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Sunday, October 02, 2016


It is now the first week in October, 2016 in the Phoenix-Scottsdale area.  In most parts of the country October means thoughts of chilly nights and preparation for the onset of winter which is just around the corner.  

Ah, winter; I remember it well during my days in Cincinnati and Missouri.  Once it arrived with its ice, snow, and cold it was as though it would never leave.  In Arizona we love the winters with the sunny 70 degree days especially when we play golf on a January day while the northerners are shoveling snow.

Like practically everything in life, however, there is a bit of a payback for the northerners as we Arizonans have to endure 100 plus degree days practically every day from June into September and sometimes beyond.  Neither situation is perfect but since I have lived in Arizona since 1987, I obviously prefer the situation here.  There is something about ice cold car seats and heaters that don’t really work well in the extreme cold that makes me glad I have to search for a parking space with shade in the summer in Arizona.

So, while those living in the northern climes are piling on the firewood and warming up the car for fifteen minutes in the morning hoping the heater works, here are a few advantages for Arizonans as they prepare for winter as listed by Scott Craven of AZCENTRAL.COM.

1.  You can now launder the smelly shirt you have kept in the back seat of your car all summer for sweat emergencies.
2.  You can now fire up the stove and enjoy food that doesn’t have to fit in a toaster oven.
3.  You can walk the dog without having to set the alarm clock at 3:00 a.m.
4.  Prepare smug Facebook weather posts for comparisons with your East Coast friends.
5.  You can now enjoy the post-dryer warmth of bed sheets straight out of the dryer.
6.  You can now open the blinds and allow sunlight to shine on areas not illuminated since May!
7.  Two words:  Patio dining. 
8.  Prepare your cold weather gear as temperatures could plummet into the 60’s before you know it!
9.  Answer the usual “What do you want to do this weekend?” question without starting, “We’ll head north….
10.  Breathe deep the rich scent of manure as your neighbors prep their lawns for winter seeding.

Would you prefer to be the guy below or play golf in Arizona like pro champion Kirk Triplett?  DUH!





Saturday, September 03, 2016


Quote from San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick:  "I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.  To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder." 

I don’t see any place where he said he will refuse to take his large salary from a white managed NFL team in order to reinforce his beliefs about the poor treatment of blacks in our society.  So far all he has done is refuse to stand for National Anthem of the country that has allowed him to become rich and famous.

·    Note to Colin:  Hey, Colin!  If you really want to impress us, walk away from your high paying job in the NFL and get yourself down and dirty in the neighborhoods where you feel that black people are getting a bad deal and physically help them out of their quagmire of a life.  However, before you do that you may wish to know that in 2015 police killings of blacks accounted for approximately 4 percent of homicides of blacks.  Police killings of unarmed blacks accounted for approximately 0.6 percent of homicides of blacks.  The overwhelming majority of black homicide victims (93 percent from 1980 to 2008) were performed by blacks.  (from American Renaissance)
While Kaepernick tries to impress us that blacks are getting a bad deal because of unfairness in the United States, he may be partially correct although not the way he would wish to be.  The above numbers show that blacks are more likely to kill each other and that those bodies in the streets that he mentions may probably have nothing to do with  police brutality.  Maybe he should check the facts closer before insulting his country unnecessarily. Although I think the guy means well, he may have had his bell rung a few times too many on the football field. 
It’s a shame when these situations occur.  I have always enjoyed watching the guy play for the 49ers even though I am not a fan of that or any other NFL team.  He has always impressed me with his running ability when it appears he may be thrown for a significant loss.  Unfortunately, it appears that he may be cut regardless of any skills he had or currently has.  He has been around a few years and the NFL has a way of slowing guys down simply because of the attrition of age and injury.  Kaepernick is now 28 and has had a lot of physical punishment for the last six years.  Maybe he has lost a step.

I don’t particularly care what he does as I don’t follow the NFL very much anymore.  However, I feel the wrong people have advised him in this situation.  A lot of players in the league are not happy that he has trashed the American flag and the National Anthem. Like most Americans, they don’t like that he is abusing the country that has made him famous and awarded him with a lot of money. 

