Sunday, March 31, 2013

Friday, March 29, 2013

In today’s mail

syracuse plateIt looks like a Wallace Rodeo or Boots & Saddle dinner plate, except it’s about 2” wider, has no center artwork and was made by the Syracuse (I flinch at that name after Syracuse beat I.U. last night) China Co.

The sequence of the brands is the same as the Rodeo/B&S dinner plates.

The seller said it’s an example of the Syracuse “Buckaroo Pattern” but I can’t find any reference to such a pattern.

I got it for an opening bid of $15.

Corinne Joy Brown, the author of “Come and Get It!,” the definitive reference book on cowboy dinnerware, responded to my query thusly:

“Syracuse took over the production of Wallace China from about 1960 until it closed. (It's in the book under the Wallace history section I think.)
That would explain the border with no center design-- merely a cheaper add-on, or co-ordinate for all the patterns. I doubt if it had any such name. It may have been a restaurant special order.
It's a good collector's piece at a good price.”

New socks for Maria

Pretty festive, huh?

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Pretty good showing when you’re up against the biggest newspapers in the state


Well worth your time

If you care about journalistic integrity, the First Amendment and the future of this country, you owe it to yourself to watch this video.

Pat Caddell is the most important voice for journalistic integrity in my lifetime and he raises all of the right questions.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013


Since I have a sinus headache and am feeling cranky, this would be a good day to list some things I don’t give a shit about and don’t want to be bothered with:

  • Ashley Judd’s non-candidacy
  • Gay marriage
  • Kim Kardashian’s pregnancy
  • All of the teams in the NCAA Tournament that are not Indiana University
  • Windows 8
  • Anything Joe Biden thinks or says
  • The HurryCane
  • Zombies and vampires
  • Video games
  • Dancing With the Stars, American Idol, and all the other “talent” shows
  • Mesothelioma lawsuits
  • What the CEO of Starbucks thinks or says
  • Sushi
  • Games on Facebook

I could go on…

Tuesday, March 26, 2013



Walking through the parking lot at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs Saturday afternoon, we came across this amazing trash-filled car parked in a media spot.

Our friends figured out whose car it is, but I won’t share the name. The front seat was awash with newspapers and other paper to the point where some of it had avalanched onto the floor on the driver’s side and could conceivably interfere with the operation of the accelerator and brake pedal.


The back seat bore testimony to the owner’s fondness for Sonic cuisine. We noticed there is a Sonic drive-in across the street from Oaklawn.

If this car were a home, it would almost certainly be condemned. Safe to say the driver can’t offer anyone a ride.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Fifty years? Really?

zo 50th

Today’s mail included this postcard inviting me to return to Terre Haute next month to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the chartering of the Zeta Omicron Chapter of Alpha Tau Omega Fraternity.

Seeing this photo of the founding members on the steps of the former Tirey Memorial Union Building triggered a series of flashbacks to my years at Indiana State.

I was in the first ATO pledge class after the chartering, accepting my white and gold pledge pin the evening of Dec. 9, 1963. That means the guys in this photo were my mentors and tormentors during pledgeship.

I have particularly fond memories of Reed McCormick, the guy in the top right corner of the picture with his hand on the stone railing. Reed was from my hometown of Delphi, Ind. and we became close friends. Reed died a year ago this Thursday of a heart attack in Arizona.

I can still conjure up the names of many of the guys in this photo – Otto Berlin on the right of the charter, Chuck Cerny on the right end of the first row and Dan Fitzgerald over his left shoulder, Larry Thompson in front of Reed, Marty Aimone in front of him, Don Prior at the left end of the second row, and so on…

It’s astonishing to realize this was a half-century ago. It seems like only a few years. Now we’re all in our late 60s and early 70s – old men whose memories of fraternity life harken back to the Animal House days.

I don’t plan to return for the 50th anniversary celebration next month. I went back in the fall of 2005 for the dedication of the new ATO Fraternity house and felt oddly disconnected, probably because none of my pledge brothers showed up.

I can’t see driving 900 miles to experience that feeling again.

