Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about my little hometown. The place I knew died in the 1960’s. My best memories are during the war and the few years after. In a recent blog I described the courthouse. Right off the square was a little newsstand filled with comic books. That’s were I learned to read. The owner was very kind to me and never made me leave as I sat around and read his merchandise. He seemed content for me to just buy one comic for 10 cents. I was also big into trading comics with friends. Wish I had hung on to some of those first editions of Superman and Batman. I would now be a wealthy guy.

Around the square, and extending for several blocks in all directions, were the most beautiful sidewalks in the world. They were lined with crepe myrtles and were great bike riding paths. We never stepped on a crack for fear it would break your mothers back.

We had two movie theaters. One showed mostly westerns, Tarzan movies and the like. That movie had the great serials, cartoons and a newsreel showing war scenes. Some of the fantastic serials shown each week were: Batman, The Lone Ranger, Red Ryder, Captain Marvel, Superman, Zorro, Dick Tracy and Nyoka the Jungle Girl. The other movie theater showed love stories, musicals and that kind of stuff. We called them picture shows rather than movies. It only cost 9 cents for admission and there were no times posted about when the feature stared. You just went in when it was convenient, and sat through the movie as long as you liked. There was a place in front of the theaters where you parked your bike and never thought about locking it.

It was a time when people seemed to care more for one another. Doctors even made house calls. Preachers would actually visit in your home. We had porches, that were mainly a place for visiting the neighbors and friends, and to escape to a cooler place because there was no air conditioning.

It was also a time when most of the stores had the most recent funeral notice at the cash register. These notices were a sheet of paper with a short obituary and notification of the death and funeral arrangements for one of our citizens. Often, stores would even close at the time of the funeral. Most of the time I didn’t even know the person, but we always honored the dead.

It’s a sad thing to see the hometown today. Most of the stores are boarded up and the movies have been closed for years. They now have these multiple theater complexes with 12 or more movies going at once. You wouldn’t dare let a kid ride a bike to the movie. The bike would be stolen and the kid molested. At least I now have my porch, but the neighbors are all shut in their houses, watching TV or staying cool, and we never get to visit. I’m glad some of the old movies are now out on DVD. I’ll just plug one of those in and ride my exercise bike.

Monday, April 28, 2008

The Reverend Jeremiah Wright is at it again. He was quiet for a few days but his tongue is now unleashed and he is digging a deeper hole for Barack Obama. He is on a speaking tour and claims that the African–American Churches are misunderstood by the whites, that have a different culture. He claims he owes no one an apology because the whites have not apologized for slavery and racism.

It seems that he is just stirring the pot of racism and driving Obams’s white supporters toward Clinton and McCain. The polls are already showing that Clinton would do better against McCain than Obama. The Democrats are just shooting themselves in the foot with this whole affair. I haven’t heard about Ralph Nader since he threw his hat in the ring, but he may turn out to be our best candidate.

It’s unfortunate that preachers, black or white, use the pulpit for purposes other than religion. I always thought that the main purpose of church was to worship God, to praise him and to learn how we can best serve and follow him. In the Christian church, Jesus is the main topic of discussion. I hope that Rev. Wright mentions Jesus from time to time and not just dwell on how badly America has treated the blacks.

Even the Pope, on his recent visit to the US, seemed to dwell more on the misbehavior of the priests and the sex scandals rather than talk about Jesus. At least that’s the way the press made it sound.
The weird Mormon polygamist bunch in San Angelo seem to have emphasized their multiple sex partners and teenage sexual activities rather than the Jesus they are suppose to worship. I haven’t heard anything about God or Jesus from that bunch. This again, may be the press speaking.

So, the Reverend Jeremiah Wright is not alone in preaching and emphasizing issues that seem to have little to do with God. The membership in the Christian churches has declined and it’s easy to understand why. The Baptist now seem to be more concerned with the type service that is most appealing and the kind of music to sing. The Catholics are mad and scared of the priest. The Jews have been very quiet lately and must be preparing to defend themselves against the Muslims. The Muslims are busy bad- mouthing everyone else and threatening to chop the heads off all us infidels. The most sacred and reverent place I can now find is my porch.

