Saturday, May 30, 2015

49 years later

I scanned a few old slides this afternoon, including this one from the first roll of 35mm slide film I ever shot.

It's the South Main Street bridge over Cicero Creek in the city park at Tipton, Indiana in October, 1966. It was shot with my (then) new Minolta Himatic-7 rangefinder camera and I think it was on Kodachrome.

If only I knew then what I know now...

Happy Birthday, Lisa!

Our granddaughter Lisa is 11 years old today.

This is one of my favorite photos of her, shot three years ago when she and Steve came to visit us in our Arkansas home.

We don't see her as often as we would like, but we treasure the visits when they occur.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Horizons - Montana Timelapse

One of our neighbors is selling his house and his real estate agent used a drone to shoot several aerial views of the property a few days ago.

That's our house at the top center of the frame.

He's asking $379,900, but the real estate website estimates the market value at $256,640.


Indiana State University's version of Dean Wormer has kicked the ISU chapter of Alpha Tau Omega Fraternity off campus.

Does Indiana State still have a Homecoming Parade?

I guess a Prius wouldn't make a very good Deathmobile.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Rico Suave

My iPhone has an music app that supplements my library with stuff their algorithm thinks is compatible.
Sitting at Panera, sipping coffee and having finished the best cheese Danish I’ve ever had here, I’m listening to tunes with my Bang & Olufsen H8 wireless headphones and what should come up in the rotation but “Rico Suave,” the 1991 Latin hit by Gerardo Mejia, a sort of rapper from Ecuador.
I had a hard time not laughing out loud. It’s somewhere between comical and pathetic in the way that Vanilla Ice was conspicuous as a poser.

We can all take comfort in the knowledge that Gerardo turned 50 last month.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Fan club

We’re official fan club members.
The iLiving (so trendy, and made in China like all of the Apple stuff) 30” commercial pedestal fan arrived this morning. I hope the FedEx driver didn’t hurt himself/herself getting it up onto our porch. (The shipping weight is just under 70 pounds.)
I chose to put it together in the foyer rather, putting off the chore of moving it deeper into the house until later.
Assembly was straighforward and I had it together and ready to run inside of an hour. The only glitch was not recognizing the cosmetic collar that covers the five screws securing the pedestal to the base. It is the only part in the box that is not referenced in the assembly instructions or parts list and I didn’t realize what it was for until I had everything else assembled.
I lifted the upper part of the shaft out of the lower sleeve, dropped the collar down the sleeve and replaced the shaft with only a little awkwardness and sweat.

It has three speeds operated by a chain pull on the rear of the motor. I have no reason to doubt the claimed air velocity of 1,010 feet/minute at 10 feet.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Odd name, great film

We watched “Field of Lost Shoes” last night on Netflix and it resonated with me much more than I expected.
It’s the story of how the cadets at Virginia Military Academy won the Battle of New Market for the Confederates in 1864.
I felt more than a passing connection with the event, since my fraternity – Alpha Tau Omega – was founded at VMI in 1865 by three of the cadets who fought at New Market: Otis Alan Glazebrook, Erskine Mayor Ross, and Alfred Marshall.
They were among the kids who braved Union gunfire and cannon fire, charging and taking a Union artillery battery to the astonishment of Confederate commander Gen. John Breckenridge who reluctantly committed them to combat when other Confederate troops failed to arrive in time for the battle.
The name of the film is taken from the last scene and almost seems like an afterthought.
Well worth your time if you’re interested in the Civil War or examples of uncommon valor.

Monday, May 25, 2015

And Truth is the new Hate Speech

Quin Hilyer of the National Review articulates the same growing concern I’ve felt in recent years. I’m having trouble recognizing what this country has become and I know my parents, were they still alive, would be utterly baffled and outraged.

Some of us now struggle to recognize the culture we live in.

We are profoundly baffled and greatly disturbed by what seems like a complete inversion of values. The zeitgeist looks at actions that to us seem utterly unremarkable and treats them as major social sins or even illegalities.

Yet when other actions strike us as jaw-droppingly outrageous or corrupt, the larger culture shrugs without concern. If nearly half the culture acts and believes in ways that are alien to us, but they are backed by the establishment media hordes, then we in the other half feel utterly adrift — or, as the Robert Heinlein title put it, strangers in a strange land. Take, for example, the burgeoning controversies surrounding Hillary Clinton, which may finally be gaining a little traction in public consciousness — though the traction may be fleeting. What seems alien to us is that these scandals should be stampeding their way through every newscast and every front page of every newspaper, every day. Indeed, by rights, we should see one aspect of the many interlaced Hillary controversies as perhaps the biggest scandal in American governmental history.

Think about it. What’s the bigger story, the one that involves the more venal behavior while potentially harming the lives of more Americans: 1) a few goobers rifling through the office of the opposing political party and then having the president’s men try to cover up the petty hanky-panky; or 2) a former president and husband of the then-current secretary of state making  hundreds of thousands of dollars while the couple’s foundation gets millions, in a deal approved by the former first lady’s own State Department, which results in about half of this nation’s uranium falling under the effective control of the proto-fascist, anti-American leader of the nation with the world’s second biggest store of nuclear weapons?

