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25 Jan 15 –"Manspirin"
to the Rescue
As I’m writing this,
a few miles east from where I sit the Barrett Jackson car auction is
having its biggest day of the week. It’s covered on Discovery Channel
during the day and Velocity TV at night. However, if there’s one
thing that should be understood about the BJ car auction it’s that
it’s not an auction. It’s an “experience.” Yes,
a lot of high and low-buck cars cross the auction block, and a bazillion
dollars changes hands but that’s not a reason for attending in
First an apology: my main computer was down for three weeks, so this
is late and this is a little out of date. Amazingly, although my start-up
disc was a terrabyte in size, I filled it too full and it took major
surgery to get me back on line. My total storage is now five terrabytes,
three in the start-up disc. Amazing!
Now, back to Barrett-Jackson:
The last couple of years we haven’t gone and, to be honest, I’ve
been in some sort of pressure-funk for the last couple of weeks courtesy
of a newly overhauled, 80-hour airplane engine that had to go back to
be rebuilt again. Although they found nothing wrong, it still needed
to be flown a minimum of three hours a day, every day, to break it in
again before inbound students show up tomorrow (Sunday). Plus, magazine
deadline alligators were cruising the moat around the house. So, the
thought of fighting our way through crowds versus making headway on stuff
that absolutely had to be done, didn’t appeal to me. Which, by
the way, pissed me off. How dare the world allow making a living become
an obstacle to having a little fun! Damn!
The Redhead, however, had other ideas. She got on my case and I soon
found myself gritting my teeth as we pulled into the Barrett-Jackson
parking lot. I was not a happy camper and was possibly the only person
on the huge site with a tension headache (except for car sellers, you
just know they were anxious).
Then the experience of being at a major event built around a much-loved
interest began to work its magic.
Barrett Jackson covers a site that’s about (this is a guess) two
blocks by three blocks and that’s not counting the really remote
parking lots. At least half of the main area is under tent. It is frigging
HUGE!! The atmosphere is a cross between carnival, circus and a car lover’s
wet dream. You name it and you’ll find it in the five large storage/display
tents where the cars to be sold are stored and then cycled across the
stage in the huge arena where the actual auction takes place. How about
a smallish, 1950’s school bus restored to the smallest detail except
that it sits about four feet off the ground on a four-wheel drive chassis
pushed by a blown big block of some kind. Or how about the 1966 Super
Snake, the 427 Cobra Carroll Shelby had built for himself. Phoenix uber-collector
Ron Pratte paid $5.5mm (that’s MILLION) for it a few years ago
and this year he decided to dump his entire collection.
The 140 car Pratte Collection included stuff I didn’t know he owned.
This even though his hangar and museum is just across the runway from
where the maintenance on my airplane is often done. Among other oddball
items he had was the Beverly Hillbillies movie car that just sold for
$275,000. A porcelain and neon Harley-D sign went for $86,000! Money
came out of the woodworks by the truckload.
While the BJ cars are super interesting, after a while you get “car
blind:” you’ve seen so many you actually start to lose interest
in them. They have to be something really out of the ordinary to catch
your eye. You can only see so many $100,000 ’57 Chevy convertibles
and sports cars so exotic you can’t identify half of them. It’s
not long before you become overwhelmed.
I was drawn to an Austin Mini station wagon that was towing a finely
finished mahogany hydroplane. Also liked some of the oddball trucks folks
had restored and were hoping they’d make money on, which, usually
wasn’t the case. I saw lots and lots of cars sell for prices that
were about half of what it would cost to acquire and restore or modify
the car. There were definitely some deals to be had on the field. If
a guy had $20-$25k to burn, he could do quite well.
Truth is, we go to BJ as much for the exhibitors as we do for the cars.
At least half the tented area is a swamp of exhibitors hoping to cash
in on the herds of high rollers that were cruising the grounds. There
was zero ticky-tacky stuff being sold, but there was more non-car stuff
than there was automobilia. Want 40 acres of land so high in the Rockies
that your only neighbors would be mountain goats? How about $10,000 adjustable
beds? Lots and lots of folks were selling workshop benches that were
chromed and painted so nicely, you’d have a hard time not feeling
guilty the first time you got them dirty.
I broke down and bought a fairly inexpensive throatless metal shear that
I could probably get cheaper at Harbor Frieght, but it was there, I had
the $120, and they’d deliver it to the house for that, tax included.
The net result of rubbing shoulders (and everything else) with the sweaty
masses who were attracted to the car spectacle was that I was in a great
mood. Of course, it’s impossible to feel funky, if you’ve
just bought a tool. That’s a guaranteed “manspirin.” bd
4 Jan 15 –2015:
So far, so good
Here it is, the fourth day of the new year
and so far nothing catastrophic has gone wrong. At least not in my world. I
have, however, decided I’m not sure I like having our two major holidays
on Thursday. I found myself reacting strangely to four-day weekends.
Actually, looking back over the holiday weekends, here I am, just a few days
after New Year’s eve and I don’t remember any of the holidays having
happened. Somehow, everything being on Thursday left that uncomfortable Friday
gap where I felt guilty, just as I did in highschool when I was ignoring my
homework. I just knew a term paper was due and I wasn’t working on it.
Which definitely wasn’t true.
