Oh Hell, One More War Story

This will be one short one just because I thought of it this morning and I can change my mind if I want to. If you are tired of this shit, go read something else.

During the entire Vietnam War, the leadership looked for ways to justify the expense of the war. One of the ways they thought would give the people back home a good feeling was the macabre body count business. One you stopped fighting any little skirmish, the higher ups would expect you to go out and count the dead enemy bodies. To frustrate the process, I'm sure the North Vietnamese leaders told their people to carry off any dead after an attack. This led us by 1968 to find a lot of blood trails and not a lot of bodies.

Now, what would you do when at the end of each fire mission you had to report the body count. Yes, boys and girls we became the world's best estimators. OK, we made stuff up. That was probably as accurate as guesstimating from the bloody trails. I'm sure that the Infantry would estimate from the blood trails and the Artillery would report at the end of the missions and there was probably a hell of a lot of second guessing and double counting went on.

Each day, an elaborate report was forwarded by each Artillery unit up through their chain of command that would include the body count and rounds expended. I'm sure there was some Command and General Staff College Graduate somewhere that did a statistical analysis and declared our rounds worthy of such expenditures.

One morning, our radio that had been silent for at least an hour, started with a request from one of the Infantry Divisions for a fire mission. It wasn't from the guy on the ground, it was from the Division Headquarters Artillery Liaison. It seems that a Long Range recon Patrol (LRRP) was off the air and they didn't have a clue why. Seemed like a no brainer to me, those guys were out there humping their packs through some pretty tough jungle and were asleep. I contacted my artillery LNO with the coordinates for a fire mission that put a round out in the general vicinity of the LRRPs but no so close that I would hit anyone. Mission approved and one 155mm round of High Explosive with a PD fuse went out. It wasn't very long that we got a message from the Infantry Division LNO that the team reported in and everything was fine.

Now came the problem of how the hell did I report that one mission and that one round. It was clearly just a Harassment round and unobserved but it wasn't on the list of approved Harassment and Interdiction (H&I) fires sent down with the approval of everyone including probably God. Being the good Lieutenant I was, I reported it as a "Wake Up Mission for a LRRP." Well, once my report began to filter up through the system, every headquarters higher than us wanted us to verify what the hell we meant by that. Clearly it was a message that was correctly reported but not a mission type anyone had approved.

Within a couple of hours Helicopters started arriving in our location. Majors came out of the bushes (actually rear headquarters) to find out what really happened. A couple of hours later, a full Colonel showed up and wanted to eat some LT's ass. As the guy that reported the information, mine got served up on the platter. I tried calmly as I could to explain and nothing I said worked until I would ask, "What the hell would they have done?" Most of the time they would mutter and get back on their helicopters and leave.

I'm sure that I had the reputation as being a smart ass and deservedly so. Some where, unless someone changed it, there is a report of a fire mission that was a "Wake Up Mission for a LRRP". I do still wonder how high up in the reporting chain that information made it before it was just lost in the shuffle.

LT Guns...


Last War Story... For a While

It was a Dark Night

There were times in Vietnam, that I just gave in to the stress and went to sleep. FIDO - Fuck It, Drive On became our motto in a lot of cases because it was either laugh or the stress would kill you. It was a lot like riding the rollercoaster at the amusement park. the first few times you did ride, it scared the hell out of you and the adrenalin burned up and left you shaky. After a while you just didn't think about the fact that there were guys out there that wanted to ventilate you with real live bullets. We began to trivialize them and they simply became gooks that should die.
On one of my many different trips out with the Infantry, we were operating in the jungle north of Saigon. It was after the TET attacks in 1968 and Charlie was rebuilding his base in the deep jungle. The books described it as triple canopy cover. It seems that several hundred feet above the tree tops were thick with sun blocking leaves. Somewhere down below that was a second level and that small amount leaves would further such the sunlight out of the daytime and the final layer above our heads would make it look like early morning or late daytime in the broad light of noon. Now that you begin to understand what it was like during the daytime, try to imagine what it was like at night. Black, a kind of flat black that just reached out and snatched any remnant of light until it was like you were robbed of your sense of sight. Because you were damp and dirty, even your sense of touch as you scratched didn't help the feeling of not being able to see shit.
On one of those dark nights, an outpost had a trip flare go off on the trail beyond them. Shit oh dear, close one eye so you can see when the damn thing burns out. Oh hell, you couldn't see a damn thing no matter how hard you tried. The white flash burned your night vision out and then when it got dark, dark took a whole new meaning. One of the guys in that outpost got spooked and without warning threw a grenade out in the general direction of the flare. As soon as that grenade went off, the whole group opened up with an M-60 and two M-16's. It was the firefight from hell for a short period. Them Ka-Whoomp and one of those mental geniuses set off a Claymore. That was the signal to cause several other outposts to report that they had activity in front of them and they started firing. I got on the horn and brought up our direct support artillery battery and fired our Defensive Concentrations around our position. Very soon, a battery of 155mm howitzers wanted to get into the act and I started moving their fires around in the dark. Shit oh dear, a 175mm battery came up and they wanted to lob a round or two. Knowing how poorly they fired accurately, I put them out at least a grid square away from us.
For at least 30 minutes, it was like the final scene from Platoon where everything was making noise and a lot of ammo got shot. Then, silence. Everyone reported that the movement stopped and there wasn't a noise to be heard within a mile of us. Some of the quiet was from the loss of hearing because of all the damned firing. The real quiet was because any self respecting thing in the jungle went far, far away. The Company Commander got his platoon leaders on the radio and started taking Sitrreps (Situation reports) on who was wounded or hurt. Pretty soon it was reported that the only injury was one of the guys on the outpost who got hit by some of the grenade shrapnel because he stood up to see what hit the ground when the other idiot threw a grenade and didn't tell the other guys. That guy had run back into our main perimeter and left his M-60 machine gun out there. The other guys didn't know he had left it and they came back in without it.
I thought the Captain was going to explode right then and there. He was shouting so loud that I'm sure the Platoon leader could hear him without the radio. "Get some of your men and go get that Damned Machine Gun and get it now! Kerist on a crutch, are your people just terminally stupid or what!" It was soon reported that they recovered the machine gun and the things the outpost had left.
To say that I didn't get much sleep the rest of the night was an understatement. I kept one gun up firing at each of the different spots on the map in random order. I had everyone asking for a sitrep and body counts the rest of the night. "No, I don't have an idea what we hit and I sure as hell will wait until daylight to find out! If you want a body count, come on out and we'll let you wonder around in the dark to see what you can find."
At first light, the unit had a 100% STAND TO. That meant every single person was awake and ready to defend in case we were hit. In short order, the Platoons began to move out on short patrols to see what they could find. One platoon where the outpost had had the trip flare go off soon started to report blood trails in the jungle. Someone or something was out there and we had hit a lot of them. Then the news that bodies were found came in. Damned Monkeys had been moving and hit the perimeter and caused all the fuss. I thought I would bust a gut laughing. As I began to make my reports to the artillery units that had fired for us, you could hear people laughing in the background. One of the Radio Operators actually said, "No Shit?"
While it gave me a good feeling to know that I could have the entire resources to support us if we got hit, I did wonder about the shaky outposts that started the entire mess. I guess that fire first was the night time motto for soldiers out in the dark jungle.
LT Guns


