Friday, January 29, 2010

Getting Visitors to My Blog

I guess most bloggers would like to have some folks stop by and read what they write. You know our deepest thoughts on any number of chosen subjects. The current events of Washington DC and the New York Stock Exchange, Wall Street.

Getting those visitors from the millions is tough because it seems that websites are like opinions. We all got ours. I often wonder what tricks people use. There are many. Some may insert a lot of senseless words and phrases into the post which are not visible to the human eye but work very well with the search spiders roaming around websites. They might mention some new movie or a celeb who slipped and fell or found a new beau. It would ring a bell someplace and there you go with the hits. Maybe that's not it.

I don't think it is quality content because I have seen some strange sites at the top of search engines. Often, I have to go down to find a site that has useful information. It is a mind boggling experience to do research on live Internet. You never know if it is true or not.

Maybe people study current events and insert those key words i.e. Haiti, earthquake, fishing in Alaska, mudslide or snow storm. It may have nothing to do with the article but provides words that will get people there when they do a search of a word or phrase that is popular.

This posting is basically nonsense. I am doing it as an experiment to see if any of these words will pick up strangers coming to my website. If they come, maybe some of what I have to say will make them want to come back. Maybe not. We will check the counter to see if my meter runs up. I could throw in making money online and probably get a few hits but that would not be fair to those who actually need to make money online. I already put it in so I guess I will leave it since I already explained that this is an experiment. You could call it research. You could call it curiosity. I've written about dogs, politics, cows, rain and just a whole range of subjects. So we'll see if this works so next time I will know how to get visitors. I won't cheat though, I'd just like to know. Here's hoping for a landslide of people checking out my writing and thinking.

Thursday, January 28, 2010


I do not want a dog and I do want a dog. Crazy right? I have had several dogs. Some of them were family dogs, some of them were, what I would consider, my dogs. I have only had one cat. I named him Nebuchadnezzar. He was mean and bit me. No offense, I do not like cats. A good dog, however, is priceless.

We had a dog named Butch. He was a collie. I do not know exactly which kind but he was rather small and of a lighter color. No long nose. Butch was a good farm dog and very good around children. Once my Mom spanked my brother for crawling off our high porch backwards. Butch saw her. The next day we heard him (my brother)crying and when we went out there (we wouldn't far away anyway), there was Butch with one foot on my brother's back stopping him from crawling off the porch. Collie's learn very fast.

There was another dog that was of the collie breed but he was black and white. He was smaller than Butch but very quick. When I went up on the hill to pray, he would always go with me. He never bothered me and would lay down a few feet away. He just came to our house one day. I called him Traveler. He left the same way. Guess he got homesick for his real home.

We had another dog that we raised from a puppy. His name was Major. He was a mean looking black German Police. He wasn't only mean looking, he would try to assault any trespassers. We had to keep a tight lease on him. His genetics controlled him more than we could. I think he got stolen but I cannot be sure.

Buck was a good dog. He was reddish color with short soft hair. Good natured too. We were down on our luck while we had him and lived out in the woods in a camper. Buck did okay. He found a neighbor that ate better than us and so really had two homes. Once he came running down the hill after me and was looking back over his shoulder while he ran. He about knocked me over when he hit my legs at full speed. There was a big old owl that use to swoop down after him but he was too fast for it. We left him with the guy who could afford to feed him steak.

The last dog I had came to us (I think someone put him out). He would not leave and looked rather mean. I was afraid he might bite someone. Since he would not leave, I made friends with him. He became my pet. I never had any trouble getting him to do what I said. He did not like for us to leave the house and would try to follow us. He was named Dog and was part chow and part shepherd. His prior training was his downfall. He was apparently taught (in a prior life) to keep children out of the road. So when a little girl came by the house, he latched onto the bicycle wheel and held it. I was not home then. They tried to get him to turn loose but, in the dogs mind, he was rescuing the little girl. Someone thought it was aggression and shot the dog. I can understand. The little girl is much more important. Thing is, I do not want another dog because I do not want to loose another dog. I find it very sad that people do not keep up with their dogs better and train them correctly, i.e. where the property lines are located.

