For Monument Bashers

Check this out folks. Every time you see someone desecrating a Civil war monument you may call the cops to do a citizen arrest.

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The First Tour De What?

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How does someone write a book about a sporting event that finished one hundred and fourteen years ago, and make it exciting? Peter Cossins has done just that. His book, The First Tour De France is a history, and chronicle of the very first Tour held in 1903. He made the bike riders come alive for me. Although I hate to read any book with too many strange-sounding names in it. I managed to finish and still like it. There were far too many hard to pronounce, therefore hard to read, French names, but what does one expect in a story that takes place in France about a French bicycle race, French men, French towns, French everything except the language in which the work is written.

Being that I am a retired long distance bicycle rider I thoroughly enjoyed this history. The Tour was the idea of a French (of course) publisher trying to increase his circulation. He did indeed. How many inventions such as the Tour De France have stirred men into action as much as this one? How many bike riders have been born into the sport? I could go one endlessly praising the merits of this idea. One more that I will mention is that the Tour became a wonderful travelogue for France. Watching the race on TV gives one a birds-eye view of a country with some very pretty countryside.

From the bike rider’s viewpoint this history makes each of my own travel by bike experiences seem petty. I would never had mounted a bike with a single gear without a freewheel on any of my trips. Yet, these brave men rode very heavy steel frame bikes with a single gear, many without brakes. Without brakes, can you imagine that? Also, it is hard for me to imagine riding a single speed two-wheeler up a mountain. The absolute strength and stamina of these riders was phenomenal.

The entire tour was composed of six stages of approximately two hundred and sixty miles long.  Among the strangest of bike riding facts revealed was riding in the night. Most stages started in the evening around 5 or 6 p.m. giving it maximum crowd exposure, and scheduled to end in a big town at an hour when more people would be able to witness the finish. The roads were paved only in big towns, most miles were on rutted dirt lanes. The leading riders averaged sixteen miles per hour. At my best riding a lightweight bicycle with twenty-eight gears including a granny I was able to average eleven mph, and only for 75 to 100 miles per day on well paved roads during daylight with plenty of water and food. Of course I was not racing, I was touring.

I recommend this book to all of my cycling and non-cycling friends.

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Bill Of Non-Rights

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This should be read and understood by all, especially politicians, liberals, muslims, school teachers, college professors and children.
 The following has been attributed to Lewis Napper, a Jackson, Mississippi computer programmer. 
He didn’t expect his essay — a tart 11-point list of “rights” Americans don’t have — to become an Internet legend.
___________________________________________________________ __________
 NEW PREAMBLE TO THE CONSTITUTION
We the sensible people of the United States, in an attempt to  help everyone get along, restore some semblance of  justice, avoid more riots, keep our nation safe, promote positive behavior, and secure the blessings of debt-free liberty to ourselves and our great-great-great- grandchildren, hereby try one more  time to ordain and establish some common sense guidelines for the terminally whiny, guilt ridden, delusional.
We hold these truths to be self-evident: that a whole lot of people are confused by
the Bill of Rights and are so dim they require a Bill of NON-Rights.’
>
ARTICLE  I: 
You do not  have the right to a new car, big screen TV, or any other form of wealth. More power to you if you can legally acquire them, but no one is guaranteeing anything.
ARTICLE II:
You do not have  the right to never be offended. This country is based on freedom, and that means freedom for everyone –not  just you! You may leave the room, turn the channel, express a different opinion, etc.; but the world is full of dummies, and probably always will be.
ARTICLE  III:
 You do not have the  right to be free from harm. If you stick a screwdriver in your eye, learn to be more careful; do not expect the tool manufacturer to make you and all your relatives independently wealthy.
ARTICLE IV:
You do not have the right to free food and housing. Americans are the most
charitable people to be found, and will gladly help anyone in need, but we  are quickly growing weary of subsidizing generation after generation of professional couch potatoes
who achieve nothing more than the creation of another generation of professional couch potatoes.
ARTICLE  V:
You do not have the right to free health care That would be nice, but from the looks of public housing, we’re just not interested in public health care.
ARTICLE  VI:
You do not have the right to physically harm other people. If you kidnap, rape, intentionally maim, or kill someone, don’t be surprised if the rest of us want to see you get the blue juice.
ARTICLE VII:
You do not have the right to the possessions of others. If you rob, cheat, or coerce away the goods or services of other citizens, don’t be surprised if the rest of us get together and
 lock you away in a place where you still won’t have the right to a big screen color TV or a life of  leisure.
ARTICLE VIII:
You do not have the right to a job. All of us sure want you to have a job, and will gladly help you along in hard times, but we expect you to take advantage of the opportunities of education and vocational training laid before you to make yourself useful.
 ARTICLE IX:
You do not have the right to happiness. Being an American means that you have the right to PURSUE happiness, which by the way, is a lot easier if you are unencumbered by an over abundance of idiotic laws created by those of you who were confused by the Bill of Rights.
ARTICLE X:
This is an English speaking country. We don’t care where you came from, English is our language. Learn it!
Lastly
ARTICLE XI:
 You do not have the right to change our country’s history or heritage. This country was  founded on the belief in one true God. And yet, you are given the freedom to believe in any religion, any faith, or no faith at all; with no fear of persecution.
 The phrase IN GOD WE TRUST is part of our heritage and history, sorry if you are uncomfortable with it.
If you agree,
share this with a friend. No, you don’t have to, and nothing tragic will befall you if you don’t. I just think it’s about time common sense is allowed to flourish. Sensible people of the United States must speak out because if you do not, who will?

