Thursday, January 31, 2013

January -- Where'd you go?

Today is the last day of January -- one-twelfth of 2013 has passed so quickly, and at my age I prefer time to move slowly.  Tomorrow  has us sliding into February, the middle month of winter.  Often this is when we have the worst and coldest weather but the last several years our weather has been mostly mild.

February, no matter how icy and nasty it might be,  can be the time gardeners begin to itch to get started. Some scratch that itch by reading seed catalogs, something I  once did but have been off the catalog lists for a long time. That doesn't mean I'm not dreaming of having a garden this year.  I accept my limitations but I can drop seeds and set out plants if I can get someone to till my garden.

When I was a kid on the farm we were always able to get Irish potatoes in the ground by Valentine's day. Some days after I was home from school I would clean the chicken house and spread the manure over the garden.  Onions plants could be set out in February and English peas could be planted if the ground wasn't too wet.  Early planted took the risk of frost, and I remember dad  pouring warm water on peas after a light snow and ice hit in April.

Yes, February can be bad but it is not too early to plan vegetable and flower gardens.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Boost economy by developing energy

When Obama threatens action that will weaken the nation's defense, make us less energy sufficient, cause a loss of jobs -- or a combination  of all three -- you can take him at his word. When he said he intends to eliminate all coal fired electric generating plants, he was determined to do so.

His latest victim is the power plant that was to be erected at Corpus Christi, Tx.  The company planning the plant  has  given up, citing the ever increasing regulations of the EPA.  In addition to making that area vulnerable to brown outs and black outs,  it is costing 3900 jobs.

While the fossil fuel energy is being treated as an enemy, taxpayer money continues to flow to so-called "green" energy companies.  Thirty-four companies supported by taxpayers have filed for bankruptcy or are otherwise failing.

The president continues to refuse to allow Canada to build the Keystone pipeline, which would make our energy supply more stable and create thousands of jobs.  Developing our bountiful energy could go a long way to boosting our economy and providing much needed jobs.  An example of what developing energy resources could do  is North Dakota whose booming economy based on energy  forces Walmart to pay a starting salary of $17 an hour.

Monday, January 28, 2013

My flying fish story

Pastor Tom Howe has two small grandchildren visiting this weekend and took them fishing    Saturday.  They enjoyed themselves although they were disappointed not to see bears, lions and tigers in the woods.

It brought back to mind what I remember as my first fishing trip.  We were celebrating July Fourth .with a family outing  on Bayou Dorcheat.  Dad had entrusted me to a cousin who was several years older and an experienced fisherman.  I don't remember but my cousin had probably baited my hook and placed me where he was confidant I could catch a fish.

And catch a fish I did.  I saw the cork go under and move away.  I jerked my pole out of the water and whipped fish, line and cork over my head up into a big tree. We managed to get the fish to the ground and I proudly displayed my goggle eye perch.

By the time we were called to lunch I was ready for more excitement.  I baited the hook and stuck the pole into the bank, hoping to find a fish when I returned.  Imagine my joy when I got back and found the line stretched tight,  indicating I had made a catch. Now an expert, I   brought the catch straight into the bank, only to drop it  and run from the cotton mouth moccasin caught on the hook.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Our 40th wedding anniversary

Jen and I  want to thank our "children" for the flowers on the church altar this morning in recognition of our 40th wedding anniversary.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Cars to race in Pinewood Derby

Cub Scouts rate it up there with advancement and awards and camping trips -- the Pinewood Derby.  They will be able to display their colorful cars and race them several times Saturday.  Registration together with weighing and measuring will be accomplished this evening,  which will reduce the confusion -- but not the excitement -- Saturday morning.  Their families will be there to cheer them on and eat hot dogs.

I haven't had the hassle of helping a Cub build a car in a number of  years, but I miss the fun a little. Looking back, I estimate that I have built just a few less cars than Chevy has sold Volts.  Most years I was called on to build two, starting when my twin boys were six years old and in Indian Guides.  I had one free year, one where I worked on one car, and than it was back to two for my two youngest boys.

A grandson will be entering a car for the third year.  That has been his dad's responsibility, and they have built, painted and  decorated a car, even provided it with a driver.  Next, we'll see how fast it runs.  The cars will race several times, being clocked by an electronic timer, which was delivered Wednesday.

Our fortieth anniversary

Forget your wedding anniversary and you are in more trouble with your wife than if you forget her birthday.  No, I haven't been guilty of that  but it is possible because I have no reason to know the day of the week or the month and am without transportation most of the time.

Sunday, January 27, will mark our fortieth wedding anniversary.  To make sure, I dragged out the photo book of the ceremony and there it was on the first page, January 27, 1973.  So two days early, I wish my wife, Jen, a happy anniversary and thank her for standing by my side for 40 years.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

What now, Obamacare

Well, we have survived the hoopla of Obama's second coming, his inauguration.  I was concerned that my stomach was not strong enough to watch the event on television, joining the majority of Americans who preferred to watch something else.

