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.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Liberal Scare Tactics and Duplicity….Again!!

As the debate continues on how to rein in the massive spending that government had accomplished over the years, the Democrats have once again pulled out the “old play book” for tactics on attacking the Republicans. (Whatever happened to that “new tone” that Obama spoke of back after the Arizona Congresswoman Giffords was shot?)

One of the latest comments was made by Nancy Pelosi, the former Speaker of the House, speaking to a group of union members. (Below the quote is a link to a story regarding this gathering. It can be determined what political leaning “Talking Points Memo” has by the number of those in the comments critical of Republicans after the story.)

“NANCY PELOSI: Budget deficit is an excuse for the Republicans to undermine government, plain and simple. They don’t just want to make cuts, they want to destroy. They want to destroy food safety, clean air, clean water, the Department of Education. They want to destroy your rights.”

http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com/2011/07/we-get-the-sacrifice-they-get-the-wealth-a-fired-up-pelosi-tears-into-gop-deficit-plan.php

Every election season, whether national or state, the liberals come out and accuse their opponents of wanting to “kill Grandma; destroy the environment; take food from the mouths of children (a reference to school lunch programs); and just about every other type of catastrophe that there is in the world. In addition, with the Obama administration and following the advice of Rahm Emmanuel, everything is a “crisis” and they do everything they can to use that as a means of getting their way.

All during the time of TARP and Stimulus, we heard of all the areas that were in crisis. Banks which were too big to fail, auto companies that are too big to fail, and others were all bandied about as the reasons for massive spending by the President and the Democratic controlled Congress.

The banks got bailed out, the unions got bailed out via the auto buyout, and unemployment continued to rise, foreclosures still came about even after the mortgage assistance program was enacted. Nowhere did any of the “little guys” (and gals) gain from those bailouts. In fact, they actually suffered more.

Back many years ago, the Democrats enacted “Base-line Budgeting.” This was a policy wherein the government each and every year took the budget for each agency and automatically added a percentage to the upcoming year’s budget. So, each and every year, the agencies got additional money every time, regardless of whether the agencies were doing things in an efficient manner or had successful programs.

The Democrats always spoke of “budget cuts” during that period, but the cuts were actually just a lower percentage of increase. Instead of, say 10% added for the next year, they only got 7%. In their rhetoric, they always claimed those as “cuts”, when they were really still increases in agency budgets. When the Republicans took control of Congress back in the ‘90’s, that “base-line budgeting” idea went away. However, I believe that it was re-enacted during the period of 2006 to 2010 while the Democrats again controlled Congress and they had a Democrat (actually Socialist) President in the form of Barack Obama.

While the current crisis of the “default” of the federal government is being hailed as a dire doomsday scenario, the Congress, including the weak Republicans, are again playing with terms and numbers.

There is enough money coming in each month from taxes and fees to fund the debt, the interest on the debt, Social Security, and military and veteran’s benefits and pay. Thus, it is unlikely the government would default IF the Secretary of the Treasury would prioritize what was paid until the issue of government overspending could be addressed.

The ratings companies that have the ability to lower America’s credit rating have stated that the government needs to have at least $4 Trillion in cuts to avoid a rating adjustment. Yet, other than the House’s “Cut, Cap, and Balance” bill and Senator Tom Coburn’s $9 Trillion bill, no other proposal comes even close to the $4 Trillion cut that is needed.

Recently, when “Cut, Cap, and Balance” went to the Senate, they voted to NOT EVEN DEBATE that bill. Senator Reid proclaimed the bill as “Over, Dead, and Done.” Now, the weak Republicans, Boehner in particular, have managed to compromise with themselves. I recently wrote my Congressmen and suggested that the House send the “Cut, Cap, and Balance” bill back to the Senate, but with an additional $1 Trillion in cuts. Then, if the Senate again killed the bill, I suggested sending it back again with yet another $1 Trillion in cuts. I wonder if the Senate would get the message after about seeing that bill come back stronger each time they rejected it?

The Democrats aren’t compromising, nor will they if they can help it. So, again the Democrats will help destroy the country and its economy by their insistence on paying for practically everything. Over the years, the Democratic Party has seemed to believe in buying their votes from those that they can pay off with the tax money of the achiever of this country.

Years ago, one of my relatives told me, “When the government starts talking about the “poor”, then grab your wallet. Every time that someone or some group says that the government ought to do something about some issue, then grab your wallet. It will be your money they use.”

George W. Bush had it right during his Presidential debates. It isn’t government’s money, it is our money. Government complains about the oil companies making huge profits, yet the government gets more money from a gallon of fuel in the form of taxes than the oil companies make in profits per gallon of fuel.

The Democrats and their willing partners, the news media, have been deriding the Tea Party participants ever since those groups began to meet and discuss the issues. I can tell you that it is because the media and the Democrats fully realize that those Tea Party participants are far more educated in regards to just about every trick that the Democrats use to win votes. They fully realize that the Democrats are nothing more than liars and thieves and the news media is a willing accomplice.

It is the same when they attack such Republican figures as Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachman, Herman Cain, and others that are well educated and knowledgeable political figures that could seriously upset their apple carts. The Democrats are hopeful that a “liberal” Republican, such as Mitt Romney, would be chosen as the Republican presidential candidate. They easily won when the “liberal” Republican John McCain ran for President.

The Democrat’s future is not so certain. As of this week, the polls are showing that President Obama is losing a lot of support from his base. That doesn’t even take into account the moderates and independents who have a tendency to “swing” from one party to another. Congressional support is still way down. Even Nancy Pelosi has a 60% DISAPPROVAL rating.

The Republicans just need to get a stiffened spine and stay strong on reforming the outlandish spending of government, and they also need to repeal the Obama health care initiative. I won’t feel comfortable with simply “de-funding” that program. It needs to go the way of the Dodo bird, and as fast as possible.

The Health Care Organizational Chart:

health_plan_org_chart_jec

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Why the Hatred?

Our Bible study class is an education of great value. Our instructor is a man who dearly loves reading non-fiction books, especially in regards to religion. In addition, he has introduced us to very thought-provoking studies, some even on DVD’s, one of which is The Truth Project. That series was produced by Focus on the Family out of Colorado.

In our various lesson series, we studied Revelation using both the Bible itself and a book written many years ago by a long-time preacher with the church of Christ. His book, “As a Lamb Slain” is not in any stores, but copies are available through the author’s family. It was that study of Revelation that turned my attitude about Revelation completely in the opposite direction.

Prior to that study, I had always considered Revelation to be a book of “gloom and doom” and I just didn’t even want to read it. Unfortunately, as I came of age, it wasn’t long before I was out on my own and not attending the church I grew up in. Thus, I never had the chance to sit in on a study of Revelation as an adult.

Revelation is NOT a book of prophesy. At least, it is not by the definition that many of us want to use today. I think I’ve written about this before, in that when Revelation refers to “prophesy” it is using the definition of “teaching,” not foretelling future events.

The Truth Project was the next major study I was a part of and it is also an eye-opening video series of approximately 13 hours of lessons. It is set in a college classroom and the instructor, one Del Tackett, does an excellent job of putting a whole different perspective on Bible study.

We have also watched and discussed a video series (66 episodes, I think) by R.C. Sproul called Foundations. R.C. Spoul kind of describes himself as a student and teacher of “reformed theology.” While I remember the term, I don’t exactly remember the definition, so I won’t butcher that for anyone. If you are interested, I think he even has a book on that subject.

Anyway, we are now in a study of the book of Acts. Besides our teacher, we also have another in our class who is our former preacher, and another who is a student of original languages, particularly Greek and Latin. Obviously, with that mixture of brilliance in the room, we have some very interesting discussions.

