Search This Blog

Total Pageviews

Wednesday, October 31, 2012


Wednesday, 8:00 AM.  27 degrees F, wind NW, calm.  The sky is clear except for a massive wall of black clouds on the horizon, which rendered the dawn a sickly yellow-green, a lingering ghost of the massive storm still dying eastward.
       We are on our way this morning, first to do a little pheasant hunting with old friend Bill in Oconomowoc, and then to Madison on Friday for an Urban Forestry Council meeting.  So, no blog for a few days.
        “Sandy,” the storm of the century, or centuries, not only continues to raise its havoc, but it continues to delay political commentary, a truly unusual thing given that the election is now less than a week away.  That said, it has given everyone, including myself, time for some introspection regarding politics and this most important, I would say crucial, election.
        My introspection of the last several days has taken me back to another, very similar time in history, the Great Depression, of which I am a child.  I was born right in the middle of it, to parents as much affected by it as probably any were.  My father lost his farm in the farm depression, a precursor to the big general depression.  Neither mother nor father had much of anything except each other during the Depression, although that proved enough for them, as they came out of it O.K., actually prospered during it, mostly because they were hard working and extremely frugal. 
        Most people today do not realize that the Great Depression lasted more or less two decades, from the late 1920’s until the mid-‘40’s, the only real end to it being the mega-stimulus of the Second World War, and the pent-up consumer needs it created .  The social programs of the Roosevelt Administrations were palliative, and nothing more.  By the end of the twenty-year mess, even the most unsophisticated citizens realized that it was the war that ended the depression.  I can still recall stupid tavern talk during later recessions, when out of work men would say, “What we really need is a good war.”  They would say it and then look around sheepishly, ashamed of what had come out of their mouths, but it was the truth, Democratic Party propaganda notwithstanding (and virtually everyone was a Democrat back then).
        So I am looking at this election through depression-colored glasses, and see quite clearly that throwing money and massive social programs at this Great Recession isn’t going to cure it, just make people feel a bit  better about it.  And in my own opinion, all the alphabet agencies of the Thirties and Forties only extended the misery, and the current spending spree and explosion of social programs will only prolong the current economic malaise.
        And if we re-elect President Obama I believe we are virtually guaranteeing a reprise of the mid-Twentieth Century, a time full of Poverty, Ignorance, and finally War.  That’s Three Horsemen out of four, and Disease comes along all by itself when the time is ripe.  Apocalypse Now?  Well, just around the corner.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012


Tuesday, 8:45 AM.  35 degrees F, wind NE, moderate and picking up.  Smokey dark gray  clouds are scudding in at a relatively low elevation out of the north east, with some thin white clouds high above.  It looks like we are getting some unsettled weather pushing in from the monster storm on the east coast.  I can't remember ever being affected this far inland by an eastern storm.  Lakes Huron and Superior would  usually mute any such effect.  The barometer predicts rain.  Hopefully it will not be a major storm, as we head south to Oconomowoc tomorrow morning to visit old friends Bill and Allene and do some pheasant hunting on Thursday, then on to Madison for an Urban Forestry Council meeting on Friday.
      I got all the leaves mulched yesterday and will try to get the garden put to bed today, then we will be mostly ready for winter.
      The storm has more or less put political campaigning on hold for a few days, but it will be back with a vengeance soon.  Everyone is ready for the election, as Romney's surge seems to be continuing.   If the general public ever realizes the full extent of the Benghazi tragedy and its cover up,
that will be the last straw, and the Obama regime will fall, despite its support by the big unions and the biased media.

Monday, October 29, 2012


Monday, 8:15 AM.  33 degrees F.  Wind NE, calm at ground level, with fish scale clouds stationary at high altitude.  Perhaps we are already getting some wind blowing in from the monster storm that is hitting the east coast.  Sam, our Coast Guard neighbor, left yesterday with the Bayfield Station air boat and its crew for rescue work out East.  But for now, it is another quiet morning, filled with the soft light of an orange-pink dawn.  The barometer predicts partly cloudy skies, and I hope to get the leaves mulched this morning.
      We went looking for grouse yesterday and found none, even where we can usually hope to raise at least one to get our blood flowing.  In the process I ran across an acquaintance with his setter and he reported nary a bird as well. "Few to none," as he put it. In the process I waded into a cut over that I thought looked promising and ended up in the most god-awful tangle of downed slash and blackberries.  I  finally emerged more-or-less intact, if well bloodied.  Buddy just bounded over or slid under the whole mess, proving once again that four legs and close to the ground are a lot better than two legs and upright.  I think we will have to cast our grouse net a lot wider next time, and stick to walking the trails.
      It was good to take a Sunday break from politics.  We had none of it, and only turned on the TV to watch the San Francisco Giants sweep the World Series, winning the fourth and final game against the Detroit Tigers.  This morning's walk brought me back into focus, as a neighbor up the hill now has a Willie Nelson For President sign in his front yard.  Come to think of it, he had one there four years ago as well.  I have to admit I would prefer Willie to the current occupant.
      A century ago the political slogan was, "A chicken in every pot."  Today's slogan might be, "Pot in every chicken."

Sunday, October 28, 2012


Sunday, 9:30 AM.  38 degrees F, up from 32 degrees at dawn.  Wind WSW, light.  The sky is partly cloudy with high, thin white clouds, and there is considerable haze on the eastern horizon.  It is a quiet, rather chilly morning.  I went down to the Egg Toss to get some bakery and ran into a retired doctor friend and his wife.  They live out of town a mile or two and they reported 25 degrees as this morning's low temperature.  The barometer is trending down but it should still be a nice day, with a full moon to grace the evening. 
        We have been super busy and shall take the day off, probably take a ride and look for grouse with Buddy, maybe stop for lunch or dinner somewhere; take some time to savor one of the last days of a very, very beautiful fall.

