Computer is Down

I have been off the air for a few days because my fancy dancy computer has been down.  Dave is working on the Hard Drive and I hope to have it back by this weekend.  I still have my old notebook computer but it is not the best.

Yesterday I worked hard to finish moving the remains of a gravel pile as back fill around the new metal shed.  The tractor did most of the transporting it back to the shed but it took a shovel and a bucket to get it right where I needed it.  It also took a coupple Aleve to get to sleep last night.   It rained pretty hard about 6 AM so I got it finished at the right time. 

It sure is nice to have the weather turning a little warmer.  One of these days Barb will get the chance to plant all the plants she started in the Solarium.  I'll bt there was over 100 tomato plants at the start and I have no idea how many will make it to maturity.  She has been buying seeds for other things but I am just the laborer not the farmer.  I built a fence where she wanted it and will help when she asks.  I am pretty sure the water system will need put in the new garden area soon.

Better go see if my name is on the duty roster.




I came back down to write on my blog and there was a TV program on Bio.HD about a wedding.  I am sure that the cost of the decorations exceeded anything I had ever witnessed on a personal level.  I think the wait staff had more people in it than attended our wedding.    In fact, truth be told, we were married in Las Vegas , NV. three weeks prior to my leaving for Vietnam.  It was the Chapel of the Bells and I am sure the cost was fairly cheap.  It has lasted about 46+ years so it must be OK. 

In the program on TV, there is a room full of people that have had an eye lift. They look like they have that surprised look a small child gets the first time they step in Chicken poop barefoot.  I love that because Barb always tells me we will never have chickens because of that surprise she had at he Grandmother's farm.  I don't remember stepping in any chicken poop but I do remember the bee's that loved the clover in our back yard and how much a sting between the toes hurt.  Not as bad as the sting from a bumble bee but it hurt anyway.

Yesterday evening, the kids invited us to go to dinner at the Olive Garden with them as a part of Kyler's birthday celebration.  I think the birthday was a couple of weeks back but this was the first time everyone was available at the same time.  By the time I finished the salad and breadsticks, I didn't mind sharing my entrĂ©e with Barb. 

I have several plans for today that include a lot of time outside.  I need to finish the fence for the new garden area and the fill around the new shed.  I want to also bring up some large rocks out of the creek to help keep the backfill where it is placed.  There are also a couple of big red rocks for decorations in the flower beds.

Gotta Run.



What Am I going to do today?

My last post was about planning?  I get a daily dose of my planning every day when Barb asks me what it on my agenda today.  I don't object and I simply state what My plans are.  Today I fetched the paper, made coffee, read the paper, fixed breakfast and then we had the discussion.  From there I told her that I plan to read Facebook, Gmail, write a blog and then listen to my Barbershop music for an hour.  Sometime after this is done I plan to do the dished, clean up the kitchen and unload/load the dishwasher.  Barb told me that after working with her plants some she plans on being the Big Bunny for Easter and making a shopping trip.  She loves to do nice things for Dave and his wife and invite them over for time to open Easter Baskets and then eat lunch.  When she is gone, I plan to shut off the water and work on one of the water connections on the hot water tank.  I am not as proud of the outflow connection on the tank.  I will cut off the pipe and cut a slightly longer piece. 

Whew, if the weather was any better, I would be outside working on the yard.  I need to finish the fence for the garden (anti critter) and back fill the area around the new shed.  When that is done, there is a general clean up and a dump run. Never ends but at least on occasion we discuss the general goals.  We also talked about the need to replace the fence on the south boundary and see if there is a way  to build a fire break that will keep run away fires from getting in to our woods.

If I was not thinking about this as being a good daily discussion of our goals, I might take it as nagging.  One reason I really don't find it bad is that every once in a while I have "Senior Moments" or what Dave calls Brain Farts.  I also have suffered from a slight Attention Deficit Disorder without the Hyperactivity.  I find it pretty easy to get in a rut doing something and forget to do what I planned.   Oh well, Barb loves me and I don't hate me when a nap sneaks up and disrupts my daily plan.  I figure that I have worked hard to get to where I am and I guess I should mention a nap when we discuss our day.

Now get out there and do something!


Life Planning

My Niece put a post up on Facebook about looking forward rather than back at the things that happened.  It is my contention that if you develop a life plan you will be too busy to look back if you are focused on success in the things you do and that happen to you.  Simply put, this is my version of life I call planning. Now that I had retired, I don't use the long term planning as much but that keeps me from looking too far back or not at all.