 God Bless America…

In Perfect Harmony

Maybe I am being too simple, but I believe there is a way to settle disputes over race, color, nationality, political beliefs, and what ever strikes one as necessary to live in this world. There is a TV program that I have been watching which is very amusing, exciting, and cathartic. The program is called BattleBots. Seemingly mild-mannered men and women of various ages, disciplines, and colors take extreme pleasure in designing robotic devices to pit against other robotic devices.  The teams line their bots up in a secure cage and when the light turns green they drive the bots remotely using radio control against one another. Axes spin, wheels turn, hammers pound, flippers upend opponents and make them fly, and pieces of bots scatter about the arena. It all ends when one of the bots is disabled and cannot operate.

Not a single bot is the same. just like a Nazi is different from a white supremacist, or a Ku Klux Klansman. The only similarities between bots is their desire to annihilate one another. The owners are two-faced. One face is the face of inventor, builder, and creative genius. The second face is that of warrior beat the hell out of your opponent battlebot driver.

What an amazing experience it would be to buy a ticket into the biggest stadium nearest home to watch gladiators from the Antifa movement fight to the death against someone from Black Lives Matter. Or even better yet, pit a White Supremacist against a Black Lives Matter agent. Only one would walk out of the caged arena to be named to the next rung of the competitive ladder. Eventually, we would see a clear winner emerge, bloodied, scarred, and limbs missing from the many bouts between enemies. At the end only one is declared a winner. The audience places a an olive wreath upon his head and sends him home to live another day. Because there is great depth in all of the various movements the arena will come to life again in a new war to declare the winner of stupid ideological beliefs.

We, on the other hand would be greatly entertained by watching these factions pulverize one another with a vengeance and meanness never before experienced in war.

Today, we read and watch various ideologues go at it in places like Charlottesville NC. They beat each other and even kill for the pure joy of defending their ideas hoping to win the rest of us over to their way. The most foolish of these are those who candidly destroy monuments of heroes who in the distant past fought for an ideology different from theirs. They mistakenly believe by doing so they will change the world to make it a better place. Erase history and all vestiges of slavery, and prejudice will disappear. Humanity will be saved, and we will all live in peace and sing the Coca Cola song I’d Like To Teach The World to Sing.

Instead we wile away hours on social media sites hoping to find the meaning of life. We wander aimlessly through life holding our phones before us with a finger on the video button, hoping to capture that glimpse of life that will go viral on YouTube and make us famous or rich. It is hard for me to imagine where our society is headed, and what good will evolve from our aimlessness. Instead, I try in my own way to serve the community in simple meaningful ways, one simple act of kindness at a time. Evolution took billions of years to get humanity to this point, and it may take another billion to get us through this current phase.

This Girl Is A Hoot

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I just completed reading Shoot Like A Girl, by Mary Jennings Hegar. I love stories about people who live their dreams. This is the second one that I have read, and they are similar.  What I admire most is that when a person really believes in something there is nothing on this planet that will prevent them from accomplishing their goal. Shoot Like A Girl is such a story. Mary Jennings or MJ as she refers to herself throughout the story saw herself as a pilot when she was eight years old. She never let go of that dream. She finally made it in her mid-twenties. In between, she prepared herself in every way she knew how. She had to be the best in school, she had to learn math and science, she had to prepare herself physically. She did that by being good at sports. Along the way she decided that one route to becoming a pilot was to join the Air Force. She learned to shoot and became an expert marksman. Later when she was in the service one of her instructors told her that girls can shoot very well. There is something about feminine physical stature that gives them balance, and the ability to breathe easily and relaxed. There are many women who are snipers.

During MJ’s course through the Air Force she experienced male discrimination. She not only fought against it, but demanded equality. The discrimination never ended, but by the end of her career she earned respect by her valor proving she could equal any male warrior.

The first few chapters of her story seem to be somewhat hum-drum, but as she progresses through the service her story becomes more exciting. When I read Space Man by Astronaut Mike Massimino I found his journey to be similar, always studying, always following orders, always picking himself up after disappointments, but never, never giving up.

MJ’s valorous actions as a pilot in Afghanistan cost her pain and discomfort, but she didn’t let it slow her down. She finally left her service job and took up the cause of women in the services. She successfully caused our government to rescind policy preventing women from fighting alongside men in shooting wars.

