Saturday, December 19, 2015


Frank was the first Serbian I ever knew, and he was the first Nebraska first-team football player I knew, too. We were fraternity brothers in the mid-60's, and today his Ohio University Bobcats take on the Appalachian State Mountaineers. The Mountaineers are best known for their 2007 upset of Michigan...and that Danny is an alum.

That alum status makes us a "house divided," but we will be rooting for a good game.

Frank was booted from his post as Nebraska head coach because he was "only" winning 9 games a season. In favor of a couple of not-so-goods. Frank still has the best winning record at Nebraska except for Bob Devaney and Tom Osborne.

All of us Sigma Nus of the era are proud of Frank, his play, his cover of Sports Illustrated, his record as a coach and his character. There were a lot of high-performance people that came out of those early baby-boom classmates and fraternity brothers, and he is an excellent example.

Football, even back then, took a toll on social life, so I can't say that Frank was one of my close friends, but he was a good guy and a regular guy. For one thing, he is small--his playing weight was listed at something like 165 pounds. He played fullback and held the single-game rushing record for Nebraska for many years until the advent of the I-formation, and a guy named I.M. Hipp broke the record.

Both Frank and Larry Wacholtz, a North Platte boy who played defense, were sensitive about their size in major college football, so they would tape weights under their shorts for weigh-ins--which he never confirmed nor denied.

A vivid memory for me was a Saturday night. A classmate of mine, Jim Stevenson and I were juggling baseballs trying to perfect the technique of passing back and forth. Frank came by, had only a short time before a date (while Jim and I were LOSERS!! staying in) but he wanted to learn how to juggle. "Frank, be happy to teach you, but it takes a long time to learn. Years." Within a few minutes, he was doing as well as either of us, and Jim was a Division-1 baseball athlete. Frank's athleticism was beyond anything I had ever seen.

Jim's name is on the Wall in Washington, killed in action in Viet Nam. How much the world missed.

The Camellia Bowl in Montgomery, Alabama. Today. Should be a good game.

Thursday, December 10, 2015


TIME magazine "Person of the Year." Welcoming into Germany the throngs of Syrian refugees.

WAIT: I think it was Abraham Lincoln who advised, "Don't believe everything you see on the internet."

Jerry sent me a terrific article, you can locate it here:

It posits that oil and oil prices have a lot to do with the current Mideast crisis, and it goes on to explain a lot more than that since most of us would agree with the broad premise.

The following notes are my takeaways from that article, and I recommend your own reading of it if you have an interest.


What does this have to do with anything? Well, it is a good example of what might happen in the EU due to Merkel's policies. Not to Germany, but to others.

Back in the 1970's, there were 400,000 Palestinian refugees, primarily in Jordan. Jordan kicked them out and they went, mostly, to Lebanon. Lebanon was, at that time, prosperous and had a large Christian population dating back to the Crusades. Naturally, the immigrants overwhelmed the "Switzerland of the Middle East" and the country has never recovered. They turned their new home into a pigsty like they came from.


Germany needs cheap labor and the Turkey connection has dried up as Turkey's economy has improved upon entry into the EU. The immigrants will fill the bill, and Merkel has given them nine-month permits. Out go the ones who don't work out...or work.


A short time ago, Germany sponsored legislation to require EU countries to accept migrants from other EU countries. Where will these rejects go? Likely places would be Sweden, Norway and Denmark who, unlike Germany with 81 million people, have much smaller populations (like, 5 million or so) that will be overwhelmed. Just like Lebanon.

Trump was roundly criticized for saying there were Muslim no-go districts for British cops. The police in Birmingham acknowledged that is the case. There are neighborhoods in the UK that are ruled by Sharia law, and the police do not go there.


Angela Merkel is in the "pole position" for that Prize. After some of these other events work out, do you think the committee will admit, as they did with Obama, that their choice was a mistake?


ISIS has said, "We'll use and exploit the refugee crisis to infiltrate the West." Boy, what a surprise, although when you hear the news networks, they are evidently unaware.

Here is the problem--Lebanese officials (back to Lebanon, and they might know a bit) estimate that 2.2% of Syrians in refugee camps are affiliated with ISIS. So, if we allow 10,000 Syrian immigrants to enter the US, that would allow 220 who are affiliated with ISIS. Wonder if they could do any damage?


Back to the original article--the whole Syrian conflict is based, as are most ME conflicts, in the oil business. The Shia-led countries (Iran, Iraq, Syria) want a pipeline to go through Syria to the Mediterranean. The Sunni countries (principally, Saudi Arabia and Qatar) want another pipeline to go through Syria and through Turkey.

The Sunni pipeline would seriously compete with Russia's pipeline to the Western EU. Russia has been aligned with the Shia for decades; the US with the Sunni. The Russians are going to wipe out ISIS that has been funded in large part by Saudi Arabia and Qatar (so was the Arab Spring until it got completely out of hand and turned into a bunch of criminals).

Note, however, two important concepts: this is about oil and about fine points of distinction between seemingly similar religions. The geography defined to prevent the reemergence of the Ottoman empire (the Sykes-Picot Agreement, 1916) has less to do with it than religious matters. Sunni versus Shia. That fact does not square with our Western attitudes and is not recognized by our politicians and certainly not by the media.

Just a taste of the article, take a look, and special thanks to Jerry for forwarding it.

Thursday, December 3, 2015


Al Gore is one of my favorite topics--made millions through promoting false information. The following has been stolen from Facebook, a post on December 3.


Author Zac Unger was originally drawn to the arctic circle to write a “mournful elegy” about how global warming was decimating the polar bear populations. He was surprised to find that the polar bears were not in such dire straits after all.
“There are far more polar bears alive today than there were 40 years ago,” Unger told NPR in an interview about his new book, “Never Look a Polar Bear in The Eye.”
“There are about 25,000 polar bears alive today worldwide. In 1973, there was a global hunting ban. So once hunting was dramatically reduced, the population exploded.”
“This is not to say that global warming is not real or is not a problem for the polar bears,” Unger added. “But polar bear populations are large, and the truth is that we can’t look at it as a monolithic population that is all going one way or another.”

