Why the title?

"Pioneers take the arrows"

Oh, wait. I should be upbeat and taking arrows doesn't sound like an upbeat thing to say.

So, let me amend that statement.

It was courage and vision that led the pioneers to leave behind a comfortable, settled life and trek West to begin a new life in a new place. Many of those from the East that went West found a strength within themselves that they didn't see while they were in their old life. Instead of being one of those that just kind of went along with the others in the old life, they became leaders and visionaries in their new lives.

The sentiments of that last paragraph come from a favorite author, Louis L'Amour, in many of his books. So, I can't really say that it is an original thought from me. However, what he said is truthful.

Welcome to being a pioneer. Look ahead and ignore the "barking dogs" that give you negative opinions and comments. Louis L'Amour also spoke of the barking dogs.

In some of his stories, it was usually a father or older man telling a young boy how it was that when the Westward bound Conestoga wagons rolled through towns, the dogs came out to bark at them. His character then told the young listener that the barking didn't stop the wagons from going on to their destinations.

Following the advice of the Louis L'Amour characters, may we all forge ahead with our plans, after carefully considering all consequences and leave the "barkers" behind.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Left’s War Against God

In the ongoing struggle against a greater power, those on the Left find themselves always struggling to try to diminish the influence of those that believe in God, even in defiance of a judge’s order. The following story is an example of their determination to ignore what is true and just in order to further their own agendas.

Is The VA Censoring ‘God’ Out of Funeral Prayers At Houston Cemetery?

Mike Opelka

June 29, 2011

The Blaze.com

Imagine how you would feel if you lost a loved one serving in the military. Your family has paid the ultimate price, protecting the freedoms that all Americans enjoy. And now friends and relatives have gathered at the “National Cemetery” for a funeral service and to pay respects to the departed. However, nothing can proceed until the words of the memorial service have been screened and approved.

Sound a little far-fetched? Well, That‘s the battle that’s been happening between Texas veterans and the Dept. of Veterans Affairs (VA) for months.

Earlier this year, the (VA) asked that all specific references to God be removed from the Memorial Day ceremonies slated to be held at the Houston cemetery. A judge granted a stay against the VA and the prayers were allowed to go on without government oversight or editing. But the battle continued, despite a very clear warning from the bench:

“..the judge warned the agency it had stepped too far, saying officials were essentially “decreeing how citizens honor their veterans.”

But despite the judge’s warning, it seems the censorship has continued. 740 KTRH NewsRadio in Houston has interviewed several people who have experienced it first-hand:

Attorney Jeff Mateer represents the Liberty Institute; he says the cemetery director won’t allow the use of “God” or “Jesus” unless the family submits the prayer in writing for her approval.

“In addition, director Arlene Ocasio has stated the National Memorial Ladies cannot tell families ‘God Bless,’ they cannot communicate in writing or orally,” says Mateer.  “And that violates the U.S. Constitution.”

Marilyn Koepp is with the National Memorial Ladies.  “I would have been appalled if when the VFW did my father’s funeral in 2004, if they could not have said ‘God,’ what is happening to our country?” she asks.

Vietnam veteran Nobelton Jones hands out shells from the 21-gun salute to families, but says the cemetery director is trying to censor him as well.

“On March 15, she said that at the District 4 ceremony, that I could not say ‘We wish that God grant you and your family grace, mercy and peace,’ she specifically said that,” claims Jones.

“It’s just unfair that somebody would ask us to take God out of our vocabulary,” Cheryl Whitfield, founder of Houston National Memorial Ladies, told the Houston Chronicle.

“I could’ve kept my mouth shut and let things happen, but when it comes to standing up for your belief in God and giving comfort to the families, I don’t want to regret not saying anything,” she added. “We all had to stand up for what we believe in.”

The Liberty Institute has filed a formal complaint alleging “a widespread and consistent practice of discriminating against private religious speech” at the cemetery.

Get more of the story from KTRH-RADIO.

http://www.theblaze.com/stories/is-the-v-a-censoring-god-out-of-funeral-prayers-at-houston-cemetery/

Interestingly enough, those on the left forget that the supposed reason for their belief that the Constitution and its Amendments refuses a link between the state and religion. Unfortunately, they fail to actually read the First Amendment, thus they are unaware of the fact that it actually is intended to protect religion.

But, many don’t fully understand the Amendments. For instance, the First Amendment actually grants five rights to the citizens of the United States. Allow me to provide the text of that amendment:

“Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

First mentioned is that Congress shall make no law establishing a religion, but it goes on to specifically prohibit Congress from prohibiting the free exercise of religion. That is the part that the Leftists conveniently leave out. That is why it is an abomination for someone to try to use what grants our freedoms to deny them to us.

Fortunately, the First Amendment also grants the freedom of speech, the freedom of the press, the right of the people to peaceably assemble and to petition the government for a redress of grievances. But, I always keep in mind that the very first part of the First Amendment was included to allow us the rights to our beliefs in God.

Now, it is our duty to be alert of the efforts of the enemies of liberty, even that of using our constitution and our laws to try to thwart the freedoms that we enjoy. We must be aware that that the enemies of liberty are within this country as well as out of it.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Pinning the Critter

Please excuse the horrific job of highlighting the “parts” of the critter that I saw in Richard’s painting yesterday. In what I do with my photography, I seldom EVER do anything in photo manipulation software other than “crop” and occasionally “adjust lighting.” Oh, there is the resizing I do to post onto Photobucket or prepare for the blog.

Since I do little in the way of photo manipulation, I’m not really comfortable with working with some of the software. I have three “packages” that I use. My first one was a “HOKEY” package called Picture Easy that came with my first digital camera, the Kodak DC260. It is so limited, that the only reason I still keep it around is because it works the best as a slideshow viewer.

My second one that I principally use is Microsoft’s Digital Image Pro 7, in which I work primarily with non-subtle things like resizing, cropping, and lightening. The last one I got simply because the last photo printer that I had, an Epson printer capable of printing out 13” x 19” photos, wouldn’t work with either the Picture Easy or the Microsoft Digital Image Pro 7. The last one I got is Photoshop Elements. (Incidentally, Picture Easy hasn’t been around in ages and Microsoft’s has been discontinued for some time as well.)

Now, to the painting entitled, “Deep in the Woods.” (Incidentally, it has been reworked by Richard, so as an actual painting on canvas, the original no longer exists as we will see it here.) It is with Richard’s permission that I am posting the original photo image and the details of the critter on my blog. Normally, I would have simply linked to his work, but since I’m highlighting the parts of the “critter”, I’ll have to do that here.

First of all, here is the original photo image. It was in the “far” image, meaning not clicked on and linked to, that I first saw the critter. I have since determined that Richard has created a “hybrid” animal as it sort of looks like a donkey, but with the muzzle and mouth of a wolf-like creature. (Man, what an imagination…..)

Deep in the Forest1

The following is the cropped out critter, so in the original image, look at the base of the left, center tree that is brown in color.

Deep in the Forest5 Cropped

This next image has arrows to point out the top and bottom of the animal’s body.

Deep in the Forest Body

Next, and much harder to make out, are what looks like the ears of a donkey.

Deep in the Forest Ears

Here is the eye that I referred to in my original posting about this painting.

Deep in the Forest Eye

This one is more of a view of the side of the head, with the eye as a part of it. Perhaps this part will allow a better perspective of the eye within the head.

Deep in the Forest Head

Continuing forward on the critter, the arrow here points to the muzzle and the mouth of the animal.

Deep in the Forest Nose and Mouth

And last, the two downward strokes that made up the thin legs at the rear of the animal.

