Problem Solving

During my years as a manager, I used several different methods to solve problems.  Here are just a few tips I found useful:

1.  Make sure you have the problem defined clearly before you go searching for a solution to a problem.  Those of us that have a little ADD in us tend to rush madly off down the path of "a solution looking for a problem."  Sometimes spending a few moments defining the problem can save a lot of time in the time it takes to find a solution.

2.  Sometimes it is easier and cheaper to "Do Nothing."  If you can live with it, leave it alone.  Most of the time, dust won't kill you.

3.  If you listen to the expert's, using Occam's Razor (Achem's Razor or Ockham's Razor) is a way to tell you that the solution with the fewest assumptions is the one to use.   If your solution is based on an outcome in the process, you should be finding a solution for that problem.  Example I seem to be broke a lot - Answer spend less or make more.  KISS - KEEP IT SIMPLE STUPID.

4.  Open your seeking solutions to multiple inputs.  Ask a friend, read Consumer Reports, search on the internet are all ways to search.  the more ideas you have the better to see if any are the best or cheapest. 

5.  Ask friends to look at your decisions or outcomes or processes and have them help rank order them by assigning a number from 1 to 10 to each.  (1-bad,  10 good)  Don't have them put them in their idea of good or bad, but how do they see the solution working.

6.  Those that are introverted and not outgoing will think asking others is silly.  They will want to build some form of a decision tree and try to assign each way a value in terms of money or time.
Extroverts will want more people in the solution.  I have always found this to be good if you can include potential blockers in the process.  It may be harder to achieve consensus but once a problem is solved, it may stay solved. (longer)

7.  Expect the problem solutions to last about as long as it took to develop the solution. For example, throwing dice doesn't take much time and the results are instantaneous.  The outcome changes the next time you throw the dice.  The Military answer is that a plan will last until the first bullet flies and things will change from there. 

8.  Sometimes using a template to write things down will give you a solution. 
      a.  Write what you want to do
      b.  Write down who will do what
      c.  Write down when it will be done
      d.  Write your expected outcome.

Using number 8 above will just be a framework for problem solving and each time you can add more steps or subtract things that don't work for you.

Clearly, the decision or problem solving process is one that can be simple or complex.  One thing I always try to do is to also look at the unintended consequences of any plan.   Sometimes the things that could happen will help you decide what to do. 

IF your problem is money, I always recommend the Dave Ramsey way.    He will start you by helping you identify the income,  define the spending (fixed and optional), how to develop a budget, the review process.  Just by knowing what you need to do and what you did is enough.  The exception to this is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome is insanity. 

In case you are wondering, by taking the time to write this, I have avoided running the vacuum but in the long run I have the time to do it later.  Problem avoidance doesn't mean it will always go away. 

Try to look at your problems from a different way may help you.  Or not. Jes' Sayn'



Warm Yesterday, Cold Today

When I worked on the 57 Chevy yesterday, it was in the mod 50's.  About three when I finished, the wind had shifted and was getting cooler.  By about 5:45 it was snowing.  The bad news was it got too cold to snow and the snow stopped about 7.  This morning it was 12 degrees with a wind chill of -4.  BRRRRRR!    

I belong to a 55-56-57 Chevy site on Facebook and it really has my juices flowing to the 57 out of the metal storage building and drive it.   I am going to work on the motor until I find that I cannot fix the stumble on acceleration and then I am going to put a new crate motor in it.   I also want to put power steering and disk brakes on the front.  Most important part will be the A/C.   I want to take a road trip out west in it.   Last trip there was to Reno, NV the first time I drove it.  Only had to tow it twice on that trip. 

Just watched a program about Shrimp and it is very interesting.  A worker on the assembly line deveins 800 of those tasty little shrimp an hour.  Must be a mind numbing job.  Makes me want to go get a bag of them.  

As soon as Barb gets ready, we are going to get out and about.  Not sure where all we will go but imagine the library and the grocery store are on the list.  Might even get to go to Cook's American Grill for lunch.  Nice place to eat.  Barb likes their salad and pies.  Me, I like the daily special.  It is always different and good.  

I think it is interesting what we call things.  This morning I mentioned the shed where I stored my tractor and car.  She said it was a garage.  It is actually a Metal Storage Building but what is a name.  I grew up calling the refrigerator "the Icebox."   My grandmother actually had an ice box and had ice delivered three times a week.  I think my father bought her a refrigerator that had one of those circular cooling coil on top.  She had that forever. 

Better get ready.  



Warning This Post May Increase Your Blood pressure

This morning, CNN carried a short segment about the response from the Government about the possible ransom of the US female aid worker that was killed by ISIS.   They contrasted the exchange of Bo Burgdahl for the terrorists held in Cuba.   I was kind of struck by how unfair this was until I was reminded that the aid worker was there as a volunteer and Bo had been sent there by our Military.  I won't even get into why he was captured as that is a legal matter that I don't have to be responsible for.  I am sympathetic to the family for their loss but I lack the feeling of responsibility for her going there. 

On the heels of that story was one of at least one young woman that the Government thinks is going to aid ISIS in their war on everyone but Muslims.   As I recall the law, taking up arms or providing aid and comfort for another country or Army in Wartime is cause to revoke your citizenship.  That is my solution to that problem. Aid our enemy and you lose the label "American."

I will promise you that the idea of a woman going to help a group of men so set on taking the rights of women away from them is just hard for me to put in my brain housing group.  That group thinks nothing of making their women wear veils not get an education and then raping any females they capture. They don't even make any exception for younger girls. The idea of any woman supporting them is just foreign to me.  What kind of propaganda would negate the horror that group inflicts on women.

I have lived in the United States most of my life.  I have been poor and I am now not poor.  I will promise you that even when we were at the poorest level,  we live a darn sight better than what I see in the news of the average citizen in a lot of Muslim countries.  I will promise you that we have sent enough petro dollars to the Muslim world that there is just no excuse for them to have any poor people living in mud huts.  If they call us selfish, I challenge them to examine their own pocketbooks for the excesses they have. 

