Saturday, September 29, 2007

A cross-country trip produces wear and tear on the human body as well as the automobile. The body is refreshed after a nights sleep in a clean motel and decent meal. Just make sure and stay in a motel that is less than five years old. They become pretty dirty after that time and need to be replaced. Motels are now disposable. Owners just tear them down and start over or a new chain purchases the property and refurbishes it with a new name. Folks from India take over some of the motels and keep them going at a cheaper rate. My advice is to stay in a new one if you can afford the small difference in price.
The auto also needs a respite. The car simply requires a tank of gas but always seems to run better when it is clean. A clean windshield gives the auto a boost and assures clear cruising for another several hundred miles. The problem is that the places to get a little service have disappeared.
When I was a kid, we called these car rest stops filling stations. We would pull in and a smiling attendant would fill the tank with gasoline, clean the windshield, sweep out the interior, check the air pressure in the tires and the oil level. As the floor board in cars sunk, the sweeping stopped. Gasoline pumps were developed that required no attendant; just insertion of a credit card, pushing a few buttons, sticking the gas nozzle into the tank and squeezing the trigger. Most tanks differ and the process is not always that easy. A little message scrolls in a dimly lit window on the pump asking if you want a car wash or a receipt. The big profit in these so-called service stations is the attached convenience store with dirty restrooms. The attendants in most of these places look like terrorist. It’s no use asking directions if you are lost because the person at the cash register doesn’t speak English.
The mega stations have multiple pumps with cars lined up like the start of a major race. Some of these stations do have a tank containing a wand for cleaning the windshield; however, more often than not there is no water or paper for drying the little rubber blade after you drag it across your streaky windshield. On my recent trip we stayed in a small town for several days and used the only station available for several miles. That station didn’t have a wand or anything for cleaning the windows. When I ask the guy at the cash register, he said they no longer provide water or a wand for cleaning because people carry them off as fast as they put them out for use. This was in a station of a major oil company with xx in the name. The attendant wasn’t even friendly as he growled at me for asking the question.
My how things have changed. Maybe I wouldn’t be so upset if gas wasn’t three dollars a gallon vs. 16 cents when I got all that service.
I’m thankful to be back on the porch with a clean room and clear windows to view the serenity of the back yard. I love my clean restroom. There are no 18-wheelers bearing down on me and none of those orange cones and barrels lining the highway that is reduced to bowling lane size by concrete barriers. I can doze off in my rocker. That’s a practice that would be disastrous behind the wheel. It’s sure great to be home.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Even though much about Washington has changed since I lived there from 1968 thru 1972, some things remain the same. While living there, folks were demonstrating against the Viet Nam War and there were still some Civil Rights demonstrations. I stayed away from the mall during those times. It was the end of the time in which people dressed nicely. The demonstrators were scruffy, hippy types who looked unshaven, unwashed and clad in rags. During our recent visit we ran smack into a big anti-Iraq War demonstration. They were marching between the White House and the Capitol. I had been to those sites many times in previous years, so we just skirted around the periphery of the mob, but I got a good look at the participants. Later on, many of them came into Union Station where we had dinner. It’s the same group of young people mixed with a few pseudo-intellectual looking types who were demonstrating 35 years ago. None of them have ever seen a stick of deodorant. We rode on the metro with one of them and it took several stops, after his departure, before the odor cleared and people could breath again. The demonstrators all wear tee shirts with statements condemning the war are saying, Impeach Bush. The signs they carried made the same statements. Over half the signs read, Impeach Bush. Before my trip, I had turned against the war and had become disgusted with President Bush. After seeing this group I am moving back to the right.
I believe it’s the same people who are always demonstrating, no matter what the cause. They must live under the bridges near by and come out to march because they have nothing else to do. They are like cockroaches and rats, who come out when it’s dark and have a big time. I guess the Viet Nam and Civil Rights marches must have been effective, so maybe this latest bunch will succeed in getting us out of Iraq.
This week, across the ocean, another big demonstration is occurring. The Buddhist Monks are marching in Yangon, Myanmar. Myanmar was once Burma (shown on the above map). They gained their independence from the United Kingdom on Jan. 4, 1948. They are now governed by an oppressive military regime. This regime is a buddy with China. The Monks want freedom, so they are marching. The military authorities are hauling the monks away in trucks and these folks may never be seen again. It’s a little different than demonstrating in America.
