Saturday Morning, Slowly
A few photos... (I take 'em, gotta share 'em.)
Last Saturday Dagmar and I and a few friends went to the Chesterfield. I've never heard a bad band there - it was blues last weekend, and I liked it a lot!
I found out later that the band is from David City, NE, population around 300.
I'm not ready to see this in my rear-view mirror yet...
We went to my mother-in-law's house. She has a pine tree... This photo looks pretty cool if you click on it and see the larger version. I love the random symmetry of nature!
I caught this little guy in front of our house.It's easy to bleed when you're cutting edge...
I'm thinking about switching from Blogger to their "Blogger Beta" version. They say it's all sorts of nifty, with new features, yadda yadda yadda... But I'm a bit fearful of losing my archives, and I'm rather attached to my template (mainly because I'm not technically-savvy enough to feel confident in remaking it all). Has anyone switched? Did it work? Was it worth the pain? Were you able to keep all your old stuff but still use the new features?
One bug in Blogger that really bothers me is that you can't have a space in the filename of any photo you upload. I hope they fix that soon...You want to GO to the movies? Oh...
I read in The Week
just a few minutes ago that the movie industry is getting a bit worried about all the people NOT going to movie theaters and watching their movies. They had all sorts of reasons, but they mainly talked about how people are more comfortable renting movies and watching them at home. They said something like, "thirty percent of people say they have the ultimate theater experience in their living room." Well, I'm in the seventy percent that still has a regular old low-definition TV, but I still don't go to the movies.
It's not that I don't like movies - I think some of the cartoons are great. It's not that I don't like putting my clothes on and schlepping across town in the rain to watch flickering images in a cave. The reason I don't go to movies is that it simply costs too much. I can't afford it. Dagmar and I go out once in a while and see a nice film (the last one we saw was Hitchhiker's Guide, I think), and it always costs two to three times what it would cost us to rent THREE movies, make our own very good popcorn, and sit on our comfy couch where we can nuzzle each other when we feel like it. If the theaters want to increase their business, quit charging six bucks for two handfuls of popcorn and give the patrons value for their money.Drippy Old Gents
I just had a few Jehova's Witnesses on my porch. Nice gentlemen, standing in the rain with their suits on, waving pamphlets at me. I don't think they were expecting a long-haired, bearded hippie wearing a robe and sandals to answer the door... I wanted to tell them that this was the wrong neighborhood to be canvassing on a Saturday morning - most of my neighbors don't seem to be the sort of people who are awake and alert on Saturday mornings - but I figured they could probably tell that already.
I'm not interested in having religion foisted upon me by strangers who interrupt my one morning to sleep in (or ramble on in this blog), but you know, it really doesn't cost anything to be polite. So I listened to them. They were polite to me, too, and gave me a couple pamphlets to read. As they turned to leave, it struck me that these two elderly gentlemen are much braver than ANY of our elected officials. I've never, ever had a politician knock on my door - they avoid this neighborhood like the plague. I wonder if I'll be as polite to a politician knocking on my door as I was to the two guys in ties a few minutes ago.It Kinda Scares Me
I work in a print shop. Thus far the Republicans have "outprinted" the Democrats roughly ten to one (that's just what I've seen come across my desk). The company I work for has printed a TON of stuff for the Republicans - and here's the interesting part - all but one item was part of a smear campaign. The Republicans have printed just one positive piece.
In contrast, we've only printed a handful of postcards and brochures for the Democrats, but not a single one of them even mentioned their competition - they were all positive "here's what I stand for" pieces. Kudos to the Dems for standing tall, and boos and hisses for the Republicans for relying on negative campaigning.
'Tis only a midterm election, I know, but I still haven't seen more than a handful of Democratic yard signs. I've seen quite a few Republican signs, notably for congressman Steve King
and gubernatorial candidate Jim Nussle
. The problem with their signs is twofold - they tend to put up HUGE, expensive-looking signs in very pretty areas, thus ruining the scenery, and in my opinion neither of them is fit to govern. King wants the US government to give him (and I mean him, personally) over $2 million per mile to build a fence between Mexico and the U.S. Nussle backed a law making it more difficult for elderly and poor voters to cast their vote. Nice guy.
