Friday, December 6, 2013

Do we really want more older drivers?

The freeway. Morning rush hour.

Imagine the 75-year-old coot coming your direction at 75 miles per hour in 4,000 pounds of steel and flammable liquid.

His vision has dimmed, his reflexes are shot and he can’t hear a damn thing. Not to mention the stiff neck that limits his ability to check out stuff moving on the left.

Get off the road. Get off the road. Him. You. Everybody.

Now comes word that the federal government is thinking about a silver rating to help old folks stay on the road longer.

What? Already there are 35 million drivers over 65 careening up and down the highway. Do we really want more old people driving longer? Full disclosure – I’m 75 as I write this.

How about spending the money on public transportation instead?

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

We're gonna need a faster car...







Making moonshine is a mountain tradition. But this is as close to making white lightning as we can manage. Many thanks to our friend, Chuck Town, for showing us how to make Piesporter white wine. Twenty six bottles of Piesporter. If you need us during the next month, likely you'll find us lying in the gutter with our bellies to the sun.

Monday, July 29, 2013

So set 'em up, Joe

By Tuesday’s end, we will have enjoyed the company of 24 visitors during our first 12 months in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina.

By Wednesday’s end, I will have completed my first lesson in making wine at home.

These two items are related how?

Upon hearing the news about wine-making, each of our visitors pledged to return next year. Could be because the wine is 19% alcohol. And delicious.

Clink.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Lush -- the good kind

Lyn Ellen has some sort of mystical connection with the land up here. Never in Minnesota, but ever present here. The tomato plants in her container garden soared to higher than six feet. And the squash is double-dog daring us to make succotash.

The fish are shameless in their pursuit of food, happiness and nooky.

Bunnies. Frogs. We have so many birds and squirrels we are in danger of going over the max occupancy rate. Any day now, we expect a knock on the door from the fire marshal or a goddamn Disney scout.

Just amazing.

Ahh North Carolina

There’s a reason one of the best selling ice creams in the state is called “Front Porch.”  My favorite – Chocolate Rocker.

Best place to buy a 12-layer cake is out on Hwy 158 at Kevin’s Citgo. His wife, Cindy, makes them. Carry out only.

Ever hear of Leon Levine? He’s the N.C. man who came up with the Family Dollar Store. He’s the anti-WalMart who has given millions away to fund community centers, science centers, museums, children’s hospitals and more. Nice man.

Come set a spell.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Truck gardening made easy

The truck garden has produced six-foot tall tomato plants. But no trucks as yet. We named the project Succotash Hill.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Two crazy kids from Lubbock

How about a feel good story.

We were in the Class of ’57. If you are old enough to have attended Monterey High School the first three years, you might get a kick out of this, a geezer story worthy of being told. If you are young at heart, you might like it, too.

From our junior year at MHS through two years at Tech, I was madly in love with Lyn Ellen Hammack. But it didn’t work and we both married other people.

After a couple of divorces and fifty years of no contact, we connected on the Internet. I mean connected. And I wasn’t going to let her get away again. Cue the violins. Tweet the birds. Soften the moonbeams.

I sold my downtown Austin condo, sold my convertible, sold my newsletter business and ran away with a girl. Herself. Yessir, that same girl. Lyn Ellen Hammack.

She had a home in Minneapolis and I bought a retirement condo in Austin so naturally we became snowbirds. To outrun the bad weather, we spent winters in Texas, summers in Minnesota. Her 90 year old mother and her little dog rode the Interstate with us. And Virginia lived with us until she died peacefully in her bed.

We’ve been together nearly seven good years now. Not a minute too soon. Both of us have pacemakers, both are cancer survivors. But we think of ourselves as healthy -- except when we both set off the metal detectors at the airport security gate.

A year ago, we sold the MN home and moved to a little cabin in the Blue Ridge Mountains of N. Carolina for a better year-round retirement climate.

We call our place Friday Mountain. (With a hat tip to Walter Prescott Webb and J. Frank Dobie.)

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Great unknown place to retire

Rodney Brooks, USA TODAY 8:09 p.m. EDT June 3, 2013

Story Highlights

Retirees want low cost of living, low crime and a vibrant downtown
Good medical facilities are also high on many retirees' list
Here are five great places to retire that many of you may not have thought about
Picking a place to retire is a pretty big deal. Any good financial planner will advise you to start thinking about where you want to live well before you enter those retirement years.