The Clintons aren’t mere grifters. They are in their own level of grifter superstardom while putting all the rest of us at substantially greater risk of annihilation. Yet much of the media covers this story with the enthusiasm of a six-year-old swallowing castor oil, and much of the public still thinks Hillary is a minor deity. A goodly number of Americans apparently are aware of the scandal yet still fall at her feet.

They likewise excuse Barack Obama’s lies about “keeping your doctor” or “keeping your insurance plan” if you like them; they see him say harsh, even nasty things about his adversaries in a way prior presidents have rarely or never done, and generally coarsen public discourse, yet they still think he’s likeable. They say they believe quarterback Tom Brady cheated but say in the next breath that he’s a good role model for children.

These are somewhat random examples, but the theme is consistent: Behavior that once would have earned near-universal opprobrium or, in the case of the Clintons’ uranium deal, white-hot anger, now barely raises an eyebrow. Behavior that once would have earned near-universal opprobrium or, in the case of the Clintons’ uranium deal, white-hot anger, now barely raises an eyebrow.

And this isn’t even to delve into the general coarseness of the culture that positively celebrates depravities — and splashes them across the glossy pages of, say, People magazine — among elites of Hollywood, the music industry, and other walks of life. (Literally as I was writing this, a commercial aired on my TV advertising the third season of the ABC show Mistresses. In prime time. Enough said.)

It’s Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s “defining deviancy down” to a degree Moynihan himself may have found astonishing. Yet at the same time that we old-school types are bombarded by cultural rot of every kind, we also are hounded by what Charles Krauthammer called “defining deviancy up.”

He wrote: There is a complimentary social phenomenon that goes with defining deviancy down. As part of the vast social project of moral leveling, it is not enough for the deviant to be normalized, the normal must be found to be deviant. Large areas of ordinary behavior hitherto considered benign have had their threshold radically redefined up, so that once-innocent behavior now stands condemned as deviant. Normal middle-class life then stands exposed as the true home of violence, abuse, misogyny, a whole category of deviant acting and thinking.

So we see, for example, college professors all over the country being disciplined or even fired for innocuous statements in class that random students find offensive.

We see owners of various artistic businesses fined into oblivion for refusing to sell their artistic skills for ceremonies that violate their beliefs. We see ordinary words such as “arrogant,” “haughty,” and “thug” being denounced as racist (or sexist, or whatever).

We see people taking offense at “micro-aggressions” that are neither aggressive nor even visible under ordinary social microscopes.

We see parents sanctioned by the state for allowing their children to enjoy playgrounds unsupervised (oh, the horror, the horror).

We see stories of verbal pleading leading to consensual sex that is later reclassified as rape. (Who knew that Bruce Springsteen in “Jungleland” was describing not romance but rape when he sang of “whispers of soft refusal, and then surrender”?)

We’re now told that we can’t spank a misbehaving child; that we can’t read Huckleberry Finn because it features the “n” word; that we can’t name sports teams in honor of Indians; that syllogistic or “linear” logic is culturally oppressive; that it’s offensive if we pray in public or say “Merry Christmas”; and that we can’t allow our own 20-year-olds to drink a glass of wine with us in our own homes as a civilizing part of a holiday meal, but that we’re disastrously prudish if we don’t give them condoms for the sex we should be glad they are engaging in as a necessary form of self-expression.

In short, we’re told that so much of what we know is good and normal is actually bad, while so much that’s objectively awful is actually no big deal or even something worth admiring.

Nothing looks the same. The values, the culture, the standards, the frames of reference: All are skewed, trumped over, deconstructed, disorienting. We feel like we’re in a phantasmagoria, a Moody Blues lament in which “red is gray and yellow, white” — except that, unlike in the song, we are actually powerless “to decide which is right,” and the new cultural construct, unfortunately, is no illusion.

This isn’t only modernization we’re experiencing; it’s a veritable inversion of values and decency, and of the very nature of truth. Among us relics of a bygone age, the debate is not whether the current state of affairs is atrocious; the debate is whether we’re only at a tipping point or instead already beyond it.

The rough beast slouches ever closer, and we don’t know if we can stop him. We know, though, that we must try. — Quin Hillyer is a contributing editor for National Review Online. Follow him on Twitter: @QuinHillyer.
Read more at:

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Motorcycle camping refinements


This is how Maria and I loaded my bike for two-up riding and camping in October, 1996 at the Return to Shiloh BMW Rally.

The silver stuff sack holds my Eureka! Special Edition tent, then there are two Thermarest air mattresses, all lashed down with a couple of tie-down straps. And on top we secured a couple of sleeping bags with a cargo net.

