Air Force Museum – SR 71

I am starting a new tradition here called Photo Saturday. I have a vacation portfolio of more than 10,000 pictures so I thought I would pull some out every Saturday. I hope you enjoy them.

The SR-71 Blackbird has always been one of my favorite airplanes. This one is located at the Air Force Museum in Dayton Ohio. This is kind of a different view.  If you are interesting in the history of flight this museum is top rate.


‎”Opportunity is missed by most people because it’s dressed in overalls and looks like work”– Thomas Edison

Thomas Edison certainly wasn’t one to shy away from work. Another of his famous quotes was.

Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration.

People, no matter the period, have always dreamed of striking it rich; we want instant wealth with the least amount of work possible. That is what drives all the lotteries that currently rake in billions of dollars each year. That is what keeps all the casinos that are popping up in almost every State still growing. That is what keeps the scammers alive and prospering on the Internet. We just can’t seem to learn the lesson that if it looks too good to be true it probably is. We are a sucker for anything that would make us instantly rich.

Everyone wants to get rich without all the perspiration.  But as Edison so aptly put it in the above quotes opportunity and genius don’t just happen; they take work to accomplish. I know we see all the movies and TV shows that tell us that thirty year olds are at the head of most research labs, corporations, and such but that simply is not the reality.  It takes a lot of perspiration and hard work, sometime for many years, to accomplish most of what is worthwhile in this world. For the most part thirty year olds are just at the beginning of that process. You don’t become a genius without the work.

When the first personal computer came out it became a passion for me.  I spent hours and hours of my own time learning to program it. One weekend I remember the most is when I started working on an app Friday evening after I got off work and did not stop until Sunday afternoon. I spent about 42 hours non-stop with no sleep and not much more than chips to eat. I would call that passion. I went from there to getting a Macintosh computer for work and writing some programs that helped me do my job. Soon after that I was writing apps for my entire work team. When my new talent was discovered by my superiors I went on to managing a team of applications engineers for an entire engineering division. I plateaued at that point because those above me could not see a deaf man leading an entire IT department. Sad for me but it was mainly their loss.

Anything worth accomplishing is worth the effort to make it happen.

Almost as Good As an iPad….

Source: Windows 8: We kick the tyres on Redmond’s new tablet wheels • The Register.

Why is it that the once innovative start-up companies turn into stodgy of slow-moving monoliths? Of course in my mind Microsoft is currently at the front of this pack. I remember when Windows first came out to compete with Apple products.  They were a young and brash bunch back then. They actually started the business by writing an operating system for the current monolith called IBM. The stories about how all the Microsoft guys would dare to show up in meetings between the two companies without suit and ties was the topic of the day back then. The Microsoft guys just didn’t play by the same rules as those stodgy IBM “suits”.

It’s funny how one company can go one way and another a different path. As I mentioned Apple and Microsoft pretty much started at the same time but have taken very different paths since then. Apple continues today to be the innovator to watch while Microsoft who now imitates others and is watched mainly to see when they will fall from dominance. They have now become the IBM that they so loathed back then while Apple, at least for now, continue to bring out new innovative things on a regular basis.

Will there come a day when Apple will also go stodgy? Is the death of its founder Steve Jobs a beginning of that process? Maybe, maybe not.  When the business sector fully embraces Apple products and they are doing that with the iPad now, Microsoft’s dominance in the operating system and business apps will wither away.  Someday I would love to tell the folks at the large communications company that forced our engineering division from Macs to Windows PC “I told you so…” but given how slow big business moves even now that time may well be years away.

The “start-up kids” growing into major corporations is on the wane now due to the cash rich companies like FaceBook and Microsoft who gobble them up while they are still infants in the industry.  But someday again their will be a brash kid who says no to all that money and becomes the next radical leader to take over an industry. The future economic health of our country, as in the past, depends on that happening.

To close will the Microsoft tablet which is “almost as good as an iPad” become a success. Given the recent history of the company I kind of doubt it….

Its About Time — Whites Account for Under Half of Births in U.S.

source: Whites Account for Under Half of Births in U.S. –

After years of speculation, estimates and projections, the Census Bureau has made it official: White births are no longer a majority in the United States.

