Saturday, April 30, 2016

The train that will not die...

"No, this entire episode into the land of Casey Jones has been nothing but a Fool's Folly." 

I could not believe it this morning. Another push by the people who want this "train to nowhere" built. Which one you might ask? I know, there are so many these days. The NLX. Or to be totally correct, the Casino Train. It is being sold as a wonderful new way to get up to Duluth. To that I say "Crap!". After this train stops at the second of two casinos, it will be all but empty.

The train fanatics were last seen working on the decision makers in Coon Rapids. Trying to get them on board. And why not? The city of Minneapolis is on board. And (here is the real surprise), the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe is also on board. Plus the train lovers have some good news. New estimates have been run. And these estimates are ALWAYS correct (sarcasm dripping off the page). If they cut the speed and the number of daily round trips down, this thing could almost pay for itself!

Excuse me while I laugh. I have seen this movie before. Like with the infamous North Star. It was going to be the best thing since canned beer. It would solve the traffic issues on Highway 10. It would cost the taxpayers a little bit to operate, but not too bad. Here are the facts. This train bleeds money (that be taxpayer money) every mile it travels. In fact it now loses more money than even the most pessimistic skeptic thought it would. And of course, none of the LRT choo-choo trains are breaking even. No, this entire episode into the land of Casey Jones has been nothing but a Fool's Folly. 

Some might say, "Okay Mr. Smarty Pants. Then tell us what the real story is." Be happy to. The casinos have been behind this NLX from the get-go. As well as certain former civil servants who owns land on the route (and stand to make a mint).

Patrons would take a LRT or the North Star choo-choo to Target Field. Once there, stop at a watering hole to down a shooter or two. Get on the NLX and head north for the casinos. While riding on this 90 mph train, more drinks will be offered for sale. Get off at Hinkley flying maybe one sheet to the wind. Head to the crap tables or the one arm bandits. Spend a lot of money, get back on the train and head to Target Field. 

So what in the world is wrong with this picture. First off, the casinos get a free source of transportation from the cities up to the casinos. They make out just fine thank you. The folks riding the train can get all liquored up and not worry about getting pulled over for a DUI on I-35. People who own land by train stops stand to make a mint from developers. Who does not make out then? Just you and me - the taxpayers.

Right now there is talk about the DFL going after some seats on the Anoka County Board. Even though this Board runs very well thank you, and the citizens of Anoka County have benefited greatly from their acumen, in the eyes of metro statists this Board is an impediment. A real roadblock to Met Council social engineering projects such as trains. If they can unseat some of the conservatives on the Board, then it will be full speed ahead for train rides to casino land! 

Remember this when you vote in November. How you vote, and how long you sit in traffic, have almost a 1.0 positive correlation. If you vote for the train loving statists, a huge chunk of your transportation dollars will NOT go into roads and bridges. They will go into follies such as the NLX, North Star and LRT. If you vote for common sense conservatives, roads and bridges stand to gain. Daily commute time should be reduced. And trains that should die a quick death, will be allow to.    

Friday, April 29, 2016


"The joke used by the engineers at my company was the tolerances on this missile were so tight, we might have to rub it down with lubricant to make it fit."  

I found a story I read this week to be of great interest to me. Our President is finally decided to do something about the North Koreans (aka the NORKS). He is going to step up our "shield" using a program called THAAD. THAAD stands for Terminal High Altitude Aerial Defense. The company I worked at in the 1990's worked on that program. It is an Army program which has been around for years. In fact, in the 1990's it was also called THAAD, but back then the "T" stood for Theater instead of Terminal

It was thought back in the 1990's this Army anti-ballistic missile system could be even better if it could be adapted for Navy applications as well. One minor problem - this missile is a load. Even though it carries no warhead (it uses kinetic energy to take out enemy missiles in the terminal part of their flight), it is still huge. The problem and challenge facing the engineers at the company I worked for was how to fit this "pig" into a vertical launching canister. And not only make it fit, but have it egress properly and then hit the target.

The joke used by the engineers at my company was the tolerances on this missile were so tight, we might have to rub it down with lubricant to make it fit. But they did. And this missile has proven to be very effective in our nation's shield. How effective? Unknown to me, but probably not to the government. So between the Patriot system, THAAD and whatever else we have, hopefully we can blunt any attack the NORKS might launch towards us or any of our western Pacific allies. 

The big question I have is this - should the NORKS start something, what will our response be? Under the current President, maybe not much. Under a President Trump, unknown. He might just nuke them. Me? I would just favor a regime change. I am sick of these guys. Send some troops from Japan, Taiwan, South Korea and maybe us in there and topple that useless government. The people who live in North Korea deserve a life more like those who live in South Korea. To be reunified. Enough is enough.

For those who have never heard of THAAD, now you know a little. And a little is all I can remember about that program. It is nice to know however, there is at least something guarding us just incase the NORKS start to act naughty.  

Traffic woes

"News flash - we need more lanes in our major arteries in the metro area."

