Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Oh, great

I learned today that Middle Eastern men have been surreptitiously videoing people entering and leaving the bigger churches in town.
And the local imam is on the no-fly list.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

An abscess for Christmas

My dental crises are infrequent, but they always seem to come at inopportune times, like the beginning of a weekend.

So it made perfect sense that an abscess made itself known on Christmas Eve in the form of a telltale sensation when I tapped my right cuspid (canine/eye tooth/#6 on the dental charts).

Realizing I had to get from then until Monday before I could see a dentist and get a proper antibiotic prescription, I availed myself of some antibiotics that Maria had left over from a staph infection. My pharmacist friend Charlie opined that it might help, but I needed something more dentally potent ASAP.

I visited a dentist Monday afternoon, had some X-rays and got some troubling news that since the tooth in question is the anchor for a bridge, this would be a costly and complicated root canal project. He gave me a prescription for clindamycin (300MG) and said he will consult with his partner, who last worked on me, and work out a course of treatment.

I took two clindamycin - one at mid-afternoon and the other at bedtime, only to awaken around 11:30 with horrendous indigestion that threatened to turn into acid reflux. I moved to the big black leather recliner in the living room and tried to sleep, but was awakened a few hours later with my stomach on fire. It was then that it dawned on me that the antibiotic had almost certainly wiped out my digestive flora and fauna. I found some acidophilus pills in the fridge and washed one down with several mouthfuls of probiotic Kefir. Ten minutes later the discomfort subsided and I dozed in the chair for a couple of hours before moving back to bed.

So my agenda this afternoon includes a trip to Kroger to load up on Kefir and yogurt to keep my gut in balance for the next nine days of antibiotic treatment.
Still waiting to hear from the dentist.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Best granddaughter ever!

Granddaughter Lisa loves the harlequin hoodie we gave her for Christmas.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Streaming the Beatles

I'm listening to the newly-available Beatles catalog streaming on my Amazon Prime account this evening. The high quality headphones have the effect of making almost every song brand new, bringing out nuances that I never heard from either vinyl or CD versions.

I'm a little surprised at some of my impressions. Like most of the songs on the White Album are kinda lame. And I'm reminded of why I never really liked John Lennon because there was a kind of anger bubbling below the surface of his personality.

And I'd never really appreciated the way the Moog Synthesizer was used on some of the Abbey Road tracks. It's no big deal today, but in the late 1960s the first synthesizers were pretty primitive and required extensive programming to get the desired sound.

There are flashbacks, too. Revolver takes me back to the autumn of 1966 when I had my first newspaper job, working as a reporter and photographer at the Tipton (Ind.) Tribune and living in a drafty mobile home a couple of blocks south of the office. I was out in the world, making my way like a grown-up and it was a heady experience. It's a good thing I didn't know what I didn't know or I would have been paralyzed with embarrassment.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Burrito Gigante!

The biggest, best burrito I ever had was one I encountered at lunch on July 23, 2001 at a Mexican restaurant in Gold Hill, Ore.

I was riding with three friends from the Indianapolis BMW Club from the BMW MOA Rally in Redmond, Ore., bound for Eureka, Calif. and the Lost Coast.

It was so big, I couldn't finish it and it became the benchmark burrito by which all subsequent burritos would be judged.

I finally met a comparable burrito - the Burrito Gigante at Papito's restaurant in Jonesboro, Ark. on Thursday. I couldn't finish this one in one sitting either, so I took the last fourth of it home for dinner Thursday evening.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

A revelation and a blessing

We got an unexpected gift in the form of a Christmas revelation and blessing last night.

Maria, who is in her first week as a church secretary, took a call yesterday afternoon from a blind woman who wanted to know where the free community Christmas dinner would be this year.

There is no community Christmas dinner this year, Maria told her, and offered to bring dinner to her. It was determined that she would like to have the makings of a dinner – ham, corn, potatoes and no-bake cheesecake. She said she lives in a mobile home with her daughter and the daughter's boyfriend.

So after Maria got off work, I drove into town and met her at the Kroger store where we bought about $30 worth of stuff for the woman, including a very large ham that should feed them for a few days.

The address was unfamiliar so I keyed it into my GPS and we set off, driving north and west of town on back roads I probably would never have seen otherwise.

When we got to the trailer park, we tried two or three trailers before we found the right one – an especially old and shabby mobile home with mud for a sidewalk. We noted that there were no motor vehicles in evidence, raising the question of how these people get around.

The daughter and her boyfriend came out to the car and collected the groceries, thanking us profusely.

As we drove away, I was struck and humbled by the contrast of their home and ours. I don't know when I've seen our blessings in such sharp relief. We are living like royalty compared with those folks. We have a comfortable three-bedroom home, two cars and two motorcycles, two beautiful Australian shepherd dogs, a closet full of more clothes that anyone really needs, a downtown office building that pays for itself, and on and on and on.

