scared about the future. Voters know Obama now- and that is a bad harbinger.

Now to an analysis of the voting blocks that matter in U.S. politics:

*Black voters. Obama has nowhere to go but down among this group. His endorsement of gay marriage has alienated many black church-going Christians. He may get 88% of their vote instead of the 96% he got in 2008. This is not good news for Obama.

*Hispanic voters. Obama has nowhere to go but down among this group. If Romney picks Rubio as his VP running-mate the GOP may pick up an extra 10% to 15% of Hispanic voters (plus lock down Florida). This is not good news for Obama.

*Jewish voters. Obama has been weak in his support of Israel. Many Jewish voters and big donors are angry and disappointed. I predict Obama's Jewish support drops from 78% in 2008 to the low 60s. This is not good news for Obama.

*Youth voters. Obama’s biggest and most enthusiastic believers from 4 years ago have graduated into a job market from hell. Young people are disillusioned, frightened, and broke - a bad combination. The enthusiasm is long gone. Turnout will be much lower among young voters, as will actual voting percentages. This is not good news for Obama.

*Catholic voters. Obama won a majority of Catholics in 2008. That won’t happen again. Out of desperation to please women, Obama went to war with the Catholic Church over contraception. Now he is being sued by the Catholic Church. Majority lost. This is not good news for Obama.

*Small Business owners.Because I ran for Vice President last time around, and I'm a small businessman myself, I know literally thousands of small business owners. At least 40% of them in my circle of friends, fans and supporters voted for Obama 4 years ago to “give someone different a chance.” I warned them that he would pursue a war on capitalism and demonize anyone who owned a business... that he’d support unions over the private sector in a big way... that he'd overwhelm the economy with spending and debt. My friends didn’t listen. Four years later, I can't find one person in my circle of small business owner friends voting for Obama. Not one. This is not good news for Obama.

*Blue collar working class whites. Do I need to say a thing? White working class voters are about as happy with Obama as Boston Red Sox fans feel about the New York Yankees. This is not good news for Obama.

*Suburban moms. The issue isn’t contraception… it’s having a job to pay for contraception. Obama’s economy frightens these moms. They are worried about putting food on the table. They fear for their children’s future. This is not good news for Obama.

*Military Veterans. McCain won this group by 10 points. Romney is winning by 24 points. The more our military vets got to see of Obama, the more they disliked him. This is not good news for Obama.

Add it up. Is there one major group where Obama has gained since 2008? Will anyone in America wake up on election day saying “I didn’t vote for Obama 4 years ago. But he’s done such a fantastic job, I can’t wait to vote for him today.” Does anyone feel that a vote for Obama makes their job more secure?
Forget the polls. My gut instincts as a Vegas oddsmaker and common sense small businessman tell me this will be a historic landslide and a world-class repudiation of Obama’s radical and risky socialist agenda. It's Reagan-Carter all over again.

But I’ll give Obama credit for one thing- he is living proof that familiarity breeds contempt.

Morgan scores again

morgan army bday

Morgan’s summer reading program, and especially its celebration of the U.S. Army’s birthday earlier this month, is getting lots of well-deserved publicity.

She’s doing a great job of getting the library noticed.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Stay ignorant, my friends.

Damn cheap-ass coffee filters!


I decided to forgo my usual mocha cappuccino this morning in favor of a pot of regular coffee.

Despite my effort to carefully arrange the filter in the Mr. Coffee coffee maker, it collapsed and dumped grounds into the carafe. And, no, I do not want a Keurig. I want filters that stay put and don’t fold over.

Summer starts at 6:09 p.m. CDT, so this is the last morning of spring this year. At 9:30 a.m., it’s already 85, heading to a high of 92.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Banishing the beard


shave01I shave off my beard every six or seven years or so, usually because I’ve forgotten what I look like shaven.

This morning, it was because I’ve the skin under my beard has become dry and irritated, so I’m giving it a chance to air out.