Friday, July 29, 2016


A friend and I were reminiscing the other day about the first cars we ever owned.  I doubt if there is any guy who can’t fondly recall in detail his first “heap” and I am no exception.

Mine was a 1954 Ford “Mainline” two door business coupe.  I loved that car; it was a “stick shift” with a 6 cylinder engine and because it was a business coupe, it had no bells and whistles.  It was designed to get salesmen from A to B with no frills. 

I was 16 and the thought of luxuries like whitewall tires, a radio, or an automatic transmission were unheard of on the Mainline model.  The driver was the only one who got an armrest, an outside rear view mirror, and a sun visor.  As far as a radio, I had to get a cheap AM from Sears after I saved the few bucks to afford it. Those were the days before cars had FM radio so it was only AM and didn’t even have push buttons to find the stations.  I had to dial them in.  As far as air conditioning, Cadillacs were about the only cars that had it then.  I used the 260 form:  2 windows open and going 60 miles an hour. 

Electric windshield wipers were unheard of then also.  They were vacuum operated which meant that every time you pressed on the gas pedal, they would stop!  If nothing else they forced you to drive VERY carefully when it was raining!

My heap looked like this only without the side chrome strip
There were 50,000 miles on that Ford in an era when cars were pretty much used up if they made it to 80 or 90 thousand miles.  But, with only $600 saved up and borrowed from my parents, I wasn’t expecting the world.  Besides, I now had wheels, which was a lot nicer than hitch hiking or walking.

My parents made it clear that they wanted their loan paid back ASAP.  It was the 1950’s and the term “work ethic” meant something.  If you borrowed money under the terms of an agreement you were expected to pay off that loan per the agreement.  There were no special dispensations for family members in most cases as integrity meant something then.  Hence, I got a summer job doing delivery work throughout my hometown Cincinnati area.  It paid $60 a week and gave me the opportunity to learn my way around the metro area.  When school resumed, I worked part time in a grocery store.  I still remember my last payment on that Ford and my receiving the title free and clear.  I felt like a big shot!

The 1950’s seem like a million years ago now.  In most homes, dad was the bread winner and mom ran the house.  When kids came home from school mom was there to greet them while dad usually rode the bus to and from his job.  Many vacations involved family trips to the seashore or the mountains in the family car for a brief respite from the typical workdays. 

The mandatory military draft was also in effect so when boys tuned 18 they had to get a “draft card” which meant that they eventually would have to serve in the military.  They could wait until they were called or voluntarily join but either way, there was usually no way to avoid serving.  The military did a lot of guys a lot of good whether it offered them a career or taught them some valuable lessons about life which with many cases I see today, are sadly lacking.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016


(Arizona joke:  It was so hot I saw a coyote chasing a jackrabbit and they were both walking!)

Those of us who have lived in Arizona for a reasonable amount of time understand what the place is all about with regards to lifestyle and the effect that weather has on it.

My wife and I have been permanent residents of Scottsdale and Phoenix for the last 27 years.  Before that we were mid-westerners having grown up in Cincinnati and later living in the Kansas City area for 20 years.  We knew all about seasonal changes like ice and snow, humid summers, and raking leaves.  Corn fields were a common sight as were lush green lawns plus we had daylight savings time.

Living in Arizona is a whole new ball game.  As described by local writer S. E. Schlosser in a hilarious recent column about the differences between Arizona and the more northern climes, we always carry our own water with us.  Most of the time, especially in the summer, almost everyone will be holding a bottle of water, usually the large economy size.  It’s what one does when the temperatures start going up around March to a steady diet of 100+ degree days.  The record for March is 102 degrees set in 1988.  As I write this in June, I still remember June of 1990 when it hit 122 degrees.  Carrying your own H2O makes a lot of sense under those conditions.

