Break in the Weather

I think Mother Nature is trying to give us one more break in the weather before the really bad stuff sets in.  High 60's today and over the weekend with a chance of drizzle tomorrow.  We sure need the water here in the heartland.  As I drove down into the middle of Oklahoma it was sure distressing to see how many ponds were dry or nearly so.   Spent a couple of days in the vault of Seminole County Court house looking for Mineral deeds and Oil information for my In-Laws.  I mostly fetch books and make copies of what Barb finds.  I think I finally figured out the system and only made a couple of minor mistakes.  

Looking Good for a wild Animal
The only new thing on the Trail Cam was this picture of a coyote taken during the day while we were gone.  Lots of pictures of deer and the turkeys but mostly the same one's.   I think the Coyote sure looks good and has his winter coat on.  

How do you pick out a restaurant when you travel?  Barb has a rule that there must be at least five cars in the parking lot.  So far, it seems to work out.  I have had in the past a love of Popeye's Chicken but not so much any more.  We ate at one near Shawnee Oklahoma and it was not nearly as good as I had hoped.  The chicken was OK and the Red Beans up to their usual standards but the whole place was messy and the floor was slick.  Someone used the kitchen mop in the lobby.  Oh well, one of these days Church's will perfect their spicy chicken.  Perhaps...

I think the Power Ball is a hoot.  Right when we need to pay attention to what Congress is doing to dig us out of the deep do-do, we lift and shift our attention to the trivial crap like the Power Ball.  The chances of winning the Power Ball ate one in about 175,000,000.  The chances that the Congress is about to hit us all with a tax raise is about 1 in one.  The sad part is that the Democrats are trying to run their solution through and won't compromise at all.  The Republicans have the same idea and the people that will pay is Usn's.  Yep that is the Plural of US like "All Y'all"   I will survive but there are a lot of people out there that really need all the money they take home and don't need another pay cut.

Just for the Record - There were stories that the CEO of COSCO was some kind of wizard and taking a small salary to the benefit of their employees.  Look it up boys and girls, he and the rest of the Board of Directors borrowed 3.5 Billion to pay a year end bonus.  His compensation will be in the range of about 16 Million.  Sure wish I could just go out and borrow 3.5 billion and pass that on to the rest of us as a tax write off.  They didn't even take it out of cash on hand but went out and borrowed it.  Crap on the Business news writers that tried to make him look like a hero.  Another Corporate CEO backing up to the gravy train.

Oh well, Better get on the road...



Not Today

Barbara is my travel agent and mostly is responsible for picking out locations for our travel.  Other than her aversion to places with tall mountains, I really don't have anything to complain about.  I think we have another trip to Oklahoma to make and the hills there don't seem to keep her away.  We will make another trip to Seminole County Courthouse and spend a couple of hours looking through the records.  Not Today.

Yesterday I was looking for some lost CD's and I found a Book on CD by Lee Child.  He writes the jack Reacher novels and this one is called "Running Blind."   I am sure that it is one I bought for a road trip many years back.  As I listen to the first disk, I don't think I have heard it.  Probably will listen to it on our trip.  

For the record I haven't located the sleeve full of CD's I had in the car.  Probably someone found it and took it home as I didn't always lock the car up.  There weren't any new CD's in it so there is probably no big loss.  I have a very eclectic taste in music so there was no theme.  The only loss in the pile is the "Tommy" CD's and perhaps several by the Beatles.  The rest was just a bunch of things I threw together over the years.

Yesterday the Denver Bronco's visited Kansas City and while the defense for KC was pretty good, their offense could only manage three field goals to two touchdowns and a field goal.  Loss number 9 for a team that played well last year and just haven't pulled it all together.  

I really am not a big fan of professional football.   My passion is most college level sports.  I have been watching the K-State Football this year and KU Men's basketball.  On occasion, I have also been one to watch NCAA women's volleyball.  I played volleyball earlier in my life and don't hate to watch the women play.  I wouldn't ever watch pro wrestling but I love to watch college wrestling.  

My trail cam has been catching a lot of pictures of three male turkeys.  There is a flock of 20 or 30 hens in one flock and these three males that are hanging together.  

Three males together at the feed plot
Oh well, better move on with the day.



Sunday - Dressed Up and No Where to Go!

During the lull between Thanksgiving and Christmas, I always have kind of an empty feeling in the pit of my stomach.  Perhaps it is the new space I created by stuffing it with food on Thursday.  We still have a couple of pieces of pie and I have yet to make something good out of the Turkey and dressing.  I have made Potato pancakes a couple of mornings in a row but probably won't today.  

I am having a blast with the Trail Cam.  I put out about a gallon of cracked corn and have a mineral block out.  It seems to attract all kinds of critters.

Turkeys eating small pieces of cracked corn
Buck and Doe at the feeding site
This is the difficult time of the year for me as a sports fan.  I am trying to keep my love of football alive, knowing that Basketball has started.  Might have something to do with the fact that KU Football is 1-8 and Basketball is 5-1.

Oh well,



I Know Who I Am, Who Are You?

If I had to choose where I stand in Public, I would choose to stand by the party of Lincoln who freed the slaves rather than the party that is leading us down the path of entitlement enslavement.  I am probably an enigma to the pundits but I think that we must be more conservative with our $ and more liberal with our standards.  The political parties are both not standing strong and united in defense of our country.  A failure to stop the runaway entitlements will lead us to a place where failure is more than a maybe.  

One thing I want to make clear, is that whatever you think, the whole mess is not the fault of Obama.  To those that wish him evil, I say shame on you.  We live in a country that is built on laws and  he is simply doing the best with what he can.  I don't hate everything about "Obama-care."  In fact there is a lot to be said about ensuring that all our citizens have access to Health Care no matter what has happened in the past.  That part where children can stay on their parents plan until they are well into their mid 20's not so much.  What I am very worried about is in spite of some of the changes needed, I wanted to open the loop holes not quite so far, not quite so fast.