We haven’t done much two-up touring in recent years, but my camping gear has gone through several refinements in the nearly two decades since this photo was made.

The Eureka! Special Edition died in a storm at the 1998 BMW MOA Rally in Missoula, Mont. It was temporarily replaced by a gigantic 10x10 tent from a Missoula sporting goods store, followed by a dome tent from REI in Portland, Ore., and a Galyan’s Special Edition tent by Eureka! in 2005 that I used up through last OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOctober when it became apparent that the floor was no longer completely waterproof. I replaced it with a Eureka! Tetragon 5.

I retired my Thermarests in 2012 and switched to a much smaller, yet much more comfortable Big Agnes Q-Core that is small enough to fit into my saddlebag along with a battery powered inflator. Before the Big Agnes and the inflator, I’m pretty sure my Thermarests could not pass a breathalyzer test when I deflated them at the end of each rally.

Last weekend was the first trial run of my newest version of camping gear, the big improvement being the Tetragon 5 (the 5 indicates a capacity of 5 people) tent with a 9x9 footprint and a ceiling high enough for me to stand, even with my little LED chandelier dangling from the peak and expansive enough to tent and chairaccommodate my camp chair.

The other first-time refinement was indoor plumbing, something I resisted for years even though several of my contemporaries now carry a bottle to pee into. I have to admit, not having to pull on pants and boots and hike to a port-o-let when nature calls at 2 a.m. is far more luxurious than I had imagined.

I finally worked out a way to use criss-crossed ROK Straps to firmly attach a $10 Walmart canvas chair to the luggage rack so it doesn’t flop around en route.

I’m sure things will evolve further, but last weekend’s camping experience in Burkesville, Ky. was the most comfortable and hassle-free ever and my bike looks less like an overloaded pack mule than it did 20 years ago.

And I neither want nor need a trailer.

packed tightly

Friday, May 22, 2015

Stupid Vine request

pedestal fanIt’s been a few weeks since the Amazon Vine Program offered me anything that piqued (not peaked or peeked) my interest.

But when I checked a few minutes ago I found my offerings included this 30” commercial/industrial pedestal fan that lists for $199.

Why in the world would I want to add a big-assed fan to the clutter in my garage?

I guess it’s the Vine version of an impulse buy.

It gets beastly hot here in the summer months and the ceiling fan on the screened back porch has limited cooling power. I envision pointing this bad boy out on one end of the porch and drawing huge volumes of air through the area on those oppressive days when there is no breeze. I only hope it’s not so loud that we can’t carry on a conversation.

It would also be handy for drawing fresh air through the house, since we almost never open our windows.

And it could speed the drying process after I pressure wash the back porch.

I’m sure Maria will think I’ve lost my mind when this thing shows up, but what the hell? Why not?

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Motorcycle Rally Pin of the day

err IMG_7169

17th Annual European Riders Rally, held May 15-17 in Burkesville, Ky. by the BMW Motorcycle Club of Nashville.

Fun with electricity

chilling saturday afternoon

Hanging out under Rick Nelson’s canopy at the European Riders Rally on Saturday afternoon, Wayne Garrison introduced me to the miniscule but mighty TENS (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation) unit he carries with him on motorcycle trips.

tens unitHe let me try a 20-minute session on my right shoulder, placing the electrode pads in the same spots that my chiropractor does, and the results were impressive. The discomfort was gone and, since I could control the intensity of the current, I was able to step it up gradually to levels heretofore not experienced.

I found one just like Wayne’s on Ebay for $49.99 and five pairs of pads on for $10.99. Both orders arrived this morning and I just completed a 30-minute treatment on my shoulder with excellent results.

It comes with a manual and chart detailing Chinese acupressure points for pad placement that I may explore later.

But for now, I’m enjoying how good my shoulder feels.

tens unit

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Another problem solved

zumo mounted

My weekend travels revealed a glitch in my Garmin Zumo 550’s mapping software.

The first clue came Thursday morning as I approached Interstate 55 on U.S. 412 just south of Hayti, Mo. U.S. 412 becomes I-155 east of I-55 which is where I knew to go. But the Garmin mapping software insisted I should go south on I-55 then take a non-existent exit to I-155 eastbound.

I stayed the course and presently the Zumo recalculated and acknowledged that I was, indeed, on I-155.

Then, on Sunday afternoon as I crossed the Mississippi River on U.S. 412 I asked Garmin to give me the distances to Hayti and Kennett, Mo. as possible gas stops. I got routes that made no sense.

A few minutes later, I re-entered Home as a destination at a time when my ETA was under an hour. It gave me some ridiculous route that took me all the way to Walnut Ridge and back over a period of more than two hours.


At first, I thought water from the heavy rain I rode through an hour earlier had corrupted the circuitry.

I took the GPS off of the bike this afternoon and fiddled with it, coming up with crazy routes and distances from my house to Kennett and Hayti.

Since I’m contemplating a ride west, I downloaded and installed the current maps for the central and western U.S. and now I get routes that make sense.