I bet the racist blogs this morning are white-hot, pun intended, talking about this article! But for myself I say it is about time. I think that our strongest point as a nation is our diversity. We generally don’t have one segment of society having total say on the rest of us. Now I am not inferring that the tyranny of the majority doesn’t, or hasn’t, reared its ugly head in the U.S. but generally those periods are eventually overthrown by the vote.

Just look at other countries to see the fierce partisan divide between Sunni and Shiite, between Muslims and Jews, between this or that.  We in the U.S. are just too diverse now for that to happen. There is one caveat to that however and that is the growing disparity between the 1% who currently control the vast majority of the wealth and the other 99% of us.  I am confident that some day this grossly imbalanced fact will the ameliorated hopefully by the vote and not by violence.

We as a country celebrate our diversity as we rightly should. Let us pray that the partisan divide that is so visible in other countries never happens here again. Let us remember that we are now all minorities in our great country.

Breaking Promises……

Source NYT: Lawmakers look for way out as defense cuts near – politics – The New York Times –

On Jan. 2, national security is set to receive a heavy blow if Congress fails to intervene. That is when a 10-year, $600 billion, across-the-board spending cut is to hit the Pentagon, equal to roughly 8 percent of its current budget.

The real test of a man is in his word. When a person says he will do something and then reneges on that promise he loses face.

What the politicians, especially those in the conservative party, seem to casually ignore about these across the board cuts is that all the social programs such as feeding the poor and help for the homeless gets the same 10% cut. I guess its Ok for the poor are but not for our already bloated war machine!! After all we spend more on our military than the other 95% of the world combined. It would be interesting to see the parallels in military funding and broken promises in the fallen Roman empire. They also insisted that military might was the top priority all the way to the end.

If these guys get away with reneging on their pledge/law and not cut our military budgets it will mean that all the social programs that take care of the “least of these” will have to take an even deeper cut. My conservative friends boast that we are a Christian nation and then take money away from the poor to give it to the war makers. Jesus taught us totally otherwise.  He blessed a lot of things but he didn’t bless the war makers.

How can we trust these guys if their word, let alone the things they pass into law, means nothing to them. It is past time for us to do some thorough house cleaning!!

But what do I know….

Getting Someone To Read It…..

Over here you can write whatever you want to. The only trouble getting somebody that will read it. – April 18, 1933  Will Rogers

Sometimes we in the U.S. forget just how good we have it. As Will says over here we can write whatever we want.  That is definitely not the case in many parts of the world today.  Yes, FaceBook and such have made putting your words out there easier but they can still cause some bodily harm. Let’s never forget that we have it so well here.

But to us authors, I am including all us bloggers in that category, just getting the words out there is only half the battle. Getting people to read them is the other half. That brings to mind the old quote:

if a tree falls in the forest and no one hears it did it make a sound?

I humbly say that I am blogging for my own benefit but my vanity makes me check on the blog stats on a regular basis. It is nice to know that some think my writing is worthy enough to spend their time reading them!!

The above quote about the tree reminds me of one I found on a T-shirt on Mackinac Island a few years ago.  I wear it occasionally just to pull my wife’s chain

If a man says something and there is no woman around to hear it is he still wrong?

Thanks to all of you out there who find my words worthy enough for your valuable time…..

Inspiring Words From Gandhi…

As human beings, our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world — that is the myth of the atomic age — as in being able to remake ourselves — Gandhi

Gandhi was a firm believer that small actions can result in big things. He spent much of his live doing small things but the result did remake the world. He managed to free India from British rule and he became the godfather of the idea of peaceful resistance which was later used by Martin Luther King and many others over the years.

We all need to understand the words above. Most of us wish that somehow we could remake the world into something with more compassion and justice but that is too big a dream for just one person. What we must each do is to find something that will make an even infinitely small contribution to that dream and when it is compiled with millions of other small efforts the end result will happen.

The lesson to be learned from this inspiring quote above is to stop complaining about the way things are and start doing some small things about it. If your would like to see world hunger solved, and it can be solved, contribute a few cans of food to a local food kitchen. How about giving a few hours to the Meals-on-Wheels organization?  If you are worried about people dying from preventable health causes let your representatives know you are for universal healthcare that much of the rest of the world already has. If that is not your thing then find someplace where you can volunteer at a local free clinic by for instance picking up people who can’t get there by themselves.  Even a few hours a month would mean something.

