NOTE: If you want to
tell me I'm full of crap
TO firstname.lastname@example.org :
Quote of the Month: November
The object in life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding
oneself in the ranks of the insane."
Emperor Marcus Aurelius (AD121-180)
2013 — Old
you know what it’s like be standing amongst 22,000 people and know with
99.9% certainty that you’re the oldest person in the huge area? And do
you know what it’s like to be the only person in the room who, out of probably
50 songs sung, had heard of only one (Heart Break Hotel). However, even though
I was a very strange stranger in an even stranger strange land, I was having
a helluva good time!
Okay, so Thinking Out Loud is late. Again. Or really early, depending on how
you look at it. But I have good excuses. At least I think they’re good.
I usually pen this mess of words early Saturday morning, but I wanted to hold
off until Sunday night so I could discuss what I thought would be really monumental
good news: I now have the engine in The Roadster running like a champ and all
I had to do was put the master cylinder in for the brakes to work and I’d
be able to back it out of the garage under its own power for the first time since
1962. To me, that’s a BIG deal! But, come Sunday night I still didn’t
have the brakes working (don’t ask). So, Monday rolled around with no Speaking
Out Loud done. But, Monday turned out to be a hugely fun/important/heart-touching
day so the blog had to wait.
My daughter came into town with our granddaughter (3) and two of
her friends/employees. They were in town for one reason: to see a concert.
This even though my daughter had just seen the same concert last Thursday. Whenever
Justin Timberlake performs anywhere she can get to, she goes. It’s 7 hours
to Phoenix for her, which, to her, is a short JT concert run. She’s a hyper
fan because they’re good friends. Plus she manages most of his movie career.
Inasmuch as most Thinking Out Loud readers probably have more
Justin Timberlake: in our limited experience just a
good kid and a terrific entertainer.
a little gray in their hair, I should probably say a few words about Justin
Timberlake, since the name is probably new to you. He started out in one of
bands” as a teenager, probably 20 years ago, became wildly famous, the
band went away, but he didn’t. He’s now one of music’s 800-pound
gorillas. At least in the 15-40 year old group that likes pop music. And now
he’s making big strides as an actor putting out one or two movies a year.
My little girl produces some of them.
We’ve been around him during some of my daughter’s social/business
functions (premiers, etc.) and are impressed by his mannerly, quiet, nice-guy
way of just being. No star showing through at all. Just a really nice, 32 year
So, Marlene and I are at breakfast with my daughter and her posse and I comment
that I’d tried to buy tickets for the concert and it turned out that the
ones in the bathroom behind the pole in the far corner were $250 and they quickly
escalated to $1650 (that isn’t a typo: sixteen hundred and fifty US dollars!!).
And they were sold out! Unreal!
My daughter was amazed that we’d even consider going, because his music
is so far afield from my usual taste (country, hard rock, classic rock, just
about everything but pop). We admitted to having watched his HBO special twice
just because he was so entertaining. She looked across the table at one of her
guys and said, “Call XXX and get some tickets for them. Be sure to tell
him they’re for
my parents.” A phone call was made and at 9 pm that night, there we were,
dead center in front of the stage, only nine rows back, amidst tens of thousands
of people with not a hint of gray in their hair.
This, ladies and gentlemen, is how “out of your comfort zone” is
I’ve had a lot of experience describing things in words, but I don’t
know where to start with this one. First, Timberlake is as much a dancer as a
singer and every single movement, no matter how slight, was keyed to the music,
the rhythm, the dancers usually around him and the laser show. This is worth
mentioning because after singing a couple of entry songs (which everyone knew
but us), he sang for 42 minutes (I timed it) without taking a ten second break.
During the entire time he was in constant, high speed, sometimes ferocious, sometimes-subtle
motion, with everything around him totally synched to his every move. The precision
was scary perfect.
Incidentally, he was wearing a three-piece suit, not some wild rocker’s
get up. He looked as if he was going to dinner at a very expensive restaurant.
In total he was on stage for just a hair under three hours with a ten-minute
intermission and only two or three very short conversational breaks. The guy
is non-stop energy. And a helluva lot of fun to watch.
A note about the production: they brought their own stage that was as wide
as the arena (wide!) and probably ten feet high. It was highly mechanized with
the band, a piano and various other things continually disappearing and reappearing
in it. On both sides, wide and deep steps went up from the ends of the stage
out over the audience on the sides.
Towards the end of the evening, the front 15 feet of the stage, including the
wings, starting moving vertically up on hydraulic rams until it was about 20
feet off the floor. Then it started moving towards the audience with JT and
his crew on it. I figured, “Yeah,
on arms and can only go out so far.” But it kept on coming until it was
totally clear of the stage and you could see foot diameter hydraulic struts connecting
it to powered wheels on the bottom. The silly thing slowly kept moving right
through the crowd, with security people in front and behind the wheels so no
one got run over. It passed over our heads and stopped mid arena so everyone
could get close to their hero. The apparatus was a masterpiece of engineering
The most amazing thing about all of the above is that they’d played the
same show in Las Vegas the night before, so the immense amount of gear had been
broken down, packed up, trucked to Phoenix and set up again in less than 24 hours.
His roadies must all be Supermen. And very tired.
My overall impression is one of pure amazement that a man can perform that
long with absolute (I mean ABSOLUTE) precision, never flagging energy, in constant
contact with his audience and make it look like fun. I couldn’t imagine
how much rehearsal it took to get the people and all the elements (video images
and photos were constantly working the background and the ceiling matched to
the music) so tightly synched. I asked Jennifer about it and she said they’d
only rehearsed for 18 days. I was floored!! It doesn’t seem possible!
Oh, yeah, one other thing. If we do this again, I’m not wearing cowboy
boots because we were standing through almost the entire three hours. Second,
I’ll use ear plugs. You know something is loud when all the fabric on your
shirt is moving in response to the drum beat.
I didn’t write this yesterday, the day after the concert, because we didn’t
get home until one in the morning and that day my brain wasn’t capable
of manipulating even the simplest of words. ‘Guess graydogs can’t
party like we used to. :-(
Nov 2013 — JFK:
old do you have to be to have historically important events imprint themselves
on your brain? Ten years old? Fifteen? If that’s the case, that means to
anyone less than 60 years old, JFK’s assassination is nothing more than
storied history that gets lumped in with Pearl Harbor, the Civil War and the
Dark Ages. If you weren’t old enough to experience something, it’s
automatically ancient history.
There’s a strong possibility that since gray dogs dominate Thinking
Out Loud’s audience, almost every person reading this is old enough
to remember every nuance of the moment they found out that JFK had been assassinated
(the PC word for murdered). God knows I do: I was a junior in aero engineering
at the University of Oklahoma in Norman, Oklahoma. I don’t remember where
I had been, but it was a bright, sunny day and I had just walked up to my ground
level, outdoor apartment door and leaned two guitar cases against the white,
painted and plastered concrete wall so I could open the heavy Spanish style wooden
plank door. The instant the door opened my roommate, who was lying on the couch
watching a little black and white TV on the coffee table, his head just inside
the door, looked up at me over his head as the door opened and said, “The
President has been shot.” The immediate reaction was total disbelief. How
could this happen? OUR president, the one that garnered the first vote I had
ever cast, had been shot down in cold blood? How could that possibly be?
And that set the tone for the rest of the weekend. Nothing else happened in anyone’s
world for at least three or four days. Our lives proceeded on automatic pilot.
We ate, we hit the head, we watched television, we talked. And that was it.
In my lifetime, the only other thing that has been as totally encompassing as
that weekend was 911. And the four days after my brother suddenly died at the
age of 42: not a national calamity but it dominated every fiber of my being for
a long time after. Still does.
The foregoing searing memories, however, quickly disappear as we move down the
age scale. Technically, senior citizen-hood starts at fifty-five years old. So
we now have senior citizens that were born in 1958 (seems impossible to many
of us) and were only 5 years old on that Earth-shaking day in November, ‘63.
So, their memories are, at best, only vague images of how their parents and other
adults acted at the time. The event itself falls off the back of their memory
shelf into the pile of events that intellectually they know happened, but didn’t
touch them personally. This means that their emotional investment in the event
is zero. The episodes are just interesting folklore that generate lots of TV
coverage as major anniversaries roll around. I know that’s how I see Pearl
Harbor: I have an intense interest in it, but it doesn’t touch me emotionally,
although I can’t stand on the Arizona memorial without choking up. Ditto
for the Vietnam Wall, to which I do have a generational/emotional attachment.
I also have to admit to a very long history of being totally apolitical: it’s
the honest truth, when I say that until I was well into impending geezerdom I
didn’t have a clear understanding of the differences between Democrats
and Republicans. I always registered as an Independent and voted for the man,
not the party, so I knew squat about either. I don’t consciously remember
ever categorizing them as right or left because I didn’t know the difference
and didn’t come to grips with the Demo/GOP thing until early 2008. At that
point, the “fundamental change” thing caused me to begin looking
a little closer and realized things were about to get very serious. This caused
my political awareness and out-and-out political fear to skyrocket. Suddenly,
I find myself to be the political animal I probably should have been in the ‘60’s
when it was very much in fashion. Of course, if that had been the case, the clash
between my right-leaning views, and my left leaning friends and one of my main
revenue streams (guitar player) would have been “interesting” to
say the least. Maybe I would have been a Ted Nugent fore-runner.
I still find the JFK thing to be unbelievable. Something that shouldn’t
have happened. But, it did. Unfortunately, in all the hoopla, we sometimes lose
sight of the fact that Kennedy was number four, not two as many think: Garfield
(1881) and Mckinley (1901) are lost in the assassination fracas. Too often we
see Lincoln and Kennedy mentioned as if their assassinations are the only ones
In the 237 years our nation has existed, we’ve had four leaders murdered.
I’ve done no research on the subject, but I’m betting that we’re
far ahead of other civilized countries in the leadership assassination category.
Only the most unstable third world countries (few of which have lasted 237 years)
can top us. I have no theories why this is so. Most of our assassinations and
assassination attempts (about 20 in all, with two presidential injuries: T. Roosevelt
and Reagan) have been carried by crazies. Most have had no political motives
(Booth was the only one with a clear agenda although it’s claimed that
Oswald was a Marxist). So it would have to be assumed that we have more than
our share of nuts. And our leaders are more accessible to the public than others.
Are we a more violent society? Maybe. Maybe not. You don’t need a violent
society to field enough armed nuts to kill a President. You only need one.
So, it’s a sad anniversary for some of us. It’s just a historical
oddity surrounded by pomp and circumstance for others. If there is any thing
really sad about this anniversary, it is that, given our history, it’s
unlikely that Kennedy will be the last President for whom such an anniversary
will be marked. bd
2013 — The
doing something everyone hates to do, but which absolutely has to be faced by
everyone: at some point in life, you have to start shrinking your life style.
Or at least stop expanding it. In my case, that means stop adding to an accumulation
that spends most of its time in the safe, not at the range: I think I’m
getting ready to buy my last gun. A sobering thought at best. And one that almost
Thoughts of life-without-limit fill our brain right from the beginning. Life
is almost never mentally cast as an open and closed situation with a beginning
and end. We all know that’s the case, but we never conduct ourselves accordingly.
The end is out “there” someplace. A fuzzy, distant “thing” that
means little to us. Plus, our definition of “old” remains fairly
constant throughout our life: old is someone that is fifteen years older than
we are. Then, at some point, we suddenly realize that the crowd standing out
there fifteen years away has gotten pretty damn small. Then there is no one that
old and the thought begins to form in our brain that, “…damn! There
actually is an end out there. This thing isn’t forever.”
I’ve always been the leader of the “don’t look down the road” gang.
Being blessed with good health most of my life, I’ve managed to put off
the effects of age longer than most. Lately, however, largely because my regimen
of a daily, hard three-mile walk has been suspended for several months (work
schedules, long time back problems making their periodic visit, etc), I’ve
begun to feel the effect of a helluva lot of years piling up. Things like flying
four pattern-hops a day leave me a little beat up and wiggling around under a
differential trying to install a new fuel pump on the roadster is hard work.
Could I possibly be getting old? Maybe. ‘Not sure. However, I know I’m
past due for that revelation to hit me. In fact, it’s something that is
pointed out to me more often than I’d like.
This morning, for instance, I got another of “those” e-mails: a friend
and colleague about my own age suffered a stroke a couple days ago. He’ll
live, but not without damage.
Yesterday, as I came home from the airport, I noticed a bunch of cars gathered
around our neighbor’s house, which was strange for that time of day. I
mentioned it to Marlene and she made a phone call: we’ll be attending his
service Wednesday. He was less than a year older than me.
I get daily reminders that existence, as I know it, isn’t an endless process
and I’d better start looking down the road. I’m very definitely not
old yet, but it’s coming, whether I like it or not, and I need to start
thinking about what I’m going to do about it.
One has only to spend about sixty seconds around my house to know that, if I
were to get hit by a bus, Marlene and my kids would be left with a helluva mess.
Not only is the quantity of stuff massive and difficult to sort out, but far
too many projects are in an uncompleted state rendering them nearly unsalable.
This is something I have to fix.
I’m the king of 95% projects: I get something finished right up to the
last little bit, and then my head gets turned by another project and off I go.
Do that for 50-60 years and it’s amazing the stuff that piles up. I still
have U-control model airplanes hanging from rafters that I started when I was
fifteen, which, coincidentally is exactly when I started building The Roadster,
the biggest of my 95% projects.
Example: the killer safe I spent so much time restoring, converting to a gun
safe and painstakingly detailing is completely finished and sitting in my office.
However, the combination doesn’t work because the pack wheels in the lock
aren’t exactly the right ones. However, if I were to fabricate a lock box
that was .137” shallower (a Saturday job), the wheel pack would work fine.
Another case in point: A Mauser-based bolt rifle I had barreled in .308 that
I stocked in pre-war Mannlicher style using exquisite Claro walnut. It has been
finished for twenty years, EXCEPT it needs a little screw in the trigger mechanism
to make the set trigger work, so it’s never been fired.
The list of small projects goes on and on, with the artillery piece, a big project,
untouched, although I have new wheels for it. Further, the breechblock is being
rehabbed as we speak and I have all of the custom made, 3/16” thick, cast
patch panels to weld into the carriage on hand. It’s progressing, sort
of, but eventually I’m going to have to devote a lot of time to it and
I don’t know where that time is going to come from.
And then there are the guns, some of which are projects, most of which are not.
For all intents and purposes, none of them get fired: I don’t get out to
the range once every eighteen months, if that. But, I keep buying them. Why,
I don’t know. It’s compulsion that’s breeding problems for
everyone down the road because both of my kids are rabid anti-gunners. So, not
even the flintlock Kentuckies I’ve built will find a home with them. Much
less the long-range bolt guns or rolling blocks I’ve built, all of which
have my DNA firmly embedded in them.
The Roadster will also be an orphan and it kills me that it can’t stay
in the family. The kids have neither the interest nor the facilities to take
it. So, it’ll be converted to cash for Marlene (assuming I go first, which
may or may not be the case, who knows?).
The thought that’s creeping into my brain, and is repugnant in the extreme,
is that I cannot keep expanding my pile of junk. God knows I don’t need
any more guns. More important, I know that I have to view all of the uncompleted
projects, Roadster on down, as assets that must be completed simply so they can
be sold, when the time comes. That’s a damn depressing way to look at something
you love. As an asset! But reality is what reality is.
Although I can’t believe I’m about to say this, I simply cannot start
any more new projects. As it is, I’m still working 80+ hours a week (with
absolutely no likelyhood of it changing, health permitting). So, there’s
precious little time to work on the projects I already have and it is of supreme
importance that I get those finished before I check out. That’s going to
be a hard-run race to the finish line
So, no new projects. It kills me to say that, but it’s a hard reality that
has to be faced. And I’m gamely facing it.
However, there’s the e-mail I got two days ago from a friend who says
he may be willing to sell me his ‘30’s sprint car. It’s a complete
barn find survivor and even has a four-banger Model A/B Ford in it with a transmission.
It would be an easy street conversion.
Okay, so, maybe…just one more project. We all know that it’s not
healthy to stop addictions cold turkey.
FYI-the last handgun (which even I know it probably isn’t) will be a 3” Ruger
Wiley Clapp GP100 .357 revolver. Nice size for a trail gun (as if I’m ever
going to be tramping through the woods again.).
2013 — The
week included Halloween, which is known as Fat Night (actually Fat Couple of
Nights) at my house. This is because my neighbors know for a fact that their
kids are going to have to fight me for the chocolate. It’s MY candy and,
regardless of tradition, I see no reason to share it with strangely dressed munchkins.
This year, however, the strangeness extended to the candy being distributed.
Something was wrong in Snickersville!
Over the last four or five years, Marlene has supplied the Halloween larder with
big (I mean BIG bags) bags of mini-candy bars from Costco: they are a mixed combination
of one-inch squares of every kind of chocolate covered candy bar known to man.
And I am totally addicted to candy-sniping: grabbing one (approximately 50 calories
each) every time I’d walk past the bowl/bag/crate. But, I am a selective
candy sniper: I don’t really like mushy, non-descript, fake candies like
Milky Way and Musketeers. I like my chocolate goodies to have some character.
Maybe some nuts. Coconut. Carmel. Or better yet, all of the above, like an almond
nested in coconut. Or a layer of nuts and carmel. Damn! I’m making my own
In other words, when the bags are opened, I’m cruising through them sorting
out the Almond Joys, Mounds and Snickers and putting them in little Budd piles.
I actually empty the bag out on the kitchen table, spread them out, and separate
out the character candies. I do this under great duress because while I’m
digging through the goodies Marlene is brow beating me because she claims the
candy is for the kids. I always have a well-controlled, reasonable response to
her unreasoning tirades, “Screw the kids! It’s chocolate for chrissakes!”
That’s our normal H-Ween drill: bring the candy in, I hold a flailing Marlene
at an arms length while sorting goodies with the other, the kids show up and
I let them have the cast-offs. That’s our tradition. Well, okay…that’s
MY tradition. Anyway, that’s how Halloween is done in the Davisson household.
This year, however, I noted some changes, which I might attribute to Costco management
doing the same thing to their customers that I do to the munchkins: are they
selecting out the goodies for themselves and selling us the castoffs? I say this
because, as I did a kitchen table sort, the ratio of character-bars (Snickers,
Baby Ruth) to the rest was MUCH lower than normal and Crunch, Almond Joy and
Mounds were nowhere to be seen. Alright guys, what’s going on here?
|Look closely: you'll only see one Snickers. And there are no others in
the bowl. Something's not right.
From a management point of view, I can think of a number of
reasons why they’d
want to reduce the Snicker-count in the candy mix. Nuts cost money and just assembling
a Snickers, for instance, is far more complicated than something like a Three
Musketeer, which is just a square of sweet stuff slobbered with chocolate. You
can chocolate coat a golf ball but that doesn’t make it candy.
Some candies require a bit of technique and panache. For instance, when doing
a Snickers, they first make the layer that I think they call “nugget”,
that lays at the bottom and takes up about 1/2rd of the bar (I just cut one in
half to check it, so I was forced to eat it to keep it from going sour). Then
on top of that is a layer of caramel laced with chopped up peanuts. Think of
the complexity here. It’s probably a job for a specialist that the Union
gives a specific job title and a pay raise.
But, why no Mounds or Almond Joys? I don’t know who makes what candy bar,
but there’s a possibility that Costco asked for bids and the manufactures
of my favorite character bars were high bidders. I can easily see why Milky Ways
and Musketeers came in as low bids: no character. No complexity. No nuts. But
Mounds is simple. And Almond Joy is just a Mounds with testosterone (nuts). So,
why weren’t they included?
The foregoing is the result of watching too much coverage of things like Obamacare
and IRS scandals and the other stuff that’s driving us all nuts and we
can do nothing about. When I get frustrated, I eat and when Halloween happens
at the same time, costumed munchkins are guaranteed to lose out because yours-truly
needs the character-candies. It’s either that or start drinking. A man
has to have some outlet through which he can lose himself. But, I’ll
tell you what: if you think Obamacare and the untruths surrounding that set
me off, this candy conspiracy is waaay too much. Someone is going to pay for
No one screws with my Snickers! bd
2013 — Lessons
just spent a week with what may be the quietest man I’ve ever met and it
was an interesting experience. For one thing it made me keenly aware that letting
quiet exist between two people is not necessarily a bad thing. But, believe me,
it’s hard to get used to and even harder to do.
I come from a long line of very high-verbal people. And the people I have always
associated myself with as friends and colleagues are the same. Unfortunately,
when it comes to filling in conversational white spaces with words, I may be
the worse of the bunch. I didn’t realize how bad I was until I was around
my new friend: I’m almost compelled to talk. If there’s something
in my head that I find interesting and it either fits into an ongoing conversation,
or I think the individual I’m with may be interested in it too, I pour
it out into an existing pause. I have no idea why I think anyone should care
about what I’m thinking, but then, if I worried about that, I wouldn’t
be doing this blog, would I? Obviously, I’m seriously compelled to comment,
relate, and out and out babble. Sorry.
My new friend will talk just fine, but only when what he has to say is hyper-germane
to the subject at hand. He’s very focused and uses zero extraneous words
or phrases. Absolutely zero. It’s not until you’re conversing with
someone like that that you realize how often we use words or phrases that just
flat aren’t necessary and we say them because we feel as if there’s
a little pause that needs something interjected into it. It’s a habit.
Ya know? Does that make sense (one of my favorites)? Got it?
The art of concise conversation, where every word and phrase is chosen and spoken
for a reason is hard to develop. The majority of us open our mouths with only
a vague idea of what we’re going to say. Unfortunately, although the thoughts
may be clear in our minds, we haven’t thought about them enough to be able
to portray them in as few words as possible. So, we just start fire-hosing words
out there and, as we hear ourselves talking, we start trying to direct them in
a way that gets our point across. Eventually, we make ourselves understood,
but we’re certainly not concise. Not many of us have the ability to get
our brain in synch with our mouth as soon as we open it.
Incidentally, although Obama is constantly held up as a great orator, when off
teleprompter, he’s quite mediocre and sometimes quite bad. He’s just
not good on his feet. The two guys in the political arena who constantly impress
me with their intellect and ability to instantly put extremely clear thoughts
into words, and this will probably rankle a few of you out there, are Newt Gingrich
and Ted Cruz. Both of them have minds that move at warp speed with a total grasp
of the subject at hand and they always find the combination of words that lets
the rest of us know exactly what it is that they are trying to get across while
using as few words as possible. People may or may not buy into their opinions
(I almost always do) but they are superlative communicators. And you don’t
EVER hear one of them say “…uh” or “Ya, know?” That
alone is impressive. They are incredibly concise, precise speakers and I enjoy
listening to them.
My new friend has made me very conscious of how often I open my mouth, when it
would be much better left closed. I’m fairly certain that’s true
of most folks, but I’m one of the biggest offenders in that area. I talk
too much. I talk too long. Same thing goes for my writing. So, I’m going
to shut up now.
Ya know? bd
2013 — Physical
all of you reading this who DON’T have a bad back hold up your hands.
Hmmmmm! I don’t see any. So, what we’re saying is that just about
all of us has a bad back. Good…well, not really good…but at least
you’ll identify with what I’m about to say about the infirmities
we bring upon ourselves through our daily habits.
First about backs: the fact that nearly all of us have a bad back, to one degree
or another, is largely due to the fact that man wasn't designed to stand
upright. We should have stopped evolving at the ape level, where we used our
hands as occasional supports. We weren’t really four-footed, but we weren’t
bipeds either. And I don’t remember reading about apes having bad backs.
Anyway, like just about everyone reading this, my L3 and L4 lower vertebrae have
been a constant source of pain since I was 20 or so. Bad disks, bad youthful
decisions and all that. So, when I find myself barely able to stand (but can
still get in a cockpit), I just shrug and prepare for a few days of discomfort
knowing it’ll self correct, provided that I don’t beat myself up
too much. Which of course I do, thereby prolonging the healing process (hey,
this time I at least I got the gas tank back in the roadster. That counts for
This time has been different, however, and has been dragging on for six weeks
and has gotten nearly debilitating. I began to suspect something new was afoot.
And I started analyzing my life style again looking for contributing factors.
I homed in on the foam pad Marlene had put on our acre-sized bed (when you sleep
with three cats and a dog you need room). Since we put it on nearly a year ago,
I’d wake up every morning a little creaky. So, when I actually hurt my
back a couple months ago, the softness may have been prolonging the process.
Yesterday afternoon I put a 2 x 4foot piece of 1/8th inch Masonite under the
foam. Last night, I went to bed in such bad shape I could barely crawl into the
sack. I woke up nearly healed! Once again I’d caused myself a problem,
which I’ve seen myself do over and over. You too?
Below, I’m going to recount as briefly as possible some of the times I’ve
been diagnosed with something that needed treatment, but I changed something
in my daily environment and it went away. Maybe some of you can use some of what
Severe ankle/foot pain
Blood tests showed ANA factor off the chart so I had rheumatoid arthritis (or
lupis, which I obviously didn’t). Or so they said. So, I started studying
my daily routine. I noticed that I set my feet on the rudders at odd angles and
I’m always pushing both at the same time. So, the rudder bar exerts hot-spot
pressure that I can actually feel spreading the bones. I found some orthotics
with plastic soles that go up past where the rudder bars contacted my feet. I
also changed the way I sat in the cockpit. Within a week all pain was gone never
to return. Oh, the ANA test, which is very serious stuff? Doctor explained it
away as being a false positive. So, whom do you trust?
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Wore a doctor-prescribed wrist brace for nearly three years. Finally spent a
few minutes watching how my hand moves on the mouse and realized it was always
resting on a subtle bone projection. Fix: rotated my hand and cut down an existing
mouse wrist pad and Velcroed it to my desk. Pain all gone in a week. This after
at least 3 years of discomfort.
Arthritic interference at T-9 vertebra
This is the vertebra with the healed compression fractures right at the bottom
of my shoulder blades. Prescription was a recommendation for 12 therapy sessions
in which they’d manually manipulate the bones around and maybe a steroid
shot. I skipped that and did a bunch of self-analysis. I found that all the cushions
in the airplane AND my typing chair stop right where that vertebra is. Plus,
the angle the tow bar for the airplane puts my arms at while pulling the airplane
into the hangar loads that part of my backbone more than any other place. Fix:
made cushions that are four inches taller and have students help me put the airplane
away. 10 days and I was pain free and have stayed that way.
Could hear things clicking in there and it really hurt when kneeling. Dr. said
it was worn out and needed replacing. Fix: I starting kneeling with the other
foot forward (harder than you think) and loading my knees differently, when working.
Pain stopped immediately. That was four years ago.
Two toes on outside of right foot hurt like crazy
Dr. says probably arthritis and there’s not much he can do. More self analysis:
when I type (which is 3-10 hours a day) I have habit of curling my feel under
the chair and I find myself pushing downward with the right foot/toes. Fix: stopped
pushing. It’s hard to change such an unconscious habit, but I did and the
toes stopped hurting.
No, this isn’t a comment on my general personality. I went through a period
recently where I’d wake up slightly dizzy. Maybe light headed is a better
word. It would last through the morning. At first thought I was dehydrated. Or
had a brain tumor. But, then I looked at other changes I had made. This included
using a fair amount of Pure Via brand Stevia, a natural sweetener, every day.
I Googled the side effects of Stevia and, sure enough, some people reported dizziness.
I guess I just be “some people” because I stopped using it and the
feeling went away.
The list goes on and on. But the point is that in so many cases in which the
medical profession said I had to take curative meds or therapy, I traced the
root cause down to something environmental that I was usually causing myself.
I know this approach won’t work for everything in life, but before I start
popping pills, I now start looking around to see if I’m part of the problem.
You might start doing the same.
We should just accept the fact that, when it comes to our health, we’re
our own worse enemy and try to correct that. bd
2013 — A
you ever have one of those times when you want to just say “screw it”,
order a pizza and flop down in front of the tube? I’m in the middle of
one of those right now and my brain is on some sort of hiatus: is it possible
to use it up? Dunno. Let’s see what happens, if I keep typing.