The other day a friend of long standing posted a very pro Obama post.  He had been in the business world and was very well respected.  On the surface he was a Republican to the core and his change kind of shocked me.  On the non business side, he has always been very active in Scouting and loved the outside as he would often travel with them to Philmont or up into Canada on canoe trips.  I can see how his feelings could run to a little more liberal side and perhaps, at least for this election he is right.

I am concerned that the Hostess Bakery company is closing just as some of the States are opening their Marijuana laws.  When those midnight munchies kick in what will they eat.

I know where I am, where are you?




I am not sure why, but again I overcooked for Thanksgiving dinner.  We sent leftovers home with everyone and still have a bunch in the refrigerator.  I feel asleep early last night and have been up since 4 AM.  Oh well, Thanksgiving happens only once a year. 

A little while ago Barb asked me if I wanted to go shopping.  She was kidding.  I don't think we'll either one do much shopping today.  It is hard to think of anything we need.  In fact we both decided if we can't read it, eat it or wear it we don't need it.  

I read this morning that the United States of Mexico is considering changing their name to just Mexico.  I don't think many people would not call it Mexico.  Some day I want to go to Mexico City in the winter time and go up in the mountains and see the Monarchs as they overwinter there.   I hope there are more there than we saw passing through here this fall.   The dry weather wasn't good for them I am afraid.

I hope you and your family had a great Thanksgiving and it sets up a great holiday season for you all.



Turkey Smokin' Weather

If I could order a day to smoke the turkey, it could not start out any better than what we have here in the heartland.  The wind is light and variable and right now it is above 50 and should be about 72 by the end of the day.  I know you are tired of hearing that we built our house smack dab in the middle of a hickory grove.  I have two Webers and a more than adequate supply of hickory.   I brined the turkey over night and this morning took it out and after a few seasonings put it in a smokey grill.  I am still experimenting on keeping the grill under 300 degrees but it is a battle.  About once an hour or so I will go out and add a few charcoal briquettes and a new stick of hickory.  I find that a chink of hickory will produce about the right amount of smoke without flaming up in a Weber. I have a pan of water in the middle of the grill and add coals from each side.

I am glad I cleaned up the kitchen floor yesterday.  I made a hell of a mess out it this morning while unloading the turkey out of the cooler and then pouring the excess brine in the drain.  That goes for the counter around the sink also.  Oh well, I will probably clean the counters at least twice more between now and tomorrow and 1 PM.  

I have my recumbent bike in the shop to have the old paint removed and a new black powder coat applied.  The promise is that I will have it back by Christmas.  I figure the bike shop will put new cables on the shifters and such and my Christmas present is a new shinny bike.  That does take some of the stress off what to get us for Christmas.  If we can't eat it, read it or wear it, we probably don't need it.  There is stuff in the storage room to decorate the White House and we have only 3,000 square feet.  For two people!

Our Son's in-laws are in town over this Thanksgiving holiday.  We enjoy visiting with Larry and Sandy Parks.  Many years ago, Larry and I worked together in the State defense Building and it was fairly common that he and I would have a cup of coffee together once a week or so.  We both worked in the bowels of the State Defense Building and the coffee was at least hot.  

last night I didn't catch a new mouse in the Defense in Depth traps in the garage.  Perhaps the peanut butter smell is fading off the traps and if I don't catch anything tonight I will put new peanut butter on the traps Friday.  yes, I do know it is kind of strange that I feed the birds and critters out in the yard and hunt the mice as hard as I do.   When we bought the house that Dave is living in, I saw first hand what the mice can do if unchecked.  In several places we had to remove exterior panels and you could see where the mice had made runs under the paneling.  I think we did our best to plug up the holes but  I probably need to check out the state of the mice population, cats or no cats.  I think both Da Barbs and I both have an aversion to mice and roaches. 

We had lunch with Barb Jr yesterday and when I was recounting the menu for lunch, it seemed that something was missing.   Of course, I forgot the dressing.  I will make a fairly straight regular dressing and a fancy version of cornbread and sausage dressing.  Both will have a small amount of celery and onions added. The corn bread dressing might even have a Jalapeno pepper or two added.  Ya' never know.  

Well, I have goofed around enough here to have to go back out and check the turkey.  Might even put on a pair of jeans instead of running around in my pajama pants.  At least I do have the common courtesy to put of jeans if I am going to venture out in the world.  Can't say the same for the people I see at WalMart.

Oh, by the way, (NO, I refuse to use BTW)  It seems that one of the writers of the business news writes something bad about Best Buy every chance he gets.  I wonder what world he lives in when he blames the slightly poor performance for sales in their stores on what they do.  Has he not noticed that unemployment is fairly high, everything is costing more, raises are smaller (if not cut back) and that best Buy is the home to consumer electronics who's purchase can be put off for a while?  I will promise you that if you come to Topeka and go to the Best Buy store on Wanamaker, my son, Dave, is generally the guy in the window for the Geek Squad.  After watching him work, I can tell you that he will do his best to make the customer happy and get things fixed if they can be fixed.    Try that at WalMart, K-mart or Target.   Other than Dave has to work 12 hours from Thursday night to Friday morning, I am glad that he and best Buy have an association. 



Good News?

It is day two of the 2012 Great Mouse Hunting season and I seem to have a limit of one per day so far.  This morning there is number 2 in the traps out in the garage.  Last year I think I trapped 42 or 43 and will keep up the battle in the garage.  Build in the woods, and critters want to share your house with you.

Kansas University  Men's Basketball team had a couple of rough games real early and last night it was clear that they have at least two teams deep and perhaps three.  There is a Manning and a Self and a third coach's kid on the bench that finally got in the game with about three minutes left in the game.  Most of the starters didn't play much in the second half and I'm sure that Coach Self was resting them for the game tonight against Saint Louis University.  Barb and I love to see the young men play with a smile on their faces and shooting about 75% in the first half put one there.  

