When I didn't have a smart phone that notified me every time an e-mail message arrived, I didn't notice that I am now the recipient of a heck of a lot of advertising.  Now that I do have a semi smart phone, the ads chirp my phone at least once an hour.  I would call it a smart phone but I am too dumb to make it do only what I want it to do.  After being hacked last month, I am kind of shy about just who and why they are using my data on their sites.

I guess there are a lot of people out there that are just allowing their data get into systems and don't realize their debit and credit cards can track their purchases and tell telemarketers a lot about them.  Yes, I  know this sounds a little like conspiracy theory, but the reality of the increase in advertisements coming in on my cell phone has some basis in truth.  I am just not sure if it is my truth or theirs.  This week I needed a pair of gloves and Harbor Freight wanted my telephone number as I was paying cash for the gloves.   I said no thank you politely and the girl said why?  Because I don't want you to think you are free to call me day and night.  With all the Robo calls coming in during the season of elections I just don't want someone else start calling.  The good news is that I can screen the calls with Caller ID and don't answer calls I don't recognize.  That 800 Service number can just stop calling I don't want to answer a survey or donate money to any political party.    

Last night the Barbershop chorus had its usual Monday night practice.  As I have nominated myself as the program guy for next year I am thinking about how to make the practice sessions fun and alive.  I mentioned to the director that our practice last week felt really good.  We were in the Mall and didn't spend about half our time trooping back and forth to the risers.  I mentioned that the chorus could benefit from sitting down and running through the music one time with the music and then stand up and sing without the music.  We just don't show much emotion when we perform.  We have a good sound but I'm sure we look like a zombie chorus,  No wait, at least zombies want to eat brains.

What does it mean to you when you don't have the coordination you once had?   Yesterday while I was moving a new toilet down stairs to replace one that doesn't work well, I fell down outside on the hill.  Seems like I just got my feet tangled up and made as good a Parachute Landing Fall (PLF) as I could.  Skinned my knee and elbow a little but at least I could get up and keep moving.  I did have a visit to a neurologist a while back and was notified that there is a follow up visit next month.  Perhaps he can help me understand that old people just fall down sometimes.  I am trying to limit my exposure to falling but that is difficult when I have been so able in the past.  Perhaps I need to get more regular exercise that cross trains my muscles. 

I fully expect that the Politicians tell the truth in their advertisements.  Our Governor talks about all the money he is directing to education and anyone that was awake last year knows that the Kansas Supreme Court made him restore the funding cuts to education.  He claims to have grown up on a farm but his father won't let him drive a combine.  Doesn't he know that every kid that knows anything about farming thinks he is a dork if he can't anything as simple as operating a piece of farm equipment?  Heck, even a city kid like me drove a tractor as a young teen ager.  Another thing is that there seems to be some stigma about attending the convention for your party.  I would think that anyone so dedicated that they run for an office would attend the nominating committee for their party.  Can you tell that I am strongly into the Never Re-elect Anyone (NRA) mode?  I think we need to change them out on a regular basis unless or until they start getting things right. 

I am glad that I am not in charge of what the news programs show each broadcast.  To be fair and balanced, is a thankless task.  How does the killing of one person in Oklahoma stack up with a bus wreck where several died?  How long does the protest in Ferguson, Missouri need to be a nightly coverage?   Where is the fact that we are digging a debt hole deeper each day.  Where is the idea that while the Affordable Health Care act is a good idea, it plainly isn't delivering what it said it would do?  Why does the Government get to decide what is enough insurance for me?  Do I want a Government that tell us they may run out of Social Security Money somewhere out in the future holding the purse strings to our health care?  Oh well, tough decisions without much rewards.

Better roll.



Who Are You

I have a habit that somewhat troubles me.  I ask myself several stupid questions and I guess I expect a different answer each time.  Well, perhaps sometimes would be more correct.  

What Do I want out of life? - Well duh, I have everything I need and most of what I want.   There will always be the thought that I might want something more I guess.  
If I could Live Anywhere where would I want to Live?  After searching for a couple of years, we finally found the best spot in Shawnee County, Kansas.  With the help of our Niece Carrie, we designed and built our dream home in the perfect spot.  Why would I want anything different?  Perhaps a good visit to other places now and then.  Did anyone say Costa Rica this January or February?

What Do I Want To Do Today? There are a few ongoing maintenance items that I have on my "to do" list but the big blocks of time are generally open for my leisure items.  After working most of our lives, I think we deserve a lot of free time.

Am I Happy? Well Crap oh Dear, We are the source of our own happiness and if that doesn't work, there are medications that help.  Thank God I have access to the finest Medical Care in the World.  In addition to Medicare, I have the Military Medi gap insurance called Tri-Care for Life.  Moving on.

At one time, I wanted to live between a Liquor Store and the Library. Now that I don't drink or smoke, I guess that having a great library in Town will do. 

A lot of People think that Wal*Mart is a bad place.  I love to go there and walk around in the store in inclement weather.  When we travel, we try to stop at Wal*Mart Stores to walk around a couple of trips and visit the restrooms.  We have also been known to pick up snacks and any missed items we forgot to pack.  Once upon a time there was only one in Topeka and it was clear across town.  Now we have four and one is very close.  As a guy that buys his clothes wherever, I look at whatever is on sale.  On our last Trip to Oklahoma, I was not happy with the shirt I brought with us.  I had intended to pick up a shirt in the closet and forgot.  As we walked through Wal*Mart, their clearance rack had a shirt for $3.00.  Bonus...   You shop where you want, and I'll Shop where I want.

For everyone out there, I recommend you travel to Bentonville, AR and see Crystal Bridges.  It is the American Art Museum built by the Walton Foundation.  The Museum is a treat even if they didn't have any artworks.  My Friend Harvey Blinn was one of the Superintendents on that job and took us on a tour during the construction.  Now that it is finished, it is American Art at its best.  You can spend a day there and don't forget the great lunch menu items.

Oh well better get rolling for the day.



There Be 'Nakes Out There

The other day I was walking up the stairs and looked at the front sidewalk to see if the squirrels have covered the walk with nut hulls yet.  (Or again) 

When the watermelon season ends, Nuts are ready
There was a black looking snake out there in the sun.  I called Barb over and asked her what she thought it was.  It was mostly dark colored but where the body was swollen with what had been a mouse it had a lot of color showing.  They were the pattern of a Copper Head.  Interesting enough for me to get a shovel and go out to see up close and in person.  I don't love snakes but arm me with a shovel and I don't fear them.  Sure enough, the distinct shape of the head showed the arrow head shape and it was a nasty little bugger.  He didn't like the shovel and struck at it fast and often.  I will skip the details, but only will assure you that he won't be in the garage for the winter.  I think he was looking for a way in.  Not going to happen Skippy.