Saturday, October 27, 2012


Saturday, 8:15 AM.  32 degrees f, wind W, calm.  The sky is darkly overcast except for a band of gold on the eastern horizon.  There is some snow and very heavy frost on rooftops and parked cars.  It was the kind of morning one really wanted to stay in bed, and it warranted a heavier jacket for our walk, one with slash pockets for bare hands. Winter is upon us.
        This is the time to spot the buckthorn in the woods, as it still has green leaves, as do most of the other invasive or more southern species.  I brought in all the remaining green tomatoes yesterday and they will ripen, although they will have rather thick skins. 
        The lemon tree has been in for a while now and has not lost any of the several dozen little lemons it developed during the summer.  The trick now will be to baby it along, be sure it is properly  watered and fertilized and not disturbed, and maybe we can harvest  some lemons by spring.
        I was brought up in a totally different era, which often leaves me nonplussed, and a total anachronism in the world of today.  For example, as a youngster I and my friends often spent Saturday afternoons at one of the several movie theaters in West Allis, Wisconsin, watching…what else…cowboy movies. 
        Ah, cowboys!  Heroes then, often vilified now.  “He’s a cowboy!” “Shoots from the hip,” “shoots first and asks questions later,” doesn’t even kiss (yuck!) the heroine until the end of the movie, and maybe not even then. Cowboys said “Mam,” and “Howdy.” A cowboy is now considered an unsophisticated clod,  certainly not worthy of emulation.  And, how unabashedly violent it all was!  How well I  remember the daily introduction to Tom Mix, one of my favorite radio shows; (loud gunshot) then, “Git ‘im, Tom?”  Answer, “Got ‘im!”  Talk about politically incorrect.
        But there were some good lessons to be learned from those old westerns.  First, the good guys wore white hats, the bad guys black hats.  You knew where everyone stood.  No gray hats.  The good guys were “straight shooters.”  The good guys didn’t lie. Or cheat.  Or take advantage of the weak.  They drank their whisky straight, but not too much of it. They were men of action, didn’t talk much. But push them, and you wound up on the floor, and maybe dead.
        My cowboy heroes were no cowards.  They didn’t ride off and let the Indians capture the wagon train, or the outlaws terrorize the town.  If the showdown was in the street at high noon, the hero was there to face death with honor.  Kind of like a Marine, come to think about it.  And you always knew the day was saved when you heard the cavalry bugles sound “charge!”
        No deals with the bad guys, no situational morality.  No parsing of language, nothing depended on “what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is.”   The Lone Ranger didn’t abandon Tonto, nor the other way around; nobody got thrown from the train, to paraphrase today’s popular political phraseology.
        Why  am I going on like  this?  Mostly because I am disgusted with the wriggling and squirming over the Benghazi mess, the finger pointing and obscuring of what happened and when, as the longer this goes on the more obvious it is that what happened was either directed by or approved of at the highest levels.  Nobody is wearing a white hat, except for the poor stiffs on the ground in Libya who were sacrificed for…what, a political ideology of some sort that got out of hand? 
        If the whole thing was a complete screw-up, where are the people to admit to it and take the blame, to say and really mean, “the buck stops here”?  Hiding under the desk in the oval office again, I suspect.  I would reward those with the courage to take the blame, it would be a refreshing change from the wimpy pass the buck game we usually see. 
        If I say I wish there were some real cowboys in Washington today I will be reminded that George W. Bush was a cowboy, and look what that got us.  “W” at least took the blame for his actions.  Whatever else anyone says, he didn’t  hide under his desk.  Or have the “school marm” under it.
        I am so, so very tired of everyone being “cool,”  and “hip,” and whatever else the current street vernacular thinks is fashionable.  Give me Tom Mix, or the Lone Ranger, any day.         
        Hi Ho Silver, Away!

Friday, October 26, 2012


Friday, 8:15 AM.  35 degrees F, wind W, strong and blustery.  The sky is mostly cloudy but clearing, mixed black and white clouds scudding along in the upper atmosphere.  The barometer predicts sunny skies.  We need sun and wind to dry us out from over two inches of rain in the last several days.  The garden needs to be put to bed and leaves mulched and it is too wet to do either.  Buddy ran and ran this morning, overjoyed at being released from the house.
        It mystifies me why there has not been more true outrage over the Benghazi affair, in which four brave Americans, including an ambassador who was a career State Department employee, were murdered.  They asked repeatedly for protection.  What they got was hazardous duty pay.
         Was it or wasn’t it a “terrorist” attack seems hardly relevant.  What is relevant is that these patriots died in a prolonged, seven and a half hour fire fight, witnessed live by the highest level officials of the Administration, evidently without a realistic attempt to rescue them.  Two of them were found slumped over their machine gun.  They fought to the last.  The President’s response was to fly to Las Vegas the next day.  And dance around the issue. 
        Actually, in retrospect it does not mystify me much, since there has been little actual news coverage of this miserable, tragic defeat (yes, that’s what it was…the terrorists defeated us) by the main stream media.  Unless you have cable TV, listen to talk radio or perhaps read the Wall Street Journal, you may have heard little about it. 
        Why? Because it does not jive with the Administration’s campaign rhetoric that Bin Laden and terrorism are dead.  It does not jive with their apology tours and bowing and scraping before sultans, kings and dictators.  It does not jive with their interpretation of an Arab Spring, where everything is coming up roses.  It does not jive with the president’s “leading from behind,” an oxymoron if ever there was one.  And it does not jive because the liberal media will do anything to help reelect Obama.
        President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton are hunkered down, hoping the crisis will blow over until after the election.  Of course the issue is being investigated.  The report is due on…get this… November 15.  How convenient.  How clever they are.  How stupid they think we are. 
        Personally, I  think President Obama should be relieved when he loses the election.  Even he, high up in that ivory tower he inhabits, must remember that Watergate, that long ago Keystone Cops affair in which nobody died but that brought down President Nixon, was covered up until after he was reelected to a second term.
        I will not trivialize this tragedy by calling it Benghazigate.  It is an outrage of infinitely greater magnitude. 

Thursday, October 25, 2012


Thursday, 8:30 AM.  49 degrees F, wind W, moderate with stronger gusts. It is raining hard, the channel is fogged in, the sky is dark and there is occasional lightning. It  rained steadily all night, sometimes torrentially.  The water is running hard in the gutters and ditches and the rain barrels are overflowing but the barometer is heading up.
         I put on boots and rain jacket to take Buddy out this morning, but even he ran for the garage after about five minutes.  Wet dogs don’t smell vey good.
        The maples lost their remaining leaves last night, and even the oaks are looking threadbare, but  the tamaracks are holding tight to their needles and the lilacs are still clothed in the green of summer.
        Ah, the UN!  Coming to a polling place near you to monitor the presidential election process of the United States of America!  Aren’t we lucky to be watched over by this feckless organization comprised of more mullahs and dictators than democracies, invited to our shores by some left wing organization that hopes mightily to find evidence of voter intimidation or fraud in our process. 
        I am sure that if they looked hard enough, long enough and in the right places they might find some voting irregularities in a nation that spans a continent and much of an ocean, has fifty states and 300 million people.  But I am sure their process will be selective enough that they will find only what they wish to find. 
        Uninvited polling place observers may be welcomed in Madison, Wisconsin, even if it takes turning a blind eye to state election laws.  But I don’t think they will fare well, or get within the legal 100 feet of the polling places in San Antonio.  Don’t mess with Texas..