3rd War Story in a Row


Just when thing in the Heartland of the USA start to change in the fall for the pretty, things in Vietnam turn pretty wet. I can remember the day when I was riding in a convoy and the dust from the truck in front of us turned to mud and we were soon chocolate looking soldiers. The dust way down deep hadn't turned to syrup and the dust as it was kicked up was soon glued to us by the start of that dreaded season called the Monsoon. Little did the kid from Kansas even have an idea that I would so soon tire of the rain. For a period of a little over 90 days, it rained every which way it could.
I have seen rain falling down in a light mist, a pouring rain and as described by the term, "In the manner of a bovine urinating on Portsmouth Limestone" (A cow pissing on a flat rock). I have been up to my waist in a rice paddy and damn near drowned by the rain splashing back up into my face. The rain could blow sideways and it didn't take long for everything you owned to get soggy. I soon took to not wearing socks in my Jungle Boots as little pits began to develop and skin began to slog off. After being a smelly mess from the dirt and sweat, we soon all developed a grungy white look and a funky smell somewhere a cross between a mushroom and bathroom mold.
I was on a mountain top fire base (Called a Landing zone or LZ) and the clouds were filling the valley below us. We sat out in the sun and did our best to dry off. I can say that the view was like being on the tops of a cloud and it was beautiful. We made some coffee in an ammo can and it was one of the most glorious times I had in Vietnam. Not long, and the clouds lifted (The clouds, not our spirits) and the rain began anew in earnest. It was frustrating that while the valley was filled with fog and rain, the resupply helicopters could not take off. While the clouds lifted over our position the helicopters could lift off but they couldn't come to our position. Finally about 3 PM the clouds were high enough to let the pilots see where we were and the resupply could resume. Put three or four hundred people on a mountaintop and the number of Helicopter sorties per day was high. It was really frustrating that a water trailer with 300 gallons didn't do much more than supply drinking water.
More than once I grew so tired of smelling like a cross between a wet wool sweater and an old dog. I would try to get out in the rain and using what once had been a bar of soap wash myself off. I generally would start with my jungle uniform on and wash it until it looked more clean. I would then strip off each piece until I was there in my birthday suit. Seldom did I make it to the place where I was completely clean. It was damned cold in the rain after months of 100 degree days. Stateside, I would have taken a towel and wiped the dirt away. Over there, anything that looked like a towel was so dirty that it would add dirt if you tried to wipe yourself off with it. Not to mention the musty smell of anything made out of cloth that would set in with the lack of a washing machine. If there was one memory stronger than any, to most Vets it was the smell of Vietnam. If dried fish wasn't bad enough, the GI's would burn the feces from their latrines with diesel fuel and make a smell that just covered the rest of the smell of the place.
Back in the base camps they would gather pallets and make what looked like sidewalks. It would keep them out of the mud and while they got wet, they could remove the tracked in mud with a shovel and maintain some semblance of order. Out in the field, if you put in pallets, you soon had mice. If you had mice, you had snakes and most of us would rather have mud.
In those trying times, a piece of plastic was worth its weight in gold. If you could manage to have enough plastic to cover the roof of your hooch, you could manage to sleep somewhat dry. I can't even begin to describe the elaborate ways GI's would try to keep the rain out. One unit actually built a sandbag bunker in the dry season and resorted to covering it with a large (known as a GP medium) tent. At least they could make the river flow down and almost away from the insides.
Someone in that part of the Military that is responsible for the gear we used decided that a large waterproof square of rubber covered nylon was the answer to our prayers in wet weather. That item called a poncho was miserable in warm wet weather. If you wore one for long, you were wet from sweat on the inside of the poncho. I think that wet from rain somehow made the stink a lot less. being wet from sweat inside a poncho enhanced your stink to unbearable levels.
One sleeping tent would keep you dry from the rain, but the floor had standing puddles. The guys began to dig trenches and one guy dug the Panama Canal around his bunk. It wasn't till he began to be bothered by those little gnats we called Dog packer gnats. (You know those little gnats that fly around an old dog's pecker all day in the summer) It was only then did he realize that the guys would rather just piss in his trench than go outside in the rain and do their duty. he soon found the trick was to have enough of a edge to move the water and not too much depth to allow water to accumulate.
Most of my time in Vietnam was spent in what we called the Central Highlands and most of that time was spent with either a Grunt Company out in the mud, the blood and the beer (we wish) or with a gun battery on some hill top firing for the grunts. It was like a yearlong camp out for me and to this day, I have no desire to go to some far away spot and sleep on the ground. Perhaps if I had a bed in a Mini-Winnebago I might see my way clear to at least stay there overnight. In fact, I have this inner desire to have a travel home, or motor coach and travel. I will promise you that I would abandon it like a rented mule if it stopped running or leaked. When it comes to wet, I have this giant sign that says, "Been There, Done That!"

LT Guns...

Mo' Stories

Fat Albert

In Vietnam, many people were given nick names that just were spot on. One skinny guy, named Terwiggler, was nick named after that skinny English Model named "Twiggy." That name stuck like glue. One of my Battery Commanders was a huge man at least 6 foot 4 and the other side of 250 lbs. His first name was Albert and while he was white, the monicer "Fat Albert" stuck on him. I don't think I ever heard anyone call him that to his face but behind his back no one called him anything else. I dedicate this story to Twiggy and Fat Albert.
During the first half of my tour in Vietnam, I was mostly a Forward Observer on loan where ever and whenever there was a need. I went places and did things so different that I felt like I was in a different war from week to week. For the most part, I slept on the ground without the benefit of a good air mattress. Oh sure, I had one and if I woke up and blew the damned thing up three or four times a night I kept off the ground. On many nights I was so tired that once it lost air, it was just a ground cloth to keep the moisture from the muck seeping in to my clothes.
When I returned to my unit as the Battery Fire Direction Officer I did my best to locate an air mattress that would hold air for the night. One visit to the Supply Room finally paid off. I got to trade that mattress for a brand new one still in the plastic shipping bag fresh from the manufacturer. I traveled out to the fire base and the first night when I blew it up the bottom seam just blew out. Crap, Double Crap.
I managed to make a swing back past Base Camp and this time I was ready to test a new one out and even brought a fifth of Whiskey with me to ensure I got a good trade. I was given an air mattress that was clean and held air. Hallelujah to God almighty. I took that air mattress with me as I returned to our fire base and was consistently asked to trade with many additional items thrown in for good measure. There was no limit to the value of a good air mattress and I had one.
Later on, I was promoted to XO when the old one rotated home. That meant that I no longer spent my days and nights with the Fire Direction crew that included Twiggy. It meant that I spent my time with a couple of Sergeants in the XO's hooch. They both had good air mattresses so mine wasn't any big deal.
I came up on the list to go on R&R and as I was packing my stuff up, Twiggy came over to my hooch. he said, "Hey LT, you are going to spend your time in a real bed in Hawaii, how about letting me spend some time on that excellent air mattress." What was I going to say but, "Sure."
After my return to the hill top fire base, I looked up Twiggy to get my air mattress back. He went in to the back sleeping area and brought it out. It was flat the bottom seam was blown out and had a size 14 boot print on it. He told the story about the night a couple of nights earlier when he was bringing it in from airing out outside. As he was going through the door of the FDC hutch, Fat Albert was spooked by the sound of a Mortar landing off way across the perimeter. Fat Albert rushed through the door of the hooch, over running poor Twiggy and my mattress. The foot print was witness to the fact that Fat Albert had stepped right in the middle of twiggy and my air mattress. The only saving grace in this story was that when the air mattress exploded Fat Albert fell down like he was hit. It was only luck that kept him from falling on twiggy. I wonder if you can get a Purple heart for being smushed by friendly boots during a mortar attack?
Many nights were full of laughter after that, filled with Stories of that damned air mattress that faux wounded Fat Albert. The only saving grace was that I really didn't have long to serve with that unit and I was soon home, back in the States where I knew the wife had purchased a new Sealy Mattress. It filled the bedroom of our trailer from wall to wall and door to door. LT Guns...