If you start with the long range plan, you can remain a little more fuzzy in the specific but a general plan here goes a long way to directing your life.  The question you ask is where do you want to be in the future?  Pick a time at least 10 years out and set some specific attainable goals.  An example of a good goal is to graduate from the next higher level of education.  This should be directed at your career path.  A bad example is to win the lottery. 

The next level is the mid range plan. This should be 3-5 years out.  It should cover the areas of Health, education, heart, finances, housing, employment and education.  If you are out of shape in one of these areas, what would you do to correct it.  If it is your health, what year round plan do you have?  Do you walk, run. play volleyball or regularly ride a bike?  If this is a concern, get a plan together.  At this point, your success should be achievable, measurable and understandable.

The near plan is your mid range plans broken down into sub goals for the next year.  This is where you work out how you pay for the part of the plan that is achievable that year?  I recommend everyone that is having trouble with financing your life to consider Dave Ramsey's program.  It will help you guide yourself to understanding needs and wants.  He will help you build an understanding of income and outgo and how to make a budget.   He also plainly helps you understand that you either need to spend less or earn more.  He even talks about a second job to help use your time and helping you spend less and making additional income.

About once a year, you pick a date and review your far, mid range and near plans to see if you are generally directing your life towards your goals.  Each year you do this, you will get better and soon you will find that looking forward is a heck of a lot more fun that looking back at the failures of the world and yourself. I found it really helps center a relationship with your spouse if you both are on a common path.  It also give you a thing to blame rather than yourself for failures to plan.  If there is an area that you need to improve, write it down and make it a priority for the next year. 

This advice is free and is not guaranteed to give you some magic solution to all your problems.  What it will do is keep you asking what am I going to do today that is a part of my plan? 



What's Wrong with Sears

This morning in the local paper there was an article about the impending failure of Sears.  It was kind of the writer's love of a Lands' End shirt and what happened to his brand.  At one time, Land's end (notice the apostrophe is in two different locations so far)   It seems like at one time you could buy Lands' End clothing not in Sears.   The Majority stockholder bought the Land's End brand and they started to sell that brand in Sears.  The Board has recently spun the brand off and now you can still but the shirts at Sears and the stock separate from the Sears brand.

When I was a kid, every year about Labor day, our mother would get the Sears catalog out and the kids would get to "shop for Christmas."  Mother would edit our selections and order the items for Christmas.  She would charge it on her one and only credit Card (Sears) and pay the total off over the next 12 months.  Sometime after Thanksgiving a package would arrive and mom would guard it like she was the head guard at Fort Knox.  Knowing mostly what was in the package kept me from making a serious surreptitious entry in the box for the most part.  Especially knowing that I could easily open the packages and re-tape shut them after they arrived under the Christmas tree.   

It was pretty clear that Sears was our family store and we had a "Silver tone TV."  lots of Craftsman tools and appliances.  For the most part, the items from Sears were good quality, guaranteed and lasted as long as we expected.  Things that didn't meet our expectations got returned and Mom got either a new item or her money back.   The Guarantee was that if a Craftsman tool fails, they would replace it.  The Sears focus was on the customer's needs and satisfaction.

If I was to try to explain why I think the Pundits are correct it stands out to me as the same failure of the United States.   Instead of being the best store with a focus on the customer, Sears seems to be drifting into the buying and selling of Product lines and making money from those efforts.  Why there is no longer the customer focus eludes me.  I think the complexity of  money has become the focus of the Board as well as our Government.  If a Company and a Government has lifted and shifted their focus, is failure far behind?

I can understand how Sears is failing in this era of Wal*Mart, but I do not understand the failure of our people to fail to try to understand and change the way our country is headed.  Why is it not clear to everyone that if you spend more than you take in you will significantly go broke.  Why was the National Debt a major area that Obama criticized Bush for during the first Campaign and now he has significantly doubled it in his 6 years?  If our Government spent as much time trying to build jobs as they do giving money away, we could surely change the direction of our Ship of State.   It is estimated that if we cut our imports by 5% we could employ  upwards of a million new jobs.  Who are we afraid of when we don't try to protect our jobs.  Perhaps people don't want good products like we expected from Sears and are just willing to throw things away rather than replace.  Shame we can get people to realize that our Congress needs to be replaced rather than repaired.  Last time I looked the approval rating of the Congress was just higher than the proverbial turd in the punch bowl.  But not by much.