There is a part of me that thinks we should load up our Army and go crush ISIS.  On the other hand, why do we need to expend our young and finest young men and women to play cop for the World.  I think we should help but not lead the fight.  For some reason the UN doesn't seem to understand the saying "Follow the Money."  The countries that sponsor terrorism should be expelled from the UN.  One of these days our Government will wake up and realize that unless the UN becomes more than a paper tiger it should stop getting our support.  Send it to Belgium and see how long it lasts there if another world wide war breaks out. 

Once a good friend of mine toured the battlefields in Europe.  One of the major cemeteries is laid out in four sections off a central memorial.  One of the four sections is still empty.  My friend asked one of the managers why that is?  His reply was that it is for the next war.  I guess the inevitability of another conflict in a part of the world that has been the scene of so many wars is just an option they understand.  

The only good thing about this post is that you aren't required to follow anything I say.  I do encourage you to look at the events going on and be aware that ISIS is now threatening to export their war to our Malls and Country.  I don't want to ever have to play Cowboy and Indians with anyone but I am ready if needed.



Are You Tired of this yet?

I found a bunch of old pictures that a cousin of my father sent me a while back and some that my wife had in a folder.  Here are just a couple:

Bessie and Earl Petty
Earl as the Unit Barber Camp Chaffee, 1918

Here are a couple of funny stories my dad told about his father.  To be truthful, there are several names that my Grandfather went by.  Earl Ennis Petty and Ennis Earl Petty.  It was once explained to me that the boys in the Petty family went by their middle names.  Their legal names were never changed but they were known by their middle name.  My grandfather, Ennis Earl Petty enlisted in the Army prior to WWI and it was when they were building the Panama Canal.  Earl was supposedly discharged with a medical discharge and he came home to marry my Grandmother Bessie.  At the outbreak of WWI, he enlisted as Earl Ennis Petty and drove an ambulance all over France.  He must have done OK as Bessie wad later given a widow's pension after Earl died.     The other story was that Earl had a great sense of humor and would laugh that his ears would vibrate if he went downhill real fast on his bicycle.  From the picture above, you can see his ears did stick out.  I am prone to think that his real name was Ennis Earl Petty as my mom and dad added a D to Ennis and I have been known as Dennis all my life.  Never wanted to be called earl. 

For many reasons I won't get into, the last name Petty will not be taken past this generation in the family.  There is little doubt that there are many of us that have traits from Bess and Earl.  One of my cousins has the general look of Bess and has a daughter that also has that general look.  The jury is still out on what June Bug will finally look like but she sure is a cute baby.  I am not sure why, but Bessie was one of the people in the world that treated me like a second class citizen.  I don't miss her.

Over the weekend put Barbershop chorus sang the national Anthem at a Basketball game and the Circus.  I don't know why, but I always have a good time at these events.  Now the real question is if I am going to stay for the entire Chorus practice and miss the KU vs. K-State game.  I will do my best to stay during the first half and sneak out for the second half.  We'll see how that goes.   I write the practice schedule so I know what I will be missing.  The guys know that I have season tickets to watch the Hawks but this game is in Manhattan so it will be one of those ESPN Monday night games. 

At one time I had problems sleeping and I cut down the amount of caffeine to make it so I could sleep.  Sunday morning I only drank one cup so that couldn't be the reason I slept poorly last night.  Might have been caused by the afternoon nap I took.  Who knows, and perhaps better said, other than me, "Who Cares."   

Write if you get a job.



More of the Same

Yesterday we had tickets to the 3 PM game between KU and TCU.  I sure hope that ESPN has film of Tubby Smith harassing the ball boy during a time out.  He was being an ass and showed his true nature.  He should be fined by the BIG XII conference for his actions.  My momma would grab him by the ear and make him apologize to that kid.  After the game, we ran into my niece Jennifer and I wish we could have stayed in Lawrence to visit with her and her good friend Donna.   I had to rush home to get to the 7PM singing of the National Anthem for the Washburn Men's basketball game. It went great and I always enjoy singing with the guys. 

Today, at 5 PM, I am going to go to the circus and sing with the Chorus as we perform the National Anthem there.  We were all set to wear our Tux's but we will just wear our winter uniform instead.   Oh well, we won't sound any different.

Where did your family come from?  Even thought my dad was born in Bridgeport Illinois, he grew up in and around Eldorado, KS.  Mom at least went to high school there and met Dad. I think she was a junior and he was a senior and they waited until she graduated to get married.  After that, we lived in Wichita most of the time.  I think Dad went to California to work in an Aircraft plant for a year or so but mom wouldn't go there so he came back to Kansas. We lived at 544 Byrd in the shadow of the Beech Aircraft Plant.  Our back yard ended where the Beech parking lot started.  Most of the time the parking lot lights were our night light. 

Dad and Tiger Edmonds, His cousin

On a different note, Barb was living in Yermo California when we met.  That's about 10 miles east of Barstow.  I convinced her to marry me and when I came home from Vietnam we would go to Kansas to go to school.  I knew that Kansas would let her have in State Tuition and California would not do the same for me.  I thought poor Barbara, her family is all out west and she will just have to make do with mine there in Wichita.  As it turned out, they loved her as much as I did.   When we moved to Ottawa, I found out that barb was related to about one half of the town.  It seems that her Grandfather had moved from Prairie Center Kansas and had many relatives still in the area.  When they built the Sunflower Army Ammunition Plant there, the people all had to move and many did to Ottawa.   In my National Guard unit there, there were at least three people related to her.  Me, not so much.

Yesterday started with snow on the ground but it soon warmed up to in the high 40's.  The snow is all gone but it was only 20 this morning with a 20 MP wind out of the north.  I sit in the breakfast room and listen to the wind chimes sing its cold tune as I read the paper.  Thank god for modern furnaces. 

