Tuesday, May 31, 2011


My wife is having a love affair with her Wii.  She is on it first thing in the morning to weigh herself and last thing at night when she is exercising on it.  Once in a while I join her but not too often.

Last fall I turned 62.  At the time, according to the Wii, I weighed about 235 lb (106kg).  Too much.  The Wii takes great delight in proclaiming "That's obese!"  Makes you want to kick the thing.  However, in that weird thing called my brain, I figured out that I was about 35 lb (15+kg) heavier than I would like and in 36 months I would be 65 years of age.  Hmmmm, how about a gradual diet so that on my 65th birthday I would weigh 200 lb (90kg)?  So that's my plan.  Let's see if I'm still blogging by then!

Actually I'm about a third of the way to my goal already.  Just getting out and walking every day helps.  The mantra "portion control" is also helping.  I hardly ever finish a restaurant meal these days.  Either I leave it or get a doggie bag for later.  The other day we each had three leftover portions in the fridge.  Think we eat out enough?  Yeah, but we are doing it to try and keep the economy going.  Yeah, right!

A couple of interlopers I found in the back yard about 04:30 the other morning.  They were cleaning up under the bird feeder so I guess I should thank them.  They hopped off down the bunny trail before sunrise.

Have a good one!

Monday, May 30, 2011

It used to be Decoration Day....

Honestly, I think I'd forgotten that.  Of course it came back in a moment!  It's not like we aren't military around here. 

My grandfather was in the Spanish-American War in 1898 or so.
My mother's brother was in World War I in 1918 or so.
My dad was in WWII - he was a divorced man of 36 so eligible for the draft.
My father-in-law was at the Inchon invasion of Korea.
I was a veteran of the action in Vietnam though I did not serve in Vietnam.
My brother-in-law was in the navy during all the recent mid-east conflicts - he retired after 28 years service
in 2000.

I think we understand a bit about putting yourself on the line for freedom; let's give a thought or two for those who have given the ultimate price for our freedom.  

P.S. can't upload a photo because blogger is AFU.  Good story that I can share though:  went to the store the other day and bought a purple flower from the guys at the Disabled American Veteran display.  Didn't buy one for my wife knowing she was coming after me and would buy her own.  When she showed up, she had 2!!  She had found a DAV display in front of Walmart and bought one for me.  Isn't she great!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Summer Travel

My wife and I are planning our summer travels which is mostly going over to Colorado to visit friends.  On the way back we'll spend some time in various parks checking out a few of the natural wonders of the American West.  We thought we would spend most of our time in Colorado and Northern Utah.  Later on in the year we hope to make quick visits some of the places that are closer to home like Bryce and Zion Natl. Park.  Google says it is a 4 hour drive to St. George, UT from here.  We probably don't go as fast as they expect us to but it's still a day's drive;.  If you make a week of it, you have plenty of time to wander around.

We won't be going for a while yet but we get a lot of enjoyment from making plans, looking up places we might visit in guidebooks (remember them?) and on the net. There is also a certain about of staring at maps.  As the time to leave draws closer, it just becomes more fun.  If anyone has a favorite road in Colorado or a favorite park or whatever; I'd be happy to hear your ideas.

I had a list of things I wanted to fix on the trailer before using it again; now if I could only find the list!  One thing that is a no-brainer is to wax the front of the rig.  A nice coat of wax making bug removal so much easier!  And I can do it while the rig is still in it's shed, the only piece of shade in our yard.  It's not really warm here yet but the other day I was trying to clean the car windshield and the cleaner was drying on the glass before I could wipe if off!  That's just silly.

Speaking of silly; I was watching Fox News this a.m.  Yes, I know how unlike actual news their programs are but they have great weather & traffic.  That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it.  ANYWAY, there was a piece on Mark  Zuckerberg, you know, the Facebook guy.  Apparently he has started living a new diet:  he only eats what he has killed.  Hmmm, far be it from anyone to make fun of another's beliefs, but really!  They claim he's killed a chicken, a pig and a goat.  Why do I think he has someone else do the butchering?  And I guess plants don't count or is he killing his own corn and peas?  If that's what happens to your brain, I guess I'm glad I don't have all those billions!

