Sunday, December 20, 2009

Sunday afternoon random thoughts

So this past week we had a forecast for snow today. First it was going to be a dusting to an inch, while the Mid-Atlantic region would get hammered. As the week wore on, the forecast kept getting more and more dire. By the time I got home from work Saturday night, we were expecting as much as a foot of new snow. So what did we get?..... An inch. And the Mid-Atlantic got hammered. The weatherman should have quit while he was ahead.

Now, some random thoughts from this week's headlines.

First, Tiger. Basically, who cares? The man can play golf. The man can finagle a bunch of great advertising gigs. But that doesn't mean he was smart enough to figure out the first rule of survival: Don't piss off your wife!

And there are reports that he paid some of his partners in extra-curricular activities as much as $20k a month to keep quiet. Obviously, it wasn't enough.

Next, there was an item in last Sunday's Boston Globe about a principal who banned the word 'meep' from his high school. Apparently, the students were using it constantly, against the requests of faculty and staff, to the point of disrupting education. Well, obviously this principal never had kids of his own or he would have known that if he ever wanted to do anything to perpetuate the use of the word 'meep' (used in both the context of Beaker of Sesame Street and the Roadrunner of cartoon fame), banning the use of the word would do it. These are kids. It's in their genetic makeup to do things that annoy adults. And if they know it annoys them, all the better. Just ignore it and it will go away. Just like goldfish swallowing, DA haircuts, Beatle haircuts, Valley Girl speak and all the other silly things kids have been doing all their lives.

There was the story of a rescue effort in Oregon in the middle of the week. Some hikers were lost on Mount Hood and the body of one of them had been found. But conditions had worsened so that the search for the other two had to be put on hold. That got me to thinking. I know everyone has their own hobbies and some people need the challenge of overcoming great obstacles to feel fulfilled. But when that person's hobby starts to endanger the lives of others, I have to say, 'Wait a minute. What gives you the right?' The caring side of me wants to say I don't want to stand around and do nothing when someone is dying up there on that mountain. But the cynical side of me says, 'Well what do you expect? It's a mountain over 11,000' high in December in North America. If you decide to hike up it and things go wrong, why do you think a bunch of other people are gonna want to hike up looking for you?' I'm torn on this one. But I do hope the cost of the rescue effort is billed to 'em.

And my favorite headline this week: "22 million missing Bush White House e-mails found" Well, I'm shocked, SHOCKED that it is even possible that 22 million e-mails went missing. Of course, the spin doctors got to work on this right away, saying that the e-mails were found while Bush was still in office. That may be, since the law-suit that instigated the search for them was filed while he was in office, but it is just now being settled, which is why it is news now. But the best part of the story are some of the quotes from the article, which had me doing the proverbial ROTFLMAO:

'Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., said the Bush administration had been dismissive of congressional requests that the administration recover the e-mails. Leahy said it was "another example of the Bush administration's reflexive resistance to congressional oversight and the public's right to know." '

'Meredith Fuchs, general counsel to the National Security Archive, said "many poor choices were made during the Bush administration and there was little concern about the availability of e-mail records despite the fact that they were contending with regular subpoenas for records and had a legal obligation to preserve their records."'

' "We may never discover the full story of what happened here," said Melanie Sloan, CREW's executive director. "It seems like they just didn't want the e-mails preserved." '

'Sloan said the latest count of misplaced e-mails "gives us confirmation that the Bush administration lied when they said no e-mails were missing." '

Every time I read those paragraphs, I want to say something. But nothing I can think of is any near as funny as the quotes themselves. All I can say is 'Congratulations to all us for surviving those eight years. It was tough, but we made it! Barely!'

Friday, November 27, 2009

Good music is good, regardless of style

Recently, my son gave me an album he had created from downloads he had purchased from iTunes. They have an entire category called "Pickin' on..." which are bluegrass arrangements of many classic rock and popular songs. The album was fantastic! It just goes to show that it's not just not the style of music that makes it good, it's the music itself. It just reinforced what I always thought about music: I don't have a particular favorite style. I like all music - if it's good.