Ford County - John Grisham - Book Review

Ford County - Stories - by John Grisham book review. Doubleday, 308 pages. A collection of 7 stories.

John Grisham is one of my favorite authors. I enjoy reading his stories. He can usually surprise me along the way. These short stories are not his best work, in my humble opinion. He has cleaned up his writing considerably in his full length works. Still, he does not get nasty. He lets the characters be who they are in the stories. I suppose lawyers deal mostly with people like these. The stories are no where near what we see on television and, for an adult, they give some insight into areas we do not normally see, unless we are one of those who travel in darker circles.

I almost forgot to mention. For a writer, the one paragraph in the front of the book is worth the price of the book, coming from John Grisham.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Going to Church in the Old Days

It must have been about three miles from our house to the little white church. Sometimes most of us children walked to church, sometimes it was just some of us. I do not remember a time when we all went at the same time. My brother just older than me usually went every Sunday. It was hard on the little girls to make the trip but they did very often.

(In my early childhood, I remember us all piling into the '48 Ford and going to cottage prayer meetings. I always got the space over the back seat under the big back window. Even earlier than that, I remember going to church on a wagon with no bed but it had rubber tires and was pulled by mules. But back to my story.)

The road was dusty with dried out clay. I think it was what they used to make the roads passable in those days. That stuff was two inches of dust in dry weather and two inches of sticky yellow mud when it rained. Usually the cars would make two tracks in the wet clay and it would be a hard packed place to walk but you had to keep your balance. When a car came along, we'd have to get out of the tracks. Since cars did not always stay in the tracks, we got off in the trees until they passed. By that time, we would have sticky mud on our shoes which we had spent some time getting clean.

We tried to wipe them off with pine needles or leaves but inevitability we would get to church with mud on our shoes and half way up our britches' legs. It dry weather we'd be covered with dust from passing cars.

Walking into church we would always be greeted with smiles. The thing I remember most about church was the beautiful singing. I was really shy so I seldom went to the choir. I loved to hear the ones who did go though. Another thing I remember was the smell of gas from the gas heaters. There is just a certain smell from gas heat whether the heaters are on or not. Then there were the wasps that would start to swarm when the church building got good and warm. That was usually about the time the preacher got going good. Sometimes one would get stuck in a lady or a girl's hair and us boys would sit and try to decide whether to grab it, knock it or just watch it. You might get stung by the wasp or the girl if she thought you were flirting.

Going home was always an experience. Sometimes we would get a ride. One lady had a T-model pickup and we would pile in the back or hang on the running board. Others had regular cars and would sometimes give us a ride. Once we rode home on the back of a pulpwood truck, loud mufflers and all. It had no bed so we just hung on to whatever we could. I had the pleasure of hanging on to one of the girls who sung in the choir and to a cross member on the truck. When she lost her hold on the truck, I was holding me and her both to keep us from falling in front of the dual wheels. As much fun as it was, I was never so glad for a vehicle to stop.

There were many times when we walked all the way home in the dark. Sometimes there was a moon, sometimes we walked by the outline of the trees beside the road. We had to walk beside a pasture fence part of the way. We often heard some critter walking along beside us just on the other side of the fence. We later discovered that there were panthers in those woods beyond the pasture.

In the following years, because we seldom had a working car, I still walked to church but often it was alone. At one place we lived there was a dark woods on both sides of the road most of the way home. People had to go to work the next morning so mostly I walked home after church. I remember that after this last patch of woods there was a long stretch where there were no trees and I could see the porch light that Mama left on for me. I always looked forward to seeing that light. It did nothing to light my way but I knew that I would be home soon. It seems now, that I am growing old, that I am in that last patch of woods looking for the porch light.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

President's Freeze and Health Care Reform

With the election of a Republican in Mass. the Democratic Health care reform bill is pretty much done for. Suddenly the president announces a freeze on programs directly related to health care, i.e. medicare. This seems a little like vengeance to me. It is as if he is saying, 'all you conservatives want to play hardball, I can do that." I do not know if that is his thought or not but it certainly seems that way. I just don't get why he is so set against the elderly. I don't have the numbers but I expect that was a block of the population that did not sweep him into office, although AARP did support his reform bill. That was the organization AARP, not the people of AARP.