I sure appreciate the guys whose homes I visited this week. People like Washington, Jefferson and Madison made it possible for us to demonstrate and say what we think about things. I do wish they would have included something in the Constitution about bathing and using deodorant before we picked up the signs and put on the tee shirts.
While sitting here doing nothing on the porch, I’m thinking about making a sign demanding fried chicken for dinner, then marching through the kitchen. On second thought, it’s probably just best to doze off again or I might end up like a Buddhist Monk.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

I have neglected the blog for a couple of weeks. We have been traveling. It was fun but very tiring for a person my age. We revisited some of the places in the Washington DC area, where we once lived and worked. We lived there 35 years ago, so many things were new to us. Even the metro was a new means of transportation; thank heavens. The FDR, Viet Nam, Korean War and World War II Memorials were new to us. The greatest change is at Mount Vernon. The leaning center at Mount Vernon is filled with great exhibits, movies and many other things telling a great story of Washington and the history of our country. I got a great personal tour of the Gettysburg battlefield and studied the battle in detail. I had been to Gettysburg many times before but it was nothing like the current visit. A real added attraction at Gettysburg is to tour the Eisenhower farm that is located next door.
One of my main reasons for visiting was to see the Museum of Civil War Medicine. That was worth the whole trip. We also revisited Monticello and re-experienced the great intellect of Thomas Jefferson. His home is like a trip into his mind. The tour guide even talked about Jefferson’s relationship with Sally Hemming. We also visited Andrew Jackson’s home, the Hermitage, for our fourth time. We learn something new with each visit. A new site for us was the Woodrow Wilson birthplace and museum in Staunton, Virginia. Wilson was truly a great President and we are just now beginning to appreciate how great.
The most striking thing about visiting all these places is the massive number of people who are out there. The greatest threat to the planet is not global warming but the population explosion. The sheer weight of the people and the vehicles on the road are going to sink us. When we lived in the DC area it was possible to drive up the Smithsonian or the Memorials and park in front. It is insane to drive a car into the area today. It’s like driving the bumper cars at a carnival. The guide at the Hermitage said it took Andrew Jackson four hours to make the trip to Nashville by horse and buggy. A few years ago it took about 10 or 15 minutes by car, now it is the same as in Jackson’s time because of the traffic. As you leave the Hermitage there are McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Lowe’s, Staples, Home Depot, etc., etc. I thought I was back in Temple. Every town in the US now looks the same. They have all lost their identity. We have become a uniculture. Fortunately, most of these historic sites are sequestered behind trees and protective fences that help preserve their identity to some extent.
I’m most happy to be back on the porch in Salado. I don’t plan to get into my car for several more days. As mentioned in my previous blog, one of the places I liked most was Eisenhower’s farm home (pictured above). He had a porch that was enclose, much like mine. He spent a great deal of time there, just admiring the quiet field and woods behind his home. I have come to admire Eisenhower even more because of his taste in porches

Monday, September 17, 2007

Have been traveling lately getting some great material for the blog. I love history and have revisited some of my favorite sites including many in the Washington DC area. The Viet Nam, Korean War, World War II and FDR Memorials were all new since we lived in Washington over 35 years ago. Revisited Gettysburg but this time got a personal guided tour of the battlefield which was great. Also, loved revisiting Andrew Jackson’s home; the Hermitage.
None of the areas I have visited is the most popular tourist site in America today. I read in the news today that one of the most popular tourist attractions is the restroom stall in the Minneapolis Airport where Senator Craig was recently nailed in the homosexual sting operation. People are apparently visiting there in droves and taking pictures of the famous stall. If you are visiting Minneapolis, it’s about the only thing to see other than the statue of Mary Tyler Moore. They do have a zoo, but you can only go there a couple of days out of the year because of the weather. The collapsed bridge is another attraction but it’s hard to get to because the road is closed and boat service is limited to cleanup operations.