Must be Spring

For a few weeks, our Solarium has been full of plants waiting for the weather to turn so they can be moved to the garden.  Just when it started to look like that might happen soon, there is snow predicted tonight.  It won't be quite as bad as the Polar Vortex but very bad for those tender young tomato plants.  Barb puts some of the plants in a wagon so she can roll them in and out of the garage to harden them off but this time I may have to roll them into the house.

Another way I can tell it is spring is when the sound of sirens going to grass fires is heard all day Saturday.  Barb and I went to the Garden Store to buy some more potting soil and arrived home to a fire rolling down our property line from the south.  Just when I thought we would be safe from fire, a small fire whipped by 25 MPH winds moved into our forest.  The fire department stopped the worst of the fire but didn't put out the small burning fires in the downed trees.  They used some excuse about it would damage their equipment but they can't imagine how damaged they would have been if their inaction had damaged my house.  In years past, they would drive their tanker truck right up to the south property line and run a hose in to blast down any flames.  Not this year. 

We hoped that the rain would start and put all the hot coals out but so far it hasn't done much but sprinkle.  At least the wind from the south is not 25 MPH this morning.  I don't have a clue what the passing of the cold front will do about noon.  We'll see. 

One thing I did see was that this past year or two has been really hard on the big trees on the south of my property.  I'll bet there are five or six monster trees down on the property to the south of my property.  I can also see that the fires have wiped out the fence posts and I need to get some steel up along the south side.  Not that it will do anything to stop the fires started by the idiot to the south burning his field.    I guess I do need to remove a lot of the trees along that side and make sure there is a fire break.  At least a better one.  I also need to re-post my no hunting signs.  Judging from the beer bottles, hunting has been going along my south side.   They actually ran down the fence in one corner. 

Well, that's enough for one day see you later.



My Browser Isn't Supported

When I go to write on my blog, the above message shows up but if I go on through the procedures, it works.   Is this just another one of the ways one company is trying to get me to change what I am doing?  I really hate the fact that when I install a new program a very tine message offers to make a new browser my opening page.  If I wanted to change, I would.  At least stop telling em this about the third or fourth time. 

There are several things in this world that I just have a tough time fully understanding.  I am an extrovert and I solve problems by talking to others and I would rather get input from other people than struggle on my own.  My wife is just the opposite and she wants to be alone and work through things without my input.  Some day I will learn but it is kind of lonely for me.

One reason I say this is that my wife went out to be with her mother for about 10 days as she went through the effects of radiation therapy.  I know that Barb worked hard to help her mother be as comfortable during her last days as she could. Her mother lost her battle this past week and Barbara has spent a lot of time alone dealing with her feelings.  The family has put off any funeral or get together for a while. 

I am getting ready for the upcoming Barbershop Chorus Spring Show.  I really enjoy music and am still looking for a way to make music that is a little less formal and more just for the sound of the music.  There is always the music Nazi's that want to hold our music to the simple harmonies that is Barbershop.  Some of these guys also want rules, law and order and I want just music for the fun of it.   Oh well, I'll deal for now.

Speaking of unconventional music, I really enjoy Pentatonix or PTX for their unique music styles.  There is just not a music style they don't do.  Their Bass sometimes sings lead and harmony more like a Baritone.  Their female member is often not the highest voice as they have one guy that can just get up there and make overtones in any song.  If you haven't listened to any of their songs, my description of their soundman just won't do it justice.  It always sounds like they have a full on percussion backing up anything they do.   Their Bass is just so capable of hitting any note that it just makes me crazy listening to it.

Oh well, better get this show on the road. 



Death and Taxes

One of our Spring chorus songs has a phrase, "Some People say that Death and Taxes are the only sure Thing."  With the parents of the Baby Boomers reaching 90, they are finding the end of life illnesses diminishing their ranks.   The other day, one of the last sailors aboard one of the Battleships in Pearl Harbor was on TV and said he is the last survivor from his ship.  I am sure that may of my Baby Boomer friends have lost one or both of their parents.  That door isn't shut on a member of the family, but it is reported that the hinge squeaks.

I have often heard form my friends that moving to Texas has a real  tax advantage over living in Kansas.   I just finished filing our 2013 Taxes and found that almost all of our retirements are tax free in Kansas.  We paid a ton in Federal taxes but Kansas didn't rate as a paper cut.  Thank you Kansas.

