Smart Things for Dumb Days

 First word of advice is that things can be worth what you pay for them, or not. Here are a few things that I found worthy of retelling here:

 • Political races have little relationship to what is going to happen during the year(s) the candidate will be in office. The information given is often more hype than substance. Then, a lot of people don't even bother to vote so we often get what someone else tells us we deserve. 

• Investing is a form of risk. The higher the risk, the higher the return or not. There is no such thing as fair or always in investing. The rules of investing often change and many people don't pay attention. Do you remember when buying a house was the answer to building a life estate and the basic for doubling your money? The latest information I saw said that over 40% of the value of the housing market is gone with the latest bubble burst. A bunch of people are living in a house that is not worth what they paid for it and live there because they have no other alternative.

 • Based on all the self help books I see in the book store, there are a bunch of people willing to pay a lot of money to find the secret of happiness. I have looked at the list of things worth buying out there and so far I haven't found a hell of a lot of things that bring happiness in an equal value for the cost. One time I bought a really nice electronic watch with a bonus I go on a job. You know what? It had cost me almost as much as I paid for it to have it repaired. I am pretty sure that for about 1/10th of the cost, I could have bought a simple Timex watch that I would have thrown away when it quit. What it did for me to spend all that money was to give me something that told me what time it is. My mother had a poster on the wall of her bathroom that said, "Happiness is not getting what you want, but wanting what you have."

 • In spite of how witty or pithy I make this treatise, the young people will not read it and save themselves a lot of misery. I have found that you learn by doing not just reading and the worse the outcome the more you often learn. If you are good (or lucky) you will remember these life lessons the next time, or not.

 • Clothes are really good to keep you from being naked. They won't make you popular, cute, or make people love you. I have clothes bought from the fancy stores and some from Good Will. For working in the yard, I find the stuff from Tractor Supply is often the stuff that wears the best and I don't really care what I look like when I know I'm going to get dirty.

 • Once upon a time, I made the decision that instead of paying big money to have someone do things for me, I would buy the tools to do the job and learn how to do the job through On The Job Training (OJT). You know what it has done for me? I now have a hell of a lot of tools that I can't find when I need to fix the next thing. I wish I could tell you which way is the best. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn't.

 • There is a law in Physics that says for every action there is most often an equal and opposite reaction. I don't have a clue if this is what causes the Law of Unintended Consequences (LUC), but here are just a couple of things that I find funny caused by LUC. - The whole Country has been resisting having some kind of National Identity Card. Then they herald the Passing of the Affordable Health Act without thinking for even a minute that the only way this could work is for everyone to have some kind of a national health card. Hum? I guess as a Soldier the fact I had to carry and ID card at all times isn't fair to those of you that stand around and enjoy the fruits of Liberty the Military provides. Throw in some medical care and they will stand in line to get the Benefits (and a card) 

- Somewhere the rules got mixed up and we have let the first thing that crosses our mind rule our hearts. The Constitution, or more correctly the second amendment says that the Congress shall pass no laws that inhibit the right to bear arms. OK, I know there are a lot of other things in there about Militia and such in there but we have all sorts of things tried and changed. We felt that there are some people that are really trustworthy and good people and will let the carry a c concealed weapon. Then we have let people put up that little sign of no guns allowed in certain places. When a gunman shoots a lot of people and there is no one armed to shoot back we then argue that we should ban guns altogether. I would pass a national "You Have to carry Law" and make everyone have a concealed weapon card. Wouldn't that drive the people nuts?

 - Do you know what the difference between the AK-47 and the AR 47 is? The AK is a fully automatic rifle that can fire a magazine with only one pull of the trigger. The AR-47 is semi automatic and you have to pull the trigger each time. When the Government passed the Assault Weapons ban a few years ago, they said the 100 round magazine for the AK or AR 47 should be outlawed. That magazine seldom works and often jambs and you have to stop and take out all the bullets to make the rifle work. Instead of banning the magazine, they should have made it mandatory and that alone would keep people from shooting 100 time without reloading

 • Have you ever noticed that men want their children to grow up and leave home? I think we all feel that the better job we have done, the longer the kids will stay on their own. Mothers have this instinct that wants to protect her children forever and provide a place for them to come back to. You figure out that one.

 • There is a City in Nevada where the whole reason for going there is to Gamble. You know why they call it gambling? Because a lot of the time you lose and people wouldn't go there if they called it Losing. Yes, I know there are a lot of people that go there and pretend they are in it for the entertainment, food, shows and free drinks. They lie. They go there because they think they are capable of winning a lot of money and it is easy to do so.

 • When I am out and about, I see a lot of old guys wearing Vietnam Veteran Hats. I didn't go to war with a lot of old farts, we were young, full of piss and vinegar and ready to do battle. What happened? Yes, I really know we got older. I wish we had all gotten smarter in our old age but the result of time passing is that we get older. Then a lot of us die. Wait, we all will die sometime, it is only the when part that eludes most of us.


Takin' Sunday Off

Just a quick update on the diet front.  I am down from 270 to less than 240 and have the body fat under 29%.  Mostly it is the fact I am eating basically what Barb is eating with a slight indulgence now and then.  OK, I went to Cold Stone Creamery for Happy hour during the week.  I am working on finding a diet that I can sustain not just lose weight and then yo-yo back up to 270.  

