28 February 2011

California Dreamin'

Ya can't deny it's a beautiful place.
I just walked to the convenience store to buy a newspaper. Fifteen seconds walk to Main Street, Santa Ana, California, and your breath is taken away by the view of mountains to the East and North. Those to the North are snow capped.
We now find ourselves in the condition so many of our CA friends brag about...
We drove ten minutes Saturday and walked through the receding waves of Newport Beach.
I have no idea how long it would take us to drive to those snow covered peaks, (the distance to a visible mountain will fool us flatlanders), but it's obvious we could be sticking our hands in the snow in relatively short order. Folks who enjoy living here have a right to brag...
The beauty of California is undeniable.

After buying the newspaper I decided donuts would be an easy way to insure my inflated waistline doesn't precipitously shrink. The donut shop is also convenient... about half a block away across the Main Street. I walked to the crosswalk and pressed the button to get the light to change, and waited.
And waited.
And waited.
Traffic zipped by on six lanes, and I mean ZIPPED. Jaywalking across this street would be like a game of "Frogger".
I have no intention of being a frog frisbee.
While I waited I was thinking, "Why would anyone want to live like this?"
And the answer sorta came to me...
If you are born and raised here, this way of life is normal. You have access to the beach. You have access to the mountains. The enormous population in itself is a draw to anyone wanting a few $$$ from each of the residents...
Want to sell an item or a service? More folks means more chances to sell your wares.

But a boy raised in smalltown America has questions...
When we walked on the beach we were alone. It was MAYBE fifty-two degrees and the wind was blowing 20 mph. We were alone for a reason. We needed coats designed for Alaska to be comfortable that day. (We shoulda gone to the mountains, right?)

Nothing is easy here. The cheapest place we saw to buy gasoline was offering it for $3.639 per gallon. My son's 960 sq. ft. one-bedroom apartment costs more than the 1300' three-bedroom he had in Mesa, AZ.
Driving anywhere requires a GPS, and be prepared to hear Carmen say "RECALCULATING!" more than once until you get comfortable with landmarks and can navigate on your own.

We went to Disneyland yesterday. It was cold most of the day, warming to comfortable for a couple hours in mid-afternoon, then getting chilly again as the sun got low in the sky. Still, the park was full enough that 30-minute waits for rides was the norm. (And I was reminded once again that in some places English is not the primary language of this great country of ours. Soon, I fear, that will be the case for the Nation as a whole.) Me? I'm getting prepared...
"Cerveza, por favor."

If you're born and raised in this environment, I can see where trying to live in flyover country would seem mighty boring. And I guess those of us who love peace and quiet should be glad so many folks are willing to live in these population centers. If they all migrated outward, things in our part of the world wouldn't be so peaceful...
But that's a chapter from my "predictions" book that I really don't want to consider right now.
I'm on vacation. The cerveza is excellent. I can see snow covered mountains.
Tomorrow is another day, Scarlett.

26 February 2011

We Need A Real Leader!

THIS is a leader-

Recorded during his campaign for the House seat he currently occupies:

And if it's evidence of his intellect and vision you need, take a look here.

Allen West!

25 February 2011

Broken Oaths

No, not politicians.
Me. I swore I wouldn't fly again until our government's agents quit irradiating or fondling our genitalia before boarding the big "bus with wings". And I actually did pretty good... it's been almost a year since I've been packed into an aluminum pipe with 200 or so of my "new best friends".

But I have a kid living 2100 miles away. When we begin to get that "I need to see him in person" feeling, the only reasonable way to cover that distance is to be jammed into a small seat and fed peanuts and diet soda for about 5 hours.
So we broke down and did it yesterday. I'll have to say the whole process surprised me. Honestly, I couldn't see any difference from the procedure we experienced a year ago.

We flew Southwest Airlines. I've said it before and I'll continue saying it:
Other airlines should take cues from Southwest. I don't know how much input the individual airlines have in their security check areas, but at our terminal the difference between Southwest and the others is dramatic. We got our boarding passes, checked our bag, and made it through security and to our gate in less than 30 minutes. No muss, no fuss, no hassle. I was actually a little ashamed at the stance I had taken about the TSA...
The agents were mostly wearing smiles and doing their jobs with a positive demeanor.
Kudos to them.