What good books do you like to read?  I tend to go to books that have some adventure.  One friend of mine told me that I need to read Bill O'Reileys  book "Killing Patton."  I do love WEB Griffon and Clive Cussler's books.   I was a Steven King fan at one time but have moved on.  

Oh well, I need to move on.



Who Are You?

There is the age old question about nature vs. nurture and it can be the cause of a lot of problems.  It can also be a search for a solution when there is not a problem.   One side of the coin is that we inherit everything from our parents as they did and unless you come from a long line of horse thieves, that fact alone should be all you need to look for.

I have several relatives that search the Genealogy of our family(s).   The funny part is there are a couple of explanations of where we came from prior to coming to America.   My family name is Petty and is pretty common English unless someone attributes it to an Ellis Island Error.  One person thinks that we were French and the name was Petit (Pronounced Pet-ti). At this point in life, it is not very important to me.  I will live with either explanation.  

Glen, Bessie, Earl and Warren Petty (1930's)
When I first loaded this picture I didn't notice the difference in the way my Grandfather and my dad were dressed.  I have my doubts that at that age my Dada and his brother ever played a round of golf.  I know that Earl Petty was a sign painter and those were his work clothes.

Barb's Familial name is pretty obviously German but I know there is a lot of the Collin's influence in her genes.  In fact, anyone with the name Schmoe is related to my wife if they live in the USA.  As we have traveled, I have looked in the phone book and never have found anyone with that name that her family Genealogy Guru hasn't put on the family list.  We did find someone with that name in Germany but no one there spoke English when we tried to talk to them.   We did find a Minister nearby the city her Great-Great Grandparents came from and saw a picture of the church they attended. 

I grew up next door to Art Longhoffer.  He was the son of parents that were born in Germany.   He spoke German growing up and still used a lot of German words especially when he cussed.  "Got in Himmel" was one of his favorites.   When Barb and I traveled to Germany many years back, I felt at home there and loved the people and the food.  It just felt like an extension of home.  I am sure that a lot of it was the food that I had learned to love by eating at the Longhoffer table.  

I can't really get deeper into the question of "Who Are You?" much deeper than that.  I think and will go to my grave thinking that I am who I am and have adopted the Popeye saying, "I Yam what I yam." 

I write, I sing, I work on cars and I am fairly handy with tools.  I have managed to live a full and great life and still have the first wife I started with.  If I were to die today, I hope you know that I feel rich that I have been so blessed to achieve almost everything I wanted.  In a lot of ways I exceeded my wildest dreams and hope I can shout yahoo and slide into my grave an hour before the Devil knows I coming. 



Another Conflict

Barb and I had season tickets for the KU Men's Basketball this season and another conflict is going to keep me from going to  3 March  game.  Oh well, I am pretty sure that my niece that now lives in Lawrence will enjoy the game.  It will be senior night but none of the starters are seniors.  Heck, most are Freshmen.  It has been a fun ride this year and I still have my fingers crossed that they will get Conference title 11. 

For the last couple of days, the critters have been here looking for food.  I took some corn down to the feed bunk at the bottom of the hill and when it is empty the deer stand there and look up at the house.  Perhaps next year I will put the bunk closer to the back door and feed them there.   Next I will probably have to keep a stock tank full of water with a heater.  Oh well, love to see the critters doing well.
The Turkeys love to sift through the leaves for food

Yesterday as Barb and I were going somewhere, the subject of a dog came up.  She looked me in the eye and said, NO Dogs!  Dang, I hate it when that happens.  I read a cute story about a police dog last week and have always wanted one.  I guess I will have to settle with a visit to the Grand kitties now and then. Pixel still will come to me and let me pet him when I visit.  It took a long time to get him to be my friend.  One thing I never did was tease him.  Just petting and a treat now and then.

Somehow my 2013 Turbo Tax program has disappeared.  I guess I saved it somewhere I didn't plan on.   I'll do a better search today and see if I have it on an external hard drive.  I am proud to say that I did find Barb's wonderful black ear muffs.   They had fallen off the top shelf and were way down in the side of the closet.  Guess what?  They were right in the last place I looked.  Isn't that amazing?  DUH Dennis!   Just remember you can say DUH to yourself but not to others.

One of the Facebook posts from a member of the family talked about the difference between Vengeance and Justice.  It is pretty simple to me.  If it is personal it is vengeance.  There is a certain inmate on Death Row that I would volunteer to put to death.  Vengeance is in my heart.  The good news is that I don't have the ability to make that happen.   Justice to me is that  he is not out walking the streets and is in a little room where he only gets out for an hour a day and get to shower once every three days.  Many people in the family want me to believe that Justice will be served when he is executed.  Unless he dies the brutal way he killed my niece, it will only be death not justice. 

Better get moving on down the street.



Slow News Day

You know things are really slow when the most inspiring thing you can find in the paper is in the funny pages.   OK, the comics section to be more precise.  This morning in "The Family Circus"  Dolly said, "My favorite form of oatmeal is in cookies."  In my world, that's only way I like oatmeal.  Barb makes "Uncle Chuck's Chocolate Chips Cookies" that contain oatmeal. and she has been known to make oatmeal cookies that are pretty darned good.  I second Dolly's opinion.

The hype on TV is about the Oscars next week and I couldn't be impressed less unless they replay the Super bowl.  I don't even remember the teams that played in the latest one, let alone what the Roman Numerals were for the game.  I don't remember the last movie I saw.

The K-State coach is all worked up about the lack of energy his team is showing in their games.  I'll bet they would have to send a trainer over to his house to get him out of bed if he was suiting up and still playing.  The teams are well into the 25th game of the season and are getting played out.  Yes, I know they are young but the season is dragging on and they aren't in the top half of the BIG XII.  Just how motivated would you be if your motto is we are number 10?   The other day I saw a bunch of Highway Patrolmen  drinking coffee at the Turnpike Rest area.  I asked them if there was any truth in the rumor that if you get caught speeding over by Manhattan you are given a ticket to a men's basketball game.  If you are going real fast, you get two.  We all had a laugh at that one.

