Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The Heckler's Veto

I wrote about the dastardly and cowardly acts of the administrations at Brandeis University and Rutgers University when they refused to follow through on their honorary degrees and scheduled speeches from Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Condoleezza Rice, respectively. Those blog entries are in April and May of this year, I think.
Now comes forward the skilled practitioners of the “heckler’s veto” to limit free speech about North Korea (“The Interview” movie hubbub) and of course anything that is critical of Muslims. And these, like the demonstrators regarding Ferguson, come with a persuasive motive for anyone violating their edicts—death.
We expect extremely biased speech from certain politicians, from the Ku Klux Klan and racists like Al Sharpton. And we expect them to try to stifle free speech. We cannot accept such attacks on free speech from those who are the stewards of our universities.
We must resist. Imagine living in a totalitarian regime where we are not allowed to speak. Huge problems. Don’t succumb to the arguments they invent, cited here in an article you can look up on the internet, “Free Speech’s Shrinking Circle of Friends”:
Law professors have concocted influential concepts like “outsider jurisprudence,” “critical race theory,” “critical feminist theory, and “storytelling” theory to define some kinds of politically incorrect speech as not speech at all, but “mechanisms of subordination.”
The First Amendment is a fragile freedom, easily damaged by the loudest and the most violent.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

NYC Cops Killed

Let's see if I got this right--Al Sharpton and the Ferguson family have no responsibility for inciting incidents like the shooting of the NYC cops, despite the references by the shooter. They encouraged the "peaceful" demonstrations, and the looting (called "shopping?") was due to something else.

Sharpton is more interested in Amy Pascal's Sony emails. At least they show the hypocrisy of the far left Hollywood when the curtain is pulled back a bit.

Is this the better race relations promised by this President? The President who praised the highly paid athlete who wore the "I can't breath" (sic) T-shirt?

Friday, December 12, 2014


Oil, black gold. But West Texas Intermediate crude (WTI) traded at $59.23 at 0800 GMT this morning.

This is a disaster for North Dakota, but they will do fine. Watch out, however, for Venezuela and Russia. Whatever is worse than a disaster will play out there, even if oil stops dropping.

Without some sort of intervention, and I have no idea what it could be, this will have a major negative impact on the US economy, but even worse for a lot of other economies. The worst part will  be the social unrest.

These types of shocks have, in the past, caused wars, depressions and social change. With interest rates near zero, there isn't much room for monetary help.

We will see.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

The Fermi Paradox

The Fermi Paradox

A few words on topics about which I know little. But that has never stopped me before! This time it’s about gamma-ray bursts and the Fermi Paradox, and I refer you to this article for a better review of the topic.
The point of the original article was that a gamma-ray burst may have been responsible for one of Earth’s “Five Great Extinctions.” While that is fascinating, my takeaway from the whole business was complete and utter amazement. I did not know that the gamma-ray burst is the largest known explosion in the universe, that they can last from less than two seconds (short) to a few minutes (long) and that one gamma-ray burst can emit as much energy in seconds as the sun does in its entire 10-billion-year life.
If a gamma-ray burst were to occur in the Milky Way galaxy and be aimed in the direction of the Earth, it could cause damage that would range from scorching the surface on the side facing the blast to altering the atmosphere to the point that ultraviolet radiation would make the earth unsuitable for life.
Moving on to the Fermi Paradox:
Enrico Fermi was an Italian physicist, best known for his work on Chicago Pile-1, and for his contributions to the development of quantum theory, nuclear and particle physics, and statistical mechanics. (Wikipedia)
I know so little about any of this that I had to copy and paste from Wikipedia, but one of the thoughts that came from that magnificent brain has been known as the Fermi Question, “Where are they?” referring to extraterrestrial life and based on the Fermi Paradox. The paradox is that there are billions of stars, probably with billions of planets and they have existed for about 13.8 billion years. Given that scale, the probability of life elsewhere in the universe is likely, but there is no evidence. A paradox.
Of course, you and I are not the first to be fascinated by gamma-ray bursts, extraterrestrial life, mass extinctions or the Fermi Paradox, but some really smart people have done additional research that connects these dots. Their basic premise is that stars are more numerous and closer together at the center of galaxies and the likelihood of collisions (one of the apparent causes of gamma-ray bursts) is more likely in that environment, so life, if it formed, would be fried out of existence in short order.
Adding up (or multiplying?) a bunch of factors surrounding life and these astounding emissions of energy, the odds start to become much smaller: 
·         Our kind of life could only exist in solar systems located in the outskirts of galaxies like the Milky Way since the inner parts are too dangerous

·         Most long gamma-ray bursts (the most dangerous) occur in galaxies that are different than the Milky Way in that they have a low level of elements heavier than hydrogen and helium

·         Formation of life is estimated to only have occurred in the last 5 billion years as before that the galaxies were closely packed, lots of activity and a high probability of high-energy blasts

·         Due to these factors, life could only exist on less than 10% of galaxies according to the researchers
On a personal note (Hey, it’s my blog, therefore my rules), my first introduction to gamma rays was the 1964 play, later made into a movie, “The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds” about a dysfunctional family that deforms and stunts the characters, like the effect of gamma rays on flowers. But the marigolds, deformed and stunted, remain hardy and beautiful and the main character, a young girl, continues to believe that everyone is valuable.
Pardon me for a moment of “HOLY MOLEY” time. All of this is a bit large to contemplate, but it does come down to the fact that life as we know it on this small blue marble floating around in the vastness of the known universe is miraculous and worthy of our awe. Pretty crazy, eh?

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The Forgotten 500

I am just finishing The Forgotten 500 by Gregory A. Freeman, and while I find it fascinating, it is not earthshaking.

The flyleaf describes it as the "untold story of the men who risked all for the greatest rescue mission of World War II" and it is a remarkable story about the airmen who bailed out over Yugoslavia either before or after bombing raids on Ploesti, the location of most of Hitler's oil refining.

The downed airmen, mostly Americans, were organized by one of the Yugoslavian heroes, Mihailovich, who was unjustly abandoned by the Allies in favor of Tito, the Communist backed by the Soviets. Although the book is principally about the remarkable rescue of the 512 airmen, the back story about why the Allies abandoned Mihailovich and basically handed Yugoslavia to the Communists for decades after the war becomes, in my mind, the real story.

During WWII, the Communists in the OSS (later the CIA) and especially in the British intelligence branch (MI5) shaped policy, interfered with non-Communist goals and acted as traitors throughout. For instance, the OSS was hindered in its actions to organize the rescue, basically taking orders from Moscow to support Tito. Not only did they interfere with the attempts to insert them into the area where the airmen were being protected by the Serbs under Mihailovich, the British attempted to kill them by dropping them into an active battle. Off course and obviously intentional.