Back in the day when I worked at Control Data (by the airport in Bloomington), I made a request to my boss. Because of where I lived, I requested to "flex" my hours from 8 to 5 to 7:30 to 4:30. Back then, flexing even for a half hour was rare. Now truthfully, if we had customers in, or of course if I were on travel, that would not work. But as a normal course of events, it worked fine. If I could leave at 4:30 instead of 5:00, I could beat (this is true story) the traffic "bubble" and be home (north of the metro area) before 5:30. In other words, I would drive the 40 miles in less than an hour. If I left between 5 and 6, all bets were off.

Yesterday, my son-in-law (who is currently is living with us) and works in Minnetonka made it home in an hour and a half. That distance is not nearly as far as I would drive when I worked. And he left a 4pm. Now if he can make it home in an hour or less by leaving at 4, that is a VERY good day. Most days however, it is an hour plus. Sometimes two hours. And why? Don't we collect enough money to expand our current roads? Absolutely. But we are spending 40% of our transportation budget on bike trails and choo-choo trains which very few people ride.

Even though our version of Governor Moonbeam, as well as his lackeys in the Met Council are trying to socially engineer us to death, it is not working. News flash - we need more lanes in our major arteries in the metro area. Some have not been expanded for a decade or more, when our metro population was much less. And by the way, fewer people are working downtown. Why? It sucks. It is expensive. And companies are choosing more affordable rent with free parking for their employees.

Even though Highway 10 has been improved in different spots, it is still a mess. Especially on Friday afternoons. It is worse in the summertime, when it is also a main escape route up north. Ditto for Highways 169 and Interstate 94. Expansions to these roads are long overdue. And expansions take time. Permits, buying land from private concerns, and then the construction itself. If can take years.

I feel badly for the young people just starting out careers today. As much as they will learn from their employers, they will also learn something from the state they live in. This state will tax the socks off of you and then stick you in gridlock traffic because they don't want to spend money on roads and bridges. Just choo-choo trains, which we all end up subsidising anyhow. Welcome to Minnesota.


Thursday, April 28, 2016

Teeming with life?

"Then the subject of the Drake Equation came up. And Dr. Kaku gave a very interesting perspective on it."

Someone who I know professionally and I got together this week. Out of the blue she asked me a question. "Do you believe in aliens?" These days you always need the qualifier - what kind of aliens? Illegal aliens, or aliens from somewhere "out there". She confided in me that she did. She thinks there is plenty of life "out there", and some have visited Earth.

Now I hesitate to bring this up as one of my good friends just chided me (again) recently for bringing this topic up. It really is a "third rail" type of topic with many folks. Some think you are a kook for even mentioning it. That being said, I will say this. A few weeks ago I was watching a science show with the very respected Dr. Michio Kaku narrating it. Then the subject of SETI and the Drake Equation came up. And Dr. Kaku has a very interesting perspective on it.

First some background. Frank Drake is an astronomer and mathematician. He decided a while ago (1961) to try to come up with an equation which could predict the number of possible civilizations that could exist in the Milky Way Galaxy. The number keeps changing due to variables, but it is in the thousands - maybe as high as 15,000. Or, it could be as little as zero.

Then if you really want to go out on a limb, some astronomers believe highly advanced civilizations may have learned how to "warp" or bend space. That would mean travel between galaxies would be as simple for them as us traveling from the Twin Cities to St. Cloud. And if you believe the current number of galaxies to be 100 billion, that could make the Drake number over a trillion possible civilizations in our universe.

You can actually take one more step down the rabbit hole. Some scientists believe (and are starting to gather more evidence) of the "string theory". That we live in a multiverse instead of a universe. Many dimensions. Then if you assume advanced civilizations are also capable of trans-dimensional travel as well as warp speed, that would take the Drake Equation and make a number so large, it would be incalculable.

Back to Dr. Kaku. He is a very down to Earth, empirical type of scientist. With that, his comment on the possibility of "E.T." is simple. We would be fools not to believe in the possibility of other life in space.

So what I told my friend this week when she asked that question is my mind is open. Yes, like many, I have seen a "something". Was it a UFO? Maybe - but it was also nothing like I had seen before. I have talked to many people who have seen a "something". What are they? All I know is this. The "U" in the UFO stands for unidentified. And until they become identified, my mind remains open. 


Fighting for who?

"I really love Hillary's campaign motto - 'Fighting for you'. Really?"

You gotta love the chutzpah of the Clintons! It never ends. Those who know me, know that I have absolutely NO TIME for any of the Clintons. They are phoney baloney pretenders and posers. And that is all I can say without coming across too harsh.

I really love Hillary's campaign motto - "Fighting for you". Really? This motto is the pinnacle of nonsense. The only "fighting" that the Clintons do is fighting to get more wealth using their government positions. Some call this influence peddling. And I am one of those who call it that.

The Clinton Foundation is nothing more than a shill, a front for the semi-legal laundering of money. And the Clintons are skillful in knowing how to manipulate it. Bill, as we love him, did very well on the speaking tour when Hillary was Secretary of State. Yes, the money flowed in and the number of zeros in their back account(s) grew larger. I can't wait to see what he will charge if this nation is ever dumb enough to elect his charlatan wife to be our President.

Prior to Slick Willie being sworn in, I really did not know much about the Clintons. Then thanks to people like Rush and other pundits, their sketchy history was made known. It is truly a rags to riches story. With only one problem - you are not supposed to get rich while in government service. But the screwy tale of their wealth started even before the White House - back at the Rose Law Firm. In Arkansas, two and two seldom equaled four with the Clintons. And the same holds true today.