The City Council nominees are posting in a blog by the local paper and I am blown away at the responses to, "Have you ever been arrested."   The people responding seem to think if they completed a diversion program they didn't do anything.  One person had a court diversion when he was a minor and thought that would be a sealed record.   Most of them have a pretty serious driving record of speeding and/or lack of current registration on their cars.  One guy had a DUI when he was in his 20's and didn't think anything over 15 years old would matter.  If you got caught driving drunk once, you probably had a lot more times you didn't get caught.

For the record, I am currently a sober drunk.  I would be an alcoholic but I don't go to meetings.  I say I am a drunk because there is a lack of the switch that says one drink is enough.  If I get started I want to drink more.  For me, the best way is to say, "Today I am sober and will be all day."  Throw enough of those days together and it has been about 20 years now. 

Here in Kansas there is a former employee of mine that is heading up a group to kill the skin business here in Kansas.   They object to strip clubs and those shops that sell sexy material.  My feeling is that the Legislature has tackled this four years in a row and each time kicked it to the back burner as their session gets nearer to the end.  If I were to place that issue on a list of all the things important, it would be near the end of the list.  To me, it is a lot like the issue of same gender marriage.  If you don't want one, don't go there.  It has been at least 20 years since I went to one - once.  The place was ever so dirty and smelled  like urine.  The thought of drinking $5.00 beers or even eating anything there made me kind of throw up in the back of my mouth a little.  I understand that one local place here in Topeka has girls serving food in the nude.  I don't want my waitress to even have on sleeveless blouses let alone having their privates uncovered.  Just me, just saying.

This is the time of the year when I get the latest Turbo Tax program and spread my records all over the card table I set up to help me organize everything.  The first time I run through the entries it shows me that I am several thousand dollars short on my withholdings.  A good share of that is the rental properties and some mineral rights.  The only way I could get above board is to pay quarterly withholdings but I have never not had the money to pay come the 15th of April.  I guess I could just do the darned things and send a check.  It just irks me to do it early for some strange reason.   I know my little amount of money isn't going to balance the deficit.

I am often reminded of the saying, "The return of my money is more important than the return on my money."  With the interest rates so low, I don't think there is anything out there that returns anything near what my rental properties do.   If it weren't for the hassle,  I might look for one or two more.  I had to go over to one of my rentals to see why the furnace didn't work and found that the new faucet handle on the tub was again broken and they were using a pair of water pumps to shut it off.  Not sure how to fix that one until they leave and I can replace the whole fixture. 

Now that I have managed to kill an hour or two, I now feel the urge to move on.  Not sure where, but somewhere.   Have a great day.   I know, I'll go check my lottery tickets.




Is it fair to count the 227 page views I have made when I count the 780,000 hits?  


Lets Get Real

As I peruse the paper, several things just jump out at me.   For one, a man running for City Council denies he has any criminal record because he completed diversion programs rather than going to jail.  His adopted family is "rich" and powerful and have used their money to bail him out time after time.  He is a natural to go on to be a bigger politician.  When you can't tell the truth from reality, politics should be your game.   If he can't run for governor, who told everyone that his tax cuts would help us grow (right into a 400 million dollar deficit) perhaps he should run our History Museum and AIR BRUSH things on important drawings that depict the reality of Kansas. 

I can tell "War Stories" or "Big boy Fairy Tales" with the best of them.  With that said, I think telling out right lies is about the worst thing you can do.  When in doubt, tell the truth.  You generally won't get fired for making a mistake but you damn sure can for covering up one with lies.  In spite of the good things Richard Nixon did in his lifetime, he was forever branded a liar for Watergate's cover up. And for damn good reason.   Had he said from the first that his team made a mistake he would have been chastised for a period of time but not forever.  Who will ever forget "I didn't have sex with that woman."  or a part of the "Vast Right Wing Conspiracy" that made it happen.  "No Big Thing" should echo in the next election cycle.

Having lived with a schoolteacher for a lot of years, I will promise you that they spend a significant part of their salary every year on things for their classroom.  Even with the help of the PTA's they all chip in to make their classroom a fun place to learn.  Now, the local school district is having to cut the supply budgets to make up for the giant blunder the Governor and the Legislature made that will result in less money going to schools. 

The next time you hear that our roads are in miserable shape and the Government wants to pass bonds, remember the millions taken out of the Highway Department budget for construction paid for by our tax on Gasoline and Diesel.  Our local school district won't allocate money to take care of the buildings because they know they can always get a bond election approved when the roof leaks.

So, the point of this is that we, not just me, need to get real and open out eyes to lies people tell.  When a politician tells us that a deficit isn't a bad thing, ask them if they could get elected without money from the voters.  They don't do much with their money, and they damn sure don't know how to treat ours.   Because the system has caused millions of our kids to not have jobs that have a retirement, doesn't mean that we can let the Social Security system fail too.  I know that I will do my best to leave my son and his wife with a few dollars when I die unless the government figures out a way to screw them out of that too. 

OK Jayhawk fans, no one should have expected this team to go undefeated this year.  They are a darned good group of student athletes that are fun to watch.  I don't want Perry Ellis to feel bad that he didn't hit the winning bucket, I want him to feel good that he scored 19 points in a tough game.   

Other than that, have a great day out there. 



Mo' Snow

I am pretty sure my friends in Buffalo think they track in more snow than we have on the ground but we got our second snow this morning and it sure is pretty.  There is a nice fluffy layer of snow about 3 inches thick in the yard.  Not a lot of wind but it is pretty darned cold here in the heartland.  I really didn't need to go anywhere today anyway.  

I love the snow when it is sticking on the trees.