According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, there are an estimated 20,000 to 25,000 polar bears worldwide, living in Canada, Greenland, the northern Russian coast, islands of the Norwegian coast, and the northwest Alaskan coast.

Sunday, November 15, 2015


Baron and I were making the rounds of the neighborhood when we spied a pair of eagles on top a transmission line pole. "Spied" is probably not the right word, as we heard them first. It looked like one was a mature adult and the other an adult, but maybe just beyond the juvenile stage. Let's call him the "teenager." They were chattering away, and then flew from pole to pole, doing some preening, resting and maybe discussing their trip.

Teenager: "I don't wanna go on migration, just because that's what we've always done."

Mom: "Trust me, we need to do it for lots of reasons, principal among them our food supply."

Teenager: "But I just want my safe space. I don't want to hear about going hungry, I've never wanted for anything before, let's just stay here. No threats to hear or see; nothing I don't want to see or hear."

Mom: (Unlike, apparently, the current crop of mothers!) "Get off your perch and fly. I'm not going to starve, I'm going to migrate. You are coming with me."

Teenager: "Whine."

I'm not an expert on Eagle-ese, but that is what I think they were saying. She should have guided the teenager to Yale or Missouri, they would take him in and let him know that the world is not a dangerous place, if you whine you get anything you want and you CAN BE Peter Pan.

Saturday, November 7, 2015


Matt said today that this run by the Royals is one of the best sports experiences he has had. I concur. After all we have been through.

What a ride. The only thing that could possibly compare for me was the 1995 Huskers National Championship capped with the decimation of #2 Florida in the Fiesta Bowl by a score of 62-24...and it wasn't that close.

We endured Tony and his Nosotros Creamos, but Latin pride could only go so far. We endured a couple of decades without a decent second baseman, and depended on a journeyman Chinese pitcher from Panama who was probably eligible to be the fifth starter on most staffs. Our season tickets were in the days of 95-100 losses each season, but even then it was a good day at the park.

Dayton Moore looks like a genius now with the Zach Greinke trade that brought Cain and Escobar. The acquisition of Cueto is golden, despite most of us crossing our fingers to see which one of him would show up.

We can almost forgive Jose Guillen. I said "almost." We can overlook some of Ned's bizarre moves when we look at what I consider to be the pivotal play of the entire playoffs--the hit and run with Morales in the Astros game after the pop up dropped in the short outfield. (Nobody talks about that, so don't worry if you don't remember).

Hosmer's sprint to home will be the play that is replayed. It was so typical of the team and what was so fun to watch. Aggressive, gutsy and in Hosmer's own words as he took the first three steps, "This might not be a good idea." But they were prepared for just such a play by the coaches who said, "Make Duda and d'Arnaud throw." It's hard to win a World Series when you haven't thrown out a runner since September 8.

Right now, I miss baseball. I miss getting up in the morning and checking the box score. It is now on the computer, but it is like I used to do in the Kansas City Star. And before that, in the Sioux City Journal. For years, driving through South Dakota of a summer evening, coming home after some event or sales call, listening to Denny Matthews and Fred White on KSCJ. Yep, it goes back a ways.

Matt also said that the Iowa football season is just "icing on the cake." I wouldn't go that far, but let him revel in a good run by his alma mater as Nebraska sloshes around in the bottom world.

Baseball encourages hope. Every team is going to win it all when they are in Arizona. Baseball embraces nostalgia, too, and we will remember this time. This warm, colorful autumn of 2015.


Daughter-in-law Amy is a football fan, and she had to call me to tell me that one of the announcers (aka, Mr. Knucklehead) on College Game Day made the pronouncement of the week--"Ya know, Iowa is going to have to outscore Indiana to win this game."

REALLY? They must have changed the rules.

Amy had to call and tell me because she when you hear something like that, you have to tell somebody. She said that ranks up there with the other quote she heard from one of these geniuses: "Auburn doesn't need a turnover right here." Again, slap my head!

It is a good Saturday in the autumn, and I think ESPN may have missed a few that deserved it when they laid off all those people the other day.

Friday, November 6, 2015


Just read comments on a web page. Yes, I know I'm supposed to be in a 12-Step Program that will lead me to the righteousness of ignoring comments on a web page, but I fell off that wagon...again.

The web page was about baseball, SB Nation, Royals Review, and it was about (surprise, surprise) Hosmer's decision to head for home with two outs and behind by one run in the fifth game of the World Series.

Initial comment: there were no references to politics or religion. That is a huge step up for the typical comment page. Main point: the writing was pretty darn good. I would recommend it just to read informed prose that pretty much stayed on the subject. No name-calling. Here is the url for anyone interested:

Surprise bonus: the tag lines were awesome! This from a fan of baseball and tag lines. Here are a few:

EWE! WHAT IS THAT SMELL?? POOSTAKAS YOU! AGAIN?" -Aristotle (OK, so I don't quite understand that one)


At long last, I trust the process. (You have to appreciate that Dayton Moore, the general manager, has been saying "the process," repeatedly, for years. Did I mention "repeatedly?")

Time's yours. (I should read that one more often.)

As Mick Jagger once indicated, I am unable to obtain any measure of satisfaction. (Love it.)


In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is. -- Yogi Berra


Monday, November 2, 2015


That charge to the plate may, again, bring up the debate about sending Gordon from third in the seventh game of the 2014 World Series against the Giants. We all remember Perez struck out to end that threat and end the game giving the Giants the crown.

Most of us agree that sending Gordon would have been an almost certain out at home, and "almost" is generous as in my opinion, we are talking 99 out of 100. The throw from the cutoff man (Brandon Crawford, the shortstop?) to home was pretty routine for a player accustomed to long throws.