Winter in Scottsdale (usually)
Here are a few more observations from Ms Schlosser concerning the summer Arizona lifestyle:  1. Do not expect cold water to come out of the cold water tap (see above listed temperatures as why that is so).  2.  Arizonans consider 90 degree weather as representing a cooling trend.  People take certain jobs because covered parking is a perk.  (Caution: do not touch a dashboard that has been exposed to the sun for a long period!) 3. Outdoor activities start at about 5:00 a.m. and end about 8:00 a.m.4. You run INTO the rain instead of out of it (That is assuming that there IS any rain!). 5.Umbrellas are used on sunny days, not rainy ones.  6. You are happy to see a lizard in your yard because it proves that something is alive.  7. The local weather report is a looped tape.  8. You would rather get a letter from the IRS than have to open your utility bill. 9. You’re an expert on ceiling fans because you have one in every room constantly in use.  10. You buy sunscreen in quart size containers.

So, why would anyone want to live in such a place?  A lot of residents flee in the summer to the northern climes because of the above mentioned items.  In the winter there is the opposite:  People flood back to their winter homes in Arizona because of the nice sunny days and temperatures in the 70 to 80 degree range.  The golf courses are reseeded so they are green during the winter.  Of course green fees rise also but if one can afford to live in Arizona in the winter, so what.  In short, it is a nice lifestyle that I wouldn’t trade for anywhere else.

Saturday, May 28, 2016


With the conclusion of the month of May, we have Memorial Day.  It was originally called Decoration Day as it was a time when surviving members of the families of fallen Union soldiers from the Civil War decorated the graves of their relatives who died in that war.   Later on, the meaning and the name was changed to Memorial Day to include all soldiers who had fallen in various other wars.

As a veteran of the United States Air Force (1961-1965), Memorial Day is special.  I was fortunate enough to serve during peace time but the end of May was still a time when my buddies and I took time to show special respect to the guys who preceded us and had physically fought to keep America great.

As an Airman 2nd Class, 1964
I must admit that when I was a kid, I looked at Memorial Day as a day off from school and that is about it. When I turned 18 and got my draft card, I began to have a different outlook.  With that card in my pocket I suddenly faced the fact that I was going to have to serve my country in the Armed Forces whether I liked it or not.  By age 20 I had not been called but knowing it was inevitable, I joined the United States Air Force and was sent to Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas for basic training.

It was a case of getting a “baptism of fire” as I was quickly transformed from a kid living at home eating Mom’s cooking to living in a barracks with 70 other guys from 70 different towns and eating in “chow halls.”  Along with that, I had two sergeants constantly telling me and the other guys what a bunch of losers we were and that we better “Shape up!”

It was a classic case of the military using their methods to transform boys into men.  For most of us, it worked as we settled into the program and became troopers.  For about ten guys who couldn’t adjust, they were sent home with the chore ahead of them of explaining to their friends how they couldn’t “cut it.”

After five weeks of basic training, some of us were sent to various tech schools to learn specific jobs.  In my case I was sent to Amarillo Air Force Base in Texas to attend Supply School.   After three months I was assigned to Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri where I spent the rest of my four years except for temporary duty in Germany from June to October of 1963. On September 10, 1965, I was discharged.

In retrospect, it was a great four years.  I did a lot of growing up and met a lot of people from both ends of the spectrum.  In 1973, the government discontinued the draft which I think was a gigantic mistake.  A lot of guys did some serious growing up by serving their country.  It’s a quality sadly missing from many today.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016


The  Presidential election of 2016 will be interesting.  It will probably be between Hillary and The Donald.  Will a woman win? Will Obama's  record affect her chances?  Will America vote for a successful businessman with no political experience? A similar situation occurred in 1960 when the question was whether a Catholic could get elected.  We shall see.....