I am afraid that I am softening on the idea that I need a dog.  I am sure that it will take a lot of coaxing to get Barb to approve that choice.   Like many of the other things that cross my mind, it will take time and perseverance to overcome the objection.    If I had to choose today, it would be a German Shepard.  Yesterday it was a dachshund.  Oh well...

In today's paper there was an article that was reprinted out of the Wall Street Journal.   It was aimed at us an I am sure that a lot of people don't follow the simple rules or have a clue how to be financially stable and able to talk about retirement.  Like most businesses, people have little expectation of retiring with a good income to let them remain in a good place to travel and enjoy life. The typical business treats their employees as a simple input to their process and have little loyalty to them and their future plans. 
How Could you not fall in Love with this dog?

The article went on to talk about the wealthy as not just greedy monsters that make money out of the sweat of others.  Simply put, they point out that most of the millionaires live fairly simply and got that way because they saved money for and in the long run.  I think you have read many times here that I strongly recommend that you make a budget and understand that income must be equal to or greater than outgo.  I thought about what put Barb and I in good shape.  We both contributed 7% into a retirement fund.  (Hers -Social Security. Mine - Civil Service)  In addition, we heavily contributed to any place that we could legally put money.  It started out as simple IRA's then 401Ks.  Barb started with a 503b for teachers early and often.  We got used to spending less than we made and didn't have a new boat or new car even though we could have afforded to do so.  I would be less than truthful if I didn't also admit that my National Guard Income did allow me to have some fix up the car money and to have a slush fund to finance some toys.   The real nice thing about the Guard membership is that at the age of 60 it has started paying me a real nice retirement. 

With that all said, the article said that only about 38% of the married couples ever really sit down and discuss where they are and where they want to be financially.  Barb said that a lot of the couples don't have those meetings to avoid stress.  I contend that getting your life on track financially is one thing that has contributed to the stability of our marriage.  She says no and I listen.  No, some of our largess was a happy accident and a lot was the result of saving.  Please don't take this as a plea to feel sorry for us living so poor.  We worked hard to pay off as many debts as we could and not to amass new one's.  In addition we saved money for the future with no thought of using any of it for today's needs.

Now get out there and live like you mean it.



Oh No, it is Fall Already

After spending a half an hour writing this post, I made a minor correction and the entire thing went poof and the machine saved, right after deleting the entire thing.  The end result is that I am re-writing the entire things and not going to use any of the other post.   Oh well, here is as much as I can remember it.

I will first have to admit that I live in Kansas to have 4 true seasons and think the fall season is very pretty.  The biggest problem is that winter's here in Kansas can be cold and not near as nice and the other three seasons.

Looks like fun compared to shoveling

Having worked outside in most types of weather, I have to admit that I am a lot more fond of warm. In fact had they not being trying to shoot me, I didn't hate the weather in Vietnam.  No wait, the monsoon season sucked and I would have skipped that part.
The other day someone asked me how I was doing.  I have found that retirement is a hoot and had I known just how great it was, I would have tried to do it first.  After years of preparation, I find ourselves right where we want to be.  I am pretty sure that I wouldn't change much if I could.  No wait, I can change about anything so ignore the previous sentence.
Notice the big goofy smile

I think today might be a good day to go see if the paths at the lake are clear enough to ride.  Between the goose poop and the pedestrians the weekends are not always the best to ride.  We skipped riding this week and I miss it.  Keeps the knees free and moving. 



Because I spent 25 years in the National Guard I am still getting updates on personnel changes.  The few people that I do know once as Captains and young Majors and are now retiring.  The only person on the latest list that I did know was a young Civilian when I first met her.  One day there was this young girl came into our office and we were all told that she was the new clerk.  Within a year, she had joined the Air National Guard and was moved to a position in the Air National Guard staff.  This young lady, Julie Burns worked her way up the ladder and finally went to OCS and was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant.  She is now Maj Burns and I hope this move to the Inspector General's Office will get her a promotion to LtCol.   This is the kind of person that shows me that there is no glass ceiling and promotions are based on merit and ability.   Way to Go Julie.

Now for the rest of the story, those personnel updates are a checklist that I move down and say IDK (I don't Know) who that person is, person after person.  The few updates I do know are the death notices as my friends are dead or dying.  In fact, a guy I met today said that one of our friends Frank Magistro is not in very good shape.  This guy claimed that Frank is a victim of Agent Orange and it gave him lung Cancer.  Last time I met Frank, he had his usual cigarette in his mouth.  Three packs a day and going strong, Cough-cough. 

Today there was a Facebook story about a young man converting to the Muslim religion.  He got fired and went to the main office and beheaded a lady and was going to stab another person when he was shot.  Seems that one of the Officers in that Company is a part time Deputy Sheriff and had his gun with him.  I think that guy's permit should be revoked because he didn't shoot center of mass and kill that fool.  My big hope in life is that we don't have to start playing Cowboys and Muslims here at home.  If they want to go visit Allah, let it be on them not because I had to shoot one and send him there.  Besides, knife proof vests are way too hot to wear in most of the country. 

Perhaps one of these days we will figure out that no matter what we do, that part of the world will continue to hate us.  Seems like they should hate all those people with the oil money and not us.  In 200 years, we have figured out ways to build a country with 50% of the wealth.  I would think that they would use our model like a Dave Ramsey class and want to duplicate what we have done, not start a war with us.  Oh well...



Thanks for the reads.  Today this little blog went over 500,000 hits. 


CPT America

One of the most memorable people I met in the Guard was a colorful Captain who will remain unnamed to protect the guilty.   Somewhere along the line, after serving in the navy for 4 years as an enlisted man, he decided that the nearer we got to Vietnam the more he wanted to be an officer.  He joined the Guard and went to the Kansas Army National Guard OCS.  He was in the accelerated class that went on Active Duty when the 69th Brigade got Activated in 1968.  Somehow he managed to apply for and was accepted into the Special Forces. I suspect they wanted rid of him and let him apply with a favorable recommendation.  He remained on Active Duty until in the 1975 time frame  when the Reduction in Force cuts sent him home.  He did not have a college degree and the Army needed reasons to cut the force size.