As for me, I’m staying away from Minneapolis and restrooms stalls. I especially enjoyed visiting President Eisenhower’s farm home at Gettysburg. His favorite place in the world was his closed-in porch at the farm. He entertained some famous folks there, including Winston Churchill. I have never had anyone like that on my porch, but like Eisenhower I sure enjoy the solitude of the place. So far, it’s the best place I have seen in my travels.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Women are now doing many of the jobs once done only by men. If you look at TV news reporters, many of these are young, cute, blond females speaking very rapidly. They cover sports, weather, war and everything in between. Many other jobs are now performed by women. In medicine, over half of the students in medical schools are females. It’s great that women are now doing these jobs because there just aren’t enough males.
Where are all the males? If you have done any traveling recently the answer is readily apparent. They are all driving trucks. The interstate highways are a solid line of trucks. Most of these drivers are crazy. They are driving over the speed limit, tailgating and pushing the little guys off the road. It’s scary being out there with them. I’m thankful women haven’t taken over the trucking jobs, much of the population would be eliminated within a week. It would be worse than the war in Iraq.
With the expansion of the trucking industry there will undoubtedly be a shortage of males for the driving positions and women and children will have to fill the gap. The whole thing doesn’t look good for the tourist or other automobile travelers. Truckers were once known as the knights of the highway. They have gone to the dark side and are now the menace of the roads.
Even though my porch is over a mile from I 35 I can hear the constant hum of the trucks. There is no escaping the menace but I guess it is a necessary evil of our modern world.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

The media and others make fun of President Bush’s speeches. Bush looks great compared to Osama bin Laden. Have you heard the tape of his latest ramblings? How did he get to be a leader? Most elementary school kids could do better. The only thing he said which had any appeal to me was about taxes being insane. I can buy that one.
Osama looked like a mannequin. I’m not sure it was a real person talking. Those people could use some help with their technology. The TV image was one like I used to see when I was a kid. All us poor folks, in our small town, crowded around the TV on display at the local furniture store to see wrestling and good stuff like that. The images of Osama reminded me of those pictures.
At least Osama may have found the Fountain of Youth. It must be in Afghanistan rather than Florida. His beard had turned totally black. I guess he could be using some of that dye advertised on TV by those two announcers. All you can see of them is this incredibly black beard. Looks like they just painted their faces with shoe polish. The big black beard is all I could really make out about Osama’s features. I guess the Muslim virgins must think that is sexy. It looked kind of funny to me.
They say Christians, Jews, and Muslims have the same God. I don’t think so. I know that Osama and his bunch bow multiple times a day facing the East to pray to their God. I have a front and back porch at my home in Salado. The porches give me a view in most directions and I believe God hears me from any direction. Also, my thoughts about admission to the hereafter are based on a book, which says nothing about killing infidels as a requirement. It talks more about love and peace. Osama wanted us to convert to Islam. For now I’m very content with the way I believe and for my cathedral on the porch.
I am going to the store and get me some of that stuff those TV announcers use and that is probably the secret to Osam’a beard. My hair is almost white and could use some darkening. I don’t think I will use such a heavy application as Osama or the TV guys; the grandkids might laugh when they visit me on the porch.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Poor President Bush is becoming more addled all the time. Some of his recent problem may be jet lag. He has been flying around the world and is currently in Australia attending a meeting of APEC. This is the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation and consist of 21 leaders from the super powers. President Bush addressed them and called them OPEC, which is the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries. We are not even a member of that organization. OPEC is a group of 12 swarthies who hold us up with oil and APEC is a group of gluttons who consume it all. After Bush erroneously referred to APEC as OPEC he then made reference to the Austrian troops who are fighting with us rather than correctly saying the Australian troops. After his botched remarks were completed, he tried to exit the stage on the wrong side in a state of confusion. The comedians and Democrats are going to love this. I know Bush will be happy when his term is over, he can go to Crawford and hide under the sheets. His statement was probably some sort of Freudian slip when he referred to OPEC. The main thing on his mind is protecting our access to oil rather than talking about global warming.
I’m not sure much is going to come from the APEC meeting. They have given a strong statement about global warming and greenhouse gases. They said, “the world needs to slow, stop and then reverse the growth of global greenhouse gas emission.” It’s a great statement, but lacks teeth for implementation. It’s like folks attending church or praying to Allah. As soon as the service or prayer is over they are back doing their mean things to each other, like killing, stealing, adultery and the like.