War Stories

LT Guns

Sebastion Cabbot & My recon team

Every once in a while I get the urge to write another War Story. if you are offended by a little profanity, it might pay you to go away for a week or so. If not, gather in your guns and listen up:

Guns, Where are my Bloody Guns?
My tour in Vietnam was one endless cycle of changing assignments. I was a Forward Observer when we went over as a battalion. The first night in the field, I became the only officer left in the unit after a mortar attack wounded the Commander and the XO. After a meeting engagement with the Group Commander I was soon infused over to another unit over in Pleiku and in a different Artillery Group. I was officially assigned as the Service Battery Ammunition Officer but was the loaner FO when anyone needed one for a while. Even when I was not loaned out, I spent my days flying as convoy cover as we tried to resupply the Ammo Dump in Dak to. It had been blown up during TET and we hauled convoy after convoy north day after day for at least a month.
One of the best assignments I drew as a Forward Observer was the time I was loaned to a Basic Training Company as they went out on their Bivouac. Their field problem was a live fire, four day exercise out into the boondocks north of Pleiku. The thing that made this really remarkable was that the trainees were almost to a man, mountaignards and the cadre was Australian. here I was a 6 foot three American with a unit where the typical soldier looked more like a boy scout troop member rather than a member of a fighting unit. Sure, "Try to look short LT" was the reply of my recon sergeant.
At the end of the first day, we stopped to establish our perimeter and get set in for the night. For the most part that meant that the white guys sat down and directed the little brown soldiers on what to do. One of the ammo bearers had the duty of doing shoulder rubs. I swear that after a day carrying a pack that little guy sure did a good job. I wonder what a bad job would have been like. They also made a big pot of tea and we discussed the day's activities. The Aussie Commander would ask about the fire support available and where did I plan to fire my defensive concentrations. For some weird reason, he didn't want me to actually fire them, just plot them and report them to the firing battery. Most nights I would actually fire rounds when with American units. I really kind of wanted to know where they were aimed and what they were going to hit. Oh well.
The only thing I really thought different was the fact that the Commander thought I was his security blanket. Any time I was more than 50 feet from him or just out of sight I would hear him shout, "Guns!, where the hell are my bloody Guns!" I swear that got old because most of the time I was just over behind some brush doing my daily duties and my recon sergeant was right there beside him. I know for a fact that my recon sergeant was well trained and could pick out coordinates as well as I could. I trained him. In fact our radio man was almost as good as he was and we both made sure that he could properly call for fire. If we were in a difficult place we wanted all the good help we could get.
After two or three days of working our way through the hills north of Pleiku we stopped and decided on our Final Field Exercise. We were going to surround and search a village. I'm sure that it was well planned and some compensation had been made to the village chief. We showed up just after first light and put our troops around the village and the command group entered the village. The first thing we heard was the women wailing over in one of the huts at the edge. I guess there had been some sickness and at least one of the kids had died of some disease. There was another kid very sick and would soon die without the help of medical treatment.
I got on the radio and reported the ill child and very soon a Medivac helicopter from the base hospital on the Pleiku Air Force Base was inbound. he took the mother and the child to the base hospital and I found out later that the child was soon well enough to go back home.
We did break down into search parties and watched as each hooch was given a thorough search. I think the advisors were with the soldiers to keep them from stealing. At least half way through the search, I heard the CO holler, "Guns! Where are my bloody Guns!" I went back over to his locations and he was fine, just felt unsure without me.
The end of that adventure was the fact that trucks came out and took us all back to the Camp where they Basic training was being conducted. We had a big graduation dinner and the next morning I attended the Graduation. We were given a jeep ride back over to our base camp. The battalion XO was mad as hell that he didn't know we were going to stay for the Graduation. He had another assignment for LT Guns. or Bloody guns as my recon sergeant called me from then on.
LT Bloody Guns....

Did You Notice?

Barbara, can you hear me?

One of the banners above my blog was "Report Abuse". My question is, abuse from who to who? Am I to be turned in when I make a typing error for abusing the spelling? Am I to be turned in when I write a run on sentence? Are you going to turn me in when you read this crap and are as unfulfilled as I am when I write it? Am I going to turn you in when I see that I had 60 hits in one day and no one left a comment? Will Barb be turned in when she goes out to get the paper and forgets to feed Tiger? He for one will sit by the dinning room door and howl until he gets fed. What the heck?

Today we are having a blizzard of falling leaves. The frost the other day and the light breeze have caused the trees to drop their leaves in large quantities. I took the leaf blower out and cleared the deck and the sidewalks yesterday. You sure can't tell it today. There is a fresh 6 inch layer on everything.

One of the local car dealers was quoted in today's paper as saying the reason his business is slow is that his cars are built well and last longer. I hope it is because people like me are driving their cars until the wheels fall off out of pure economic sense. I say that everyone should have one new car in their lifetime but after that, buy a used car with as few miles as possible and drive it until it quits. My niece asked me what I would do if I had her KIA that needs struts and power steering work. I told her that I would carry a big screw driver and drive it until it stops. I would get out, take the screw driver to the Tag bolts and walk away. There comes a time when a merciful end for every car is deserved. I think she found some power steering magic fluid that helped but the struts probably cost more than the car is worth. It is time to sell when a full tank of gas doubles the value of your car.

Yesterday was a strange day. It started out sunny and then the clouds set in and just ruined the temperature. What should have been a good 60 degree day just never got there. The bikes stayed in the garage and no lake trip.

I have been thinking about writing some more of my military stories. I sure have been dreaming about them lately. I don't have a clue why unless it is the military channel on a lot of the night. Oh well, on with the day...



Jes' Thinkin'

Gettin' Ready for Halloween

In our own personal worlds, we might think we have all the answers and if'n we were in charge things would be better. For example, how many lives (about 100,000) would we have saved and how much money would we have saved if we had just let North Vietnam take over South Vietnam? The inevitable result of our half assed support for that war was that we would walk away and not go back in when the North broke their promise. We didn't lose that war, the politicians declared a victory and we walked away.

If I looked high and low in the world, I am not sure that I could find a more desolate spot than Afghanistan. It seems like, to me at least, that more people have fought over that piece of ground than it could ever be worth. It has been the scenery for many good movies and a lot of bad wars. I don't know if Bush or Obama could ever be right about the place. Ask the Russians if they think they should send an Army back in for more.

I wish you could all have been with me when I listened to a classified briefing by the CIA back in the early 90's when the CIA told us that North and South Korea would be re-united by the year 2000. Well guess what? I'm still waiting for that miracle to happen. In fact I am holding my breath that it doesn't break out into all out war soon. That briefing was classified Secret and should have been classified "Stupid Guess".

If we all want to see stupidity, we have let Iran build up to the place that they could push the Israeli button and then wait for the nukes to pop out. Many of us think that if they continue to flex their arms, the Israelis will cover them with glass (Try to imagine what happens to sand when exposed to high pressure and temperatures)

What is it going to take in the rest of the world before we join together and wave our flag proudly? I for one am proud that the President's wife played hula hoop with the kids and talked about exercise. Just how silly would most of us look with a hoop around our fat butts. I shudder to think that AP would cover me as I ride down the bike trail with that goofy grin on my face.

Did yo ever consider that if we brought all our Military home and used it to help our schools, would we have enough money for guns and butter ?(or health care or whatever) I would also cut our support to the UN and use that money for Free Junior Colleges.

Well, enough of the fantasy, I had better go read a book...



It Died!

Martha Jr and Barb Jr. went to the pumpkin patch and brought home several green pumpkins. One of which became a snake that is eating a blue Jay. That stupid bird has a motion sensor and every time you walk by it it makes the sound of a Blue Jay. This morning I fetched the paper, made a pot of coffee and as I sat down, I noticed the pumpkin had collapsed around the bird and was beginning to smell. I removed the bird from its mouth and removed the pumpkin from the house. I can stand cute but I can't stand rotten.