Have a good one!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Personal Finance

I was out on the net getting my RandomRoger fix today and he referred to a Wall Street Journal article about five things a high school graduate should know about finances.  Then he went on to suggest that financial education is not supplied and as a result we are financially illiterate.  I'm not so sure that formal financial education is the answer.

First of all, personal finance is different for different people.  We have friends (our age & income group) who live in a house that is twice the size of ours.  Building that house was a choice they made; it was where they wanted to put their money.  It isn't something that I would be comfortable doing but it works for them.  Education isn't going to change their desire for the large house nor my desire for more diverse investments. 

The brand of personal finance that works for my wife and myself doesn't work for either of our children.  I suspect this is because my wife and I were brought up by parents who had lived through the Depression and WWII.  The deprivation and sacrifice that those two events brought about made our parents thrifty to say the least!  Both of our mothers re-used aluminum foil, for example.  Our children were brought up in the relatively affluent 70's and 80's.  My wife and I both worked and the kids pretty much got whatever they wanted within reason.  We 'educated' our kids to have what they wanted; happily we also educated them to work for it!

I suspect there a LOT of people who basically don't know how to handle money but I'm not sure it's something you can teach but rather it is something that must be learned; learned by living life.  I know that when I was 22 I made some mistakes; wasted quite a lot of money as a matter of fact.  Lost on my first few investments as well.  The problem is when people are living so close to financial disaster that any loss, however small, is debilitating.  If that happens when you are 25 you have plenty of time and hopefully the resilience to recover; if you are 55 your options are more limited.  It's why I'm 100% in favor of governmental old age pensions.  My wife and I are fortunate enough not to need it but there are millions who are not so fortunate.

RandomRoger talked about a couple who lives near him who have no stocks, no bonds.  But they did understand fixing houses and renting them out and saving money.  It's a different type of personal finance but it worked for them.  That's really all that matters.  If it works for you then it works.  There are no wrong answers as long as it works.

Have a good one!

Sunday, May 22, 2011


Well, we ended up moving to Verizon and getting DROID phones.  No photos because I'm facing a large learning curve!  Maybe I'll manage something later today.  My 'real' excuse is that the phone needed to be charged before I could use it.  We really wanted to stay with AT&T because we worked for them for a long time back in the day but they just would not offer us unlimited internet access.  It's HIGHLY unlikely that we would ever use much internet via that tiny screen but they wouldn't match Verizon's offer so we bailed.  Sorry but it's still the dumb company that used to be known by their unofficial slogan:  we don't care, we don't have to.  Of course Verizon is what used to be GTE & they were so bad they made AT&T look good so we'll see what happens here.  Actually I'm hoping Virgin grows into a real competitor.

On to another equally inspiring tale.  Woke up this a.m. to see our neighbor inspecting their prone mailbox.  Someone knocked it over in the night.  The first thought is a drunk with a car but there are zero tire tracks.  Then we saw something down the road.  Yep, TWO more mailboxes beat up.  Vandals apparently; why they didn't knock ours over we'll probably never know.  Maybe the fact that it is so 'normal'?  Who knows what kids think!  Maybe they heard me snoring in my recliner and thought I might come out and kick their asses.  Humph, it would take more that a little twerpy teen to wake me!  LOL

Apparently the 'end of the world' thing didn't come off; or maybe I'm contacting you from the 'other side' but anyway I feel pretty much the same.  I'm still chilly; my foot is still bruised from the other day; the dog is still a whiny beast.  No, I've got to think it's business as usual.  Works for me!  Actually, I love this world.  There are blots on the landscape, like the little twerps who knocked over the mailboxes, but they are just annoying.  We walked around the pond over at Terrible's Lakeside last night.  It's an rv park that has won awards for it's beauty.  It IS very nice and they had a ton of birds.  Ducks begging for food and many smaller birds that I couldn't name.  They even had hummingbirds going for insects in the air.  It was really cool to see them darting around. 

Quiet day planned for today:  visit from our daughter, a meal, maybe a vid.  Life in the slow lane if I've ever heard it.  Have a good one!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

The End of the World?

Give me a break!  Plus we got a  couple Jehovah's Witnesses at the door this morning to talk about it.  Jeez!

Well, if it's happening, bye.  It's been fun. 

