Sunday, September 26, 2010

I have aways enjoyed reading about people who are suggested recipients of the Darwin Award. These are folks who have performed some idiotic act that resulted in their demise and thus removed themselves from the gene pool of idiots.

A similar award should be made for those who do an idiotic act but live to continue to fill the gene pool with more idiots. A perfect example occurred this week. A burglar who was robbing a WalMart escaped and when the police were in pursuit he hid in a dumpster. A trash truck came just as he was secure in his hiding place and emptied the contents of the dumpster, including the burglar, where it was compacted. The idiot survived, but was fairly compressed as they loaded him on to a stretcher for a trip to the hospital. This award should probably just be called Idiots Award, because these folks survive and continue to multiply to fill the world with more idiots.

I have a lot of recommendations for this award. Many of them are associated with the government and those who make up some of the rules we must live with. A recent example related to my wives refill for a medicine. She had been suffering from a bout of asthma. The doctor prescribed an inhalant with some steroid that was very effective in stopping the asthma. He wanted her to get it refilled and continue the treatment for another month. We were scheduled to be on a trip when the refill came due in about five days. We were refused the refill because we were on Medicare and could not be given the medication in advance, even though we were going to be out of the state. Our only option was to go without the medicine and hope for the best. If the asthma returned, while we were away, this would have required a trip to an unknown doctor and emergency room with a resultant $2000 charge. That makes a lot of sense. The government pays this extra charge and still pays for the $50 Rx. I know some of the rules are to curb fraud and abuse, but there is something called common sense especially since I was well know to the pharmacy.

As Obamacare kicks in we are going to encounter more and more rules made up by a larger army of idiots. The next thing we will be hearing is that the medication we needed is not available for those over a certain age. That’s called rationing. The whole thing is scary. Even the porch is not a safe haven from the hoards of idiots who control our lives.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

This week we had a beautiful celestial event. It was a Harvest Moon and Jupiter was exceptionally bright. The Harvest Moon is a full moon that occurs nearest the autumnal equinox. That occurred this week on Wednesday night. Jupiter was very bright because it was nearer the earth than it has been in years.

Every time I see the beautiful night sky with the millions of stars I think about how all this was created. I also think about what Huck Finn and Jim had to say about the stars as they viewed them from their raft floating down the Mississippi. Huck judged that they just happened and Jim allowed they were made and that the moon could have laid them. Huck figured it would have taken too long to make them but finally concluded that Jim may be right and they could have been made because he had seen a frog lay almost that many eggs.

Science and the Bible are at odds regarding the creation and Huck and Jim are about as logical as many theologians and scientist. Faith is a big factor when considering such hefty subjects. I heard the other day that it takes more faith to believe it just happened than if the universe and stars were created. It does take a huge stretch of the imagination to believe that a few gases came out of nowhere and all the complex things of the universe just happened. Just considering the autumnal equinox is pretty phenomenal. A little more tilt of the earth or a shorter or greater distance from the Sun would make life unsustainable on the planet.

So, like Jim, I think the stars were made. I believe the time to make them is what causes us confusion. God’s watch doesn’t run like ours. The song Amazing Grace makes an important statement when speaking about the hereafter, “we’ve no less days to sing God’s praise that when we first begun.” So, the human and heavenly clocks measure time differently and Huck would be happy to know that the stars could have been made, it just took a long time.

I have written about these matters before but the creation is a timeless subject and one that gets a lot of consideration on the porch. The porch is a lot like the raft of Huck and Jim. It’s a peaceful place that allows you to think about such things as the creation, especially when you are looking at the Harvest Moon.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

In the last blog I wrote about the various cover ups by American Presidents, especially related to health. I was a little harsh on President Eisenhower who was one of our greatest Presidents. His greatness is often overlooked because the nation was at peace and it was a calm eight years for the American people. The time was like that after a major hurricane. The major hurricane had been WWII.

Eisenhower was a true American hero. He wasn’t the flamboyant, showy type like Patton or McArthur. He wasn’t a military genius or great strategist but his ability to get along with people like Churchill, Montgomery and de Gaulle made him a great leader and able to carry out the greatest invasion in the history of warfare. The invasion of Europe at Normandy on D-Day was the deciding blow that defeated Nazis Germany.

After the war he was so popular he was elected President and it really didn’t matter to him about politics, Republican or Democrat. That’s probably what I liked about him the most.

Eisenhower is largely responsible for our interstate highway system. He ended the Korean War. He addressed the issue of Civil Rights by sending troops to escort black kids into the Little Rock High School. Some say he was not aggressive enough with Civil Rights. He started the Space Program as a response to Sputnik. He built a superior nuclear arsenal so that we were able to negotiate from a position of strength against the communist threat.

