The Beginning....

The Beginning....
When William Least Heat-Moon toured the country many years ago, his steed, if you will, was a van that he named Ghost Dancing. His journey of America was 13,000 miles. His book is Blue Highways, A Journey Into America. My steed will be a Subaru WRX. My travels will be, what in the past were called, the blue highways of Virginia. Years ago, maps showed secondary roads in blue. Yes, the ones less traveled.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

We Have Really Stepped on Our Collective Wieners.... Haven't We?

Yes, I'm sure  this post will make it apparent that I know little about what's going on in the Middle East. However, that said, here is what little I do know.

We started a war in Iraq for no reason. Well, yes, we were told that there was WMD (yes, the old weapons of mass destruction). Of course, there wasn't.

Then Afghanistan. Weren't the Russians there for ten years or so and finally gave up? Also, weren't we supplying those folks with weapons to fight the Russians? Hmm... What was that movie? Was it Wilson's War? Just looked it up, it's Charlie Wilson's War.

Now, up to the present day. Let's see, there's a rebel group trying to overthrow the government of Syria. And, of course there's ISIS/ISIL. Now, we are presently spending millions and millions of dollars a day supposedly bombing ISIS/ISIL

We have given or about to give weapons to the rebels who are fighting the Syrian government. I just read that the rebels are pissed at us because we are bombing Syria. Hmm.... Maybe the rebels will join ISIS/ISIL.

Oh, yeah. Forgot to mention, we, yes the US, are bombing our weapons and equipment that we gave to the Iraqis that they abandoned and I guess are being used by ISIS/ISIL.

There must be something wrong with us. No matter what, we just keep going to war. Yes, our elected officials are prancing around and always talking about boots on the ground. I think that is an absolute insult to the men and women of our armed forces. Boots on the ground. Our exalted leaders completely ignore that fact that there are folks wearing those boots and they our citizens who they keep sending off to war. And, yes, they actually get killed. 

Hey, maybe we should fire-up the old B-52s and drop boots on them. 

Or, better yet, maybe we should fire-up the old B-52s and drop our politicians on them.

EDIT: This is what Charlie Sheen's character, Chris Taylor, said at the end of the movie, Platoon.

"I think now, looking back, we did not fight the enemy; we fought ourselves. The enemy was in us. The war is over for me now, but it will always be there, the rest of my days. As I'm sure Elias will be, fighting with Barnes for what Rhah called "possession of my soul." There are times since, I've felt like a child, born of those two fathers. But be that as it may, those of us who did make it have an obligation to build again. To teach to others what we know, and to try with what's left of our lives to find a goodness and a meaning to this life."

Sunday, August 31, 2014

James Randi, One of My Heroes...Take a Few Minutes to Get Acquainted With Him........

Take a few minutes and read an August 30, 2014 article in the Miami
Herald. Randi has been traveling the world for years, offering, what is now, a million dollar prize for anyone who can prove any type of paranormal, psychic ability, astrology, energy healing, and so on.

Thankfully, I live in a country (USA) where I can say just about anything I want. I can believe what I want. I can think what I want. And, no one, not the government, or citizens can take that away from me.

Yes, we are allowed to be duped and taken advantage of by charlatans and quacks of all
stripes. We can go to faith healers who can’t heal, chiropractors who adjust vertebral subluxations that don’t exist, take homeopathic remedies that are inert with no active ingredients, and on and on.

Randi has devoted his life to exposing these people. But, often times that does no good. Peter Popoff is a good example. Years ago Randi exposed him for what he is. Popoff wanders through the audience at his so-called faith healings and seems to know so much information about those who come for healings. Randi recorded the conversations between Popoff and his wife who was transmitting information to him that had been gathered from the prayer cards filled out by those seeking healings. Yes, he subsequently went bankrupt but is back at it again. Here's his new place. In the upper right hand corner, click on the to get the miracle water. You'll be entertained. I did that many years ago. As I best remember, I asked him to pray for my
cancer (which of course I didn't have) and some of the letters he sent mentioned my cancer. I would also get some pretty creepy messages from him. If nothing more you'll cost him a few bucks.

I could go on and on but am going to stop for now. If you are one of those seeking treatments from Reiki Masters, using Bach Flowers, seeing your chiropractor a couple of times a month, well…..I doubt that anything that I can say in a few words is going to change your mind.

Remember, the reason it’s called complementary and alternative medicine is because it doesn't work. Period. When treatments work, it's called medicine. This is poorly written but frankly, I don’t want to spend any more time on this at the moment.