Last night we had our normal Barbershop Chorus Practice and I think the group sounded pretty darned good.  I have been sick for almost a month and for the first time back I heard a lot of improvement.  One thing that was fun for me is that we are also working on our stage presence and I think with a little emotion we sound a lot better.  I am not sure why but we do.

It is days like today that I wish I had electricity in the storage shed.  I would love to be able to run a heater and put the new carb on the 57.  There are a lot of things I would like to do out there including getting started on putting her back on the road.  Motor running first, brakes next, then steering and finally an A/C.  By this fall I hope to have her in much better shape.  Has my juices flowing.

This weekend the annual Lawn and Garden show was here in Topeka and as usual Barbara worked helping kids plant small plants in potting soil and newspaper pots.  I hope it didn't wear her down too much and she continues to get better.  This darned Upper Respiratory Infection (URI) has been a bugger.  It is not the flu but it has really made us sick.  I am pretty much recovered and Barb's on her way back.     

We sang Valentines songs again this year and I think we will add at least $1,500 to the coffers of our Chorus.   I think that covered the cost of the new music we purchased for this year and next.   Our show coming up in April will be the big money maker if we can all get out and sell ads.  The ticket sales at the door will cover the fixed costs but the profit will be in our ad sales.  I am going to push for the chorus to buy a sound system and a recorder to capture our sound.  I think it will make us a better group.

Yesterday prior to the practice we had a music committee meeting.  We had a frank discussion of where we are and where we want to be.  There is always one side that wants to be music Nazi's and throw anyone out that isn't great.  The other side is those of us that just love to sing.  Both sides are right in a way, but we would be a Very Large Quartet (VLQ) if we did winnow those that aren't perfect.  The really great side is that the Bass section is getting larger and sounding very good. 

Oh well, better go see what Barb had on the agenda.  I assume with the new snow not much...



February Snow

This morning we woke up with about an inch of snow covering the ground.  The wind is very light and it is not as cold as it could have been.  I love to go out and fetch the paper right after a snow and see all the tracks in the yard.  This morning it was mostly deer tracks but there were a few other critters out there.   Not being the best tracker, I am not sure what one set of the tracks was from.   The neighbor's dog was easy to track. 

We are nearing the end of the Men's Basketball season and it has been a blast watching the Hawks play this year.  Tonight if the weather breaks, they will travel to West Virginia and paly against the dreaded full court pressure of the Mountaineers.  The only bad part is that I will be singing tonight so I will have to DVR the game and watch it when I get home.  The good news is that I can fast forward through the time outs, advertisements and half time.  There has been a program called Major Crimes that I have put on the DVR earlier this year and it is interesting how a hour length series can be watched in less than 40 minutes (thereabouts)

There are only three more home games left for the hawks and I hope to see them all.  One of them gets in the way of the National Anthem at Washburn but I can miss one of the two games no sweat.  The fun one for me will be the Shrine Circus on Sunday.  I have a couple of ideas to introduce to the guys.  There was an excellent chorus at the Hawks game Saturday and they varied the sound so well that it sent chills up my spine.  I think the Chorus wants to blast the sound and it isn't bad but if you start the last stanza quiet the end is greater with the volume.  

This last Friday, a quartet from the chorus sang to several people for Valentine's day.   I drove the group and  took pictures.  I probably could have sung but the replacement Bass had worked hard to sing with them and I know he loves to sing so I let him.  Isn't that what good friends are for?




Where has the time Gone?

This week has been a blur doing the taxes and recovering from this darned crud.  I worked on a string of figures until my eyes bled and then realized that I had used the wrong number and now have to re do it.  It is the repeated manipulation of numbers that gets to me.  The talking to people is a blast for me and numbers just challenge me.

Today, Barb is working the Lawn and Garden Show and I will go to the Jayhawk game alone.   I may stop and see if a ticket scalper has a better seat to trade for two tickets.  I wasn't sure that our Valentines day Quartet would be free today and it worked out that most of our business was yesterday.  I hope she comes home from her day in better shape than I did yesterday.  All I did was drive and taker care of a few administrative matters and it just wore me out.  She is a week behind me in the illness and I hope she does better than I did.

I ordered a new carburetor for the 57 and it has not been warm enough to get out in the storage building and put it on.  I sure hope it helps the motor run a lot smoother.  This spring I will probably put a set of disc brakes and a rack and steering system on it.  I am going to try to get it back on the road and drive it more often.   I really love the 57 Chevy and there is just no need to not use it. 

For some reason there is a bunch of old WWII movies on TV and like a nut I cannot not watch them.  Westerns and war movies are my kind of movies.  Throw in an action flick now and then and I am happy. 

Oh well, I need to get moving.  Perhaps tomorrow I can spend a little more time.



Damn Cowboys

Well J-Hawk fans, the OK-State team hung in there in the first half and then slogged their way back in the second half for a victory.  It still leaves the Hawks in First place but the gap gets closer and closer.  This is the way Big XII fans expect the race to go.  There is just under half of the season to go.  With Wichita State still leading the Missouri Valley and KU leading the Big XII Kansas is a good place for the basketball to bounce.  Not sure what has happened to K-State as they were down preseason and then did well in the early conference race.  They have just stunk up the joint the last few games.  Texas who was way down just shut them out yesterday. 

The good news here at Rabbit Run is that I am on the cure and Barb is just really starting to suffer from the crud.  She is at least a week later into the course  than I am.  Perhaps Monday she will break down and go to the Doctor.  That is something she is not prone to do.  I really hate to see her sick. 

I went out to the metal building yesterday and took some pictures of the 57.  It really has my juices flowing and I am just waiting for the weather to break so I can get it out and running well.  Here is a few of the pictures:
Home on the Farm
Front end peeking out from under the cover
Side View 2dr Hardtop
Crager Mags with spinners
Moving on with the day.  Have a great Sunday.