This morning the paper had speculation that the Big XII could end with a four way tie.  I mentioned it to Barb and she just smiled and pointed out that we don't really have a dog in that hunt so why spend any time worrying about it.  

I bought a trail camera about a month ago and have been having a lot of fun seeing what animal comes int to eat the left over apples, corn and table scraps.  We have seen lots of deer over the years down below the hill and a few coyotes.  It seems there are three raccoons, a possum and a fox here at Rabbit Run.  We have about 12 or 13 acres of woods and it is hooked to another 25 or so of trees with a great water source down at the end of the woods.  So far I haven't found any mountain lions or top predators.   A few years ago we had a Bob Cat but he was killed out on the road and I buried him here in the pet cemetery.  The majority of the buried dead here are dogs.  I never did find anything of our outside cat, Tiger.   He was not doing well and I think the coyote probably caught him out in the open.

Today is probably going to be spent cleaning for the big Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday.  My job will be floors and bathrooms mostly but I will probably also drag out the vacuum and give it a spin.

Better run.  I see from the number count at the bottom of the page that I am nearing 73,000 visitors to my blog.  I want to thank you all for spending a few minutes visiting.  Some day, I hope to understand why so many people from Alaska stop in.  In a couple of years, I hope to drive the ALCAN Highway and see the spectacular views up there.



The Role of the USA?

As I listen to the news, the Israelis and Hamas battle in Gaza is the front page of the news.  It is pretty clear that Hamas is not giving near as much as they are getting.  I hear the hawks say we need to jump in there and bring the slaughter to a halt.  Is that really what a country in the poor house should do?  What is the role of the UN and the rest of the world?
Hawk on Fence Post
OK, I think the term "Poor House" might be a bit extreme.  

I think the E-Bay sellers of Twinkies are nuts.  If I wouldn't give $5.00 for a package of 10, what the heck makes them think I would spend more?  I might miss an occasional Ding Dong now and then but never Twinkies.  

I think I need to start the cleaning for guests at our Thanksgiving dinner.   Mostly it will be spiffing up the kitchen but who's kitchen couldn't use some work?   

Oh well, sitting here isn't getting it done.



Sunday, Sunday...

I love to wake up early and make a pot of coffee.  I get the paper and read it as much as I can stand.  Yesterday we went to Sam's Club and I bought another two pounds of that thick sliced bacon.  I bought the hickory smoked kind not the Maple Flavored kind.   It is almost as good but doesn't smell up the house for days.  Not that Maple is a bad smell for a house.  I microwave a couple of cut up potatoes and then fry them.  Finest kind.

In the past I loved to go to Lawrence for breakfast but breakfast at home is almost as good.  Oddly enough, the HyVee grocery store had almost the best breakfast at a reasonable price.  I loved to go to their meat department after breakfast and pick up some of their fine meat for grilling.  Meat comes in three grades, regular, choice and prime.  The Choice at HyVee is almost as good as the Prime anywhere else.  It is well marbled and grills great.  They have a supplier in Amana, Iowa that just loves his beef.

It is that time of the year when I have to work on my defense in depth against the mice.  They think that because I built a house in the woods they are welcome to spend the winter inside.  I will put peanut butter baited mouse traps by the door in the garage.  I think I got more than 40 last year and today is the first day of mouse hunting season.  I made the mistake of  leaving a bag of black oil sunflower seeds in the garage and there was a hole in the bottom of that bag and lots of shells on the floor.  

A couple of years ago I put gutter screens on the house.  I can see that the squirrels have eaten a hole in one and the rest need to be cleaned of the gravel from the new roof.  A little dirt and that gravel from a fresh roof and it is overflow time.  I hate that job but it needs to be done and I don't have any dependable help nearby.  Oh well, "That what does not kills us makes us stronger." (Or some crap like that...)  

I am not sure who is advising the Hamas group in Gaza, but they need to learn to live with the Israelis.  Either that or die with them.  Once the people in Israel decided that their motto is "Never Again" it is not wise to fool with them.  Shoot one rocket at them and they will bomb your leaders house.  Do that enough and they will wake up and smell the cordite.  

As a retired Artilleryman, I can still smell the cordite from the guns as they fired.  I got used to that smell and between the sounds and smells, I can see freedom from there.    It is a smell that I want to always be on distant battlefields but I would suit up if they really needed me.  Yes, I know I wouldn't last long hauling stuff around.  You have your dreams, and I'll have mine.

The Paper was full of Ads this morning.  They are cranking up for Black Friday.  There is a real push for people to not shop at the big box stores on Thursday evening and Friday.  All I can say is the same thing I would say to those Hostess Bakery people.  Would you rater have a 8% pay cut or a 100% loss?   I for one know that there are a lot of people that could lose their jobs if we stop shopping.  Add to that the loss to the economy and that will add fuel to the recession fire.  We lost over 500 jobs in Topeka last year and I for one don't want many more jobs to go away.  



Your Agenda

At one time, I prepared a daily runner on one day for the next day and fairly planned out my activities to maintain my maximum productivity and that of my employees. I always found that taking a few minutes at the end of a day let me think about things in a non rushed manner.  Once I stopped drinking, rushing home for a cold one was not a thing I did.   Now days, not so much.   I don't spend a lot of time invested in productivity maximization.  In fact it has kind of slipped to my lists of, "Things I need to do, things I want to do" and the final list of  "If I get around to it."

The discussion starts with a gentle prodding by the wife of, "What's on your agenda today."   Being part Scots/Irish  I am never at a complete loss for an answer but seldom can put together a complete daily itinerary off the cuff.  It is not being evasive, just most of the time my best answer is the first things that come to mind. 