The Mets' first baseman, Lucas Duda, did not get a starting position because of his throwing ability. Result: E-3 in last night's game. Terrific play on the part of Hosmer, and my guess is that the third-base coach, Mike Jirschele, had prepared the team for just this kind of situation like he did when Cain scored from first in an earlier game.

My vote for two most significant plays in the Post Season for the Royals are both base running:

1.  Hosmer's dash for home.

2.  The hit and run with Morales hitting in game 2 of the ALCS, right after the pop fly dropped. Toronto is up 3-1 with no outs. On the play, Cain scores to make it 3-2, but without the hit and run, it is a sure double play and the rally would have stopped, the game is still in doubt with Toronto ahead...different outcome all together, perhaps.

The Mets have to cure a couple of fundamental problems before they try this again:

1.  They have to get a catcher who can at least slow down the running game. I think I heard that the last time the Mets threw out a runner was September 8.

2.  Defense. Granderson is likely the only real candidate for the Mets as Cespedes, who won a gold glove nomination with his play in Detroit, played poorly in the World Series.


Thursday, October 29, 2015


Sourcing the original intent of this blog, I wanted it to relate some of the events of my life so they are recorded for my kids. Recently, I have come to the realization that my memory of the events are, in most cases, the only remaining version.

Haven't we all heard one person's version of an event, only to hear the other side and wonder if they exist on the same planet? Every parent I know can commiserate. I can only tell the stories as accurately as my memory will give me the details.

Here is one that is fairly straightforward:


Stanley was one of the typical employees at the oil change business I helped turn around in Omaha. A bit older, in his 30's, not addicted to heroin, but otherwise similar. Low to medium intelligence, little in the way of responsibility. Smoked.

The smoking was always a problem in that we worked in a facility that was filled with petroleum products. Banned in all areas, of course, but still a problem. I was reminded of this event today as I filled my car with windshield washer solution and saw the "Good to -20!!" on the container. That means the fluid won't freeze and break the reservoir in the car, but it also means that it is not plain water. We could have purchased pre-mixed fluid, but that meant buying a lot of expensive water. To reduce our cost of operation, we purchased 55-gallon drums of ethanol, mixed it with water out of the tap and delivered it to the work stations.

Now, ethanol is the stuff they add to gasoline, so pretty flammable. I had mentioned to Stanley that the drum was empty and needed to be changed, so I was not surprised when I walked into the back room and saw him working on the drum/pump/plumbing...but I was surprised when I saw the cigarette hanging out of his mouth. 

Another surprising thing about ethanol is that its flame is nearly invisible, maybe a bit of blue at the tip. But it sets everything else on fire. What I saw was a spray coming out of the drum/pump/plumbing and the fire climbing up the wall. So far, Stanley's face and hair were not on fire, but it was inevitable. Unlike most times when you go, "Where the hell is the fire extinguisher??", this time it was right in front of me, I sprayed Stanley first, the wall second and the drum, etc. last. He survived with minor burns.

Then I proceeded to have nightmares for years. Decades.

Who can verify that story? Probably, nobody. Stanley was younger than me by a good bit, but most of those guys were not destined to live long lives, in my opinion. To borrow a phrase used by another of the guys, "Does it hurt to be that stupid?"


Everybody has heard this story--riding calves. We were surrounded by large animals, the rodeo in town was good entertainment, and it was only natural to see if we could imitate some of the heroic activities of the rodeo cowboys. 

We were specifically forbidden to ride calves, probably out of respect for the calves rather than any concern for us, but that didn't stop us from rigging up a chute, wrapping a cinch rope around the calf and around my hand and nodding "OK" like the real guys. My brother only opened the chute a little bit, the calf lunged through the opening and my legs were immediately scrubbed back such that I was laying stretched out on the top of the calf. I could not get my hand out of the glove, the calf bucked, I flew up and inevitably down. The calf was then coming up again and its tail head, that bony structure at the base of the tail, hit me square in the solar plexus. 

I eventually disentangled, fell off face first into the baked clay and buffalo burrs of the barn yard, face first. The blow to the solar plexus had stopped all kinds of essential functions, including breathing, so my brother thought, "I've finally one it, I've killed him!"

It took me over an hour of trying to regain normal functions, but I came out of it with fairly bruised and scratched face, but no other injuries of consequence. Ready for the next time. 

Again, my version, my memory is the only one since my brother is gone. Hopefully, I tell it like it happened.


If you don't know how much I despise the typical elite columnist, you haven't been listening. The use of the word "chute" above reminded me of reading something recently by one of them who spelled the word "shoot." And, probably calls the leather leggings used as protection "chaps" to rhyme with "chap stick" instead of the correct pronunciation so the initial sound is like in "shack." But they are still superior to us, aren't they? By virtue of their Ivy League "education?"

Wednesday, October 28, 2015


As much as you know I love the Royals, and rejoice in the victory, Bartolo Colon deserves better.

First, he pitched really well--not bad for an old guy (42+ years old). Not his fault there was an error.

Second, and most importantly, his physical profile matches some of the rest of us. Bet he hasn't seen his feet in years, either.

I would be happy if the Royals finish off the Mets promptly and Colon doesn't end up on the mound again.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015


Somebody decided to take a look at the cost of each victory by comparing games won against salary dollars.

The results are fairly predictable, the big city teams paid a lot of money in payroll, and this year, they did not make it to the World Series. Well, ok, the Mets are a big city team, but they are NOT the hated Yankees or the Dodgers and they didn't reach the ridiculous heights of the Dodgers or Yankees in salary cost.

Team                                      Payroll                             Wins                        $/win

Dodgers                                 $314 million                      92                        $3,414,874

Yankees                                 $219 million                      87                        $2,520,194

The rest of the top ten included, in order, Red Sox, Phillies, Giants, Tigers, Nationals, Angels, Rangers and the Blue Jays.

Phillies                                    $141 million                     63                        $2,249,566

Now, this one, the Phillies, would tick me off!! They had to eke out a win on the last day of the season to avoid losing 100 games in the season. Yoweee. And they spent how much to be that bad?