Deep in the Forest Rear Legs

Richard has been kidding me with a reference that it was too bad that I didn’t see the Virgin Mary so that he could pop that painting out on E-bay and make enough to buy his dream RV. Well, sorry, but I have no idea what the Virgin Mary would look like, so I obviously couldn’t see her in a painting.

However, since Richard created this “hybrid” critter but has since covered it over in his painting, he’ll never make a dime on the unlikely animal that he originally created. I’m sure that it could have been a starring character in a movie as well.

I was almost willing to offer money for the painting as it originally was done. Oh, well. Live and learn. This is why I seldom ever delete one of my photos. One never knows when a second look will reveal a beauty not seen before. It is not an unusual thing to happen. But then, it is easy to store digital images. Not so original paintings.

Thanks for the fun, Richard.  I’ve enjoyed this exchange.  What I am sorry for is that my question led you to rework your painting.  I may never comment again with the fear that you will alter and spoil a perfectly excellent painting.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Inter-blog Activity in the Form of a Game

Thus, something new has sprung up in the painting world. The renowned artist, Richard, at this blog posting has painted in something that I see, but he swears he didn’t put there. He has created a painting with four trees entitled, “Deep in the Forest” and I see a critter at the base of one of the trees.

http://rvpainter.blogspot.com/2011/06/deep-into-forest.html

At the time of this writing, he hasn’t acknowledged seeing what I’ve seen, so I either got a-hold of some “wacky-weed” without knowing it, or my vision has deteriorated. With his permission, I am going to try to use photo manipulation software to crop and point out somehow the parts that I see that gives an impression of a critter standing at the base of the tree.

Until I accomplish that, I’ll let my readers look at it to see if anyone else sees the mystery critter. To me, it looks almost like a miniature donkey. It is located at the base of the left-center tree, the rump of the animal is more in the foreground with the head to the back and to the right, and there are two downward strokes of paint at the rear that appear to be somewhat thin legs. Towards the “head” end of the critter a pair of ears are visible to my fertile imagination and to the right of the shortened head of a donkey is a single eye in a lighter color.

So, let’s see if anyone else can see the critter that I do before I get the marking of the photo done. That will probably be tomorrow, as it is getting rather late for doing it this evening.

Don’t start by looking close. Look at the top picture without clicking on it so that you have a distant looking image. That is where I first noticed it. The second photo shows the critter right at dead center in the image.

I guess instead of “Pin the Tail on the Donkey”, we’ll play “Pin the Donkey on the Painting.”

Good luck.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Sharing More Paintings by My Mother

It dawned on me this evening that I have failed to follow up with something that I had wanted to do for a while. Earlier this month, I posted photos of some of my mother’s paintings so that Richard (RVPAINTER) could see the kind of work she had done. I had really intended on getting more photos of the paintings posted, but alas, I got off on political stuff. So, let me lighten up the mood of the blog for a bit.

As of today, June 27, Richard claims to be allergic to winter, yet he painted a winter scene today. So, since he is SO not into that season, let me heap more of the snowy season upon him. By the way, Richard’s blog is at this link:

http://rvpainter.blogspot.com/

Right off the bat, let’s give him one with a dreary, snow covered landscape. It is a little hard to tell, but I think Mother painted this one in 1978.

DSC_0787

Then we need to go all the way back to 1974 in order to get another snowy scene.

DSC_0811

Like many other artists, Mother kind of went through “periods” where one theme might have been a little more prevalent than others. For instance, there were a few years where she had the opportunity to “sponsor” others on trips to the Holy Lands, and she got to make several trips there.

An uncle of mine, Mother’s brother-in-law, helped her get started. The way the “sponsoring” worked is that if one was able to recruit others that paid their own way to the Middle East, the “sponsor” would have their traveling expenses paid and would only be responsible for transportation to an airport in the U.S. and for their own “personal” expenses such as extra meals or souvenirs.

After making those trips, she had a period where Middle Eastern scenes were worked into her paintings. While a large number of my family wasn’t really impressed with them, I did have an interest. After all, part of my military service was in Pakistan, so the culture still interested me. Following are a couple of her paintings of the Middle East.

DSC_0799

DSC_0821

Now, this one I have absolutely no explanation for as to why she painted it. In the past, I’ve mentioned that Mother could not do faces. And, anything in the way of an animal had to be first applied to the canvas by tracing onto tracing paper and then traced again onto the canvas. As you can see, she did do some faces. But, why a Conquistador, I have no idea. She did have an interest in the West and the cultures and way of living there. Those paintings will have to wait for another posting.

DSC_0802

There is one last painting for this posting. In my mind, it has the title of “Forever Unfinished.” Back several years ago, in traveling over Raton Pass between Raton, New Mexico and Trinidad, Colorado, one could watch and get the opportunity to see an old Spanish mission church. It was small and was kind of up the mountain quite a ways. On a couple of times, I stopped and took pictures of that church.

It had an appeal to me and I had the idea of finding my way to the roads to go up to and take closer pictures of it, but in all the trips we made, we were always pulling a camper, thus I was limited in time and the space to maneuver around. So, I never got the close-ups done. Now, the mission is falling into ruin and will never be the same except perhaps in photos and in my mind.

The Mission was the subject of my one attempt to dabble with oil painting. As I’ve stated before, I have zilch, zero, nada talent with painting. This painting was largely painted by Mother with it being my job to put in the Mission itself. As you can see, it ain’t a pretty sight. But, it was the one painting that Mother and I collaborated with in an attempt to paint what I had photographed. Because of that, and because it is a small painting, it hangs on the wall in the living room or our Mobile Suites.  And, with no talent for painting on my own part, it is “forever unfinished.”

DSC_0827

Now that I’ve made everyone sick with my feeble attempt at painting, I’ll let you go lie down.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Forever An Optimist

Too bad that there isn’t a way (or is there) of imbedding a song into one’s post so that it plays as one reads the post. Were it so, I would choose the song by Patrick O’Hearn entitled “Forever An Optimist.” But, I’m also really sure I would be in trouble with copyright laws. Oh, well. I’ll just listen as I type this instead.

Richard Secor, an artist of worth in New Mexico, occasionally comments on my posts and the one he made on yesterday’s blog post deserves an answer to show my reason for optimism. In fact, he deserves something that perhaps will give him more confidence in the future of this nation.

It has been my good fortune to be acquainted with people who always tended to be optimistic, and perhaps that is because most of them have been Christians. At any rate, my experiences and the knowledge I’ve gained from them have given me a different perspective than others. I hope that Richard does not mind my quoting him in this blog entry. (If he does, well it sucks to be him…it’s my blog.) His comment:

“I don't think there is an honest politician among the whole lot. They lie to get into office - they lie while they are there and they lie on their way out. Obama surrounded himself with idiots and spent too much time on the late shows wallowing in the self-inflicted glory of being the first Black President. So much that he lost sight of what he promised the American people and the world. George Bush brought American and the World to its knees and I doubt there is a person alive today who can bring any type of normal economy back within the next 15 years. The people are a majority but allow themselves to be a minority due to being too damn lazy to THINK”

First of all, I cannot necessarily agree with the statement that the “whole lot of politicians” are dishonest. We in Oklahoma have had the good fortune of being represented by some pretty damn good men and women. Currently, our Senators are James Inhoff and Tom Coburn. James Inhofe has been in the vanguard of those fighting against the “global warming” crowd and Tom Coburn has been in the vanguard of those seeking more fiscal responsibility and commitments to morality.

While I can’t speak for all of our members of the House of Representatives, they all seem to be pretty good people, most of whom I would vote for if they were in my district. The really sad part is that the good, honest ones tend to NOT go looking for the media to get their “spin” out to the people.

