Thank a Soldier, Sailor, Airman or Marine

(this ‘piece’ was originally written on my church website, but I thought I’d start a place to discuss it here, given the timeliness of these events).

These comments are in no way intended to be political, but merely on
the occasion of the successful elections in Iraq to repeat the
oft-offered appreciation for those who serve in our military and other
national and foreign services. I say the successful elections
in Iraq because they happened. That alone is success as were the
formative steps of our own country’s liberation from tyranny in the American Revolution and the march to the Declaration of Independence and a Constitution, culminating in the mightiest protector of freedom in the world.

I’m watching Fox news at the moment and there is a terribly wounder soldier — horribly
maimed and scarred — who is touting the success in Iraq, stating that
“this is what the soldiers who have died have sacrificed for.” The news
article was featuring the Coalition to Salute America’s Heroes.

their site wrote:

Every day a  wounded veteran and their family must struggle to overcome the loss of
a limb, significant burns, or even the reality of being in a
wheelchair. Our mission is to help them overcome these obstacles and
resume a productive and fulfilling life.

I hope we will take a moment to think of, pray for, and thank those who
serve and who have served, including our own Corporal Matthew Matula
(a member of Trinity Episcopal church) who, among others, gave his life so that others — in Iraq and beyond — could have the opportunity to live freely as do we. I’m confident
that even in their daily grief, Matt, Toni and Anthony know that
Matthew contributed to something that exemplifies what America is all

Even as I write this, the news channel has video of Iraqis
going to the polls in numbers and in spite of the terror and threats of
consequences of doing so, stepped out in public, showed their faces and
even had their hands stamped with the blue ink “brand” as one who
voted. Facing guns, bullets and bombs, the Iraqi people may have voted
in higher turnout than do we in this country — initial reports are of
a 68% turnout. And it wasn’t easy, they had to walk to the polls since
the roads were shut down.

That this is happening in Iraq (click here for background on Iraq) is not what’s important.

The point is that it is happening anywhere.
Iraq is not the first country that America has liberated, but it’s the
first one in a very long time. We’ve given them the opportunity and no
matter the end result, we gave them our best.

So, my God-fearing and worshipping friends, it being my opinion that the religious segment
of this country is what keeps freedom and democracy alive, I just
wanted to share these thoughts with you. As one who does his little
part for freedom and democracy by the daily dispensing of justice, I’m
proud to worship at Terrific Trinity (my euphamism for the great place where Jennifer and I are privileged to worship) with each of you. What we Trinitarians do is important and indeed is part of this world-wide
reverberration of freedom.

As I close, please pray for all military personnel and especially for those from or with ties to Trinity:

Barkley, Will Barkley, James Barrineau, Paul Bogert, Michael Cobaugh,
Robert Eaton, Jr., W.A. Fisher, Joseph Fletchel, Tom Garven,
Christopher Hernandez, Dawn Hernandez, Serena Hokkanen, Marlin Horton,
P.C. Hudson, Andrew Hyde, Tucker Lewis, David Little, Yancey Loyless,
Craig Normand, Mark Roberts, Thomas Searle, and Tommy Sharp.

Cloudcroft 2004 — substitute for Falling Leaf rally

OK, we were chicken. Robert Voglino and I were headed to the Falling Leaf Rally in Potosi, MO. That is until we checked the weather forecasts and when everything from Arkansas to there and back again was 80% chance of rain, at which point we did the only sensible thing. Potosi is in far Eastern Missouri, just Southwest of St. Louis and the weather had been very wet there and was forecast to remain so.

We turned away from the weather and went to Cloudcroft, NM instead. The trip is chronicled here in a gallery of photos, many of which are linked in the text.