I had one of those weeks where there was no white space either during the day
or at night. You know the ones: you wake up in the morning not even remembering
going to bed and you go into work absolutely convinced you left it an hour earlier.
You have to schedule your pee-times to fit in with the deadlines. This week was
the second one of those back to back, but I survived the second one far better
than the first by applying just enough short doses of workshop therapy that my
brain had some spool-down time before crashing for the night. And I used shots
of workshop for ten or fifteen minutes during the day when I found my nose snoring
on my key board pumping out an endless series of “m”s on the screen.
I’m of the opinion that if you’re going full bore that A) it does
no good to look at your watch because you’re already running as fast as
you can and B) that kind of no-slack pace eventually becomes non-productive because
your brain is a muscle and it needs a little rest now and then.
I can’t believe I just said that: I’m famous for sitting down at
the computer for ten hours at a time and only standing up to pee and get a frozen
dinner that I eat at the computer. Still, I actually do believe what I just said.
just that I almost never listen to my own advice. Does anyone on any subject?
This week, however, I did listen and I think it paid off.
I know for an absolute fact that, if I scatter a couple of short workshop breaks,
usually only 15 minutes, throughout the day, I wind up with a more productive
day. If I don’t, I get drowsy and my output drops. So, why don’t
I make that a regular routine? I know exactly why and it’s really silly.
And I know it: I can’t force myself to walk the 30 feet to my work bench
because I feel guilty. That time doesn’t appear to be solving any of my
schedule/deadline crises so I feel as if I shouldn’t be doing it. It’s
like the way a term paper would haunt you during high school. Hmmm! In those
days I had no trouble procrastinating and putting it off until the last second.
These days I can’t do it. Maturity can be a bummer!
Anyway, this week I decided to enforce the get-some-time-for-yourself rule, so
even though I worked right through the weekend again, I was seeing physical progress
on at least one personal project. I don’t know about you, but when some
little personal project is moving ahead, I feel better about just about everything
in life, regardless of what else is going on. This time it was a home made cellphone
First, some background: I replaced my iPhone 3GS with a 4GS a couple months ago
and found it wouldn’t fit the old carrying case. Much worse, the company
didn’t make the same thing for this phone. I know this doesn’t sound
like such a big deal, but it created a major crisis. Okay, so maybe not major,
but it was at least very irritating. The case I’d been using for years
flips over the face of the phone and has a clip on the back exactly like
a tape measure. So, I could slide it down inside a side pocket
of my jeans, clip side out, and have the clip catch my pocket while the cover
protected the face from what ever else was in that pocket. I didn’t have to worry about
losing it, it was super easy to get out, and, when strapping a parachute on,
I didn’t even know it was there. Plus, there was a little pocket on the
inside of the cover where I put notes to myself: usually my student’s phone
numbers and addresses. Very, very convenient.
I went for over a month with a rubber phone cover with heavy texture to it and
absolutely hated it. It was like wrestling a snow tire out of my pocket.
So, as a mental rehabilitation project for the week, I designed and built a new
phone cover. This involved some design work and trying some things in leather
I’d never tried before. At night I’d try to get 45 minutes into it
and maybe three 15 minutes shots during the day. The net result is that I survived
the week with a fair amount of brain left and have a phone cover that exactly
meets my needs. Plus it has my brand on the back, so I finished the week feeling
as if I’d accomplished something.
See…surviving life isn’t all that hard. We just have to ignore the
feelings of guilt until we’re actually in the workshop. Then they almost
Mission accomplished. See below.
The flip cover has a full width pocket inside
I made a male/female die and formed
Salvaged the clip off the old case. It's stitched through a .040 piece
2013 — Sandlot
As I’m writing this, it’s Friday evening and I can’t believe
it!! What the hell happened to this week? And the one before it? And…?
Wednesday used to be referred to as “Hump Day” but now we blast through
it so fast that we iron it out flat. We should call it “Blur Day.” Gone
in a flash.
I cannot for the life of me remember what I did this week. Because it’s
the traditional ship week for my magazine, I purposely don’t schedule flying
because it breaks up the day too much. So, I spent almost all of it glued to
the front of my computer as if a 31” monitor is some sort of vacuum machine
and I can’t escape it.
Just about my only memory of the week is the daily dose of ridiculousness that
used to be called the nightly news. Now it is some sort of black comedy starring
politicians who can’t find work as leaders so they're doing stand-up comedy
anywhere they can find a camera. Some have long ears. Some have long trunks.
All seem to store their heads in a dark, moist place they usually sit on.
This government shut down thing and the way the two parties are treating it is
really something to watch. It would be funny as hell, if it were some other country.
I feel as if I’m watching a sandlot football game between ten year olds
that has all the usual players:
--The owner of the football who is known to throw tantrums and take his football
home, if his team starts to lose or he doesn’t get his way.
--Several dried up, but oily, players who, like parrot fish around a shark,
hover close and pick the nits and fleas off their quarterback’s flesh
as they whisper reassuring words in his ears.
--The quarterback of the other team who is super polished, looks in the mirror
too much and has a bunch of what he thinks are really slick plays up his sleeves.
Unfortunately, he can’t get his team lined up on the scrimmage line long
enough to call a valid play. Much worse, as he calls the signals, even from
the sidelines you can see that he’s lined up behind a guard or a tackle,
not the center, and totally misses the ball as it’s snapped back.
--The backfield of his team, who are obviously much better athletes, don’t
really like the team they’re on. From the bleachers it’s hard to
tell whether they’ll run with the plays called. Plus, when huddles are
called, they’re just as likely to stand off to the side and hold their
own huddle before joining the main one.
--We can’t forget the sportscasters, most of whom are sitting with their
backs to the field reading from the play book given them by the guy who owns
the ball. The sound track they provide for the TV viewers doesn’t remotely
match the action on the field but no one seems to notice.
--And then there are the spectators, whose favorite cheer is “Gimme an
an E…gimme an L…gimme another L. What the hell…What the
hell…What the hell are you doing?”
The thing to remember is that our world is NOT going to be drastically altered
by the silly game we’re watching, although a few will get hurt financially
for a while. In the big scheme of things, it’s just going to be another
sandlot game that bruises up a few of the players but accomplishes nothing.
It does, however, once again remind us that it never pays to play fair when
facing the petulant owner of the only ball in town and expecting him to play
by the rules or show any logic whatsoever. bd
The mechanisms to stop Obamacare don’t actually exist.
Not in a practical manner anyway. Even so, it’s good to see the Repubs
trying to grow a backbone and stand up to the left, but I think they’ve
chosen a fight that is impossible to win and I don’t know how they can
gracefully back out of it. However, if they keep putting the motions forward
to fund parts of the government and Reid and Obama flat refuse to even talk,
eventually the people will see who is actually stopping the government from
Obamacare is going to be like Prohibition was: it took 13 years to recognize
it as the debacle that it was and repeal it. However, go to Booze to
see how crazy it actually got. Look for the obvious parallels.
2013 — Health,
The other night we had dinner with family friends and, as I looked around that
table, I once again heard that little voice in my head that said, “Damn,
Budd! You are one lucky sonuvabitch!” I said that because we were just
about the only healthy couple at the table.
One lady in her 60’s was mentally challenged but functioning beautifully
in the world. Another was fighting her way back from severe breast cancer. One
gentleman had Parkinson’s and was being slowly devoured by dementia. A
friend in her mid-fifties had suffered a brain aneurism a month earlier and was
lucky to be alive, but she had paid a horrendous price.
The whole evening could have been gut wrenching except for one very obvious factor:
I was the only one who was seeing the negatives. Everyone else was focused on
helping the aneurism victim to recover and no one even noticed that they, themselves,
were challenged in major ways. It almost made me feel guilty for having what
amounts to nearly perfect health (considering the miles and maintenance). It
also made me acutely aware of how quickly, given the unexpected, unpredictable
nature of human frailty, life can change. One second life is good. The next it
Not a single thing I said in the foregoing paragraph is news to any of us. And
I’m positive that some reading this are having their own battles with health.
I’m equally as positive that the rest of us, those who have never been
seriously health-challenged, take our state of blissfulness for granted: I’ve
been fine in the past so why should anything go wrong in the future? This, of
course, is Polyanna thinking that is just as much a part of the human animal
as the tendency for the body to break down is. And it does tend to break down.
As I’ve said in the past, if the human body were a manufactured product,
there would be an on-going class action suit against the manufacture for a faulty
product. And we’d win. The design shortcomings are so obvious that it would
be a slam-dunk in court.
Given the fact that every one of us knows how fragile life can be, it’s
incredible how cavalier we often treat the single most precious possession
we have. Actually, the way we treat life borders on incredibly stupid. Especially,
when we allow it to include known threats like smoking, excessive drinking and
drugs (especially drugs).
And then there are the ways in which so many of us knowingly threaten our lives
through our pursuits and hobbies. However, most of us see those threats as a
necessity for a full life. Remove the threats and life is still there but it
is diminished. I’m talking about things like flying, sky diving, SCUBA
diving, etc., etc. Think how many of the things we do that, when viewed in a
rational light, are absolutely unnecessary and increase the risk of losing our
lives significantly. I think of this every single time I strap into my Pitts
with a student (which is at least twice a day). The little voice says, "Is
this trip absolutely necessary?"
First, when looked at through reality’s eye, what people like me do on
a daily basis is incredibly risky. Especially when it’s measured against
what most see as a “normal” life. I’m falling out of the air
at 1500-2000 fpm at 100 mph, hit the ground at 70 mph in a projectile that enjoys
challenging the student to keep it remotely straight. I have to let them make
the mistake, give them time to correct the mistake and still give myself time
to dig us out of the hole. Less than two seconds is all that’s required
to go from being happy as a clam to finding yourself trapped within a crumpled
ball of fabric and steel tubing. Thoughts and instinctual reactions are quite
literally measured in nano-seconds. It is obviously an unnecessary risk.
Now, look at the above thoughts and overlay them with the sure knowledge that
I am, by nature, a very conservative, risk-adverse individual. Compared to many
of my peer group, I’m so conservative as to appear borderline frumpy. Plus,
I’m acutely aware of how easy it is for something as stupid as
operating an equally stupid machine to totally destroy my heretofore
perfect life. So, being a rational man, why do I continue to do it?
Why does anyone who engages in things like skydiving, etc. do it? It’s
not as if they don’t recognize the risks. In fact, I think they do it because
they DO recognize the risk and there’s something in their DNA that demands
they step closer to the edge than most. It’s more than simply having fun.
It’s a complex interplay of mental processes that includes facing a challenge
and winning. In my case, I know for a fact that I can’t NOT instruct in
the Pitts. It scratches a mental itch and it has to be that specific
airplane because of the learning challenges it presents to the student and the
instructional challenges it presents to me. If I were to yield to logic and avoid
what that process represents, my life wouldn’t be the life I want it to be. And I
think that’s the unconscious thought that runs through the brain of every
single person on the planet that is doing something that appears to be outside
the norms in terms of risk.
It should be mentioned that we know the risk is there and what it means in terms
of negative outcomes. However, we always try to manage it and keep it within
the parameters we judge as being justifiable within our own minds. On the other
hand, those personal parameters vary wildly. Most of the people in my life are
doing essentially the same thing I am. However, those who aren’t (mostly
inlaws and such), think I’m nuts. I, on the other hand, look at what I
do as simply “what I do” but, at the same time I think that those
guys flying wing suits low level are flat-out crazy. So, both sanity and insanity
are open to definition.
All of the above having been said, think about this super high risk to which
we are all exposed but don’t even consider a risk: nothing threatens us
as much as driving down a two lane road with a car coming towards us. Our speeds
almost always produce a closing rate of 70-120 mph. On-coming traffic will
pass within ten feet and, as they flash past, the driver may be stoned/drunk,
on their cellphone or putting their make-up on. Yet, no one sees that as a health
risk. Go, figure!
Forget about checking six. Watch your twelve o’clock.
now, this has been an interesting couple of weeks full of indecision, turnabouts
and mis-leading everything. I’m having another of those work periods where
the flat spots on all four tires have hit the ground at one time (deadlines,
students, etc.) but I try to keep up with the news. But, I can’t. Of course,
our leadership seems to be having the same problem.
I skipped Thinking Out Loud last week because of severe time pressure and because
no matter what I said at that time, things around us were changing so quickly
that, as soon as I said something, it would be wrong in a few hours. I waited
to let things settle down. Only they didn’t. I now know less then I did
two weeks ago and our national direction is only slightly more discernable.
Things have gotten so weird, I expect to see “Putin for President” bumper
stickers any day now. He really stomped all over us on this one. And rightfully
so. Still, I’m tired of seeing photos of him riding horses or launching
through the waves bare chested (and entirely too muscular and leader-looking
to be a President). The Internet press (not the mainstream press) has been having
terrific fun playing the Real Man vs the Real Geek game with photos of Putin
and our own leader.
It has been painfully obvious over the past ten days that even though Putin represents
everything the American People are not, we at least know for a fact where he
stands on issues, what he stands for, what his thoughts are, what his thoughts
will be for the future, and who he is. In a twisted sort of way, he’s sort
of a KGB version of Reagan. The foundation our own leadership is built on appears
to be soluble Jello blocks that melt and change shape, when exposed to the heat
of the real world. As I’m writing this, the only thing we know for a fact
is that Obama absolutely will not negotiate with Congress over Obamacare. Or
the debt ceiling. The legislation the Congress just passed will fund the government
through December, but will not include Obamacare. This will be vetoed by the
President and the government will be shut down. In effect, it’s his football
and, if he can’t win, damn everyone else, he’ll take his football
and go home. The result will be government shutdown. Governing by petulance at
Okay, look at that carefully: HE will make a decision that shuts down the government
because HE didn’t get his way, BUT, and this is important, the Republicans
will be blamed. You can count on that. The facts won’t matter.
I hate to admit it, but I think I agree with those, including Bill O’Reilly
(who drives me nuts on many levels even though he’s on our side), who say
the Republicans have to look farther down the road and be more strategic with
their efforts. 2014 is just around the corner and, if we go into that election
as the party that shut down the government—and we WILL be cast in that
role, true or not—we will lose Congress (even a short shut down will be
a public relations disaster of enormous magnitude).
Incidentally, I’m an Independent and subjects like this are the reasons
It may be better to let Obamacare start rolling, let it kick all of us in the
butt, which will help us take both houses in the election. That way we can at
least bring Obama to a standstill for the last two years of his term and do something
serious and long lasting about Obamacare. This is important. Looking at the last
year, there is simply no way we can have another three years like this. It’s
painful to even think about it.
I’m no presidential scholar but I doubt seriously if the first year of
any president’s second term has been as scarred as this one. It has been
incredible! As someone said, if he wasn’t making bad news, he wouldn’t
be making any news. Even though he’s making America look like a bunch of
idiots, it’s hard not to feel sorry for him. It is so obvious to everyone
on the planet that he is simply over his head. But, then, when you take a man
whose total experience in government and management is 143 days and put him in
charge of the world’s biggest economy, the biggest army, etc., etc., in
the middle of a super screwed up world, what do you/we expect? This is no place
And things kept getting stranger as the week progressed.
One of the more incredible happenings was the Washington Post running an editorial
by Putin, which basically pleads with American to realize that they are not exceptional
and never will be, so we should ignore our leadership. Good advice, but not for
the reasons he gives. However, he comes at least as close to understanding us
as our own leadership does. See Putin
And then there was McCain’s op-ed comeback in, of all places, Russia’s
Pravda. Who ever thought we’d be seeing exchanges like that in those kinds
of newspapers? However, if it hadn’t been for the Internet furor over both,
no one would have seen either because almost no one reads newspapers any more.
It was hard to believe so many aspects of the Navy Yard shootings. The bodies
hadn’t cooled the event was politicized, and headlines and headliners (specifically,
my least favorite person on the planet, Pierce Morgan) started screaming about
AR-15’s again. Entire newspaper front pages featured the ever-present firearms
whipping boy (the AR), and the world got the message. HOWEVER, the message the
majority of readers missed came the next day, when we all discovered that it
was actually a shotgun smuggled on base and a handgun taken from a slain guard
that did the damage. Once again, the lie is half way around the world while the
truth is still getting out of bed.
BTW, I have lots and lots of weapons but no AR’s. I just don’t like
the way they feel. Now, M-1A’s and Garands? That’s a different story.
Something about being old school fits here.
I’m wondering if Biden is still advising people to ignore AR’s in
favor of a shotgun for defense. On the other hand, according to the FBI’s
table below, since over twice as many murders are caused by hands and feet, as
shotguns, maybe we should just use what nature gave us and that, as yet, don’t
have to be registered. Or pick up a blunt object: much cheaper than guns and,
according to the chart, half again as effective. Note how murders have come down
consistently since 2007. 2012 was even lower. Source:
I can hardly wait to see what the next week of sem-civilization brings us. NOT!
me make sure I understand this: two forces, both of which hate America’s
guts, are duking it out, and politicians are saying that one side did something
inhumane to the other, so we should punish them. Hmmm! Logical people are saying
we have no business getting involved and there is absolutely nothing but downside
for us. Nothing! So, why the debate?
First, let me state something so there’s no misunderstanding: the use of
gas against any population for any reason is not only against international law
but is a violation of basic morality. It’s an incredibly terrible thing!
This is the kind of situation for which the UN was formed. Okay, so it’s
an ineffectual organization, but it’s an international problem so they
should solve it. However, knowing how ineffectual the UN is, someone has to step
in so that those perpetrating genocide know they can’t get away with it.
But should that “someone” be us?
The truth is that I'm very conflicted about this subject. I'd love to think that
we could single out Asaad’s chemical production plants, send a couple of
missiles in and put them out of business. Slam, bam, there would be a smoking
hole in the ground. No one got hurt and an evil was banished. Of course, that’s
Pollyanna thinking. Still, some think we should launch a strike if nothing else
to show Syria and the world that we still mean business and we still stand for
good. But, frankly I don't have confidence that our leadership can do that and
a botched mission is worse than no mission. However, I think our military can
pull it off in spades, if they’re given the right intel and they are left
alone to do their job. Unfortunately, it is seldom that our troops go afield
without politicians looking over their shoulders from afar dictating their actions.
Personally, I’d like to see a scenario where the White House briefs military
and intelligence leaders and the entire briefing is “Find the chemical
weapons plants and inventory and destroy them with zero collateral damage. It’s
up to you to figure out how. The timetable is right now. You’re on your
own. You’ll have everything you need from us, no questions asked. Get back
to me, when you’re finished. Now, go get ‘em!”
This fits in with the line of thought that America has always been the leader
of the free world and we’ve done our level best to right wrongs, even though
we’ve stumbled a lot while doing so. And the use of gas on the battlefield
is one of those wrongs every single person in America subliminally wants to be
set right. However, right now we have so many crises on our plates that we’re
crisis-weary. Also, we’re tar baby weary: too many “limited conflicts” have
turned into tar babies and cost us too many young men and women, too much money
and too much of our leadership energies and the benefits have been tangible,
but hard to measure. We’ve suffered at home while trying to make things
better abroad. And that’s why polls this week show that 70-80% the population
is against any military action in Syria. It could be another Arabic tar baby,
and we’ve had far too many of those.
Unfortunately, the Middle East presents very complex issues that our track record
says we aren’t very good at solving. Our “Oh, gee let’s help
the poor downtrodden” efforts really worked well in Libya and Egypt didn’t
they? We helped create and left terrific messes there. Ditto Iraq and Afghanistan.
The entire region is tribal-based with loyalties and animosities going back thousands
of years. They’ve been fighting each other since creation and will be after
we’re long gone. Unfortunately, as bad as dictators can be, they bring
a semblance of order to regions that are, by nature, disorderly, but we have
a difficult time dealing with that. The cultures involved are so far outside
of our own that we just don’t know how to work with them. This doesn’t
give our population (including me), confidence that we can pull off a surgical
strike and make it work. Especially since the bad guys know we’re coming
However, the central question that has to be answered is whether we’re
still willing to step up to the plate and kick some ass, when a wrong needs to
be righted even when there’s no obvious benefit to us. A better question
might be, “Can we kick ass without it drawing us into a long conflict?” Most
folks don’t want to take the chance and in this case, for good reason,
since we’re not even sure which ass needs kicking. We don’t know
exactly what or who we want to hit, we don’t know exactly why we’re
doing it, what we want to accomplish, or what the follow-up plan is. This is
a super complicated, potentially explosive situation that appears to be well
beyond the experience or capabilities of our current leadership.
Of course, this all may be a moot point because, while we’re dithering
around here trying to make up our minds, any possibility of a meaningful strike
has evaporated because Asaad has moved his assets into residential areas. Even
worse, both sides are bad guys, so, when finished, how will we know we did the
right thing? Here’s a horrifying thought: if we do this, every single collateral
casualty—and there will be lots of them—will be put on display for
the cameras with the goal of painting us as the bad guys, and in foreign eyes,
I tend to go with the Wall Street Journal headline that says, “This is
the wrong time, wrong place, wrong plan, wrong man.” And judging from what
the general population is saying (and not too subtly), they agree. So, if El
Presidente decides to go ahead with this thing, there will be a high level of
backlash on both sides of the aisle. Plus it’s scary to even guess what
the international fall-out to that would be. On the other hand, if it comes off
without a hitch, he’ll be a hero. But, I’m not holding my breath
and he’s probably not either.
I’m betting BHO wishes he’d never made the “line in the sand” comment.
I know I sure wish he hadn’t said it. bd
some cob webby corner of my mind I’ve always thought that there are some
basics that every guy should have to make it through life. Women should have
their own, similar list, but, since I don’t understand women, I won’t
even try to figure out their needs. For men, however, I think I have it pretty
First, before I give my rendition of the accouterments necessary for a perfect
male life, I should say that the list started out to be a very short one: the
right woman, a good friend and a good dog. I could stop right there and ignore
everything else in life, and the man would still come pretty damn close to having
a perfect life. Then I started looking past the basics to a few items that some
might consider luxury items and the list got longer. But it was still basic.
And I still see most of the items as being necessary.
The Right Woman
Of all the decisions we make in life, none is more important than coming up with
the right partner. And “partner” is the correct term. Not wife. Not
lover. Partner. We all have different ideas of the kind of relationship we think
is perfect but, in my eyes, the central theme should be “partnership” where
you’re working shoulder to shoulder and both going in the same direction.
I didn’t know how good a relationship could be until I met Marlene and
partnership became part of the equation. The difference is unbelievable.
A Good Friend
This is the guy who will tell you that you’re full of crap, when you need
to hear that. He will, however, be there to listen to your sob stories without
a trace of judgment and place a hand on your shoulder in the process. Better
yet, he’s the guy you can absolutely positively trust to have your six
in any situation. If you’re lucky, you’ll have more than one of those.
I’m blessed to the extreme in that area. Incidentally, the way you know
you have the right guy is when you know you’d do exactly the same for him.
A Good Dog
We’ve all been there and there is no such thing as a universal good dog.
Like the right woman, they are totally unique to each of us. However, you know
it’s the right dog because they possess the best traits of your right woman
and your good friend. And he/she smiles with its tail.
A Cat That Cares
A lot of folks don’t like cats because of their independent streak. But
cats that care do exist. And, when you turn over in the middle of the night and
your dog is snuggled up on one side and the cat on the other, you know that part
of your life is complete.
A Good Pair of Boots
Don’t over look this one. When you slide down into a pair of high quality,
perfect fitting boots you instantly know you’ve found another friend. And,
as they wear-in and fit themselves to you, when wearing them you somehow feel
as if you’re in your comfort zone,. It’s hard to describe, but you
know it, when you experience it.
A Good Acoustic Guitar
It doesn’t have to be wildly expensive, but chances are it won’t
be cheap either. It won’t, however, be the first one you pick up because
long after the tree has been felled and sawed, wood is still a living, breathing
entity. This is why guitars vary even more than women do. Plus, guitars fit your
hands in different ways and the voice flows into your mind in ways that give
each a personality. You know that personality is right the instant you do something
as simple as strumming it. And, like your dog, it becomes a friend for life.
The Right Revolver
Here too, it need not be expensive but it probably will be. Or at least you’ll
invest a few hundred dollars in trigger and action work to make it slick and
matched to your taste. And it need not be new. Or even modern. Mine is a 1908
.44-40 Colt single action that I’ve had since 13 years old. It shows its
character in rounded edges and bluing turned gray. But it fits me like it was
molded to my hand. And I can actually hit stuff with it, which is pretty damn
An Automatic Pistol that Works and Fits
I own more than a few automatics. Still, I keep coming back to my old Browning
Hi-Power. God knows there are more modern pieces out there, but they are simply
machines. The Hi-power is the mechanical equivalent of my favorite pair of Justin
boots. It just fits.
A Good Rifle
Oddly enough, after a lifetime of building and buying rifles, I’m still
looking for the right one. I have several that are close, but I don’t think
a man should ever have everything he thinks he needs. That keeps the search fresh
The Right Tools
Certain types of men are incomplete without the right tools. Others could care
less. Those who agree with me don’t need me to say any more.
A Dream That is Ours
Life is totally incomplete without a dream that is over and above simply making
a good living and providing for our families. It sits out there and gives us
direction in life. Plus with each step closer to realizing that dream, we feel
as if we’ve accomplished something of worth. Nothing in life does more
to motivate us than seeing measurable progress towards a dream. And it makes
no difference what that dream may be.
A Dream Unrealized
We should always have more dreams than we can possibly accomplish. That’s
nature’s way of making sure we don’t slack-off.
A “guy list” is a very individual thing, but I’m betting at
least some of these are on every guy’s mind. Now, all we need is a way
to check off those items that are done and add the ones that are missing.
of the hair-brain things I’ve always thought that I’d like to do
is publish a little digital newspaper while traveling around the country. I know
this has been done before but this would just be me, Marlene, the kids (dog and
cats) and my laptop. We’d be out there, writing about, and photographing,
whatever strikes my fancy. ‘Don’t know what I’d call it. Maybe “Motoring
With the Menagerie”. Or “Bits and Bytes From the Road.”
Just think of how easily that can be done today. The graphic layout could be
done on my laptop. And it could be distributed across the universe with the push
of a button. I wouldn’t even have to pull over and park.
Isn’t this a wonderful time we live in? Through technology, anyone with
an ax to grind, an idea to sell or an urge to talk, can be his own publisher
(witness this blog). Better yet, anyone with a computer has as much access to
the market place as a multi-billion dollar publishing company. That’s a
little scary, actually!
Question: if YOU were cruisin’ and talkin’, what would you talk about
and where would you go? In my case, I think the short answer to both questions
is “Everything and everywhere.”
When thinking about this in the past, I’d picture an old motor home trailing
a roostertail of dust as it went from tiny town to tiny town. Now, of course,
out here in the west, there aren’t a helluva lot of dirt roads that you’d
want to be out on alone. Most of the roads that actually go anywhere have been
paved or blacktopped. Strike out on some obscure dirt road in the West and you
may never be seen again.
For sure, we’d travel on nothing but two-lane roads. But, if we’re
out in the middle of some place like Nebraska and we see a grain elevator in
the distance, we’d be happy to jump off on a dirt road. Everywhere except
the West has civilization just around the corner and the local area isn’t
environmentally lethal. In fact, where there’s a big elevator, there’s
often a small town. Of course, in states like Nebraska, you can stand at any
rural crossroads, turn 360 degrees and see elevators breaking the horizon in
all four directions. Small towns are EVERYWHERE, and each of them contains a
history and a population that are just full of stories that need to be told.
The key to an interesting publication would be to find tiny towns that are scattered
around every corner of the country, East, West, North, South. We’d be looking
for those towns that have somehow managed to survive while maintaining their
But what would we do when we got there? First thing would be to go visit the
airport, hopefully a grass runway. A common interest builds links between people
in a heartbeat.
Then, we’d search out the local favorite café (towns this size don’t
have “restaurants”) and strike up conversations with the locals.
We’d go to local baseball games. Concerts. Rodeos. County fairs. And everywhere
we’d be looking for characters and just-plain-folks who have stories that
And what kind of vehicle would we be driving? As I’m typing, I’m
picturing a long-wheelbase van body sitting on a four-wheel drive chassis. It
would just be your, normal off-road, 230-inch wheel base van, set up for off-road
cruising and equipped for camping. And publishing. Okay, so maybe it’s
not so normal.