With no kids in the house, Christmas comes very close to being just another
day with a big dinner at the end of it. However, for some reason, knowing that
most of the world is taking the day off and unlikely to call me, I seize on
the morning and most of the early afternoon to do something that lets me know
I’m getting ahead. In this case it was writing an entire EAA article,
a fairly complex one, in one sitting.
Being able to write something beginning to end is almost unheard of in our
house because of constant interruptions in the form of phone calls and business
e-mails. However, the only way that happened this time was by turning off my
e-mail, because so many other gray dog friends were in the same boat. Dozens
of them were sitting at their computers chatting back and forth because, it
seems that after a certain age, Christmas morning is pure dead time. No ball
games yet. No kids. Dinner isn’t until mid afternoon. So, many default
to the computer, as most of us do, when life slows down.
I had seen the two four-day weekends coming and I was determined to dedicate
every available hour to making massive progress on The Roadster. So, with that
in mind, I spent most of December getting all my articles done, getting Flight
Journal finished and generally clearing the slate so I could indulge myself.
However, as things slowed down on Christmas, and then New Years, eve, I quickly
found I couldn’t force myself out into the shop. I’m apparently
not very good at indulging myself. After nearly 45 years of self-employment,
I, like most people in my position, feel as if free time has to be earned.
And it is earned by TCB (taking care of business). So, at least four to six
hours of every day of both holidays were spent cranking out future articles,
pitching publishers for new articles and planning out 2015. That however put
me out in the shop by around 11 o’clock every day feeling as if I had
earned it, so, yes, I did make, what to me, is huge progress on the little
car. I’m definitely closing in on putting it on the road.
New Years Eve here is always a traditional event: Marlene buys more clams,
crab legs, shrimp and scallops than any ten people can possibly eat, fixes
them and we spend the evening gorging ourselves. Then we struggle to stay awake
long enough to watch the ball come down in NYC (2200 hours our time). We doze
on and off in front of the TV for another half hour or so and then go to bed.
Not terribly exciting but very comfortable and satisfying.
I think it’s interesting that, once you give up going out on New Years
Eve, eventually a lot of us wind up starting our year on New York time, not
local time, and watching that silly ball come down. Every year it’s
almost painful watching people standing around Times Square freezing their
butts off so full of enthusiasm and hope. It’s also amusing watching
20-somethings in their ridiculously skimpy dresses with boobs overflowing while
braving the temps in hopes of getting face time on national TV. Oh, well, you’re
only young once.
New Years day is a recovery period for most people, but it’s a tradition
with me to roll into the office no later than 0530. That’s when I attack
all the tiny, inconsequential stuff I’ve let slide (answering
e-mails I’ve ignored, packing books for mailing that I have let pile
up, clean my desk, etc.) and generally clear the decks for the new year. After
about four hours of that, I’m even with the World and a load of guilt
is off my back. But, having a Friday after that is awkward. I tried working
in the shop but it felt unnatural, so I gave up and made it into a normal workday
and didn’t hit the shop solidly until Saturday. That felt right.
Anyway, even though I barely remember the holidays, as we’re standing
here on the brink of a new year, I’m painfully aware of the way time
is running away from us all. We have to make it all count in every phase of
our lives. This includes nurturing and rebuilding family relationships where
it’s needed. Then we need to keep a watchful eye on our futures and prepare
and plan so we’re not caught unaware. This includes keeping track of
what our leaders are, and are not, doing on local, state and national levels.
However, we need to do this in a way that doesn’t include self-induced
heartburn. In that area, we’re often our own worse enemies.
The New Year in every life is a clean slate and it’s up to us to write
on it and make it read the way we want it to. bd
Honestly New Year
How was your Christmas? And how does the New
Year look to you? Graydog Christmases don’t have kids running around
and being the focus of everything, so, the day is basically just a day. In
some ways that sucks. But, not totally.
We’ve pretty much stopped giving gifts to each other primarily because
all of us, from my wife to my own kids, have pretty much anything any of us
can ask for. My daughter, however, ignored that dictum and stole my day with
two fairly simple gifts. One was a little 50-page photo book she created through
Shutterfly.com in which four-year-old Alice acted out the 12 Days of Christmas
in pictures. Besides being a major piece of production work, it showcased a
granddaughter that we don’t see nearly as often as we wish or should.
It was absolutely killer and really showed The Alice personality and The Jennifer
creativity. I love it so much I ordered two more. One for my office and one
for my older sister.
The other gift gives me the ability to say something not too many fathers can
say: “My daughter gave me a stuffed bat for Christmas.”
I opened it (it has it’s own glass, display bell) and start laughing
immediately. Marlene summed it up perfectly with her first comment, “Well…she
really knows her father.” And, even though we have our differences, she
does, indeed, know that aspect of me well. So, now I have two bats in my office.
Doesn’t everyone? I feel so blessed! J
As for the new year, it’s so unpredictable, I don’t even know what
to say on the national/international level. Between Putin, ISIS, our Administration
and the administrations of just about every other country, the possibilities
are endless. However, for whatever reason, I don’t see any of them having
catastrophic results here. Probably the most dangerous thing here is the way
OPEC is countering the Dakota’s oil shale effect by dropping prices to
the point that the US oil boom might go into the red. Yeah, we’re getting
cheaper gas but it may cost us much more in the long run. This, however, I’m
certain will sort itself out.
Incidentally, I think it’s almost comical what appears to be happening
over the Sony cyberattack: it now appears it may not have been N. Korea, as
the FBI swore it was, but a pissed-off Sony employee. Oops!