If you don't plan to retire in the home you've lived in for years, you may go to one of those "Best places to retire" lists.

We wanted to try something different. We have a list of great places to retire that many of you may not have thought about, all great communities, but not on the radar of the masses.

What made us choose these places? They have all the things retirees want when they start looking for a place to spend their golden years.

"Retirees want relatively low cost of living and housing, a favorable tax situation, a low crime rate, an active downtown, good medical facilities and, more than ever, a range of activities that can keep them fit and healthy," says Annette Fuller, managing editor of Where to Retire magazine. "Big cities still attract, such as Austin and Santa Fe, but the little guys – such as Mountain Home, Ark.; Natchez, Miss.; and Port Townsend, Wash. – have many relocated retirees who proudly boast of their new home and delight in finding an off-the-beaten-path location."

Here are five cities and towns for consideration.

1. Hendersonville, N.C. Most people know Asheville, N.C., in the western mountains of the state. But, according to Terri King, CEO of Coldwell Banker King in Asheville, people are discovering the outlying areas. Twenty-five minutes south of Asheville is Hendersonville (pop. 13,000) which has many of the qualities sought by Baby Boomers, King says.

She calls the city a "remarkably friendly yet sophisticated social experience." Among the attributes, a 72-piece orchestra (the smallest town in the USA that has one, she says). It is also home to the official state theater, the Flat Rock Playhouse. And it's 25 miles from Mission Hospital, which was ranked in the top 15 health care systems in 2013 by Thomson Reuters.

"It has easy walking, waterfalls and a national forest," King says. "And you are two to three hours from cities like Atlanta and Greensboro.

"It's very conducive to a retired individual," she says. "For Baby Boomers, it has a mild, four-season climate. People retirement age are done with the extremes in life."

Steve Wike, 64, publisher of BlueRidgeTravelGuide.com, and his wife, Mickie, moved to Hendersonville in 2010. "There is everything imaginable to do here," he says. "I wouldn't trade it. I love it here."

"There are over 200 waterfalls in Western North Carolina," Wike says, and you can hike to almost all of them." And, of course, there's golf.

"I don't play golf, but for the guys around here who do, they say they can get on any private course. It's like $35 for 18 holes," says Wike, who grew up in Northern Virginia. "They love it. They say the views and courses are beautiful."

2. St. Augustine, Fla. (pop. 13,500) Beautiful weather, one of the top outdoor concert venues in the USA — the 3,400-seat St. Augustine Amphitheater — are all among the attractions," says Rob West, CEO of Coldwell Banker Premier Properties. There's no state income tax and low sales tax. And it's 45 minutes from Jacksonville, he says

"We were just named by a magazine as one of the top 10 places to retire," West says. "It's the oldest city in the U.S., so we are rich in history and cultural arts. And we have world-class beaches."

West says the average home price is about $200,000, but retirees are trending more to the $300,000 to $400,000 range.

Chuck and Pamela Nauss are among the retirees who have made St. Augustine their home. Pam Nauss, 57, is from Birmingham, and her husband is from Long Island. When they looked for retirement communities, they looked in North Carolina and South Carolina before they settled on St. Augustine. "It's got that charm and appeal that a lot of other areas lack," she says.

It features a historic district of downtown, art community, museums, tons of shopping and great restaurants, she says. Other attractions: water sports, a low crime rate and year-round golf.

"There are multiple rivers," she says. "It is a great place for boating. We love the vibrancy. ... It's just nice. People are just nice here. Your life becomes simpler."

3. King of Prussia, Pa. (pop. 20,000). "

"King of Prussia is one of the most centralized places to live," says Ron Clarke, CEO of Century 21 Alliance, which has 14 offices in Philadelphia and its suburbs. "You can get to the shore in 15 minutes, the mountains in two hours. It has easy access to shopping, with two of largest malls in the state. In the Delaware Valley there is a tremendous amount of 55-and-older age-restricted housing. That's attracted people from outside the area."