And that now brings us to the crux of many of the woes of this country. When I was a young man, I had an interest and earned a college scholarship for Journalism. At that time, journalism was a noble field with its “representatives” being dedicated to the belief that journalism had a duty to be objective and print the truth. I can tell you that the majority of the media has no desire to be objective in today’s reporting. The few that do are constantly denigrated by their enemies.

When students of journalism are asked why they want to be journalists, the majority have the answer that they “want to make a difference and change the world.” Sorry, but a journalist’s job is to be objective and search out and print the truth, not try to “change things.” So, we now have journalists with a Socialist agenda that ignore the truth and actively seek to do harm to those with whom they disagree. They are effective enough to be able to convince “the masses” that the media’s enemies are also the enemies of “the masses.” What is that statement….if you repeat something enough times then people will begin to believe it?

Let’s start with the most prominent one, one still used in the second year of Obama’s presidency. “It is all George Bush’s fault.” Excuse me, but while I don’t agree with everything Bush did, he didn’t destroy this economy. For the last two years of Bush’s terms, he had a Democratic Party controlled Congress and it is Congress that controls most of the purse strings. While Bush should have used his veto power more, he didn’t, but he doesn’t deserve full blame.

With the economy, keep in mind that the ones advising Bush were Henry Paulson, the Treasury Secretary, and Timothy Geithner, both of whom are Democrats and have long held Keynesian economic philosophies. Both still do in spite of seeing their efforts completely fail. Thus, Democrats advised the President in the wrong way. Sadly, it isn’t them that get the blame, because the media is still out there saying, “It’s George Bush’s fault.”

Remember from yesterday’s post, that tax cuts stimulate the economy and massive government spending, adding to debt, are harmful to the economy as a whole. Side question: with all of TARP and the Stimulus monies, how much of that actually got to the people? You know, the “masses.”

Now, I remember the time of Reagan the best, and he came in after Jimmy Carter. You know, the man who (along with Congress) gave us double digit interest on credit cards and mortgages. I remember at the time that many felt that the country would NEVER recover from Carter’s policies and decisions. But, Reagan came in with conservative beliefs and proved that tax cuts were a means of increasing the revenue to the government.

An interesting read as to a comparison of Reagan and Obama policies is located at the link below. Both “received” an economy in much the same state, but with policies opposite of each other, there are differing outcomes.

http://www.therightsphere.com/2011/06/reagan-vs-obama-the-consequences-of-economic-policy-choices/

Reagan’s policies led to a long term economic growth, even into the years of George H.W. Bush, Clinton, and George Bush. (Those continued because those presidents didn’t really do very much different than Reagan. It is even said that Clinton enjoyed a good economy simply because he “didn’t get in the way” of growth.)

Obama’s policies brought high unemployment and massive debt. And, what effect would 2 to 3 million more people unemployed have on tax revenue generation? Richard referred to Obama’s promises in his comment. However, from what I remember of Obama’s speeches and town hall meetings, he didn’t promise anything other than “hope” and “change.” He did say that he was going to try to “fundamentally change” the United States. To me, that meant he wanted a Socialist government and economy, neither of which are a good thing.

I will contend that if the United States were to get back onto a conservative philosophy and elect conservative representatives to Congress and elect a conservative (don’t necessarily read ‘Republican’) President, we could again see a growth in the economy to be greater than that of Reagan’s effect. Remember, Reagan had a Democratic Party controlled Congress. If we had those kinds of people in office in Washington, I don’t think it would take but a few years to completely recover.

The other major change Americans need to make is to be a lot more careful of their sources of news. With the “mainstream media” being one with an agenda instead of an objective attitude, we must look elsewhere. If one wants an interesting book to read in regards to this topic, read Bernard Goldberg’s book, “Bias.” Goldberg was a CBS journalist and exposed the networks for the liberals that they really were.

In my own case, I seldom watch network news and surprisingly, the same with FOX News. I tend to use alternative news sources such as talk radio and the internet. What I hear on the radio, I can verify on the internet. Oddly enough, the Drudge Report is hailed as a “RIGHT WING” source of information. While Drudge is a conservative, his Drudge Report is made up primarily of links to left wing sources. There was even a UCLA study done that rated the Drudge Report as “Liberal” because so many of his stories came from liberal sources. Drudge just lets the liberals demonstrate who they are in a “local” market and put it out there nationally.

In light of the long known adage, “believe nothing that you hear and only half of what you see”, I tend to be skeptical of both politicians AND the media. To be better informed citizens, I suggest others be the same way.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Are These People Stupid….or Evil?

Over the years, I have been blessed with being able to associate with very intelligent people and to learn from them and from reading. Some of the lessons learned from my parents and other family were absorbed, but then either forgotten or ignored if it suits my fancy. Growing up in the ‘50’s and ‘60’s, I “learned” that if I wanted something, I should wait until I actually had the money before buying it.

That was one of those that didn’t suit my fancy. But, in my later years, I’ve come to really appreciate the wisdom passed to me, and with my own experience as to the opposite of that wisdom, it brings home the values that I was taught. While about all of my family were registered Democrats, and that I initially registered as one, later observations led me to change my political and philosophical views, and eventually my political registration.

The last President from the Democratic Party that agreed with most of my philosophies was John F. Kennedy. I also have to believe that if he were alive today, he would be a Republican. While it had been done before, I first remember JFK proposing and passing a tax cut, which resulted in MORE revenue to the U.S. Treasury. In Ronald Reagan’s presidency, he also proposed and got a tax cut passed. Prior to his presidency, many of those making a LOT of money were being taxed as high as 91%.

Then again, George W. Bush proposed and got tax cuts passed and enacted. In every one of those instances, revenues to the treasury increased. Just for the record, the same had occurred prior to my birth, but I just wasn’t aware of that. With tax cuts, businesses are more prone to expand their business, both in product development and in the hiring of new employees. Each new employee also pays taxes to the government and more profit to the company leads to more taxes from the company.

Plus, the additional movement of inventory and services causes additional profits (and hiring) by companies that distribute and sell those products and services. In contrast, tax INCREASES cause individual and companies to cut back on production and hiring.

With the fact of the increase in revenue to the government, why is it that many of those on the left want to decry that “Yeah, but what about the deficit?” It is simply a fact that if you SPEND more than you make, even in a period of revenue growth, you will have deficits. Now, who generally controls the purse strings in government? Yep, Congress has that constitutional control, and over the years they have generally gone on spending sprees, especially if they see more revenue.

It is apparently natural for them to believe, wrongly so, that those revenues will increase even more if they tax the rich. After all, we want to be “fair,” don’t we? Well, let me refer the reader back to a previous post of my blog, in which is a link to The Tax Foundation that shows that while the top 50% of taxpayers pay 97.3% of the tax and the bottom 50% of taxpayers only pay 2.7% of the overall taxes. Now, that doesn’t sound fair to me, so let me give you that link to my previous post:

http://ignoringthebarkingdogs.blogspot.com/2011/05/answers-to-readers-comment-part-1.html

Now, within the past week, the U.S. Treasury Secretary, Timothy Geithner, made a comment to the effect that we needed to increase the taxes to the small businesses (mostly the top 3%). Testifying before the House Small Business Committee he said this:

“If you don't touch revenues and you leave in place the tax cuts for the top 2 percent that were put in place by President Bush, if you leave those in place and you're trying to bring our deficits down over time, then you have to do exceptionally deep cuts in benefits for middle-class Americans and you have to shrink the overall size of government programs, things like education, to levels that we could not accept as a country,” said Geithner.”