The same idea was commercialized some years ago when there were a series of popular albums called "Hooked on Classics". Listening to them now, they seem a little hokey, what with the synthesized rock beat, but they showed a similar point. People that 'won't listen to classical music because it's too boring' WILL listen to it if is 'transposed' into a format they're familiar with.

Another example of this is the MTV (or was it VH1) series called Unplugged that was on a few years ago. One of the all-time classic rock songs was 'Layla' by Derek & The Dominoes. Years later, when Eric Clapton re-did it on Unplugged, it became a classic version by itself. It's just a good song. Period.

I have a gift card for iTunes that I plan to use to build another album of blue grass versions of rock favorites. It WILL include 'Layla'.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Would she even qualify for a TV reality show?

Lipstick on a rogue - The Boston Globe

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'At the same time, even women who are profoundly tired of the fact that we have to be overqualified to win are turned off by a celebrity pol who still will not admit she was wildly underqualified.'

Like I said the other day, she just doesn't get the fact that she just doesn't get it!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Won't she PLEASE just go away?

Her real problem is that she just doesn't get the fact that she just doesn't get it!

For Palin, reality goes rogue - The Boston Globe

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Thursday, October 29, 2009

Better than Teflon

Ever notice how waxy new-fallen leaves feel? Well, when they break off the tree and when they hit the ground, minute amounts of that wax are broken loose to cover every thing. Multiply that by millions of leaves and pretty soon you're talking about quite a waxy buildup.

Now trains obviously run with steel wheels on steel rails, which sounds like there wouldn't be a lot of friction to create traction. But with the high concentration of weight on a very small point of contact, it works. Older diesel locomotives have an adhesion ratio of about 25%, meaning that the wheels won't slip until the tractive force reaches about 25% of the weight on the wheels. Newer locomotives with more sophistocated anti-wheelslip systems can reach an adhesion ration of as much as 40%. But in the fall, add a little water to that waxy buildup on the rails, and adhesion can drop below 10%. It can get real fun trying to haul a freight train up a hill this time of year. I've had instances where just putting the locomotive in gear, without even opening the throttle, has caused runaway wheelslips. Look out the window and you're barely moving, but look at the speedometer and it says 40 or 50 or more. Kind of like trying to drive a car on glare ice.

Leaf wax plus a little rain or frost. I'm telling you, it's better than Teflon.

Now the funny part is that every year, this comes as a surprise to the railroad. Every year, the leaves fall. Every year, some time during that 2-3 week period when the leaves are falling, it's either gonna be mild and rainy or cold and frosty. And every year, for the first couple days like this, trains stall on the hills. Every year, the railroad reacts by adding more locomotives to the trains. But even so, the engineers have to be light on the throttle, as too much torque just causes more wheelslip. So every year, the dispatching office wants to know why we're losing time in the hilly sections. The only part about this that surprises me is that it surprises the railroad ... EVERY YEAR!

Wait 'til they see what falls out of the sky in December! And that will be just as much of a surprise!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Cn u rd ths?

In my line of work, I spend a LOT of time in hotels. Probably 90% of that time is during the day. It's not easy but I've gotten used to sleeping during the day. Sometimes there are a lot of noises that try to wake me up.

I can deal with guests who talk in the hallways, not thinking that there might be some people trying to sleep. After all, 99% of the world actually does something crazy, like sleep at night! I can deal with the traffic on the street. I can deal with occasional work projects, both in and out of the hotel. I can deal with a high school cheerleading squad practicing in the parking lot on Saturday morning before a state tournament.

I CAN'T deal with guests who are still partying at 4 AM when I am checking in. I CAN'T deal with a pack of junior high school age boys playing hide-and-seek unsupervised in the hallways of all three wings of the hotel. I can't deal with housekeeping staff that can't keep their voices down in the hallways.