The proximity to Philadelphia has made much of the Delaware Valley a retirement magnet, Clarke says. The No. 1 reason is the availability of health care. There are five teaching hospitals in Philadelphia — Jefferson University Hospital, Hahnemann University Hospital, Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Temple University Hospital and Einstein Health Care Network.

Also, Clarke says, Pennsylvania ranks fourth in the nation in the percentage of the population over 65. (Florida, West Virginia and Maine are the top three). "A lot of that is people who started there stay there," he says. "It is a friendly state and the only state where all the lottery proceeds go to benefit seniors."

4. College Station, Texas. (pop. 97,500, which swells by 50,000 when Texas A&M students are in town). "

"We see a lot of people who, when they chose to retire, come back to College Station," says Raylene Lewis, broker with Century 21 Beal in College Station. " A lot buy a home in the historic district, so they can have tailgate parties and walk to the game."

She says College Station is centrally located between Houston, Dallas and San Antonio, and the beach is three house away.

Other attractions: a warm climate, low housing costs and low crime.

"Average sales price is just under $200,000," she says. "You can still get a really nice house at a great price."

5. Branson, Mo. (pop. 10,000) "Some hidden-in-plain-view cities like Branson, Mo., are popular, as the retirees become Branson 'insiders' and watch the tourists come and go, living alongside three gorgeous, peaceful lakes," says Where to Retire's Fuller.


Tourist hotpot Branson, Mo., is home to 10,000 residents.(Photo: Dennis Macdonald, Getty Images)

"Even though our population is a little over 10,000, on any given day, we operate as a town of more along the lines of 60,000 to 70,000 (because of the tourism)," Mayor Reanne Presley says. "You have services that support that amount of folks — police, fire, health care, all those things that are important."

She says people are also attracted to the nine golf courses, associated with big-name golfers such as Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Payne Stewart and Tom Watson. "We have all the fun things," she says, "the shows, dining, outdoor recreation and fun places to shop."

Dustin Hall, co-owner of Sunset Realty Services in Branson, says taxes are low and home prices are inexpensive. "You can get a three-bedroom, two-bath, for under $150,000," he said. "You can get into something a little nicer for less than $250,000. Or you can buy a two-bedroom condo for less than $100,000.

"What's really good is we are so centrally located the rest of the family can come visit, will want to visit," he says.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Government hoarding ammunition

Undoubtedly, you've read about the new 3D printers that can make automatic weapons. Undoubtedly.

But have you read the government is stockpiling toner!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Back yard beauties

Lyn Ellen brought these back to life. The aphids were winning when we moved in.


Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Bartender. I'll have another

It has come to my attention there are some skeptics out there who question yesterday’s discussion about the healing power of the folk remedy involving gin-soaked golden raisins. For those doubters, I suggest an alternative – a package of Tom’s salted peanuts poured into the top of a Dr. Pepper. Shaken, not stirred.

Enjoy.

Monday, May 13, 2013

White lightning and raisins



This is no joke. All I know is, it worked for both of us.  And we would like to pass it on to our older friends: gin-soaked golden raisins have relieved the pain of bursitis and arthritis – and walking is fun again. Clink.

Bursitis in our hips had become such a problem that we could barely tolerate the pain involved in walking to the corner and back. Our hips would lock up and hurt so much it made you mention your mother. Furthermore, my hands would ache as I was waking up every morning. I couldn’t make a fist, grip a hammer or squeeze the trigger of a semi-automatic. Not that I wanted to.

Yesterday, we went on the bus tour of the waterfalls, which required a little walking, not much, but enough to worry me. Could we enjoy the getting in and out of the bus and walking on uneven mountain paths to get just the right photo? Wouldn’t it be awful if we began to hurt and had to just sit in the bus with our noses pressed to the window like mournful hounds.

Lo. About half way through the tour we looked at each other with big smiles. We were walking again. Without a lot of pain. Barely any pain.

Maybe it will work for you. Hope so. Works faster for some people. Not at all for others.

Here’s how to brew up a jug. I don’t like gin so I buy mid-range priced pints to cut the bite. The guy at the liquor store says the little old ladies buy the good stuff.

Scoop up enough golden raisins to fill a 24 oz. Jar. Pour in a pint of gin. Tsk, tsk -- all of it. Refrigerate. And let ferment for 10 days. Then start spooning up 8-12 raisins every evening at bedtime.