We have recently discussed something that has bothered me in the past, and I now have an answer. I’m finally getting to the part that directly refers to the title, “Why the Hate?” Why is it that in our day and age, both the nations of Israel and the United States are subject to such hatred from other countries and cultures? Why is it that both Jews and Christians are hated so much for their beliefs?

Over the centuries, the Jews were kept in bondage, chased from their homeland and settled in other countries and were reviled by the leaders of nations and the people of those countries despised them for so long and even attempted to wipe them from the face of the earth. Even today, people in the countries of the Middle East wish to drive them into the sea.

Today, in America and abroad, both Jews and Christians are hated in spite of the good things that we try to do with and for those other countries. One specific reason for hatred of the Jews is based on the Palestinian issues. But, that is a discussion for another day because many today don’t know why the Palestinians are truly in bondage, and who is really responsible. That needs more research before I tackle it.

Regardless of the fact that Americans spilled their blood to help the Muslim people in the Balkans, Kuwait, Iraq and Afghanistan, we are still hated by many Muslims. Regardless of what we do or how much financial and other aid we provide, we are despised.

Within America itself, Christians are disliked by many of other faiths and those of no faith at all. There are constant attacks, especially in the courts because of the “separation of church and state.” Well, the Constitution says nothing about “church and state.” The First Amendment provides that Congress will establish NO religion, NOR INTERFERE WITH THE FREE EXERCISE of religion.

However, I believe that the crux of the problem with other countries, cultures, religions and those of non-religion is because of the word “exclusivity.” In the Old Testament, God refers to the children of Israel are to be His people and He will be their God. In the New Testament, there is this verse at John 14: 6:

“Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

The Old Testament refers several times to the nature that the children of Israel will be His people. So, it would be natural for those not of the Jewish faith to be aggravated because they weren’t Jews and didn’t want to be. And Christians suffer at the words and actions of those who don’t think that they should feel special because of John 14: 6, in spite of the fact that those words were said by Jesus himself.

There are those, and they are many, that are uncomfortable with the idea of “judgment” and that they will be judged at some time. They wish it to be that because of their good deeds that punishment, if there even is a punishment, will not befall them for not believing in the teachings of the Bible. They wish to be comfortable with the knowledge that all they must do is not do evil.

I’ve said it before and I’ll no doubt say it many times more; I am not God, nor can I determine what He will do at the Judgment. He could very well grant those with good deeds a place in paradise. All I can do is to follow the teachings of the Bible in the way that I live my life and the way I worship Him. It is my belief that it would be better to err on the side of doing what He wishes, rather than risk the punishment should He decide I didn’t abide by His Word.

Welcome From Jesus

Saturday, July 23, 2011

What Is Good About Art Critics?

And, really……who can be a good art critic?

It is my contention, and that will remain forever so, that everyone can be a good art critic. All one has to do is experience a form of artwork, whether it be sculpture, oil paintings, photographs, and even music and say, “Yeah, I’d like to have that in my home.” Voila!!!! Instant art critic.

Now, since I’ve had a mother for an art experience, I’m OBVIOUSLY better than everyone else for understanding art. I mean, she painted and always had some form of music playing in the house. We even created the music ourselves at times. (Well, I created a noise that kind of “complimented” her music.)

Really? Am I better? Of course not. I can only speak to whether I would hang a particular painting in my home, or play the music, or put a sculpture (albeit, small) on my table. By the same token, those that live their lives as “art critics” do so at the expense of others. Does a restaurant owner worry that a food critic will give them a bad review? Are the opinions of the food critic better than the popularity of the restaurant to actual customers?

Films are another example. How many “critically acclaimed” movies have been losing propositions in regards to box office proceeds? I can remember when “The Passion of the Christ” was so derided by all the critics as being a bad movie, but it was an extremely profitable one.

Thus, I contend that the readers of this blog are far better critics than I am in many ways. That is because you are best for deciding what it is you like and don’t like. On the other hand, if you are reading this blog, I’m beginning to wonder about you. Don’t you have ANYTHING better to do?

I do. Let’s look at some art together. We’ll start with some more photos of my mother’s paintings. I’ve not done that in a while, and Richard (RV PAINTER) painted a good one recently, which prompted me to get back to showing beauty again. (Oh, and abstract art, where the ear in a portrait is actually on the top of the head of the subject, doesn’t really tingle my toes.)

I had previously posted that Mother had a love for the West. She loved all of nature, but the west interested her more than the East. So, here are a few showing western country and western cultural scenes.

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Richard will love this one…..it has critters in it.

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Western living and scene

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And a “monochrome”:

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Oh, and Cowboys….(did I ever mention I sort of used to be one?)

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And, I’d like to see views like this from our RV.

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OK.  Six of hers, and how about one photo from me.  This from Arches National Park in 2002.  A test for Richard….can you see the explorer, the somewhat reclining Indian and the obscene gesture?

DCP_4817

Sunday, July 17, 2011

More On the Topic of Families

After writing about the changes in the attitudes of the youth of today (youth being roughly defined as anyone younger than the reader of this post), I felt that I really wanted to expand on that topic a little bit.

In a sense, the beginning of a “new” family comes at the marriage of a man and a woman. While that “new” family is really a continuation of previous generations within the overall family, each tends to have its own influences on the dynamics of the evolving of a family unit.

Much of what I am going to write today is strictly my opinions and observations. Should I think of a story or set of statistics somewhere that are appropriate, I may include them. Also, keep in mind that my opinions and my interpretations of my observations are based on my religious beliefs, founded within the church of Christ and handed down from the Bible and my ancestors.

While I think the beginnings of the “Lax Marriage Attitude” began before I married, I was not one to adhere to that belief. That “Lax Marriage Attitude” is the one where one or both parties of the marriage have the attitude that if the marriage doesn’t work out, they will just get a divorce and try again with someone else. Sadly, that attitude was readily accepted within some of the “older generation” at the time of my youth, but I am pretty sure they weren’t taught that by their parents. I’m pretty sure selfishness reared its ugly head and ruined marriages.

Prior to marriage, I had learned from Bible and my parents that a marriage was a sacred bond between a man and a woman. That bond was not to be taken lightly. My early teachings were that if one married it was to be for the life of one or both of those in the marriage. If a divorce was absolutely necessary (say because of abuse), then the couple were expected to remain unmarried until their previous spouse passed away.

Yeah, I can imagine shaking heads even now at the thought of my words. Hey…I said it was my opinion and beliefs. Anyway, with that in mind, when it came time that I was really interested in a girl, it was Jo. So, I gave it a LOT of thought of whether I wanted to marry this young lady or not. Eventually, I asked her and she accepted. We were married on Christmas Day in 1968 in my home town. (Yeah, guys. Getting married on Christmas Day means one only has to buy ONE gift and two cards....)

Over time though, I’ve my thinking has evolved. In fact, less than two months ago, a thought came to me in a conversation with a young lady who was contemplating marriage. We were at a Verizon store doing something with one of our phones and in the conversation, it came up that Jo and I had been married for over 42 years. I was really surprised in the reaction that I got from all those 20-somethings working in the store.

After congratulating us on our lengthy marriage, the young lady asked me, “What was the secret of a long marriage?” My answer came readily to mind and leads to the following observations and beliefs.

1. Early Commitment: This was the point that came to me in the conversation with the Verizon lady. I told her, and the others listening, that my belief was that before one even asked another to marry them, they should ALREADY have an absolute commitment philosophy in keeping the vows of that marriage.

2. Absolute Commitment: This is not just a hasty agreement to marry, but one where BOTH participants have the belief that theirs is NOT a 50/50 marriage. It is a 100/100 marriage in that both need to be prepared to give 100%.

3. Be Like a Reed: Selfishness will stiffen the resolve of an individual, leading them to believe that they deserve or need some thing or some act on the part of the other that is strictly for the benefit of the selfish individual. In a good marriage, each person needs to be like a reed in that they can “sway with the prevailing winds” but still keep their foundations strong.

