Monday, November 29, 2010

The whistleblower website, WikiLeaks, just released a truckload of classified documents that could be damaging to the US. These documents are highly sensitive and reveal a lot of secret dealings with other nations. One of the documents reveals that Saudi Arabia urged the US to bomb Iran, to cut off the head of the snake, and prevent them from developing a nuclear weapon. A number of unflattering statements about foreign leaders were also made public.

The brains behind this website is a guy named Julian Assange, an Australian Internet activist who has a background in physics and math. He has also been a hacker and computer programmer. I know he must be a smart guy, but I still don’t understand how he gains access to all this sensitive, classified stuff. The other thing I don’t understand is how we are stupid enough to let highly secret material escape to the Internet. People in high places continue to do idiotic things. Watergate would never have happened if Nixon wouldn’t have had such a loud mouth and recorded everything on tape. The break-in should never have occurred in the first place, because he already had the election in the bag. So much of this clandestine, spy stuff by the CIA and FBI seems to be downright ridiculous; however, it may help us catch some stupid terrorist, like the kid who was a potential bomber in Portland.

There is just no way to keep a secret anymore. Not long ago, the board at my hospital informed me about a secret deal with another hospital. The next morning my wife heard about it at the beauty shop. This Julian Assange has got to be good but he can’t compare with the average hairdresser or beauty operator. These folks are born with a natural ear for gossip and juicy information.

I’m thinking about networking with a number of beauty operators and starting my own website. This stuff would make great reading and would be a lot more interesting than all the international hogwash and spy trash. I might call it WikiGossip. That is sure to be a popular website and get me some heavy advertisement contracts.

My material could even be made into a book and I could call it secrets from the porch. I want to thank this blabbermouth, Julian Assange, for giving me such a good idea.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The things people say today are incredible compared to when I was a kid. This week the Pope is talking about condoms and the new airline screening is introducing all sort of private words. When I was a kid, I didn’t even think about some of the things said and done in the open today. I didn’t have magazines like Playboy or movies with explicit sex scenes. My only pornographic magazine was National Geographic, but I rarely saw one of these because we couldn’t afford a publication like that. I would sneak around and look up dirty words in the dictionary, like pregnant. That was about the extent of my education. I finally learned what caused babies when I was in medical school. Before that, I was concerned that kissing might impregnate a girl. That was what movies, in my time, led me to believe. Seeing Jane Russell’s cleavage in “The Outlaw” and Marilyn Monroe’s legs when her dress blew up in “The Seven Year Itch”, were porno flicks for me.

The airport security has been amazing this week. All the perverts are applying for jobs as screeners. They get to fondle people all day long. If we let those folks have the jobs, they should be very effective and this would also serve to reduce crimes involving rape and other forms of abuse. Priest might even be able to work part time and this would save the church millions of dollars in suits. Anyway, the screeners get to feel peoples “junk” and also view them naked on the scanner. This has to be a great job.

The other interesting story of the week is the Pope saying the use of condoms might be okay in certain situations. I didn’t even think the Pope knew what a condom was. He said they might be justified to control the spread of AIDS. Specifically, he said that male prostitutes would be accepting moral responsibility by using condoms to prevent the spread of AIDS. I guess he thinks it’s morally okay for the guy to be a prostitute in the fist place. Boy, this stuff is really confusing to me.

All this use of once forbidden terminology and exposure to private anatomical parts and private acts didn’t start this week. The cracks in our moral fiber and the sexual revolution started back in the 1960s, shortly after introduction of the birth control pill. Homosexuals also started sneaking out of the closet at about the same time and are now making headway to be legally married and recognized in the military.

It’s hard to imagine what things will be like in another 50 years. I suspect people will be running around completely nude and freely copulating on the street. Even the deer and other wild animals in my back yard are able to restrain themselves better than humans. Humans appear to be descending rather than ascending from lower animal forms. Even the porch won’t be safe in the future.