It was an honor to be able to do something for those folks and was the best Christmas gift we've received in years.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Wednesday report

I still haven't found good software for composing blogposts, so I'm stuck with the crappy format that Blogger dictates.
Here we are on Dec. 23 - two days into winter already. It seems like only last week that I was in Harrison, Ark. for the BMWRA Rally. Now I'm looking at the 2016 calendar to pencil in my rally and travel aspirations. As always, Daytona Bike Week is a possibility, dovetailed with a visit to Indianapolis News compadre Skip Hess's place in suburban Tampa. Then there's the European Riders Rally in Burkesville, Ky. in May, the BMWMOA Rally in Hamburg, NY in July, and the Falling Leaf Rally in Potosi, Mo. in October. The BMWRA Rally is a possibility, but the venue hasn't been announced yet.
The early part of the calendar could be in doubt because the wonky starter button on my K1200GT, which previously took multiple pushes when the bike stood for a long period in hot weather has started misbehaving in our now-cold garage. The last time I took the bike out for a ride to the post office, it took 35 presses of the starter button before the engine fired. The solution is elusive and probably expensive and I'm not eager to embark on a long trip without getting it sorted out.
I haven't tallied up my 2015 mileage - something I'm leaving until New Year's Day. It will be considerably less than the 10,000 miles needed for an Indianapolis BMW Club 10k award, but I think I'm going to beat my pathetic 2014 total.
Maria has changed jobs and is working as a church secretary for one of the largest churches in town. It's a job that is spiritually fulfilling as well as more financially rewarding than her previous job. It's nice to see her coming home at the end of the day with a smile on her face and a spring in her step.
And it will be good to get out of the fiscal fetal position after more than a year of extreme austerity.

Sunday, December 20, 2015


Jack is fascinated by the tornado scene in The Wizard of Oz.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Why the silence?

One of the reasons I haven't blogged much in the past week is the fact that my favorite blog writing program, Windows Live Writer, has lost its ability to post to Blogger.
It's a much more elegant piece of software than the built-in editor that comes with Blogger and offers a greater variety of formatting and layout features. If I don't find a suitable replacement for it, I may have to move my blog to Wordpress or some other platform.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Merry Cherry Christmas

This week, I sent Christmas reminders to both of my sons and my two step-children of time they spent in the lovely Michigan village of Beulah and especially the Cherry Hut – my favorite midwest restaurant. My first wife and I took Sean and Steve to Beulah in the early 1980s where we rented a cabin on the shores of Crystal Lake and swam, fished and sailed for a week. A month after Maria and I were married in 2001, we took Morgan and Austin to the same resort for a week, dining several times at the Cherry Hut. I think I was around 5 or 6 years old the first time my parents took me to Beulah and the Cherry Hut. I have a fuzzy memory of sitting at an outdoor table next to a white picket fence enjoying a turkey sandwich, followed by hot cherry pie with vanilla ice cream. It was a blissful memory and I’ve recreated the experience at least four times since. That’s why Cherry Hut gift boxes are becoming a blended family tradition at Christmas time. Morgan received hers on Wednesday and Austin, Sean and Steve got theirs from FedEx this afternoon.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Taking the day off

Our free range porch cat is conspicuously absent from his regular spot on the wicker loveseat today.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Red Rebel Rooster

I’ve been eyeing this curious piece of folk art for several days and finally took the time to drive down to the farm produce store a mile south of our house this morning to photograph it properly. The place wasn’t open for business, so I wasn’t able to find out how much they’re asking for it and I had to photograph it from the berm of U.S. 49. It stands about 4 feet high. It’s one of those odd things I think is really cool, but have no idea what I’d do with it if I owned it.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

A Christmas surprise


My son Steve took me completely by surprise with a most generous Christmas gift yesterday.

He bought two Geno 2.0 DNA kits for Maria and me and they landed on our front porch yesterday afternoon.

I’ve run the Flora/Flory genealogy back to Switzerland long before the American Revolution and Maria’s maternal ancestry is Italian.

Now we can have definitive proof of our genetic roots.

I will, of course, share the results with Steve and his brother Sean.

Wednesday, December 09, 2015

52 years ago tonight


Fifty-two years ago tonight, 23 young men accepted bids like this one to become pledges of Zeta Omicron Chapter of Alpha Tau Omega Fraternity.

ATO was the newest and most vital fraternity on the Indiana State College (later Indiana State University) campus and I was proud to be invited to be part of it.

I don’t remember much about that night, but I do recall that we signed cards declaring ourselves to be white Christians. (ATO was founded at Virginia Military Institute where Stonewall Jackson taught and the three founders fought on the Confederate side in the Battle of New Market.) The white ato pledge pinChristian clause is long gone today.

We were each presented with a pledge pin that featured design elements from the central panel of the badge worn by active members: a gold crescent moon over three gold stars on a disc of white enamel.

It was to be worn on the upper left chest of any shirt with a collar whenever we were out in public for the duration of our pledgeship, which lasted until late March.

The occasion was called “preference night” when each of the six or seven fraternities on campus accepted their pledges and as was the custom, each fraternity paraded its new pledge class through the Grill, a casual cafeteria in the Tirey Memorial Union Building. Then we went upstairs to one of the lounges where we were photographed for the rotogravure section of the Terre Haute newspaper.