Certainly one of the more upsetting trends is the anti-cop thing. The flames
here are being fanned by the media and various organizations and……..
Dammit! You know what? I don’t want to talk about this kind of stuff
any more! I’m bone tired of it! There is so much BS floating around that
it makes me feel as if I’m wading through quicksand, unable to make any
headway because of all the stuff that I’m letting bog me down. That’s
simply not the way I want to start my year.
I don’t know if you noticed or not, but Thinking Out Loud is now downloading
much, much quicker than it has been in the last year or so. That’s because
I built a new, corruption-free file and have been slowly populating it with
blogs from the last year. I’m only a little way into that, but, in picking
through the blogs to put up, I’ve found they are overwhelmingly political
and down beat. They’re not fun to read. And they’re sure as hell
not fun to write. Some of them are basically depressing and reading them is
hard work. And, as has been pointed out by my kids and friends, I appear angry.
And I don’t want to be that way. I don’t want 2015 to be an angry
year for me. And, it’s going to be, if I continue on this track.
I need to start thinking about me, my life, my family and my friends and less
about oh-my-God stuff that’s over the horizon. I’m wasting the
years I have left worrying about stuff I shouldn’t worry about and I’m
preaching to a choir that already knows every single thing I can possibly say
in those areas. I want to go back to being happy, crazy and full of fun.
There are lots of good things happening in the world, but I’m letting
the politics and media blind me to them. And, if it’s happening to me,
it’s happening to others. In fact, I think dwelling on the negatives
has become an unhealthy national mindset and it’s easy to see why: spend
a few minutes surfing the news channels and see how many upbeat stories you
see being covered.
I’VE HAD IT and the resolution I’m making for 2015 (being mindful
that I never make resolutions) is to try to focus more on the good and less
on the bad.
So…picture me smiling!
There, don’t I look better and don’t you feel better?
See, I knew it would work. Have a good one! bd
21 Dec 14 –Solstice Sensibilities
It’s 0430 on December 21. Today the
winter solstice occurs and I feel the need to sacrifice something to celebrate: ‘must
be that my English heritage includes a little druid. So, as I’m typing
this, I’m sacrificing an open face turkey sandwich. Does that count?
Will the Gods look favorably on that? ‘Hope so because they’ve
been screwing with us of late.
We’ve had a two-week run of semi-overcast days. Some barely getting above
60. Gloom in the desert is not becoming. My newly overhauled, and very expensive,
airplane engine continues to exhibit varying degrees of sickness requiring
a mechanical physician’s attention about once a week. Both of my kids
have essentially disowned me because of what I’ve said in blogs. Marlene
was standing on a plastic stool that died right at that moment, dropping her
on to the driveway and chipping a bone in her foot, so she’s hobbling
around in a big boot thingie. Deadlines are eating me a live timewise so the
Roadster no longer recognizes me.
Super minor things, when measured against the big picture, but aggravating
nonetheless. So, I decided to dedicate this sandwich’s life to the Gods
of Nuisance on this, the winter solstice, in the hopes of getting some respite.
Then, I made the mistake of Googling “winter solstice” and realized
I knew even less about my world than I realized and my sacrifice was probably
Stonehenge, the Mayans and many other ancient civilizations that have miraculously
constructed temples where two windows line up with the sun right at the moment
of solstice, are basically full of crap. Winter Solstice in the northern hemisphere
is when the sun is at its lowest point and, because of the Earth’s 23.5
degree tilt and changing orbital speeds, it almost never happens at exactly
the same time. Moreover, it doesn’t even happen on the same day every
time, which was real news to me. So, the ancients weren’t holding a celebration
and sacrificing turkey sandwiches at exactly the same time, same day every
year. There were probably herds of them sitting around in the grass, playing
poker or whatever, watching the sun creep up on their Windows 1.0 sundial thingie
and, whenever they saw the sun line up in the windows, someone blew a rams
horn or threw a spear into the air and everyone started drinking, screwing
everything in sight, yelling and screaming and generally behaving like a frat
Considering that I’m a pilot and an engineer, I’m a little embarrassed
that I assumed the solstices (summer and winter) always happen at the same
time every year. I don’t think I’ve ever really thought about it,
but, when you do, you realize it only makes sense that the exact time wanders
around a little. Oh well, at least I’m not too old to learn something
Just FYI, here in Phoenix, the solstice will happen this afternoon, Sunday
21, 2014 at 4:03 pm. Do I have to eat another turkey sandwich at that time
to make the sacrifice count? FYI-you can forget about using those times as
any kind of guideline because next year it’ll happen at 9:48 pm. The
real head wrecker is that in 2040, it’ll happen a day earlier, on the
20th at 11:33 pm. Somehow, I don’t think I’ll be worrying about
sandwich sacrifices for that one. Go to http://www.timeanddate.com/calendar/winter-solstice.html,
so you know how to time your local sacrifices.
Incidentally, for those who have thought about sacrificing a politician to
the Gods, don’t bother. Those never count because “sacrifice” means
you’re giving up something you value. I value a turkey sandwich. Politicians,
not so much.