The first time I met him, I was working full time in Ottawa as the Battalion Training Officer.  We were in Ottawa and CPT America (as I will call him henceforth)  was living in Lawrence right up the road.  I think we were short staff officers and he joined us to utilize the GI Bill and the Guard pay to help him pay for college.  Had I known what a turkey he was, I might have tried to get him in another unit.

Somewhere in the short circuit brain of CPT America  all the unconventional training he had led him to believe that rules were made for normal mortals and he was somewhat exempt from them.  He loved to pull pranks on people and pick on personal weaknesses of other officers, rank was no concern.  The real sad part was that CPT America was at least half way through 20 years and he was doing his best to not be successful in completing the other 10.  Now that I have my retirement in hand, I can tell you that it is nice to have that extra check each month.

In our Battalion was a guy that had played college football and for some reason had no sense of humor what so ever.  He had the potential to be a pretty nice guy but no one wanted to spend hours with a guy that never smiles. CPT America was about 50 lbs lighter and about a foot shorter and could not resist pulling the big guy's leg.  Finally one day, it erupted into a skirmish where the big guy just picked up CPT America and threw him on his head on the concrete floor.  Greco Roman Wrestling was one of my favorites and I had never seen a better throw even in the Olympics. Like I said, he hit on his head and it was not apparent that any damage was done.  I think that it was about that time the Battalion Commander decided that CPT America needed some command time in a firing battery.  We also needed a battery commander really bad.

CPT America was given one of the batteries and he immediately set about challenging most of the rules. He wanted the unit to be able to wear red baseball hats and Tiger fatigues.  he adopted the John Wayne greeting "Ya Ta Hey"  as their motto and even had a banner of that they flew on their Unit Guidon.  They had some fine junior officers that accepted the wild appearance of the battery and for about 6 months things were hunkey Dorey.  Somehow CPT America got in touch with the Adjutant General and conned him into letting them wear the red hats and tiger fatigues when they were at their home station.  Much to the amazement of our Battalion Commander. 

It was the money for the fatigues that got CPT America in the most trouble.  In the fall his first year, they began to collect money to send off and buy the Tiger Striped Camouflaged Fatigues.  About Christmas, we got new guns and were scheduled to go to Fort Sill, early in March for Annual Training.  Word got out that CPT America had "Borrowed the Fund" to pay his tuition for second semester.  It took having a Field Grade Officer at the end of the pay line to collect the back money at the end of that AT.    CPT America wound up back on the battalion staff after that and it wasn't until the next year that he managed to get fired.   The battalion commander gave him a direct order and he did not comply.  He told the Commander that he could not fire him and guess what,  The Brigade Commander had two MP's escort him off the post.  I never did see the relief for cause Officer's Efficiency Report that terminated that career.  I'll bet it gave off smoke when you read it.



As I think back in my life, it seems to be a series of interactions with friends and family.  Early in life it was more family but that seemed to go away after leaving home in the mid 60's.   Friend after friend have trooped through my life and made many impressions on me.  Here are a few random thoughts about that process.

First, I hope you can find friends that will share with you as much as you share with them.  Those times where it was more one sided, the length of time they spent together was limited.   It didn't matter how intense the relationship was, it as the lack of balance that always nipped it in the butt.  Yes, I know the word is bud but I wanted to mix that metaphor. 

An example of this was my friend Larry Parks.  We worked together in basement of the State Defense Building and in different offices.  It seemed that he and I had about the same schedule and we would catch a coffee break together once in a while.  I would describe this as a casual coffee friend.  Later on, My son was dating a nice girl and her father asked him if he was the son of MUD.  He wasn't sure but he admitted as much and now my daughter-in-law is Larry's Daughter.  Amazing.

Back in my teenage years, my friends were a mixed lot of guys with a lot of different things going on in their lives.  A kind of common thing was cars.  One of the guys built a hopped up V8 motor and put it in a jeep.  That sucker could reach 60 in a block but topped out at about 80.  gearing was all wrong.  We did manage to go places and see things in that jeep that we probably would not have seen in a car.  Note- What looks like a concrete speedway on the river flat just might turn into a mud bog if you get too close to the water.  Most of those friends made it through the Vietnam era without getting killed in the war.  The first to go was my Marine friend killed in an auto accident in Southern California.  The second was a guy that just didn't go to the Doctor and his wife found him dead in bed over a minor thing most of us would have gone to the emergency room for.  The brother of my Marine friend was a truck driver and got the flu.  He came in off the road and took to bed sick and no one found him for a week or so.  Yep, again had he gone to the emergency room they probably would have given him fluids and he would have recovered. 

That leaves me with two close friends from that group.  One is a retired school teacher that probably has reached the mental age of 15 by now.  The other is a Construction Superintendent down in Dallas an one of these days I will get to see him.  It is amazing that our meetings seem to be like we were together just yesterday. 

I would be remiss if I didn't write about my closest and dearest friend in life, the Master Gardener.  We are probably the odd couple in a lot of ways but it seems to work.   When we met, I was on orders for Vietnam and stationed near her home near Barstow, California.  She was a strong willed quiet person and I needed a friend.  I convinced her that I was an OK guy and she agreed to marry me right before I went to Vietnam.  46 years later we are still together and I hope it works out.  It is pretty easy when we agree that we have everything we need, most of what we want, money in the Bank and a Wal*Mart nearby.  In fact on Oct 8th we will have a new Wal*Mart really nearby. 

I often have moments where I think about past girlfriends.  Kind of like when I left Wichita I thought how nice it was to have it in my rear view mirror.  I do think about just how things might have turned out but I know that like most of my friends and family it would have probably wound up in a divorce. Barb was the kind of person that had clear goals and it was like a journey to go with her and watch where we would wind up.  The other girlfriends had no clue what they were going to do or wind up.  Some days you get bear and some days you wind up with a bear.  I wound up with a dear deer. 

Better get on with the day.


Volvo Man

Over the years, I have had a number of nicknames.  In this Blog, I use the appellation MUD for Mean Uncle Denny.  No, I will not tell that story again, at least not right now.  What I do intend this short blog to cover is my nickname Volvo Man. 

It all started with my Dad's love of that ugly Volvo he bought back in the early 60's.  You know, the one that looked like a 2/3rd size model of a 47 Ford.  It was a four cylinder rear wheel drive four door that drove great but looked like a "Dog Turd" (Dad's description)   For some reason the Sweeds must have had a ton of OD Paint left over from WWII and they sprayed it on a lot of the Volvo's.  One applied, there was no amount of car wax that could keep that paint shiny.  I know that I personally applied a coat of wax every year for several years and it would soon shine like a brick.  If you wanted it to be shiny, you would have to wet it down with a garden hose.  The engine also had a pair of SW side draft Carburetors and you had to keep adding oil to the little damper in the carb and they never were quite in sync.  I know that one job my dad would do is about once a month was to take a screwdriver out and "Tune" those darned carbs. 

