City Slickers

Photo above: City Slickers III. Wind River area, Wyoming. Son Matt, Brother Dave, Son John Paul, Me J.P.

Small Talk

SMALL TALK: View the story of the air rifle that doubled the size of the United States. Fantastic bit of 2nd Amendment history re: Lewis and Clark.

See at:

Spot Gold

Sunday, October 31, 2010

North, To Alaska

Guest blog time. My dear friend from USAF pilot training years ago, and bush pilot extraordinaire up in the great State of Alaska, has provided some local color to the shenanigans taking place up that way. Here is some insight from Wasilla Willie:

"What a sick mess our politics has become.  In stead of debating the issues up here this last week, the strategy pundits, and I use the term loosely, are forcing the voters to focus on minutia like what is " unauthorized assistance" at the polling place!  What a waste of time for the state courts to deal with - rulings about whether a list of names of write-in candidates is violating state law.

Has anyone noticed that all the other candidates are provided on the printed ballot?  To argue that a list of the write-in candidates is "illegal" and "excessive assistance" at the ballot box is ludicrous!  Anyway, someone had a court rule that names could not be provided at the polls for write-in candidates.  The other side got another court to "stay" that ruling.  Then the other side raised it to the State Supreme Court.  On Thursday or Friday the Alaska Supreme Court ruled that a list of write-in candidates could be provided if voters asked for it at the polls.  True, a voter should be smart enough to know who they want to write-in and how to spell their candidate's name, but to debate the legality of a list of write-ins at the polls is trivial, ridiculous, and a waste of time.  So, on Tuesday, we will have Lisa and other, if any, write-in candidates on a list that voters can see at the polls if they ask.  But the plot thickens.

This decision irritated Dan Fagan, a local conservative radio talk show host.  He immediately encouraged his listeners to hurry up and register as write-in candidates before the Friday deadline in an obvious attempt to make it more difficult for all those voters who were going to vote possibly for Lisa but didn't know how to spell her name. As a result of Fagan's encouragement, we now will have 200 write-in candidates for review if requested.  Give me a break !  The latest in this caper is that Fagan was fired after this advocacy by the station manager for "exceeding station policies".  I guess Fagan is a Miller supporter which I am also, although Lisa did help with some prodding to get Medicare to finally authorize a local hospital here to include lap band surgery (less expensive and less intrusive than bypass surgery) for those on Medicare.

So this has been a large part of the local media focus this last week before the mid-term elections.  And I'm sure the local news will debate whether or not Fagan should have been fired.  Fagan is no Juan Williams and should not be another diversion but probably will be.  On Saturday night news I heard that there is yet another court challenge to the latest status of the "too much help" issue.  Will we ever focus on the issues?  I guess not.

Will Lisa pull this one off?.... I don't think so, but it might be close.  Lisa was "caught" in a "good old boy" deal on the Kenai a few years ago when she was purchasing a property way below market price.  When the details of this deal became public, she backed out of the deal with little political repercussion.  She grew up under her dad's political machine and methodology and apparently is willing to participate in some of the shenanigans that got her dad, Ted Stevens, and others in trouble. The Kenai caper has been mentioned in Miller ads.  Lisa just is too close to the "business as usual" crowd for me and I hope Joe Miller gets a majority to avoid the expense and time wasted for a run off.  Tuesday will be a long night, particularly if Alaska voters will determine the outcome of the required tenth additional senatorial seat."

Wasilla Willie

"Experience is what you get when you don't get what you want."  ---Tori Filler

Saturday, October 30, 2010

More Rats Leave the Ship?

Time magazine predicts that Pelosi may retire rather than work under a Republican House majority. Classic end game. I knew it well when I was a kid. “I’m taking my marbles and not gonna play with you anymore.” Of course, if she does, I will be infuriated and sorely disappointed--I was looking forward to that San Francisco female canine having to eat some crow after the way she ran roughshod over her own inmates and the American public. But she, like many of her cohorts, will take the easy way out and retire to the good life on their government pensions and health care for life. She is, and was, and will be, an evil woman. Good riddance.