Happy trails.










Sunday, May 12, 2013

Waterfalls in the DuPont forest, N. Carolina

This happens to me a lot.

Yesterday, we took a bus tour of the magnificent waterfalls in the DuPont Forest just outside of town.  If you had been with us, you might have recognized the falls from their movies – Last of the Mohicans and Hunger Games.

Beautiful day. The rains held off but painted the mountains with anticipation. Friendly tour guides and friendly bus drivers. The forest and the falls were nature’s beauty pageant.

As we de-bussed at the final stop, the tour guide, a woman in her 40’s, said to me:” You look familiar. Have we met before?”

“I don’t know,” I replied. “Have you ever been in prison?”

(What a great day. I got two grunts and a giggle from an audience of total strangers. However, one of the grunts could have just been gas. It was an older crowd.)

The Mystery Woman and I love taking pictures. We took these.

As you might suspect. 








Friday, May 10, 2013

You want fries with that?

Circa 1959. Lubbock, Texas. This is insider stuff.

The Mystery Woman and I were struggling college students contemplating marriage (which didn’t happen, at least not to each other, but that’s another story).

As the potential man of the house, I took it as my duty to find us a house.

“Honey, honey. I found a good deal on a mobile home parked right behind the hamburger stand.” This was way before manufactured housing, slide-outs and vaulted ceilings. Although there was nice oilcloth in the bath.

We thought about it and demurred. And for some reason, we broke up and didn’t have contact for nearly 50 years. But we rectified that six or seven years ago.

This morning, I was playing “what if” at breakfast when my bulb flashed, “Honey, we would have that trailer house paid off by now.”

“And we would own the Dairy Queen, too,” she yawned.


Thursday, May 9, 2013

Simple pleasures

From our porch -- to yours.


Tuesday, May 7, 2013

It's a jungle out there

Views from the porch ...





Monday, May 6, 2013

Can you name this yellow bush?

Help. Does anyone know the name of this shrub? The top leaves stay yellow all year. When we first moved here, I sorta remember a local saying something about this tree having a biblical name because it looks like a burning bush. Anybody?

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Morning dew

Every morning, the hosta cradles all the water drops it can.



But this week, the little plant can take a vacation. Rain is forecast every day.

Monday, April 29, 2013

No foul. Play through.

Professional basketball player Jason Collins says he is black and gay. I didn't know that.

How long has he been black?

Friday, April 26, 2013

More -- from very near Mayberry

You know it’s a retirement town when the back page of the daily newspaper features five puzzles and a bridge column. Brain fodder.

And the best read adv in the paper is a folksy ditty from the most expensive men's clothing store in town. It’s a 1 x 5 adv with a paragraph and photo about the customer of the day. Must reading.

Then, this morning, it finally happened. Someone actually honked a horn on our little one-lane street. We both jumped at the sound. Intrusive.

Woke the dog sleeping at my feet.

And I almost forgot: the hot new band is called Spencer and the String Ticklers. Three banjos, one guitar and a fiddle. Toe tappers, every one.

Love it.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

What's wrong with reporters?

I loved being a reporter. Not only was the job laden with a sense of duty, it had sizzle.

Not anymore.

These days, nobody slithers lower than us. Not even politicians. What the hell happened?

Newspaper reporter job beats out lumberjack, soldier as "Worst Job of 2013" (click here)



Sunday, April 21, 2013

The glory of Americans after the blasts

We all read about the Boston runners who kept running after the two bombs mangled so many people. They kept running to the hospital to give blood.

There’s a good chance some of their blood was used to save the life of the second bomber.

The irony. The glory.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Name that pond

Walden, Thoreau, Doonesbury – they all named their ponds. We should, too.



Shangri La, Valhalla, Dreamsicle Falls. Pick one.



“Why don’t we call it The Fish Pond?” she said and went back to sleep.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Flowers -- for the living and the dead

Here’s the thing – because of the slope, the people who planted these flowers can barely see them from their porch. They grew this beauty for the rest of us.

Thanks, folks.


We need more beauty on days like today.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The wood pile in search of a fireplace

No. We don’t have a fireplace – I just like the way firewood looks stacked against the fence. Comfort for the eyes while promising warmth for the soul. 