We have been schooled to think that Joe McCarthy was just a crackpot, that Vietnam was a mistake since Communism was never a threat nor was the "domino theory" more than a fiction. This episode in history tells us something different, that the Communists inside the OSS/CIA and the US government and the British government were real threats. Great patriots like the agents responsible for the rescue of over 500 airmen from behind enemy lines tell a different story.

Kim Philby was one of the "Cambridge Five," who attained high positions (Philby was head of counter-intelligence for the British government) but worked for Moscow. You need to read the book and other accounts of the damage done by these traitors, but their delivery of Yugoslavia to the Soviets is just detestable.

The Cambridge Five attained high rank due to their privileged background. Their positions in government would be similar to Cabinet positions in the US today. Wonder what would happen if five of the Cabinet officers today were actually working for the Chinese or other foreign governments?

Far fetched? It would seem that we are fed that as history about WWII and the Cold War, but the facts of the Rescue of these 500 and the subsequent martyrdom of Mihailovich says differently.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Odell's Catch

I don't usually include football in my meanderings. Frankly, I don't know enough.

But, like wine, I like what I like, and I think Odell Beckham Jr.'s catch is worth a comment.

Have you seen the size of that man's hands? Notwithstanding that, the catch was remarkable. Insane and ridiculous.

Embedded image permalink

Saturday, November 15, 2014

517 Miles

Joe Posnanski was probably born a story teller, but I don't doubt he would tell you he learned some of it from his friend, Buck O'Neill. In that case, "friend" isn't the right word because, you see, Joe and Buck had a bond beyond that.
The last time I saw him, he was in his hospital bed. When the doctor said he had some news, I began to walk out and Buck asked me to stay. “He needs to stay,” Buck told the doctor. “That’s my son over there.”

Joe's Blog (http://joeposnanski.com/joeblogs/) is just good reading, no matter the subject, but when he talks about Buck, the writing gets great. Just this week he recounted some of the stories about Buck that you can read in his book, too. Here is one of my favorites, Joe is talking about Buck's ability to see the best in people and to let go of anger:

A foul ball

We were in Houston, at a ballgame, and I saw a man steal a foul ball from a boy. It was flagrant – the man just took the ball right away from the boy, and he held it up high like it was the head of Medusa, and I said: “Would you look at this jerk?”

“What’s that?” Buck said.

“That guy down there, he just took that ball away from that kid.”

Buck considered the situation. He said: “Don’t be so hard on him. He might have a kid of his own at home.”

Yes, that was Buck O’Neil – he just saw the best in people, even people who took foul balls away from little kids. Maybe he’s got a kid at home. That was a good one; I had to give Buck credit, only then something occurred to me.

“Wait a minute,” I said to Buck. “If he’s got a kid, why didn’t he bring him to ballgame?”

I smiled triumphantly. But Buck did not hesitate.

“Maybe,” he said, “the kid is sick.”

"Nancy" tells the story of why the great pitcher, Satchell Paige always called Buck "Nancy" and another favorite, "The Sound."

The sound

“I was a kid in Florida, in Sarasota, and the New York Giants trained in Sarasota. When teams would come, we’d stand outside the ballpark, and we would get the balls they hit over the fence during batting practice. We’d sell them to the tourists. And we made a stepladder so we could climb a pine tree out there. That way we could look into the ballpark.

“The Yanks were in town. I’m out there behind the fence, and I hear this sound. I’d never heard THAT sound off the bat before. Instead of me running to get the ball, I ran up the ladder to see who was hitting it. Well, it was a barrel chested sucker, with skinny legs, with the best swing I’d ever seen. That was Babe Ruth hitting that ball. Yeah.

“I don’t hear that sound again until 1938, I’m with the Monarchs, we’re at Griffith Stadium in Washington D.C. We’re upstairs, changing clothes, and the Grays are taking batting practice. I’ve got nothing on but my jock. And I hear that sound. I ran down the runway, ran out on the field, and there’s a pretty black sucker with a big chest and about 34 in the waist, prettiest man I’d ever seen. That was Josh Gibson hitting that ball.

“And I don’t hear the sound again until I’m a scout with the Cubs. I’m scouting the Royals. When I opened the door to go downstairs, I heard that sound again. I rushed down on the field, and here’s another pretty black sucker hitting that ball. That was Bo Jackson. That’s three times I heard the sound. Three times. But I want to hear it a fourth. I go to the ballpark every day. I want to hear that sound again.”

We lived in Kansas City when the special committee was authorized to induct players from the Negro Leagues and when Buck was not voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Buck's LIFE had been spent in baseball, and it concentrated on the Negro Leagues and then the preservation of the memories. It was a mystery then and it remains a mystery why Buck didn't get in, but there is a post script.

As soon as he knew he didn't make it, he wondered if they would let him speak for the ones who did get in, 17 who were all dead. He did speak for them and he led the crowd in "his song," the one that he used every time he spoke and that I had the honor of singing with Buck on two occasions--it repeats the phrase, The greatest thing in all my life is loving you.

While Buck didn't get into the HOF in Cooperstown on that day, he did make it. As one of four "Character and Courage" statues.

One is of Lou Gehrig, the "Iron Horse" who played every game until the disease that carries his name downed him.

One is of Jackie Robinson, the man who broke the race barrier in baseball.

One is of Roberto Clemente, a great baseball player who died in a plane crash as he was trying to deliver rescue supplies after an earthquake ravaged Nicaragua.

Here is how Joe describes the fourth statue:

The fourth statue, though, stands apart. It is in an entryway, and it is of a man in a suit, looking sharp. He holds a baseball cap in his right hand, and his left hand crosses over. The man has a big smile, a welcoming smile, and it looks like he’s about to break into song, which is right, because Buck O’Neil always was about to break into a song.

The greatest thing in all my life is loving you.

Yes, Buck O’Neil is in the Baseball Hall of Fame. He lives on. I see that statue, and I see him. More, I hear him. Every day, I hear him.

Yep, only 517 miles from here. Better get going.

Monday, November 10, 2014


It seems that I have only so much storage space for words. Words are so handy, we have this wonderful language that has the largest vocabulary of any language in the world, it is so satisfying to pick out the right one for the occasion. But it is frustrating when I can't find that special word.