Just get involved no matter how small you think the effort is. If you do that and millions of other do the same then the world will be remade. It takes all of us to do our part to make big things happen. Individually it is impossible but as a group we can, like Gandhi and his followers, accomplish much. Just get off your hind side and do something!

Do what you can to remake yourself and in the process be a part of remaking the world….

Aside… History Ain’t

I don’t know if you have noticed or not but I have been feeling artsy lately so have been playing with the header to this blog. The quote found there will change often and some of the other things as I get the urge. The quote for today does strike home to me. With the blog I get my chance to tell you what history is.  I definitely feel the power; I hope it doesn’t corrupt me 🙂



My wife is a worrier. That is just who she is. I have learned to accept that part of her character over the years.  Sometimes when she is not worrying she worries about not worrying enough. 🙂 I only bring this up here to say I see the same thing in the U.S. stock market. They are just worrier who worry that they might miss something to worry about.

Years ago the value of a stock was determined by the performance of the company. Now it seems to be more related to: how the EU is doing, what the unemployment index is, whether Greece will finally “get it”, what the fed chairman says, and hundreds of like things.  I guess you could say the same thing is true for gas prices as well.  They seem to turn on a dime whenever someone has something to worry about.

Me, I’m not so much a worrier as I could never compete with my wife or the stock market in that respect. I don’t worry so much. My tendency is to get gloomy when I think of the dark side of life. How it is not fair or just for so many people  in the world. I try to stay away from the dark side as much as possible but like Darth Vader it seems to draw me into its realm on occasion.

I’m not sure if it is easier to be a worrier or a dark sider. But I don’t want to think about it anymore right now so I will just drop it….. 😉

Gaming The System……

Source: Get personalized help to max out Social Security.

Social Security Solutions’ optimization plan calls for my wife to file for her own benefits at age 67 but immediately suspend her payments — a perfectly legal strategy known as a file-and-suspend.

We start getting some Social Security benefits immediately when I apply (at age 66) to receive a spousal benefit based on her earnings record, half of what she could receive.

At age 70, my wife starts her own benefits; a year later, I switch to my own benefit when I turn 70. Both of our benefits are now at the maximum monthly level possible for the rest of our lives. Later on, after I (gulp) die first, my wife switches to a survivor benefit, which is 100 percent of my benefit…..

I’m sure all this stuff above is legal but, come on,  finding all the loop holes to get the most possible is carrying it too far in my mind.  Of course this article came from a large financial company.  They are used to gaming the system. These guys I’m sure have a large lobbying group in D.C. and make sure that these sort of loop holes are written into our laws.

Our government needs to adopt my current mantra in life and that is Simplify. If we could somehow get rid of all those lawyers around and put this stuff back into common folk’s hands I’m sure our laws would be simpler and with many less loop holes. But maybe the world has just gotten too complicated for simplicity?

Putting the level of social security benefits that you get related to what you paid in makes sense but it seems that the system has just spurned too may other conditions. I know that about one-third of those collecting benefits are not the seniors who paid into them. If the Republicans insist of changing the system then let’s put those folks in a different payout pool and take social security back to the insurance it was meant to be.  But I’m sure this would do little to placate my conservative friends who would be very happy to see social security go the way of the horse and buggy. In their minds if government is involved then it must be wrong.

Free Speech….

Source: Democrats, GOP debate political non-profits’ donors –

Conservatives in Congress have mounted an aggressive drive to block new proposals aimed at unmasking anonymous donations to groups such as Crossroads GPS— which is spending $2 million this month alone on ads targeting McCaskill and two other Democratic Senate candidates. Crossroads GPS, affiliated with Republican strategist Karl Rove, does not have to reveal its contributors because it is a non-profit advocacy group, not a political action committee.

In a fiery speech last week, the Senate’s top Republican, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, denounced a Democratic bill in Congress that would require non-profit political groups to reveal their funders and accused President Obama and his campaign of Nixon-style dirty tricks to restrict opponents’ free speech.