When it comes right down to it, the government had rather send billions to foreign countries to try to bribe them into not killing each other than to see that Americans are provided for. We are not looking for a hand out...we'd just like to keep the money we have paid in here where it belongs.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Tin Roofs

If you have never lived in a house with a tin roof, you have missed an experience. Mostly, the thrill comes when it rains. I've heard it rain so hard that it would block out all other sound. Other times, it was just a gently rain that made it about impossible to stay awake.

I remember once, my sister and I, were just little tots. Mama sent us over to the neighbor, who was also our landlord, to buy a dozen eggs. We didn't have egg cartons, so we had to carry them in a brown paper sack. You had to be really gentle with the bag or the eggs would squash together and crack.

We were on our way home, about a half mile, when a summer cloud came up behind us. We were just kids but we watched the weather. For one thing, you couldn't chop cotton when it was raining so we got a break and we could sit in the house and break beans or something. Sometimes we'd get to cut corn off the cob. Yeah, kids with knives. We learned early to use tools without cutting our throat.

Well, we started walking faster so we could get home before it started raining. Getting wet would not have been so bad but being wet with it lightning was not so good. Even then we had sense enough to get in out of the rain. It seemed the cloud was determined to catch up with us. Finally, we started running. I held the eggs with one hand and pulled my little sister with the other hand. I was the runner in the family and her little legs were barely touching the ground.

Even with pulling her, carrying the eggs and running; I still remember looking back and seeing the big drops of rain hit the dust behind us. We rain faster. Just as we topped the steps onto the porch it started to rain very hard. The old house had a tin roof as well as the porch. It pounded down with a roar but we were dry. We had outrun the storm and were safe under our tin roof. The eggs survived although a couple were cracked.

Later Mama and some of the other kids told me they had been watching us and the rain trying to catch up with us. They smiled at our speed and victory over the cloud.

If there was no work to do, I had a haven from our large family and the clutter of the day. When I saw a rain cloud coming, I'd take off to the barn which also had a tin roof. There was nothing more peaceful than lying in the loft on the big bags of cow feed (cotton seed and crushed corn) and listening to the rain and thunder while I watched it puddle up in the barn yard.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Infrastructure of the United States

We have outgrown our roads. Anyone who travels will know this to be true. You might cruise along for a while but when you get within a hundred miles of one of the major cities, you are in for a stressful trip. It shows up in the way people drive. It shows up in wear and tear on vehicles and fuel consumption. It shows up in time lost. Time equals production in our economy. You cannot just count road time. You have to count recovery time for those who get to work and must come down from the trip.

Our present highway system was a great idea and has served us well. We need a new great idea to take us beyond this point. If the world stands, the population will only increase. For our country, it means everyone who can scrap together some cash or credit will want a car when they get old enough to work a few days a week. Something has to be done but it must be done with freedom in mind. You cannot just wait until there is a national bottleneck and a national emergency to start thinking about it.

There must be some ways the traffic on our highways can be diminished without telling people what to do with their lives.

I think Disney World can offer one suggestion. The train they have going around the park would make a great way to travel between major cities. Locally, they talk about a train between Chattanooga and Atlanta but this talk only peaks when gas prices go up. Then, it dies down again. We actually need a nice train from Chattanooga all the way to the coast of Georgia, then south to Florida's major cities. Since tax from gas is a major source of revenue for the state, they will have to change their mindset for this to happen. Such a system would benefit everyone if carried out properly. You'd want a paying system set up that would be not so costly to build. That leg would support future building. The way to do that would be to build a leg to the beach where everyone would like to go once in a while if they could afford it.

Washington and the Baltimore area desperately need a system to carry their local traffic around the area.

Another way to cut down on the mess would be for businesses to put forth a dedicated effort to let people work closer to their home. For example, people with identical jobs could swap jobs on a voluntary basis. The incentive would be the savings in transportation. Business travel could be traded for teleconferences. It would cut down on travel expenses, airport congestion and those late night bar room deals where customers prefer entertainment to quality service.