Maybe it has to do with the way I encountered the word? For example, I can always remember the word "porte cochere." It is an unusual word, I think, but I remember exactly where I was and how I first heard it--a fellow I worked with, Al Block, was describing to me the way a building should look and function, and he said it would have to have a "porte cochere." He knew what it should be, how it should be used, and he also knew that the word rhymed with "billionaire."

Al also used the word "bollard." Another one you don't hear all the time.

Then there are words that make me struggle. I have to go through the alphabet mentally several times, get side tracked and sometimes never come up with the word "pergola." It just doesn't sound like a structure in the garden that has a slatted covering. More like a sore on your butt?

I'll bet it is just another one of those signs of age. You have all heard me quote my dad, "I'm gettin' to the age where I spend half my time tryin' to pee and the other half tryin' to think of somebody's name."

Well, the third half of the day I spend "tryin'" to think of the right word.

Carry on.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Election Day

Two things stand out as disappointing in my election day experience.

First, and certainly the most important was my lack of good knowledge about the local candidates, the candidates for school board and city council. Sure, I had my vote figured out for the races that were covered by the online news sources, Yahoo! or CNN, but the stuff you get on the internet does not cover local matters. Newspapers are in decline, most of us think that news that is over a few hours old is irrelevant.

There was a constitutional amendment on the ballot in Virginia that would allow the surviving spouse of a member of the armed forces killed in action to pay no real estate taxes as long as they occupied the real estate and did not remarry. The amendment passed. Well, duh!! In a state with 840,000 veterans and a huge military presence. There are actually a couple of pretty good reasons to NOT pass that amendment: 1) the state does not collect real estate taxes, that is a local source of funds, so having the state pass the amendment is like paying for my beer with the neighbor's credit card. 2) Arguing the negative on this would be personal and professional suicide. Sort of like arguing that puppies are not cute. So, no debate. I voted for it!! Don't throw stones.

Second, the turnout. Why do American's take this privilege for granted? It does make a difference. For example, Mark Warner leads Ed Gillespie by about 12,000 votes. If every registered voter in Virginia Beach showed up and voted just like the actual Va Beach voters (about 45% turnout), that lead would be 2,000 right now. It is probably going to a recount, as the margin will likely get more narrow since the absentee ballots are often from older voters who lean Republican and the military (not in favor of the Obama cuts that Warner voted for 97% of the time).

I was not thrilled about showing up at the poll to perform my volunteer duty as an Election Official at 5:00 am and staying (can't leave and come back) until after 8:00 pm, but glad I did it.

Now, see about being better informed for the next election.

Monday, November 3, 2014


I have groused on this blog about the way we have been brainwashed into thinking that processed foods and low-fat/low red meat diets are good for you. They want you to eat margarine instead of butter, diet drinks, soybeans instead of meat and pasta instead of eggs and other natural foods.

The Framingham Study that implanted the notion of "high cholesterol, artery-clogging" foods steered us toward bad stuff for several decades before they found that the people in their study who violated their "life-saving rules" actually lived longer than the ones who obeyed them.

Science has to deal with the actual results, not the ones they want to see.

Now, we find that a high-protein breakfast with eggs, meat and other high-protein foods helps you lose weight or keep the weight off.


Drat! I really, really want science to tell me that a piece of pecan pie and a cup of coffee is the best breakfast.

Friday, October 31, 2014

It's supposed to be over!!

I know, baseball season is over. Now it is time to grouse about it. There exist maybe two people in this world who may be interested in what comes next, so tune out now.

When Gordon was on third in the ninth, I thought about having him steal home. Then, today, some contributor to a web site asked that question, so now I don't think I'm SOOO stupid.

Here's the situation: two out, bottom of ninth, down one, elimination game. The batter, Perez, is gimpy and the pitcher is dominant (is there a stronger word??).

First, to those who thought Gordon could have scored trying for an inside-the-park homerun, fuhgitaboudit. He is a fast runner, but not that fast and he would have been thrown out by 30 feet. Not even close.

Second, remember the "fast but not fast" part. He couldn't steal home.

So, here is the scenario, inspired by another great, George Brett. In the All Star game years ago, Brett is playing third and there is a man on third. A grounder comes to Brett and he makes a huge fake throw to first, the runner leaves the bag and Brett dives and tags him out. Creative, athletic.

What if Gordon came up "injured" at third. It would have to be quick thinking and against every instinct of a player, but he could fake an injury enough that he would be replaced by one of the burners, Gore or Dyson. The element of surprise would be lost if one of the speedsters was substituted for a regular player...except Billy "Glacier" Butler.

Everyone on this planet could tell that Perez was never going to catch up to one of Bumgarner's pitches. So, with the count one strike, the next pitch was going to be out of the strike zone, probably high since Perez' strike zone has been described as amorphous. Free swinger, that fella. Makes it harder for the catcher to apply the tag.

Perez is batting right-handed, so he shields Buster Posey somewhat. Bumgarner is a lefty, so he doesn't pick up the first move. There is a possibility of a balk.

Not a great probability, but the other options (sending him home or waiting for a hit) were approaching zero.

Ahhh, hot stove baseball.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

More baseball...sorry

I'm in the checkout lane at the store. A guy says, "Good luck tonight. Those guys play ball the way it is supposed to be played. I'm rooting for you even though I'm from Detroit."

Thought it was a bit weird, but then I realized that I had put on my "Pep Club Uniform." Like a high school girl, wearing a polo shirt with a modest "KC" where the left pocket would be. Like the one that is on the Royals' caps.

Still can't get over the Yankee's fan grousing about the Royals not being the best team in the league. He was sort of saying, "We have the highest payroll, we bought the best team, we deserve it because it is bought and paid for."

He just doesn't get it.

Why do I persist?

I have things I need to be doing. Not brain surgery, not rocket science, not even rocket surgery. But things that I, personally, want and need to accomplish. Why, then, do I persist in reading comments on the internet? And, to make it worse, comments on a sports opinion column?

Maybe it is that old story about why you keep beating your head against a brick wall? "Because it feels so good when I stop."

Anyway, reading about why the Royals/Giants World Series isn't very popular on TV. Small markets, baseball is boring, no excitement...blah, blah, blah. And, that the Royals aren't very good.

The latter comment is one we have all talked about--can you spot a future hall of famer on that Royals squad? Maybe Sal Perez if he puts in another 10 years behind the plate with the same quality as his first few years. But he doesn't hit like Johnny Bench, so maybe Cooperstown will pick someone else. They have "low" salaries to go with their lack of talent, at least low in comparison to the Yankees.