4. Hey!!! There Are No PERFECT Marriages: That is why I mentioned “good marriage” in point number three. Whether you are a religious person or not, we are all a work in progress. (I’m 65 years old and I’m still progressing.) It is the nature of mankind to be a flawed individual, so don’t look for nor expect perfection from your partner. Like in me, it ain’t there.

5. Be prepared to go to God: The Bible speaks of a man “cleaving” to his wife and they become one. Marriage vows refer to being married until “death us do part.” If one has a religious faith, that will be a strengthening power within that marriage and it gives one an outlet when struggling. In my case, when I go to pray, there are no set words that I speak or think. My prayers evolve as I pray and there have been times that a revelation came to me that led me to realize that I HAD A PROBLEM and it wasn’t Jo!

6. Choose your friends carefully: While I’ve not experienced this problem, I have heard of it. One’s friends can lead them astray and rush them headlong into destroying their marriage. It may come in the form of advice like having a secret bank account, seeking the counsel of a divorce attorney, or other supposedly “helpful” ideas, that can lead one to forget one’s true friend. That true friend should be one’s spouse. Do you know that I’ve NEVER had a truer friend than my wife? After all, she’s been by my side for over 42 years! She’s not just been acquainted for that long….she’s BEEN THERE!

7. Relish Your Time Together: If one’s love for their spouse is a true love, one will want to spend as much time as possible with them. Not only does this let couples get to know each other better, it helps build that relationship that one can be firm in the knowledge that one’s spouse will want both to be together. Time can be short and one’s spouse can pass away at any time. Relish your time and your memories, even while both are still alive, will prove to be a tasty dish.

8. Let It Always Be “Ours”: While Jo and I have had separate checking accounts, they aren’t really separate. Both are “ours.” We both work but both incomes are “ours.” We seldom have ever had separate vacations; they have been “ours.”

9. Don’t Make Demands: I am not a demonstrative person. I am not one wanting to hold hands, kiss relatives (including my wife), or do other things of endearment. One time, my oldest son made a comment about my lack of being demonstrative in a negative way. I simply asked him if he had any evidence otherwise that indicated that I didn’t love Jo. He didn’t have an answer. But, I have seen marriages in trouble because one made demands that seemed excessive by the other. That leads to the last comment.

10. Work Things Out: If one’s marriage is in trouble, try to find a way to work things out before taking the drastic step of destroying a marriage. A destroyed marriage can also lead to destroying the lives of the children of the marriage. Use every means possible to keep the family intact. Believe it or not, a movie can help. Whether you marriage is struggling or not, look for a movie called “Fireproof.” It has a powerful message.

Always keep in mind that one’s marriage has an immediate and lasting effect on the children of the family and their future relationships. If one shows selfishness, and especially if one expresses selfishness, it will literally lead to one’s children trying to mimic their parent. We are their best, and worst, examples.

A Long Lost Hero Comes Home

At long last, a World War II soldier returns home from the war.  As the story below will tell, only one family member could be found for Edward O’Toole, but there still were around 300 people for his graveside service, including an honor guard and the presence of the Warrior’s Watch Riders.  Those are veterans who own motorcycles and provide an escort for the fallen heros.

The story below is from the San Bruno Patch, although the story initially received the attention of the San Francisco Chronicle.  A link to the San Bruno Patch story, which has additional photos, follows the end of the story.

After 66 Years, Missing WWII Soldier Finally Gets Proper Burial

A distant cousin, the only known survivor, received the burial flag at a service Friday at Golden Gate National Cemetery.

By Maura Hurley

July 15, 2011

San Bruno Patch

O Toole Funeral1

Edward O'Toole's gravesite at San Bruno's Golden Gate National Cemetery.

All Photos Credit Maura Hurley

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Barry Berg, O'Toole's distant cousin, receives the burial flag from the honor guard.

It took 66 years, but U.S. Army Private First Class Edward L. O’Toole, a San Francisco native, is finally home from World War II.

O’Toole was buried today with full honors at a service at Golden Gate National Cemetery. He died in November 1944, but his remains were not discovered until late 2009.

Some 300 people attended the service, including veterans, representatives of veterans groups and civilians who had read about O’Toole in an article in Thursday’s San Francisco Chronicle.

Until yesterday, it was believed that O’Toole had no living relatives. A distant cousin, Barry Berg, who lives in the same house on San Francisco’s Potrero Hill where O’Toole grew up, happened to see the article and contacted the paper.

“I was jolted when I saw it,” said the 68-year-old Berg, who was only 2 years old when O’Toole went missing.

“I remember my mother told me about him when I was about 16, but then she never talked about it," he said.

Edward O’Toole was born in San Francisco on March 16, 1921, the youngest of seven in an immigrant Irish Catholic family. Berg said that he also had a sister who died when she was only 6.

O’Toole attended San Francisco’s now-closed High School of Commerce, graduating in 1940. His high school yearbook reveals the patriotic tenor of the times, with silhouettes of battleships, fighter planes and American flags prominently featured. The graduating seniors were asked what they would do to defend their high school and America. O’Toole had a one-word answer: fight.

Army records show that O’Toole enlisted in the army in San Francisco on Dec. 7, 1942, exactly a year after Pearl Harbor and two years after graduating from high school. He was 21 and single, stood 5 feet 9 inches tall and weighed 161 pounds. He listed his occupation as an electrician’s apprentice.

Almost two years later, on Nov. 20, 1944, O’Toole was killed in action in Süggerath, a town in the western part of Germany. He was among 2,000 men who died during a three-day battle for control of several German towns in the Süggerath area. O’Toole was 23 years old.

In late 2009, a German national digging in a forested area around Süggerath discovered O’Toole’s skeletal remains. O’Toole’s dog tags were the only things intact. The army later found his dental records and made a final identification.

When the army went searching for his next of kin, they came up empty handed. Somehow they had missed Barry Berg.

However, O’Toole’s family hadn't forgotten him after the war. In the 1950s, his mother and one of his sisters asked the Army to provide a memorial headstone for him in the San Bruno cemetery. The Army finally complied in 1961.

Berg said that he and his family spent many Thanksgivings and Christmases at the O’Tooles’ home when he was growing up.

Berg’s life took him out of the Bay Area for a time, but he came back in the late ‘70s when his mother asked him to take care of two of O’Toole’s ailing elderly sisters. When they died, he inherited O’Toole’s Purple Heart—awarded posthumously—and the telegram the O’Toole family received that declared Edward missing in action.

O’Toole's remains will lie alongside those of a brother, Michael O’Toole, who served in the U.S. Navy in World War II and who was killed in an accident in 1951.

http://sanbruno.patch.com/articles/after-66-years-missing-wwii-soldier-finally-gets-proper-burial

Veterans

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Parents and Children

With all due respect to Merri and Steve (jamminalong) on RV Dreams forum, I will have to disagree a bit with a comment they made on a recent thread there, and kindly allow me to explain. I do not believe that anything they said was intended to be derogatory, nor do I believe that their comment does not lack merit. It is simply that their comment made me consider what has happened to the condition of our families.

First, here is a link to the thread on which they commented:

http://rv-dreams.activeboard.com/t43891357/son-doesnt-understand/

I am 65 years old and grew up in the Oklahoma Panhandle.  You don't find people much more independent than the folks out there.  The earlier settlers had children and those children were expected to help the family by working on the farm.  As time and generations progressed, things got somewhat easier for the families and the farms with the advent of more equipment with which to work the farms.

A couple of years ago, I had a conversation with our oldest son, the only one married and with children, and he told me that he and his wife believed that the priority for the family was the children.  I disagreed with him, explaining that the priority is on the entire family.  Just because a child has a "need" doesn't mean that the adults do without things, possibly leading to health issues, and then be unable to provide for the family.