Thursday, October 28, 2010

Step to The Rear of the Bus, Please

We are making headway. Instead of throwing  conservatives under the bus, Obama has agreed that they can ride--but only in the back. I’ll bet the next step will be to have their own separate lunch counter in the Senate dining room.  Can equal but separate rest rooms be far behind? Gotta hand it to the guy, he does have a way with words.


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Signs of a Pending Divorce

It is usual just prior to a divorce that one of the spouses will state that the other spouse just does not appreciate what he/she has done for the other.

The second in line to the presidency of the United States is now whining that us poor folks out here in flyover country just don’t appreciate what the Democrats have done for us. She must have her head screwed on backwards. Of course we appreciate what they have done. We love being another several trillion dollars in debt. We love having a brand new health care system that takes from the rich (Medicare senior citizens) and gives to the handout class. We love the Cap and Tax bill passed by her and her cronies in the House that will send us back into the iron age. We are thrilled to have them take over 2/3 of our domestic auto industry. We are overwhelmed by their payoffs to their Union minions in their one billion dollar “stimulus” bill that stimulated the unions to contribute over 140,000 million dollars to Democrat candidates this go around.

I used to think that Nancy Pelosi was just another misguided San Francisco liberal. I have changed my mind. She is truly an idiot. She deserves to be divorced. From we the people.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

A Beautiful Workout With a Dumbell

Another break from politics. Check out the image at the top.

The Dumbell Nebula, otherwise known as Messier-27, was discovered by the French astronomer by that name in 1764.  It can be easily seen with binoculars or a small telescope near the constellation Vulpecula, which is near Lyra overhead in early evenings in Utah. You can see why it picked up its common nickname. It is a planetary nebula, which means it developed from an expiring star that ballooned into a red giant and then shrunk into a white dwarf some 8000 years ago in relative terms. It has the shape of a prolate spheroid, which is a fancy name for an egg shaped object but with equal ends. We see it along the plane of its equator. The central star can be made out in the image. It is one of the most spectacular of the planetary nebulae.

Technical stuff: 10“ Meade LX200 GPS telescope; Meade Deep Sky Imager Pro I CCD camera; 30 minutes of luminance @ 30 seconds per frame; 10 minutes each of red, green, and blue filters again at 30 seconds per frame. Processed with NASA’s Fits Liberator, then combined in Photoshop 7 as a LumRedGreenBlue composite. Taken from my backyard in Sandy, Utah on the night of 20 October 2010.



Friday, October 22, 2010

I Can't Be Bought for $250

In a desperate bid to buy votes, the administration and their cronies in Congress have floated the idea of sending out a check for $250 to everyone on Social Security. I think the total cost of this was around 14 billion dollars. This ploy fails on several levels, the first being the fact that the U.S. does not have 14 billion dollars extra laying around to bribe its senior citizens. I don’t want my check since I know they will have to borrow it from my two month old grand daughter. She already has too much on her plate in terms paying off the U.S. debt.  It also fails the smell test because it supposedly will be appropriated by the lame duck Congress, and you know, you just know, that the Democrats will be in no mood to bring up the subject once they have been trounced in November.

Speaking of Social Security, did you notice that for the second year in a row, there will be no COLA?  More importantly, did you notice that we seniors haven’t taken to the barricades to vent our displeasure, ala France? Probably because as American citizens, we realize that with the economy in the dumps, this is no time to be sniveling for a bigger share of the pie. Most of us are thankful for just getting a check in the mail every month, unlike many Americans who are really struggling to get by.

So lets bag the bribe and get on with returning our economy to its rightful place. A good place to start will be to throw the bums out of office who have practiced fiscal diarrhea and get someone in there who understands you can’t spend more than you take in. It really, really, is as simple as that.



Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Wonder of it All

M-42 (Messier Nr 42) The Great Nebula of Orion

The constellation Orion, the Hunter, is beginning to rise on the eastern horizon late in the evening. By January it will be coming up early enough for backyard viewing, but for now, about 3AM is a good time to observe. Since I know most of you are catching some well-deserved Zs about that time, I decided to image an interesting part of the constellation so you could share it early. Just below the three stars that mark the Belt of Orion, there is a fuzzy patch you can see with the naked eye called the Sword of Orion. A small telescope or a good set of binoculars will reveal a huge area of star formation, with dark and light clouds swirling in interstellar activity. With a larger telescope, like my 10“ Meade LX200, the area comes alive with detail. In the center, is a group of four stars (two with unseen small companions, for a total of 6) called the Trapezium. These bright new stars are illuminating the huge clouds of interstellar dust that are gradually coalescing into new born stars.

Imaging the visible Universe is my way of escaping the day to day follies of our political landscape. It provides a perspective that reduces the angst and increases the awe of just being alive to witness the wonder of it all. 


Monday, October 18, 2010

California Dreamin' Dimwits

It never ceases to amaze me the innate capacity of Americans to inflict self-induced wounds to the body politic. California immediately comes to mind. As a resident of that state for thirty years, before coming to my senses and fleeing with all my worldly possessions to a much saner state, I watched that quintessential  beacon of prosperity and hope slowly dim as the dimwits took charge. Don’t get me wrong, I am a huge believer in good environmental policy, but environmental policy run amok can destroy the quality of life with a vengeance. Here are just a few examples of green run wild.

Over what now turns out to be faulty, if not bogus science, nearly the entire logging industry of California was wiped out over a small bird called the Spotted Owl. California mandated fuel standards requiring ethanol and other additives ensures that state gasoline prices are always ten to twenty cents above what I pay here in Utah. Now we are finding out that ethanol production is just as damaging, carbon-wise, to the environment, as well as driving up the cost of corn. Then there is the big one--global warming and the dimwits response to it. I’ll be the first to acknowledge that the Earth has been on a warming trend over the past hundred years or so. The science, with some caveats, supports that fact. However, the cause of the warming has yet to be determined, although the chief dimwit, Al Gore, seems to think so. He and his ilk have convinced a lot of folks, including the Terminator, that California should lead the way in capping carbon emissions. Since the dimwits can’t get Congress to go along with their goofy schemes, they figured California would be the next best thing in advancing their agenda.

So Arnie and the boys passed AB 32, California’s climate change law, a Cap and Tax scheme right out of the playbook of Babs Boxer. Reality has set in, now that the costs of this law are beginning to be understood. One study commissioned by the California Small Business Roundtable concluded that over one million jobs would be lost and that each California family would incur an additional $3,847 per year in expenses. Now, with unemployment at over 12 percent in that once great state, the voters have been given a chance to put off this ruinous bill by voiding it until such time as the economy improves. If you are a Californian, for your own economic benefit, vote FOR Proposition 23.

If you are not a Californian, urge your friends out that way to put some common sense back into play.


Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Ring Nebula

See image to the right.

The Ring Nebula is located in the constellation Lyra, which is pretty much overhead in the night sky here in Utah about 8 PM. The very bright star Vega marks the constellation. The Ring Nebula was formed when a medium mass star, like our own Sun, burned out all its hydrogen. In order to achieve a new equilibrium where it can continue to burn, it expands into a Red Giant, throwing off clouds of matter in an expanding ring. The clouds are illuminated by the central star, which is formed after the Red Giant stage into a White Dwarf. You can just make out this White Dwarf in the center of the ring, which is viewed at a 30 degree angle from Earth, thus its elongation. I’ll add some color once I have imaged some additional frames. The Ring Nebula is a classic example of what are known as Planetary Nebula, due to their circular shapes and large size as seen through a telescope.

Technical Data: Taken with a Meade LX200 GPS 10 inch telescope with a Meade DSI Pro I ccd camera from my backyard in Utah. Twenty three 30 second exposures combined and processed in Photoshop 7.


Saturday, October 16, 2010

Are Our Leaders Really Idiots?