I know I am boycotting politics now but sometimes something comes up that I must address and this is one of those times.  It is bad enough that the 1% can now spend unlimited amounts of money in our ever increasingly dirty politics but now they don’t want you to know just who is doing all the mud-slinging. They don’t want to bear responsibility for what they are paying millions for.

I certainly agree with free speech. I believe it is truly one of the foundational things that make this country what it is. But free speech does not mean you are not responsible for what you say.  I live in a small town of about 8,000 with a local newspaper. When I want to send a “letter to the editor” I am required to identify myself before doing that. But the guys who are putting  out millions of dollars in vitriol ads don’t think it is necessary for them to do the same? When just a small handful of people have already spent over $7 million to get one person out of office we need to be informed of who is buying so much political power.

I hope even some of my conservative friends will be in favor of disclosure in this instance. But I kind of doubt it. They seem to toe the line whenever their leaders tug their leashes, and that seems to be almost all the time now…. 🙂

On-The-Road Washington DC

Ok this is the close up post for this on-the-road series on Washington DC.  I missed a few days posts because of late night arrivals to the hotel and just being too tired after we got home yesterday.

After we left DC on Monday we went to Baltimore Maryland’s Inner Harbor for a quick visit. We got there just after a celebration weekend for their part in the war of 1812. Fort McHenry there is where our national anthem was written during this war so they make a big deal out of that one. As a result of the celebration there were a number of tall ships there in port.

During our limited time there we decided to go to the National Aquarium.  It cost more than $25 each to get it so we were expecting the best. Unfortunately we were disappointed. While the building is large for the most part there were just thousands of small displays about fish and much other info. There were a couple of big tanks but nothing too exciting. If we had a full day and wished to know a lot about fish this would have been the place to go.

I did manage to get a plate of oysters on the half-shell while we were there. It has been quite a while since I had them and they, unlike the aquarium were exceptional! I just don’t trust oysters that are sold more than 50 miles from their source, especially on the half-shell/raw.

I promised to give you some overall thoughts about this trip so here goes. This was the first time we have gone on a bus tour group trip of this kind.  We found some things that we wished were different but overall I think it was a very positive experience.  We wished we could have eliminated things like shopping malls and such and that we could have spent more time as some of the sites we whizzed by.

But the positive part of the trip was the camaraderie of going with a group of about 40 other people. We made several new friends on the trip and thoroughly enjoyed almost everyone with us.  There was one RR Republican who seemed to want to “convert” us to the “right” party on occasion but for the most part we were able to avoid her 🙂 .  My wife is much more sociable than I am so she thoroughly enjoyed that part and I enjoyed it because she did.  She was the first one of our group to jump up and dance with the African-American group who joined us for the last night celebration at the hotel.

Would we do it again? I can say yes to that question but we are not giving up on our solo vacations. As a matter of fact we will be spending a week by ourselves at Mesa Verde National Park Lodge in about three weeks from now. So, expect another on-the-road report soon….

On-The-Road Washington DC Day 4

The first thought that comes to mind to describe today is CROWDED!!! Everywhere we went there was simply masses of people. I expected crowds, even on a Sunday, but not that many.  We started the day at Arlington Cemetery and caught the changing of the guard as soon as we arrived. It was a rather somber thing. But then again I think there were more live people there than there were dead ones. We actually missed the grave of JFK because there were people crowding around it we just didn’t see it.  I seems like it must have been downsized since 1988 when we were there last time

We made several of the museums today but again they were wall-to-wall. Yvonne wanted to see the Hope diamond so we headed to the Natural History museum. They were about teen deep around it but after about 5 minutes she did get close enough to snap a picture.  It was an enjoyable day but could have been much better if they had closed down Washington DC for the day and let our small group have it alone  🙂

I guess this trip is taking its toll on us senior citizens as we all were slumping  when we got on the bus at 5:00pm.  We headed for dinner at our hotel at 6:30pm and they have a three-piece band there playing all the old songs from the 60s and 70s. I guess they knew who their audience was. But there was also a bus group of all African-Americans at the dinner also. When the band started playing some of the hip-hop stuff many of them came up and started dancing. My wife being a brave heart as she is joined them and before lone many in our group were also on the dance floor. It was really rocking when they ended a couple of hours later.  I doubt if it would have been so lively if our new black friends had not been there.

