Vacation photos

The view from our room
The view from our room

I finally took the time to upload pictures that I took on vacation to an album on Flickr. I took many more pictures than are in the album, but I found myself narrowing the ones that I wanted to display. The picture here isn’t one of them, though I did take it while on vacation.

We drove into Wyoming after visiting Mt. Rushmore and the Crazy Horse Monument. Neither Cindy nor I were aware that we were there on the first day of elk hunting season. It seems that people flock to the towns, book hotel and motel rooms, and use them as their base of operations for hunting. As a result, finding a motel with any vacancies was a chore. We found one finally. I opened the drapes to look at the view, and this is what I saw.

On a brighter note, the clerk in the motel told us about an excellent Mexican restaurant. I was surprised to see the number of families of hunters who were there. I had expected to see mainly men with scraggly beards, dressed in camo, drinking beer and having a good time. There were plenty of them there, but there was also a goodly number of families there as well, talking about hunting.

As far as the album in Flickr, you can find it here.

I hope that you like them.

Lessons that I am learning

President Washibngton in profile
President Washington in profile

This is a picture from our vacation last month. It is a familiar view to anyone who has been to Mt. Rushmore, but I can’t recall seeing anyone else publishing it. I love the front on view of all four presidents that everyone knows, but I also like this one.


Last year, after I finished the NaNoWroiMo challenge I wrote a post about the lessons that I had learned while writing. At least I think I did. I know that I meant to. I’ll have to look for it. Anyway, I decided that this year I would write something during the challenge. So far I have learned three things in the first seven days.

  • I tend to add characters for whom, after their initial introduction, I have no real use. In the first two chapters I have introduced twenty-two characters. There were twenty-three, but I decided to combine two minor characters into one major character. I already had a character die. I’ve changed the name of one character so that I can use him later in another way. I guess that is the same as merging two characters into one. I have at least six other characters that I would like to shed, but unless there is a volcanic eruption or some other cataclysm, I see no good way to eliminate them all without rewriting chunks of my narrative. That means I have to get ahead on my word count so that I can spend time rewriting now rather than later.
  • I should never try to write and listen to music that I love at the same time. I made the mistake yesterday morning of putting on Jerry Jeff Walker and it has cost me dearly. I’m having trouble concentrating on my narrative, especially when Jerry Jeff is singing “We Were Kinda Crazy Then” or “”Couldn’t Do Nothin’ Right” or “My Buddy.” It is impossible for me to think about anything, let alone use a keyboard, when these songs and others are playing. Why did I do that to myself?
  • I have to take better control of my characters! Most of them seem to be giving in to sexual temptation rather than living repressed lives. Granted, most of the physical stuff is happening off-page, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t happening. Take it from me, they are all, or practically all, practicing safe sex. Still, I wish that the females would be more demure, but they seem to be he worst of the lot. Or would that be worse of the lot? There are only two sexes, at least in this book, so I’m not sure that one sex could be the worst. Would a grammarian please shed light on that one for me?

So, that’s what I’ve learned so far this year.

A duke’s mixture #3

The toll of the years
The toll of the years

I took this picture back in March but didn’t get around to using it until today. I am submitting the picture to Leanne Cole’s Monochrome Madness. She will be putting together a gallery of submissions that are based on the theme “Country.” I think this fits the bill. Click on the link above to view her wonderful website.


I have a couple more idea notes on my phone that I want to clear off. The first involves my smart phone. I saw a news report a couple of weeks ago that a few states, specifically Iowa and Delaware, were running pilot programs to make your driver’s license available as an app on your smart phone. Hmm. Would I mind handing over my phone to a police officer if I was stopped? Personally I wouldn’t, but I know a number of people who would object. What do you think about it? Oh, and the reason this report seemed noteworthy to me is because the reporter, in his summation, made a reference to Max Headroom. I wonder how many people under the age of thirty-five recognized that reference? But then I also wonder how many people under the age of thirty-five watch the news.

 In one news show that I was watching they did a tease for an upcoming segment. The tease was about a man who hadn’t showered in years. I didn’t stay tuned to hear about that oh so noteworthy news story, but it made me wonder and ask a couple of questions. First, what if he prefers baths? I know many people who choose baths over showers. Second, who cares if he bathes other than people who have to interact with him? Is it really newsworthy? And finally, why do television news shows think that they have to tease their audience into watching? Doesn’t that say something about the quality of the show? Just wondering.

That’s all of my duke’s mixture for now. Once I build up more short idea notes I’ll bring it back. Have a great weekend.

A duke’s mixture #2

Another view of the stream bed
Another view of the stream bed

I took this picture on the same day as the picture from my September 24th post. This is just a different view of the same stream bed.


Finally I’m ready to offer you a few small items that I thought were worth sharing, but didn’t deserve a post each to itself. These items are sitting in my phone’s notes section, and I want to clear them out. That being said:

1) I seldom use a shopping cart when I go to a big box store, because I think that they breed over buying. Plus I always know in advance the things that I want to buy. I always try to get a basket that will comfortably hold a few items. Wal-Mart, at least locally, doesn’t supply said baskets. If you want to purchase more than a handful of items, you must use a shopping cart. That is one reason that I shop at Wal-Mart as seldom as possible.