Friday, November 19, 2010

The big news of the week is that we are about to have the wedding of the Century. Prince William has announced he will marry his long time girl friend Catherine Middleton, better known as Kate. The time and place have yet to be decided. The one thing known is that it is going to cost a bundle. This will be tough in these hard economic times. The estimated cost will be about 15 million US dollars. This is a big figure, but less than the more that 60 Million for Prince Charles and Diana. Back in war torn England in 1947 the wedding of Elizabeth and Phillip also cost a major fortune, but the British people loved it. I suspect there will be a lot of critics but the British people will also love this wedding. It gives them something to do and a purpose in life.

The Queen and William will pick up some of the tab but the taxpayers will still foot a large share of the expense. Just cleaning the streets and security would probably be enough to feed the homeless in London for a year or more. It’s still worth it for the English people who worship their Kings and Queens. We have become almost as bad as the English in this country with the way we pamper the President. Harry Truman was our last cheap President. Truman and Calvin Coolidge were our best deals, money wise. William Henry Harrison wasn’nt bad since he was President for only a month and was sick the whole time.

It’s not just royalty. I think all weddings cost too much these days. I have been to some big blowouts in the past few years and I wondered if they were worth all the expense. I ask my spouse how much our wedding cost over 50 years ago. She figures it was between 200 and 300 dollars which included; invitations, postage, dress, church, flowers, reception, preacher and all. She remembered paying a lady 5 dollars to help with the reception and cleanup. Her mother made her dress and that saved a few dollars. I even wore a suit. I didn’t even know what a tux was and there wasn’t any where to rent one if I had known. My spouse’s boss gave us a honeymoon at the great Shamrock Hilton Hotel in Houston. We had the Honeymoon Suite and he paid the whole tab. It probably cost him at least 100 dollars for the weekend.

My wedding was probably pretty lavish compared to my parents. I remember them telling me they were married on the front porch of my mother’s home. Maybe, that’s the reason I have always taken a liking to the porch. I can’t think of a better place to get married. The porch is one of the most reverent places I know. I may write William and Kate about the porch but I suspect even the British people wouldn’t like that idea. Anyway, I can’t wait for the Royal Weeding. It might give us something worthwhile on the news rather than the dismal economy and the squabbling between the Republicans and Democrats.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The US Postal Service is again losing billions of dollars this year. They are talking about raising postal rates, cutting services and personnel. Saturday postal service will most likely be stopped. The main cause of the problem is apparently the decrease in use of letters and personal mail.

When I was a kid, during WWII, one of my jobs was to go to the post office every day. We lived in town and the post office building was only a block from our house. I will never forget the number of our box and it’s location. It was on the top row of boxes and I had to stand on tiptoes to insert the key. I never got a letter myself, but always anxiously awaited a letter from my brother or brother-in-law who were away in the service. I occasionally got correspondence from the Superman Club but that was about it for me. The General Delivery window was always busy and there was a window for buying stamps and sending packages. The amazing thing is that postage for a letter cost 3 cents and the postal service was apparently doing well.

Now, I go to the post office and the box is packed with catalogs and other junk mail. My box is one of the larger ones and it is still full. There is rarely a personal letter. Young folks don’t even like to send thank you notes anymore. E-mail has replaced the personal letter and now e-mail is being replaced by facebook. What is next to speed and shorten communication? I guess in another decade, communication will be through telepathy. Just sit back and think about your message and the person will receive it.

Anyway, all the massive amount of junk mail I receive still cost some postage and yet the postal service is broke. I don’t completely understand the problem. I may be contributing to the postal crisis by using e-mail and facebook, but I spend enough on postage for my Christmas cards to pay for a good portion of somebody’s salary. We are looking at our Christmas card list for this year and considering a massive cut because of the cost. I guess, if I stop my Christmas cards this will be the final straw to break the back of the postal service, and will result in somebody losing their job.

