Thursday, September 30, 2010

Earning a Passing Grade in Current Events in the Seventh Grade

Banks did not open in 1932 sending my family into financial disaster and by 1939 when I was in the seventh grade the situation was still bad for the family and most  people;  therefore, our class voted against the Weekly Reader, a newspaper for students.   For current events the teacher assigned a country or area to everyone in selected rows.  My row got China, which though still being ravaged by the Japanese was pushed off the news pages by events in Europe.  We were not taking a paper at this time but had access to one subscribed to by my uncle.  Someone told us of an article on China in the Literary Digest, so I took some precious money and bought the magazine.  That article was the only clipping I had in my scrap book to turn in for grades. Students on rows assigned to Germany, France, England and Italy got A's in current events; I lucked out to get a C, which passed.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Anyone Else Who Served on the USS Pickens?

I have heard about the following:

Ben Larson, who served in the engine room -- from Sam DeLaan

Mark White, pharmacist third class -- from his son John White 

Bennett M. Butters, radionman second class -- from his son.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Crew of USS Pickens Travels by Train to Astoria, Or.

A very few days after I joined the crew in Bremerton we boarded a train and headed to Astoria to commission the Pickens and begin our service on board.  I have no memory leaving Bremerton and none of arrival in
Astoria, but I have memories of the middle of the trip.  Our train broke down in a rural area, the only signs of civilization a small village.  It was large enough to have a cheese factory and the kind residents gave us all the cheese we could eat.  A small dog seemed to like us and we fed him cheese.  No matter how much we offered him he accepted it.  I often wondered if he survived after eating so much cheese.  Several hours after the train stopped another locomotive arrived and we completed our journey.  I invite any former Pickens crew members or members of their families to add their own or their relative's memories.

Can the Democrats Blame This on Bush?

(The following is from Neal Boortz, political commentator, so I can't vouch for its accuracy)

>In January 2007 before the Democrats took over Congress, unemployment was 4.6 per cent; now its 9.6 per cent.
>In January 2007 there were 7.1 million unemployed people in America; now there are 14.9 million.
>In January 2007 the median home price was $210,600; today it's $179,300.
>In January 2007 the Dow Jones Industrial Average was  12,500; today it's 10,840.
>In January 2007 the gross federal debt was $9 trillion; today it's $13.5 trillion.
>The poverty rate in 2006 was 12.3 per cent; now it' 14.3 per cent.
>In the final budget created by a GOP-controlled Congress, the deficit was $160 billion; now it's $1.6 trillion.

Monday, September 27, 2010

doctor visit

Went to my appointment with Dr Singh this morning. Blood pressure was 118 over 57 and my EKG was good. Next appointment in six months. Talked to Singh about my back pain. Last night was just too much and I must find a way to get more sleep. Singh said Dr. Mody is the best back doctor in Shreveport. He also said when back troubles start they usually continue to get worse.That was discouraging but Mody has had success where others have failed.

On another note, I lost seven pounds since my last visit to Singh.

(Found this as a draft entered January 19.  For some reason I had not published it, probably because it was personal and not of interest to anyone else.  I have an appointment with Dr. Singh this week and will have to tell him about the bad spells I have had.  The good news is that I went to church Sunday after missing three Sundays in a row. My back is no better but I cannot go through a five-hour operation at this time.)

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Washington DC Infested with Stink Bugs -- Who's Surprised

We don't have enough to worry about with the economy stinking, now Washington DC has been taken over by  Halyomorpha halys, better known as the common stink bug. Many of us have felt for quite some time that the Obama administration was buggy, so we are not surprised. New York city, on the other hand, is "enjoying" an explosion of tourists, known as Cimex lectalarius, or bed bugs. First the bugs went into homes, next to hotels, and finally to office towers downtown.  And here I've given up my battle with Blissus insularius Barbar, the Southern chinch bug. The bugs and the drouth have jointly killed all my grass, except for a few clumps of crab grass.  At least I do not have to mow and if I get bed bugs I can buy a can  of spray for $19.95.  It could be more difficult, however.  It used to be part of hospitality to give a tramp a bed and food. My dad said that after every such visit, they had to boil not only the bedding but the beds themselves, because the bugs would hide in cracks.