If not, I've just wasted a few more electrons. 

We are continuing our search for smart phones today.  It's a giant pain; my wife who is a meticulous shopper at any time goes into hyper mode when we are talking about something we'll be stuck with for a couple years.  I'm just way more impulsive.  I've got to admit though, she doesn't make many purchasing errors!  Hopefully I'll be able to post a cell phone photo here by tonight.  I'll try. 

Have a good one!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Wild and Crazy!

I went all wild and crazy this afternoon and washed the car!  Talk about unheard of behavior; that is practically the definition.  I've been taking it to our local car wash of course but haven't gotten the old pail and hose out in several years at least.  The problem is that for $8 the car wash isn't getting the sides of the car clean.  The big dirt is knocked off but not the little stuff.  So I went for it.

Turns out I had some really nasty tar on the bottom of the door sills.  It took some time with a special cleaner to get rid of that crud.  And we've got two places where the paint is chipped!  Grrrr!  Well, that's what we get for living in a place where there are lots of rocks.  When heading over the hump we always find people with  rocks in their tires.

Went to a new Mexican place for lunch.  It was ok but making a return visit is questionable.  The sauce on the burrito was not as good as our regular place.  I had some chicken tacos; that chicken seemed like it had been through a food processor.  That's not a nice consistency!  Also it seemed like they weren't seasoning their food very well.  The chicken was just chicken; the rice was just that; I guess there was a kitchen problem that is most likely endemic.  Guess we'll have to go to the old place.

Had some leftover cajun roast for dinner.  There was a guy named Justin Wilson who had a cooking show back many years ago.  Justin loved being Cajun and his food reflected that love.  We bought both his cook books and I love making this roast.  It's a  chuck roast with lots of jalapeno, cayenne and wine:  what's not to like!  Justin died many years ago but I raise a glass to his memory every time we have some of his food.

After dinner we went out to the patio to enjoy the evening.  It was a pretty quiet evening for us; sometimes we are busy solving the worlds problems but tonight it was just enjoying the beauty of the evening.  We had finches, sparrows and mourning doves joining us.  Considering that there was a dog and a cat hanging out with us on the patio I thought that showed plenty of courage.  Or maybe they recognize a creaky dog and a lazy house cat when they see them.  Don't know but no feathers were harmed during the evening.

Hope you had a lovely and peaceful day.  Take care!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

What's going on??

We've got unusual things going on in the valley; not just the normal stuff.  We have a couple days of warm weather then a few of colder than normal.  A couple days of windy weather then a couple days of calm.  There is a lot of 'sabre rattling' in the normal way of things but not much actual violence.  It's not unusual to go into the grocery store and see some guy my age wearing a handgun on his belt.  Not this week.  No, this week I had a deputy come up to the door and ask if I'd heard any gunfire or loud cars lately.  Hmmm.  No, sorry, I had to reply.  If any low-lifes had been playing shoot-em-up, I didn't hear it.  Oh well, I've always preferred life in the slow lane.

Speaking thereof, I've been reading how TIPS bonds have been screwing their purchasers several ways from Sunday.  How's that for ugly?  Not only are you getting no return but the value of the bond is going down.  Here I was actually thinking of buying some.  Guess lethargic is the best reaction after all. 

Talked to our neighbor yesterday as a reaction to the sheriff's visit.  They revealed that they have a gun in the house that 'looks like' a real gun.  Jeez, if that isn't asking for trouble.  Break into a house insured by Smith and Wesson and you'll probably leave feet first; break into a house insured by BB and Associates and the home owner might just precede you.  NOT a good result for the good guys.  Just for the record, my wife shoots better than I do but I did get my marksmanship badge.

A couple of months ago we were talking with the guys who run our ISP and discovered that our router was semi-broken.  Last week we bought a new N-series router.  Today we managed to get it installed.  Not to hope that things will be faster but at least we shouldn't have any delays on our side of the tracks!  It DID take a call to our ISP to get the thing going but that's the joy of living in a small town:  we know where they live so they are really great with customer service!  (See para above re shooting on our street!)  Really, they have been great with service from day 1!  Go AirInternet!  I've got to give them a 5 out of 5 in every way.