So, while you’re out there gleefully engaged in whatever pagan ritual
befits your life style, just know you’re probably doing it at the wrong
Also, even us heathens recognize Christmas on the 25th day of the 12th month
and, although we may not buy into the religious aspects of it, I, for one,
am very glad the religion and the celebration around it exists. Anything that
gives mankind a code of exemplary conduct and brings the family together is
So, go to Merry
Christmas for our best wishes to all of you. bd
14Dec 14 –Ashes
I’ve been sicker’n crap and working
my butt off for nearly two weeks. A miserable combination. There, that’s
my excuse for missing last week. In the midst of all this Marlene and I somehow
started talking about what to do with our ashes, when this whole deal is done.
That’s a weird
topic that brought up some unanswered questions that I’m betting a lot
of folks think about.
The first question for us was one you don’t hear often in these kinds
of conversations: “Do we include Meezer?” Meaning, do we include
his ashes with ours, the way we will the rest of our furry kids? We both said, “sure”,
he finally came around.
Meezer is a big Siamese that we inherited from Marlene’s oldest and was
a first rate gangster initially. He would have nothing to do with anyone, showed
a ton of attitude and absolutely brutalized Smoki Joe, the huge, soft-hearted,
gray that has zero self confidence. Meezer was a Siamese through and through.
However, the more he saw the love that blanketed the other cats, little by
little he became more human and now is constantly begging for scratches, insists
on sleeping on top of us and leaves Smoki pretty much alone. Just shows that
enough love conquers even the most sinister of characters.
We’ve always said that we want our ashes mixed together along with those
of all the loving, canine/feline kids who have shared our life with us. I don’t
believe in heaven, but eternity is out there and we can’t imagine spending
eternity without all of those little characters that have made our life what
it is. Each one of them has a corner of our collective heart and we want to
hold them close forever.
There are, however, other thoughts that surround the above, the first being
what do we have done with the ashes? Marlene and I don’t see eye to eye
on this one. She thinks everyone should leave something that marks their having
been here. Specifically, a tombstone others can visit. I disagree.
Marlene’s brother, Tom, has a tombstone here. He died in the most improbable
form of accident you can imagine while in the Army (flew Snakes in VN, but
died from peritonitis when a litter fell and pierced his fresh appendectomy
incision here in the states). He has a widow and a kid or two locally, however,
Marlene is the only one who ever visits him. It’s a Memorial Day ritual
My folks and brother are buried back in Nebraska and, whenever I’m there
I visit, but that’s only about every five years.
I have no one locally who cares enough to visit and I absolutely guarantee
that neither of my kids will visit even once. Grand kids neither. So, why spend
the money on a tombstone or plot? As for leaving a mark that you’ve been
here, I figure my students and my words will have to be my legacy. A marble
slab isn’t needed.
I originally had high ideals about where my ashes would go, including a pinch
being mixed with the smoke oil in a Pitts doing a show at Oshkosh. Seems fitting
and I’d still like to see it done. Otherwise, I’d just as soon
I was spread out over the Arizona high country, preferably over an Indian ruin.
Spirits meeting spirits and all that.
Also, there’s the thoroughly practical side of the combined-ashes thing:
will a cemetery even let two people’s ashes be buried in a single plot?
Will they let animals be buried in their sacred, but very expensive, ground?
I’m betting they wouldn’t be too crazy about a stone that reads:
The Davisson Family: Eternally United
And the list is bound to get longer.
I’m fairly confident it’s going to be a decade or so before anyone
will have to make any of these decisions, but I’m the king of worrying
about things that don’t need to be worried about. Just part of my wiring.
I was also an Eagle Scout at a time, when that meant something, and our motto
was “Be Prepared.” So, just bear with me. bd
30 Nov 14 –Thanksgiving
got the Crap Knocked Out of it
You know what? Just being alive in America
is really tiring me out. It seems as if once a week (sometimes twice) we have
a new crisis to deal with. It didn’t used to be this way. Yes, we’d
have problems here and there but our news channels weren’t delivering
an almost daily offering of new stuff that to most of us makes no sense and
can be pretty damn upsetting. This has been one of those weeks.
Between BHO’s new immigration Executive Order (EO), also known as a monarch
style mandate, and Ferguson, both of which appear to be specifically designed
to further dismantle the USA, my brain is ready to explode. Thanksgiving came
and went almost unnoticed. It is, however, so very American that news of Black
Friday shopping (how did that get past without being branded racist?) knocked
some of the other crap off the news channels…temporarily.
About Ferguson, let’s get something absolutely straight: if a 6’4”,
290 pound, 18-year-old “kid” roughed up a cop while he was sitting
in his car and then appeared to be charging him (according to the more valid
witness statements), he’d be dead regardless of what color he was. No
one, cop or otherwise, would have behaved any differently. Ferguson-the-event
wasn’t about race. It was about dealing with a “perceived threat” that
was the result of questionable physical behavior.
It’s an absolute tragedy that a kid died, but, Brown had 80 pounds on
the cop, who was also 6’4”, and, if he hadn’t been stopped,
it was going to end badly for the cop, I don’t care how well trained
he might have been. I’m guessing that anyone reading this would have
reacted the same way in the same situation. And the color of the assailant
would have no bearing on the outcome.
Incidentally, reading the trial transcript you have to wonder why perjury charges
weren’t brought against some of the witnesses, some of whom changed their
statements, because they were out-and-out lying. Especially the “shot
him in the back while standing over him”, type that forensics didn’t
even come close to verifying.
Regardless, this thing wouldn’t have blown up the way it has were it
not for 1) on-site aggravations in the form of professional race-baiters like
Sharpton. He is doing the black community so much more harm than good that
it’s hard to believe. The input of the DOJ didn’t help either.