After Carly was tapped on the shoulder by Cruz to be his Veep, Carly said something very profound. "Hillary Clinton made millions selling her influence while in government. And Donald Trump made billions buying the influence of people like Hillary Clinton." B-I-N-G-O!
Could not have said that better! Ergo, the problem we have in politics right now. And why so many have "checked out". Why so many have lost faith. This is worse than the sausage factory - it is the sewer with all that flows through it.

Get ready America. This election could be one for the ages. If it comes down to between Clinton and Trump, is there anyone that can answer just one question? Who is fighting for you? Hint - the answer might just be "none of the above".   

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Minnesota Men

"And some of them want to help ISIS. And that is who the national media are now calling the 'Minnesota Men'."


"Minnesota Men". No - this is not a "knock off" of the movie Monument Men. I really wish it were. This is a term one of the national news networks is using for the Muslim men in Minnesota who decide to affiliate with the Islamic State. Yes, I am talking about our land of milk and honey, our land of 10,000 lakes, the land known near and far as "Minnesota Nice", which all of a sudden has become a ground zero for terror recruiting. What the hey is going on here?

Here are the facts. We have tens of thousands of recently arrived refugees in Minnesota right now. Some say the number could be as high as 100,000. Many of them are of the Muslim faith. Most, the vast majority, are just folks looking for a better life. Why? Because the UN has turned it's collective back on helping them in their home countries. So it has become easier for the UN to make refugees out of them. And then repopulate them elsewhere. So typical of how our current UN operates.

However as sad as it to say, there are a few bad actors who slipped in with this large group of refugees. Same is true in Europe. Some have a tilt towards terrorism. Some want to join the struggle in Syria and Iraq. And some may even want to bring that struggle to Minnesota. 

Over the weekend, a pundit on the national news had an interesting observation when the "Minnesota Men" issue came up. It was right after it was disclosed yet another Twin Cities man was going to plead guilty for helping the Islamic State. The pundit said, "I am familiar with the Twin Cities area. I know how the Scandinavians and Germans settled that place. They all assimilated. Maybe not at first, but shortly thereafter. What in the world has happened with this new wave of immigrants? It seems many are out to change the culture in Minnesota rather than to join it."

Now you may agree or disagree with that point of view. The important thing to note is this came from a pundit who lives in New York, not Minnesota. That is the impression that some folks who do not live here get. And maybe more than we know get the same impression.

To make this work, to make sure the fabric of our society really does not come totally unraveled, everyone is going to have to bend a bit more. Face facts - unless Somalia, Syria, Iraq, or wherever - get safe and functioning governments again, these folks are here to stay. And more might come in the future. 

So when I say bend a bit more, this is what I mean. We can't unring the bell. As I said, they are here. They are legal citizens. They need to assimilate. And we need to understand and accept them more. They need to learn our language, our customs. And we need to understand theirs.

Whether we like it or not, that is reality. And because some of them are not who they pretend to be, they are going to have to get used to the Feds keeping an eye on them. Sorry - call it profiling if you will, that again is reality.

That is all I have. I am ready to ditch the term "Minnesota Men". I don't want any more terror suspects in this state. I don't want to hear that term anymore. Life is good here - enjoy it. We are all blessed.  

More on wealth migration

"If Minnesota does not fix their tax issue, they will end up being the California of the north." 

Yesterday I was having my monthly treatment for my neuropathy. During the visit, the doctor comes in to check my progress. As we were chatting about his new location (they had just moved into a new building) he joked about moving to Florida. Then the discussion veered to taxes, on how much better the tax climate is in Florida. We joked that there was a time when Minnesotans moved to Florida just because of the weather. Now it is primarily to escape the confiscatory taxation in Minnesota.

On the way home, I started thinking again about this wealth migration issue all over again. I have been doing more reading and studying on this issue. It is not just Minnesota. It is ALL high tax states. People are leaving. And they are taking their money with them. That is why this is called wealth migration.

I found a very interesting site. Well, actually many of them, but I will quote from this one (how money It shows every state in the union on how money has either moved into that state or out of that state. It uses a time period of 1992 - 2014 for its data. And some of the numbers are jaw dropping. Minnesota by itself has lost about $6.5  billion of adjusted gross income! Thing what that money could have done if had been left here in our economy.

If gets worse. The site also shows each county in each state on how money has flowed in or out. Ready for this one? Hennepin and Ramsey, the bluest of the blue in Minnesota are also the reddest of the red when it comes to wealth migration. Because of their confiscatory tax policies and unfriendly business climates, between the two of them they saw 2.7 billion dollars leave during the period of 1992-2014. What say you Mayor Betsy and Mayor Chris?

Here is another data point taken from a 2013 article penned by The Tax Foundation. During the period of 1999 - 2010 (and the Foundation used IRS data for this research), high taxed states of New Jersey, New York and California lost 1.2 million individual taxpayers - and they took their 97 billion dollars of personal income with them. Who gained? Texas, Arizona, Florida. The usual suspects. The states which are business and tax friendly.