I loved my mother, but she was not the most bright person when it came to old cars.  One of the cars we had was a 56 Chevy and if you wanted it to start, you had to pump the accelerator pedal several times prior to turning the key.  Mother one day went out and pumped the pedal so many times that the carb flooded and she kept pumping and cranking until the engine started on fire.  End of that car.  When Dad bought the Volvo, he knew that there was no pump attached to the accelerator so there was little chance of mom burning the car up.   Mom, being a creature of habit would still go out and pump the accelerator prior to cranking the engine.  In fact, you could hear the linkage squeak inside the house for clear out in the driveway.  Dad and I would laugh at that but he never oiled the linkage.

Just as I was getting drafted,  Dad found a 63 Volvo in great shape and used my old Renault as a trade in.  As soon as I turned Middle Class in Officer candidate School, I could have a car.  Dad brought that Volvo down to Fort Sill.  To get it registered on post, I had to add a seat belt.  I found a Foreign Car salvage nearby and the only belt in any of their cars was a shoulder belt without a lap belt.  I put it in the car and faked my way through the inspection station.  That car did have all the bells and whistles, and they all worked.   I drove that car until I went to Vietnam.  Dad was on one of his trips to Arkansas in that car and a drunk pulled right out in front of him.  The only thing that saved him was the seatbelt I installed.  He did manage to separate some ribs because of the lack of a lap belt but he did live.  The accident was so strong that Dad broke his nose with his knee and it totaled that car.  

In spite of the damage, you could open and close all four doors on that car after the wreck
Over the years Dad bought a few more Volvo's and was very happy when my brother wrecked one of them.  It was a station wagon with an automatic transmission that would not get out of its own way.  It was a Dog and Dad hated it.  When that car died, he bought a new station wagon with a 4 speed transmission.  Dad racked up at least 100,000 miles on that wagon running back and forth to Arkansas. 

When Dad got sick in 1971, he was laid up for a few years and the Volvo wagon became excess to his needs.  I bought it from him and it became the source of my name Volvo Man.  Back then, 100,000 miles was about the life expectancy of the motor in a Volvo and I go wind of a man near Topeka that had a train car load of Volvo's that had fallen off a train in a wreck.   Imagine I could lift up the steering wheel and drive a new car under it.  I searched the rumor down and found that it was true.  There was a wrecking yard with a bunch of smashed Volvo's and I could buy one cheap.  I bought a sedan and for the next few months planned how I was going to swap it all out.  At first I was going to haul it out to California and do the swap there.  After hauling it to Wichita from Leavenworth, I saw that was a bad idea.  I did the swap there in a friends shop.   Long story short, the new engine had fuel injection and an overdrive and I loved it. 

When we wound up in Topeka, a good friend of mine here had a Volvo and I stopped by there several times to see how he was coming as he rebuilt it.  His wife one day saw me pull in the yard and she hollered that Volvo Man was here to visit.  Yep'er, that nickname stuck for a long time.  I think I lived in Topeka at the time and finally sold that car with something near 200,000 miles on it.  Not sure of the exact miles as I had to replace the speedometer part of the dash from the wrecked car somewhere in the middle.  No, I did not record it all down and sold the car as is.  It was obvious that the engine and complete drive train had been replaced.

So, if you want to get my attention, you can yell Hey MUD or Hey Volvo man.   I would buy another Volvo today but there is no dealer here in Topeka to fix it if it broke.  I love that quirky darned car and still go look at one if I see it on a car lot.  Someday...

MUD, aka Volvo Man


Such Fun

Last night we had our practice at the Mall.  We zipped through the program and actually got in a couple of extra songs because it went well.  I don't know how the rest of the guys felt, but it was a great time for me.  We got there a little early and I helped set up the chairs and the banner.  Then the fun began and I think everyone was in good spirits and we laughed and joked through the time together.  The only thing I would have changed about the whole thing was that Barbara and the Kids had dinner in Lawrence (Mad Greek) and I didn't get to be with them. 

Tonight we are going to have an evening with our favorite two little guys.  Not sure what we will do the entire time but I think a picnic in the park will start the activities.  I'm sure there will be a playground involved to help them "Blow the Stink Off."    That was an old Navy saying my Dad used. 

Fun with a Record Player

Funny Story - One year I substituted in the USD 450 District.  I did both classroom and para jobs.  It wasn't the money, it was the contact with the kids and other teachers.  I had been at the local school several times as a para in the Pre-School Program.  One day the teacher had to be gone for an appointment and I filled in.  The kids were great and with two para's, it was easy to keep everyone busy and entertained.  It was a little cool at recess time and I thought the kids might need to be outside and in the sun for a little break.  I told them to get their coats on and we'll all go outside and blow the stink off.  One of the little kids came up and said, "But Teacho, we don't stink."  I thought I would fall down laughing.  The paras all cracked up too.  I think the kids just went outside and played.

Another story was one that Barbara came home from school with.  One of her students was asked what he did on his summer vacation.   He said he went to his grandparent's farm and they got to see all the animals.  He then got this serious look on his face and told Barbara about the duck and the chicks.  It seems that like it happens on a lot of farms, something killed the mother hen one night.  The grandmother put the eggs under the a nesting duck and pretty soon there was a batch of chicks and ducklings there.  When the mother duck too k the brood down to the pond, the chicks all drowned.  Barb verified this story with the kids mother and for a while the punch line that would elicit giggles at our house was "Peep, Peep, Glubb, Glubb..."   The that would soon be followed by "But Teacho, we don't stink..."  OK, You had to be there to laugh out loud.  Sometimes the simple things between two old people (Heavy emphasis on the old) are the things that make us laugh.

Sometime today I am going to fetch my ladder and replace some of the fluorescent lights in our living room.   We have the hidden in the beams overhead and they have been failing until the missing lights are noticeable.  I will probably use the new smaller brighter bulbs and hope to have enough of them to do at least half old and half new.  They are on alternating light banks so it should not be a problem.  I hate it when half are burned out and Barb seems to only notice when a bulb flickers.  I figure it will take about 10 packages of two to do this job.  