Robert, riding his Kawasaki 1500 Vulcan, and I, on the venerable BMW R1100RT, got away on Thursday Oct. 7 after taking a last look at all of the weather possibilities and making a decision to west. After a hearty breakfast at the Hungry Hunter in Llano we headed straight west on Texas 29 to Menard, then up to Eden and west to end up through Andrews, eaded for Artesia, NM which is the jumping off point for Cloudcroft. That trip is always pretty uneventful until Artesia. Very little socially redeeming value. Just outside of Eden and all the way to San Angelo we were in the heavy rain that we had observed on the radar earlier that morning. It proved that our new frogg toggs would work! After that we had nothing but perfect weather.

Suddenly the trip was already worth it. It’s 90 miles from Artesia to Cloudcroft and the last 60 miles on U.S. 82 is a gently curving road with a nice mixture of high speed sweepers and 25 mph tighter turns. The valley is carved by the Penasco River and is dotted with narrow farms where the valley floor allows. The steep mountainside along the roadway will occasionaly have a mule deer scurrying up the almost vertical walls. A benefit of travelling by motorcycle is yielded in the harvest season when the mildly sweet fragrance of tree-ripened apples fills the air.

On the way up the mountain to Cloudcroft we stopped at the apple and apple cider stand that I’ve seen for years and never stopped at. We bought apples (that were delicious) and pistachios. Turns out they grow both in the area and we were the better off for it. Just before reaching Cloudcroft we made the turn on 244, the road that goes through the forest and Mescalaro Apache reservation to Ruidoso. We knew the campground we wanted to try for and sure enough there was room. The campground is one of many U.S. Forest Service campgrounds in the area run by Recreation Resource Management. We stayed in Silver Saddle which is only about 2 miles down 244 just Northeast of Cloudcroft.

We found a spacious site that would hold both tents. It was dark before we finished setting up our site and then headed for town to eat. Robert knew about the restaurant at the Aspen Motel and we were not disappointed with the results. We each had the chicken-fried steak and really should have just split one. Lots of cream gravy, green peas, mashed potatoes (skin on) … delicious! Met a couple of guys on Honda VTX 1800’s. Larry is a banker in Childress and was travelling with his son (a city cop) and they were headed to Tuscon to visit another son who is in the Air Force out there. Turns out we knew a lot of people (or just knew OF some) in various places so it was a fun visit. Larry also happens to be a Rotarian so with the three of us we created an impromptu make-up meeting.

Sleeping that night was wonderful. There was not a hint of cloud in the skies and the stars looked as if they had enveloped us. The first day had been 565 miles long and we were ready when it was time to turn in. The temperature dropped to about 42-44 degrees that night but it was clear and dry. Dry is the key word there!

The next day was set aside for local touring. After another trip to the Aspen for breakfast we struck out for Sunspot, home of the National Solar Observatory. It has some great exhibits such as this Martian composite photo and a number of hands-on experiment style demonstrations such as showing how refraction occurs of the sun’s rays, a miniature mirror telescope, and explanation of different wavelengths of light and an infrared camera showing the results of photography in the infrared spectrum. Here’s Gil at infrared. At the high point of the observatory grounds we could look westward to White Sands with its huge expanse of rolling white sand dunes with another mountain range in the background. If you are not yet fascinated by the idea of an entire National Monument to sand, these photos will open your eyes.

We continued the day’s trek down the Sacramento Canyon Road toward Timburon but eventually had to turn back because the road was closed due to construction. Backtracking just a short way we then took a side road, the Upper Rio Penasco Road, for a few miles down another picturesque canyon until the pavement ran out. Undaunted by that, Robert took a side road, sans pavement, where we discovered some really close-up views of aspen stands. After following that canyon road for probably a couple of miles and taking a number of photos of aspens in a full turn of color. The Rio Penasco and the Upper Penasco area have an extensive history in pioneering and logging, some of which is recounted here.