Much relieved, I’m going downstairs now to return the Zumo to its mount on my K1200GT.

Expensive morning

fridge repair

This morning was expensive, but it could have been a whole lot worse.

Our dishwasher crapped out last Wednesday. The owner’s manual said the flashing green light meant trouble with the heating element. Since I was going to be out of town from Thursday morning until Sunday afternoon, we resolved to put off the service call until Monday.

In the meantime, the temperature monitor in the garage freezer began pestering me via my iPhone that the temperature had risen above freezing and was steadily climbing, eventually topping out in the upper 60s.

I called the appliance repair folks Monday morning and they finally showed up this morning.

But in the meantime, the kitchen refrigerator stopped cooling and freezing.

Our first thought was that a power surge from one or more of the recent storms was the cause of the cascade of appliance failures.

But when the two technicians – yes, they sent two guys – dug into things they found:

  • The freezer was iced up because the automatic defrost timer failed. As far as I can tell, it never worked in the first place.
  • The starter relay failed on the refrigerator, probably because of a buildup of dog hair and other stuff under the fridge that went unnoticed until today.
  • The dishwasher heating element, was indeed the problem.

They got the freezer and refrigerator working again in time to save a few hundred dollars worth of meat and other frozen food, but they didn’t have a heater unit for the dishwasher and said they’d come back as soon as they got one – maybe later today or maybe Friday if they had to get one from Little Rock.

Total cost: $686.16. It was painful, but at least we’re not shopping for new appliances and replacing lost food.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

On the “climate change” hoax

Ross McKitrick, Special to Financial Post | May 11, 2015 7:22 PM ET

Not only is there no 97 per cent consensus among climate scientists; many misunderstand core issues

In the lead-up to the Paris climate summit, massive activist pressure is on all governments, especially Canada’s, to fall in line with the global warming agenda and accept emission targets that could seriously harm our economy. One of the most powerful rhetorical weapons being deployed is the claim that 97 per cent of the world’s scientists agree what the problem is and what we have to do about it. In the face of such near-unanimity, it would be understandable if Prime Minister Harper and the Canadian government were simply to capitulate and throw Canada’s economy under the climate change bandwagon. But it would be a tragedy because the 97 per cent claim is a fabrication.

Like so much else in the climate change debate, one needs to check the numbers. First of all, on what exactly are 97 per cent of experts supposed to agree? In 2013 President Obama sent out a tweet claiming 97 per cent of climate experts believe global warming is “real, man-made and dangerous.” As it turns out the survey he was referring to didn’t ask that question, so he was basically making it up. At a recent debate in New Orleans I heard climate activist Bill McKibben claim there was a consensus that greenhouse gases are “a grave danger.” But when challenged for the source of his claim, he promptly withdrew it.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change asserts the conclusion that most (more than 50 per cent) of the post-1950 global warming is due to human activity, chiefly greenhouse gas emissions and land use change. But it does not survey its own contributors, let alone anyone else, so we do not know how many experts agree with it. And the statement, even if true, does not imply that we face a crisis requiring massive restructuring of the worldwide economy. In fact it is consistent with the view that the benefits of fossil fuel use greatly outweigh the climate-related costs.

One commonly-cited survey asked if carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas and human activities contribute to climate change. But these are trivial statements that even many IPCC skeptics agree with. And again, both statements are consistent with the view that climate change is harmless. So there are no policy implications of such surveys, regardless of the level of agreement.

More than half acknowledge that their profession is split on the issue

The most highly-cited paper supposedly found 97 per cent of published scientific studies support man-made global warming. But in addition to poor survey methodology, that tabulation is often misrepresented. Most papers (66 per cent) actually took no position. Of the remaining 34 per cent, 33 per cent supported at least a weak human contribution to global warming. So divide 33 by 34 and you get 97 per cent, but this is unremarkable since the 33 per cent includes many papers that critique key elements of the IPCC position.

Two recent surveys shed more light on what atmospheric scientists actually think. Bear in mind that on a topic as complex as climate change, a survey is hardly a reliable guide to scientific truth, but if you want to know how many people agree with your view, a survey is the only way to find out.

In 2012 the American Meteorological Society (AMS) surveyed its 7,000 members, receiving 1,862 responses. Of those, only 52 per cent said they think global warming over the 20th century has happened and is mostly manmade (the IPCC position). The remaining 48 per cent either think it happened but natural causes explain at least half of it, or it didn’t happen, or they don’t know. Furthermore, 53 per cent agree that there is conflict among AMS members on the question.

So no sign of a 97 per cent consensus. Not only do about half reject the IPCC conclusion, more than half acknowledge that their profession is split on the issue.

The Netherlands Environmental Agency recently published a survey of international climate experts. 6550 questionnaires were sent out, and 1868 responses were received, a similar sample and response rate to the AMS survey. In this case the questions referred only to the post-1950 period. 66 per cent agreed with the IPCC that global warming has happened and humans are mostly responsible. The rest either don’t know or think human influence was not dominant. So again, no 97 per cent consensus behind the IPCC.

