Is this Close Enough?

Most of the photos posted below were just as they were shot and needed some editing. This is just as the camera saw the gator. It is not cropped, enhanced or edited. Is it close enough for ya'?


Pictures from the Swamp

Momma Gator watching her little baby who is catchin' some rays. Don't think we wanted to mess with her babies.

This is the view of the swamp from our view. Lots of big old cypress trees and water.

What the gators saw from their view. Looks like a bunch of humanoids with crunchy parts.

Nesting egret she just turned her beak into the sun to make this picture.

This isn't a baby gator, just an 8 footer in the sun warming up.

This was the egrets coming back in to roost as the day ended. They had been out eating crawdads and we aren't far behind.

Mo' Photos

This is one of the last of the old ice cream stores left. Just one of the highlights our instructor pointed out.

This is the third largest "Live Oak" tree in the US. The trick here was to try to get some of the leaf detail and show the actual trunk detail. A little photoshop work is needed but not bad.

This is my girl friend again. Still didn't know her name but the face looking like a "wookei" just cracked me up. Perhaps she is a pug/schnauser cross?

Did hear is da' capt'n of da boat. He spent a lot of time making sure he didn't run into da tree and the bridge in the nex pic'ure. He tod a story about a cajun that had been married fo a couple of years and didn't hab no child'ns. Dey went to the local parish priest and as'd fo some guidance. Da priest said he was goin to Rome and wold lite a big ole candle fo dem. About 10 years later the priest was a passn' thru da parrish and met fodoes wife. He axed abotut da kids and she said they now have about 10. When the priest asked where fodoe was, da wife said that he was in rome looking to blow out damn candle.

This is a short part of an 18 mile ong bridge that crosses the Afalatchia swamp west out of Baton Rouge. The next longer bridge is the one that crosses lake Ponchitrain north out of New Orleans.

Dis hear id one of them little startr homes on the swamp. You have to be caeful in the summr because dem damn gators will come right up on the porch and eat chillins.

We ber hab'n fun down here.


Photo class 101

About half of this course is in a class room or the computer lab learning some basics and Adobe Photoshop 6. It is an interesting class because the instructor involves us and our camera's. You should see the slideshow of his work. WOW!

Theytook us out to a local swamp (Atchafalia) and we took a boat ride. Most of the gators were still asleep and the colors were a little pre season. Oh well.

But, the highlight of the day was that I got to meet a cajun dog she wouldn't tell me her name but seemed to like my lap compared to the cold aluminum boat floor. We had a long meeting and it was sad for me to see how once she hit the shore she found trash to get into. Another Louisianan boat ride affair. Short and sweet. Will write later


Piece of Cake

Well, we know they will be in the big dance, but will they win the Big 12 Tournament?

Ont thought for the week

What is it, Mad Cow Disease or March Madness? You choose. MUD

Money 101

A while back one of my nieces asked for money advice and this morning I found that the latest USAA (My Insurance Carrier) magazine had some advice to compare with my advice to Kim.

  • Number one thing in the entire equation is that income must be greater than outgo in the long run. You might have a month or so each year where things like taxes and insurance make the flow negative but for the year (s), you need to have more income than outgo. A long time back Barb and I decided that it is always better to pay our own taxes and Insurance rather than have our House Lender save the money for us. Now that we own the house, we know what to expect. As much as possible, we have always tried to owe Income Taxes rather than have Uncle Sam hold our money. Having the ability to save and not depend on a Tax refund is kind of the foundation of control.
  • It is almost always better to be a land lord than a renter. People that rent walk away from the monthly payments and land lords get a pretty good deal between depreciation and having the ability to write off a few items each year.
  • My advice was to pay off the smallest debt first and get or establish a good taste in your mouth when you start cleaning up your debt. USAA said to pay off your biggest debt that has no good tax implications. They say Credit Card debt is top of their list.
  • There are some good times to use home equity loans and continual overrun of your spending just isn't one of them. In most cases, the home is the one asset that increases in value and allows most families to accumulate value or $ in their savings portfolio. Did you notice that they were home improvement loans and now all of a sudden they are home equity loans? They are good to put in things that really improve the value of your home but you need to understand that granite counters are eye candy and real value is a new high efficiency furnace, insulation and good windows.
  • One thing we agree on is that you have no ability to control spending or to budget without a handle on what you have been spending your money on. Get a good program like Quicken and use it. It might surprise you as you enter your spending that you are using your debit card like cash. There was a study done and it found that most people will spend more when using a debit card than they would if they were spending cash. (by about 10%) Didn't you ever have an allowance and learn anything? If you were like most kids, you spent it on junk and asked for more. Write it down and spend what you need not want. Some day you will have everything you need and most of what you want.
  • When you are younger, you should be more willing to have risk in your investments. As you age, the return of your money is as important as the return on your money. I have had a lousy track record with the stock market when I bought individual stocks. By the same notion, I could have invested a 401 K into a stock program when the Dow was at $5,000 and not it is at least twice that. I have made a little over 4% per year for the intervening 20 years. I would have doubled my money not made 80% return. Oh well.
  • One of the nicest feelings is to make the final payment on a house and get that big ol'e hulking package from your lender that includes your title. We have done that twice now and both times it felt so good. It does leave you with a wonder what will happen when you don't have that big interest deduction to write off each year. I promise you that not paying the interest payment is more than offset by having the extra money. If you want to send me $500 a month, I'll be glad to send you a return at what ever tax rate you are paying. Lets see, if you are in the 20% bracket, that $6,000 a year saves you about $1,200 a year. That would give me a net profit of $4800. Get the point?
  • One of the toughest things is where to invest your dollars when you finally break over to a positive side of the ledger. It ain't a boat, a new car or a house on the lake. Savings need to be just that. First I tell everyone to have a nest egg of a month or two in cash. Second have about 3-6 months in a pretty highly liquid form and then do some serious investment. Barb and I bought IRA's when they first came out. We were able to put $2,000 each in them and shelter them from taxes. That small investment of about $12,000 each over six years is now nearing $50,000 each. One year I got a pay raise and just started putting it in a 401K. We didn't need it and just invested it. yep, $50,000 later it is still there waiting for a need. Barb got a nice raise one year and started a 503B investment for Teachers. I won't go into the details of that now, but I promise you that I am worried now about cash flow and taxes not what the heck am I going to do to pay the bills.
  • One big difference today over things 40 years ago is that when we started out, we were in careers that if we kept our noses clean we would probably hit a day when we retired from those jobs. (We did and we have) They had a pretty good retirement package in them and are a form of investment that is paying off today. Unless the trend changes, your futures will be based on your savings in whatever vehicle you choose and less on a retirement program. There are times that I wish we had put our $ in a Roth IRA so they can be taken out after taxes and not taxable now. It is too late now for us. Start early and save often.