I got the feed for the winter started yesterday.  I put out cracked corn for the deer, suet blocks for the birds and filled the sunflower see feeder and filled the water bowl.  I am trying a salt block this year instead of that block of whatever it was by the feed bunk.  I am not sure that the deer or any of the other critters ate any of it as it melted into a gooey mess.  I need to get the oriole feeder back up and cleaned up.  It went south this year and I didn't do anything to help it along.  The grape jelly melted into the sugar water and turned into something akin to a spoiled wine and vinegar.  Gross.

Oh well, miles to go and things to see.   I read the latest Road Scholar booklet and now my wonder lust is all filled.  The focus was on Hawaii and Alaska.  Neither place holds al lot of interest right now.  I am thinking that Costa Rica in February is more on target.



Evolution Vs. Revolution

Today on TV a commentator pointed out that he felt that after the Muslim Spring, the people in the middle east are not going to stand for the dictatorships and they have called for revolutions for those countries that are resisting evolution to a more open form of Government.  As I see it, they are willing to exchange one form of Dictatorship for another.  I am hard pressed to understand how anyone can let a Cleric tell them how the have to live and not a self appointed Dictator.  With the major split between the Sunnis and the Shias and their distrust in each other, I am hard pressed to understand how either can rule without some major compromise.   Again, we have two branches of a "Peaceful" religion killing each other for power. 

In time, the United States would have evolved in the 1860's rather than have a civil war.  The unfortunate thing was there were such strong feelings that we dissolved into war.  It cost us about a half a million young men to decide that the Federal Government was stronger than a confederacy and try to hold this mass of states together. 

If you look forward to the problems of today, I see our Government revolving over the question of power between the political parties and not fixing the big problems.   Our borders are not secure as we speak and it is going to take a major significant emotional event to cause them to wake up and do something.  Perhaps when a terrorist organization imports a weapon of mass destruction or an agent of a strong disease we will wake up.

I see a new threat out there that is going to help cause a collapse from the inside.  Our Major Credit Cards have no security and we are being hacked one by one.  I currently have two cards waiting for their replacements.   I saw on 60 minutes that the same data hackers have figured out that the IRS has no concept of how to fix the problem of people filing fraudulent Tax returns and asking for the refund to be sent to them electronically and then having that money downloaded on a card they can spend anywhere anytime.  It is a problem about how the businesses file their information on your withholding and  there is no match up of that information until well after the people have filed their individual tax forms.   To me, there is a simple solution in having the Government take their bite out of all income streams and then if they need more from an individual, electronically they tell the business how much to take out during the next period. Lets say they start taking out 7% (Yes, way too low) and that the tax tables find out that my unreported income means they should have taken out 10%.  During the next year, take that amount and move on smartly.  Adjust on the fly for the next year and make the IRS play smart guys not just reacting to what the person files.  The credit Card companies in other Countries have solved the problem by installing a smart chip in the cards that prove the holder is in fact the right person and unless they are stolen, the misuse will grind to a halt.

Lunch is being served.   Better call it a day here.



Really? 1/2 Million Hits?

I reviewed the stats today and I have had written 2676 blogs and had 488,000 visitors since I started writing.  This month I will be over 1/2 millions hits.  I don't get many comments, but I get a lot of hits.  Thank you for reading.

Picture of MUD Taken by the Master Gardener

Trip to the Zoo

Yesterday we looked at all the things to do in Topeka and the surrounding area and decided that we needed to go see the Sumatran tiger cubs before they are adults.  Our Zoo has been in the news a lot lately and in and out of trouble for the way it treats our animals.  The good news this year is that the endangered species, the Sumatran Tiger now is three cubs closer to not being extinct (at least in total not the wild) There are three of the cutest little cubs at the Topeka Zoo.  When we first went by their cage, they were all asleep and it was hard to tell head from tail in that pile of cubs.  We went over to see the wild African dogs and the monkey house and by the time we got back, they were over their nap.  Probably the most cute thing was when one of the cubs stood up and looked three little girls right in the eye through the glass.  They played catch the butterfly and wrestled until all the newness wore off. 

One of the Healthcare facilities were having a day at the zoo for their employees and around noon it really got crowded about the time we left.  The draw of grilling hamburgers was also a great smell and by then my stomach was ready to go get something to eat. 

We have a great little restaurant here in Topeka called "Cook's American Grill."  It is nothing fancy but it is good food served in a friendly atmosphere.  Their Goulash special included a drink and a salad.  Barb had just a bowl of potato soup and a cinnamon roll.  She got the cinnamon roll to go and it was her mid afternoon snack.  I watched KU play football against a team from Michigan.  KU opened the game with a touchdown run and then waited until the 4th quarter to get it back together and score twice more.  I saw one play that just made me laugh.  There is a new center for KU and he had a mental lapse.  Everyone on the team knew the signal to hike the ball but the center.  They all moved at the appropriate time and there sat the center with the ball.  The referee called, "False Start everyone but the Center."   I laughed for several minutes over that one.  At halftime, the game was delayed because there was a thunderstorm in the area.  I don't think it ever rained there or here, but it got dark and blacked out the Satellite TV for a while.  I drove in town about 6 PM and it hadn't even got the sidewalk wet out here but the streets were wet in town. 

The Ken Burns series about the Roosevelt's is over. I found it interesting that he took Eleanor and really played her up in the series.  I guess it was only fair that she was the end of the series as she outlived both Teddy and Franklin.  I really didn't hear a lot about her passing in 1962.  They showed her funeral next to Franklin's grave and Kennedy, LBJ, Eisenhower and Truman were all there.  The next year was when Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas.  He and Jackie looked pretty good in the short film clip.  I didn't agree with the Kennedy plans, but he was the President and would never wish him or any President to be harmed.  That is the toughest job in our world and I sure as heck wouldn't want that kind of responsibility.

Looks like I am going to have to mow one more time this year.  I am toying with the idea of a new mower but only when they get cheaper after the first frost.



Worst President Ever

I am willing to turn the comments section on this post to you for your nomination on the "Worst President Ever" discussion.   For the record, there have been many Presidents that had their muck raked and have been vilified.  In fact, just this past week PBS has had the Roosevelt's story by Ken Burns running nightly.  It has been very interesting to see that story, warts and all.  Perhaps that the Bravado of Teddy and the Positive message of Franklin were needed at the time but I think a trained monkey could have done a good job for Franklin's third and 4th term.  It could be argued that Truman proved that when he became the President. 

I for one have this picture of the person I would like to see in the White house.  In my mind's eye, it is someone that sets a good moral tone and is willing to get out and discuss our problems and the direction we need to go.  I want simply it to be a leader that sets the positive tone.  I for one, think that as long as the President is so beholding to one Political Party that they are lock step, we will be forever led by a President with less than a 20% approval rating and a Congress with an even lower approval rating.  That doesn't mean that I don't want the President to not be able to work with them, but one that provides a direction like by publishing a budget that makes sense.

