My son Steve and his lovely bride Nicole were married on this date in 2001 in Cincinnati.
They made a stunning couple. They still do.
They also made a stunning daughter, Elizabeth Ellington Flora.
Now that spring is here, the weather is turning warm enough to enjoy our screened back porch.
We’re on the second dog door flap and it’s showing its age. You can see there is a tear about two inches long on the upper left side and it will only get worse with the passage of time.
So I ordered a new flap this morning to assure that our porch time remains mosquito free this spring, summer and fall.
We swept up a winter’s worth of twigs, leaves, dog toys, furballs and poop yesterday afternoon, bagged it and put it into the trash. At the same time, I used a snow shovel to scoop up the rotting leaves that were clustered around the back steps and dumped them into some of the holes Dora dug in the yard.
The porch still needs to be pressure washed, but that will have to wait until a little warmer weather arrives.
In the meantime, my John Deere LA125 lawn tractor is back from its spring tune-up at Greenway Equipment and all I need is another couple of dry days before I mow for the first time this season.
The Parrot Zik 2.0 wireless headphones came with a carrying bag, very much like the one that came with the Bang & Olufsen H8 headphones.
I figured $399 Parrot headphones deserve as much protection as the $499 B&Os, so I bought the $39 hard case specifically made for them and it showed up on my front doorstep today.
Talk about wretched excess.
I love the Amazon Vine Program.
I didn’t expect to be impressed with the Parrots, having been blown away by the Bang & Olufsens, but I have to admit they’re growing on me.
The sound tweaking app is an interesting feature, but I find I like the un-tweaked sound just fine.
The tracking and volume controls on the right earpad seem easier for me to work than the very similar controls on the B&Os. I’ve answered several phone calls with the Ziks and used the voice command feature to initiate a lengthy business call yesterday morning. The voice clarity seems to be good. Nobody has indicated they think I’m not using a conventional phone or cell phone during these conversations. Not so with the H8s. Maria has complained about the sound quality on a couple of occasions when she’s called me while I was listening to the B&O ‘phones.
The battery life of the Parrots seems to be substantially less than the more expensive headphone.
I haven’t written my Amazon review of the Parrots yet. I feel like I need a little more listening time to organize my perceptions.
Here’s Tucker and what's left of my new rain gauge.
It's my fault for sticking it in the ground and expecting a free range red heeler to ignore it.
Maria found it next to the fence along with a small football and a baseball that he was trying to share with Dora.
We love Tucker and he provides lots of entertainment for our Aussies, visiting them daily.
We told his owner to let us know if he ever decides to get rid of Tucker.
My review set of Parrot Zik 2.0 headphones arrived late yesterday and I can’t help comparing them with the Bang & Olufsen H8 headphones the Amazon Vine Program sent me a few weeks ago.
The Parrots are billed as “The World’s Most Advanced Headphones” and it’s hard to say otherwise. They have way more bells and whistles than the B&O H8s, including a smartphone app that lets you tweak the sound with a graphic equalizer.
They are over-the-ear, where the B&Os are on-the-ear, and they make my ears uncomfortably warm after awhile.
Both sets let you receive and carry on phone calls, but the Ziks can initiate phone calls as well. I think I calculated that they are about 27 grams heavier than the B&Os, which is – to my head, anyway – a negligible difference.
As far as the sound goes, tweaks with the app notwithstanding, I like the B&Os better. The sound seems warmer and more natural and balanced with the H8s.
Both pair easily via Bluetooth with my iPhone 5.
In my first impression comparison, the Parrots are a close second. If the Bang & Olufsens are worth $499, the Parrots are definitely worth $399.
The UPS truck brought the Parrots to my front door last evening while Maria and I were paying our second visit to our new favorite restaurant, Avanzare in Paragould.
We both had Chicken Siciliano – chicken sauteed with capers, mushrooms and artichoke hearts in white wine, lemon and butter sauce and served over spaghetti – well worth $10.95. We brought half of our dinner home in boxes so we would have room to split a serving of tiramisu.
A lot of photographers make a big deal out of Ansel Adams, the great American landscape photographer.
Adams was a pioneering genius in the darkroom, coaxing details out of black-and-white negatives to create stunning scenes of nature, especially in the West and California.
