Dang It

Yesterday I had the computer about where I wanted and made a major mistake.  Instead of loading Microsoft Office I loaded Windows 7.   That put me right back to the start point and I still don't have everything right where I want it.  Can we say Brain Fart Boys and Girls? 

On a normal day, Barb and I sit at the breakfast table and at least once during that time she will ask me what's on my agenda?  This morning I truthfully answered that I didn't have an agenda and she asked me if I wanted one?  I figured that I would start with Facebook, work my way through G-Mail and then meet you here at BlogSpot.  The rest of the day would entail listening to the music for the Barbershop Chorus performance this weekend.  There will be at least one period working on the lawnmower as the yard is starting to look pretty shaggy. 

This morning I decided that I have way too many programs that requires a password.    I have only a limited amount of password storage space in my brain hosing group and I am at maximum capacity. it takes me at least one go round to get them straight.  Throw in that "Damn Caps Lock- On" error and I am good for at least one false start every time I encounter a pass word.  

We have some good friends moving back to Topeka and we have been scouting a few houses for them.  There is such a wide range of houses out there that it amazes me how anyone can put an accurate price n anything.  We looked at a Bank owned house that is a pretty good deal and a Junker that has been obviously a rental and even had the copper stolen out of the AC compressor.  The part of that last house was the race car sitting in the yard next door and the state of that yard.  Not my idea of a neighborhood that will hold its value.

Here in Kansas, the insurance companies have been hitting people hard to replace roofs early.  Most of the shingles are guaranteed for 20 or 30 years and at about 15 the insurance companies want you to sign a waiver.  USAA worked out some kind of a depreciation on the roofs and dang near didn't pay me much when this house needed a new roof.  I think it cost me out of pocket about what I expected the total to be.  Oh well, at least this house is OK for now.

Most of the spring I have avoided the dreaded head cold and wouldn't you know this week I have a minor cold.  It might be the loads of pollen out there but who knows.  The blessing is that as a Bass, I don't have to hit those high notes too often.  Even then, I can fake it and the rest of the guys will cover.  even with bronchitis I can hit the low notes.

Better run before my agenda catches up with me. 



Rainy Tuesday

The weather is doing about what the Master Gardener would want except it is a little cool.  We have been way short on rain for a while and a slow drizzly day is just what the Doctor ordered to restore the sub soil moisture.  If the farmers didn't get their fields in yet, it is their own fault as last week was mostly dry enough to do just that.

With the number of deaths in the family, the subject or my own longevity has crossed my mind a lot this week.  If you could either let Nature run its course or get a guarantee of 90, what would you take?  At 66, 90 doesn't sound so bad but I'm pretty sure that if I can get closer, I will want to hedge my bet.  The other day I talked to Dave about this and he said it was dependent on the quality of life to him.  He is more worried about the quality of his life than the quantity.  I don't disagree on that issue.

There is a growing 5trend out there that there is no funeral to mark the passing of people.  Barb and I both think that a simple cremation and scattering of the ashes is the best for us.  I have shared with her that the new National Cemetery in Leavenworth has an area that accepts cremains and will put up one of those grave markers.   I think Barb would just as soon have a bench put near a flower garden.
I always did say that she is the one that does pretty.

We are on the downhill slope for our Barbershop Corus Show this next Saturday.  Our final practice last night was great and for me a lot of fun.  For some reason the second half of the show just seems better in practice.  I think by the time we have spent an hour on the platform we start to sing at a less than excited level and we blend better.  I know that our Bass section can blow the doors off the Baritones and Leads.  The tenors are down on the end and I can almost never hear them unless it is a tag at the end of a song.   

Oh well, better go see if there is anything worth doing today.



Damn Computer

It does just what I tell it to do and way faster than I can figure out what I told it to do.  Technology is wonderful but it does take a young mind to figure out what to do.  I won't go into the specifics only to tell you that it did it fast and I can get on but only with a lot of work. Did I mention that it is slow?  I could hand write a letter faster than I can type one on this new key board.

This morning is cloudy and looking like it might storm. There is a rumble of thunder now and then but so far we are dry.  In fact we are under a warning until noon.  Gives me time to play here in the basement and see just how bad I can screw this up prior to having Dave come over to fix it.  I might even resort in having Janet come over from Lawrence to help.  She can use the money.