Next week I will be responsible for cooking most of the main items on the menu.  I have a general thought process for what to do and when to do it.   I call it the military tent form of planning.  I look for the longest pole in the tent and that is the first thing started.  For those of you that have put up a military tent, you know that one of the first things you do is to lay it out on the ground and put stakes around the perimeter.  That to me is the trip to the grocery store where I tried to remember what I was making and what I needed to make it.   I do find it better to go to the store after I eat something and have prepared a list.

I will watch the weather and if it looks like Wednesday will be a good day, I may smoke the turkey.  If so, I will need to brine and defrost the turkey Tuesday night.  I will put it in the Weber grill and keep adding charcoal and wood to keep the temperature up and the smoke adequate.  After cooking the turkey, I will put it in one of those oven bags and put it in the fridge overnight.  I like to have the smoke taste permeate the entire bird and there are things in the Fridge that I don't want to taste smokey.  The next morning I will carve the turkey and put it in a serving pan with some chicken stock to reheat prior to lunch.

Just so you will know, I always try to write on the blog early in the day.  After a cuppa coffee or two, I just feel like writing to stay in the game.  Oh well, Write on the blog, Check the e-mail, go get the paper and read it and then check the trail cam may seem like little to you but it is the start of a day for me.  Have a good one.




This morning I was reminded by the local paper that it is approaching Nutcracker Time at our Local Topeka Performing Arts Center (TPAC).    One of the reasons I gave up being a Volunteer at TPAC it was tough to find enough people to help at the Ginger Bread House a followed by a bunch of performances of the Nut cracker.  You can see the Nut Cracker about once a decade without falling asleep.  With one notable exception.

During the day, the Dress Rehearsal is performed before a full house of school children.  They are noisy, restless and there are not enough boxes of tissues to wipe all the runny noses.   It was a giant mess and took so much time.  As much as I love kids, it wore me out to spend that much time around them.  

On one of these rehearsals, there was a fairly good preforming group on stage and when the ballerina was dancing with the young man in tights, he lifted the young female dancer over his head.  I don't remember the exact move but on one of those moves, the female dancer found herself topless.  She turned around and placed her equipment back where it should have been and the dance resumed.  It all happened so fast that many of the kids didn't seem to notice.  I'll bet she replaced that outfit with one with  shoulder straps after that.  I guess she didn't expect it to be an undress rehearsal.

last night, I turned on the TV and was looking at what to watch about 7 PM and there was the Jay Hawks playing UC Chattanooga.  The start of the game was almost a repeat of the Michigan State game.  They looked shell shocked and hesitant.  The Coach put in about every different line up to see if he could find a team that would play.  The only highlight was Ben Mclemore who play above the rim was a sight to behold. The coach called time out after time out and you could see on TV that steam was coming out of his ears. 

The hawks went in 12 points down at halftime and I would love to have been a fly on that wall.  The Hawks looked like a different team and looked like they were having fun for the second half.  They turned the game around and it looked like a great team.  Whew, for a while I had visions of the LA Lakers in Lawrence.

I think we are nearing a final decision on our 45th Anniversary trip.  I think Puerto Rico is in our near future.  I hope it turns out to be as nice as the Online Travel Agents claim. We'll see.

Oh well, on with the day - Bigger and better things await.



Wastin' Time

I am not sure why, but I always wish time away this time of year.  I am a week away from Thanksgiving and i wish it was tomorrow.  Then I wish a couple of weeks could disappear and it would be Christmas.  I'm sure there is a warm weather location visit in February and the next thing I will want it to be spring.   

The one and only concern I have right now is what the heck our Government will do to straighten out what's broken in the economy.  Things here at Rabbit Run Farms is about as good as it gets and other than minor maintenance issues I am pretty happy.  

The problem with big government solutions to problems is the fact that just when wee think we have the problems licked, the Law of Unintended Consequences kicks in.   To add insult to injury, each party looks for reasons to say it is the other guy's fault.  Never mind, pass an extension on the Debt Limit and move on.  Not the way Dave Ramsey or I would fix it.

I was blown away the other day when I read that our Governor asked Congress to extend the wind energy tax credits for a while.  This is the turkey that wants to exempt us all from taxes, like they will just pay for themselves.  I think wind energy is fine but as the leader of the State he needs to be consistent in his message.  The only thing consistent is his inconsistency.

I am about ready to go shopping and one of the things on my list is a Turkey.  I guess that's what got me to thinking about wishing time was slipping away faster.  Better go.



Role of Government?

One of the biggest discussions last month centered on the role of the Government.  Here is my two cents worth:

Government has a role in being the protector of our freedoms.  They should seek out and punish those that commit crimes that violate the Civil Rights of our Citizens.  That applies to all enemies foreign and domestic.  I would personally not give any of those rights to those foreign aggressors we are seeking out, but I do come from the Military side of the house where rules of war apply.

As a Minimum, the Government needs to perform those requirements as specified in the Constitution.  Because technology and life has changed, I accept there will be a growing creep in those requirements.  

There are just some things that Government should not be asked to do.  The Government Spending has grown from about 20% of the GDP to nearing 30%.  Somewhere there needs to be a cap on that.  I am not responsible for making it work so I won't specify the level for now.

I think every law newly passed needs to have a sunset date.  I would also make the new laws specify what is being cut to pay for the new entitlement or spending.  No unfunded mandates would be passed to the States.  

If the National Guard can spend 80 Million dollars supporting Advertising for NASCAR, no one can tell me that we can't cut the military budget.   A good one year of mandatory military service for all young men and women would cut the need for advertising.  

Our Congress must put together a budget and learn to live with it.  My big rule is Income must be greater than or equal to outgo.  Simple to say, hard to do.


Who Are You?

The other day, one of my nieces put a saying by George Harrison of the Beatles on Facebook.  It was generally a live for today kind of thing and I think it really missed the mark.  The Beatles gave up in the middle of being some of the best musicians and song writers to travel to India to get spiritual guidance.  It should not surprise anyone that a country that has so many people and poor living conditions would have a motto about living for today.  Throw in their religions that believe in reincarnation and it is pretty easy to see they think that it will all work out in the end. I am not a music expert, but I feel that trip changed their music and for me not for the better.  I do not think Rock and Roll is better played on a Sitar.