Monday, Monday

I realize my friends up in Indiana are up to their eyeballs in snow and it would be silly of me to complain about the weather, but I can’t help it.

I don’t think the temperature got higher than 45 degrees today and it was a chilly 37 degrees when I dragged the trash to the curb just now.

Maria determined that our cherry trees, lilac bushes and dogwood tree are primed to bloom any day now if and when the weather warms.

If the Weather Channel website is to be believed, we’ll break into the 50s on Wednesday and the 60s on Sunday with next week being a reasonable facsimile of Spring. It’s about time.

We’re in the midst of a complicated transaction which I may or may not be able to blog about later. Just wish us luck and let it go at that.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

An afternoon at the races



Several of us adjourned to Oaklawn Park for an afternoon of horse race wagering after the APME awards luncheon yesterday.

I lost more than I won betting on horses in five races, but it was great fun hanging out with smart newsies.

That’s Barry Bedlan, assistant Associated Press bureau chief for Arkansas, Oklahoma, Louisiana and Texas, seated to my left, and his compadre, Kelly Kissel over my right shoulder.

I decided to show Maria what the old downtown Hot Springs looks like, with the bathhouses and all before we left town this morning. We ended up having breakfast in a nifty 1940s style cafĂ© called the Pancake Shop. I had a ham and cheese omelet and Maria had French toast. Maybe we’ll try the pancakes next time.

Here’s a 360° view of the place.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

The fabulous red gavel

For Maria's service as president of the Arkansas AP Managing Editors Association.
I'm so proud of her

Checking in from behind an invisible firewall


HOT SPRINGS, Ark. – I’m taking a break from APME morning seminars to hang out in our room here at the Clarion Resort on the Lake and blog.

This trip is also a field test of the Norton Hotspot Privacy software I’m reviewing for the Amazon Vine program. I’ve installed it on my netbook jmfhotsprings(which I’m using at the moment), Maria’s notebook and my iPhone.

Since I have no way to know if it really does make me invisible to hackers and identity thieves, I have to be content with at least the illusion of being protected. And the realization that LifeLock will kick in if someone does get past the Norton software.

Maria, being the Arkansas APME president, led a spirited and wide-ranging discussion on new media and other topics this morning. It was so spirited that it ran 25 minutes over the planned stopping point, but nobody seemed to mind and everyone in the room was fully engaged in the conversation. That’s the mark of a well-run discussion.

We have an awards luncheon at 11:30 a.m., after which some of us will adjourned to the horse racing track. It’s been decades since I’ve been to a horse track and I don’t think Maria has ever been to one, so it should be fun wagering a few bucks without a clue to what we’re doing.

The view from the seminar room

Probably beautiful on a sunny day...

On the road

We're in Hot Springs for the Associated Press Managing Editors convention.
The AP feted us last night at the Bleu Monkey and now we're starting a morning of seminars.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Frohe Geburtstag, BMW!

Another reason why ethanol is bad

Think Ethanol is Evironmentally Friendly? Think Again. by William F. Shughart

Driven in large part by government biofuel mandates on oil refineries, U.S. farmers converted more than 1.3 million acres of grassland into corn and soybean fields between 2006 and 2011, according to a newly published study by scientists at South Dakota State University. In corn-belt states like Iowa and South Dakota, about 5 percent of pastureland is being converted into cropland every year.
This pasture destruction not only will almost surely lead to higher beef and milk prices, but to serious environmental harm.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Caveat emptor!

fake ss knife

I found this knife for sale on Ebay this morning, represented as a “Vintage German WW2 folding paratrooper knife waffen Eickhorn.”

Besides the fact that this was never used in World War II and is a post-war fantasy piece, made in England, there are lots of things that scream “fake!” about it.

Like for instance the fact that German paratroopers were members of the Luftwaffe, not the Waffen-SS. And the RZM mark was for National Socialist Party items only – not for the Luftwaffe or any other branch of the Wehrmacht.

And then there’s the issue of details – the SS eagle is sloppy and poorly executed. The Eickhorn company would never have let a piece of crap like this out of their factory.