One of my friends who is a bit left of center thinks it is almost criminal for people who have made money while living here to leave. They OWE it to the rest of us to just shut up and pay their taxes, no matter how high. Well that Utopian type of thinking may work well on the left side of the street, but in "realville", it does not play. In a free country, people can live where they want. Period. If Minnesota does not fix their tax issue, they will end up being the California of the north. 

By the way, this is for my good friends in Wisconsin. You are not out of the woods yet. During the period of 1992-2014, Wisconsin saw $3.8 billion walk out the door to other states. Illinois, almost $42 billion gone. New York, $86 billion. California, $54 billion. 

Right now our elected representatives are meeting in St. Paul to make more sausage. Make sure they all know how you feel on this issue. I know I sure have.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Days of rage

"Putting them all together, you had a cauldron of trouble, just waiting to boil over." 

The year was 1968. The place - Chicago. The event - the Democratic National Convention. The outcome? Riots and mayhem. The riots replaced the events happening inside the convention hall as the news. It really was the beginning of a very turbulent time in our country. And I think we are about to return to the future by reliving that past.

I was 18 years old, fresh out of high school. I never protested nor rioted. I did however, endeavor to understand why some people my own age did. Some had valid reasons. Like being dragged into a war (via the draft) that was run by political idiots. Others wanted to protest the racial inequality in America. Environmentalists railed against the effluents coming out of corporate America. Some gals burned their bras (seriously). And then you also had folks like Abbie Hoffman and Yipees who just wanted "revolution for the hell of it". Putting them all together, you had a cauldron of trouble, just waiting to boil over.

This summer we have two national conventions coming up in two very troubled cities. And the folks are restless. Donald Trump is calling for "Days of rage" if the RNC tries to snatch the nomination away from him. Others are calling for massive protests outside the convention hall in Cleveland. Some want to protest Donald Trump. Some want to protest the Republican Party. Black Lives Matter want to protest over-policing. And George Soros is rumored to be funding much of this.

However, the biggest problem in my book are many of the people who will not be out in the street. People like me, and many I know. We are mad, we are frustrated. Our country seems to have been hijacked by two different political parties who once in power, look more like the Bobbsey Twins than rivals. We are being taxed to the poor farm only to see our hard earned dollars spent on folly. And even with our confiscatory taxation, the national debt continues to grow like an untreated cancer.

Politicians like the Clintons go to Washington dirt poor and come out eight years later worth tens of millions. The number of millionaires in the House and Senate is staggering. After a career in Congress, many become slaves to the K Street Mafia right down the road. And meanwhile, the rest of us are stuck in a rut. Nothing changes, nothing gets better. 

President Obama has really done a job on this country. He is a man of his word. He said he would transform us, and indeed he did. We are like a fractured vase, just waiting to crumble. Our Constitution is looked at by many as an historical obstacle rather than a road map to a free and democratic future.

Are we in for a long hot summer? Another 1968? More days of rage? I believe the table is set. Trouble is in our future.    

Monday, April 25, 2016


Hi folks! The Very Angry Bird here! And today, I am anything but angry. Sometime this afternoon, early this evening, my humble blog is going to hit 100,000 views! Now, I am not a crow, but I will crow about that number! And to each and every one of you who has taken the time to read my daily rants, thank you! The number of people in different states and countries keeps getting larger which not only pleases me, but humbles me also.

Here are some current viewing metrics from today. I am viewed in every state in the union except the Bernie state (dang you Vermont!). I am seen in every continent except Antarctica (what gives with you cold people?) 

So again, thank you. I will continue to try to be worthy of the time you take to read my posts.

When to abide by an endorsement

"Can you go to jail if you break your word on honoring an endorsement? Of course not. But you will lose your honor."

For those who live in Minnesota, and are familiar with our grass roots politics, please be patient for a minute. This is for those who live out of state where they do not have the BPOU system. Our BPOU (Basic Political Operating Unit) is made up of friends and neighbors in your area. Out of that BPOU, candidates are selected to represent the BPOU (or House or Senate District). Once people are selected, they are endorsed. Sometimes, more than one person is interested in a position. In that case, an election is held within the BPOU for endorsement.

What normally happens (or should happen) is prior to the vote, all people running for a position agree to ABIDE BY THE ENDORSEMENT. In other words, the losers in the vote would coalesce around the winner to help that person be victorious in the general election. Sounds pretty simple, right?

There are times, albeit rare, that someone would give their word to ABIDE BY THE ENDORSEMENT and then do just the opposite. Go to the primary. Cause the person who won the endorsement to waste time and money on something which is totally unnecessary. 

Here is the real problem(s) when someone refuses to ABIDE BY THE ENDORSEMENT. First, that person is turning his or her back on the BPOU. Those are the folks who elected that person in the first place. It is as looked upon as an total act of betrayal. Second, and this is even a bigger one for me. That person lied. Showed everyone that his or her word is NOT his or her bond. And that is nothing less than shameful. 

Why do I bring this up? Because I want us to get better. Can you go to jail if you break your word on honoring an endorsement? Of course not. But you will lose your honor. If it is BPOU endorsement, a district endorsement, a state or national endorsement, to renege on it hurts everyone on our side. And it can lose elections.