Round Ball day

This morning the Master Gardner asked me what was on my agenda today?  I had mentioned that KU played Oklahoma State and the K-State played Texas.  I guess my hints were too subtle.  Dear, between the hours of 1 and five, I will watch round ball and perhaps take a nap during the proceedings.   This is all in an effort to regain my health from the creeping crud that had overtaken my life for the last three weeks.  (Good excuses sometimes work)

I have started the annual Income Tax war.  I start by taking everything out of the file (2nd drawer down in the kitchen desk) and begin to sort it.  I now have about 12 little piles and I then sort them by date.  Sometime in the next day or so I will dig out the bank statements from Jan 2014 that were put in the 2013 Tax filing.  I will keep the Jan 2015 bank statements in the 2014 file until next year. 

One of the first things I do is to do an overall balance sheet.  I put the current value of the investments and things I own on one sheet and see if I am moving in the right direction.  Even  making some good decisions for others has kept me moving the right direction.  I tend to be conservative and the new $8,000 roof did not change the appraised value of one of my rental homes.  It should but I didn't make that change.  The new storage building here at Rabbit Run was also not added to the value.  Oh well.   One of the changes was that the 50 Ford went away this year and to a happy home over in Missouri. 

One of these days, there will be a better way to scare deer away from the roads.  Last night my son called and said that he managed to hit one on his way home from work.  He doesn't have any idea how much damage it caused but he will need a new right front fender and possibly some grill work.  He knows we will be able to loan him a car for a week or so while his is getting fixed.  Oh well, what are parent's for if not to help.  That costs him a few moments of guidance now and then.

When I go from my blog to the "Next Blog" after posting the new one, it takes me to crafty, artsy- Fartsy blogs that I don't think fits the theme of mine.   No, I don't really know what the theme of this blog is, cause it just flows out of my mind and finger tips as I compose each day.  The part I don't like is that once Blogger assigns a category for the next blog, it wants to stay there. 

Have you ever thought about what is the value of the personal property you own?   Having gone through a tornado in 83, I have an idea that it is a lot more than you might think.  You scoff?  Think about your cameras, the TV's, the furniture and down to the smallest appliances you own and I am sure that it mounts up way more than you might think.  One way my insurance company tells me to do it is to take the digital camera and walk from room to room taking pictures.  Take that SD card out and put it in a fire proof safe.  Best to put it in a safety Deposit box but right now I don't have one.  Our local bank closed and we just have our important papers in fire proof safes.  Oh well.

Better go get cleaned up to meet the day.  I haven't shaved for a couple of days and I look like a hobo that has lived on the street for a few days.  I wish I felt that good.



Mo' Betta

Last night I finally broke down and took one of those nighttime cold meds with 10% alcohol.   Even with the naps I took yesterday, I think I slept almost 10 hours.   I can see the Master Gardener is a little better even though there are stereo coughs now and then.  No fevers that I can tell for both of us. 

This morning there was an article about Title IX and the Universities in the BIG XII.   I am at a loss as to how anyone can make that work.   Consider K-State.  They have a big football program and a Basketball team that sells out both stadiums.  I'll bet their woman's basketball teams have enough trouble getting a crowd as does KU.  When you consider what they pay in costs and the revenues they generate how could you ever make parity work?   There is an old saying - Figures Lie and Liars figure.  Perhaps if you consider it on a per player basis, the amount given in scholarship to each player might be easy but I'll bet not to the entire program.   I'm glad I don't have to get in the middle of that.

Speaking of strange things.  I have been watching a lot of BIG XII Men's basketball on Saturdays and Wednesdays on TV.  Throw in an occasional Monday evening and I probably have seen a game played in every venue.  It is always a surprise that the stadiums are never full unless it is KU in a visit.  There are a few rivalries that rival KU and Iowa State but even then I see seats available.  Never at KU.  For longer than they have held the Championship (10 Years) they have been sold out.  Barb and I have season tickets and have to sit two rows apart to watch the games.  It might be that she doesn't like to sit by me as I flinch during the game but I hope not.  After 46+ years she knows me by now.  lets see 2015 - 1968, on the 11th of Feb it will be 47 years.  I have been married 71% or my life.

Yesterday started with the temperature in the single digits.  Overnight the wind shifted to the south and it didn't get colder at all.  Sometime today it is predicted to be in the 60's and tomorrow in the 70's.  I think I will get a lawn chair and sit outside on the deck some.  A little sunshine can't hurt.

One of my nieces said she couldn't find her glasses and said a little prayer to get some help.  She said that the next place she looked there they were.  I am glad that she feels it works for her.  I am reminded of the time in Vietnam we were on a lonely road in the middle of no where in a convoy and it got dark before we could get back to our camp.  SGT Trerratola kept saying, "Just you and me Lord, Just you and me!"  I didn't feel the hand of god that night, but I didn't die either.  I guess what ever works, works.

One of the reasons I am pretty sure that we will get out and get rolling is that the Master gardener doesn't have any books to read.  It will be interesting to see just how long she waits to want to leave.  My prediction is sometime after the Price is Right finishes. 

Yesterday I slipped out for a short time and stopped at Dillon's.   They have oranges two for a dollar and they are the best I have had this year.  They are juicy, sweet and are great for eating.  Barb likes to slice the ends off, slice the orange lengthwise and then slice the two sections into rounds.  That makes the easy to eat and I'll bet we have both eaten two a day for a week.  Great taste and a good source of vitamin C.    

Have a great day out there.  I hope to be on the mend soon and back singing my butt off.  On by the way, this crud has almost destroyed my sense of taste and I'll bet I am down 5 lbs. 



A Bad Day

In the previous post, I neglected to say that as a recovered drunk, I wake up pretty much every day feeling about as good as I will for the rest of the day.  To describe the bad day, I had to start with a terrible hangover.  I am not sure what I had to drink the but I do remember we ran out of tonic and started to make gin and Alka-Seltzer somewhere the night before.    I don't have a clue if it helped or hurt but I was really sick that morning.