Unfortunately (or not), every time I get these “on the road” fantasies,
after a few minutes my brain gives my imagination a reality-enema to bring it
back into the world, as Marlene and I know it. The truth is that, as much as
I enjoy driving and traveling, I can only do it for a week or so. The very few
times in my life (two or three that I can think of) that I’ve actually
been on a two-week vacation, I had such a tension headache after the first week
that I was no fun. Picture a guy sitting in the sand at the Lagoon in Disney
World with a tension headache.
Apparently, as with many folks, the concept of being a wanderer sounds good,
but the realities don’t work out that way. A lot of us just can’t
be happy wanderers. Even if I were publishing a paper, which would make me feel
as if I were actually doing something productive, I’d still get antsy very
quickly. For one thing, I don’t like being away from my workshop projects:
this even though I don’t work in the shop an hour a month. I’m also
happiest, when I wake up to an impossibly long list of things that have to be
done on the professional side of my life. Articles. Publishing. Flight training.
I have to feel as if I’m a necessary cog in the wheel of life and that
I’m not just driving through leaving no meaningful marks.
Of all the reasons people give for not retiring, the last statement above is
often the most important. A lot of folks that I know just can’t give up being a player. We don’t want
to suddenly look at ourselves as someone who isn’t vitally connected and
making things happen. Most of us wish that we could, but we can’t. I, for
one, envy those who can kick back and work on their cars, or whatever, any time
they want. But, some malformed part of my brain won’t let me.
So you won’t see me meandering around the country, going where the wind
blows, lap top in hand. Actually, that’s wrong. You WILL see me doing that,
but the meandering will be at very high speed, going from specific point/project/responsibility
to the next. So…maybe it’s the meandering part of the equation I’m
not good at.
This is another of those unanswerable “it’ll be what it’ll
be” things. And God knows we’ve all got plenty of those.
August 2013 —Clowns,
was catching up on my news this morning and the majority of it made me want to
vomit. There were massive headlines and op-eds about a rodeo clown mocking the
president and zero about the murder of Karla Equez in Chicago and only a line
or two about our leaders going on vacation while the nation burns to the ground.
Wow, we’re really screwed up. Karla, btw, was 5 years old!
First the clown. The rodeo one, I mean. He was banned by the rodeo board for
life. The NAACP demanded a federal probe of him as being a security threat. The
entire world landed on this poor guy’s back and he wound up on every front
page in the country because he wore a rubber mask of the President while challenging
Oh, gee, when was the last time a clown wore a rubber mast of a President and
made fun of him? Like constantly during the entire term of just about every president
that has served since rubber masks were invented. The ones I remember most were
those of Reagan and Nixon. There were others, obviously, but those have stuck
with me. For the life of me, I can’t remember what the impersonators were
saying or doing, but I’m damn sure it was poking fun at the president,
which is, by the way our first amendment right.
It is, however, apparently not a right to pose a security threat to the President
by blatantly standing in the middle of a rodeo arena and daring a bull to run
over your tender young body while wearing a mask. That’s entirely too threatening.
As nations go, ours is one of the leaders in presidential comedy. Both in the
way our Presidents act and the way we, the people, ridicule them. It’s
our culture. It’s in our genes not to take politicians nearly as seriously
as they take themselves. But Missouri, where the clown was clowning, of all places
ought to understand the concept of presidential comedy. I can see some place
like NYC getting upset at something like this, but out there where the dirt,
the cow sh*t and the bulls are real, I’m dumbfounded they would let a small
segment of society (which includes, of all things, the NAACP), push them to take
such extreme action against a rodeo clown.
Incidentally, being a rodeo clown isn’t all fun and games. Offering yourself
up as a goring target to a 500 pound hamburger that’s about to spike some
poor cowboy that just got knocked senseless and is laying in the dirt, is not
a job you see a lot of city slickers volunteering for. It takes a helluva lot
of guts and it’s being done to try to save someone from serious injury
or death. And, to make matters worse, it’s being done while wearing white
face (or a mask), baggy pants and a red nose. There’s no expectation of
either stardom nor dignity. It’s all about saving the cowboys. These guys
are heroes no matter how you slice it.
And, to his credit, I don't think I heard the White House even comment, on it,
which is a good thing. For a change.
So, this guy and his rubber mask are splashed all over the headlines. The death
of Karla Equez was not. And there’s no reason it should be because she
was just one of three killed in Chicago today. That makes 18 for the week. And,
oh by the way, Friday they hit the magic 250-murder mark for the year. There
is good news, however, they’re down 23% against 2012 but only 4% against
2011. Just to show that I’m not shooting from the hip, here’s a website
for you to check the facts. It’s fascinating reading about the town with
some of the very toughest gun laws in the country and the city, which gave birth
to the cast, crew and script we’re seeing on stage in Washington. http://homicides.redeyechicago.com/.
So a clown gets eviscerated for clowning around and a 5-year-old’s death
(along with 17 others) is ignored. Yep, we’re truly screwed up. And it’s
sad, really sad.
And the nation is facing the worse financial situation we’ve ever been
in yet every seat in Congress is empty. Ditto the White House. Damn! Hey, guys,
when we have something happening at work that absolutely has to be dealt with
for the good of the company, every working slob in the country will postpone
his or her vacation and put our shoulder to the wheel. Why not you? Do the work,
then the R & R.
Not the other way around. Especially when deadlines are involved!
Who is setting our priorities? Politicians? Or some other clowns? bd
2013 — Trips
I rolled over this morning and looked at the alarm clock, it read 0434 and I
jumped up with a start: Oh, my God did I forget to print
out our boarding passes? Damn! Then I looked around and realized I was home.
And had been for six days. And had awaken with the same revelation four of those
days. Some trips seem to never end.
I’ve had several Thinking Out Loud readers ask me about Oshkosh (I categorically
refuse to call it by its contrived marketing name, AirVenture) because I’d
mentioned I was going to miss two consecutive episodes of these Saturday morning
journalistic ramblings while gone. I’m going to do an Oshkosh-specific
segment in my Grassroots column for Plane and Pilot. Watch for it. So, I don’t
want to duplicate thoughts here, but one thing about Thinking
Out Loud is that
I can cover aspects of life, including Oshkosh, that I can’t mention in
a purely aviation venue such as Plane and Pilot.
One of the interesting aspects of Oshkosh for someone like me, who is there actually
working, is the long-term impact it has on you (btw-if you don’t know about
the fly-in, hold up your hand and I’ll try to explain it, even though it
is actually unexplainable). I’d try to be on the field no later than 0600
and made it at 0530 part of the time. I’m out there trying to shoot photos
with the usually unobtainable combination of low sun angle and no people. I hit
the field early seven times in a row but four of them were a waste of time: the
people hadn’t started to arrive, which was good, but an overcast devoured
the sun every time, which was bad. But, I was out there anyway just in case it
I’d do the same thing about 7 pm each evening looking for the artsy glow
of the setting sun with no feet in sneakers showing behind the airplanes. I was
more successful at that. Then I’d get together with some friends (Marlene
came in mid-week) and we’d go out and tell lies until it was well past
all of our bedtimes (most of us are gray dogs). But, as tired as I was, I didn’t
need to set an alarm to wake up the next morning because the adrenaline would
do that for me. My body would be a train wreck and be begging for another half
hour in the rack, but my brain wouldn’t give in: it was ready to rock and
roll. So, it all started again. After a week of that, it’s small wonder
that my body clock and mental well being are still challenged.
All that having been said, it honestly feels as if Oshkosh happened two months
ago, rather than six days, as of this writing. I think that being suddenly dropped
back into the high-speed cesspool of daily life has that effect on everyone,.
It’s only when traveling that I read novels, and then only in short spurts.
I use them as motivation to work on my own current novel, Second City. And I
actually made some progress there. My heroes are no longer tied up in a Guatemalan
jungle but are headed for trouble in a remote corner of the Iraqi desert. Who
knows, I may finish this one before I die. Maybe not. Actually, I have to finish
it because I love the ending I have in mind and can hardly wait to write it.
FYI – I finished one of Clive Cussler’s novels that was actually
written by someone else: they are usually better than Cussler’s own books.
His prose is so weak I treat them like B-movies on TV: they lull the brain to
I also finished one of John Sanford’s “Prey” series (I’m
not aware of it, but apparently I read fast!), whom I consider one of the better
current writers and I like to watch how he treats personal descriptions and his
use of words and phrases. One of my favorites is “…he was the kind
of guy who would get out of the shower to pee.”
Also read one of James Patterson’s Alex Cross novels (I won’t read
the ones actually written by someone else) because he’s does a lot with
few words. As a novelist, he pisses me off because he dropped out of the world
of advertising as president of one of the two or three largest advertising agencies
in the world, already a millionaire, and has scored one best selling novel almost
every year since ’96. Pisses me off! But I learn a lot from reading his
and Sanford’s stuff. Grisham too. However, John D. MacDonald is still one
of the very best.
As an Oshkosh souvenir, I brought back what may be a gray dog injury (super heavy
camera bag) or just another sign of normal wear: occasionally I’ll have
a year or so where pain radiates out of the base of my neck, through my shoulders
and into a hand, making it semi numb. This time it’s my left hand. It hurts
but is more of an annoyance than anything else. The last time this happened,
the neurologist looked me in the eye and said, “It’s bone spurs getting
into nerve bundles and most folks have them. It just a sign that the warrantee
on your body is up.” Bummer!
About the airplanes (yes there were some at OSH): Antiques were way, way up with
more high quality, big ones (Travel Airs, WACO’s, etc.) than at any time
in the last five years. Maybe longer. However, one of my favorites was an unbelievably
slick-looking S3HD WACO.
There were about a dozen of these
S3HD WACOs built as muli-use military birds most of which went to Cuba.
There was only one built for civilian use and this is it. It is so COOL!
Photo: Mike Kelly/EAA
Homebuilts gave the impression of being down, but that was
because there were acres and acres of them, mostly RVs and EZ’s parked
around the corner a little ways from the main display area so they weren’t
stage center and were easy to miss. One of my favorites was a Midget Mustang
that had been grand champion in 1964 and I’ve lusted after it every since.
And a Hatz biplane that was crafted inside and out to look like an antique.
A terrific idea!
I've lusted after this Midget Mustang since I first saw it in 1964, when
it was Homebuilt Grand Champion. Built by the legendary Jim Lloyd Butler,
even the cheeked cowl is formed aluminum. What a classic piece of art!
Mark Lightsey of Riverside, CA made every detail of his Hatz look as
if it was a production airplane, circa 1933. What a lovely little machine!
Warbirds seemed more or less stable with the standout new
one being a fully restored (turrets and all) PV-2 Harpoon. That I believe was
a first. At least I’ve
never seen one restored to that level.
The high point of the week was a couple of lunches and dinners where just about
every one of my friends of the heart was in attendance. I’m so frigging
lucky to have some guys that are as close as brothers and have been with me almost
forever: One over 50 years (an old guitar playing buddy), with others almost
that long. These are guys that I can have zero communication with for six months
and, when we meet or call, we pick up with the last half of a sentence that was
left unfinished last time around. But, it’s almost never that I have
them all in one place at one time. This year I came close. In fact, the only
time I can remember having every one of them together was at our wedding 15
It’s the laid back, everyone-knows-everything-about-you, and no-subject-is-off-limits
feeling that sets those moments apart. And makes them live in your mind forever.
That’s what really makes Oshkosh worth the trip. bd
2013 — Overwhelmed...again!
am so frigging tired of the world. The headlines just keep getting bigger, each
making us feel more and more overwhelmed. I’m reaching the point that I
deal with it any more. But, I have the perfect fix for that. And you’re
invited to come along: Friday I’m leaving the world and going to Oshkosh,
where, for a week, the real world isn’t allowed to cross the airport boundaries.
I am so incredibly glad that I’m leaving the US and heading up to the Fly-in
of all Fly-ins. I need a serious decompression of heart and soul, both of which
have been taking a beating lately courtesy of the headlines, and OSH is the place
to do it.
I’m not kidding one bit, when I say that the week at Oshkosh, Wisconsin
during the EAA fly-in is the same as parachuting onto a remote island. And I
mean remote! It might as well be surrounded with thousands of miles of water
which forms a moat between we escapees and everyone else. For just a
few days, we’re liberated and it definitely feels that way. It’s
interesting how, after you’ve been wandering the lines of aircraft and
exhibitors for a few days, you totally forget whatever it was that was jacking
your blood pressure up.
For one thing, it’s a comforting feeling to know that virtually everyone
on the grounds shares at least one common trait: we’re passionate about
the third dimension. We’re totally in love with the concept of flight.
And somehow that transcends everything that usually defines and separates people.
It irons out all the wrinkles and an amazing thing happens: suddenly
you don’t know, nor do you care, whether someone is liberal or conservative.
That alone is a wonderful, and much needed release. The tension between the two
in the real world is becoming almost unbearable.
Another thing that’s cool about the crowd, in general, is that you can
stop anyone in the crowd and strike up a conversation without even trying. I
tell you how many times I’ve used someone’s baseball cap to get a
conversation going. I saw someone with a Hillegass race car hat and did my usual
conversation-opening gambit: “Hey, got an antique midget to go with the
hat?” That lead to a long winded discourse about our tastes in vintage
race cars and me whining about losing my Hillegass midget in the divorce, etc.
Another time it was a hat with the flowery “FN” logo of Fabrique
Nationale, the Belgian arms manufacturer. That had the two of us going on about
FN-FALs and Belgian Browning Hi-Power pistols.
If there is a narrow niche interest in any subject, it can be found in abundance,
when walking around on Island Oshkosh.
So, anyway, I’m going to miss doing Thinking Out
Loud for the next two
Saturdays in a row. Try to survive the headlines until I return. I’m going
to make sure I don’t read any of them. I love it! bd
July 2013 — On
it’s a new week and in keeping with this month’s tradition, this
week it was another butt-buster trip but to Seattle, where, for a change we got
to see some of the city in its underwear. So to speak. Also, we hung out with
some serious liberals without crossing swords and found out what it’s
like to be irrelevant.
First, the city: I have no idea how many times I’ve landed at Sea-Tac airport,
but it’s many dozens of times. I have no idea how many times I’ve
driven into and through Seattle, but it’s a similar number of times. I
can tell you exactly how many times I’ve driven into and around in Seattle
actually seeing the town: counting yesterday, that would be exactly once. However,
I can tell you it won’t be the last time. We’re coming back to
sample more of the uniqueness that is packed so tightly into quite a small
corner of the US.
The occasion for the trip was an anniversary/wedding celebration for my niece.
It was the day before the Fourth and we came back late the night of the Fourth.
About all we saw of the Fourth was sporadic glimpses of small town displays lighting
up the dark thirty-thousand feet below us. But, that was okay because the 36
hours we were in Seattle was great!
In the first place, even though I was very conscious of the massive amount
of shoreline the many islands and inlets the area had, it never occurred to
me that every inch of that was going to be crowded with wondrous houses, at
least half of the small and large boats in the US and people determined to
take advantage of the sunny day. Being a wooden boat freak, we’re definitely
coming back, renting a boat (and probably a pilot) and spending a couple of
days just cruising along the shoreline seeing what we can see.
The wedding reception was held in the Swedish Cultural Center (they let me in
wearing cowboy boots because they admitted that now they even allowed Norwegians
in) that overlooked the water. Terrific place, terrific party peopled with wildly
interesting people most of whom were between 35 and 50. A good percentage were
brainy young scientists working at various high end research facilities in the
area or were part of the Microsoft universe that occupied a good sized part of
After all of the post-ceremony celebrations (first dance, friends telling stories
you wish they hadn’t told about you, etc.) the group dissolved, as they
always do, to small conversations. In this case, we were out on the deck, which
was…dare I use the word…delightful. So there we were with more
than a few up-and-coming obviously too-intelligent scientist-computer-corporate
types. They were talking a mile a minute starting off with, “And what do
you do? “ “Oh,yeah, and what do you do for them?” “No
They were trading information as each bore deeper into the other’s professional
credentials and background. I’d totally forgotten about the intense population
of high-end corporations in town. And, what I was witnessing all around us
was the intellectual mating dance of the up-and-coming. Each quickly established
who and what they were and then took off in an agreed upon conversational direction
from there. It was a wildly new experience for me.
We’re used to being with birds of a feather but these were entirely different
birds than we were used to. Also, I hadn’t realized that when we’re
in a group, we’re just as conversationally excited as they are but usually
we’re with people our own age or close to it. And that made a huge difference.
We were right there as part of the central group but we might as well have
been invisible: when the conversation turned towards professional accomplishments
or endeavors, it ricocheted around, but not at, us. Not a single soul looked
at, or addressed us, and I realized it was probably because they thought we
were retired. Therefore, we weren’t relevant because weren’t probably
doing anything of interest. Or of importance. Also, I probably looked entirely
too relaxed hanging out on the deck, so they assumed that’s what I did
all the time. Or something. I left knowing everything there was to know about
most of those in the group, but Marlene and I were just toadstools around the
edges. It was an interesting experience.
The most interesting experience, however, was the next afternoon, when we got
a tour of the subterranean areas of old-town Seattle. It turns out that in
1889, they had a helluva fire that flattened over a 100 acres of downtown.
Burned it right down to the mud. And I mean mud, because they were on a tidal
flat. So, the city decided it was going to build the area up about 15 feet
with fill (a lot of fill!) but it was going to take years. The merchants, however,
wait that long to rebuild so they went ahead and started building these amazing
stone and brick (a city requirement so they wouldn’t burn again) buildings,
most featuring Victorian-Romanesque architecture. It was a beautiful section
of town. But remember, when they decided to start filling the area, the buildings
were already going up, so the city built 15 foot brick walls on both sides
of where the streets would be and started filling in between. So, all of the
buildings were going to be 15 feet below street level. Rather inconvenient.
The architects were aware of the situation so they designed the buildings with
two first floors. The first was at ground/mud level and the second was up where
the street would eventually be. So, for years, business was conducted in what
amounted to deep, wide trenches on either side of the roads and to get from one
block to the other, you had to climb a ladder to get up and over.
When the streets were finished, the City roofed over the big empty areas, making
them sidewalks and what had been the original businesses on the first floor were
essentially forgotten. In fact, the blocks and blocks of abandoned subterranean
structures were forgotten until 1961, when a civic minded individual started
excavating the area. They now offer walking tours that take you through a ghostly
series of abandon, and sometimes rotted, stores and shops that exist beneath
the current buildings. It was fascinating.
One of the coolest things was the junked elevator machinery that had been dumped
down there to get rid of it. It had a gigantic worm and ring gear gear set up
just laying in the dirt. The main shaft had to be a foot in diameter and six
feet long with the four-foot ring gear to match. Now THAT would look boss leaned
up in the corner of the office.
So, now we’ve had a crash course in Seattle to add to last week’s
Buffalo experience. Oshkosh comes up in a couple of weeks and it’s unlikely
we’ll be talking about the architecture, when we return from that. Yeehah! bd
June 2013 — Runaway
is getting to be a habit; being a week or so late. And I have the same old lame
excuse: I was out of town. This time it was Buffalo, NY. The occasion was a mini-family
reunion. This was only four days after returning from the LA trip covered in
the last Thinking Out Loud and next week we go to Seattle for a wedding. This
is getting to be a helluva lot like work! I’d say I’m getting too
old for this sh*t, but then, it’s this sh*t that’s making me old.
The LA trip (two weeks ago today) included a 0330 launch, a six hour drive to
LA, walking 8.2 miles (according to my Garmin wrist thingie) on LA swap mart
asphalt, a flurry of activity with my daughter, then a Monday that included an
0400 launch home, 6 hours of driving, doing four hours of ground school and flying
with two students. That was Monday. Friday we launched for Buffalo then were
on our feet for 23 hours this Monday coming home. Damn, just typing that made
tired! Still, the time has been well spent and included new discoveries and family
perks we just hadn’t foreseen. We’ll recap the last ten days in reverse.
First, Niagara Falls: I’d been there probably 40 years ago and was relieved
to see that it was still there. I keep expecting news to leak out that places
like The Falls and Grand Canyon have been deeded to China to cover part of our
debt. What makes that especially worrisome is that China appears to have the
technology and wherewithal to simply move both sites to China, leaving us with
even bigger holes in the ground.
Second, we had most of Monday to experience The Falls so we did the whole tourist
thing. And so, it seemed, did the rest of the world. Marlene and I were definitely
in the Anglo-minority, not because the local population was non-Anglo but because
The Falls is an international tourist destination. Although the Grand Canyon
is no stranger to foreign tourists, the percentage is much lower than the Falls
presumably because the Grand Canyon isn’t on the way to anywhere. You’re
either going there or you’re not. Buffalo is a major international airport
and The Falls are barely a half hour away. So, we shared our day with lots of
tour groups from Pacific Rim countries, even more Indians and Pakistani’s
and herds of Europeans we couldn’t identify. However, even though we were
just about the only “Americans” in attendance (if you don’t
count several Amish family groups), it all felt very natural. As if we were in
a European location, rather than one in the states.
|They warn you that you'll get wet during the Maid
of the Mist boat tour. Marlene didn't believe them.
I believed them.
The city of Buffalo itself was a serious surprise: Although
it has shrunk to the size it was a century ago, it has some of the most interesting
architecture we’ve seen. Their incredibly sudden fall from economic grace,
caused by a number of factors including the Great Lakes being connected to
the Atlantic, which killed the Erie Canal happened so quickly that they didn’t
have the finances to tear down the many buildings that were abandoned. And
talking about some classic late nineteenth, early twentieth, century buildings
and lots and lots of factory buildings. Now they’ve been going up hill
for enough years that many of those older buildings have been restored in a
breathtaking fashion. It’s REALLY an interesting city. And their cemetery
has so many rich folks buried in it that it easily wound up on my top three
list of favorite cemeteries. I’d love to spend an afternoon there with
The family reunion meant re-connecting with nieces we hadn’t seen in forever,
seeing my older sister and my own Number One son and his tribe. That only lasted
about a day and a half, but it was all pure magic. There is just no substitute
for family. Billions of gallons of water running amok over a ledge don’t
hold a candle to it.
Going back a full week to the LA Roadster show; what can I say about walking
your feet down to your ankles while touring that magic land known as Swap Market.
Go to Swap Mart for
a few pix of stuff that, for one reason or another tickled my fancy (what a
silly phrase…where did it come from?). Nothing monumental.
Just some neat sh*t.
I’ll be home next weekend, so maybe we can talk about your Fourth of
2013 — Father's
writing this while sitting in a spot that’s about as far out of my comfort
zone as I can get: I started while waiting for my daughter in the lobby of an
LA hostelry that in their website says they provide for people who are willing
to pay for the best. I finished writing while sitting around their rooftop pool.
This place wouldn’t even let me park my own car so I’m prepared for
serious sticker shock at the end of the day. However, this is Father’s
Day, so who cares?
Becoming a parent is one of life’s processes that defies description because
just about every adjective in the English language fits it: uplifting, depressing,
joyful, mine-numbing, hilarious, sad, impossible, easy, expensive, cheap-considering,
maddening, insightful, and on and on. Pick an adjective and it fits. All of them.
Pick a color and they all fit too: beige to gold, black to white, etc. However,
for some of us the adjective that fits the process best is “necessary.” I
couldn’t imagine my life without kids. And grand kids. It turned out to
be a necessity for me, even though at one time I couldn’t, and didn’t
want to, imagine myself with kids. And I was deadly serious about it.
I got married fairly late and had my first at the age of 30. That isn’t
really old, but by that age you have pretty much set your course, as it applies
to your outlook on life. My outlook was very self centered (still is to a large
extent) and “thing-centric,” (which it definitely still is.). I was
supremely happy living with just my wife and me. I didn’t feel as I needed
anything more than her, my things and my new-found world of words, photos and
airplanes. I already owned, and was instructing in, a Pitts and had flown Mustangs,
P-38’s and such. I was fat, dumb and happy. At least I thought I was.
Then, and I can’t begin to guess why this happened, without warning a very
clear thought, like a moving neon sign, slowly crossed the theater of my mind
that said, “Something is missing. This isn’t right!”. I rolled
that thought around in my brain for a while and realized I’d been kidding
myself. So, just like that I said, out loud, “I think it’s time we
have a child. What do you think?” (She did, after all, have a vote in the
matter). She nodded and in a couple days, No. 1 was on his way (Nebraskans are
good at making new Nebraskans: it’s the farmer in us.).
I’ve made a few good decisions in my life and I’ve made lots of bad
ones, but yielding to nature’s call to procreate is the smartest thing
I’ve ever done. Ever! I’m now on the rooftop of the hotel, at the
pool and I can see my daughter on the other side in a meeting with a new movie
director. And it’s all I can do to keep from racing around the pool, grab
her in a bear hug and blurt, “I love you sooo much and am so proud of you!”
Break-break: just now the waitress, or whatever you call someone who serves food
around a pool, dropped off yogurt and strawberries for me from my daughter mid-meeting.
How thoughtful is that?
This morning, as I got out of the shower and was still dripping, the phone rang
and it was Child No. 1, on speaker-phone with daughter-law and Grandkids East,
all bubbly and wishing me happy dad’s day. I didn’t tell ‘em
I was naked. ‘Would would have ruined the moment.
You don’t experience those kinds of highs, if you don’t have kids.
They exaggerate all the feelings of life. You, for instance, don’t really
know what achievement is until you experience the achievements of your kids.
By the same token, you don’t really experience disappointment until one
of them lets themselves down, and you by extension. You don’t really know
pain until it’s the pain your children are experiencing, whether physical,
emotional or financial. And you don’t know the meaning of “restraint” until
you stop yourself from reaching out to pick them up after they’ve fallen
so they learn the lesson each of life’s falls teaches them.
I’ve said this before, but it’s a fact: having kids is like having
a bundle of your own, naked nerve ends out there exposed to the good and the
bad in life and you can’t do a thing to protect them. You feel everything
But, don’t kid yourself. Kids bring their own DNA to the table so, even
if you do your best, some will turn out to be people you don’t like. Or
worse. So parents can’t always blame themselves. I’ve been so lucky
on this score that I can’t believe it. Others haven’t been so lucky.
I mentioned color earlier but no matter how colorful you think your life to be,
kids create, and add, their own colors. And they bring indefinable warmth to
all existing colors that wouldn’t be there otherwise.
Looking back, I’d have to say that my life would have been beige but my
kids have turned it into a rainbow.
So, I’ll put up with LA traffic and valet parking. Noooo problem!
Picture this: a group of authentic-looking movie characters, Goofy to Superman,
moving through the Father's Day crowd and interfacing with herds of turistas
and kids. Darth Vader suddenly pulls up his helmet and puts Chapstick on his
lips. Worse, he had bad teeth and needed a shave. Ruined the character for me
forever! Sure glad it wasn’t Elmo or Cookie Monster.Some things are sacred,
2013 — Scandals
see…there must be something happening out there in the world that’s
worth talking about. Oh,yeah, how about the fact that every frigging thing on
the planet is falling apart, starting with our government and ending with the
leak in my new, very expensive roof. But, I refuse to talk negatives. The press
is finally delving into the scandals, for instance, so I don’t have to.
Instead, I’m going to expand on my love of rust and ruin your day in the
process. WARNING: If you expect to get anything done in the next hour, DON’T
read the following.
RESPONSIBLE READING SUGGESTION: so you don’t get sucked into this rusty
tar baby, I’d suggest a very fast skimming of the below, then come back
to the URL at the endand dip in here and there and spend five minutes at a time
sampling. However, unless you’re one of the very few who can pull a single
potato chip out of the bag and be satisfied, you’re going to get hooked.
Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
First, the subject: what we’re talking about here is abandoned “stuff.” Junk
of the highest possible order. Some of this, you may have seen, but I’ve
been collecting URLs for some time, then I hit the mother lode, started surfing
and woke up long after sunset dozing on my key board. The subjects to be covered
range from abandoned hotels to unique junkyards to ships/airplanes/trucks sitting
where they shouldn’t be
sitting. The URL at the end is the mother lode where most of this comes from
and it’ll amaze you.