It’s art.

For chilly nights, we do have an outdoor fire pit to sit around with friends, or just each other, That, too, it art. I grew weary of paying jacked grocery store prices for plastic sacks of firewood that was oft too green to catch. Heck, the way I figure it, this half cord paid for itself before the first snow.

As a bonus, this little woodpile is home to some bumble bees, at least one snake and a vigilant frog.

Buy some firewood. Make art.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Shopping local can be fun

Have you ever come from the grocery with this in your sack?

-- Good and Evil Pickles w/Garlic
-- FROG Jam (figs, raspberries, orange, ginger)
-- Mayhaw Jelly
-- Dilly beans
-- Boiled peanuts (an acquired taste)
-- Local red, local white

Shopping in Saluda, N. Carolina. Twenty minutes from our front porch.

Historic Thompson’s Store has been operated by the same family since 1890. Plus we gin up a little business for the M.A. Pace Store, which is also family owned and operated forever.

A bridge? A tunnel? Both?

This is what we almost got to see:

http://www.pearsonsfalls.org/

The guide book didn't say the road in was a loop. Naturally, we entered from the back side and that's when the adventure began.

The road, we couldn't help but notice, was gradually getting more and more narrow. Finally, room for only one vehicle at a time with damn few spots wide enough for you to pull off.

The houses looked dark and mysterious in the fading light filtering through the barren trees.

Around a sharp bend there was the most foreboding sight I've ever seen. We were too shocked to take pictures but vow we will return. What got us gasping was the small tunnel we had to drive through to get out of there. Backing up was simply out of the question. No shoulders. Just canyons. Yawning canyons.

Inches. That's all we had to spare. Inches -- top, side and bottom. It was pitch black and wet. I have no depth perception. As we neared the exit hole, the dim light revealed the walls were covered with graffiti. Solid graffiti. Gibberish. Nothing was decipherable. Oh god, we got out. Alive. In the distance, I could hear banjos begin to duel.

Our hearts were still racing when we came upon the next strange thing. Battery-operated traffic signals. Bridge repairs forced traffic into barely one lane. But there were no other cars on the road for miles. Could it be a trap? Did you hear that? Highwaymen?

Finally, we crunched our way to the guard house at the gate. A kindly guy came out to greet us and take our five bucks. "You'uns come up the gravel road, did ye? Passed through that tunnel, did ye? Only it hain't no tunnel. Hit's a bridge." I was not prepared to argue the difference.

We never got to see the falls. There are over 200 steps up the mountain before you get to any sort of vista. Among the three of us, two were sporting pacemakers. We demurred. And the gatekeeper generously refunded our five dollars.

But we are going back for pictures of the tunnel/bridge. I promise.

In a smaller car.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Talking dirty

Despite the sub-freezing weather -- or maybe because of it – the living things in our front yard are getting randy.

Yesterday, it was pop, pop, pop all the day long as the Bradford Pear opened buds into blossoms. Snow flurries notwithstanding.

The birds picked up the signal and went nuts. Four male cardinals actually beat each other with their wings as they tried to make a muscle that would impress the lone female in our stand of trees. In my humble opinion, she was not worthy of the effort. But you know boys.

The resident bunny who lives in the hedges came out with charged batteries looking for something to jump. Bushy tailed, a plus.

Speaking of amps, the ground squirrel constantly skittered madly across the yard. And back. Repeat. The source of all that energy has yet to emerge from under the steps. She’s modest.

Two squirrels were hanging upside down in the tree top. That’s all I can say about that.

Hey, baby. We discovered a new little goldfish in the back yard pond. Obviously they don’t hibernate all the time.

Last week around here, it was all so bucolic I wanted to invite Walt Disney to breakfast on the porch. This week, I’m thinking Hugh Hefner.

And I have this strange urge to go to Sears and buy some new pajamas.





Monday, March 25, 2013

North Carolina -- wonder and beauty

Politics aside, we love our adopted state.

North Carolina is laced together with blue highways aplenty. If you visit, forget the interstates, choose instead the wonderful, scenic little roads that ripple with mountains and steep grades, switchbacks and hairpin turns, with forest shadows flashing across the roadway when the sun is low. Roll down your windows and let the fresh air wash in. You can breathe deep hereabouts.