The beginning of 2013 brings with it much of the effects of Obamacare, including higher costs of health insurance and poorer medical care.  Coverage of pre-existing conditions appears noble but it brings with it this question, "Why buy insurance before you need it?"  We probably won't have to wait long before we begin to see how that plays out. 

Just something came to my mind

Last Sunday the United Methodist Women were responsible for the church service, including providing a  guest speaker.  As is done each year, a lifetime membership is presented to someone for her  outstanding service.

Most of the time the membership and recognition go to a woman but occasionally to a man.  Several years ago two persons were surprised with the award  -- my wife Jen and son Josh.  If I have embarrassed them with this memory I apologize.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Blood pressure goes high and low

My blood pressure was 90 -57 at the pain doctor's this morning.  I had it re-taken and it was 90 - 6l.  Very low for someone who is taking two kinds of blood pressure medicine twice a day.  I googled 90 - 57 and it just so happened that exact combination was commented on.  It does not indicate a problem except for elderly where it could indicate a need to adjust blood pressure medicine or something worse.

I bought another wrist monitor and too my pressure, which was high.  Blood pressure can vary so much but I knew it has been low at times because I am often dizzy when I stand.  Not to worry, I'm slated to visit my cardiologist in a week or two.

Monday, January 21, 2013

I freed the birds

We were visiting the pastor at the parsonage in Sibley. I was a very small child, I'm sure, although my memory does not ed  tell me how old.  The minister had several birds in cages.  I didn't know then what kind they were and do not have any idea now.

While the adults visited I got bored and look for something to do.  That something turned out to be opening every cage and allowing  every bird to escape. You can imagine the uproar, but eventually all of the birds were caught and returned to their cages.

I don't know whether my parents were more embarrassed or more angry -- a combination of both most likely.  My defense that I  thought the birds should have freedom and I was giving them what they wanted did not go over well at all.  I doubt I visited in that parsonage again.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

He sets the prisoner free

Last night the music from  "O for a thousand tongues to sing" kept running though my head along with some words from the song, especially "He set the prisoner free."  Why that I don't know but this morning I entered those  four words on Google and it went right to the song.  I searched for a traditional version, settling for  this.

O For A Thousand Tongues To Sing (Hymn with words and music) - Charles W...

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Happy birthday, Mark

Last year I offered Jen and I to babysit Lily and Oliver, saying that you could drop them off and you and Julie could go out and celebrate.  You did not take advantage of my offer then so I renew the offer.

By the way, you share the birthday anniversary with Betsy Ross, Paul Revere, Robert E. Lee, Edgar Allen Poe and Barry Goldwater.

Friday, January 18, 2013

The wondrous sweet potato

About one year ago I wrote about Dr. Julian C. Miller who taught the sweet potato to bloom and thus the LSU horticultural department developed not only better sweet potato varieties but improved other fruits and vegetables as well.

I heard from son Mark in North Carolina that such a topic was odd to be in my blog.  So as a birthday present to him (his birthday is Saturday) I am going to talk about sweet potatoes once more.

Louisiana continues to lead the world in sweet potato research, continuing to develop improved  varieties to meet better the expanded uses of the potato, including french fried potato strips.  Research funds are hard to get now so the LSU Agriculture department welcomes $200,000 it has received from others paying licensing fees.

The leading potato is the Beauregard, developed by LSU, and along with the Evangeline is most commonly planted.  The quest continues to develop an even better potato than the Beauregard.   The Orleans could be the next Beauregard as it is just as tasty and has a more attractive shape.

We can count on LSU Ag to continue to improve varieties of fruits and vegetables that reach our markets and our tables.  

Thursday, January 17, 2013

A time when teachers were not so well paid

For those who care about the quality of education, they greeted as good news the decision by the Caddo school board not to renew the contract for Gerald Dawkins as superintendent of schools.  Some of us are still angry that he is paid $220,000 plus benefits for a job that an employee of Burger King might do better.

I am not asking school personnel to take a vow of poverty, although they might as well have during the Great Depression.  One morning the seventh grade teacher, Mr. Trout, came strolling into the classroom.  As one person class members gasped, went  totally silent for a few seconds, then burst into applause, whistling, cheering wildly.

Mr. Trout was wearing a new suit.  Every morning for months he had worn the same suit.  Not only he but the students were overjoyed at the change in scenery.  Female teachers could wear a different blouse or skirt and change their appearance, but for a male a new suit was an expense they could rarely afford.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Any job is better than none

"Fries with that?" "Paper or plastic?"  Jobs for high school dropouts? Not any more.  High school graduates, college graduates, and work force veterans are competing for those and any jobs  no matter how "low level."