At the moment, four hapless suckers have bid this item up to $104.95 with four days left in the auction. I sent a message to the seller, advising him that he is misrepresenting the item. We’ll see how he responds.

paratrooper_knife“Collecting the Edged Weapons of the Third Reich” by Lt.Col. Thomas M. Johnson, considered the definitive reference book on the subject, has a passage devoted to these fakes.

Johnson says they were made with an artificial patina to appear old. He also opines that they have no place in a collection of legitimate Third Reich edged weapons.

This is what a real WWII German paratrooper knife looks like. It’s a gravity knife with a wooden handle. I have one in my collection along with a present-day German paratrooper knife, which is unchanged in design except it has a metal handle.

To deploy the blade, you point it down, flip up the thumb lever and press it. The blade drops into position and locks there until you point it up and press the lever again.

The knife also has a fold-out marlin spike used for separating fouled parachute lines.

The paratrooper knife was intended for use as a tool – not as a fighting weapon – with which the paratrooper could free himself from his parachute upon landing.

Happy Birthday, Dad

Charles at home, October, 1977.My father was born 103 years ago today.

He died in 1997 at the age of 87 and I think of him and miss him every day.

I like to think my career in journalism made him proud. He was an independent insurance agent but confided that he really wanted to be a newspaperman.

Interestingly, I had dreams of being a musician, so my two sons made that their destiny.

This photo was taken in October, 1977, when Dad was the same age I am now. I like to think I look younger, but my perception is highly subjective. I can look at photos of my parents in their 20s and 30s and, because they were 30+ years older than I, see their rallyhatphotographic image as being older than I am.

Dad loved his family, dogs, the Chicago White Sox, and golf. He lived all of his life in Carroll County, Indiana, with the exception of a couple of winters in the 1980s when he and Mom tried being snowbirds in Leesburg, Fla. where his brother John had retired.

He quit smoking in his 60s after the removal of a cancerous node on one of his vocal cords reduced his voice to a whisper. He liked a beer now and then, but I never saw him drunk. And he swore sparingly. Never heard him say the “f” word.

He always rooted for the underdog. His father was a Democrat in the days of William Jennings Bryan and Dad saw the Democrats as champions of the poor. His favorite president was Harry S. Truman. He would not recognize his party today. Neither would Harry.

I never appreciated how luck I was to be able to pick up the phone and call him when he was still alive. I wish I had his number today.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Happy First Day of Spring


We noticed a large, white-breasted hawk perched in a tree in the woods just outside our yard this morning.

He sat there for maybe 20 minutes, waiting for something tasty to come along.

But by the time I got my camera set up with a memory card and 200mm lens, he had flown.

So I photographed this – the first dandelion of the spring (in our yard, at least).

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

End of winter thoughts

Spring is less than 15 hours away, but it will be a week from Thursday before the temperature rises above 60 degrees.

And winter is dealing a late cheap shot of snow to the northeast.

This winter was maybe slightly more severe for the Mid-South, but mild by Indiana standards. We had a “blizzard” that would only qualify as a routine 5” snowstorm in north central Indiana where I grew up.

As far as I know, none of my Indiana BMW friends made it to Daytona because a snow storm buried them. The only exceptions were Indianapolis BMW Club members now living in Florida. My ride to and from Daytona was cold, but the days were sunny and snow-free.

You may recall that I had to leave my Gerbings heated jacket liner at home after it blew the accessory fuse on my bike. I asked the BMW MOA forum if I could replace the stock 7.5 amp fuse with a 10 or 20 amp fuse to handle the load of heated gear and a GPS. I was rewarded with an even better solution – connect the heated gear directly to the battery with the stock Gerbings wiring. I had the connecting wiring at one time, but a search of the garage late last week failed to turn it up. Grass Roots BMW Motorcycles, where I have my bikes serviced, is a Gerbings dealer, so I’ll just have them do the wiring next time I’m up in Cape Girardeau for service.

I’m about halfway through figuring our income taxes and expect to have that onerous task completed by the end of the week unless procrastination intervenes.