Friday, April 25, 2008

With the recent death of my brother-in-law and the confinement of my sister to a nursing home, we have helped sort through their belongings before an estate sale and putting their house on the market. The process has probed into my earliest memories. Pictures and other family memorabilia take me back to an earlier time. It was certainly a simpler time filled with fond memories, even though we were recovering from a depression and involved in a world war.

Things have sure changed. The business section of my small town of Conroe was a square built around the courthouse that stood right in the middle. The courthouse is pictured above. It had a beautiful lawn, where everyone gathered on the evening when the local election returns were posted. The kids had a grand time running around, hiding in the shrubs and just romping. The courthouse was also the gathering place for political rallies or when a rare celebrity appeared. It was packed the time Lyndon Johnson was running for Senator and flew in on a helicopter. It was my first time to see a helicopter and the thing landed right there on the lawn. An equally large crowd gathered when the western movie star, Wild Bill Elliott, came to town.

The courthouse was built in the early 1930’s, when my father was a county commissioner. His name is displayed on a plaque in the building, and he always considered it as one of his greatest accomplishments. This is the courthouse for Montgomery County, named for Andrew Montgomery, my great grandfather who fought in the battle of San Jacinto. The courthouse was a thing of beauty, as the above photo clearly shows. It had a big clock in the center of the top of the building, and an American flag adorned the summit. The top floor was also the county jail, and you might occasionally hear the hollering of a prisoner, unhappy with his confinement.

The courthouse and the lawn don’t look anything like they did when I was a kid. Ugly extensions have been added, so there is nothing even faintly resembling the original building. The lawn has been replaced with the extensions. The businesses on the square are now in decay and boarded. Long gone are the 5&10 cent stores, drugs stores, cafes, ice cream parlor, dry good stores and the bank. Everything has been replaced by the Wal-Mart’s and Target’s of the world, that are located on the outskirts of a town, that has been raped by progress.

For now, I will just have to sit on the porch, and admire the old pictures, and be comforted by my memories. I have to interrupt my reminiscing, a little while this afternoon, to do some shopping. I plan to drive to our new outdoor mall and visit Best Buy to look at some mini speakers for my iPod and check out the plasma screen TVs. There is a Home Depot next door, so I can just drop over and pick up some filters for the air conditioners. My partner reminded me, before I come home to go thru the drive-in-window at McDonalds and pickup a couple of their Asian Salads, with grilled chicken, and Newmans Own Low Fat Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing. She also reminded me to keep my cell phone on, in case she needed to call for me to pick up some additional items at Wal-Mart that she may have forgotten on her shopping trip earlier in the day. I had better drive the SUV to hold all the stuff I plan to purchase. I love that SUV because of the satellite radio stations. Radio reminds of the old times.

Monday, April 21, 2008

We have seen all seven segments of the TV miniseries, “John Adams”, based on the book by David McCullough. It was great. John Adams was a great man. He was a short, bald, rotund, feisty kind of guy who may have been easy to dislike. He was very articulate and spoke his mind about matters. Oddly enough, he successfully defended the British soldiers involved in the Boston Massacre. He finally got his fill of the British and was the most outspoken delegate at the Continental Congress to rally us to Revolution. He was on the committee to draft the Declaration of Independence. Although Jefferson did the writing, Adams was the spokesman for independence and the architect of the revolution. He didn’t like his role as ambassador to England or as Vice President. As president his views were controversial and he became at odds with his friend Thomas Jefferson. Adams was a Federalist and supported a strong central government but he even had strong disagreements with his Federalist colleagues like Alexander Hamilton. Adams was opposed to taking sides with France or England in their disputes and even disbanded our army, which infuriated Hamilton. Adams was a brilliant man whose greatest advisor was his equally brilliant wife, Abigail.