But the Dutch survey is even more interesting because of the questions it raises about the level of knowledge of the respondents. Although all were described as “climate experts,” a large fraction only work in connected fields such as policy analysis, health and engineering, and may not follow the primary physical science literature.

But in addition to poor survey methodology, that tabulation is often misrepresented

Regarding the recent slowdown in warming, here is what the IPCC said: “The observed global mean surface temperature (GMST) has shown a much smaller increasing linear trend over the past 15 years than over the past 30 to 60 years.” Yet 46 per cent of the Dutch survey respondents – nearly half – believe the warming trend has stayed the same or increased. And only 25 per cent agreed that global warming has been less than projected over the past 15 to 20 years, even though the IPCC reported that 111 out of 114 model projections overestimated warming since 1998.

Three quarters of respondents disagreed or strongly disagreed with the statement “Climate is chaotic and cannot be predicted.” Here is what the IPCC said in its 2003 report: “In climate research and modelling, we should recognize that we are dealing with a coupled non-linear chaotic system, and therefore that the long-term prediction of future climate states is not possible.”

Looking into further detail there are other interesting ways in which the so-called experts are unaware of unresolved discrepancies between models and observations regarding issues like warming in the tropical troposphere and overall climate sensitivity.

What can we take away from all this? First, lots of people get called “climate experts” and contribute to the appearance of consensus, without necessarily being knowledgeable about core issues. A consensus among the misinformed is not worth much.

Second, it is obvious that the “97 per cent” mantra is untrue. The underlying issues are so complex it is ludicrous to expect unanimity. The near 50/50 split among AMS members on the role of greenhouse gases is a much more accurate picture of the situation. The phony claim of 97 per cent consensus is mere political rhetoric aimed at stifling debate and intimidating people into silence.

The Canadian government has the unenviable task of defending the interest of the energy producers and consumers of a cold, thinly-populated country, in the face of furious, deafening global warming alarmism. Some of the worst of it is now emanating from the highest places. Barack Obama’s website ( says “97 per cent of climate scientists agree that climate change is real and man-made…Find the deniers near you — and call them out today.” How nice. But what we really need to call out is the use of false propaganda and demagoguery to derail factual debate and careful consideration of all facets of the most complex scientific and policy issue of our time.

Ross McKitrick is a professor of economics at the University of Guelph, a senior fellow at the Fraser Institute and an adjunct scholar of the Cato Institute.

Monday, May 18, 2015

My first rally of the year


I haven’t posted anything since last Tuesday because I was preparing for the 17th Annual European Riders Rally in Burkesville, Ky., then attending the rally in a location that Sprint doesn’t care much about.

The Indianapolis BMW Club handily won the award for the club with the most members present (I think there were 38 of us). The rally chairwoman opined that they couldn’t even have a rally if the Indy Club didn’t show up in strength.

rokstrapsAttendance was sparse – fewer than 200 people, compared with more than 600 last year – because of the threat of rain, much of which failed to materialize. The rain finally appeared Saturday afternoon and continued off and on through that day and overnight.

A light turnout meant enhanced opportunities to win doorprizes. I put all of my tickets in the running for a set of ROK Straps (brilliantly designed tie-down straps that I’ve been using since 2003) and I actually was a winner. I think it’s the first rally doorprize I’ve won since the BMW MOA rally in Monterey in 1986. That was a dumb-looking t-shirt that was too small for me. I just realized that’s almost a 30-year dry spell.

It was the debut of my Eureka! Tetragon 5 tent – a voluminous thing that has room for me to stand up and also have a camp chair next to my air mattress with space to spare. It was wonderfully luxurious and handled the rain flawlessly. I packed it wet yesterday morning, so I must remember to pull it out to dry in the garage to avoid mold and mildew.

Burkesville is a little under 400 road miles from home. I left home at 7:23 a.m. on Thursday, which was accurately forecast to be rain-free and was the first club member to arrive, dropping my sidestand about 2:40 p.m. Several of us arrived a day before the Friday start of the rally to assure that we could set up our tents before Friday’s predicted rain, which ended up holding off for a day.

Yesterday’s ride home started out about 9:30 a.m. sunny and humid, but things started to go downhill when I ran into rain on the west side of Nashville, Tenn. The rain slacked off until about 20 miles east of Jackson, Tenn. when it turned into the most intense deluge I’ve ridden in for several years. The Olympus gloves I had attempted to waterproof with Nixwax quickly became saturated and I soon noticed that I forgot to close the vents in my waterproof pants.

canadiansI finally exited and took shelter at a truckstop on the north side of I-40 about 10 miles east of Jackson, making the acquaintance of a French Canadian couple from Montreal touring the U.S. on a Harley-Davidson.