As for bugs in Washington, we have a chance in an election in a few weeks to get rid of some of them.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Got a Hair Cut and a History Lesson Today

Took longer than usual to get my hair cut as Joe talked faster than  he barbered.  He had bought  a 1930 Byrd High yearbook and had a lot of names he wanted to run by me.  He also acquired a new client,  Dr. Moreland from Powhattan, who is related to Morelands from Homer.  Joe said he is going to his hometown of Pine Prairie in a few days where he will visit the barber shop and listen to his friends blast the government.

Another customer came in while I was in the chair and commented on a friend getting his first royalty check from natural gas, something like $58,000.  That on top of a $700,000 lease payment.  He pointed out that a number of  people are faring very well.  I wouldn't mind being in that group.

You Want Solar Panels -- Pay for Them

I don't care if you put solar panels on your home, your chicken house or your outdoor toilet -- but I refuse to help you pay for them.  All these stories of people bragging about installing solar panels and getting taxpayers to pay most of the cost make me angry.  One article reported  a man saying solar panels cost him $50,000 before he got $40,000 in refunds and subsidies from the federal and state governments.  The owner estimated that in l0 to 12 years he would save enough on utility bills to recover the $10,000 the panels had cost him.  At that rate in 50 years or so utility savings would cover the entire $50,000, not including interest.  Will he then repay the taxpayers our money?   Don't hold your breath waiting for that to happen.  I suppose we can't blame some people for taking advantage of bad programs as long as they benefit them. But I ask, when will the government leave us alone to make our own choices and cease using bribes and threats to direct us to buy solar panels, cars, appliances or any other products or services the government decides are best for us?   I'm  more than fed up; I'm mad as hell.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Good News -- Nucor to Build Iron Plant in St. James Parish

Nucor has announced it will build a $750 million dollar plant to produce iron for steel making in St. James parish.  This is good news for the economy as the first phase will employ 150 workers and pay excellent salaries. I had a pleasant meeting with the then president of  Nucor on one of my prospecting trips to the Carolinas. Nucor was doing fine while much of the US steel industry was having problems. Nucor was non-union and had a way of operating and of treating employees that was unusual in the industry.  The company has been interested in Louisiana for some years; hopefully this will lead to more economic development.  I don't like the state investing $30 million in the facility, but we have spent millions to assist other industries by constructing highways and overpasses. 

Monday, September 20, 2010

My Trip to Bremerton to Join the USS Pickens

I posted earlier about receiving orders to join the crew of the Pickens.  I don't remember details but remember I was at the San Pedro Naval Station, could not get in the chow line at lunch time and made a lunch of fig newtons and ice cream.  I don't know where I caught the train for Seattle but was annoyed that I was in charge of another seaman named Walsh, who had been in the navy four years but was still a seaman first class. We had a layover in some city and he took off to see some girl.  I stayed in the train and worried that he might not make it back in time and I would be held responsible.  He made it back as the train was preparing to leave.  We got to Seattle and then had a ferry ride of about 90 minutes to Bremerton.  Walsh had two ID's but claimed he had lost his on the  way and applied for another.  I was no longer responsible for him and I reported in, and found they were wondering where the other radarman was.  The barracks was too nice to be called a barracks. The building included not only sleeping quarters but a cafeteria and recreation room, including library.  Some of the crew members were earning extra money working as lumberjacks.  I was there only a few days before the crew boarded a train for Astoria, Or.  That's how close I came to missing joining the Pickens.