One or two things I have done for my health include the fact that I don't smoke or drink and we are trying to regularly ride our bikes.  During the summer months, I have enough work to stay busy for at least 4 hours a day.  With this hot dry weather, about noon is all most people would want to be outside.    I will stop in to see my Doctor tomorrow and see what are the results of the blood test done this last week.  I have a high hopes that everything is better and I am not on that slippery slope towards being a Diabetic.  It runs in our family so I am vulnerable to that eventually.  It is a little like my thoughts on Death.  We are all going to die and I don't fear it, I just don't want it to be today or tomorrow. 

Did the rest of you Jay hawk fans see that Jacques Vaughn is the new coach for the Miami heat.  I think he is one of those players that has studied the game and knows what to do to help players win.  Kansas has been a good place to learn the game of basketball.  From players to coaches, they have a long list of people that have been better for stopping there.  Gee, a College where people go to learn.  What a novel concept. 

Oh well, no crushing thing left to write, I am thinking about some of the good advice things I have learned over the year and have at least an outline for a couple of good, pithy blogs later on this week.



Opening Ceremony

Did anyone else make it through the entire opening ceremony of the Olympics?  Somewhere I dozed off when the Industrialization part and them woke up to find the parade of Athletes was on.    I think I made it through England and finally dozed off for good.  

Sleeping through the Olympics opening ceremony
It was a long week out there and I got a lot done on all the properties.  Most importantly we mowed everything and I put the finishing touches on the deck.  I will say the squirrels don't appreciate the deck work as this AM it was covered with Hickory nut hulls.  

Barb and I have been pretty good about riding our bikes this past month and I feel pretty good about taking them with us as we travel in September.  I hope we can find some interesting trails enroute to Gulf Shores. 



Funny Book

Yesterday I went to the book shelf and picked up the first funny book I could find.  It turned out to be Tim Allen's, "Don't Stand Too Close to a Naked man."   I did not remember reading this book earlier so I started into it and have been laughing my butt off at just how funny and true the book is.  

Number one, the people you learned from about sex were mostly telling you lies and you know it now, but you didn't know it then.  All the people that witness any tragic event always ask, "What could that person have been thinking?"  With young men, it is all reaction not thinking that gets them in trouble.  Combine sex into that, and there is just no way you could ever explain.  Tim nails this as a topic in one of his chapters.

When I went to the Batman movie, they had a preview of a new movie coming out this fall.  The Lee Child character Jack Reecher will be played by Tom Cruise.  If you have read the books, you know that Jack is one Bad Assed Dude and about 6 foot and 220 Lbs.  Tom might go 5'6" and 180 if he is dripping wet.  Making him to be the great big bad ass will be akin to the Green Mile where they made an actor seem 7 feet tall.   I am reading a new Lee Child book and am loving it.  The main character is about to leave the Military and start living life on the outside.  

Oh well, had a great week and have finished several projects.  Tomorrow will be clean up day and I will not start anything new, only put things where they should be for a few hours.  Stay Cool!



Ridin' The trails

A few years back, Barb's brother, Ken, was here with his bicycle.  He convinced me that if I wanted to have a smile on my face, I needed to start riding a recumbent bike.  While searching for a donor bike to steal the components from, we ran across a nice little Eazy-1 and picked it up for a nice price.  (About half of retail) When we got it home, Ken thought it might just make a good bike for Barb and we searched for a different bike to get parts from.  Ken made my bike and equipped it with some darned nice components from a bike he picked up at a second hand store.  He later updated those components and I ride a terrific bike now and love it.  Barb rides along with her bike and seems to have a smile on her face also.

At the start of the year we try to rice a course from 29th too 45th on the west side of Lake Shawnee and it takes us about 45 minutes.  Today I rode that same course in 30 minutes and loved it.  We have almost 2300 miles on the speedo this year and plan on taking our bikes to Gulf Shores in September.  I don't know what the bike trails will be like but we will also ride along the way down and back.  

You may not find bike ridin' as much fun as I do but it sure puts a smile on my face.

Just a few Things

Just enough to whet our whistle.  That's the way they talked in the movies of my day.  The good guy wore a white hat and the bad guy almost always died.   My heroes were as likely to kiss their horse as the gal.   I also wanted to get me one of those 16 shot revolvers from the long drawn out gunfights.  OK, we got about 1/4 of an inch of rain last night and it may rain again this morning.  The bad news is that the sun will be out by noon and it will be 101 by five PM and the moisture that fell will be all burned off.
Yesterday afternoon I was just tired of sitting around the house so I went to a movie.  Barb had a good book and she stayed home.  I saw the latest batman flick and other than I wish I had taken ear plugs, it was a fairly good movie.  It did leave the door open to another follow on movie or two.   I'm sure that Cat woman and Robin will play a prominent role in the next movie.   

In one way, the latest Batman movie was a throwback to the movies of my day.  There was a lot of fighting but the real graphic rip their guts out wasn't shown.  I guess the scene where Batman got his butt kicked was pretty graphic and his recovery fairly realistic.  That isn't a spoiler alert, it is just a part of the movie that tied it all together.  This morning there was a short movie about the 2nd Bat 503rrd Abn on hill 875 where a friendly (Their words not mine) bomb was dropped on a battalion and  a lot of people killed.   In Murphy's rules of combat there is a sayin', "Friendly fire isn't."   Pretty much says it all to me.

Well, unless I start eating grass stems, I have little else pithy to say.  Hang in there, August is coming shortly.



Wonder Why?

There is a little map of where people that view my page are from and the pages for South America and Africa are white.  Wonder Why?