In essence, no child is more important than the family as a whole.  While it is natural for good parents to want to provide a lot for their children, I think it leads to a situation where the kids begin to believe that it is what they want that is important.  This is not necessarily the fault of the parents.  Sometimes the children get those ideas from their peers.  (What?  You only have a cell phone and not an I-Phone?)

Sadly, some areas of the country are worse than others about fostering a selfish attitude.  To this day, children in the Oklahoma Panhandle grow up knowing that at some age, they will be expected to help work the farm.  Most of them relish the thought, wanting to drive the tractor, until they see how many hours a week are needed to get the jobs done.  But, in the end, they fully realize the importance of the help they provide.  I think that gives them a better perspective on the importance of the family.

At what age do we quit providing for our kids?  How long in life are we going to keep 4 bedroom homes just so the kids can still "sleep in their rooms?"  At what point are we free to say that now we live for ourselves.  A lot of people have worked for 50+ years and I feel they deserve something for themselves, especially since the children should be able to be independent and provide for themselves.

I hope this does not offend anyone.  I am a firm believer in having strong families, but not families where some members try to hinder the others of their families.  In the past, I've worked jobs where I was away from my family for day and weeks at a time.  It was something I sacrificed to try to provide for my family.  To this day, I think one of my sons disrespects me because I "wasn't there for him" and the other, oddly the younger one, shows me great respect.

So, did I fail the family by my absence?  If my wife and youngest son recognize the sacrifices I made, should I worry that the older son doesn't?  I don't.  In our family, everyone but me holds a college degree.  Everyone that has a degree worked for them and that has bolstered my pride in all three of them.

So, when considering our children of this day and age, it would be advisable for parents to make sure that the children know that the “family” comes first before any single individual of the family. If a child has serious health issues, then the family should work and sacrifice to help that child. But, if a child of a family admonishes a parent simply because that child is selfish, it is simply a wrong attitude and a wrong admonition.

OK. The old codger has spoken and demonstrated that the “reactionary” upbringing he had led to an “outdated” opinion. But, having seen the independence of a people who suffered much during the depression, the “Dirty Thirties” and the “Dust Bowl,” I’ve learned the lessons that they taught and those they demonstrated in the way they lived their lives.

I find it sad that the families of today have not had the chance to see the difficulties that were encountered, but also that those difficulties built steel into the fabric of those families.

Oh, heck! Why not say it….

It was the Hippies and that generation that helped foul up this society. I think morality, drugs, and attitudes changed drastically with that generation. Sadly, I was a part of it, being 18 years old in 1964, but I didn’t participate. While others went off to “find themselves,” I knew exactly who I was and where I was. I didn’t need drugs then (or now) because I am high on LIFE!

6 Sniffed Suitcase at Airport

A Late Evening Wake-Up

So, there I was late last Wednesday, perusing the internet and researching for our upcoming trip to the Colorado Springs/Canon City, Colorado trip when I get a knock on the door. This is roughly 10:30 to 11:00pm when it occurs. With the warm temperatures, I’m in a pair of shorts and no shirt and Jo is in bed, fast asleep.

I get up and try to herd the dogs into the bedroom (have you ever tried herding dogs?), get a shirt on so I can open the door, and close the bedroom door to keep them in there instead of rushing out the coach outer door towards whomever is knocking.

When I finally get the door opened, there is a young lady standing outside with a cell phone and a charger in her hand. I asked, “Yes?”

She said that their “breaker box” quit and she wondered if she could come in and plug her cell phone in for about 5 minutes. Now, I’ve never seen this girl before in the mobile home park.

I quickly said, “Nope, sorry” and closed the door and locked it. It was a while before I would allow the dogs outside again, and when I let them out, I went outside with them to verify that the young lady had closed the gate to the fence properly.

Needless to say, I went out with “something” in my pocket. When I finally went to bed, that “something” was closer to my bed, just in case the visitor was there to “case the target.”

The next day, I got out another of those “somethings” and put it closer to the living room.

Needless to say, this message is to inform everyone to take extra security precautions in finding an RV park or other kind of camping place. Make sure that any outside lights on your RV’s are in working order. In our case, we do have a streetlight close to our lot and I have the “porch” light. The next time that I get a late-night knock on the door, I also intend to turn on the “Scare” lights.

Should you not have “deadly force” weapons, have something to use as a club or other type of device. I’m not a fan of pepper spray or other devices like that because in a small space like an RV, the user would also be affected by the spray.

Basically, be careful out there, folks.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

There’s the Pioneer Spirit in This Man

How can one write something about a man that one has never met, and the knowledge of whose very existence only came because of the reading of an RV forum? Why would one want to write of such a person? Is there something to gain from what little one can glean from the writing of that man’s own writing?

In this case, I certainly think there is and I’m going to do so because this man is proving to be an example, no, an inspiration to the rest of us. It is because he seems to be made up of the same stuff that the pioneers possessed.

If the reader has read the very header of this blog, you’ve read a reference to the attitude of some of the pioneers as they settled this land. The distractors and naysayers were ignored and those people, men and women alike, trekked to the frontier to begin a new life. In a sense, those following the RV’ing dream of traveling are similar in that they also left behind others to seek out a new dream.

Sadly, some of the early pioneers and settlers didn’t survive to reach their destinations. Some were lost to warring Indians, some to disease, but most were probably lost to accidents along the trails. The pioneer spirit led the survivors of those families and of those wagon trains to do the necessary thing of burying their lost loved ones along the trail and then moving on to fulfill their dreams.

Thus we come to the story of Alan and Joan Howeth, full-time RV’ers and participants of the RV Dreams forum family. Back on July 5, 2011, while rafting a river in Colorado, the raft that Alan and Joan were in was flipped, unfortunately leading to Joan’s death. Alan and Joan had been married for over 42 years.

Obviously, Alan first found things difficult, and that is to be expected. As I write this, Alan and his remaining family are in Oklahoma for Joan’s services. In reading Alan’s blog, his first posts after the accident were short and painful to read. But, as time has gone on, he has written longer pieces, which I think is good, as it helps in the healing process.

His latest post, written on July 13th gives me even more hope for Alan because he does seem to be healing and even considering getting back to the RV lifestyle. I have to say that is good, since the terrible accident came about because Alan and Joan had a love for the outdoors and were doing what it was they wanted to do. She was right there with him on that fateful day.

Like the pioneers, they forged ahead with their lives and were not deterred by the fact that the rafting was dangerous, or for that matter, any other adventures they undertook was as well. Now, after the tragedy, Alan goes on alone, but I’ll bet the spirit of Joan is right there with him. When he looks out over some beautiful panorama of nature, I’m sure he would have the tendency to say, “Take a look at that!” And, I’m sure that he is still sharing it all with Joan.

Now, Alan is picking up his life and looking ahead; only now he looks at life as a single man. He is following the advice of friends and is looking into an organization of single RV’ers with the intent of attending some of their events. Alan still has a good future, a loving family, and many friends in the RV world, plus an apparent deep appreciation of God and what He has created.

His spirit and fortitude is an inspiration to me. His strength should be an example that we all could strive to emulate should we suffer the same kind of loss that he has.

For Alan, I hope that God’s blessings continue to shower down upon him and that his future is bright and filled with promise.

Should my readers be interested, Alan’s blog is at this web address:

http://www.howethsjournal.blogspot.com/

Dove and God Bless You

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

A Lesson to Learn (Political and Otherwise)

Negotiations in Washington, D.C. have not yielded an extension of the “debt limit” and because of that Obama has fallen back on an age old tactic of the Democratic Party and its candidates for public office. Since there is no way of them to be using logic and reason to convince the Republicans to go along with the debt limit increase, they have taken up the mantra of “the Republicans are going to starve the Seniors.”