I’ve always known that I have a serious weakness for anything that’s
abandoned. And it doesn’t have to be rusty, although rust does have some
sort of hypnotic effect on me. And I’m fairly certain I’m not alone.
If I were the only one interested in this kind of stuff there wouldn’t
be websites like I’m going to turn you on to.
There is something about inspecting the footprints civilization has left behind
that draws all of us in. It has even given rise to a couple of magnetic TV documentaries
that explore, via time-lapse CGI, how the world we’ve built will deteriorate
after we’re gone. And there are documentaries that take us on a tour of
places like Chernoble, where an entire town was forced to get up and leave. We’re
fascinated by things man has left behind.
I have a more specific ailment: I keep visualizing salvaging some of the stuff
you’re about to see and setting it up in my backyard where I can just pull
up a lawn chair and a soda and enjoy looking at it. I’m obviously a rustaholic.
And I’m loving it.
|This isn’t abandoned, in fact when it was posted, the former Russian
submarine was operational and for sale. By the time I saw it, it was sold.
Too bad. $550mm. Wonder who got it.
|This is more my speed . I could see myself spending
a “pleasant” day or two with a plasma cutter. A conning tower
would sit in the backyard, set up as a guest bungalow, complete with periscope.
Some parts would wind up in the house, e.g.water proof hatchways would
let you into my office and defend a funky gun vault.
|The ghost island of Hashima just off Japan
|The trip to Siberia to get this may not be worth it. BTW-how do you break
a loco into so many pieces?
|Props aren't curled so it was landed, not crashed. Wonder if high tide
caught him napping? Or sampling some of his cargo.
|The abandoned Detroit School System book depository. Wait! It's Detroit.
Maybe this is business as usual.
|The only thing left of a Mexican town sticking up out of a lava flow.
'Better have a determined congregation.
|A small part of the Russian tanks left outside Kabul, Afghanistan,
when they came to their senses and left. I wonder how many we'll leave
|When the Aral sea receded it left ships miles out in the desert.
|The LaPaz airport is littered with dying transports. This old C-46 looks
like it might be worth restoring.
|Super close to home: this castle is actually the remains of the warehouse/castle
of Francis Bannerman and sits on an island clearly visible just north of
West Point in the Hudson. Someday I’ll have to tell the story of
Francis Bannerman who for years was the biggest dealer of surplus arms
in the world. Very interesting story. He bought complete armies in the
late 1800s into the early 1900s and resold them from this island.
|A former Russian harbor jammed with ships that crooked captains reportedly
abandoned for profit.
|Hardly recognizable as a Sherman tank, it has lost its turret and gained
windows in its use as a bull dozer at a diamond mine. It is part of a
|This old PBY has been sitting there for well over 50 years. Sure wish
it could talk and tell us its story.
And this is where I ruin your day. If you haven’t figured it out already,
all of this stuff came from www.artificialowl.net.
There are hundreds more photos where these came from! NOTE: If you click on
the main photo of many of the entries it'll open up more pix of the same thing.
Just remember my warnings before you start to look at this. bd
June 2013 — The Manure
hate computers. Or I would, if I thought hating them would make them feel guilty.
But, it won’t. I just have to live with the fact that mine crapped out
again (twice in a month) and sucked another $500 out of my wallet. This forced
me to go another two weeks without doing Thinking Out Loud, and we
went through the holiday weekend with my big computer flat on its face.
My laptop looked forlorn sitting in front of my dead 32-inch monitor (it’s
a monster!) like a kid hoping to play with the big guys. But the little guy gave
its all as it struggled to get caught up on long past deadlines: that’s
another reason I hate computers—they make it nearly impossible to actually
get away from work. However, a couple hours into Sunday morning, I said “screw
this” and talked Marlene into the car but refused to tell her where we
were going. I was determined that we were going to get a couple of hours to ourselves.
As we walked out the door, I thought I was taking her out to a surprise brunch
at a pioneer town on the edge of the city that we’ve never visited. That’s
what I thought I was doing. What it turned out I was actually doing was stepping
into an environment I loved (a bunch of dying buildings that were moved together
to form a pioneer village) where I came face-to-face with the realities of generations
and experiences. Apparently I was from one generation with its unique set of
experiences while much of the rest of the world is from someplace else. I’m
not sure where, but they certainly haven't walked the same path I have.
The town wasn’t a high-dollar tourist trap and was pleasantly worn around
the edges because, for the most part, it was real. Not a Disney recreation. I
couldn’t believe the size of some of the sagging brick buildings and complete
1800’s houses, they had saved from the wrecker’s ball and moved onto
their site. Spread out around a grassy square, the place had a warm, recently
abandoned feel to it.
The buildings were spread fairly far apart with the sometimes-wide spaces between
filled with what I’m certain looked like junk to most visitors. I, on the
other hand, knew exactly why that stuff was all there: there lots of long dead
tools and machines that they had collected from the surrounding desert and haphazardly
dropped between the buildings. There was no effort to arrange them, nor was any
effort being made to preserve them. I spotted everything from single-gang, horse-drawn
plows and wooden wagons sinking into the arid ground to cute little single-furrow
seeding machines. All of them wore that inviting, deep brownish-red patina that
comes only from a century of living a slow death in the desert.
For part of the walk we were loosely grouped with a pair of grandparents having
a day out with a boy and girl, I’d guess to be around nine years old. Without
meaning to, when we’d be standing in the door of an old print or carpenter’s
shop, I’d find myself talking to the little boy. “Hey, you know what
that big twisty thing is? That’s a drill. That’s how they used to
make big round holes in wood.”
That went on continuously as we made our way through the buildings and around
the square. As we walked past an unmistakable (to me, anyway) machine, I pointed
at the wagon-shaped apparatus and quipped (rather cleverly I thought) to the
boy and his grandparents, “Some of us call this a politician.” I
waited for the grandparents, only slightly younger than me, to at least titter.
Blank stares. Nothing! No recognition. So, I explained to the boy, “This
is a manure spreader. You put all your cow and pig poop in here, then, as a horse
pulled it, see how that chain is connect to the wheels, it pulled the poop out
and fertilized the crops.”
The kid nodded understanding. The grandparents were still blank. And I heard
granddad say, “Huh!” and I realized he didn’t know what it
was, even though, of all the equipment on a farm, this is the most universally
recognizable. Then, as my eyes stumbled over a near-by lump of rust that I automatically
recognized as part of a wind driven pump, my brain also recognized that I was
the only one in the group who could identify it. Much worse, I realized that
I was probably the only one that cared.
I swiveled my eyes back along the path we had taken, looking at the wagon swivel
plate sinking into the weeds, pulling a pair of rotting wagon wheels with it.
I spied the disassembled stamping mill out of a long abandoned mine and realized
there were precious few visitors walking past it that recognized its place in
history. In fact, I was a little saddened that so much history and so many of
man’s inventions were scattered around in plain sight but were basically
invisible because apparently so many visitors looked at them but didn’t
actually “see” them. Their minds didn’t reach out and say, “What
the hell is that?” and coax their body to stand there and study the object
until an answer was found. It was just rusted iron. Junk. And, therefore, unimportant.
Is it generational? Is it age? Is it the different types of life experiences?
Or is it just that so many people don’t look around at their world and
try to understand and interact with it. They just aren’t interested in
it. And I think that’s the answer. They have no interest in it. So, it
doesn’t exist for them. What a shame.
Their stamp mill was like this but
nicely disassembled into manageable parts. Like this one,it was about
twelve feet tall and would look so boss in our backyard. Marlene will
never know what she's missing. Too bad!
I’m fairly certain that I was the only individual at the village that
day who closely studied the disassembled stamping mill spread out on the ground
and wondered how much the various parts weighed and whether they’d be
willing to sell it. And I apparently didn’t hide my thoughts very well.
Marlene looked over at me, recognized the signs and sternly said, “No!”
Spoil sport! bd
2013 — Kid
absolutely did NOT intend on writing this. I’d already posted a piece full
of politics and bull sh*t. Then the country song “This is what Brothers
are For” came on the radio and I suddenly welled up, tears started running
down my cheeks and I sobbed like a baby. And still am. Goddamn I miss my brother.
It’ll be 28 years in November. Today, he would have been 69 years old.
My kid brother would have been a senior citizen like me. But, he was a young,
vital 42, when we lost him. And that’s how I picture him. He had this crazy
resemblance to Tom Selleck and once in a while, we’d be walking down the
street and girls would lean out a car window, “Hey, Tom… lookin’ good!” He
was 6’ 3” embarrassingly good looking and the kind of a person that
became a friend of anyone who talked to him for more than about two minutes.
Brother or not, I’ve never met anyone like him in my entire life. A psychologist
by nature, as well as by training (a practicing PhD), he was just the kind of
person everyone on the planet willingly welcomed into their life almost as soon
as he opened the door. He was the very definition of “good guy” and
you sensed it in the first 30 seconds or so.
But, he was probably fated for an early departure from the beginning. Early childhood
diseases said he wasn’t supposed to make it past 10 years old, but he more
than over came that. He was a natural born athlete in all sports and was actually
scouted by major league baseball teams. But his head went another direction.
Hence the PhD. Hence the service with the Phoenix court system as their child
psychologist. His interest was people. And helping them. He’d followed
his natural make-up into a profession.
Funny! It’s not until just this second that I realized that technically
he was Dr. Davisson, but not once in our lives did I ever hear the term used.
He was just Gary, the guy who was here to help in anyway he could.
But, no one could help him.
First, he contracted a nearly fatal case of Valley Fever, one of Arizona’s
best kept secrets. Usually benign with passing cold or flu like symptoms, when
it gets into your blood stream it becomes very serious, very quickly. And that
was him. At the time he was helping terminal cancer patients using bio-feedback
to fight their disease. He couldn’t work, so he closed his practice, climbed
into his Chevy van and hit the road, seeing the world and using his own feedback
concepts on himself. And it worked. But I remember him telling me in a quiet
moment, “If you have a choice, don’t ever be alone. Ever!” The
months as a road gypsy sound romantic, but they weren’t.
Then he met Betsy and he became complete. He was a fantastic father to her kids.
But life caught up with him late one night and I got the call at 2:30 in the
morning. He was gone. A major heart attack took him in only a few minutes. Betsy
holding him as he left. So, he wasn’t alone. That’s important. Very
I was in shock. The next couple days were a blur of airlines, cities and memorial
services. NJ to AZ. Memorial service. Then I was entrusted with his ashes to
take to Nebraska for internment next to our folks' plots. But he got there before
them. The ultimate pain for a parent. I carried him in my clothes bag on the
airplane and talked to him all the way.
Every time I’m back in Seward, I stop by to see him. I sit on the grass
next to him. And we talk.
Only God knows how much different my life would have been if his hadn’t
ended. But at least we had each other for the time we had. They were glorious
years. And I’m thankful for them.
But, damn it hurts! Still, I hope the
day never comes that I don’t unexpectedly have these tears coming down
my cheeks. They mean that somewhere within me, he still lives. And just knowing
that makes the pain worth it. bd
May 2013 — Catching
last Friday, I was out of touch with the cyberworld for well over two weeks.
That also means I was out of touch with the world in general. These days, when
electrons stop doing their thing, you totally lose touch.
And let me tell you, when you try to catch up, it’s painful. Especially
on the news front.
Take my advice: don’t ever try to catch up on two or three weeks of news
in a single sitting, as I did when sifting through nearly 3,000 backed-up e-mails.
It’ll cause brain damage. Just in case you missed some of them, here are
a few highlights I ran across. This is only about a weeks worth. I’ve attached
attribution for most, but I haven’t taken the time to verify them all,
so take them what they’re worth.
I've put in the entire link so you can cut and paste them in case the links don't
Is this a sweetheart deal or what???
It turns out that the US Government has entered into a contract with a single
firm to sell 56 buildings that currently house US Post Offices. The buildings
are surplus and the sales will bring in billions of dollars. But millions of
dollars in commissions will also be paid to that firm. The firm is chaired
by Richard Blum. Know the name? He’s the husband of Senator Dianne
Feinstein. Hmmmmm! She’s also the one who is trying so hard to disarm
Urban Legends says it's true at:
And Then There’s Boston
It’s hard to believe it has been three weeks since the Boston bombings.
During that time we’ve seen the best and the worse of government in action.
I’m personally blown away by how good of a job the FBI did in figuring
this thing out so quickly. At the same time, I’m disgusted by the obvious
intervention by top levels of the government. Something smells in this one.
Regardless, here are some good points about the incident. However, every day
we hear something new, so even though this is less than a week old, read it
in the context of what we know today.
A Less-than-hopeful Note about Economic Take-over
This is from Forbes, not a super-right wing wacko source. Forbes may be conservative,
but in an intelligent sort of way, so it’s worth reading.
Napolitano says Prez Can Pick the laws he Wants to Enforce
It just keeps getting better. Her comments are based on the below, which would
appear directly opposite to what our founding fathers (and the population)
think was/is right.
An Interesting Look at “W” Bush That I Agree
Although I didn’t always agree with “W”, I’ve never thought
of him as being anything other than a worthwhile human being who was doing what
he thought was right for the country. And I’ve seen no one since Reagan
that I would have rather had in the saddle after 911 than him. http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2013/04/26/charles-krauthammer/
We’re Buying Russian Helicopters to Give to Afghanistan
HE promised Vladimir Putin, through Medvedyev, that he
would have more flexibility after the election. This is part of it. While the
United States Air Force is grounding 17 squadrons because of $591 million dollars
in budget cuts, we have the money (borrowed from China) to give Afghanistan
$700 million dollars in Russian, not even US, helicopters. Shall we talk about
unemployment, Mr. Prez? As Beck says, my head is going to explode!
You May be Penalized for Saving too Much?
The Obama administration is now officially proposing (I haven’t verified
a source on this) that no one be allowed to save, via IRAs or 401Ks, more than
$2.7 million. Financial experts and Wall Street annalists are expecting this
to lead to confiscation, one way or another, of retirement funds invested through
IRAs and 401Ks, in excess of that $2.7 mil number (cause the government "needs" money
NOW). They appear to be patterning it on Canada’s proposed system. See http://www.globalresearch.ca/the-confiscation-of-savings-in-canada-cyprus-style-bail-ins-proposed-by-ottawa-government/5329263.
And Don’t Forget Syria
This is a helluva good analysis of the Syrian situation and why we shouldn’t
get involved. It’s from Stratfor, which is a non-partisan global intelligence/research
group. Good information to have in your back pocket should BHO start talking
about backing up his “red line” boast. This one would be messier
and more costly than anything we’ve seen since Vietnam. In my book, you
stay out of civil wars.
Finally one of HIS Teaching Associates Speaks up
This is just me passing along info that I think is vaguely entertaining and
not surprising. http://clashdaily.com/2013/05/chicago-law-prof-on-obama-professors-hated-him-because-he-was-lazy-and-unqualified/#ixzz2SEijOrHu.
And Now for Some Pleasant Stuff
As if to balance off all the BS that arrived during the week, this showed up
this morning. If you skipped all of the above, watch this one. It’ll
make your day.
This is a good one too, but don’t watch it without some tissues handy.
guaranteed to touch you.
Have a good week. bd
2013 — Time,
those of you who dropped me a note over the past week to check on whether I was
vertical or not, thanks. It’s nice to be missed. However, I’ve been
MIA because I found that just when you’ve figured life out and survived,
technology sneaks up and smacks you in the butt.
The reasons I’ve missed talking to ya’ll have nothing to do with
fire, pestilence or plague and everything to do with time and less-than-helpful
First, I had to travel to Florida for work (okay, so it was Sun ‘n Fun,
but I was still working). I came home on that Friday at 6 pm and both of my kids,
my grand kids and my ex-wife and her husband showed up an hour later for a week,
so it was a busy two weeks.
Just to calm your nerves: yes, you read that last sentence correctly. My ex-wife
and her husband came over with my daughter and granddaughter. Further more, we
had a great time. As we always do. People find it strange that Marlene and my
ex get along so well. Even better, I get along with her and her husband great
too. We’re actually friends and laugh our butts off together. It just seems
natural, although at the beginning it drove my kids nuts to see us together that
way. Now, that’s just the way our family functions. No big deal. I figure,
hey, we share two kids and well over 25 years of memories and that had to be
based on something worthwhile, so we saved that “something” and have
gotten on with our lives.
As it happens, the four days everyone was here was the first day of any kind
that I’d had off in 2013 and it had some really strange moments. There
we were. with the exact same herd of loved ones we travel with when we spend
the grand kids’ spring break in California. And just like when we go see
them in LA, we hit all the tourist spots our own area had to offer, ate at all
of the fancy restaurants in all of the fancy parts of town and generally rooted
around in parts of Phoenix/Scottsdale we almost never visit.
It is a tradition that when The Tribe gets together, we wind up traipsing from
mall to mall (all of them outdoors in the sun…it’s either LA or
Phoenix, remember). And eating yogurt (for me). And playing arcade games. We
generally cruise from place to place in a car caravan looking for what can be
found. Nothing in particular. We’ve done that so much in LA (this was a
first for Phoenix) that, as I was dragging my sagging butt through yet another
women’s clothing boutique, it suddenly dawned on me, “Hey! When this
is over, I don’t have to drive seven hours across the desert to sleep in
my own bed. I’m already home!” That realization hit me at least three
times at different points in the non-trip and I was lovin’ it. Plus, we
experienced parts of our hometown we barely knew existed. It was a trip-of-discovery
for all of us and a helluva lot of fun.
One of the downsides to essentially being a gypsy in the way I make my living
is that the “job” is never more than a thought away, regardless of
where I am or what I’m doing. Magazine deadlines, articles, blogs and such
are constantly whispering in my ear and taking tiny bites out of me. So, right
at the beginning, late at night and early in the morning, I’d try to be
sitting here trying to stay on top of my “real” world so I wasn’t
going to get hit by a landslide, when everyone left. Then the technology jumped
up and bit me big time: my computer refused to compute. Microsoft Word wouldn’t
word. And PhotoShop wouldn’t shop.
When I was on the road, I couldn’t get my e-mails and found it was because
my main computer was still on and was downloading them before my laptop got ‘em.
So, when I found my computer was dead, for all intents and purposes, I was dead
too. I couldn’t get at my e-mails, the Website was hidden behind the dead
eye of an equally dead computer and only my laptop kept me more or less in touch
with my world. In total, it turns out my computer was down for something over
two weeks in addition to the travel time.
I got my Mac Medicine Man down here a couple days ago, found the problems were
minor (except that one monitor actually was gonzo, so I’m down to one monitor…how
Jurassic is that?!), got back on line and then sat there for about a half hour
while my server vomited 2,992 e-mails (that’s not a typo, nearly 3,000)
into my in-box. AAAAARRRGGH!
One image in my mind made all of the hassle worth it: it was dark and we were
all sitting on benches next to a sculpture in front of a PF Chang’s eatery.
The sculpture was probably two-stories high and, when you walked into it, you
were standing inside a roughly pyramid-shaped area made of mirrors that somehow
picked up the starry sky outside and reproduced it overhead inside the tip of
the pyramid. Music, mostly rock and roll, was pumped into it at a tasteful level.
I watched as my three-year old granddaughter and all-around amazing organism,
Alice, walked inside the sculpture and discovered the reflected images surrounding
her, the stars overhead and, most of all, the music. She started weaving, then
turning, then bouncing to the beat.
She then broke stride, ran out to the rest of us and started yelling, “Come
on, whole family come and dance, come on!” She continued to taunt us as
she returned to the sculpture to dance. In a few seconds the entire tribe, which
ranged in age from three-years to 70-plus, with almost every decade in between
represented, was a compact mob gyrating to the music inside a mirrored pyramid
in front of a Chinese restaurant on the busiest, most up-scale corner in the
fifth largest city in the country. Most of us danced like idiots, our dancing
skills hidden beneath years of rust and self-consciousness. And you know what?
It felt good.
So, I’m back and I have a lot to talk (complain) about.
A huge amount has happened in the last couple of weeks (obviously) including
amazing statements and actions by the federal government. Next week, as I get
ahead on the magazine deadlines, I’m going to try to get my head around
all of the monumental stuff that took place in recent weeks that was lost in
the media circus created by the Boston Bombings and do a quick summary. That’ll
be for my own information as much as anyone else’s.
So….he’s back (picture Jack Nicholsen’s crazy grin). bd
April 2013 — Life
don’t think life is about DOING things right. I personally think it is
all about MAKING things right after you screw them up. I think it’s about
developing the skills required to recognize a mistake, admit that it’s
a mistake, and then correct it as quickly as possible. This applies to just about
everything we do in life.
When I’m flying with a student, for instance, I really don’t worry
if he is having trouble and makes a lot of mistakes. That’s part of learning.
What I’m watching closely is his ability to see those mistakes and correct
them before they become serious. In fact, that’s the way I personally fly
and how I stumble through life: I’m not naturally good at doing anything,
absolutely nothing. However, I’ve raised the skill of correcting mistakes
to a higher art form and I consider that more important than not making the mistakes
in the first place. Of course, that could just be me rationalizing the fact that
I’m such a klutz at doing so many things.
When I look at life, I see it as one great big paragraph that needs continual
editing and God knows, I do enough of that. No one would believe, for instance,
how many times I have to go back over what I’ve written, pushing the words
around so they make more sense. I’m not one of those magic wordsmiths that
can sit down at a keyboard and the prose flows out in thoroughly logical form
with grace and nuance imbedded in every line. Nope, there are times (this is
one of them, btw) that I’m continually going back to re-read a sentence
or paragraph and saying to myself “What the hell was I thinking, when
I wrote that?” I know lots of guys who hit it right the first time the
words flow through their brain, but I don’t think that’s the majority
Incidentally, the reason some people have trouble writing is that they sit down
at the keyboard and decide to “write.” They change their normal mode
of communication into something that’s stilted and not them. My advice
is to just sit down at the computer and “talk” through your fingers.
Just talk. Don’t use phrases or words you wouldn’t use in normal
conversation. There are only so many Richard Bachs, Ernie Ganns and John D. MacDonalds
(look him up, the best wordsmith of the 20th century) and we ain’t them.
Just talk. Don’t write.
That having been said, unless you’re one of the blessed few that can throw
words on paper and they’re right every time, go back and edit the crap
out of what you’ve written. Read a sentence and, if your eye trips over
something and goes back a few words, something is wrong. Move a few words around
until your eyes flow across the page uninterrupted.
The concept of editing applies to the workshop too. I’ve been fortunate
to be close friends with a couple of world-renown craftsmen, mostly blackpowder
rifle guys (the late John Bivins, for one.). And one of my close local friends
restores older exotic cars for a living (mostly XKE’s, Ferraris, Lambo’s,
etc.). I’ve endlessly studied the way these guys do things in the shop
because I never see them junk a part and start over, as I do continually. Even
I am amazed at how many times I make and re-make the same part to get it even
close to right. I don’t care if it’s something like The Roadster
or a rifle, a knife, a shelf in the hall closet or whatever, I sometimes redo
the same parts so often that it’s ridiculous.
Do NOT mistake the foregoing as me saying that I’m a perfectionist. That’s
a laughable thought. I am anything but a perfectionist. I’m a utilitarian:
I want it to work and look close enough to right that I’m not embarrassed
by it (there are lots of unfinished, embarrassing projects stuffed under my bench),
but perfection has no part in my life (except for flying). That’s just
not the way I roll. Those craftsmen that I know personally, however, are perfectionists
and do things that seem impossible.
A side note: one of the most impossible things I see my car restoration buddy
doing is completely painting and polishing all the individual parts of an XKE
that has been torn apart right down to the bare body shell, then re-assembling
it and not scratching even a single part. That, to me, is pure magic. How can
those guys do that!?
I’ve studied pilots, craftsmen and writers in an effort at understanding
what they do that I might be able to apply to my own skills to improve them.
The closest I’ve come is that universally (anyone who has gone through
my ground school has heard this before), their visual acuity is better than ours:
they are more attune to tiny details. They blow everything up so they see at
the one and two pixel level, while the rest of us have 500-pixel vision.
We can improve, if not fix, the vision thing by just being more aware of the
necessity of looking at everything we do more closely and search out the tiny
These folks, however, couple their visual acuity with a way of sneaking up on
solutions. Because they see tiny details (the way fibers run in a very small
section of wood, the activity right at the leading edge of a weld bead, the way
the word being typed relates to the last one and leads into the next one) they
are ahead of the mistakes they are about to make. So they don’t make them.
Or, if they do make a mistake, it’s so small (not seen by those of us with
500 pixel vision) that they can easily work around it while smoothing up or editing
the piece of work.
The super craftsmen (and women) make the same mistakes the rest of us do, but
their mistakes are smaller so the time they spend editing their life is less
obvious than with the rest of us. Still, I’m convinced that the difference
between those folks who we hold up as being really good at what they do and the
rest of us is that they spend a lot more time editing themselves even if it’s
in the form of practice out of the public view.
Everyone makes mistakes or becomes part of bad situations. It’s how we
own up to those mistakes, combined with our willingness to fix them that makes
us who we are. bd
2013 — Some
you do the same thing I do, when the world is jumping on your head and we’re
being torn fifteen ways from Sunday by deadlines and demands? It’ll be
late at night. I’ll be surfing the web and, for no apparent reason, I’ll
buy something. Sometimes a tool. Sometimes an oddity. Sometimes ammo. Lately
it’s been antique hatchets. It’s very much an impulse buy that I
rationalize by telling myself that I’ve never had a taste for alcohol so
I have a responsibility to guys everywhere to spend all of that un-used beer
Take note: In the above situations, one of the most dangerous companies in the
world (besides eBay) is Amazon.com. They now handle all sorts of stuff besides
books, including tools. But, what makes them a thousand times more dangerous
than most, is their “one step ordering” system, which is brilliant
marketing. I click a box labeled “one step” and no more than two
keystrokes later I’ve spent a lot of money on something I don’t need.
Don’t have a place to put. And probably won’t do anything with in
the foreseeable future. But at least I have it. More important, I’ve scratched
This is QVC for guys. It’s like being an addict and having your dealer
move in next door, when you’re trying to go straight. There’s no
damn way you’re going to resist his sales pitch. Of course, in these situations,
I don’t even try. I figure, the world is picking on me, so it owes me.
How’s that for rationalization?
Every person reading this can identify with these kinds of periods. It’s
when a whole bunch of totally unrelated events, projects and personalities all
conspire to jump on your chest at one time. And you find it hard to breathe.
Or sleep. Or find time to take a pee. It’s those kinds of times that find
me clicking a “submit order” button on some sort of cyber “comfort
food”. Last night it was a 2 x 72 inch, one-horse belt sander as used by
professional knife makers. It was just one of those tools I’ve always wanted
and last night, with my frustration meter pegged, I impulsively bought one as
yet another addition to my “kit program” which is another major compulsion
I feed late at night during periods of stress.
Readers of Thinking Out Loud are fully aware that I’m a totally addicted
project junky. I LOVE building things. All kinds of things, big and little. I
know I can’t work on dozens of projects at the same
time, but I vow that “some day I’ll get at them”. So, I actively
squirrel away tools, parts and materials for each of those projects and assemble “rainy
day kits” for them. This way, in the unlikely event I ever have the time
to actually work on them, I’ll have all the parts and tools necessary.
Ditto for books. Lots and lots of them are stacked up around me that have never
The big sander/buffing unit from last night's buying orgy is part of my “I’m
gonna get serious about scratch building knives” kit. I’ve been sniffing
around the edges of the knife making thing most of my life. A while back I got
fairly serious doing some little desk knives for my grand kids, but this last
purchase signals that, when I finally get it set up, I’ll be committed
to learning a new skill. Unfortunately, I’m willing to take bets that I
open the boxes the unit came in in less than a month. Maybe two months. It’ll
be that long before a half-day window opens up that will allow me to mess with
it (I’m still waiting for my first half day off in 2013).