The latest thing that is coming up after the Aurora, Colorado shooting is the old ban on assault weapons discussion.   Am I one of the few people in the world that know that the gun is only the weapon of a deranged mind?   People say that in England there is a ban on weapons and they don't have many gun massacres.  How about the bombings they had when the IRA was active.  Ditto with Japan - They had Risen poisoning.  None of that was the fault of the gun but the crazies we have been forced to let loose because unless we could prove the nut jobs were a threat we had to let the run free.  The catch 22, is they must initiate the real bad stuff before we house them away.  

I will not tell you what weapons I have because I have that right.  I will not register for a concealed carry as that also causes the Government to think I have a weapon.  Weapon Ownership is like my vote - What I do is none of anyone's business but my own.   The reason we have weapons is to prevent our Government from taking over and taking our weapons away so we cannot protect our liberties.  I love my Country but there are times where I fear my Government.  

Whatever you do, remember to vote and keep our country as free as we can.


Wind before the Storm

I don't know what it is like where you live, but the wind almost always blows a little harder from the South when a cold front is predicted to pass.  It is a gusty wind and blows all night.  When the wind does this trick, the temperature stays near 80 at night and it really doesn't cool off.  This morning the wind is gusting up to 20 MPH and the Temp at 7 AM was 84.  The high today will be 104+.   

In a little while I am going over to the Dr.s Office and have a blood test.  A couple of months ago I was way overweight and the Doctor said my A1C reading said I was borderline diabetic.  After losing about 30 lbs, I hope he has a different diagnosis.  It doesn't hurt that I have also been doing a lot of physical labor during the intervening time.  I will have the blood drawn today and will see the Doctor face to face next week. 

This being healthy stuff can be expensive.  The work in my mouth has been close to $4,000 this month.  I had been delaying having some major work done and it has all come due at once.  It doesn't hurt that the Dentist I have used for years is going to retire at the end of next month.  I'm sure that he wants to leave me in as good a shape as he can so the next guy doesn't wonder what kind of a Dentist would let his patient get into such bad shape.  The other problem is on 1 August I turn 65 and medicare rears its ugly head.  Because of the birthday falling on the first, I became eligible for Medicare 1 July.  The insurance companies are playing pass the buck to see who will really pay for the medical care.  (Hint- no one but me will pay for the Dental work.)

My helper had an appointment today and I had this blood work this morning so we are taking another day off.  If It rain in the AM we will also take tomorrow off.  I need to go up to Dave's and do some painting on the back of his house.  The back wall stays damp and the paint shows some mold there.  There is one of the Kills brands that is enamel based and says it will prevent any mold.  We'll see.  I will but the cheap rollers and throw them away when we finish.  

Better get the show on the road.  Have a great day out there.



Hot here in the Heartland

If you start early and don't work past noon or one O'clock, it is not all that bad.  Perhaps the last half hour or so is kinda tough but looking forward to a big cool drink with lunch makes it all worth while.  Lunch, dry clothes after a cool shower and things are pretty nice.  Perhaps a nap snuck in there is a good thing too.

The weatherman says we will get some rain either tomorrow late or early on Thursday.  We sure could use a week of cloudy misty weather.  What are the chances of that you say?  Nil, Nada, bupkis, zero, zilch and never going to happen.  I hate to think what the Rural water District has up their sleeve for my next bill.

We are spending a lot of time this summer at home and it is one of those "Stay Cations."  I have managed to find enough to do and just the materials has made it a little expensive.  Thank god I have some natural talents to do a lot of things and I don't have to add a lot of labor to that.  I am keeping our nephew busy a few hours a week and he is worth almost every penny.  At minimum wage it is pretty easy to justify his work.  Right now we are writing it all up and he gives the money to his dad.  I try to make some of that up by making sure he gets some pretty good meals while working.  Bonus, he likes Sonic.  Bonus, I like Sonic.  Double Bonus.

Yesterday evening I was watching the Military Channel and they had a special on the Secret Service Detail that was assigned to President J.F. Kennedy.    At the time I was a Junior in High School and the assassination didn't really touch my life much other than we had several days off.   The Secret service detail all commented on how quiet and reserved Jackie was until he husband was shot.  She tried to collect a piece of the skill that blew off and had it in her hand as they got to the hospital.  The Washington crowd wanted to have Lyndon Johnson immediately get on the plane and fly back to Washington D.C.  Jackie said she wasn't going to leave Dallas until the body of the President was on the same plane.  Lyndon said he wouldn't leave until Jackie was ready and for a while it was a stalemate.  Dallas finally gave in released the body to the President's Physician so long as he accompanied the body to the autopsy at Bethesda Naval Hospital.

As the motorcade arrived at the airport, one of the aids asked Jackie if she didn't want to clean up as she was covered with blood and brain tissue.  She said she wanted the world to see what they had done to her husband.  One tough lady when the chips were down.

Gotta run. Stay cool.



Where Do My Rights End?

If because of the tragedy in Aurora, Colorado I must give up some of my right to bear arms, am I diminished?  That is the question we must all answer.  Just as soon as there is a clear answer to the question of will limiting the kind and number of weapons I own prevent such occurrences in the future?    I don't see me walking into any place and emptying my weapons on people that have no ill feelings about me.  

There have been many people that want to limit the Westboro Baptist Church right to picket funerals.  As little as I think this will really hurt me in the short run, I am not willing to give up even one small piece of my rights to assemble, have free speech and freedom of religion no matter how looney they get.  

I think that the courts will be looking at a lot of the situations that are right now Freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution.  Stand up and say you feelings and thoughts about this,  Someday you might not have that right.



