Thursday, September 07, 2017


          The first car I ever drove legally was a 1965 Rambler American. My Dad bought it when my older brother Charles got his driver’s license, and I shared it with him when I got mine. We also had to share it with Mom when Dad was driving the station wagon, or with Dad when Mom was driving the station wagon. Mom and Dad had 8 kids, so we were used to sharing a lot of things, but when you’re 16, it’s tough to share a car with anybody.

            I don’t remember exactly how big the engine was, but I do remember it was somewhere under 200 cubic inches. I got a ticket for attempted speeding once, but as long as you came to a complete stop when you were supposed to, we didn’t have too much trouble with the local police.

            It also had a 3-speed manual transmission, with the shifter located on the steering column, as I believe God intended. That’s where shifters were found for years for the most part, unless you had a really fast car, or sometimes a truck. Then it was probably on the console or the floor board. Even when you graduated to an automatic transmission, the shift lever was usually still on the column, unless you had bucket seats, which were cool if you were cruising around, but not so cool if you wanted to drive with your arm around your girlfriend.

            I’ve been driving legally for 49 years, and my truck’s shifter is still on the steering wheel column, across from the turn signal lever. Sometime back they moved the dimmer switch off of the floorboard and incorporated it with the turn signal lever. I handled that change pretty well, and only got my foot tangled in the steering wheel a couple of times before I adapted to the new location. I think most dimmer switches are in the same place now, and all you have to figure out is whether you need to pull it towards you or push it away from you to change from bright to dim.

            Sometimes when we travel somewhere with Mom and Dad nowadays, I drive their car. They have an automatic transmission, but they have bucket seats with the shifter on the console. I suspect if they would have had bucket seats years ago, they wouldn’t have had 8 kids and I wouldn’t have had to share so much. Anyway, whenever I drive their car, I always reach for the lever on the steering wheel column and turn on the windshield wipers before I get the car in reverse and back out of the garage. I’m not sure Dad believes my explanation that I’m just checking to make sure the wipers work just in case it starts raining, but so far he hasn’t challenged me on it.

            My wife traded cars a couple of weeks ago, and as luck would have it, they moved the shifter again, and this time it’s not even a lever. It’s a knob on the dashboard, and every time she lets me drive I spend the first couple of minutes grabbing air where things used to be, reaching for a key that doesn’t exist, turning on windshield wipers that don’t need to be turned on, and dimming lights that don’t need to be dimmed.

            I read a story the other day about somebody working on a car that drives itself.

            I think I’m ready.

Sunday, August 06, 2017

One plus one...

     Every so often, on social media sites, someone posts a mathematical problem similar to this:

1 + 4 = 5
2 + 5 = 12
3 + 6 = 21
8 + 11 = ?

Apparently the challenge is to figure out how the answers were derived in the first three equations and then using the same method to arrive at the answer for the fourth problem. Of course, 1 + 4 = 5, but to make 2 + 5 = 12, and 3 + 6 =21, you need to multiply the first two numbers and then add the first number to that answer. That works for 1 + 4 = 5 too. And by extension and using the same logic, 8 + 11 = 96.

            I won’t argue that (2 x 5) +2 = 12, or that (3 x 6) +3 = 21, but 2 plus 5 always has and always will equal 7, just like 3 plus 6 equals 9, and 8 plus 11 equals 19.  There’s an old saying that two wrongs don’t make a right, just like getting a couple of problems wrong doesn’t change the answer of the next one.

            Shortly after our country was founded, the government started getting involved in areas of our lives it shouldn’t be involved in. Article 1, Section 8, of the United States Constitution lists the powers Congress and the federal government have been given. There are about 30 specific duties along with a few amendments that have been added over the years. They’re involved in a few more than that now.

            The intrusions were few and far between for the first 100 or so years, but shortly after the beginning of the 20th century, every congress seemed determined to outdo the last congress. From taxes to welfare to retirement funding, every time the government gets involved, we can pretty well depend on the next session getting even more involved.

             A few years ago they got involved in our health care. A few years later they got involved in our health insurance. A few years after that they got even more involved in our health insurance. It’s turned out to be a good deal for some people, and a not so good deal for other people. When the Republicans took over from the Democrats they thought they could improve it by tweaking some of the rules and regulations associated it. They never considered that it was wrong for the government to get involved in what should be our personal business to begin with, and simply changing some of the details wouldn’t right that wrong.

Our government has made a lot of mistakes over the years. Those mistakes can’t be used to justify more mistakes.

            It just doesn’t add up.

Sunday, July 02, 2017

Sunday's chilled is full of woe....

             I’m not a fan of warm beer. But then, I’m not a fan of cold beer either. As a matter of fact, I haven’t had a drink for nigh on 30 years. It’s not that I’m opposed to drinking beer. It just wasn’t working out for me anymore so I gave it up. I have a lot of friends that like cold beer, and a couple of acquaintances who like warm beer. I also have a few friends who like cold beer a lot. They’re easy to spot on Saturday night.