My GPS wanted to take me through Memphis to catch I-55 northbound to home, but the weather radar showed more storms in that direction and I didn’t relish getting stuck in traffic should some hapless driver crash in Memphis.

Happily, U.S. 412 which goes to Paragould crosses I-40 at Jackson, so I left the interstate and headed northwest on 412, finding myself in sunshine after about 5 miles. I gassed for the last time at Hayti and pulled into my garage a little after 5 p.m.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Kathmandu at last

kathmandu pants on me

My Kathmandu riding pants arrived today, just in time for what may be a rainy weekend. Good thing they’re waterproof.

As you may or may not remember, I returned the brilliant hi-viz Icon Patrol riding pants because there was no way I could adjust the legs so as not to be clownish and prone to snag on footpegs.

I was chagrined over the weekend to receive an email from acknowledging receipt of the Icons and giving me a store credit for $231.01 instead of a cash refund.

So I phoned them this afternoon and the customer service guy cheerfully canceled the store credit and refunded the money to my debit card. I love dealing with those guys. Every experience I’ve had with them has been a good one.

Checking tire pressures

gt tire pressure

The mechanic’s creeper and Craftsman air compressor have proven to be very useful over the years.

I checked both tires in anticipation of the season’s first rally and found they were both about 5 psi low. Now they’re back up to the recommended 36 psi front and 42 psi rear.

My Nazi sports eagles are looking for a new nest

flag front72[4]flagrear72[5]These two eagles once comprised the front and back of a banner for the Nationalsozialistischer Reichsbund für Leibesübungen (NSRL), meaning: National Socialist League of the Reich for Physical Exercise.

It was the official sports governing body of Nazi Germany and organized the 1936 Berlin Olympics.

The eagles are metal (aluminum or silver) bullion on black wool with a canvas-like backing and they measure 18¼” tall and 13½ wide. I bought them in an online auction 14 years ago, but I have no recollection of how much I paid.

The craftsmanship, as with most Third Reich items, is exquisite. I don’t have any emotional attachment to the pair and our cash flow would benefit from their sale, so I’m offering them on a WWII militaria site for $500. I put them up for sale a couple of years ago and had a prospective buyer, but he was apparently not serious because he stopped answering emails.

Why so much? Well, in my nearly 40 years of Third Reich collecting, this is the only such NSRL banner I’ve ever seen and NSRL stuff is very rare.

I took them to a local precious metals dealer in the hope of getting a definitive answer on whether it’s aluminum or silver bullion, but he said he had no way to determine it. Since silver is down to $15.69 an ounce at the moment, its historical value trumps any value in terms of silver content.

Here’s a detail shot of the front eagle’s swastika:flag z detail 72

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Lazy Sunday afternoon with the pack

on the porch with dogs

We’re spending a lazy Sunday afternoon on the porch with our pack.

Morgan brought her bulldog Samantha and red heeler Tucker over for the weekend and Jack and Dora thoroughly enjoy their company.

My other high-dollar wireless headphones, the Bang & Olufsen H8s, couldn’t pair with my iPhone this morning, so I did the same thing I did to remedy the problem the other night with the Parrot Zik 2.0 headphones.

I opened the Bluetooth controls in Settings, clicked the circle “I” in the Bang & Olufsen option, then erased it by telling the phone to “forget” it.

Then I turned Bluetooth off and on and a moment later, my phone paired with the B&O ‘phones. I expect this will continue to happen at least until the next update of the IOS 8 operating system.

Friday, May 08, 2015

Sick Parrots? No, just a wonky iPhone

parrotsThe Parrot Zik 2.0 wireless headphones I received from the Amazon Vine Program on March 27 refused to pair via Bluetooth with my iPhone 5 this morning.

I tried rebooting the phone, removing and replacing the headphones battery, and re-installing the firmware, all to no avail.

I know it's not the iPhone, because it still pairs perfectly with my Bang & Olufsen H8 wireless headphones.

I have requested help from Parrot and got email confirming their receipt of my query and promising a response within 48 hours.

As Indianapolis News Managing Editor Wendell Phillippi used to say, we'll know more later.

LATER: Maria was talking on her cell phone, which has also been paired with the Parrots when I turned the headphones on in the next room to see if I could pair them with my phone. Suddenly her phone connection with her daughter went wonky and she said it looked like her phone was pairing with the Parrots.

Well, well.

So the problem, it seems, was with my iPhone’s Bluetooth software.

I opened the Bluetooth section in Settings and deleted the reference to the Parrots, then took phone and headphones out to my car (to avoid confusion with Maria’s iPhone). I reacquired the Parrot Bluetooth signal and voila, it paired just fine.

What a relief.