Yesterday evening we had a birthday dinner with the kids at the Salty Iguana in Lawrence. I ordered an appetiser and ruined what would have been an otherwise excellent dinner. They have a three taco plate with beans and rice that is a man sized meal and I could not finish by a long shot. Our waitress was an interesting girl. She looked like she had slept in her clothes and didn't even comb her hair before coming to work. She took 6 people's order and didn't write down a thing. Near as I could tell, everyone got what they ordered and the things ordered on the side were on the side. She kept our drinks full and in the end was tipped well for her efforts. (OK, she had kind of a red haired Irish thing going on and was cute as a button)

We returned home to eat Birthday cake with Dave. Barb taught cake decorating at Michael's for a while and made a white shirt cake to look like the geek squad uniform down to the name tag. On the tie she wrote Geeks Rule in white letters. The kids loved it. Their friend Mel even came over for cake and ice cream. Barb's step mother and grandmother came to Lawrence to eat with us but skipped the cake.

Today is predicted to get into the 60's here in the heartland. I am going to take the leaf blower out and blow the leaves off the deck and with luck take the bikes to the lake for a ride. Exciting times for a retiree when I get to do two things in the same day and neither one includes a trip to Wal*Mart. have fun out there.





For how many years have we had an embargo on the poorest of the poor nation, Cuba? At what point will we have made our point that the embargo has hurt them but they continue to be unbroken? Who are we really hurting? Finally, I want to know just how long do you think the Communist system would have lasted if we had allowed our tourists and their dollars go there?
It is my opinion that we gave the Cuban government something against which they could hold their people harshly. Do you think they could have made it this far and long if they had been able to see the almighty dollar up close? A man with one bowl of rice doesn't realize he is deprived unless he sees that everyone else has two.

It is still my wish that some day I will get to sit on a beach in Cuba and share a cigar and lunch with a few Cubans. I don't want to hate them, or have a war with them, just some red beans and rice, a rum drink and a cigar.




In the movie, Forest Gump, he quoted his mother as saying, "Stupid is as stupid does." Yes boys and girls, I said something really stupid yesterday and it was so stupid that both Barb's are hurt by my insensitivity. The part that really hurts is that I didn't even realize until much later that what I said was so hurtful. Somehow I need to work on that and do some self examination.

Barb N and her friend Mel came over yesterday to use Barb's guidance as they all carved pumpkins. Has anyone told you to clean up your house, company's coming? If they are coming to carve pumpkins, don't bother with the floors. There are little orange streaks from the kitchen to the dining room. I did work on an experiment with some orange glow wood floor cleaner and some of those micro fiber cloths. Now I will need to finish the entire job with the knowledge that I know how to do a good job. The pumpkins were works of art and thankfully both girls took home their creations. I am left with a green pumpkin that looks like a snake and a pumpkin mouse house.

Our son was born in 1975 and today turns 34 years old. We are going to take them out to dinner. We asked Dave what kind of a party he wanted and his answer was to go out. The choice of where will be his. So long as Da'Barbs will forgive me, I won't have to eat crow, too much.

The weather has take a turn back towards the Indian Summer and the temperatures are back in the 60's for the daytime highs. Should that be daytimes high? Oh well, it will be warm enough to ride if we want.

Have a great week out there.



Sunday, the Money Day!

Snake River Canyon, Twin falls, ID

I started the day a little early today when the wife was working on the picture frame to a new picture she purchased. It is a print of a photograph and has a very abstract look to it like someone had driven the colors to a vibrant hue with Photoshop. At the time in our lives where we can take a nap if desired when we wake up is no big deal. I probably had to pee any way. (yes, I know that is TMI but the truth)

I fetched the paper in and bribed the cat back out of the garage with food. I made a pot of coffee and settled in to read the morning brag-rag. My rant this morning started with quotes from Jay Leno and congress. If the CEO's can be made to take a 90% cut in pay, can we now use that limit on congress? (paraphrased) The Seniors won't get a raise in Social Security this year. Obama is proposing a $250.00 bonus to seniors. To add insult to injury one columnist indicated that the kids need the money more than the seniors, and another person wrote Dear Abby that they were concerned about their parents becoming a burden to them because of their spending.

Where to start. First let me say that since 1971, General Motors has made cars that people didn't want or buy. There is a need for a fleet's worth of cop cars out there and not one semi-large rear wheeled car for the interstate is out there in the GM fleet. The only rear wheeled car they make is the corvette and with premium gas at almost $3.00 a gallon who needs to be able to drive 140 miles per hour, at $55,000 per. When GMy finally went broke, the unfortunate thing is that the Government took my ownership paper (stock) and made it worthless. If they would have just let GM finally die, the liquidation money from each share would have been at least $100.00 by my count. Asset value/number of shares. Oh well....

On the issue of Congress, does it surprise you that many politicians have gone in broke and came out millionaires? Hell, Bob Dole even got a divorce during that time and managed to come out with a small fortune. Let one of us do that and she will get the gold mine and we'll get the shaft. Look at the Clinton's. My God he was the Governor of Arkansas and broke. Now they are millionaires? Over and over this happens.

I am not sure of the best way to get the stimulus into the economy. The problem as I see it is do they really think they can buy me for a measly $250.00 ? Crap, I would need at least $500 just to get my attention. Especially when I feel that they are about to dick up the health care system and cost me a hell of a lot more than that. I will feel a lot more secure when Government finds a way to help us heat and cool our houses cheaper than the $50,000 per household like the solar panels in Florida. For a couple of hundred dollars, we can build solar panels for heat and I'll bet there are quite a few houses out there that would benefit from insulation. Not to mention the number of people that could go to work if upgrading insulation was a credit on the taxes. Yes, I hated the cash for clunkers because my clunkers didn't qualify. I had to buy a car for my cash and without the benefit of a clunker allowance.

On the issue of senior care, I have worked hard my entire life and it should be of no concern what will be left of my estate when I die to the next generation. 'Cides, I won't out last Barb and I will leave her enough to make it into the ground. I'll bet she doesn't spend her last dollar on her last day. Our kids were supported our entire lives and if I want a new computer or camera what the hell, I'll buy it.

I guess being awakened by pounding from upstairs has my panties all in a bunch. Instead of a rant I probably should have gone back to sleep and napped my way into the day. Barb did make biscuits and ham. I guess I am a little pissed that KU started out so well and and hit the skids in football. Crap, K-State is in the lead of the North Division of the big XII and we aren't. How can Oklahoma let KU run up over 400 yards of offense and not lose three games to date. KU's new defense couldn't stop the Sooners scoring. Oh well...




I grew up in Wichita and my backyard was the Beech Aircraft Plant parking lot number 1 along Central Avenue. Each day, I saw many planes take off and land and my dad was a Beech Crafter. We went to air shows and I have always been fascinated by air planes and stories of pilots. A nearby airfield had a F4U Corsair sitting behind a hanger and I had hundreds of hours in that plane pretending to shoot down those dreaded Mitsubishi Zero's. In the Army I got clear down to in the process to signing my name to go to flight school. They had on the form "Rotary Wing" (Helicopter) Flight school and I declined at that point. But, that all just sets up the rest of the story. Amelia Earhart was from Atchison, KS and I have attended the annual air show there a couple of times.

In spite of recent protests that I don't go see many movies, we went to the first showing of Amelia yesterday. Most of the story was pretty much centered around her exploits as an adult woman and the story of her disappearance. It was nice that they didn't make up alternate endings, just the fact that she did not arrive at Howland Island as she needed and was lost. In spite of the bummer of an ending, much what we all knew happened, the flight scenes were spectacular. It was hard for me to feel fear when she was in trouble because of the beautiful scenes. In fact, if there was a flaw, it was the lack of detail glossed over by the magnificent photography. I know that pilots sit down with a map and plan their flights to the smallest detail. How much weight, route to take, winds aloft and weather are all considered. I felt that at least if they had put up a map on her trip around the world trip at the end instead of magnificent scenery and interesting people, it would have made for a lot more informational movie. But, that's entertainment and I don't want you to think for a moment that I wasn't entertained.

Early on in the movie, Hilary Swank became Amelia Earhart and other than a non-Kansas accent a time or two she was a wonderful actor. I became drawn into her world and soon forgot that she had played the part of a girl pretending to be a boy in "Boys Don't Cry". Richard Gere played her promoter husband and supported the role of Amelia without taking away from the movie. It will be interesting if he is a leading actor or supporting actor when the next Oscar's are voted on.