And for those of you who say, What’s the harm? Well, take a look here..

Edit: Yes, just posted this. And, it is poorly written and for that I apologize. The answers are not with your astrologer, numerologist, psychic, or a so-called god up in the sky. Folks, try a little reality. The world is a great place as it is. And, when you are having medical problems seek treatment from real doctors. Oh, well.... Remember, Mr. Randi has a million bucks waiting for your Reiki Master, astrologer, psychic, and the rest of them. The next time your Reiki Master is shooting all that energy to you, why not ask them why they haven't gotten Mr. Randi's million bucks?

Yes, you may have noticed, I have a Ph.D. in  beating dead horses.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

MTV Awards. It Reminded Me of a Dog Show....Sort of.

This photo is along the right side of the blog. Yes, these
pups are all gussied-up.
You guys know about MTV Video Music Awards? Well, it was mentioned in our local online newspaper and by following a few links, I ended-up here.

Back to the dogs.... The pups in the photo are relatives of a great pup, Scout, who was with me many years ago. What a great dog she was.

I knew that I would have to train her. Well, she was going to end-up being too big to not have her minding. 

There was a local obedience club with a bunch of nice folks. And, it cost almost nothing as all the instructors were volunteers. Anyway, it was kind of cool and the pup seemed to like it OK....well, as best I could tell. And, it was amazing how she did. I couldn't let it go at that. I think I went to two of the classes and then Scout and I started going to obedience trials.

The obedience trials test the dog's ability to follow commands; stay, down, heal, and so on. She actually won a third-place ribbon (long story for maybe another time) scoring 170 points out of 200.

Anyway, back to what I wanted to say.

There are many types of dog shows or trials. The casual viewer is mostly familiar with confirmation shows such as Westminster. This is for all practical purposes a beauty contest; yes, the pups must meet the breed standard. But, it comes down to the dogs prancing around in a ring.

If you go to the link it seems that all of these ladies...... are in a bullpen kind of place where the watchers or fans or whatever you want to call them, are looking down into the pen while they prance around and get photographed. Yep, just like the dogs...well, there is one difference, the dogs have no choice. The folks prancing around in the bullpen do.

My mom always told me to never make fun of how someone looks. And, my mom was right. That said, wow, what a bunch.....yes, there were exceptions but most there were tacky, tawdry, cheap looking, hard looking, sleazy, or a combination. And unappealing, if you will, at least to this old guy of seventy-five years. Actually, I rather watch actual dogs.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Tony Stewart Ran Into and Killed Kevin Ward, Jr.

I was somewhat amazed that all of the news channels reported on this.

CNN, ABC, CBS, and others are reporting. And, there are several op-eds kind of essays about whether Stewart should be charged because of this tragic event.

Some are saying Stewart is a hot head and ask, did he try to buzz (for lack of a better word) Ward and accidentally kill him? None of us know this. Would any of us believe that Tony actually wanted to hurt this kid? I hope not.

This death is different than most racing deaths. Most deaths happen because of accidents while the race is in progress. Yes, these are tragic also; however, they are different than what happened to the young fellow who Tony hit. He was not in his car, he was on the track.

Today was the Michigan race. And, yes, Tony Stewart had Jeff Burton fill in for him. This is the second race Tony has missed. What the future holds for Stewart none of us know. And, I surely wouldn't want to be him at this time.

I had a limited and not-noteworthy racing career. Raced with the SCCA (cars), the AAMRR (motorcycle road racing), and lots of short-track motorcycle racing. And, held a novice license with the American Motorcycle Association (AMA), not the American Medical Association.

Yes, a Norton motorcycle. Sorry, yes, I grabbed this from the Internet.

I think for anyone who has raced, there are races or events, or particular instances that we will always remember.

Speaking of, my definition of buzzing is when a competitor passes you really close. Yes, closer than needed or necessary. Now, I'm not saying this is inherently bad...but, they sure have come close when there was plenty of track-room available.

The one that I best remember, the buzz, was at a AAMRR race at Virginia International Raceway. Yes, folks, this was in the sixties. I was riding a stock Yamaha 350 (yes, two-cycle) and was on the main straight, maybe going max of 115 when a fellow on a Norton, came by me. And, yes, he definitely buzzed me. He was going at least 20/25 mph faster, and yes, missed my handlebar by mere fractions of an inch.