Capt. Phil Kroon’s V-E Day letter

[pwrite%255B4%255D.jpg]Seventy years ago today, Capt. Philip C. Kroon, an artillery officer with the U.S. Army's 144th Field Artillery Group, took pen in hand in the garden outside an Austrian hotel and wrote a letter to his young bride in Redlands, Calif.
It was V-E Day - Victory in Europe Day - and the young captain from Grand Rapids, Mich., had been in combat since his unit came ashore in Normandy a few weeks after the June 6, 1944, invasion. He was looking forward to coming home, but mindful that the war against Japan seemed far from finished and that he might be needed in the Pacific Theatre.
Here is what he wrote on a sheet of Adolf Hitler's personal letterhead, liberated a day or two earlier from the Führer's Berghof retreat at nearby Berchtesgaden:

My adored wife,
Finally the work of the past year for me and over three years for the nation is completed. The war here is over completely. Of course, we are glad it is over, but to us it is sort of an anti-climax. For nearly two months now, we have completely routed the Germans. During the past few days we have seen steady streams of German soldiers marching to the rear. At some places, even the super-highway is jammed. It was a sight never to forget and one that only happens once in a lifetime. I wanted to get some pictures of it, but my camera was stolen some time ago. I didn't tell you because I didn't want you to worry. I now have another very good German camera that I took from a German soldier, so am better equipped than before.
Now that we are no longer at war here, I should have more time to write you and expect to get off better than one letter every five or six days. In fact, it's now been seven days this time. I'm sorry, darling. I'll try to make it up to you.
About a week ago I went through the Dachau concentration camp. Any pictures you see or stories you hear are only a small part of the picture. The stench was indescribable as well as the actual scenes. I saw some of the toughest soldiers nauseated. I won't tell you any details for they shouldn't be put on paper. It was the most terrible thing I have ever seen.
In contrast, a couple of days ago I went through one of Hitler's palaces -not the one at Berchtesgaden, but an old Hapsburg palace that he took over. It was a paragon of beauty and symmetry. In the two main floors was not a sign of Nazi Occupation except that most of the furnishings had been looted, mainly from France.
The walls were covered with priceless tapestries, the floors with thick pile rugs. We were nearly the first soldiers in the place and looked through it by ourselves. We went snooping in the cellar and came across two storage rooms. One was nearly filled with medals, of which I have a few choice ones. I also found one silver knife (not table) in the house - the only one there, so I suppose it belonged to Hitler. In another room, we found some stationery, of which this is the choicest. His personal. I have quite a bit of it and will send it home. You can give a sheet to various people, but save some of each kind, especially this with just "Der Führer" on it. I also came across some other excellent souvenirs - Onep&j pair of field glasses - the best I have ever seen - fifteen power - this may not mean much to you, but they are two and ½ times as powerful as the ones I and Pop used to have The must be worth three or four hundred dollars. I also have a pair of Luftwaffe swords that are not in the best of shape but will look good fixed up and crossed in my den if I ever have one.
Guess what, Sweets. I shaved off my mustache today - because the war is over. No one noticed it so I guess it couldn't have been so good. I'm not making any plans for a quick return home, beloved, nor am I getting any fancy ideas about it. I would give anything just to spend a few weeks with you, but there is much to be done, both here and in the Orient and I'm sure I'll be one place or the other.
Some will get to go home on their way to the Pacific and rumors are already afloat, but I'm not counting on anything - then we won't have the disappointment.
These Bavarian Alps are really beautiful, dearest mine. They are all snow covered yet, although we are not very high and last week we had snow in Munich. Today was marvelous. The view of the mountains is similar to that from our front yard, though the mountains are much closer and not as high.
During the last mad rush we have been getting practically no mail and I'm way behind, although today I got the letter you wrote on the eve of our anniversary. Sweet - just as they all are - but why not, with the sweetest wife in the world writing them. I wish my letters would get there more regularly. You probably have had a batch since that time, but it is nicer when they come spread over a long time.
Darling, I adore you completely. I don't dream of you often, but that isn't my fault. When I'm awake I can control my thoughts and they always include you. Always I wish you could share the beautiful scenery and the old German cities - Worms, Nurnberg, Augsberg, Munich, Saltzburg and the rest with me. Maybe, in future years, after they are rebuilt we will see them together. Anything we could do together would be wonderful. One thing in particular - I miss you so, Jeanie. I'll always adore you.
Your only Phil
A little picture of you know who.
Capt. Kroon came home six months later. He made a career of the army, taking a reduction in rank to sergeant in order to remain in a downsized postwar military. His last duty post was as an instructor in the Reserve Officer Training Corps program at Purdue University. Following his retirement, he worked for the U.S. Postal Service. He died of cancer in 1988. Diane, the first of his three daughters, was born Oct. 30, 1946, and grew up to be my first wife.

Diane offered this correction today: Just a couple of clarifications, maybe. He was an officer in the Reserves on active duty until about the late ‘50s, then refused his majority because it meant another 2 year extension on his present overseas tour. Joined the regular army as a master sergeant then. His last tour of duty was actually in Panama for a year. He loved Purdue, hated Panama so he hung it up.

Thursday, May 07, 2015

70 years ago tomorrow


ETO, for the history-impaired, is European Theatre of Operations.