In his interview with Scott Pelly of CBS, the President stated that “he couldn’t guarantee” that Social Security and military paychecks would be mailed out because there just “wasn’t enough money in the coffers” to accomplish that.

Perhaps he should have thought of that before he increased the debt through the stimulus and the auto industry bailouts? Had he been frugal with money instead of letting the Democratic Party controlled Congress go wild with spending, there might have been enough for the actual requirements that government should undertake.

I really have to wonder if people are so gullible to constantly believe the Democrats when they claim that Republican actions are going to harm in some way any given “demographic group.” As long as I can remember, they have used such dishonest tactics because there has not been any proven case of the Republicans intentionally harming any groups of citizens.

Their actions remind me of lessons that I used to teach when I worked in sales and was a manager of an electronics store. I used to instruct my sales staff that if they couldn’t find enough benefits of a product to be able to sell it, they had better start giving a lot of thought to what line of business they wanted to be involved.

Let me give a personal example that occurred about two years ago. I was in the process of researching trucks for a tow vehicle, specifically for a fifth wheel as heavy as the Mobile Suites are. I knew from that research that Ford’s F450 had a GCVW of 33,000 pounds and a towing capacity of 24,500 pounds Since I was not able to find GM and Dodge brochures that listed all of the weight capacities of their truck line, specifically the 4500 series trucks, I had to go to the dealerships for the information.

I had gone to a local GM dealer and spent about 45 minutes to an hour with them in discussing the truck capabilities. I had heard of a lot of RV’ers who had 3500 series trucks that were pulling Mobile Suites, so I wanted to see what they would handle. Once I gave the staff at the GM dealer the information as to what weights I wanted to pull, they studied their manuals and specification sheets. Then they came to me and told me that their 3500 series trucks would NOT be sufficient for my needs. I would have to go to an MDT type truck such as the 5500 series.

At least they were honest with me. My experience with the Dodge dealer was a lot different. Since I knew that the Dodge dealer in another town had the 4500 series Dodge trucks, I went there to do my research. Let me note that this salesman had numerous “sales awards” hanging on his office wall. So, I thought I had a man of knowledge and skill.

We got out his books and spec sheets and the Dodge was also found to be lacking in the capacity of the weight-handling. Now, he started to go on about how this customer of his was doing just great with his 4500 series Dodge pulling his fifth wheel. I asked if he knew the weight of the customer’s trailer and he didn’t. But, he grabbed his phone and called the customer and put his phone on speaker-phone mode.

After the customer talked of how well the truck managed his fifth wheel (toy hauler if I recall correctly), I asked him if he knew how much his trailer weighed. He came back with a quick answer of 14,000 pounds and I could almost see the color drain out of the face of the salesman. He knew that I was looking to pull anything from 18,000 to 20,000 pounds since we hadn’t decided on whether we wanted a Mobile Suites or an Elite Suites at the time.

He had put himself in a bad light by letting a potential customer ask the probing questions that he should have asked first of his previous customer. But, he proceeded to dig himself even deeper. Knowing full well at this point that the Dodge 4500 was nowhere equal with the Ford F450 on weights, he proceeded to try to “knock down” the Ford diesels.

He even went so far as to bring up a YouTube video that supposedly was evidence of how bad the Ford diesels were on regenerations of the particulate filters. I had heard that the particular video he referred to had been a “staged” event and was not indicative of the actual diesel engines.

That was too much for me, and I intentionally asked him if he really thought he had to tear down his competition’s trucks in order to sell his own. I also mentioned that the idea of using a YouTube video as proof really was stretching to make a sale.  In spite of sales awards, he was obviously not a good salesman.

I had always taught my sales staff that I would rather they be honest with their customers and NOT make a sale rather than lie just to make the sale.  Sales made based on lies tend to become either returns or you never see that customer again.

The whole point of this is that if one can’t know the features and benefits of one’s own “product”, whether it be saleable goods or political candidates, in order to “sell” it to the public, then one had better find a better “product” to try to sell. So, it has already been demonstrated that the President and the media haven’t succeeded in “selling” their product.

So, it becomes this:

Elmer Fudd3

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

I Am Officially Excited!!

As it stands right now, it looks like we will get to take a week and go to Colorado the last of August for a vacation. When the year began, it looked like 2011 would be another year without getting to go up for anything less than a quick trip. Our last trip to Colorado was actually a week’s vacation to visit relatives in western Kansas.

Richard, our brother-in-law, has had a love of the area around Canon City, Colorado for some time. Back in July of 2010, we were with them and all four of us took about three days to go into Colorado, initially to Canon City and then around some from there. That trip included some sightseeing and going up around Aspen, back through Hotchkiss (where I used to have relatives many years ago), back by the Black Canyon of the Gunnison, then back to Canon City and back to Kansas.

On that occasion, I had the good fortune to see my first, live-in-person sighting of Bighorn sheep. In all the years of vacationing in Colorado, I had never had the luck to see any at all. On our trip back to Canon City toward the end of the 3 day excursion, we got to see four of them along the road. Thanks to the eagle-eye of my sister-in-law, they were spotted and we turned around to go back and get photos.

DSC_7532

We were returning along Highway 50 which runs parallel with the Arkansas River. At one point, we stopped so I could get some pictures from a little overlook area on the river. We were treated to another sight that I had never seen before. While I’ve seen lots of geese, I’d never seen them floating in a somewhat rushing river.

DSC_7481

This evening, Jo and I called Mountaindale RV Park, which is located between Canon City and Colorado Springs, and made reservations. We are scheduled to be arriving there the afternoon of August 27 and leave out the morning of September 2. This will be our first time of staying at Mountaindale, although I’ve read of several others saying it is a nice RV park.

What we like about it is that it is located so that we can see Roxie and Richard (the relatives) who live in Canon City now and a friend of ours (more so of Jo) who lives in Colorado Springs. Also, this will be kind of a “scouting trip.” With the consolidation of all Oklahoma state agency IT departments that is coming up, Jo is hoping to be able to retire within about a year and a half. If that happens, she would try to get work near Colorado Springs (possibly with the help of her friend), and we could consider moving to Colorado Springs.

We will also be taking our youngest son, Eric, along with us. Eric loves going to the mountains and has developed a liking to photography as well. He doesn’t get to go to Colorado much. In fact, I don’t know that he has ever gone unless he was with us. As a blessing to us, Eric likes to do things with us. So it will be great to be able to get him back to the mountains after so many years.

While Jo and I were in the Colorado Springs area back in 2008, I don’t know if Eric has ever been there. So, we will likely go see all the attractions (mostly natural ones) that the area has to offer. I’ll have to get back online and see what else there is to see there. We were only there for a couple of days in 2008, so we didn’t see much more than Garden of the Gods and Seven Falls.

As an added bonus, it looks like we will also still be able to go to the SOITC (Suites Owners International Travel Club) rally in Grove in October. So, this year will prove to end up letting us go to three different places with the RV. The first was Red Rock Canyon State Park back in April, when we thought that might very well be our only vacation for this year. At that time we had no idea that our house would be sold in May.

So, all of us are officially excited about going to Colorado. Eric for his first trip to the mountains in several years, Jo to see our relatives and our friend in Colorado Springs, and me…well….I just always get rejuvenated by going to the mountains. I’m not saying that Jo doesn’t like the mountains, but even after 42 ½ years, I’m not sure that they attract her as much as they do me.

Richard Secor (RV PAINTER) on RV Dreams forums recently told me to leave him alone and go take some pictures. (I had been picking on him about his paintings.) Now, it looks like I will get to follow his advice.

Should any of my readers know about the area around Mountaindale RV Park and can make recommendations about sights to see, especially natural ones, kindly leave a comment and let me know. I can use a search engine and find all the normal tourist places, but I also like to know of little known places as well.