Note: clouds are lower than they appear. Watch out for aging doctors and lawyers on motorcycles. And lucky is the big rig that makes it to second gear.

Such geographic diversity. The Blue Ridge Mountains team up with the Smokies in the west -- but not to be outdone, the Outer Banks just wrap you up with casual hospitality while you bathe in the Atlantic sea breezes. In between, there’s the Piedmont where the buffalo fed the Indians for 10,000 years.

Bonus: the Great Dismal Swamp is stunning.

Come see us. We’ve even found a BBQ joint that serves brisket right.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

We stand opposed to gun violence

The wind was blowing cold.

It was 26 degrees as we set out this morning. Our destination was the old courthouse on Main Street eight blocks away. We were meeting with a group of like-minded strangers to stand vigil for the victims of gun violence – the little school children of Sandy Hook, Columbine, Gabby Giffords, every one of the innocent victims of gun violence.

It was something each of us felt like we had to do. Appropriate for a cold winter’s day.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Daylight Savings Time

Nobody told the goddamn rooster it was time to spring forward.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Rise and shine

Up here in America's First Mountains, it was 29 degrees when I looked outside this morning. But as promised, the bright sun was soon sharing it’s gold with the tree tops. When the shadows get right, I’m going for my morning walk.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

The F-word with a southern accent

I worry that I am losing command of the F-word. I find I don’t need it very often anymore. People are nice to each other up here in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Not just sometime. All day long.

This week, we drove 20 miles to a book lecture at The 1927 Lake Lure Inn and Spa. We crossed the Eastern Continental Divide in apple country and followed the French Broad River as it flowed down toward sea level. The Inn is just down the road from Black Mountain. The PhD author is an Asheville fellow. His novels are peppered with historical mountain wit: “We’re running out of cousins to marry.” And the buffet was damngood at the Moose and Goose Lounge. Seriously.

That same evening, we were still on a roll so we attended the seniors group at the congregational church about 10 blocks away. No bingo, no prayers for the people, no requests for money. We would like to think we might have been the youngest couple there. Couple? Yes, nearly half the 100+ audience were male. And they were having fun. Maybe it was the cookies. Or the breezy jazz singer who was in port from her regular gig on the cruise ships.

Next day, I had to get some routine lab work. Six people were ahead of me at the hospital waiting room. Gradually, I began to hear murmurs about Renee. Was she working today? Just out to lunch? Renee has a soft touch. Renee is quick. In perfect harmony, Renee walked through the doors at that exact moment and the waiting room erupted with soft cheers. Ahh, Renee is back. She located my bashful vein, applied her soft touch and I was out of there in a jiffy.

Makes sense, doesn’t it. In a retirement community like Hendersonville, it follows that we, the patients, would know the A-Team in medicine.

Fine. Just fine. That’s a good four-letter F-word. I’ll try to get used to it.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Race relations and one dumb ass

Let me try to do justice to this little morality play in three parts:

First, we went to a breakfast at the community college celebrating Martin Luther King Day. Teenage students were in charge of the program. We were not prepared for stunning ferocity or the fierce beauty of the original poems presented by 16-year-old Shanita Ariona Monique Jackson. She spoke of poverty, of culture, of sickness and of family love. Powerful emotions. We were all in tears and honored her with a spontaneous standing ovation that lasted several minutes. She was crying, too. It was remarkable.

A week later, we went to see “Lincoln.” Since we are of a certain age, we favor the matinee showings. Sometimes, we are the only people in the theater. Not this time. More people turned out to watch Daniel Day-Lewis than any other movie we’ve seen here. Just white people. No black people. All the more amazing, since this is the Deep South where to this day the Civil War has different meaning.

Later, around dusk I pulled in to a convenience store to get gasoline. This particular store had been robbed the week before. A big, rough-looking black guy came out of the store and shot me a look. It made me uneasy so I waited to get out of the van until I saw him ride away – on his little Vespa. No real badass rides a Vespa.

Dumb ass. I’ve still got a ways to go. I suppose we all do.

Sigh.



Sunday, January 27, 2013

Military Channel debunks JFK conspiracy story

For some reason unknown to me, last night the Military Channel ran an hour long program aimed at debunking the JFK assassination conspiracy theory linking Lee Harvey Oswald and Jack Ruby.