Yes dear ones, I too kind of wonder where the heck this is leading but I will try to follow the yellow brick road to my version of OZ.  I am not going to argue the Nature vs Nurture argument, I am simple going to state my side and tell you what it feels like from my side.

I grew up in a lower middle class neighborhood after WWII.  I was exposed to a lot of education and loved to read.  I feel that I learned as much from that "library" education as I ever did from the formal "sit in class one."  I also was exposed to a lot of different kids and saw how they lived and what they did and I think I grew from the experience of talking and playing with kids from across the political and economic spectrum. I went to school with the children of Doctors and Lawyers as well as kids on welfare.  I had the opportunity to play a lot of different sports and was in both the Cub and Boy Scouts.  

In the 50's, the kids played outside mostly.  It was pre TV and air conditioning and outside was where we gathered.  There was no shortage of people to play with or things to do.  I am pretty sure that our parents were concerned about us, but not as worried as people seem to be today.  Perhaps it was because I was a boy that my parents didn't watch my every movement. I think it might have been kind of a hoot to see what I was going to do next.  I think that having the responsibility of coming home or not shaped my independence.

I will not tell you that I was the leader in every mock cavalry charge or war game we played.  I sure as heck did not have the size to break the defense in a good game of Red Rover.  I think that I just played with abandonment and threw myself into games that we played.  Mostly I learned things by doing and that was the hard way in a lot of cases, but I did learn a lot of things to not do next time. 

One area that I think that up to my retirement I did was to continue to learn new things.  I often say that I would much rather learn a new skill than try to hone an old skill to perfection.   I know this leads to a lot of projects not finished but who said you have to have everything perfect?  What part of good enough is good enough? 

Somewhere in the middle of my life I attended a class on planning. It opened me to new ways to plan and how to help groups of people get to the end of a project with something they could use.  I remember the first time the science teacher said we had to write down what the "Outcome" of an experiment was.  I never thought about outcome, only was thrilled to watch what the hell happened when we did something.  

In the Military, My first plans were written using the Five Paragraph OPORD format.  Mission, Enemy, Terrain, Weather and Coordinating Instructions.  I did find it interesting to have a format on what we were going to do, but it wasn't until I took the facilitation class that I learned a lot of different ways to think about planning and how to take a problem apart.   The Instructor for that Class was a young Captain that the National Guard brought in and paid him to teach us how to have fun in a job that could be boring

I really could go on and give you a heck of a lot more details, but I am now a lot like Popeye, "I Yam what I Yam."  I hope you will take a moment and think about what got you to where you are and help you think about "Who Are You?"

Writer, Husband, Father, Thinker, Do-er, Retired, Tinkerer, Cook, Head laborer at Rabbit Run, and Ex Soldier.



Memories of Departed Friends

There are many advantages to arriving at the ripe old age of 65 in a decent state of health.  I have most of my teeth, hair and illnesses that are treatable with medications.    I feel very luck that my finances have arrived in the same good state.  I will not give in to the thought that we are just lucky.  We both worked hard, put off having some of the rewards at a younger age for the rewards we now have.

The Bad news is that there is a long list of fellow travelers in this life that are no longer around.  I did not know my real Grandfathers so I did not expect my Dad to live as long as he did.  Mom lived much longer than anyone thought possible.  It is the fact that as a Baby Boomer I can see a pretty clear pattern of my fellow BB's not having their parents.  Having Served in the Military for many years, I have seen the old soldiers pass on and some of the new crop is not doing all that well.

The husband of one of Barb's fellow teachers had her spouse pass this week.  I really enjoyed his spunk and toughness in doing business here in Topeka.  I am reminded by the signs on fences his company put up of his effect on Topeka.  Just yesterday as I drove down Topeka Blvd, I saw his last business surrounded with used cars he accumulated over the years.  

The shocker this morning was the obit page when I saw that a fellow I almost hired in Ottawa passed this week.  In spite of my good feelings for him in the process, everyone told me that another soldier from Ottawa was the best person for the job.  In the short run, the guy I hired was good but didn't pull his weight in the long run.  Wayne Kern should have been at the top of my short list and I regret it.  On the other hand, I can say that Wayne went on in his career and went to Warrant Officer School and worked himself to the top of that ladder as a CW5.  

Back in the day, almost everyone smoked.  Most of the smokers I knew then have either stopped or died. I can't even begin to tell you how many guys that smoked Camel unfiltered cigarets died younger than we all thought necessary.  It would start with a cough, a cancer in the lung and then some horrible tumor in places that most of us don't want.    I have no desire to linger into that sweet good night.  I hope it is some quick action that ends it right there on the spot.  Better yet, how about just not waking up?  

A few years back, I decided to stop smoking and drinking.  I have a routine that on my birthday I have a beer and a good cigar.  After burning a hole in a new shirt and almost getting sick last year I am not sure if I want that cigar.  In fact, I haven't had one this year.  I think that I want to go to Cuba at least once to have one of those fine Cuban cigars, but like the movie line, "I want the Truth - You can handle the Truth!"  I hope that is wrong but who knows.

Oh well, a KU Basketball game tonight and the singing group Straight - No Chaser   will perform here in Topeka tomorrow night.  

I hope no one thinks that this is some indication that I think I am starting to end things soon.  I plan on joining many of my friends at Fiddlers Green someday to have a cool drink of muzzle blast before passing on into eternity, but not today. 



Thanksgiving Menu

In a little over a week from now, I will spend a good part of the day cooking the Thanksgiving meal.  I will do most of the food and Barb will do the rolls and desserts.  I am not sure if the weather will break enough to do a smoked turkey outside on the grill.  I try to do most of the smoking on Wednesday and save the turkey overnight to let most of the smoky flavor sink in the meat.  I generally start early and put the meat in a pan to re-heat a couple of hours prior to meal time.  I might even add a little chicken stock to the pan to make the meat juicier.  I will smoke the meat but will not add BBQ sauce. A little salt and pepper and some cooked pear onions w/carrots mixed in.