Friday, September 17, 2010

I Very Nearly Did Not Join the Crew of the USS Pickens

The meningitis ward of the Sand Diego Naval Hospital was not crowded, and I was supposed to spend more weeks there then go  to rehabilitation for light duty and liberty before reporting back for active duty. I had lost to 105 pounds and need to gain weight and strength.  However, I realized I had become comfortable and lazy in the  hospital and should leave.  Some one would bring my food trays if I didn't want to expend even that much energy. I had companions to socialize with, music in earphones, some reading material, and occasionally movies on a small screen.  I didn't even  go outside on the hospital grounds much any more.  I did not want to leave this comfort zone so I had to force myself to make a break, though dreading what the future might hold.  I demanded to be discharged immediately and after I was clear of  fever a day and a night, my petition was granted. I went back to Camp Elliott to await orders.  I was there only a few days before orders came sending me to Bremerton, Wash.

We Are Caught Between a Rock and a Hard Place

We cannot deny it. Our nation is caught between a rock and a hard place.   We must stop spending into deeper and deeper debt.  On the other hand, we must keep spending on social programs or there literally will be blood in the streets.  Spending on social security, medicare, medicaid, food stamps, unemployment insurance is increasing beyond the government's ability to pay.

Congress must act, but when Congress acts it is usually in the wrong way.  Our federal government has squandered trillions without helping the economy or putting people to work.  When will President Obama and his administration admit that more spending is not the solution.  Every dollar the government spends is taken from the earnings in the private sector, leaving less money for expansion and creation of real jobs. Right now the worst thing the government  can do is increase taxes.  Keep in mind the talk about cutting taxes is false and misleading.  Extension of the so-called Bush tax cuts in their entirety does not reduce taxes; it only does not raise taxes above present levels.

Once the economy is restored to health -- and that may take years -- we must look for a long-term solution to the out of control social spending.   Unless this is done, soon interest on debt will be the largest expense in our budget.  We could be paying China something like 800 billion a year in interest.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

My Ride in the Mountains with the Grey Lady

I was excited.  A "grey lady" was taking several of on a scenic automobile ride.  It was my first outing from the naval hospital, and I had been looking forward to it.  Soon we were in the car and on our way.  In a few minutes we were away from San Diego environs and in  the mountains.  The highway twisted and turned but our  driver sped along without regard to the curves.  I looked out the window and could see no highway, only space straight down.  The lady talked a blue streak; that was okay but she would turn and look at us in the back seat.instead of the road ahead.  I wanted to shout, lady please keep your eyes on the highway.  I wanted to go back to the hospital. She didn't short change us; we drove for several hours in the mountains.  When we returned to the hospital, I said to myself  "Nevermore."  I wasn't the only one who was frightened. Others promised that it was their last ridge with a grey lady.

Monday, September 13, 2010

An Essay on Sweet Potatoes

I am tired of  concerning myself with personal problems and the nation's problems. I can't do anything about either one, so I am going to write about something pleasant -- sweet potatoes.  When I was a child planting sweet potatoes was a job for the entire family.  The rows  had been prepared earlier, fertilized with cotton seed meal instead of a commercial fertilizer.  Planting would come on a cool evening following a shower that settled the ground.  First would be pulling potato plants, called slips, which grew from potatoes that had been bedded earlier in the spring.  A horse would be used to pull a slide loaded with a tub of water.  One person would drop the slips on the row; another would used a notched stick to push the slips into the ground.  Then came the children's part; using a dipper water would  be scooped from the tub and each plant would receive a dipper of water. Children would plead to be allowed to use the stick to push a plant into the ground, ending with some slips planted in the middle and others near the tops.  It might seem strange today, but it was a fun occasion as the entire family worked together.

Most of my time growing sweet potatoes, we probably planted Porto Rico Unit One.  Dr. Julian C. Miller, who taught sweet potatoes to bloom so new varieties could be developed,  introduced Goldrush in 1951, and it was Louisiana's main variety for three decades.  Centennial was developed in 1960, and by 1970, every one of the 5500 acres planted to commercial sweet potatoes in Louisiana was Centennial.  It was the variety for 80 per cent of the nation  and was the favorite in other countries.