Wednesday, October 24, 2012


Wednesday, 8:30 AM.  52 degrees F, Wind N, calm at present.  The sky is overcast and dense fog has crept in from the lake.  The humidity is up and the barometer predicts rain.  The tamaracks have turned from gold to bronze and will soon fall.  There are a few green tomatoes still to bring in and ripen, and a lot of yard work left to be done before winter arrives.
        Back to Monday night’s Presidential debate: the President’s demeanor of supercilious superiority hurt him during several exchanges with Romney, perhaps the worst instance being that regarding Romney’s supposed inexperience with military matters, when the President snidely suggested that Romney was unfamiliar with aircraft carriers, “big ships that airplanes can land on and take off from,” and that technology had eliminated “horses and bayonets,” along with the need for a large navy. It seems that President Obama cannot help lowering himself to demean and belittle an opponent. Certainly Senator John McCain did not treat his total neophyte opponent with such disrespect four years ago.  Romney did not reply in kind, or become angry, but instead replied with, “attacking me is not an agenda.” 
        Not only was it not an agenda, but the President revealed his own lack of military knowledge and his disdain for our warriors by his snide comment.  He obviously has never heard, even second hand or in a movie, the well known close combat order, “fix bayonets.”
        Frankly, I think that “fix bayonets” should be the Republican rallying cry until the election.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012


Tuesday, 8:30 AM.  48 degrees F, wind WSW, moderate.  The sky is overcast and it is raining.  The barometer predicts rain, which I suspect it will do all day.
        The garage is painted, clean and organized, both vehicles in the garage.  But the lawn is deep in wet leaves. So, I’m still behind the curve.
        I was initially mystified by Romney’s demeanor in the debate last night; he was mostly non-confrontational, refusing to be drawn into contentious debate on Libya or almost any other foreign policy issue.  He stood his ground and made some salient comments but no more.  Romney even praised the President where he deserved it.
        About halfway through the debate, after loudly expressing my frustration, “There’s an opening, hit him!”  “Don’t let him get away with that bull!” it finally dawned on me that Romney’s strategy was to not get mired in tactical details, but to offer an alternative to the President’s failed policies, to present a new vision for America, and a strategy to achieve it.  He was not going to play “small ball.”
        The President set a lot of traps for him but Romney avoided them.  Romney looked and acted presidential, and most important of all defined the economy and domestic strength as the bedrock of any foreign policy.  Obama took his best shots, and Romney deftly deflected them.  I think Romney’s performance will look very good once the dust of the debate settles.
        I would have gotten into a slug fest, Romney did not.  He’s a lot smarter than me.

Monday, October 22, 2012


Monday, 8:15 AM.  49 degrees F, wind NW, very breezy.  It was overcast earlier but it is clearing fast, due to obvious upper atmosphere turbulence.  It looks like a bumpy day to fly.  The barometer predicts partly cloudy skies.  It looks like it will be seasonally warm and windy, and a lot more of the remaining leaves will come down and then have to be mulched.
        The interior of the garage is painted and everything organized on walls and shelves.  Neighbor Sherman helped me bring the freezer up to the garage from the basement so it is more convenient (why did we put it down there in the first place?).  Next spring we will have a big garage sale and divest ourselves of needless stuff.  The kids had better come and get what is theirs or it will get sold also.  We are tired of living in a lifetime collection of clutter.
        So, tonight is the last debate, on foreign policy.  Bengazi and Iran will doubtless be the big questions, but I look for Romney to emphasize that a successful  US foreign policy ultimately depends upon a vibrant economy, favorable trade agreements, a strong currency and an indomitable military.  All things which seem to be beyond the grasp of the Obama Administration.  Perhaps, I fear,  by design.

Sunday, October 21, 2012


Sunday, 8:45 AM.  42 degrees F, wind W, calm at ground level but high gray clouds are moving fast o ut of the west.  The sky is partly cloudy but the barometer predicts sunshine and it will clear later this morning.
        There are still flowers blooming; New England Asters, Chrysanthemums and some roses.  It has been, and still is, a very beautiful fall on the Bayfield Peninsula.
        The Town of Russell Harvest Dinner was as good as always, although I missed the gun raffle, as I neglected to buy tickets ahead, and they were sold out at the door.  But as always there were door prizes for virtually everyone there, and Joan and I both came home with worthwhile items; I with a gift certificate for two pounds of fresh lake trout from Newago’s Fish Market and Joan with a tote bag and blanket throw from Apostle Islands Realty.  It's an event where everyone wins.

Saturday, October 20, 2012


Saturday, 8:15 AM.  46 degrees F, wind W, calm.  The sky is overcast but the barometer predicts sunshine.  Yesterday turned into a beautiful day, and I think today will also.  The big maple in Jane and Sherman’s yard blocks some of our lake view when it is in leaf.  Last night it lost all of its leaves and our winter view is back, mostly unobscured.
        The Town of Russell annual harvest dinner is tonight and we seldom miss it.  The food is great, especially the homemade pies and other desserts, and it usually has plenty of door prizes, and a gun raffle that I would love to win, so we shall go.  It is held in the Town Hall, out on Hwy. K, just up the road from Andy and Judy’s camp.
        The Libya-Bengazi tragedy is still a mystery, not so much as to what happened, but why.  It will be, I am sure, the leading question in the final debate Monday night, and if not answered honestly by the President he is finished.  I don’t think he will answer it, because the question is not only about the needless death of the Ambassador and three others, but fundamentally it is about the President’s world view and political philosophy,  a truthful explanation of which will be toxic to his reelection. 
.  Either way, he is finished.