Talked to a friend today who's son has had a child with an alcoholic.  It makes you thankful for normal life.  The kid is facing having to take his child away from it's mother for it's own good.  Imagine coming home from work at 15:00, finding your partner drunk in bed and your child not having eaten all day.  It's a classical definition of the need for Child Protective Services.  If that young man cannot take on the roll of single father, that child really needs to go into care.  It's ugly, ugly, ugly anyway you look at it.  Here's hoping he can make some lemonade from those lemons! 

Have a good one!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Woof! It's been almost a week.

So much for that blogging every day thing.  It looks like every-other day is kind of out the window too.  Oh well!  I'll try to do better, honestly.

We've been wandering back and forth to Vegas quite a bit.  We went in on a shopping trip early last week; mostly just the usual stuff that we don't find here.  However on our last trip, my ophthalmologist suggested I might try wearing glasses for a while.  I didn't find anything I liked here at home so went into Vegas.  We found some at PearleVision.  They said it would take about a week, that was Tuesday.  Then on Thursday I got a call saying  my new glasses are ready!  Ok, guess it works for me; so we went back over the hump on Friday.  I got the glasses and managed to find a new router for our home system and a few other things.  Amazing how things just seem to fall off the shelf into one's cart, huh?

So now I have a new pair of glasses.  I thought you didn't have this joy once you'd had cataracts removed but I need something.  Unfortunately these glasses aren't the thing I need!  They do almost nothing for my sight so I'm headed over the hill a few more times over the next couple months before we get this straightened out.  The doctor did say this was the 'conservative' strategy so next step is getting some kind of laser treatment.  We'll see when I can squeeze that into my busy schedule!

The odd weather I've been commenting on is continuing.  One day we'll be near a record high; next day our high will be a low record (if you know what I mean).  We are getting quite a bit of wind as well.  Since I don't have to shovel it or put up sand bags to keep it out I guess it's all good.

I was looking for some new international investments and keep finding things that just don't do much for me.  I love reading Random Roger; he seems to have a different prospective from my own so his take on things is always interesting.  He's interested in not 'going down a lot' where I am more interested in a slow steady climb knowing that I'll be down at times.  I see the possibility that our investments will need to fund our lifestyle for another 30 years.  We can't afford to be too safe or inflation, even moderate inflation, will eat our lunch!  It's an interesting problem that I need to get at least somewhat right.

Is it just me or is the pace of change increasing?  It seems like every time something new comes on the scene, it becomes old sooner.  Five years ago GPS and iPods were all the rage.  Today your smart phone does both of those things.  And this laptop is clearly so last generation.  Personally I'm still happy with distinct units but am I just hiding my head in the sand?  I don't know.  Call me when the computer can be integrated with my brain directly without the use of my eyes and fingers.  Plug me in!

Gotta go.  Have a good one.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Quiet Day

This has definitely been a quiet day.  Spent much of it searching for foreign investments.  I'm convinced that investing outside the U.S. will be a mainstay of our future prosperity.  It probably will never get to be even 25% of our portfolio but I wouldn't be surprised to see it at 20%.  Another thought is that many of our current investments are multinational corporations; for example, I've owned Merck (MRK) for years.  Even Paccar (PCAR) earns quite a lot of it's income from overseas.  Now if our corporate tax structure was such that they could bring some of those profits home....  Yeah, I know, I'm dreaming again.

We did manage our 40 minute walk in the desert.  I was kind of surprised because sometimes it takes the desert a while to dry out but it was just fine.  As always, our eyes stray to the mountains that surround the valley.  Do you wonder?
This was taken just as the morning light was washing down the mountain.  Two or three minutes later the entire mountain was lit.  Even rock can be beautiful.

After the rain from the other day we have more snow on the mountains east of here.  I'm thinking it is late in the year for snow but it works for us.  This may be a desert but we need SOME water!

Short post today.  Have a good one!

Monday, May 09, 2011

Weather Report

From a weather prospective we've had an interesting day in the valley today.  My wife and I walked this morning about 06:15.  There was a huge black cloud covering the mountain to our east; and the cloud was heading our way.  We wanted to walk but walking out in the desert in the rain didn't appeal.  We decided to go out just a ways into the desert then make our way to hard surfaced roads.  That worked ok, we walked a touch over 2 miles (3.2km) about 2/3rds of which was hard surfaces.  (When the desert gets wet, it gets muddy to the point that 4x4 vehicles get stuck.)