So on a personal level, I’m not all that affected by Ricker’s recent foray into the cold beer world so jealously guarded by the carry-out liquor lobby here in Indiana. Likewise, on a personal level, I’m not overly worried if I can’t buy carry-out beer on Sunday. I am, however, more than a little concerned about how these rules and laws came to be.

When I was running for governor last year, I pointed out anything legal on Saturday should also be legal on Sunday. A lot of people agreed with that sentiment, although not enough to elect me.

But whether you like beer or not, and whether or not you think government should dictate what temperature it should be sold at and on what day and by whom, we should all agree that laws and lawmakers shouldn’t be for sale. The liquor store lobby has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in the last few years to make sure the law protects their businesses from competition.

That shouldn’t be the purpose of our laws, and it shouldn’t be the purpose of our lawmakers.

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Friday, June 23, 2017

Naked to the world...

I’m not sure when your private parts cease being private. Until I had a stroke about 8 months ago, I was a fairly modest guy. Except for my mother, my wife, and a few close friends, not many people had seen me buck naked. Outside of when I was in diapers, and that half-hearted streaking incident when I was much younger, I had managed to keep my private parts mostly private.

When the stroke hit, they stripped me of my clothes and cut me out of my underwear, but I wasn’t really in any shape to be overly concerned about it. By the time I got my wits about me, an untold number of nurses and orderlies had hooked up wires and inserted tubes in places that weren’t, in my opinion, made for wires and tubes. And while I remain extremely grateful for the excellent care I received at both hospitals that worked on me, I was also grateful when they told me I could put my pants back on, go home, and cover up what needed to be covered up whenever I felt like it needed to be covered up.

I knew I would have to go back in for some maintenance. They installed a sending unit in my chest, and cut my throat open to stick a wedge in beside a paralyzed vocal cord. I figured I could at least keep my pants on while they were working on my chest and throat, but it turns out I was wrong. No matter what they were working on, I had to put all of my clothes in a bag and put on a drafty and not very fashionable or flattering gown, a one-size-fits all creation with some fabric in the front, but lacking in the back and bottom.

By the time they got around to going in after a kidney stone, I was pretty well resigned to the notion that I had been exposed to just about everybody in the healthcare field in Richmond and Indianapolis, and it was getting to the point that it didn’t bother me much more than it seemed to bother them. As I said earlier, I’m not sure when my private parts ceased being private, but I figure that by my third trip to the operating room, most of the mystery and all of my modesty was gone.

I know they were all doing their best to keep me alive and mobile, so I didn’t complain too much about the over-exposure, but it did make me think about the loss of privacy in other parts of our lives.

When our national and state legislatures met this year, they decided to intrude a little further into private areas and private property. In Washington, a bill was introduced requiring persons who hold currency in places other than a registered bank, to report it to the IRS. Grandma’s secret butter and egg money would no longer be Grandma’s secret.

In Indianapolis, a law was passed requiring anybody under 18 years old to wear a helmet while driving or riding an off-road vehicle. And while it’s probably a good idea to wear a helmet when jumping over tree stumps, it’s a little over the top if Grandpa wants to cruise around the yard with a couple of Grandkids for a little Sunday afternoon relaxation. It falls in the “sometimes a good idea, but never a good law” category, aside from the fact it applies to private property.

For years, I’ve been asking people to name 3 things the government doesn’t tax or regulate. I’ve always hoped it would get to be a little easier. Just between you and me, and the government, it just got worse.

Monday, May 29, 2017

A little more time....

       I had to do a little work on the playground/tree house this weekend. I had planned on doing it before, because the timbers around it had rotted away over the years. It doesn't really seem like it's been there that long, but my oldest Granddaughters turned 11 this year and they weren't very big when we put the playground in, so it's been longer than I thought. And like I said, I'd planned on replacing them before they got in such a shape, but I just never seemed to find the time.
The playground was kind of a sandbox, except that we put pea fill in it so it wouldn't track in the house so bad, and so Dawson wouldn't throw it (accidentally, of course) in his sister's or cousins' eyes. When I put in the new timbers, I also added a real sand box with real sand. I never really liked the pea fill all that much, and I always thought someday I'd get them some real sand, But I just never got around to it, and now Maebry is probably the only one young enough to appreciate it very much.

        I'd always planned on building a tree house when my children were younger, but all they ever had was a sandbox with a roof over it, and we put a floor under the roof so they could have a clubhouse, but it was mostly a home for wasps and hornets, and they weren't too crazy about sharing it with the kids. I always thought I'd take some time and seal the bugs out, but before that happened the kids outgrew it, so it didn't matter anymore.
        About 7 years ago the Grandkids and I built the tree house. We put a lot of thought and hours into it, and we built it right over the pretend sandbox. We started with one level, and then we added a second floor and a crow's nest with a telescope so you could see clear over to the neighbors if you took the notion.

           Barkley has been keeping an eye on visitors and photographers for a long time.

We always planned on putting a 4th level on, but that's just another thing I never found the time to do. Most of my Grandchildren are too old or too far away to get much good out of another floor nowadays, so I'll probably just stick to replacing the timbers and sand as needed.

   I think my kids probably had some fun in the clubhouse, and I think the Grandkids had some fun in the tree house, but I sure wish I would have taken more time when it mattered, and when my kids and Grandkids had a little more of it, and when I had more of it left. 

