31 July 2011

A New Chapter

Our Nation is about to undergo the "change" we were promised.
I "hope" I'm wrong about how this chapter will unfold.

We have an administration that has not formulated a (constitutionally required, annually) budget in OVER two years.
And the media is allowing it.

This administration oversaw the delivery of weapons to folks it knew would use those weapons to hurt/kill people. One of our Border Patrol agents was killed with the complicity of this administration.
And the media is ignoring it.

The agencies responsible for overseeing our financial system and warning us when things are getting out of hand...
(The same agencies that were perfectly happy to okay the program responsible for lending money to prospective homeowners who had ABSOLUTELY NO CHANCE of repaying those loans),
has finally awakened and is about to downgrade the Nation's credit rating no matter the outcome of ongoing debt ceiling negotiations.
And the media is trying its damndest to spin it in Obama's favor.

Our media has taken a page straight out of "Pravda".
The voters were/are ignorant.
And it's mostly because "The Fourth Estate" has failed us miserably.
God, please help us through the coming troubles.

29 July 2011


Well, the price was right.
Really, REALLY right.
And I've decided I love older boxer BMW's.
Picked it up yesterday, this one's a 1984 R80RT that I'll be wearing out between home and work.
(And I'm still looking for a buyer for a perfectly functional 1987 GoldWing Interstate!)

26 July 2011

Repositioning The Deck Chairs On The Titanic

We live in interesting times.
At the end of his term, this President will have increased our debt load more than all the other Presidents in history, COMBINED.
I think the only way we could possibly have avoided a meltdown is if our leaders had agreed to take drastic action, yesterday. That obviously hasn't happened...
We're still giving millions to folks who study shrimp running on an underwater treadmill.
We're still giving money to folks who funnel it to the Taliban.
And we're still giving guns to folks who are killing our Law Enforcement officers.

"There are icebergs in the waters ahead, Captain."
"Steady as she goes, Mr. Murdoch. But move those chairs over closer to the rail, please."

25 July 2011

"But I Could Have Told You, Vincent..."

How fortunate am I?!!
When weather gets a little schmutzy I get to sit around, surf the net, and still get paid.
We had rain yesterday afternoon, dropping the temperature from the high 90's down to about 70 degrees, resulting in an evening with reduced visibilities and low scud all around.
So the phone rings and my communication specialist says, "Weather check for..."
and I laugh before they can even finish the sentence.
I joke... "What are you trying to do, kill us?!!"
On nights like this they know the answer before they ask, but they still HAVE to ask.

Anyway, while being paid well for sitting on my can, last evening I found a neat site and I'd like to share it with you.
My life has been a blessed one, and there are VERY FEW people I envy.
This guy is one of 'em.
If you like bikes and things mechanical, poke around and enjoy.
(You'll have to tolerate bein' subjected to a thirty-second ad, but it's worth it.)

23 July 2011

The Debt Ceiling

It's times like these when I realize how far out of touch I am.
Every now and then I have to shake my head in wonder because what seems SO simple to me obviously isn't. And at these times I fall back on you guys to help bring me up to speed.
Here's what has me baffled:
-Why do we have a debt ceiling?
Seems it's a self-imposed limit we're unable to restrict ourselves to!
-If we're gonna have to constantly raise it, (and apparently we are), and every time we raise it we have to watch stupid politicians arguing about who's at fault and what terrible consequences there'll be if we don't jack it up again, why don't we just do away with it completely?

The Sky's The Limit!

Just think how many jobs could be created or saved if we had no limit on our financial resources! And we could use stimulus money to raise the minimum wage to like.... $100 per hour. No more poor people!

I like this "Progressive" thinking!

22 July 2011

Chrysler Bailout

Yesterday our government completed the sale of Chrysler to the Italian "Fiat" corporation.
In this transaction, U.S. taxpayers only lost 1.3 BILLION DOLLARS.
How many jobs were created or saved due to the loss of that $1,300,000,000.00 ?
Our country is in the very best of hands.

21 July 2011


Presidential political debates CAN be devastating...
Gerald Ford lost the '76 election when he stuck his foot in his mouth about Poland in his debate with Jimmy Carter.
Jimmy Carter lost the election four years later when Ronald Reagan made him look like an idiot saying "There you go again!" during their debates.
George H.W. Bush lost to Slick Willy when he reneged on his "Read my lips, NO NEW TAXES!" pledge.
Al Gore looked like a doofus when he tried to physically dominate G.W. Bush by occupying Bush's personal space during their debate.
John Kerry was, and is, just a stiff.

Barack Obama performed well in the debates in '08 because he had no record to defend.
That won't be the case in '12.
If he ends up being the Democrat nominee for POTUS, (and I still think that's in question), he'll have to defend policies that have run the country aground emotionally and economically.