My next item is the garlic smashed potatoes.  I will boil the potatoes with several cloves of garlic.  It will be at least a head of garlic in some salty water.  When the potatoes are done, I will add butter, milk, salt and pepper an mash them all up.  I have been known to add some Philadelphia brand cream cheese also.   If I get this done too early, I put them in a crock pot to hol;d the heat until meal time.

I really don't remember the recipe for green bean casserole.  When you go to the store, there is generally a display that tells you what you need.  Basically it is canned green beans, Campbells Mushroom soup and French Fried Onions for a topping.  There just isn't much you can do to change the taste - just follow the recipe stupid.

Barb will set the table and make iced tea.  We really don't have sweet tea just plain Lipton tea.

Years ago, I stopped putting cranberry anything on the table.  Most of the time what we did put out would get thrown away.

There is a funny story about all the Thanksgivings we ate at my mother's house.  There would always be the pumpkin pie and maybe an apple or cherry pie.  Mom would also make her favorite Sour-cream and raisin and minced meat pie.  One summer when we were talking about our Holiday plans, the subject came up and Mom said she would make the pies.  I asked for a vote from everyone present. on the sour cream raisin and mince meat pie.  Needless to say Mom was very surprised that they got no, zero, nada, zilch votes. I think it was decided that unless someone was just in the mood to make a pie, Mrs Smith could be our designated pie driver. 

Barb has worked on several different ways to make the rolls but I think has kind of settled into the frozen rolls that she thaws out and bakes.  Put real butter on them and they are the bomb.  

Now all I have to do is to wait a week and not get too hungry.


Workin' on the Bike

Saturday looked like the last day for riding in balmy 70 degree weather for the year so I stripped the recumbent frame down to it's bare metal and am in the process of having it powder coated. Less than a year ago, I looked into having it done and due to the poor economy, both of the previous shops are now closed. I had to find new locations to have the work done.  When I had a smart phone I would just look the locations up on line.  Now that I have a "Dumb Phone" I had to stop and use the old phone book trick.

When I get the bike back together I will probably upgrade a couple of the components and most of the cables.  I say I will put it together but the guys at my local bike shop are way mo' better than I am and they will probably do most of the work. I went to the bike shop on Saturday to get the last couple of components off the frame.  There are some neat tools that I don't own.  The tool that removes the bearing races out of the head is a neat tool.  I am sure that If I had just taken a screw driver to do that I would have bent something.  There is even a neat tool that removes the pedals that is not yet in my tool box.  My bearing puller got one pedal off but not the side with the chain rings. 

I can sure tell that my three times a week bike rides are getting further apart.  The other day I saw a Ford Truck Ad and the guy used the word "Farther" and I thought I would have used further.  Seems like if it is distance not space or differences in ideology you should use farther.  Sheesh, what did I know.  

On Saturday, it stayed close to 70 degrees until very late.  On Sunday the daytime high was shortly after midnight.  This morning, it was about 23 degrees and I had to scrape frost off the car windshield. 

Oh well, on with the good things.



Trail Cam Updates

This is the real dear her at Rabbit Run

Not all of the Wildlife is "wild"
Deer looking at the Camera


Oil Stuff

If any of you out there understand everything you have read or been told about oil and gas production, you are a better man than I am.  Just when I think I have it figured out, we get another piece of information and it continues to add to the confusion rather than clarify the facts.  here is what I think I know. (I Think) Many of you may want to stop here and move on to another blog. 

Way back when, many people went out into the countryside and purchased the Mineral Rights to a lot of the land.  Even though the oil is beneath the ground and in no way tied to the ground above, the rights were purchased in terms of acres.  There may, and probably is, someone that owns the ground above the minerals but they have purchased the ground without the rights if a previous owner sold those rights. 

Up until just a little while ago, I thought that the mineral rights were somehow tied to the location of a well and have kind of been proved wrong.  The mineral rights are really an expression of the portion of the minerals produced in the one mile section listed.  For example, if you own 640 acres of mineral rights, you own 100% of the minerals produced in that mile section.  If you own 320 acres you own half of the rights. 

Now, the real interesting thing happens when there is someone that wants to start developing the field to obtains gas or oil.  Generally, an oil company would explore an area and then if they thought it was a good place to drill, they would contact the mineral rights owner(s) and a Lease would be worked out.  The company would generally drill the well for 11/12ths of the production.  The mineral rights owner would benefit only if there was oil ad gas produced from the well.  that 1/12th of the production could be a little or a lot.  When oil was $13 a barrel, it was often cheaper to buy imported oil and have it delivered to the refinery. A lot of those wells were capped and no money exchanged hands.

If you think this is complicated, just remember that when the mineral rights were bought and sold, most of the time it was by one person. Those owners have for the most part died and their heirs are now eligible for the funds produced.  Fine, you say, but what about the wells that were drilled, and then capped and not produced?  Now that oil is nearer to $80 a barrel, many of those earlier wells are now brought back into production and the owner(s) of the mineral rights may be as few as four or five owners or as many as 30.  I don't know if you ever took Biology where you counted generations of mice but the portion of the original can work its was, to a much reduced amount quickly.   

One thing I didn't throw in to this mix is that in a lot of cased the company that drilled the wells may sell their part of the production for shares to an independent producer to maintain the wells and to see that the oil gets to the delivery point so it can be sold.  The independent producer will get a portion of the minerals and this causes all sorts of trouble as many of these guys are not the best capitalized and run.  In a lot of cases they don't care who the money goes to, they just take their cut off the top.  The remainder they send to the State who takes 10% off the top.  