The only time I could ever see someone not honoring an endorsement and being right, is this situation. The sponsoring organization (like the BPOU) would find out through polling or whatever, the endorsed candidate did not have a chance of winning. And the non-endorsed candidate did. Then with everyone's permission and knowledge, and in the light of day, the non-endorsed candidate would be given permission by the sponsoring organization to run. Other than that, I come up empty.

I think we have a good system right now. Not perfect, but good. Let's stick with the principles of it until we come up with something better.  

More convention post mortem musings

"The Republicans are going to continue on with fratricide and purity tests until our herd is culled down to nothing."

I remember getting in a conversation with a Democrat friend not too many years ago (yes, I do have some Democratic friends). The question I asked him seemed like a logical one to ask. How in the world can Democrats win so many races, both statewide and national, when they put forward such flawed candidates? My Democrat friend looked at me like I was the dumbest person on Earth to ask such a question.

He replied that there is plenty of infighting that goes on before and during the convention. But once the convention is over, everyone gathers around the nominee. EVERYONE. He then said, "You folks continue to fight up to, during and after the general election. That is why we beat you so much."

Then I thought back to the last presidential campaign. Hillary and Obama hated each other (many think they still do). They got down and dirty. Some of the old "Clinton dirty tricks" came out against Obama. Then the convention happened, and the Clintons and the Obamas acted like first cousins. Love at first sight. They pulled the party together and beat John McCain like a drum. Then they did it again four years later against Mitt. 

Infighting also gave us the worst Governor in the history of mankind. This guy is so bad, a friend of mine yesterday said he would give his eyeteeth to have Governor Jesse back - and he does not like Jesse. The Republicans have run two very fine gentlemen against this flawed Governor in two separate races. The first time we had a renegade Republican break off and run third party. That was victory number one. The second time we had a very nice man run against our Governor - too nice. He did not go in for the political kill like he should have. That was victory number two.

Now that our convention is over and the state convention has not yet started, I can see the table being set. Not just here, but nationally. We are going to allow a person who has more baggage than a cross country bus to be our next President. Right now, I don't think we have a prayer. The Republicans are going to continue on with fratricide and purity tests until our herd is culled down to nothing. 

And last night when I was trying to digest everything that happened from this past weekend, it hit me. Like a "Duh!" Many of us on the Republican side care more about principle than victory. Even to the point we would sacrifice victory to take a principled stand. By voting third party or not voting at all. Many on the other side care only about victory. Winning at any cost. As the late Al Davis would tell the Raiders, "Win baby, just win!" And then we lose. That is why we see so many flawed people in high positions in this country. 

Right now I am looking forward to the state convention about as much as having a root canal. If the district convention was a harbinger on how the state convention will turn out, it will be painful. If the Republicans don't start to "get it", I can easily not only see President Clinton in our future, but also Governor Tina Smith to boot. And that is a nightmare I don't want to have.

A young man's journey

"However my agenda, and the agenda the Selective Service had to keep a '2S' student deferment was nowhere in sync."

I tell this story every now and again. It was 47 years ago yesterday that my Mother and Father took me into downtown Minneapolis to drop me off at the old Federal Building. I was going to be sworn into the Navy. I was the first to be dropped off. Then my Dad was going to drop off Mom at the old Dayton's, where she worked. Then it was off to work for my Dad. Just another day at the office.

I had graduated from high school in 1967. After graduation I went to North Hennepin Junior College (for one year) and then transferred north to St. Cloud State College. I really was nowhere prepared for college. I like being in plays, having fun, being with my girlfriend - now all that I was ready for. However my agenda, and the agenda the Selective Service had for me to keep a "2S" student deferment, were nowhere in sync.

Hearing the footsteps of the Selective Service getting closer in October 1968, I enlisted in the United States Navy under the new six month delay program. I could keep on with school, not worry about being drafted, and then be officially sworn in on April 24, 1969. Sounded good at the time - turned out to be a big mistake. As the song goes, "I partied like it was 1999". My grades really took a nosedive but I did not care. I have having way, way too much fun.

Once being sworn in at the Minneapolis Federal Building (yes, the one which got bombed in 1970), all us new recruits boarded a bus and headed for the airport. Some were going to Great Lakes for boot camp, myself and others were going to San Diego. We were all young and scared and knew our lives were about the change forever.

It was a bumpy ride to San Diego. Our jet blew an engine over the desert southwest and we had to make an emergency landing in Phoenix. I really did think I was going to die since I had only been on a jet once before in my life. But we landed safely (in emergency fashion), got on another jet and made it the rest of the way to San Diego. And that is where my Navy journey really began. 

Boot camp faded into "A" School, which was held down in Pensacola, Florida. From there to my first duty station in Okinawa for 18 months. Once that tour was up, it was back to Pensacola for "C" School, and then orders up to Maine. And then it was over. I was 23 and discharged (honorably). I went to college (this time I buckled down and studied), got married, graduated, and then went back into the Naval Reserve. I received a commission as a crypto officer and served as additional 17 years in the Naval Reserve, until I retired in 1992.

Many young men who grew up during that time have a similar story. The draft was like a spectre which haunted most of us. It guided or influenced most everything we did. When I graduated from high school and turned 18, the Vietnam War as well as the draft, were in full swing. Many young men went to that war. Some willingly, others not so. They went to fight an entrenched and hardened enemy who had already defeated the French. Some young men came back wounded, some came back different, and some did not come back at all. 