After lunch (some great Mexican food at the Aspen) we then took route 130 which loops around to the South of Cloudcroft around to Mayhill and back to Cloudcroft. Having overeaten at lunchtime, we went by the grocery store and picked up some fruit, cheese and crackers. Oh yeah, and some awesome blueberry streusel cake! What started out to be a healthy meal went downhill in a hurry. Back at camp, after picking up some firewood for the cool evening we enjoyed our impromptu dining under the canopy of stars blended with the towering pines. A family had moved in “next door” with some small children and we enjoyed hearing them giggle while playing, occasionally punctuated by a parent reigning them in slightly. I enjoyed staring at the fire for a long while, a fact which Robert commented upon. I think he was afraid I had gone into a trance! We turned in fairly early in anticipation of a long ride the next day. Surrounded by the pines and endless sky and the gentle sounds of pines rustling in a light evening breeze, I snuggled into the sleeping bag and quickly drifted off to sleep. We only rode 130 miles on this day but it was a full day of activity.

Suddenly the night was punctuated with a group pulling into the site next to us, at about midnight, whereupon they commenced to clank and bang and rattle everything in, on and around their truck and pop-up camper and to talk and laugh as if it was the middle of the day. My thoughts varied from asking them to quiet down, to getting the camp host to do so, to screaming obscenities, to shooting out their camper tires! Instead, I put in my ear plugs and made the best of it. I do have to admit that after we arose fairly early we didn’t bother to keep our voices down. The devil made me do it.

It’s now Saturday and we decided to have a night at the Big Bend National Park up in the Basin. There is a lot to do in the Big Bend but all we planned to do was to camp up in the Chisos Basin but the campground was full when we got there. Ugh! Now what to do? Back down the mountain, now racing dark, and then 23 miles toward Boquillas Canyon to the Rio Grande Village Campground that I was fairly sure would not be full. Even with the aborted run up to the Basin that part of the trip was also memorable. I’ve read that the trek from the desert floor to the Basis has several different ecosystems. It’s a magnificent vista of rugged mountains all the way up the approximately 5-mile drive.

We got in and had a great night’s sleep at a site with thick, deep grass. Almost like your mattress at home! Robert, as is his occasional custom, just tossed out his air mattress and sleeping bag and slept under the stars without benefit of tent. Little did we know that in this dry desert there would be a heavy dew. He was a bit soggy the next morning as was my tent which I had pitched without the rain fly, again depending on the dry weather. That night I had been able to open the top of the tent with only mosquito netting (necessary) between me and the open sky where we could see the Milky Way almost from horizon to horizon. We slept well that night with 432 miles under our belts for the day.

The desert was flourishing. Rains had been good last spring and through the summer and the desert floor was as lush as I’ve ever seen it. For anyone who has not been to the Big Bend National Park, it’s a “must-see” kind of place. The contrasts afforded between the desert and the mountains, all punctuated by the Rio Grande River with the canyons it has carved over the eons is unique and beautiful in many different ways.

Sunday the 10th was just “get home” day. We took the fast route out of the park up U.S. 385 to Fort Stockton where we jumped on the super slab to Junction and then 377 to Mason, Llano and home. That day yielded 452 miles, 1622 total miles for the trip. Our total travel time was 35 hours, 22 minutes for an average speed of 45.8 mph which included all of our stops along the way for sightseeing, photos, rest stops and meals. Total cost for gas on the trip (have not yet refilled) was $89.30. All fuel was over $2.00 per gallon for premium. Total gallons 47. Total cost for meals, snacks, camping fees and gifts was $115.55 for a grand total cost for four days of $204.85. Not bad for the amount of miles travelling.

A short trip, but another good one and it was dry. As of this writing I’ve not checked the reports, if any yet, on the “Big List” of Beemer riders to see how the weather turned out to be in Potosi but I’m sure we had the better of it.