Forty acres of the highest land near University Lake became the Hill Farm and the site of many horticultural breakthroughs, as LSU set the standard for the United States.  Improved varieties of Irish potatoes include the  LaSoda and the LaChipper.  Dr. Miller and his associates developed 9 varieties of sweet potatoes, 7 of Irish potatoes, 4 of strawberries and snapbeans, 3 each of hot peppers and tomatoes, 2 each of okra, Southern peas and cabbage, l each of  onions, peaches, pumpkin, collards, carrots and squash. Those new and improved varieties meant millions  for farmers.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Is This Nation Committed to Fear Everything Muslim?

I think burning  a copy of the Koran is a silly form of protest but the hysterical response to a preacher's plan to take this action is cowardly and sickening.   What is going to happen the next time someone does or says something that Muslims don't  like?   Must we always be walking on eggs, fearful that a comic strip, a book, or an essay by a middle school child may annoy some Muslims?  Those so afraid of angering Muslims now are some who thinks it great to spit on, stomp on, or burn the American Flag.  It is just cloth, they say, and besides the people who do this should be praised for exercising their rights.  Suppose some Christians took offense and responded with  violence to the way liberals speak of them.  Have you noticed how they string together words when speaking  so disdainfully, like Christian evangelicals, or right wing Christian evangelicals, or Southern right wing Christian evangelicals, or Southern  red neck right wing Christian evangelicals.  To make it even more pleasing to them, throw  white anywhere in what many liberals think is the absolute peak in name calling. That, they say, exemplifies American freedom, but don't say anything that a Muslim may not like.

Just Some Personal Notes

I've been just too tired and ill to post. Today  I'm somewhat better  although it has been a frustrating day. The panic attack Saturday surprised me, especially by being the worst I have had.  Then Sunday I was extremely tired and had difficulty breathing after going and getting the doughnuts for the church.  I was supposed to teach but not only did not teach but came home and missed the class and church.  Then came Monday.  After Jessica left for Baton Rouge Jen and Josh left to look at furniture.  I had a severe angina attack, took a nitro which eased the pain but then I got up to lower the thermostat, hoping cooler air would make breathing easier, and blacked out momentarily. Luckily, I slid down the wall instead of crashing to the floor.  I admit I was frightened, feeling this was the end.  Since then I've been better, still with a breathing problem at times, and very tired.  Today I was making pear preserves and everything was going great until they began burning.  They will have to be thrown away, and I spent a lot of time peeling and slicing the pears.  I went to the bank to deposit some checks and found I had left my license at home somewhere.  I tried to turn on the computer only to find it was goofed up in some way.  Josh stopped by on his way to the dentist and was able to fix it in a couple of minutes.  Just a little bit different from an ordinary day.
( I wrote this and saved it, not expecting to publish it but today decided to go ahead. I've posted personal stuff before, and after all this is my blog.)

Monday, September 6, 2010

Obama's Plan to Boost the Economy-- Tax and Spend

No surprise; it was expected that Obama, while refusing to take action that will aid the economy, would announce proposals that will almost certainly cost private sector jobs.  He will likely ask for a 50 billion dollar stimulus plan and increased taxes on the oil and gas industry.  He cannot admit his errors and call for repeal of the health plan  and support the extension of the tax cuts of 2001 and 2003.  Obama is committed to tax and spend, with much of the spending wasteful and directed to favor certain groups that are favorable to him.  If he would get out of the way, the private sector, including oil and gas, will begin hiring.  If we only had some congressmen with enough gumption to do what they know is right for the economy.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Congress Must Act to Boost Economy and Let Companies Create Jobs

I had been trying to write an editorial for Political Talk questioning whether President Obama will abandon  his economic policies  that have worsened the economy, admit he has been wrong and adopt policies that might work.  Specifically will he extend the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts and agree to changes in the health plan. According to some members of his administration, he will not agree to those changes, or as some of them put it, he "will not let polls influence his decisions."