Takin' Tomorrow Off

First thing in the morning I am going to see if the idler for the chain on Dave's bike that I made works.  I will put it on and take Barb for a ride on the Lake trail.  The design looks good but the details are in the puddin'. If it works, it will be golden if not, back to the drawing board.  It is still 102 here at 7:45 PM.


NCLB is left behind

Somewhere in the distant past, someone came up with a nice Goal - No Child Left behind.  (NCLB)  The idea that all children should be able to achieve excellence in education is a lofty goal but I am afraid that it ranks right up there with "Zero Defects" and another slogan someone tried to make happen.  

First of all, Goals must be achievable, measurable and have a cost benefit.  It is the first item right out of the box on that list that made it not a good  item to have on the list.  The idea that 100% of anything is something that you can achieve is not very realistic.  This morning I read that there are kids that will freely admit they are in school because they have to be there not because they want to be.  It is not the schools responsibility to motivate these people. the parents have to step up to the plate.

Let me remind you that I have been married to a teacher since 1968.  During that time, I have met many of her fellow teachers and have been very impressed with the quality and their ability to teach.   Consistently, I find them brilliant people that not only give of their time, but spend a lot of their own money on their students.  Sometime go to the resource room at your school and check out the science kits.  They often need bulbs, batteries and wires to help teach the kids.  Often there is little money in the budget for such things and teachers spend their own money to make them work. 
Speaking of money, is there any other profession that so undervalues their professionals?  Well, perhaps Social Workers who are required to have a Masters Degree are less rewarded but teachers must go up against the School Board and beg for a small share of the funds allotted to the schools.  Instead of rewarding them for excellence, they have been passed over or held back over the years.  

Don't hand me that crap about teachers only working 9 months of the year.  If you had to garner as many continuing education hours as they do, you would probably have them paid for by your employer and you would be given time off from your work to achieve them.   How do you think my wife got her Masters degree in Special Education?  By utilizing Petty Cash and going to schools when most of us would be sitting by the pool.  After teaching for almost five years, she not only had to go to school, she had to perform a practicum or Student Teaching under a certified Special Education Teacher.  No OJT for that level of certification. 

If you really want to single out a teacher to emulate, try one of the Special Education Teachers.  They must test each student to find out where they are proficient and prepare an individualized education plan for each student.  They work darned hard with the very children not able to make it in the class room and help them bring their skills up to the level of other students.  Will these students ever be able to achieve 100% proficiency.  Not with the current level of funding and resources. 

I guess this was all brought on by an article in the paper that said that several States have dropped the NCLB as their ultimate goal.  Will that mean they will accept much less?  Not if the teachers I know come in to play.  They are dedicated, motivated and willing to roll their sleeves up and work darned hard with the students. 
I have always said, "If you can read this, thank a teacher."  The Petty Corollary is, "If you can read this in American English,  thank a soldier.  Or kiss one of them for me.

My favorite Master teacher



Odds and Ends

For the last couple of years, when I went to my Dentist, he would tell me that I had several teeth that were in need of some additional care (Read $).  Last week when the Hygienist cleaned my teeth, she said she could smell decay from a leaking crown.  She located the  problem on the first crown I ever had and it dang near fell off when she hooked her probe underneath. It was clear in the back of my mouth on a wisdom tooth and they said it was number one in the teeth count.  When the Dentist came over he re affirmed that I had one (number 4) tooth that had been filled to the max that was again had a cavity and two teeth (12 & 13)  that were broken and in danger of falling apart.  If that happened, there would be no crown, there would be an extraction and a partial.  Bring on the crowns.   Well, to make a long strory not much shorter, yesterday I went in and the Dentist ground four teeth down and I was fitted with temporary crowns.  In a couple of weeks I'll go back and have the new crowns installed. I can remember when you could buy a dang near good used car for what I will have to pay.

Do you have a model of your teeth?  I Do.

There is a couple of funny stories in here.  The Assistant to the Dentist was the person that fitted my first crown over 20 years ago.  She has done about every one since and I told her that I had spent about as much money on her as I had my wife over the years.  I was warned that I should never poke fun at a person that was going to be in my mouth with pointy tools. One time years back, the crown fell off the wisdom tooth and as the assistant was working on the re-fit, she dropped it and I was lucky that my gag reflex kept me from swallowing it.   Then, after the temporary crowns were installed I realized that the assistant had one of the most gentle touches I had ever had work on my mouth.  I started to tell her that when I realized that the dentist had my mouth so numb that the assistant could have been driving a jeep in my mouth and it would have been gentle to the feel.  The only sad part of this story is that my Dentist of many years is going to retire at the end of next month and I will have to use one of the other Dentists in that office.  I was told that I didn't have to make a choice as the scheduler would make sure that I was taken care of.  One of them works Monday through Thursday and the other works Tuesday through Friday.  They swapped weekends on call for emergencies. 

Last night, my temporary worker, Austen, was discussed and I feel that he is worth every penny I pay him.  The subject came up that he was available today and Barbara indicated that I needed to take the day off.  I guess working half a day on the deck was a bit much in this heat and a day off did sound pretty good.  It is to be 104 today and and at 8 AM it is already in the 80's.  I am not sure what we will do for fun today but I'm sure I can stay busy having fun.   The boys do have something to do at their Grandmothers today so all is well. 