And I ESPECIALLY can't deal with housekeeping staff that knock on my door at noon to ask if I need housekeeping services when I have a 'Do Not Disturb' sign hanging on the door! And then knocking three or four times if I don't answer. What part of 'Do Not Disturb' don't you understand!!!!!!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Back to the grind...

Last week was my annual October vacation week. Since we are assigned vacation requests in seniority order, the first year I worked for the railroad, I was assigned the first full week in October for vacation. Because I love the weather this time of year, I have taken, by choice, this week every year since.

This year we chose to head north to the far reaches of New Hampshire for a couple days. We stayed at a lodge that overlooks First Connecticut Lake in Pittsburg. While the weather wasn't the greatest, the leaves were right at their peak in that area.

We did a little letterboxing on the way up while going through Franconia Notch. By the time we got to Pittsburg, it was already getting dark, which made it a little late for moose-watching. (They're still out after dark, but they're much harder to spot... and much easier to hit with a car: not a good thing for ALL involved.) So after checking in at the lodge, we headed north on US3 to an area known as Moose Alley, between First and Second Connecticut Lakes.

Before long, we saw the first sign we were in a high-moose-activity area: two pair of long, black skid marks at the top of a rise in the road. Only a trucker standing on the brakes after suddenly finding a moose in the road can make that mark. Sure enough, right after that, we saw the next sign: a car headed in the opposite direction stopped in the middle of the road (even though there are signs stating "No stopping on pavement" every couple hundred feet) with the high-beams on. Now the first rule of moose-watching is that when you see this, you slow WAY down or even stop, until you find out where the moose they are looking at is. I stopped, and after my eyes adjusted to the ultra-high-intensity high beams the nimnul heading south refused to dim, I realized it was the right thing to do. Not 20 feet in front of the car were the silhouettes of both bull and cow moose in our lane, just standing there people watching. I occasionally saw a flash of light from the other car, so I imagine they got some good photographs of my headlights. We were not able to get any photos, but here is one of a young bull we took a few hundred yards north of this same spot three summers ago.
After those two moose headed off into the woods, we drove on a couple miles, turned around and headed back into town for supper.

Next morning, we were a little slow getting started, but then again, that's what vacations are for, right? We went to breakfast at the Happy Corner Cozy Cafe. When we walked in, the first thing we saw was the specials board, which listed Pumpkin Waffles. Now, if you know Patty, you know she likes anything pumpkin, so this was going to make for a very short read of the menu for her. So after the waitress poured our coffee, conversation quickly turned to the specials. But the waitress couldn't remember if she had written Pumpkin Waffles or Pumpkin Pancakes on the blackboard. As she walked away to check, I jokingly made the comment that it wouldn't really matter as Patty would have eaten the pumpkin if it was just smeared on the plate plain. The waitress returned saying it was indeed Pumplkin Waffles on the menu. Patty said that made it all the better, so that's what she wanted. I could see it coming and sure enough, the waitress responded, "Oh, that's too bad. We're all out." Just as Patty's jaw dropped, the waitress said, "Gotcha!" They were huge and they were delicious. As for me, I had a handful of cholesterol: a corned beef hash, egg and cheese sandwich on toasted home-made whole wheat bread. That made us both good until suppertime.

Just down the road is the original family house of the family that runs the general store, Cozy Cafe and the cabins across the road. Behind that house is a lovely covered bridge over Perry Stream, which feeds into the Connecticut River just out of view.

We then just prowled around Pittsburg and Dixville and a couple other little towns in northern Coos County. Of course, there were some letterboxes to look for, including two of a series about the 45th parallel. Half-way to see Santa!

In Dixville, just east of the notch, we pulled off into a nature viewing area just after a rain shower. The mist coming up out of the woods was really neat.
Just up the road from there, we found a little waterfall called the Baby Flume.

From there, we headed west into Colebrook, where there is another waterfall, Beaver Brook Falls

and we stopped in a gift shop for a little while. Mostly shirts, but run by a very nice woman who just moved up there from Marblehead, MA. After that, just some more touring around through Island Pond, VT and then back up to Norton, where met our friends, Kathy and Dick, for dinner. On the way, we saw a huge flock of turkeys in the middle of a field, but they're not ones for staying around for pictures very long.