Note the part in bold letters. He is concerned with cutting government programs. He mentions education, but the federal education dollars only amount to 8% or less of the overall education expenses in this country. The other 92% comes from state, county, and city taxes. Every dollar of taxation that the federal government does takes money away from states and local governments.

Now, let's get back to small businesses and the value they are and what they create. From the unlikely source of the Huffington Post, there was an article speaking to the Five Big Myths About American Small Businesses, written by Kristie Arslan, who is the Executive Director of the National Association for the Self-Employed (NASE).

1. Most Americans work for large corporations - But large businesses only employ about 38 percent of the private sector workforce while small businesses employ 53 percent of the workforce. In fact, over 99 percent of employing organizations are small businesses and more than 95 percent of these businesses have fewer than 10 employees.

2. Job growth is driven by large employers - While corporations do employ many Americans, small businesses account for 64 percent of net new jobs created. Many of these new jobs are also new companies -- the startup rate in 2010 was the highest it has been in 15 years, according to the Kauffman Index of Entrepreneurial Activity. More than half a million new businesses were created in 2010 as the poor economy and high employment rates have led more individuals into business ownership.

3. Lending is readily available for small businesses in large and small amounts - When President Obama signed the Small Business Jobs Act last May, much attention was paid to the $30 billion Small Business Lending Fund that would be made available to community banks, credit unions and community development funds. This funding helped address the fact that neither the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) funds nor industry bailouts specifically helped small businesses. Although the $30 billion in lending was authorized eight months ago, the Treasury Department has yet to distribute these funds.

4. Self-employed business owners get all the same tax benefits as larger businesses - Businesses have a seemingly infinite ability to "write-off" certain expenses on their corporate tax returns, right? But what about business owners who file individual tax returns, as most self-employed businesses do? It turns out there are fewer tax perks for the self-employed business owner. For example, corporations are able to claim health insurance policies for employees as a business expense and their employees pay for those policies with pre-tax dollars.

5. Being self-employed is not a "real" job - Being your own boss means you have created a job for yourself and have prevented one more individual from showing up on the unemployment rolls. As the unemployment rate edged back up to 9 percent in April, more individuals may be considering creating a job for themselves. These jobs are just as valuable to the economy as an office or factory job. This dynamic business demographic contributes about $1 trillion to the economy every year -- no myth.

The link to the whole story:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kristie-arslan/five-big-myths-about-amer_b_866118.html

And these businesses are what Timothy Geithner and almost all of the Democratic Party leadership want to increase taxes upon. Keep one more little tidbit in mind. Except for a few exceptions, such as government owned electrical generation facilities, government does NOT MAKE a profit. Thus, in order to pay all the other government employees, governments must tax the businesses and workers in the private workforce. So, government is a leech sucking on the blood of the private industry and anyone advocating the creation of more government jobs is only making a bad system worse.

The Keynesian philosophy of economics where government is the best provider of economic growth is false. Sadly, our country is now experiencing horrific results of a failed system that has finally been implemented by the Democratic Party controlled Congress in league with a Socialist President in Barack Obama. However, I will venture to say that in the not too far future, there will be YET ANOTHER liberal who wants to claim that government “just didn’t spend enough” to be able to accomplish their goals.

So, to go out on a limb and answer the question in the title of this post, I will claim that those people are EVIL.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Still Adjusting to Full Time RV Life

For the most part, we are adjusting quite well to living in the Mobile Suites instead of a house, with a few exceptions. Of course, on occasion, we miss having a second bathroom. And, not always for what seems to be the obvious reason.

In our morning routine, Jo gets up first and feeds the dogs at the time my alarm goes off at 5:30am. Normally, I am pulling on some sweats bottoms and heading for the bathroom. This then allows her to get down the hallway and begin her routine for getting ready for work. The last few days or so, she has plugged in my coffee pot (which I’ve prepared the night before) and turns it on.

Because she has been turning on the coffee maker, I never even looked to see if she started it this morning. (That of course, made me be without coffee for that long 2 ½ mile drive to work.) I then sit down and finish whatever Dr. Pepper is in my mug for overnight and let the dogs out and in while she showers and does whatever else she needs in the bathroom. As she leaves the bathroom, she lets me know. Then I go do my stuff for getting ready, have my breakfast, and pour my coffee while Jo places the gates where the dogs can’t get onto carpet.

So, now it looks like I’m going to have to be a lot more alert in the mornings. Dang wife just didn’t get trained right.

Most of the day was just work and other uneventful things. However, the in-laws that sold their house without even listing it were down from Kansas today. Roxie is retired from the Oklahoma school systems and I think something to the effect of some retirement also from Kansas. Since they are going to move to Colorado, they had to change her retirement benefits to go to a different bank.

Oklahoma in its WONDERFUL, highly sensible system for doing things required her to come to Oklahoma City to sign for that change to be made. She HAD to do it IN PERSON. (Idiot bureaucrats….)

Anyway, while they were here, we drove over to El Reno to meet up with them and go have supper. (Uhhh…..supper is Okie talk for Dinner.) Dinner is actually what somewhat civilized folks call Lunch. (Breakfast is universal.) We got to visit for about an hour and a half and kind of iron out some plans for us to take off some time from work and go help them move.

While they are closing on their Kansas house tomorrow, the buyer told them they could have 60 days to get moved. So, their closing on the Colorado house will be a week from tomorrow. Sometime after the middle of July is when we will need to take off time to go up and help them move.

Now, to touch on what I posted in my last entry about the burning of Ed and Marilyn’s Mobile Suites. The link that I posted in the last entry was to a specific date of their travel journal, and I wanted to update with a link to their “home” page. That way, it will be easier for readers to see all their latest posts. One of those posts has pictures. Other than the link, I’ll let their words get you up to speed on their progress towards a new coach. Their link:

http://www.mytripjournal.com/Dray-TheHappyWanderers

While their experience has been a disastrous affair, it has gotten folks on the forums to looking at the need of multiple fire extinguishers. But, in addition to “multiple” extinguishers, they also need to be “placed” in appropriate places. For Jo and me, I am considering 2 inside the coach, 1 each on each side of the basement of the coach, 1 on each side of the truck, and 1 in the Mercury Mariner.

Someone on the RV Dreams forum also advised everyone to make sure they got good quality extinguishers. Poor quality will be of little to no value, especially considering how old they may get before being serviced.

Monday, June 20, 2011

A Caution for All RV’ers

Yesterday, June 19, 2011, it was announced on the RV Dreams journal entry that a couple from Kansas that had retired and begun to travel in 2006 had lost their Mobile Suites RV to a fire. From the details given, there was apparently a locked up wheel bearing or something that then created a blowout and the beginning of the fire. The owners tried to put out the fire themselves, but with the limited fire extinguishers that they had, they were unable to save the coach.

Here is a link to the RV Dreams journal entry:

http://www.rv-dreams.typepad.com/

And here is a link to a posting on the couple trip journal:

http://www.mytripjournal.com/travel-607253

The reason I bring this up is because of the importance of being prepared and being conscious of the maintenance that our RV’s need. I have no idea of the number of fire extinguishers the couple had, nor do I know of their maintenance procedures in the past, nor can I say that they have done anything wrong to cause this terrible accident.

A number of forum commenters make the point of being glad they have a tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS) or a detector that can tell the temperatures of the wheels and tires on their rigs. They tell stories of seeing a higher than normal pressure in only one tire on their TPMS system, thus having an indicator that perhaps heat has caused that increase in pressure.