As an old man, he was ask to view the famous painting, of the Signing of the Declaration of Independence by John Trumbell, that now hangs in the Rotunda of the US Capitol. The picture shows the committee who wrote the document presenting it to the president of the Continental Congress, John Hancock. The members of the committee standing before Hancock are Jefferson, Adams, Roger Sherman and Benjamin Franklin. 42 of the signers are seated along with 5 other patriots. A close look at the painting shows Adams standing on Jefferson’s foot.

Adams didn’t like the painting because he said it was inaccurate. No such scene took place. The delegates were wandering in and out and never assembled like shown in the painting. Adams claimed that the real history of what happened is lost, as is so much of history. Adams is sure right about the accounts of history. The news media and those who record the events in retrospect, distort the true facts. The facts are subject to individual interruption by those doing the recording and are filled with biases and personal opinion. We can’t even get the straight facts about what happened yesterday. Major events like the Holocaust are now claimed by some to have never occurred. There are multiple versions of the details surrounding the assassinations of Kennedy and Martin Luther King.

I just wrote the obituary of my brother-in-law and the facts surrounding his life where hard to obtain and the information from various sources was conflicting. It’s hard to get the correct facts about almost anything. As I sit on the porch and watch my tomatoes grow and observe the habits of the deer that roam my back yard, I am keeping a daily record. I sure want to have the facts straight for my defense when I finally have to shoot one of those creatures for eating my tomato plants. Right now, for me, that is even more important than the Declaration of Independence.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

I surrender!! I guess there is no choice for president except Obama. Today, the famous rock star, Bruce Springsteen endorsed him. That endorsement clenches it for me. How can you argue with a backing like that? Oprah also has me convinced because what she says is always right. Oprah, of course, is a big advocate of the New Age Movement. Obama is most likely the Messiah of the New Age.

We certainly have change awaiting us. Christian churches are down the tube as well as the American flag. If Obama isn’t elected then we will likely have a race war or the American cities will be burned to the ground. So, we have no choice. Convert to Islam; do away with the American flag and all things American. Disband the military and destroy all nuclear weapons.

I’m glad I revisited Washington DC a few months ago to again see the memorials and the Smithsonian. All these structures can be bulldozed. Sure hate to see the new museum at Mount Vernon go, it was full of great exhibits about our history and the American Revolution. It’s time for a new revolution and one is which the Muslim, Blacks and minorities will triumph. At least, there will no longer be an oil shortage; there will be no need for it.

I have always refused to believe in a conspiracy theory, but now I suspect there is a group of powerful folks plotting a new world order. Celebrities and candidates like Obama lead us down their chosen path. Folks like Oprah and Bruce Springsteen are major disciples. Bush may have even been a pawn in the new order. He got us into a war that is impossible to win and set our economy into a downward spiral and a perfect setup for the Triumph of The New Age and the election of Obama. Democrats may think they have regained the White House but it may be something much more sinister which they have yet to recognize.

Praise Allah and kill the infidels. I did have a picture on the porch of Jesus knocking at the door and another of him praying in the Garden of Gethsemane. I am having it replaced with one of Mohammad poised over a knelling Jesus whose head is placed over a block waiting beheading. Moses is in line to be next. The other thing interesting about my picture is that Mohammad has an unidentified man, which he doesn’t see, representing the New Age Movement, standing behind him with a large knife ready to thrust into his back. Weird stuff, but possibly true. Welcome to the Age of Aquarius and the New Age.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

One of the great discoveries in medicine was made in France. The Germ Theory of Disease was credited to Louis Pasteur. This discovery has saved countless millions of lives. This was the last significant advance in medicine to come out of France and that was in the late 1800’s.

This week, France has made another great advance. Parliament has adopted a bill making it illegal for anyone to publicly incite extreme thinness. This means that the fashion magazines and other media can’t advertise all that diet stuff or they will be breaking the law. France is trying to prevent anorexia. It has gotten real bad over there. France has always been the pacesetter for clothes and fashion and it is the place to go to achieve success as a model. I don’t think these girls eat anything. One web site, in France, advocates eating only an apple a day. All this is interesting from a country that invented great cooking. There is an old story about a chef taking a leather glove and preparing it with all their fancy sauces and everyone thought it was the greatest thing they had ever eaten. Maybe that’s what the models are eating over there.