2014 so far hasn't been the best year for friends and family.  The parents of the Baby Boomers are reaching the age of 90 and that doesn't bode well for many more years left to share with them.  Bob Dole is on a 105 County road trip around Kansas to see if anyone remembers who the heck he was.   He is in a wheel chair and has to be carried into a lot of the small township halls he visits. He is pretty sharp and can remember a lot of the past and I'm sure he can make up things if he doesn't.

My Uncle Warren passed away this past week and in his obituary, it was mentioned that he didn't want any tribute or flowers.  He thought it might be nice if we could just be nice to each other.  That's one of the things most of us loved about him was his ability to smile and be nice to people.  Last Summer, he came to Kansas to be with us in Kansas City for a family reunion.  He was a nice addition to the party.  Later on that summer, we went to Denver for his 90th Birthday.  You all should get to meet the family there.  We sang, laughed, told stories and had some great food.  We will miss his presence but not the memory of Warren.

It has finally quit threatening to rain and got with the program.  We can always use the rain and we love the warmer weather.  Perhaps some time this week Barb can get out and plant some of the plants she has growing in pots. 

Better run and see if I can get into trouble elsewhere.



Story to Amy

My Grand Niece, Amy is going through a rough patch in her life right now and I offer her these words to see if I can help her move on with her life.  I am not sure if it will explain everything but it might be another way to look at life.

A few years back, I traveled to California and one of the places we visited was the Winchester House near San Jose.  The wife of the man that invented the Winchester rifle was told by a fortune teller that as long as she kept adding to her house, she would not die.  The story was that if she stopped building, it would end her life.  Needless to say, the Winchester House is a rambling complex that takes up well over a city block and it is interesting to see stairs that go to a door to no where and rooms that are not functional.  She was a very small lady so some of the rooms are very small and not functional to people like me. 

I think this house is an analogy for life.  If you were to come inside my life house, you would find stairs that lead nowhere and doors that open to a bare wall.  I once enrolled in a Master's Degree Program and only completed the first semester.  I am not sure where that was really leading so it is one of those stairs that lead no where.  I once thought I loved a girl and wanted to spend my life with her.  It was a relationship that was like a door that opened to a blank wall.  I met and married Barbara and it was the front door to my whole house. 

David was a door that opened into a part of my life that has been a treat.  I hope that our journey will last a long time and he has good memories of the time we spent here in my life house.   I know there are doors that are shut permanently and I can only go there in the memory of my mind.  I can list a lot of names of relatives and people that live only there.  It is unfortunate that Dave has no memory of people like Grandpa Collins but he will have his own place to live in. 

Life is for living and as long as we are building on our life house we will continue to live there.  Yes, this is an optimistic view of life, but that's the way I roll.  I hope you can find a little solace in this and understand that the passing of Keith's mom will soon be a memory that you will be able to visit without the pain you now feel. 

I wish you nothing but happiness in your future and that you are able to move forward.

Uncle MUD


Warren Petty

My father's younger brother passed away today.  I was blessed to be with him and  his family last year when he turned 90.  Warren Petty was a bomber pilot in WWII and when he came home, he didn't fly any planes that I knew of. In fact his occupation was a photo engraver and he was a small businessman that manufactured unicycles on the side.

Somehow, this tribute started out just that and it turned into an obituary.  That is not what he or any of the family wanted, especially me.  I had to eliminate the second paragraph at least two times and start over.  Here is the third go.

Warren was one of those guys that loved people and in turn they loved him.  I think sitting on his back porch in Arvada, Colorado was the highlight of most of my trips to Denver.  He was not one to talk about his war service unless I pressed him directly.  He flew bombers during WWII and once described it as hours and hours of butt deadening work with a few intense periods over the target. 

I was a draftee in 1966.  I am sure that Warren's being an officer in WWII did a lot to influence my applying for Officer Candidate School.   I found a lot of people just like Warren in the Military and just kind of hung around the place for 30+ years.  