Barb Senior

My son married a wonderful young lady named Barb. That only is complicated because his mother, my wife, is also named Barb. Now there are two of them. At first I toyed with using Barb and Barbara but soon found out that they both use Barb when they are at work. If one were to call and ask for Barbara you would get this hesitation until they figured out that the call is for Barb. Well, I could go for big barb and little barb but no, that sounds bad. Old Barb, Oh hell no, do I really want trouble! So finally I just accepted the matter and moved on.
My wife enrolled a bunch of us in a get into shape program called "Walk Across Kansas" and I noticed that she listed her name as Barb Sr. to help them tell the difference. Well, lets see is it Barb Sr and Barb Jr or Barb I and Barb II or does the 1, 2 & 3 rule just apply once there is a third? I will just bow out of the controversy and love both of them.
The weather here in Kansas is one weird puppy. Instead of the two to five snow falls we have had 17. If it starts raining like they predict and continues tonight it may be 18. I think this would be a good year to plant corn here in Kansas. The price per bushel hit $5.00 and there is enough sub soil moisture to get a crop well into harvest. I think Ethanol has driven up the price but those chickens have to eat too.
Barb and I are going to Lafayette, LA next week for a digital photography class. I think it is as much for the break in the cold weather as anything but I hope o learn how to use the D70 a little better. The March Madness games haven't started so what the heck.
Write if you have time. MUD


Ain't Life Funny

Just for the record, I tried to load a picture of Emmett Kelley Jr. here and I could not get Adobe Photos to change a tif photo into a JPEG. Emmett Kelley Jr was probably one of the most famous clowns when I was a kid and we loved his hobo character.
Now, for the real stuff. I was looking at an online link from the Field Artillery Officer Candidate School at Fort Sill, OK and they have a list of the Officers killed in the Wars over the years. I went online and found several of my friends and classmates names listed. Probably the one that hit me the hardest was 2LT Willard Richardson. He was one of the funniest guys in my OCS class. He was probably the least prepared to be an officer and one of the guys that worked the least hard to keep his gear in shape. His dad was rumored to be a big shot in the ARMY Aviation world and he was there in the FA OCS program to get a commission so he could fly. His death was caused by having a rotor head separate from the helicopter he was flying. Makes me wonder.
WHAT IS LIFE? For years I have thought of it being the intersection of hard work, an education and just blind luck. If you put yourself on the track to better things by getting a good education and you work hard, unless luck hands you a really bad hand you will generally have a good life. Now, I know there are times and places that you sometimes don't win, but the hard work and an education can help you land on your feet when the bad hand of luck gets dealt.
I am pretty certain that my life on the battlefield of Vietnam wasn't worth a great deal, but I will promise you that I learned everything I could and worked hard to know where I was and where to shoot my Artillery every moment I could. Yes, it was good luck that I survived but I went on to get an education and built from there.
In 1983 a Tornado blew down our house. We crawled out from under the rubble and held each other in the thought that everything that was lost was stuff and can be replaced. We went on and rebuilt our lives and moved on smartly. Yes, having insurance helped, but the education part made us sure that we were covered.
What is it that you think? Have you been as educated and worked as hard as you could? Has the fickle hand of fate dealt you lucky cards? Would you recognize them if it did?


Mo' Minneha - Elephant Legs in the Cafeteria

As a child in Wichita I attended a school that was trying to grow as the “Baby Boomers” flooded in the district . Our little four-room school at Central and Webb road grew into a three building complex up Webb road that housed the elementary, secondary and Junior High school. I attended Minneha from Kindergarten through the ninth grade.

The families that sent their kids to Minneha were from three pretty distinct social strata’s. The really rich kids came from Eastborough, which was a private community with their own police force. The upper –middle class kids came from Forest Hills and the rest of us came from Dog-patch, which is one of the poorest sections in our school district. Some of my friends felt outclassed by the rich kids but they didn’t bother me. I could out run, out wrestle and darn sure out cuss any of them so they pretty much left me to my own devices. What does a little kid know about class anyway? I made friends with all of them and beat-up as well as got beat up by the bigger kids no matter where they came from or lived. I guess early on you could tell the differences from the clothes and probably later on by the smell.

By the time I started second grade, there were three or four classes in each grade. All the class sizes were 25 to 35 depending on exactly how they split the classes. The new elementary school building was completed as I entered the second grade and just in time to be filled to capacity.

I am sure that there was a lot of thought on how they split the classes and they were sure to not put Denny L and Dennis Petty in the same class. The same went for Eugene and some of the other neighborhood kids. Some learning could happen if the real troublemakers were split into small groups. Kind of a divide and conquer approach to mass education.

The new building was an architect’s marvel with new and innovative designs throughout. It was open and airy with high windows that let in a lot of light. The main halls between the classes were probably 35 feet wide with a narrower hall in the middle by the offices and cafeteria. It looked kind of like a giant hourglass lying on its side.

