General Commentary (May be military related) email: Kudzuacres1@juno.com
Friday, September 19, 2003
In Praise of A Truck
From time to time, I mention that I drive a 93 Mazda B2200 pickup. It is a very basic truck with a 5 speed. The only option is AC and I installed a cheap AM/FM Cassette to fill the hole in the dash. When I say basic, I mean basic. It has a bench seat, two speed wipers and no power steering.
It is the most dependable vehicle I have ever owned or known. It currently has 176,000 miles and I have spent $150 on non-regular maintenance. $100 of that was my fault for breaking things. I just bought a replacement handle for the tailgate and last year bought a lock cylinder for the driver's side door. I broke the tailgate handle by yanking really hard on it instead of readjusting the latch points after I made them too tight. I broke the lock cylinder to get in the truck after locking myself out.
The other $50 was for a replacement heater blower motor. The original quit after running full time for 165,000 miles, however many hours that is. I either run the heater or the AC always.
The pickup runs as well today as the day I bought it. It gets 25 MPG in local driving and about 27 highway. It will do 80 according to a New Mexico Trooper although I have never seen the needle that high. When I last had the emissions tested in Colorado, it ran cleaner than the new car ahead in the test station.
I have owned Porsches, Mercedes, Saabs, BMWs, Hondas, Fords, Chevys, Dodges, Alfas, Austin Minis and others that I can't remember. The B2200 is the best of the lot, dependably and economically doing what it was designed to do . It is my favorite ever.
My wife says I need to get a new truck. I really like the souped up version of the Dodge Dakota. I think I might look seriously at buying one in say....2010.
I am thinking about getting the B2200 painted. It has been through 2 hailstorms, three years of New Mexico desert sandblasting and 10 years of parking lot bashing.
Oh, and I am looking at a set of those Michelin 80,000 mile warranty tires.
Thursday, September 18, 2003
I need to say up front that I never worked with or for GEN Wesley Clark. Anything I say is based on conversations with people who do know him and what I read.
I am a retired Army Officer. I achieved the grade I wished, retired when I wanted and did what the Army chain of command told me to do. I served with many fine officers and some not so fine officers who became general officers. The major characteristic of the not so fine officers was their hunger like need to reach the highest levels of the Army and their willingness to do anything to achieve that goal. I have an aquaintance who is now a Brigadier who robbed a private business to get what his boss wanted for a party. He justified it by saying that the boss really needed it and besides, he put it back after the party and no one ever knew.
The military is unique among professions in that it requires absolute trust among it members. If a soldier tells another soldier something, it must be as close to the real truth as possible. Over a long career, soldiers develop the ability to identify those who can be trusted to tell the truth regardless of the consequences. I have several long time Army friends who I trust implicitly. If one of them told me that you could burn water, I would invest in water futures.
GEN Clark does not appear to have been that kind of officer. He seems to have been in the category that thought the truth was whatever best served their career at the time.
I never liked or wanted to serve with any officer who I suspected of shading the truth. I worked for some of the worst jerks the Army ever produced, but I trusted them to be truthful and fair.
I expect the same of anyone who wishes to be President and I do not believe Wesley Clark qualifies.
Tuesday, September 16, 2003
Warning: A Mean Spirited Post
Things that really get under my skin:
Arm chair Generals and Presidents who constantly criticize the government for doing the wrong thing in Iraq/Afgahnistan/Korea (you name it) yet who never bother to present an alternate course of action other than "be nice so they won't hate us".
The harping about last week's vote on Alabama Amendment One . The Huntsville Times had an editorial today saying the voters asked for cuts, now they would get them. I have noticed that people are not nearly as stupid as newspaper editors and politicians think they are. As a friend said, if the three most "respected" groups in the state (politicians, the media and the Alabama Education Association) are for it, you need to look real close at what it is.
The Christain Coalition or these guys. Lord, save me from those who use religion to back up every warped political position whether they are leftists (progressives) or rightests.
People who refer to themselves as "progressives". Taking other people's assets to farther your own social or political goals does not make you "progressive". It makes you a thief.
Generals who decide they should be President. I spent 32 years in the Army. In that time, I never knew a General who had any business being President although most I met were really good politicians. I never met Wesley Clark, but you can bet he doesn't have my vote nor do I think he will get many votes from the military. After all, he did get effectively relieved of duty by Clinton.
Reality TV shows. Do I need to list a reason?
Football as a religion. Football is okay but it does not rise to the level of being important. If you are choosing a college, look at the academics, not how good the football team is.
College coaches who get paid more than minimum wage.
What the heck, politicians and anyone else who thinks they should be telling people how to live their lives. I keep waiting for the candidate who is honest and says: "I don't have any simple solutions to our problems but I am willing to spend four years trying to solve them". Of course he wouldn't be elected since he wouldn't promise to give anyone something for free.
Television "news". No thanks, I'll read my editorials.
Alabamans in SUVs. Get real! You need 4 wheel drive in Alabama as much as a fish needs sunscreen. If you need the space, buy a minivan.
(disclosure; I have several close relatives who have SUVs. They don't need the room.)
Yesterday at lunch, a friend and I were talking about world affairs and the topic of Presidents arose, wondered around and finally landed at: which were the greatest Presidents?
I have my list which is either four or five depending what day of the week it is. I do not believe that you can fairly judge a President until at least 50 years have passed as both the good and bad effects of his policies need time to be realized.
I do not think you need to agree with what a President did to recognize great accomplishments, nor do you have to think the accomplishments were good for the country in the long run.
My list and reasons:
Washington: Surveyor, General, Leader, President, then Farmer. He established the concept that a President is a citizen who serves and then returns to private life.
Jefferson: Lewis and Clark, Louisana Purchase. Established the US as a continental power.
Lincoln: Established that the United States are a single country-United; therefore I suppose it should read the United States is.
T. Roosevelt: National Parks, The Great White Fleet: Put the US on the world stage and established the Presidency as the dominant of the three "equal" branches. Note that the Supreme Court Justices and the Congress stand when the President enters a room, more the treatment of king than an equal branch.
F. Roosevelt: Implemented policies that affect everything we do as a nation. Established the Federal Government as nanny for us all. Won WWII or else we wouldn't exist as a nation.
Monday, September 15, 2003
Did few interesting things over the weekend. We are working on the farm to get it ready to sell and I am going through the stacks of stuff in the barn and workshop getting things the next generation may want. My son asked for a few pieces of weathered barn wood to make a table. I pulled some really nice eight inch wide boards for him and in going through the stuff on some shelves, I noticed that the shelves were single pieces of lumber about 14 inches wide. The lumber is rough, never planed, and about and inch and a half thick. I plan to remove it, run one side through a planed and see what it looks like. I assume the boards are at least 75 years old since we don't have a lot of pine trees around that will yield 14 inch boards.
I talked to a 30 year old neighbor of my M-in-law who is having his stomach stapled and a resection done of his small intestine. He weighs over 400 pounds, has diabetes, high blood pressure and other health problems. He seems to be fairly active and lost 50 pounds after going on a diabetes diet only to regain it. I wonder if the operation is a good idea. The surgeon who will do it appears to be running a disassembly line. He is booked up through Christmas.
This weekend I plan to move the Mercedes to my workshop. A few weeks back, I managed to get the wheels to turn and found the key. Now I have to get it on a trailer, haul it to Huntsville and move it into my shop. The big obstacle is goping to be backing the trailer up my driveway. I may have to get someone else to back it for me and that will be a big blow to my ego.
I never could back a trailer.