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Peas and Carrots...

           Forrest Gump liked to say that he and Jenny Curran went together like peas and carrots. While a couple of my Grandchildren might argue about how well peas and carrots go together, or even how well they stand alone, I do appreciate Forrest’s sentiments. Jenny didn’t always seem to share his views, though, and Forrest spent a lot of time being disappointed whenever she moved off in a different direction.

            I imagine we’ve all experienced some type of disappointment in our lives. The first disappointment I remember was when I was about four years old and our Cocker Spaniel, Cindy, became a casualty under the front wheels of our John Deere tractor. The next 61 years brought more frustration, but never anything I couldn’t eventually get over.

            Being a Libertarian, I’m usually disappointed after our nation has an election. I don’t think that is anything new. As far back as I can remember, members of the old parties have felt frustrated and upset when the party other than their own won. And most of the time, most of them got over it.

             I’m not convinced that is going to happen this time around. While a lot of people were upset with Barak Obama, it seems more people are more upset with Donald Trump. And the people who support Trump are upset with the people who don’t. Some disagreements can get downright dangerous. In Scranton Pennsylvania, the YMCA banned cable news programs from its workout rooms because it was leading to fights between people of different political persuasions.

            It’s bad enough that Hillary Clinton has offered to “come out of the woods” to reunite us. Anybody who believes that Ms. Clinton can fix this obviously didn’t pay much attention to the last election. And then again, maybe reuniting us isn’t something the government should worry about.

            Most of the disagreements people are having with Donald Trump, or would have had with Hillary Clinton, are based on the way government wants to use force to control us. Perhaps we need to let the government worry about protecting us from force and fraud by others, and allow all of these upset people to decide how they want to run their own lives.

I understand there are a lot of people who want the government to handle their retirement. There are also a lot of people who don’t.  But if we consider that there are more people alive in the United States today who are in favor of that type of system than the total population in 1935, it’s not such a stretch to believe that system could survive on a voluntary basis.

And out of the 320 million people in the country today, it’s not infeasible that part of them could join a national health care plan while others abstained.  And since we’ve seen support for both choices from all ranges of the social and economic spectrums, it might be easier than the politicians and lobbyists in Washington would have us believe.

It wouldn’t take a lot of taxes for the government to provide only essential and constitutional services for all, and then let people voluntarily use and fund everything else as they choose.

 That way whether we go together like peas and carrots, or oil and water, at least we wouldn’t be so disappointed and upset all the time.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Hope springs eternal.....

            I don’t know when Grandpa Bowman’s hair fell out. He was bald as long as I could remember, and even in his wedding picture. When I became old enough to think about such things, and when somebody told me that baldness is inherited from your Mother’s side of the family, I realized that someday I might be follicly challenged myself.  Grandpa had spent almost his entire life not knowing where to stop washing his face. I hoped the same fate wouldn’t befall me. And even though I hoped that it wouldn’t, I always expected that it would, and it did.

            I buy a couple of lottery tickets almost every week, hoping they will draw my numbers on Saturday night, and I will wake up a millionaire on Sunday morning. Truth be known, even though I hope I will win, I don’t really expect it, and so I always keep my alternative plan, which involves getting up and going to work in order to keep us fed, clothed, and housed.

            I imagine we all hope for some things with a reasonable expectation that they will come true. If you have children, you hope they will be successful and happy. We hope it doesn’t rain everyday of our vacation, and we hope our plane lands safely. We hope we have enough money to get through our retirement. With a little forethought and planning, none of these hopes seem to be out of reach. Except for the plane. Most of us don’t have any control over that. And the rain.

            And we probably all hope for some things we don’t really expect to happen, much like I hoped my hair wouldn’t fall out, or like my hopes of winning the lottery.

            The other day, I was chastised when I admitted that I didn’t have much hope of anything good coming out of the new administration in Washington. The only semi-reasonable expectation I have is that perhaps the anti-war left will awaken from its 8 year slumber. I had a brief but fleeting thought the left might come to a better and fonder understanding of the Tenth Amendment in light of some of the new president’s executive orders, but it passed quickly when I realized they probably realized they would be back in power in a few years, and they wouldn’t want that hanging over their heads when they were.

            I know I could be an optimist and hope our current administration would reduce the federal debt, champion individual rights, bring our troops home, and reduce the role the federal government has in our lives, but I don’t really have any expectation any of that will happen. I’m convinced my hopes would be better spent on lottery tickets and hair restorers.

            Just like when we buy lottery tickets, and hope doesn’t seem to be enough, we need an alternate plan when Washington gets out of control, which over last few years, seems to be all of the time.

            In his book, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, Robert Heinlein wrote  I am free because I know that I alone am morally responsible for everything I do. I am free, no matter what rules surround me. If I find them tolerable, I tolerate them; if I find them too obnoxious, I break them. I am free because I know that I alone am morally responsible for everything I do.”

            We have reached the point where can’t expect much out of Washington, and we need to stop pinning our hopes on the federal government fixing anything. We need to take control of our lives, our hopes, and our expectations.

 I hope people understand that.