And 2) the presence of news cameras, which, in some cases changed the “protest” into
violent kabuki theater where the attitude was, “You wanna see violent?
Watch this!” Not once do I remember seeing footage of those protesting
peacefully and, believe it or not, there were plenty of those.
Most of what went on wasn’t protesting. You only have to watch the footage
of the market/liquor store being trashed to know that those involved weren’t
protesting anything. They didn’t even appear to be angry about anything.
They were having a great running off with bottles of booze and anything else
that wasn’t nailed down. They weren’t protesters. They were looters,
criminals-at-large doing nothing more than taking advantage of the situation.
Incidentally, why weren’t storeowners standing in front of their businesses
with shotguns? I’d heard rumors that the police had told them not to
do that, but that was never verified. And a few business owners did mount a
guard and it worked out well for them. Looters will always take the low hanging
fruit and are never going to mix it up with even the most fragile form of guard
And then there’s BHO’s immigration executive order and some unintended
consequences hidden therein. At least I “think” they were unintended.
In essence, one of the things the new EO does is give business owners a $3,000
incentive to hire illegals who are being granted work permits over US citizens.
This is because it will now be legal to hire an illegal immigrant, but, since
they don’t qualify for Obamacare, the business owner can’t provide
them health coverage AND the company won’t be fined for not doing so.
If they hire a US citizen and don’t give them coverage, they pay a $3000
fine for each. If they hire an illegal that’s carrying a nice, new work
permit they avoid the $3,000 fine AND the cost of health car. THIS IS NUTS!!
Further, even though the EO supposedly applies only to those parents of legal
permanent residents or citizens (their kids were born here) and have been in
the country illegally for five years (this is a reward for being crafty enough
to successfully avoid being caught for that long) it’s not going to work
out that way. There are already well-established underground businesses that
produce difficult-to-spot phony rent receipts, utility bills, etc. So, as it
stands now, someone has only to make it across the border to one of these document
factories, waltz over to the INS and declare “Hey, I’ve been here
five years and can prove it. Give me my work permit.” If you don’t
think that’s going to be a HUGE magnet to future immigrants, you’ve
been drinking the Kool Aid too long.
And then there was Thanksgiving and just a little respite from reality. It
was in the low-80s here in Phoenix (about 5 degrees above normal) and I had
the back garage door open, a little breeze coming in and classic rock and roll
coming out of the shop radio. I was whittling out little parts for the roadster
(steel grommets for where the shoulder harness comes through the rear bulkhead).
And I couldn’t have been more relaxed and satisfied if I tried.
Regardless of the tons of BS coming down and an overall lack of trust in the
government, we, as a nation and as a people, have a HUGE amount to be thankful
for. So, I guess the best we can do is periodically turn off the news and glory
in the lives we each have built, love our family and friends, and soldier on.
One way or the other, we’ll survive. bd
23 Nov 14 –On
Surviving a President
Oh, Gee: I wonder what Budd’s going to talk about this week? Could it
be the weather? Could it be Syria and/or Iraq? Hmmmm! Do you think he’ll
touch on Obama’s little Wednesday night message to the proletariat (us
common folks) over which he rules? Damn straight Budd will. He/I can hardly
First, let it be said that as much as I’d like to be able to wave a magic
wand and have every illegal person in the US magically transported to their
homeland, that just ain’t gonna happen. The reality is that the numbers
are too big to be dealt with by deportation. It is logistically impossible.
11 Million people would be the equivalent of shipping the combined populations
of 12 states (WY, VT, DC, ND, AK, SD, DE, MT, RI, NH, MN HI), out to a wide
variety of destinations. If illegals wanted to really screw with our heads,
they should all just show up in the Washington Mall agreeing to be deported.
What a mess that would be!
At the same time, there’s no way in hell we should be giving them a short
cut to citizenship any more than we should be giving them benefits for just
being here. Let’s not forget: they broke our laws to be here and we are,
if nothing else, a nation of laws. We don’t reward people for breaking
them. Further, we are a “republic” not a democracy, which means
we have this do-not-disturb guidebook called the Constitution that pretty much
spells out how everything should be done. Or at least it did until Wednesday
I have to admit something right up front: I was prepared to ignore the speech
and not watch it because I figured it would be so much BS. But, it turned out
to be so much more. At first, I was taken by BHO’s ability to appear
to speak from the heart and some of the content of the speech. Like providing
a pathway for the parents of kids born here at least five years ago (citizens
by birth…we’re one of only two or three countries that allow that),
to first get working papers and then work their way towards citizenship. Bring
them out of the shadows, as he put it, and make them tax paying contributors.
He stopped deportation on that class of individuals. An estimated 5 million
Then he said deportation would only be aimed at felons and other bad people.
In fact, under his program people with skills that could contribute to the
national well-being would NOT be deported, regardless of when they arrived.
A theoretical mathematician could wade across the Rio Grande tomorrow and be
guaranteed of staying. So we’re going to have thousands of people streaming
across the border claiming to be theoretical mathematicians. BHO had it pretty
much worked out who he would deport and who he wouldn’t.
As he talked I heard myself saying, “Hey, some of this makes sense. It’s
a beginning on sorting out the immigration mess.”
Then, he droned on and on about how compassionate he was and how the country
had a long history of compassion and how this affected a kid he knew, yada,
yada, yada. If he had shut up right after making his points it would have taken
longer for me, and so many others, to realize that we’d just been had.