To make it all worse, I had to go to school.  I went out to the car and there in the driveway was my car with a flat tire.  Yep, you got it, the spare was still flat from the last time I had a flat.  I had a gas station about two blocks from my home so I carried the best one down there to have it fixed.  Did I ever tell you the story about the farmer that carried a small pig to market?  When he got there, the scales said 15 lbs.   He said let it sit there for a while it will get heavier.  With a hangover that damn little tire weighed a ton and it didn't roll at all.  I carried it all the way there and fortunately had enough money to have the tube patched and I was on my way back home.

The Mini Minor had a battery in the trunk and it had been going dead a lot.  I am not sure if there was not enough juice coming from the generator or a short in the system.  The good news was that it was such a small car that I could just push it out of the driveway get a rolling start and it would start fine. That was true "Most Days."   This morning it did not start and I rolled it all the way down to the corner and Nada, Nothing, zilch...  

In our neighborhood, there was a Highway Patrol Trooper that I had met.  He drove by and helped me put a pair of jumper cables on the Mini and it started right off.  He had given me a stern warning that because of all the electronic equipment in his car I needed to be real careful not to let the cables touch or it would fry his alternator.  After I got in my car, I saw him carry one end of the cables back over to his car and just as he got by the engine compartment I saw the ends of the cable touch and sparks flew.  Yep, he fried that alternator.   I quickly left the scene.

Just as I passed the gas station I had just visited, I saw that there was not nearly enough gas to get back home let alone to school.   I knew that I only had about 75 cents in my pocket so I got 75 cents worth of gas.  Back then, it was at least a couple of gallons and I was getting at least 40 MPG.   I did not worry that there would not be enough gas for a short trip to school.  

I looked at my watch and realized that I had spent so much time getting ready that I had missed two of the three classes that day.  I had the most horrible headache and the thought of food made me want to hurl.   That was right the point that I went home and went back to bed. 

The only think that what made this day worse was that when I woke up later on, I didn't feel one bit better and twice in one day I had a hangover.  I wish I could tell you that a couple of aspirin and a little food made it better.  It didn't.


Ideal Day

This is a day dream brought to life.  With the temperature outside at 5 degrees this morning and I am fairly house bound with a cough that could call moose in the woods of Maine, I have time and just enough energy to let me create this day dream.  Here Goes, put on your boots as it may get a little deep.

I spent most of my life in the military, well really over 30 years of the 67 I have been alive were spent in uniform.   So the early start to the day should be not surprise to people.  I would wake up about daybreak and get a big old cuppa coffee from the guys in the mess tent.  I would make one swing around the perimeter of the property to surveil signs of who and what happened last night or since my last trip around.   This morning it was three deer and two dogs.  I went out to the gate are of my property and fetched the paper.  For the next 15-30 minutes I will examine the events of the day and consume another big cuppa coffee. 

My ideal breakfast is Ham and two over easy with hash browns and a side of dry wheat toast.  OK, I really like my eggs over medium now but that was my order for years.  The best ham is one of those slices of country ham at least 1/4 of an inch thick and with the bone in. 

Now'a days I will adjourn to the basement  for a time to thing about what I read in the paper and discussed with the Master gardener.   Right now we both have coughs and feel like that dry toast I mentioned earlier.  We don't dislike each other in this condition but it isn't that touchy feely feeling right now.  Most of the contact is to confirm a fever or not.  Well, here I sit for a while.  I will check Facebook, G-Mail and then open this blog.

We have fallen into a rut of watching Drew Carrie and the price is right after 10:30.   We like to watch the contestants spin the wheel and then go into the grand prize phase.  Other than Boats, we do a pretty good job getting within a couple of thousand dollars.  OK, those Damn Fiats also jam us up as I will bid only what I would pay for one and that isn't much. 

After I have given the MG a 15 minute warning, we will jump in the crown Vic and make a road trip to town.  Generally unless we have something special like a library run for books, we will end up in Wal*Mart.  A couple of laps around the store and we will always manage to find a thing or two to put in the basket.  By this time I will have consumed a couple of cups of coffee and a glass or two of water and I will need to make a pit stop.  

The MG knows that I love to grab something simple for lunch and there is pretty much an endless list of places to do that.  If they serve a good salad so much the better.  both of the Deli companies are here now along with Panera Bread.  We have a new Five Guys but their lack of a garden salad hurts their standing as the go to place.  I save them for the days when I am out and about by myself.  On those days I will also throw in a visit to one of the Big Box Hardware stores.  

Throw in a trim at the local barber and a fill up of the car and it gets pretty complete.  I have been known to make a dash past the car wash if the forecast calls for a day or two of dry weather.   The afternoons generally include a nap somewhere between 2 and 4 PM.   We do our best to be able to watch Jeopardy at 5.   It always amazes me where some of the answers come from.  It is generally like a scavenger hunt of brain cells that activate with an obtuse answer and then re-hide to cover my tracks.  Here is where I take the 57 Chevy out for a spin just to rotate the tires.

Somewhere in my past because I started my work days early, I started cooking.  I am sure that the increased praise of my culinary expertise, I just started to like it.  I notice that our son is also always ready to throw down on some new recipe.  Like me, he doesn't like to do clean up. 

Our evenings are spent reading or watching TV.  I would never spend as much money on houses as the people there do.  I am content to live here at Rabbit Run and dream about far away places and basketball games in warm climates.  

If this is my fantasy, I will throw in here that I love NCAA Men's basketball and the preseason is good but the Conference is wonderful and is the prelude to the Big Dance.   I love to see where the hawks play and always fill out a bracket with them in the finals. 

Oh well, throw in a good night's sleep here and it's off to another great day.   Hope that you have clear skies, warm breezes and money left at the end of the month.