Things were so peaceful when he was in office people almost fell asleep with boredom. Ike was overshadowed by the charismatic young Senator from Mass. Folks wanted this bright young man who promised change and for the torch to be passed to a new generation. Kennedy’s image was the main thing that defeated Eisenhower’s vice-president, Richard Nixon.

My, how I long for those tranquil and boring days of Ike. It was a time when people took pride in their appearance, were generally courtesy and civil to one another, were responsible, loyal and took pride in their work. People were even honored to serve in the military. Now days we pay lip service to the military by placing little yellow bows on our cars and singing their praises over the internet, but no middle class person and above wants their offspring in the military.

So a little cover up by Ike regarding his heart problem is okay. I’m glad he was President and most of all that he saved us from the horror of living under Hitler. I’m putting up a picture of Ike on the porch to replace the one of Marilyn Monroe, which reminds me of JFK.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

One of my interest, and the subject of several talks, has been the Health and Deaths of US Presidents. The more I have pursued this subject the more I have become aware of cover-ups by our Presidents, especially related to matters of health. This first became apparent to me, years ago, when I was in the army at Walter Reed Hospital. Eisenhower died while I was there and I viewed a post-mortem X-Ray of his heart that showed marked calcification of his heart muscle indicating long standing coronary artery disease. Eisenhower is documented to have had his first heart attack in 1955 but this was downplayed by the media. He subsequently had a total of seven heart attacks and heroic measures were made to keep him alive for the last ten months of his life at Walter Reed Hospital. The public knew little about all this. His first heart attack may have been as early as 1947 before he was President and we knew nothing about that. I have spoken to the archivist at the Eisenhower Library and his early medical records, before 1955, have mysteriously disappeared and there is also no record of his autopsy report.

Many presidents have covered up their medical problems as well as other things, like affairs and scandals. Chester A. Arthur had chronic renal disease and the public knew nothing about his illness, which caused him not to seek a second term. Grover Cleveland had a secret operation on his yacht for a tumor in the roof of his mouth for which a rubber prosthesis was inserted and the public knew noting about this. Woodrow Wilson was the biggest health cover up President. Wilson had a massive stroke that paralyzed the left side of his body. His wife covered for him and took care of the Presidential duties. Franklin Roosevelt had polio and was paralyzed from the waist down. The public only saw one picture of him in a wheel chair. He always appeared to be standing or sitting behind a podium or desk. Roosevelt became severely ill with hypertension and congestive heart failure during his last term but the public was not informed. Kennedy was on a lot of pain medications and also took steroids for his Addison’s Disease and the public was again uninformed.

The list of cover-ups goes on and on with almost every President having something to hide. Clinton said “ I did not have sex with that woman.” I guess it depends on the definition of sex to judge whether he was attempting to cover up. We don’t even know for sure where Barack Obama was born. Everybody knows about Nixon’s Watergate cover up, but in retrospect that is routine stuff compared to everyone else. Jefferson’s long standing affair with a black slave was not known until many years after his death and half the black, red-headed folks in the country claimed to be his descendants.

It’s just the nature of politicians to lie. Cover up is a natural thing for them and they don’t even feel guilty about it. Maybe we just shouldn’t care. Now days, the media is certainly going to bring all these things to the forefront because it is usually juicy and sensational news. The media is overdoing it. I think I prefer the old days when we were kept in the dark and didn’t know anything. Being ignorant makes life on the porch more comfortable but it does take away a little of the excitement.

Monday, September 13, 2010

My favorite seasons are spring and fall. I have written before about the first signs of spring. When the pecan and mesquite trees bud you know that winter is over and there will be no more freezes. You can’t rely on fruit trees for this kind of prediction because they are always blooming early and get zapped by a freeze.

Fall is a little tougher to predict in Texas. We have prolonged summers and it sometimes seems like we miss fall. As a porch sitter, there are some subtle changes I use even when the weather seems like summer. The elms in my yard are the first to lose their leaves. The live oaks, of course, never seem to shed; that occurs in March and the new leaves are immediately on the trees. Other oaks shed later in the fall and the post oak will have it’s leaves turn brown but they don’t fall off till the end of winter. Pecans also shed late in the autumn and are mixed with the falling of the pecans. Ash trees shed early. It’s said the chestnut is an early leaf shedder but we don’t have any of those in our part of the world. So, I keep my eye on the elm and ash trees as the trees that shed at the first hint of fall.