One story I tell is my surprise when I was reading the "Boy's Life" magazine in the Library at Minneha Elmentary in Wichita.  There in the classified Ads was my cousin Jim in an Ad that said, "Be on Top of the World on a Petty Unicycle."  I won a bunch of bets later on with my friends even if I really never got good enough to ride one. 

My wish in life is that when I am no longer alive, people say the same kind of things about me.  Kind, loving, great stories and a lot of laughs. 



Computer is Down

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

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

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

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




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

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

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

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

Gotta Run.



What Am I going to do today?

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

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

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

Now get out there and do something!


Life Planning

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

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

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

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

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

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



What's Wrong with Sears

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

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

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

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

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


Must be Spring

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

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

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

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

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



My Browser Isn't Supported

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

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

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

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

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

Oh well, better get this show on the road. 



Death and Taxes

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

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

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

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

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



Lonely Days and Lonely Nights

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

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

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

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

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

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



What did you take in College?

I wasn't sure what I really wanted to do after college so I aimed myself at Business.  That area of emphasis has enough latitude to allow you to go about any direction.  With that said, what did I take that was really worthwhile?   Having a basic idea about accounting and economics has helped.  I do wish that the colleges had a few classes that were aimed at preparing us to understand money and what to do with it at the personal level.   I think a class like Dave Ramsey 101 would be very appropriate.

As an instructor for a call center, After the weekly review on Friday nights, I would generally have 30 minutes to an hour of time to fill and I gave them my Dennis Petty classes on life and finance in general.  Here are some of the Main points:  Like Proof read and use spell checker)

1.  One of the least understood and costliest expenses is housing.  People generally are told that this is the amount you qualify for as a loan and that's what they spend.  No one really prepares you for the vagaries of interest in that deal.  If you are able to save at least 10% for the down payment, you can lower the interest by at least 1 %.  Go 20% down and it may be 2%.  Apply that over the length of the loan and you can see what really amounts to a major saving.   Sometime look at the total cost of the loan and look at the difference between 15 years and 30 years.  For a hundred dollars more over 15 years you can save major bucks.   If you can't swing it at first, get the 30 year loan and make sure there is no prepayment penalty.  Pay this month's payment and the next month's principle and it will go away on 15 years.  Our first home was an 8X38 foot trailer and guess what, It didn't have granite counters.

2.  Insurance.  One of the least understood things in life are the Insurances you will pay and why you do have insurance.  Most insurances will not make you rich but will keep you from ever being wiped out in an accident or incident.  I recommend a life insurance policy if you have a family, that will cover your salary for a few years.  Once you have your savings built up, life insurance can be skipped.  You are required to have auto insurance and most state minimums are not enough.  The basic level is 100,000 and 300,000.   That is the old limits for claims in some states.   When you could buy a new car for $ 6,000, liability of  300,000 was a lot.  Today, cause a pile up of four or five cars and you just might cover it.  Throw in a truck and you will have some major expense.    For your home, make sure that you have replacement value coverage as the insurance company will make you do a list and then they will depreciate the items to pay you as little as they can.  With modern photography available on everything including your phone, simple walk through your house and take pictures. 

3.  One of the biggest questions people have is how do I live on what I am paid?  First you need to understand what you are spending your money on.  For a month, save every receipt for everything you spend and write it all down in a journal.  I for the life of me do not understand why kids think that a cell phone should cost over a $100 a month.  I had an I-phone and it was over $100 a month and when it died ugly, I replaced it with a TRAC Phone that I put a $29 card on it about every 90 days.   I don't text, I don't search and I don't do voice messages with it.  I have it for basic communication and use my computer for everything else.   My wife uses the public library now and is able to reserve a copy of every new book she wants.  It isn't instant gratification but she always has two or three books checked out at little or no cost.  Eating out is one of the biggest expenses.  For two people you almost can't eat a meal for less than $10@.   Do you live to eat or eat to live?  a couple of sandwiches and some chips in a bag for a couple of dollars beats that 10 dollar tag every day.  Save eating out for special occasions. I left out drinking in bars because I don't drink.  You can seriously damage your income with a night our two out a month. Net Flicks for $8.00 a month just beats the hell out of to or three movies a month. Or a cable TV bill of over $100.00.  Final word here -Income must be equal to or greater than outgo.  You can exceed that if you have some savings but only for a month or two and special occasions.