I enjoy communicating with people via the newer media like facebook and e-mail, but there is still nothing like sitting on the porch, reading a personal handwritten letter. The personal letter has become a rare treat, and I sure hope the postal service doesn’t shut down and totally eliminate this wonderful type of communication.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

I learned today that telecommunication companies are going to stop printing the white pages of telephone directories. Apparently, the white pages aren’t used much anymore. Only the old folks use the telephone directory and they can’t see well enough to read the print, so the directories will now be history. They were once an importance resource for obtaining information on people, like their phone number and address. Since cord phones are now becoming extinct that is even another reason for the white pages to be discontinued.

Most folks now get a telephone number off the internet or have to personally be given a number. The number is then entered into your cell phone contact list. So, there is no longer need for a directory. Now, I just page through my contact list and hit a button and the number is automatically dialed.

Telephone Directories have served many purposes in the past. They were used by he-men to tear and demonstrate their incredible strength. At one time, I could even tear the directory for my home town because it only contained a few names and was pretty thin. Those little directories disappeared a few years ago and all the small towns were included as a section in a larger directory containing all the surrounding cities. I don’t like those directories because I always have trouble finding the little towns for which I am searching. The directories also became more difficult to use. One number that is almost impossible to find is the one for directory assistance.

I don’t know what they are going to put in the bedside tables of hotels anymore. The Gideon Bibles are being phased out because they aren’t politically correct and now without the telephone directory there is nothing for the hotels. I will miss them in the hotels because they were a source of entertainment as I thumbed through the pages in search of a long lost friend who I though might have move to the city I was visiting. I wouldn’t have called them, but was just interested to know if they were alive.

I hope the yellow pages go away with the white. Maybe all those folks from India will stop calling me. There is going to be a lot of these people out of work. Maybe they will start a white page directory of their own as a new line of business.

Anyway, this is one less book for my stack on the porch. I really never liked the directories anyway. I still loved the time of my childhood when an operator would answer and say, “number please.” If I didn’t know the number she would connect me to the correct party by just giving the name. In our small town the operator knew all the numbers and I think she listened in on a lot of interesting conversations. That would have been a neat job.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

After several days I’m finally adjusting to Central Standard Time or whatever it is. I’m always confused about Daylight Savings Time and regular CST. Moving the clock and hour back or forward has always been a puzzle. The paper and newscast always remind me that in spring we spring an hour forward, and in the fall we fall an hour back. I remember that for about a week.

I like it best when we set the clocks back and hour because, theoretically, I get another hours sleep. I was reminded this week that I really didn’t gain an hour because I used the extra hour setting all the clocks to the new time. I didn’t know we had so many clocks. We have clocks on the microwave, stove, radios and on every wall in the house as well as on every table. We also have two grandfather clocks. I remember when I was a kid, we only had one clock and it was one of the kind you had to wind. It seemed like I set that clock everyday or at least would wind it and set the alarm. It has been said that the younger generation doesn’t use watches or clocks. They just look at their cell phone for the time. They are on the phone all the time, so why bother with a watch or clock.

Some of the most difficult clocks to set are in the car. Those clocks have little mini buttons that are hidden among the hundreds of buttons on the radio. Never try to set these clocks while driving. It’s the only thing worse than texting to distract the driver and cause an accident.

The daylight savings time in the summer makes it stay daylight until late in the evening, so it is good for kids and frees them up for extra play time. The regular time makes it a little more light in the morning, so kids aren’t going to school in the dark. For those reasons, it is probably worth the confusion.

One of my favorite TV shows in the past was Hee Haw and one of the great characters was Junior Sample. He was the fat, dumb, country guy in overalls. The time differences really confused him, especially the different time zones. He heard about this airplane that arrived an hour earlier that when it took off. He bought a ticket so that he could just go and watch it take off. Some states like Arizona don’t even use Daylight Saving time, so it really confuses guys like me and Junior Samples.