Let's look at the Mets and the Royals.

Mets                                        $132 million                     90                        $1,463,333

Royals                                     $138 million                     95                        $1,452,632

The Royals' opening day salary was $112 million, just over a third of the Dodgers, but they picked up some expensive help during the season. Essentially taking over somebody else's bad negotiating results.

Success of a farm team, let's keep it going tonight. Go Royals.                

Saturday, October 3, 2015


I think the preamble to this blog announces that one of the purposes is to hand down stories to my kids. Three of the kids grew up in Sioux City, so these stories may ring some bells.

It has been my great good fortune and privilege to have known a number of interesting and wonderful people in my life. I could call up the names of a few (and that gets more difficult with each year), but a character who stands out is Harry Pratt.

Harry could be better known to some as the great uncle of Fred Grandy, "Gopher" from the Love Boat and a US Representative from Iowa. In Sioux City, Harry was a celebrity of great standing on his own.

Every year about this time, he would come to our office at the bank and get his investments settled for the time that he would be away. He spent winters in La Jolla, California and every year he would complain about the trouble it would take to get someone to drive his Cadillac to California, then back and the traffic was getting worse. One time he exclaimed, "I think I'll just get a motorcycle." Harry at that time was into his 90's.

Harry and a few others were instrumental in pulling the bank out of the Bank Closing of 1934 and making it into the leading banking institution in Sioux City. When I joined the Trust department, we had just over $100 million in assets, and I just found out that they now have over $2.3 billion under management.

Every four years, he accompanied several others to Canada for a fly-in fishing trip. As the years passed, the companions changed and finally the operator of the lodge told Harry that he could have the trip free when he turned 100. He made it despite his complaint that "If I'd known I was going to live this long, I'd taken better care of myself." He expired the next year.

Mrs. Booth and her brother George loved to invite me to dinner at the Country Club and she gave me a pop-over pan that has been lost to the ages now; Helen McMaster (Matt at age 11, summer in Fargo: "Helen, the front of your Jaguar is covered in bugs!" Helen, "You hit a lot of them when you set the cruise at 90."), Bob Williams (felled by a severe stroke in his early 60's), Mr. Ed Palmer (he was always Mr. Palmer to me, but encouraged me to call him Ed) who basically established the wholesale grain trade in Western Iowa and the barge traffic, too; Mr. Gossett, the president of the bank for decades, Ted Thompson.  In previous places, "important" people had treated me as a peasant--thinking of George Cook (head of an insurance company), Bill Smith, head of a bank, but in Sioux City, they treated me with dignity and that goes such a long way.

I don't remember his name and I always had trouble with it, but I received a call from the banking floor requesting that I come down and talk to a "gentleman" who wanted to get some investment advice. At that time, my job was to invest the bank's bond portfolio and to buy and sell bonds for our correspondent bank and larger customers.  When I was introduced, I understood why the referral was so tentative--he was a small, wiry man with strawberry blond, scraggly hair that appeared to have been cut by his own hand; a creased and sunburned face that nearly glowed bright red; plaid shirt and baggy dungarees that were held in place (I don't make this stuff up) with baler twine. He had heard that short-term interest rates were 15% or so, the bank down the street would only pay him 6% and wondered if he could do better with us. As it turned out, the answer was yes...and he invested $3 million. He farmed by Salix, and while we were never "friends," I counted him as one of the good people I knew.

I told you that Harry was old. We hired a fellow to join the lending cadre who came to us in about 1980 from a bank in Council Bluffs. Harry was introduced to him, heard he was from CB and asked, "I used to live in Council Bluffs. Did you know so-and-so?" Bill: "No." "Well, did you know such-and-such?" Bill: "No." This went on for a couple more names, when Harry looked quite perplexed and finally stopped and thought a while. "Aw, hell, thought you might be an imposter there for a minute, but I guess you might not know those guys--I left Council Bluffs when I was 35 years 1925." Some of my fondest memories of Sioux City involve the terrific people of one or two generations older who treated me so well.

Bless them. My fondest hope is that the younger members of my family can experience the entertainment and the encouragement of cool older people as I did. Priceless.

Friday, October 2, 2015


I first posted this in December 2013, and recently Doug heard about the post, thought it was pretty accurate, but left out one item.

Here is the correction: Instead of leaving his partner, Jim, in the car, they both started to make their way across the field. When Doug saw the bull occupying the pasture with them, he whispered, "Jim," but Jim didn't hear him. A little louder, "Jim," but no response. Finally, "JIM!!!" but when Doug took his eyes off the bull and searched for Jim, he was making long strides in those wing tips. Doug remembers thinking that his London Fog was blowing back, nearly parallel to the ground just like in a cartoon. He and the bull, just the two of them.

The rest of it is pretty much the same, but it was good to talk to Doug, to hear about how successful the bank has been in the 30 years since I left (when I joined the trust department in 1975, there was $100 million under investment management and they are at $2.3 billion now!!).

Here is the original post:

I was amused the first time I heard this, and over the many intervening years, the thought of it has given me further chuckles.

Doug came to the bank as a college guy, long hair, somewhat "hippie," but after all, it was the time. Soon he took on the look of the rest of the folks at the workplace, moved up the corporate ladder and did very well. In the middle, though, he took on one of the jobs that was not sought after--repo man. Subsequently, the bank quit making loans that required this kind of activity.

As the low man on the totem pole whose job it was to contact customers who were delinquent in their car payments, he had an unpleasant job (all of the time) and dangerous (some of the time). Guns were drawn, and those times were not amusing at all. But the late winter episode in rural South Dakota is the one that sticks in my mind.