I’m glad that someone in the world is not going to bash fat and turn their attention to the skinny folks. France is not doing too badly with their life expectancy in site of the fact that they all smoke and drink like fish. The overall life expectancy in France is 79.6 years compared to 77.71 in the US. We are both a lot better off than Afghanistan, where it is 42.9 years. In some African countries it is in the 30s.

This week another medical warning was issued. Alcohol is reported to increase breast cancer risk by 30%. Alcohol is supposed to offer some protection for cardiovascular disease, so we just can’t win. Don’t tell the women in France about this latest warning. Most of the French live on alcohol rather than water. It seems like they would be consumed with breast cancer, but, interestingly enough, the incidence there is about the same as in the US.

Anyway, I’m happy that the French are going to direct their attention to bashing the thin folks and leave the fatties alone. I’m thinking of moving to France. It wouldn’t be bad having a porch in the south of France overlooking the Mediterranean. I could sip on wine all day, and snack on French food as I watched the sea. I might even see some of those topless girls who may look even better when they get a little fat covering their rib cage.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

I have a small crystal ball I keep on my desk as a conversational piece. I gaze into it frequently in an attempt to see something in the future. It has never worked for me. I guess you have to be a card-carrying magician for it to work. I recently used it in a speech I made to illustrate about looking into the future.

If I had it all to do over again I may have chosen to be a magician. I recently saw a movie about an illusionist and it was great. I also recently saw a super magic show in Branson by Kirby the Prince of Magic. He made tigers and beautiful girls appear and disappear on stage, and a lot of other incredible stuff. It would have been a lot of fun being a magician.

If I could have made the crystal ball work when I was a kid I might have also chosen the battery business as my career. When I was growing up the only batteries were those big ones, size D, that were used to power a flashlight. Usually only two were required for the flashlight. Now the world runs on batteries. There is AAA, AA, C, D and every other letter in the alphabet.

When I was a kid, toys ran with human power; now they are all battery operated. It is rare for toys to come with batteries and a hand full must be purchased, which cost almost as much as the toy. If the toy has any batteries in the box it is usually the cheap kind made in China that are poisonous and last about 30 seconds. All phones are now battery operated. The cheap plastic phones used in the house with all the buttons for call waiting etc. are stuffed with batteries and cell phones use the kind that must be constantly charged. A relative was talking to me this week when the battery power on their phone started to weaken and we had to end the conversation. That may not be altogether bad and a good way to end a winded conversation. Of course, our other brain, the computer, operates on batteries. Virtually everything we use is sucking power and the battery is the main source.

If I could have seen the future of batteries when I was a kid, I would have chosen either the manufacture or sell of these masters of our life. I could have started my own company like a Duracell and been a zillionaire.

As I am typing on my computer, I remembered that the mouse and keyboard I am using are wireless, but guess what? They are battery operated. I walk to the porch and push the remote to activate the TV and guess what? It is operated by batteries. These devices are running low on power and after I figure out how to open the battery compartment on the back I will find out that they are either AAA or AA and I’m out of that size. I never have the correct size. I started buying batteries by the bulk but they seem to disappear as rapidly as I bring them into the house. It’s another trip to the store before I can get in contact with the rest of the world and settle back into my remote controlled, battery-operated environment on the porch.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

The recent death and illness of my brother-in-law highlights recent evidence about the high cost of care for Medicare recipients in the last years of their lives. He broke his hip in November and has been in the hospital, rehab or a nursing home since the incident occurred. His recent care in a nursing home and hospice care in California cost over $300 a day.

The cost of care for the last two years of life for a chronically ill Medicare recipient varies considerably with location. Those who are chronically ill are those with cancer, kidney failure, heart disease etc.. The overall average cost for the last two years of life in these folks is $46,412. It can be as much as $81,143 in Manhattan vs. $29,116 in Dubuque Iowa. New York, New Jersey and California are the highest and places like Utah and Oregon are the lowest. These figures represent Medicare cost and are only part of the expense. The cost for things like Medicaid and long term nursing care are additional huge expenses. Hospitalization is the killer on the expense. The average length of stay in the hospital in New York is 34.9 days vs. 10.6 days in Oregon.