Perhaps it is the fact that the Government is so large that it doesn't even make sense to themselves.  It must be some of that because very few of them are going bankrupt by spending bunches more than they are making.  In fact, they for the most part are getting rich beyond my wildest dreams.  If you don't think that's true, ask your self if a wounded WWII Lieutenant on disability could be as rich as Bob Dole if there wasn't something fishy in that boat dock called Washington?  

Back to the point I made in the opening paragraph.   Who do you think was the worst President?  


Conspiracy Theory

For years, many people have said that the first the Japanese and then the Chinese have been flooding us with cheap products to  break down our ability to manufacture goods.   Now, we are under attack by someone to defeat our financial systems and make it impossible to buy anything.  Last week when our Visa Bill arrived, there were two charges on it that we didn't authorize.  A quick call to our Credit Card Company and a new card is on it's way here.  In the mean time, we were on a short trip and didn't have the use of that card.  The good news is that we had cash with us and one other card.

When we got home, there was a letter telling me that they inactivated that card because the data was listed on one of the major stolen credit card sites because of the Home Depot Hacking.  New card number two on its way.  So far our Debit card on our main account hasn't been hacked but I am seriously going to go down Monday and open a new account that doesn't have any link to our real money.   I think we will just funnel money into the small account to let us do our normal spending and minimize the risks.  It is either than or cash and I don't think our current system has enough cash to let everyone go back to cash even for a month or so.

Is this the newest attempt to break down our economy?  How serious would you cut your spending if you had to use cash only.  I notice that when I go to almost any store, I am one of the few people that still use cash.  In fact, even Wal*Mart has gone to the self service line where you use plastic to put your crap in a plastic bag.  Come to think of it, I think had I not been forced to use a clerk to order Dave's window, Home Depot wanted me to clerk my own transaction. 

Barb is one of the few people that still has her bills come in the mail and uses checks to pay the bills.  Years ago I wanted to use the automated bill payment service that Capitol Federal offered but Barb resisted.  She said then and it is ever more true now that banking on line is just asking to get hacked.

Wait a couple of weeks and see if this doesn't happen to you.   I'm not sure what we will do when the complete banking by plastic system falls apart. 



Once Upon a Time

This is a short story that for the most part happened.  The details have been colored with a brush to make up for the shortened memory of the author.  Go with the intent not the details.

Many years ago, I attended a workshop in San Louis Obispo, California.  There is a California Specialized Training Institute at the old Fort near Morro Bay.  They put on many interesting classes that are for City Planners and County Emergency Preparedness personnel.  They always like to have a National Guard Officer or two attend to help us understand the State/County response and the ability of the guard to assist.  This is generally a one week course with the last class day spent in an exercise where the staff stage a map exercise that presents a natural disaster and a Civil Disobedience occurrence at the same time.  It generally taxes the students to meet many requirements at the same time and the good news is there is no loss of property or life.  The Military would call this a Command Post Exercise (CPX) and Map Exercise combined. 

If you have never traveled to San Louis Obispo, be prepared to either drive there fro LAX or rent a car there as it isn't the center of the world for transportation.  It is one beautiful place and well worth the trip.   On this trip, I had a vacation planned in LA following the training so I rented a car in LAX and drove up.  The drive on the coast is a trip in itself and one I highly recommend.

After a full day of travel, I was given a room in a local Motel and back in my drinking days, I was known to frequent the local bar of a cold drink, or two.  I am not the most observant person in the world, but shortly after entering the bar, I noticed that several of the people there were armed.  It was all concealed carry but not by much  Lots of guns under a light shirt or ankle holsters.  The more I looked, the more I saw.  I finished my first drink and went to the car to fetch a bottle to drink in my room.  I figured that the bar there in the Hotel was a place I didn't want to hang out in.

The next morning, I decided to ride the bus out to the training center and there on the bus I figured out why so many people were armed.  There was a class of California Highway Patrol Officers (CHPs) training that week and off duty officers in California are required to carry at all times.  Well, I guess they probably can sleep without one but outside and in the rest of the world they are armed.  My class mates all laughed at the simple guy from Kansas that was scared of a few guns. 

The other part of the story I like to tell is that because they were two time zones ahead of Kansas, I would wake up at my normal Kansas time and have time to eat and then watch the sun come up on the beach at Morro Bay.  Lovely place to visit but I am not sure I would want to live there.


It Was a Hoot

Yesterday evening we had family and friends over for dinner.  Two of this group are young boys and they are so funny.  Barbara always entertains them by finding something they like to do.  They went out and picked fruit in the orchard.   While they were out, their mother discussed that she just doesn't understand life from their perspective.  The funny part is that I'm not sure if any mother really understand little boys.  I am pretty sure that the dad's do but they enjoy the antics of boys so much that they won't admit it.  "Tell them to stop that" is not what a Dad wants to hear.  If God didn't intend them to play with it, he wouldn't have made it so fun.  How do you be open and honest about things that gross you out? 

Yesterday I tried two different ways to grill chicken.  One bunch I used pineapple juice/soy sauce marinade and the other I had a Webber Garlic and Herbs marinade with olive oil.  Both ways were pretty darned good.  Again, if anyone went home hungry it was their own fault.  Barbara made a couple of pies and some great whipped cream.  She had worked hard to find sugar free ways to make great pies.  One of the new pies was one with apple butter as the main flavor ingredient. Yummy.  It reminded me of pumpkin pie with just a hint of something different.

I thought after 67 years there wouldn't be much new in my life.  Wrong.  Barb has discovered a new marshmallow that is flat and makes some wonderful S'mores.  A graham cracker, a flat marshmallow, a small chocolate bar and 22 seconds in the microwave  is just the ticket for a yummy warm treat.  Yes, I know there are some of you that want a campfire but not all of us want to get that warm just for a dessert.

Barbara saw a program the other day about turning cooked cauliflower into a treat with Buffalo Wing Sauce.  Seems that if you bake it with a little seasoned salt and olive oil it can be dipped into the wing sauce or ranch dressing and both are tasty.  Don't overcook the cauliflower and don't coat it all in wing sauce.  One of our guests said that she didn't ever think she would ask for seconds on Cauliflower.  I didn't ask, I just ate it until it was almost all gone. 

This year has been a wonderful year for watermelon here in the heartland.  I can't remember having one that wasn't just great.  The new melons that are seedless are just so easy to eat and they seem to taste better than the those big round Black Diamond melons tasted.  I will miss that taste this winter.