He is so good in front of a teleprompter that we were taken in like every one
else, when it was just more of his super-slick, condescending rhetoric.
It was during the rambling, sophomoric closing that a a brilliant neon sign
lit up in the theater of my mind that said, “Just a damn minute! He can’t
do the things he just suggested! The Congress can, and, to one degree or another,
probably should, but he can’t.” He was altering and making laws
even as he stood there staring into the teleprompter that surrounded the camera.
He was talking like a king making decrees that he was certain would please
the most mentally challenged amongst us.
He was on camera less than 15 minutes, and, in the process. proceeded to absolutely
shred the Constitution. He stood up in front of the American people and, in
so many words, said that he wasn’t going to follow the rules. He wasn’t
going to respect the governmental framework of checks and balances that insured
no single branch had enough power that they could do what they wanted. Every
branch (executive, judicial, legislative) could reach out and slow the others
down. But, not him. He was going to write his own rules and run his own game.
Never mind what he said about immigration. The focus should be on the way in
which he plans on putting those ideas into motion. People continually point
out that both Reagan and Bush used executive orders (EOs) on immigration matters.
What virtually none of them realize is that in both cases Congress had already
voted on the issues and presented a law that the presidents were expected to
put into action, which is the President’s job (something BHO mentioned
dozens of times in recent times). So, an EO put those versions of amnesty into
action. BHO quite literally ignored the process and acted as if Congress had
no say in the matter.
“They” also say that the Senate passed an immigration bill several
years ago but the GOP House refused to vote on it. However, according to the
Washington Times, Monday, Nov 17, that’s not the whole story.
Senate Democrats keep own immigration bill from House,
urge Obama executive action By Stephen Dinan -
Senate Democrats say Republicans could head off President
Obama's immigration plans by passing the Senate's own immigration bill — the
only problem is the Democrats still haven't sent the measure to the House for
a vote. Known as S.744, the 1,200-page bill has been bottled up by Majority
Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, in a bit of legislative gamesmanship that
has clouded much of the debate over the past two years. Now, that bill has
become the centerpiece of last-minute chiding as Democrats say they have exhausted
all alternatives except for having Mr. Obama go it alone.
Again, ignoring what he says he’s going to do, think of the motivation
behind his actions. Why do it now? Why do it in such an arrogant, even petulant,
manner? He looks as if he’s spoiling for a fight and is sticking out
his chin inviting us to swing the first blow, thereby becoming the bad guy.
I pray that some of the GOP hotheads don’t take the bait. We have an
opportunity here to make our case stronger or destroy it completely and it’s
going to require balancing on a razor for two years to make it work. He is
obviously going to go out of his way to make the GOP’s life even more
miserable than it is already and the challenge to the GOP big wigs is to prove
to us that they are as smart as they think they are. And are smarter than BHO
gives them credit for. Some serious blows need to be dealt but somehow they
have to appear to be hugs and caresses aimed at making the Country better.
BHO’s speech was nothing more than the opening gun in what is going
to be an unbelievably nasty, complex, drawn-out battle. The way in which it
is handled is going to decide which party wins the golden apple in 2016. Unfortunately,
I don’t have a good feeling about any of this. I hope I’m wrong.
At the very least, it’s going to be interesting and will provide a true
WTF moment for future historians to ponder. bd
16 Nov 14 –The
Yesterday was Good Guys car show day: a gathering
of those individuals who, like me, see everything mechanical as something to
be modified to our personal taste. In this case, the final result is rods and
customs, vehicular genres totally unique to America. And, I think they are
indicative of some kind of specific gene that exists in only some people.
First, let me say that much of what I’m about to say is based on my own
feelings about “stuff,” especially mechanical stuff. Which is to
say that there are very few things I can look at without seeing how I would
change them. Or how I would build something similar from scratch that would
better suit my specific tastes. This applies to firearms, guitars, knives,
etc., etc., but especially cars and especially older ones. BTW- “Older” is
defined as something from the ‘80’s on back with pre-70’s
cars being of particular interest and pre-48’s reigning supreme. But
the same thing applies to just about anything I’m associated with, not
Let’s take rifles as an example: for $500 I can buy something new, like
a Mossberg MVP that is reputed to be a tack-driver right out of the box (although
some apparently aren’t). But, as much as I admire highly accurate rifles,
I can’t just buy one. I have to start with something inferior and worn
out. Generally it’s something ex-military and old. I’ll totally
rebuilt and modify it and, even though I know it’ll cost at least twice
as much as something I can buy over the counter, will take several years to
complete and it may not be as accurate as the store bought version (accuracy
is often elusive no matter how much you spend), I’ll do it anyway. I
can’t even begin to explain why I have a lifetime of the foregoing. It
makes absolutely zero sense. But, right now I have about a dozen M98 Mausers
of many varieties (WWI and WWII), all of them basically junk rifles (non-original)
going all the way back to 1900, awaiting custom barrels, stocks and all the
other hotrod goodies that will make them into rifles that reflect my taste.
Going to the Good Guys car meet is delving into another, but better recognized,
orgy of modification. The Good Guys meets are held all over the country and
each will attract over 3,000 cars, trucks and whatever. Every single one of
those vehicles has had far more time and money invested in making it unique
than is rational. Yet, not one of the tens of thousands of spectators on the
grounds questions the rationale behind the cars they’re viewing. Even
though the majority of attendees wouldn’t even dream of devoting so much
of their lives to creating/re-creating a vehicle, they nonetheless admire the
result. They understand the need to modify, to re-create something that matches
the image someone has in their own mind.