This kit accumulation compulsion says that some part of me must think I’m
going to live to 110 years old with perfect health. I’m surrounded with
similar, relatively expensive piles of “stuff” that will let me dive
into a new interest, totally prepared and equipped at a moments notice. Please
tell me I’m not the only one who is committed to this kind of behavior!
It would be interesting to see how I’d behave, if I were a woman. I’d
probably have bails of yarn and knitting needles, ceramic supplies and scrapbooking
materials out the butt.
It’s also a damn good thing that I don’t drink or I’d be collecting
parts for a still. Or would have vats full of moldy grapes sitting around.
The rate this is going, I’m going to have to build a little out-building
to hold all my gonna-get-at-‘em-someday kits. If I do build such a shed,
I’ll put a sign over the door that says “Welcome to Someday…” :-) bd
would give my life for any of my grandkids in a heartbeat. No questions asked.
However, I think the time may be coming that we should stop worrying about the
debt we’re heaping on our grandkids because, in most cases, our generation
the one doing the heaping. It’s our grandkids’ parents’ generation
making those decisions with their votes and, if they don’t see a reason
for concern, should we?
Go back and read that last paragraph. It’s a pretty stout statement, but
the more I see of what’s happening and the further I look down the road
the more I realize we may be beating a dead horse (a gruesome metaphor if there
ever was one), when it comes to the national debt.
For one thing, you can hardly surf past three channels without hearing at least
one of our GOP mouth pieces decrying the fact that the debt is being cast upon
the shoulders of future generations, our grandkids. We yell and scream about
how unfair and indefensible this is. But, did we build that debt? Not by ourselves
we didn’t but we had a hand in it. Are we trying to do something about
it? Yes we are. But, it’s as if we’re doing it by ourselves. No one
else seems to care.
It’s amazing to me is that it is as if only those on the right side of
the aisle even acknowledge that the debt exists. I’ve not heard even one
Dem say a single word about the load the debt is going to place on future generations.
Not one! Why is that? Do they have some sort of magic glasses that allow them
to see the debt that’s piling up in a different light? Or is incredible
near sightedness one of the effects of the Kool Aid they’ve been drinking?
I guess they either can’t see past their own noses or they have total faith
in their leadership and feel as if they don’t need to worry about the debt.
Here’s a leadership question: in what area of life besides politics would
anyone put total faith in someone like Pelosi or Reid? I can easily see why Obama
can cast a spell over certain mindsets, but Pelosi? She represents the only district
in the entire US that would willingly vote someone like her into office, which
isn’t saying much for SFO.
Many in the left-leaning population say that conservatives are largely a group
of old white men. Unfortunately, they’re right. There’s a helluva
lot more gray and balding pates on the right side of the aisle than the left.
It’s a gross over-simplification but liberals tend to be younger while
conservatives have spent a lot more time shuffling down the road of life. That’s
just a fact.
The above having been said, here’s a basic question that explains the direction
our future is going to take and there’s not one damn thing we can do about
it: which group do you think is going to die first? Silly question, right? Obviously,
the old die first, which, in this case, means conservatives die first. This is
one fight that’s lost almost before it begins. A small government, self
reliant, personally responsible way of thinking will essentially die with my
Regardless of how hard we work to sell the message (assuming the GOP can agree
on their message), those who carry that message are going to be badly outnumbered
because too many of their number will be dead. Oh, wait that didn’t stop
some Dems from voting! Never mind.
My three grandchildren have some of the most intelligent, caring people I’ve
ever known as parents. So, obviously they are seeing things differently than
I do. It must have to do with the way age affects your mental/intellectual ability
to see things. My generation sees things so differently that I can only hope
that my grandkids’ folks know what they’re doing because with little
or no effort they are going to get what they want. Their leadership and old vs
young demographics will see to that.
Unfortunately, I’m betting that after the younger generation climb the
ladder they’re in the process of building, they’re going to find
it’s leaning against the wrong wall. And we all know how hard it is to
re-position a ladder once you’ve climbed it. Their promised utopia will
be anything but.
On the other hand, we can't just ignore it, can we? Maybe what we'll leave this
generation is the positive results of our last ditch stand to bring commonsense
back to America. That will be our legacy left for our grandkids. If their parents
don't care about, or understand, the situation, at least we do and it's our duty
to do something about it. bd
morning I was going back and forth with a reader who had mistakenly thought Marlene
had swapped out my hi-octane coffee for de-caf in last week’s blog. He
opined that he and I were both lucky because we’d married women who are
smarter than we are. That got me thinking about the character of marriage
and what does and doesn't work.
Marlene and I are both on our second (and last) marriages and we’re constantly
amazed at how lucky we are to have found one another, when we did. We also laugh
at how neither of us would have had a chance in the cruel world, had we not met
each other and dovetailed the way we did (that’s not entirely true…she
would have done fine).
When we met I was broke on my butt. I was just coming out of a divorce, had two
kids in college and my long established business had done a swan dive into the
toilet taking my credit rating with it. Everything was wrong. To this day, my
kids call that my “Dark Period.”
Oddly enough, Marlene was in exactly, precisely the same position, except her
kids weren’t old enough for college yet. We weren’t exactly at the
bottom, but I could clearly see the bottom from there.
Before I met Marlene, I used to cruise Costco taking multiple passes at the various
food sample stands. I’d buy gigantic bags of fat noodles. Then boil them
in MacDonald ketchup (it took about 50 packs). I’d boil them until everything
started to thicken up. When it cooled, it set up semi-solid and I called it “bachelor’s
lasagna.” A little sugar and cheese from a local Italian place that thought
I came there to use the bathroom and it wasn’t half bad. Which, of course,
means it was only half good.
Marlene and I were, and are, as different as night and day in so many areas.
She’s a slightly-glitzy (we call it Scottsdaley out here), very well turned-out,
social animal, I’m a jeans and boots with ketch-up stains on my shirt guy.
Zero polish. But, we somehow were/are a perfect fit and we hit it off famously.
More important to this conversation, we are both hardcore survivors, entrepreneurs
in every fiber of our being and figure an 8-hour day is just the warm up for
the “real” workday. We have a feeling of partnership like I’ve
never felt before. And that’s what made the difference. We weren’t
just in love. We were (and are) in the business of life together and we were
going to make it happen. And we did.
I remembered how my mom and dad operated (they were the same kind of team) and
I did the same thing dad did. I concentrated on business and making the money
(Marlene had, and has, her own successful specialty advertising company) and
just put the money in her hands to do what needed to be done with it. It is entirely
through her efforts that our credit rating, which had been in the low 500’s
is bumping 900, our house will be paid off in less than three years and we have
just a hint of some breathing room. We’re not rolling in dough, but we’re
up to our butts in good times and plans for the future. And we fall in love more
every damn day. It’s terrific!
If I had tried to do this by myself, starting completely over at 50 years of
age, I would probably still have gotten the businesses going again. However,
today I’d be living out of my car because I have a nasty habit of putting
off some of the important stuff like paying bills, etc. Much more important,
I wouldn’t be the happy sunovabitch I am now. I’d still be towing
that little black cloud behind me that haunted me until I met her and we started
doing our thing together.
Yeah, I married someone smarter than I am. So, maybe I’m not as dumb as
Thank, God for that!
Most of you guys out there who think you made it on your own are wrong.
March 2013 —It
most folks, I have an early morning routine that never varies. It’s so
basic that I can do it in my sleep and usually do. Until the first cup kicks
a scary individual and not to be trusted with sharp instruments, small
children or machines. But then I found I was kidding myself.
Here’s how my day begins 100% of the time. Probably very little different
0450 – first alarm goes off, arm flops out of bed and unerringly nails
the snooze button. It never misses, but I have no idea why since there is no
brain connected to it
0500- second alarm goes off, arm goes its thing again, this time the brain pops
one eye open just long enough to confirm the time. It clanks back shut immediately
0505 to 0510 – right leg sneaks out from under covers, heel hooks edge
of mattress and pulls body into seriously slumped-over position on edge of bed.
0510-0515 – body sits on edge of bed fighting urge to flop back down. Somewhere
inside my brain a voice mechanism starts up and the word “sh*t!” lumbers
out. This gets the legs to force me into an more-or-less standing position and
I grab the T-shirt I had dumped on the nightstand on the way. I fumble for the
label in the dark, put the shirt on, realize it’s on backwards, pull my
arms back inside of it and turn it around. This while I’m fumbling my way
out of the pitch black bedroom.
Is any of this different than your day? Didn’t think so.
I somehow find my way to my office, turn on the heat, grab my cell phone off
the charger and generally bounce off of either the refrigerator or the door jamb
going into the kitchen. I run some water in a cup for coffee, put it in the microwave,
figure out which number is the “2”, hit it and turn the house heat
up as I do my best to avoid elbowing the bifold closet doors on the way back
to the bathroom.
I squint my through some web browsing while I do my potty business, find some
clothes and stumble back to the kitchen absolutely desperate for my coffee. I
pop open the microwave – no cup. Dammit, where did I put it this time?
I check the cupboard next to the microwave. Half the time, it’s in there
(told you I was dangerous pre-first cup). Find it in the refrigerator (I’m
not kidding about this one damn bit). Swear a little and put it back in the microwave.
Once the microwave is going, it’s a game to see if I can make an open face
turkey on rye sandwich (with horseradish sauce and mustard) before it dings.
I force my eyes open enough to find the instant coffee, plop in as much as a
spoon can possibly hold and stir with a little of my desperation showing: I MUST
I’m sucking it down before it is completely dissolved and can feel a few
grains stuck in my teeth. I’m feeling better already. Grab my sandwich
and my coffee, Smoki Jo the Cat jumps up to his place on the desk next to my
right shoulder. I turn the classic rock station up louder than I should considering
its 0530 and start sorting through the 100 or so e-mails that have arrived since
I logged off last night.
The coffee begins to work its magic and I can actually feel various nerve ends
waking up. The zombie body I was inhabiting when I first woke up (sort of), is
slowly becoming human courtesy of a marvelous blend from Columbia that is totally
legal. Now the brain is clicking and I’m firing off e-mails and wisecracks
as fast as I can type. IT’S ALIVE! ALIVE I TELL YOU!!!
Then yesterday afternoon my confidence in the world was shaken to the core. Marlene
had bought me some more coffee. Same kind. Same jar. But in rather small type
the label said, “Decaf.” No! Oh, no, no, no. I can’t drink
that kind of thing and still survive. No, m’dear, I want, I need, the hard
stuff. Not the sissy stuff.
Marlene is a natural born smart ass and had this sly grin on her face as she
dramatically reached over and grabbed the jar I had been working out of for more
than a month. She slowly turned it around so I could clearly read the label.
It read “DE-FRIGGING-CAF!!!” I had been drinking it for well over
a month and didn’t even know it!
My God! I had been fooled by a liquid placebo! I lost a huge percentage of my
faith in my body, in my world, in humanity at that exact moment. I hadn’t
realized I could be fooled so convincingly.
Now, when I wake up, it is with a certain amount of trepidation that I approach
the day. If decaf can fool my body into waking up, what else is lying to me?
Is 100LL actually 100 octane? Is the voice growling “ow,ow, ow” through
the radio actually Billy Gibbons and ZZ Top?
I know I’ll recover but now I drink coffee so strong that the buzz makes
my eyes vibrate. And my students want to throw a blanket over me because I’m
talking so fast and so much. Oh well. At least that way I know my day started
the way it was supposed to.
Decaf??? Damn! Am I really that gullible? ‘Guess so!
but first promise that you‘ll come back. Briefly, it says
an unidentified hitchhiker assailed a 350-pound man with a hatchet. All the poor
guy had done was claim to be Jesus Christ, then started screaming that he had
to get all ni**ers off the planet and swerved to hit a black electric worker.
He then began beating on a woman threatening to break her in half. As he was
doing this, the heartless hitchhiker, who was not being threatened, capriciously
clocked him with a hatchet. It is obvious that, as a civilized society, we have
to ban hatchets. We have no choice.
As of now, I’m sending a letter off to my Congressman demanding that he
submit legislation to get hatchets included in the Assault Rifle ban. Oh, wait…I
can’t do that. My Congressman is a Republican. Okay…I’ll highjack
one of the Democratic Congressmen. They won’t notice.
As the assault on the helpless gentleman by an obviously deranged hitchhiker
points out, the time has come for us to enact legislation, or an outright ban,
on hatchets. For far too long, these merciless instruments of destruction have
wreaked havoc on society, kindling and saplings. Not to mention chickens whose
only transgression was standing too close to a cooking pot at dinnertime.
Look around at our cities. Our states. Our blessed country. How many amongst
us can claim that they actually need a hatchet? Oh sure, there are those that
claim they are necessary for camping. Or hunting (usually a sport of deviates).
Or other activities endorsed by the bible clutching, gun toting, knuckledraggers
that have brought our country down with their every move. Hatchets are the common
thread amongst them all.
The statistics tell the tale: in a country of approximately 350 million people
the hatchet death rate approaches one in 300 million. How can we tolerate that?
How can we let our children be brought up in fear of that wretched weapon for
which those of us who live in midtown New York and Washington, DC, know for a
fact, there is no practical use?
I have searched my life for the past few days and have asked both of my friends
and none of us have seen a need for a hatchet. So, if those of us in the heart
of the Nation’s business capital have no need for one, why should we let
others have them? Especially those who probably live between the Hudson and Los
Angeles Rivers and obviously don’t have the intellect to be trusted with
such a weapon of mess destruction.
It is so amazing that, as a civilized society, we've allowed weapons
like the above to cause all of the sorrow and pain that they have. When
will we learn? (I'm kidding. You know that right?)
So, sir, I suggest the following:
--All hatchets that have a pistol grip, a thumbhole stock or any other means
of gripping them should be outright banned and current owners given two hours
to turn them in or face a $10,000 fine and 38 years in solitary confinement.
--Those hatchets that can be readily carried by a single individual and can
be concealed in a pants pocket should be subject to a licensing procedure that
includes a jury of the purchaser’s peers that will judge him as being
mentally capable, or incapable, of association with such a weapon.
--The background check required should include listing all associations known
to be terrorist or subversive in nature.
--Known associations that will negate the applicant’s hatchet-rights
will include the following: Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, PTA, Experimental Aircraft
Association, Odd Fellows (Odd is the disqualifying term) and anyone, anywhere,
whom the local Democratic Chairman, Attorney General or President judges is
a threat to aunts, ants, grass, trees and all registered voters who are dead
and still voting a DNC straight ticket.
Sir, I beg of you in the name of humanity to get these horrible means of harming
our society and our small trees off our streets.
I remain adoringly yours,
B. Davisson, District 13
It’s about time we stand up and defend ourselves from the edged demon
that's running amok amongst us. BD
cannot imagine how hard it has been to avoid launching off on some sort of political
tirade every time I sit down at the computer to write Thinking
Out Loud. Like
everyone else on the planet (at least those watching the real world), my daily
life and conversations are overloaded with political BS. It is becoming oppressive.
More important, most of that BS is misdirected.
When I say “misdirected” I mean that almost every time I see the
Big “O” on
TV these days he’s talking about gun control. You flip from news
show to news snow and it’s all about gun control. The politicians especially,
have gotten sickening with the way they’re draping themselves in the Newtown
tragedy and focusing on this one subject, as if the future of the American universe
will be decided on whether we ban all firearms or not. This is NUTS!
Hey, folks, look around! The American Ship is in the process of sinking in a
morass of far more important problems than guns. We should be focusing on what’s
important, the survival of our nation as a functioning entity, not a mechanical
device that in the hands of idiots and the insane can cause very narrow instances
of incredible personal pain. Yes, we have to get our heads around the root cause
of gun violence (more on that later) but what the hell happened to worrying
about our debt crisis? What about our budgets (or lack thereof)? So far during
this Administration’s reign we’ve not had a single budget approved
and are sailing along without a rudder or direction of any kind. And, thanks
to the gun destractions, Fast and Furious and Benghazi are now distant memories.
As far as I’m concerned, politicians have jumped on gun control not because
they think that it is absolutely necessary but because they know it is so charged
with emotion by so many, that it nicely diverts our attention from some of the
really serious stuff. Our credit rating is down and not about to return. Unemployment
is 7.9% and the experts say the only reason it’s even that low is because
so many more people have simply stopped looking for work that they are no longer
part of the calculations. If they were included, it is said that the rate would
be closer to 14%. Everywhere you look are really serious issues that need to
be addressed but a relatively small group of politicians are grabbing the headlines
by screaming gun control. Dammit! There are much better ways they could be serving
their country (assuming that’s what they want to do) than campaigning on
this one issue.
Then on top of all of that there’s some really strange stuff popping up
on mainstream news sources. For instance, we have unannounced military maneuvers
happening in major cities. Helicopters are flying down main streets with tanks
and simulated gunfire mixing in with commuter traffic. What the hell??!! Photos
are circulating throughout the net of HUGE containers of Homeland Security ammo
scattered around the country and government-owned armored vehicles being given
to local law enforcement agencies. The list goes on and on. No wonder recent
surveys say that 53% of the country no longer comes even close to trusting the
While this is all making our heads spin there are tons of insidious movements
around us in which the US is not-so-slowly being sold to foreign interests. For
instance, New York is reported to be considering the sale of their parking meters
to outside investors (NYC
the same way Chicago did in 2010 when they leased theirs for 75 years (who leases
ANYTHING out for 75 years?) to an investment group consisting primarily of Arab
As the Rolling Stone says, “…you know something is definitely sideways
with the body politic, when you can’t shut off the parking meters for Abe
Lincoln’s birthday because some prince in Abu Dabai doesn’t want
to lose the revenue.” That, in a single line, says it all about where
And then there’s China’s very careful, bloodless takeover of America
in which they are simply buying huge portions of us. We’re not talking
about just buying businesses like Continental Teledyne (this gave them half of
the total production of light aircraft piston engines) or Cirrus (the single
most popular four-place aircraft of the last several decades). We’re talking
about ocean port operations and huge tracts of land they’ve purchased on
which they appear to be ready to establish Chinese cities that will be populated
by Chinese workers to produce Chinese products on our land. China is an entity
with so much cash that it is like a drug cartel, in our inability to adequately
control it. Besides, it’s hard to control someone to whom you owe so much
money. The long-range effect of these “economic zones” will be millions
of Chinese/American voters (born here, vote here) that will influence our future
forever. Read the following: it’ll amaze you. Chinese
Okay, now I’ll talk about gun control and I’ll try to keep it brief.
Besides the obvious facts that prove that the lawless don’t really care
about laws so gun control has NEVER been proven to reduce crime, the statistics
attached to guns are wildly skewed by their make up. See the lopsided statistics
that are causing the entire country to be punished because of the behavior in
a surprisingly small number of cities. This is a really well thought out essay
with lots of information, Gun
Also, it’s depressing to see so much energy being put into bills like that
put forward by Senator Diane Feinstein and is providing most of the Administration's
talking points. It appears to outlaw 120+ so-called “assault rifles” but
what it really does is outlaw all semi-automatics of any kind: rifle or handgun
regardless of caliber (.22’s included).
To quote Alan Korwin on Gunlaws.com (everyone should be getting his commonsense
newsletter), “According to the bill, any semiautomatic firearm that uses
a magazine -- handgun, rifle or shotgun -- equipped with a "pistol grip," would
be banned. That sounds like a limitation, but it is not.
“A pistol grip (on page 2) is defined (on page 13) as ‘…a
grip, a thumb-hole stock, or any other characteristic that can function as a
grip.’ In other words, the gun list does not matter. It is a smokescreen
designed to distract people from the true meaning of the bill. And it has done
a magnificent job. It worked!
“Any semi-automatic firearm that exists, with anything on it you can grip,
is banned. (There is a grandfather clause for old stuff.) The list is meaningless
tripe. It is camouflage for the real purpose of the bill. When the president
said he is not going to take away your guns, well, Feinstein's bill puts the
lie to that.
“Magazine size does not matter. Brand name does not matter. It doesn't
matter if it's black. If you can grip it, it's banned under this bill.”
So, there you have it. While our country slides slowly into the slime of oblivion,
our leaders are consumed with the cosmetics of a machine that, when poorly used
by outlaws or the insane, makes headlines though unspeakable tragedy. It’s
hard to believe that so many leaders can be that stupid. Or devious. Or both. bd
was super late on last week’s Thinking Out Loud so I’ll try to be
more timely on this one. Last week I made an unplanned dash to California to
see my niece Lisa, whom I haven’t seen in 14 years. That and spend a riot-filled
day with daughter Jennifer and granddaughter Alice being properly brought up
to speed on the State Of The Nation’s Toddlers.
We were all loaded into my daughter’s mini-SUV (I don’t what to call
that class of vehicle anymore) with Alice strapped into a baby seat that looked
like it came out of an F-22. It should be mentioned that Alice is two months
short of being three and discovered talking sometime ago and she’s a brilliant
conversationalist. She is an energized, hyper-cute acting gnome with a voice
I imagine Tinker Bell would have. Very elf-like.
Anyway, we were ready to get rolling and the elf-in-the-back very clearly, with
the careful diction of someone speaking a second language, said, “Can I
have my iPad.” When told we didn’t have it she said, “Okay,
then, can I have some toys?”
Okay, let’s rethink that last line: a toddler asked for a computer with
toys clearly being a poor second choice. For those who can afford it (and my
daughter can), the “Can I have my iPad” line pretty much says it
all about the newest generation. Fairly spoiled but, more than that, so totally
electronically savvy that it’s more than a little intimidating.
I’ve been seeing her playing on an iPad for well over a year now, which
means she was about 18 months old, barely walking, when I’d see her laying
on the floor, nose to a screen. She’d be poking it in response to something
Elmo (her favorite) said. Maybe picking out a letter of the alphabet. Or moving
a character across the screen on some sort of comedic adventure. I’ve been
watching her closely since.
Right now, at 22 months, she has no problem booting the iPad, picking out the
software or game she wants to work in and selecting the options each involves.
Then she’ll play for however long and shut it down, when done.
I made the mistake of picking her iPad up and popping it open. Then I realized
I didn’t know exactly how to make the next step and get a game going. This
even though I often spend ten hours a day working in just about every word and
art software available for computers. But, she danced around on the iPad as if
it was a piano and she was Jerry Lee Lewis.
I’m not exactly sure how I feel about the way we now have two generations
(the toddlers and the teenagers) who live and breathe digital everything. It’s
no secret that I spend far more time than I should on my phone and I feel as
if I’m not wearing pants when I’ve left the house without it (which
happens VERY seldom). I know a lot of folks in my generation, which is almost
three-quarters of a century removed from Alice’s, poo-poo (there’s
a phrase younger generations don’t use) the necessity of computers and
smart phones. But, even that is changing rapidly. Everyone wants to stay in touch
and many have discovered, as I have known all along, that between computers,
laptops and smart phones, our office is where ever we happen to be standing/sitting
at that moment. My business doesn’t even begin to slow down just because
I’m out of the office.
The difference between most of us, when we were teenagers, and the current crop,
is that PC (pre-computer) generations were out there “doing stuff.” Maybe
it was building model airplanes. Or Boy Scouting. Or stomping around the woods.
Or, amazingly, actually reading books. I was a reading addict from junior high
on courtesy of TAB, the Teen Age Book club. Each month the class would order
25-cent paper backs from a long menu and I’d generally get ten or more
per month and devour them all before the next list came out. Maybe all the teens
I see looking at phones and iPads are reading books, but somehow, I doubt that.
We keep talking about the Zombie Apocalypse and civilization, as we know it,
collapsing. Should something like that actually happen (which I seriously and
hopefully doubt) the area in which we will feel it the most will be our digital
dependence. Right now, think how communication, and our civilization in general,
is dependent on 1’s and 2’s to keep doing their thing.
On the other hand, if digital everything disappears, maybe, just maybe, we’ll
get back in touch with the basics and rediscover the life we had before digits
re-sculpted it. bd
just lost a friend I’d never met: Dave Higginbotham, an outstanding craftsman,
great human being and kindred soul. I only found we’d lost him when I tried
to access his website this morning and there was a note there from his wife about
his passing. I hadn’t talked to Dave in some time but he was always in
my thoughts because of our unfinished projects. Projects that will now remain
It’s a sad thing that you can be plowing away on your day-to-day getting’ on
with life and suddenly find a year, or two, or three have flashed past without
talking to someone who you value as a part of your life. Even though they may
not be emotionally close, they are intellectually close and are part of your
mental family. Then, you suddenly find they’re gone. And you didn’t
know it for how long? A year. Two years? I don’t know when Dave died, but,
for me, he died this morning, and the effects are still like new incisions: sharp
edged and fresh with flowing blood.
The Internet is wonderful in the way it wildly expands our circle of friends.
Through various informal chat groups, most built around a common interest, I’ve
built up some really close relationships, yet I have met only a few of them face-to-face.
Somehow that doesn’t seem to matter. The Internet has taught us that relationships
are the conversations. It is the exchange of ideas and emotions, the discussing
of opinions and theories on a wide range of subjects that builds friendships.
And because of the Internet I’ve easily tripled the number of people I
call “friend” over the last few years. Dave was one of those and
is typical of many of my e-friends. We met by accident.
I stumbled across Lone Star Rifle Company when looking for a gunsmith who was
familiar enough with old Remington rolling-block single-shot rifle actions that
he could re-barrel one for me. Dave’s name popped up in a bunch of different
chat groups as THE guy, when it came to that kind of work.
When starting projects like that, I seem to run hot and cold. Sometimes
I ignore the irrational nature of such a hair-brained scheme (in this case, re-creating
a mid-range 1890’s-style target rifle in .38-55) and I throw money around
as if I really have it. Other times, you’d think I was picking up nickels
around parking meters to survive because I just can’t bring myself to spend
money on a non-essential project: even one that I had been dreaming about
Finally, I broke down and sent the action to Dave. It came back
with this wonderful octagonal barrel and a trigger job so sweet it broke clean,
like glass, at 2.5 pounds. I started stocking it up with walnut from the tree
in my backyard in Nebraska where, as a teenager, I used to hang my chain hoist.
It died, I had it cut into slabs and I now build rifles and stuff from it.
Dave and I got to talking and it turned out that he had a thing for WWII aircraft,
so I started sending him boxes of out-of-date Flight Journal magazines: I’m
the Editor-in-Chief, so that’s one of my perks. He also had a really bad
back. Something else we had in common. Soon, we were babbling back and forth
Then we launched on a dream that we both held dear: building rolling block actions
that were hogged out of blocks of modern steel (8620) that was strong enough
to handle any modern round. My goal was to build a replica of Ivan-the-mummy’s
rifle from my first novel, Cobalt Blue. It would be in 7.62 x 54R Russian,
as Ivan’s was, which is a fairly high pressure round. I dragged a friend
into the project who had endless machining capabilities and is as nutty as we
were: the reason I was on Dave’s website today was to let him know that
we’d finished machining the first one and wanted to send it to him for
fitting checks. That’s when I got the news from his widow, Katha.
I have at least three more rolling block projects I wanted to finish before I
die and Dave was integral to all of them. I guess a couple of my dreams died
As I scan across the roughly 3,000 names in my address book, I occasionally run
across those that mean a lot to me, but I know I haven’t talked to them
for a long time. Now, I’m wondering how many of those are gone. How are
their lives going? How is their health? Is there anything I can do for them?
A part of me is afraid to e-mail them for fear I’ll get bad news. But,
I’m going to do it anyway. I’ve had too many fateful surprises like
Dave’s passing lately to take the chance of not contacting them.
It’s a sad state of affairs that I think about someone, but don’t
take 90 seconds to drop them a note. So, one of the new years resolutions I didn’t
make a couple weeks ago will now be to send a short missive to someone, as soon
as their name crosses my mind. If there’s one thing you'd think I would
have learned from life it is that procrastination almost always results in being
too late. And I don’t want to be too late in touching base with friends.
I think it’s time I finish the rolling-block Dave barreled up for me. As
it is, every time I glance at the rifle, I think of him. Time to stop procrastinating.
punched the “off” button on the alarm and was staggering around the
pitch black bedroom in an early morning zombie state while trying not to wake
Marlene up. I failed. “What’re you doing?” She mumbled. I answered, “Looking
for the iPad.” She asked, “Why?” I said, “So I can go
to the bathroom.”