That is one of the great things about this team, though. No super stars. Overachievers Anonymous, if there is such a thing, should have them as new members slogging through their twelve steps. We all know that we don't have the talent of the super stars, but if these guys can do it, maybe we can?? Another reason to root for the underdog.

Here is the only thing I found amusing instead of mind-numbing on those comments I read. From a Notre Dame fan:

In 2007, our players got arrested for hanging out with South Bend hookers.
Now they’re with world-famous porn stars.
And NDNation says Kelly hasn’t improved the program. ~ACS

Now, that is a solid quote.

When I make my resolutions for the day, I must now include, "No comment reading." "No comment reading." Maybe if I had a blackboard, I should write it 100 times. Wish me luck.

Monday, October 27, 2014

10 Things Wall Street Believes

Check out the full article by Jeff Cox, a finance editor at CNBC.


The gist of the story is that while we may have been told by various sources that the markets, particularly the financial markets, are efficient--yeah, not so much. We can go into a defense of the markets as the best thing we have, which is true, but that mechanism is often derailed by emotion.

When I was first involved in the financial business, I was told that there are only two emotions in the markets, fear and greed. Sometimes one wins, sometimes the other. The classic bull/bear. We read "analysts" telling us how the price of a stock is this or that based on, well, this or that. Others consult their Ouija board of charts and based upon those charts (and I suppose a few tea leaves), make predictions as to when and how much.

Below is the list of Ten Insane Things Wall Street Really Believes.
  1. Falling gas and home heating prices are a bad thing.
  2. Layoffs are great news, the more the better.
  3. Billionaires from Greenwich, Connecticut, can understand the customers of JC Penney, Olive Garden, Kmart and Sears.
  4. A company is plagued by the fact that it holds over $100 billion in cash.
  5. Some companies have to earn a specific profit—to the penny—every quarter but others shouldn't dare even think about profits.
  6. Wars, weather, fashion trends and elections can be reliably predicted.
  7. It's reasonable for the value of a business to fluctuate by 5 to 10 percent within every eight-hour period.
  8. It's possible to guess the amount of people who will get or lose a job each month in a nation of 300 million.
  9. The person who leads a company is worth 400 times more than the average person who works there.
  10. A company selling 10 million cars a year is worth $50 billion, but another company selling 40,000 cars a year is worth $30 billion because it's growing faster.
Yogi had it right. Predictions are hard, especially when you're talking about the future. Just discovered, via the Google machine, that this sentiment has been attributed as well to Niels Bohr talking about quantum mechanics. Too bad it appears to be apocryphal because it says a lot.
Snarky observation: surprised that Mr. Cox is an editor. From the looks of a lot of articles on the internet, didn't know they bothered with editing.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Bob Kerrey

Bob Kerrey attended the University while I was there and went off to Vietnam. Served as governor of Nebraska and Senator for many years, with distinction.

Given my fascination with aphorisms, sayings and quotes, there are two of his that make my list:

1.     When asked about his relationship with actress Debra Winger who filmed part of the movie "Terms of Endearment" in Lincoln, he said, "What can I say, she swept me off my foot," alluding to the fact he lost his leg in Vietnam.

2.     As a SEAL team officer, he admitted many years later to the killing of innocent Vietnamese in an incident for which he actually received a medal. The guilt he carried was profound, but he said something even more profound, "I am NOT the worst thing I have ever done."

That latter quotation is food for thought. Many otherwise qualified people are discouraged from running for office in this country because of the intense scrutiny they and their families will encounter. Should muck-writing in the "National Enquirer" be the lid on our bucket of candidates? A guy who got a DUI as a young man? Somebody who declared bankruptcy? A woman who divorced and married her lover?

Food for thought.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Killer Bureaucracies

A friend recently referred me to an article in the WSJ titled "Killer Bureaucracies" by Daniel Henninger, and I recommend the article as well. Just google the title.

This is my reply:


I have long believed that business can adjust to just about any "reasonable" tax system as long as you don't change it all the time. When I first worked with customer investment portfolios, the top tax rate was 70%, and it wasn't that difficult to reach that level. Those kinds of confiscatory rates would be cause for all kinds of hand wringing and internet storms today, and it didn't sit well with people back then. But they adjusted, although the adjustments (like high-risk oil drilling limited partnerships) were sometimes worse than the disease.

When Obama was first inaugurated, the SBA bureaucracy seemed to whoop "Yippee" and swoop in with new rules that they, as bureaucrats, had longed to implement. Ever notice how a bureaucrat left to their own devices will implement rules that lessen or eliminate any work on their part? Why do educators get the hell out of the classroom and become administrators? When I worked for the utility, the measure of success was often how far from the customer your chair was located.

Maybe we could learn from China? For over 5,000 years, China has been run by the bureaucracy. For many recent centuries, that has meant delaying change to the point that China was way behind in the middle of the 20th century. Then WWII wiped out 20 million people, the Communist bureaucracy (a worthy successor to earlier versions) weakened and China has exploded into the modern world. I have no knowledge of whether that is because of or in spite of the bureaucracy, but something is working.

We so often fool ourselves into thinking that Americans possess some secret sauce that makes us superior to the rest of the world and comfortable in our arrogance. Well, part of that secret sauce has nothing to do with modern Americans, especially those of us who vote for politics of failure. A lot of our wonderful country and way of life is due to an accident of history that placed a few really talented people with power, intellect and an enlightened education in a spot to map the course with the Constitution, etc. The other was a marvelously rich land occupied only by a few, reasonably defenseless aborigines ready to be exploited.

So, yes, don't we all agree that the system is pretty much broken.

Now for the important stuff--Go Royals.

I don't like making plans for the day. Because
then the word "premeditated" gets thrown around in the courtroom.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Royals II

Wow. Three game sweep of the Angels who had the best won/lost record in baseball this year. The team that led the majors in runs scored, power hitters galore. Against the only team in decades to hit fewer than 100 home runs all season (the Royals hit 95).

On paper, this shouldn't have happened. In baseball (and life), "on paper" isn't a sure thing.

On to face Baltimore. Maybe we can deliver the same kind of karma as when Danny, Tommy and I saw them last year at Camden Yards and the Royals won.

Let's see, the managerial skill of Buck Showalter vs Ned Yost. Boy, that's a tough one, lol.

Great stuff, been waiting a while. Go Royals.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014


I think I have asked this before, but nobody answered.

Why do smoke alarm batteries always fail in the middle of the night?

And then the intermittent chirp, like trying to find a cricket in the basement.

If it is just one of those rules of the universe, I guess I'll have to accept what I can't change. But lemme go on record as objecting. Vigorously.


