Monday, August 31, 2015

It opened this morning

sonic open

The new Sonic Drive-In at the northeast corner of U.S. 49 and School Road in Brookland opened this morning.

I am amazed at how quickly the site went from a residential neighborhood with a couple of houses to a functioning drive-in. I guessed the franchisee had a Sept. 1 target date for opening.

They made it with a day to spare.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Testing a new printer/copier/scanner/fax

epson xp-630

The Amazon Vine Program offered me the new (scheduled to be released on Sept. 1) Epson XP-630 earlier this week and it arrived on my front porch this morning.

It only took about an hour to unpack and set up and the print quality is everything I would expect from Epson – photo lab caliber. Here are the first two prints.

And it’s wireless, so I can print from anywhere.

It will sell for $149.99 when it becomes available on

Thursday, August 27, 2015

A belated Frohe Geburtstag to Leni Riefenstahl


I neglected to mark the 103rd birthday last Saturday of cinematic genius and pioneer and genuinely liberated woman Leni Riefenstahl.

I’m proud to own an autographed photo of her:


Dora’s checkup and shots

dora heather aug27 15

Dora had an 8:30 a.m. appointment with Dr. Heather Curry at the Animal Medical Center in Jonesboro today.

She is usually an OK car passenger, but this morning she shook like a leaf as we headed south on U.S. 49.

She did fine at the vet’s office though and was pronounced healthy and free of parasites. She got her rabies booster shot and a tag to prove it, along with some other immunizations.

The ride home was much calmer and she didn’t freak out when I left her in the car (windows cracked for good ventilation) while I took about 2 minutes to duck into the post office for my daily quota of junk mail.

And, of course, she was eager to get back into the back yard with Jack.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Going up

sonic sign

The sign went up today on the Sonic Drive-In under construction at the northeast corner of U.S. 49 and School Road in Brookland.

We’ve been here almost eight years and we’ve seen lots of construction on U.S. 49, but this Sonic has gone up faster than any other development in the area. I’ve been wondering for a month or so now if the target date for opening is Sept. 1 – a week from today. That’s starting to look like a real possibility.

Maria is a big fan of Sonic’s afternoon drink specials, so this is kind of a big deal for her.

Cryptic observation on a lovely late summer morning

There comes a time when one must forget about wanting to be a “nice” person and sound the Deguello.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Trash talkin’

trash day

It was a glorious clear 60º when I wheeled our trash container to the street this morning where it and its brothers will stand silently as they await the packer truck.

I spent a good part of the summer of 1962 riding on the back of a similar packer truck, picking up trash in Delphi, Ind. It was a rather pleasant job and you got to learn a lot about your neighbors from what they put into the trash. In particular, you learn where all of the town’s alcoholics live based on the empty booze containers in their trash.

In those days, most people in Delphi put their trash into 55-gallon steel barrels along the alley behind their home. Many people burned their trash in the barrels, so there was always the possibility of hot embers starting a fire in the enclosed bed of the packer truck, necessitating a quick trip to the city dump to disgorge the burning cargo.

The prospect of getting the contents of a full 55-gallon barrel into the maw of the packer truck seemed daunting at first, but I quickly learned to tip the barrel and roll it on its base rather than carry it to the truck. Once there, the trick was to lift it from the bottom, then roll it from side to side to dump the contents into the hopper. Leather work gloves were a necessity.

I was just summer help, working with a couple of guys who were the city’s fulltime water utility and sanitation crew. I don’t remember their names, but one of the guys had the curious quirk of pronouncing “truck” as “cruck.”

And I particularly enjoyed the mid-morning breaks at a little café called the Delphinium where I always got coffee and two chocolate-iced cake donuts.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Two down, 1½ to go

Just like every other year for the past eight years, I put four BMW rallies on my calendar at the beginning of the year, not counting Daytona Beach Bike Week, which is always iffy because of weather.

They are:

  1. European Riders Rally in Burkesville, Ky.
  2. BMW MOA National Rally, in Billings, Mont. this year.
  3. BMW RA National Rally, in Harrison, Ark. this year.
  4. Falling Leaf Rally, in Potosi, Mo.

So far, so good. I made it to the first two and am looking forward to the last two. At least I was until yesterday when Maria finally gave me the dates for her planned trip to Indiana to see her parents and attend a baby shower for Morgan’s step-sister.

Even though I have repeatedly announced I had rally plans for the first two weekends in October, Maria isn’t as tuned in to the calendar as I am and didn’t make it clear until yesterday that we can’t both be gone the second weekend in October because someone has to look after our combined pack of four dogs.

Or can we?