Ewan Mcgregor played Gene Vidal, father to William Cuddy playing Gore Vidal. That part of the story I didn't know. Vidal was doing his best to sweep Amelia out of her marriage at the start of Aviation in the United States. An additional draw was his son Gore who was portrayed as child Amelia never had. Filler in an excellent story.

I guess if you have an hour or two to kill, go see Amelia. I will warn you that the movie theaters think Dolby Digital at 100 decibels for the previews is standard. You could arrive almost 25 minutes late and still see all of the movie here in Topeka.



Why Change?

Pretty Petty Poison Ivy

Squash/Mushrooms by Martha Jr (aka Barb)

In the last couple of weeks, we have seen a lot of the family and in a lot of cases, the people remain a lot like they did the last time I saw them. There are three people on the fast lane of change and I often wonder what causes people to change. First let me discuss their changes. The names have been left out to protect the guilty. (If you are in the family, you know who they are and if you are not, why care?)
First, is my bike riding buddy who is a Fireman. He like me has a big frame and has almost always carried a lot of weight. Just recently he stopped working three jobs and is spending more time doing things that got him into shape and will keep him that way. I have always enjoyed talking with him and found that riding down the bike trail and talking to be even more fun. He is also paddling a kayak with his wife and doing some treadmill work. I think that just knowing you are capable of doing more is not enough. I hope that he feels energized after a workout like I do.
Second, is the wife of my bike riding buddy who has taken up the sport of roller derby. I couldn't even imagine why, other than it is a way to get into shape and stay that way. In fact, I put roller skating on my reverse bucket list as something I will never do again. There comes a time when falling down and hurting yourself doesn't need an additional 4 or 5 inches added to the distance you fall. I just hope that she continues to enjoy without breaking anything.
The third person is another firefighter that has started to question her life and has found that competitive urge to row. She has coached the kids for years but is now getting back into the rowing game. I went to a regatta one time and her life was as busy as a beach master on Omaha beach during the invasion in WWII. She was in constant movement getting the next boat into the water and the last one out. Hopefully this will teach the kids be more responsible and further help them grow. I hope I can find a way to ride with her down the KATY trail next year.
I read one time that life is a doorway, that causes change as we open new doors. I am not sure if it is the amusement we crave or the amazement we find at the way it makes us feel. The most noticeable changes are those that involve getting more exercise. I find that the endorphins kick in about mile 6 on the bike and I can go at least 4 or 5 hours without that second Aleve (Naproxen Sodium) after a good ride. My legs do feel a little rubbery for a few minutes but as long as I can still load up the bikes after a good ride who cares?
I found out that my new computer has a built in camera and will take my picture. The bad news is that I am not sure that I like what I see. I am way too old to have excess skin cut off my face so I guess i will just have to live with what I have.
My wife, Barbara, has just entered the phase of Face book. I think she wants to load up her pictures and I hope she enjoys sharing them with you. I am encouraging her to send invites to the family as she thinks about who should see the pictures.

Change, Heartland style

Great White Rat Killer and his Assistant, Tiger

Changes are a way of life as we go through life. Most of the time they are so gradual that you don't even realize you have made most of them. However, once in a while the changes are so numerous that you have to stop and take stock of just where you are going. At least you will take notice so long as you can remember the way we were.

• I find it frustrating when I pick up a book at the library and get a bunch of pages into the book to realize I have read it. With Barb reading two or three books a week that shouldn't be a problem but heck I read one or two a month.
• Barb and I have started to use those cloth bags when we shop but often forget to take them in the store. You should see the looks we get from the cashiers at Wal*Mart when we tell them to just put the stuff back in the cart. Oh, we do pay for it and take it, but we put it in the bags that are in the trunk of the car. For the first time yesterday the door greeter stopped us and looked at the receipt.
• I have been a non-drinker for almost 20 years. I stopped when I attended a class in Lawrence in 1990. I think I had stopped smoking prior to that. It was my goal to have one cigar near my birthday each year. Forgot this year and really didn't miss it. A couple of weeks ago I was in a hotel and they had a manager's reception one evening. I went there expecting an O'Doul's and they didn't have anything non alcoholic. They did have a something that has only 64 calories so I tried that. It was little more than beer flavored water. Sure wouldn't waste good money on that. I am well beyond the point where I need to drink so one beer flavored water doesn't worry me about falling off the wagon.
• For some reason I have almost stopped going to movies. The last on I saw was the Batman movie last year. It was the darkest damn movie I had ever seen. On my way out of the theater I realized that I still had my clip-on sunglasses over my regular glasses. Duh Dennis. I'll bet it was still too loud and too dark. If a partially deaf person thinks it is too loud, how do the normal people stand it?
• One of the most prevalent personal thing we see today is cell phones. I had a pager once and hated it. I worked second shift and one morning the Boss paged us for an early morning meeting. When asked where I was and why I didn't answer the page, I calmly answered that The damn thing was in the sock drawer because I worked until midnight and refused to wear it on my underwear. People would page you and expect you to stop somewhere and call them back. I guess that displeasure carried over to the idea of a cell phone. There are times I just don't want to be found. 'Cides, the pager kept falling off my underwear in bed.
• There was a time in my life that I rented DVD's. The source is drying up and I refuse to pay a monthly fee to Netflix. Just the other day I cleaned out my old day runner and found the Blockbuster card for the store that closed. For a while our grocery store had a video section but they closed it. Heck, I don't even have any of the premium channels on my TV. I would watch Dexter but not sure after seeing the HBO lineup on our trip, if it is worth the money.

Well enough of this crap, on with the real life. It is overcast and about 60 degrees outside. It will cool down all day and the real high will be only 39 or 40. (with rain most of the day)



If you are a bushy tailed rat hanging out at Rabbit Run, Danger!

The other day a hawk swooped down and caught a squirrel and I'm sure that even though he got away, he was severely punctured and probably died.

Today as Barb and me were making a run to town, we went out the side door and there was tiger mid kill on one of those bushy tailed, nut eating rats. I'm sure he finished the kill but I haven't found the carcass yet. Way to go tiger!



During our trip west, the weather channel dominated our day as we were on the look out for bad weather headed the same way we were. Yellowstone was snowed out and both trips out and back were delayed by at least one day by fog. This morning Barb started to tell me about two storms headed this way and due to collide over Kansas tomorrow. Sadly, I had to sing her a verse of my theme song. "I Don't care, I don't care, let snow anywhere because, I DON"T CARE!" I guess it is all in your perspective. From the computer desk, looking out the window, it can rain, snow or whatever.

Our latest Elderhostel advertisement arrived this week and they have changed the name. They are now Exploritas and have a lot of the same adventures. Barb and I have done a couple of their trips and found them to be a blast. Basically you show up at the kick off point and someone from their organization takes you with them through an adventure. Most of the costs are included and that makes the trip much nicer to have to figure out the budget at the start of the trip. We have taken a boat out into a swamp in Louisiana and shot pictures in Phoenix. I am not sure if we will take a trip this year but you can bet it will be south to southern Texas, or Florida.

I still have a desire to see the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, Moab Utah and a bike ride on the Katy Trail. I think that between Barb, Kris Jenn and me, we can figure out a way to have a nice ride and do our own support vehicle. I know that in the past Jenn has camped on the overnights but Barb and I find beds to be desired, no needed. I figure that Barb can ride half way each day and I will ride the other half. Half of a day riding and half of a day reading a book sounds wonderful to me.

I am considering buying a recumbent bike from Wal*Mart. I may have it delivered to my bike builder in Twin Falls. He has a lot of bikes that he has scrapped over the years and claims to have some good components. I'm not sure why I want another bike other than to have one for our friends to ride when we meet with them on our trips. I am working on the trailer so we can take our bikes with us. I am finally convinced that the plastic tarps from Tractor Supply just aren't up to 70 MPH over the long haul. They tear themselves up and look like you are going to be passed by a giant blue bird as it flaps on your way down the highway.