Still Sick

There is just no mercy for this round of colds.  I thought I was fairly over it last week but it seems to be back and this time I have a fever.  Not much of one but a fever none the less.  The really bad part is that my ribs really hurt from the coughing.   If my body could make up its mind to either drip out the front or run down my throat it might help.  Can you tell I am not a very patient patient?

Being a College Basketball fan I am really not into Pro Football.  I will flip past a channel to see the score but really don't care who won the Super Bowl.  I did go to Lawrence to watch the Hawks beat K-State.  They host Iowa State tonight and I am staying home.  I probably won't go sing either. 

I am nearing the time I have all the Income Tax information and will start working on the taxes this week.  The darned software has cost me close to $200.00.   a big share of that is the one program for the Partnership.  The sad part is that that program won't do either my  Federal or State Tax.  Oh well, moving on.

Lately I have been getting a lot of Facebook posts from the Classic Chevrolet group and I am really thinking that I need to do something with the 57.  I either need to fix it up or sell it.   The real difference is that even if I sell it I don't have a better place to invest the money I would make.  I guess I could pay taxes with the money but even that option is not the best.



My Worst Date

Over my years of growing up in Wichita, I lived out on the East side of town near the Beech Aircraft Plant.  In fact I considered myself a Son of a Beech.....Crafter as my father worked at Beech for over 40 years.  We lived in Travel Air City (Or Dog patch)  as it came to be called because my dad could walk to work at Beech and we could walk to school at Minneha.  I attended Minneha from Kindergarten to the Ninth Grade.   Anyone from our neighborhood was well known by everyone and we attended the same school so there were few secrets between us. 

My sister's husband had a cousin from the Dallas area and she was going to be in town for a couple of weeks one summer.  I asked her out so I could convince her to date a friend of mine.  We went out to do the typical Saturday night things of driving or dragging Douglas Avenue.  I showed her the sights of Wichita as much as I could and on one of the loops on the east side of town we turned around in the Sandy's (a burger joint) and were going to then go back west.  Just as I turned into the driveway of Sandy's, out of the air came this object flying towards my windshield.  Plop, a plunger hit my windshield and stuck right there in the middle of it.  I pulled into one of the parking places to find my Friend Ron had thrown the plunger.  Now, put yourself in my place, how the heck was I going to convince a girl to go out with a guy that spent his spare time working on throwing a plunger at passing cars. 

Shortly after that, I took that girl home and that was the one and only date we ever went on.  By the way, my friend became known as "Bone Head" later on.  He did survive a trip to Vietnam and he is the second oldest friend I have.  I am sure that that was the worse date because I don't even remember the name of the girl I took out on that date.


My Best Date

In 1967, I was stationed at Fort Irwin, CA and in case you don't know where that is, it is in the middle of "No and Damn Where."  The only available women there were a couple of twin daughters of the Post Commander.  They were Jail Bait and I had no interest in finding myself on a permanent tour of the Displinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth.  One night, one of the guys in our Bachelor Officer's Quarters (BOQ), Dick, was talking to a girl friend on the phone.  I asked him if it was the girl from his home town of the one from Barstow. 

He told me to shut my pie hole as they didn't know anything about the other one.  Oh, by the way this girl was from Barstow.  I asked him if she could set me up with a local girl for a date.  We worked out the details and I had a blind date for the next Friday.  My friend Dick and I met the girls for our date.  I am not sure if it was the length of time I had not been around a young lady, but Barbara was a cute petite brunette that was a lot like me and easy to talk to.  I think we went bowling and I fell in love with the little hop Barb had when she threw her bowling ball. 

A part of this story I have left out was that on Sunday of that weekend I was leaving for Panama to attend the Army's Jungle Warfare School at Fort Clayton.  Barb did accept a second date on Saturday night and I really don't remember what we did on that date.  What I did find out that her address was a mile west and a mile south of the Union Depot in Yermo.  It too was in the middle of now where. 

I left for Panama with a promise to call when I got back home.  After two weeks in the Jungle, I came home and was promptly put in the Hospital.  I came home with a case of Dengue Fever and had little control of the next week.  They ran test after test and had no clue what ailed me.  Finally one of the Doctors came to visit and said that there was nothing at Fort Irwin that would cause the symptoms I had.  I was just able to tell him that I had been in Panama and he immediately took me out of quarantine.  Dengue Fever, or Break Bone Fever is a disease that is epidemic in the jungle of Panama. It is a virus that feels a lot like terminal arthritis with a high fever.

Do the math, two weeks in Panama and another week in the hospital and it was a month between contacts with Barbara.   I am pretty sure that she had written me off as another adventure that went no where.  She was a little unfriendly when I got to talk to her at her job at the Marine Base near Yermo.  When I explained to her what had happened, she relented and agreed to go out with me that weekend.

I grew up in Kansas and had watched the Mickey Mouse club.  There was a lot of talk about Disneyland and I asked Barb if she would like to go there.  To my surprise she agreed to go there and we had a great day.   There was only one rule I had.  There was no riding on anything that went in circles fast or up and down real fast.  No tea cups or the Matterhorn for someone that had just spent a week or so in a Hospital bed.  What really did happen was that I got to meet a fine young lady with plans on what she wanted out of life.  She was going to finish her degree in Education, teach school and have a family.  The drive down to Anaheim was a good chance to talk. 

For a young guy who had no idea what he really wanted, it was very neat to find someone that was sure of what she wanted.  I had some experience planning in the Military but no idea that I should apply that planning to my life.  Had I not met her, I probably would have stayed in the Army until I was riffed out because I didn't have my degree finished.  Over the next few months, I grew to love that fine smart young lady and I had hopes of convincing her to marry me prior to going to Vietnam.

She agreed and we were married on February 11, 1968 at the Chapel of the Bells in Las Vegas, Nevada.   For the next 46 years, I have loved that fine lady and just like she planned. She finished her degree, taught school and we raise a family.   We are now retired and I would not change a thing about our life together.  The best Blind Date I ever had was the best thing that ever happened to me.