4. Transportation.   I told my students that somewhere out there in life almost everyone succumbs to  the idea of having a new car.  I did and it was one of the most stupid things I ever did.   No, trading that bright shiny 69 Chevelle in for a New Vega was worse.    The worse part of a new car is that the depreciation the first year is at least $1,000 just to drive it off the car lot.  (Perhaps today 2-3,000 is a closer amount)  Barbara looks in the paper and finds that low mileage older car and that's where we spend our money today.  A new Crown Victoria would have been $30,000 new.  We found one that was about 8 years old and had 14,000 miles on it for 10 grand.   We will drive that car until the wheels fall off.  Today, cars are usually safe for about 200,000 miles.  That Vega I mentioned earlier lost a motor at 12,000 miles,  50,000 miles and was a dead duck at 100,000.  Why People sped so much on transportation eludes me.   

5.  The one area that I have trouble with is what do I do for Savings?  There just isn't the great place to stash cash today like there was in the past.  Very few places will give you enough interest to even cover inflation.  I say so what, get out there and save.  you must have at least 30 days of your outgo in cash to cover immediate expenses.  Your checking account is the only place I know for that.   You should build up a 90 day supply in a savings account.  a Six month savings in a fairly liquid place for long term security.

6.  The only place I have ever invested with good results is on real Estate.  With that said, don't become a Land Lord unless you are handy with tools and don't mind doing some work now and then. I have figured that I have made a reasonable return on my money through my rentals but it hasn't been without cost or the ability to call someone for help now and then.  I January, I had a water pipe break and a patch was about $1000 by the time they had to did it up.  The complete line replacement will probably be  $3-4,000 this spring and both houses need a new roof.  I am saving as much into that account as I can at the present.  If you ever hear me giving you advice on Stocks in the Stock Market, don't listen...

The final word in all of this is that I don't think I took any class in college that wasn't a requirement or that didn't give me back something.  I did take an art appreciation class but it had an associated film workshop that had me watch classic movies that I would have not seen otherwise. I laugh that I can with the help of that class recognize the difference between Manet and money. 

 Whatever you do, get as much education as you can.  Never stop learning and keep it up as long as you can.  Then don't forget to get a bike, take a hike, smell the flowers and hold you spouses hand now and then.  The quantity of you life is not under your control but the quality is.



I think I need to change the name

Yesterday I went to Wal*Mart and spent most of the time just wandering through the aisles talking to the cute kids.  With Barb gone, I just have this desire to share.  I smiled at this one really cute kid and the lady with his mother told me that the mother was deaf.  I mentioned that I am probably getting that way but with my lip reading I can get by unless the person is looking away from me.  I told her the joke of the day.  The deaf husband walked in to the kitchen and said, "What's for dinner?"  When his wife didn't respond, he again asked "What's for dinner?"  The third time he almost hollered, "What's for dinner?" The wife turned around and said, " For the third time,  Hamburgers!"  The lady that could hear said all that in sign language and the deaf lady laughed really loud.  I think I need to change the name of shopping to visiting. 

Do you need to have a system of making a list when you go out?   There are about three things I need to do and I blithely go get in the car without a list and forget.  I need to get milk, pay the water bills, and pick up some shirts from the cleaners.  (OK, I also need to finish getting the taxes all started and organized too)  I guess I am just funny not perfect.

I have an appointment with a neurologist this afternoon to see if it is just old age and being out of shape that causes me to fall.  I have laughed my way out of being hospitalized from time to time but damn, I sure want to  figure out what is the cause before I really hurt myself.  One of the former Adjutant's General fell and hit his head and never fully recovered.  He too thought he was a young pup when he should have hired a kid to clean his gutters.  When he fell, he hit his head on the concrete patio and it was down hill from there.

The other day, I went to the store to buy some compressed air to blow out the debris around the spark plugs as I was getting ready to change them.  I went through the self check aisle and the machine told me that a clerk needed to verify I was 18.   Then she asked me what I was going to do with the air.  I asked her if that was a new requirement they had and she said it was.   You can bet that If I was going to huff anything it would not be compressed air.  Oh well.