Happily, Maria was home long enough to make a photographic record of this rare event.

I think I look a little jowly, but I guess that comes with age. I think I look younger than my dad did at 66 and 11 months.

My face feels funny. I can feel a breeze from the ceiling fan here in my upstairs office.

Monday, June 18, 2012



On the east side of North Keystone Avenue – around the 5700 block - in Indianapolis, Ind. Sometime around 1968.

Home again


My son Steve is home in Las Vegas after he and some friends enjoyed a cushy gig playing on a cruise ship on an eight-day voyage from Costa Rica to San Francisco.

He said they only had to play two performances and spent the rest of the cruise in luxurious leisure. He carried his electric bass as a backup in case the stand-up bass the cruise line provided turned out to be crap, but he never needed it.

The ship docked Saturday and he flew home to Vegas yesterday.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Dewy web


I was brushing my teeth next to the baseball diamond chainlink fence at the European Riders Rally early on a foggy Saturday morning last month at Burkesville, Ky.’s city park when I noticed some tiny spider webs, glistening with dewdrops.

Fortunately, my Olympus point-and-shoot camera has a macro setting, which yielded this photo.



Our goddaughter Maggie was over yesterday and, as usual, Maria turned her loose in her sewing room. Maggie is creative and loves to make things with fabric.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Flap Jack!


We live in mosquito country. There are rice fields all around us and that means stagnant water that breeds mosquitos.

We’ve become accustomed to a mosquito-free house because the dog door lets our dogs to and fro without admitting swarms of bugs to the screened back porch and thence to the interior of the house.

But that was before Jack.

Like most Aussie pups, Jack spends all of his waking hours looking for stuff to play with and chew. And unlike Pete, who is smaller in stature because his dad was a miniature Aussie, Jack got very big and strong very fast. He now towers above Pete and he’s only 9 months old.

Jack took an interest in the dog door flapper a few months ago and yanked it out of its mount. I rescued it before he could chew it to pieces, but chose not to reinstall it until he showed signs of calming down a bit.

However, we’ve been attacked in our sleep by mosquitos the last few weeks and I decided it was time to take action.

I removed all of the dog toys from the porch and blasted the mosquito congregating spots in the corners with heavy doses of RAID. Then I reinstalled the dog door flapper. And I finished up by sucking up the surviving mosquitos with the Shop Vac.

Reinstalling the flapper proved to be a little more complicated than I expected. If you have a PetSafe pet door and need to replace or re-install the flapper, here’s how:

From the inside, undo the eight sheet metal screws that hold the pet door frame to the door (two on each side) and remove the left, right, and top trim pieces. Now, gently but firmly push the top of the now-loose frame forward so it protrudes on the outside of the door. Undo one of the screws on the upper edge of the frame and shift the top and side pieces to expose the track where the top of the flapper goes. Slide the flapper onto the track, replace all of the screws in reverse order and voila! you’re done.

I just saved you the hassle of having to puzzle it out on your own.

You’re welcome.


Bowled over


This 13” wide Wallace Rodeo Longhorn bowl sold yesterday afternoon on Ebay for $2,200.

The Longhorn series is a subset of the Wallace Rodeo pattern of western dinnerware and this mixing bowl is exceptionally rare. Hats off to the serious collector who bought it!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Meanwhile, down at the Senior Citizens Center…


Keith Richards and Mick Jagger are 68, Ronnie Woods is 65, and Charlie Watts is 71, but I bet they don’t order off of the senior citizens menu. Or do they?

More proof that it’s better to burn out than to rust out.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012



I’ve spent my entire adult life in and around newspapers and I’ve only known one leader. My wife.

I can think of any number of workplaces where this should be posted prominently.