And, so it goes. I hope Tony Stewart can come to grips with this tragedy.

EDIT: August 19, 2014
From our local paper, an AP article by Jenna Fryer about Tony Stewart.

EDIT:  September 26, 2014
An amazing article about Stewart, a usually private person, talking about how he's been since the "accident."

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Sarah Palin Now Has Her Own TV Program......

Well, I just couldn't resist. Yes, we can now watch Palin on TV. Yes, she has her own show.

"Palin publicly announced her project Sunday.
In a video on her YouTube channel, she called it “a news channel that really is a lot more than news.” It will cover stories about her family, behind-the-scenes looks at events and “the issues that the mainstream media won’t talk about,” Palin said.
Palin expressed hope that the channel would be a “community,” where viewers could share their concerns directly with her. However, this community does come at a cost. The subscription rate is $9.95 a month or $99.95 a year."  (ABC News, July 28, 2014)
And, if you want to be part of her community, cough up a few bucks a month.

Frankly folks, this does not speak well of us. It would be interesting to interview a few of you who are subscribed to her channel. Yes, and interview a few of you who voted for her. Of course in some ways, she can be an inspiration, for if she can run for the next-to-the-highest office in our country....well, maybe there's hope for the rest of us who aspire to such things. Remember, when she was running for office, she repeatedly couldn't accurately say what is the job of the vice president.
Here's a link to her new TV program.
And, here's a link from The Young Turks with a little something about Palin.    

She could do a Timex watch commercial. Yes, she just keeps on ticking.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

No, I Didn't Go Looking for These...In Fact, A Little Reluctant to Post!

Another photo of the witch. No, this surely has nothing to do with
the content of this post. Just wanted a photo here.
So, how did this all start? Good question!

I was looking around on CNN and looked at a video by Jeanne Moos, one of my favorite folks on CNN.

Here's the link to that video. Yes, it's an article about guys who goof-up their diesel trucks so that they spew bunches of black smoke: Rollin' Coal!

Now for the real whopper, pun intended or not. Yes, on the same website as the trucks was another article, have you folks heard of stuffers? Well, I hadn't, either. We are becoming known as a country with a high percentage of our citizens who are obese. In fact, there was recently a study that claimed (rightly or wrongly) that smokers lived longer than people who are obese. Yes, there are folks out there, seemingly the majority being women who are trying to gain weight, yes, by stuffing themselves. I was going to post before and after photos of one of these ladies; however, if you would like to take a look here is the link. Also, they claim it has something to do with sex. I'll let you folks ponder that and try to figure it out. Hey, I guess I'm getting a little too old for some of this stuff.

Guys spending money to make their trucks get poor gas mileage and belch smoke and attractive slender young women stuffing themselves to the point that they look pregnant. Ahh, yes, bring back the sixties.......

First Snaps With My New Camera........

Have been wanting to get out and take a few snaps with my new camera....and, here they are.  This camera is designed for what I think is called the action sports folks; yes, those of you who ski, SCUBA, race, kayak, sky dive, and so on. It's primary purpose is to take videos though it's obviously able to take still shots.

This photo taken at Mount Trashmore, Virginia Beach, looks sort of normal. Regular tourist-type photo. Yes, regular old bland benign photo.

The photo to the right is the full-frame photo from which the above photo was cropped. The lens is advertised as having a 170-degree view, which of course we'd call a fish-eye lens. The curving of the lamp post is normal for this type of lens.

Full- frame, uncropped photo.  Seems to be fairly sharp considering the low-cost of the camera. Well, it's sharp enough for me.

Ahh, yes, a church. Yes, there is another story here, that I hope to cover in more detail
some time. The photo to the right is a statue of a witch. Yes, a witch. Well, at least the good church folks claimed she was a witch. It's a full-frame photo with no cropping. Though you can't see the hospital, this statue is on the property of Bayside Hospital, Virginia Beach.

Back to the camera. Based on just this brief outing, I have no buyer's remorse.

The camera is quick to set-up and you do have some control on exposure over/under. Yes, it's a fixed-focus lens. As I said, it's primarily used for videos. Nothing complicated, just snap away. The camera is so tiny that you have to be careful of having camera movement. It has an anti-shake feature that I had turned on.  For me, these snaps are fine and I have no complaints. For this type of camera, at a little less than one-hundred dollars, it seems like a real bargain. 

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Well, My New Camera Will be Here in a Few Days! Now, What?

Yes, it's coming from Amazon. How did all of this start?