What got me thinking about the modification gene was a comment my current Pitts
student made. He’s a car guy (and airplane guy, obviously) from England
and he said, “…however, I really prefer to see cars restored to
what they were when they came out of the factory.” And I couldn’t
disagree: I very much admire fully restored cars. But, I can’t do it
myself. And I think I’m typical of that part of the car culture, the
hotrod/custom part, that seems uniquely American.
Lately, because my airplane was down for two months I’ve had weekends
off, so I’ve gotten a HUGE amount done on the roadster. In fact, I thought
I was going to have it ready to go to Good Guys in an unfinished form. Unfortunately,
the pressures of making a living intervened, when the airplane came alive again.
But, I’m close. In the process of working on it, from time to time I
literally grin, when I hit an snag, search around the shop for a piece of this
or that, that I can cobble together and solve the problem. I love solving problems
and I’m free to do what I want to the car at any time in any way.
In restoring a vehicle to original, there are basically only two problems,
both of them potentially huge: beating rust and finding original parts. Hotrodding,
original hotrodding where you take something you’ve found in a junkyard
or ditch, not in a catalog or website, and make it perform a new function,
shares the common enemy of rust. However, there is nothing that constrains
us to use any specific part in any application. We can do it any damn way we
please. There are no rules and few conventions.
These days, even the conventions that sometimes vaguely dictate the style of
a given class of hotrods, e.g. highboy and low boy street roadsters, are being
ignored courtesy of the rat rods and rat rigs (funky, modified big trucks).
And I love it! While I could never bring myself to discard craftsmanship in
favor of oddball creativity, as with rat rods, I enjoy the hell out of them.
I enjoy that you just never know what a rat rodder is going to build.
As I typed that last sentence, I realized that some part of my rifle-building
brain is that of a rat rodder. Years ago I bought a badly beat-up Mexican built
7mm Mauser (M98, small ring) that had a really long barrel and the much-abused
stock was broken clean through right under the action. I glued it back together
and shot it some because I admired its tenacity: it had obviously lived a hard
life, which the barrel unfortunately showed. But it had survived. And I can’t
bring myself to destroy the patina and signs of struggle by restocking and
refinishing it. So, right now I’m getting ready to put a new, long barrel
(26 inches) on it and leave the funky, I’ve-been-there look alone. But,
the new caliber 6.5 x 55 is a tackdriving round and I’m installing a
super accurate, but well worn, receiver peep sight on it and a finely tuned
trigger that will be invisible from the outside. To complete the image, I’m
finishing the barrel to look old. My goal is to take a crappy looking rifle
that will group at less than 1 inch at a hundred yards to the range and amaze
people. It’s kind of a rat rifle that will make absolutely zero sense
and not be worth a dime to most people. This is okay with me. It’s just
something I’ve built to match an image in my head. And that’s all
Sometimes, when it comes to things mechanical, change for change’s sake
is impossible to avoid. It’s in our genes. bd
7 Nov 14 –Let The Mouse Do
Other than handing the Democrats their asses,
what else went on this week? Quite honestly, I can think of almost nothing
because my life has been eaten up by watching political coverage (actually,
I think I just like Meghan Kelly) and dealing with a newly overhauled airplane
engine that refuses to behave. Oh, and one other thing: I discovered what I
think is a way we can save our country.
Last Friday I worked and flew my butt off then jumped into my car and rocketed
to LA. By 0700 the next morning I had met my daughter and granddaughter at
our Disneyland hotel, checked in and was standing at the gates of Walt Disney’s
orgy of organization, creativity and fun. Because we were staying in a Disney
hotel, we could get in at 0700, an hour ahead of the common folk, the sweaty,
unwashed masses, which usually includes me. Looking through the gates at a
totally empty, seemingly abandoned amusement park made me feel as if I was
Clark Griswald and I’d just arrived at Wally World not realizing it was
closed. Eerie! What I didn’t know was that I was about to become part
of a mouse-driven machine that would impress me at every turn. This started
right at the turnstile going in.
A sweet, middle-aged lady ask me for my hotel key and a photo ID. She ran the
key through a card reader and clicked what looked like a cell phone in my face.
From that point on, every time we changed parks or went through some sort of
Disney-guest-only function, they’d take a second (no longer) to scan
the key and my face would pop up on their little handheld card reader verifying
that I hadn’t strong-armed some pink-haired old lady out of her room
key. This process didn’t come close to slowing anything down. It was
totally seamless. The system would work perfectly for voter ID. If, of course,
that wasn’t racist. Same thing could be tied to credit cards to cut down
credit card fraud.
From that point on, every time I turned around I saw overwhelming evidence
of the Disney organization’s ability to do things right and make monstrous
amounts of money in the process.
First, my two-day pass was about $190 plus $40 (I think it was) so I could
hop back and forth between the two parks. That was a choker for me, but, as
I looked around there were tens of thousands of folks that just looked like
normal working stiffs from the area. There were also a huge percentage of kids,
17-22, I’m guessing, that were there having a helluva good time. I was
astounded at how many normal-looking families were there with multitudes of
kids, each of which cost a fortune to support for the day. Who knows? Maybe
the economy actually is recovering. However, you couldn’t prove that
from my personal point of view. Of course, these could also be people either
living up their foodstamp money or they’d given up, said “screw
it” and are having one last fling.