Forty years ago young men and women could go to work on assembly lines (General Electric in Shreveport had 8500 employed."  Twenty years ago jobs were available in construction, retailing and office work. Today,  long-term unemployment is the highest since World War II, with the average time between jobs being 40 weeks, twice the 20 weeks during the previous three recessio

More than 80 per cent of all small businesses will not add one worker this year.  They cite as the principal reason being uncertainty -- including what taxes they will pay and what new regulation the Obama administration will inflict.

This country is in trouble and needs to take actions that will encourage creation of jobs.  Obama offers an administration that operates just opposite of what is needed.  Being without a job while having a family to support is painfully stressful  -- the only answer being welfare, which is estimated to increase 80 per cent in the next decade.

There is no magical solution to our problems, but we continue to act against job creation rather than in a way friendly to job creators.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Spilled my tea at Homer CofC banquet

Saw in the Guardian-Journal that the Homer Chamber of Commerce has scheduled its annual banquet January 28; it will be catered and tickets are $35 (wow)  each with capacity of 246.   The chamber banquets I attended were in the school cafeteria and were "catered" by the cafeteria staff.

Senator Russell Long was the speaker at an early banquet, perhaps the first.  I remember being a member of the group meeting him in Shreveport.  I didn't waste time, asking for help in getting an EDA grant to help us expand and improve our water system.  He called for the car to stop and I went to the second car to discuss my request with a senior aide.

The Homer Lions Club had performed the duties of a chamber and much of the leadership in organizing it came from that club.  For years Homer had an economic development organization, called the Homer Development Corporation, which bought and developed sites to attract industry.

My memory may be in error but I think the last time I attended a CofC  banquet was almost four decades ago.  Jen and I were guests and were seated at the head table.  I was surprised when asked to make a few remarks, so unnerved that I turned over my glass of tea.  Jen makes sure I don't forget it, and probably I have been too embarrassed to attend again.

Months later I was given an appointment to meet with federal officials in Fort Worth to apply for an EDA grant.   While I was there George Wallace held a political rally (he was running for president.)  The office closed for the rally although government workers were not among his supporters.  They were not friendly to me either, explaining that when a member of Congress requests EDA to consider an application for funds, the feds must make a written report on the meeting and the outcome.  This was not the only time EDA ignored an application from Homer.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

In search of a fair tax

The idea of a so-called fairtax (one word)  is being discussed, but it is more "sound and fury, signifying nothing" than anything serious.  I doubt that any single tax could be fair; however, a combination of taxes can come nearest it.  What brings this to mind is Governor Jindall's proposal to replace the state income tax with an increase in the sales tax. While I am in favor of revising the tax code,  I am strongly  opposed to this idea.

To approach fairness, a tax should be tested on  whom  it mostly benefits and who is most able to pay. That, to me, makes the sales tax the unfairest tax because the poorer a person is the most hurtful the sales tax is. It stands to reason that high income earners pay more because they buy more, while a poor family pays a high percentage of their income since, though spending less, they pay taxes on necessities.

Income taxes appear to be the fairest because they are based on earning and ability to pay.  However, we all know many wealthy people utilize tax shelters, deductions and exemptions to reduce their taxes.  Not illegal or immoral, but at present everyone agrees the tax regulations need changing and updating.  As I've said, a fair tax is difficult to devise.  Increasing the sales tax is far from it.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Let me hear from you

In the first decade after the end of World War II I when I read in the American Legion Magazine lists of reunions scheduled for military units and crew members of various ships I wondered  whether there would ever be a reunion for the crew of the USS Pickens.  I doubt there was such a reunion as all of us had to get on about our lives.  Today, because the son of a former crew member has made available much information saved by his father, I have through my blog  heard from some shipmates and families of shipmates.  I wish more could be reached.

On the last day of 2012 Betty Tippins sent me an e-mail of some memories her father, R. Tippins, has of the Pickens.  He told her he seemed to remember a collision involving the Pickens and another vessel.  I don't recall it, but it is understandable that we all remember different things. I can't expect anyone but me  to remember that the phones I manned at a debarkation station at Iwo Jima failed to work after performing perfectly during all our drills/

I enjoy being in contact with shipmates and their families.  Let me hear from any of you at any time.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

January brings bad weather

What a miserable, miserable day -- wet, cold and grey.  Typical of January, although we'll have some days of sunshine. It's been a bad week for me.  I began last Thursday morning trying to get a prescription refilled. Finally, the doctor's office called the pharmacy late yesterday and it was to be refilled today.  Now, I have to brave the rain to pick up my medicine. 