The Royals are playing in October! The game finished in October, Eastern Time, but I think it was just short of midnight in Kansas City.

Never mind, they won the one-game elimination wild-card game over the Oakland Athletics by a score of 9-8. They came back from a deficit of 3-7 and pushed it to 12 innings.

Crazy. This is the first of years of post-season play, we hope.

Monday, September 29, 2014

End of Summer

Traditionally, and for good reason, Labor Day is the signal that summer is over. But the weather in Virginia doesn't know that, and here it is, the end of September, and the trees haven't turned yet.

The days are getting much shorter and although it is still mid to upper 70's, perfect weather, there is a hint of nostalgia. Took this pic last Friday at the end of the day.

Times are good.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Need to buy a vowel?

The Royals are playing in Cleveland. That part of Ohio has a substantial, honored Polish past. The new pitcher in the top of the 8th has a name that ends in -ski and has two z's and one y.

Wanna buy a vowel?

I want the Royals to play in the post season!!!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Chop his head off and hide it

My mother said she knew a man who was so tough (maybe resilient was the term) that in order to kill him, you would have to chop his head off and hide it.

Most successful entrepreneurs are like that.

They don't know that they are "legally dead." No vital signs? No problem.

My client in Phoenix saw his bills continue but his business screech to a dead stop in the "Great Recession." What did he do? Negotiated a deal to buy another company (basically with no money) that allowed him to survive and, as of now, thrive.

Most successful entrepreneurs have such doggedness that they won't admit defeat. They make more than one "90-degree turn" during their careers.

Not all of us have that talent, or that determination.

Blue Plate Special

We ate, cleaned up and are ready for TV before 6:00 pm.

Next will be the local buffet for the retiree special.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Don't tell Al Gore

This stuff was completely new to me…ummmm, like I knew about astrophysics?

Clue: check the box of just Jupiter, then the boxes of Jupiter and Saturn. They try it at 365 days per second, then more and less.


Global warming – The barycenter, for those who are not up on their astrophysical lingo, is the center of mass of the solar system. And what many people don't realize is that the Earth and the other planets do not rotate around the sun. They rotate around the center of mass of the solar system. And the center of mass of the solar system keeps fluctuating in and out of the sun itself.

So part time, the sun is rotating around a center of mass which is out some little distance from the sun, and then part time it's rotating around a center of mass which is inside the sun, barely in the surface of the sun. And this causes disturbances in the sun, which are the proximate cause, apparently, of the variations in total solar irradiance. And this means that when the sun is in a certain situation, the solar maximum is normal, and this tends to last for about a century. And then when the solar maximum shifts, when the center of mass of the solar system is in a position where it appears before the solar maximum, then the amplitude of total solar irradiance collapses. And this is what we're getting now.

So we're going to get at least 20 years of cooler weather, quite apart from the fact that we have more greenhouse gases in the atmosphere than ever before, and this is all a function of astrophysics. And we're totally gullible, because we let these idiots, these crony capitalists, present an issue in a frame that requires us to pay them a hell of a lot of money, which we don't have right now, obviously, to mitigate a problem that doesn't exist, or one which is outside of the control of anybody, because I don't think there's any proposal at all that's going to suggest that we send a rocket or a fleet of rockets to outer space and hope to destroy Saturn to keep it from appearing on some occasions on the other side of the sun from Jupiter.

And this is the engine which drives the fluctuations in solar irradiance. Of course, we don't know what the effect would be, having only three Jovian planets instead of four. Saturn is obviously big enough to have an effect, because it does.

It moves the center of mass of the universe outside the sun when it's opposite to – or inside the sun, when it's opposite to the rotations of Jupiter, Uranus, and Neptune. The sun is 1,000 times more massive than Jupiter, but Jupiter's still in a position – it's like having your fat uncle sit on a teeter totter with you. You know, if he sits very close to the center of the teeter totter, and you're far away, even though you weigh much less than he does, you can balance the thing out. And that's how it works with the center of mass of the solar system and the sun. Jupiter is 1,000 times smaller, but it's way out there in space, so the center of gravity is rotating between an area near the surface of the sun, and an area outside the sun. And this creates a significant wobble in the sun as it keeps shifting its rotation.

Rise in Sea Levels - But more to the point, a very prominent Swedish geologist has made the argument that if the tides were really rising, the rotation of the Earth would necessarily slow, and there's no evidence of that. So any amount of rising in the tides has got to be microscopic, in the millimeters, if there is one. They measure these tide rises all over the world, and they're – approximately 30 percent of the areas where they do the measurements are where people live, there's subsidence in the – in the land. So it always seems like the tide is rising because the land is falling. This is certainly true in the Netherlands, which has been subsiding for as long as people lived there. I mean, that's why – you know the story of the thumb in the dike, and the whole – that's why there was less feudalism in the Netherlands during the Middle Ages, because it was very difficult to occupy an underwater area.

Saturday, September 13, 2014


Viet Nam was roughly 100 years after the Civil War.

Russia's revamping of eastern Europe's borders and the unobstructed atrocities of Muslim terrorists in the Middle East is occurring about 100 years after the events that eventually led to World War One, the Great War.

My personal experience with military officers is that they have an understanding of these events. My experience with politicians? Not so much. Particularly the "Chicago brand" of politicians.

When will we start to learn some lessons?

Monday, September 8, 2014


Methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MSRA)

Well, this explains a lot. The vet called today and she said one of the cultures on the material surgically removed from our dog, Baron, grew a bit of MRSA. As much as we paid for all this, it should have grown a synthetic gem stone.

Antibiotic resistant staph bacteria, MRSA, pronounced mersa. She thinks she got it all, the "fistula tract," but we need to be vigilant.

This stuff is found in people, it is contagious, usually associated with the skin but when it enters the system it can be fatal. It has developed resistance to the normal antibiotics, so really hard to treat and when we gave him the normal stuff for a month (over a month now), it was ineffective. Often called the super bug.

Fortunately, Baron is a healthy organism. Not over weight, regular exercise, lots of sleep (trust me on that one), and most importantly, showered with affection. Elements of a long and happy life. Seriously, a healthy immune system is essential for our resistance to MRSA, and we hope his is as good as we think it is. So far, so good.

Since our house appears to be the scene of a murder (I said it looks like somebody lost a knife fight), we need to be cautious because we have been exposed. Most of it has been cleaned up by now, but we will continue to do some cleaning. I can only speculate, but I will bet that when we let him swim in the lake, he poked himself with a stick or something and the bacteria entered into the wound.