I much prefer the political stands taken by Joyce Schulte
and Chet Culver
. I haven't heard much from either campaign, though. I hope they're taking the high road and running clean campaigns. Too bad we can't hope the same for their competition.Time to Start the Weekend
It's my nephew Hunter's birthday today (he's the very intelligent-looking chap pictured to the left). We're going to go visit him soon. They're having a big party for the guy - his entire class is invited! We're looking forward to going and being old fuddy-duddies.
My cousin is getting married this weekend somewhere in the Southwest. I've been thinking a lot about him, wishing him well (we can't make it to the wedding). But I have to admit I'm thinking much more about his parents, my aunt and uncle. They've both been fighting cancer; he just Thursday had brain surgery. My thoughts are going out to you guys - we've been praying a lot lately. I'm sure I'll spend a fair amount of time this weekend wondering how everything's going...
The Packers are playing the Lions tomorrow. I'm hoping that one of the teams will actually be good enough to win the game... I'm still hoping the Packers can pull out a winning season for veteran quarterback Brett Favre. It may be a vain hope, though - they're a pretty young team.
In any case, it's time to go cook some potatoes for breakfast, scrub my hairy carcass clean and start the weekend!
To beer, or not to beer, that is the question...
My oh my, what a week! I hate it when I get stuck working long hours unexpectedly. Especially morning hours. Usually when I see 5:15 in the morning, it's because I haven't gone to bed yet, not because I'm headed to work...
I am now going to drink a beer. But first, a tale of ale...
"Dude," my cohort at work, Drew
, hollered at me the other day. "You gotta try this beer I found!"
"What, is Budweiser making something new?" I asked. He, quite rightly, gave me a dirty look.
"No, I went to that place around the corner, Charlie's Liquor," he said. "They have Beamish Stout
there!" I gave him a blank look. He continued, "It's beautiful! The best beer I've ever had! There's absolutely no bitterness! It tastes like chocolate!" His eyes crossed slightly, tongue hanging out a bit, a goofy smile on his silly mug.
"That good?" I asked. "I'll have to try it!" About then the boss came around the corner, frowning so hard I thought his nose was gonna pop off. So Drew and I scurried back to our respective corners like the little worker roaches we are.
After work that day I found myself staring vacantly into the refrigerator, waiting for my beloved bride Dagmar to get off work. There wasn't much in the refrigerator to look at, so I shut the door and wandered off into the other room. That's when inspiration struck! I was gonna go get some of that Beaver Snout or whatever it was that Drew liked! Off I went on the three-block trek to Charlie's Liquor.
It should be noted that I never shop at Charlie's. It's a nice clean store, but they never have what I want... They don't carry any New Belgium
products (like my beloved Abbey, for example, see my previous, and much better written post HERE
), and that's about all I really want any more. Abbey and it's older brother, 1554, a very fine beer indeed, suit me just fine. But if my buddy Drew thinks I should try a beer, well, I trust his judgment.
The door beeped at me when I opened it. A lady peered over the counter at me. I smiled and waved a little and headed for the Odd Beer Section. I scanned the labels. Guinness, Old Pekuliar, no Beamish Stout. The lady wandered over. "Can I help you?" she asked.
"I'm looking for Beamish Stout," I said. "I heard rumors you guys carried it...?"
"Well, we usually have some," she said, "but someone just bought the last of it this afternoon. There was another guy here just a few minutes looking for it, too," she said. She then went on to describe my buddy Drew to a tee. "He looked awfully disappointed when I told him we were out," she said. "We should have some in tomorrow or the next day." I thanked her, grabbed a six-pack of beer more or less at random and left. That night I had my first Samuel Adams
Cream Stout. Not bad... But not as good as I imagined Beamish Stout would be.