I tell this young man's story not to brag nor to complain. It is just one story from a place and time never to be seen again. I have no regrets for how this story went. My wife, my kids (and now grandson), and yes having in the Navy as a second career, have played huge parts in my life. Again, no regrets. I have enjoyed every part of the ride, and hope to continue for years to come. 

Sunday, April 24, 2016

It always goes way too fast...

"For those of us who remain here, it is yet another lesson on how fast this thing called life can pass."

"Baby, that was much too fast." So the go the lyrics to a song sung by Prince. One of the companies took out a full page ad in the local paper with only a red Corvette and just that simple lyric. It was impactful and profound. It was about how fast this young life went. And how suddenly it ended. Not just suddenly, but for many, totally unexpectedly. 

Losing Prince in his mid-fifties was the second of two celebrities who died last week. The not as famous Chyna, died suddenly in her mid-forties a day or two before Prince died. And just like that, the party was over. The journey finished. For those of us who remain here, it is yet another lesson on how fast this thing called life can pass. And it we are not careful, we will get to the end before we even see it coming.

For people of faith, the end and the beginning are one in the same. However from a secular standpoint, once we leave here, the only thing that remains is our legacy and the memories our friends and loved ones have. When my wife's brother passed away unexpectedly a few years ago (ironically about the same age as Prince), all we had left of him was a box of ashes. All the memories, all the good times, and yes, even some bad ones, reduced to that one box of ashes. And on the news this morning, it was reported that a box of ashes is all that remains of Prince. 

Out of every good thing or bad thing that happens, I always look for the "take away". The lesson(s) learned. I think this past week the lesson was clearly taught to us once again. It (life) always does go too fast. Each day, every day, is a gift. A blank canvas. A chance to make a difference, even if it is small or minute. 

Most of us have no idea when the Good Lord will call us home. And as we age, we end up saying good-bye to more and more friends and relatives. When I was growing up, an adult in my life always ending every meeting or conversation by saying two words - "be kind". These are sage words. None of us know when our next day will be our last day.

Be kind. Be loving to each other. Why? Because it is the right thing to do. And - it (life) really does go by way, way too fast...  

Saturday, April 23, 2016

And now - a time to come together

"I really don't want Aj to fade away. We need her. Even hard core Tom Emmer supporters were impressed by her." 

I am home. Fresh off the CD 6 Convention. All I can say is "Wow!". It was one of those events where there really were no losers, as everyone running was a winner. My friend (and I will say that, as I treasure her friendship) Aj, ran a very good campaign against the incumbent Tom Emmer. I will say this - Aj Kern is a quality woman. I have liked her since the first day I met her. This is not the first election where I had to make a tough choice - and probably will not be the last.

I told a friend of mine who was sitting behind me that I would love to see Aj run for senate against Amy - or even Al. She would be a solid candidate and I would sign up for that ticket in a New York minute.

Truthfully, I really don't want Aj to fade away. We need her. Even hard core Tom Emmer supporters were impressed by Aj. I know I have always been. I said in a previous post this is Tom's race. Aj's race is in the not too distant future. Tom has nothing against Aj - in fact he likes her. He has told me so. I like her. What I would really like to happen, is for Aj to help support Tom in the upcoming general election and for Tom to help Aj in her next race. I have said this many times before - the time for shooting our wounded, eating our young is over. It is time to show one face in beating back the statists.

I have talked to few people who have a better understanding of what is going on in the St. Cloud area than Aj. Aj is not a casual observer - she really pays attention. She cares. Plus her life story is about three degrees more interesting than only captivating. I have heard her life story more than once, and I could stand to hear it many more times. We need Aj - and we need Tom Emmer to continue to win.

I have addressed this before. If we are looking for purity tests to eliminate each other, it will not take long before we cull the herd. However if we try to help each other, we will all get better. Tom has told me he was glad that a candidate with the creds and desire (like Aj) ran against him. It made him better. I agree with the Congressman on that one!

I mentioned this to my friend Jack this once again today. Our bench strength is strong. The only thing that can defeat us - is us. I really want Aj to be on our side. I want her to continue to be involved. I love her perspective, I love her solutions. Most of all, I love her patriotism. By the same token, I really love the job that our Congressman has evolved into. It was a tough first year - he will admit that. But now we are on to bigger and better things.

Bottom line - this is the election as well as the one in two years we need to show our best and brightest. Today we saw two of them. We need to take our state back from the statists. Time to coalesce folks. Time to heal. And most importantly, time to show the donkeys we will fight back - and win.


Friday, April 22, 2016

Once again, it is Tom's race

"Tom is also not afraid of the tough issues."

I will admit it. And I am not ashamed of it. I like Tom Emmer. Have since the first day I met him. I have said this behind his back and I have said this to his face. I love having him as my Congressman - I would have loved it even more if he had been my Governor. But that is water under the bridge. Right now, Tom Emmer is representing the 6th District of Minnesota and I think he deserves another two years.