We need a long range vision but a short range goal. Do what we can afford. Pick out two cities and build a nice transient system. Use it for a model to encourage others and to work out the bugs.

I hate to say it, since I love the sound of a good engine when it accelerates, but for the future, cars should be a diminishing thing, the railroad should be used more instead of so many long haul trucks. It will require a complete change in the mindset of America. It will require a vision. It will require a willingness to turn lose of a fun time and plan for a better day.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

People and Cars Everywhere

The new Republican Senator from up north, when asked about future plans for president, said to give him some time "...I haven't even been down to Washington yet." So, he is in for a surprise. He should take his truck and put on bumper guards.

I have had the misfortune of driving in and around D.C. It is nightmarish. I could not help but wonder if the driving frenzy on the roads also drives the attitudes in the halls of Congress. They are bound to be in a bad mood by the time they get to work. No wonder Biden takes the train. Even D.C. drivers would think twice before bullying a train. (I think.)

I am building to a point. Getting something done in D.C. must be like working in a room where there is standing room only or in the crowd on 'black' Friday. It is just too crowded.

My solution to this problem is workable in our day of advanced communication. I would suggest moving some federal agencies out of D.C. altogether. For example, the Agriculture department could be moved to the Midwest where a lot of the farming goes on. If they want to tell the president or Congress something, they could send a couple of reps out. The department of Natural Resources could go even further west, perhaps to Montana. And so on!

I think it is a good idea. It would not have worked in 1776 but it would now. Even those in D.C. probably talk on their berry phones anyway.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Impact by Douglas Preston - Book Review

Impact by Douglas Preston, A Tom Doherty Associates Book, 2009, 364 pages.

I'm very mixed on this book. I would not read it again. The plot is very interesting but the book is laced with profanity. I therefore cannot recommend it to anyone of whatever age.

A strange thing has happened from outer space, in particularly a planet in our solar system. The story takes the star around the world but the mystery is ultimately solved by a surprising character. It involves politics, jungles, boats and planets so obviously there is something for everyone including some jabs at religion.

Mister Preston would be a writer I would follow if he could clean up his act and stop talking like someone from the back alleys.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Cowboy without a Horse

I asked my wife last night: "Have I ever been a cowboy?" She said she didn't think so. At least, I hadn't told her if I was. That got be to thinking...Do you have to be on a horse to be a cowboy? After all, I did use to take care of cows on the farm. I had to take hay out to them and break up the bales and spread the hay around. They seemed to appreciate it, although, they never said.

Cows are pretty docile if you don't spook them, just like on the westerns. Spook them and it's 'katie bar the door'. They will run over everything in their way.

On this cold winter day the ground was frozen and me and the cows had frosty breath coming out of our noses and mouths. I was minding my own business getting hay off the trailer and spreading it around. Butch was our collie. He herded cattle by making them mad and letting them chase him to the desired location. That day he was just being a bad dog. I tried to tell him but he kept playing around. He would pinch a cow with his teeth on the back of their leg and then run under the fence where they couldn't get to him. He was having a ball.

I on the other hand was out amongst the cows breaking up bales of hay. They couldn't get Butch so eventually they turned their anger toward me and my red shirt. Don't ask me why I wore a red shirt. I knew better. Probably it was because my other one was dirty. I tried to give the cows extra room while I went about my work. They continued to crowd me until I was separated from the tractor and trailer and my load of hay. I decided to sprint away from them and circle back around the old building that was there. That was a bad idea.

The first cow started to cut me off and was followed by the rest of the herd. I didn't know that cow was in charge of the whole bunch. You are right. Butch must have gone to the house now that his fun was over. Anyway, I started to jog and so did the cows. I looked nothing like Butch. He traveled on all fours and ran low to the ground. I ran on twos and was taller than Butch. Somehow the cows got me into open pasture. It was a half mile to the next fence. There were no trees. I was no longer jogging. I ran flat out for the next fence over, that divided our pasture from the neighbors. It took me a quarter of a mile to get enough distance so that the cows could no longer see me. I started to circle and so did they but they lost sight of me finally. Did I say I was fast on my feet?