Forget my problems; have you broken all your resolutions for 2013?   Promises to eat healthier and exercise more are usually the first commitments to fall by the wayside; most people have already abandoned those. To be kinder, to read the bible more and to pray daily are the type of resolutions  many hold on to longer.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Face it; taxes are going up

The restoration of the two per cent of the payroll tax on employees has brought on complaints of a tax increase as many forget that lowering the rate was temporary.  I was not in favor  of this at the time because it was in reality borrowing from the  social security trust fund. That does not mean that I am for higher taxes. Far from it; I am for eliminating fraud and cutting spending.

I've seen where there are complaints about the increase in medicare costs; something social security recipients saw on their first check of 2013.

Tax increases are coming; Obama and Democratic leaders are talking about a trillion dollar tax in addition to those wrapped up in Obamacare.  Those taxes, such as one on medical equipment, will be passed on to the patient.

Our federal government borrows 40 cents of every dollar it spends.  Common sense tells us this cannot be continued, but higher taxes will injure the sick economy and cost jobs. Regardless, we are going to be paying more in taxes; count on it, which results in less take-home money. Now, have a happy new year.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Remembering a real accomplishment

I noticed in the Guardian-Journal, Homer's weekly newspaper, that the town council has voted to increase water rates, including going from $6 to $7.15 a month for residential users.  Rates for waste water would also increase.

This brought to my mind the time when I was mayor that  we included within a bond issue an increase of water rates from $1.50 to $2.50 a month.  Together with a payment of $1,000 a month from Ludlow the bond issue was to finance major improvements to the water system.  I thought it was a great deal then and I am still convinced it was a great deal for the town, but an  electric utility,  which wanted our electric generating plant and distribution system,  held secret meetings and misinformed voters leading to a defeat by one or two votes.  We called for another vote and community leaders helped it pass overwhelmingly.

Improvements included l2-inch water lines throughout the town, 500,000 gallons of elevated water storage, 500,000 of ground level storage, complete automation of the system, lower fire insurance rates for everyone, and fire protection for Ludlow, which employed 200 workers.  Ludlow could not have continued to operate without those improvements.  Of all the many accomplishments the town had while I was mayor, I rate this the best.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Governmental leaders lack courage

The president couldn't interrupt his vacation to sign the bill that he and Congress take pride in because it "avoided the fiscal cliff." They extended the "Bush tax cuts" but did not have the courage to do anything about the problems of the economy.  Oh, I forgot, there were some economic gains -- Obama and his family have spent 20 million dollars on vacations and the president wants to reward Congress for doing such  a good job, so they are to receive a raise.

Why worry that we have suffered four years of  under employment.  It is today 7.8 officially but is  more like  18 per cent.  The president and Congress have ignored the problem or must be  incapable of taking action to improve the economy.

The government officials do not have the courage to stop spending much more than revenues.  A few weeks ago the nation's indebtedness reached  16 trillion dollars.  Today, we owe $16, 432, 706,000,000.00.  They do not care; let some one in the future  tackle the problems. Our leaders have to cater to the "takers" to stay in office; what's more important than that?

Thursday, January 3, 2013

We wrote it last January

Because  of not feeling on top of the world, physically and emotionally, I decided to skip posting today, but I first looked back at what had stirred me a year ago.  Detroit school system announced plans to close half its schools and increase class size to pay big bonuses to unions.  Utah proposed a 40lK-type plan for public employees.  That is the answer for public as well as private workers.

I recalled a trip to Baton Rouge and back in an old Piper Cub.  Navigation consisted of following the Red River to its connection with the Mississippi and on to Baton Rouge so I could  testify before the board of Commerce and Industry on behalf of my client, Broyhill Furniture.

On the sports scene a national scouting  organization listed 62 former LSU players who got at least a cup of coffee in the major leagues.

The number 62 in years was how long a couple was married and who was celebrating at Olive Garden when they learned someone had paid for their meal.  They discovered that their benefactor was a l5-year-old girl, who had used her own money for this kindness.  There is hope for the younger generation yet.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

So long, holidays

The holidays are over.  Mark and Julie, with Lily and Oliver, of course, caught a plane for North Carolina a few minutes after 7 this morning (Wednesday). Jessica and boyfriend River left this afternoon, flying to Durham, N.C.  From there they will drive to Alexandria, Va., to visit River's parents for several days. From there Jessica will return to Duke and River will head back to LSU to resume their studies.

The house has never been so quiet and felt so lonely.  It will  most likely be several months before we see any of them again, except by Skype.


 Two weeks ago my brother Jon brought me a jar of cane syrup.  He grew a little cane and found someone with a syrup mill to convert the cane.  It triggered memories of when we grew lot of cane and made syrup for use and sale.

Jon also brought a bag of satsumas from his tree.  It was good timing because the grandchildren, Lily and Oliver are gluttons for citrus fruit; they ate them,  everyone.