Did I tell you the story about the last Bat Man movie?   I think it was called the Dark Night and I watched it alone in a theater and thought it was the darkest movie I had ever seen.  As I got up to leave the theater,I realized that I still had on my clip on sunglasses and it was no wonder it was a bit darker than I liked.  I think as an adult, I am not afraid of much in life and I want to admit that Heath Ledger as the Joker creep-ed me out.   I do wish that whatever demons that challenged him hadn't won.  I loved his acting in the Patriot and the Bat Man movies.  I wasn't as thrilled with Broke Back Mountain but he did play that role in a convincing manner.

Bridge with new handrails
The picture above is the bridge I built for Barbara with the new hand rails to make it sturdier.  Did you notice the metal running rabbit?  I think the design was from Barb's sister Judy and her brother Kenny turned it to a metal sculpture.  They are the most talented people I know. 



Second Round of 100+ Temps.

This week is going to be the second round of 100+ days this summer.  It would be OK if there was some rain in and amongst the hot days.  The bad news is there has been little rain for this month and not a lot predicted.  Shame that some of the rain in Houston didn't make it our way.  

A noon today, the local station was full of news about how the grain prices are up and the cattle prices are down.  There will be smaller amounts of crops this fall without some rain and the farmers are already starting to run out of grass in the field to feed the cattle.  In fact there is a large amount of grass in the CRP program that the farmers in a normal year would do nothing with.  For only a 10% hit, they will be able to hay the set aside ground or to graze cattle on it. 

We can hope things get better but I wouldn't bet on it. 



I am headed to Lawrence to attend the funeral for my sister's Father-in-law.  He was a great guy and lived a long good life.  

Update - I think that was one of the most positive funerals I have ever been to.  The Minister was also a personal friend for many years and had a lot of positive things that the family had shared with him as well as a few of his own.  I hope Barb can find someone to say that many nice things when I die and not have to lie very much.  The entombment was very short and sweet  It was getting near 90 already and no one wanted to be there long.

I hope that you all can find a place to drink cool drinks and stay out of the sun today.  We are on our second run of 100+ days this week.  Oh well, better run



Value of a Life

In this world, there are a bunch of people that seem to not place any value on human life.  From atrocities in Syria to a home invasion right here in Topeka, people just don't seem to get that life in its most simple form has a great deal of value.  At the very base of my beliefs, I know I am capable of taking your life if it comes to that, but it would have to be a damn good reason.  Money or power just aren't motivators for me.

On another note, this morning, I went out to get the paper and one of the local deer was out in the orchard eating the fruit.  Just looking at the trees, you can see where the lower branches are stripped bare of fruit and the tops of the trees are just full of fruit.  The apples and pears aren't very big this year because of the lack of rain, but the do seem plentiful.  If I really wanted to hog all the fruit, I would move the dog pen and the dog house out to the orchard.  

My decking project seems to be going OK for now.  Not the fastest "decker" in the world, I am just working a few hours and then stopping for the day when the temps get near 100 or lunch arrives.  In the past, I would tear the entire deck off and then have to fight to balance as I rebuilt the deck.  This time I am taking off a board at a time and replacing it in strips.  It seems a lot easier that way.  

The other day, I asked Barbara, "If life is exactly what I planned and am making it to be, do I have any right to be bored?"  My mother would tell anyone that admitted being bored that they were boring and go do something.  I for one will just keep any such thoughts to myself.   There is no shortage of things to do, only motivation to do them all. 

The other day I posted a fake obituary which just might make it to the first chapter in my someday bookI really want everyone to know that I have had a great life and if it all ended today, just be happy in the fact that I loved almost every minute of it.  It has been a journey filled with friends, lovers and family.  Barbara says she can find me in a crowd by listening for my laugh.  That's just the way I want you all to remember me and find me in a crowd - by the laugh.  No small tittering for me, a good laugh is where I live.



Beginning of the End?

After 200+ years, I think it is only fair that we do not say it is the end of the beginning.  For several years we have watched as our Congress loosened the purse strings, and trade controls to bring more color TV's into our homes at cheaper prices and now the World wants their bite of our apple.  If you doubt this, I have only one word to you NAFTA.  When we can but an oil filter made in Mexico for $2.99 why would we make them for $5.99 here?  Well Boys and girls, it was then and is even more so now, and the word is Jobs.  

Why is this election focused on Jobs?  Because Congress wants us to focus on anything but them.  It needs to be clear that a 4 Trillion shot into the economy didn't and can't fix what is so fundamentally broken.  People get satisfaction, pride and most importantly MONEY by working.  It is the lubricant in the long success of a Government and there is a time when people have to shoulder the cost of the benefits or the Government will find itself trying to pay for things they no longer have money for.  

Don't get me wrong, I applaud efforts by the Congress to make the board level and even.  They had no idea that the law of unintended consequences would destroy a lot of black homes by offering to supplement what the man of the house brought in and make his role irrelevant.  Then to supplement this, we tried to build a social experiment where we provided housing, food and Medical care to make the lives of the poor suffering children better.  This caused a lot of minority children to be grouped in one place and the resulting poor performance in the schools forced to educate this huddled mass is now looked at as if the Schools are the failure.  

I am not sure where the solution will be, but I do offer the old saying - Do What You Did and You will Get What You Got! 



Book idea

This week Barbara read a book that was written backwards on purpose.  It started where most books leave off and tell the story back to the beginning.  I have been really trying to find a good way to tell my Factional Autobiography.   I don't remember everything in enough detail  that I would call it fact or an Autobiography.   There has to be enough of my war stories thrown in to make it readable. 