Friday, October 19, 2012


Friday, 8:15 AM.  46 degrees F, wind W, calm.  The sky is mainly overcast but clearing after another night of off and on, gentle rain.  The barometer predicts sunny skies and that is what we will  have by late morning, I am sure.
        There are now as many colored leaves on the ground in Bayfield as are left on the trees, and lawns look like  reflections of the beauty above them. 
        I am in the middle of a project that I must finish before the weather turns, and hopefully it will be done before the weekend is over.  Painting the inside of the garage is something that mostly never gets done and I resolved some time ago to do it.  The worst part is all the stuff that has been hung up on the walls and is suspended from the ceiling, and that has grown like a fungus around the edges of the floor. Most of it is no longer used and really should be sold at a rummage sale or given to the Good Will (assuming they would take it). 
        Have you felt the growing tension between President Obama and the Clinton? It has always been there ("They played the race card on me"}, just beneath the surface, but has become more obvious with the growing Bengazi Consulate scandal.  Hillary has said she takes full responsibility for the mistakes that killed the ambassador and three other Americans, and that “the buck stops with me.”  The President, chagrined, replied that the buck stops with him (he’d sure like to be considered a Harry Truman).  Of course neither of them actually mean it, as they both still blame others, lower and lower on the chain of command as time goes by.  Eventually the mess will be blamed on someone too inconsequential to pose a threat, or on an underling willing to fall on his or her sword for the Administration.
         It is obvious that the President tried to pawn off the incident onto the Secretary of State, and that she was not going to be “thrown under the bus,”  as has happened to so many in this administration.  But, love them or hate them, the Clintons are  still one of the most powerful  political forces in the country, and if crossed could easily destroy the Obama reelection campaign with a few well chosen words. Keep your eye on  this one.  

Thursday, October 18, 2012


Thusday,  8:30 AM.  49 degrees F, wind WNW, calm.  The sky is overcast and it is raining lightly, as it did most of the night. We have gotten perhaps a half inch of rain in the last 48 hours.  The tamaracks have turned to gold
      It rained a bit off and on most of the day on our trip to Duluth.  Had it been ten degrees cooler it would have been a really nasty day.  As it was, it was merely unsetled, particularly in Duluth, where it ricocheted from spring to fall a number of times in a couple of hours.  Talk about changeable!  Duluth is right up there with Denver or Seattle, the weather continually blowing in and out from the lake; fog, rain, sunshine, wind, a constant mix...that's Duluth.
      We have done the drive to and from Duluth on US 2 so many times that it is hard not to be bored, even while viewing the  now-fading colors of fall, so the antidote is the stimulation of talk radio.  All the spin on a number of satellite stations pretty well confirmed my opinion of yesterday that the debate was essentially a toss-up that would not much change the trajectory of the election, which is now picking up momentum in favor of Romney.  The polls are interesting and we watch them, but I can't consider many of them much more than froth.  That said, the Romney/Ryan ticket seems stronger all the time and the Obama/Biden ticket weaker, the later having no record to run on and nothing new to offer for the next four years.  Personally, I think that the reason the President can't articulate a vision for the country is that if he did it would be so radically leftist that it would be totally unpalatable to the great majority of Americans. 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012


Wednesday, 8:00 AM.  48 degrees F, wind W, calm.  The sky is overcast but lightening a bit. The barometer predicts rain and the humidity is rising.  Hard to say what the day will bring, but we are off to Duluth on business so hope that the weather is not too inclement.  Buddy will come along and have a MacDonald's burger off the dollar menu, which he dearly loves.  I swear he goes on point when we approach those golden arches.
   We were satisfied with the debate last night.  Our candidate  held his own and looked presidential.  The President showed up, made his points and defended his record as well as he could.  We considered it a toss-up, which is O.K. for Romney but not good enough for the President, and don't think the debate will change the trajectory of the election.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012


Tuesday, 8:30 AM.  47 degrees F, wind W, calm. It is overcast and raining gently, as it has been for some time.  the barometer predicts more rain, which we need badly.  This is the kind of rain that soaks in, and will not blow the remaining leaves off the trees.  Overnight the tamaracks in the yard have turned from their usual light green to something bordering on chartreuse, and very shortly they will turn to gold,  enthralled by the alchemy of fall.
        As most of my readers are aware, Joan and I are both on Medicare, so I am rather sensitive to changes in the program which will and are already occurring to it because of Obamacare.  Most people are aware of the big controversy over the $716 billion being transferred from Medicare to help fund Obamacare  (effectively enrolling everyone in Medicare by a different name). But there are many other aspects of the Obamacare law that are much more subtle because they don’t sport huge identifiable dollar figures.  That doesn’t mean that they are trivial in their affect on Medicare recipients and the health industry.
        One such stealth change levies heavy fines on hospitals if a Medicare/Obamacare patient returns to a hospital within thirty days of being released from it after treatment.  This went into effect last week, according to news sources.  Sounds like a good way to force hospitals to do their job better, doesn’t it?  Make those surgeons and those critical care nurses be really careful, right? 
        Well, most hospitals are now for-profit businesses, or have to act like one.  I can envision a hospital CFO analyzing the new law, and recommending a number of ways to avoid the “heavy fines”:
    1) Let’s not take the complicated cases that may not easily fit the   new “no return” policy.  Do reverse triage at the door.
      2) Let’s not release any patients who are not absolutely guaranteed 100% cured, fixed, or otherwise non-returnable. We will run up the bill for the patient and Medicare as much as possible.  Don’t take any chances with releases, we have plenty of excess beds.  We can make money on this if we are smart.
        3) If we get stuck with really tough cases, that look like losers, let’s pawn them off on other care givers as quick as we can so we don’t get stuck with them. Stick them in hospice, nobody returns from there.  And for sure don’t take any iffy referrals from other hospitals just because we have better resources to cure the patient.
        4) Dead men tell no tales, and don’t return from the undertaker to the hospital.  Better dead than in our bed.
        5) Find the weakest link in the government oversight chain, and pay it off.
        6) Everyone be creative.  It's worth a bonus.

        Now, I am an admitted skeptic, and perhaps my arguments are too cynical.  But don’t bet on it.

Monday, October 15, 2012


 Monday, 8:30 AM.  35 degrees F, up from 33 an hour ago.  rooftops are again white with frost but nothing else was effected by the drop in temperature.  Wind W, calm. The sky is clear except for a few clouds on the eastern horizon, and the barometer is high.  It will be a pretty day.  Rain keeps eluding us and we need it badly now as winter approaches.
    Bayfield is still beautiful with the colors of fall, and the pungent aroma of wood smoke drifted  along Ninth Street as we walked in the chilly morning morning air at sunrise.
   As some of my readers may recall, I recently lost a very dear, lifelong  friend.  We did not go to Tom's funeral, having just seen him, and preferring to remember him as he was in life.  His family asked me to rite a eulogy, which may appeal to anyone who has lost a lifelong friend.