While I appreciate the beauty and technique in Adams’s work, my all-time favorite photographer is Henri Cartier-Bresson, one of the founding members of the Magnum photo agency.
Because Cartier-Bresson photographed people and I find people infinitely more interesting to look at than scenery.
This photo – shot in Madrid, Spain in 1933 – is probably my favorite Cartier-Bresson image. It’s amazingly rich in detail and layers from the kids in the foreground, some of whom are looking at the photographer, to the cartoonish fat guy with hat who reminds me of an R. Crumb character, to the incredible constellation of seemingly random windows in the building that forms the background.
Cartier-Bresson strove to capture what he called “the decisive moment.” He also never cropped his photos in the darkroom, preferring to frame them the way he wanted them with his viewfinder.
Charlie Parsons, my Jonesboro BMW riding compadre, was named an Ambassador of the BMW Motorcycle Owners of America this afternoon at Boscos Squared in Memphis.
The title of Ambassador is conferred upon ‘MOA members who distinguish themselves through volunteering or recruiting new members or generally representing the organization in an exemplary fashion, all of which describes Charlie.
His wife Deborah got him to Boscos on the pretense of attending a birthday party for a Memphis BMW friend. She kept the secret well.
Charlie was utterly stunned and momentarily speechless when we all rose to toast his new title.
I was feeling mildly confrontational this afternoon so I took my empty Italian Roast bag to Starbucks to see if one of the children behind the counter would try to share her deep thoughts on the subject of race.
It turned out that the kids running the Starbucks on Stadium Avenue weren’t up to the challenge from their corporate masters. They weren’t scribbling crap on the cups or engaging customers in racial dialog.
Probably a good idea, considering that we’re in Northeast Arkansas where everyone is very conscious of race, but at the same time, polite and considerate.
We don’t need some twit in Seattle telling us what to think about each other.
I was lying in bed, wide awake at 2:30 this morning, when it occurred to me to check my Amazon Vine Program offerings to see if anything really cool was available.
Since our internet had been out since midday Wednesday, I used my iPhone 5 to log into my Vine account.
To my astonishment, I was being offered the Parrot Zik 2.0 wireless headphones, with an MSRP of $399.99. There were only two pairs left, so I jumped on it immediately.
This, only weeks after the Vine Program blessed me with the Bang & Olufsen H8 wireless headphones, with an MSRP of $499.99.
I guess they liked the review I wrote for the B&O ‘phones.
Some other folks who reviewed the H8s compared them with the Parrots, pronouncing the B&O product superior in comfort and sound.
The Parrots have more bells and whistles, employing a smartphone app that adds a graphic equalizer and other ways to fine-tune the listening experience. I’ve already downloaded the free app to my iPhone.
I had been jonesing for a good pair of headphones for years and as late as last fall asked my musician sons to recommend a set for under $100.
Then in November Amazon offered me a $90 Corsair wireless gaming headphone, which proved to be a significant improvement over the cheap stuff I’d been using.
Then Maria gave me a Bluetooth sports headphone that is absolutely perfect for treadmill workouts and also lets me take and make cell phone calls through my iPhone.
Then the Bang & Olufsens and now the Parrots.
To say that I’ve gotten my wish when it comes to headphones is a serious understatement.
I shot a few photos of Tucker, the neighborhood red heeler, waiting patiently outside the fence for our dogs to come out to play this morning.
Not that I could post any photos from home, since our cable and internet have been down since early yesterday afternoon. (I expected to find everything functioning when I got up this morning, but we are apparently not a priority for conFusion Media. Yes, I’m back to calling them conFusion because the level of service since last fall has been infuriatingly substandard.)
And my memory card reader has gone walkabout, hiding sufficiently well that I couldn’t find it this morning, even with the help of St. Anthony.
I had to go into town anyway to take Maria’s cell phone to her so I went to the Office Depot store, only to find aisle after aisle of empty shelves and a notice that the store is closing May 16 to consolidate operations with the Office Max store down the street. Office Depot only had SD card readers left – no help for me since my Nikon D200 uses CompactFlash memory cards.
Down the street at Office Max, they’re out of the card reader I need too.
“We can order it for you,” the minimum wage girl offered.