I received this guest blog from a crusty old friend. He does have a way with words and ideas. He takes exception to John Thune’s assertion that Obama and his cronies are clueless as to what troubles the average Flyover Country American.

From an article by John Thune, “A Tangible Step To Economic Recovery”

 "President Obama does not seem to realize what is plain as day to millions of Americans, which is that our economic recovery and lack of job creation are linked to wasteful Washington spending and record debt."

 Obama doesn't realize...???!!!!   He's not as smart as we are???!!!

Thune, the author of the article, appears to have his cranium fully lodged in his fundamental orifice. Either that or he's afraid of being labeled as an "extremist" or..EGAD!...a Conspiracy nut.
After decades of an uninterrupted series of ruinous government actions consistently leading our country inexorably toward the dictatorship of Fascism, anyone believing that the responsible individual actors have been uniformly stupid, ill informed, poorly advised or otherwise deficient in the mental qualifications necessary to serve in public office, is not thinking rationally.

Highly educated, politically clever and superbly manipulative politicians are not as intelligent or as well informed as the average American high school graduate? PUHLEEZE!!!
Whoever came up with such a preposterous premise had to be relying on the native vanity of the unwashed masses. Sadly, he (Thune)  was demonstrably correct in his assessment to the point where even knowledgeable insiders must be amazed that we'd be that irrational and gullible. Not only did we accept the premise but, now, they don't even have to initiate mentioning it. We've so internalized the manifestly inane notion that we do it on our own without prompting. Only vanity could allow the average Joe Sixpack to buy into that Big Lie with such stunning arrogance.   Alas!  So much for critical thinking.

 As for me, I don't like the color gray in any shade, however nuanced and subtle it may be. Ashes are gray as is the sky just before a storm or the dark of night.  Smoke and fog are gray.  Gray pallor is a sign of illness or great emotional distress.  I prefer white and black. That quirk allows me to wield Occam's razor and attribute evil outcomes to the evil intentions of evil people. Sweet talk is for social occasions.  Politics requires clear thinking and plain talk.  I, therefore, risk being censured by folks more delicately sensitive than I by asserting that the Obama, Pelosi, Reid, gang are highly intelligent, well educated and extremely well informed and organized traitors to America, carrying on the agenda of their Gramscian predecessors through the decades in a thus far successful effort to bring America to its knees economically and culturally so that it will obediently accept its assigned position in the NWO.

As for the non-ideologues who aren't dedicated to the cause of treason but simply go along with the master plotters in pursuit of money and prestige, well, their morality quotient is beneath that of street whores. Even the most degenerate crack whores don't solicit in the name of true, everlasting love.  Their clients know up front what they're paying for.


 "Every normal man must be tempted, at times, to spit upon his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin slitting throats."
 Heny L. Mencken

Friday, October 15, 2010

Sixteen Tons of Number Nine Coal

"Another day older and deeper in debt"

I woke up this morning to find I was another $3000 in debt. No, I did not go out and charge a flat screen mega pixel voice of the theater super sized TV yesterday. I just woke up, and turned on the news and found out that our government had managed to run up another (ho hum) trillion plus in deficit spending. I did a little checking, and found that my share of the total U.S. national debt is $176,126 and rising fast.

Message to the IRS: I’m not gonna pay it back. I’m too old and don’t make enough to ever pay it back. Let my newly born grand daughter, Molly Bell Morgan pay it back. How would you like to have been born a month ago and already be $176,126 in the hole?

No, its not all Obama’s fault, although he sure is not helping things with his warped policies that are driving this country deeper and deeper in the hole. It took a real effort by countless gutless, special interest, crooked, ambitious, self-serving SOBs in leadership positions in our government, mostly in the House of Representatives, who have led us into this mess.

So the Repubs are going to take over Congress this November? Ho Hum again. As I recall, they did not do so well the last time they were running things.

Throw them all out. Start over.


Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Useless But Interesting Trivia

Time for a little break from all the political stuff. My friend Mikey sent me these, from a website called Jokeroo.

Q: Why are many coin banks shaped like pigs?