I made it to the dividing fence and started to climb with the intention of jumping into the other pasture and following the fence line back to my barn. Just as I started to leap I looked down and saw the biggest red bull in the world. It was the neighbors bull who appeared to be watching the whole thing as if it was some kind of show. I threw on the jumping breaks and noticed our cows had gone back toward their breakfast.

I know Butch, the red bull and our cows all had a good laugh over me running down across that pasture not caring what I stepped in. I was not laughing although I do find it a little funny now. I still don't know if that makes me a cowboy. I expect I'd still have to have a horse but on that day I'm sure I could have out run even a horse.

Shipping and Handling

Have you fell for the 'shipping and handling' scam yet? You see these great deals on television where you get one free and all you have to pay is shipping and handling. I've seen the back door discussion on these deals. 'They' tell sellers to make their shipping and handling enough to cover their cost and make a little extra. Often the offer does not say what the shipping and handling is going to be and they want you to leave your credit card number.

I know it is an old scam but I just felt like mentioning it again. Typically, the shipping will be much less than is charged, i.e. 4 bucks for postage with a charge of 10 bucks.

Some offers are real and they will show a shipping cost upfront for us to choose from, i.e. postage or 2 day and so on.

We should all look at those television deals more closely and when we see that thingado we would love to have, check out the fine print and think several times before giving out important information to an 800 number. Caution and restraint is the best route.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Relentless by Dean Koontz- Book Review

Relentless by Dean Koontz, Bantam Books, fiction, 356 pages.

Like a train chugging up a hill, the book moves nicely letting you get use to the scenery and the movement of the train. Then it tops the hill and starts to pick up steam. Soon, you are carried breathtakingly down the mountain with blinding speed to a surprising end.

It is a story of a family, of a writer, of a woman with a gun and a boy genius. They are all full of surprises as the bad man comes after them without cause.

I enjoyed the book. I like it when ordinary people defend themselves against a cruel world.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Earthquake Victims

I'm getting flashback to Katrina with the way rescue efforts are NOT going on in Haiti (sp). Somebody had it right, no one is in charge. I was just a lowly sergeant but I could form a human chain and pass out some water and food pkgs. The local people could be organized to clean a street by hand so relief could get in. Helicopters could fly over and spot crowds of people and return with a water and food drop. It does not have to be a huge bureaucracy before some help can be sent in.

They need to get off their duff. I am sure someone would raise cane if the military took charge for a while to get the stuff moving but it will take such an organization that is already organized in a change of command to get it done.

The administration seems to be more interested in the election for Kennedy's seat than for the hurting people over there.

I'm a little mad over the whole thing. I can imagine the people must think those in charge of relief efforts are a bunch of nuts.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Recent Earthquake

If we plan to help the people there, it should be done with extreme caution so far as the Internet is concerned. As you have heard, scammers will blossom in email and with fake websites. It helps no one to send money to the wrong place. I'd recommend dropping money by a local charity outlet that is helping and then only a check that you can account for later.

State of America

We have been and are going through some hard times in America. It seemed very gloomy a year ago and with good reason. It was mostly because of greed on Wall Street and in huge banks. There they play with money like it was never going to go away. They reward each other with big bonuses and claim it is because their talent is so valuable. I cannot see the value in managers who let their companies go under and who take chances with other peoples money.
They did not learn their lesson last year as evidenced by their actions now. The money is flowing again thanks to the American people. Still people are getting kicked out of their homes. Where is the promised help? I think the attitude by Washington and Wall Street is to just let it run its course and make what they can off the situation. There is no compassion, only words.
One banker said 'it's complicated' like the American people are too ignorant to understand. We understand alright. The government and big banks are like vacuum cleaners made for the sole purpose of sucking all the money they can get out of the American people and the economy. If it were blood, we would be down to just enough to sustain life. Of course, they think that is all we need since we are too ignorant to know what to do with more.
I think it is time for everyone in America to go local. Bank local. Buy local. There is not much we can do about Washington DC. They will take what they want, by force if necessary, to run their pet projects. They will soft-soak us with 'support the troops' (like we would let them down) then proceed to waste money on junk.
My country is very dear to me. This is not criticism of America. It is criticism of those who think America is their own gold mine to take out what ever they well please. It is money they want, so, let us deny them that money. I think most can do without credit cards. It is a ripoff. They let you use their money then charge you gangster interest on it. It is nothing less than a title pawn or a payday loan. When Americans learn to live within their means, Americans will not be so easy to scam.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Old House on a Hill