One of the highlights of our day was recess. I’m sure that the teachers used it as an excuse to let us blow off the stink and calm down from the sitting in one place as we were pounded with new facts and the processed called math. Social studies meant learning not to spit on the playground and not killing each other when we played. Our games took on creative names like “smear the queer”, full contact soccer and bombardment with the kick balls. The smear the queer was kind of like tag only everyone was it and the queer had a flag and we all tried to take it away from that person. The game didn't get fun until someone got knocked down and everyone piled on. Bombardment would go on until someone went to the teacher crying. Usually it was one of the smallest kids in the class mad because they didn’t get to hurt anyone else. You get hit and you are out of the game.

Each day somewhere around noon, we were taken down the hall to the cafeteria. It was also a bright open room filled with smells of cooking food and laughter of children. After you went through the line and got your plastic tray full of food, each class sang the Doxology. “Praise God from who all blessings flow. Praise father, son and Holy Ghost – AMEN!” And to think today they can’t even say a prayer in school. Kind of like singing for our supper except it was lunch but we were little kids and who knew?

I don’t know what it was about school lunches that I liked the most but I liked about everything they served. The cooks would add a little extra sugar to sweet things and always had lots of butter for bread and butter sandwiches. I lived for the call of “Seconds” and always ate at least two or three extra bread and butter sandwiches. . I don’t remember if we had much mystery meat that was served later on in High school but the one meal I do remember was chili and cinnamon rolls. I don’t have a clue what else

Was served that day except a carton of milk. I lived for that treat about once a month. To this day I could eat a lunch of chili and cinnamon rolls but now I would want to wash it down with a Pepsi.

Four, one foot thick pillars to held up the cafeteria roof to make it appear open and yet strong enough to stand up to a snow load. Someone had the bright idea that to keep the poles from showing fingerprints they needed a linoleum wrapper from the bottom to about six feet up the side. That gray wrapper had a curious design and even a more serious bad smell. You guessed it. We called it elephant hide. Because there were four pillars they looked like, smelled like and were appropriately called elephant legs.

Each day as we would finish our lunch, it became a contest to see who could stand by the pole and sniff the smell the longest. In our terms the smell would “gag a maggot.” I don’t remember anyone smelling it so long that they actually puked, but it was close. The braver (read stupid in adult terms) you were the longer you could stand there and sniff the pole. As one of the instigators of that little game, I had to prove my mettle first.

I’m not sure if the term champion would accurately describe the winner of that game. Only the brave could or would last long standing there by those poles. I always did my best to be one of the guys that lasted the longest. I’m sure there was no written list of people that could do stupid things the longest but my name would have been there in Gold letters had there been such a list.

The smell the pole game would end, as it was finally time to be herded out of the cafeteria. We would go by the slop bucket and clean our plates of things no one would eat. There was some kind of bread and tomato mush they served that to my knowledge no one ever ate. The can looked like someone had been killing chickens on that day as it as running red with non-eaten tomatoes. I like spinach but I’ll tell you that I was one of the few that did. When ever it appeared on the menu the slop bucket would be green. It would have looked like Christmas if ever breaded tomatoes and spinach were ever served on the same day.

We would adjourn lunch to be sent out on the playground. Real smart to let them stuff our stomachs with food and then go outside to run and play. I’ll bet there was at least one merry-go-round puke each week.

I’ll end this little ditty with a warning to parents out there that you must pay attention to the “Law of Unintended Consequences”. If you build something that is smelly stupid or just not normal, do not be surprised if kids don’t find something stupid to do with it. Remember the “Elephant Legs” in the cafeteria.



The Day I Resigned from School!

I can't remember when I couldn't read. I think my sisters, Sue and Carol, encouraged me and I just kept reading until I could. I'm sure that there are a few words I mispronounce but mostly I read a lot and can't spell scheidt! Actually I do a good job phonetically but almost every time I blog there are a lot of little fine red lines under words in the paragraphs. Thank god most of the time spell checker can figure out what is wrong close enough to get a suggestion that is correct. If it gives me something close, I will probably select it and I'll bet from time to time you wonder where did that come from.
For the next week or so I am going to reach back into my childhood and select some of the funny stories I have put in my file for the book I would like to write. Here is the saga of the 7 year old Denny and the day I quit school.
Minneha Elementary was in one building and the library was in another. The built a new elementary school for the Baby boomer's and I guess they hadn't figured out how to take the books to the kids so they took the kids to the books. I loved the library and read everything I could get my hands on. From the biographies to the magazines, I loved the place. It was the thrill of the week to get to line up and go to the Library. For some reason my second grade teacher must have been a Marine Corps Instructor during the war. She hated the chatter of little kids and had no toleration of idle chatter. If you looked up idle chatter in the dictionary there was a picture of me. I loved to read and the excitement of going to the library just pushed me over the self control limit. We had no more cleared the door outside our building when the teacher stopped us and told us that the next person that talked would go back to the room and loose their library privilege. I shut up and walked straight ahead and surprise the teacher stopped the line again and said, "Denny Petty' you are talking, go back to the room." In my least ornery voice I said, "Teacher it wasn't me I was not talking." She replied, " What part of go back to the room and stay there do you not understand?" OK, I dressed that up a little, it was about 53 years ago. In my calmest voice I told her, " If you send me back, I won't be there when you get back!" The end of that meeting engagement was I was sent back to the room.
I entered that room, spun around and exited the door headed east. I quit that school and nope, I wasn't going back!
When I got home, my mother asked me why I was there in the middle of the day? I told her the story about the line dismissal and announced that I had quit, resigned, wasn't going back, finito, left that joint! No, I will not go get in the car and be taken back. I was out of there!
Her next reply was one that usually ended the meetings like that. "Wait until your father gets home". Oh crap, I hadn't considered that he might be one to be given the outcome of this engagement. Oh well, I had quit and that was that. My dad worked at Beech Aircraft and walked home for lunch. When he got there, my mother told him the story. He almost immediately went in to his bedroom. Oh oh, thats where he stores his belts and guns. I figured that I only had a short time to live. I stood tall (all three and a half feet at that time) and figured out that what ever he had to give, I was man enough to take it. He came out of the bedroom crying. Oh Shit oh dear. He just went in to the bathroom, washed his hands and face and came back out an calmly ate his lunch. He left to go back to work and didn't say a word to me.
mother let me stay home that day and bright and early I was marched to school and into the den of the Principal. I had to go in early for a week and make up the work I had missed. No, I could not quit school, They would send me to Lake Afton School for wayward boys if I didn't go to school.
There is no moral to this story, except to find out that my dad thought it was funny for me to quit school and he wasn't crying because he was mad or hurt, he was laughing and didn't want to do in front of me. MUD
Stand by for the Elephant Leg Story tomorrow.