We met a fellow that was as bored as I was.  he did his best to help explain a lot of what i wrote above and he said that for many reasons greed just rears it's ugly head in this and all sorts of fraud happens.  he told us about a young man that when his father died, told the oil company that he was his father and for years received his father's portion instead of sharing it with his sister.  When he died, the family did some work and found out what the man had done and the sister was awarded all the proceeds until the difference was made up.  The kids of the man were shocked to find out that there was no money for them until that was paid back.  They had to be told by a lawyer that their dad had been a thief.   Kind of an ugly way to have your reputations smeared.

Oh well, in a lot of cases, you can spend an eternity trying to figure out just what has happened and who is owed what.  It makes my head hurt.  For the record, this is just what I understand and there may be new twists I don't even know about.




Different View of the Small Stuff

Over the past few years, there has been a change of attitude about the security of Government installations in other countries.  I won't go back to the times Teddy Roosevelt sent the Marines in strange places but I will go back to Iran where our Embassy was invaded and hostages taken.   If a country does not provide security for our installation there, why do we send people there?  Tell those countries that they will not have our presence in their country. (and our foreign aide) If they do not provide security and protection why do we spend one moment trying to provide them with a place in New York that is safe. Overrun one of my embassies, and I will throw you out of my country is not a too strong position for me.  Unless the UN and the USA start taking a hard line on this, things will continue to get worse.

I do not believe in complete isolationism but I do believe that places that do not perform their duty to other embassies should not benefit from our help.  Other countries should also join in when one is attacked. Now that we have been brought face to face with the inevitable downfall of our economy without a lot of hard work, why so we continue to send dollars to other places, especially those that don't  treat us as friends.

There are people in the world that hate me.  I do not spend one minute trying to curry favor with them or spend one $ trying to influence their opinion.  Why does the USA work so hard to do just that?

I think the old saying that says - "Work for peace but prepare for war."  Is that such a bad saying?   

For the next year, we will be forced to focus on the hard problems here at home.  Iran, Afghanistan, and any other country that causes us to lift our focus from here at home is just out of luck.   


What's Not to Love About Kansas

The latest Kansas magazine arrived yesterday here at Rabbit Run and it is chock full of little things they love about Kansas.  They focus on people, places and things across the wide State of Kansas.  Kansas is basically a rectangle about 200 miles tall by about 400 miles wide.  The Missouri River takes a bite out of NE Kansas but like the views in most of the State you can see for "Miles and Miles."  I am not a trained Geologist and can't tell you when the Glaciers crossed the NE part of the State but I live in the gentle rolling hills where there was a lot of glacial activity, "Once Upon a Time."  The real clue to the fact that there were glaciers is the large red rocks we find here on out 18 Acres.  Most of the State is covered with a Limestone cap but these strange igneous red heavy rocks pop up along the rivers and gulleys.  Barb likes to collect them and put them as decorations in the Gardens.  Throw in some Native Kansas plants and it is always a sight to behold.

Yesterday we drove through the Flint Hills down by Emporia and I am always glad to see out version of the Continental Divide there at the Cattle Pens between Emporia and Eldorado.  For years the Flint Hills have been the summer home to thousands of cattle fattening up to go to market the next year.  Many of the cows are young and the rich grass helps promote some of the best beef you could ever sink your fork in.   There have been times when I thought the Flint Hills were boring as I drove up the turnpike.  Most of those times I was more tired and a cuppa coffee perked me up.

I grew up near Wichita and drove roads that went primarily north and south about every mile.   I am always kind of confused to be in places where the roads follow the rivers and one time deer trails.   Give me a cloudless day in Kansas and I seldom look at the compass in the Crown Vic.   If I am going to Pittsburgh in the South east or Colby in the North West I basically head in the general prime directions secure that I will eventually run into the final destination (Or Missouri or Nebraska)     Unless I am in a hurry to get to my final destination I would much rather drive the Kansas Highways rather than the Interstates.  I am somewhat saddened by the demise of many of the little towns as the farms just get bigger and the number of people gets smaller.  There were once a series of small town spread out about every 30 miles.  That was the buggy or Stage Coach ride for one day.  Many of those small towns are just a collection of empty store fronts or Like Parked empty towns where no one lives.

One year I drove to my In-Laws house near Twin Falls Idaho and took a cut across Wyoming on US 30.  I mentioned it to my Mother-in-Law and she said that when she was a little girl that is the only way they could travel.  Duh Dennis, I knew that in the real world  the Interstates were inspired by Dwight David Eisenhower to give us roads like the Autobahns in Germany.   That had to be after WWII and being a Baby Boomer I just lacked that frame of reference.    Think about driving those old roads without a computer game to keep the kids busy.  Families actually had to talk to each other. 

Oh well, I need to focus on the real world as a strong wind from the south today foretells us of a strong cold front coming from the north late today or tomorrow.  Things to do and hatches to be battened down.



Morning After

This morning, I am pretty sad in that in spite of everything that is screwed up, little changed from the election.  I compare what happened to the "NOT IN MY BACKYARD" (NIMBY)  crowd.  The current rating of the entire congress is about 8% in the national polls and yet, so few of them got unelected.  We will be faced with more of the same and we will get more of what we got.  I guess everyone is willing to forgive their congressmen and women for their faults. 

No one is willing to face that Bush in 8 years and Obama in 4 years added $2,000 @ in annual interest payments on the National debt for each person in the USA.  If you or I lived life so above the rules, they would come after us with a net.  

Oh well, what the heck, what the hell do I care.




When I was assigned as the battalion Ammunition Officer for the 1st battalion, 92nd Field Artillery based in Pleiku, RVN,  I was often assigned the duty to fly convoy cover for our attempts to restock the Ammunition Supply Point (ASP) that had been emptied during TET 1968.   We ran daily, 10 truck convoys up the highway through Kontum to Dak to.  We would take our trucks over to the ASP by Camp Inari in Pleiku and load them overnight and get back to the convoy start point about breakfast.  If we were lucky, there would be time to catch a hot breakfast and load up a C-ration lunch. 