The next day, the door beeped at me when I opened it. A grouchy-looking heavyweight with a goatee glared at me from behind the counter. I searched in vain for the Beamish. Finally I asked the guy if they had any Beamish. "No," he said. A man of many words, he. I went home and had another Sam Adams Cream Stout. "The Cappucino of Beers," the label read. Not bad.
Day three found me back at the store again. This time the lady was there again. "We don't have it," she called from the counter. "The distributor said they're not going to give us any more. You may want to try going to Nebraska or South Dakota - they have different laws there..." Shoot. If I'm gonna schlep all the way to South Sioux in Nebraska to buy beer, I'm gonna get Abbey and 1554, which is pretty much what I wanted in the first place! I was simply hoping to find a good beer within walking distance...
So I just got back from South Sioux. They didn't have Beamish Stout, either... But I now have a firm supply of my beloved Abbey! I am indeed a happy man! When I opened the fridge to put the Abbey away, I saw one bottle of Sam Adams Cream Stout, a bottle of Boulevard Wheat
(a great summer beer if you toss a bit of lemon in it), a few random New Belgium beers, and a Miller Lite. I pushed it all to the back and put my Abbey in the place of honor.
I shall now drink one.
Has anyone out there had this Beamish Stout stuff? Should I keep looking for it? Am I missing out on anything? Is it as good as Abbey (which I am now drinking)?
It Ain't World War III, FolksPeople keep tossing the phrase "World War III" around. "This could be the start of World War III," they say. Or, "The war against terror is really World War III."Bullpucky.We're not in World War III, at least not yet. Let's look at the numbers...World War I:5,565,146 Allied Military Casualties3,157,833 Allied Civilian Casualties3,386,200 Central Military Casualties3,485,000 Central Civilian CasualtiesThe total is: 15,596,071 dead people. Say that out loud. sourceWorld War II:I'm not gonna break it down - it's too depressing.The total is: 62,537,400 dead people. Say it out loud. Pronounce the number. Sixty-two million, five-hundred and thirty-seven thousand, four hundred people died. The Soviet Union alone lost 23,200,000 people. Over twenty-three million, eleven and a half million of which were civilian casualties. In Poland, over 16% of the population was killed. sourceThe United States lost 126,200 people in World War I, and 418,500 people in World War II. These are big numbers. Staggering. For comparison, my hometown has around 10,000 people.It's hard to put together numbers for the War on Terror, I'm finding. Here are the numbers that are out there...2,667 American Military Casualties in Iraq. source234 Coalition Military Casualties in Iraq. source333 American Military Casualties in Afghanistan. source568 "Non-Iraqi Civilians" killed in Iraq (contractors, journalists, etc.) source90,000 Iraqi Civilian Casualties source2,762 Civilian Casualties in the 9/11 Attacks sourceThis totals up to... Give me a minute... 96,564 - 90,000 of which are Iraqi civilians. Just shy of 100,000 people are no longer here because of the war on terror.I'm sure all the numbers I've listed here are probably wrong - they're most likely estimates - but they're probably pretty close. I'm also sure that I've forgotten some aspect of the war on terror (the bombings in Madrid and London, for instance).
The point of all this is simple. Our current situation is horrible. One wartime death is too many - ask the widow who buried her husband last week just a few miles north of here. The soldiers serving in Iraq and the rest of the Middle East deserve our utmost respect for doing what they're doing. But let's not call it World War III. One-hundred thousand casualties thus far is a sickening number, but that's a small fraction of the sixty-two million lost in World War II.
But on the Other Hand...
I recently received an e-mail from someone saying how wonderful it was that the world has gone 1,000 days without war.
We're burying people here. Kids in uniform are dying. They say we're in peacetime because "it takes two governments in conflict" to qualify as war. Hey, if it waddles like a duck and quacks like a duck, it's a duck. We ARE in war. We may not be warring against another government, but we're at war. It's not World War III, but it's war, nonetheless.
