Saturday, January 28, 2006

Let the excitement begin!

That is what the sign above the Iowa Welcome Center door said, "Iowa--where the excitement begins." This was at the first exit into Iowa on I-35, near Lamoine. Inside was the lady who begged us to sign her book. They were trying to keep the visitor count up so the state would let them continue.

The welcome center part took space of about 30 X 30 feet. The coffee was still good that late in the day. The rest of the rather large building was devoted to antique and craft sales, with merchandise provided by locals who rented space. The blue Interstate signs had only said "Visitor Center" started by the international symbol, '?', the question mark for 'Information."

We got to Iowa about 4:30 this afternoon (Friday, 1-27). We left Montgomery at 1:06 this morning. There was a stop in Lawrence, Kansas, for the Runza. They were good. Also got the four frozen Runzas they had for the kiddos and us to eat later at home. Mrs. Jim can make more when those are gone.

There was the potty stop at McDonald's along the turnpike in Kansas. We didn't eat, we were saving ourselves for Runzas in Kansas. One more stop at a Subway in Oklahoma was for breakfast. We had a 'SouthWestern' sandwich. Two egg 'patties,' two smallish pieces of ham, two half slices of American cheese, onion slivers, and green peppers on a six inch whole wheat poboy bread all went into the oven. The maker asked if we wanted mustard or ketchup on it. I asked what she puts on hers, she said 'ranch.' The ranch topped it off real well. Until this morning we didn't know about the Subway breakfast menu.

The start of excitement was brother-in-law, Jim, who had made bean soup for us. Tomorrow, January 28 is his birthday too. I know, that is today already, it is getting late. His number is a round one, very big, when mine came I was going to run away. For two weeks. He isn't running as he wants to be a nice brother-in-law and entertain his relatives from Texas.

Tomorrow will be more excitement. We will see two basket ball games, one starring our great niece and the other our great nephew. Those will get things going. After that, in the afternoon after Dad's nap time, we will visit him for a little birthday party. It will be number 96. He can't run away.

Lois does have some nice things for us to do. We will see how much excitement there is in Iowa in January, with no snow.

p.s. I talked with the Radio Shack guy Thursday night about the camera. He told me how to just read the SD card directly from my lap top. Then while packing I found a large fold out paper with picture directions for the camera and dock. Things might be getting better for it, and me.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

An unhappy experience
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .with a fun toy

If Santa brought you a new digital camera, I hope you are doing better than I am. Did you by any chance get a Kodak? I did and the manual stinks.The EasyShare software stinks too.

Anyway I got as far as
Cheyenne* did her first day as I did in my four days. That was after it was on our table for about a week.When I installed the computer software I couldn't tell that anything was happening. Then a little window prompted me to register the camera and software.

I did that. They were supposed to e-mail me, they didn't. Everybody does, Kodak didn't.When I put the stuff together hooking the camera to the computer, it up/down (??)
loaded the eight pictures I had in camera memory. It didn't tell me where it was putting them and after two days I still can't find them.

The SD card seems to be working so I guess I can take 318 more pictures while I find them and figure things out.

One more thing. The EasyShare software went through my whole computer and labeled every '.jpg' file as an 'EasyShare jpg' type file. It didn't move them, just put that in a file type. I don't know what that means.

PC Magazine has it rated as their Editors' Choice miniture camera, they must not have tried downloading/uploading. Yes, the did because they talked about the good quality prints produced.

So watch out for surprises. I am hoping to find a nice program and a cable so I can load the computer directly from the camera and forget EasyShare.

Don't let this discourage you, you will probably go at a much faster pace than I am.

*I put much this same posting in her comments. It got rather long so she may decide to take it out. That is fine with me, cause I probably did mess up her works. Now I will say it here, and maybe you can figure I am hollering "Help! Help!" I can take it back within 30 days of purchase. I just might.

You can live in Montgomery, Texas, where ...

9. There is no sales tax on food or medicine items. Four tax free days for clothing are before school starts.


Wednesday, January 25, 2006



Hell Yes, We Have Electricity.

You may have seen these before. My friend, John M. e-mailed them. I hadn't seen them and thought they were kinda' cute. Most of them, that is. Maybe not for your or my state.

Extra! Extra!