This was one that was very delinquent. They had been unable to ascertain the location of the customer or the car, and winter had delayed a lot of leg work. Finally, they had a location in rural South Dakota which was not far from the city in those days, and still is not far even today. A pair of repo men drove out there only to find that the long driveway was still drifted shut despite the more mild weather of on-coming spring. Doug thought it was probably fruitless, but necessary to do the job right, so he shrugged on his long London Fog, decided the wingtips could suffer, determined that a path through the adjacent pasture would be better than slogging through the deep snow in the driveway and away he went. The barbed wire fence is familiar to all of us in that part of the world, and easily negotiated, so he trudged away across the pasture and left his partner smoking and relaxing in the snug confines of the car.

Nearly to the trailer house, about to climb through the next fence, he discovered that he had neglected to identify the occupant of the pasture--a bull. With horns. And it appeared to be distraught over his violation of his territory. You are not supposed to run, but the fence was close, so he ran and rather than offering a target for the bull by climbing through, he climbed on top of the fence, about to jump over when out from under the trailer emerged two big dogs.

And they seemed to be upset, too. Perched on top of the fence with threats ahead and behind, the "lady" of the home emerged with a child on her hip and another clenched to her leg. "What do you want," she said, but not as politely.

He glanced at the shed where a shell of a car with chickens inside looked like the one they were supposed to repo. "Ma'am, you're not going to believe this, but I want your car." She said, "Take it, and if you find my husband, take him too," again, not said quite so politely.

From his position of power and authority, Doug offered an "executive decision,"-- "If you call your dogs off, I'll leave you alone." Seemed as though the snow-covered driveway offered the best path back to the car, his partner and a good warm office.

I have never been to that exact location, but I see it clearly in my mind's eye. The late-winter snow, the whole vision of Doug perched on the fence, the weary mom and the dilapidated trailer are vivid in my imagination as are the words, "Ma'am, you're not going to believe this, I want your car."

My guess is that Doug finds his job a bit better than those days in rural South Dakota.


Most of you have heard my tirades on this subject before, but many years ago I wondered where all the Teflon and Silverstone coating went when it was (inevitably) scratched and disappeared from the cooking utensil.

A lot of this is common sense, but what we call common sense needs to be augmented by scientific knowledge--for instance, the use of pewter was not linked to health problems in the Middle Ages until someone found out that the lead that was leached out was REALLY bad for you.

Take a look. This says it better than I can.

By the way, quit using vegetable oil, margarine and other manufactured stuff, and start using eggs, butter and whole milk. Better for you...and supplemental note to self--lose a few pounds.

Thursday, October 1, 2015


The first time I drove in the Northeast was July, 1969. The last time was last weekend.
  • Thank goodness for GPS
  • New York still holds the record for the worst surfaces
  • I'm thankful we weren't driving my uncle's VW Bug as in 1969
  • The New Jersey Turnpike has some marvelous stretches
  • People still ignore the speed limit
I distinctly remember being in the center lane on the turnpike in that VW Bug when I looked in the rear view mirror and saw the reverse of "MACK" and checked out the other two lanes that were occupied by an 18-wheeler and a bus. Peddle faster.

The portion of I-95 that crosses the Bronx was then and now full of holes, confusing, a bit of a free for all and congested. Since it is like that 24/7, how would you go about improving it?

Not like New Jersey. There is a stretch between New York and Philadelphia that is designed and built to handle the traffic. Cars have their own three lanes, trucks/busses use a separate three-lane highway. New, smooth and fast. Congrats Governor Christie if you had anything to do with it.

On a different trip, when the girls were younger, we were driving a rental from Boston south and as we went through Hartford, a 55 gallon barrel dislodged from the truck in front of us, bounced and wedged under the bumper of the ready-mix truck next to us. Close call.

This time we visited friends on Cape Cod and returned safely. Maybe next time take the train? 


We enjoyed perfect New England weather and visited Danny in Rhode Island for a long weekend. A takeaway for me was a metaphor used by a guest speaker, an Admiral, at one of his classes at the Navy War College in Newport.

The Admiral said that the US employs a foreign policy that is similar to what we see in the behavior of a golden retriever that enters a room, greets everyone with a smile and good intentions, expects to be loved and petted by all and creates chaos by sweeping everything onto the floor with his tail. Then leaves without knowing what just happened, still believing that everyone loves him.

When the Pope visited, there were some who were a bit miffed because he made comments about how the US should behave and what this country ought to do. My first reaction was, "How dare a foreign entity interfere with our internal affairs." Then, "Oh, wait a minute. We do that all the time."

The key here is WITH THE BEST INTENTIONS. We so want, as a nation, to be loved by all. Anyone who has been a parent or a boss understands that in the real world of humans, that is just not possible.

Now, if we could start by figuring out how to control that tail...

Monday, September 21, 2015


On MSNBC's "Morning Joe" program, John Heilemann of Bloomberg Politics and New York magazine confirmed that Hillary Clinton was the one who first voiced concern that Obama was Muslim.

It was 2008 and it was an interview with Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton on "60 Minutes".

Last week, she was among the first to jump on Trump about his supposed obligation to argue with a questioner in a town meeting in New Hampshire about that subject. Trump didn't really comment, just moved on.

Well, Hillary, you were the first. Did you think people would not remember?

Heilemann has covered politics at a high level for 25 years and is an author and expert on presidential campaigns.

On another topic, Ben Carson--how can an individual who believes that Sharia law should replace any other law (like the Constitution) be elected and confirmed to a office whose sworn duty is to uphold the Constitution?

Sunday, September 20, 2015


In the vernacular of Poker, a "bad beat" is when you have a good hand, say a pair of 8's and the board (we are talking Texas Hold 'Em here) has five cards, a Jack, a five, an 8 and a pair of fours. You, then have a Full House, "8's full of fours." You bet confidently, another player evidently has a good hand, maybe holding a 6 and 7 to fill a straight, and matches you at every turn. When all is "called," you lay down your full house, only to find that the other player has a pair of Jacks in his hand.

That's a "bad beat."