Favorite quotes and one-liners

If you can read this, thank a teacher and since it’s in english, thank a soldier. (from a bumper sticker)

Why is it that our children can’t read a Bible in school, but they can in prison? (from Flow-Go)

Don’t argue with an idiot; people watching may not be able to tell the difference. (Flow-Go)

Memory lane

this was the life!!!
All the girls had ugly gym uniforms?
It took five minutes for the TV warm up?
Nearly everyone’s Mom was at home when the kids got home from school?
Nobody owned a purebred dog?
When a quarter was a decent allowance?
You’d reach into a muddy gutter for a penny?
Your Mom wore nylons that came in two pieces?
All your male teachers wore neckties and female teachers had
their hair done every day and wore high heels?

You got your windshield cleaned, oil checked, and gas pumped,
without asking, all for free, every time?
And you didn’t pay for air?  And, you got trading stamps to boot?

Laundry detergent had free glasses, dishes or towels hidden inside the box?

It was considered a great privilege to be taken out to dinner
at a real restaurant with your parents?

They threatened to keep kids back a grade if they failed. . and they did?

When a 57 Chevy was everyone’s dream car…to cruise,
peel out, lay rubber or watch submarine races, and people went steady?

No one ever asked where the car keys were
because they were always in the car,
in the ignition, and the doors were never locked?

Lying on your back in the grass with your friends
and saying things like, “That cloud looks like a .”

and playing baseball with no adults to help kids with the rules of the game?

Stuff from the store came without safety caps and hermetic seals
because no one had yet tried to poison a perfect stranger?

And with all our progress, don’t you just wish, just once,
you could slip back in time and savor the slower pace,
and share it with the children of today?

When being sent to the principal’s office was nothing
compared to the fate that awaited the student at home?
Basically we were in fear for our lives,
but it wasn’t because of drive-by shootings, drugs, gangs, etc.

Our parents and grandparents were a much bigger threat!
But we survived because their love was greater than the threat.

Send this on to someone who can still remember
Nancy Drew, the Hardy Boys,
Laurel and Hardy,
Howdy Dowdy and the Peanut Gallery,
the Lone Ranger, The Shadow Knows,
Bell, Roy and Dale, Trigger and Buttermilk.

As well as summers filled with bike rides, baseball games,
Hula Hoops, bowling and visits to the pool,
and eating Kool-Aid powder with sugar.
Didn’t that feel good, just to go back and say, “Yeah, I remember that”?

I am sharing this with you today
because it ended with a double dog dare to pass it on.
To remember what a double dog dare is, read on.
And remember that the perfect age is somewhere between
old enough to know better and too young to care.

How many of these do you remember?

Candy cigarettes
Wax Coke-shaped bottles with colored sugar water inside
Soda pop machines that dispensed glass bottles
Coffee shops with tableside jukeboxes
Blackjack, Clove and Teaberry chewing gum
Home milk delivery in glass bottles with cardboard stoppers
Newsreels before the movie
P.F. Fliers

Telephone numbers with a word prefix….(Raymond 4-601).
Party lines

Howdy Dowdy
45 RPM records
Green Stamps
Metal ice cubes trays with levers
Mimeograph paper
Beanie and Cecil
Roller-skate keys
Cork pop guns
Drive ins

Washtub wringers
The Fuller Brush Man
Reel-To-Reel tape recorders

Erector Sets
The Fort Apache Play Set
Lincoln Logs
15 cent McDonald hamburgers

5 cent packs of baseball cards –
with that awful pink slab of bubble gum

Penny candy
35 cent a gallon gasoline
Jiffy Pop popcorn

Do you remember a time when…

Decisions were made by going “eeny-meeny-miney-moe”?
Mistakes were corrected by simply exclaiming, “Do Over!”?
“Race issue” meant arguing about who ran the fastest?
Catching the fireflies could happily occupy an entire evening?
It wasn’t odd to have two or three “Best Friends”?

The worst thing you could catch from the opposite sex was “cooties”?
Having a weapon in school meant being caught with a slingshot?
A foot of snow was a dream come true?