I doubt this country can survive as a Representative Republic if Obama is re-elected.
From here on, it's gonna be fascinating to watch.
Bring on the debates!

20 July 2011


My bride and I LOVE old movies. We have so many of them recorded on our DVR, (and continue to record more), we'll have difficulty watching all of them in our "spare time".
Two nights ago we were watching one of our favorites, 1939's "Love Affair" with Charles Boyer and Irene Dunne. That's a still from the movie above.
(1939... an UNBELIEVABLE year for movies!)

This movie was later remade as "An Affair to Remember" with Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr, then (sort of) rehashed again as "Sleepless in Seattle" with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan. ("Love Affair" with Dunne and Boyer is my favorite of the three, although the others are VERY good.)

But as I watched I once again noticed one of that era's very noticeable co-stars... cigarettes.
It made me wonder if Boyer, like so many of his peers, died of lung cancer.

He didn't.
The way he died is sad, but oddly romantic.
If I've piqued your interest, read his biography and how he actually died HERE.

18 July 2011


That's me. US55846324... A number burned into my memory bank forever.
When I was drafted into the U.S. Army I became US55846324.
Guys who enlisted had a service number starting with "RA" instead of "US". We assumed the "RA" stood for Regular Army. Who knows why we draftees were "US".

When I graduated from OCS I became Lieutenant 05261163. I was 05261163 until the ARMY started using Social Security numbers for an individual's service number. Now that identity theft is a problem I wonder if they're still using SS numbers?

But it's funny how those numbers stick with ya...
Important numbers.
My first phone number, (a party line), was 370W1.
Now it's BR549.
Call me.

12 July 2011

47.653/ 41.325

Two Honda GoldWings-
One, a 1200cc four cylinder.
The other, a 1500cc six.
When I bought the bigger, newer bike, the intent was to start trying to sell the older bike right away. Well, it hasn't quite worked out that way.
The newer bike is wonderful. It rides like a dream and the onboard stereo system sounds as good as most cars. Sara Jean loves the thing and rides pillion with a broad smile on her face. But...
In many ways I like the old bike better.
It probably weighs close to 100 pounds less than the newer bike. That makes it much easier to maneuver at slow speeds and also shows up in the miles-per-gallon figures.
Driving to and from work, behaving myself, the four cylinder 'Wing gets 47+ mpg.

The newer bike is smoother and a little quieter. By smoother, I mean like the nearly unnoticeable difference between a car with a great new wax job and a car that has been worked over with a clay bar. There is a difference. It's not a big deal.
And under the same conditions the calculator showed the 1500cc bike covered 41.235 miles on a gallon of fuel. That's far better than any of our cars, so I save a small chunk 'o change each time I ride to work, but I'm still looking for a machine that will use about one gallon of gas on the 64 mile round-trip.
That's gonna require a bike with a much smaller engine.
And I'm still looking.

I left home for work tonight with some concern about the weather. I intended to ride the 1500cc 'Wing, and hoped I could drive the 45 minutes to work and arrive before the coming deluge struck. I tuned in "The Weather Channel" to get a quick update on what I'd be facing, only to find Peter Lik spouting off about how to get a great shot of a volcano in Hawaii.
So much for the foremost experts on weather, huh?
It's a bit like Headline News these days...
Want Headline News? How 'bout a little Nancy Grace instead?!

Fifteen minutes into the ride it was pretty obvious I was gonna get wet. The complete horizon ahead was dark gray with occasional cloud-to-ground lightning.
Twenty-five minutes into the ride, the bottom fell outta the bucket.
It poured.
But for a while I stayed relatively dry. My arms got wet first. Then the water caught up in the turbulence forming behind my helmet started trickling down my back, eventually pooling on the saddle and soaking my crotch. The temperature dropped from 95 to about 65 degrees and I actually was uncomfortably cool for the first time in days. But then the rain stopped, the temperature rose, and I was ALMOST drip-dried by the time I pulled into the hangar.
It was bound to happen eventually... a pop-up storm drenching me on the way to or from work. And I'm less fearful of it happening now than I was before. The big fairing does a pretty great job of protecting me.

If I'm going to get a bike that gets 65 mpg or so I've got to first sell the older GoldWing.
Anyone out there want a bike that rides great, is smooth as silk, and gets 47+ mile to a gallon of gas?
Call BR549. Let's talk.