Speaking of which, here is an opportunity for me to mention another place for others. If anyone is ever going to Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado, on your way out there is a road going off to Zapata Falls. Zapata Falls is actually located back inside of a sort of a cave. My first trip there, I didn’t get pictures of the falls themselves. One has to wade in the water to get back to the falls and the water was just too cold for that.

A few years later, we were there and I had some wading boots. I also use those wading boots to walk up and down streams, taking pictures along them that wouldn’t be seen otherwise. Try it sometime, but be careful. Wet rocks are slippery. Yep….I found out the hard way.

DSCN5530

Monday, July 11, 2011

Political Plays on Words

This past weekend saw the negotiating between the Obama administration and the representatives from Congress discussing ways to come to a budget agreement to fund the debt of the U.S. Government and to try to encourage growth in the economy. As usual with political discourse, a series of “key” words were bandied about with regards to the negotiations.

The Obama administration, and of course the pandering media, liked the phrase “Grand Bargain” to try to make the American people think that Obama was getting the country a bargain. However, let’s look closer to that word and its meaning. Dictionary .com has this for a definition:

bar·gain   /

–noun

1.

an advantageous purchase, especially one acquired at less than the usual cost: The sale offered bargains galore.

2.

an agreement between parties settling what each shall give and take or perform and receive in a transaction.

3.

such an agreement as affecting one of the parties: a losing bargain.

Now, most of us as consumers would immediately consider definition number one as the primary definition of a bargain. After all, it is the one paying out the money that really determines if something is a bargain. If the payee feels that the “deal” is not to his advantage in that it truly is a bargain, then the payee will decline to “make the bargain.”

Obama’s “bargain” includes tax rate increases, thus taking more money from the payee, so I would hardly call that deal a bargain. Rightfully so, since the Obama administration and the Democratic Party controlled Congress since Obama’s election has dramatically spent money in what they are considering as their “Grand Bargain” over the past few years.

Sadly for the American taxpayer, the Democrat’s “bargain” has been at the expense of the people and businesses. In spite of the massive spending of the last two years, the Democrats are still ignoring the taxpayers and trying to spend even more. Thus, we have the “stalemate” over the debt ceiling.

However, consider this as a thought. The federal government takes in money every month from the withheld payroll taxes, fees, fines, and other taxes, and it takes in enough to actually cover the debt. All the Obama administration would have to do is to prioritize the debt that really needs to be paid. Congress can help in that with the passage of a number of bills which are currently in the Congress that would address what debts had priority over others.

Also, remember that the Democrats did not even propose a budget prior to the 2010 elections because they did not want the American people to know how they were going to spend them deeper into debt. If there is to be any blame for the fact that the debt ceiling has not been raised, which it doesn’t really need done, that blame must go to the Democrats because of their reckless disregard for following the law.

Now, having discussed the “bargain” that isn’t, let’s also consider some more words which the liberals and conservatives differ on.

Investment is the first word to consider. When a liberal uses this word, it is to hide the intention of their actions. Investment to them is simply more spending. Conservatives, on the other hand, imply that investment is back to the American people and the business community that actually invests in actions and policies that lead to growth in the economy, not just in government spending.

I’ve already discussed the effect of tax rate cuts on the growth of the economy in earlier postings, so I won’t repeat them here. Suffice it to say, I don’t think that “investment” in giving money to voting blocks to “get more votes” for the Democrats is really an expansion of the economy or really an investment in the future of the country.

Both political parties tend to use this next word and that is “scheme.” It normally is used by the Left for any plan that the Right- leaning Congress or President has proposed with the hope that the populace will consider the plan to be an underhanded deal to be avoided.

Lately, President Obama and the Democrats have been emphasizing “Millionaires and Billionaires” in their lexicon with regards to wanting to “tax the rich” more. This tactic is used a lot by them to foster a feeling of “class warfare” between the “haves” and the “have-nots.” However, their tax plan would affect the small business community, which is made up of a lot of people that are far from being millionaires and billionaires.

I heard some numbers on the radio today that relate to that. Eighty-seven percent of the new hiring is done by small businesses, and those businesses are made up of people who make $200,000 and up. The small business is usually one considered to have less than 500 employees and most of the taxes collected from the small business are figured on some individual’s tax return, the business owner. Now, my math may be fuzzy, but I don’t think that an individual making $200.000 to $250,000 is considered even a millionaire.

How many times have we heard the comments about a “scheme” to be shouldered by “the working class?” Just who is the working class? In reality, the liberals are referring mostly to the union membership. Now, this is not an indictment of union employees, but it is on those that use those employees. The last I heard, union membership makes up somewhere around 13% of the workforce. How many of you that may be in the “working class” received any money from the TARP or Stimulus plans?

In reality, the buyouts of Chrysler and GM were not done to help the companies. Those buyouts were done to help the unions. After all was said and done, the board of directors of both companies suddenly included union leaders in their make-up and a percentage of ownership in the companies were suddenly with the unions as well. If the unions “bought” into that ownership rather than just receive it from the government (think Obama here), it would really surprise me.

Well, I’ve discussed the words “Bargain,” “Investment,” “Scheme,” “Millionaires and Billionaires,” and “The Working Class” in this posting. However, I’ve run out of plausible room without getting out of hand on the length of this post, so I’ll have to stop and cover other “Key Words” later. I’ll bet that even the readers of this will know of a few themselves.

Sunset at Eleven Mile State Park, west of Colorado Springs in August of 2008.

DSC_1303

Sunday, July 10, 2011

The Heat Made Me Do It

Our youngest son called this morning to let us know that his apartment air conditioning went out today. To add insult to injury, it will be Monday before anyone can get there to fix the unit for him. So, rather than hang around his apartment all day in the heat, he called us to see what we were going to be doing and could he hang out with us.

This is not unusual for Eric, as he likes to go places with his Mom and Dad. In fact, if it weren’t for us, he wouldn’t get to go to Colorado as much as he would like to do. Anyway, we told him to come on over, and we would find something to do.

As it is, I did need to do a couple of things, one of which is entirely because of the heat. To help “ventilate” the back of the Mobile Suite’s refrigerator, we decided to follow the lead of someone on SOITC’s forums who added a 10” fan to the top to help exhaust out the hot air. The units only have two small fans that are pushing the air up to the top exhaust to let it just “ooze” out the grate. With the additional 10” fan put in, that one will actually blow the hot air out instead.

We first went to Penney’s so Jo could look at some 100% cotton blanket with a tight weave to the fabric. We have had one of the thermal blankets on our bed and on occasion, the dogs get their toe-nails hung up in the weave. When we got to Penney’s, we found them on sale, so Jo decided to go ahead and get two different colors.

After that we went to lunch before going on to do some of our other looking and shopping. Since we got rid of our desktop computer, I’ve been doing everything on a laptop, and I’m not at all in love with those silly little touch pads for a mouse on the laptop. I have to disable the darn thing every time I sit down to do any writing on blogs, forums, or other things because my hand or something is always hitting something and causing problems. Sometimes, it makes me lose about half of what I’ve written.

So, we looked at wireless keyboards and mice at two or three different stores. While we were out on the west side of Oklahoma City, we stopped in at Camping World. There will be an SOITC mini-rally (regional get-together) at Grove, Oklahoma in mid-October. When it was announced last year, the couple who are organizing it informed us that they would like us to help them as they and Jo and I are about the only ones active in the association here in Oklahoma.

So, we stopped in at Camping World to see if any of their distributers would be willing to donate RV items for door prizes at the rally. That is the one thing that the other Oklahoma couple asked us to help find. So, I’ve been looking for crafts and other things to use for gifts. Jo is donating several of her blown-glass hummingbirds that she has gotten over the years from family and friends. (Knic-knaks just don’t cut in when full-timing.)