So much for their plot to give bad press to the Second Amendment

These guys are an affront to the Constitution they swore to uphold and defend.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Meet the new boss, same as the old boss…

Detroit Free Press senior managing editor Jeffrey Taylor has been named the new editor of The Indianapolis Star.
Taylor was introduced to the Star's staff on Tuesday and succeeds Dennis Ryerson, who retired June 1 after nine years leading the newsroom staff at Indiana's largest newspaper.
The Star reports Taylor has been at the Free Press since 1995. He was a reporter at the Kansas City Star when he shared a Pulitzer Prize for national reporting in 1992 for an examination of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Taylor also was an editor on the Free Press' Pulitzer Prize-winning coverage of a scandal involving former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick.
Both the Star and the Free Press are owned by Gannett Co.

Nothing unusual here


Driving in to town to take Maria to dinner this evening, I found myself following this pickup truck with a guy sitting in the bed making a cell phone call.

Having a passenger in the bed of a pickup truck is illegal in some places, but probably not here.

Monday, June 11, 2012

AMA Member: Inflammatory article twists facts, denigrates motorcyclists

amagifMore Info

Support the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) in our efforts to protect your freedoms to ride!

An article by published on June 7 and subsequently picked up by USA Today and other news outlets, “Despite Death Toll, Motorcycle Groups Strive to Muzzle U.S. Regulators,” contains biased reporting and derogatory language toward motorcyclists.

The article selectively cites statistics that lead uninformed readers to the conclusion that motorcyclist fatalities are on the rise and that helmet mandates and motorcycle-only checkpoints are necessary to promote public safety.

Michael Dabbs, president of the Brain Injury Association of Michigan, is quoted in the article, saying, “Maybe we ought to save some of the costs when police or emergency responders go to the scene of a crash and the person is not wearing a helmet. Perhaps they ought to be left there like roadkill.”

This statement displays crassness and exemplifies editorial bias because there is no evidence that injured motorcyclists are any more likely to be a public burden than other roadway users. A Harborview Medical Center study published in 1988 reported that injured motorcyclists in the trauma center relied on public funds a lower percentage of the time than did automobile drivers to pay their hospital bills during the same time period. Also, a 1992 study by the University of North Carolina's Highway Safety Research Center reported that automobile drivers and motorcyclists have their medical costs covered by insurance at a nearly identical rate.

The article selectively cites statistics to suggest that motorcycle fatalities are on the rise, yet failed to point out that motorcycle sales surged dramatically during the same period, or that motorcycle fatalities dropped 16 percent in 2009 and have stayed relatively flat in 2010 and 2011.

The article portrays rider education as ineffective, yet failed to cite the federally funded motorcycle crash causation study, conducted by Professor Hugh “Harry” Hurt, Jr., documenting the efficacy of rider education. The 1981 report said: "The basic Motorcycle Rider Course of the Motorcycle Safety Foundation is effective in training motorcycle riders and those trained riders are both less involved and less injured in motorcycle accidents." The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration also cited rider education as effective in its 2005 report, "Promising Practices in Motorcycle Rider Education and Licensing." The report states: "Although evidence of the effectiveness of rider education on crash reduction is mixed, several studies have shown that trained riders tend to have fewer crashes, less severe crashes, and overall lower cost of damage resulting from crashes."

All of this information was provided to the author of the article, Rick Schmitt, in correspondence with the AMA before publication. The AMA can only assume that the editor selectively edited the reporter’s copy to fit a preconceived desire to promote helmet mandates and motorcycle-only checkpoints.

The AMA strongly advocates helmet use and protective apparel, but opposes mandates because they do nothing to prevent crashes. Motorcycle crash prevention should be the overarching policy of our elected officials and the regulatory community. Programs such as rider training and motorist awareness are effective, yet history has taught us that when helmet mandates are enforced, scarce resource dollars are siphoned away from these programs.

The AMA opposes motorcycle-only checkpoints because they target a select group of legal road users simply because they choose to ride on two- or three-wheeled vehicles.