True Words

Did any of you notice that I was so bored yesterday that I posted three times? I guess I should start dating then like this would be 2/18.1/08. Crap, how would I know there was going to be more than one? 2/17.1/08 is not needed because any blogger worth his salt knows the machine dates them for you.
Any one that read this stuff knows that I revel in making stuff up so the term "True" doesn't ring true. Read this bog site at your leisure but be aware that unless I quote some one everything I write is filtered through my perceptions, my memory and things I read years ago. I do find it fun to quote the local paper because I can remember things I read over coffee unless it gets more than a couple of hours later.
As I look out, it is snowing again. Not real hard but little flakes are drifting down again. We are about three times our normal "average" snowfall for the winter. This will be good fodder in the future when you will be able to say, "I remember that winter of Ought 8 that it snowed so damn much that...." You''ll get to add the last words, Hey I can't think for you. Well, I could but it probably wouldn't be poignant (Love that word, spell checker got closer this time once I remembered to put the "g" in there. I still got it wrong but aren't you proud I got close?)
This morning my horoscope said not to succumb to petty desires. Don't those idiots that all my desires are "petty". That is my last name for those of you that don't know me personally. I would also think that I don';t have major desires, mine are Colonel desires. No, not carnal, Colonel like the eagle landed on my shoulder. There was a time that Dave would tell his friends that I was a chicken shit colonel but I think I have bought my way back into his heart now.
As soon as I get ready this morning, I will take Dave's car back up to his house. If it were going to get warmer I would put the new rotors and brake pads on the car. I refuse to sit on the freezing ground or in my freezing garage to work on a car. Oh Well, such is life.


The Saga of Denny! 2/17.3/08

What does a cowboy "wannabe" grow up into? A soldier stupid. This was taken in 1968 out in the area surrounding Pleiku, RVN. I was assigned to Service Battery of a 155mm howitzer battlaion and once a month or so we went out beyond the wire and set up to catch the enemy setting up rockets or mortars. This night we didn't have any action and that was OK by me. I was a 2nd Lieutenant in the Field Artillery and soon after this picture was taken I went out with about 5 or 6 different units for small operations and then was assigned to a gun battery. I was too young to be really scared and didn't know about how good the chances of getting killed were.
This was a picture when I was about 12. It was a school picture from Minneha Elementary in Wichita, Kansas. By this time I could out run, outfight and damn sure out cuss most of the rich kids. Those blue eyes helped me get away with a lot of the mischief that should have branded me a miscreant.

I'm pretty sure this pictre was when I was about 11 and probably didn't have a fresh haircut by my dad. His dad cut hair so my dad thought he could. Just wai a couple of pictures and you'll see his handy work. This was the year I played on a little league team called the Meadowlarks. Any team with that wimpy a name should have gone winless in league play. Somehow because of a forfeit and our one and only win we were second in the post season tournament. I played first base and catcher.
This bright and shinny 10 year old was one of the neighborhood hoods. It is a small wonder that I didn't have my sleeves rolled up a notch or two. I was way too young to have a pack of cigarettes in there. Not that I couldn't have them if I wanted them and probaly by that time had smoked a cigarette or two. No wait, this was in school so the teacher would have made sure the hoods looked kind of presentable.

9 years old and a fresh haircut by dad. He must have secretly hated us to make us look this dorky. Oh Well, at least it wasn't hair growing over my collar. I'll bet I had on the fall pair of leather shoes. I would have outgrown them by Christmas if they lasted that long.

8 and a cowboy "wannabe" I think this was right in the middle of the Howdy Doody days and I also had a coon skin capo somewhere. I was all set to be an explorer and all around ranch hand. I had not really been exposed to cows at that time. First time I slipped in a cow plop at my grandpa's farm that desire kind of went away.

This was taken when I was about three and I think the same clothes got put away so my little brother Rick could be taken in them. Dad was in the Navy in WWII so we were dressed like little sailors. BS on that, All it took was one time on the lake in rough weather and sea sick put to rest any thoughts of a Naval career.

This had to be the spring of 1948. I would have been less than 1 at the time. This was the last time I was ever caught on film, on my knees. The rest of the time I was a blurr going somewhere important fast or reading a book.

Barb's Bird Pics's 2/17.2/08

This is our pretty woodpecker called a Downy. There seems to be several male and female pairs nearby.

This picture is one that really shows the red of the Cardinal to its best advantage. I had Barbara save the picture with him in the lower right so it would work best as a screen saver. This is a beautiful almost black and white picture with the bird in full color.

This is a red bellied woodpecker and one of the larger one's that comes to visit the suet block. There is also a flicker that is a big woodpecker that visits. The seem to take turns pecking out corn and seeds in the blocks of fat.
Have a great day.