Anyway, Camping World wants me to send them some basic information about the rally and they will pass that on to their distributers. Then, they may or may not do anything to help out. Lewis RV, the dealer where we bought our Mobile Suites from, has already given us one gift and the Parts Department manager is contacting their distributers without me having to jump through hoops. From what he told me, I think he will be able to get at least two more items for us. Then, if I could find some nice craft items from someone (for a cheap price), we can have a bunch of small gifts as well.

Once that was done, we went by Lowes for the fan I was going to need. But, I was also going to need a ladder. I had seen a 17’ Multi-ladder on Lowe’s website for $140, but when we got to the store, they were $170. So we left Lowes without buying anything and went back to the coach. We looked on-line again, and sure enough, $140 was the price. But, Lowes would let us buy on-line and then pick up at the store. So, we got a good deal and drove back to Lowes within 30 minutes and we had our ladder and fan.

Werner MT 17 Multi Ladder 3

Werner MT 17 Multi Ladder 4

Werner MT 17 Multi Ladder 5

The funny part is that in all the years that Jo and I have rented or owned houses (as opposed to apartment living), the only extension ladder that we ever had was a cheap, hand-me-down ladder that I had to wire together when I had it extended to keep it from trying to come loose and slide back down.

Now, with no home other than a fifth wheel, I needed a ladder, so we finally broke down and bought a new ladder. I mean, after all, we’ve ONLY been married for 42 ½ years. We’ve had 6’ stepladders, but never a good extension ladder. However, this Werner 17’ Multi-ladder is really nice. I should have had one years ago. I just needed to get rid of all the houses.

But, then I have to remember that I’m not really crazy about climbing up the ladder at the back of the coach.  While it is rated for a 300 lb. man (and I’m not that heavy), I just don’t trust those small ladders.  Plus, when you get to the top of that ladder, you’ve not got much to hold onto while stepping onto the roof.  A 17’ ladder ought to give me about 4 feet above the roof line.

With ladder and fan in hand, we went back to the coach and I got to work. Since there were some changes in models since that one gentleman had bought his coach, the fan wouldn’t fit into our coach the same way. So, I had to “redneck engineer” the fan into place until I can get the right materials to better secure the fan.

After doing that hap-hazard job, I did a quick mowing job on the grass in front of the coach. Tomorrow, I’ll need to run the trimmer so that I can later spread out some more insecticide with our small hand spreader. While we haven’t seen as many ticks as we saw when we first moved in, there are still some here, plus some other little monsters that want to attack my ankles.

So, I’m plotting murder, and I won’t have to dispose of the bodies. Followed by worship services tomorrow and I found out this evening that I get to lead the morning congregational prayer. Goodie……murder plans and prayers.

Yep…I think it is the heat.

Ice Cream Truck in Oklahoma

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Seeking to Dispute “Generalities”

Not that I plan on doing much commenting on the Casey Anthony case, but an offshoot of that trial and its verdict has prompted a similar thought into my brain. It is all because of a comment from a “local” here in Oklahoma City who uttered the generality, “But EVERYONE knows that she is guilty!”

So it is that generalities can serve to dissuade the uninformed and make it appear that one’s opinion is shared by the “vast majority” of others. It is not always a true statement, and I can certainly demonstrate one generality in politics that is untrue.

To give a lead-up, Bernard Goldberg in this book, “Bias: A CBS Insider Exposes How the Media Distort the News”, wrote of how it was that the CBS anchors and reporters and other news media personnel had the tendency to believe that they were the “norm” for the country. After all, they all worked in the same places, shared the same restaurants, lived in the same area of the country (New York), and of course all had the same political mindset. To them, everyone else was the extremes.

Belonging to the “Big Group” will lead one to believe that their ideas and philosophies are the correct ones to have. I think those in every political philosophical category tend to follow suit. But, there is a source of information that has for some time provided a perspective that many miss, even those that are among that “Big Group.”

There is a non-partisan polling group made up of both Republicans and Democrats that are making up the questions for what is known as “The Battleground Poll.” In their polls over the last several years, one question has always remained and pretty much with the exact same wording. It is question D3. It is one asking for the respondent’s voting tendencies. The question and its choices are as such:

"When thinking about politics and government, do you consider yourself to be...

Very conservative

Somewhat conservative

MODERATE

Somewhat liberal

Very liberal

UNSURE/REFUSED"

Surprisingly, over the years, the answers to this question have been consistent. While many put so much faith in the Moderates and really strive hard to attract them, there are far fewer moderates than there are Liberals and Conservatives. From an article by Bruce Walker in the American Thinker:

“In August 2008, Americans answered that question this way:  (1) 20% of Americans considered themselves to be very conservative; (2) 40% of Americans considered themselves to be somewhat conservative; (3) 2% of Americans considered themselves to be moderate; (4) 27% of Americans considered themselves to be somewhat liberal; (5) 9% of Americans considered themselves to be very liberal; and (6) 3% of Americans did not know or refused to answer.”

From those numbers, 60 percent are very or somewhat conservative, only 2 percent consider themselves to be moderate, and only 36 percent think of themselves as liberal or somewhat liberal. The astonishing thing is that some look to voter registration and say, “But there are more Democrats than Republicans.” That is certainly true in many states, but consider the following.

In the last two presidential elections, 2004 and 2008, Oklahoma has been one of only two states where EVERY county in the state voted for the Republican; George W. Bush in 2004 and John McCain in 2008. Yet, Oklahoma has more Democrats than Republicans. The difference is that a lot of the Democrats in Oklahoma are conservative in their philosophies. While some statewide and Congressional elections have yielded Democrat winners, the Presidential choices have been overwhelmingly for the Republican in most election years.

Being a Democrat or Republican is not as important as being liberal or conservative. Here is another consideration for you to ponder upon. Over the years, when a Republican ran for President with his campaign being based on conservative ideals, those candidates have won their election.

If they ran on moderate ideals, or “I’m going to get along”, or I’ll reach out to Democrats, they tended to lose the election. Most notably, those “moderate” candidates were Gerald Ford, Bob Dole, and John McCain. Those who ran on more conservative ideals were Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and George W. Bush. (Granted, George H.W. Bush lost re-election, but it was because of the reversal on “Read my lips…no new taxes.”  Also, both George H.W. Bush and Bob Dole had to deal with votes from their base going to Ross Perot.)

Now, let’s get back to the Battleground Poll for more results. From an April 2010 article, again by Bruce Walker:

“Since June 2002, the Battleground Poll has asked this same question in its demographics section, and in fifteen consecutive polls, the answer has always been the same. Americans overwhelmingly describe themselves as conservative. What does "overwhelming" mean in this context? The percentage of Americans who call themselves conservative in these polls has never been less than 58%. ... There has been a remarkable consistency in the responses to this question. Over the course of these polls, 60.2% of Americans, on average, call themselves conservative.

The results of the April 2010 Battleground Poll show that nothing has changed. Fifty-nine percent of Americans in the latest Battleground Poll call themselves conservative; two percent of Americans call themselves moderate; thirty-four percent call themselves liberal; and five percent were either unsure or refused to answer. ... Stories from the establishment media, like USA Today and the L.A. Times, conveniently miss the underlying story about the April 2010 Battleground Poll.”

Now, from the American Thinker in July of 2011, there is more from Bruce Walker.

“I have been writing for over a decade about the most consistent datum in the last twenty consecutive Battleground Polls: the overwhelming conservative majority in America.  The Battleground Poll just published confirmed that persistent statistic.  When asked to define their own ideological position, 57% called themselves "very conservative" or "somewhat conservative," while 37% called themselves "very liberal" or "somewhat liberal."  The tiny smidgen of Americans who were either "unsure" or "moderate" or "refused to answer" was 5%.”