Nebraska had the "game won" with seconds to go. The opponent was down to the last play over 40 yards from the end zone. The "Hail Mary" (or "Hail Joseph" since they were BYU?) was successful and Nebraska lost. That NEVER WORKS!! That is a bad beat. There is another story here that daughter-in-law Amy pointed out--the replacement quarterback for BYU, Tyler Mangum, had been on Mission for his church and hadn't either really worked out or been involved in football for two years until he returned home in June. Before he entered college, he competed with Jameis Winston at a football camp, was co-MVP, and Winston went on to be the Heisman winner and first draft pick.

Then, and this is amazing, he completed another Hail Mary the next week against Boise State. That just doesn't happen.

The Chiefs had the ball, 20 yard line, score tied after the Broncos came back. Seconds left. Everybody in the stands thought "overtime," and that would have been just one kneel-down. Instead, hand off to Charles, fumble, picked up by Denver and the guy runs it in for the score and the win. BAD BEAT.

When it happens to teams I am rooting for, the Huskers and the Chiefs, it is amazing, out of the ordinary, unbelievable, etc. But this happens all the time...although not, perhaps, in quite so dramatic a fashion.

As you all know, I have a particular fascination with baseball, and its lessons about life in general include bad beats, getting what you deserve, etc. When you have lived as long as I have, you begin to accept the old adage about life not being fair, some people are just no good and that there are going to be Bad Beats. Recovering from those is always the real test.

Hang in there, all of you.

Saturday, September 19, 2015


I have resisted just about long enough. Time to fire off another volley in the Carly saga.

The common opinion is that she won both debates, the "B" team debate earlier and this latest show. I guess we can call them "debates," but they are mostly TV theater. Not exactly the Lincoln/Douglas style or substance.

I have watched on YouTube some of her interviews and believe they demonstrate a high level of preparation and intelligence. She is way above the level of the "political class" she often references.

Take for instance the baiting by the likes of George Stephanopoulos (you would think he could at least get a last name that was easier to spell and quit posing as anything other than a trained monkey for the Democrats) and Katie Couric. They come off looking and sounding like lightweights.

There are two interviews that I would highly recommend for anyone wanting to learn more about candidate Carly Fiorina, both with a "friendly" interviewer, Hugh Hewitt. First, hear her talk about foreign policy in contrast to the same interviewer asking similar questions of Trump:

Then an interview with the same guy a month ago, 20 minutes long, but worth it:

Little things to know and tell--her father was a judge on the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, and she praises her father, a former law professor and conservative jurist, for his courage in resisting the tendency of the Ninth Circuit to "make law" rather than interpret what the law actually is. That seems to be the fundamental difference between conservative and liberal when considering the courts, and in the last few years, the Supremes have drifted far afield.

She aspired as a young person to be a concert pianist. She worked as a Kelly Girl temp. She is a cancer survivor and her step-daughter died early due to drugs. She has made mistakes, but then most everyone who has actually led a life of accomplishment has made mistakes.

One of her likely opponents, Joe Biden, is no match. The book by former Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates is respectful and gracious to both his presidential bosses, George W. Bush and Barack Obama. But his only comment on Biden is that he was "consistently wrong on every major foreign policy matter for 20 years." Biden was singled out for his lack of ability in a book that delicately avoided gossip and criticism typically used to sell books.

I have wondered if she can win. Don't know the answer to that one. But she would make a good President, a terrific leader. Kinda reminds you of Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan.

Thursday, September 17, 2015


I remember watching both nominating conventions on black and white TV in 1956 (I had just turned 11 years old and it is a testament, perhaps, to the paucity of good TV back then). I thought it was fascinating, and we didn't even get to see the "smoke-filled rooms." Noisy, raucous, confusing and in the end, from the Cow Palace in San Francisco, Eisenhower/Nixon for the Republicans, and from Chicago, Stevenson/Kefauver for the Democrats.

Both of the outcomes were pretty predictable. Back then, the Democrats were intent on putting forward their champion who embodied principles held dear by the Party, regardless of his appeal to the electorate. Wow, they have surely gotten over that!! The Republicans would have had to display the kind of death wish we saw with the McCain/Palin ticket. But they rode a strong horse and didn't get off. "I Like Ike."

Here's the kicker--those conventions were the beginning and end of the presidential nomination cycle and they were held in August of 1956, about 75 days before the election. We are now being pounded over the head with politics and have been a year and one-half before the election. At this point, we still have over 14 months to go. Getting kinda long.

Last debate: Jeb Bush just doesn't have it. He is dull and not made for TV. Trump is made for TV, but empty of anything substantive. One would hope that Carly would coach whoever gets the nomination on how to handle the media, but in my mind, the potential nominee (with both Washington and gubernatorial experience) is Kasich. The ticket will be, my prediction, Kasich/Rubio.

Now, on the Democratic side. The public seems pretty unlikely to hire a continuance of the Obama days. Clinton's stock has plummeted, not helped by her admission that she has "thought about" putting Bill on the ticket with her. Ah, yes. Bernie Sanders. Going to turn the US into a socialist state, like Sweden or something. The good folks of North Dakota tried that in the first half of the twentieth century, and despite their homogeneous demographic makeup, their Scandinavian heritage, they just couldn't make the socialist/communist deal work. Not in America.

The Dems need to get busy with a real candidate, and soon.

Meanwhile, President Obama has cautioned the candidates that bad-mouthing the United States (like he did in both elections) is not a good thing to do. Gee, it got him elected...twice.

Meanwhile, the business of governance takes a back seat to this interminable made-for-TV reality show.

Monday, August 24, 2015


The world is loaded in the handbasket and on its way. Why am I convinced? It isn’t just the Chinese securities markets collapsing at a rate not seen since the height of the Great Recession/Financial Crisis in 2007, and it isn’t the statement by Everett D. Mitchell, the Director of Community Relations at the University of Wisconsin-Madison--also reported to be an attorney, pastor, and community leader--who said it is ok to steal from Wal Mart and Target because they have insurance.

Nope, I became convinced when it was disclosed that TEXAS, FLORIDA AND NEBRASKA were not listed in the AP Top 25, pre-season. None of them! First time since that poll was created in 1950 that the Top 25 didn’t include at least one of those teams.