Saturday morning cartoons weren’t 30-minute commercials for action figures?
“Oly-oly-oxen-free” made perfect sense?
Spinning around, getting dizzy, and falling down was cause for giggles?

The worst embarrassment was being picked last for a team?
War was a card game?
Baseball cards in the spokes transformed any bike into a motorcycle?
Taking drugs meant orange-flavored chewable aspirin?
Water balloons were the ultimate weapon?

If you can remember most or all of these, then you have lived!!!!!!!

Pass this on to anyone who may need a break from
their “grown-up” life . .I double-dog-dare-ya!

My desk explained … finally

I am SO glad to have found mention of the following article which was found on the Fresh Mown Hay blog in writing about the FreeMind mind-mapping software:

Malcolm Gladwell, Tipping Point author and general pied piper of intellectuals everywhere, wrote a New Yorker article in 2002 explaining a similar phenomenon: ” why our desks are messy.”  Gladwell writes:

“But why do we pile documents instead of filing them? Because piles represent the process of active, ongoing thinking. The psychologist Alison Kidd […] argues that “knowledge workers” use the physical space of the desktop to hold “ideas which they cannot yet categorize or even decide how they might use.” The messy desk is not necessarily a sign of disorganization. It may be a sign of complexity: those who deal with many unresolved ideas simultaneously cannot sort and file the papers on their desks, because they haven’t yet sorted and filed the ideas in their head. Kidd writes that many of the people she talked to use the papers on their desks as contextual cues to “recover a complex set of threads without difficulty and delay” when they come in on a Monday morning, or after their work has been interrupted by a phone call. What we see when we look at the piles on our desks is, in a sense, the contents of our brains.”

I’m going to have to try FreeMind just on the basis of this interesting article!

(update 2/2/09) I did try FreeMind and still use it on occasion. It’s free, and very interesting in assisting the thought process, for some people. (update 2/16/09) And then along came PersonalBrain. See my several blog pieces on that software.

Trip – July 2004

The Trip of July 2004. Initial itinerary is:

Fri 7/2 (if not 7/1) depart. Arrive Jones Valley same day.
Sun 7/4 depart Jones Valley. Arrive Raton, NM – 760 miles.  Map.
Mon 7/5 Raton to Lake City, CO – 250 miles. Map.  We’ll pass thru the Creede area and the headwaters of the Rio Grande.

We’ll go over Slumgullion Pass which is about where Jennifer was asking just what I meant by the primitive campground on Lake San Cristobal near Lake City, which was formed out of the Slumgullion Slide.  To call it a gorgeous lake is a serious understatement.  Here is a view from about where we camped in “ought one.”

Stay at Henson Creek RV Park. We have reservations on the beach.  Some area photos.
Tue 7/6 Mess around town, arrange for jeep.
Wed 7/7 Tour of Alpine Loop — full day trip. More here.
Thur 7/8 Depart — Jennifer: 938 miles back to HSB … arrive Saturday. Map

I will be headed to the Paonia rally and not far from Lake City will pass the Black Canyon of the Gunnison.  Jennifer will remember the fantastic road from there past Crawford where Joe Cocker’s place is, and on to Paonia.

That’s about the plan for the first stage. From Paonia I’ll trail along with some of the “rolling rally” to Spokane Washington before I break off to head to Portland, Oregon for my judicial conference.

The “Rolling Rally” group’s schedule:

7.11 Sun. (PM) Paonia, CO to Vernal, UT (210 mi)

7.12 Mon. Vernal, UT to Jackson, WY (320 mi)

7.13 Tues. Jackson, WY to Pine Creek, MT (196 mi)

7.14 Wed. Pine Creek, WY to St. Mary, MT (340 mi)

7.15 Thu. St. Mary, MT to Spokane, WA (315 mi)

7.16 Fri. Spokane, WA (0 mi)

7.17 Sat. (PM) Spokane, WA to Winthrop, WA (188 mi)

7.18 Sun. Winthrop, WA to Queets, WA (324 mi) On Saturday I’ll peel off for Portland and leave the group. Will be in Portland until 7/21. I like the rest of this route … may use it for my own return.