I remember my dad doing his tax returns at the kitchen table with a big yellow legal pad and the big clunky mechanical adding machine he brought home from his office for the task. Coffee, a few sharpened pencils and a pack of cigarettes complete the tableau. The tax code was much simpler in those days. I think he would be impressed with the H&R Block tax software I use now.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Making me proud

morgan tv

My stepdaughter Morgan was on TV this evening in a feature about the local library’s programs for kids during spring break. She was applying nail polish to little girls’ fingers.

Hey, there’s Lisa!


Son Steve posted this photo of granddaughter Lisa (the blonde) onstage in something called “The Directioners.” No more information given.

Caveat emptor

This is a eBay ad for a Westward Ho Rodeo Pattern tea pot made by True West, the company licensed to reproduce the Westward Ho dinnerware made by the now-defunct Wallace China Co.
The seller has a “buy-it-now” price of $109 but indicated he/she will sell it for the best offer if nobody ponies up $109.
But if you go to the True West website you will find you can buy a brand new example of this tea pot for a mere $67. Sixty-seven dollars!
So why in the world would anyone pay more for this presumably used tea pot?
I made an offer of $40, saying I can buy this item any day of the week from True West for $67. My offer, predictably, was declined.
Later: The auction ended with bidding below the seller's reserve. No sale. Lucky bidders.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Spring cleaning

pressure washerSpring is approaching and we decided we need to own a pressure washer to remove the dirt of winter from the siding on the back porch, from the porch furniture and the patio, and to blast away the green stuff that grows on the front porch railing, as well as the wasp nests that festoon the front porch.

Sam’s Club stocks pressure washers about this time every year, so I drove down and bought one.

Some assembly is required, but not much and I had it together in about 30 minutes. I filled the oil reservoir, but am waiting until tomorrow or whenever I plan to use it to put in the gasoline.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Hey, it’s me



A photographer shot a couple of frames of me last Monday as I rode over to Flagler Beach. I’m debating whether to buy a print or two.

One more for the collection

This is a freaking scream!

Funniest video I’ve seen in months. This is a must-see!

The Tale of the GPS from my Bike Week Trip

dbbw gps01

dbbw gps02

dbbw gps03

Total time, Stopped time, and Overall average speed are meaningless because I turned off the GPS most of the times I stopped.

My Garmin Zumo 550 paid for itself on this trip because the Traffic feature warned me of a closed road and rerouted me to avoid it and the Detour feature gave me great alternate routes.

Also, thanks to the SiriusXM feature, I was able to listen to the announcement of Pope Francis and his first Papal words to the faithful while threading my way through Memphis traffic.


I got home at 3:55 pm yesterday, much earlier than I hoped, but worn out from a day of cold riding.
Florida Hwy. 100 is a much more pleasant route to I-10 at Lake City than taking interstates. It also passes through Lulu and Florahome.
Customers are allowed to smoke at the Hamilton AL Huddle House restaurant.
The Wifi signal at the Troy AL Quality Inn is weaker than the signal from the Holiday Inn Express next door.
Riding through Dothan AL, you will encounter 21 stoplights and you will be hard pressed to get through town in less than 20 minutes.
Despite the sign, there is no Quiznos restaurant at the Busy Bee gas station on I-10 at Lake City FL.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Cheerios and coffee

I'm up before sunrise and in the motel breakfast room. They seem to be out of sausage. So much for protein.
The wifi was weak and useless.
Today's goal is to get home by dark.

After I wrote this, I found the yogurt and hard-boiled eggs. The yogurt gave me the protein I wanted, but I worried about the condition of the egg and threw it away.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013


You know the pirate who keeps losing his wooden eye in the Pirates of the Caribbean series?
I found him today working at the Busy Bee gas station at the Lake City FL exit on I-10.
This is a poor photo, but trust me, it's him.

We got lucky

The tail of Winter Storm Triton came through last night and it was a non-event.
I expected a deluge and it never even rained hard.
I only packed meds through tomorrow, so I'm heading home as soon as my tent is dry. I plan to ship my sleeping bag home because it doesn't travel well on my luggage rack.
Besides, I've seen as much of Bike Week 2013 as I need.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Another stamp

From Canaveral National Seashore.