Since I’m on the porch, I watch as the shadows of the trees seem to elongate as the sun makes its journey to the southern part of the celestial sphere. Twilight also seems to linger as we approach autumn and noon times are shortened. The days get shorter and I’m driven into the house by the dark at an earlier hour.

Folks in New England have a much prettier show to announce autumn with the changing leaf colors of the maples. In Texas, it just goes from green to dead but I still love to observe the subtle changes mentioned above. These changes are as real to me as to those who watch the maple leaves.

There are other signs that are beyond my description like the way the air feels and smells especially at twilight. We also commonly have a hurricane to hit or at least threaten the Gulf Coast to herald the approach of autumn. You really can’t tell from the behavior of the deer and other wildlife in my yard. All these animals are domesticated and act like pets or more like pest.

Anyway, autumn is right around the corner. A sure sign is to check the paper on Saturday morning and see the results of the high school football games and how much Temple lost.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

The media has a big mouth. This has to be one of the greatest problems with our society today. They love to make mountains out of molehills and accentuate coverage of anything that has a negative slant or thought to be sensational. The publicity given to such second rate celebrities, as Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan are prime examples.

The latest absurd news is the attention being given to a very minor Pentecostal minister, Terry Jones, in Gainesville, Florida. The minister makes a good appearance for the camera because of his bizarre mustache. He’s like a clown. He has gained world attention by organizing a Quran book burning to put down the evil Muslims for their action on 9/11 and their plans to build a mosque near the ground zero site. The media has gone wild with this coverage and it has incited riots in the Middle East and provoked even more hatred of the US. It has endangered our troops in Afghanistan and Iraq. The President, the Secretary of Defense and the Commanding General of our forces in Afghanistan have ask Pastor Jones to cool it. You would think that this guy was as important as the Pope or someone like Billy Graham, but no, he is the preacher for a congregation of 50. All he has is the media blowing up a ridiculous story. If it were not for the news coverage, no one would be paying Jones the slightest amount of attention.

To make things even more sensational, Jones is claiming he has made a deal with the Muslim leader in New York who wants to build a mosque near ground zero. Jones will call off the book burning if the Muslims don’t build the mosque. The interesting thing is that the Muslim leader for the proposed mosque, Iman Feisal Abdul Rauf, says he hasn’t talked to Jones and hasn’t made any kind of deal.

The latest word is that Jones is flying to New York this weekend in hopes of speaking to Rauf. I’m pretty sure this very, very minor preacher, with a following of 50, is not going to change the mind of the Muslims and the American Civil Liberties people. I suspect he won’t even see them. The whole business just gives the media something else to make news about and it provides an opportunity for Muslims to riot in the streets, which is their favorite past time.

The thing that puzzles me on the porch is why I’m stupid enough to even listen to the news and ridiculous stories like Quran burning by a nobody. Stories about the exploits of non-talented and insignificants Hollywood types like Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan are bad enough. Now, if Hilton and Lohan got in on the Quran burning that might be interesting.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

At my age it’s hard to get ready to evacuate your home for emergencies. Exactly a year ago, our little Village of Salado had a major flood. It has taken almost a year to rebuild the park and other areas ravaged by the flood. Last night we had a devastating flood that washed away everything which had been restored and did even more damage. We live on high ground and are not usually threatened by floods, but I have thought about what I would do if we had a call to evacuate. If I evacuate, I want to look presentable when I am interviewed by local TV.

Sirens were sounded last night and woke me about 4:00 AM. The power went off for about 30 minutes and I spent that time finding batteries for my flashlight and for the little weather radio. When I finally got everything working, the power was back on and I was informed there was a flash flood warning. It was time to turn on the 5:00 AM news for more details. I then became hypnotized by the TV coverage. Parts of Bell County were washing away. An entire mobile home park washed down the creek. Mobile homes are always the first to go in any kind of bad weather. A summer breeze can blow those things away. As the news unfolded with numerous updates the whole affair became very exciting.

All during the morning I kept thinking about getting dressed in case there was a tornado or a wall of water headed toward our house. Every time I made a move to dress, we either got a phone call or a news update about various places that had been flooded. It was exciting stuff happening right down the road.

Finally at about 2:00 PM I was headed to the shower when we got a call about a bank that had been robbed near by. Since I have been reading about Jesse James, I got into a discussion with my spouse about bank robberies. A big storm is a great diversion and a great time for a robbery. The police are too busy doing other things. We then talked about the best route for a getaway. All this took another hour. When all this was concluded, it was time for our meal of the day in mid-afternoon. Finally after the kitchen cleanup it’s time for the 5 o’clock news and a summary of the day’s events. Of course there is the 5:30 national news followed by another version of the local news at 6:00.