    First, my sincere thanks to the Moran Family for being asked to write this eulogy.  Tommy and I were friends from childhood, which is a rather rare thing these days in our hectic and ever-changing lives.  Even rarer is that we were close friends, not just acquaintances. 
    Tommy and I grew up on the same block in the same neighborhood, and although we went to different grade schools (Catholic and Lutheran) we  played together as children, were on the same neighborhood baseball team and had mutual friends.  Living together on the same street, I was probably about as far north as he would venture and he about as far south as I, when we were really little kids.  Bookend friends, if  you will. 
    One thing I would like to stress is that it wasn’t just Tommy who was my friend in those early years but the whole Moran Family.  I was an only child of older parents, and the Moran’s were something of a surrogate family…always something going on, Marggie a bit older, then Tommy, Monica and little Timmy…And then there was the parrot, who always said “come in,” when there was someone at the door even if no one was at home.  Many a time I ended up saying hello to that old bird and not to Tommy or anyone else. 
    And of course Mr. and Mrs. Moran, wonderful people who never, not once, told me to go home because I was in the way or impeding some kind of family progress. Tom Sr. was an amazing man, whom I held in great regard.  His basement (there was no garage) held a treasure trove of stuff…guns, clocks, odds and ends of great usefulness and wonder.  The man who could fix anything and everything, only needing a “cup of tea” to ponder over it. “Got one here somewhere,” was his motto.  I remember once the Moran family was getting ready to travel to Boulder Lake and a bearing failed in the rear axle of their old Cadillac.  Tom's dad made a replacement for it on his lathe, and away they went.
    And of course there was The Television Set, the first in the neighborhood, and the Odes of course, being much more staid, lagged way behind.  So I, the plump bookish kidwith the glasses, would impose himself on the Morans to switch the TV to  UN debates (as useless then as now) when everyone else had lost interest in “Uncle Milty” and similar slapstick comedy.  We did finally get a TV, but as I recall it was a long dry spell.
    As we got older, Tommy and I went to different high schools, he to Marquette with all its homework, me to “Nathan Hale, the County Jail, where the more you work, the more you fail.”  There were many teenage evenings when I would be looking for something to do and I would walk past the Moran house and see Tommy at work at his desk in the upstairs bedroom, doing homework.  The situation kind of reversed later, when I stuck to the college grind, and Tommy went to work at Lincoln Contractor’s Supply.  But in the meantime there was great mutual interest in two overwhelming realities; cars, and of course girls.  Tommy was a lot better with both than I was.
    On the car front, the summer we were both sixteen (after my father died suddenly) we went up north to go fishing, taking my pride and joy  ’39 Buick, that had dual exhausts and dual carburetors and would go 90 per in second gear.  To make a long story short, a rod began to knock loudly by the time we got to Wautoma, Wisconsin.  What to do?  Two kids a long way  from home with an old wreck of a car, and perhaps thirty dollars between them.  We did the only thing we could do; rely on the kindness of a stranger, a sympathetic gas station owner who let us use his jack and tools and a corner of his parking lot for a couple of days so we could drain the oil, take the engine pan off and tighten up the bearing.  Tommy  could do this, at sixteen, because he had been well taught by his father.  I was a good mechanics helper, but that was about the extent of my talent.
    On the work front, when we were abut nineteen, we both worked for a while for the same construction outfit, Walter J. Lazinski Contractors, a very large sewer and water firm.  We both did hard and sometimes dangerous work but Lazinski (AKA The Big Green Polack) was a first class outfit and neither of us suffered any real damage (I think Tommy was off for a while with a foot that he hit with a sledge hammer).  His cousin Brian Miller worked there for a while too. We all did tunnel work  at some point, Tommy at least under air pressure, where you had to go through a decompression chamber to go home. Any way, Tom soon graudated to selling equipment for Lincoln Contractors supply and a great sales career, and I went on to eventually graduate from college and go to work for Milwaukee County  Parks and on to a long career in garden and arboretum management.
    Tom and Cindy got married at what would now be considered a young age and immediately began raising a family.  Joan and I got married much later and moved around the country a lot, so there were gaps in our relationship with Tom and Cindy.  But we always stayed in touch and got together at least once a  year.  In all this time, Joan became as close a friend of Tom as myself.  We all have our life crises, whether mid- or otherwise; Tommy  had his, and I had mine, but we were always only a letter or a phone call away from the support of a close, close friend. 
    After Cindy passed away and I retired and we moved up north to Bayfield, Tom and I spent more time together, some of it fishing on the big lake.  One incident worth repeating; Tommy and I were out in my boat fishing around Basswood Island in the Apostles.  It was a beautiful fall afternoon, rather late in the day and we hadn’t had much luck, when suddenly as we were drifting with the current Tom got a tremendous strike.  He played the fish up to the boat, and as it broke water several times it revealed itself as a big lake run brown trout.  It tried to run under the boat but Tom maneuvered it over to one side and I got the net under it and hauled it in.  We were both excited, but Tom more so, and uncharacteristically he grabbed at the fish, forgetting that the lure was full of exposed treble hooks.  It took a long while to get the fish out of the net and all but one hook out of Tom’s hand, but that one was imbedded like a tick, and we did not have a side cutter along that would do the job (big mistake; never again without one).  Anyway, by now it was getting dark and we were a long ways from shore.  When we got back to the Indian Reservation where we had launched the boat we looked for medical help.  The Indian Clinic was closed by then and the only resort was to drive to Ashland thirty miles away. 
    By the time we finally got to the hospital emergency room Tommy’s hand was as swollen and red as a good sized tomato, and the barb of the hook, which had been protruding through his hand somewhat, was now buried in the flesh of his hand.  The receptionist of course had to get all of Tom’s medical history, and she took her good time doing it while I extricated tom’s wallet from his hip pocket and got out his insurance cards.  Then we waited, as others with seemingly more minor complaints were taken care of. And waited. Finally it was Tom’s turn, and of course the first thing the nurse did was take his blood pressure, after which she said, “My goodness, your blood pressure is sky high,” to which Tommy retorted, “Maybe it’s because I have a #0#!  fishhook  in my hand.”  It was all down hill from there, but the fish hook did finally get removed.
    Tommy’s last few  years were, as we all know, full of pain and hospitals.  In all of this he was blessed with supportive family, friends, and special friend Barb, without whom I am sure Tom would have left us years earlier.  Through all of this, he kept up his spirits, his faith, and his sense of humor.  He was truly an example of how to handle life’s adversities, right until the end.
    The last time we saw Tommy, a couple of months ago at his cottage in Langlade which he loved so, I told him that Larry Whalen, our mutual friend, and whom I also worked with in sewer trenches and on pipelines for years, often appeared in a dream, asking me to follow him down into a deep excavation to do some task, and I would always say, “Larry, I can’t go with you, you’re dead!”  Tommy didn’t say anything, just smiled at me.
    I imagine at some point Tommy will also begin to appear to me in dreams, in his fishing boat, and will ask me to get in.  And one night I will have to go with him.