Yesterday I was at the grocery store and met a couple I served in the Military with.  I knew they were John and Theresa but I drew a blank on their last name.  I finally had to ask one of my other Military friends for a help.  They are the Gulls and great people.  I guess that old(er) age is wearing my brain out.  At least I could remember part of their names.  I hope that is not the future where the lights grow dimmer and the porch light is still on.  If that happens, I hope I stay happy like my mother.  I know what a sad old bitter person can be like. 

Again technology struck me right between the eyes.  This morning I opened my e-mails and right there on top of my in box was a couple advertisements and I deleted them.  Crap, my phone went into an update mode and it seems that I deleted over a month of e-mails.  I hate it when that happens.  It probably did just what I told it to do.  The good news is that it all went to the trash and we can restore it.  The good news/bad news is that anything there for more than 30 days goes to the great trash can in the sky and god only knows where it goes from there.

Does anyone out there have a good reference for using/restoring/copying things from the cloud?  I have a computer that can do a lot of things fast but I do need to know how to make those things happen.  Oh well...




Last night, the Music Committee discussed the direction the chorus is headed and if we needed some changes.  The discussion went form being very critical to discussing the point that this is a hobby and what we do is what we do.  There are times we really buckle down and shine and there are times we just come to practice and sing.  I personally love to do both and as long as it is fun I will continue to go.

A couple of years ago, we held our practices on Tuesday night and because our director had a Tuesday night gig, we changed to Monday.  Over the years that change has cost us some members and we discussed that.  My point was that there are always reasons that people change their schedules and organizations.  We need to understand that no matter what night we choose, there will be someone that can't come. 

As a chorus of senior singers, we are all getting older.  There are some members that can't really sing anymore but they are always there.  There are members that have family members ill and they can't come. As our members retire, some are moving away to be closer to family.   For many different reasons we seem to get a little over 20 members at our rehearsals.   It makes for some interesting nights when there aren't enough Basses or Baritones.     I guess we need to work harder like any organization to attract new members. 

I don't have a good model to use as a guide for the chorus change.  In the Military we used MET-T.  That was mission, equipment (Enemy and friendly) , terrain/time and temperature.  I just can't seem to get that into my head for planning for change with a chorus.  We are working on getting exposure as a chorus.  We will sing in the Mall next Monday and sang at a Book Fair at the Capitol last Saturday. 

Right before we went outside to sing at the Book fair, we warmed up inside the Rotunda at the Capitol.  Our rendition of Home on the Range just was so great inside there where the sound echoed like we were a heavenly choir and the sky bounced our sounds back at us.  I am going to pitch to the guys that we need to see if we can get a slot on the Kansas Day Festivities there.  Might even be a good thing for the Governor's Inauguration.  We'll see.

Better move on.


Right Tool for the Right Job

Somehow with all the rain, Dave's yard got deep with grass.  He tried to get our Troy Built Mower out and mow it but  it was almost not enough to get 'er done.  In  all fairness, I have been avoiding replacing a front tire and it would go flat with just a couple of passes done.  Even with a new tire, it just had a tough time.   Did I mention that I have an Allis Ago Tractor with a finish mower on the back?  It has been not very good at mowing deep grass lately and I decided that it probably was because it needed the belts tightened.  Yep, I could almost move the belt by hand and I took out the trusty 9/16 wrench and snugged that sucker down.  Cuts just fine now.  What would have been a three or four hour job with the little mower was done in about an hour.  Other than the time I smoked the belts by catching a piece of junk in the blades, it went easy peasy.  Right tool for the right job.

This is the Box blade for moving gravel

Sometime in the next week or so, I am going to go over to the rentals and see what kind of handy work needs done.   I know the garage door opener on the little house needs work and there is a leak under the sink at the big house.  It has a bucket under the leak and only drips from time to time so it isn't a great big deal.  I suspect it is a slow leak where the hose fastens under the fixture. 

Did I tell you about my buckets of tools?   I have over time as a landlord collected many tools and I have tried to sort them by the function I am doing.  I have a bucket for plumbing (One Heavy Sucker) one for electrical work, one for carpentry and tools for fixing vehicles.  Well, my vehicle bucket is really a bag for wrenches, one for sockets and a Metric Tool Box in the Crown Vic.  The rest of my tools are in the storage shed out of the weather. 

Over the years, I have collected a selection of ladders for various uses.  I have one aluminum extension ladder for really high work, a 8 foot fiberglass "A" frame ladder for painting and lower work and one of those ladders you see on TV that can be put into about any shape.  It folds down into a 4 foot by three foot package so it will fit in the trunk of a car.  I find it just the ticket for painting in stairways and such.  With the addition of a board, it makes a pretty fine scaffold up to about 8 feet. 

I am not sure why I am writing this other than I am killing time right now and feel compelled to write something.  I am only one position from having the 2015 slate of officers for the Barbershop Chorus filled.  I have invited one of the chorus members to take the position and it should be one of the easiest jobs so I think he will accept.  We'll see. 

Better get this show on the road.




Kids today think they have written the acronyms that they use in Texting each other.   Coming from a Military Background, I want to disabuse them of that notion.   In 1966, I was the FNG and went to the MEPS in KC as I got drafted into the Army.   We were sent to FLW, MO to the REPODEPO and sent to our BT CO.  We were issued our WEB gear and then put through D&C until we could march like soldiers.  We trained with our M-14's and fired Qual.  I fired Expert with the M-14 and could not hit the side of the barn with the .45. 

OK, you get the hint that the acronym of shortened words aren't something new for texting.  We have been trying to eliminated extra vowels and consonants for years.  IT is interesting that the thing that cost me many A's and B's in school are now thrown away with ease.  Part of my misspelling is that some genius tried to teach me phonetics early and my mind just accepted that if it knew what I had written, everyone else did too.  If they didn't know what I meant, how could they grade my work with all those little red characters?   Yes, I will say again that I got so many of them that I thought that D meant Denny.  I also think they gave me D's to keep me from flunking and getting me again the next year.  For most of my time at Minneha there were three classes of us so that meant they had a 1 in 3 chance of repeating with me.  I am sure that there are teachers around the State that shudder at that thought.   Well, that might be an exaggeration as a lot of them are no longer living.  I won't take credit for that but there are a few cases where I would love to do so.   There was a story here in the Heartland that there was a goy so hated that if someone shot him, three or four guys would go to the Police Station and turn them selves in seeking credit.   Or something like that.