Norton, VT is where the St. Lawrence & Atlantic Railway crosses the US/Canada border and just as we met Kathy and Dick, the southbound was arriving at the border. Of course, our patient wives let us go watch.

That large angled wand on a pole on the far side of the train in this photo is actually some sort of high-powered scanner that they use while the train pulls slowly by. This, of course, is after the customs agents check the papers for the train and the crew.

After a very nice dinner, we headed off back to Pittsburg for the evening, but saw no more moose.

The third day, we checked out of the lodge, talked with several other guests (and their dogs) as they were all getting ready to go out hunting. It turns out that grouse (which northerners call partridge) and woodcock season had opened the day before. We went into the center of Pittsburg and had breakfast at the general store there. Where else? Of course, that meant a lot of browsing after, but we had no set schedule.

Eventually we headed south, stopping at Franconia Notch again for some more letterboxes we had passed up on the way north.

From there we drove part the way across the Kancamagus Highway from Lincoln, NH looking both at the leaves and for letterboxes. Naturally, the sun started coming out just before we had to start heading home.

All in all, a nice few days away. The rest of the week was just little things, both relaxing and chore-like around the house. Then, yesterday, the cruelest part of all: back to work.

Oh, well. Next vacation is only 3 weeks away.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Looking for Tupperware in the woods

One of my hobbies is letterboxing. For those that do not know what that is, let me explain a little.

"Letterboxing, at its basic, is a like a treasure hunt type game. Small boxes are hidden in various locations—usually outdoors, though many are planted indoors as well—and the creator of the box will release clues so others can go out and find them later. The box is expected to have a logbook that finders can log into and a unique stamp, usually hand-carved, that the finder can stamp into their own personal logbook as a record of all the letterboxes they've found. Most letterboxers have a unique stamp to represent themselves, called a signature stamp, they stamp into the logbooks found inside letterboxes so others who find the letterbox later know they found it." Atlas Quest web-site

There are many web-sites devoted to this hobby, but two of the most popular are Atlas Quest ( and Letterboxing North America (usually referred to as LbNA)( The two web-sites co-exist and, as is usual among hobbyists, both have their followings. In fact, many letterboxes are listed on both sites or cross-referenced from one site to the other. Much useful information about the hobby can be gleaned from those two sites.

Letterboxing actually evolved from a man named James Perrot leaving his calling card in a bottle at Cranmere Pool on Dartmoor in England in late 1854, and invited friends to find it. Later someone replaced the bottle with a tin box where visitors could leave self-addressed post-cards for subsequent visitors to mail back. Hence, the name letterboxing. Since then, Dartmoor has become the 'Mecca' of the letterboxing world. It really began to take off in the United States when the Smithsonian Magazine ran an article about the Dartmoor boxers in 1994.

While there are some purists for whom letterboxing refers only to the actual planting or finding of hidden boxes, there are others off-shoot activities such as letterboxer gatherings, exchanges, letterbox trading cards, postal rings and even virtual letterboxes.

Many letterboxers are also stamp carvers. Some of the letterboxers I have met both in person and on-line are 'blow-your-mind-away' artists. Recently, I've tried my hand at carving some stamps, and while I don't consider myself an artist at it yet, I do admit I'm getting better at it. Here is an image of the latest stamp I completed:

The tools I used are an X-acto knife and a set of Speed-Ball linoleum carving gouges. In fact, other than the hollow plastic handle instead of the wood handle, these are the same gouges that my brother used to do linoleum block carving back when he was in junior high (He let me make one with his stuff back then.). As I keep working at it, I'll post some more images later.