After breakfast I went outside to post a letter about 10:00 - it was a beautiful day!  The black cloud dispersed and we had a beautiful partly cloudy day.  Blue sky and white clouds; it was just perfect.  We decided to go out to lunch.  It was spitting rain as we drove into town.  We ate then headed for the supermarket.  When we came out it was breezy and raining.  It rained all the way home.  Hmmm.

Now at 16:00 it is blue sky and fluffy white clouds again.  But there are heavier clouds over the Eastern mountains.  Well, if it rains up there no one is going to complain.  That water will enter the aquifer at some point and will fill our well eventually.  And down here on the floor of the valley no one is going to complain about another bit of rain.  How much?  Hard to measure but you can be sure that you couldn't float a stick the diameter of a pencil in it.

As you can tell, I didn't do much today.  I've been looking at diversifying our portfolio into commodities.  It just doesn't seem like a good time to go there; things are up 100% even more.  Sounds like I'm late to the party.  No problem, everything is cyclical.  I remember a guy buying gold coins at $800 each; the same coins that are now worth twice that.  I couldn't afford them or I might have thought of doing it as well.  The only problem is that he was doing it in about 1980.  30 years is a long time to wait for a return on your money.  Maybe I'll find something to buy tomorrow.  I can always dream.

Have a good one!

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Interesting weather

It's 65F (18C) right now in Pahrump and windy.  The wind picks up enough dirt that it makes the mountains look kind of foggy and when the sun breaks through the mountain can almost look like it has snow on it.  Amazing!  The wind is blowing and whistling at the open window like a winter snow storm; but the window IS open.  We won't get too warm today and it's supposed to be even cooler tomorrow but by Wednesday we'll be back in the low 80's F (27 C). 

I was talking with one of the neighbors last night.  He told me proudly how his dog had caught and killed a rabbit while on his leash!  I don't know about you but I have my dog on a leash for a reason.  Letting it behave like that strikes me as weird at best.  I can see where a dog would like to hunt a rabbit but while you are taking the dog for a walk?  On a leash?  Nah, just doesn't compute for me.

Our daughter is coming over to cook lunch/dinner for her mother for Mother's Day.  It should be interesting; she was talking about bringing lobster.  She brought salmon one time and we decided she can't select a good salmon to save her.  Let's see what she can do about selecting lobster.  Should be interesting at least.  Actually, I"m wondering if she has ever prepared lobster!

She is also worried about her weight so is not drinking alcohol.  We said we could forgo it as well so that will add another twist.  It will be the first dinner we've had with her in years where wine will not be on the table.  My folks never had alcohol with meals but somewhere in my twenty's or thirty's I decided wine improved a meal and we've had it ever since.  Not a lot, but a glass or two. 

Well, Happy Mother's Day to all you mothers out there.  Have a good one.

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Working at something....

Today turned into a work day; yes, actual physical work!   It started more normally; my wife and I took our morning walk.  We had been good at walking a couple miles a day but stopped while it was so cold.  We are finally getting back into it.  Today was only about 1.75 miles (2.8km) but it gives you a good start for the day.  We went out for breakfast then got to work.

I vacuumed the house (yes, Virginia, men can run vacuum cleaners!).  Then went on my continuing hunt for weeds.  Killing the weeds means walking up and down the length of the back yard with a sprayer full of goop.  I actually walk along a straight line from the back wall to the end of the weeds be that 100 feet or whatever.  The hardest part is trying to walk a straight line!  Used half a gallon (2 l) of weed killer.  While out there I discovered some of the insulation is missing from our water pump/piping; another job for the job jar.  Then I hit the front yard.  It needs checking but for some reason has far fewer weeds than the back.  Perhaps we did a better job in the front last year therefore there are fewer seeds.  Whatever it's not bad.  I discovered that the cactus that we thought only survived the winter is having a new sprout.  That's him sticking our horizontally in the left part of the photo.  Friendly looking little guy, huh?