After a few hours of angst, I awoke from a nap yesterday afternoon with a solution. It’s 175 miles from here to Potosi – a three-hour ride. I can ride up on Saturday morning, register and get my rally pin and ride home that afternoon. Pretty much the same as riding up to Cape Girardeau for a bike service at Grass Roots BMW in one day.

Yes, I’ll miss two nights of camping and hanging out with my Indianapolis BMW Club friends, but at least I can say I was there and have a rally pin to show for it for my collection. And I won’t have to pack camping gear, toiletries or changes of clothing.

Friday, August 21, 2015

New Mexican restaurant


We had lunch today at La Casa de la Fiesta on Phillips Drive in Jonesboro.

Authentic Mexican cuisine, spicy enough to be interesting and bursting with flavor. I had 2 beef enchiladas, a beef taco and rice.

Lunch specials at $6.99. I think we were the only non-Spanish-speakers in the place.

Thursday, August 20, 2015



It was a great afternoon for a motorcycle ride, so I cruised down to the Tractor Supply Co. and treated myself to a $1.99 set of 72” laces for my Bates waterproof boots.

Yessiree, livin’ large in the mid-South.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Turtle therapy

marias turtle

Maria came home from work last evening to find this guy strolling down the middle of our road, headed for its T intersection with a major county road.

She gave him a lift to safety and noticed that she suddenly didn’t feel depressed anymore.

Helping others will do that.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015



I just posted a set of four color photos, including this one, on Facebook – all of Janie (Woods Hodges) at the Indiana State Fair in the mid-1970s.

I posted them on an Indianapolis nostalgia page and they are generating a frenzy of “likes” and comments.

Janie hosted a kids’ cartoon show from 1963 to 1988 called Popeye and Janie on WTTV in Bloomington and Indianapolis. She was also a music teacher in the Indianapolis Public Schools.

Monday, August 17, 2015

From the Brookland, Ark. post office bulletin board

found border collie mix

The awful truth about reviewer points

I enjoy sharing my experiences and one of my favorite outlets is writing online reviews.

When it comes to reviewing products on, I’ve written reviews of 352 books, movies, and other products. I currently rank 8,118th in the Amazon pantheon of reviewers. They noticed my zeal for reviewing stuff a few years ago and invited me to join their Vine Program under which they offer me books and other products to read or use and review.

Likewise, I have attained the lofty status of a Level 6 Senior Reviewer on, with reviews of 98 hotels, motels, restaurants and attractions all over the United States.

And according to the tally, I have earned 11,603 points.

I’ve been watching the points pile up lately since I got home from my recent trips to Billings, Mont. and Las Vegas with several places to write about.

I’ve been wondering what the points are good for. Free lodging, meals?

The TripAdvisor web site makes no mention of the value of points or if they can be redeemed. Finally, I found the answer in the TripAdvisor contributors’ forum.

They’re not worth a damned thing. Completely useless. Nobody seems to know why the site compiles them.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Oh, no! A summer cold!

red noseThe cold we caught on the airplane coming home from Las Vegas last week finally pounced on us full blown last night.

Maria and I have been sneezing and wheezing for several days before the virus mounted an all-out attack on my respiratory system last evening heralded by non-stop sneezing and my nose running like a faucet.

I went to bed early after taking a couple of Benadryl allergy caps. They dried up my nose, but left me wired and restless for much of the night.

Memo to self: never take two of those Benadryl caps before bed.

We had planned to host Charlie for dinner tomorrow evening, but decided our colds were a clear and present danger to his compromised immune system.

So we’re drinking plenty of fluids and getting lots of rest in the hope that this will go away soon.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Sonic thoughts

sonic playground

There’s a Sonic drive-in under construction a little more than a mile south of our house and it will be the first Sonic in the area to have a play space for kids.

Maria and I drove past the construction this morning on our way into town and two things crossed our minds:

  1. The play area is right next to a busy four-lane highway. Will there be barriers to protect it from out-of-control cars and trucks?
  2. Is there a more cynical motive behind the practice of adding play spaces to fast food restaurants other than to make them more attractive to kids and their parents?

Time will tell about the first matter, but as for the second concern, are the play spaces unintended or maybe intentional bait for pedophile customers?

After all, the real purpose behind ladies’ nights at bars and night clubs is to make them more target-rich environments for single guys.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Fast internet. Today, anyway.


I ran a speed test on my Fusion Media internet connection this morning and was startled to see I had a download speed of 14.21 megabytes/second, which is way faster than anything I’ve seen for more than a month.