If you don't know how attached we are to that 11-year old golden retriever, you haven't been paying attention. We had almost convinced ourselves that the sore that was not healing was hemangiosarcoma, a common cancer in goldens. In that case, we were looking at 60-72 days. Losing an adored pet is so hard, and we know he is getting older.

Ducked a bullet this time. This time...

Friday, August 29, 2014


Lee just sent me a Wall Street Journal article and the letter that was published after it. The subject was "crony capitalism."

That phrase zoomed over my head, didn't make an impression. Just like, for years I have accepted the phrase "artery-clogging cholesterol." The latter phrase, as the readers of this blog know by now, is not only inaccurate but has led many to avoid healthy foods and to embrace manufactured/processed foods simply because they say "low-fat" or "diet," neither of which is necessarily true.

Lee's friend properly points out that the more accurate term should attach "crony" to socialism or fascism, the far left or the far right. Both -isms suppressing personal freedom; the one by dispensing unearned favors, the other through oppression. Capitalism at its theoretical core dispenses nothing other than a potential return on individual talent and effort.

Two US Representatives faced primary challenges in Kansas. Both were elected two years ago opposing the pork-barrel politics that have plagued the nation and been recently accepted by both parties. Specifically, and of interest to Kansans, wind energy and ethanol. They both voted to defeat the latest Ag bill which did not sit well with the farm lobby and have opposed subsidies in general, the only way that wind and solar energy can make any sense.

Take the Farm Bill as an example of how our political system has been engineered to trade votes for money, regardless of principles. How do you get a politician from Detroit to vote for farm subsidies (and farm policies that actually make sense)? Food Stamps! Well, they aren't called food stamps any more, I guess you get a credit card that you use to buy beer and magazines just like your Visa, but it is issued by ... wait for it ... the US Department of Agriculture.

Forty-seven million Americans are collecting food stamps. That is more than the population of Iraq and Afghanistan...combined. Almost double the population of Canada.

The voters of Kansas supported their incumbents against the challengers who proposed going back to the public trough. One by 10 points, the one in Wichita by 25 points. The Fourth District, basically Wichita, is a surprise to me as it is such a union stronghold with the aircraft industry.

Whatever happens to those who want to lower big government's footprint in the details of business, we need to be careful that we don't allow the misuse of words to color our thinking. For example, the vocabulary surrounding "regulation." Capitalism requires regulation to keep the unscrupulous at bay. Those Representatives from Kansas also oppose "unnecessary" regulation, and there is plenty of social engineering and wild ideas that make their way into regulations. The current administration has turned the bureaucrats loose, and that is not a good idea for anyone.

While we are at it, let's think about the name some apply to the Russian system. Capitalism? Not even close.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

World War I

Several news articles this last week have noted the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I, the Great War, the War to End All Wars. Well, we know that last one didn't stick.

The museum in Kansas City is supposedly the only museum in the country exclusively devoted to World War I, and it is superbly done. Considering the absolutely terrible events it depicts, the museum can't be described as a "good time," but it is a worthwhile experience.

The War That Changed the World introduced the modern era, eroded the French and British colonial powers and elevated the United States and the US currency to the top of the world's economic and military powers.

Nine million soldiers died in the war, twenty million wounded. Over 1.2 million soldiers were killed or wounded in one battle, the Battle of Somme. The US lost more soldiers to the 1917-1918 flu epidemic than to battle and my paternal grandfather's brother, Bill, never got further than hauling out the dead at Fort Riley (then Camp Riley), Kansas during the war.

Human occupation of this earth was fundamentally altered by that conflict. Fighting was ended by the Armistice signed the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, November 11, 1918 and celebrated today as Veteran's Day. It was Armistice Day for many years. The treaty that succeeded the Armistice, the Treaty of Versailles, punished Germany and set the stage for the rise of Hitler and the onset of WWII.

Unlike the political leaders we have in the US today, it seems that leaders learned from history back then--MacArthur's respect for the culture of Japan and reconstruction, the Marshall plan.

Let us remember.


In 1965, 42% of Americans smoked. That has dropped to 18% now. I remember buying cigarettes for 50 cents a pack and now, the Federal tax is $1.01 per pack.

Smoking is blamed for $300 billion in medical bills and lost productivity, so there is still a long ways to go. Living a stone's throw from North Carolina where the tobacco industry is still a big deal, the statistics have to be a lot higher, but at least we don't have to eat in smoky public places any more.

Remember when people smoked on airplanes? The gunk clogged the gyroscopic instruments which I would imagine is a bit more serious than the danger of using your iPad while in flight. Even though I was a smoker at the time, it surprised me to find the ashtray in a Beechcraft Bonanza located just above the valve that controlled the fuel flow from the wing tanks.

Making progress. Not sure if it will continue, though, as nicotine is such an insidiously habitual drug. And it lasts forever. A friend and I once made a pact--we would continue to avoid smoking until we turned 80. Then it isn't going to accelerate your demise greatly, so might as well go for it!

Monday, July 28, 2014


I just saw a short news article about a new book that is coming out about President Warren G. Harding. While he has long held the hotly-contested title of Worst President Ever, this book is about his love letters to his mistress. Apparently she was not only his mistress to whom he hand wrote these passionate, explicit letters that sometimes were 40 pages long, she was also a German spy who tried to blackmail him. She also holds the distinction of being the only woman to blackmail a political party, a story I have yet to research.

Carrie Fulton Phillips died in 1960 and although Harding implored her to burn the letters, she stored them. Some were given to an author, some were not discovered until after her death. There was a long legal battle between the families resulting in an agreement that the letters (most of them) would be sealed for 100 years from Harding's death (2023). About 1,000 of them are to be released tomorrow, but they have been examined by the author of the new book previously.

Meanwhile, where was Mrs. Harding? She had a kidney condition and was severely ill for many years.

There were two things that ended the affair--Phillips tried to blackmail him and he voted for war in his role as a Senator. I guess that would do it, even in the most passionate of affairs. Anyway, the affair was over before he assumed the White House in 1921.

Harding apparently deserves his ranking at the very low end of the Presidential scale. His administration's scandals include the Teapot Dome scandal and he is rumored to have lost the entire White House china service in a poker game with the boys. He was preceded by Wilson, succeeded upon his death in mid-term by Cal Coolidge, himself no star. It was the Roaring Twenties, the economy was soaring after WWI and the corruption of the White House did little to interrupt the flow.

Harding was from the conservative wing of the Republican party, but sponsored no-nonsense legislation that created the first Federal Budget and sponsored legislation, some of which was unsuccessful, supporting the interests of labor, women and minorities, especially black Americans. Not your typical Republican...actually, not your typical American of the time.