A few years ago, I almost bought a GoPro. Yes, those folks seem to have a lock on what's called action cameras. The GoPro and the camera I bought, the SJ4000, people use to photograph their action sports; diving, skiing, skateboarding, racing, and so on.

I guess the catalyst for this purchase is that the bottom-of-the line GoPro, the white model, is now $200. Yesterday, I had that camera, extra batteries, and a couple of other things in my cart. Yes, I was ready to buy the GoPro.

I then found out about the SJ4000 when I watched this comprehensive and detailed review. The SJ4000 is a spec under $100 and comes with a pile of extras; just about every mounting device you can think of. The only extra I bought was a couple of batteries.

Yes, yes, I know, I'm surely not an action sports kinda guy. So, how the heck am I going to use this camera? Good question.

One thing, well the main appeal, is the 170 degree view. Yes, a whopping-wide fish-eye view. Should be entertaining fooling around with the camera if for no other reason that the 170 view.

Yes, it takes still photos as well as videos. Will add some stuff as soon as I’m able to use it.

This is the waterproof case.  Mine will be black. They have quite an assortment of colors, including pink!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

You Folks Gotta Get One of These...Yes, it's an "HD" Radio....Honest, This is the Last on Radios.....

I bought this yesterday at Best Buy for $51.99.

As I best understand HD radio, the signals are cleaner without hiss. Also, there can be more than one channel on a frequency. So, your local PBS may be broadcasting three programs on their regular frequency. 

To my old ears the HD sounds much better. Yes, even on this what many would call an inexpensive radio. Actually, Amazon has this listed for about $90 (through another seller).

There are about 30 FM and one AM HD stations in my area. And, no, this radio only tunes to FM stations.

Take a look here for all of the information about HD radio.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Frankie and Tonya......or, The Reverend and the Arsonist.....Is There a Country and Western Song, Here?

Reverend, You Have a New Girlfriend….
“I do.”
“You’ve had bad luck. Several divorces and your last girlfriend ran around on you.”
“Yes, you’re right.”
“How is this lady any different?”
“Well, I know she’ll never run around on me. And, I pretty much know where she is 24/7.”
“That’s great. How so?”
“She’s in jail and charged with 63 arsons.”

Courtesy Virginian-Pilot
No, this isn’t funny in a ha-ha way; however, for some reason I couldn’t resist making this post. And, yes, the story above is exactly 55-words. This lady is charged with 60-plus felonies for setting fires on the Eastern Shore. Yes, just across the way from where I live in Virginia Beach.

Her then boyfriend has pleaded guilty and is awaiting sentencing. He testified against her today, though says he still loves her.

The new dude on the scene, if you will, is Reverend Dickerson.

Monday, a different man said he is Bundick’s current boyfriend. Testifying in her defense, the Rev. Frank Dickerson, of Withams, said she has a reputation for being “brutally honest,” and it is “not in her nature” to commit a crime.” (From the Virginian-Pilot, July 14, 2014)

Hey, I ain’t no lawyer, but why was he allowed to even testify? Because he’s a reverend? By the way, no search showed any church affiliation or any reference to him at all, except for his testimony in the trial.

Let’s see, dang, I’m a reverend. Hmmm……. I wonder?????   

Here are two newspaper links.  DelmarvaNow.Com and the Virginian-Pilot.

EDIT:  July 15, 2014. Tonya convicted. Sentence to be decided. Her reverend boyfriend, it seems, is a self-confessed former-drug addict.

Friday, July 11, 2014

This is Pretty-Darn Bizarre.......

Does this take the cake, or what?     

As I best understand it, two kids are dating. Yes, a 15YO girl and a 17YO boy. It seems the girl sent photos of herself  to him and the boy responded with a video of himself. The girl's mom called the police.

The police now have a warrant. Listen carefully. Yes, the police want to take the teen boy to a hospital, have him injected so that he'll have an erection, and film him so that they, the police, can match their video with the one that he sent his girl friend.

"The teen is facing two felony charges in juvenile court, manufacturing and distributing child pornography, which could lead not only to incarceration until he’s 21 but also to inclusion on the state sex offender registry, at a judge’s discretion, for the rest of his life."

This is wrong on so many accounts.... First off, the law makers may have been well-intentioned and I'm sure they had in mind legislation that would allow then to prosecute and convict sexual predators preying on young people. But, we hear too often of cases like this, where a couple of kids are being kids and a felony conviction is looming in their future. These laws need to be changed and make allowances for the kids (under 18) who get caught in this net. I would hope that all police departments have better things to do than spend countless hours trying convict a couple of teenagers for being, yes, teenagers. 