That’s me in the chair on the left of the front row. Three guys dropped out during the pledgeship period and their faces are blacked out in the photo, their names lost to history.

Afterward, we were driven to a union hall along U.S. 40 east of Terre Haute in the little town of Seeleyville where the actives got us all very very drunk. My most vivid memory of that part of the evening was watching Alan Freeman, the fourth guy to my left in the front row, chug beer, sucking it out of the can faster than it could be poured. A local boy, Al clearly had some drinking experience. (He now lives in his ancestral home of Lithuania.)

We surrendered our pledge pins when were initiated into active membership. I have one now only because I found it a few years ago on Ebay. Maybe I’ll pin it to my shirt at 7 o’clock this evening.

And, yes, it was all very much like Animal House.

Tuesday, December 08, 2015

Ralph Peters calls Obama 'a total pussy' on live television

FOX News, apparently concerned about reprisals from Obama's FCC, suspended Col. Peters for two weeks for his exquisitely articulate vulgarities.

God bless Col. Peters.

Monday, December 07, 2015

How my parents heard about Pearl Harbor


This is a Philco Model 41-295 console radio. Seventy-four years ago, my parents listened to news of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on a radio just like this.

It used 11 tubes and received AM as well as shortwave from 2.3 to 7 mc, 9 to 12 mc and 13.5 to 18 mc. It had eight pushbuttons; seven for preset AM stations and one for off-on control. It operated on 115 volts, AC only. The cabinet was a wood veneer and it stood 36 inches tall. The original price was $100. Adjusted for inflation, that would be $1,617.95 in today’s money.

I spent hours in front of our Philco console radio in the late 1940s and early ‘50s. Much of the time, it was tuned to WBAA (AM, of course. This was years before FM broadcasting), the Purdue University station in West Lafayette, Ind. We lived about 20 miles east of West Lafayette in Delphi.

One of the highlights of my day came at 5 p.m. when the Storytime Special came on the air and I got to hear a story read by the “Story Lady,” a Purdue coed, probably a radio or communications major.

I remember listening to WBAA afternoon jazz programming and wondering why they played so much stuff by the Art Van Damme Quintet. Maybe it was because he was a Dutchman from Michigan and there was, and is, a large Dutch Reformed community in Lafayette. Van Damme was considered the father of the jazz accordion.

Saturday nights, WLS in Chicago carried the National Barn Dance. One of the acts was Captain Stubby and his Buccaneers. Captain Stubby’s real name was Tom Fouts and he grew up with my mom in eastern Carroll County.

Friday, December 04, 2015

Merry Christmas to us–early

samsung 32

What with Maria changing jobs in a couple of weeks and work interruptions for Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years, our December cash flow isn’t as robust as we would like, so we’re being frugal about Christmas buying.

That said, I noticed a 32” Samsung smart TV on sale at Sam’s Club on Wednesday for about $260. Maria agreed it was just the thing to replace our old analog 26” Sharp beast of a TV in our bedroom.

The CRT Sharp became a VHF-only TV when our cable provider switched to all-digital upper channels. I was too cheap to rent or buy a converter box, so we just watched channels 2-13 on it.

It’s been awhile since I bought a TV. The last one was a 42” Sharp Aquos we bought for the living room in late 2007. It was pretty heavy and unwieldy. The new Samsung is amazingly light and easy to move.

The daughter of Maria’s employer was pleased to take the old 26” Sharp off of our hands to use for a video gaming display.

We decided the Samsung is our Christmas gift to each other.

Thursday, December 03, 2015

Sticking with Cigna and Sam’s Club

I got my Medicare card five years ago when I turned 65 and chose Cigna as my supplemental insurance for prescription drugs.

I’ve stayed with Cigna ever since, but recently decided to review my coverage to see if there’s a better deal out there.

BMW riding friend Charlie Parsons, a retired pharmacist, recommended a woman who works in an insurance agency in Paragould and I consulted with her earlier this week.

She determined an outfit named Wellcare offers a better deal and will save me about $190 in annual premiums.

I tried to sign up with them yesterday morning, but their systems were on the fritz. I called back this morning and spent a tedious half-hour answering questions over and over until it developed that I can only use pharmacies from their preferred list.

And Sam’s Club is not on their list.

The Jonesboro Sam’s Club pharmacy is the friendliest, most efficient and competent pharmacy I have ever dealt with and I’d rather pay more for my insurance that suffer the indignity and inconvenience of going somewhere else.

I’m sticking with Cigna.

Tuesday, December 01, 2015

ROK Straps to the rescue

rok strap

I needed to glue the back panels of one of the dining room chairs I inherited from my parents.

I don’t remember when my parents bought the dining room table and chairs, but it has to be well over 50 years ago. So it wasn’t a great surprise when the glue joints on one side of the back let go awhile back.

I finally got out the Gorilla Glue this afternoon and re-glued the joints. After fumbling for a few minutes with a 15-foot long strapping device it dawned on me that ROK Straps are a whole lot easier to use.

And they are.