The other thing about letterboxing that attracts me is that the search for these hidden boxes (and actually, Tupperware is not the preferred brand of containers for hiding the stamps and logbooks in; the title phrase is from a discussion on one of the sites) often takes me to places I'd never go to otherwise. A few months ago, my wife Patty and I went on vacation in Arizona and New Mexico. We thought we'd take along the clues to find "one or two" boxes. It turned out we did nothing but look for boxes and ended up finding almost 50 in the one week we were there. We went on a lot of back roads and saw a lot of things we wouldn't have seen if we had just stuck with the books from the Dept. of Tourism. We also met eight very nice letterboxers that were only just bytes in cyberspace to us before this trip.

I've only been involved with this hobby for about a year and a half, but I can see that my interest in it will last for quite a while.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The musical fruit

Fall is coming and it's time to dig out the cooler weather recipes. One of my many cookbooks is one I got this past summer from America's Test Kitchen called The Cook's Illustrated Guide to Grilling and Barbecue. I've used it a lot over the past couple months.

One of the chapters is about side dishes to go with all that luscious meat. In that chapter is a recipe for Boston style baked beans, which while they go good with barbecue, the long baking time puts a lot of heat in a summer kitchen. It looked very intriguing in that they don't require you to soak the beans overnight first. (One of the things I like about America's Test Kitchen publications is that not only do they do a lot of experimenting to make the recipes come out right, they explain the results and why a test did or did not work. I'm always fascinated by how things work.)

So this simple recipe involved rendering some salt pork and bacon, softening an onion in that fat and then adding water, dry beans, molasses, brown mustard and salt. Nothing else. Bake for about 5-6 hours and voila! They came out very, very good. The only thing is... they were, shall we say, potent. Thank heavens I don't work in a tightly closed environment! While they were much less work than other recipes I've tried, I'm wondering if I should blend the recipe with another one I have that involves soaking in such a manner to turn down the volume of the music.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Planning ahead

Last night, I attended a retirement party for a close friend of mine that is retiring at the end of the month. I am SO jealous. Dick is like a brother to me (which only makes sense; he's a month older than my own brother) since we have so many common interests.

His retirement has gotten me to thinking about what I want to do when I retire, which if all goes according to plan, should be in about 4 years.

So here's a list of the things I'd like to do after retirement:

Move to a rural location - We've talked about Vermont, but western Massachusetts has it attraction as well. I'd like a place with about an acre of land, maybe a little more, that has some attraction to a wooded area, so that there is a chance of seeing wildlife in the yard. A place that has a sunny area to have a vegetable garden. I'll probably have lots of flowers, too. A mountain view or a broad valley view would be nice, but not necessary. Heat will be provided primarily by a wood stove. The kind that takes real logs, not wood pellets. I want the ambience that comes from the occasional wisp of smoke that escapes and reminds you where the heat is coming from.

The place will have to have a large, well laid-out kitchen. I love to cook and can't wait to try some of the many recipes I've found that take more time and effort. It's tough cooking for two, but lately we've found that it's just as easy to cook for 6-8 and freeze the leftovers for other, more hurried days. I'll probably keep that up, but I'll change 'hurried' to 'lazy'.

I want to preserve the produce from the garden; make pickles, can string beans, tomatoes, freeze berries. There's just something about the fact that later in the year, when using these products, knowing that they came from your own labor, makes them better than anything bought at the store.

Travel a bit - I love to fly, but unfortunately, that costs money, but I'm sure I could afford it once in a while. In the meantime, we've suddenly come across the idea of getting a 'teardrop' trailer. That's more than a pop-up tent trailer, but not all the way up to being a travel trailer. In most that we have seen, the galley is under a hinged awning that opens up from the rear of the trailer, so that using it is outdoors, but under a cover. In considering this, a nice pick-up truck with a cover over the bed to hold all the incidentals that go along with a camping trip would be nice to pull the trailer with.

There are so many places we'd like to go in the United States and Canada that it's almost impossible to start naming them. And most of them aren't 'tourist destinations', just some place I'd like to visit. Seattle, the northern plains states, the plains provinces, Prince Edward Island, Louisiana, parts of Texas, British Columbia. Oh, the list could go on forever. Not to mention, returning to Scotland, southern Germany and the southern parts of England we never got to on our previous trips over the Atlantic.