Any action from APEC will probably make very little difference. It’s too late and we are hopelessly addicted to fossil fuels. So much of the global warming issue may be a myth and is more of a political football. Global warming is due to the increase in CO2 levels in the atmosphere. Man’s contribution to the levels of CO2 are only a small part of the equation. Water vapor is the biggest contributor. Methane is one of the major greenhouse gases. The excretions from a single cow, plus the contents of my ostomy bag are bigger offenders for the noxious gases than my car. The increase in CO2 is also, very likely a cyclic phenomenon and has been seen in the past. An interesting thing is that apparently the atmospheric temperature has not increased. The problem is more related to solar activity than anything else. There is scientific evidence to support the fact that increased CO2 levels may in fact promote plant growth, so we may not become a desert planet after all. We are exhausting our supply of fossil fuels and our dependence on this energy source needs to stop for this reason as much as the question of global warming. The world is going to stop unless something else is developed to power us, other than oil.
Anyway, on the porch here in Salado, I have noticed a few pecans beginning to fall from my tree, which is a hint that the seasons are about to change and we may in fact have another winter. I wish I had one of those polar bears, who are threatened with extinction. I would take good care of him. He could stay in my back yard and chase away some of the pesky deer who are eating all my plants.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

The ancient Greek philosopher Diogenes is said to have roamed the streets, carrying a lantern, in search of an honest man. He never found one. If a modern Diogenes went in search of a normal child he would have the same problem as with the honest man. There are none. At least that’s the way medicine seems to look at it.
Half the kids in school are labeled with ADD/ADHD, which means attention deficit hyperactive disorder. So many are on Ritalin, it would be more convenient for everyone if the drug could be dispensed from vending machines.
A recent study shows a huge increase in cases of bipolar disorder or manic depression. The study showed there has been a 40 fold increase in the disorder. The drug companies are going to love this.
Everyday there is new study showing an increase in some medical or psychiatric disorder. For some time now we have been hearing about the obesity epidemic and the increasing incidence of diabetes. TV is always showing fat kids waddling around the playground or in the cafeteria line.
The few kids left are threatened with all sorts of deadly problems that will eliminate them from the planet. Junk food is one of the biggest problems. The Chinese are also doing their best to polish kids off with lead paint and other lethal things associated with toys.
A study this week revealed that fumes from microwave popcorn with butter flavor can injure your lungs. What’s next? Put a Popsicle in your mouth and you explode.
Huck Finn was very lucky in many ways. He may have been the last normal boy. Even though he was unwashed and underfed he had many advantages. There were very few doctors doing studies, so they could get more grant money for more studies, in order to make a living. Huck had a pure heart and was one of the most independent individuals who ever lived. He didn’t have to adhere to the rigorous schedules most kids do today. He was not subjected to all the external stimuli found in today’s world. No wonder today’s kids are nervous and going crazy; their nervous systems are continually agitated by TV violence and Nintendo games. The star they admire most in a movie is an explosion.
It would be great if kids were allowed a little Huck Finn time in their busy schedules.
I think my grandchildren are pretty normal and of course very special. I just wish they could stay on the porch with me so I could protect them. I would give them good food and not let them eat the paint off their toys. They wouldn’t inhale the fumes from the microwave popcorn. We would keep the TV to a minimum and there would be a lot of outdoor activity that I could observe from the porch so I could protect them from the grasp of a child molester. Of greatest importance, I would keep them away from doctors who might want them entered into study. A study might find out they were being bored to death.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

The big item in the news this past week was the sex sting operation in a Minneapolis airport resulting in the arrest of Idaho Senator Larry Craig. This led to the Senator’s resignation. His resigning was probably the best thing for the Republican Party. It will save them from a long drawn out hearing on the matter.
What impressed me about the whole thing was the sting operation itself. I have heard of some bad jobs but to be a policeman sitting in a stall waiting for some weirdo to proposition you for a homosexual affair tops the list. That has to be one of the worse jobs around.
The above picture of armpit smellers is a pretty bad job. I guess these folks must work for a deodorant company and are testing out the product. The cop’s job has got to be even worse.