The other day, our Barbershop Chorus sang at a Book Fair on the north steps of the Capitol building.  I knew they had been working on the State House but I had no idea how beautiful the work is.  If you are a Kansan, you should try to schedule a trip through the Capitol building now that most of the work is completed.  Even the bathrooms are really spiffy.  I love the native Kansas limestone and tile they used.  If you think it looks great, you should hear our chorus singing "Home on the Range" (Kansas State Song) from the lower level of the rotunda.  We rocked it from there.  I am just sad that I didn't have Barbara bring the camera and record it.

The other day, the truck started to make noises from under the hood like the muffler had fallen off.  I decided that yesterday would be a good day to see what was wrong and fix it.  I lifted the hood and started the motor.  It was clearly obvious that the exhaust manifold was loose and at least one bolt was missing.  Makes me suspect that someone needed a bolt and thought the truck looked abandoned.  The bolts that were lose were behind the steering box and I had a tough time tightening them back up.  The one that was missing was right out in the open and easy to loosen.  I made a trip to the hardware store and bought a Grade 8 (Real Hard bolt) but had a problem finding one the right length.  I added two washers and a lock washer and everything tightened up right.  I didn't even have to replace the manifold gasket.  That made me think that it wasn't something that just happened over time.  Had those bolts just worked loose over time, the gasket would have been destroyed.  Oh well, it only cost mw $1.27 to fix it.  Bargain at twice the price.

The other day, someone wrote that if we really want to have a strong Military, we should draft old guys and leave the young guys home to procreate the next generation.    There is only one problem with that as I see it.  There was a time when I could read a map well in any light and now I have to have one of those 100 watt suckers.  I saw a scene from a Vietnam movie crew and I just did not have that "DLR" sense I once had.  DLR is Didn't look right and I had to be told that no Vietnamese farmer would have his water buffalo up by the hooch's as he worked the garden.  First of all, the women would take care of the garden and a water buffalo could eat a typical garden in about 5 minutes.  I also could not see clearly that they really had AK-47s not a garden hoe in their hand.  I would have waited for the Rules of engagement to kick in and probably got shot for my lack of a sixth sense.  Back in the day, I would have been locked and loaded, had a firing battery on standby and ready to blast away. That is to point out that I for one would not be the greatest soldier for the Army today.  Not enough Naproxen Sodium to help me get up in the morning if I had to carry a pack all day.

I would have to have a nap each day
Back in the day



Money, Mo' Money Daddy

Once upon a time, I traveled to San Francisco and one of the guys combined a family trip with our business trip to 6th Army out on the Presidio.  He and his wife took their daughter to California on a train to see the USA and be there when we attended a conference.  They had a young daughter and because my friend was about the cheapest guy in the State, I taught her to say, "Mo' Money Daddy." He just couldn't say no to that cute little person.  The one mistake I made was to rent a full size Lincoln in San Francisco.   You can hardly find a place to park a small car let alone a full size one.  Oh well, lesson learned. 
This little guy has spent 66 years learning more lessons

The local paper, the Topeka Capitol Journal, has started carrying a couple pages of the Wall Street Journal on Sunday.   There is almost always an advice column on Money.  For the most part, I agree with their recommendations, but there are a few things that I find troubling. They don't recommend having credit cards.  I try to never get where I have a balance on my credit cards that I carry over.  I do have one because it is a lot more convenient to pay for our Motel room than have a lot of cash with us.  If we fly, it is nice to have the ability to cancel payment if the Airlines overbook or bump us from the flight.  The one thing that popped up this last bill was that somehow our information was hacked and some charges appeared on the card that we didn't authorize.  New cards are on the way and the bad or bogus charges were reversed.  If that had been a Debit Card, they would have the money first and the bank would have to work to return my money.

One thing mentioned in the Wall Street article was new cars.  Thy mentioned that a lot of people buy a new car about every three years and they lose almost half of their investment to depreciation. Their advice was to stretch that out to about 5 years.  I can do you one better than that, buy used and run the wheels off that puppy.  A few years back, we found a 2004 Ford Crown Victoria with low mileage for about $10,000. It was almost $30,000 new That car is still in our driveway, it gets about 25 MPG on the road and feels like it will do another 100,000 before we find another good used car.  Oh I love to look at new cars, but mostly to see what I might buy in four or five years when they are gently used.   Yes, we are cheap but I like to think of it as Cheap(er).

One thing I find fault with is the advice that we should be investing in the stock market.  Perhaps if I were younger and the return on my money was stronger than the desire for the return of my money.  I have never, repeat never had a good time in the stock market.  I lost money in Custom Electronics, Great Midwestern and then General Motors.  Remember when they said "What's good for GM is good for America."  Tell that to my stock who's value vanished.  Not declined, vanished.  Who will buy all the stock when the Baby Boomers have to start selling it to pay their taxes in a few years.  I don't know about you, but my kids don't have any extra money to buy stock. 

The other day, I went through the checkout line at Sam's club and the clerk was trying really hard to "Upsell" their Master Card to every customer.  I'm sure that it was a promotion and they were made to do it.  After a polite "No Thanks" we left the store.  I had just purchased a new WEB Griffin Book and put their little advertisement in the book thinking it would make a good book mark.  Later on I looked at the information wondering what their real pitch was.  They offered us a Guaranteed $1,500 credit line at 22.3% interest.  The Bank is paying me less than 2% on my money and these clowns want me to sign up for 22% interest?  Are they just nuts or what?    I did read that the average Student Loan is higher than the Credit Card debt of each family.  That amount is about $39,000 and growing. If that is right, the Credit card companies are taking about $8,500 away from families each year just to pay the interest on their card.  I'll bet most people just don't understand the value of their money. They just pay and pay and pay and wonder why they can't save.

Many years ago, my grandfather gave us some good advice and we always headed that advice.  He told us to save as much money as we could but 7% was the minimum.  We have always done that and treated that money as if it were in a lockbox somewhere else.  We have never touched it and don't plan to do so anytime soon.   He said the best investment was any retirement program that threw their money into an investment pot with matching (any amount works) funds.  This can be risky if it is all invested in their company stock (See the GM example above)  but most people change jobs and if they are smart diversify their investments.  The later in the investment cycle you should be almost all in Treasury funds.  The more mature people are, the return of their money is more important than the return on their money.

If you really need a leg up in understanding how your money works, I recommend the Financial Peace University from Dave Ramsey.   At least if you go broke after taking that course, you will know why.  One simple rule is that in the long run, Income must be equal to or greater than outgo.  Now if we could just get our Government to understand that.