 

On My Honor

 

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My technique for finding good books to read has once again rewarded me. It is simple. Walk into the library, find the recent book shelfs and explore the titles. This time it was the cover art that sucked me in. How could a former scoutmaster like myself resist a book with a Boy Scout on the cover? In fact, this art is not original, I recall this being a Norman Rockwell depiction. Regardless, the story is called The Hearts of Men, by Nickolas Butler.

I have to hand it to Nick, he stayed true to his theme right to the very end, and wrote a story about Scouts and the impact that Scouting has on boys who eventually become men. The story is about friendship that begins in scout camp, and ends at the death-bed.  The lead characters become fathers, and grand fathers whose sons, and grand kids become characters too.

Author Butler also gives us an insight into the effects of the Viet Nam War, and the scars it left on those who fought. It isn’t pretty. My heart felt the pain of the Vets who did make it home to suffer for the remainder of their lives with PTSD, and horrific dreams.

By the end of the story I suffered an attack of dry eye. The outcome being a massive gush of tears flooding from my eyes to compensate for the dryness. I’m sure anyone who reads this story will encounter a similar attack.

The description of scout summer camp could only have been told by a former camper, and the realism of the effects of war also smacks of one who has experienced it. I’m going to be thinking about this story for a long, long time. Within the camp stories there is realistic depiction of men and their relationships with their mothers, fathers, wives, girlfriends, lovers, and buddies. The characters are real, and the emotions expressed are definitely true. The description of the scenes etched pictures in the mind, and the dialogue between characters is very believable and real.

Catching Up

For the longest time I have seen ads claiming that Cable television is running scared. I could not determine what the heck they were afraid of. At that time I subscribed to cable for my internet and television service. Then, this year my cell phone died. I was forced to buy a new one. My landline has been with ATT since the first time I had to buy service in 1961. This time, however, I decided to take advantage of the entire package; land line, cell phone, internet, and TV. The package saved me one hundred dollars a month for the first two years at least. I have endured the ATT internet service to take advantage of the savings, but it is clearly slower than cable. At my age I don’t want anything to be slower because I am trying to squeeze more out of life; waiting for a website to come up does not fit into that scenario.

Two weeks ago, Peg’s caretaker took a day off to attend a party at a friend’s house. The caretaker is from a foreign country, and is not a tech-nerd by any means, but she does know how to save a buck. She came home all excited to show me something she had bought at Best Buy. The gadget is an Amazon FireTVStick. I looked down my nose at it and said I’d try it out.  She couldn’t say enough good about this device. The host of the party she attended had one installed and bragged about how wonderful it was and all the TV was for free. The host is a Russian immigrant who barely speaks English, but was very aware of the Firestick

With the advent of fiber-optic phone lines there has been a major advance in the ability to transmit tons of information over phone lines.  Back in the late eighties and early nineties I visited Sprint in Kansas City, KS as an engineer. These people were diligently working on improving the transmission of data across phone lines. They excitedly explained the benefits of what they were doing. I nodded my head and took it all on faith that they knew what they were doing. I was more focused on trying to solve their problems with my product, a lowly cable tie.

The future that Sprint was working on has arrived. The threat that Cable TV is worried about is called streaming. Today, young people with computers and cell phones are getting their entertainment over the phone lines via a process called streaming. The Firestick is a piece of hardware that allows those of us who have Wi-Fi and digital TV’s to take advantage of streaming. Streaming is the transmission of TV signals over phone lines, and through the atmosphere wirelessly.

Most of us have heard of YouTube. It is a Google process which allows us to load videos onto the internet. Right now, Google has more content available than a person can view watching full-time for a lifetime, and there is more being posted everyday. What I was not aware of is that the stuff we watch on TV is also available on YouTube.

While I was sleeping and surfing the net for news, the youth of the world have been busy working to take advantage of the entertainment content available on the internet. New companies have sprung up with products that allow it all to happen. Most of it is software that allows a user to capture all the streams of data that are traversing the universe; the Amazon FireTVstick is one of them.

This week I finally attacked the Firestick and began to play with it. At this point it is still beating me, but I will conquer the damn thing and we will be watching TV transmitted by Wi-Fi over the internet. When I do conquer the thing it will enable me to quit the TV subscription I have from ATT and save eighty-nine bucks a month, or a whopping one thousand and sixty-eight dollars a year; no wonder Cable is running scared.

Like always when I work with something new like the Firestick I searched YouTube for videos that would show me how to make it work. I even use YouTube to learn how to cook recipes. What I found amazed me. There are dozens of Nerds making videos on how to use streaming devices. What is more surprising is that they have hundreds of thousands of views. The world is on the cusp of using streaming as a way to view video content on TV’s, computers, tablets, and cell phones. Even an old guy like me will learn how to do it and soon will master an entirely new technology. Who said you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. Well at least for now I haven’t mastered the steps to success.

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