When Tom ran two years ago, he ran against a good friend of mine. Fortunately, once the race was over and Tom won the endorsement, she is still a good friend of mine. Her friendship means alot to me, and she is very talented and effective in this position she holds. This year Tom is again running against a friend of mine. Another very capable and patriotic woman. My hope is once this is over, she and I can remain being friends. That being said, just like two years ago, I think this is Tom's race. He deserves another two years.

Back in my working day, I dealt with some people on the Hill. Both Congresspeople and Senators. To put it mildly, it is a madhouse in DC. Least wise it was back then. I can only imagine the chaotic mess it is today.

Many people would go into a newly elected position in Washington and melt. Not Tom. He has spent his first part of his first term "plowing the road" so to speak. Now, during this current session, Tom is starting to show his stuff. He is already co-sponsoring bills. Plus, he is working with Speaker Ryan in getting our Government back to operating under Article 1 of the Constitution. In other words, Congress has many powers reserved that it has not been using. Or, no more Monarchy plays from the President.

Tom is also not afraid of the tough issues. Cuba is a great example. Tom feels strongly (and I totally agree with him on this one) that the time for normalization with Cuba is here. The government of Cuba is nothing more than a Cold War left over. The people in Cuba deserve so much more than they have been receiving. Some people are ticked at Tom for this position, but Tom does not duck and questions or criticism. If you are one who questions the wisdom of this move, call his office or send him an email. Tom will answer your questions or concerns.

All this being said, Tom and I do not agree on everything. We have had some interesting chats about the immigration issues in central Minnesota. And maybe we don't totally agree at the end of the discussion, I still have an understanding on why Tom feels the way he does or votes the way he does. Tom knows that not everyone will agree with him on everything, but it is important for him to know that people understand why he voted the way he did.

In conclusion, Tom is my Congressman. I am good with that. I am also good with having Tom be my Congressman for another two years. It is important that the 6th District remain in the hands of the GOP. It is also important that my Congressman learn the ropes so he or she can be effective in getting the ship of state back on Constitutional footing. And that is what I think Tom can do in his next two years.   

It is happy Gaia!

"This is the one day a year some will tell us how disrespectful we have been to this fine planet. However, you won't hear it from me."

This is it! The day pagans and greenies celebrate our Earth Mother. You might know her as Gaia. Some of us simple know her as "Mother Earth". Others call our home here the "Big Blue Marble". This is the one day a year some will tell us how disrespectful we have been to this fine planet. However, you won't hear it from me.

Hey, I am a good global citizen. I don't pollute (too much). I don't liter. I even recycle what I am supposed to recycle. Since we have bought our land, I have planted quite a few more trees than I have cut down. I do however, drive a V8 truck. I burn wood in the winter time. And I water my lawn. Finally, my biggest sin is in the summertime I eat beef cooked on a charcoal grill (gasp!).

Speaking of the trees I have planted, I am not the only one. Our country as a whole has done an admirable job. Forget all the fear mongering you might have heard from the Loony Left. That we are deforesting the country. It has been alleged (and is now a proven fact), that we have more trees in this country than 100 years ago. Now some of that is due to the fact that 100 years ago 70% of us lived on farms. We needed to cut down trees for farm land. Now 70% of us live urban. Of course the other factor is we practice proper forest management. We have become very good at it. Each year we plant more than we harvest - and we harvest a lot of wood. 

Now do we have a way to go on our stewardship? You betcha! Our need for fresh and potable water is starting to outstrip our aquifers ability to replenish. Some states are now thinking we should tap into the Great Lakes for more water supply. I say that is a bad idea. This past week, we had over 20 inches of rain in Houston alone. Most all of that went as runoff. If that water could have been captured in aqueducts or reservoirs, many of the southwest's water problems could have been helped tremendously. 

Only a fool would not agree that we are coming to the end of our fossil fuel days as our primary source of energy. I dare say fifty years from now, most of today's energy sources will only be known by what is read in history books. Oh, we will still need oil for manufacturing purposes, but there will be something better and more renewable that will be used. My betting is still on hydrogen fuel cells. And I think we are about five years away from having solar collectors which are non-invasive (meaning not too ugly) and very, very economical. Wind will never work well. Way, way too many problems.

So do I celebrate Earth Day? Absolutely! However, this almost perfect planet was created for us to dwell on. As much as we like to personify this wonderful orb, it is not a living thing. It is however, home to many, many living things. So if you want to celebrate the creation, I will join you today. Let us not however, forget who created the creation.

Chicago dreaming....

 "And guess what we did not have to worry about? That is right - being shot."

Okay. I know it is really California dreaming, not Chicago dreaming. By now, most of us know that Chicago dreaming is really nothing more than a nightmare. We are not even reached the first of May as yet, and Chicago has recorded 1,000 shootings! For those who think I am smug thinking about this (as I do not live in Chicagoland), are mistaken. This is a travesty. No matter the country. Especially if this country is our own.

Today, my grandson was home with us due to some skin infection. So his mom was also home. She went for a run with my grandson in his stroller. When they came home, he wanted grandpa to take him for a tractor ride. I took him for a ride around the yard. And guess what we did not have to worry about? That is right - being shot.