I think it needs to start with my Obituary so here is a go at that:

Colonel (Ret) Dennis Earl Petty  
Age - OLDER than Dirt
Dennis Petty of Tecumseh died rather than sit around and waste away until he was no longer functional. He was born in Wichita, Kansas on the 1st of August 1947 to Glen Walter and Virginia Dene (Lee) Petty. 

Dennis grew up in Wichita and attended Minneha until later he graduated from Wichita High School East in 1965.  Dennis was drafted into the Army in 1966.  He attended Officer’s Candidate School at Fort Sill, Oklahoma and was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant in the Field Artillery on the third of July 1967.  Upon Graduation, Dennis was assigned to Fort Irwin, California where he met and married the love of his life, Barbara.  He then served a tour in the Central Highlands of Viet Nam.  He was awarded the Bronze Star and the Army Commendation Medal with “V” device for his service during the war.

Upon discharge from the Army Dennis continued his education at Wichita State and Kansas University on the GI Bill.  He graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Business from Kansas University in 1975. He was a life long Jay hawk fan.

While a student at KU, Dennis Joined the Kansas Army National Guard. He Commanded Battery B, 2-130th FA in Horton, Kansas.  He went to work for the Guard full time in 1975 and later commanded the 1st Battalion, 127th Field Artillery, 35th Infantry Division in Ottawa, Kansas.  Dennis served on the staffs of two excellent Adjutant’s Generals and one of kind of OK guy. He assisted with planning and delivery of six Kansas Governor’s Inaugurals and the Military portion of the funeral of Alf Landon.  He assisted in the writing and development of the Military Support Plan for the Wolf Creek Nuclear Power Plant. He served as the “Big Bunny” as the planner for the Governor’s Easter egg hunt on many occasions. For many years Dennis coordinated the International Officer’s visit to Topeka from Fort Leavenworth. Dennis wrote prepared slides and delivered the Adjutant General's briefing to many groups.  He served as President of the Kansas National Guard Association in 1988. He helped that organization reach 100% Officer strength that year. Colonel Petty worked full time for the Kansas Army National Guard until he retired as the Director of Plans, Operations, and Training in 1997 with 30 years service as a commissioned officer and over 20 years of Civil Service.  Along with medals and ribbons for long service, he was awarded the  the Meritorious Service Medal and the Legion of Merit. 

Dennis sang with the Topeka Capitol Barbershop Chorus and the Free State Barbershop quartet.  He was also a member of the Topeka Area Classic Chevy Club. Dennis volunteered with the Topeka Performing Arts Center. Dennis trained for and was a Master Foods Volunteer for the Shawnee County Extension program. Until his death, Dennis served as the head laborer, chief cook and bottle washer for his wife at Rabbit Run Farms in Tecumseh. Barbara said he would just load the dishwasher after a bad experience in the 9th grade when he got a D in Algebra and had to was the dishes for a family of six for 9 weeks.
Dennis Married his wife Barbara Jean (Schmoe) Petty in 1968 in Las Vegas, Nevada. It was one of the few gambles he ever won there. They have one son David Petty who with his wife Barbara N. Petty live in Tecumseh.  Other survivors include  His sisters; Myrna Ikenberry and her husband, Ray, of Lawrence; Carol Lee Landis and her husband, Alan, of Lawrence; and his brother Richard Petty of Skiatook, Oklahoma.

It was Dennis's goal in life was to arrive at the place of his death worn out, used well and put away wet a lot. He wanted to slide in the oven a day before the Devil knows he is gone. He wants to shout Yahoo so loud that the Devil is scared of who's coming. Dennis will be cremated and buried someplace when his wife figures out where at a later date.  His military friends are all invited to meet him in due course at Fiddlers Green where he will have a cold canteen of Muzzle Blast waiting for them. Dennis has encouraged memorial donations be sent to the Museum of the Kansas National Guard, Forbes Field. 

I am not dead yet Boys and Girls.  Hope to be doing this for a long time



Livin' in the Summertime

I for one have been very busy lately working on projects.  I renovated a bathroom at one of the rental properties and am currently rebuilding the deck on the east side of the house here at Rabbit Run.  A month or so back, I built an arched bridge in the front of our house.  I threw up some handrails that were very inadequate and this week I also put 4X4 posts where I had used 2X4s.   The bridge looks a lot like it did but it is a lot more stable.  I work in the early part of the day and quit when it gets to be about noon.  A good cool shower, lunch and a nap are just the ticket.

For the most part, my diet has been working.  I do find that about 240 lbs is now a hovering point.  I find that if I eat enough to have energy to work on the projects I don't seem to be losing weight.  I am pretty sure that I am in much better shape and that is the most important thing to me right now.  I do try to sneak in a good bike ride  two or three times a week.  We ride a lot at Lake Shawnee as the paths there are close and normally not that busy except on the weekends.  Over the 4th week, we rode on the Landon Trail that runs south from the brown vs Board of Education parking lot to 45th Street.  The route is very dirty and at least one place way down south it is dangerous where it crosses under the railroad tracks.  Mud and rocks have washed over the trail and no one has cleaned any of it up.  They call it the Landon Trail.

If your life has become a very normal one and there is little excitement, is it boring?   I am sure that it is a product of what I have made it and I am not complaining.  I am anticipating a trip in September to Gulf Shores, Alabama.  Barb has even checked a couple of travel guides out from the Library to see what we can do to spice up the time spent there.  I had been thinking about a day trip to Mobile and going a different way each side of the trip.  One of the books said that the trip north on the west side of Mobile bay is boring and not the way to go.  Oh well,  I'll find something fun to do, like sitting in the shade, swimming, eating and cooking.  I am looking forward to trying to cook seafood fresh from the water.  Here, all we get is frozen stuff and just not the same.