We flew three hours, ingested the aforementioned peanuts, "Plane Crackers", and diet sodas, landed in Denver for an hour to change planes, then a repeat of peanuts/crackers/diet soda. In another two hours and change we were looking at a bronze statue of John Wayne in Orange County, CA.

It's cloudy and uncomfortably chilly here.
There are too damned many people here.
Gasoline is 3.599 per gallon here.
But getting here was not nearly the chore I expected it to be...
Just wanted you to know.

23 February 2011

Retirement And Other Bits-

I started to apologize, then realized there was no sense in that.
I work nights. I had a busy night.
Seven in the morning is my evening. Like my Dad before me I come home, watch some news on TV, have a bite to eat, catch up on the mail and watch a little more TV, then hit the sack to get some rest so I can be prepared for whatever unfolds the next day.

It's just that the "designated time" happens to be about 12-hours from what my Father used to experience.
So I hope you'll not be surprised to hear one of the things I do
(which my Father ABSOLUTELY never did) when I get home is have a glass of wine.
Or two.
Or three.

My shift is over. I'm off for 7 days. Tomorrow we board a Southwest Airlines 737 for California to visit with our son. (Disneyland on Sunday!)
I came home this morning and had bacon and eggs, country fried potatoes, biscuits and gravy, and a glass of wine. This wine is in a glass jug, so it's being exposed to air. If I don't drink it quickly it'll get bad. We're gonna be gone for a week...
Can't be wasting this wine! So please, consider the following in light of the fact I'm "saving the wine" from becoming vinegar...

I drank enough wine this morning that the "return" key on this computer is really gettin' a workout!

First thought for this post-
Egypt and Bozama's performance...
What was he supposed to do?
I'll agree he miss-stepped on some of his comments.
But his best bet was to keep his mouth shut and watch things unfold.
And for the most part, that's what he did.
Good for him, good for us.

What's he supposed to do?
There is talk that we should establish a "no fire zone" to keep Libyan Air Force jets from firing on Libyan civilians.
Isn't that what the U.N. is supposed to be doing? (HA! Does the U.N serve any meaningful purpose in today's world? Why does it continue to exist?)
What we need to do is stay completely out of this tussle until the dust has settled.
There is unrest all over the MidEast and our best hope is that it truly ends up being a fight for those "Yearning to breathe free".
Our next to best hope is that that part of the world continues down the normal path and continues with their internecine strife. The absolute worst thing that could happen to us here is that the "Muslim Brotherhood" unites all these diverse factions together in a unified force against Western values.
It's my hope that computers and the internet have exposed those societies to the fact they are about 100 years behind the rest of the world in technology and freedoms, and they'll also realize the way to catch up is not to unite behind someone who will put all women in burkhas.
God, please hear my prayer.
Democracy for our Muslim brothers

Last thought for the day from this wine-fuzzied brain...
I canceled and withdrew funds last month from a money-market account I have had for over 20 years because it was literally paying NO INTEREST.
Checking to see what is available outside the stock market today, I find about the best you can do in the way of "guaranteed return" is 1.25%.
So let's do a hypothetical here:
Let's say you have invested much of your life to the point you have denied yourself immediate gratification knowing there would be a "pot of gold" at the end of the rainbow.
Let's also say your goal was to have $1,000,000 in investments so you could be comfortable retiring, but when you get that amount invested you suddenly find yourself receiving 1.25% return on that MILLION dollar stash.
Stupid you...
What sort of party can you have on $12,500/yr.?
That's what that million dollar nest-egg is gonna net you annually...
Twelve thousand, five hundred dollars!!

Is this the retirement you imagined? Of course not.
Why didn't you buy that damned bass boat when you wanted it?!!

We live in interesting times.
The question is... will it get worse?

21 February 2011

Up, Up And Away?

No one could be sure when the ascent would begin. But many experts have been predicting it eventually HAD to begin...
Inflation, and the rise in the price of commodities...
Gasoline/ petroleum related products, (and what isn't?).
Precious metals.

Regular readers know I have an interest in the price of Silver.
I reported on 29 January that the price of silver had topped $31/oz. but had then retreated.
Surprisingly to me and many, inflation has been slow to rear its ugly head.
But last night I was somewhat surprised to see the price of silver has now topped $33 per ounce, an increase of two dollars in less than one month.