It is interesting to note that I am paying for the highest tier of internet speed offered by Fusion Media, yet the readings I got on July 3 and August 2 were below the 4.0 Mbps that the Federal Communications Commission sets as the minimum for “High Speed Internet.”

I guess I should be glad that it’s working well today. Could it be an incentive to pay my monthly bill that’s due on Saturday?

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Incorrectly attributed

One of my longtime newspaper colleagues forwarded this bold and politically incorrect column to me this morning with the following comments.

I think it neglects the profound damage the Great Society welfare programs did to the black family by incentivizing households without a father:

The Black Dilemma - FROM THE BALTIMORE SUN !!!!

"The Baltimore Sun" is definitely not known as a Conservative newspaper, this very well written assessment of the situation in USA comes as something of a surprise..

Some great thoughts about other races that have come to the USA and successfully integrated into our society.

This will obviously be called racist, and will upset the liberals, but they should really think about the message and this interesting point of view.

The Black Dilemma

"For almost 150 years the United States has been conducting an interesting experiment. The subjects of the experiment: black people and working-class whites.

The hypothesis to be tested: Can a people taken from the jungles of Africa and forced into slavery be fully integrated as citizens in a majority white population?

The whites were descendants of Europeans who had created a majestic civilization. The former slaves had been tribal peoples with no written language and virtually no intellectual achievements. Acting on a policy that was not fair to either group, the government released newly freed black people into a white society that saw them as inferiors. America has struggled with racial discord ever since.

Decade after decade the problems persisted but the experimenters never gave up. They insisted that if they could find the right formula the experiment would work, and concocted program after program to get the result they wanted. They created the Freedman's Bureau, passed civil rights laws, tried to build the Great Society, declared War on Poverty, ordered race preferences, built housing projects, and tried midnightbasketball.

Their new laws intruded into people's lives in ways that would have been otherwise unthinkable. They called in National Guard troops to enforce school integration. They outlawed freedom of association. Over the protests of parents, they put white children on buses and sent them to black schools and vice-versa. They tried with money, special programs, relaxed standards, and endless hand wringing to close the achievement gap. To keep white backlash in check they began punishing public and even private statements on race. They hung up Orwellian public banners that commanded whites to Celebrate Diversity! and Say No to Racism. Nothing was off limits if it might salvage the experiment.

Some thought that what W.E.B. DuBois called the Talented Tenth would lead the way for black people. A group of elite, educated blacks would knock down doors of opportunity and show the world what blacks were capable of.

There is a Talented Tenth. They are the black Americans who have become entrepreneurs, lawyers, doctors and scientists. But ten percent is not enough. For the experiment to work, the ten percent has to be followed by a critical mass of people who can hold middle-class jobs and promote social stability. That is what is missing.

Through the years, too many black people continue to show an inability to function and prosper in a culture unsuited to them. Detroit is bankrupt, the south side of Chicago is a war zone, and the vast majority of black cities all over America are beset by degeneracy and violence. And blacks never take responsibility for their failures. Instead, they lash out in anger and resentment.

Across the generations and across the country, as we have seen in Detroit, Watts, Newark, Los Angeles, Cincinnati, and now Ferguson, rioting and looting are just one racial incident away. The white elite would tell us that this doesn't mean the experiment has failed. We just have to try harder. We need more money, more time, more understanding, more programs, and more opportunities.

But nothing changes no matter how much money is spent, no matter how many laws are passed, no matter how many black geniuses are portrayed on TV, and no matter who is president. Some argue it's a problem of culture, as if culture creates people's behavior instead of the other way around. Others blame white privilege.

But since 1965, when the elites opened Americas doors to the Third World, immigrants from Asia and India people who are not white, not rich, and not connected have quietly succeeded. While the children of these people are winning spelling bees and getting top scores on the SAT, black youths are committing half the country's violent crime, which includes viciously punching random white people on the street for the thrill of it that has nothing to do with poverty.

The experiment has failed. Not because of white culture, or white privilege, or white racism. The fundamental problem is that American black culture has evolved into an un-fixable and crime ridden mess. *They do not want to change their culture or society, and expect others to tolerate their violence and amoral behavior. They have become socially incompatible with other races by their own design, not because of the racism of others - but by their own hatred of non-blacks.*

Our leaders don't seem to understand just how tired their white subjects are with this experiment. *They don't understand that white people aren't out to get black people; they are just exhausted with them. They are exhausted by the social pathologies, the violence, the endless complaints, and the blind racial solidarity, the bottomless pit of grievances, the excuses, and the reflexive animosity.*

The elites explain everything with racism, and refuse to believe that white frustration could soon reach the boiling point."---

"You can't legislate the poor into freedom by legislating the wealthy out of freedom. What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving. The government can't give to anybody anything that the government doesn't first take from somebody else. When half of the people get the idea that they don't have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that my dear friend, is about the end of any nation. You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it."