Others write of walking around their RV with a device for detecting temperatures and checking every wheel and tire for temperatures, looking for one that is higher than all the others. That higher temperature would be an indicator of a possible bad bearing.

There may be other methods that RV’ers do to check their rigs, and it would be important to all of us to at least take note of those so that we can duplicate what they do on our own. It is also important to create a system of maintenance so that we have a knowledge of what may need to be checked or repaired or replaced.

How many have kept their tires too long and seen a blowout that severely damaged their RV? How many others have taken shortcuts and ended up seeing a failure?

I remember a topic where someone had checked their bearings and when putting things back together, they felt that the seals were still good. Later, that bearing began to leak from that seal, leading to a bearing failure. The gist of that discussion was that if one pulls a bearing for any reason, replace the seal, even if it not necessary to replace the bearings.

Marilyn and Ed were extremely lucky in that they suffered no harm themselves, but they have lost their home (the RV) and all that was in it. We can all offer our thanks to God that they were spared and that their lives get back to some form of normalcy soon.

Beyond that, let us all learn from the mistakes of others. When we are on the various forums, we need to pay attention to those threads that speak of maintenance of our rigs, especially of the “running gear” that includes the tires, wheels, axles, drive shafts, etc. It isn’t enough to just do a quick look-over and the get the oil changed.

I know that on a number of forums, some of the topics run to being careful to not purchase any tires that are made in China, making sure that tire pressures are maintained at the proper level, and to paying attention as to how old the tires are, not just how much tread is left.

Keep in mind that those things are the foundations of our RV’s and the loss or damage to those things may mean the RV sits at the side of the road, instead of being able to make it to the next repair facility. Being at the side of the road and trying to change a tire or bearing makes it dangerous should that tire or bearing be on the road side of the RV.

Also, with fires in mind, let me remind everyone that a coffee maker that is plugged in can be a source of fire. If you talk to some firefighters, you might be surprised as to the number of home fires that are caused by a coffee maker being plugged in, although not operating at the time.

Have an extra fire extinguisher or two available. The one inside the door of the coach may not be of any benefit because of size and any that are under the sink may be unavailable because the slides are pulled in.

As stated every episode on Hill Street Blues at the shift briefings, “Let’s be careful out there.”

And, speaking of axles and bearings, I think this guy has a lot to look after. It is a converted bus towing a 3-axle trailer in which they carry the full sized Cadillac Escalade seen parked in front of the bus. This was seen in 2008 at the Eleven Mile State Park west of Colorado Springs, CO.

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OK. Since writing the above, Ed and Marilyn have updated their travel journal and what they had to say is pretty much what I mentioned. We all certainly need more than one fire extinguisher.

Also, I had an issue last night in that I tried posting this blog post but I kept getting an error message. We’ll see what happens today. I did post two yesterday, so I don’t fully understand unless there is something between LiveWriter and Blogger.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

The Curse Continues

Let me begin by giving some background before I go into telling of my experience today at presiding over the communion table. I do this because the background information directly relates to what occurred today.

Several years ago, I was approached and asked whether I wanted to “do the communion table” or “do the call to worship.” At the time, I knew that the Call to Worship was just someone standing up and welcoming any visitors to the worship service. Then that person would give a two or three minute recitation of something they had prepared in advance with the intent to take everyone’s minds off of the past week’s events and get them to begin focusing on worshiping God.

I also knew that the communion table duty involved handling those trays with small cups of grape juice, and I had a horrible premonition that I would be likely to spill such all over the place if not all over someone. So, to avoid the premonition, I readily accepted the offer to do the “Call to Worship.”

So, that week I considered a number of topics to speak about for the Call to Worship and towards the end of the week, I had created a pretty good outline of the points I wanted to bring up in my recitation. I had even rehearsed the whole spiel in my mind and felt pretty comfortable with what I was going to say.

Sunday came and with no concerns at all, we attended the Bible study hour and as usual, I participated with the discussions in the class. Keep in mind that at this time in my life, I am in my mid 50’s, so it had never been a problem for me to express myself in classroom settings and training sessions at work.

The worship hour arrived and as the other men are preparing to go to their places for the communion part of worship, I walked up the 4 or 5 steps to the stage to do my prepared statements. I must confess that at the time, I did this with some dread, meaning that it wasn’t really what I wanted to do, but it was only a wee bit of dreading the act.

I walked to the podium, opened my bible to the scriptures that I was going to read in my presentation, laid out the outline just above my Bible, and then I looked up. Instantly, I sensed total, abject fear in what I was about to do, and to do it in front of a lot (roughly 300) of people.

Later, Jo told me that as I looked up and out at the congregation, I turned as white as a sheet, and that she literally saw the blood drain out of my face. With a feeling of horror, I finally looked down at my outline and began to follow it, but only by the force of my will was I able to get through the process. I did the welcome to visitors, did my presentation and scripture reading, and then offered up a prayer for the congregation.

After I finished, I immediately picked up my outline and bible and stepped away from the podium and went down the steps from the stage.  As quickly as possible (without running) I went out of the auditorium and out the front doors of the church building. Just outside the doors is where Jo found me after a couple of minutes. She KNEW that I had just experienced a traumatic event and asked me if I was all right. I could barely answer her because I was STILL trying to suck in all the oxygen that I could.

As a man in my mid 50’s, I had never experienced fear such as I did that day. None of my time in the military, nor all the jobs that I did in dangerous situations had ever caused such a reaction in me as I felt that day. I am not afraid of heights, bees, wasps, rattlesnakes, spiders, or even bigger animals, but I now find that I am afraid of speaking to large numbers of people.

Now, I’ll get back to the present and a relating of the events of today. At about midnight last night, I sat down and wrote out roughly what I wanted to say as I officiated at the communion table this morning. Once I was content with what I had written, I placed it in my Bible with all my other papers and went to bed.

This morning, we got up and drove over to Mustang, which is now roughly 30 miles from where we live. As we went in to sit down for the Bible study hour, I picked up my Bible and instantly felt that something was wrong. I opened the cover and there were no papers there. It flashed into my mind that I had the Bible upside down and had just opened the back cover instead of the front one.

Nope.

My papers were gone, including the rough outline of my prepared remarks. Being certain that I had not inadvertently dropped the papers as we walked into church, I began to panic. My whole intent of having things written down is that I now have some concerns that if I don’t write things down, I’ll forget some details that I needed to remember.

Jo again instantly recognized that I was somewhat agitated and asked me if anything was wrong. I asked her if she might have taken some papers out of my Bible. Guess what??? Considering that she NEVER takes papers from my Bible, I hadn’t thought of that as a real possibility. Well, after about 42 ½ years of marriage, I’m still being surprised by this woman. She had felt that there was an unusually large group of bulky papers and she decided that she would remove some from hers and mine.

Fortunately, I had that hour to sort of piece together what my thoughts had been from the night before, and I went into the worship service and down to the front with less trepidation as to what disaster might be about to befall me.

While my voice still cracked, and my mind still raced at seeing all of those faces looking right at me, I did manage to get through it all. After services, there were two or three that stopped me and spoke of how well I had done and complemented me on what I had said.

If they only knew of that huge gorilla that hangs on my back when I get up in front of the congregation, they might have an idea of the ordeal that I endured.  But, I’ll bet that Jo never takes papers out of my Bible again. What do you think?

Some Stuff Coming Together

With temperatures forecast for being 3-digits today (actually set a new OKC record at 104 degrees), we didn’t really do much more than a little yard work and some planning.