Sunday, October 14, 2012


Sunday, 9:00 AM.  43 degrees F, wind SW, calm to light.  The sky is completely overcast and the  barometer predicts rain, which we got a few intermittent showers of yesterday, but it doesn’t feel particularly like rain this morning.  The lawn is now carpeted with golden pine needles and multicolored maple leaves.
        It is too early for the rut, I think, but the deer have become very active at night now, making driving hazardous. In fact, we had a little trip to Minocqua, which is about 130 miles away, yesterday  due to that fact.  The Johnstons are an elderly couple (that means they are at least a year older than Joan and I) who were visiting Bayfield and hit a deer and wrecked their car just outside of Washburn Friday night.  They stayed that night at the Seagull Bay Motel but there was no lodging available for them Saturday night and innkeeper Mike called us to see if we could accommodate them.  We would have been able to, but what they really wanted was to go home. 
        We were able to put off a few tasks and chauffeur them, and we had a really nice trip, enjoyed each others company and had a good lunch in Mercer.  We saw eagles and turkeys along the way and of course a number of roadside deer, which made us very cautious on the trip back.   They have a lot of trouble ahead with car repairs and insurance issues, but as they say, “life happens,” and it will all work out O.K. I am sure.  Buddy was bummed out because he had to stay home,  but that’s life, too.

Saturday, October 13, 2012


 Saturday, 8:15 AM.  42 degrees F, wind SW, calm.  The sky is overcast and the barometer predicts rain.  The decks and roads are wet this morning so we evidently got a bit of rain last night.  The red oaks are mostly in full color now, taking over where the red maples left off.There is still a lot of fall color in Bayfield, but a good rain storm or strong winds would likely bring most of the remaining color to the ground.

The dollar just doesn’t seem to be worth what it used to be.  It seems it takes two dollars to buy as much food today as one dollar bought four years ago.
    Nonsense. A dollar is a dollar is a dollar.
    I don’t know, I think the dollar has become much weaker at the grocery store over the last four years.
    Don’t worry about food prices.  Our statisticians don’t even track food prices.  They are too volatile.  The dollar is a dollar…
    Well they ought to track food prices, because I can’t afford to buy as much food as I used to.
    Americans are obese and should go on a diet. And shoot some hoops, too.
    But the dollar used to be worth something tangible, a certain amount of gold that it could be redeemed for.
    That is a silly, old fashioned idea.  There isn’t enough gold in all the Fort Knoxes on the planet, or under all  the mountains of the world, to back the untold trillions of dollar bills we have printed.  What nonsense!
    Maybe we shouldn’t print so many dollars.
    Well, what would people use for money? With prices so high, we need trillions and trillions of dollars floating around so that people can buy all the things they need, like food.
    Let me get this straight.  We need more and more dollars that will buy less and less because otherwise people wouldn’t have enough dollars to buy things, like food for instance.
    Right, right! You’ve got it now. How about a beer?
    No, thanks.  Maybe we would have enough dollars to buy things if we had fewer people.
    Exactly! like China, no more than one child per family. More abortions.  Greater women’s rights.  It’s an idea that works, look how strong the Chinese currency has become.
    O.K., sounds like a plan.  Actually that is how the Germans strengthened the mark during and after the Great Depression.  Between killing all their Jews and WWII, they eliminated a good part of their population, and It’s been a sound currency ever since.
    I don’t think I would go that far, but the economic theory is sound. How about a beer?
    But if we cut the size of our population to limit the number of dollars we need, how will we pay the Social Security we owe to millions and millions of people because the money wasn’t invested and it isn’t worth much anyway? 
    That’s easy. We will print a few trillion more dollars.
    O.K., but I still think the dollar should actually be worth something in and of itself, have an intrinsic value.
    It is, it does!  I keep telling you, a dollar is worth exactly one dollar! Anytime you want you can take a dirty, wrinkled old paper dollar and trade it in for a clean,crisp new one, at any bank.
    Well, I guess I am just old fashioned and don’t understand modern finance.  Anyway it still says, “In God We Trust” on each dollar, and I guess that is good enough for me.
    Another old-fashioned idea that I would like to get rid of.  And please don’t use the “G” word. "Allah" is O.K. though. 

Friday, October 12, 2012


Friday, 8:00 AM.  33 degrees F, wind WSW, calm.  The sky is clear except for a band of puffy white clouds on the eastern horizon.  There is frost on roofs but not much on the ground, and plants were not affected by last night’s temperature.  The barometer is up and it will be a beautiful late fall day.
        We watched the Vice-Presidential debates last night and neither debater scored a knockout.  Paul Ryan was strong on many issues, and as far as we were concerned did not drop the ball on any, but came across as too polite and probably too deferential to his much older opponent.  Joe Biden had good command of many issues, and he showed a great deal of real passion. However, the administration’s line on the Libya debacle is still unclear, as was his presentation of it. 
        But our opinion of Joe Biden as a person plummeted because of his demeanor.  He was strident, continually interrupting his opponent, and in this he was aided and abetted by the moderator, who did nothing to control his indiscretions. 
        But the worst aspect of his persona was his constant  smirking, grinning and laughing; he actually mugged for the camera, exhibiting a nasty smirk. He came across as rude and condescending, and he demeaned the office of the Vice Presidency.  Joe, a serious national political debate should not look like an ancient rerun of “Laugh In.”
        I have thought of a number of excuses for his actions;  he was nervous, or he always acts that way, or he didn’t realize what he was doing.  Unfortunately, I believe it was a planned debate tactic, meant to confuse, unsettle and deflate his opponent.  Joe, it didn’t work.