11 July 2011


"AWOS" stands for "Automated Weather Observation Service". These days, many little airports have these machines and they provide a great service... an unmanned weather reporting station, updating the weather conditions 24 hours a day. The radio frequencies for these reports are published in several places so pilots can tune in and find the local weather as they start their approach process.
Here's the report I heard when we returned from our final last night:

"****** Community Airport, Automated Weather Observation 0720 Zulu-
Wind 190 at 6 Knots.
Sky condition- clear below 1-2 thousand feet.
Temperature 30 Celsius, Dew point 27.
Altimeter 29.79
Remarks- Density Altitude, 2 thousand 4 hundred feet."

There's a ditty I use to try and remember how to convert Celsius to Fahrenheit-
"Thirty is hot. Twenty is nice. Ten is cool, and Zero is ice."
So when we landed last night at almost 1:30 A.M. it was still hotter than a firecracker, and with a Southerly wind it got worse as the night progressed. Today was unbearable, and I was glad to be sleeping in air-conditioned comfort.
But tonight?

The natives will be restless.

08 July 2011

Motorcycle Artwork

Now and then you'll see a machine that has been restored so perfectly it takes your breath away.
Driving such a machine on the street, risking damage seems a shame.
To me, this old BMW falls into that category.

07 July 2011


How things have changed.
AM radio is almost all talk-radio now.
If you want music, you listen either to FM or satellite radio. And that's progress, 'cause AM sucks as a conveyor of music. It is seriously degraded by thunderstorms and other atmospheric phenomenon.

But come back with me to 1966. I was a Private "E-nothing" (lowest rank possible) in the ARMY at Ft. Jackson, S.C., just outside the State Capital, Columbia. Homesick as I could possibly be, I was thirsty for anything that remotely reminded me of home. My most prized possession at the time was a General Electric AM/FM radio I had purchased at the Post Exchange. With it, at night, I could tune to 1190 on the AM dial where I could hear a station several hours drive from my hometown of Indianapolis come booming into South Carolina...
WOWO, Ft. Wayne, Indiana.
Top 40, news, weather and sports...
At least I got news from Indiana, which frequently included stuff from Indy.
I was comforted.
In the (infrequent) event I couldn't get WOWO to come in, I'd turn the dial to the left and 890 WLS out of Chicago would generally be there as an alternative. And if thunderstorms precluded me from listening to stations close to home, I'd drop even farther down the dial to 690 WAPE, "The Big Ape" out of Jacksonville, Florida.

There are still AM blowtorches out there that can be heard over much of the middle United States...
1020 KDKA, Pittsburgh. 1120 KMOX, St. Louis. 890 WLS and 780 WBBM, Chicago.
1200 WOAI, San Antonio. 850 KOA, Denver. 1040 WHO, Des Moines.

Late at night I still poke around on the AM dial to find a strong signal. But I listen today because I'm searching for news, weather, sports, and political discussion.
Near-perfect music listening is just a CD or FM radio frequency away.

But how I miss the days of being able to tune in WOWO as I shaved in the morning and hear "The Adventures of Chicken Man!"
My heart hurts a little...
Some things just aren't better than they used to be.

06 July 2011

Twenty-Eight Years Ago

Is it possible?
Twenty-Eight years?

I woke when she shook me. Still dark outside, she was standing next to the bed...
"I think my water broke."
Yes, I could see it had.
Grab the 'phone, call the ER...
"Her water broke. What now?"
"Bring her here."

That five minute drive started in an unlikely way-
The starter was kaput on our Fiat 124 Spyder, so I pushed the little convertible to a downhill slope, then with fingers crossed, jumped in and popped the clutch. What a relief when the engine started!

At the hospital, things were moving slowly...
They had connected her to a monitor so we could watch the baby's heartbeat along with Sara Jean's vital signs. We quickly learned how to tell when the next contraction approached, and since they were still separated by 45 minutes or so I asked, "How long before she'll deliver?"
"A couple hours, maybe longer."
I was hungry.
"Honey, would you mind if I go eat breakfast?"
"No, go ahead."
I went to our local greasy spoon and ordered breakfast, announcing to everyone I knew that today we would be parents.
Back at the hospital, I was kinda shocked by the scene-
They had given Sara Jean a drug called Pitocin to speed up the labor process, and WOW!!, did it work!
We could still foresee an oncoming labor pain, but now they were coming every few minutes, and saying SJ was in considerable discomfort when they hit would be extraordinary understatement.

Time for the delivery. I scrub up with the Ob/Gyn. He insures my hands are scrubbed raw before he allows me to don rubber gloves to come and observe the birth of my baby.
I stand at Sara Jean's head, watching the action down below in a big mirror. Of course the birth is a miracle, but it's a bloody, messy miracle. The blood is understandable. The mess? Well, we won't go into that.

"Outside plumbing!"
Until this morning, the Doc has been predicting a girl. The baby's heart-rate when he first hooked up the monitor made him reconsider. We didn't know what we were getting until HE was born.
I whooped!
We both wanted a boy.