Monday night, I am going to again video the Chorus.   I am hoping that the director can spot areas that we need to sharpen up before the performance in  a month.    We are really sounding good right now and we need to work on some small things like how we are going to get on and off the stage.  There are a few things like claps and finger snapping that could use some work also.  This year we are going to wear our Tuxes but next year I hope we can wear costumes. 

Better run, I notice the wash machine has stopped running.




In the aftermath of the latest Fort hood debacle. there has to be a lot of guys out there that are like me that consider themselves normal.  But then again, what the hell is normal?  Lets begin at the start of the Military Process.

Not this far back. Politicians like Diapers need changed often and sometimes for the same reason.

In today's Army, there must be some motivation to join or someone is doing a great job of making us believe the All Volunteer Army.  I was Drafted but mostly because I didn't have a handle on my life goals at that time and didn't stay deferred by going to school.  Back then it was a two year stint as a draftee and a lot of us were two and done.  The kids today are being allowed to join and their test scores determine where and what they train.  A Recruiter will take the prospect to the Military Processing Center where they will be given a physical and a battery of tests.  That will determine what the recruit will be eligible for.  If there is an agreement, a contract is signed and the kid goes off to the Military.

This is a good place to Start, Basic Training

Let me promise you that for the most part, and based on hundreds of thousands of recruits, the test scores do determine the best fit for the soldier.  The problem with this system is that no matter what they train you to do, there are glitches in the system.  For example, in the Field Artillery there are a lot of 13B's or cannoneers that have to do alternate duties like truck driver in the Ammo Section.  I am not talking about the additional duties like guard duty and KP, but the jobs that are related but take a different skill set.  On the mobile battlefield, one truck driver might get assigned to make a daily run over semi secured roads and be in a hell of a lot of danger where a driver in another unit may not.

Back this all down to the level of the individual.  As a kid, I played war and saw a lot of competitive games thrown at me.  How many kids saw a chicken killed in their yard.  One weekend, I helped the Lawrence's kill at least 200 chickens and take them to a locker plant.  Did someone like me faint at the first sight of blood?  Nah.   In the Reception Station on soldier passed out when we watched a film that had actual footage of an accident scene.  It was pretty bloody but you can bet he didn't get to go on with us.  He had enlisted as an interpreter in German and had a three year enlistment and really wanted to go to Germany.  A lot of us only wanted "US" out of the Army.  I guess what I am trying to say here is that the Army tests can't fully measure the effects of Nature and Nurture on the recruits. 

I can't speak for all units, obviously, but there were a lot of good people in lousy units and bad people in great units.  How that unit accepts the soldier and makes him feel a part goes a long way to how well both the soldier and his unit performs.  In the Draft era, a lot of us went to units basically as fillers and I know that there was a lot of resistance to making friends with the newbie's.  It took a while to get established in a unit and by the time you were about half way through your tour, half of the other guys are the newbie's.  Today, there is a move to keep soldiers assigned to the same units and hopefully that builds camaraderie.   The problem is if the soldier is not a good fit, it is not as easy to transfer him to a new unit. 

Lt Petty Somewhere in the boonies.

Now, throw in the effects of combat, and things don't always land heads or tails but sometimes the coin lands sideways or not at all.   Ask yourself what have you listened to this week and how much do you trust the sources of the information.  One report said that Obama had a 31% approval and within the same week the report was that he was 48:49 percent approved.  One report shouted that 7 million people have signed up and then another report says that there are 61 Million that should have signed up.    Who do you believe?  Why do you believe it.

Just today in the paper there was a report that the FBI was here to talk to a kid that has become a Muslim and wants to go join a Jihad somewhere.  The paper pointed out that this kid had been the Commander of the Marine Corps High School ROTC program. he was quoted discussing the Toys for Tots Campaign in the local paper. He was on a delayed enlistment and then didn't report as ordered. Where do you suppose he got his Significant Emotional Event from? 

I think I came home from Combat and tried to put myself back in the right place and do the right things.  For some reason, I found it easier to self medicate with beer than really deal with my life and do the right things.  I finally stopped drinking and that was that.  What would have been normal if I hadn't.  What would a relapse look like? 