We got out this morning to rake up some more of the accumulated leaves in the corners around the fence and to cut out some part of some small trees that are starting to get into the electrical lines at the back of the lot. Since it warmed up pretty good just in the morning time, we didn’t get all of it done. So, we’ll get around to doing more next weekend. It is supposed to be cooler then…..if you can believe weathermen.

The last couple of day has seen the breaker for the bedroom air conditioner trip. Believe me, in 100 degrees+ it takes two 15K air conditioners to cool a 38 foot coach, even if it is as well insulated as the Mobile Suites are. Our other issue is that the refrigerator seems to want to creep up in temperature as well. I need to purchase a ladder so I can check the fans for the refrigerator and make sure they are running.

I mentioned that Jo’s sister and her husband have sold their home in Kansas and will be moving to Colorado. We got to thinking about all that and called them up to offer our services when it comes time to move. We plan on taking a week off to go up and help. Well, whatever kind of help two older, overweight folks can do to be of help. We just now need to find out when that would be. All we know is that it will be after the first of July or so.

Following up on a couple of things on previous posts, I think we are definitely going to buy the Eze-Kleen sewer system that I spoke of in the earlier post. A gentleman that also owns a Mobile Suites has one of the systems and has been answering some of my questions on the RV Dreams forum. If you want to read the questions and answers regarding the Eze-Kleen, go to this link:

http://rv-dreams.activeboard.com/t42716517/eze-kleen-sewer-system/

Someone also mentioned (after seeing the picture of the new shed with the Suites) that once again we have gotten lucky with color coordination. Besides the shed kind of matching the coach, the colors on our F450 match as well. And, while I’m on the “color matching” topic, I even have a shirt that somewhat matches. Maybe I need to wear that shirt every time we move the coach.

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After taking care of the yard some, we just laid around with nothing to do and nowhere to go. That is different than our last few weekends have been. It was kind of nice to shower off the sweat from the morning and just chill out. Well, I don’t know about the “chill” part with the high temperatures.

With little else to do, I put some thought to what I need to say in church tomorrow. When we worship, one of the acts of worship that the churches of Christ always do is have communion. That is every Sunday. In our congregation, with the number of people that we have it takes a number of men to pass out the communion trays. Nine men go to the forward table and a few others are scattered around the auditorium to help with changing the trays from one pew to the next.

Of those 9 men that go forward, one is designated to usually say something about the reason for communion and for why we are thankful, and to also offer a prayer or each part of the communion. Since we have the men gathered together for communion, we also pass the collection trays for the voluntary donations from our members and guests.

I get to be the one with the words and the prayers for tomorrow’s worship. (I’ll have to make a separate post sometime with my experiences with public speaking in church. You just might find it humorous.) Anyway, I needed to get my thoughts together as to what to say. A couple of months ago, when I was asked to do this job, I thought I was going to be one of the men actually passing the trays. One hour before worship, I found out that I was the one to do the thoughts and the prayers.

On that occasion, I managed to come up with something and get through the process. When I went back to the rear of the auditorium that morning, the gentleman who assigns us these tasks looked at me and said, “If you can come up with thoughts as good as those, you are now one of my “go-to-guys” for when he is in a pinch for a speaker.” Great! That was just what I needed to hear from him. (OK, that was sarcasm….) But, at least this time I had a whole week to think about it, although it is usually the day before that I finally get those thoughts together.

But, now I need to write up a real short outline of what I want to touch upon. While the thoughts are in my head now, who knows what will happen after I sleep. I don’t really want to have to go to church and again come up with something within just an hour.

Window full of BAD LUCK!!  Just what I need after sleeping….

Window Full of Bad Luck

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Settling In and Adjusting

Since we only moved into the Mobile Suites a bit over a month ago (May 15, 2011), we are going through a period of adjustments as well as getting settled in and being prepared for the static full-time RV living. When we hooked up, it was a matter of hooking up electric, water, and sewer, and that is about all we’ve done with that part.

If you’ve been following for very long, you’ll know that we enclosed the coach with a fence so that TJ and Lady can be free to run around outside without having to have leashes and harnesses on. At least they seem to be adjusting, even though they no longer have a pet door that they can freely use to go outside whenever they want.

In addition to the fence, we’ve spread granules for insects and cleaned out sticks and old leaves in most of the yard and erected an 8’ x 6’ storage shed. While it isn’t very big, it is large enough for our two bicycles, the generator, lawn mower, two wheeled dolly and a few other items.  You can see the shed at the rear of the coach on the concrete pad.

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There is still some work to be done in getting the last of the leaves out of the yard and then I plan on spreading granules again for the insects. Those little irritants are what have bothered us the most. We have just enough trees around to have ticks, and I suspect we have fleas as well. From what I understand now of chiggers, those usually search out the waistband and groin areas, and that isn’t where our problems lie.

Once the rest of the yard cleaning is done (probably tomorrow), then I’ll have to give some thought to winterizing the water supply hose and route it in such a way as to be more shaded and easier to mow around. One of our neighbors suggested something that he got (I think at Sam’s Wholesale Club) that is a foam type substance that has already been slit for inserting the hose. Otherwise, I may have to get the “pool tubes” from WalMart to put around them.

There is an electrical outlet in the water inlet/dump valve handles/external shower compartment, so I think I’ll also add some electrical heat tape and then put it all through some PVC pipe to give it extra insulation and sturdiness.

For the sewer, I’m seriously looking at the Eze-Kleen expanding sewer system. It is made of PVC so it won’t have the “valleys” that are in the expandable slinky sewer hose. I’ve put in some more questions to an RV Dreams forum participant that owns the system as to what accessories or extra extensions he may have.

http://www.ezekleensystem.com/

Eze Kleen System Image1

The Eze Kleen system has two styles, one with 2 elbows for motorhomes and one with 3 elbows for fifth wheels and travel trailers.  They also come with either two 42” extensions or three 24” extensions.  I’m considering getting one extra extension, just in case.

Two elbow system for motorhomes:

Eze Kleen System Image2

Three elbow system for pull-type RV’s:

Eze Kleen System Image3

We came home today to find the coach a bit warm. The CD player in my “home” stereo system for some reason will come on and start playing if the electricity goes off and comes back on. When we returned after getting groceries, it was running. However, the bedroom air conditioner wasn’t working. I got down on my knees and pulled the covers off the fuse/breaker panels and sure enough, the breaker had tripped. I reset it and it is going well now.

After that experience we began to rethink the way we leave the dogs at home. What we’ve been doing is to put up a gate to keep them out of the living room and close the pocket door to the bedroom. Now, we think we need to get another gate so we can leave the pocket door open and let both air conditioners work on cooling the coach. I guess we just have to live and learn with some things.

I also need to get a ladder of some kind, hopefully one that is about 17’ long so I can easily get on top of the coach and have something to hold onto when I get to the top. With the real ladder and the roof rack, it is only a few inches above the surface of the room, so I have to be very careful when getting on the roof so as to not fall. The extra length on a ladder would be helpful. I also need the ladder to get up into a tree or two and trim out some dead limbs and to cut back some limbs that hang out over the coach.

Some friends of ours (Connie and Tracy) had the misfortune in Oregon to have a limb break off of a tree during a windstorm and it poked a big hole in the top of one of their slides. I sure don’t want that to happen to us, so some limbs have to come down. The Oak trees we have here are that variety that tends to shed some pretty good sized limbs at times.

In addition to all the above, I also need to anchor down the storage shed. While we bought the shed at Home Depot, they didn’t have any kind of anchor system for holding them down. Lowes does have an anchor kit that is made up of 4 auger anchors and about 60’ of cable (with clamps) to run up over the room to hold things down.