Oh well, enough time spent here. I am working my way up to a good rant but I'm not sure I care enough to sit down and put it in writing. have one for me.



Advice for the Young People?

While on my trip, I had a discussion concerning my advice to young people to go to school, work hard, save money and that will aid them in being a success. My friend's concern is that while that may have been good advice in the past, does it ring as true today? How the heck do I know, I just write this stuff, I don't vet everything I say. I don't have perfect pitch and the damn bell might just not ring as true for an old artilleryman with at least a 20% hearing loss. It feels good, so I write it.

I think young people today have to think differently than they did when I was young. Conditions are different as are businesses. The days of working for one company for a long career may be over. The chance of changing careers is a lot greater than they were and the mobility of workers is greatly changed. This thinking was once described as thinking outside of the box. Today, I think it may take an MBA to describe the box and sure as heck, a fiction writer couldn't even begin to describe the numbers of permutations possible.

Another friend, on our bike ride in Oklahoma, agreed that he and I did want to be the boss in almost every job we had. Moving up in the ranks was one way we felt empowered. On the other hand, Barb has always focused on the main job of teaching the kids in her career. I wanted to ring the bell and direct traffic. She wanted to teach. Why do some people want to be a house painter and some want to own a painting company? Is the additional stress worth the additional money?

This month was a travel month for us. I'm sure that at the end of the month, we will tally up the room charges and find that we have a deficit for the month. Was it worth it? How do you tell? How do I tell that our life of saving has been worth it compared to having a boat and always driving a new car? Will the old saying he who has the most toys when he dies, dies work? Will not spending our last dollar on our last day, work? Who knows?

I am not sure where this post was going and I am sure as hell not sure where I am at the end. I do know that the simple pleasure of riding a bike down a trail is a heck of a lot of fun and wonder why I didn't do more of it earlier in life. I darn sure will continue to wear a helmet and gloves as I ride, just as I will try to not spend everything I have willy nilly.

From the land of confusion, but with a smile on my face. Your Pal,



72 Degrees

It got to 72 with a light breeze from the south. Barb and I went to the lake and rode about 8 miles. That is 16 in 2 days for me but it is also about 16 for the entire month. Oh well, got to ride and that is enough to put a smile on my face.

Today i was trying to clean up some of the files on my computer and about half way through making a DVD of the 2008 pictures a hawk landed right on top of a squirrel just outside the door. I am not sure how, but the hawk let go and flew off empty handed. (Or clawed)

A little while ago I was working on this new laptop and I saw a picture of myself on the screen. I had just loaded some new software and there I was. I haven't figured out how to really do it on purpose. I guess I'll have to mind my P's and Q's about working in my underwear. Oh well...


Will it ever Warm up Again?

It seems like our normal fall weather has gone south and has been replaced with cloudy cool weather. Even when we normally don't have snow or cold for weeks at a time, we have had interludes of Indian Summer so we can view the turning leaves in relative comfort. Seems like the cooler weather has also been accompanied with wind to add to the "chill" factor. That cold weather went northwest with us and it seems like the last 19 days have been a lot cooler than I would ever wish for. I have hopes that I will get a couple of days this week where it will be warmer.

I want to get the trailer and the bikes in shape so I can haul them when we go on trips. Being recumbents, they are just too wide to hang on the back of the car like regular bikes. Even with an 6 foot trailer my bike will hang out the back side unless I can work out a way to take off the front wheel. It would be nice if I can work out a hard cover for the trailer but I really don't want to build something that will have a big wind drag factor. I hauled a trailer from Georgia to California and that one time was enough. We'll see.



Travel Tired

It seems like we have been on the road pretty much non-stop for a while and while I have a great list of super memories, I am road weary tonight. In fact, as soon as we arrived home tonight, I crashed hard on the couch.

It all started when Barb found a great car to travel in and I sat out an aggressive plan to use that car to make the rounds of friends and family. Of seven friends I had growing up, only three of us are alive today. I made up my mind that I needed to visit with Harvey and Ron while I had the chance. I guess I really feel bad about the loss of Whitney, Wayne, John and Dennis. My own mortality was staring me in the mirror and I blinked. We visited with Harvey in Bentonville and Ron in Kingman.

We made a trip to Idaho to see Barb's family there and while the weather made it a lot of travel for a short visit, the day in the park was about the most fun I could want. On the way back, we detoured to southern Utah to cross the Rockies and saw some of the most spectacular scenery. So much in fact that I have Moab on my 2010 list of places to see.

This past Friday night we traveled to Lenexa, KS to see the chili cook off, kick-off. The weather was cool but the food and company was hot. The Cedar Creek crew cook some mean food and know how to laugh at the weather.

We drove down to Skiatook on Saturday to send off our niece as she is leaving to get married in the Bahamas. Mel met and is marrying a police officer that is one fine man. He has a 15 year old daughter and a 9 year old son. She has a great family from the start and I wish them well. Shane's (the groom) parents are proud grandparents and have adopted the neatest kids to round out their lives. They have taken in three children that were a lot of fun to meet at the party. I envy them and the fullness of their life.

This morning we got up and met Kris for breakfast and then he and I went off down the bike trail for an 8 mile ride. The miles just melted as we talked along the way. It had been a week or two since I have had a chance to ride and it sure felt good to get out and go down the bike trail. I also took the bikes on the trailer down as a test case. I need to be able to tie the bikes down on the trailer in a better way. This week will be a a good week to work on that.

Barb and I will work on some pictures to update our travels and I post some soon.



Unintended Consequences

In a class a few years back, I read about the American Indian's way of governing and providing leadership to the tribe. Many people think that there was a rigid hierarchy of Chiefs in charge. In some cases that may have been the case in wartime, but many tribes were led by a tribal council during normal times. You were selected to sit at the council and where you sat dictated the information you provided. Those that sat North of the campfire were responsible for the future. Those that sat south of the fire were the keeper of the past. Those east of the fire looked at the problems from the heart and those west of the fire looked at what work it would take.

I think someone in congress should be appointed to the position of Keeper of the Unintended Consequences(KUC). That person, or panel should be responsible for writing down what they expected to happen and what did happen. This KUC Czar would sit south of the campfire and provide some measure of truth past results to the process.

For Example - Not many of us today remember the Roosevelt Administration and the myriad of problems they tried to solve during the Depression. How many different organizations were created to get and keep the economy moving forward. I couldn't even begin to write down the initials of the organizations then created and later killed as the wartime economy finally brought back prosperity. Even Ike warned us that there was an evil in the industry that would keep us at the gate into war for gain. Back in the 60's and 70's we had guns and butter as the Democrats tried to fight the war in Vietnam and build the infrastructure in the black neighborhoods. Millions of dollars went into the building of Housing areas to give the cities livable homes at affordable prices. Would you care to guess what happened to these projects? How many of you would like to live in any of the "Martin Luther King" projects? Are there any near you left today? Would you care to read what is said about the success of housing given to people with no prospect of owning the property? How about the Clinton Administration's move to allow below prime loans be made to offer the same home ownership example? What happened to the Banks when they were allowed to dabble in the home loan game? What happened to the Banking industry when they were allowed to take huge profits and then sell the loans to Fannie May? What happened to our Government oversight for the past 8 years where those people making bad loans were also allowed to take huge profits from the businesses as they circled the toilet bowls? I can't wait to see what the future says about the Stimulus Bill.

I am not saying that everything done by our government was bad. I am saying that it appears that a lot of of our legislators have no memory of what was done and the unintended consequences. A lot of people have gone to Washington and come home a lot richer than they were when they went there. That is an unintended consequence that I'm sure they don't want us to know about.