7.19 Mon. Queets, WA to North Bend, OR (378 mi)

7.20 Tues. North Bend, OR to Shingletown, CA (368 mi)

7.21Wed. Shingletown, CA to Lee Vining, CA (364 mi)

7.22 Thu. Lee Vining, CA to Cedar City, UT (422 mi)

7.23 Fri. Cedar City, UT to Cortez, CO (444 mi)

7.24 Sat. Cortez, CO to Tucumcari. NM (430 mi)

7.25 Sun. Tucumcari, NM to DFW
Links to “stuff we might see” and places to stay along the way: North Cascades National Park
Olympic National Park
Glacier National Park
Yellowstone National Park
Grand Teton National Park
Lassen Volcanic National Park
Capitol Reef National Park
Cedar Breaks National Monument
Zion National Park
Cedar City, UT C of C
Crater Lake National Park
Grand Coulee Dam
Jackson, WY Lodging
KOA Cedar City, UT
KOA Jackson West – Teton Village
KOA Livingston (Pine Creek) WY
KOA St. Mary, East Glacier, WY
KOA Vernal, UT
Lee Vining, CA
Livingston, WY Lodging
Port Townsend / Keystone Ferry Schedule
Port Townsend / Keystone Ferry Fares
East Glacier Lodging
St. Mary Lodge
Trinidad, CO Lodging
Vernal, UT Lodging

Sipapu – Bavarian mountain weekend

See for details.
This is about 30 minutes South of Taos. Great rally. Primarily BMW but other makes invited as well. A few details from their site:

The Sipapu ski area is located about 25 miles southeast of Taos on NM 518. Our rally officially begins on Friday morning and ends on Sunday. However, many attendees have been extending the rally by arriving earlier in the week. Superb camping sites are available on-site. Dorm room bunks are also available free of charge on a first come, first served basis for Friday and Saturday night. If you arrive earlier in the week or stay later you are required to pay a fee. The Sipapu ski area offers motel type accommodations for the rally that are usually booked by June. However, cancellations do occur and a call to the lodge is recommended. Other camping, cabins and motel services are located in the area. The town of Taos offers all the national chain motels.

How to own a BMW motorcycle

Ever wonder what a David Letterman Top Ten List would look like for
BMW Motorcycles? Well, here’re some thoughts which I found somewhere on
the internet.

How To Own A BMW Motorcycle

  • Annoy your mechanic with complaints about obscure sounds and sensations that only you perceive.
  • Insist on watching if a mechanic must work on your machine, and take notes
    to insure completeness.
  • Buy a bottle of touch-up paint with your new machine and have custom paint
    quotes, just in case.
  • Wear a white dust coat with a BMW logo on the pocket when performing even
    minor maintenence.
  • Be on a first name basis with someone at either the Berlin or Munich plant.
  • Never, ever street race. However, you may on occasion, put the pass on
    an unbeliever by employing the maneuver that Farina used on Nuvolari at
    Monte Carlo while Nuvolari was on a Manx. This would only be done if it
    could be done well.
  • Change oils and filters far too frequently.
  • Constantly discuss the Earles forks and the earlier frames.
  • Drink only Beck’s beer, from a genuine Bavarian ceramic stein.
  • Look as much like David Niven as possible – at least a moustache.
  • Never blip the throttle while at a stoplight, and certainly never redline
    the machine.
  • Recount to captive audiences your early experiences with BMW when you lived
    in Europe. Mention friends in the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards, Chasseurs
    a Cheval, and the Panzeraufklarungs.
  • Be smug, for you obviously have only the best taste, being born to a higher
    station in life, and own the most prestigious motorcycle, the BMW.

(with credit to