We applaud the courage of legislators, such as U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.), who have taken on the powerful anti-motorcycling interest groups that seem less concerned with promoting policies that prevent motorcycle crashes, and more concerned with reducing insurance payments after crashes occur.

With more and more newspapers printing articles attributing this biased story, the AMA needs your help to send a pre-written letter to newspaper editors if you see this report in your paper. To improve the chance of your response being printed, please personalize your letter.

Act now to contribute a non-tax deductible amount to the AMA. To contribute, please call Membership Services at (800) AMA-JOIN (262-5646) and say, “I would like to contribute to protect my freedom to ride.” The hours for Membership Services are Monday-Thursday 8:30 a.m.-8 p.m. and Friday 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. (all times Eastern).

Another option is for you to help us support our friends in Congress, such as Sensenbrenner. The AMA has the American Motorcyclist Political Action Committee (AMPAC), which allows us to provide support to members of Congress who battle to preserve your rights.

If you want to help protect your freedom to ride, please sign up to be an AMA Defender member by calling us at (800) AMA-JOIN (262-5646) and ask to upgrade your membership. Your support is greatly appreciated.

Maria’s handiwork

ninepatch front 01

mini ninepatch front1

A pair of baby quilts.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Home game at ASU

asu stadium fused 72

Click the photo to see it BIG.

Yes, I can shoot home interiors

sink fused
This is an HDR image in which I sampled the original RAW image at 5 different EV settings, then merged them in Photomatix Pro 4.2 and tweaked the final result in Photoshop.
A version of this photo appeared on the cover of a local home interiors magazine a couple of years ago. I like this version much better.

Saturday, June 09, 2012

Seen at the Farmers Market

market guy

Nice hat.

ASU Farmers Market in HDR


Saturday mornings during the growing season mean a trip to the ASU Farmers Market for us.

JMF_6613_4_5_tonemappedWe were pleased to see our friend Alben Langlois was there with his birdhouses, inspired by houses and other buildings from his Cajun childhood in Louisiana. They’re real works of art.

Click on the photos to see them much bigger.

Friday, June 08, 2012

Ringing the bell


I think it was the summer of 1962, the summer I turned 17, that I decided I became a man.

I’d had a driver’s license for a year and had taken up smoking cigarettes.

But the event that convinced me that I had arrived at adulthood was that summer evening when I stepped up to the High Striker at the Old Settlers carnival on the courthouse square in Delphi, Ind., slammed the maul down and heard that full-throated Ding!

I tried it again a few times over the next couple of days and got a satisfying ding every time.

My prize was a cellophane bowler hat with a picture of a naked woman on the top that I was embarrassed to show to my mom. It was tacky and sleazy, but it was a great little trophy.

It was a wonderful discovery to realize that I had joined a loose confederation of strongmen and tough guys.

Thank God, I got over it.

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Jack has been busy


When we returned from dinner last evening, we found this chair dragged off of the patio and the garden hose wrapped around the legs, a chewed up tree planter next to it.

It seems impossible that Jack, seen here in the background, could have wrapped the hose so neatly, but unless someone is pranking us, it’s the only explanation I can come up with.

Jack has proven himself to be resourceful with feats like turning on the outdoor faucet and dragging a 6-foot-wide child’s plastic swimming pool around the yard like it was just another dog toy. I suppose he could have started with the chair on the patio and dragged the hose around it several times before hauling the whole thing into the yard.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Pete watches the sky


Pete, our older Australian shepherd, watches the sky like no dog I’ve ever seen.

We think it may have something to do with the two occasions when he ran away as a young dog.

The first time was when he was left outside in a violent thunderstorm. The second time was when a beefwit neighbor shot a bottle rocket over his head.

I think those two experiences left him with the notion that the sky was trying to kill him.

So he scans the skies, especially on cloudless days, and gets very agitated when he notices jet contrails marking up his pristine sky. He runs back and forth in the yard, staring up and barking excitedly until the planes pass and the contrails fade.