Remember, I'm a workin' stiff with just enough investment savvy to be dangerous.
But an increase in the price of $2/ounce in less than thirty days may indicate a sleeping giant is beginning to awaken.

I still think it's a good idea to be prepared.
Or don't.
Your choice.

20 February 2011

No Accountin' For It.

Full moon and Friday night...
I had barely finished my preflight yesterday when the phone rang dispatching us to a local hospital to transport a Grandmother with a severe head bleed.
Having finished that flight, we were rotoring home when we were dispatched to a scene...
A teenaged female had been ejected from a pickup truck after it struck a utility pole.
After carrying her to the Trauma Center we then actually made it back to our base and got caught up on our paperwork before once again being sent flying...
To another scene and another teen ejected after the vehicle in which he was riding came to a complete, sudden stop.
What is it with these seat belts that don't hold teens in the safe living space of modern vehicles?
(Just so you know for sure... that's EMS humor folks!)

I came in tonight wondering if we'd experience a repeat of last evening.
It's almost 0330 as I type this post and the telephone has not rung.
There's just no way to predict what sort of shift you're gonna have.
And that's part of what makes this job so interesting.

17 February 2011


This week our "Big Berkey" water filter arrived. All gleaming stainless steel, the top compartment contains four ceramic filter elements that are the heart of the contraption. You're supposed to be able to pour sewage into the top part of the filter and when you open the tap in the bottom part, drinking water will come out.

All this set me to thinking how rich we are and how much we take for granted...
We turn a tap and drinking water comes out.
We can drink it without fear.
We water our lawns with drinkable water.
While most of the world struggles to find enough water of any quality, we flush our toilets with drinking water!

Those of us who served in Viet Nam were quickly made aware how much of the rest of the world lives. We were careful to insure any water we drank was actually marked "Potable".
Generally the water we used to bathe and for many other cleaning chores was labeled "Non Potable".

We've all had the uncomfortable experience of turning on the tap and having no water, or flipping the light switch and realizing there's no power. At those times we know someone is out working on the supply system, trying to get our utilities back up to speed for us.
But what do you think will happen if we have economic chaos in this country and you know it's gonna be a LONG, LONG time before potable water will flow freely from that faucet?

I get the impression that more folks are realizing daily that's a possibility. President(?) Obama's revealing of his "non-budget" this week left many shaking their heads.
We have serious problems people, and so far our leaders don't seem to have the discipline and courage it's gonna take to avoid the coming catastrophe.

You'll want that drinking water to be "potable".
Are you preparing?

16 February 2011


I didn't watch the Grammys.
I'm now my parents...
I just don't "get" most of the music today.
(Interesting isn't it... some of the best stuff today is the updated '60's and '70's music.)
But can someone please enlighten me?
What's the thing with Bob Dylan? I know, he's written some great stuff. But the "Dylan" phenomenon totally escapes me.
I can't watch him. He can't sing. He's now older than dirt. (And I've become a leading expert on O.T.D.!)

So what's with the continued adoration?
Elvis... er, Dylan has left the building.

14 February 2011


All my troubles seemed so far away.

The sun was bright.
The thermometer said 54 degrees fahrenheit.
We donned black leather boots, black leather jackets, black leather gloves, and topped our noggins with black helmets.
We fired up the Goldwing and set out to see if we could get ourselves truly lost on two-lane roads.
We failed miserably at getting lost.
But the sun on all that black surface felt wonderful.
In a car you don't have the same sensations...
We felt the wind.
We smelled dead skunk, steaks being grilled, cow manure being spread on the fields.
That's what we were.

Furkids, And Goin' West.

It's been a while since we've been to California.
You may remember that Big Bubba came home for Thanksgiving alone after Desi the Dachshund went off on a solo sojourn, but the two of them came home together for Christmas. My schedule and other constraints have kept us from making the trip West since May of last year. One of the obstacles we face when we want to leave home for any length of time is doggy care...
And Yogi is the problem.
Lucy is intelligent and well-behaved, and we have friends that actually look forward to caring for her. They've let us know more than once they would take her off our hands anytime we want to give her up.
Yogi is a different story. Given the chance he'll go off on an an exploratory journey and will travel so far he cannot remember how to find his way back where he started. He's a sweetie and a lover, but caring for him is labor intensive. Our friends know this and are not in a position to care for both dogs. So we've been on a search for a week to find someone to dogsit Yogi while we're gone.