The other day I saw a guy with a Vietnam Veteran hat on in the Grocery store.  I went up to him and said, "I don't understand.  When I went to Vietnam we were a bunch of kids and now all I see are a bunch of old men wearing those Vietnam Veterans hats."   He laughed and I found out that he was down in the Delta with the 9th Division.  I told him that I was in the Artillery and supported the 4th Division a lot.  His wife looked at me and said that everyone in the store could hear us talking because we were both deaf.  I told her about the Old Soldier that came into the Kitchen and asked  is wife, "What's for supper?"  When she didn't answer, he asked again, "What's for supper?"  The third time he asked "What's for supper his wife turned and faced him and said, "For the third time, Hamburgers!"  The wife laughed out loud and pointed to her husband.   I get it also.

So the next time you see that some soldier did something that doesn't seem quite normal, ask your self what is normal?   Beats the hell out of me.  I'm fine, it's you that I don't know about.



Today the paper had a lot of sales ads for clothing and it caused me to peruse the underwear,, er clothes ads.  One thing I don't get is that I don't buy a new suit until it looks too tight in the waist.  The new one's come that way.  When my clothes come tailored, it generally is to let the middle out or move the buttons a little further apart. 

Let me say that I have absolutely no idea why women are wearing scarfs for fashion.  Who was that woman that was strangled by the spinner on a sports car when her scarf got caught in the wheel?   Yes, I know that if Barbara was here, she would still be laughing that I would even attempt to do a blog on fashion.

She has informed me that I do building, not pretty on many occasions.  She has almost given up on having me go shopping with her when she goes to Kohl's. (At least I got it right this time. I sometimes say Lowe's not Kohl's) Thank God for our Daughter-in-law as she loves to go with Barb when a field trip is on hand.  It also works well for my wife as she has a closet full of clothes and loves to shop and buy.  One passion they both have and I don't get is shoes.   I have a pair for dress, a pair for work, some boots and 5 buckle overshoes.  What more could you want.  OK, I did have to buy a pair of brown shoes for the Barbershop Chorus and a pair of patent leather shoes for the Tux.  But that's about it.  I'll go check later but only to throw out those too far gone to ever wear again.  By the way, my favorite kind of shoes are black with Velcro fasteners. Yes, Old Man shoes. I wore SAS shoes until I found that New Balance are made in the USA and are a little cheaper.

For a little over 30 years of my life, my daily uniform was just that, a uniform.  I would go to the closet and say, "Do I want to wear the green pants with the green shirt and the black sweater or the black zippered coat?"  For some reason today even those desk bound guys at State headquarters are wearing the Battle dress Uniform (BDU's).  

 Back in my college days I wore those JC Penny's chambray work shirts and blue jeans, but it wasn't a uniform (or was it?)  Now that I am retired, I put on whatever is clean but blue jeans and a black T-shirt is generally the base I build on.   The rest is based on the time of year and if I plan to work outside or not.   If I have some painting to do, I look for the shirts that already have paint on them.    

Did I mention the white socks?  My feet don't do well in those nylon socks.  I found some black cotton boot socks and I wore them with my uniform. Now that I don't have to wear something that makes someone else happy, I wear those white cotton socks.  I tried to go commando on my feet but that just never worked out. 

When I was an instructor for a call center, I was the designated Fashion Police.  I had to enforce the rules as best as I could.  After I sent the third person down to HR for not meeting the intent or spirit of the  rules, I go a surprise when all three were sent back with a note that said no harm no foul.  I went down to HR and told the HR manager that from now on, I only had one rule - You must wear clothes.  Other than that, I, a nearly 60 year old white male had no business trying  to interpret fashion and rules that would not be enforced. 

One final point in all of this is that I love to wear clothes that are comfortable and don't need pressed or ironed.  On one of the days in 1969, I wore a pair of fatigues that Barb tried to iron and it just happened to be the day that my official Bronze Star from Vietnam caught up with me.  As the General was pinning that medal on, the post photographer took my picture.  I mentioned that I looked like I had slept in that uniform.  Barb informed me that she was pretty damned sure there was a laundry on post that would do a good job and she there after didn't try to make my uniforms look good.  If something needs cleaned, washed and pressed, they go to Scotch Cleaners.  Wait, I have three shirts there right now to pick up.  