As a radiologist, I enjoyed my job through the years. There were a few unpleasant aspects such as doing barium enemas. Gastroenterologist have a similar task of placing tubes in rectums all day. These jobs, if taken out of context, are a little perverted and gross, but the cop has us beat.
I’m going to watch myself in restrooms more closely. I have an ostomy bag and have to visit stalls fairly frequently. Just this weekend we were in a nice restaurant where I visited the restroom. Luckily there was only one stall and I was the only one in the restroom. The toilet paper holder was one of those modern, fancy kind which has an open end on the spool holder. As I extracted a piece of tissue the whole roll came off the spool, hit the floor and headed under the partition. I grabbed for it. As my hand went under the partition, I thought of Senator Craig and prayed no one else had entered the room to think I was soliciting sex. I was lucky. I was still alone. I got out of there as quickly as possible because I thought there might be a hidden camera somewhere. I explained everything to my wife who knows I am harmless and not a homosexual or even a dirty old man.
That’s one of the nice things about the porch in Salado, there are no police stings and no weirdos. I am still a little worried if there might have been a camera in the restroom and after reviewing it the owners may notify the police who will send a swat team to surround the porch. So far everything has been quiet as usual.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

After reading Zane Grey’s, “George Washington Frontiersman,” I wanted to read a more scholarly account of the father of our country. I just finished,” His Excellency George Washington” by Joseph Ellis. This excellent biography was published three years ago and I was long overdue reading this most interesting work. Ellis is an excellent writer and a well know historian. He won a Pulitzer Prize for “Founding Brothers” and the National Book Award for his biography of Thomas Jefferson,”American Sphinx.”
When I lived in the Washington DC area we frequented all the historical sites. The Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials are filled with quotations from these great men. The Washington Monument was just a very tall brick structure towering over everything else with no quotes. Washington wasn’t known for any famous speeches or documents, he was not an intellectual and certainly not a military genius like Alexander or Caesar. He was not a star in any of the areas that make an individual great, yet he stood out over all the rest. He had his critics, especially when the war drug on for eight long years. He lost more battles than he won. Today’s media would probably have killed him. What was his secret and why was he such a success? George Washington had character and always did what was right for our fledgling nation. He stuck with it through thick or thin. It was like he took his orders from on high and was not swayed by public opinion. Fortunately, we didn’t have TV and movie stars in those days to belittle his actions. He was the American Revolution and it is doubtful we would have succeeded without someone of his character and inner strength. It was as if Washington had been sent to earth from on high to carry out an important mission. Ellis does not glorify him but beautifully describes this great man in his book.
Each phase of Washington’s life is well covered. He didn’t chop down a cheery tree and confess to the crime as every school kid thinks and he didn’t throw a silver dollar across the Potomac River. As a young man, he surveyed much of the land in the Shenandoah and Ohio River Valley and was somewhat of a frontiersman but not of the caliber portrayed in Zane Grey’s novel. He did love Sally Fairfax but came out just fine with the widow, Martha Custis. He was a good businessman and developed the inherited Mount Vernon into a meg-plantation. He did not die poor, as many believe. He became famous during the French and Indian War without winning a battle.
Washington didn’t say much in public debates and was always ashamed of his lack of formal education. Everyone recognized that what he said and did was the right thing, and he emerged as the undisputed leader of our young nation. He could probably have been King rather than President, but a Monarchy was what he had struggled against and he wasn’t about to fall into the same trap again.
He failed to resolve the issue of the Indians, as he would have desired, in a way that would have been fair to them. He was also unable to settle the problem of slavery, but did free his slave when he died.
George Washington wanted to build a Union and was at odds with people like Jefferson and Madison. Jefferson was brilliant but a jerk and in my opinion would deserve the label of the “Father of Partisan Politics.”
Washington had bad teeth and didn’t have a flashy smile. He probably wouldn’t even get a TV interview today and I’m sure the media would make fun of him. Even though he was known as the “Father of our Country”, he was probably sterile. He and Martha had no children of their own; only hers from the previous marriage.
Anyway, this is a must read about the great man and the founding of our country. In the presidential rank list, Washington should be number one; he set the standard for everyone else to follow. The current presidential candidates make me nervous. They all have a toothy smile but they are sure no George Washington. The book made life on the porch interesting last week and was a welcome break from Senator Craig and his restroom behavior.