I'm sure the parents of young girls don't want them sending their nude snaps around, but that's the way it is. This is for the parents to deal with not the police. A crime to send a nude photo of yourself when you're a teenager sending it to another teenager!

When I was growing up many families didn't have phones much less every kid running around with these fancy photo-taking phones.

If you're interested, here's the article from the Virginian-Pilot.

EDIT:  Note, the paper is now reporting that the cops are no longer going to pursue the warrant. Yes, evidently the outcry was such that they decided to not got forward with the warrant. Now, if they'd just drop the case.

EDIT: 7/12/2014 11:50pm  I just added the Virginia seal. Yes, there's a breast exposed. Take a look here to see what our attorney general did in 2010.

EDIT: 7/13/2014 10:29am  Well, speaking of boobs.   

Yes, I have one of these (long story, for another time). It's a 1917 quarter.

"A Bare-Breasted Liberty Finally Meets Her Outraged Public:
On January 17 of 1917, the bare-breasted Standing Liberty Quarter finally entered circulation, and the outcry was immediate and loud. Religious leaders used words like "obscene" and "filthy" to describe the visage of our beautiful Miss Liberty with her breast exposed. Citizens' groups rallied their memberships to lobby Congress to have the disgusting coin recalled."
If you're interested, do a search for more information.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

To Add a Little Levity, A Benign Humorous Story That Actually Happened.....

Yes, this is from my trip to Lynnhaven Fish House...
Five or six years ago, I stayed at a motel in a small college town in West Virginia. In fact, the motel had hosted a meeting of world leaders, so it was far from a shabby stay-for-twenty-bucks a night place.

Anyway, went to the dining room for dinner. Just outside the doors to the dining room was a short counter. There were a couple of people behind the counter. As I best remember, the conversation went something like this...

The person who seemed to be the manager, said, 
“Hi, are you here for dinner?”


“Well, would you mind checking back with us later?”

I thought that was kind of odd. Anyway, I walked a few feet and looked in the dining room. Can't remember how many tables total, but there were at least six or so that were cleaned off and empty. So, I'm thinking, what in the heck is going on?

“Listen; there are several tables that are empty. I don't want to go back up stairs and then check with you later. If you all are, well...running a little behind or something that's fine. Just seat us, bring us some coffee, and then take your time.”

So, yes, we got a table. The waitress brought us coffee. The weird thing was they didn't seem to be backed-up or anything. In fact, the waitress promptly took our order and the food came out in a reasonable time. And, the food was fine; quite tasty, in fact.

As we walked by the counter after finishing our meal, the manager was still there.

“By the way, it's not important, but I thought I'd let you know I'm the food editor for the Baltimore Sun.”

Then I smiled. They looked at each other and...well...the manager I think was saying to himself, "Oh, $%&X."

An hour or so later, I went back down to the restaurant, held out my hand to the manager and as we shook hands, I said,"Hey, I was kidding, I'm not the food editor for The Sun."

He got a big grin on his face and seemed relieved. I guess there was a lesson to be learned. 

Note: Posted April 2013 on another of my blogs.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Today Is the Fourth of July. I Can Think of No Better Post Than This One.....

No, I surely don't wake up everyday and say, Gosh, it's good to be an American. In fact, I doubt many of us do.

However, something that happened a few days ago made me think about what it means to live in a country that allows its citizens to do just about anything they want, to have freedoms that in many parts of the world people do not have. In particular, I'm talking about freedom of speech.

A few days ago, a person who lives in a county far away, asked my permission to use stories from my book, Fifty-Five 55-Word Stories. The person is putting together a book of one-hundred short stories and obliviously, I was quite flattered that he chose six of mine.

Sadly, like many Americans, I know little about countries other than ours. Yes, I read the news and know about some of the horrible things that happen to citizens in other places who speak their minds. In fact, this person lives in a country where you can be killed, yes, murdered by the state, for saying the wrong things about gods.

Yes, religion again.

Can you even imagine getting up in the morning and having to watch what you say?

So, I'm going to try to keep in mind our right to freedom of speech. And, I'm hoping that if anyone is reading this, they too will get up and think, if only for a moment, that's it's great to live in a country where we can say what we want.

This posted on another of my blogs, a year or so ago…..