There is a Veterinarian here in town who boards dogs. Knowing Yogi would be safe and well cared for, the cost for this service is not unreasonable. But we'll be gone for a week and the cost of boarding him that long approaches the cost of putting him in a carrier and taking him along.

Finally, another friend volunteered last night to care for Yogi for the week.
This friend knows dogs and we know he will do a great job. Now our only question is, how will Yogi fare being separated from Lucy that long?

Dogs are more trouble than kids.

11 February 2011

The Country Is In The Best of Hands!

This week our National Intelligence Director informs us the "Muslim Brotherhood", one of the factions involved in the turmoil in Egypt, is a "secular" organization.
And remember this?:

Obama's staff may sleep well at night once they get to sleep.
The rest of us?
Not so much.

09 February 2011


I read his post and smiled.
It's more than a little weird how much our Fathers were alike, we Boomers.
I think they modeled themselves after the heroes they saw on the big screen as they grew up-
Randolph Scott. Bogart. Gary Cooper. John Wayne.
Bigger than life. Tough. Stoic. Get the job done well. Never let anyone see ya cry.

His Dad was like mine in so many ways.
I've written here before about Dad and how everyone knew he was able to do most things well...
Many of those things he did BETTER than anyone else.
And he knew it.
Another thing I think most of the men of that generation also had in common...
They were proud, and one of the few things that really scared them was the thought of being embarrassed in front of others.
Dad hated that. When we were both men I noticed he'd often not take on a task if he feared he couldn't do it well.

He quit school after 9th grade and took a job delivering telegrams on a bicycle.
He joined the Indiana National Guard and on his 20th birthday...
December 7, 1941, he received an unimaginable, ugly present.
He went off to war in the Pacific, took a chunk of shrapnel to his foot, and his Purple Heart earned him a trip home a couple months before the war ended.
He took a job with Indianapolis Power and Light Company as a grunt lineman, and after 36 years found himself in a job titled "Multi-crew foreman"... mid-level management.
For years I'd hear him grumble about his immediate boss. He liked the guy personally, but there was always something Dad could see that could have been done differently to make the work more efficient. Sometimes he'd make suggestions to his boss and the boss would implement my Dad's ideas, then accept the praise without letting others know the ideas originated with Dad.
I know now how that must have hurt and irritated my old man.
But he always knew someday his boss would retire and that job would be his. And knowing that made the irritations and slights bearable.

My Dad was 62 when his boss retired. The company interviewed several men for the position, including Dad, but since Dad was the most senior guy... the guy that knew the job better than anyone, he was SO confident the position would be his. He could then spend the next three years before retirement showing everyone how much better he could do the job than his predecessor.

But another man got the job...
A MUCH younger man.
It was a crushing blow. Dad soothed his own ego by telling himself the company made that decision so they wouldn't have to go through the process again in three years.
But he was hurt. And embarrassed.
He put in his retirement papers.

Dad lived another 20+ years in retirement, and he and Mom lived well. Money wasn't a problem. They traveled, Wintered in the South. Bought and enjoyed nice things. When he died he left my Mom financially situated so the biggest complaint she now has is why the cook in her "Elegant Senior Living" facility, (and it IS), is replaced so often she can't get accustomed to the food they serve her and the other "elegants" twice a day in the beautiful dining room.
Dad, ya done good! Thank you.

So now I'm older than Dad was when he retired, and although I still LOVE my job I too am irritated by the little things I think I could be doing better than my mid-level and higher managers. And there's always the question in the back of my mind...
"Is it time to hang up my wings?"

Dad knew when to pull the trigger.
I hope I do.

07 February 2011


Aren't we all seeing a lot more of this sort of behavior?
The comments there are worth reading and I agree with BZ...
In the future we're gonna see more of it, and worse.

05 February 2011


My title indicates the cheapest fuel price along my route to work right now...
And if you asked me about fuel prices in my area I'd tell you about that particular fuel stop by saying "Fuel is three dollars and fourteen cents there."
But look again at the title of this post.
That AIN'T three dollars and fourteen cents, is it?!!
(And gasoline vendors have used this distraction since 'way before I was a gas-pump jockey in 1963... maybe since gasoline was first sold.)

And brilliant.

04 February 2011

Am I Prepared?