Oh by the way, this morning a re-run of "West Wing" was on and in that segment, Jimmy Smitts portrayed a congressman running for the Presidency against "Hawkeye" Alan Alda. Alan played a crusty old senator that opposed the health Care reform platform presented by Smitts. The same old tired arguments presented there were the same one's we read about today. We can't afford to do everything and we can't afford to do nothing.

I think a Czar of Unintended consequences would have a fun time helping us look at ourselves. At least the old saying of "You do what you did and you will get what you got" will be more visible.



What's Important!

I am going to look at my life in terms of what's important. Instead of having a Thanksgiving celebration, I am going to try to find a way to express what's important and then be thankful for the bounty in my life.

I am a lot more sure that what I own is getting a lot less important to me. It is nice to know that there is a foundation of savings behind us but I am pretty sure that we could get by with a whole lot less. I did enjoy travel but not just for the travel part. I think getting to see the people we saw was the highlight. I think the driving would have been a lot more fun if the weather had been a little better so we could actually get out and walk around more. I know the return trip down through southern Utah was some of the most spectacular. I am going to try to include a side trip to Moab, UT next time. In fact, Yellowstone, the Grand canyon and Moab are on my list for a trip probably in 2010. No trips west until after April 15th and none after September 15th. If Barb's hands are cold, we will go south only.

I am considering if it is time to go back through the Franklin Covey goals process. Seems like there is a lot of time spent now not doing a whole lot and I could use a re-prioritization. I don't think I will get it all the way down to program the hours as much as I did when I worked, but I might go back to having a list of things to do with some prioritization. I might even want to specialize that list by major parts of my life. Health, Wife, family, rental properties, Dave's House and garage are just a part of what I will focus on. I will continue the act of blogging as I really enjoy the expression.

For those of you with kids, focus your energies there as it is the most important investment you can ever have. At least it is one area that makes me smile about as much as any. Tonight we are going to take Dave and his wife Barb N. out to dinner for taking care of the dogs while we were gone. And, because we love them.

Fix a big old pot of soup, chili or whatever warms you up. I also made cornbread as a side.



Hey KU!

First the Football team wanted to fight with the Basketball team and now they want to fight with the fans. Guys, focus on the opponents on the field and not one the fans in the stands. When in the past there was only 30,000 fans, no one complained. Now when 50,000 show up and 8,000 leave at halftime you think you have a busted lip over it. Either man up or someone will tell you not to get your panties all bunched up. You are playing football so you can get an education. Don't let anyone tell you that you all will go on and play professional football. Learn, mature and get on with your lives.



Home Again, Home Again

The weather let us sneak home today and I am glad to be here. More later.



My MSN home page today had an article that covered the good and the bad side of Wal*Mart. I shop at Wal*Mart so I skipped the article on the good side and read the article on why I should hate them. Unfortunately, the hate article was riddled with opinion and diatribe against the way retailers in the US are headed. I love a good rant now and then but give me a bone to chew on not soft opinion.

If you try to remember a few years back when the criticism was that all the manufacturing jobs were headed to places where lower wages prevailed. The effect also allowed us to have cheaper consumer goods at a lower price. Target, Wal*Mart and a lot of grocery stores are headed to give us cheaper (Less Expensive) goods. They sell everything at a very low profit margin but they sell a whole bunch of it. Wal*Mart is the 14th largest company in the World and they have the power to wag the tail of their dogs (Suppliers). If those suppliers don't want to find the lowest price staring them in the face, don't do business with Wal*Mart. If they want to sell a lot of their products, come on down to Bentonville and take a seat at the table.

By the way, I was in Bentonville a couple of weeks ago and from the traffic, I would say that they aren't participating in any form of recession. They had an LA style traffic jam when the shifts changed. The expansion of Bentonville is remarkable. When the Walton Family finishes their American Art History Museum in a couple of years, we will all put that on our list of places to go and things to see. Mark that one down in your little black book. I loved the small Walton family museum there on the square of Bentonville.

Here is my advice to all of you out there that love to hate Wal*Mart. If you hate saving money and feel you must pay more for what you buy, don't shop there. Put them out of business and add 2 million people more to the unemployment list. That would add to the cost of the things we all need. Not me.

In this world, more and more families have to have both parents working to get by. It is not Wal*Mart's problem, but one we have created over the years. They are not the cause, but the reaction by Sam Walton to the trend he observed. With 2 million employees, they haven't added to the number of people without health insurance, they employed them and half now have access to the company insurance. I'm sure that a significant number of their employees have a family member working that has a family medical policy.

I have everything I need, most of what I want and a Wal*Mart along the way. I am an old Retired, fixed income guy that shops at Wal*Mart. And, Bonus - As we travel along the highways and by-ways of the USA, we stop at Wal*Mart stores because they have clean restrooms and about anything you could want while traveling. It is a wonderful place to get out and walk around in to stretch tired legs. They always welcome us to their home with a cheerful, Welcome to Wal*Mart.




We drove south in Utah to pick up I-70 to avoid the weather. Was the most beautiful scenery but made a long day out of it. Will hit it hard going east to get home tonight if possible. We will be in some no-tell Motel in the middle of Kansas if it gets even remotely cloudy.

We have been using the Garmin Nuvi around towns and it works great. On I-70 it projects a straight line east and west for the most part.

Our last day in Twin was great. Got to see a lot of the family in the park and had some great BBQ. Ken brought both trikes and made me wish I had our recumbents. The kids rode a lot. We also wish we had brought more gloves. Cool and by 4 PM it just got cloudy and cold.



How Quickly we Forget

It was only two short years ago, that the Nobel Prize Committee knocked on Al Gore's door and gave him the Peace Prize for his theory that Global Warming would end life as we know it. I just wish Al could have been with us in Idaho this last week when it was at least 15 degrees below the normal for over a week. I wish he could have been with us as we had to drive an extra 250 miles out of our way to skirt the cold and snow in Wyoming and Nebraska.

It will be a cold day in hell when I believe anything those rascals say ever again.


Chain of Command

There is one small point of order that I would like to share with you. First, President Bush was focused on the security of our Nation as his number one priority. He spoke with the commanders in different theaters of operation directly and often. I am pretty sure that it probably made the Secretary of Defense, the Joint Chiefs of staff, the Chief of Staff from the Army and intervening commanders nervous. He was a fighter pilot and was used to taking the grip on the throttle and applying direct pressure. There are some that will tell you that the Generals and Civilians in the Chain of Command were made a lot less important by direct intervention by the President.

Now, we elected a President that does not have a military background and is busy with his priorities. He is very quick to use the Chain of Command to control the activity in Afghanistan. I for one, don't want Barack Obama making direct day to day decisions and I feel confident that most of you don't want it either. The final word is the responsibility of the President and he will let the Military do their best and make recommendations.

I guess the point is that there is a Chain of Command in place and one that should be sufficient to make the day to day decisions. It is not General McChrystal's job to speak with the President on how to do the job. We are all critical of the President and this is one area that I want him to provide general guidance through the Chain of Command not "General" Guidance directly.

We can't have it both ways. I for one don't want the President to try to run something he has little experience doing. End of Message. Old Retired Guy out!



My Story

Years ago, I was an officer in the National Guard. We had a Battery in our Battalion located in Pleasanton, KS. I had been in Paola in the morning and was going down to Pleasanton for the afternoon. I got out my map and found a way I had never driven through the town of Osawatomie. When I got to the turnoff, I found the main road closed and the detour was a dirt road back behind the State Institute for the Criminally Insane. What the heck, I was only passing by so I didn't worry.

As I turned off onto the dirt road, the car felt strange and I soon realized that I had a flat tire. It had rained and the dirt road was pock marked with pot holes so I had to park near one hole to find a place I could jack the car up. I got out, popped the trunk and took out the spare, the jack and the tire iron. I took the tire iron up and took off the hub cap. I loosened the lug nuts, jacked up the car and then took the lug nuts off and put them in the hubcap. As I picked up the flat, I stepped on the edge of the hubcap and it threw the lug nuts into a mud puddle. As hard as I looked, I couldn't find those damned lug nuts. I am not sure what expletive I uttered but I'm sure there were some choice words used. Summarized I said, "What am I going to do now?"