Yep, Its snowing again! 2/17.1/08

This morning about 3 AM a strange noise woke me up. It was the sound of dripping water and I looked out of the window. It was a light rain and I went back to sleep thinking that if it is raining it is not snowing. Right? Wrong! Sometime after that it changed over to snow and now we have three or four inches of the white stuff. I woke up about 6:45 with the bedroom much lighter than normal and looking out that same window I got a shock. Now about 9 AM it is still snowing a wet heavy snow that alternates between a fine dusting to a heavy snow in alternating patterns.
Needless to say the birds are out in force and I have added a new layer of Milo, chopped corn and seeds on the porch. The porch on the south side of the house has an overhang and the birds can get in there and find the seeds. Elsewhere the ground has more snow than most of the birds are tall. The ground feeder that comes here most is the junkos. The picture above is a male finch in his winter colors. He will shed those feathers as spring gets here and be a bright yellow. Sometime this spring for a few days we will have house finches and the male has red feathers. They move on north by the end of May.
Dave and his wife went to Ohio this weekend to meet some of their friends. I am not sure which one's but I wish them well. I have Dave's car (2001 Malibu) and gave it the once over and a visit to Jiffy Lube. He can use the front brakes and rotors changes and I bought the parts. It will have to wait until it is a little warmer. The brakes are in OK shape but one rotor is warped and the front end makes a slight shimmy when you slam on the brakes. Not being in that big a hurry it is no big deal to me but you can sure feel it when Dave drives.
Today would be a snowman builder's dream. The snow is heavy and wet and sticks together well. It would also be a good snowball fight day if there was anyone that was young enough to be out in the snow to play. At 60, I'm not sure there is enough coffee or hot chocolate to warm us back up if we were to go out and play. Barb would probably get mad because I hit her with a snowball anyway. All said and done I am probably better off here inside looking out. Got a good book so I'll just read and dream of days out in the snow.


WARNING! This may get Political

Let me start with saying that I believe both parties believe that we are one nation dedicated to liberty, health and happiness, and that stems from the strength of our Constitution. After that is said, I think we have lost the moral authority to get there. Somehow, our leaders have all forgotten that the rest of the world would almost to a man come here if given half a chance. What we need is a refresher in what builds a strong country and stronger people.
First, there is a need for education and training to have a workforce able to provide for themselves and a family. If all of our children were trained and educated to the best possible level, we would be able to provide an education and employment for everyone. Our inner city schools should be assisted by the Military by providing mentors, tutors and helpers. There should be no greater calling than to be a teacher/mentor/coach to our children.
We need to make punishment exactly that. If you do a crime you should be charged with making little rocks out of big one's for the first half of your sentence. (hard productive work or you spend time with little to eat and alone) Everything you eat, wear or spend time with should be made by those in the same situation. You would have to work to eat and the living conditions would be harsh in my book. The second half of your sentence would be in an educational setting where you learn to do what you can't do now. This would include all the types of labor that we pay illegals to do. We would be better off if our incarcerated were put to work on the government rolls instead of spending $25,000 to $30,000 per year to incarcerate them.
What the hell happened to our desire to work? All my life I wanted to go to work and be the best I could be at that job. I always wanted to be as high up in the organization as reasonably possible. I had a tough time understanding Barb's not wanting to be a Principal but I did understand her desire to be where the rubber meets the road in education, "With the Kids". Trust me when I tell you that she never had a day that wasn't full day's work for the pay. She would spend an hour prior to school getting ready and an hour after work staying on top of the paper. She would spend additional hours each week planning for each child not just for a classroom. Then, in the middle she would test, plan, conduct/teach skills and re-evaluate the performance of each child. Our schools are full of teachers like Barb that are in it for the kids.
Our Government needs to refocus on what's wrong and do what it can to help put it back on the road to being the best we can. That doesn't include spending millions on programs that gives people houses, health care or for one moment takes away from the fundamental thought that if a person works he will be rewarded through that work.
OK, there is a weakness in my plan. I don't know how, given our current set of Politicians, to bring about the needed change. I think they all go to Washington with good ideas and soon get so involved in getting re-elected that they forget why they are there.
I would challenge Barack, Hillary and McCain to start talking about the problems and solutions and forget the rhetoric. Stand up, tell us what we all know and tell us how we are going to fix it! If you stand for change, what the hell are you going to change? I think our voters will recognize truth at least three time out of five. I recognize bull shit about 9 times out of 10. (I have purchased some stock in my lifetime that went south)
I would love to hear what you are going to do with the soldiers if we withdraw from Afghanistan and Iraq. If all you are going to do is hollow out the Army, Navy and Air Force to have more money to give to voters so they will vote for you, damn your ideas to hell. If you are going to put those people to work on our border and in our schools, welcome aboard.
I think it is about time we started on the high road about drugs. Putting people in Jail because they have gone for the gold of easy money does take them off the streets. How do they stand up when they get out without some job/education and way to feed their family. Our unintended consequence is that Petty criminals have to turn to further major crime because of the stigma of being a criminal with a record. Put a finger in that problem and stop that flow and we will be 100% better down the road.
OK, end of the rant for today. Just know that there is still a lot of issues in there that haven't been talked about and I will try to give you fair warning.


Two Dog Night

There is a wonderful diversity in our language that allows a lot of sayings to worm their way into common usage. A "Hail Mary" can work its way in from the Catholic Church and find it way over to the football field by way of a Doug Flute pass. A night so cold that it takes "two dogs" to keep a trapper from freezing can become the name of a leading rock group. There are a lot of things that are said and found to be just counter-intuitive or an oxymoron. Barbara always points out to me the term Military Intelligence as a leader in this race. How can an institution locked in rules, orders and regulations be allowed to use the word intelligence. I think the Senate Ethics oversight committee is another leader for that title.

The photo above was taken after my parents brought me an Indian head dress and drum when they returned from a trip. I was wearing my cowboy hat and for some reason wearing that bonnet was just an affront to everything I was a cowboy for. Yes, I know at that age I was at best, "all hat and no cattle" but damn it I just wasn't ready to be another Indian even if I was the chief. The photo was taken near Susank, KS in the middle of no and damn where. About 30 yards south of that house was a big oil pump rig with a John Deere one lung engine and it would start up and go pump-eta-pump, pump-eta-pump day and night.