A: Long ago, dishes and cookware in Europe were made of a dense orange clay
called "pygg". When people saved coins in jars made of this clay, the jars
became known as "pygg banks." When an English potter misunderstood the word,
he made a bank that resembled a pig. And it caught on.

Q: Did you ever wonder why dimes, quarters and half dollars have notches,
while pennies and nickels do not?

A: The US Mint began putting notches on the edges of coins containing gold
and silver to discourage holders from shaving off small quantities of the
precious metals. Dimes, quarters and half dollars are notched because they
used to contain silver. Pennies and nickels aren't notched because the
metals they contain are not valuable enough to shave..

Q: Why do men's clothes have buttons on the right while women's clothes have
buttons on the left?

A: When buttons were invented, they were very expensive and worn primarily
by the rich. Because wealthy women were dressed by maids, dressmakers put
the buttons on the maid's right. Since most people are right-handed, it is
easier to push buttons on the right through holes on the left. And that's
where women's buttons have remained since.

Q: Why do X's at the end of a letter signify kisses?

A: In the Middle Ages, when many people were unable to read or write,
documents were often signed using an X. Kissing the X represented an oath to
fulfill obligations specified in the document. The X and the kiss eventually
became synonymous.

Q: Why is shifting responsibility to someone else called "passing the buck"?

A: In card games, it was once customary to pass an item, called a buck, from
player to player to indicate whose turn it was to deal. If a player did not
wish to assume the responsibility, he would "pass the buck" to the next

Q: Why do people clink their glasses before drinking a toast?

A: It used to be common for someone to try to kill an enemy by offering him
a poisoned drink. To prove to a guest that a drink was safe, it became
customary for a guest to pour a small amount of his drink into the glass of
the host. Both men would drink it simultaneously. When a guest trusted his
host, he would then just touch or clink the host's glass with his own.

Q: Why are people in the public eye said to be "in the limelight"?

A: Invented in 1825, limelight was used in lighthouses and stage lighting by
burning a cylinder of lime which produced a brilliant light. In the theatre,
performers on stage "in the limelight" were seen by the audience to be the
center of attention.

Q: Why do ships and aircraft in trouble use "mayday"as their call for help?

A: This comes from the French word m'aidez -meaning "help me" -- and is
pronounced "mayday,"

Q: Why is someone who is feeling great "on cloud nine"?

A: Types of clouds are numbered according to the altitudes they attain, with
nine being the highest cloud If someone is said to be on cloud nine, that
person is floating well above worldly cares.

Q: Why are zero scores in tennis called "love"?

A: In France , where tennis first became popular, a big, round zero on
scoreboard looked like an egg and was called "l'oeuf," which is French for
"egg." When tennis was introduced in the US , Americans pronounced it

Q: In golf, where did the term "Caddie" come from?

A: When Mary, later Queen of Scots, went to France as a young girl (for
education &survival), Louis, King of France, learned that she loved the Scot
game "golf." So he had the first golf course outside of Scotland built for
her enjoyment. To make sure she was properly chaperoned (and guarded) while
she played, Louis hired cadets from a military school to accompany her. Mary
liked this a lot and when she returned to Scotland (not a very good idea in
the long run), she took the practice with her. In French, the word cadet is
pronounced 'ca- day' and the Scots changed it into "caddie."


Monday, October 4, 2010

The Connecticut Compromise

Last night, my grand daughter and her good friend, Olivia, both high school seniors, came over for a study session and homemade pizza. They were preparing for an upcoming test on the U.S. Constitution, and had asked me to assist them in their studies. We had a lively kitchen table discussion as I attempted to fill in some of the blanks in their study guide. It became quickly apparent to me that although they had diligently mastered an impressive list of facts about the Constitution and the government that flowed from that document, they had no real grasp of the context in which it was written. For example, they knew the Connecticut Compromise, also known as the Great Compromise, created the upper house of two Senators from every state. The problem was, they had no idea as to why this was included in the Constitution. The original proposal of one house of representatives based upon a proportional number of seats according to a state’s population did not sit well with the smaller states. When the delegates from the small states balked at the original idea, the two delegates from Connecticut offered up the compromise, which was accepted, and the writing of the Constitution continued. The context of those times led me to thinking about the context of the present times, and what appears to be a political upheaval going on.