It is gone now, that old house on the hill, but I remember it well. There were tragic events there and more pleasant ones.

I remember my first sweetheart. I use to get flowers off Mama's flower bush and cram them into my lunch poke (sack, bag) and give them to her on the bus. We never talked at school, just on the bus. Her dad was the bus driver. I remember she was the only one who beat me in handwriting competition. I might have won except I had been outside playing and got some sweat and dirt on the paper. I am glad I lost though.

My sister and I use to have us a playhouse under the front of the big high porch. There was a dug out area where we could stack up rocks and generally get dirty. Someone said later that there were snakes under there. Guess we had protecting angels watching over us. It was there that we made an Indian tee pee out of canes and cardboard boxes. We also tried to sell green beans down by the road.

Our outhouse was on the other end of the garden. Early one winter morning while the ground was frozen I was making my dash there when my foot slipped and I fell hitting my chin on the ground. I guess I had my tongue out for I bit a hole through it. The scar is still there.

It was at this old house where I chased a rooster through the woods and under the house until I caught it. All because Mama wanted to have chicken for supper. It was the story of that chase that got me an A in English and was probably my first effort at creative writing.

My tricycle broke there. It was a big fine machine that I could ride on two wheels when I wanted to. The big kids sat on it and broke it. I still remember it sitting in the yard all broken down. I never got another one. I had an old bicycle later but it was a hand-me-down and did not have brakes. I just coasted to a stop or hit something.

A truck driver lost control and died there when he came down the hill beside the house and crossed the busy highway in front of the house. I remember the blood.

The 'goat man' use to camp across the road. He pulled a wagon with a bunch of goats. We could smell when he arrived and when he left.

My brother practiced the guitar with a neighbor. My other brother found some blasting caps and put them in the heater. I got stung by red wasps and cut my foot on a broken coke bottle.

It's a shame children don't remember better. Oh yeah, Mom and Dad seemed in love then and Grandma Goins came to visit. She played army trucks with me.

Avenger by Frederick Forsyth Book Review

Avenger by Frederick Forsyth of The Day of the Jackal fame. 340 pages. 2003 St. Martin's Press.

My book review. In a phrase, 'It is a good book.' I was not disappointed after remembering the suspense when I discovered and read The Day of the Jackal. I sometimes have my doubts whether an author can do it again but Forsyth did. But he doesn't need my praise at this late date, the cover is loaded with praise from high-powered people who probably got free copies.

Avenger pretends to be a mild-mannered lawyer. He is pretty good at that job. He was also a tunnel rat in the war. A job that I would rather be shot than do. He suffers a loss while he was a powerful city lawyer and left that life for the country. Secretly, he has another life. I think you will enjoy discovering his other abilities and his code of honor.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Seven years Later

Seven years ago I went someplace, the weather was better then. Now where was that? I have experienced the worst interstate weather since my military days and the major snow fall of the 1970 winter or there abouts. Imagine snow, ice, rain the windshield freezing over and nothing but trucks and a car with up and down mountain roads. Well the rest is personal but I do understand why vacations are traditionally taken in the summer.

Book Review - Breathless by Dean Koontz

Breathless by Dean Koontz is a fictional novel of 335 pages. Bantam 2009

I finished reading it last night. I call it a very entertaining read. It is a cuddle up book where you can just get lost in the story.

Mister Koontz managed to capture the nature of humanity as a group in the vivid detail of his characters and brings those characters together magically. All this while telling the story of something new and something adorable.

The rest of what he did can be revealed by reading the book. :)