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Changing pants

icon cuffs

The Icon Patrol waterproof riding pants that arrived April 22 are on their way back to

Their description notes that my waist size only comes with a 34 inch inseam. I’m more of a 29” inseam. The description says, “You can also adjust the inseam kathmandu newon the Patrol pants by using snaps in the lower legs. There are three positions to choose from which can take up to 5” out of the inseam.”

I tried it and the pants still looked ridiculously long and I worried about catching a cuff on a footpeg while coming to a stop and toppling over.

I bought them because my first choice, the FirstGear Kathmandu waterproof pants were out of stock in my waist size and a 30” inseam. I was given to believe they wouldn’t be back in stock until late this month, which is why I pulled the trigger on the Icons, so as to have something to wear to a mid-month rally in Kentucky.

Everything changed yesterday when I got an email from notifying me that my size was back in stock. Woo-freaking-hoo!

I got a return order voucher from the web site last night and sent the canary pants back to this morning. The web site says my Kathmandus have shipped, so I’m a very happy camper.

For all their conspicuity, I thought the hi-viz Icons were a bit much and would look silly walking into a restaurant. Also, I figured they would show road grime more and look filthy faster than the Kathmandus.

Also, the Kathmandus appear to vent better and come with a cold weather liner.

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

In the center of Albuquerque on Route 66

albuquerque travel lodge card

While preparing to ship an old book that I sold on, I found this card – both sides of which are reproduced here – from the Albuquerque Travelodge. Forty units, cooled by refrigeration, with phones, free TV and a heated pool.

It was in an ROTC textbook that had belonged to my first father-in-law, Phil Kroon, who taught U.S. Army ROTC at Purdue University in the early 1960s and it dates from a time before the interstates when U.S. 66 was the preferred route from Chicago to Los Angeles.

According to Google Maps, the motel is still there, including the pool, but it’s a Days Inn now. Central Avenue N.E. is also the old Route 66.

Monday, May 04, 2015

Practice run

gt packed

My 2003 BMW K1200GT has a rather narrow luggage rack – narrower and more troublesome than the one on my old 1991 K100RS.

If wide objects like camp chairs and tents aren’t properly secured, they can move around and hang off one side or the other at a crazy angle that causes anxiety among those with whom I share the road.

I’m about to embark on a ride to a BMW rally in Kentucky, north and east of Nashville, Tenn. and it will be the first one for my new Eureka Tetragon 5 tent – the largest tent I’ve ever carried to a rally. I also have a Walmart canvas chair and an oversize Browning sleeping bag to strap onto the luggage rack. I don’t really expect cold enough nights at the upcoming rally to justify the heavy bag, but I’m reasonably sure I’ll want it for Billings, Mont. in July, so I might as well see how it rides.

I consulted old photos to refresh my memory about successful strapping strategies from the 1990s when I had my RS and made slight changes in the attachment points for the forward ends of the ROK straps, crossing them over the tent and chair bags and cinching them down. The result is a satisfyingly solid fit. The green tent bag is slightly off center to accommodate the weight of the tent pegs on the right side.

And I’m reasonably confident that the yellow cargo net will hold the sleeping bag securely.

Changing over from a Thermarest to a saddlebag packable Big Agnes Q Core air mattress further simplifies matters.

Sunday, May 03, 2015


This is why we've been without cable and Internet since 9:21 am today.
Some malignant imbecile drilled a hole in Fusion Media's fiber optic cable at a rural junction box. Disgruntled past or present employee?

Saturday, May 02, 2015

Breakfast with the Masons

masonic pancake 01
We skipped breakfast and hustled down to the first Saturday of the new ASU Farmers Market season where we scoped out the offerings and Maria bought a bar of vegan homemade soap.
Then Maria remembered that we had bought a couple of tickets to the masonic pancake 03Jonesboro Masonic Lodge’s pancake breakfast scheduled for today. I checked my wallet and, sure enough, there they were.
So we drove across town to the Masonic Lodge where we found Morgan’s next-door-neighbor Curtis Pace flipping pancakes.
Three pancakes and generous helpings of bacon and sausage patties, plus coffee for $5 – a way better deal than we could have gotten at McDonald’s and it was fun supporting a good organization.
This little girl sat next to Maria and accepted pieces of pancake from her.

Friday, May 01, 2015

Steve Flora in Showstoppers


My son Steve is playing bass for the Showstoppers at the Wynn on the Las Vegas Strip.

You can find him in this caricature just to the right of the conductor’s left hand. Not a bad likeness.

wynn steve

Dora is 2 years old today

mercy mom[4]

Dora, aka Cedarbrook’s Dora Flora, was born two years ago today. Here she is with her littermates and her mom, Cedarbrook’s Mercy Rain. Her dad was the handsome Stormy Nights Barker.

She has a wonderful personality and we love her dearly.

doras2 72

She really wasn’t into wearing the $2 birthday princess tiara I bought for her at Dollar General.