But NOW What?
The sad part is that the War on Terror is not by our choosing - it was foisted upon us rather violently on 9/11 - but the vast majority of casualties are now coming from the war in Iraq, a war we started. Even President Bush now admits that Iraq and Saddam Hussein had nothing to do with the terrorist attacks of 9/11. (Anyone remember Osama bin Laden?)
I support our troops, but I do question our leaders. Do we need to defend ourselves against terrorists? You betcha! Do we need to stretch our military thin in Iraq while Iran and South Korea are rattling their sabers? Hmmm...
Let's look at it. We've got troops in Iraq, but not enough to quell the insurgency. But too many troops have been there for too long - we're running out of resources (personnel, petroleum, money). Do we do as the Republicans want and "stay the course?" That seems kind of silly to me - we've been staying the course too long already, and it doesn't seem to be doing much good (the Taliban are making a comeback in Afghanistan, you know). Or do we do as the Democrats want and bring the troops home? Well, it would destabilize the region tremendously if we pulled all our troops out at once, and there are people running amok in the Middle East who would like to do us harm. A conundrum.
Some people are saying we should set a deadline. Give people warning before we pull our troops out. That sounds good, I guess... Except that it gives the bad guys a heads up that if they lay low until the deadline they'll be free to run amok again. It's nice to think that the Iraqi military would be ready to take over by that time, but geeze, that looks kinda doubtful, doesn't it?
You know, maybe we should look at the past for ideas. The Marshall Plan worked. We managed to occupy Japan after WWII for quite some time with no insurmountable obstacles. We can find a way to do it again. We can do this.
Here's one thing I do know for certain. We absolutely, positively CANNOT cut taxes and maintain a war footing at the same time. We absolutely, positively CANNOT afford to keep giving a hefty percentage of our money to other governments in exchange for oil to keep our SUV's running. We absolutely, positively NEED a change in our leadership. A drastic change. Thankfully the elections are coming up soon!
Is it crispy in here, or am I burning out?
Insurance or Politics?
I'm sad. I just found out that my insurance company, Farm Bureau, has come out in support of every single Republican in Iowa -- including Steve King
. I guess I'm not surprised that the insurance company leans to the right, but I guess I never thought that they'd come out and openly advocate for politicians. I guess I'm just simple that way.
My problem is that Mr. King, Iowa's Fifth District Representative, espouses ideas and theories that I just can't abide. He advocates cock fighting. He wants the United States government to give him between $2 and $3 million per mile to build a wall between the United States and Mexico. And when I say he wants the government to give "him" the money, I mean Mr. King wants the money for himself - he wants to subcontract the job to his son and one of his neighbors. Granted, having two more millionaires in Iowa would be good for two Iowans, but it won't do squat for me personally, I think the idea is repugnant, and I'm ashamed that Mr. King is from my fair state of Iowa. source
Anyone know of any good insurance companies?Sadness
I saw a sad sight the other day. I was out mowing the yard (using the electric mower my mother-in-law has graciously "permanently loaned" us - the grass was too tall for the reel mower
) when I heard a commotion across the street. A kerfuffle, perhaps. There were Things Going On over there.
I stopped the mower and gawked. (Slack-jawed gawking is one of my favorite pastimes, you know.) A couple neighborhood kids were arguing. A boy and the girl, brother and sister.
I don't know how old they are, but I'm not used to seeing them looking "adultish." The boy must be in his mid-teens - he's probably over six feet tall, and his voice is changing. The girl is very much over six feet tall. (Is it my imagination, or are kids "aging" at an earlier age than they used to? These kids are teens, but look like they could be college-aged. Spooky.)
Anyway, in typical brother-sister fashion, the two of them were squabbling. Loudly. The sad part was that they couldn't chase each other. This isn't to say that they weren't trying
to run, it's just that they couldn't. The girl was furious, and was trying to get away from her brother, and he was angrily chasing her -- but they were both moving at a sedate plod. She was thudding her way down the sidewalk, and the boy was lurching behind, both yelling at the top of their lungs. "Leavemealone gasp gasp
I'mgonnatellma!" and "Getbackhere gasp
It makes me sad that teenagers these days are too out of shape to pick on each other properly.