This morning I took out some cornbread to the dogs. It was just beyond its prime and not moldy yet. The dogs attacked the task of crunching up the yellow squares to add to the calories it takes to stay warm in freezing weather. They also had to stop and cough when some that corn made its way into the throat. They both had to hit the water bucket as soon as they saw there was no more of the cornbread.

Yesterday I got tired of walking out into the muddy dog pen to feed the dogs and moved their dishes closer to the fence. I made the mistake of moving the order of their dishes from North to south and had to put them back into their proper alignment. Taco also has started bringing me a big stick when I come out. He takes it over by his metal dish and drops it on the bowl. Like a Pavlov experiment, he "rings the bell" to be fed. It never ceases to amaze me how that dog can pend so much time outside in all kinds of weather. They have a big dog house and even a side shed with a roof and yet he'll be outside on the ground. Oh well.

Hope you have a nice day. I've go things to do and places to see. I best, beat feet or perhaps "lie like a rug". MUD


Bierock Soup

As a kid growing up next door to a second generation German, how could I avoid being exposed to the wonders of Bierocks. Art & Carrie Longhoffer were my second parents and I loved to eat there as often as I could. They are both gone now but stories of Art and memories of Carries cooking linger on. These wonderful cabbage filled rolls with onions and garlic became a staple in our household. My wife tasted them for the first time and has become almost as hooked on them as I am. I think Barb likes them for the bread and I just like 'em for everything.
Earlier this week Barb cooked up a bunch of hamburger with the good intention of making bierocks. She even bought some cabbage which is a key ingredient in the recipe. Today I forgot to thaw out the frozen bread and really wanted that taste of bierocks. So, what am I to do but try to make a soup with that wonderful taste as a base. Barb had a loaf of french bread and baked it and I made Bierock soup. The temperature dropped 30 degrees today and a good hot soup just hit the spot.
I thought about using some of the bread dough to make a kind of dumpling to put into the soup. Barb isn't crazy about dumplings so I put all the ingredients together for the bireock filling and added a few touches. Hamburger, onions, garlic (I like a lot of garlic) and cabbage are the main ingredients. I use a beef bouillon to add depth in a lot of soups and have some beef gravy to help thicken the soup. I had a package of Raman noodles to give it some pasta. A dash of red pepper, salt and viola, a soup that satisfied my bierock craving. I am full of soup right now and will close here with a challenge to you to try making something you love into a good pot of soup. Lets see, Ribs soup? How about Macaroni soup with potatoes and ham? What do you think?

Now That's Funny!

To borrow Larry the Cable guy's saying, I think "Now that's funny" could be said about yesterday's post. The sad part is that not one person thought it was funny enough to mention. Sad day!

One of the blogs I read said one time that they hated lurkers that read and don't reply or leave a howdy when they read a good Blog. I almost always try to say something even if it isn't as funny or poignant. (Try to get your spell checker to find that word without the g. I could get the poin part but the gnant was just get out the snail mail version by Webster and find it. )

To all the lovers out there, Happy Valentines Day. I got the "Who Let the Dogs Out" singing card from Barb and it made us both laugh. I wonder how many times it will sing before the batteries give out.

Well, that's it for today. MUD


Why Do I do This Stuff?

In today's paper there was an article about sports. The final point in the article was that there are three kinds of men. The first kind learn by reading. The second kind do by observing and the third kind just have to pee on that electric fence to learn. Now I know I have learned a lot by the rule of unintended consequence but I ain't from Missouri and See'n feelin' sparks from that part of my anatomy just is a little more extreme than I want to suffer. Rather be stupid than dumb.Just reading that caused Testicular withdrawal. Guys will know about this bodily reaction. It is as normal as shrinkage due to cold water.
One day this last week I was reading a blog by "Two Dogs" and he put some links to U-Tube on the side of his latest epistle. It had dachshunds and the annual race in Buda, Texas. It started out as a fund raiser and a hot dog sale. It evolved into dachshund races and now every spring, the last weekend in April they have a great big turn out to see those long wheel base low riders run down some grass track in the park. The latest race was set to the music "Who Let the Dogs Out?" If you know anything about dachshunds you would know that some will do anything to please and some must be inbred with cats. Those little critters just walk out and find a warm place in the sun. Three or four of them would race down the track and then circle back the way they came leading the rest of the pack to meander aimlessly and in some cases crash into others. Laughed my butt off watching them. Makes my heart miss Grissy something fierce. I know, Barb would tell me to go out and play with the dogs I have.
Now would be a good time to address the question about why I do this stuff? I think somewhere inside there is a book waiting to get out and I am kind of using the blog to be like an EX-Lax to help it along. Yes, I am working on my alliteration to help you have a good time passing through. (Another shitty joke to help it be light and funny)
I once heard a good story about a chain. It seams that on their way to camp one year, one of the gun trucks had a flat tire. The driver pulled over to the ditch and promptly got stuck. After an hour or so changing the tire, the crew needed to have a tow out of the ditch. The unit commander, a crusty old Captain that had served in WWII was standing there watching and someone asked him to fetch the chain off the back of the maintenance truck. Just as he started down into the ditch dragging the chain, the Battalion Commander pulled up and stopped. He asked, "Captain Brown, what are you doing down in that ditch pulling that chain?" Captain Brown who did not suffer fools gladly, calmly spit and said," Shit sir, did you ever try to push one of the sombitches?" To keep from laughing out loud, the Colonel just waived to his driver to go on. I guess I just want you to have a small smile on your face and think of me every time you think about having your chain pulled instead of pushed. That's why I do this stuff.


Guess What I got for our Anniversary?

Yep, Barb got me a telephoto lens for the Nikon. I can take pictures of nose hair at 100 yards. It does work well on this camera. I just need a lens bearer to get it from place to place.

I am Like Mike!