So now he's a 28 year old man, living in Arizona. Our work schedules conflicted this year so we cannot be with him on this special day, and that sucks, but we'll work on making up for it at a later date when his schedule (and mine) is not so frenetic.

On July 6, 1983 I could not have imagined the way this story would unfold.
I was out of work, we were living in a teeny-tiny house, driving a little Italian Sports Car with a busted starter.

God blessed us that day with a healthy baby boy, and he (and my son) have blessed us nearly every day since.
My son is a wonderful, caring human being. I could not be more proud of him.

Happy Birthday my son. We'll see you as soon as possible.
And Lord, thank you for giving him to us.

02 July 2011

Last One To Leave, Turn Off The Lights, Please.

My son left Los Angeles last month.
Boy, am I glad!
That town always makes me a little uncomfortable. He's back in Arizona, and I can now finally send him the handgun I bought him for his birthday almost exactly a year ago.
(Guns are BAD, doncha know?!)

The great State of California has a new law I'm sure you're aware of...
They're now gonna TAX online sales.
This is really smart because it will raise SO much revenue.
For those contemplating leaving the State because of high taxes, this may just be the "straw" that broke the critter's back. And of course those departing will be the ones paying the taxes. Those not paying taxes won't much be affected by the new law.

I really think California's fate will be the same fate our Federal Government will experience, but California will feel the pain sooner...
Maybe MUCH sooner.
Friend BZ goes so far as to say in Cali there are now two classes of citizen:
Hosts, and parasites.

For most of you, pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!
Nothing to see here.
Move along.
And if you're the last to leave, turn off the lights.

01 July 2011

Me And Dad Install The Ceiling Fan

For those new to the blog, my Dad passed away in 2003.
He was one of those unschooled guys that could figure out how most things work, and could fix them with a pair of pliers, a roll of duct tape, and a foot-long piece of baling wire.

We had a garage at our old homestead. It was a mancave...
a comfortable place for my Dad and me and the inevitable four of five buddies that would show up needing a little work on their cars or bikes. My friends loved both my parents and knew they were always welcome at our home. Anytime they broke a transmission synchronizer or blew an engine, they'd find a way to our garage.
We were ALWAYS tinkering there with something.

Against one wall of that garage was a large wooden cabinet with a myriad of small, uniform drawers. Each of the drawers had a dymo-tape identifier:
And so on.
When Dad died, that cabinet ended up in my garage.

Yesterday I finally had the time to replace the patio ceiling fan that corroded apart last year. I opened and took everything out of the box, then compared the scattered bags of parts to the list of everything that was supposed to be there, according to the destructions.
All was well. So I turned on the "Dennis Miller Show" and started work.

These things used to be a nightmare. In the old days it was obvious someone who didn't speak English had written the destructions, and that's why I call 'em that. But the destructions are much improved now... not perfect, but much, much better. Impatience and lack of reading skills on my part are more of a problem now.

All was going well...
Up the ladder, crane your neck, install a component, down the ladder, read the destructions, grab the next stuff to put together for installation.
Everything went like clockwork and I was feeling mighty proud of myself until I got to the "blade installation" part of the process and the destructions called for bolts with washers to attach the blades to the fan motor.
The bolts were in a bag.
Where were the lock washers?

Back to the box with all the packing materials in it...
GOOD GRIEF... Enough styrofoam to make a couple hundred coffee cups, and a ton of irritating little plastic bags that used to have itty-bitty parts in them!
Mutter and search. Mutter some more.
No lock washers.
So I grab a bolt and head to Dad's cabinet, open the door marked "BOLTS/WASHERS", and start digging for the tiny lock washers that fit the bolt. I needed ten of 'em for the five fan blades.

And as I'm digging toward the bottom of the drawer for tiny lock washers the memories come flooding...
All the times Dad was there, over in his chair, letting us do the work and learn from our mistakes, only commenting or advising us when we needed him.

I found ten washers, put them on the bolts, then went back up the ladder...
Only then did I see there were bolts and lock washers in the fan motor that had to be removed, then re-installed with the fan blades. The bolts I had in my hand were extras.
Grumble, mutter, curse.
Damn destructions.
Damn Chinese. I think they do this just to raise an old man's blood pressure and try to kill him.

Dad and I finished the job.
The ceiling fan AND the light on it work fine.
I took the extra bolts and the now not-needed lock washers back to the cabinet drawer marked BOLTS/WASHERS and added them to the others.

Dad is strong there, and I could never have imagined how comforting that cabinet and the memories it sparks would be to me.

Thanks Dad (and Mom), for providing that little hub of activity where EVERYONE was comfortable.
Through those memories you'll both live forever.