Anchor Kit

I also bought some turnbuckles with which to tighten the cables. It is amazing that an anchor kit involving cables didn’t have turnbuckles.

turnbuckles

So, while we have a bit of adjusting and settling in still to do, the dogs seem to be doing just fine. If Jo is sitting in the Euro chair and I am on the computer at the desk, they take over the La-Z-Boy love seat.

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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

More Photos, But of Paintings

It looks like today is going to be a “two-fer” on blogging. After posting about our relatives selling their home, I sent an e-mail of encouragement (at least I hope it was encouraging) to Richard (RVPAINTER). He has been a bit discouraged lately.

In that message, I encouraged him to continue painting, but perhaps just change his subjects from still life of fruits to something different. The idea is to help keep the interest in painting, and who knows, he might find a hidden talent for other subjects and methods. I mentioned how it was that my mother occasionally changed subject, perspectives, and colors to keep herself interested in her works.

As a benefit to Richard and to share some of the works of my mother, I will post a few photos that I took of some of her paintings, showing differences in subjects and colors. Mother did the vast majority of her paintings in oil on canvas board and later, stretched canvas. I never had her talent for painting, but I did learn some skills in composure from being exposed to a lot of her paintings.

At present, I only have photos of 46 of her paintings. Over the years, I’ve had as many as 65 in our homes at one time. Since we began down the road to full-timing in an RV, I gave almost all of them to my sister. The next time I am at her house, I’ll need to take pictures of more of Mother’s paintings.

Oh, I won’t be showing all 46 of her paintings here, at least not all at once. Perhaps I’ll sprinkle some more in later posts. Call this a tribute to Mother, an inspiration in my life.

Mother primarily painted landscapes, many that were panoramic in nature and some in closer studies.  Most were in multiple colors, but at times she went into a “monochrome period” where her paintings were mostly just two or three colors.

When Mother began painting, she could not do faces of any kind or even somewhat reasonable images of animals.  Thus, if there were figures of animals or humans in her paintings, there was little detail with them.  In this painting, the winter clothing is used to “hide” the faces.

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She did most of her paintings from pictures rather than actually painting the subjects that she was viewing.  I remember her getting and saving every calendar with photos on them, pictures taken from magazines and books, and just about any source of an image.

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Then there was an occasional still life.  With Mother, there were also occasional surprises.  Can you see the bird in this painting?  Many a person has commented on this painting and never noticed the bird until it was mentioned to them.

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(Back when I was stationed in Pakistan, I ran across a picture from an advertisement in a magazine. It showed a field of tall grass with a very beautiful horse walking across it, fairly close in the foreground of the photo. But, just in front of the horse was a young blonde lady, au naturel, and most of the guys in my unit never noticed her. I had that photo hanging on the wall of my room, but somehow that picture got lost in one of many moves over the years.)

This next painting shows both the “monochrome” style as well as a closer look at the subject, instead of a panoramic image.

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While many photographers believe that black and white images have more power, I’ve shown others where color REALLY makes the difference. For instance, in a photography class for our church kids, I created a PowerPoint presentation and part of that was two photos of a boat at a dock. The first one in black and white was a rather bland photo. But, when I showed the same image in color, it showed that the boat was on fire. The black and white couldn’t capture the essence of the flames.  Unfortunately, since the photos were not taken by me, I cannot share them here.

Then Mother had a tendency to paint “special” paintings.  This one she painted specifically for Jo and I.  I don’t know if it will be visible, but she put our names on the two boats.

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Giving all those paintings to my sister was very difficult.  It was almost like giving up the presence of Mother on a daily basis.  She had been with me for many years, hanging on the walls of our residences.  Now, we have a few of the smaller ones she did hanging on some of the walls of our Mobile Suites.

If enough interest is shown, I will post more of Mother’s paintings in later posts.  If you were to look at her paintings and then to some of my photographs, especially landscapes, you could see her influence on me in the composure of my photos.  Bless you, Mother, for what you gave me, and not just life itself.

Good News, But With Some Sadness as Well

Just as we were leaving work today, Jo got a phone call from her sister that lives in Western Kansas. Apparently, they have sold their home there and are moving within the next 2 months or so.

This is the couple that was down a while back to look at RV’s with the thought of living in one. At the time, I questioned whether they really would do the full-time RV’ing aspect, simply because they have an awful lot of “stuff”. If they were to get an RV, it was going to need room for a Clavinova.

After that weekend of looking, we never heard any more about an RV for them except an occasional comment about selling their home in the country and buying a smaller one in town and then maybe being able to purchase a smaller RV just for traveling around the country seeing the sights and visiting relatives.

They had never put their house up to a realtor, but only had the word out there by word of mouth. The last time we saw them (Memorial Day weekend), they did mention that there was talk of a company coming into that area and building some feedlots for hogs. We discussed the issue that if they did move hog farms in that they would really want to sell their home to avoid the smell.

Well, the hog farms are going to move into the area and it was them that bought the relative’s house. It seems that there will be about 10 of those hog farms built and the house would be situated somewhat in the middle of all of them. (I should mention the hog lots will be scattered out some, so the house isn’t physically surrounded by the lots.

We are happy for Jo’s sister and her husband in that they were able to sell their home in a short period of time and actually made money on the deal. What we don’t know yet, and may not for a while, is whether they will be buying a small RV with which to travel.

The sadness comes in when we realize they will be moving another 200 miles further from us. At present, they live about 415 miles and they will be moving to Canon City, Colorado, which is about 620 miles from where we live.

But, then we think of the good news in that when we travel to Colorado, we can again meet up with our family and go camping somewhere. (Yeah….camping in a luxury RV….that is REALLY roughing it.) Canon City is located somewhat centrally in that we would be about 150 miles from Purgatoire River Campground, roughly 200 miles from Pagosa Springs, about 50 miles from Colorado Springs where an acquaintance that Jo works with lives, and then just a short hop, skip and jump away from the mountains.

So, let’s get away with sadness and back to some happiness. While it will be somewhat difficult for us to see the relatives while we are still working, it will be great when we are retired and get to travel. With a little luck, we might be able to travel with them some.

While it isn’t too close, that area would also be close to northern New Mexico and that state also has some good camping sites and one talented artist in the Santa Fe area. That artist is Richard, who goes by the username of RVPAINTER on the RV Dreams forums. We’ve never met, but I’ve followed his blog to some degree and find his writing humorous at times.  His blog is at this link:

http://rvpainter.blogspot.com/

Since I feel that a lot of the participants on the various forums that I frequent are my friends, even if we’ve never actually seen each other, I would welcome a trip to Santa Fe to meet Richard. In addition to him being an artist, his wife, Melissa, is also a writer. Anyone who has read most of my blog may be aware that my mother was an artist and I’m trying to be a writer. So, in a way, I relate to both of them.

Sadly, at the moment, Richard is kind of discouraged because the housing market in the Santa Fe area isn’t really strong and they are not getting much action on selling their house. I can relate to that as well, since our house took 3 years to sell and so many others have been able to sell in a shorter period of time.

To those readers who are trying to sell their homes and having difficulty, I can only say to remain as optimistic as possible. If you feel your realtor isn’t doing much, find another one that will seem to be more aggressive with marketing your home. One option that we discovered when selling ours is that we decided to go with selling our house ourselves.

Jo got to looking online and found a realtor that for a flat fee of $239 would list our home on MLS and provide us with a lock-box for the front door for storing a house key for realtors. In addition, he told us that if we wanted him to do the paperwork on the sale and set things up with a title company, he would do that for a flat fee of $1500. So, if we had sold through him, our costs for a realtor would have been $1739 instead of $6600 (3% on a $221,000 house for one realtor).