Pretty convincing evidence of something BIG about to happen. Hide the wimmen n chillen. Oh, and have a nice day.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015


Calling this "I" because my guess is that I will be saying more about her over the next year and a half or so.

This is the first I have seen of her description of her tenure at HP. Most "journalists" strip mine the parts that fit their agenda that day, but here is what she has to say, including something about the size of the government:

( - "We have never succeeded in shrinking the size of government," Republican Carly Fiorina told "Fox News Sunday." She said she would do it.

"We have a bunch of baby boomers who are going to retire out of the federal government over the next five to six years. I will not replace a single one," she promised. 

"And yes, we need to actually get about the business of reducing the size, the power, the cost, complexity and corruption of this federal government."

Host Chris Wallace played a video clip of Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) criticizing Fiorina for nearly driving Hewlett-Packard, a Fortune 500 company, "into the ground." Schultz noted that Fiorina "fired 30,000 people when she was CEO."

"You know, if you end up as Republican nominee, the Democrats are going to put that in every ad -- she fired 30,000 people," host Chris Wallace told Fiorina. "It's exactly the kind of thing, Ms. Fiorina, that sunk Mitt Romney."

Fiorina said she's "flattered" that the head of the DNC would come after me because it must mean she's "gaining traction.”

"But here's the facts: I led Hewlett-Packard through a very difficult time, the dotcom bust post-9/11, the worst technology recession in 25 years. I would remind Debbie Wasserman Schultz that it has taken the NASDAQ 15 years to recover.

Sometimes in tough times, tough calls are necessary. However, we also took a company from $44 billion to almost $90 billion. We quadrupled its growth rate, quadrupled its cash flow, tripled its innovation to 11 patents a day, and went from lagging behind to leading in every product category in every market segment.

And yes, I was fired at the end of that, in a boardroom, which I've been very open about. And I was fired because when you challenge the status quo, which is what leadership is about, you make enemies.

Steve Jobs was fired. Oprah Winfrey was fired. Walt Disney was fired. Mike Bloomberg was fired. I feel like I'm in good company. And we need somebody to challenge status quo of Washington, D.C. and get something done."

Wallace predicted that Democrats will find "that poor, unfortunate person" who was fired, and suffered, because of Fiorina's management.

She said there's nothing harder for a chief executive to do than to tell an employee, "we don't have a job for you."

"It's also true that the vast majority of Americans know that in tough times sometimes tough decisions have to be made. And what they're frustrated by is the federal government never makes a tough decision."
We were there when the bust happened, living and working in Silicon Valley. Our experience was worse than HP, by far. But have you noticed? People tend to judge the actions of people in the past according to the mores of today, ignoring the landscape.


Truly, I will pledge to keep the baseball comments to a minimum until October when I hope the Royals will be playing extra games. But this week is just too tempting.

First, who woulda thunk that the Royals would be 12 games ahead in their division with the second best record in baseball behind their fellow Missourians, the Cardinals? But in a game that is fascinated with statistics, this one amazes me, and if any of my statistician readers want to tell me what the heck this about, let's hear it:

Tuesday, August 11 was the first time in over 100 years (since 1914) that all home teams won in a full schedule. Yes, 15 home teams, 15 home teams came out the winners. Back in 1914, there were only 24 teams, so it was 12 home wins, but that was never tied and after expansion, it didn't happen either.

Well over 200,000 games have been played in the last 100 years at the major league level, and you would think that the law of random events or bell-shaped curves or whatever would have taken care of this--after all, there are over 2,400 games each year and...well, it just seems odd.

But, then, the Royals ahead like this is a bit odd, too.

Thursday, August 6, 2015



The post below was written 11 months ago. I don't think it was ever posted, which is no surprise as I write a lot of stuff that never sees the light of day...fortunately!! But the date was September 4, 2014 and the observations were made below. Just wanted to update.
The stock was at $290 and the sky was the limit. By April, the stock dropped to $180; yesterday it was $270 and this morning it is opening in the $240 range, or down 10% plus. That’s volatility.

The previous article pointed out the small production and it is still a problem as 2015 was the year that they would achieve a pace of 100,000 units per year. Well, folks, it ain’t gonna happen—they changed “guidance” by -15% and still think 100,000 is going to happen…next year.

Meanwhile, the company loses $16,000 per car, up from a loss of $11,000 per car last December. The $2.3 billion raised in the market last year is essentially gone, burned up.

Are we starting to see a trend here? It is still valued at $34 billion (which is less than Apple, valued at $650 billion) but I can’t reconcile that with the current GM value of $50 billion.

Is anybody else thinking tulip bulbs? Google “tulip bulb craze.”

Soooo, the logical thing to do is short the stock, right? Not so fast, there, Baba Looey. It is already close to being “fully shorted” meaning a lot of short interest which is also dedicated buying interest since the shorts have to be covered eventually. The bigger influence, in my mind, is the power of Wall Street. Don’t discount the ability of the brokers who are going to pick up hundreds of millions when they place the $2 billion or $3 billion in the next financing round.

Let us just sit back and keep track and determine if the markets are, indeed, efficient.


I have not been an electric car fan, principally because I think it requires too much government support to make them even marginally competitive in the marketplace. Now, Tesla is getting about $3 billion or more in tax breaks to put a factory in Nevada.

The second reason I don't think electric cars should have a place on the planet involves the ecological damage created by the batteries. The awful ecological disaster in Canada where the raw material is mined has been used by NASA because it resembles a moonscape. The factories where the lithium is processed in China are polluters on a cosmic scale.

But...since the cars run part of the time on batteries (Tesla's are all electric, not hybrid as I understand it), they are "green." Now, the power plants that supply the electricity to power the batteries are deemed to be enemies of the environment by the politicians, but that doesn't appear to matter.