 The presidential election of 1960       had some interesting “firsts.”  It was the first election that involved all 50 states as Hawaii and Alaska had joined the list in 1959. It also was first to have two sitting senators on the same ticket (Democrats John Kennedy-Lyndon Johnson) while Kennedy became the first Catholic to be elected to the presidency.
Another “first” that had an influence on the election was the four Nixon-Kennedy televised debates.
Pre-election debates had not been that big a deal other than the Lincoln-Douglas debates in 1858 in Illinois which drew large crowds even though the election was not even decided by popular vote.  Later, FDR turned down an invitation to debate with Wendell Wilkie in 1940 dismissing it as a “media stunt”.
However, by 1960 there were over 52 million television sets in the United States making TV an obvious and important outlet for political debates.  Republicans and Democrats recognized this so four debates were arranged for the fall of 1960 between Senator Kennedy and Republican Vice President/candidate Richard Nixon.
The first debate was about domestic issues and drew 70 million viewers along with a smaller audience that listened on the radio.
Radio listeners picked Nixon as the winner but the much larger TV audience picked Kennedy.  As far as substance, the candidates were considered about even.   However, this was an example of how much television counted as a cosmetic business even 50 years ago when most viewers were watching black and white sets with poor reception and smaller screens.  The TV audience got to hear AND see the candidates which gave Kennedy a large advantage.
Nixon either let his ego get in the way of common sense or else he dismissed the debate as meaningless.  He had injured his knee a month earlier and had spent a couple weeks in the hospital for treatment.  When he arrived for the debate he was emaciated looking, had ill fitting clothes, and refused makeup for his ever present five o’clock shadow.
Conversely, Kennedy, who was five years younger than Nixon, showed up tanned, healthy, rested, and ready for action.  When the debate began, Kennedy exhibited charisma, confidence, and a smooth delivery while Nixon appeared sickly and intimidated.  Needless to say, Kennedy won the night on TV where it counted the most and that carried over to the other debates.
There are those who think that Kennedy would have won the presidency anyway although 6% of voters said the debates were a factor in their candidate choice.  As it turned out the election was a squeaker with Kennedy winning 303 electoral votes to Nixon’s 219.  Kennedy won the popular vote by only 112,827 votes but lost 26 states.
Perhaps Nixon should have reconsidered using makeup for that first debate after all.
(Thanks to Erika Tyner Allen)

Monday, March 28, 2016


Music is fun and entertaining to most of us whether it is from our own memories of pop tunes recorded during our lifetimes or before.

I love the old songs because the tunes are so great and supply us with a vision of their times and plus some of the lyrics infuriate the holier than thou liberals of today who don’t understand the era that produced the songs.
A favorite is “Let’s Do It" (Let’s fall in love)” written in 1928 by the prolific Cole Porter.  The irony in this song is in the opening chorus where it states that “Chinks do it, Japs do it, up in Lapland little Laps do it...” 
Porter wrote it for the show Paris which was his first Broadway success.  With the politically correct world that evolved, the lyrics were later changed to “Birds do it, bees do it”.  I think that is a cop out; I think Porter was just having fun with the first lyrics and meant nothing harmful with “Chinks do it, Japs do it” but as we know, tastes change and skin gets thinner .
I’ve been a music freak forever and still carry a harmonica around much to the disdain of some but, hey, that’s just me.  I’ve been following pop music since I was 6 or 7 and have never tired of it although some of the stuff today makes me glad I like what are now the radio oldies. 
One favorite from the late 40’s was a regular on the hit parade from WCKY in Cincinnati:  Peggy Lee and her then husband Dave Barbour doing “Manana.”  Peggy was great with any tune.  As she sang so well:  "Manana is soon enough for me."
The 60s were nice.  I spent 4 years in the Air Force; plenty of time to learn things I would never had learned by staying in Cincy.   Also a time to meet girls and dance and love in clubs from Texas and Missouri to Germany only to come home in 1965 and find my true love a month later.  I have been with her for 49 years!  Isn’t fate great?  The young guys today don’t know what they missed by not having to serve in the military..
Meanwhile, tunes like “The Lion Sleeps Tonight”, “The Twist”, “The Duke of Earl”, “Surf City”, “Sugar Shack”, all the great British invasion songs including “Downtown” by Pet Clark; "Monday, Monday,” “Crimson and Clover”, and many other great tunes came along.
Even today, I still like to occasionally turn up the volume all the way and break off the knob as I am doing while I write this paean to pop music.  So far while writing I have played The Smithereens, Donnie Iris, “Puttin’ on the Ritz”, Norman Greenbaum, "West End Girls," Jefferson Starship,  "One Night in Bangkok," Greg Kihn Band, and Yes. 
Great stuff.

(Comments?, Questions? Please post below.)