One of the columns in today's paper mentioned that Mike Huckabee's win in Kansas was mentioned three times on meet the press and the fact he had eaten squirrel as a college student was mentioned four times. Barbara laughed at that fact and asked me if I had eaten squirrel. Yes, in that way I am like Mike! That is not to say I like Mike or will vote for him but I have eaten my share of what Ellie May would call critters. Here for your edification is just a list of some of the things I have eaten in my lifetime:
  • I have eaten enough pheasant in my life to cause an environmental impact statement to be filed. We would go to Susank, KS almost every year for hunting season and the hunters would almost always donate the birds to my grandparents to fee the masses. I'm sure that in the long run, the beer and whiskey bought and paid for by Curly in trade for the pheasants drove the price up pretty high but I was just a kid so what did I care. Grandma would bake them for an hour or so at a low temperature and then fry them in pork fat. I'm sure that Col Sanders never cooked up a better tasting plate of any fowl. Along with this pheasant mess I probably also ate quail, and some prairie chicken. I know we shot a meadowlark or two but I'm pretty sure we didn't eat them.
  • Rabbit. Fried, stewed and baked. Tastes like chicken but without the benefit of white breast meat.
  • Frog Legs. Tastes like someone stored small chickens in a root cellar until they just started to go bad. With fried onions and potatoes who cared. My frog hunting story is a hoot. Remind me to tell it to you sometime. Barbara has listened to it several times and is probably glad that I will write it so she can skip over it.
  • Raccoon. The family up the street from us went "coon" hunting every year. In the early winter months it was legal to take one or two as sport. You could run them in the summer but you couldn't kill them. Mrs Lawrence would clean then and put them in a BBQ sauce. We would eat them on hamburger buns and they were great. Hey, I was a hungry kid what did I know.
  • Turtle. One year my grandfather cooked some turtle soup and we all ate it before he told us what it was. It tasted like a slightly strange potato soup to me. Ate it anyway!
  • Capi Berra. This is a large rodent that was everywhere in Panama. At the jungle school we were given a "feast of wild things we could eat there in a survival portion of the course. I think there was some monkey, some quati mundi (Like a long tailed coon that slept with a monkey) and at least one kind of lizard.
  • Goat. In San Antonio, there is a restaurant that prides its self on having some of the best goat "al carbon" or grilled. Eat it with flour tortillas like Fajitas and man is that some good stuff.
  • Fish of all kinds, shapes and sizes. I don't particularly like catfish unless if is farm raised. The "out of the river" catfish taste kind of muddy to me. My grandfather lived on Beaver Lake in Arkansas in his later years and we would almost always have a crappie fish fry at least once when we would visit. He used a batter made from corn, ground at the "War Eagle" mill and beer. My son, who won't eat fish here in Kansas would eat Curly's fried fish. As a kid, we ate a lot of Salmon patties made with canned salmon, bones and all. I also ate a lot of canned Tuna and today I can't abide the smell, let alone the taste of Tuna. I ate shark one time in California and found it very bland and if had not been for the caper sauce it would have been impossible to eat.
  • In Little Rock, Arkansas there was a place called "SOB's". That was for shrimp, oysters and beer hause. I would start with a dozen oysters, a half pound of shrimp boiled in beer and a pitcher of beer. Then we would hit the sights and sounds of "little pebble" and probably stop for some more shrimp and beer on the way home. I like crab legs but have never really developed a taste for lobster. Got sick after eating a lobster in California and I'm sure that the black russians and rusty nails had noting to do with my being sick. Damned lobster went bad.
  • Venison. My sister and her husband Ray almost always have some deer meat chili at our family Christmas get together. To me it tastes like regular chili but I'm sure that is part of the point.
  • Buffalo. At least once a year someone here nearby has some kind of a fund raiser where they cook buffalo burgers. You pay an inflated price and get a burger that tastes like ketchup and mustard. (Don't forget the pickle, tomato and lettuce) I personally can't taste the difference. They tell me that it is lower in fat but then they fry it with some oil on a grill. (Bet it is pork fat, it rules)
  • Speaking of pork, I helped my Grandfather kill, clean and butcher a hog in Arkansas when I was about 13. It took up almost all day and man was it messy. After the women packaged up the meat, Grandma Erma then began the task of rendering the lard. She cooked that big old pot of pork fat and alternated between putting in big slabs of fat and taking out lard and pork rinds until they had that hog reduced to nothing more than the oink and lots of packages. They got some sausage spices in town and if it wasn't packaged or rendered, it went in to the sausage grinder.
I guess that where and when you grew up made a big difference in what you ate. Kids today have probably not seen a chicken fed like a pet, killed, cleaned and eaten. As a 60 year old, I have had the experience of killing and eating a lot of things. I think that today I have a reverence for wild animals and probably could fill my belly here at Rabbit Run but choose not to. It is lightly snowing and the birds are eating their fill of seeds. There is hardly never a time when one woodpecker or another isn't swinging on the suet block and eating their fill. I'll bet it is pork fat holding those seeds together.


What a game!

Baylor gave the Hawks 100% of their best. Thank god that the Hawks were up to a 100 point game because it took that much to beat the Bears. Anyone that watched that game probably went away with the feeling that Basketball is one of those games that anyone can win or lose on any given night. I think I enjoyed the end of this game about as much as any I've seen this year. Remember that I saw four home games in Allen Field House so you know this one was a great game.
One of the Hawks, Sherron Collins was the spark plug at the end of the game that has been missing since he hurt his foot earlier this year. He drove to the basket and at the end, Baylor just didn't have anyone that could stop him. That and free throws won the game for the Hawks this time. (Yes, I know the picture of Sherron was from the Nebraska game)


Golly (Borrowed from Mitt)

On February 11th, 1968, the beautiful lady above agreed to marry me in Las Vegas, Nevada. We tied the knot in the Chapel of the Bells and I have been hearing them for 40 years. That means that we will have been married 2/3rds of our lives this coming Monday.
You don't need to do anything to recognize that date. I promise you that we have everything we need and most of what we want. OK, I would like to have a grandchild but hey, I can't have everything.