This is very definitely another of those “too much information” blogs.
Just warning you so you can hit “delete” before getting too far into
this one. But, I’m betting dimes to doughnuts that more than just a few
of you out there, like me, have electronic bathroom habits. Who says gray dogs
are slow in coming into the iAge?
For many decades I was convinced that my body could not perform a necessary early
morning function unless a Trade-a-Plane, Hemmings
Motor News, or maybe Shotgun
News was in my lap. Lately, however, hard copy journals of any kind have
slipped into second place behind eBay, Craig’s List, Backpage.com and a half dozen
other tantalizing electronic entities with “for sale” plastered all
Like just about everyone reading this, my days are full of “gotta do’s” and
they don’t have a whole lot of white space in them. The result is that
during the day you won’t see me surfing the web in search of anything not
directly related to work. Recently, however, I’ve developed a teenage-style
habit of playing with my phone when I’m stuck someplace with nothing to
do. And then, about two years ago, while waiting for an X-ray to be done on my
back, I discovered a distinctly dangerous smart phone capability: all sorts of
sales-oriented websites can be accessed through your phone just they can on your
computer. One of those is Backpage.com, which is similar to Craigs List, but
also lists local firearms that are for sale (they’re under “sports
I was sitting in the reception area, when I discovered that my phone would let
me buy anything, at any time, anywhere. I date the downfall of my ability to
resist buying stuff to that moment. Before the nice young lady in white said
that it was my turn on the X-ray slab, I’d managed to buy a WWII 8 mm M98
Mauser from a local guy at a killer price.
Oh, holy crap! I can now search out oddities and buy them any time day or night
where ever I’m sitting! This is huge! Cue dramatic background organ music!
Picture a glowing halo of enlightenment around my head: my life was changed at
that very moment. Even better, I had found a new way to make that porcelain pony
time I log every morning more productive. And, unfortunately, more expensive.
And I don’t have to turn on the lights and bother Marlene while doing it.
Before I go to bed, I try to remember to put the iPad somewhere that I can find
it in the dark without waking her. Otherwise, my phone is my early morning playmate.
BREAKING NEWS: while writing this, I’ve been monitoring an eBay auction
and I just won an old 7” leather mallet that will be perfect for my aluminum
forming tool kit. $3.25!! I can’t tell you how many oddball, special purpose
hammers I’ve gotten off of eBay. Even more amazing, I use them all.
Earlier this week, while communing with nature, I scored a set of late model
flathead Ford connecting rods for $60 that came out of a running motor, when
they changed to high performance rods. Such a deal!
At the same time I found a couple of small parts for the roadster’s transmission
that I was dead in the water without. Total cost, including shipping, $9.30.
What’s really cool is that I did all of this before even brushing my teeth.
So, now my days start with me staring at a small screen in the dark. The result
is that quite often before I even turn on my main computer or strap on the Pitts
with a student, I’ve already checked a few items off of my to-do list for
I’m wondering if there’s a market for a phone app here. Maybe iBowel.
Or iFlush. Maybe iPoop.
Remember: I warned you that this blog was gonna be too much information! bd
Jan 2013 — Sunday Morning Phone Calls
was driving to the airport last Sunday and the thought crossed my mind, “I
think I’ll call dad.” Then, just that quickly, I knew I couldn’t.
He and mom died 14 years ago. The next thought was that I hadn’t had that
thought in a month. And I didn’t know whether to be sad or relieved.
Sunday morning habits die hard. Hopefully, they never die.
Then, I thought about my kids, who never call on a weekend. Never! Reason being,
and I’m okay with this, is that their own kids dominate their weekends.
Soccer, plays, parties, friends: the stuff of which families are made. Calls
from them are weekday events: weekly with my son and “whenever” with
my daughter. Often, I wish I were a fly on their walls. Just watching. Not talking,
not part of the action. I just wish I had a visual portal through which I could
experience them in their environment, rather than just when we’re visiting
and they’re in grandparents-visiting mode.
As anyone who reads Thinking Out Loud for more than a few weeks knows,
both of my kids, Jennifer and Scott, have their own lives. Their own successes.
Their own families. Each has carved out healthy niches in their own business
communities but it absolutely kills me that I don’t know them as part of
those communities. And I’d
Occasionally, at a movie premier or something, I’ll see Jennifer doing
her Hollywood meet and greet thing. And once in a while someone from such and
such a studio will tell me how highly they think of my little girl. But, that’s
all I see of her world. And she almost never talks about it.
My son does his best to let me know what his latest business deal is. Maybe
setting up a new software development team in NYC. Or working out a sales deal
with a European software outfit. We’ll sometimes discuss his plans to meet
changing market demands and how to cope with a business world that changes so
quickly. However, as with his sister, I’ve never seen him actually in the
world where he’s Mr. Davisson from Acclivity Software.
It’s an odd thing knowing that other people know a part of your kids that
you never will. And I’m not sure how I feel about that. I think, in some
quirky sort of way, I’m a little jealous of those unknown customers/colleagues/employees.
They have a piece of my kids I’ll never know.
I remember my Sunday morning chats with my dad and how I knew he couldn’t
fathom what I was doing on a daily basis. In some of those instances, I purposely
kept him a little in the dark. He was incredibly protective, or wanted to be,
although he knew there was no way he could protect me from myself and what I
had chosen as a life style. To a certain extent I held him at a slight distance
so he wouldn’t know some details of my life. If he had seen me hanging
out of the side of an airplane shooting air-to-air just one time, he would
have died right there. If he had seen the view from the Pitts, while in a hard
slip falling toward the runway with a student at the controls, he would have
crawled under his bed and stayed there. And aerobatics? Forget it!
On the other hand, mom really enjoyed knowing that I did some silly things
for a living and would have jumped into the Pitts in a heartbeat, given the
chance. Even at 80+ years old, she was the real daredevil of the family. And
it drove dad totally nuts.
Thinking about the disconnect between me and my father in terms of him not
being able to share in my adult life gives me a better understanding of the
similar disconnect that exists with my own kids. In thinking about it, I can
clearly see where almost every parent experiences the same thing.
Kids grow up. Parents grow old. That’s the cycle and, if you’re lucky,
you’ll have a good enough relationship with your kids that they think of
you enough to call. Or, if you’re really lucky and they live locally, they’ll
drop by. If that’s you, I’m jealous. With me, calls have to suffice.
I wish it were more. But, I know parents who haven’t heard from their offspring
in years. And that reminds me that I’m one of the lucky ones.
I hope you are too. bd
2012 — 2013: Fighting the Urge to Hide Under a Blanket
Last week the world didn’t come to a blazing end. And,
as I pointed out, Marlene and I will have our house paid off
three years from that date.
Now, as I sit here contemplating the beginning of 2013, I’m
realizing that, in the new year, the two foregoing facts are
the only things of which I can be absolutely sure. All other
factors in life seem to be floating through my mind’s eye
as a chaotic blur. “Confused” is
the appropriate adjective.
The confusion surrounding us is making it more and more difficult
for me to write this column and not have to talk about subjects
I really don’t want to talk about. As a normal rule something
happens during the week that I think is cool or quirky, or both,
and it’s a fun blog subject. Sometimes, I feel the need
to address something more serious that can’t be ignored,
like the Newtown shooting and its aftermath. I do, however, try
hard to balance the subjects of Thinking
Out Loud: I don’t
want it to drift into being nothing more an outlet for my own
political observations and opinions. But, that’s becoming
difficult. These days, the political and social upheavals around
us are so pervasive that they out-number the fun stuff by a very
It is as if everything about our way of life is under attack.
Everything! As I look around at what, only a few years ago, was
a more or less orderly world, all I see is wall-to-wall chaos.
Whether you’re talking about Afghanistan, the Budget Battle,
the Boy Scouts, the battle over guns, Benghazi, Fast and Furious,
etc. chaos reigns surpeme. And then there are the disturbing
(hopefully fanciful) tales seeping up through cracks from the
political underground (one has Homeland Security and the White
House developing paramilitary forces with plans to control civil
unrest and divide up the country after the dollar fails). It’s
hard to smell the roses when someone is trampling all over them.
This is all very unsettling and makes it hard to clear my brain
enough to see the good and the peaceful facets of life. It makes
looking ahead to the New Year a fearful experience: I’m
afraid to look over the wall that divides the years for fear
of what is coming.
Right now, most of us are in serious need of something solid
to hang on to. That’s what draws so many people to religion.
I, however, am not one of those. My touchstones have always been
the American flag and my belief in the traits of the population
that made our nation what it is. But, in only a few short years,
my belief in the inherently American traits of our population
has become blurred and difficult to either define or discern.
While there are HUGE segments of the population that haven’t
changed one iota—they are what made America great— others
seem to have broken stride with the rest of us and are thinking
only about themselves and not the Nation, as a whole. The one
for all, all for one, feeling is long gone. This is such a radical
change and it happened so quickly, that it’s hard to to
get your head around it. While the America of 2007 was beset
with problems and tumultuous in the extreme, it was still America.
As I look around today, I’m not sure what land I’m
My usual New Years resolution is to resolve to make no resolutions.
Resolutions always set me up for disappointment. However, I’m
going to make a suggestion that I, for one, am going to try to
follow in an effort at giving my new year a clean start.
Beginning New Years day let’s give ourselves an emotional
breather via a brain-cleansing period that starts that day (Tuesday)
and runs to the next Monday. During that period don’t read
a single news paper, don’t watch a single news program
and avoid all social media that involves anything more complex
than someone’s elation over their new pair of argyle socks.
We need to stop our steady diet of negativism, if only temporarily,
and give our brains a rest. We’ve all become news/information
junkies and have unknowingly let the media become the prime shaper
of our thoughts and opinions, so this won’t be easy. We’re
all addicted. But, breaking the cycle for just a few days will
be worth it. Okay…I’ll be the first to admit that
I probably won’t do it cold turkey either, but I’m
at least going to try.
One absolute known fact about the new year is that the things
that will count the most will still be those factors that have
always counted: friends, family and home. That being the case,
we might think about pulling our wagons into a circle and hold
what, and who, we love close. They are what really matter and
are what we should work the hardest to support and defend.
From our house and hearts to yours, here’s hoping you make
it through 2013 with your health and happiness intact. And don’t
let the media or Beltway Bozo’s get you down. Our country
is still OUR country, not theirs. bd
Dec 2012 - The Day After The End of the World
A lot of things have happened in the last eight days, starting
with the Newtown shooting. At least one thing, however, didn’t
happen. The world didn’t come to an end. At least not yet.
If it had, I would have been sorely pissed because in three years,
to the day, our house will be paid off, which brings up other
First Newtown: I’m thoroughly disgusted with the way so
many people so quickly politicized the tragedy. I’m not
kidding when that I say the victims hadn’t even cooled
completely before people decided to ignore the grieving period
so badly needed by so many parents and rushed to judgment in
every way possible. The worse of them was CNN’s Piers Morgan.
He devoted entire shows to gun control, specifically banning “assault
weapons” which I have zero problem with, that’s his
right and his opinion. But, he has demonstrated a willingness
to lower himself to personal attacks on those who oppose him.
And he’s guilty of spreading gross inaccuracies, e.g. loudly
proclaiming to all who will listen that these awful “assault
rifles” fire six rounds a second. That, of course is BS:
even the most practiced amongst us couldn’t get off more
than two. Possibly three, if un-aimed. He is confusing semi-automatic
with full-auto. In so many areas, he doesn’t know his facts
and that doesn’t bother him one bit.
Worse, he hasn’t bothered to look at the FBI’s own
murder statistics that list murder by rifle so far down the list
that baseball bats and murder-by-fists out number them.
FBI stats show that knife murders are 524% of rifle murders.
Clubs, bats, etc, 153%. Fists and feet, 225%. These are all rifles,
not just assault rifles, as the FBI doesn’t break those
Here are some websites worth looking through that will help put
the facts in the proper perspective. Most of these are nothing
but the facts with no editorial slant. The FBI’s homicide
pages is FBI.
Here’s a study by Harvard that examines the effect of banning
weapons on murder and suicide, Harvard
Here are the global murder rates (not just firearms) by country
going back to 1900, Homicide
And this one examines all of the worldwide myths about firearms,
gun control, etc. Gunfacts.
What I am glad to see is an increasing awareness that there are
the sick amongst us. We’re now seeing intelligent discussions
on how best to deal with sickness, in its many forms, and how
best to protect ourselves and our loved ones against it. This
is a horribly complex problem, but at least we’re talking
I also have a terrible thought rattling around inside my brain:
at some level, those in government view Newtown as a blessing
in disguise because it blew Benghazi and Fast and Furious (remember
that?) off the front pages. It allowed Hillary Clinton to pull
the most blatant kind of my-dog-ate-my-homework excuse to duck
having to testify on Benghazi. In my entire life, I’ve
never seen anything so obvious and reprehensible. This is politics
at its very worse!
Of course, had the Mayans been right in their apocalyptic predictions,
all of this would have been one great big moot point. And I would
have been steamed! Yesterday I would have been standing in our
front yard amongst fire and brimstone screaming at the top of
my lungs “BUT, MY HOUSE IS GOING TO BE PAID OFF!! GIVE
ME A FRIGGING BREAK!” Don’t you just hate it, when
you finally see a light at the end of the tunnel and an earthquake
collapses the tunnel?
First a thought: I’m absolutely blown away by the Mayans,
Aztecs, Toltecs and all the other civilizations that rose and
fell in Central America. Having climbed around on various ruins
in Mexico, I’m here to tell you that they definitely had
their architectural act together. Not sure about that sacrifice
thing, however. On the other hand, every single one of the civilizations,
in one way or another, destroyed themselves, with the exception
of the Aztecs that were brought down by the Spaniards who were
after gold and we all know how gold makes people stupid. And,
in this case, unbelievably cruel.
I think it says a lot about our own society that so many were
absolutely convinced that a stone calendar that predicted the
future was totally accurate. A guy I know spent every dime he
had and maxed out every credit card buying food and guns and
barricading himself and his wife in their house. He’s still
there. Said he’d stay in there four days until it looked
safe. It did no good to point out that, if the world actually
came to an end, none of that stuff would be of any use. Besides,
if the Aztecs/Mayans/Whatever were so good at predicting the
future, why didn’t they know the Spanish were coming and
chop them into taco-filling the instant they set foot on the
beaches? Yeah, I know, they thought a God was going to come,
but, damn! They should have been able to see past them to the
I don’t have much faith in psychics and such for the same
reason. If they can see the future why are they always half broke
and doing business in rundown storefronts or leaning double-wides
on the edge of town?
Okay, so the world isn’t going to end, at least not as
the Mayans saw it. However, it’s still damn depressing
to know that when Marlene and I get our house paid off, there
will still be a full year left of the current Administration’s
term. Maybe that’s what the Mayans were referring to. Their
idea of the end of the world wasn’t actually the end of
THE world, but the end of OUR world. Given the way the last three
years have gone, the next three could well be the longest three
years any of us will ever experience.
I suppose I should admit that, regardless of all the negativism
being espoused by everyone, even by me, the world, as we know
it, isn’t going to come to an end. It’ll just feel
Oh, yeah, and I mean this, we sincerely wish you a great Christmas
with, most of all, happiness and health for every one of you
and yours. bd
Dec 2012 - Another One: Newtown
You’re about to hear me babble because I don’t really
know what I want to say. It’s Friday night and the day
started with the news that someone had been shot in the foot
at a Connecticut school. Now we know different. And I don’t
know what to say. I honestly don’t. But something has to
This evening, as we were waiting for our current B & B guest
to arrive, I sat down and watched the news. And I’m sorry
I did. It took about five minutes before a slow tear would occasionally
break loose from those welled up in my eyes and leave a wet trace
on my cheeks. On the one hand, I was mildly irritated at the
frenzy of journalistic efficiency being demonstrated by CNN and
Fox. They were in their element. On the other hand, I couldn’t
stop imagining the schoolrooms.
In my mind’s eye, as hard as I tried not to, I saw, and
still see, the terrorized faces of children. I see a young man
so totally out of control I doubt if he really knew what he was
doing. He was just acting out what he’d seen on TV. Or
played in video games. Or, unfortunately, imagined inside his
own sick mind. My brain doesn’t want to conjure up the
images of each shot. I noted in the news coverage that other
than the one shot in a foot, there appeared to be no wounded.
Each pull of a trigger had been a kill shot. I can feel the tears
trying to do their thing even as I’m typing. This is so
My son immediately started up with his anti-gun thing. And I
can’t say as I blame him. Not the slightest. That’s
the simplest, most obvious target: if the shooter hadn’t
had access to the guns (his mother’s: a Sig, a Glock and
what sounds like an AR), at the very least the carnage wouldn’t
have been so dreadful. No argument there. However…
It’s ironic that just last night I was watching Piers Morgan
(one of my least favorite TV types) interviewing Rudy Giuliani
about the Portland Mall massacre that happened earlier in the
week (Good God! What a horrific week this has been!). Morgan
was doing his best to get Giuliani to say that we needed tighter
gun control. Giuliani surprised the hell out of me, especially
since he was so anti-gun as mayor of New York. He made a very
cogent argument that the guns were only the tools and there are
psychological and social issues that need as much study as gun
control does. However, sitting there watching Newtown’s
panicked parents and shell shocked first responders racing about,
I didn’t really care about the anti-this or pro-that arguments.
I was consumed with empathy for the parents. I found myself in
their shoes. Hearing the news, hoping against hope, being called
to help identify little forms that carry no identification. God
Almighty, how can such things happen?
My son thinks America is broken and is no longer the place he
wants to live. And, to a certain degree, he’s absolutely
right. On many, many levels. But there’s something we’re
overlooking. My entire life there have been short periods of
time during which horrific things like this happened. It is as
if the news of one starts someone thinking about doing another.
Even the assassination spree of the ‘60’s, had a
copy-cat feel to them: JFK, Nov ’63, M. King April, ’68
and Bobby Kennedy only two months later in June of the same year.
People forget that the University of Texas bell tower shooting
spree was mixed right in there in August of ’66 when Charlie
Whitman killed 16 people and wounded a dozen more.
Stories like this litter our history. Each of us can think of
a dozen similar episodes but why? What is it about us that makes
our country an incubator for mentally disturbed individuals like
this? Yes, the access to firearms makes them that much more dangerous,
but as Giuliani said, those are just the tools. If guns didn’t
exist, they’d find a way to take out their rage on society.
Taken in its totality, it would be easy to judge the US as a
violent people, which I don’t think we are.
I have no amazing insight that will quickly make sense of all
of this. I wish I did. I wish I could explain today’s shootings.
I wish I could explain why a young, ex-Marine climbs a bell tower
and methodically shoots people for the next hour and a half.
But I can’t. We all accept that we have seriously disturbed
people in our midst. And, if we could destroy every weapon on
Earth to protect ourselves from them, I’d personally push
that button. But, we know that’s not possible.
It would be easy to say, “That’s just the way it
is”, shed a few tears and go on our way. Unfortunately,
that’s exactly what most of us will do: those of us not
directly involved will soon let it slide into the outter reaches
of our memories and basically forget about it. And the very fact
that we are so used to such things and can let ourselves forget
them is the universal tragedy of the day.
Dec 2012 - Dates, Goals and Arrogance
This week has seen some interesting things happening on the national,
local and personal level. Some include me deciding future goals
and others are flat out amazing that anyone would actually have
the arrogance to say them in public.
First the arrogance and this is short and easy to understand:
when was the last time a President asked to be given sole power
to set debt limits for the nation with no input from Congress
or anyone else? Isn’t that saying, “Hey, I wanna
be king. Come on, lemme be king. Please, please. I’m the
only one smart enough to know what we need to do. Give me complete
control. Come on!” Damn! I’ll bet that request even
made most Democrats cringe. I’ve not even once seen a President
display that kind of arrogance.
More important was yesterday’s date. December 7th long
predated 9/11 as a date that needs no explanation and for
the same reason: an ultimate act of terrorism was commited that
set in motion the most massive, long lasting changes the world
has ever seen. It completely re-wrote history in every possible
unlikely that we’ll see a similar restructuring of the
globe, even if so-called WWIII were to break out because it wouldn’t
be waged on nearly every square inch of the
globe as WWII was.
In the Davisson household, Dec 7th has additional significance:
it’s the birthday of my first-born who just turned 41.
It’s pretty damned amazing to have kids that old, but it’s
just part of life as it moves on. For what it’s worth,
his birthday is on Dec 7th because we were given a choice and
that’s what I picked. Really! I’m not joking. He
was long over due, something like two weeks (he probably couldn’t
find his tennis shoes), so the doctor gave us a three-day window
in which he had to be hatched. I picked Dec 7th figuring that
way I couldn’t
forget his birthday.
FYI- This week also saw some progress on The Roadster. I
took it partially apart to take the steering box out, as I finally
found someone who has the experience to rebuild a Ross steering
unit out of a 1941 Willys milk truck (or so I was told, when
I bought it in 1958). Also finalized some of the small details
in all the systems, I can actually see the light at the end of
the tunnel and I’m certain it’s not a train. I think
it’s the high beams of a pair of 1938 sealed beam conversion
units I’ve had since I was 16.
Of some importance is that this week I finally came to grips
with the fact that eventually I’m actually going to get
old. What a bitch! And it wasn’t an easy thing for me to
admit. My health is waaay ahead of many in my peer group (pure
dumb luck) and I’m seeing no limitations in what I do that
I can attribute to age. So, I just don’t feel my age, either
mentally or physically, but I know it’s coming. Reality
is reality. So, I set some goals to work toward.
Let’s go back something like 20 years to me getting divorced
(FYI – I still get along great with my ex andshe and Marlene
talk from time to time). One of the most painful parts of that
period was watching the last of my three V8-60 midget race cars
(a pre-war Hillegas that was primo!) going down the drive way
hitched to someone else’s car. Having an old race car with
the traditional track nose and tail has been on my bucket list
since I was 14 years old so it has been a real burr under my
saddle blanket that I had to get rid of mine. However, I’ve
decided to do something about that as one of my future goals.
On my 80th birthday (yeah, I know that’s a long ways down
the road, but I’m slow getting stuff done, so I need the
time), I want to do several things. First, I want to fly a couple
hours of Pitts dual with students. Then I want some video shot
of me sitting at a stop light at a busy intersection in a vintage
sprint or champ race car that I’ve converted to being street
legal. I can’t think of a more insane image than being
at a stop light and looking over to see an 80-year-old dude at
the wheel of a no-sh*t race car.
A true American art form. Can you
see one of these puting around in traffic with a geezer at the wheel.
I LOVE IT!
A short course in making a dirt track race car street legal:
they don’t have clutches or transmissions. Just an in/out
box. So, I’d have to install a new driveline along with
quick detachable stuff like headlights, tail lights, windshield
wiper, etc. Compared to what I’ve gone through building
the roadster from scratch, this would be easy-cheezy. Small block
Chevy, T-10 trans, cable or hydraulic clutch. Easy and fun.
I’ve been so insanely in love the shape of old dirt track
race cars my entire life that this goal will certainly happen
and I’m now beating the bushes looking for a clapped out
old racer in need of a drive line. Like I don’t have enough
to do, right?
And then to top off the week, Friday afternoon Marlene and I
had another of our oh-to-hell-with-it moments and packed up and
drove the 100 miles to Prescott in the high country to share
in their Acker Night (don’t ask, I don’t know why
it’s called that), where all of the shops around the square
stay open late and have mini-concerts in them by local musicians
and carolers. We had a great family Christmas episode with our
dog, Sháhn-deen, getting by far most of the attention.
We couldn’t walk 20 feet without someone commenting on
how cute she was.
So, all-in-all it was a great week. I hope yours was as good
as ours. bd
- The Assault on Turtle Island
It seems like every time you turn around there is an assault
underway on someone’s freedom and our traditional values.
The elections focused our attention on the national stage
making us forget that freedom is most important where it touches
us at the local, individual level. If it doesn’t
exist there, it doesn’t exist anywhere. Hence, it's worth
noting the saga of the Turtle Island Preserve in Boone, NC.
Turtle Island is an interesting entity in that it is a small
private farming complex located in the middle of a huge piece
of North Carolina wilderness miles from anyone or anything. They
chose that location because of the isolation and privacy. The
stated purpose of the facility is to replicate traditional ways
of farming and living as an educational center or those interested
in learning the old ways and getting back to nature. So, they’ve
built all of their buildings using traditional (read that as
colonial frontier) materials, tools and methods. So, when some
one comes to their learning center, they not only are learning
how our founders did things, but they are living and working
in buildings that provide accurate frontier environments.
They are a peace-loving group of traditionalist volunteers trying
to educate people from all over the world about the ways things
were done pre-industrial revolution. Not quite a hippy commune
but with that same passionate vibe aimed at preserving a specific
time in our history and learning to live with nature.
To say that this group is bothering no one is an understatement.
You have to drive 2 ½ miles up their driveway just to
get to them. So, imagine their surprise when a contingent of
local zoning and law enforcement folks (11 very official-looking
types, some armed) apparently just walked into their living room
and announced that they had a warrant and were assessing their
property for building code and zoning violations.
Get this picture in your mind: you’ve done you best to
build a facility that features nothing but colonial frontier
building techniques and you have a modern building inspector,
who apparently has a chip on his shoulder, going through the
structures, clip board in hand. What’s wrong with this
picture? Everything, that’s what!
The upshot is that Turtle Island and its volunteer management
is being cited and threatened with fines and possible legal action
if they don’t bring all their structures up to code.
Now let me get this straight: you’re demanding that a structure
that is built to demonstrate early building techniques has to
conform to 2012 building codes. This is quite possibly the definition
First, I had never heard of Turtle Island until an e-mail asking
for help was forwarded to me, so I have no personal attachment
to it at all. I do, however, have lots of attachment to what
it is they are trying to accomplish and the way they are going
about it. And, having dealt with zoning boards and building departments
in a prior life as an in-fill building contractor (I bought difficult-to-build
lots and built spec homes) I know how heavy handed, unreasonable
and dictatorial they can be. But, this is silly! An abuse of
power and a waste of taxpayers’ money, if I ever saw one.
Okay, this having been said, I’m certain there’s
another side to this story just as I’m certain that some
pissed-off individual who had it in for Turtle Island blew the
whistle on them. Regardless, there has to be space within zoning/building
requirements that allow for this kind of educational facility
So, I think that those who feel as I do about such thing should
sign Turtle Island’s petition and drop a note to their
local zoning/building officials. We don’t have to call
them names, but I do think that it’s important in situations
like this that local bureaucrats realize that their actions are
taking place before a national audience and a lot of folks think
they are going about this thing the wrong way. And exceptions
for historical structures should be granted. Teaching our traditions
and freedoms is more important than some sub-paragraph in a building
Go to TURTLE
Nov 2012 - We Are Our Own Worse Enemy
I'm still sick and I’m in a funk. And I’m causing
it myself. And, even as I sit here typing, I know that I’m
causing it myself. This is a fact that lots of us manic types
have to deal with: we are our own worse enemies. The good news,
however, is that I know it. Others often don’t.
I’m convinced that a good percentage of people who find
themselves down, whether they are depressed or not, don’t
realize how much of the problem they are causing themselves.
sitting here right now, I recognize where my brain is trying
to take my emotions and I know exactly how to stop it, and I
will, but not until I’m done venting in the hopes of helping
others with similar problems.
Far too many folks are unwilling to recognize that they
have cycles in which a negative outlook takes over their thinking.
I’d be surprised if there’s a person reading this
that doesn’t go through periods where they’re they’re
psychologically holding their heads in their hands bemoaning
all the things they’re uphappy about. In fact, I’m
betting there are a lot of folks reading this that, if they were
to be analyzed, would be determined to have manic-depressive
tendencies. Some might even be clinically depressed: nothing
looks or tastes good to them. Life may be going on, but they
see it through a gray, negative veil that sucks the joy out of
I’ve struggled with those kinds of cycles my entire life,
but sometime in my 30’s I noticed a very definite pattern.