Obviously, I plan on reading. I do that now, but I'll have time to do even more. I'd like to take some college courses. Some of the things that I'm interested in are the same subjects that I hated when I was in school before: History, particularly 20th century; Math, another try at figuring out what is so confusing to me about Trig and Calculus, perhaps even some classic Literature.

I think I'll also have time to improve my skill at stamp-carving. After doing letterboxing for a year, I started carving some of my own stamps. It's easy to do, but hard to do well. And some of the work I've seen others do just blows me away.

And mostly, I want to just sit and watch the weather, the change of the seasons, the birds on the feeders and just reflect on life and how good it's been to me.

New member of the family

At the end of August, we lost an old and trusted friend. Our Golden Retriever, Cinnamon, had been a part of our lives for 13 years. But just like us, old dogs don't last forever. We had to say goodbye.
We had already decided that the hole in our hearts would be re-filled with another dog when the time was right. So after much searching at shelters (it's so much easier now with the internet) we found Agatha.

Aggie is about 10 months old and was born in Puerto Rico. We got her from the Worcester Animal Rescue League, which is one of the many outlets that Save-A-Sato (a rescue league in PR) uses to find homes for the many street dogs they round up.

According the nice letter we got with her, she was orphaned when her mother was hit by a car and was not being well cared for. That's all changed now.

She has made friends with our three cats (actually two are ours and the other is a long-term boarder that belongs to our son and his daughter) and has already become Mom's shadow. Her training is a little rough around the edges, but she does behave well, for a youngster.

Today, she became 'legal' as I went to City Hall and got her licensed. On the way home, I surprised her (and Mom) by stopping by Petco and getting her a new red collar to accent her jet-black coat. With the license and the rabies tag jingling, she just looks so proud.

I think she'll fit in here real well.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

New employment opportunities

So, yesterday, while standing at a service counter with my son, we were noticing and commenting on the fact that on the TV's that were on to entertain the customers waiting for their number to be called were all tuned to FoxNews. After we made a few snide remarks about why FoxNews and not CNN or MSNBC or any other news outlets, comments which may be fodder for another of my rants, we both noticed that reporting from the field in Afghanistan was one Col. Oliver North (ret.).

Immediately what popped into my head was a new addition to an old adage I have heard:

"Them that can, do. Them that can't, teach. Them that are experts, but got fired or resigned and now can't find work doing what they did, become expert reporters."

Think about how many ex-NFL head coaches are on ESPN and CBS Sports now. How many ex-MLB managers and general managers are on the sports shows as well. And Ollie North ain't the only expert reporter on network news. Am I wrong?

Friday, September 11, 2009

Some things never change.

I saw this quote just the other day in a book I'm reading. I wondered if it were something I wanted to say something about, but I couldn't figure what. Then Rep. Joe Wilson of South Carolina opened his mouth and bingo! It hit me that some things just never change.

"It looked to me as though those men were saying to the country as a whole, 'we are Republicans first. We represent you here in Congress not as citizens of the U.S. in a period of crisis, but as members of a political party which seeks primarily to promote its own partisan interests.' This is to me shocking and terrifying. There was running through my mind as I watched them, in what would have been an act of childish spite, if it had not been such a serious moment in history, the lines of a song which was popular when I was young: 'I don't want to play in your yard. I don't love you any more."

Eleanor Roosevelt, My Day January 6, 1941

Now, I'm not saying that the Democrats are all lily-white and innocent, but it sure seems to me that the Republicans sure have a thing for saying 'No' just for the sake of it. If a Democrat pointed out that the sun comes up in the east, you could probably get a complete episode from Rush Limbaugh explaining why that's just liberal untruth. It's almost as if ER had known Rush 10 years before he was born!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

This will only hurt a little bit.

$2.3 billion = Fine against pharmaceutical giant Pfizer for improperly marketing prescription drugs -- the largest settlement of its kind in US history.

TIME Sept. 14, 2009 edition.