Breakfast tomfoolery

When you put money into the tip jar at the Holiday Travel Park restaurant, the cashier rings a bell and does this.

Monday morning report

dbbw bikerbar (18)

I dined last night with new friends at High Tides at Snack Jack, a popular oceanside bar and grill on A1A just south of Flagler Beach. Despite the signage, it seemed like a nice little family restaurant.

Riding back from collecting my National Parks Passport stamp at Fort Matanzas, I got caught in a huge traffic jam on southbound I-95 just south of the truck weigh station between the Palm Coast and Flagler Beach exits. By the time I got to the apparent scene of the accident, all I could see dbbw rickwas a crumpled Harley-Davidson on a recovery vehicle. Northbound I-95 was a parking lot for hours last night, most likely from another bike crash.

I made a run to the Publix supermarket just across the interstate from the campground yesterday afternoon and ended up parking next to a gorgeous ivory colored BMW K1100RS ridden by a guy named Rick from New Jersey. Rick bought a six pack of Blue Moon and hunkered down on the parking lot curb and drank one while we chatted.

He and his brother Tommy, a Triumph rider from Sarasota, and David, an RT rider from Pennsylvania invited me to join them for dinner along with a couple of guys from north of Toronto, Ontario. The food was good and the company was great.

Back at the campground, I stopped at the now-closed clubhouse and used one of the electric outlets on the porch to charge my iPhone for a few minutes and checked in with Maria, then rode back to my campsite, put the cover on my bike, crawled into the tent and went to bed.

dbbw porchview (23) I slept well and awoke a few minutes before sunrise and checked the weather radar. I’d received a text message last night from Charlie saying they made it to Prattville, Ala. and were at the same motel we used Wednesday night. I know he hoped the big storm system would blow through last night, but the weather radar indicates it won’t arrive at Prattville until maybe 10 a.m. and it may take a few hours to pass. Not the ideal scenario, but at least they have a place where they can stay dry if the motel has a late check-out time.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Stamp collecting

Fort Matanzas National Monument - one more stamp for my National Parks Passport.

Rolling out

Tom (left) and Charlie heading home. I'm flying solo from here on.

Daylight Savings Time Sunday

Charlie and Tom and I rode down to the Daytona International Speedway yesterday morning to survey the vendor offerings.

As expected, we didn’t see anything we needed, but it was amusing nonetheless.

Here are some photos from our morning:

dbbw indians (14)dbbw spdwy12) 

dbbw sculpture

dbbw loungers

dbbw charliebimbo

No biker event is complete without a sprinkling of bimbos to draw guys into vendor areas and this was no exception.

Tom and Charlie were keen to go downtown and walk Main Street after the Speedway tour, but I was ready for a break, so we parted company. I hit a McDonald’s and gas station just off of I-95, then discovered a huge traffic jam of bikes and cars waiting to get back onto the interstate. I hit the “Detour” button on my GPS and found myself on a delightful two-lane through the jungle that took me back to the campground without the hassle of interstate traffic and wind noise. I realized that I’ve ridden a segment of that road in years past, but it was a delightful surprise to see it again.

dbbw camp pano (17)I hung out at the campground and made the acquaintance of Harry, a retired Chattanooga banker who was camped next to us. Harry rides an ‘03 K1200GT that is a twin to my bike and we shared horror stories about what an ordeal it is to change headlight bulbs on the bikes. Harry lives in Waynesville, NC. He ended up joining us for dinner at the little Italian bistro where we dined Thursday night.

That’s my blue tent on the left and my bike over my left shoulder.

We sat around in the dark swapping bike stories until about 10 p.m., then retired to our sleeping bags.

I was up at dawn, as were Charlie, Tom, and Harry. They joined me for breakfast, then left for home. Charlie has to deal with a massive storm system (dubbed Triton by the NWS) en route and I’m choosing to wait it out before packing and leaving.

Saturday, March 09, 2013


Meet Hobbes, a 9-month-old blue Merle Aussie from Connecticut who I met at the campground this morning.

Friday, March 08, 2013