Now, get this:

Excitement over Tesla’s future has caused Wall Street to give this momentum stock a $35 billion market capitalization, versus General Motors’ $55 billion. Tesla sold 39,149 cars through June 30, while GM sold north of 9.7 million vehicles last year alone. Tesla has posted net losses of $581.93 million from January 2012 through June 2014, while GM has posted net income of $13.84 billion over the same period...

Not in this article, but in another it was noted that Mountain View, California saw a lot of Tesla purchases. I guess you can afford one when your house is worth $1 million, $773 per square foot.

Saturday, July 25, 2015


We were arranged by alphabet, last name. My platoon had all the guys whose names started with P or R or S, like Phillips, Schuppan and Rooney.

Private Rooney should not have been sent to the Army, but some well-meaning numbskull thought it would "do him good." The Drill Sergeant asked me (errrr, not exactly how he said it) to teach Rooney some basic drill commands. Left face, Right face, About face. Well, Rooney didn't know his right and left and About Face was similar to the golf swing described as an octopus falling out of a tree.

Not my job, but I told the DS that Rooney was not capable of learning this stuff, and I was absolutely positive it was not faked, but genuine.

One really hot day, when every part of your body and uniform was soaked, it was time to "test our gas masks." It was founded in something a lot more sadistic than that, I am sure. Instructions: Put on your gas mask. Walk into a concrete block room. Stand in lines. When the Drill Sergeant gives you the command, remove your gas mask, state your name, rank and serial number, salute, wait for the return salute and the command, Excused, and walk outside.

By the time I got to the front of the line, my skin was burning, especially where the CS gas got into creases, like your neck or your elbows. Taking that breath after saying that stuff was awful. By the time I got outside, I thought I would drown on all the fluid coming from my eyes, mouth, and nose. Coughing, gagging, and it persists.

Meanwhile, Rooney ended up in the back of one of those lines. When the first guy was instructed to take off his mask, Rooney thought they were talking to him. And he just stood there for a while until somebody noticed that he was going to die in that enclosed room and got him out of there.

They took him off to sick call, and we never saw him again. Hope they didn't think it would be a good idea to recycle him.

Among life's little learning experiences, I learned that if they wanted me to demonstrate and tear gas was threatened, I would just cheer from the sidelines, far away from that stuff.


I guess I knew there were such things as the phonetic alphabet and tear gas, but in 1970 I became intimately acquainted.

Anyone who has known me has heard all these stories, and Rooney and Tear Gas will post later. Let’s talk about learning the phonetic alphabet, which we were supposed to know when we arrived in the class.

The drill instructor was…sharp. Creases in the uniform, proper tilt to the Smokey Bear hat, direct stare that was difficult to take, impossible to return. Tall, impossibly thin, black and apparently from Boston because some words were pronounced funny…”alpher,” “Indier” and Lima sounded like a primate from Madagascar. And he carried a big stick.

The stick was his attention-getter. When we made a mistake, the stick was whacked against the side of the podium with the result something like a rifle shot. We were already a little bit spooked, so this was effective. Plus, he would boom out, "KOOOOO REC SHUN!!"

The class was about 50 and when we came in, we counted off. Not knowing why, you promptly forgot your number, so when DI yelled, “Birdblue three niner, this is Birdblue one, over!” the guy who counted off to 39 usually just sat there. Silence. Gunshot slap of the stick…repeat the call. Pushups all around.

Now, notice, it is not “bluebird.” You had to pop up at attention, say “Birdblue one, this is Birdblue three niner, over.” And it is not “thirty-nine,” it is “three niner.” And so on. He changed up the call signs all the time, and they were always ripe for mispronunciation. And that damned stick. And yelling "Correction."

Reflecting, however, we considered our MOS—Armor Scout. We were supposed to go in front of the tanks, find something to shoot at and, before they killed us (which in Viet Nam was pretty quick), call in some coordinates. NOT YOUR OWN, SOLDIER!! The enemy’s location. When doing this, it would not be in the calm comfort of your arm chair, most likely calling in close air support, under fire in the mud, so you needed to be able to perform radio protocol second nature. Without thinking about it. Just like Staff Sergeant Rifle Stick taught you.

Wonder if they can get away with this kind of training these days—after all, it was harassment. The millennials who have always gotten a ribbon, win or lose, will surely be offended.

Thursday, July 23, 2015


Growing up in rural Nebraska in the 1950’s and 1960’s, it seemed we had very little money. But it didn’t feel like we were poor. We had two pairs of jeans, one pair of shoes for work and another for Sunday, and enough to eat. Operating the dairy allowed our family to keep the farm while our friends and neighbors went broke and moved to California.

When we sponsored the foreign military students at Ft. Leavenworth, we made some terrific friends and met some great people. One of the couples we met were educators at a small town north of Leavenworth, and they described a situation that would be defined, in my book, as “poor.”

The little girl came to the first day of third grade in shabby clothes and had only a bag of chips for lunch. Upon inquiring the teachers found out that she and her family had just moved there and the reason she had no “real” food was because they didn’t have a refrigerator.

The teachers and administrators took up a collection, bought a second hand refrigerator and delivered it to the family. They were thrilled, and the little girl started to come to school with good lunches. Then, one day, it looked like things had really changed because she showed up with a new dress and new shoes.

“Looks like you got a new dress?”

“Yep. We sold the refrigerator.”

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Who Sez...

Who says the financial markets are efficient?

Boosted by a recent stock surge, Facebook's (NASDAQ:FB) market capitalization has overtaken that of General Electric (NYSE:GE). The social network's 26% climb this year has brought its market value to $275B, compared to GE's $273B. Some are expressing concerns: GE racked up $149B in sales last year and employed more than 300,000 people. Facebook reported $12.5B in sales and employed roughly 9,200.

Something is a bit haywire.

I mentioned Apple the other day, worth more than all the auto companies in the world? Well, minus a few, but you get the idea. Is this an indicator of some sort of calamity? Hell, I don't know, but it might mean that when investing your savings, keep your eyes open and your wits about you.

Oh, and by the way, doesn't "sez" make more sense than "says"?