Dave Letterman said today (January 25, 2006) is the most depressing day of the year.

Someone should have told me earlier. So Dave told a bunch of ways to 'make you happy.' The only one I remember was that if Hillary gets in the White House you can bet Bill will misbehave again.

Followed by a clip, George Bush saying "follow me, the world is going to be worse." I won't remember that.

I wonder what tomorrow will be?

Grand Canyon Episode

This morning we both slept in. It was 8:20 when Adi and I went out for the paper. Of course Mrs. Jim had made coffee so I could take a cup out with me.

Then we sat around and drank coffee and read the paper. No headlines for the blog today. Well, none that I want to comment about.

The Today Show

Did any of you watch that this morning? For us was the
most interesting was Al Roker doing the weather. Not for the weather, but his doing the weather. He had the Blue Man Group helping him. I like the Blue Man Group. They have a continuing evening show in Las Vegas, with lots of audience participation.

Getting culture sure helps us to understand the TV programs. Last year at this time I wouldn't have known who the Blue Men were.

Last Spring, 2005, was when the stuff hit the fan. I had commented to my golfing buddy, Charles, that while in Las Vegas last December (2004) for Karen, Billy, and GC#4's wedding, I had declined a very nice air flight to the Grand Canyon, then a trip in a helicopter to the floor, followed by a river boat ride in the Colorado River, and then a barbecue lunch with the Indians before reversing the procedure.

Charles said he was going to Provo, Utah, for a wood turning conference and why didn't we all go together to see the canyon. He 'never turns down an opportunity to see the Grand Canyon' and for sure hadn't done it the way I wanted to do it. I had never seen the Grand Canyon, nor had I been to Arizona.*

Charles doesn't like to fly. He has had several bad experiences with the flight attendants on board. So we drove in his new Surburban, Charlie let me drive too, although I think I made him a little nervous. I hadn't been to El Paso since I moved away to New Hampshire in 1961. It was nice to see El Paso again. Of course it had grown so much I didn't recognize a lot until we got to the college in the Western edge, and then Las Cruces.

Las Cruces had grown a lot too. We didn't even know what Interstate Highways were back then, in using these we missed all the nice small town streets and the Spanish influence city squares that I had liked so well in both towns. A big shock came when filling up with gas. He did the first one; for the second I was faster jumping out, and I got it. The pump figure was over $80, maybe over a $100; the tank was only about two thirds empty. Two fillups got us to Las Vegas.

A slight problem arose. I had made motel reservations
at a Comfort Inn in North Las Vegas, the Comfort Inn North. I never had stayed in a bad one, although the one in Amarillo was marginal. This one I had booked was horrible. Well, it was kind of cute in being clean and smallish. But it was right by the noisiest freeway I had known, sandwiched between a truck terminal and ??? (I can't remember what).

Right away that seemed not good. Those trucks were like bees, or ants, swarming in and out and around the place. So we said, no we wouldn't stay. One problem, our reservations were guaranteed; 'Mr. Sidiqui,' the manager, said we would have to pay for one night.

No problem really, but that bothered me in principal because the picture in the book and online had misrepresented the surroundings. It looked so pretty and clean, it must have been taken before the trucking firm moved in beside and behind it. 'Mr. Sidiqui' didn't tell us personally we couldn't get refunded, his afternoon manager did. We never did talk with 'Mr. Sidiqui.' More on that later.

We stayed at Bally's. That was well worth, value-wise, our move at three or four times the price of our original reservations.

It was adjoining the
Paris Las Vegas so we didn't hurt for eating, shopping, or gambling (none of us did that). Both hotels were on the strip, we were close to all the action.

Being close to the action was good for me. The other time (only other time) I was in Las Vegas was for the wedding; then I was on crutches waiting for the doc to say I could walk again on my right foot. I was that way from the early
October (2004) World Series game (that's where, and how, I hurt it--watching the game on TV) until December 26. So for sure I couldn't get very far from the Mandalay Bay where we stayed that time.


We had reservations for the Grand Canyon air, helicopter, and boat tour, and for a couple of shows. We saw Celine Dione first.


Then the Blue Man Group show. Celine was fine, the Blue Man show was so different that none of us were prepared. They mostly play 60s to 80s rock music, which was just fine, really fine, with me.