Now go an put on something other than your sweats.  I will if you will.



Annual Physical

Early spring is the time of the year that I have my annual physical scheduled and today was that day.  Last week I had the first of the new "wellness" visits and I sat with a nurse and went over my entire medical history.  Just once, I intend to sit down and see if I can still remember the complete story of my medical life.  Even though I have a colonoscopy scheduled in a week or so, the Doctor still had to do that "Rectal Exam."  Other than that, I really don't mind being poked and prodded.  Even having the blood draw is not much of a bother.

I have had a spell of falling down more than I would think is normal.  The Doctor referred me to a Neurologist just to make sure.  The hope is that it is just related to my being old and having hearing problems.  There is a minor thing that causes you to use your vision when your inner ear doesn't send the right signal.  When that signal isn't clear, you fall down. 

Winston Churchill is to have said a lie can be half way around the world before the truth even has its shoes on.  Little did he know how much more true today that is.  In the 70+ years since anyone cared enough to write down any of his quotes, the media has just made it more important to make up things than report the real facts.  For example do you have any concept how many people need to sign up for Obama Care?  Someone said it is about 61 Million.  Yesterday the White House had a press Conference because they think that about 7.1 million have signed up to a federally mandated program.  

Have I told you that most of my life has been full of music.  From Elementary school I sang in some form of choir and in High School our Madrigal went to state and got a number one rating.  Well I am again singing with a Barbershop Chorus.  We are going to have our spring concert the 3 of May and the practices are getting pretty darned good.  I am going to try to listen to the music at least once a day for the next 30 days. 

Barb is with her mother in Filer, Idaho which is just out side of Twin Falls, Idaho.   I sure miss her.  Even of we do have our TV's is a different room, we do seem to enjoy our time together.  Some of the joy might not be as bright but I do miss her.   About 2 AM, a lightening strike woke me up.  I started to go see if Barb was awake.  Kind of hard to do from 1200 miles away.

Oh well, time to move on.   


April Fools Day

I consider myself to have a good sense of humor and in honor of this holiday, I will share a couple of funny stories.

The other night I went to a Church's Chicken place for dinner.  I think I had some spicy chicken and some smashed potatoes.  As I got up to leave, I saw a sight that caused a flashback.  About once a month we would go to my grandmothers house in Eldorado, KS for a Sunday lunch.  It didn't matter how many of us there were, Grandma would buy one chicken.  There were 6 of us and Grandmother so there wasn't a lot extra chicken.  Grandmother would eat the neck and the back and when she finished, there was nothing but a minute pile of bones.  She would disassemble that back and scrape the ribs clean. She could suck the meat off that neck with the best of them. In Church's chicken, there was a pile of bones that someone had disassembled with the precision of a surgeon.  Made me think of Grandmother.

Today, I was at the Pharmacy inside the Dillon's store to pick up a prescription their phone system told me they had.  I didn't remember calling anything in so I stopped anyway.  Ahead of me in the line was a guy that said "Trust me." to the clerk.  I said, "I don't know, he looks kind of shifty to me."  He promptly invited me out to the parking lot.  I reminded him that it was April Fools day and that was a joke.  He was serious as a heart attack.  I was going to say that I wasn't afraid of some old fart until I realized that I was probably older than he was.

When I got home, I opened the bag that had my colonoscopy prep drink in it and written on the Tag was, "Party time in Tecumseh."  I had a good laugh over that one.  In fact, a little over 10 years ago I had a colonoscopy and when I got home I had the best sleep I had had in weeks.  They tell me they have changed the medicine and it won't make me gassy or make me sleep as much.  Dang, I hate it when that happens.

The final story is that our 'Nother Daughter Mel wrote on Facebook that she has her appendix taken out yesterday.  Yes, I took it as an April Fools joke.  She called me from the hospital and said it was true, she would not get out until later today or perhaps tomorrow.  Bummer, I really hate it when that happens.   Unless it was one of the best April Fools Joke ever.