Thursday, October 11, 2012


Thursday, 8:00 AM.  37 degrees F, wind WSW, light.  The sky is mostly overcast with a variety of high, mostly gray clouds.  The barometer predicts rain, which we got abou t 1/4 inch of last night.  I think the day is a tossup.  Leaves are beginning to fall in earnest now, but there is still a lot of very good color, particularly right near the lake, and the tamaracks in our yard are still summer-green.
    As many readers of the Almanac will remember, the past year and more has been one of bitter conflict between proponents and opponents of iron mining in northern Wisconsin.  It has been a huge political, economic and social issue.  I am a proponent of environmentally responsible mining, but many are opposed to it on any and all grounds.
        With this in mind I was interested in the little catalog I get on a pretty regular basis from The Duluth Trading Company, a work clothing concern that has top quality, work oriented clothes  that I really like and highly recommend.  On the front of the lattest publication is a photo of a massive steam locomotive and their motto, “The Rugged Spirit Of The Iron Range.”  Inside is a short broadside that I will quote:
        “Inspired by the Iron that built America.  The feat is colossal by any measure.  Over 3 billion tons of ore have been exhumed from Minnesota’s mighty Iron Ranges since 1884.  the Messabi alone produced 1/4 of the country’s iron needs during WWII…the bounty of the range is so rich, US Steel built an entire railroad and the world’s most powerful steam locomotives to haul the loads from the mines to Duluth.  A fleet of 112 ships moved the ore from Duluth to mills in the east, daring the treacherous gales of November to make passage.  Building this empire took gumption [the Finnish settlers’ word is sissu…guts…}… It’s in this rugged spirit that we proudly introduce Iron Range Outerware…” (and on).
        Minnesota’s mines are still producing, bringing prosperity and recognition to the state and Duluth, its second largest city…and the ore boats continue to sail the lakes and brave the gales of November with their valuable cargo.
        The open pit mines are awe-inspiring, but  many people do not like them, considering them an affront to the earth and nature itself.  I could go on and on, presenting pros and cons to iron mining, arguments which by their very nature can be extended to coal mining, oil and gas drilling, large scale agriculture, and the manufacturing processes itself.  I am a conservationist (aka environmentalist) but I also respect and appreciate the works of engineering, manufacturing and human toil that have created and maintained our civilization and our country.  Many of my friends and contemporaries, and perhaps most younger people, do not, and it mystifies me.
        Perhaps it was easier to understand and appreciate where things came from and how they were made years ago, when one lived more closely to the productive forces of society.  I did not have the money to go away to college and commuted to the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee by driving across the city daily, through its industrial valley.  Every day I went through the smoky haze of the valley, inhaled its variety of pungent smells, heard its hard sounds, felt its strength.  I also knew first hand where milk and corn and meat came from (the farms of friends and relatives).

        My first professional job after graduating from college with a Bachelor of Science degree was with Cities Service Oil Company, and I loved visiting the refinery in Gary, where I could climb a ten story catalytic cracker and look out over the fire and brimstone landscape that was Gary Indiana in 1960.  I sure as hell knew then where the gasoline for my automobile came from, and the hard work it took to refine it.
        So here’s to the sensible folks at Duluth Trading Company and the Minnesota miners who still rip riches from the bowls of the earth.  I think Wisconsin would benefit greatly from a great gash in the landscape into which our people could gaze, and understand that ultimately all wealth is snatched by men from the depths of the earth and its waters, from the tilling of  its fields and the felling of its forests.
        As it is written, “by the sweat of thy brow shalt thou eat bread.”  People should know this, and not be ashamed, but proud.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012


Wednesday, 8:00 AM.  34 degrees F, wind W, calm to light at ground level.  The sky is partly cloudy with high, puffy white clouds.  The barometer is high and the humidity low. It will be a  seasonally cool but pretty day.  The rest of the indoor plants will come in today.
    We had a good trip to the Minneapolis Airport yesterday, despite a few showers, and Leslie and Allison are safely back home again.  We  miss them aleady, and Buddy now has to put up with the old folks all by himself.  How boring.
 On the wildlife front, we (Buddy and I) saw a large flock of turkeys on Hwy. K west of the Rez the other day.  I counted twenty. I don’t know how many Buddy counted, but he jumped in the front seat and pointed them.
        On  the “free stuff” front, we received an offer in the mail for free cell phones and up to 250 free minutes per month. There was even an extra application to give to a friend. It was addressed to “occupant” and we almost threw it out as a scam, but out of curiosity read the fine print.  It turns out this was  one, SafeLink wireless, is one of evidently a number of companies hired to promote and manage the Federal Lifeline Program, courtesy of the US taxpayer.
        Like free speech and all the rest of our constitutional rights, we know have a virtual right to free telephone service, if one is already enrolled in any of ten federal and state welfare programs including food stamps, Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income, and, get this, the National Free School Lunch Program.  Proof of enrollment is minimal or non-existant.
        Our grown children, all teachers, have been telling us for some time now that school kids receive free cell phones.  I did not believe it.  I do now, and I am appalled and disgusted.  Millions and millions of people are now receiving free cell phones and service and the government is actively trying to enroll more. In fact, look closely at the fine print and you will see that you are, indeed, paying for directly for someone’s free cell phone; our phone and cable TV bill says we pay almost $8.00 per month.  I often find it difficult to pay my own bill.  How is it that I have to pay for someone else’s?
        What is the motivation behind this and similar seemingly whacky “free stuff” programs?  Obviously, people who get “free stuff” are likely to vote to keep it, and to hell with worrying about ever paying for it.  Of course people who receive “free stuff” are also likely to be too lazy to go to the polls and vote, so I suppose the next step will be claiming “text to vote” on a cell phone paid for by someone else as a constitutional right.
        America, land of the free stuff, and home of the moocher.  Love it or leave it (for Spain or Greece pehaps, where they might have more free stuff).
        The free cell phone program is a turkey, and there is a whole flock of them out there.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012