2) Sometimes I am forced to use a shopping cart, as when I am buying liquid chlorine for the swimming pool. I buy it by the case, usually two, so that I don’t have to go to the store often. I noticed that when I went to the Meijer store to buy chlorine the last time that the shopping carts had cup holders on them. This, of course, is a subtle encourager to buy something to drink as you walk through the store. Most stores now allow customers to eat produce and other products as they shop, and hope that they pay for it on their way out. If I had tried that as a child I would have been escorted from the store by my parents and discipline would have ensued. Today you see adults doing it. It is another change in our culture; we allow everyone who craves instant gratification to have their way. I see some logic in profit driven businesses doing this, but I can’t say that I am a fan. I live with it.

3) Cindy and I were shopping the other day and I noticed a mother and son having a brief argument. I would say that the son was between two and three years old. He was sitting on the floor and was clutching some item tightly; I couldn’t tell what it was. He, of course, was saying “I want it!” His mother was saying, “We’re not buying it.” I think she meant, “I’m not buying it.” The lad said again, louder, “I WANT IT!.” The mother said, “You don’t even know what it is.” The boy said, “I WANT IT. IT’S BLUE!”  It looks like another instant gratification/impulse buyer has been spawned.

Packing Essentials – Things You Should Never Leave Home Without

This a great post from one of my favorite writers. I felt like I had to share it.

This Labyrinth I Roam

I am a great advocate of packing light and making do with bare necessities because let’s face it, if you wanted to travel to another country to experience all the things you love at home (re: McDonalds), then you might as well stay home. To be fair, I make it a point to try the local KFC meal just because. This is what it looks like in Bangkok.

KFC Thailand (Expert’s note: When they say spicy, they really, really, really MEAN IT!)

Jokes aside (but seriously, the word ‘Spicy’ in a meal is a warning, not a description!), there are somethings that you should carry with you no matter how large or small your luggage space is. It has helped turn travels into journeys into unforgettable adventures and the best part of it all is that they are ABSOLUTELY FREE!

In no particular order, I give you my packing essential list.


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Likes and dislikes

Maely & Emma

Here is a picture of Maely and Emma enjoying the pool in JR and Trina’s backyard. I took this a number of weeks ago, but am just now getting around to adding it to a post.


So what have I been up to lately? Not much. Hence the lack of posts. Cindy and I went to Lake Monroe over the July 4th weekend. Lake Monroe is just south of Bloomington, Indiana. God’s country, as Cindy often calls it. Of course Bloomington is the home of my alma mater, Indiana University. I love it down there. We spent time in our room at the resort, and out on the lake, and we drove around downtown Bloomington. So much has changed since I was a student there. I guess I mentioned this trip in my last post, so I’ll move on.


I’ve been thinking a lot about politics and politicians lately. If you’ve read Classical Gasbag on a regular basis you should be aware of my feelings about politicians. If you haven’t been reading, I can sum up my feelings in a few words. They are egoists with no productive outlets in their quest for power and influence.

Cindy, unfortunately, has been working for the county government for the past fifteen years. She had the ill fortune of being a strong, competent woman who did not mind letting people know how she felt about issues and some of the local politicians; sometimes too loudly. As a result, the County Commissioners slashed her budget by 65% and forced the layoff of four people, including her. It was because the County has to tighten its collective belt. But to show that there were no hard feelings, she was sent an invitation to a golf outing sponsored by three of the commissioners. Why do I feel that the whole outing, including the printing and mailing of the invitations was paid for with taxpayer dollars?

But enough about that. I have been intrigued by the races for the U.S. Presidential nominations. The fifteen or more people who are running on the Republican side of things cover a broad spectrum of political thought I think. It is hard to tell because they all claim to be conservatives, and they probably are, but they seldom state any real ideas other than everything President Obama does or thinks is wrong. That’s helpful for decision making by the voters. For instance, they all say they would repeal the Affordable Care Act and replace it with something better. Unfortunately none of them seems able to state what they would replace it with. It reminds me of Richard Nixon’s secret plan to end the war in Vietnam. It was so secret that it never happened while he was President.

On the Democrats side there are at least four people running for the nominations. There is the wife of  a former President running, and a Democratic Socialist, and a farrier, and a former Senator who espouses some liberal philosophy and some conservative philosophy. At least you can draw distinctions among those running. Oh, and the present Vice President may decide to run.

It is going to be fun watching it all unfold, when I’m not screaming in anger at the TV screen.

Still waiting

Waiting for spring
Waiting for spring

I’m still waiting for spring, and the green. I took this picture a couple of days ago. When I got it home and uploaded it to our computer, all I saw were grays, whites and muddy browns. There were a couple of small splashes of color at the trailer and under one of the trees. I decided to play around with the image, so I started with colorizing it, bringing out the greens and reds. I liked the way it looked, but then I remembered that Leanne Cole’s Monochrome Madness was coming up, so I went back to the original image and grayscaled and brightened it. That was OK, but since tomorrow is St. Patrick’s Day, I added a touch of green. I think this will do.


St. Patrick’s day in the U.S. is a solemn day set aside for drinking and carousing. Rivers and canals are dyed green; green beer is drunk (along with anything else alcoholic), people wear green clothing lest they get pinched ( a favorite of beer drinking men on the lookout for non-green wearing women), and parades are held in every major city. Everyone claims to have Irish blood in them, which they use as an excuse to drink more. The beer drinking men who like to pinch women also like to wear buttons that say, “Kiss me, I’m Irish.”

I never quite got into the St. Patrick’s day celebration. It isn’t an official holiday so I never got the day off work. And to be honest, I never found it necessary to have a reason to drink. I assumed that any woman who was willing to kiss a drunken lout was no one I wanted to rub lips with…well, not since college.

But that’s tomorrow (unless you are on the other side of the International Date Line in which case it is today). Tomorrow I’ll be posting about Irish music; the one tradition that I love.