With the incredible cost of healthcare, that is going to get much worse, and the expense of the war and other lavish government spending, I shutter to think of the debt my grandchildren are faced with. The other problem is there are a decreasing number of workers paying into the system to fund Social Security, Medicare and all these costly programs.

Not only is the expense bad, but the care is even worse. One of the main problems is getting decent help in nursing homes. More and more people are getting long term care insurance and the age of the population is increasing dramatically. There is going to be an incredible demand for nursing home service with no one to deliver it. In the case of my brother-in-law the family delivered most of the care rather than the nursing staff. You get much better service in a motel and he was paying five star hotel rates.

The care by the physicians is even worse. They are inaccessible and the nurses are reluctant to call them. The days of the family doc sitting by the bedside of a dying person are long gone. The family doc couldn’t do anything for the dying patient, but the modern physician does very little more. At least the family doc provided an ear with tender loving care.

I hope I am able to die quietly on the porch with my brain intact. Other options I’m considering are checking into a motel or a cruise ship on a long-term basis.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

The blog has been silent for a couple of days. The death of a close family member took the wind from beneath the sails. My brother-in-law was like a second father. He taught me the art of hitting and catching a baseball, how to shot a gun, how to plant a garden, how to raise pigs and chickens and the importance of work. Most of all he taught me the importance of being a responsible person.

With the death of someone like this, I am reminded of the introduction in Hemingway’s book “For Whom the Bell Tolls.” The introduction is from a poem by John Donne. “ No man is an Island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the Continent, a part of the main; if a Clod be washed away by the Sea; Europe is the less. Any mans death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee.

The death of my brother-in-law certainly diminishes my life. He was a part of me. So as the bell tolls for his death it also tolls for me.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Lately. I have been doing a lot of yard work. For the last three years we have gone organic in fertilizing the yard. I put lava sand, Texas green sand, dried molasses, cornmeal and organic fertilizer on a couple of times a year. This year I added a load of topsoil and turkey manure. Everything is growing like wild. It works great.

We have a herd of deer that live in the neighborhood and they have consumed many of the plants and shrubs in the yard. I have spent a great deal of time on the internet reading about deer resistant plants, since it’s against the law for me to shoot them. I now have a yard of, so called, deer resistant plants. Many of these are herbs. My partner and I have planted a nice herb garden in the yard and decorated it with rocks interspersed with the plants. It looks and smells great. Things like rosemary, English lavender, thyme, and chives are very aromatic and I sure hope are offensive to the deer. I also planted a lot of sage, verbena, lambs ear, Asian jasmine, liriope and other plants deer are supposed to hate.

I love a vegetable garden, but so do the deer. I couldn’t resist planting some tomatoes and peppers. I have set these out in large buckets next to the house, so, hopefully, the deer wouldn’t be bold enough to sample the goodies. I have 12 tomato plants that are growing nicely. The buckets for the plants cost 8 dollars each. I bought some, sturdy, metal stakes for $1.70 each. I used a rich mixture of potting soil and a garden mix I purchased from the nursery for the plants. This mixture added several dollars to the cost. I also feed the plants with an expensive, potent fertilizer so they are now stronger than the adjacent stakes A bottle of spray for setting the tomato blossom and promoting growth of a succulent morsel of fruit cost $10.00. I keep a very close eye on the plants from the porch, and water them dutifully every day. I figure that each tomato will cost me about $100 if they make it. If the deer eat any, then I ‘m bringing out the rifle. I’m keeping an accurate record of all my expenses, which I plan to use in my defense if I am arrested for shooting the deer.

My personal problem is not with terrorist and the Muslims but with the deer. I wish homeland security would come to my rescue. If they do throw me in jail for killing a deer and protecting my property, it may not be so bad. With the way the economy is going and the price of everything increasing, I figure jail may be a good alternative to the porch. I simply can’t afford the porch any longer. With Obama as president he will release all the bad, black guys and gays in prison so it may not be such a bad place. I would like to go to one of those nice Federal prisons, like where Martha Stewart did her time. They have parties and everything. Well, wish me luck with the tomatoes.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Here we go again. Like I said in my most recent blog, nothing is safe. It’s also hard to believe the doctors. Recommendations and what seemed to be time honored rules change almost daily.