Tuesday, 8:00 AM.  39 degrees F, wind W, calm.  the sky is overcast, the humidity is up a bit and the barometer predicts rain, which we have had some in drips and drops over the last twenty-four hours, but it doesn't look like anything big will happen, which would be good, as we are on our way to the Minneapolis Airport this morning to, reluctantly, return Leslie an Allison to Texas. 
    It seems to me we are on the verge of having a new economic system imposed on the United States and perhaps the world.  Let me coin a term and see if it sticks. 
        “Consumer Communism”  will have the same end result as traditional communism, which is the elimination of economic classes and the subjection of all to the will of the state via the “dictatorship of the proletariat.”  The difference is that violent revolution will probably not be necessary, since the masses will go to that end willingly, enticed by the promise of more and more “free stuff.”  It will eliminate the need for mediums of exchange, such as money and credit cards and even loans, since everyone will receive everything they could possibly want or need from the government, by  vouchers in their mailbox or deliveries in their driveway, all appearing like manna from heaven.  If this seems crazy, please be advised we are almost there, with nearly half of the population of the United States receiving things they don’t pay for (and most pay no taxes either) and the enticement to take more and more is constant.  We are at the tipping point.
        Does business care?  Big business at least does not, as the government buys things  from them to distribute to the masses virtually at their asking price, and all it takes to be successful in big business is a modest and constant contribution to the purses of the government and its controlling party.  Small business also distributes governmental largess, through food stamps and other programs.  With Obamacare the health industry will be firmly embedded in the system.  Do the people care? Seemingly not, as few are turning down the deluge of free stuff, and a majority readily vote for the party that is their benefactor.  The enticement is perfectly logical; why work when you can get everything you want and need from on high? 
    We are becoming like the strange cargo cultures of the South Sea Islands, whose inhabitants sit and wait on the beach for things to was up on the shore, while singing the right chants and a making a few sacrifices to the sea gods to ensure their delivery.
        Marx and Engels must be spinning in their graves wondering why they hadn’t thought of this route to communism.  “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need,” has become “From each according to his influence, to each according to his greed.”  And poor Stalin and Mao, what crude dolts they were, slaughtering millions and millions to force society into the slavery of communism, when all they had to do was use the carrot of consumerism, rather than the stick of terror to gain their ends.
        So here we are; on the verge of yet another New World Order.
Will this one be more successful than all the others that pretend to be built upon the perfectibility of the human being and his society?  Of course not, but who cares?  It will last long enough, perhaps even be Hitler's vaunted Thousand Year Reich.  It will last at  least  long enough that those at the top who institute it and rule in splendor and abundance will be long gone.  As the French Sun King said, “After me, the deluge.”
        But my guess is that Consumer Communism will last only until the Chinese demand their money back.  Or perhaps they will settle for Taiwan and South Korea, with maybe Japan thrown in.  Closer to home they might demand Hawaii or Alaska.  Maybe they would take California instead, but I doubt it.

Monday, October 8, 2012


Monday, 8:30 AM.  39 degrees F, wind WSW, light to moderate.  The sky is overcast with high thin gray clouds.  The humidity is low but the barometer predicts rain.  Perhaps by this afternoon.
        The parade was by all accounts a great success, the weather held and the crowds were considerable, at least as great as last year.  We again had the truck decorated with baskets of flowers, and the banner “Return Again Next Spring For Bayfield’s Fields Of Daffodils.”  We were towards the beginning of the parade so we could get back to the starting point on the top of Rittenhouse Ave. and pick up the Bayfield band director, who stood in the back of the truck to direct the Mass Band (all the bands participating in the parade) together for one last march down the hill while playing “On Wisconsin.”  It is truly something to see and hear, as the crowd cheers wildly.
        I have been keeping an eye on the growing tragedy of the meningitis outbreak caused by fungus-tainted steroid injections for back pain.  It has now spread pretty much throughout the Midwest, resulting in a number of deaths and much illness.  There was a personal element of interest, since one of our grown children had gotten a steroid shot recently but it thankfully was not from the problem batch and it was not injected into the spine.
        I read with interest a comment (don’t ask me where, I did not take note at the time) by a researcher that the epidemic would have been stopped early on had the compounded steroid shots been made in a state-based facility, rather than a regional or national laboratory.  The source of the outbreak would have been immediately obvious.  Evidently such is the usual circumstance, and the current situation something of an anomaly.    
        As I thought about the situation, I could not help but compare it to salmonella outbreaks that occur when the source of contamination is difficult to pinpoint because the hamburger is all ground in one giant facility using meat that comes from all over and is distributed nationally.  There is no way to easily identify the source.
        As I  thought more about it, it occurred to me that there is a political analogy  here as well;  when big, centralized government programs fail, the failure is universal throughout the country and society.  How much safer and more practical it is to “compound” solutions to most problems at the state and local level, where the source of contamination is readily identified and the outbreak more easily controlled. 
        That is the original genius of our Constitution; it relegates most governmental functions to the state and local governments or to the “People.”  When taxation, police powers, and social programs go awry or become toxic, the problem remains localized and can be more easily eradicated or modified close to their source.  If we follow the constitution.
        Whether it is tainted medications, tainted meat or tainted government programs, we should be able to stop the problem at its source, before it can metastasize and sicken us all.

Sunday, October 7, 2012


Sunday, 8:30 AM.  35 degrees F, wind SW, light.  The sky is partly overcast with high, thin gray  clouds which are rapidly clearing.  The barometer  predicts rain but I think it will turn out to be a decent day for the big parade.
   The truck is decorated with end-of-season flower baskets. It stayed in the garage last night in case the temperature got down below freezing.  We have all had our fill of the vendors booths, and Allison and her mother had their ride on the ferris wheel on the midway (not a very tall ride, but evidently enough to fill the desires of an almost-five-year-old.  So the parade is the big event of the day, with all its floats and bands.  It usually has a few incumbent politicians and their challengers, and that will probably produce some heat on a cold day in the current election cycle.  I would just as soon they didn't show up this year, but they will, that's for sure.
   It's rather amazing how much smaller the Honda Ridgeline truck bed actually is than the Chevy Silverado; it sure holds a lot fewer flowers, but it is much more convenient and looks really nice.  I wish I could post a picture of it, but I am still having trouble with uploading Google Chrome and an operating system for my old Mac that will support it.
    Not for lack of trying, I might add.  Blog reader and occasional contributor Pat Weedon of Weedon Graphics was in town for Applefest, all the way from the Madison, Wisconsin area.  He dropped by and tried to install OSX 10.4 and do some other magic, but it seems the root of my problem is a non-functioning DVD drive.  Now I  must decide whether and when I can get that fixed.  It looks like a big job but it may be worth it. Pat explained that the eMacs are hard to work on because everything is built around what is basically a TV monitor, rather than the flat screens of today. Analogous to working on a '76 Pontiac V8, I guess, where you had to jack the car up and remove a front tire to replace the #8 spark plug. Great car, though.  Pat did install a 500MB RAM chip so at least now the old computer is a lot faster.  Thanks, Pat; a friend-in-need is a friend indeed.
      And, I had better get things fixed before I inadvertently loose more information.  I somehow clicked when I  should have clacked, and lost all my blogs back to September 19.  I have hard copy of any that I thought were decent prose, but I don't think I will bother re-posting any of them at this time. Maybe I will pick out a few and post them before the election. So, if you haven't read them, you are out of luck (or perhaps are in luck). In any case, I shall blog on.