“Never mind. I can get it from Amazon in two days and probably cheaper,” I replied, testily, and stalked out.
I’d had thoughts of cashing in an empty coffee bag for a free cup of dark roast at Starbucks, just to see how their idiotic campaign of chatting up customers on the subject of race relations is going, but I realized my mood was too foul for a civil exchange with a 20-something barista who thinks idealistic good intentions trump real life experience. I’m in no mood to suffer preachy children without lapsing into profanity.
So I opted for a cheese Danish, coffee and free Wifi at Panera where I used my iPhone to order a memory card reader from Amazon.com for less than $8 with free shipping and delivery promised by Saturday.
Fuck off, Office DepotMax.
I went to Sam’s Club this afternoon to get a prescription refilled and found myself with about 15 minutes to kill.
So I strolled around the store looking for stuff to photograph with my iPhone camera.
The best shot, I think anyway, was of the monitor showing feeds from ten high-res security cameras.
I didn’t pick it up so I don’t know if the print is extra large and repeats itself.
As a bona fide senior citizen who will turn 70 this year, I feel a little insulted that somebody thought we need their patronizing special publication.
And a sure sign that spring is upon us and summer will be here before we know it is the disappearance of 40-pound bags of ice-melting salt and the appearance of 40-pound bags of pool salt in its place.
I suspect that the pool salt is a little more refined than the melting stuff. I would hate to think it’s the same stuff in a different package.
The garage cleanout continues at a slow pace because I keep finding stuff that I want to look at and keep.
Like this relic from the hot type era. We called these things dingbats. My memory is a little hazy about the circumstances under which they were used, but I think they ran with our bylines in The Indianapolis News for a brief period in the early 1970s.
I would have thought only columnists would have them, but I didn’t start writing my weekly motorcycle column until later and I had a different dingbat for that feature.
It’s Eric Clapton’s autograph on a sheaf of copy paper, dating from the evening of March 22, 1968 when Bob Basler and I covered a concert by Cream at Clowes Hall on the Butler University campus for The Indianapolis News.
Bob did the words and I did the photos that night. During a lull in the activities in the after-concert dressing room press meeting, I asked Eric for his autograph on the only paper I had handy and here – almost 47 years later – it is. Proof that I have a very very hard time throwing anything away.
Back in the fall of 1963 when I was a freshman at what was then called Indiana State College (now university) in Terre Haute, I decided 35¢ was too much to pay for a pack of cigarettes.
So I went down to the Osco drug store on Wabash Avenue and bought a Bugler cigarette rolling machine like this and took to rolling my own.
I eventually gave it up because I didn’t care for the taste of unfiltered Bugler tobacco and switched to Viceroy, which I continued to smoke until the late 1970s when I quit smoking altogether.
I don’t miss it.
I bought a new plastic rain gauge several weeks ago but was unable to deploy it because the ground was frozen and it needed to be either mounted on a post or stuck into the ground.
Not wanting to drive a post, I chose Thursday morning to push its pointy end into the now-soft ground next to the garage door. That’s where I had an identical rain gauge for a few years until its pointy end broke off.
The plan was to accurately measure the near-continuous rain were expecting.
But when I went to check it yesterday morning, it was gone.
I quickly ruled out the neighbor kids, because they know not to mess with our stuff.
Then I remembered Tucker, the red heeler from the house down the hill. Tucker is a playful, friendly little guy who loves to hang out with our Aussies. He and Dora spend hours chasing each other around the perimeter of the chain link fence – him on the outside and her on the inside.
I also noticed he was playing with a small football that the neighbor kids left in their yard.
So, of course, he would think a rain gauge was something provided for his entertainment.
I confronted him when I returned from the post office this morning. He admitted nothing, but was unusually skittish and had a decidedly guilty look.
It is the most versatile cold/cool weather garment I’ve ever owned.
It’s the ideal combination of windstopper and fleece.
Too bad Willis & Geiger went out of business in 1999. Good for me that I found out in time to buy a bunch of W&G clothes at a significantly reduced rate.
Willis & Geiger was a major outfitter of expeditions and outdoorsmen for nearly a century before they fell on hard times and were bought in 1980 by Lands End.
Poor marketing and corporate greed put the ship on the rocks and Lands End pulled the plug on W&G at the end of the millennium.