Links to the full stories from which I have pulled the quotes:

http://www.americanthinker.com/2008/08/the_biggest_missing_story_in_p.html

http://www.studentnewsdaily.com/commentary/the-battleground-poll/

http://www.americanthinker.com/2011/05/the_real_conservative_majority.html

So, for those Conservatives out there that feel hammered from all the negative stories from the news media, keep the above statistics in mind that an overwhelming majority of voting Americans are conservative in nature. Since the poll number only slightly vary over the many polls, we can take comfort in that our beliefs are the most prevalent. This information is what helps me to remain as confident as I am, even during the silly season known as elections.

I have long stated to anyone who would listen, and to some who don’t want to, don’t pay a lot of attention to polls reported in the news media. They will invariably search out polls that give the appearance of popularity in their own causes and agendas.

The ONLY REALLY IMPORTANT poll is the one on Election Day when the real respondents cast their votes. Those REAL respondents are the American people.  All we need are candidates who are truly conservative.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Slight Dissertation on Art

Well, at least my own personal observations about the subject of art. My online friend, Richard Secor, otherwise known as RV PAINTER on the RV Dreams forums, has painted another painting and seems to have “thrown down the gauntlet” with a reference as to whether I will see any critters in the newest one.

http://rvpainter.blogspot.com/2011/07/change-of-vision.html

Well, I took a short look at his latest work and found “at least something of the form” of two different critters. However, I refuse to tell him where they are so that he won’t mess with a perfectly good painting. This little issue with me seeing critters in his paintings comes about because of different art forms.

A painter who creates a painting from what he sees will consciously put into that painting what he wants there to be. He may render colors or texture that others might not see even if they were looking at his original model for the painting. I remember that my mother used to paint trees with a “daubing” motion of her brush so as to give the leaves of the tree some form of dimension. Unless one looked at the painting in a “close-up” manner, they might not even notice just a hint of 3 dimensions.

As a photographer, what “artistic” talent I have is in the ability to observe and see what others might not see. If one looks at a panoramic landscape that seems dull and lifeless (such as a desert), they may very well miss the beauty of the cactus flowers that are prevalent in numerous places.

DCP_4925

So, while Richard paints what he sees, the photographer in me sees differently and can pick out details that he doesn’t even know exists. I look at an image or a scene before me and I see things differently, and sometimes in pretty quick fashion. With nature and wildlife photography, especially wildlife, one sometimes has to look quick to see both the “big picture” (panorama) or the “little picture” (detail within an image.) Richard does photograph and post “details” of his painting on his blog along with the complete work.

If anyone has seen the movie “Close Encounter of a Third Kind,” you will have noticed that numerous characters in the movie were drawing, painting, and sculpting the Devil’s Tower, which they kept seeing in their minds. As Richard Dreyfuss and the lady and one other man are climbing the tower, Richard Dreyfuss’s character tells the others either of a way or a hindrance to the other side of the mountain that neither of the other two had noticed in their “visions” of the Devil’s Tower. Dreyfuss’s character simply stated, “Next time try sculpture.”

While the other two characters were drawing sufficient images of the Tower, theirs was two-dimensional while Dreyfuss’s was a three-dimensional sculpture. His “creation” included little gullies, crevices, and other features not noticed in a two dimensional drawing. It can be similar with a photographer because we aren’t just looking at one view of a scene in front of us.

Like many others, artists or non-artists, I have been blessed with an appreciation of most forms of art. However, there are other “art forms” which I don’t necessarily recognize as art so much as “shock” venues. Some people just prefer to do things which they know will create a controversy with others, thus getting themselves a name as being “cutting edge” artists. An example coming to mind is that issue where the “artist” placed a statue of Jesus in a jar of urine.

Nothing in his work could be considered beautiful or artistic, but he definitely upset a lot of people in this country. No doubt that “artist” didn’t think anyone else had a justification to say that his work wasn’t art.

In other words, just because someone calls themselves an artist, I don’t necessarily agree. My biggest issue is with conceptual art. There is a building in Oklahoma City that has a “sculpture” in front of it that to me resembles three fingernail clippings. They are three curved pieces of metal on different bases. Another is a state agency building that has metal “art” in front of it that simply reminds me of discs from an agricultural plow.

Of course, art does come in various forms, and most of them I appreciate, especially since I haven’t the talent for any of them. Painting and sculpture and dance are visual forms, with dance having the additional advantage of including music. Although I’ve never had a real interest in opera, many times the sound of the human voice is a beauty in itself, whether the song is or not.

As mentioned in an earlier post, I mentioned that I find a cappella singing to be awesome in its simplicity and its harmony. I have only been to two musical concerts in my life. One was in my home town at one year’s school Alumni Celebration when a singer who had gone to our school for a few years brought her band and played for us. The music from the instruments was so loud that we couldn’t hear the vocal artists at all.

The other was in Oklahoma City a few years ago when Yanni came to town and held a concert. In the case of his music, most of it is instrumental, so there were very few vocals to be drowned out by the instruments.

So, it is with great pleasure that I have been blessed with a love for art. For a short period of time, I had posted some of my photos on a website for Richard to see. I have since found that the website is not entirely secure in protecting my photos from being stolen by others for their own use. I initially thought that the site was secure, so I had pictures out there. I’ve since removed them from that website.

Hopefully, another site that I have in mind will be more secure and I can share what little skill I have with art with others in the hope that they can appreciate what I have managed to capture. As I’ve told Richard, I am not necessarily artistic with my photography. With my scenic and wildlife photography, I simply capture an image of what God has created so that I can share it with others.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Independence Day Weekend Plans

Since we have plans to be out of town this weekend, I thought I would post first and then experience things, instead of the other way around. With it being a holiday weekend, I thought I would get the jump on celebrating with a patriotic song that I heard.

First of all, for those who like The Battle Hymn of the Republic, I will give you a link to a rendition that I thought was beautiful when I heard it for the first time this morning. I was listening to a local talk show and at the close-out of his show he played the song done by three sisters in a group by the name of SheDaisy.

Their rendition is pretty much a cappella and it is done beautifully. (I seem to really have a preference for a cappella singing, especially with songs of a religious nature. The human voices not being drowned out by musical instruments are really beautiful.) They were a country group some years back and when I went to try to find the song online I found out that they have a new internet website under construction. Maybe with a little luck, they will go back to singing again.

The best I could do in finding the song is at the following link and one has to go down a ways on the page to find a link that will let one play the audio clip. Check it out:

http://new.music.yahoo.com/shedaisy/albums/battle-hymn-of-the-republic--22240766

Our weekend plans are kind of varied. On Saturday, we will get together with our family for an outing to MacDonald’s. Ordinarily, you couldn’t get me into a MacDonald’s if there was any other choice whatsoever. However, since we are linking up with our oldest son and his family (including the grandkids) and our youngest son, they tend to take the kids to where they want to go. (I think I need to find a way to have the grandkids so I can teach them about other places to eat.)

Then on Sunday, we will leave OKC about 9:00am or so to drive to Tulsa to see Jo’s middle sister and spend the night over there. Oh, does anyone remember me talking about how I’m ticked at my in-laws because they are moving to Colorado and being further away? Well, Jo’s sister is planning on retiring next April and guess where she is going to move. Yep…Colorado. (Dang in-laws.)

But, at least when things get to where we will be traveling, both of her sisters will be in the same state, making it easier for us to see both of them. Plus, since one is going to be living in Canon City and one near Fort Collins, it will let us see more of central and northern Colorado. In the past, we‘ve pretty much limited ourselves to mostly southern Colorado because of it being closer to Oklahoma.

With little else to say tonight that would be “on topic”, I’ll simply close out with a short posting and wish everyone a safe and Happy Independence Day. As a part of your celebration, take a moment and give thanks and a prayer for our military personnel and our veterans.

God bless you all and keep you safe.

Eagle and Flag