A little over half the time, I would get in the back seat of a bird dog and fly convoy cover for the entire convoy.  Those times I didn't fly, I rode in a jeep with our trucks and talked to the local Artillery units as we went north.  It didn't take very long for the guys to notice that when I was with them in a jeep, the convoy didn't get ambushed where I was.  The convoy was shot up in the lead and we were in the back.  When we were near the front, they hit the back.  I'm sure that it was more luck than anything.  One time I was flying and our unit was right in the kill zone when the ambush blew down.  I called for artillery and it was bedlam for about an hour as I put up an artillery blocking fire and the gun trucks attacked right into the ambush. 

Where my troubles were was the fact that every damned fast mover in the entire area wanted to get up and drop some ordinance.  Every time one would show up, I would have to stop the Artillery and allow them to work over the enemy soldiers.  If you haven't ever flown in a single engine airplane at about 90 miles per hour, you don't realize how slow it seems.  The silver and green tracers are pretty as they are streaming up past you until you think that they are only about every 5th round and you are in a thin aluminum skinned aircraft. In case you haven't been so informed, the US tracers are red.  

I managed to spot a position up on top of the mountain near the ambush site.  It looked like a command post the VC had to control the entire time.  One good thing about the check fire for the fast movers was it gave me a chance to look around and we spotted the command post.  I was able to fire on the mountain top and shortly there was no one moving there.  We continued to fire behind the ambush site and there were many enemy soldiers moving away from the ambush site and trying to escape through the blocking artillery fire.   We were able to move the fire deeper into the jungle and I'm sure that they paid a pretty heavy price for getting to blow up a couple of trucks.  The only wounded guy from my unit was an idiot that was way back from the kill zone where there was interlocking machine gun fire from the enemy.  He got out and ran up to the point of impact where a 7.62 (or close) bullet tore through his thigh.  No broken bones but he did have a pretty scar to show when he got back home.   In fact he was back with us in a short couple of weeks.  My unit had orders to never stop in the middle of an ambush and had continued to drive forward through the worst of it.  One of the trucks that had been shot up was ours and the crew had jumped out of the truck when the engine was hit.  

I am not sure how many days later, I was flying convoy cover and our unit got hit again.  After the fire stopped, the guys reported that one of our trucks was again hit and someone had seen it being towed towards Kontum.  I asked what they had in the truck and the guys said that there were five or six mail sacks for all the units in Dak To as well as mail for our forward batteries.  We had landed there in Dak to, refuel and eat. My jeep was waiting there by the ASP for the other trucks to unload.  I asked the pilot if he needed me for the return trip and he agreed that there was never an ambush in the morning and the afternoon on the way back.  I jumped in the jeep and took off towards Kontum to locate the mail sacks.  It was probably dumb as I look back on it as we could have been ambushed anywhere along the road but I didn't care.  The trucks had been unloaded and they followed me back down the road.  Momma duck and her ducklings following me.

About five miles north of Kontum, I found a wrecker towing our five ton truck.  The bed was covered with a poncho or a tarp and the wrecker driver was not very happy to have me stop him and look in the truck.  I climbed up in the back of the truck and threw back the tarp.  Shit oh dear, someone had put the bodies of three soldiers from another unit in the back of our truck.  No mail bags but there were those bodies to deal with. 
I knew that at LZ Mary Lou near Kontum, there was a graves registration unit.  We pulled the truck there and it was time to unload the bodies.  I told a couple of my guys to get up there and hand down the bodies.  It just happened that both of those soldiers were black.  No way LT, they weren't going to handle no dead bodies. I didn't think about the fact that some of the soldiers might be spooked by dead bodies. About that time one of the guys from the graves registration unit came out and had a cart to move the bodies with.  He and I unloaded the bodies.  A quick check was made and it was fairly clear that the three soldiers had been killed by the concussion of a  rocket propelled grenade (RPG)  Not a pretty day for us.  

That night when we returned to our base camp at Artillery Hill, our Battery Commander cancelled the night load at the ASP.  We got a chance to eat a hot supper, take a shower and sleep in our own beds.  I never did find out what happened to those mail bags.  We took our wrecker to Kontum the next day and drug that truck home. 

I tell people that I have been shot at and missed and shit on and hit.  Mortars, machine guns and a rocket have been fired at me and not a thing ever hit me.   Just luck.  


Family Visit

As some of you may know, my son married a girl with the same first name as his mother.  Therefore we have Barb Senior and Barb Junior.  For her Birthday, Barb Jr wanted to have her mother and sister visit here for the weekend.  We have hosted three meals for Barb Jr, her family and friends.  Lots of good food, good friends and great visits.  We also had Barb's Friend Angie and her boys over last Tuesday.  Seems like this place has been party central this week   Wait, did I leave out Mel's visit the weekend before?  It has been party central for a couple of weeks.    It seems so quiet  now that everyone has gone.

I told Barb Senior that we have enough leftovers to not have to shop for a week or so.  In fact, some of the leftovers are in danger of becoming left over, left overs.  One thing pretty sure is we won't have to cook many meals.  Most of the next couple of days will be re-heat and enjoy.

This morning I put some of the garlic mashed potatoes to good use as potato pancakes at breakfast.  Throw in some biscuits and gravy and it sure made a meal.  I inadvertently pick up a package of maple flavored thick sliced bacon at Sam's club and man was it ever good.  You can always tell how good the bacon was by the amount left over.  I think that out of a pound of bacon there were two slices.  Taco got the leftover potato pancakes and sausage gravy as a morning treat.  

Three or four night in as row, the raccoons visited the feed site.  Last night they left the place alone and the deer got all the corn and apples.  I think it is cooler today and the deer tend to stay down in the bottom of the draw when the wind blows cold air.  

Tonight we have a KU pre-season game to see.  probably will try to fit in a non leftover meal while we are at it.