Among his unpopular stances was described in a statement he made to Congress in which he said that the United States did not have the right or the obligation to impose a democracy on any other country, that they should decide their own form of government. We should maybe listen to that today?

While I may have latched onto that statement as a thoughtful pronouncement, his written and spoken efforts were not always appreciated. For instance, H.L. Mencken said,

"He writes the worst English I have ever encountered. It reminds me of a string of wet sponges; it reminds me of tattered washing on the line; it reminds me of stale bean soup, of college yells, of dogs barking idiotically through endless nights."

At his inauguration, which was a simple affair, he said, "Our most dangerous tendency is to expect too much from the government and at the same time do too little for it." Boy, that sounds very much like a quote that is always assumed to be original to the 35th President 40 years later. The latter quote is certainly more poetic with its "Ask not..." structure, but seems like it is the same sentiment.

Anyway, for all you guys out there who are looking for love letter ideas, a new book is on its way.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Congressional Budget Office statistics

Thought this was interesting:

What percentage of total US Taxes are paid by the wealthiest Americans? Ranked by income.
Top Quintile Top 5% Top 1% Lowest Quintile Middle Quintile
1980 65% 35% 17% 0% 10%
1990 70% 42% 22% 1% 9%
2000 80% 55% 36% -2% 6%
2010 64% 39%

What this seems to tell us is that all the hysteria about making the rich pay more taxes is working. They really do pay a lot of taxes, a huge share, compared to the rest of us.

The lowest quintile ranking is most interesting! According to the CBO, the taxpayers who have lower income and rank in the lowest 20% didn't really pay taxes...they got money back.

Our system is a "progressive" tax system--the more you make, the more you pay. This all makes sense, but tweaking the laws over the last 30 years has resulted in the top earners paying more and more of the total tax bill of the country.

Listening to the politicians and reading the "news," you could be forgiven for coming to a different conclusion.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014


I didn't start out trying to achieve my personal best in the sprint-and-run-to-the-house-screaming event, but that was how the day ended.

Milk cows have names. They hang around for a few years, you learn their quirks and their standing in the herd, and sometimes a quirk...or whatever...gives them their name. Killer had never really killed anyone, but it was just a matter of time.

My calf Buttercup was a prize winner at the Nance County Fair, but ironically, she was a less than mediocre producer. Schram was named after the fellow who sold her. Bess, Maude, Helen (she had good shoulders, like the woman she was named after) and the rest of the 60 or so that we milked. Addy was the boss cow, named after a woman who nobody liked in the neighborhood so we had to keep it a bit quiet.

There was always a boss cow, the one who led them to pasture, led them back to milking and was the first one into the milking parlor. The pecking order in the herd was well-established and they mostly came in order after that, so each individual was milked within minutes of the same time every morning and every night, an important factor in dairy husbandry and one that has evidently moved the dairy industry to milk every 8 hours, around the clock, in the large facilities.

We had a neighbor, Al, who was just not cut out for farming or dairy. He would sometimes stop in town for a beer and a cigar, not that he didn't deserve that once in a while, but he wouldn't get home until 10 or so because he had forgotten the cows. When a cow is not milked, she dries up and that puts a dent in herd production.

The combination of genetics (instead of only producing two or three heifer calves in a lifetime, a prize cow can now, by virtue of Petri-dish technology, raise multiple sex-selected offspring carried by cull cows) and good practices has changed the dairy landscape. The USDA keeps good statistics about how much:

1957 Average milk production per cow, about 450 pounds per month

2013 Average milk production per cow, about 1,800 pounds per month

Since 2004, the production per cow has spiked 15%.

Al would hire my brother and me to help him lay out pipe and get the pump started. His operation pumped from the creek into "tow lines" that were moved from one setting to another by pulling the whole line lengthwise to the next patch. The only problem was that he didn't get around to it until a couple of weeks too late and the corn was already burned up. Although THE CODE said we needed to help the neighbor, it was kind of aggravating that we did all that hard, hot work with the mosquitoes and it wasn't going to make any difference.

Sometime later, Al got a job in Columbus.

Certainly, someone knows why some cows are indifferent to the milking process and others are very sensitive. My explanation was that some are ticklish and then they have the natural instinct to prevent their milk from being stolen from their calf. Whatever the reason, Killer was hyper-I-don't-like-to-be-milked. They kicked and were just difficult, but THE RULE was always in force: the meaner the cow, the more she produced.

Killer was always one of the last to walk up the ramp, enter the milking parlor and munch on her grain waiting to be milked. Built on our farm in 1956, it was a real improvement as the cows were elevated in three stalls so there was less stooping, each stall was served with stainless steel pipelines for the milk, overhead feed chutes to dispense a treat of cracked corn and water to wash the cows as the udders were invariably dirty--the worse the weather, the worse the dirt.

My brother and I were milking, I was probably about 12 years old making my brother 17. He actually graduated from high school when he was 16 since he did not attend kindergarten, and that age discrepancy between him and his classmates was masked by his size. He was a big boy/man, over 225 pounds, maybe 250, and at that time about 6' 2" or better.

I manned the two west stalls and he would milk Killer in the third, east one, as was typical because the operation to keep her in check to milk was more than others. First step was to throw a rope over her flanks and cinch snugly between her hip bone and ribs so that she could not easily kick forward/sideways/out which is the natural kicking motion of a cow versus a horse or mule that kicks back.

Then, press your head into the flank to further stymie the attempts to kick and put the kicker chains on her legs that were quite comfortable for her but would prohibit independent movement of her legs.

We all knew she was a bomb about to explode, it was just a matter of when and how. And who would get hurt. The next step was to release the rope that had initially been placed over the back and around her middle as that interferes with the blood flow (there is a big vein under a cow's belly).

On avg. 400 - 500 units of blood passes through the udder for each unit of milk synthesized by a high producing dairy cow; that is ~280 ml per sec.   (ansci.illinois.edu)

The milking would then proceed and, when done, the milking cups removed and the last step was to take off the "kickers," the chains connecting the legs. To do this, your head is again pressed into the flanks, the chains removed and you step back. Dick didn't step back quick enough.

I was busy when I heard a combination sonic boom and earthquake as that big man flew back and hit the wall of the barn. I turned just in time to hear him emit a sigh that I interpreted as a death rattle and slowly slide down the wall until he sat on the cement floor with blood spurting from his face. I thought I had witnessed my first catastrophic mortality, and that is when I took off for the house, screaming that something was very, very wrong in the barn.