So there you have it, the entire day spent on the flash flood and I never got dressed to look suitable for evacuation. It was a day spent on the porch getting news updates and talking to friends on the phone. Sure glad we weren’t ordered to evacuate. I didn’t know a flood could be so much fun but I’m truly sorry for the folks who lost so much from all the water. None of these displaced people ever look good when they are interviewed on TV. That’s the reason I want to get spruced up a bit before I evacuate.

Friday, September 03, 2010

In the past I have been told that a few drops of Native American blood flows in my veins. I have been unable to trace this with certainly, but I would be proud to have a few stands of DNA from a Sioux, Comanche or Apache. Mine would probably be a lesser tribe like the Kickapoo, Karankawa, Bidia, or Tonkawa. Anyway, it would be great to have a little Native Indian blood and be a true Native American rather than an alien. At least my ancestors were legal, I think.

I have recently been reading about a true Native American, Geronimo. He was a remarkable guy and not the savage depicted in the movies. He was a great Apache warrior. He wasn’t even a chief but rather an Apache Medicine Man, which is equivalent to a doctor for the tribe. His mother, wife and three children were killed by Mexican soldiers. After this, he vowed revenge on almost everyone and spent thirty years as a warrior, terrorizing the settlers and military. The soldiers couldn’t catch him as he outsmarted them with every move and evaded capture in mountainous areas where he lived and made his domain. He was like an Osama bin Laden of the 19th Century.

Geronimo, like all Apaches truly adapted to the land and he was actually a part of the canyons and mountains of Southern New Mexico and Arizona. He knew every water hole and hiding place and constantly evaded capture. He was very intelligent and filled with abundant energy and drive. He was completely independent, and literally lived off the land.

He was said to have magical powers. He could walk without leaving tracks, had a gift of mental telepathy and the ability to survive gunshot wounds (he was shot several times in his life). He once entered a cave and soldiers waited outside but he never came out and was later seen in another area. The remarkable thing is that the cave had no other known entrance or exit.

Geronimo was finally captured by General Nelson Miles in Arizona on September 4, 1886. He was sent to Fort Pickens in Florida where he became a tourist attraction and made money signing autographs and pictures. He became so famous he was in the inaugural parade for President Theodore Roosevelt. He died at Fort Sill, Oklahoma at the age of 79.

It was great to read about Geronimo on the porch. It sure beats reading and hearing about the economy, and whether Barack Obama is a Muslim or not. If Geronimo was running for something in November he would get my vote. I think he was a pretty smart guy and might even make a good President. I’ll bet he could even catch Osama bin Laden, he would know where to look

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

It seems like when a company gets a new CEO that person tries to change the image of the organization and make their mark. It’s probably good for new blood to be infused into companies, but this often leads to disaster and the end of the company. The same applies to mergers and acquisitions. Companies merge in order to gain a greater share of the market, eliminate competition or obtain financial strength and stability. I know little about business, but it seems from history that all these fancy business techniques are a formula for failure.

This week I went shopping with my spouse and I saw the above in action and it will be interesting to see the outcome. We visited a store called Restoration Hardware. It’s really not a hardware store, but it’s a place where they always had unusual gifts and gadgets. They had neat bathroom accessories including various sweet smelling soaps, lotions, towels and everything for the bathroom including fixtures. The bay rum shaving lotion smelled so good I wanted to take a swig from the bottle. Their line of merchandise included a wide spectrum of goodies. It was a great place to Christmas shop and buy interesting gifts that didn’t cost a fortune.

Restoration Hardware is now in the process of completely changing its image and line of merchandise. Maybe it’s because no one shaves with a razor anymore and don’t need things like bay rum shaving lotion. I suspect the reason for change is that they have a new CEO and Board of Directors with marketing degrees or interior design and other such things. Anyway, they are now primarily a furniture store selling oversized and overpriced pieces of furniture with trendy cushions and pillows in which the material looks like it was made from feed sacks.

Anyway, I predict the demise of Restoration Hardware. I read in today’s local paper about a company in our town that is about to be taken over by a larger one. Everyone has been assured there will be no job loses and this is being done to promote growth. Let’s hope so. Regardless of what I say, with my lack of experience, mergers and acquisitions will continue and so will business failures. My spouse and I recently reviewed the giant businesses that once lined the streets of downtown Houston. Hardly any of these are around anymore, but neither is downtown Houston.

From my view on the porch, I think that business folks might be bettered served by reading a history book rather than getting an MBA degree. A little knowledge of accounting, an ear for the customer and history may be all they need to guarantee a successful business.