To my amazement, from inside the fence a voice blurted out, "Take a lug nut off each of the other wheels put it on the spare tire location and drive into town and get five new lug nuts. I had no other alternative so I did just that. As I put the flat tire, the tire iron and the jack in the trunk and turned to speak to the person that had given me such good advice. I asked him how he came up with such a good answer to my problem. The simple answer from over the fence was, "I'm crazy not stupid."

That's my story and I'm sticking to it. MUD

Picnic In The Park

Today we helped Barb's family celebrate their Dad's Birthday a little early. He is going to be 86 in less than a week. His keen sense of humor makes any meeting with him a hoot. Most of the kids and a lot of the grand kids showed up and we ate BBQ from a new restaurant here in Twin Falls. Typical of most meetings, we all ate more than we should and anyone that went home hungry wanted to go home that way. I sure need a nap.

Weather permitting, we will start our journey home tomorrow. The weather along I-80 looks rainy but above freezing. I want to get at least to Cheyenne if possible. Probably will drop down to I-70 for the trip across Kansas. Sure don't need to use the Garmin Nuvi to find the way from here to Rabbit Run.



For What?

So far, the unanimous question when I told people about the peace prize was, "For What". I am absolutely convinced that Barack Obama has done more to win the Peace Prize than Al Gore. Or, Whatever...

The weather here in Idaho is about 15 degrees below normal and with the wind today it looks great but is a lot cool if you get in to the shade. We have promises that the wind will die down tomorrow and it will be about 50. We have the shelter house in the Harry Berry park reserved from 1-5 PM.

I am sure that when you travel most of the time things will go at least as well as expected. So far this has been a lot of not so much fun.



1.4 Trillion

This morning the news report said that the National debt reached 1.4 Trillion and they are now, after the commercial, going to speculate on what it will mean to the Health Care Bill. Personally, I think the congress of the United States needs to take a break and not endebt us any deeper this year.

Do I think that our health Care system is perfect? heck No. Do I think i can get all the health care I need? heck Yes. Is it cheap? No. Is it a good value? heck yes. Just in case you read face book, there was a song that said our system is number 37 in the world and that Morocco is rated higher. Our friends in Morocco have horror tales to tell about the problems there. Women are second class citizens and can't get a straight answer from a Doctor.

If we weren't playing Cop for the rest of the world, we might be able to do a better job. But, I challenge you that if we weren't producing military goods what would we produce? How many people would we un-employ to have more money to spend on Health care? I think that a lot of the people that can't afford Health Insurance are those working at the bottom end of the service industry and putting more people out of work won't help the numbers.

I for one, want the Government to leave me the hell alone and let me spend my money as I desire. I don't want a bunch of new benefits, I want to be able to spend my money as we want not make everyone else's life better. I worked for mine, they need to work for theirs.



Bad Weather in Colorado

We were headed down to Colorado Springs and got as far a Limon, CO when the visibility got to about 100 yds because of the fog. Going to spend the night here and stay safe. I would love to have some pictures to share with you but alas...




I find it Ironic that Dave Letterman has found a way to step on his Schwantz just as NBC has found a way to give Dave the lead in the Late night program race. After years of making fun of all the weaknesses of the world, he and his penchant for young ladies is laid bare for the other people to make fun of. Does anyone else find it ironic that Conan O'Brien fell down like his program has? I won't even go into how lame the Jay Leno program is morphing into a game/reality show. Jay's program is getting so lame that even his guitar playing buddy doesn't listen.

Here is a rule that everyone should learn and follow. Do not dip your pen in the inkwell at work. Do not pee where you eat. Don't put your pecker in the payroll. Clear? There is no end to the problems that sex in the workplace can cause. I can't even begin to tell you how many of these relationships have caused job losses, divorces and child support judgements I have witnessed.

Barb and I were all set to take out on a trip through Yellowstone. We had a hotel booked in Jackson Hole for Monday and Tuesday night. Barb watched the weather channel and the daytime high in Jackson was to be 35 degrees and there was a 70% probability of snow. Guess who isn't going there? So far we haven't found a good place to go but will work on that today, maybe. Perhaps it will warm up and the wind will die down enough to go for a bike ride today. Yesterday the wind was so strong that it blew my trash can and its contents all over the yard. I managed to pick up about 1/2 of the trash and the rest just blew away.

Oh well, later...



Nothing National Today

Today's blog will be contained within the State of Kansas, or at least will start out that way. (If you count Kansas City, MO). The game between Iowa State and K-State is being called Farmageddon. It is for the distinction of not being the last placed team in the Big 12. The teams stink so bad that they are hosting the game in the Kansas City Chumps field so the fans in Kansas City will get to see winning football by someone.

In Lawrence, the football team has a week off and only have their inter mural teams to compete with. We know the Basketball team has the biggest balls but the largest number of players with protective equipment goes to the Football team. Never underestimate the Baseball team as they have bats in their bags to aid them if heavy fighting breaks out. Yes, that is tasteless and tacky but I think it is funny as hell. KU players and fans have always way over estimated their importance. Why do you think they called it snob hill for years?

Here in Topeka, USD 501 (Greater Topeka Schools) announced their individual list of schools that made Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) is a shorter list to write than those that didn't make AYP. That is the fictional standard that no one will meet by 2014 so get used to it. Instead of a goal for no child to be left behind, everyone will be in a pile of "left behind" by 2014. Some great mind said we need a goal to improve schools. As that goal washed its way through Washington, it became a hard and fast regulation and will eventually have funding dollars tied to the success. This is only a numbers game and based on test scores.

Barb has a solution to the 501 problem. Dissolve USD 501 making a 1/3, 1/3 and 1/3rd split out of the students, give them and the funding to the outlying districts. Give 1/3 each to Shawnee Heights, Seaman and Washburn Rural. For a couple of years, the suburban students will carry the day. But again, I tell you that unless and until someone changes the requirement, everyone will be left behind by 2014. This is a silly standard as it does not measure how the kids do from year to year but against an absolute standard. A school can be doing much better but not make AYP. Include the Learning Disabled kids in this mix and you get stupid rules that make no sense. Besides, I have always found it to be a better leadership method to recognize those that really are getting better not publish the names of those that don't.

OK, I did kind of let the "No Child Left Behind" debacle into this blog, but it was really to set up the joke about the split of the intercity kids to the outlying districts. It is hard to write this crap and sometimes I just don't tell the truth when I'm not telling the truth. (I was going to write lie-ing but I never get that word right. Lying, Lieing, leiing- oh hell, pick one)

Will be sunny and mid 60's today here in the Heartland. have a great weekend and unless the Hay fever has you down, get out and do something, even if it is wrong.



Who & Why

We have been told that there will be no new taxes for those making less than $100,000. My question is Who will pay the costs our Government is adding each day? I think the Rich have picked up all the new taxes they can pay and I am pretty sure that even if we took it all, there won't be enough to meet the needs, wants and desires of our congress and the President.

Why is it so hard to understand that the only way we can pay for more programs is to:

  1. Pay Less. This means that to cut the cost of programs they will pay less in benefits, or deliver fewer services. Simple economics will tell you that seldom if ever does the cost of things go down. or,
  2. Pay More. This means new taxes to add to the burden for the entire population.

I, simply put want to live within my means and pay for my own things until the Government can find a way to cut their costs. You do realize that they can print their own money and they will continue to do so until it will take a wheel barrel full of money to buy a loaf of bread.

Cap and trade, Value Added Tax, tax increases are in our near future. Pass a new health care bill and it will add 10 Trillion to the National debt over the next 10 years.

Why doesn't the Congress see this? It is a simple question and unless they figure it out, the enemy is us.