"Big Berkey!", he said.
"Berrr....?" I responded.
"B-E-R-K-E-Y" he said.

He's a former student of mine.
He's also the former Chief of Surgery at a hospital here in the MidWest.
I'm proud now to call him "friend".
Like me, he fears what's coming. So whenever he calls we inevitably end up talking about bein' prepared.
"We have plenty of deer", I said. "We also have a five-acre spring-fed pond full of fish adjoining our property to meet our water needs."
"Got a water filter?" he asked.
"Not yet. Got a suggestion?"
"Get a 'Big Berkey'!"
I did some research and liked what I saw, so this week I bought one.

As you may have read here earlier, we had a weather scare here this week. The forecast weather failed to materialize, but, like realizing you need new windshield wipers only when it's too late after the rain has started, for us it was a reminder...
Our home is total electric. If we lose power we lose everything except the ability to build a fire in the fireplace, and that inefficient thing won't heat our home.
So I made a mental note...
We need a way to keep pipes from freezing in the event of a total power failure.

Back online for research...
This heater puts out 18,000 BTU's and with proper accessories can be made to run for weeks on its fuel supply.
I bought it.

Now I'm in the market for a portable generator and I could use your advice...
We were in the Big Box store last week and I was amazed to see a 4,000 watt (peak power) model for sale for less than $300. That seems like a pretty great deal, and might meet all our needs if I shuffled it around and hooked it up intermittently to our various power users.
Whatd'ya think? Is 4,000 watts adequate, or should I be in the market for MORE POWER?!!!

So I think I am almost at my goal:
Guns and ammunition.
Precious metals.
I'm still tryin' to figure out how I'll defend our home, but our neighbors are of like minds and I think we may be able to come up with a workable plan.

I'd love to hear your advice and comments.

03 February 2011

Walk Like An Egyptian

Yeah, I know almost nothin' about Egypt...
I know most people there are poor.
I know there are a LOT of people there.
I'm ashamed to say I just learned this week that most folks there are Sunni Muslims.
A friend emailed and asked what I thought about the situation and what I thought would happen there. I responded that I was pleased she wanted my opinion, but that she probably knew every bit as much about Egypt as me.

Egypt has a HUGE population.
The VAST majority of those folks are home, tending to business.
I think few would argue their lives could not be made better if their government wasn't so corrupt.
Those of us over the age of fifty or so have seen something very similar happen in our recent history.
Those of us over the age of fifty warned that Obama looked like a bad memory from our past...
And now we're recalling an incident involving that peanut farmer from Plains, Georgia.
And those of us that remember that nightmare would like to point out that the people of Egypt had better be very careful what they wish for.

Life is bad there.
But it can be MUCH, MUCH worse...
Especially for the females.

01 February 2011

The Sky Is Falling!

We're all gonna die!

We've been hearing the pounding of drums for two days now...
"It's gonna be the worst storm we've seen since 1958!"
The forecast said it would start with rain, turning to freezing rain, becoming sleet, turning to snow, culminating with an accumulation of 12-24 inches of snow on top of all that ice.
I wish I had a nickel for every time someone said "a span of powerline between two poles with an inch of ice on it will weigh 500 pounds"...
Meaning that was what they expected and if it happened we could expect widespread power outages.
The response was typical.
Folks stampeded to the grocery and emptied the shelves of milk and bread.
School administrators preemptively closed schools.
Businesses closed early.
I'm sure some spent money on kerosene space heaters and portable generators.
All this ugly stuff was supposed to start in the wee hours yesterday morning. We woke expecting to see icicles.
Not even raining. So we turn on the TV to see when the disaster is gonna start.
Chagrined, our local weather guy says, "It'll start SOMETIME today".
And we waited most of the day for the pending disaster.

The rain finally started at 4 P.M.. But temps stayed above freezing so our windshields, roofs, and roads got wet. And temps stayed above freezing all day while folks, I guess, made sandwiches and drank glasses of fresh milk.
It's still raining.
But the wind has picked up now and temperatures are finally dropping so we MAY actually see some frozen precipitation soon. And I know from correspondence from friends that there are actually some folks getting dumped on right now...
But not in our area.

So think about it...
How much money was lost because of this Chicken Little forecast?
How would you like to be paid very well to be as wrong as these guys are SO OFTEN?!

I may go back to school to be "educated" for a second career.