Shares of Pfizer (PFE 16.21, -0.18, -1.10%) were down a fraction Wednesday morning, after the Justice Department announced what it said was the largest health-care-fraud settlement in the agency's history. 9/2/09

Now, I don't know everything about stocks and investing, but if a company has to pay a nagging little fine of $2.3 billion (with a 'b') and the stock's value only drops a shade over 1%, that tells me that the investors realize that this is really only a drop in the bucket for Pfizer. For years, we have all been hearing that the high cost of pharmaceuticals in this country are because of the high cost of meeting federal drug safety standards and testing. Well, if that were true, how did Pfizer have so much money they could afford to pay this fine so easily? Those high prices they were collecting should have already been spent on that testing and regulation.

Maybe I'm going out on a limb here, but perhaps the high cost of drugs is so that the company can line its (and its investors' pockets)?

That issue of TIME I quoted above has 10 1/2 pages of ads for 5 prescription-only drugs from 4 different manufacturers (none of them Pfizer; they must be broke this week). TIME doesn't do that for pennies! Why advertise to the public? If I have to see a doctor to get these medicines, just tell HIM about them. That's what I pay him and the pharmacist for: to tell me what medicines are available for my particular condition and to prescribe what THEY feel is the best treatment for it.

I drive a train for a living. Yes, the company I work for handles only freight, but if I was running a passenger train, I really wouldn't want my doctor, who happened to be riding that day, give me suggestions as to how to run the train. In the same way, I'm not sure he would be real receptive to me 'asking my doctor' about Drug X or Treatment Y. So why do the pharmaceutical companies spend all this money on advertising in non-medical journals? To get more people to pressure their doctor to prescribe over-priced medicines! So they can line their pockets some more! So when they get caught doing something the FDA doesn't like, they can pay a fine without hurting the stockholders!

And one other thing. What line in the budget in Washington gets the $2.3b? I'll bet it would make a nice down payment on the proposed health plans Congress is supposed to be working on!

Apparently, she takes after her mother.

'I think one of the most important things in life is to be open-minded.'
Jenna Hager, daughter of former president George W. Bush, on becoming a correspondent for NBC's Today show.
TIME Sept. 14, 2009 edition.

What more can I say?

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

What I am

In thinking about what I want to do with this blog, I had to take stock of myself to make a place to start. I thought I'd share it with you, as a way of getting to know me.

I am:
  • A son, brother, father, grandfather, nephew, cousin, uncle, husband, friend.
  • Almost 56.
  • 5'10"
  • Overweight.
  • Balding.
  • A locomotive engineer.
  • A reader.
  • A pet owner.
  • One who likes to travel.
  • A letterboxer.
  • A railfan.
  • Interested in how things work.
  • A foodie (but not a gourmet).
  • A cookbook collector (kinda goes with #7 and #13).
  • Sarcastic.
  • Somewhat cynical.
  • A should-be citizen of Missouri (Show me! Prove it to me!)
  • A union member.
  • A list maker (you noticed?).
  • A baseball fan. (Red Sox mostly, but not completely fanatical about that.)
  • A nature watcher.

There may be a few more things, but they aren't coming to mind right now. I'm going to use this list to come up with ideas of what to post about, so you can expect to see some expounding on this list.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Geezers in the 21st Century!

Hi! My name is Dave and I am a geezer in the 21st Century. I admit I am powerless over my geezerdom.

Oh, wait. Wrong forum! Anyway, welcome to my blog. I was urged to start this by one of my sons when I complained that something I said as an original idea was posted the same day by a 'professional' blogger. He said I should quit my day job and become a rich blogger myself.

I'm not thinking of going that far, but upon further thought, he was right. Why not share the thoughts going through my head at different times? So here it is.

What you'll see are stories from my past, random thoughts (and rants) that come to mind, opinions on current events, etc. (with plenty in the etc. department).

Your feedback will always be welcome. Even if I don't agree with you, I always enjoy a good discussion.

So let the fun begin!