In some areas of Chicago, this is not the case. Kids are getting shot in the streets. Some in their own yards. Some are shot when a bullet comes through the walls of their house. And this is NOT okay. This is America. We should have the right to safe passage from any street to any street in any city in this country. If not, we are no better than Beirut. Or Kabul. Or any war torn city in Iraq or Syria.

Where am I going with this? Very simple. One thousand shootings in a city with locked down gun control should be a wake up call. Trust me - the shootings are not done by NRA members, nor citizens who went through sanctioned gun training. Sadly, most were done by thugs or gang bangers who illegally obtained their weapons. And that is where the focus should be.

Instead, the focus has been on the police department in Chicago. A task force has just presented its findings to the Mayor of Chicago. It seems the report points a finger at the policing in Chicago. That they are insensitive to minorities. Up to and including their stop and frisk policy. Now this is a head scratcher to me. If the city is being "over policed" and yet there have been 1,000 shootings, what is next?

I am afraid the next step is not good. If the police take more a "hands off" posture on policing, especially in the neighborhoods which need help the most, lawlessness could devolve into anarchy. Chicago is in deep, deep trouble. In the past three years (under the rule of Mayor Emanuel), 260 school children have been killed. 260! 

Wake up Rahm, and smell the coffee! Your city needs its thin blue line. Your city needs strong policing. Your city is on the verge of becoming uninhabitable. 

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Another disturbing new norm

"Now these houses are not mansions, but when they were built 30 years ago, they were considered somewhat upscale."

This is not a good news story. In fact, it is pretty darn sad. And for most of us, unexplainable. The other day my wife and daughter were going for a walk around the block (where we live, that is 2/3 of a mile). As they walked by a neighbor's house, there was a sign in the front yard. It was a for sale sign by a bank. The house was abandoned and was being foreclosed on.

Why is this such a news story? It happens all over the place. For this reason. We live out in the exurbs. All lots are 2 1/2 acres or greater. In our development, there are 20 houses. Keep in mind, just to walk around half of it is 2/3 of a mile. It is a big area. Anyhow, since we have lived here, three houses have gone into foreclosure. Two of them were trashed by the owners before they left. The fourth house was sold on a short sale for a boatload less than what was owed to the back. 

Now these houses are not mansions, but when they were built 30 years ago, they were considered somewhat upscale. So 20% of the houses in this one development either went into foreclosure or short sale. This tells me two things. First off, the economy still is sick and has a way to go to fully recover. The other thing it tells me is people are different these days than a few decades ago. To go into foreclosure and trash your house is something that is way beyond my comprehension. 

Here is the irony. Truthfully, in our current home as well as our first home, we never missed a payment. Nor were we ever late. That being said, I do know this. The bank does not want your house. They are not in the real estate business. If you get into financial trouble, the bank will work with you - if you are honest with them. If it becomes evident that you can no longer afford to live in your house, they will work with you on selling it. The last thing they want to do is foreclose on a borrower. It is a lose-lose issue for both sides. 

My point is simply this. If someone asked me to explain what has happened in this neighborhood, where 20% of the mortgages did not work out, I would be at a loss. I do know this - banks are not Satan, and they not do have endless deep pockets either. If enough people default on their mortgage, we will have 2008 all over again. And that is in nobody's best interest.

Once again, the Cold War

"Now the sub wars seem to be back on. It is too bad Tom Clancy is no longer with us. He could write a doozy about this one."

When people asked what I did in the Navy, I tell them for the most part I was a Cold Warrior. Even though the war between the Soviet Union and NATO never got hot (thank God), there were countless days of cat and mouse. People who had high level security clearances would tell you there were some rare times when the fate of the planet hung by a threat. But for the most part, there were just many, many boring days of being on watch.

Now thanks in large part to Vladimir Putin, the Cold War is back - take two. Putin was never really happy how the first iteration to the Cold War came to an end. And because we now have the opposite to Ronald Reagan as our President, well, you know the old saying. Nature abhors a vacuum. Or sand fills a hole quickly. In any event, we have President "Bystander" whereas the Russians seem to have the most aggressive guy since Stalin. 

Now the sub wars seem to be back on. It is too bad Tom Clancy is no longer with us. He could write a doozy about this one. The once feared Alfa Class of submarines have now been retired. In their place is a new diesel class of attack submarine. Plus the first of class nuclear powered attack submarine. We now have the Yasen Class of nuclear attack subs. And the first one (K-560) is set to enter service this year.

Whomever our next President is will have to deal with this situation. The way that Ronald Reagan used to bring the Soviets to their knees will not work again. To keep another generation of service people from being consumed by the endless cat and mouse game, a new strategy must be tried. And all that by keeping this new Cold War from becoming a hot war.

Thinking about this for a minute, who in the heck would want this job as Commander in Chief anyhow? The War on Terror continues. In fact, on the news this morning was a new terror alert about soft targets (like restaurants) being hit in the United States. And of course we can't forget about the trigger happy North Koreans, who are just itching for a fight with someone. And the Iranians, who are going like gangbusters in developing a nuke. Finally, the Bear and the Dragon. Both who feel they got the short end of the stick in the first Cold War, are now ready for round two.

Is it a dangerous world? I think so. Is it more dangerous than when I served? I think that is true also. Of the remaining five folks running for President, there is not one single day of military service amongst them. And in a world this dangerous, that might be a big problem.