The quality of the parks, the quality of the thousands of employees staffing
it, the overall complexity of the whole thing was nothing short of overwhelming.
Incidentally, I’ve been to Disney World in Florida probably a dozen times,
when I was still living in the East. However, I hadn’t been to Disneyland
since probably the 60’s. I’d forgotten how the entire thing is
crammed into what amounts to a fairly small area so it took a lot of imagination
and planning to squish everything together yet make it feel as if you actually
had a lot of room. I couldn’t stop myself from looking at details like
how the hand rails were constructed and the massive amount of planning, engineering
and manufacturing, it took to build just one ride or amphitheater and there
were dozens and dozens of everything.
I should also make mention of the fact that Disney REALLY hires to a profile
in a lot of their positions, but it’s most obvious in picking the young
ladies (and guys) who play some of their well known characters on the streets.
They had to be some of the most beautiful, perfect behaving young ladies I’ve
ever seen in one place.
Little by little, as I wandered through the never ending, overarching quality
of the experience, I couldn’t help but think what a mess the country
was in by comparison. Here was a massive, really huge, operation that was working
like a well-oiled machine. However, virtually everything in which our government
gets involved turns into an oversized, bloated, slow moving ox cart that continually
breaks down and costs ten times what it should. It also almost always moseys
aimlessly across the landscape and quite often winds-up moving in circles.
But, I have a solution. Let’s hire Disney run America.
Here is a company that really has its finger on the pulse of America. They
make it their business to really know and understand the population and what
it wants because, if it doesn’t, it’s not going to make a profit.
This, of course, is true of every business of any kind, from the local cupcake
vendor in Keokuk, Iowa, to giants like Microsoft. They can only survive if
they make a profit and they can only turn a profit if they read their market
correctly and satisfy its needs accordingly. This is not true of a government.
A government is a business but it runs on other people’s money and doesn’t
have to worry about a balance sheet, much less a profit. And, of late, they’ve
apparently decided they don’t have to operate on a budget either. They
seem to think taxpayers are a bottomless piggy bank that will always be there
for them to dip into. It’s a mindset that would put them out of business
in a heartbeat in the real world outside the beltway. If more politicians had
come out of the private sector, rather than politics, the lawyer community
or academia, they’d understand how a government is nothing more than
a special kind of business and would recognize how important efficiency is
to stretch the supposedly limited resources they have. But, of course they
The solution is to farm the country out to Disney. Let them run it and their
pay would be a small percentage of any surplus created. They’d be constrained
in terms of being given an exacting list of services they have to provide.
Also, I don’t think we should let them put a mouse outline on top of
either the capital building or the Washington Monument. Maybe put it on the
five dollar bill or something. In my eyes, a Mouse is probably good for America.
So, now that the GOP is the temporary top dog in town and it looks as if BHO
is going to dig his heels in and flaunt his power, what do we do? I think we’re
in for the craziest ride we’ve ever seen in our history, in terms of
a President running amuck while he still has a lame duck congress. And even
more so for the next two years. TWO FRIGGING YEARS!! This is going to be nuts!
No matter what happens, it’s going to be hard to maintain our emotional
balance. So, I suggest we all take a couple of days off and hit Disneyworld
or Disneyland. Hey, it can’t hurt! If all the politicians were to go,
they might learn a thing or two. However, neither BHO or Biden would be allowed
to wear mouse ears. They’d be redundant. bd
7 Nov 14 –Alone
As I’m writing
this, it’s 0800 and Marlene’s flight took off about 15 minutes
ago. She’ll be gone for a week visiting her sister and I already feel
This is really a strange feeling, mostly because I don’t think she’s
ever been gone for more than three days since we got together 22 years ago (married
16). It’s even stranger considering that I usually hit the office around
0530 so on a normal day it’s at least three or four hours before I even
know she’s in the house. Right now, however, I can sense her absence. Some
part of me knows she’s not there.
It’s interesting how all mammals form some sort of psychic connection with
another and often know when that connection is broken. How else do you explain
the number of times a dog will sleep on his master’s grave? Or a child
will know when a parent has died thousands of miles away? A wife subliminally
senses when her warrior husband has departed this life?
On a more positive side, I’m guaranteed to choke up, or even have tears
running down my cheeks, when I see some of the videos about men/women returning
from overseas and surprising their mates at home or their kids at school. There
is something so tangible about that connection that it touches us all.
However, I’m not sure which touches me the most, the human connections
or the unspoken, hard to explain connections between dogs and their owners. We
can easily enough explain the family connections between kids and parents, husband
and wife (well, no, we can’t really explain that either), and between friends,
but the bond between dogs and humans is simply unexplainable but so wonderful
it adds a warmth to life that is unavailable from any other source. Even from
a baby. Maybe it’s the unquestioning love and devotion a dog will show.
So, this week, it’s just me, Sháhn-deen and the cats. So, I won’t
But, you know that’s a lie, don’t you?
Watch the below and if you don’t get choked up at least a couple of times,
drop me a line. I’m pretty sure I won’t get a single e-mail. bd
We were concerned enough about putting Marlene on an airplane, given the ebola
situation, that she has surgical masks in her purse and, if she doesn’t
like the situation, I’m certain she’ll use them. She’s already
paranoid about everything she touches, thanks to the news coverage on the disease.