Junior Samples is one person I would have loved to have a conversation with on the porch. I would like to get his views on other confusing subjects like politics and religion.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Today, my spouse and I saw the Walter Cronkite exhibit at the LBJ Library in Austin. It was terrific and worth the struggle to get there through the Austin traffic. The exhibit will be there until the first of the year and is definitely worth seeing. Cronkite was a remarkable guy and reported on the major events during my life. He was probably the last great reporter. He was objective in his reporting and didn’t give the usual liberal or conservative slant. It was just straight, interesting news and ended with “that’s the way it is.”

Cronkite was born in Missouri and moved to Texas when he was 10. He attended public school in Houston and then attended the University of Texas. He ran out of money and didn’t graduate from UT. It was probably okay that he didn’t graduate because college is for those who don’t have the natural talent of folks like Walter Cronkite or a Mark Twain.

He started reporting after dropping out of college and progressed to became the most distinguished of all broadcast journalist. He reported on the Great Depression, World War II, the Nuremberg Nazis trials. the moon landing, Vietnam, Watergate and probably the most emotional of all reports, the assassination of John Kennedy.

After a visit to Vietnam and the realization of the hopelessness of the situation he did give an editorial comment at the end of his newscast, suggesting that we should pull out and try to negotiate an honorable peace. LBJ said that if he had lost Walter Cronkite , he had lost Vietnam. That editorial comment was made in good taste and is so unlike the current journalist who bad-mouth everything and think they are making policy.

The only time that Cronkite seemed to chock up when reporting was when he announced that Kennedy was dead. That made everyone chock up, including me. He also became pretty emotional when Armstrong set foot on the moon.

Things seemed to deteriorate when Cronkite left the air. I had hopes for Dan Rather because he was a fellow Texan. Rather dropped the news to an all time low with his false report on President Bush. Now the airway is filled with experts on the left and right espousing their views and screaming at each other. I had rather watch the commercials than listen to the news and the political pundits.

So, I get most of the news from my computer as I sit on the poerch. I do miss Walter Cronkite and it’s higly unlikely we will ever see another broadcast journalist with his class.

Monday, November 01, 2010

After visiting the Eisenhower Museum and Library my spouse and I have become even more absorbed in the study of his life. We are currently reading several books about his life. I also have a personal interest because he died when I was stationed at Walter Reed and knew some of the details of his demise. I was even more personally acquainted with Mamie or at least her bowel. I did the barium studies on her GI tract. When I talked to her, she constantly referred to Ike as the General, not the President. I now have a better understanding of why she called him the General. A similar thing happened in my life, but a little different, and on a much smaller scale.

Eisenhower was most proud of his accomplishments as a General. It was a rank he worked hard to obtain and he has to be one of the greatest military leaders in the history of our country. The Presidency was handed to him and he really didn’t work for it. He didn’t care about either party. Truman told him that he would agree to be the Vice President if Ike would be President. Ike chose the Republican Party because Taft was a strong contender and would likely win the election. Ike didn’t want Taft to be elected because Taft was so opposed to NATO and this was something that Eisenhower felt very strongly about. Ike got the nomination over Taft and became a Republican President and is now ranked as one of the 10 best Presidents. He was basically apolitical.

Now, for my story, which is on a much smaller scale. When I was in the Army Medical Corps I became a Lieutenant Colonel. Doctors are promoted because of time as a physician plus some merit, but it was something I didn’t really have to work for. My spouse got our checks cashed at a local store. The checks had our name as Dr. Montgomery with the address printed at the top. The lady who cashed the checks ask why we didn’t use my rank before our name instead of doctor. My wife said that the doctor designation was something I had to work very hard to obtain and that the Lt. Colonel was something I was very proud of, but it was handed to me because I was a physician.

As I reflect on the porch about the moral to this story, we are most proud of what we have worked the hardest for. I have seen Thomas Jefferson’s gravestone several times and it list his proudest accomplishment, and the Presidency wasn’t one of them. I like Eisenhower and Jefferson a lot, those guys had class.