When my mother arrived, he roused and seemed to again grasp the here and now but with a squished up nose where Killer had cracked him with a hoof right between the eyes.

Since I was not the one getting kicked, I was sort of neutral on the subject, but Dick and my mother were adamant--Killer went to market. Even though THE RULE was still in force, she had to go. And we never had one that was that difficult again.

The dairy operation which was well-developed before the milking parlor, all the stainless steel and the bulk tank operation was built, probably allowed our family to survive the 1950's while all around us "dried out" and moved to California. All of my mother's brothers and sisters lived in California, it wouldn't have been so bad. Every year, the number of kids in the one-room school dwindled.

I have always claimed that all I wanted to "be when I grew up" was dry and warm most of the time. Because on a dairy farm, you are cold and wet all the time. And everything smelled of chlorine bleach used to clean the pipelines.

Finally, when my brother went to the Army and I went to college, the cows went to market.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Maurie's Diary

Cousin Jan Cruise and her sister-in-law, Teresita McCarty have been working on the diaries of Jan's father, Maurice Matzen that she painstakingly transcribed. They have added explanatory information and documentation, much of it from the local St. Edward, Nebraska paper along with some family pictures making it into even more of a "treasure" as Terri calls it.

References from another source, an "Oral History" created from Maurie's recollections in May 2005 (age 96), were also added and one of them really caught my eye--Making the Ice House.

The Icehouse 

We built forms for cement walls and it had a lumber roof.  My dad was enough of a carpenter to make the rafters.  At least 8 feet of it was underground and there was about 5 feet above ground – so we could walk in.  We put about 8 inches of straw between the walls and the ice and on top of the ice.  We’d come to St Edward in the winter to get ice (1½ miles).  It would take a couple of days to fill the icehouse.  The man with the ice would fill his own icehouse first and then he’d cut for the rest of those who wanted ice.  First they would mark the ice and then the circular saw would cut to a depth of 12 to 14 inches.  A bar would be used to crack the rest of the way.  We were charged so much a load. 

An Oral History: Maurice Theodore Matzen, May 2005

The Peterson ice house was filled this week with extra good quality ice 10½ inches thick. Cutting for the farmers will probably start the last of this week.

St. Edward Advance, December 22, 1932

Farmers of the surrounding territory are hauling their summer’s supply of ice from the Peterson pond this week. The ice is the finest in years, it being more than 10 inches thick and clear as crystal.

St. Edward Advance, December 29, 1932

The "Peterson" named here is not a known relative of ours.

Lack of refrigeration is so foreign to anyone alive today. We expect to have ice cream, fresh peaches and healthy meats and seafood made possible by refrigeration in the processing industries and transportation. But to arrive at our current condition, a lot of things had to happen or we would still be cracking ice with a bar from a lake and trying to store it during the summer.


I vaguely remember the power lines being built to our farm in 1949. Maybe I just remember the stories since I was only four at the time, but it seems real. The REA (Rural Electrification Administration) came to Nance county and lots of things changed.

One of the first changes was that Mom got a freezer. We already had a refrigerator, but I was too young to fully comprehend the technical issues--was it a 32-volt system due to a Delco battery-generator? I just don't know. A microcosm of the Tesla-Edison battle.

Probably more significant was the acquisition of milking machines and a water-bath cooling system that held the cans of milk as they cooled for transportation. The grade-A dairy probably allowed our family to survive the 1950's on the farm when others sold out and moved to California.


Prior to the REA, Freon, Charles Kettering, George Norris, TVA and Frigidaire, food was kept cool with ice stored the previous winter. But that cooling resource was scarce and carefully parsed. Not everything went into the "ice box" and you certainly did not stand at the open door and stare without receiving a scolding.

Every spring, around Easter, we would get flats of chicks, put them in the brooder house, then into bigger pens as they grew. "Free Range" was not encouraged as they would then be easy prey for the opportunistic predators of the neighborhood, like mink, weasel and coyote. They were the food supply for the summer--fried chicken, chicken and dumplings and all kinds of meals that could be strutting around the pen in the morning and on the table at noon and evening.

In his diary, Maurie talks about butchering a hog from time to time, but I don't recall entries detailing the chicken raising--maybe just too mundane, and it often fell to the housewife to be in charge of much of the chicken harvest. In my experience, the men would snag the chickens with a hook that caught a leg, chop off the head and bleed them out and dip them in boiling water. Most of the family then participated in plucking, a smelly and messy process, and then the bird was turned over to my mother for singeing off the pin feathers (another distinctive smell that I have not experienced in 50 years) and "dressing" the chicken. Everything was eaten or recycled as more food for the other chickens.

When you visited another farm for operations that involved crews, you were most likely going to get chicken in one form or another, although the skill of the cooks varied greatly. It might be a meal centered around canned beef or canned pork, but not usually. It wasn't until it froze and the flies were controlled before you could get a decent meal of fresh beef or pork although some folks utilized the locker plants in town to keep some frozen meats.

Vegetables were seasonal, based on what the garden was then producing. My mother planted and produced a huge supply of cantaloupe one year, and we ate so much that I still can't stand the stuff. You took care to establish the asparagus bed on the south side of a wall or hill so that it started early in the spring when air temps were still cool and would not bolt until you had enjoyed it for several weeks. Now I complain if the stalks are a bit too big in the store.

I mentioned neighbors--I distinctly remember earning a small wage at age 12 working for a neighbor hauling hay bales. Ray was a bachelor, and not one you would recruit for the modern TV show of the same name as he was so dirty that when he came to our house to see my dad, they would either stay on the porch or go outside. He lived with his mother, Nettie, in a house that had electricity, but all the cooking was on a stove heated with corn cobs and the lighting was generally only with kerosene lamps. When I get a whiff of kerosene exhaust at the airport, it takes me back to that kitchen. I wonder if I am the only one whose memories are often connected with odors?

He told me that he had owned only one new car in his life, a 1949 Chevrolet that he drove for years and years, as long as he lived. Again with the odors--he had gone to town to pick up some 2-4-D that was apparently packaged in glass, it broke and the smell never left that car.


These were the days of my parents, during the Depression, before WWII, before the nuclear age and before so many other things. Something we consider so routine and essential, refrigeration, was a luxury, difficult to obtain at that time. We had to wait for Freon, standardization of voltages, inexpensive (relatively) home refrigerators and freezers and the REA to deliver the power before it would be common in rural areas.

Amazing to me, it was just a few years before I was born. Of course, it continues to amaze me that people are dying that are my age or just a few years older, too, and not from freak accidents--from "old age." Ah, yes, the way it was.