Maybe it’s the engineer in me being alerted to trends that
can be analyzed. Whatever, I found that for some reason, often
unexplained, something would set up some negative thoughts in
my mind about a specific subject. Maybe the lack of progress
on a project or goal. Then, like an oil slick spreading across
a still pool, I’d find it infecting other aspects of my
life. Then, I’d find myself cruising along in the depths,
with nothing but negative thoughts and a bad attitude about everything.
This is NOT my usual demeanor, which may come as a surprise
to some folks.
These cycles didn’t happen often but sometimes they’d
last for three or four weeks before, for no apparent reason,
I’d start to perk up and be my normal self again.
Tell me you don’t identify with at least part of the above.
I dare you. I think it’s part of life. Or am I the odd-man-out
here? In which case, this is a little embarrassing.
At some point I got to where I could recognize when I was feeding
my own depression by letting myself slide into a glass-half-empty
mindset. 100% of the time, that mindset is unearned, and some
part of me knows it. Previously, even though I knew I really
had nothing to get down about, I’d continue on that slippery
slope. However, At some point, I guess I decided to make understanding
this cycle-problem into a project and figure out a way to fix
it. At that point, I stood off to one side, as if a casual observer
watching the process under way, and identified the varying phases
of my slide into a funk. It didn’t take long before I realized
that just like stopping hiccups (I can stop my hiccups if they
are more than 8 seconds apart…another subject for another
time), if I keep my antennae up and catch my slide early enough,
I can stop it dead in its tracks. Now, I can be pretty deep into
a funk, as I am right now, and pull myself out of it almost instantly.
Here’s what works for me. I have no idea whether it works
for others or not, but, if I’ll heed my own advice and
do this, it keeps me in a pretty even, reasonably “up”,
• First, listen to your own thoughts. In my case, I’ll be sitting
there listening to myself thinking and suddenly realize that all of the thoughts
are negative: I’ve been sliding downhill and didn’t realize it because
I wasn’t listening. You can’t fix something, if you don’t know
it’s happening. So, once in a while stand back and listen to your own thoughts
as if they’re a radio broadcast. If the tone isn’t what you want
it to be, you need to do something about it.
• Often the negative thoughts are initially focused on something big you
can do nothing about, e.g. the election, the job you didn’t get, etc. However,
notice that other, less important things are jumping out at you and irritating
you. It could be something as simple as a doorknob that’s loose and you
haven’t fixed it. A burned out light in a closet that you know is there,
but you’ve been ignoring it because you’re not in the mood to fix
it. A friend you know you’ve pissed off but haven’t
called to straighten things out. Once you start down hill, an increasing number
of things will add to your downhill slide because they are things you could
do something about but your lousy mood keeps you from acting on them.
• Single out some of the minor irritants that are short term projects:
ten minutes with a screw driver or simply dialing a phone number. Pick things
that pose no real challenge but irritate you anyway and, when combined, can
help bring you down.
• Now comes the hard part: hoist you butt out of the easy chair that’s
in front of the TV and surrounded by empty potato chip bags and pick out the
small thing that is irritating you the most and do something about it. Anything.
Tighten that doorknob. Move onto the closet light. Then call that friend.
Just as the downhill slide takes nothing to start it, the same thing is true
of the climb up-hill. It takes the smallest thing to start the comeback.
Here’s a fact: when you face up to something that’s nibbling away
at your peace of mind and put it to bed, life instantly gets just a little brighter.
Stack enough of those tiny victories up and you’ll find yourself back
on top in nothing flat.
Incidentally, when all else fails, take a couple of beers with you, turn the
radio up loud and clean the garage. That’s a drastic move, I know, but,
no one in the universe is so depressed that walking out into a freshly cleaned
garage doesn’t make them feel better.
I’m not that desperate, so I think I’ll go put the rear end back
in the roadster. That’s been bugging me for weeks.
Hell, I feel better just writing this. Thanks for listening. bd
17 Nov 2012 -
Sugar Gliders and Twinkies
First off, I have a cold and I feel like crap, so this one may
be short. If I sound journalistically stuffed up, that’s
the explanation. That and the fact that these days it’s
next to impossible to start a conversation that isn’t politics-centric.
But, I’m going to try. Besides, even though we’ve
had devastating news this week, including the death of the Twinkie,
I discovered the Sugar Glider subculture and that almost balances
out the political crap.
First the Sugar Gliders: bear in mind that I hadn’t even
heard the name until yesterday afternoon when I was walking through
the vendor displays at the Good Guys Rod and Custom show in Scottsdale.
And, if I had heard the name I’d think it to be some sort
of Twinkie-wannabee: a thoroughly toxic combination of sugar
and gooey stuff that tastes wonderful but is guaranteed to require
treatment that will keep your cardiologist in Porsches for the
rest of his life.
So, I was walking along looking at the shiny new mag wheels,
all-steel and unpainted roadster bodies and other magic car stuff
and I see an animal cage sitting on a vendor table. Huh? Very
much out of context. So I sidled up and took a peek. There were
numerous tiny, striped, fuzzy critters snuggled together sleeping.
I looked at the vendor and asked, “So, what’re you
He reached in his shirt pocket and came out with what has to
be one of the cutest little, bug-eyed non-rodents I’ve
ever seen. Now it should be noted that I’m a sucker for
anything cute and fuzzy. It’s a miracle we don’t
buy a new Pomp puppy every month because I think they’re
so cute. But, this thing….it was tiny and…well…cute.
But, who would be selling rats at a car meet? And I said that
out loud. I didn’t know it, but I had just insulted his
pocket-friend, Blanco, and am lucky he didn’t punch me
in the mouth by making a generalization that lumped his friend
in with a group to which he didn’t belong.
Still, I was fascinated.
How's that for an "aah" moment?
The vendor started his sales pitch: turns out it’s not
a rodent. It’s a marsupial and has a web between its legs
like a flying squirrel, but doesn’t have rodent teeth.
And he proved the “glider” part in Sugar Glider by
putting the little guy on the back of my hand. He had me stand
in the middle of the aisle, which had to be more than fifteen
feet and hold my hand far over my head. He then called “Blanco!” and
the damn thing leaped off my hand and glided to his master. He
landed flat on the guy’s chest, clamped himself in position
for just a second then scrambled into his master’s pocket
and curled up.
Did I mention that the little guy was unbelievably cute?
As I told the vendor, it’s a good thing Marlene wasn’t
with me or we’d leave with a couple in each pocket.
When I got home, I Googled the critters and discovered that
an entire sub-culture built around them. One website had literally
hundreds of photos from owners featuring their fuzzy little heart
throbs. BTW – the best site I found that appeared to be
the most accurate because it was created by the Association of
Sugar Glider Veterinarians is http://www.asgv.org/index.php.
Turns out the little buggers are really emotional creatures
that thrive on love and bond solidly with a family and their
other animals, often spending hours riding around on a dog’s
back. Many professionals said they spend the entire day at work
with one curled up in their shirt or jacket pocket. Hahahaha!
For whatever reason I love that.
And, no, I’m not going to buy one. I’m positive that
Abigail, our kitten-that-refuses-to-grow-up, would take one look
at one of these and pounce on it. She brings a bird in the house
at least once or twice a week. She’s a born hunter. And
it would kill me to see her munching on our new, $450 fuzzy thing.
Yeah, that’s what I said: $450. That’s the other
reason I wouldn’t buy one.
And then there are the Twinkies: I hope the union bosses are
happy. For Hostess to survive they needed an 8% decrease in labor
costs. They tried to negotiate for nearly a year but the unions
refused. Even when told Hostess would shut down by a given deadline, the unions
ignored them and 18,500 employees took a 100% pay cut rather
than 8%. That’s a lot of jobs and we can’t
even blame it on Obama. We can, however, blame it on short-sighted,
self-serving union officials, which, btw, have been making noises
about now going after Bain Capital.
When unions relentlessly pursue goals with no consideration
to their membership’s well being, which is tied to the
health of their employer, unions have outlived their usefulness.
When the host animal is dead, so are all of those that were
living off of it. bd
If you’re in the habit of checking Speaking Out Loud on Saturdays, notice
that I wrote one during the election. Read that one first. Now, a couple days
later, I'm pretty much over a fairly acute case of the election blues and into
What-Do-I/We-do-now mode, which I think is important.
Regardless of how bummed we may be we owe it to our country and our family to
survive as individuals, neighborhoods, cities and states so we can rebuild whatever
is left, when this nightmare is over. In fact, I'm now trying to figure out what
my personal goals are and how to implement them. We can’t let our lives
just happen. We have to do a better job of guiding them and then turn our attention
to the Nation.
And we are probably safe, if we ignore all the wailing and teeth-grinding that’s
going on right now. I don’t think we’ll see anarchy reign or storm
troopers coming down the street. What we'll probably see, however, is a slow
deterioration of many of the things, which we think of as being integral to the
America we knew.
On the foregoing point: we have to recognize one very important fact that came
out of this election. This is no longer our fathers’ America. The demographics
clearly say that. We white folk are going to have to accept that, in a few years,
we’re going to be in the minority. But, that’s definitely not the
end of the world. Not even close. As long as minorities continue on the path
that every minority before them has taken, they will slowly, but surely, become
Americans. There have been generations of Latinos, Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese,
etc. who have become hyphenated-Americans. And that's a good thing. All of us
are hyphenated one way or the other.
Incidentally, as much as some like to paint Hispanics as takers and lazy, my
personal experience and Arizona's experience with legal Hispanics is exactly
the opposite. They are some of the hardest working, most entrepreneurial people
on the continent. If they have their hands out, it is because they have no choice.
That is not their natural way. If we can develop an orderly way to guide illegals
to citizenship without a wholesale by-passing of our immigration system and meld
them into the work force, they'll go from being a burden to being a benefit fairly
quickly. And, as they get deeper into their new culture and the generations build,
they’ll become split like everyone else. Some going Democrat. Some going
One immediate fall-out of settling the immigration issue is that those Latinos
that are already citizens will ease up on their hatred of the Republicans. Most
have the same concerns about the country that we do, but family immigration concerns
make them into one-issue voters. We won’t get all of their votes, but we
won’t lose all of them either.
One of the things I’d like to see us invent is a new operational format
that I’d call “Capitalistic Socialism”. The DNC owns the entitlement
crowd (let them have it), which is very expensive, expanding and isn’t
likely to disappear. It also votes. And it has to be supported. So, I’d
ease up the tax and regulations that affect business and let capitalism run as
hard as it possibly can. Let them get terribly profitable and rich, which will
generate the tax revenues and the jobs necessary to feed those with their hands
out while we develop programs to wean them off of the government teat.
If you get government out of the way of the moneymakers, the government will
have more money to spend. Simple!
There’s going to be some really ugly stuff happening in the next four years.
The most serious being that the Supreme Court is almost certainly going to be
taken over by the hard left and the buzz is that Eric Holder, the most dangerous
man in America, may not serve another term as attorney general so he can take
over the first Supreme Court position that becomes available (expect some backroom
shenanigans there). As I said, ugly. But, in one form or another we’ll
Expect the 2nd Amendment to essentially disappear, or at least be severely mangled,
so be prepared to bury a lot of “stuff.”
The GOP has two years to get their act together and re-evaluate who they represent,
how to build their base and how to be the party their constituency wants. We
desperately need to take five more seats in the Senate (is my math right?). A
huge goal! But we have to shoot for it. It is, however, going to be a very long
two years and a lot of things can happen along the way.
I’d like to see the GOP do several things RIGHT NOW:
-Immediately introduce immigration reform that is logical, doable and hopefully
not based on amnesty, but, if that’s what it takes, do it. If the GOP makes
the move before Obama does, that’ll have a HUGE effect on Latino voters
plus it’s the right thing to do.
-Don’t let the words “abortion” or “right to life” come
out of any candidate’s mouth. Just remove the subject from our vocabulary.
The law is in place and, in my view, government has no place in those kinds of
decisions anyway. Plus that generates more one-issue voters. If asked about it,
the candidate says, “The law is on the books and I’ll abide by it.
Next question.” Don't engage.
-Do our very best to work with the other side on fiscal issues without giving
in to truly stupid ideas. We HAVE to get our fiscal heads out of our butts.
And here’s a prediction: it is highly possible that the economic situation
is going to get so incredibly bad that there will be a backlash against Democrats
that will work to our favor. Also, if the next GOP POTUS candidate is someone
like Marco Rubio, Allan West, Cain, etc., it’ll grab part of the minority
vote: there is some killer talent out there that also happens to be a minority.
Let’s use it. As far as that goes, I expect both future Presidential candidates
to be minorities. Being a woman (of sorts) Hillary counts as a minority.
The political game is still very winnable. But only if the GOP gets their sh*t
together and applies what they’ve learned from this go-round. The fiscal
thing, however…that’s another ball game altogether.
Now that the DNC has used up their Golden Child, it’s going to be interesting
to see who they run next. The adoring crowds are going to expect someone that
can tap dance on water. This assumes that there is a “next time.” I
also won't be surprised to see their Chosen One get too far out of control even
for the DNC.
Today is going to be one of the most important days in any of our lives. Regardless
of where you stand politically, we should all remember this day as the point
at which our people decided what kind of nation they want to have. For better
or worse. There is now no turning back.
0435: Election day. My eyes pop open with the realization that
I have lots of work to do today. More than usual but in the fuzzy border between
sleep and wakefulness, I can’t remember exactly what it is. As my feet
hit the floor, I remember: today is the day. We vote. Today is the beginning
of the end, but the end of what? The end of the nightmare? Or the end of our
Nation, as we know it?
I voted for the first time 52 years ago (that doesn't even seem remotely possible)
for Kennedy. I went from being a vaguely confused, long-haired, left-leaning
independent who hated the establishment but loved the military, guns, guitars,
and delta blues (Chicago blues too) to being a very right leaning independent
who still hates the establishment and is hardcore conservative in some areas
but very liberal in other areas. So, yes, I'm still vaguely confused but in those
52 years, I've never seen an electorate so strongly divided or a country that
was so clearly tearing itself apart. And today, it comes to a head.
10:55 Election day: I just came back from voting and, for whatever
reason, I have a vaguely queasy feeling in my stomach, with just a twittering
of fear. I’ve done all I can do. I’ve cast my vote. But, with so much is at
stake, I’m afraid that’s not enough. I was going to go hide for the
next couple of days, but now I’m not. I’ll gut my way through it,
as will we all. It’s going to be a long day. Or week. Or possibly several
weeks. We’ll just have to hide and watch.
8:45 pm (10:45 EST) –The writing’s on the wall. Right now it looks
as if Florida is gone. Ohio too, although they’re still counting. And Colorado.
So, if that turns out to be the case, essentially it’s all over but the
shouting. He can’t lose them and win.
Fox just called it: The Chosen One wins. We lose! I feel like puking.
As I was sitting there with Marlene, who is screaming her brains out she’s
so frustrated, I came to a very clear realization: there are actually two Democratic
parties and one of those is being used by the other in a way I don’t think
they realize or want.
It’s easy to characterize the Republican party: essentially they are conservative
white guys, a little older, possibly in business and old school in their beliefs.
It’s a fairly homogeneous group (within certain limits).
The Democratic party is difficult to characterize because there are two very
clear, very different parties. The first is what I might call Demo Lite,
floating on the top. It too is predominately white and is represented by the
intelligentsia, the academics, the Hollywood stars and those people who are firm
in their beliefs that they truly need to take care of the rest of the world.
Of the disenfranchised. The poor. The down on their luck. And they believe that
with all their hearts. One of their erroneous beliefs is that they’re convinced
that the Republicans don’t feel the same way and don’t want to help
the same groups, when they actually do. They would just go about it a little
The other half of the Democratic party is made up of those they want to take
care of. We’ll call them the Dirty Demos. And they don’t call themselves
Democrats. Or liberals. Or anything else, for that matter. These include a rogue
percentage (not all, but a percentage) of the poor, the disenfranchised, the
illegals, all of those whom the upper half of the party want to take care of.
Unfortunately, some of the Dirty Demos are playing head games with the Demo Lites.
A large portion of the Dirty Demo’s have their hands out and believe in
big government because they don’t want to do it for themselves. They want
the government to do it for them and, while there are a lot of fine folks in
there that truly do diserve our help, there is also a huge number of people who
are laughing their asses off at the “liberals” and gleefully taking
offered. They have struck it rich.
That part of the DNC aren’t liberals. They are takers. They are the death
of America walking around on two legs. They will continue to suck on America’s
goodness until there is no more. And with Obama as president and the millions
of additional DNC voters courtesy of immigration amnesty, you can look back at
George Bush with nostalgia because he’ll be the last Republican president.
The two party system is essentially finished. As is the country.
It’s a well known quote from some ancient philosopher that rings so true
tonight that it is scary: a democracy can last only until the population finds
that they can vote themselves gifts out of the treasury. And that’s what
is happening even as I’m typing this. It now appears that those who want
life given to them, as opposed to making their own life, have joined hands with
those who think they are helping, thereby allowing the takers to conquer the
most powerful country in the world without firing a shot. They have made the
US their slaves in that they don’t have to work because we will take care
of them. And they accomplished that by playing on the sympathies of those who
mistakenly believe that they will be thanked for their generosity and support.
I would like any liberal who voted for Obama today to ask themselves this question:
do they identify with the Black Panthers who threatened voters? They voted Democrat.
Do they feel a kinship with the neighborhood drug dealer? He’ll vote Democraft.
Would they like the unwed welfare mother who has six kids to spend the summer
with them? Guess how she voted? Those people are laughing up their sleeves at
those who are making their lives so easy. They are what provided the voting margin
for Obama to win. Without the takers vote, this would not have happened. I’m
amazed and sickened.
This is a tragedy of enormous proportions for America and the world. When we
go down, the rest of the world will go down with us. History is going to have
a difficult time understanding how a logical, free people could do this, when
it’s really pretty simple. A big enough proportion off the population figured
out how to live for free and voted for he who guaranteed that.
Okay, tomorrow is another day. The die has been cast and we have to make the
best we can of it. I feel sorry for my kids: they’re convinced that they’re
doing the right thing. It is their kids, my grand kids, who will reap what they
have sown. All you and I can do is keep our heads down and do our best to survive
what is going to be an increasingly difficult situation in which to make a living
while living our lives the way we want.
It’s going to be up to us to figure out a way to straighten this mess out.
Or failing that, how to survive and give our families a good life in an increasingly
I’m going to sign off now. ‘Seems like a good time to order another
1000 rounds of 9mm and .223 while I still can. Damn! This is surreal. bd
a week! How can you script a bigger disaster than Sandy? The East Coastline
is nearly two thousand miles long, yet Sandy managed to zero-in on the most densely
populated area on the entire Continent. And it did so as we’re struggling
with the national crisis represented by the election being only days away. A
First the election: I don’t have the words to convey my feelings about
it. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I find it astonishing
that a man can do such a bad job running ANYTHING and still have 50% of the people
loving him. There’s some sort of Messiah Complex at work here. Something
I absolutely cannot understand.
I fear for my country. Yet, those I’m most concerned about and are most
vulnerable, my kids and grand kids, stand solidly in the BHO/Democratic corner.
I just don’t understand it.
Tuesday will go down as THE watershed moment in American history. Our future
will be decided then, just as it was during the Revolutionary War and the Civil
War. I am truly afraid.
I’m also afraid for parts of the NYC Metro area. For the 23 years prior
to moving out here to Paradise, I was part of that menagerie. Although I lived
on the far western edge of it, I conducted business and commuted right through
the heart of it on a daily basis. So I’m fully aware that, unless you’ve
lived there, so many of the scenes may look disastrous, but you don’t really
grasp the magnitude or variety of the problems. For instance, a talking head
pointed out a mostly submerged truck stranded in waters rushing into the Battery
Tunnel, and said there were “several feet” of water in the area.
However, that truck was a larger-than-normal dump truck and only about a foot
and a half of the box was visible: the water was a solid eight to ten feet deep
AND THAT’S ON THE RAMP GOING DOWN INTO THE TUNNEL!! So the tunnel is completely
flooded. How do you fix that in a reasonable length of time?
How do you get a subway back on line that is completely electric yet underwater?
Think of all the components that will need replacing. The thousands of relays.
The thousands of electronic components. I’m betting the amount of replacement
equipment required could easily outstrip the nationwide supply and some of it
will have to be manufactured.
There are tens of thousands of cars that are totaled by virtue of being submerged:
every building of any size has underground garages going down two or more (sometimes
many more) stories. Many of them have to be pumped out, the cars pulled out and
put somewhere, insurance companies have to get involved, salvage companies make
their bids to take the cars. The cars need to be replaced. It goes on and on.
And then there is the human toll that, until electricity is returned to most
of the buildings, the death told could continue to climb. Manhattan is connected
to the mainland by three or four bridges and at least two or three tunnels on
both sides. The tunnels will be slow coming back on-line and some of the bridges
are damaged, so the usually tedious traffic into and out of the city will be
much more so for some time. While all that goes on, the mini-villages represented
by each of the hundreds of residential buildings in town will be suffering.
I’ve heard no news types talking about it, so I could be wrong. However,
based on my own experiences in the City, each residential building houses hundreds
of people who shop differently than most of us do: they don’t buy a week’s
worth of groceries at a time at a spawling super market. They buy several days
worth at a small neighborhood market like D’Agostinos, which seem to be
on every third corner. They are everywhere. And you almost never see a D’Agostinos
without at least one or two small delivery trucks parked in front unloading.
The stores are in a constant state of re-supply. And I’m certain that supply
line has been severely hampered. Possibly totally cut off.
Consider this scenario: you’re an aging couple living on the 10th floor
below midtown. You have no electricity. Besides the personal inconvenience of
the dark, the pumps, which carry water to a roof top tank, no longer work, so
very quickly you have no water. You also can’t flush your toilets. The
elevator no longer works, so the stairs are your only choice. Can you manage
them? Since you aren’t in the habit of overstocking food, it’s only
a few days before you’re hungry. The toilets/garbage cans/whatever are
over flowing. You HAVE to get supplies. So you struggle down the stairs only
to find that your grocery store isn’t functioning. Where to go? What to
The saving grace may be that D’Agostino’s has on-line ordering and
delivery. That, of course, assumes they have the food and the couple’s
have a computer, both of which are doubtful.
Even though I’ve seen no news coverage of it, I have to think that thousands
of apartment dwellers are already finding themselves functioning as if homeless.
Scrounging for what they can.
I’m afraid the death toll is going to go up simply because so many won’t
be able to manage the stairs.
And as for rebuilding or even getting everything cleaned up, I’m not certain
there is enough construction equipment or manpower in the entire North East to
solve the problems. Just think of the amount of trucking that will be required
to haul away the refuse that used to be homes on Long Island or the Jersey Shore?
And where will it go? While I was living in NJ, I got involved in demolishing
a house and we had to truck the debris to Ohio, which was the closest place that
would allow it to be dumped. This is going to get more complicated by the day.
Lessons Learned (all of them simple):
-The basics, water and food are critical but many don’t realize how quickly
things can go to hell and so they don’t stock them.
-Electricity is next and possible as important. The lack of electricity is what
caused the area-wide gasoline emergency.
-Generator sales across the country have gone through the roof nationwide: the
NY/NJ disaster was watched in real time by the entire nation and many are taking
its lessons to heart.
-The basic lesson is taught to all Boy Scouts: Be prepared. Regardless of where
you live, you are vulnerable to “something.” If not hurricanes, it’s
snow. Or floods. Almost anything can strip the thin veneer of civilization away
leaving you helpless.
We have two tragedies being dropped on us: the tragedy that is Sandy, has already
hit and we’re dealing with it. The tragedy represented by incumbents returning
to office is impending. And, given the way the election process is going to be
strung out by Sandy and other obstacles, we may not know the answer until several
days after the polls close. This is going to be agonizing.
I’m seriously thinking about not turning on a TV until Thursday, so, it’s
all over but the shouting and I don’t have to go through the last minute
drama. And there will be lots of drama. Count on it!
This is going to be a long frigging week!
I know: the third debate was this week, but, I’m so saturated with political
BS that I don’t want to talk about it. Both sides think they won and I’m
happy for them. I’ll address politics next week, when the election is steaming
down on us. Right now I feel like touching something more personal: the concept
of heirlooms and the generational connection therein. I know I’ve touched
this before, but not in this context.
I spend far more time than I should discussing airplanes, life, funky cars/guns/whatever
amongst some of my best friends on the Bearhawk chat group. It’s a super
intelligent, diverse bunch of guys and the group is my only social link to
the world. Within this group, no subject is off limits. If it is important to
one of us, it’s important to the rest of us, and it gets discussed. I remember,
when our dog died, we kicked it around on the group with everyone telling their
own dog stories and I’ll guaran-damn-tee that there were a lot of tears
on a lot of keyboards.
One of the subjects we cruised through last week was how so many of the guys
had rifles or shotguns that were passed down from their fathers and grandfathers
and how they treasured them and the connection they represented. It was a really
warm, inspiring discussion and got me thinking about my own situation: although
I’m surrounded by lots of “stuff” that was part of a gigantic
accumulation begun by my dad and expanded many times over by me, with one exception,
there is not a single thing in this house that I connect with my parents. Nothing.
This is really unusual, considering the amount of crap that fills every nook
and cranny of the house.
The lack of hand-me-down guns, can be explained by the fact that my father never
actually “owned” any guns other than those that hung from the walls
and the ceiling of his store as part of the decor. When we went hunting, he used
different guns because there was a small gun department in his general store,
many of them used, so he’d just grab one off the rack and away we went.
There was no favorite shotgun with the corners and blue worn smooth by work-roughed
hands that was part of his life. No tools, no gold watch, no nothin’.
After they died, some one stole his old Speedgraphic 4 x 5 camera and his 16mm
Bell and Howell and I’d love to have both sitting here in my office. So,
that leaves me with a single artifact that truly was my father’s and which
I connect with him. See the picture below and tell me if you can identify it
before going on to the text under it. If you know what it is, kudos for your
outstanding knowledge of useless trivia.
Nope, it's not my dad's gold watch.
What you’re looking at is the counterweight from the
waterwheel that powered the Seward Flour Mill in my old hometown. This would
have been in the 1920’s.
My dad started there right out of school as a “mucker:” it was
his job to slither down into the waterwheel system and drag/push/shovel the
mud out of it. Eventually he rose to manage the mill before starting his own
business. Today, not only is the waterwheel and the mill gone without a trace
but the entire river is gone. Just a level field remains. Looks very strange.
As you can see from the photo, the counterweight makes a really nice container
for my prison ball and chain.
I use the counterweight as an anvil and for bending stuff of varying lengths.
Dad used it the same way, although I very seldom saw him actually working in
any of the workshops he was constantly building on the property and in the
So, now I wonder what in this massive pile of junk will wind up with my kids.
And will any of it mean anything to them? The answer is that only the US Cavalry
belt buckle I wear every day will find a home and be treasured (my daughter
has already staked claims on it). None of the guns will go to either one, including
my first new gun, a .22 Marlin lever action I bought with chick box money,
when 12 years old. My kids are gun-phobic and couldn’t live in worse
states to own weapons (NJ and CA). The artillery piece, roadster, dozens of
well-worn power tools, my old camera case, stuff that has lived with me for
most of my life has no meaning to them. Even the Indian artifacts, won’t
mean anything, although it’s possible they might keep the four Navajo
rugs that laid on my bedroom floor as a kid in Nebraska (mom and dad bought
them in AZ in ’34). They are now on my living room walls. But, that’ll
be about it. The counterweight will wind up in the trash. Too heavy. Too rusty.
Too ugly. But, waaay too cool!
I guess it’s important to remember that we’re living our lives
for ourselves. Not our kids. And we should enjoy our time and our possessions,
while we can. It’s also important that we place no value on our possessions
but that we treat our time like others treat gold. Time is the only thing we
have that is truly of value. And, unfortunately, you can’t pass it on
to a new generation. bd
fact that we’re each dying shouldn’t come as news to any of us. However,
if you’re just now hearing that unfortunate bit of information, I’d
like to have some of the stuff you’ve been smoking. And as with everything
in life (and in death it turns out), if it represents a possible revenue stream,
we can count on the direct mail folks jumping on it. Get this: I just received
my first piece of mail offering “FREE, Pre-paid Cremation.” Damn!