Mother's Day is tomorrow here in the U.S.  It's one of those holidays manufactured to sell cards and flowers.  People seem to like it though.  We went out to brunch one time; never again!  Loud, crowded, lousy food, lousy service - it was just a disaster.  We've never gone out on a holiday again!  I've been drafted to create a mushroom/cream cheese omelet for the lady of the house for breakfast (her favorite).  Our daughter will be over later with some food and she & I will be the chefs.  How do I get drafted into these things!

Gotta go.  Have a good one!

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Hats off to SEAL Team 6

I was kind of negative yesterday about the death of Osama Bin Laden.  Well, that's because I figure that terrorist groups are not just going to go away because a leader, possibly their most important leader, has been killed.  Someone new will take over & we'll have some new terror threat.  Still, you've got to give those folks in SEAL Team 6 credit.  They did a hellova job!

To go into that compound showed a lot of guts.  To lose a helicopter wouldn't be much fun!  To take the compound killing anyone who stood in your way is mind-boggling.  To do it all without a causality is fabulous.  Team 6 is getting all the glory today and rightly so but I have to applaud all the men and women in our military.  They are doing a fantastic job.  I'm just looking forward to lots and lots of them coming home in one piece pretty soon here.

Late last month we had a military training mission here in the valley.  There was a lot more air traffic than usual but I didn't personally see anything else.  The reason for being here was that this area supposedly looks like Afghanistan.  Hmmmm.  Not sure if we've been insulted or what.  I do know that if the idiots on the town board start looking for an advertising slogan I'm NOT going to submit "It's like Afghanistan but without the poppies!" 

We do have a certain number of people who really want their privacy.  Nothing like Bin Laden's compound but we just don't have that kind of money!  People will have a stand of bamboo that is 10 feet deep around their property.  Of course bamboo does grow pretty tall so you really can't see into their little area.  Then there are the ones who built their homes before there was any regulation.  People do some amazing stuff when left on their own.  There is one that has what looks like a swamp cooler up in a tower.  Another guy has ringed his entire property with old trucks and buses.  They aren't for sale, he's got a sign saying that, and it looks like a truck graveyard but I think the real use is to keep people from prying.  I don't know about you but I just don't want to live in a wrecking yard! 

There is one house that has a pretty impressive wooded fence completely around the back half of the property.  The front yard is all parking lot.  They are 'swingers' and get a bunch out of Las Vegas to visit and 'play' on a regular basis.  Here in Southern Nevada it's all good.  Sure makes me want to buy stock in a condom company!

Have a good one!

Monday, May 02, 2011

Osama - RIP

Well, after almost ten years and who could even guess how many billions of dollars, Osama Bin Laden is dead.  Who really gives a fuck?  It's not going to bring back even one of the 5,000 plus men and women who have died looking for him.  It's not going to put a leg or an arm back on any of the many more thousands of men and women who have been injured.  All it means is there is someone else running some terror group.  Gee.

In other news, nothing much happened.  At least not in our paper.  Well, maybe now we can bring our troops home from Afghanistan and Iraq and let the local chieftains get on with their power struggles.  In Iraq what are we doing?  First we are giving the local religious zealots a nice 'Christian' target and secondly we are trying to keep the locals from killing each other.  I'm really tired of religious wars and I'm really tired of having our troops being in countries where we haven't been invited.  Bring the troops back home and let the locals do whatever they are going to do to one another.

Here's a link to Charlie Reese's article about Afghanistan.  Charlie is one of my icons.  He was a writer for various newspapers; he's retired now.  (I'm hoping he is still alive and well!)  I enjoyed his columns in the Orlando Sentinal in the 1980's when we lived in Orlando, FL.  I was still enjoying them in 2008 when we were living in Palm Harbor, FL.  Charlie thought that we in the U.S. are blessed to be living here and that we ought to expend our energy on making this an even better place to be rather than running around trying to be policeman for the world.  He thought that if people in some far away land wanted to kill each other, it was just fine to let them do that.  The more I think about it, the more I agree with that idea.  So when you Aussies start fighting over which is the better beer, don't expect the U.S. to come & try to keep you apart.  If you couldn't tell, I'm damn tired of paying in blood and money for other people's problems.

Have a good one folks, it's a tough world out there.