OK, lets not completely dismiss all the taxes we, or anyone pays.  Sales Tax, Property Tax, Income tax and fees mounted to about 20% of everything we made.  The good news is we had it and paid it all.  All you have to do is make a trip to any of the third world countries and see what the style of living there is and you too won't complain.  

Well, the colonoscopy went well and it will be another 10 years before I have to do it again.  For me the hardest part was not eating anything yesterday.  Joe, our grand nephew,  was on Facebook eating a triple burger, a pound of fries, 30oz of beer and a shot and he ate/drank it all.    He made the wall of fame in some joint in Saint Louis.  I cried.

Oh well, Anyone that didn't know they play Basketball in Connecticut just hasn't been paying attention.  It did hit our paper that Danny Manning was hired as the new coach for Wake Forrest.  One commentator said that Danny is a little inexperienced.  Lets see, 3 years of High School Ball, 4 years of College, 17 years as a pro and 5 years as an assistant coach at KU.  Then he took Tulsa to the NIT last year and the NCAA this year.    I think he has earned his keep as a coach.  I look forward hearing great things from His new School.  Perhaps one of these days Bill Self will want to take his pot of gold and retire and then we will have Danny to replace him. 



Lonely Days and Lonely Nights

Barb has been out of town for over a week helping with her sick mother.  It sure has been quiet here at Rabbit run without her.   I consider myself pretty self sufficient but it has been very lonely.  I'll bet when she gets home, Barb will want to be left alone for a few days and just repot and water her tomato plants. 

Back in the day, I would be gone for a couple of weeks each summer with the National Guard.  Most of the time those two weeks would be so busy that I hardly had time to miss my family.  I would come home so tired and sleep deprived that it would take three or four good nights sleep to catch up.  I also appreciated the lower activity level after two weeks of being in charge of things.  I know those periods were good as we both forgot the angry things and missed the good things.  Even though it has been a while since I last went to camp, it is funny how time flies.

There was an article that hinted at a growing problem the Government is facing.  Between Medicare and Social Security, the is abut half of the national budget need just to support those things.  The ration of non-working to working people over 65 is about 1:2.  Gee, I should have had more kids.  The other thing that is looming is the fact that the baby boomers are throwing money like mad into the stock market as the face the costs of retirement.  The question is who is going to buy all that stock when they really need to withdraw it?  Most of the children of the Baby Boomers (Millennial's?) are living pretty much hand to mouth and just don't have the extra cash to buy stock.  We have discussed the transfer of wealth that will happen when the Baby Boomers start to pass but that won't really start for at least another 10 years.  My father's generation had a life expectancy of about 75 years and my generation is probably closer to 85  (I hope)

I don't always recommend good things but every once in a while something really good hit my plate and I just can't help myself.  Here are just a couple:
    - There was a new snicker's bar on the sample aisle at Sam's club.  It had a white nougat center and covered with dark chocolate.  Could replace my old standby the regular snickers.  Haven't seen it anywhere but Sam's club yet. 
    - Here in Topeka there is a pizza place called Glory Days.  There is just something about their sauce that makes that pizza yummy.
    - The other day I was cooking something and it needed just a touch of heat.  I had an old pepper grinder and put in some of the red pepper flakes you get from the Pizza Place. A short grind and it just took the heat from those flakes and spread it out.   I hate to hit a big old flake of red pepper but spread out it is a hit.   I keep a pepper grinder for grinding spices into things I cook.  try it and see if you might like it.

Speaking of Pepper Grinders, years ago my Grandmother and mother both had the same pepper grinder and the worked so good that I staked out my desire to inherit Mom's when she no longer needed it.  I guess my brother got into the act and he placed a hold on Grandmother's.  When it came time to divide up Mom's stuff, He got the good one and mine has a cracked handle.  It still works but Mo always did like him best.  I spent about 45 minutes talking to my brother yesterday and sure had a good time visiting about life.  It is amazing how similar we are in our health and medications.  We both are taking the same medication for blood pressure and cholesterol.  He had his cataracts fixed a couple of years ago and I am facing that in the next couple of years.  He did admit that he hadn't had a colonoscopy and I was way ahead and probably after Wednesday's procedure will be the "Perfect Asshole"  he always thought I was.  I just wish you could see the smile on my face when I write that. 

MUD and my Brother Rick  The little guy slipped into the picture. No Clue who he is