So, if anyone is having issues with a current realtor, look to see if someone in your area would help out homeowners with their house up as “for sale by owner.” The main thing is to not give up the dream, if it really is your dream. Have a little faith that God will help you, if he sees it for your best interest.

While this is not an RV, it is camping.  We used to do some of our camping in tents.  This was in Purgatoire River Campground in Colorado.

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Then when this issue came up,

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For a couple of years we used cabins such as these in the Stonewall, Colorado area.  This one came about when we realized in 2001 that after the hunters left Purgatoire River Campground, we would be the only hosts for any bears that chose to visit.  We elected to end “roughing it” in a tent.

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This one was a couple of years later when our youngest son decided to go to Colorado with us.  While the first one had one bedroom and a loft, this second one had two bedrooms.

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Saturday, June 11, 2011

Another RV Modification Made

As any RV owner will tell you, there is always something that one finds in their RV that just doesn’t seem to be up to some standard. We have come across an issue ourselves with the recent move into our Mobile Suites.

Jo solved our closet situation for clothes that hang by purchasing hangers with a hook on the front. That front hook allows one to hang another item on a hanger on that hook. With the height of our closet, we can hang 3 of my shirts together or 3 pairs of my pants. However, what we haven’t liked with the closet has been the plastic clothes rod.

Jo did her research and finally came up with what has shown to be a good solution. So, I will devote this blog posting to the means and method of making a change to the clothes rod.

The old rod is shown here, lying on the bed in two parts, and as you can see, the uprights along the “rod” aren’t very far apart. That keeps one from being able to slide the hangers very far when looking for a particular shirt or pair of pants. Also, in that area where the two pieces join together, it was unwise to hang anything because it had a tendency to try to pull the two parts apart.

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In Jo’s research, she came across the normal “shelf/hangers” found at Lowes and Home Depot. Most were too long to be useable for what we wanted, unless we were prepared to waste quite a bit of the unit. But this one proved to be closer in the size we needed.

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This shelf/hanger is too long by about 3 inches and too deep by several inches. So, using a hacksaw, we cut off the 3” from one end and then cut back a bit further on part of it to allow for that part to reach back into a recessed area that is right next to some shelves in the closet.

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Then, we experimented a bit at a time in cutting off from the back side of the shelf to get the length we needed to allow the front “hanger part” to attach to the same board that the old clothes rod was attached. Since most of those smaller metal parts (running front to back) are smaller in diameter than the lengthwise rods, I used a pair of “high-leverage” linesman pliers to cut each one.

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After all the trimming, we ended up with a full length of 45” and 8 1/8” in depth. Doing this will also allow us to put the “hanger rod” back slight further in the closet, which will allow our clothes to fit back in better and not be brushed all the time by the sliding closet doors.

To attach the shelf/hanger to the board, we used what is called a “midget one-hole strap.” It allows one to put the hook part over the upper rod of the shelf/hanger and attach on one side of the hanger with a single screw. We placed these about every 6 inches and alternated between the “hook” of the strap going forward or backward. In other words, the screws holding them in place are opposite of each other along the rod; every other one being on the back side of the hanger.

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Since the board that DRV Suites placed in the closet to attach the clothes rod to was such a good board (hardwood), we did find it necessary to drill pilot holes for each screw.  We also placed about 4 or those midget one-hole straps along the back to hold up the back part of the shelf part of the shelf/hanger.

The real advantages are that the new “clothes rod” is metal instead of plastic and that the spaces between the vertical pieces are further apart, allowing us to move the hangers further in looking for a particular item to wear.

Jo is in the closet, hard at work inserting a screw.

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Sunday, June 5, 2011

There, But For the Grace of God…

How many times has the phrase, “There, but for the Grace of God, go I?” been uttered by us all. It certainly is a true statement that many of us are blessed with so many things of which we may feel that without them, our lives might very well be miserable. And….I have been in that boat as well.

Coincidentally, our Bible class on Sunday mornings has been discussing Grace for several weeks, and our minister also preached on it today. So, naturally, my mind has been on that as well. I have certainly felt blessed for many years, but as much as I felt that I had received the Grace of God, I had no idea of the depth of that Grace.

Grace is not just a chance thing that happens at the time that we “convert” our lives from that as sinners and become Christians. For as much as we may be Christians, we are STILL sinners. There is no way that mankind, for all its attempts to do good instead of evil, can ever be anything other than a cluster of sinners.

For as much as we may do for others, donating time and money, not doing ill to others, most everything we do ends up being looked upon , by ourselves, as a situation of “Hey, look what I’ve done for these poor people.” Thus, a good deed, or at least a failure to do evil, has now become an ego trip where we tend to feel great about ourselves.

Grace is an everyday thing that is a direct action from God to our lives. It is not just a situation of God saying, “So-and-so has done well today and I think I’ll bestow a blessing upon him or her.”  Grace is more than that because it is really a second by second bestowing of blessings upon millions and billions of people. After all, can any of us say that we consciously drew that breath that was 4 breaths back? Can any of us say that without our involvement that heartbeat 25 minutes ago would never have happened?

Each and every second of each and every human, plus all the other creatures of the Earth, is an event where all owe their very survival to God. Even if one is not a follower of God and Christ, He is still directing his Grace towards them, perhaps with the hope that the unbeliever will become a believer. It is not without rewards for Him, for the Bible speaks that God would “will that no one be lost, even though he has always given mankind the “option” of believing and following.

We as sinners can never do enough to make ourselves REALLY worthy of the Grace that He has given us. How could any of us even think that we could achieve salvation without God sending his Son, a part of Himself, to this earth to live, teach and then die for us? Throughout the Old Testament, the children of Israel offered prescribed sacrifices for atonement. But, their sacrifices were not enough to allow them to receive salvation. It took the blood of Christ, not an animal or bird, to accomplish that work of Grace.

Is it possible that we as sinners (STILL) can lose salvation? Most assuredly it is so. The Bible cautions us to “remain faithful” as a part of salvation. Throughout the history of mankind, from the Old Testament and through the New Testament, there are examples of men who turned from God and suffered mightily because they did not follow the teachings of God. There is the example of men that died when they touched the Ark of the Covenant to steady it in an area of uneven terrain. Regardless of the “intention” of mankind, failure to obey leads to an outcome they would have preferred never happened.

The history provided by the Old and New testaments also indicates that God is very willing to again bestow blessings upon those who are really wanting to return to His favor. Even such as Manasseh, a king who has been credited as the reason for the exiling of the Jews, was able to regain the favor of God.

How fortunate we are that unless we commit the one “unforgivable” sin, we still have hope for his Grace and salvation. For anyone not familiar with the one “unforgivable” sin, I present two scriptures for your edification.

From Mark 3:28-30:

28 Verily I say unto you, All their sins shall be forgiven unto the sons of men, and their blasphemies wherewith soever they shall blaspheme:

29 but whosoever shall blaspheme against the Holy Spirit hath never forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin:

30 because they said, He hath an unclean spirit.

And from Luke 12: 9-11:

9 but he that denieth me in the presence of men shall be denied in the presence of the angels of God.

10 And every one who shall speak a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but unto him that blasphemeth against the Holy Spirit it shall not be forgiven.

11 And when they bring you before the synagogues, and the rulers, and the authorities, be not anxious how or what ye shall answer, or what ye shall say:

How wonderful it is that we have such a gift from God that comes to us throughout our entire lives. May it be that we can all appreciate what He does for us, second by second.

God’s creations even seem to defy the “law of gravity.”  How else could the root system of this tree not also keep it off the ground?

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