Tomorrow morning we get back on the bus and say goodbye to DC. It finished off strong.  We then head for Baltimore for about a three-hour lay over in the afternoon and then it is back on the road towards home.

More on that tomorrow….

On-The-Road Washington DC Day 3

Today started at 5:00am. We left so early that we missed breakfast at the hotel but did make it to the White House before 8:00am as dictated by the security people there. They seem to be much more serious about their job than when I was there forty-seven years ago. 🙂 We were only allowed to go through some of the rooms on the first floor but did manage to see everything between the East Room and the West Room. Was it worth getting up so early? I am not sure yet; I guess so….

After the White House today was Memorial Day. No, I don’t mean like that one at the end of May but the one where we spent the day touring the Washington memorials.  We managed to see just about all of them. I am including some pictures here.  The new ones were the Korea and World War II memorials for me.

We visited the Vietnam memorial. I had been there before but had not been able to find the name of a good friend from college who was killed almost upon arrival there in late 1969.  He left behind a new bride and a son who was born about seven months after his death! I didn’t think actually touching his name on that wall would affect me as it did. I was very choked up for a little while there. It just brought back a rush of memories.

Tomorrow we will visit Arlington Cemetery. That is a very somber place as it should be. I just get upset to see all the young lives that were extinguished because of all our wars.  It seems like we have been battling different countries for my entire life. When will we ever get over our rush to war?

One change that is kind of depressing is that the reflection pool in the mall is now dry and full of various kinds of construction equipment. I’m not sure all they have planned for it but I don’t think there will be much of it left when they are done. There is still a lot of construction going on all over the city.

When we weren’t walking around memorials we  were cruising around almost every street in the city at least twice. We couldn’t get close to the Capital as too much construction going on. Since I have been there twice before that was not important to me this time but I think some were upset about that.

I guess before I close for the night I need to do another evaluation of the tour bus vacation. It was good in some ways and not so good in others. I sure would have liked to spend more time in some of the places we briefly passed today. We closed the day with a visit to the Pentagon City shopping mall. I could have done without that completely.  Maybe the best way to do this touring of such a loaded city as DC is to take a one day tour and then spend another day or two on your own to visit the places that peak your interest?

Tomorrow we spend most of the day in museums. Since they are all very close together we are on a “pick-your-own” museum. That is something I have to do as soon as I sign off here. I have a couple of destinations in mind but maybe one or two others will come to mind.

More on that tomorrow.

On-The-Road Washington DC Day 2

We got into our hotel room early today at 5:00pm. It, like yesterday, was pretty much a road day but we did get in two sites.

We made an unscheduled visit the Flight 93 Memorial in central Pennsylvania this morning. There is really not much there to see but the placards strategically placed around the site gave it a serious feeling. For those of you who might not remember Flight 93 was one of the four planes that the terrorists hijacked on 9/11. It was the only one that did not make it to its target. It went down twenty minutes short of the Capital. About the only thing that is there is a quarter-mile walk with a black wall and marble slabs with the names of the victims.

The second stop, besides lunch, was to the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum. Yeah, we finally made it to the D.C. area. This museum is a new one for us. It was built after our 1988 trip. The most viewed thing in the museum is the Space Shuttle Discovery. It was bigger  and also cruder than I imagined. Yvonne said she thought the upper part looked like it was made from paper mache.  The picture here is kind of eerie with the light shining on it. It reminded me of the movie “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”. Speaking of that they also had the model of that ship there and it is about 3 feet in diameter! That’s Hollywood for you.   I also got another peak of my favorite plane and that is the SR-71 Blackbird. That plane has always fascinated me!

Maybe I am just getting used to this tour bus stuff as there is nothing much to say about it today. 🙂  We are getting to know the others on the tour. They are a bunch of nice folks.  We are scheduled for a group dinner in about ten minutes so I better get moving. Tomorrow is a full day starting with a White House tour..

More about that later.


We learned at dinner that we will have to get up around 5:30 in the morning to meet the White House schedule. It is almost unreal as to the rules you have to follow to be allowed on the White House grounds now. No this, no that, no just about anything.  I will probably be too sleepy to even remember the tour and since no cameras are allow I hope I have something to report about it tomorrow night. (ha).