Ian Duncan

The Baltimore Sun , May 30, 2015

Snopes says this is incorrectly attributed:

While many online postings of the above-displayed article in June 2015 claimed that it had been recently published in Baltimore Sun, this article has actually been circulating on the Internet since at least September 2014, when it was published under the title “Ten Percent Is Not Enough” in the American Renaissance blog.

The American Renaissance posting was originally attributed to Anthony Bryan; but his name was stripped from versions shared via Internet forums, craigslist postings, and comments sections of several race-related articles. Several different authorial names have been attached to the piece, including “John S. Mosby” (a Confederate cavalry officer) and “Edmund Hughes,” but the article didn’t truly go viral until after the Baltimore Sun attribution was tacked on.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Tale of the Tetragon 5

tetragon polesI got home from the BMW MOA Rally in Billings, Mont. two weeks ago today, but my big-ass Eureka! Tetragon 5 tent and fly are still spread out over the treadmill and various other things in the garage where I laid them out to dry.

I learned as a fraternity pledge that there is no such thing as a good excuse. But there are reasons…

There was a nasty wind blowing when I arrived at the rally site and in my road-addled condition, I forgot how the two “brow” poles (circled in red here) are supposed to go – running from front to back – and tried to flex one to go front to front. The result was a fractured fiberglass pole that, when properly placed, held together for the duration of the rally but clearly needed to be replaced.

So I went to the Eureka! (yes, the exclamation mark is part of the name) web site and poked around for repair and replacement parts. The descriptions were ambiguous. The poles come in four sizes (diameters, actually, although the site doesn’t say so) 7.9 mm, 8.5 mm, 9.5 mm, 11 mm and 12.7 mm. Not having any kind of metric measuring device in the house (yeah, I was surprised to discover that too), I relied on the description that said the 7.9 mm kit would fit the Tetragon 5 so that’s what I ordered.

The kit arrived while we were in Las Vegas last week and I got around to opening the box on Saturday, only to discover that the 7.9 mm pole is too small. Never mind what the web site says.

So Maria and I drove down to Lowe’s on Sunday afternoon – she for hardware to be used in quilting (too complicated for me to discuss here) and me for a cheap caliper/micrometer. I found one for $18 and change and justified the expense with the notion that it will surely come in handy someday.

tetragon caliper

It turns out that the pole segments I need are the 9.5 mm ones, so I got a return order document from Eureka! for the smaller pole segments and ordered the larger ones.

As soon as I have a full set of functioning tent poles, I can put them back into the stuff sack and pack the tent and fly along with them. (It would be needlessly awkward to pack the tent and fly first and then try to get the poles into the stuff sack.

So the tent and fly will remain where they are for a few more days until the next set of pole segments arrives.

Saturday, August 08, 2015

We were in Las Vegas

steve showstoppers

I haven’t blogged for almost a week because we’ve been out of town and weren’t eager to let anyone know that Morgan was at our house alone with our combines pack of dogs.

We flew to Las Vegas Monday morning to visit Steve and Nicky and granddaughter Lisa and were treated like royalty. The highlight of the trip was Steve Wynn’s ShowStoppers where Steve plays bass in the orchestra. (See red oval. Click on the photo to see it larger.) I found myself sitting next to the mother of Lindsay Roginsky, the girl on the far left of the frame.

Steve also chauffeured us around in their Tesla Model S to Hoover Dam and Red Rock Canyon.

It was Maria’s first visit to Las Vegas and it was a real eye-opener for her.

Steve and Nicky are supremely gracious hosts. We had a wonderful time.

We flew home yesterday, landing in Memphis a little before 5 p.m.

Sunday, August 02, 2015

Looks like more miles in 2015 than in 2014

IMG_4988Here’s a photo Maria shot with her iPhone at 6:14 a.m. July 20 when I left for Billings, Mont.

This has been a rather modest motorcycling year, compared with a decade ago, but it promises to be better than last year.

I tallied my 2015 mileage to date yesterday – 4,767 miles – and found it’s only 308 miles short of the 5,075 miles I rode (on both BMWs) in all of 2014.

There are two more rallies on my calendar – the BMW RA rally in Harrison, Ark., and the Falling Leaf Rally in Potosi, Mo. – which will add at least 718 miles to my total.

Far short of enough to earn me a 10,000-mile award from the Indianapolis BMW Club, but somewhat less embarrassing than last year.