I believe the pervasive unease we see today, illuminated by the Tea Party movement, is is partly the result of a loss of context. In the past two years, the change delivered by the Obama presidency has shifted the political landscape dramatically, taking a large section of the population out of its comfort zone. It is as if we woke up one morning and found the good old U.S. of A. was starting to look like the good old U.S. of Europe. Too much change, too quickly. We see a government that looms ever more intrusively in our daily lives, running up debt like a drunken power shopper, and the sense of unease grows apace. The coming upheaval in the November elections will be the people’s way of attempting to put this country back into a context they understand. I sure hope we succeed.


Saturday, October 2, 2010

Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star

Many evenings of late, as I am out stargazing with my large backyard telescope, I try to wrap my mind around the vast distances I am observing. The size of our Universe is beyond human comprehension--distances so far that even professional astronomers deal with the vastness by using sterile math formulas that refer to distances as ‘parsecs” and “astronomical units” and “light years.” Since I am a kitchen table kind of guy, I needed something a little more down to Earth to try and understand the vastness. With pencil and paper in hand, here’s what I came up with.

Take a tennis ball and put it on the goal line of a football field. On the other goal line, place one of those huge beach balls, about five feet in diameter. The tennis ball is the Earth. The beach ball is the Sun. Use the 300 feet between them to represent the distance from the Earth to the Sun, (about 93,000,000 miles). Using the same scale, how far do you think it would be to the nearest star from our solar system?
A mile? Two miles? Ten miles? Not even close. Using that same scale where a football field represents 93 million miles, the nearest star would be around 33,000 miles away. That, folks, is how much empty space there is out there.

One final note, a little closer to home. People toss around the word trillion dollar deficit as if they really had an idea of just how much money that is. Here is what a trillion looks like:


That's a one with 12 zeros.

Put a dollar sign in front of that and you are talking some serious money. The three stooges have managed to rack up several of those in deficit spending since they took office. Deficit spending is the same as whipping out the old credit card and charging goods and services. Each one of those trillions adds $3,230 owed by every man, woman and child in our country. How would you like to be born today not knowing you are in hock up to your pacifier? When the bill comes due, don’t expect Obama, Pelosi, and Reid to be making the payment. It be we.


Friday, October 1, 2010

We Didn't Start the Fire

For 50 years of history in less than five minutes, check out this Billy Joel classic set to images and lyrics.

Click on the title, above.


The Rats Flee the Good Ship Obama

In the days of tall sails and wooden ships, rats took up residence in the bowls of the ship, nesting in the hold and living on scraps left by the sailors. Down close to the keel, they would be the first to know that sea water was flooding in faster than the bilge pumps could handle, and like the smart little furry animals they are, began to look for dryer places. As they raced up to the higher decks, they were  chased by the sailors until they plunged off the side. Later, when the ship finally sank, the sailors remembered the scurrying rats and thus was born the phrase, “Like rats deserting a sinking ship.” At least that is one version of the origins of the idiom.

The Great Ship Obama appears to be taking on water faster than it can be pumped out. Thus, the wily rats are leaving before it goes completely under. Rahm Emanuel leaves today to run for the most corrupt leadership role in America--the Mayor of Chicago.  Peter Orszog, Christina Romer, and Lawrence Summers, all key architects of the Obama economic policy, have fled from the coming disaster. Robert Gates, the Secretary of Defense, won’t be far behind.  Democrat congressmen are running as far away from the Great Ship Obama as fast as they can. (“Not me, I was against that damned Health Care bill all along. Nancy made me do it.”) I hope that like all good Captains and First Mates, Obama, Pelosi, and Reid will go down with the ship this coming November.

The rats know something.

Hillary must be inwardly smiling.