Some Things I hate

  • I hate it that you can't believe anything you see, or read any more. This Photo-workshop stuff has just made it impossible to tell what is real from what is made up. As the world's best maker-up of things, they are crowding me. Is this a Dog Bird or a Bird Dog?

  • Stupid Speech. I am an advocate of free speech to the max but I can't abide people that say stupid things and claim free speech. When something is so stupid that at its core you can't believe it, it is stupid and should be not allowed. Especially out in public!
  • Telephone calls from a machine. The next thing in line is calls from phony polls that make up stuff and then ask for a donation. The third is the one from some company that calls and tells me they are from some credit card processing center and my card needs some attention. It is a come on for a service that is out there to "Protect me" and my cards from abuse. If they are so damn good, they would protect me from their calls.
  • Blogs that just post pictures of their faces with nothing to say. I am looking for a good few sites to read because I like to get different ideas and views. There must be about a thousand young Oriental girls that have some pink background and put nothing but pictures of them and their friends. They also don't have a button so I can just hit next blog and go on. It really pisses me off when I can't do anything because they have the machine captured loading some sappy song.
  • Snow after about the third day. In Kansas we normally get a few snows and they don't last long. This winter we have had either snow or frozen ground or mud for most of the time since Thanksgiving. My truck has big fat tires and I have to turn around in the driveway to get out. I want to go somewhere warm, NOW!
  • This damn writer's strike. Not that TV has such wonderful programs any way. This damn writer's strike has us watching re-runs and reality shows. I hate reality shows that are so made up that they just stink up the joint. Dancing with the stars had devolved into dancing with your mother. Oh mother, what is the world coming to. Next thing I'll be watching re-runs of programs that Mom likes. (Murder she wrote, any show with Andy Griffith) I do want the last session of NYPD Blue because I missed it.
  • Computer programs that load themselves. I have Mozilla and the latest update 2.0.11 or something loads aboput every time I turn on my machine and for some reason it fails to load and tells me it will load the next time I start Mozilla. Pain in the ass, I tell you.
  • I may not be the most organized person or the brightest, but when I can't make sense out of something it is either too hard or not right. If you can figure out how we are holding the primaries and caucuses and how that all adds up to a Presidential nomination, I will buy you a coke. I just shut my eyes for the national Presidential election because the Electoral College makes even less sense. Pile up the votes and the best man wins. How you can win the most votes and lose is just an affront to common sense.
  • For the first time, I have about had it with the split in the Republican party. Right when we need to get strong and keep the Clinton's out of the White House, we are split between the Conservatives, the fundamentalists and the rest of us. If you listen hard, you can hear Rush Limbaugh tittering in the background as this just has to be driving his ratings up and over. Who the hell is Ron Paul? Why doesn't another Arkansas Governor just go away. Pick one and support the guy. Hell, Mitt threw away 38 million of his own dollars and dropped out. Rudy folded like a cheap tent when the going got rough. Oh well,
  • Governments that know all the problems but don't support the solutions. We need some good energy programs and we need them now. Let the taxpayers deduct a few dollars for replacing poor windows and putting in some insulation to cut the expenditure of energy. Put up some solar and wind energy plants. Drill for oil where it is and quit shipping it from around the world at $100 a barrel.
  • Bushy tailed rats, aka squirrels. They are a royal pain in the butt here at Rabbit Run. They eat the bird food and chew on anything wood. Next spring I will have to replace several boards on the house where they tried to eat their way into the attic. I wil leave their trees alone if they will leave the house alone. No, it will be WAR! They will bring a knife to a gun fight.
OK, enough of the rant. It is kind of like wetting my pants in a dark suit. It gives me a warm feeling and no one notices. MUD


Some of My Favorite Things

  • Barbara
  • Dave and his wife Barb
  • A big bowl of ice cream.
  • Old Chevys.
  • Dogs.
  • Kids
  • good books
  • new places
  • new things
  • no debt (not currently the case but at least very positive on a balance sheet)
  • good friends
  • stories well told.
  • Great pictures of thing and places I would like to see or places I want to go.
I would love to live in a place where I could put the recumbent on the trail year round.


The Wild Times at Rabbit Run

This is our Yellow Bellied Sap Sucker. He is the only ruby throated woodpecker in our bird books. I love that name. Yosemite Sam couldn't say a more colorful name.

This Male Cardinal just shows up in some of the best pictures. I can't wait until he is in his finest spring color. If he is in the sun it almost hurts your eyes to look at him. His girlfriend is just another brown bird and is hard to pick out.

This was taken about a week ago when the snow was gone for a dayor so. This possum came out and licked the bird seed off the porch. It was the cleanest the porch had ever been.

Have fun out there, MUD

Mo' Sno Pics

Barbara always likes to get out and tramp through the snow and take photos of the place blanketed in the white stuff. It never ceases to amaze me that she see details I would overlook. This is a piece of ken's yard art that I also love. It is a Kansas Sunflower with a suet block feeder right in the middle. I kept a suet block in it one year for about three months and not one bird ever pecked on it. The suet block down below the house last at most three days.

This is the view of our house that almost no one gets to see. You have to sneak up on the joint from the creek side and other than animals few go there.

Barb always tries to get a photo of the creek in somewhere. It is the upper end of Tecumseh Creek. It dumps into the Kansas River just at the town of Tecumseh. It may dump into the Shunga there and it shortly dumps into the Kaw.

This is a birds eye view of our driveway if the bird is a penguin. Thank god the snow was just axle deep and we could get out to the main road without the assistance of a snow plow.

Lets see, I have a three car garage but between the mower, the tractor, boxes, the 57 Chevy and Barb's car someone just has to keep his big round nose outside. So far I have kept the gas tank full and the battery well charged and it has started most of the time. I do have a good heater but the door that jok trashed in the wreck hasn't been adjusted yet and it leaks air big time. Oh well, That's the view from here for now.