Lands End still has some W&G stuff that they sell on their website: www.landsend.com
This could be dangerous information for me…
Yesterday was a wonderfully sunny and warm late winter day that inspired me to take both BMWs out for a spin – the K1200GT for a 10-mile romp and the K75S down to the Citgo station to top off the tank.
This morning is a different story.
It’s an overcast 52° with occasional raindrops and the promise of serious rain later in the day.
The ride down to the post office on the K75S recalled another March ride 49 years ago when I rode pillion on Steve Dolbow’s small Japanese bike in very cold rain from Crawfordsville to Terre Haute.
The whole story can be found here: http://olioscourge.blogspot.com/2011/03/my-first-weekend-motorcycle-ride.html
Being novices at motorcycle travel, we were ill-equipped for the weather that miserable Sunday.
This morning was different. I did my post office ride with a waterproof First Gear Kilimanjaro jacket over a wind-stopping Willis & Geiger Diaplex pullover, with waterproof boots and Kevlar-lined leather gauntleted gloves and a full-face helmet. It was reasonably comfortable, but chilly enough around the edges to remind me of that ride in March, 1966.
Another reason to love the Bang & Olufsen H8 bluetooth headphones, I have discovered, is how well the active noise cancelling (ANC) blocks out the mindless jabbering of people around me here at Panera.
I know it sounds rude, but I don’t want to know what other diners have to say. About anything.
I meant to work out yesterday but didn’t make it. So I made up for it this afternoon.
The ice and snow are gone and the Mud Season has begun. Among other things, this means it is now possible to ride a motorcycle out of our subdivision.
But the weather forecast and the lack of Indy folks going to Daytona is killing my enthusiasm for Bike Week.
I sent my friend in Tampa a text message this afternoon, saying, “Travel plans on hold. Will know more later.”
The second sentence is a quote from our former managing editor who once wrote it in a memo, not noticing how ridiculous it was.
My son Steve opined several years ago that my blog would be more interesting if I avoided political rants.
It was good advice and I have tried to follow it.
But the current unraveling of the Clinton mythology has moved me to comment.
Folks here in Arkansas are proud of the Clintons. Maria’s former boss went to high school with Bill and fancies himself a friend of Clinton. Bless his heart, as we say in the South.
There is a Good Old Boy attitude here when it comes to Clinton foibles, especially stuff like the Monica Lewinsky affair where Bill’s propensity for womanizing is almost seen as a virtue.
Fortunately for all of us, this willingness to excuse borderline – or even criminal – behavior does not seem to include Hillary.
As this cartoon reminds us, there is a very long list of scandalous behavior attached to Hillary that even has liberals jumping ship. That the liberal New York Times broke the most recent email story is particularly telling.
The news media that still refuses to vet President Obama is starting to pile onto Hillary, making it seem likely that her political career is over. Maybe it’s because we’re all just tired of her or maybe it’s actually based on the facts of her recklessness, but either way I think she is a spent political force.
She has been the presumptive Democrat nominee for president for a decade, even though Obama handily denied her the nomination in 2008. Now the Democrats will have to look elsewhere. Given their hatred of America, Elizabeth Warren is their logical choice for 2016. She’s female, she’s a serial liar and she’s a communist. What could possibly go wrong?
Either way, it was old enough that the original shade had deteriorated and finally fell apart last weekend.
It also needed a new switch/bulb assembly, as did one of my parents’ lamps that had gone from flickering to emitting an odor suggestive of an impending fire.
I went to ACE Hardware early last week, bought the requisite parts and repaired both lamps.
Then I made a fatal mistake.
I went to Target and bought a replacement shade.
When I called Maria to report the purchase, the news was met with a stony silence.
Later that day, when she got home and saw the $18.89 shade, she informed me that men are not allowed to make lampshade purchase decisions. That is the exclusive domain of the wife.
She was so emphatic about it that I am still marveling at how I managed to live almost 70 years and never learn this basic truth of domestic life.
So I dutifully returned the lampshade to Target where the woman at the service counter nodded knowingly when I explained why I bought it back.
The right shade, it turns out, was waiting for Maria at T.J. Maxx in the housewares department, priced at $9.99. We brought it home and she installed it and I photographed it.