If you didn’t know, I was operating one of nine in the basement that morning – two video, two still cameras and five movie film cameras. I didn’t realize there were only nine of us. Several times, they showed my film of Ruby shooting Oswald.

Shameless plug: buy our book “When the News Went Live” available cheap on Amazon. Click here. Our book is now in its fifth printing.

I was a 24-year-old cub reporter who had been on my first job as a reporter for about six weeks.

Not only was I green, I was clumsy. And a little dumb. This was Dallas. And I was fresh outta Lubbock.

The week before the assassination, I almost got a ticket for driving the KRLD mobile news unit the wrong way on a one-way street in front of Neiman’s. The cop who pulled me over said, “Son, do you want to report the news – or make it?”

A couple of weeks later, I goofed again. This time I left 50-feet spool of cable and a microphone on the roof of the news wagon. A civilian found it in the middle of an intersection on Lemon Ave. Fortunately, our engineers were able to repair it. Had duct tape been invented?

Not satisfied with such an auspicious start, a few weeks later, I left the big 16mm Auricon camera mounted on a tripod on the taxiway at Love Field and a departing jet blew my rig over. The insurance company said the lens I snapped was worth $1,500.

During the ensuing months, I got punched out three times while on assignments: Gen. Walker knocked me down three times, Ruby’s brother took a swing and so did the sister of an escaping convict.

Some say my personality is flawed.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Women in combat?

Military women have been fighting and dying for a decade during both our wars.

Air Force Staff Sgt. Stacy Pearsall was attached to an Army ground unit that was clearing roadside bombs. They had just found their 26th device of the day when one of their armored personnel carriers exploded. And she started shooting.

Quote of the Day -- “Yes, women can do it, and I already have. I can't speak for the men, but I feel that when the bullets were flying, they didn't care that I was a woman, as long as I was pulling the trigger." – Staff Sgt. Pearsall, who served two tours of duty in Iraq.

Friday, January 18, 2013

And now for a little winter

No snow but the heavy rains soaked us. At least 69 downmountain mudslides reported in our area. Patchy ice. But the storm was here and gone so fast it barely made a dent in our supply of Cheetos.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Heavy weather in the Blue Ridge

We're snug in our little cabin awaiting the first snow of the season to reach our valley. The Blueridge Parkway is closed just 30 minutes away. Forecast calls for 2-4 inches here in the holler. Heavy, soaking rains. Mud slides, trees falling, rivers flooding.

Other areas are getting hit much harder. We're cool.

Yesterday, we stocked up on Cheetos.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Define smart

Our dog has begun to like going outside to pee at 4 in the morning whether it's raining or not. She sleeps in her crate and will bark once from the other room. That's my signal.


I suspect this is her version of clicker training.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

The Wild Rumpus rides again

She’s adept with quips, quiches, and power tools. Now, you can add monsters to the list. Not the chainsaw kind, but the serious kind that hide under your bed and in your closet.

Lyn Ellen Lacy (aka the Mystery Woman for regular readers) is the guest curator for “Sendak and Co.: Children’s Book Illustrations Since “Where the Wild Things Are” that features 170 original drawings by 33 artists. The show runs through Jan. 20 at the Appleton Museum in Ocala, FL.

The show is a draw.

And the exhibition is breaking attendance records. More than 1,000 kids brought their grown-ups to play at the Appleton’s recent “Monstrous Bash” for family day. Click here.

There's a chance the show might go on the road. The museum has received requests from other museums and public libraries across the nation.

Lyn Ellen, also known world-wide as my high school sweetheart, has written four books on children, creativity, and learning. She’s an expert on children’s literature and sometimes insists on reading me to sleep.

I just love her.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Too much snake, not enough oil

When Speaker John Boehner adjourned the House without approving overdue financial aid for victims of Hurricane Sandy he took the art of political slithering to a new low.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

TMI, TMI, TMI

It finally dawned on me that I’m watching too much TV. At least around noon.

For years, I’ve enjoyed drifting into my mid-day nap with MSNBC running in the background. That way, my dreams are seasoned from the left.

As I was falling asleep today, I realized I recognize their reporters by just their voices. Even their back bench team.

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