Driving home from town at 1:15 p.m. today, I shot this accident scene at the T-intersection of Ark. 351 and U.S. 49, commonly called “Hilltop” on the northeast side of Jonesboro.

Looked like they were putting someone on a gurney.

Never forget D-Day


Sixty-eight years ago this morning, elements of the greatest army the world has ever known stormed ashore in Normandy.

They were our fathers, grandfathers, uncles, cousins and they came from places like Indianapolis, Ind., and Redlands, Calif., and Grand Rapids, Mich., and Shelbyville, Tenn.

According to figures compiled by the D-Day Museum, there were 6,603 American casualties, including 1,465 dead.

My late father-in-law Phil Kroon, a captain in the 144th Field Artillery Group, shot this photo of G.I.s enjoying their morning coffee somewhere in France or Germany before going to work on the Germans for another day.

They were heroes.

Tuesday, June 05, 2012



This is probably a Photoshop creation, but I wouldn’t put it past a dachshund to go after a rhino. Those little guys are freaking fearless and fierce all out of proportion to their size.

Monday, June 04, 2012

In which I vent my spleen over a Facebook group

Most of my newspaper career was spent at The Indianapolis News.

I began my career at The News on Feb. 6, 1967 and was with the paper all the way up to its untimely death at the age of 130 on Oct. 1, 1999 at the hands of Gannett bean counters.

We were the largest evening daily in Indiana and our only real competition was our sister paper, The Indianapolis Star, which was the largest morning daily in the state.

The Star had a much larger staff, but compared with my colleagues at The News, they were mostly lazy and lackluster. Many of my friends and I were fiercely partisan and were bitterly resentful of the fact that the circulation department worked much harder to promote The Star than they did The News.

With the demise of The News, I and lots of other News refugees, ended up working for The Star. I hated it. I hated being associated with a newspaper I had competed against for nearly 30 years and I took early retirement in October, 2000.

I was pleased when a News alumnus started a Great Hoosier Daily (the nickname of The News) group on Facebook, but I was irked and dismayed when I noticed former Star people joining the group.

Lately, the posts have been mostly by Star people about Star people. I’m sorry a former Star staffer is in the hospital, but I don’t want to read about it in a group dedicated to the Great Hoosier Daily because she never worked there. And neither did most of the people keeping us updated on her condition.

So there.

The sound of one dog barfing

Our neighbor, whose dog was killed a few months ago in a one-sided encounter with a motor vehicle, came over yesterday with what was left of the dead dog’s food.

We accepted his offer and he dumped it on the ground next to the gate of our chain link backyard fence.

Pete and Jack, always eager for a new taste, went after it and grazed on it off and on the rest of the day.

Flash forward to 12:20 a.m. when we were awakened by Jack whimpering in his bedroom kennel and pacing within the cramped space. When I let him out to go outside, I saw why – he had barfed in the kennel.

It was raining at the time and warm, so I decided to let the dogs spend the rest of the night on the back porch. Maria and I carried the barfy kennel through the garage to the driveway where I would hose it out later in the day.

I was awakened again about 3:45 a.m. by a nearby crash of thunder. Realizing that Pete has a terror of thunderstorms, I decided to take pity on him and let him inside. Jack seemed content to stay on the porch.

When I brought Jack into the house about 8:30 a.m., he seemed only mildly interested in a duck-flavored treat and ignored the food in his kitchen kennel bowl. A few minutes later I noticed him retching and moved to hustle him outside. Instead, he ran past me and barfed on the edge of the living room carpet and the hardwood foyer floor.

Our Aussies seem to have sensitive digestive systems and the inheritance from Buddy next door just doesn’t sit well with Jack. I scooped up as much of it as I could with a shovel and flung it beyond the fence and out of the dogs’ reach.