The subject of so many jumping on the you're-old-and-ready-to-die marketing bandwagon
can easily bend me totally out of shape. I was, for instance, pissed, when I
started getting a blizzard of stuff from AARP. Okay, so I know the miles are
piling up on my odometer, but it still pisses me off that they follow me around
like ambulance chasing lawyers hoping for my business.
I’m still not
convinced that AARP isn’t just a bunch of twenty-three-year-old marketing
geeks sitting around a conference table littered with empty Red Bull cans saying
stuff like, “Yeah, they’re so worried that they’re getting
old, we can easily convince them that they’re going to be helpless unless
we represent them in Washington. Or something like that. They’re
all over 50, plus a lot are Republicans, so they aren’t smart enough to
see through us. We can even sell ‘em T-shirts and other useless sh*t. I
can see the T-shirts now ‘Wrinkle Warriors Unite!’ Keith Richards,
wrinkle king of the western hemisphere, can be our spokesperson. ‘Wrinkles
Rock!’ We’ll make a fortune from dues alone! Let’s do it! Screw ‘em!
They’re all going to die anyway.”
The continual chirping of AARP I can ignore. But the note from the National
Cremation Society I received this week was a zinger right between the eyes!
Give me a frigging break, folks! Is this the way the rest of my life is going
to be? A steady stream of ambulance chasers behind me? Salesmen pulling up
in front of the house with caskets racked up in converted beer trucks, their
wares visible behind slide-up glass doors on each side?
let me know, if this doesn't get
your attention,when itshows up in the mail.
You thought I was kidding, didn't
you? I was so excited by their offer I could hardly wait to open
Am I going to have little old nuns at the door with donation
cans in their hands, “Sir,
we’re taking up donations for the less fortunate. Those who are cremation-challenged.” They
smile sweetly and continue, “You wouldn’t want them to go
to their just reward being plowed under as fertilizer, would you? Let us help
them get the respect they disserve by allowing them to be toasted to a dusty
powder and flushed down a toilet by their children.”
Actually, I think I like the fertilizer thing. You plow me under in a sweet
corn patch and I live on in the bodies of those who attend the first corn roast.
Immortality. Or is it re-incarnation. Either way, unfortunately, once the corn
does its number, you wind up getting flushed down the toilet anyway. Hmmm!
not such a good idea.
Am I going to have my doorbell ringing and there’s a cheerful sunovabitch
standing there in a dark suit, white shirt, narrow tie and gleaming teeth ear-to-ear---probably
a college kid working a cremation franchise door-to-door. “Sir,
since you’re going to die soon, may I be the first to offer you a discount
on our premium line of custom-designed urns. You’ll note we can fashion
a facsimile of your own dwelling (their sample looks suspiciously like a bird
house with no door). Or your favorite car.” In the back of his display
case you spot urns shaped like genitalia. I’ll bet those sell well.
Or an alternative pitch, “Sir, I’m with Acme Ash Disposal Service.” But,
you can’t see the other side of his truck that’s parked at the
curb: it advertises “Side walk clearing and salting.” Wanna spend
eternity spread out on a wintery sidewalk keeping people from falling on
I halfway expect personal representatives to start showing up from Body Works,
the phenomenal traveling museum display in which cadavers are preserved with
injected plastic and their flesh peeled away to reveal our inner workings.
BTW-if you haven’t seen this, go. It’s phenomenal, but I don’t
want them at my front door. “Hey, dude, donate your body to Body Works.
your chance to be in show biz, full-time, long run guaranteed. No audition
required. Sign here and we can make you the star of the gluteus maximus
The whole we’ll-take-care-of-you-after-death thing will eventually lead
to a Body Works division in which they do their plastic taxidermy thing so you
can be stood up next to your pool table dressed as a Blues Brother. Or affixed
to the end of your front sidewalk, lantern in hand, to welcome guests. “Sign
today and you’ll receive our fast-return special: you’ll be returned
to your loved ones cured and ready to mount in no more than 36 hours. However,
the normal 48-hour delivery also includes the aroma-free guarantee, which is
Hey, I totally understand that the lousy economy has driven us all to flip
over every entrepreneurial rock we can find in hopes of establishing new income
streams. But, come on guys! I, for one, am a helluva long way from circling
the drain. Even vultures wait until the corpse stops moving. Can’t you
folks have just a little patience? Gheez!
has been an interesting week both good and bad. I’ll not bore you with
ALL the details but suffice it to say I forgot our anniversary but it didn’t
even raise an eyebrow in our house. But, then I saw the VP slugfest and that
raised a lot of eyebrows.
How, you may ask, can a guy forget his anniversary and not wind up parked out
behind the doghouse? Pretty easy, actually. And it says something about our modern
life styles (not just mine and Marlene’s, but everyone’s): we were
so jammed up that, even though we had both talked about it coming, when the day
actually arrived, we BOTH forgot it was our anniversary until a couple hours
into the day.
Like just about everyone we know, our days are loaded with deadlines, things
that must not be forgotten, aggravating stuff that has gone wrong and lots and
lots of events swirling around our heads. It’s a miracle we remember anything
personal. I have most of the deadlines (too many magazines, etc.) and Marlene
is caught up in the swirling events: she has become a news-junky and spends far,
far too much time watching news channels and investigatory specials. The result
is that she’s constantly in a state of mini-turmoil because of one event
or the other.
It’s kind of interesting watching her awakening interest in the world.
In the past, she only had a vague knowledge of global events. In fact, she really
wasn’t very much in touch. Now I hear her yelling at the television during
debates because she has the facts at her fingertips and knows when someone is
either stretching the truth or proposing something that it has been proven won’t
work. She has even come to recognize the shows that have an agenda and those
whom she can might be able to more or less trust, so she watches at least FOX
(that’s her video comfort food) and CNN at the same time with an occasional
dip into CBS/NBC to see who is bending the truth about what. I also find her
fact checking on the Internet.
And then came the VP debate, such as it was: I had to move into the other room
to watch it because Marlene was constantly bent so far out of shape I had trouble
following what was being said.
Some of the debate surprised me, some didn’t. I wasn’t at all surprised
to see Biden come out swinging: he was trying to offset Barry’s laid back,
almost off-handed performance in Debate.1. I was however surprised (and you’re
going to ask how anyone can be surprised at anything Biden does) at how thoroughly
unprofessional he was. He was acting like a 16-year-old who’d had his first
two cups of coffee: he was nearly out of control.
He raised condescending behavior and out-and-out disrespect to a higher art form.
Just about everyone is talking about his behavior but one of the things I don’t
hear mentioned often is that this very guy is only a single heartbeat from assuming
the most powerful, most important leadership position in the world. IN THE WORLD!!
This isn’t a national concern. This is a global concern. My dog is better
presidential material than Biden is. Damn! Who, with even a modicum of upbringing
or commonsense, would act like that in that kind of arena?
Even though the VP position is generally assumed to be unimportant, it’s
not. It’s very, very important. Even though I would have been happy to
see Ryan discard a little of his niceness and lay into Biden more than the one
time he did about his interruptions, it’s obvious Ryan understands the
importance of his task. And, it’s obvious his basic intellect is strong
and working. If he were thrust into the presidency by events, he would make it
I now want everyone who is reading this to envision Joe Biden standing before
the world representing the United States. That is reason enough to want to vote
BHO out of office: we need a better back-up leader. Granted, we’ve had
some real weak-sister VP’s in the past, but Biden is record-setting in
his lack of…I don’t know what…his lack of EVERYTHING!
I have a half-baked theory that the Dems recognized that electing the first black
president had a certain amount of inherent risk attached to it. They knew that
there are lots of crazies out there that might want to take do something violent.
However, they also knew that with Biden and Pelosi as the next in line not even
the most extreme racist redneck would want to take a chance of anything happening
to BHO. Biden is Barry’s best life insurance.
We’re only a few days away from Debate.2 and it’s going to be interesting.
I’m betting BHO comes out swinging and the whole thing is a lot less civil
than the last one. I also bet he goes out of his way not to make Bidenesque gestures,
when he’s not talking. We’re going to see lots of one-liner jabs,
hopefully from both sides. I like Romney’s genteel approach, but I hope
he gets in his own licks (“Wanna see my taxes, how about letting us see
your college records?”).
I don’t think Romney is the best we’ve had, but he’s far from
being the worse. And I think he’s a good, trustworthy human being who dearly
loves America and loves being an American. However, there’s no doubt in
my mind that BHO is the worse we’ve had, in terms of where the country
is at this moment and what we need to pull it out. I also think he is the worse
President we’ve had in terms of how he sees America. His vision just doesn’t
match the vision that has made the country what it is. And, I for one, happen
to like what it is.
We’re in a rough patch right now, and it’s a serious one, but it
doesn’t call for throwing out the baby with the bath water. This is still
a strong, vibrant country and the constitution that made it that way still very
much applies. For that reason, we don’t need that fundamental change BHO
promises, thank you. bd
I watched the debates and yes, Romney obviously cleaned his clock. But, I don’t
share all of the GOP’s rampant optimism. Next time is going to be tougher.
And meaner. But, frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn. I’m pre-occupied
with dog doors. And personal forms of domestic terrorism.
First the debates/campaigns:
Nothing I can say about the debate hasn’t already been said: mostly by
minds that are more clever and more optimistic. By comparison, Romney looked
like a genius, which, in this particular case wasn’t
hard to do. I think when this whole mess is over, something is going to come
out about BHO that explains his total lack of concentration and performance.
not that bad.
Within hours of the end of the debate, you can bet that his handlers set forth
a plan that quite literally has taken him out of the Oval Office until the next
debate and put him in intensive training. They aren’t going to risk a repeat
performance of Debate.1. In effect, until the election, the government is being
run by Obama Henchmen, while he gets emergency training aimed at eviscerating
Romney. And, I won’t be surprised if he succeeds, or at the very least,
come off looking like an dime store mannequin anxious to be anywhere but where
Inasmuch as we’re basically leaderless at the moment, if I were a terrorist,
this would be the time I’d strike the US again. The government’s
extreme indecision is evident in the wake of the Libyan Consulate hit, so, as
a bad guy, I’d capitalize on that and strike while POTUS is doing the one
thing he does well, or at least enjoys…campaigning. Word is, he really
doesn’t think being President is much fun. Well, duh!
The government's immediate reaction to the Libyan thing and the way they try
so hard to recast violent acts as anything but terrorism (witness the Ft. Hood
shootings, Libya, etc.) makes it appear as if terrorism has taken a backseat
in a lot of governmental thinking. This is especially true of terrorism of the
close-up and personal kind, which is what crime amounts to: profit-based local
terrorism. But, of course, in the real world, that kind of localized terrorism
a government concern. Nor should it be. That’s
a personal security issue that can be almost silly in how it affects us
in our daily lives.
Enter the Dog Door Dilemma:
I think I mentioned that due to a truly monumental screw up by our house-sitters
while we were at Oshkosh, a recently-out-of-jail (seven years for burglary) boy
friend had free rein to cruise around inside our house exiting with $4-$5,000
in jewelry. Much worse, he took our peace-of-mind with him. Plus, recent rumblings
overheard him and his brother talking about hitting our place by sending a girl
friend in through the dog door.
Someday I’ll go through all the security precautions we’ve taken,
which include what I think are some really innovative changes to the security
grates that were already on our house, courtesy of a previous owner who was very
paranoid and a world-traveling executive. Today, after all my modifications,
have to back a truck up to our grates and put a chain around them to get in.
not kidding. Lots of lots of thought, steel and welding have gone into them.
But, then there’s the dog door. This is an aperture in every house’s
defense perimeter that can only be eliminated if you teach your dog to either
use a litter box or climb up on the toilet and flush after use. Our Sháhn-Deen
is super-smart but neither of those is likely to happen. So, I focused my justifiably
paranoid mind on the problem of making a dog door impenetrable. And, in the
process, I wanted to make it more user-friendly, when it comes to securing it,
while you’re gone. PS-I’ve given some thought to patenting/producing
the results. Reader comments welcome.
Anyway, I started by taping 1 x 2 strips of wood to the interior of the existing
dog door frame making it progressively smaller a step at a time. I was letting
the cats (two of which are bigger than the dog) and the dog acclimate to it to
see how small I could make the opening and still have them run in and out without
being paranoid. In this case, we’re talking about a tiny, ten-pound dog,
so the opening was easy to get down smaller than even the smallest girl could
get through. The existing dog door, however, was flimsy in the extreme: it was
a plastic and aluminum frame screwed to the door that was easily destroyed by
nothing more than a claw hammer. Plus, to shut it at night required sliding a
sheet of aluminum down into grooves and to secure it, when we left, I ran
bolts through the door and a chunk of ¾” birch plywood to cover
it it. Waaay too much effort required in all cases.
The following pictures show the result of probably eight hours of cutting, welding,
drilling and tapping. This dog door is bullet proof and bolts through a solid
core door that is beefed up at critical areas with all sorts of cool jimmy-proof
hinging and lock security tricks. Today, it would take a steel-savvy burglar
with plenty of time and a willingness to make lots of noise to get in any door
or window in the house. By that time, 911 calls will have been automatically
made and, if we’re
home, a 12 gauge and double-ought buck will be waiting for them.
In some ways, the burglar did us a favor: now, in addition to keeping burglars
at bay, I’m ready for the Zombie Apocalypse. :-) bd
Outside, with flexible plastic cover.
Bolts from the inside are threaded into the frame so there's nothing
to unscrew from the outside. All material is 1/8" steel. Frame
is mitered and welded angle.
Countersunk, 1/4" bolts hold
it in place. Door is side-opening
black knob at top is fuel hose so
it doesn't mark the wooden door, when open.
Lock is 3/16" wall tube with 3/16th
ear welded on and bolt runs through frame with 3/16" doubler welded
on back for lots of threads. Finish, is powder coating.
Hinges are welded to door and frame
on both sides. What appears to be a pin, is actually a 1/4" bolt
I turned down with an angle-head sander with the bolt turning in the
don’t confuse easily. Or at least I didn’t used to. Lately, however,
especially the past couple weeks or so, it appears that either my brain is slowing
down or it is getting overloaded. Or both. I’m having trouble keeping track
of everything that’s happening and deciphering exactly what it means to
us in the long run.
Oh, wait…I just realized part of the problem: I think there may be a limit
to what our brains can handle. Especially when so much of the incoming data is
contradictory and coming from questionable sources.
First, we’re being totally inundated with news of how the Middle East is
radically restructuring itself and, for the most part, lining up against us (as
if that is something new). The earlier foreign policy mis-handling behind all
of this isn’t discussed much, if at all.
And the stories coming out of Washington pile upon one another, e.g. the sudden
vindication of everyone of political importance concerning the Fast and Furious
thing (hey, they didn’t know anything so can’t be held accountable).
A few hands were slapped. And the death of some Border Patrol guys were forgotten.
Then we hear from some news outlets that the Embassy attack was not only premeditated,
but American intelligence had a pretty good idea that it was coming. Or at least
probable. Yet, we still didn’t have armed Marines surrounding our ambassadors.
We had local rent-a-cops and no live ammo. Or so we’re being told. While
all this news is tumbling over us and CNN reads extracts from the Ambassador’s
personal diary about his security fears, everyone from the President on down
blames it on an anti-Mohammed video and apologizes their asses off to anyone
who will listen. How “spontaneous” can a demonstration be that comes
equipped with RPGs, mortars that are already targeted and automatic weapons?
And it happens on the anniversary of 9/11. What a coincidence!
And then there’s the tit-for-tat mud slinging of the presidential election,
in which everyone is pointing fingers and throwing out incriminating “facts” (…and
speaking of bull sh*t) about the other guy. Just too much to absorb.
I wonder how much of this would have been overwhelming if we weren’t being
positively beaten over the head with “late breaking news.” Think
how it would be if we didn’t have so many cable news channels, live feed
from correspondents standing in still-smoldering ruins, a minute-by-minute connection
with people on the scene (whatever the scene may be) via Internet, bloggers such
as myself beating us up with opinion, smart phones capturing every nuance of
every happening, and ream upon ream of Internet sources absolutely flooding us
with “information.” The ability to see and know everything that is
happening is just too much of what is supposed to be a good thing.
Actually, I think the prime reason I’m confused and having a lot of senior
moments is that I’m being told a lot of stuff from a lot of different sources
and I flat don’t know whom to believe. If anyone. News items like the fact
that NBC has been editing soundtracks on a video to alter the meaning of presidential
candidate video clips throws doubt on all coverage. When an Internet “press
release” says Obama has issued 923 executive orders, but then it’s
found that it’s closer 123, we doubt the Internet. And with good cause.
The truth is that we don’t know what the truth is. We don’t know
whom we can positively trust. This is true of nearly all of our news sources,
which have obviously become editors with agendas. I tell Marlene to watch more
CNN than Fox, because we know we’ll agree with Fox, but CNN may give us
a different slant. Not a better one, just one we know isn’t right-leaning,
as we are. If all we listen to are Beck (whom I still think does the best research
for his stories and I come closest to trusting) or Rush (right behind Beck),
then we’re drinking our own bath water and we don’t allow other views.
I am positively disgusted by the presidential race and some of the coverage of
it. In fact, I’ve now started shutting off ads and speech coverage. It’s
no longer, “This is how I’m going to solve our problems,” it
is “That other SOB is going to ruin every aspect of your life.” I
can’t tell you how much I hate it. And how tired I am of talking heads
slicing and dicing every single thing everyone says and reading meaning into
In fact, I’m tired of the media in general. They aren’t reporting
news, they are creating it and often doing so with an agenda in mind. Just reporting
the facts, as they actually happen, appears to be a dying approach to news reportage.
The media is a major part of the problem.
So, what takes priority in this morass of information?
We’re less than a month away from the single most important election in
my lifetime, which started with me voting for Kennedy in 1960. 52 years of voting
and this one blows the rest of them into the weeds in terms of what it means
to our future. Not even the election of 1980 (Reagan vs Carter) comes close.
And what am I going to base my voting on? Managerial experience and the quality
of the man. Romney has the experience and my gut and his history says he’s
a decent human being. And as for him being a Mormon? That should be seen as a
positive, not a negative. I’m totally, as in TOTALLY, non-religious, but
I like it when I see a man with a well-developed code of personal beliefs and
conduct. And Mormonism does that. And his personal conduct in the past has shown
It may be a mid-western thing, I don’t know, but the first time I laid
eyes on Obama and heard the first words out of his mouth, my gut told me something
was wrong. That this guy can’t be trusted. And he’s proven it.
There are lots of things about which I’m confused because of conflicting
reports. But, the difference between these two candidates is definitely not a
point of confusion for me. And that’s about the only absolute in my life
We’re spending so much time talking about the presidential race, that we
forget that the Congressional races are at least, and maybe more, important.
And, being local fewer votes are cast, so our individual votes will have more
effect. Just something to think about. bd
you ever have days where, to all outwards appearances, you’re functioning
fine, but internally it is as if the torque converter that hooks your brain to
the rest of you is low on fluid? The connection is there, but it’s tenuous,
so it’s as if you’re looking at life through a thin layer of gauze.
That was me this week and I had to resort to an old-time remedy to fix it.
I run through these clutch-slipping, brain-coasting periods from time to time
and I have a couple of fixes for them that I thought I’d share.
Incidentally, I know that I’m addressing a very personal problem here.
However, I thought I’d toss the subject out for discussion so any who suffer
the same mini-malady know it’s not unique to them. On the other hand, if
I find that I’m the only one who has these spells of suspended animation,
it’s going to scare the hell out of me and I’ll know I need to have
my mental dipstick checked.
It has been apparent to me for most of my life that my brain has two extreme
modes that it’ll periodically slip into. Sometimes they’re cooking
along simultaneously. At other times, my mental computer has defaulted to one
extreme at the expense of the other.
At one end of the scale I seem to crave minutia. I need to deal with tiny details,
like fixing individual words in paragraphs. Or making sure that some obscure
piece of metal that is buried deep inside The Roadster, a gun or a piece of homemade
workshop aid, is far better crafted than it needs to be. The act of spending
an obscene amount of time creating something precise and perfect relieves
onboard mental stress and usually puts me back in gear.
The other mental extreme seems to respond best to incredibly gross moves akin
to chopping down a tree or blowing up rocks: little or no finesse is required
but great visual progress results. I think just seeing progress is what
fixes my brain-stall. These are generally grandiose moves involving huge amounts
of flying sparks or sawdust. I jump-started my brain this week by catering to
the lots-of-sawdust-lots-of-progress mental rehabilitation procedure.
For a month I’ve been desperately trying to select the right piece of wood
for the grips I’ll make for a hyper-modified Ruger Blackhawk (modern single
action to those who don’t know) that’ll be shipped back to me at
the end of the month (re-barreled to .44 special, Bowen sights, color case hardened
frame, etc…a delayed birthday present to myself for surviving another
decade). I’m an absolutely fanatic about wood grain. For grips, I like
obvious, dark mineral streaking with lots of figure but I don’t like it
too busy. I like its character to be easily read. However, just because you have
that on the surface, when you start carving, the grain lines and content will
change, so, when choosing the wood, you try to read beneath the surface and guess
which way the grain is going to move and carve accordiingly.
Further, for projects like this, I like to use wood to which I have a personal
connection. I’m actually having two Rugers done (consecutive serial numbers,
the other one has shortened barrel, modified hammer and action, still .357 magnum…these
guns have been in process for two years). The short nosed one is to be a plain-Jane
working gun—often at my side and expected to suffer some abuse. The wood
for the fancier one was to be highly striped, curly California Claro walnut that
I had planned to saw off the back of a big block that my late brother, Gary,
had been sculpting on, when he died. The working gun gets crotch cut American
black walnut from the tree in my backyard where I hung my chain hoist as a kid
The gross part of the mental rehabilitation procedure came late in the week when,
disgusted with my mental state, I decided to tackle whacking a big chunk off
of my brother’s sculpture block. I’d been studying its grain for
some time trying to figure out which side to cut. Plus, given the tools at hand,
cutting through nearly six inches of wood and having it fairly square was going
to be a challenge. Finally, I said, “To hell with it”, stopped what
I was doing, walked out into the shop and started making gross amounts of sawdust.
After many minutes of noise and flying dust, a 2-inch slab fell free and went
onto the belt sander for final smoothing.
Just enough grain and curl to be
interesting without being gaudy. Every single time I pick up this weapon
I'll feel myself hugging my brother again.
To a woodaholic like me, there is no better moment than when
you slice off a piece of figured wood and finally get to see the surprises
nature has for store for you inside. And this time the result was exactly what
I was hoping for: the grain satisfied my soul, my brain was back in gear and
my world was again clear.
Sometimes, it’s the simplest things that solve our most complicated problems.
Thank God for sawdust, sparks and workshops.
TV Gun Shows
I don’t actually like some of the gun shows that have become a temporary
fad on channel TV. Things like “Sons of Guns” and others are too
contrived, with dialogue and gun work being done that is obviously scripted and
exists only for the TV show. In a lot of these reality TV shows, guns and otherwise,
it’s obvious the business they are built around are created for the show:
notice how many of them have hanging banners as their building sign.
A new one, Family Guns, follows some of the same scripting, but is more real,
if nothing else because the business it is built around, International Military
Antiques, which is probably the biggest dealer of antique firearms and delicious
military oddball stuff in the world (http://www.IMA-usa.com/).
I should know, as I’ve dropped a lot of money with them over the years.
Also, the individuals involved seem a little more real and not created by scriptwriters.
If you’re into unusual weaponry, take a look. It's on the History Channel.
of the Written
avoid “star” authors,
Over the last couple of weeks, some not necessarily heartwarming characteristics
of the human animal were laid out for examination, courtesy of the GOP and the
DNC. However, for those of us in the cheap seats, the only thing that came out
of all the hoopla is an understanding that there is a clear difference of opinion
about the role government should play in our lives. For me, the entire Convention
Experience was a little unsettling.
I didn’t listen to every speech, but I made it a point to sit through re-runs
of the major speeches and was listening as intently as I could, even though I
was squirming like crazy. I truly hate that crap! Then I sat through the re-caps
offered by the talking heads. I spent more time with CNN than Fox, only because
I knew Fox would hear it the same way I did, but I thought CNN would be viewing
things closer to middle ground and I didn’t want a right-bias on the reporting
It was interesting to hear the political “experts” translate the
words I had just heard spoken. It was surprising how they could hear nuances
I didn’t. In some cases, I said, “Yeah, you’re right” while
other times I thought they were stretching a point just to have something to
One of the better features of CNN coverage was when they started fact-checking
the speaches. No matter which side was talking, they were stretching and interpreting
facts to their own gain. Some more than others. In some cases, usually the less
important speakers of the DNC, they were flat out making up facts (which could
also be called lying).
In general, you had to take everything with a grain of salt, not unlike the Internet.
I was impressed by Paul Ryan. It’s nice to know we have some young, smart
ones coming up. Ditto for Rubio. I almost wish Ryan was running rather than Romney.
I’ll bet Obama is jealous of Romney’s VP, since his is such a duffus.
It’s scary to think that Biden is a single heartbeat away from being
I was surprised and disappointed at the way every one of the talking heads,
including Glenn Beck, attacked Eastwood for his empty chair thing, which I
thought was, if not brilliant, it was at least funny and he said the single
most important, succinct thing of the week: If a guy doesn’t do the job, you fire him and
get someone who can. That’s the way the world works. But politics don’t.
The Democratic show was interesting, if nothing else because they couldn’t
run on their record, although Bin Laden would have been happy to know how many
times his name came up during the week. I don’t know why the population
thinks Obama got Bin Laden. That project had been on going for 11 years and he
just happened to be in the catbird seat, when it all came together. That doesn’t
give this administration a gold star for their terrorist programs.
It was ironic timing (or maybe not) that while the conventions were raising
hell that the movie 2016 was making news by packing theaters. And there were
several anti-Obama books on the NY Times bestseller list. However, I don’t think
any of this will have any effect on the outcome of anything. Politics being what
they are, people who go to that movie or read the books do so to vindicate their
feelings and verify what they’re thinking. Very few are honestly looking
for information they don’t already have. Most minds are made up and they’re
just picking up talking points to sound more intelligent in later conversations.
The polls over the last couple of weeks absolutely amaze me to the point of
blowing me into the weeds: exactly what does it take for people to realize
that the job isn’t getting done? Our world is circling the drain, yet 50% of the people
still want him running that world. And it IS the world we’re talking about
here, not just the US. The old saying that “when the US catches a cold,
the rest of the world gets pneumonia” is still true. And the US has a helluva
lot more than a cold. Yet we have a neighborhood kid playing doctor on us. And
half the population thinks that’s okay. Damn! There is no good reason for
this to be a close election. But the polls say it is. And I don’t understand
There are so many unanswered questions about Obama and his administration that
it drives the conspiracy theory, tinfoil hat types nuts. However, all of the
conspiracy and birther stuff should be ignored and all voting decisions should
be based on his performance. Not his oratory (which is great as long as the
teleprompter is working). Not his singing (which is pretty good actually, if
a little effeminate). Not his golf swing. The only things that count are questions
like, where do we stand on our debt? How is our employment rate? How have our
personal financial situations changed? How are our foreign relations going?
Yada, yada, yada.
The bottom line is that we have two choices. One is a guy who had little or
no financial/political experience and, after four years, has proven conclusively
that he can’t do the job. Truth is, it was unfair for anyone to expect
him to pull it off. There was nothing in his background that said he was prepared
to run a major financial/political enterprise of any kind. Especially one that
was in serious trouble. So, no one should be surprised at what has happened.
The other choice is a guy who has been successful in any number of major financial
and political management arenas, but has never been president. If you were
to drop in from outer space and knew nothing about either candidate except
what was on their resumes, for whom would you vote? It’s as simple as
So…why are the polls so close? bd
The problems are so deep, so big and so systemic that I don’t see how Romney,
if elected, can seriously affect it in one term and, if he doesn’t make
things significantly better the first term, he won’t get a second. If Obama
wins, he won’t have to worry about a second term so he can, and will, do
any thing he wants and, considering what we've seen in the past, that’s
pretty damn scary!