I am dumb struck that Mitt Romney went to a NAACP meeting and was booed.  How dumb could he be to even go there?  When you go into the lion's den, you have to expect to hear growls.  I listened to the people talk when Obama was elected and they expected a lot of good things.  I think the three years under Obama has been a tough time for the blacks and they aren't stupid.  

I listen to talk radio when I work outside and there are a lot of things I laugh at.  I agree that a lot of people voted for a personality in Barack and we have had three years of tough times.  I am not a racist when I say that I wanted better for our country.  I am firmly convinced that until we all work together and start fixing problems instead of throwing money at problems we won't get better.  Do what you did and you get what you got.  I think it's time to change.



Something Political

Yes Boys and Girls, every once in a while I have to get the political monkey off my back and write a few lines.  While I do hate it where I think the economy is headed, I think we still live in one of the best countries in the world.  I don't think people really appreciate the personal freedoms we have and how much we would hate it if some of them went away.  In my humble opinion, it is the erosion of these personal freedoms that has really started my objections.

I'm sure that there were people that hated the idea of Social Security when it was passed.  Ditto for Medicare and now Obama-care.  I do think it is good that the Government has realized that there are some people out there that can't get insurance because of per-existing medical conditions and that will now be fixed.  It is the slippery slope of a totally Government run Medical Insurance program that scares me.  Not to mention that just as I am eligible for Medicare and Tri-Care for life things are changing.  

Why do I care if things change?  Often the change is accompanied by the law of Unintended Consequences.  We don't know what will be the results of the new law and it may be totally different than we desire.  For example, there has to be some kind of a National Identity Card in here somewhere or how will they know who has the insurance and who to fine?  The Liberals have been wetting their pants at even the mention of a card for years.  Guess What boys and Girls you will have to get in line soon for that privilege.  I think the Government is too large and the estimate is that to charge the 1% of the non payers, it will take about 16,000 more IRS agents.  We all know how we love to have more auditors and people collecting taxes.  Just the other day a good friend of ours was on Facebook talking about the fact that she had to fight to get the IRS to allow her charitable contributions on last year's taxes.  

I had better stop before I say something I don't mean.


Just a Few Things

Yesterday got hot early and it was brutal.  By about 2:30 PM it was 108 in the shade.  The good news is that I quit working outside about the time it hit 100.  I am replacing a part of the decking on the east side of the house and it is dirty hot work.  It will be nice when it is done but it isn't there yet.

At 108 at 2:30 on 7 July
 We have our small rental house rented and our new tenant will move in in August.  It is the son of a long time tenant and I hope he is as good as his dad was.  They always painted things, put up new curtains and generally kept the place clean.  If he is half as good as his dad he will be a winner.  We took applications to rent our house and with just a sign on the street had 8 pretty darned good applicants.  I am blown away that several of them are renting and paying over a grand a month to rent bigger houses.  

This morning our paper had an article about a group of Washburn students that traveled to Cuba.  Several of them had never been outside of the USA and it was an eye opener.  They commented that they did not have cell phone service in Cuba.  Poor babies.  I would love to get to visit with one of the students one on one and really get to know what they saw and how they felt in a country where the government runs so much of the life of the people.  I have it on my bucket list to go to Cuba sometime in the next few years.  I noticed that Road Scholar has some trips there now.  Perhaps in a couple of years when they get it worked out better.  

Our Daughter-in-law Barb Jr. has a friend, Mel, that moved to Austin Texas a couple of years ago.  We let her stay in our guest bedroom when she comes up to visit.  It is always fun to have all the girls friends over and hear the laughter.  I think my wife also gets off playing grandmother to the children that come over.  She always has some little outside project for them to do.  They pick blackberries, tomatoes and water the plants.  The watering turned into a water fight this last time but as the temperature went above 100 that day, I'm sure they guys liked it.  Mel went home early today and I don't envy her the drive in this heat.

Better get things moving.  Stay in a shady spot boys and girls.




Give Me Your Huddled Masses

At some point, the words on the Statue of Liberty will need to be understood that we took the world's masses for years and sometime out in the near future, we need to have an organized and enforced immigration policy.  Try to move to Australia without money or a good trade. 

Let me tell you that I for one feel that the Mexican influence brought here by the Sante fe railroad is one of the best things that has ever happened to Topeka.  We are nearing the Fiesta season and I love to drive over to the Church and to stock up on the wonderful food.  I feel that the profits they make and pour back into their schools is just what life here in the USA should be about.  This is their 79th annual Fiesta.

Yesterday I listened to one of our guests complain about the fact that the Working poor immigrants (some legal and some not) claim many dependents on their W-4 and don't have much if any withheld on their taxes.  She said they do this because they don't intend to file so they don't want the Federal Government to get a lot of their money without any benefit to them.  I am kind of thinking that that is the smart thing to do.  If you think these illegals aren't paying any taxes, you don't see the sales tax and gas Tax they pay.  They also rent houses and their landlords pay property taxes.  Yes, I would love to see everyone paying income taxes but I'm not sure that their inclusion of illegals in the Social security dole out at the end is what I really want.  Perhaps we need a system that has them get a green card to work and pay some form of just an income tax. 