In the meantime, my spider bites appear to be healing nicely and it seems highly unlikely that I was attacked by the dreaded brown recluse spider.

Sunday, June 03, 2012

File this under “It’s Always Something”

We spent about three hours in the St. Bernards Hospital ER last night, mostly waiting, because I woke up yesterday morning with a couple of nasty spider bites on my left thigh.

I’ve been bitten in my sleep a couple of times before in the past month or so and the bites healed after a few days of swelling and itching.

But the most severe of yesterday’s bite sites developed a large blister and an angry look that had us wondering if we didn’t have a brown recluse spider lurking in the bedroom.

The physician’s assistant said it might be a brown recluse bite and prescribed antibiotics and steroids.

Considering the horrific appearance of brown recluse bites as pictured online, I’m inclined to think it was the non-recluse spider that crawled out from under our bed and died after we hosed the area down with Raid spider spray.

At any rate, I was not bitten again last night and yesterday’s bites look better today.

Saturday, June 02, 2012

Yep. ABS problem solved

I fired up the bike this morning – a cold start that previously was guaranteed to trigger the ABS warning lights – and the problem is gone.

It really was as simple as topping off the rear brake fluid reservoir. I have an unopened bottle of DOT 4 brake fluid in the garage for the next time it happens.

So it turns out that I didn’t really need to spend more than $200 for a new battery two weekends ago.

Oh, well. The old battery was four years old and I now have the security of knowing I’m relatively safe from battery failure and the nasty consequences that can go with it.

Besides, the Nashville dealer didn’t charge me for the shop t-shirt.

Friday, June 01, 2012

ABS warning light problem solved–I think


Here’s my GT undergoing a 6,000 km service at the hands of Grass Roots BMW Motorcycles technician Mike Gurnow.

Mike opined that my ABS warning light problem is a consequence of rear brake pad wear which drops the level of brake fluid in the rear brake reservoir and triggers the ABS warning light sensor. Makes sense to me. We’ll find out tomorrow morning if the problem is solved when I give the bike a cold start and ride to the post office.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe lights continued to flash for the entire duration of the 150-mile ride up to Cape Girardeau the morning. I suspect the cool temperatures were a factor.

He also determined the engine oil level sight glass just needed cleaning, not replacement.

I was out and on my way by 11:50 a.m., so I rode over to the White Castle on I-55 for lunch. It’s the closest White Castle to our house and a lunch there is almost like going home to Indiana. Almost.

I had five cheeseburgers and a medium Diet Coke. I think it was the Diet Coke that gave me heartburn for the rest of the afternoon.

I arrived at home at 2:47 p.m.

150 miles for service

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. - I’m at Grass Roots BMW Motorcycles this morning for a 6,000 mile service on my ‘03 K1200GT.
It was a brisk 58 degrees when I rolled out of my garage about 6:20 a.m. Early morning rides to the north or the east usually involve the discomfort of riding into the blinding just-risen sun, but I was spared that inconvenience by a cloud deck that persisted all the way to I-55 and then some.
I stopped for a breakfast parfait and coffee at the Kennett, Mo., Mc Donald’s, then pressed on. Ordinarily, I would expect the morning to warm up but I found I was riding deeper into the cold front that swept across the Mid-South last night and it was only 55 when I reached Cape Girardeau.
Happily, the Grass Roots folks had the coffee pot on.
I’m hopeful that today’s service will solve my ABS warning light problem. The warning lights continued to flash after restarts at Kennett and when I gassed at Boomland at Exit 80 on I-55. I noticed a few days ago that the brake fluid level in the rear brake reservoir was at or slightly below the MIN mark and was chagrined that I hadn’t thought to check that possibility much earlier. I opted not to top it off, so as to give the Grass Roots guys an uncluttered view of the problem if more brake fluid doesn’t cure it. I’ve seen no sign of leaking brake fluid, so it’s a mystery to me where it’s going. With luck, we’ll have an answer today.