I dug out my 40-year-old North Face daypack to carry a frozen ham bone and 1½ dozen eggs to our next-door-neighbor’s house.
Overall, the snow is about 6” deep and makes walking mildly challenging.
I don’t think I’ve used that pack since the late 1990s when I carried it to the Indianapolis 500-Mile Race. It still had 5 unused cheap rain ponchos in it.
Yes, that’s a 20” deep snowdrift just outside our garage door.
I think we got about 6-7” of snow overnight on top of an icy crust of sleet. This is the closest thing to an Indiana snowstorm we’ve seen in the 7½ years we’ve lived in Arkansas and it slams the door on any thoughts I may have had about riding to Daytona today or tomorrow or this weekend.
Maria isn’t going to work. I don’t think anyone, except our neighbor who blasted through the snow in his Dodge RAM diesel truck, went to work this morning.
I suspect U.S. 49 is passable and maybe so is the main county road, but I don’t expect anyone to plow the streets in our subdivision, so we’re probably stuck here for a couple of days.
Despite the heroic efforts of road crews, the only thing that will restore normalcy here in the mid-South is weather warm enough to melt this crap.
Happily, we have all of the food we require and I thought to get refills on three essential prescriptions yesterday. The generator is fueled and ready, but the freezing rain was short-lived yesterday and there doesn’t seem to be any chance of a power outage unless some hapless moron crashes into a utility pole.
It’s a little puzzling to realize that spring begins two weeks from tomorrow.
I remember the first day of spring when I was in the second or third-grade when the classroom windows were open and I could hear the sweet song of a cardinal. I don’t hear any cardinals today.
Our generator is positioned for easy access if the power goes out after the rain transitions to freezing rain this afternoon.
The weather radar suggests that the freezing rain shouldn’t last long before it changes to sleet, then snow.
It’s hard to believe that spring begins at 5:45 p.m. March 20. That’s two weeks from Friday.
The forecast calls for another freezing rain/sleet/snow apocalypse late tomorrow and early Thursday, which could encase our driveway and subdivision streets with ice.
That would make it impossible to ride a motorcycle out of here to head for Daytona and Bike Week, which begins on Friday. So, once again, I seem to be watching another Bike Week slip away.
The long-range forecast calls for temperatures to warm into the low 50s by the middle of next week, but it appears I would be riding into a rainy spell in Florida. Plus, it looks like all of my Indy BMW Club friends will be trapped in Indiana by weather even more severe than what I face.
Maybe the wiser choice would be to pass on Bike Week and plan to ride down to my Indianapolis News compadre Skip Hess’s house in suburban Tampa later in the month when we are supposed to experience a warming trend.
And yes, I realize they have it much worse in Boston.
They cleaned it up, replaced some parts and the case that was falling apart for a very reasonable charge.
Here’s what Maria wrote about it on Facebook:
Dorothy just came home after the check-up she needed after a productive life on a dairy farm in Brookland, AR.
She is named after her first owner and has new belts and rubber parts, and a new foot pedal and wiring. She weighs at least 50 pounds because she has cast iron parts, and I threw my back out taking her in for service. Now I'm in physical therapy and only my husband lifts her, but Dorothy and I will make a nice quilt when I can sit at her for a bit.
I think she made a lot of clothes and probably curtains and aprons and anything else her family needed since 1953.
Dorothy Head was her only owner. She and her husband owned and operated the Head Dairy on Pine Log Road for 30 years. She was also an active 4-H club leader and the first woman to receive the Honorary Chapter Farmer Award from the Brookland FFA. I'm honored the family would entrust me with her sewing machine.
A dog rescue organization brought a bunch of dogs to Hollywood Feeds yesterday and we met Morgan there to help wrangle Samantha and search for a suitable companion for her (Sam, that is).
Here’s Morgan with Bonnie, who looks like an Aussie or an Aussie mix. Bonnie and another dog they named Clyde were running at large out in the delta, eating from trash cans and dodging bullets and shotgun pellets until the rescue ladies got them.
Bonnie gets car sick and barfed several times, including once on Morgan’s jeans.
The encounter was inconclusive, but we all (Sam included) agreed Bonnie is a nice dog.