As a side point - MAN, those electric mowers
are keen! They really do work exceptionally well. I highly recommend 'em. I know, I know - just 'cause they don't use gas doesn't mean that they're "fossil fuel free." But, there IS the chance that the power coming through the grid may come from a hydroelectric or nuclear sources, whereas if you use a gas mower you're 100% sure you're using oil (thereby enriching the Saudis and Dick Cheney).
What I Did on My Summer Vacation...
Dagmar and I took a week off work. It's rare for us to get a week off... We didn't really go anywhere - being in debt sucks - but we had a LOT of interesting experiences!Saturday
Our vacation started on a somber note. A soldier from a small town near here was recently killed in Iraq. Dagmar and I participated in the Patriot Guard and attended the services.
Around 150 motorcycles were there, in the rain, to honor the soldier. Some bikers rode in the rain through the night to get to the services on time - people rode in from northern Minnesota, southern Nebraska, Des Moines...
Dagmar and I rode ahead to the cemetery as part of an honor guard.
A 21-gun salute, two buglers and a man playing "Amazing Grace" on the bagpipes, hundreds of flags - it was hard to keep a dry eye. It's still hard.
Heading home in the rain...Sunday
Sunday was a good warm day. Perfect for visiting the farm and watching Pops grill burgers!
We got to see our supremely intelligent, absolutely perfect little goddaughter, Maddie. Monday
On Monday the Patriot Guard was again called to a small town in Northwest Iowa to do honor guard duties for fallen soldiers. It was a good thing to do.
It was indeed an honor to be there.
Flags and motorcycles honoring veterans in the Heartland. Tuesday
Tuesday started our "real" vacation. First item on the agenda - catch the escaped kitty and change the litterbox. He's a stinky little guy in the summertime.
Second thing to do? Clean the motorcycle.
And, finally, Tuesday afternoon found us out in the sun! We visited a nifty Scenic Overlook on the Omaha Reservation near Macy, Nebraska...
We found a park in South Sioux City that we didn't know existed. I thought the sign was funny. "No Loitering." Isn't that what you're SUPPOSED to do in a park?
They even had geese there! Wednesday
On Wednesday we parked the bike and went to the Omaha Zoo. This little guy was one of the first critters we saw...
Omaha really does have a world-class zoo. We were impressed!
They have a great gorilla place.
How can you look at those eyes and think there's no intelligence or emotion there?
Dagmar and I both really enjoyed the gardens at the zoo, too!
One of my favorites (besides the Jungle House) was the Budgie Cage, believe it or not... There's something special about having hundreds and hundreds of birds flying around you. Thursday-Friday
We woke up Thursday morning, took our borrowed camping equipment (thanks Drew!) and headed off for the Ponca State Park. It's a beauty of a park!
Dagmar has never really been camping before, so this was an excellent first trip! The park has great facilities - nice camp sites, plenty of firewood, all sorts of neat stuff.
Besides having almost 90 camp sites, a swimming pool, horse rides, an education center, and a golf course, they also have a native tallgrass prairie! What a treat!
My snookums hiding in the flowers.
For any of you that think that a native tallgrass prairie in any way resembles a lawn, it doesn't... Parts are six to eight feet tall. It's way cool.
It has been a good vacation. Today is the first day of football (go Packers!), so a pizza is on the way. Tomorrow things get back to normal. The riding season is slowly winding down, so I'll be able to spend a bit more time writing again. I have lots of stuff to say, trust me. I think ABC is doing a miserable, terrible thing by misrepresenting our government's handling of terrorism, I think Pete Ricketts and Steve King are in no way qualified to participate in our government, I think I miss playing my bass... I have lots of opinions. And they'll all come out sooner or later, now that summer is getting tired.