I read about a Southern State that worked hard to enforce illegal workers and as a result their crops went to rot in the fields.  I challenge you all to think about the rule of unintended consequences.  If we were to absolutely enforce the laws, who would make the beds in our Motels and who would help roof our houses?  

Just Say'n


Do this Today!

What would you miss the most on this run of 100 degree days?  I promise you that your A/C should be at the top of your list.  Talk to anyone that has called the repairmen and have been told it will be a couple of days as they are working from sun up to sun down trying to keep the A/Cs working.  Go out in the yard and look at the big round part of the unit that blows all that nasty hot air away.  I generally sucks air in through cooling fins and they are easily blocked by dirt, spider webs, leaves, weeds and that white fluff those damned cotton wood trees send out.  Start with a good cleaning of the fins with a small brush.  A lot of the times the spider webs attract dirt and a simple brushing will clean it out.  Some people will take their garden hose and spray down through the fan opening (with it not running unless you just want to get wet) to help clean out the dust.  I do not recommend you do too much of that because the electrical components can be shorted out and the beer can sized part that helps the compressor start can short and it will take a repairman to fix it.

Sometimes you want to get wet!
 There are several other things that you would be advised to check but I hope you will make the A/C check number one on your list of things to do.  I was working at my rental and found the compressor almost completely blocked because my renter didn't check it EVER!

After 20 years here at Rabbit Run, several things are to the point that I need to start repairing and replacing.  The redwood deck is in bad repair and i am putting some of that new plastic decking on it.  The recommend we give it a simple scrub with soap and water each spring and leave it alone.  Speaking from experience, I find that cleaning between the boards now and then keeps the substructure in better shape. 

Have a great day out there.



Holiday Fun

As things are dry here, we didn't even pop one firecracker or see any pyro.   That doesn't mean we didn't have more fun than should be allowed.  Our son and his wife had several of their friends here and I grilled tons of food of all types.  One of the things that made our day brighter was the addition of Issac and  and his little brother Lucas to the mix.  In Barb's words, they are a couple of firecrackers going somewhere to pop.  

Such a cute guy who has a slightly ornery streak

After the water fight, sharing water with the plants
Just a note - These pictures were taken by Barbara Petty Sr. The head photographer here at Rabbit Run.

 I started the day by with a nice bike ride and followed that with about an hour or two of grilling.  I love to get the Webers going and cook food with hickory smoke.   I think my favorite was the thick cut pork chops.  They were tender and moist and had a great flavor.  The burgers weren't bad but I was a little slow taking them off the grill.  I hate not cooking my burgers done but there is a fine line between just right and over cooked.  I won't eat a burger with red meat showing.  Ground beef is almost as bad as chicken for making you sick.

Our 'nother daughter Mel is here from Austin and always adds her laughter to the mix.  Barb loves to take the boys out and do something while the girls fill the living room with laughter.  I eventually have all I want and disappear to the basement.  

I think that holidays should bring out the families and sharing tales and laughs is the way it should be done. 



The Blame game

This morning I listened to a news cast where Henry Waxman said the trouble for the economy is all to be blamed on George Bush and in fact it is now a Depression not a recession.   The ironic part of this whole mess is that Congress is the body that passed most of the laws that caused our problems and while the president (in most years) just provides guidance.   I think the finger pointing going on in Washington is an effort to get the blame squarely on somebody else's shoulders.  

Where I am sad about this issue is that the Government so far has failed to provide a plan that can help us work our way out of this mess.  No matter who is in charge, I think the Congress is unable to stop and look at the problems and find real ways that we can all work together and get out of this mess.  They continue to find ways to spend our money without any regard for the reality that they have a finite amount of money to spend and need to spend it a lot more wisely.  (wiser est, smarter, with some idea)

I do think there are better ways to spend our money and here are some of my ideas:

- Just how big a Military do we need?  No one doubts that the Government owes us protection but just how much at what cost.   I spent 25 years is a Reserve Component and I tell you that i was a hell of a lot cheaper than a large standing Army.  After over 31 years, I estimate I was paid less than 20% of what an active component person cost.  In Retirement, the money was delayed until I reached 60 and even not I don't cost the taxpayers 25% of what a retired Active Army Colonel would be paid.  We need a Ground Component (this means combine the Army & marines) we need one GC Reserve (Make that the national Guard). We need a Air Component (Yes, all those Marine Pilots either wear the AC Uniform or go home) and We need a Navy.  No more Coast Guard.  Oh, I would give the Reserve of the Air Component to the Air Force reserves ad i see little need for the Styates to have an Air Force)  

Instead of reducing the number of IRS Agents, we have created a new requirement withing the IRS (Read Obama Care law carefully Boys and Girls)  that has created an estimated 16,000 new agents.  Here is how my budget would work.  Government  would have to pass a budget for near term and far term and they would have to tell us how much money they are going to need.  That money would be taken out of anything we made.  Kind of like a handling fee paid by the credit card companies.  Take it as an income tax, a consumption tax, a head tax, or as a part of everything we produce, I don't care.    What I hate is that the people in Congress feel that their people shouldn't pay and seek loop holes.  Whatever they do, make it fair and equal.  

I hate the idea that we have opened the door to a Global Economy to help us have cheaper TV's and Cars.  The reality is that we have reduced the number of people able to buy new things and cheaper prices are only  the symptom not the problem.  

One thing I really want the people out there know is that a lot of our problems are caused by Unintended Consequences of all the fixes we have tried.  Instead of the government having the lock box for our Social Security Dollars and being the largest source for loans, we have become the largest debtor.