This week it was announced that the popular asthma and allergy medicine, Singulair, may cause people to commit suicide. 31 million prescriptions of this drug were written last year. Our own pharmaceutical industry is trying to outdo the Chinese in thinning the US population. This drug is a popular commercial on TV. They are going to change it to show a person popping a pill with a gun to their head. Swallow and pull the trigger.

Other great news from the drug world is that the cholesterol lowering drugs, Vytorin and Zetia, have been proven to be ineffective. It is now being recommended to go back to the more proven and time honored statin agents such as Lipotor and Zocor.

Some other interesting recommendations came out this week. Cardiologist are now recommending doing away with the mouth to mouth stuff when resuscitating someone. Thank God for that one. It’s never a pretty girl you are called on to save but some nasty looking person with a sewer mouth or AIDS. The technique now involves giving 100 pushes on the chest per minute until the paramedics or a defibrillator arrives.

Cardiologist are now saying it’s okay to do angioplasties and stents to open the clogged coronaries of patients in small hospitals just like in the big centers that have backup heart surgery available. I hope this is not a recommendation that is based on the fact that there are now so many cardiologist they are looking to do work in any setting. Pretty soon they will be like the doc in the box or even offering the service at Wal-Mart while you are waiting in the checkout line.

As for me, I’m staying on the porch on my pure tap water diet. I have taken a thyroid pill and a low dose of a beta blocker for years but now am considering giving these up. In the meantime, we have no loaded guns in the house or other means to dispose of myself. I don’t smoke or drink and am eating a diet of no food to avoid getting cancer, heart disease and all the other diseases. Life is so much fun when you are safe and secure.

Last week we went with one of our talented granddaughters to A&M where she was recognized for winning an essay contest. We had a great dinner and she received a nice prize. Naturally, we were very proud of her. The essay was about nutrition and the guest speaker for the evening was a world expert on obesity and nutrition. Some of the statistics about the obesity epidemic were very frightening, especially since I am one of the victims.

This expert believes that obesity is a disease and not entirely related to food intake. He has rats in his lab that eat the same thing and some are fat and others thin. Some folks are just susceptible to developing obesity and diabetes. He then warned of all the bad foods we need to avoid even if we are not susceptible to obesity. That part of his talk was real scary. Just about everything we eat is bad. Sugar is the big killer, especially fructose. He went on and on about how bad fructose is.

Everything is full of fructose. This is only one of the sugars. Another famous sugar is sucrose, which is a little tougher to metabolize and doesn’t cause as many problems. Fructose is found in most soft drinks as well as fruit drinks. It occurs naturally in many foods such as berries, melons, honey and fruits. It is also found in many vegetables such as beets and sweet potatoes.

The liver metabolizes fructose quickly and everything else shuts down to get fructose through the system and make us fat. It is more likely to cause obesity than the other sugars. It is also more likely to produce tooth decay and hyperactivity in kids than the other sugars.

It seems that just about everything we eat is bad for us. Meat, of course, is now forbidden. If it doesn’t elevate your cholesterol it will kill you with e-coli. Fresh spinach and other leafy vegetables are covered in e-coli. Even those grown in the US are unsafe. Naturally, everything we get from China is tainted with some sort of toxin. Just about all of our medications, including vitamins have been implicated for causing all sorts of problems such as cancer, heart disease and everything in between including suicide.

Nothing is safe. I suggest they put the skull and crossbones poison label on the door of all grocery stores and all medicine bottles. The Surgeon General warns that all foods and medicines are bad for your health and can kill you. I am now only drinking water as I sit on the porch. I am getting weaker every day. The nutrition expert even badmouthed bottled water so I am drinking this hard stuff out of the tap in Salado. Maybe I will die of starvation before my kidneys turn to stone.