Unemployed workers are more than statistics; they are human beings and they are suffering.  They need companies to begin hiring.  However, companies need certainty on taxes and they do not have that now, but many fear that taxes, especially for some industries, could cripple them, thus they are reluctant to expand and to hire.

Being unable to marshal my thoughts, I gave it a rest and picked up the new copy of LSU Alumni News and saw information about some people I have known very well.  Douglas Starr, like me a World War II veteran and a 1950 graduate from the School of Journalism,  has retired from teaching journalism at Texas A & M. Now that is a career.  He worked for Associated Press and several papers before entering academia.

Nelson Stokley, former LSU quarterback and coach of Louisiana-Lafayette, has passed away. Stokley was one of the most exciting LSU players ever and would have been among the all-time greats except for injuries.  He helped the Tigers win the Cotton Bowl in 1966 and the Sugar Bowl in 1968.  Players from Homer played in those games.  I think Arkansas was ranked  No. 2  in the nation and LSU won 14-7.

Jerry Stovall will be inducted into the National Foundation's Football Hall of  Fame  December 7.  It is a well deserved honor; Stovall was All-American his senior year and was runner-up for the Heisman trophy.  He said Fred Miller, of Homer, was the best lineman he played with.  Fred also made All-American.

Back to remarks on the economy and the unemployment that have the nation in its grip. I fear that Obama will take some action and the action he takes will be wrong and will make matters worse.  He is considering levying more taxes  on energy, a terrible action if it is done.  Oil and gas provide jobs to more than 9 million. Adding taxes would  send more rigs overseas and force us to import more oil.  Instead, we could build more rigs and do more drilling to become self-sufficient in energy and add hundreds of thousands of jobs.

 Congress needs the guts to take action, refusing  to join the president in further destroying the economy.  It will take only a simple majority vote to extend the tax cuts, which alone will encourage companies to add jobs. We have too many cowards in congress.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Abolish US Dept. of Education and Save half a billion

Arne Duncan, secretary of the US Department of  Education sent an E-Mail to over 4,000 employees telling them to attend the Al Sharpton rally in DC.  This was very close to a violation of the Hatch Act, because the meeting became a political rally for Obama.  I would advise Duncan not to call attention to himself or his department because it reminds many of us that we favor abolishing the department.  Education is too important to have federal bureaucrats interfering. Leave education to states and local bodies. If a local school district, or even a state, tries to inculcate harmful propaganda, other states and districts can avoid it, but if the feds push their agenda, even something as evil as Nazism, all school children are affected.  The department was established in 1979 and has grown like a kudzu vine, spreading into every facet of education. Offer money and elected officials will fight for it, ignoring the strings attached and the dangers it brings.Please remember that there are 10 amendments in the Bill of Rights.  No. Ten declares that "Powers not dedicated to the federal government belong to the states or the people." Let's get rid of this department and save half a billion dollars a year in salaries.

Looking Forward to Jessica Being Here This Weekend

Jessica is coming in from LSU this Friday and will be with us over the Labor Day weekend.  She hasn't been home since June, being occupied with  youth leader service with the campus Methodist Church and as a night manager for the faculty club.  Now, of course, she is in class and has to work several hours each week in the English department, in addition to the other jobs..

Jessica is beginning to realize that a person can overload  herself, and she must set priorities.  She has been doing what we used to call "over-cropping yourself."  It is an old agricultural expression, meaning planting more acres than can be worked.  It was something we did every summer. I remember when Dad said we were not going to work as hard the next year.  We worked in the fields until after sundown and then had chores to do when he got to the house.  I told him once that if we were not working as hard as before, I sure didn't notice it.

Back to Jessica. We are all happy she will be here for at least a few days.