They used electronic three huge screen presentations to emphasize the various aspects of foolishness they were doing. Kind of like a three ring circus, it would have been hard to figure out everything that was going on without these screens. We had good seats in about row 12 of the huge theatre, so it wasn't a distance problem. Just we needed to know what to see and what was going on. The TV screens solved that issue.

The Blue Men had a lot of audience participation too. Mostly the participants were made fun of; left them feeling like fools. But they enjoyed being made a joke of, most people do like the attention they get when tricked in the public eye.

We knew a little of what to expect when we went in, we were handed a package containing ear plugs. Indeed, they were loud. Mrs. Jim and Mrs. Charles used their plugs, I think. I know Mrs. Jim did. She never did like the music they way I play it. Now I have to play it loud or I can't hear it good.

The other aspect was the mass audience participation. We weren't expecting this, but large spools of something similar to those large spools of toilet paper in the truck stops swung down from the ceiling in the back.

The people in the back were to grab a roll, there were enough so each person in the back could get one, and toss it over the people in front of them, and so on. When it was all over the entire audience was wrapped. Like the teenagers wrap houses, only a lot better. It was awesome to see. And soooooo much fun to do.

I would see the Blue Men again.

This morning, the Today Show, again.

I said to Mrs. Jim, "Aren't you glad we are getting some culture? If we hadn't been to Las Vegas we wouldn't have appreciated these guys doing their antics with Al Roker." She said she wouldn't call it culture, rather having information. Duh.

Maybe you wish we hadn't seen the Blue Men for your own sake. I wouldn't have felt I had write about them. And you could be reading some of my other trivia. Tomorrow I promise to finish the Grand Canyon story, Charles' woodworking conference, and our bout with Comfort Inn. Well, it could take two days, but Friday we will be in Iowa. Lois doesn't have DSL or cable so it could mean just a few short posts from her computer. Maybe Lawrence, Kansas, or Kansas City has a free 'hot spot' along our way.

*We did get to Arizona on the way. That was another thing I really wanted to do. My goal is to see all 50 states. Arizona and West Virginia were the only states I needed. Mrs. Jim needs West Virginia, Ohio, and Indiana. We plan to do all that this fall.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

A dilemma of sorts  

We are headed to the Midwest and expect to be in Center Point, Iowa, this Friday. That is 16 miles northwest of Cedar Rapids, and 13 miles northwest of Hiawatha. My Dad is at Hiawatha in a nursing home.

This Saturday he will be 96 years old. I don't think he reads this, but HAPPY BIRTHDAY, DAD! That is C. Vernon Hovendick, Hiawatha Care Center, 405 N. 15th Ave., Hiawatha, IA 52233-2347.

That isn't the dilemma. Our situation coming up this time is that we won't be able to get
Runzas on the way. There is one at Lawrence, Kansas. That is six hours from Center Point. We may hang around there until it opens as Lawrence is on I-35 before Kansas City.

The 1st Runza® Drive Inn opened in Lincoln, Nebraska, in about 1949. [Founded by Sally Everett and her brother, Alex Brening.] During the first three of the eleven years that I was a college dropout I got to know Lincoln pretty good. I discovered the Runza Hut near Pioneer Park in the early fifties. It was one of those little drive-up, not drive-in, restaurants with a window in front for to go orders. Or a person could go inside to eat. We got ours to go, I ate inside only once, on a rainy day.

My favorite is the Runza, or Runza sandwich as they are now called. According to the menu, "Runza® Sandwiches are made by hand and baked fresh, everyday. A Runza® Sandwich is a delicious blend of fresh ground beef, onions and special spices all baked inside homemade bread." Mrs. Jim has a recipe Mom gave her for these from the Omaha World Herald , it uses some cooked cabbage. I had always thought the store model did too until I just read this menu.

On the way home, we will load up with Runzas for the all the kids in the Houston area. The only eat Runzas when I go to a Runza Restaurant. I have never had enough Runzas to allow me to try their hamburgers or other. Their fries are good, we have had clam chowder and it was really good. But always a Runza also.

Of course they give a senior discount of ten percent. Be sure to ask. The place in Wahoo won't give their discount for take-outs. Go to Blair if you can. The discount there is twenty-five percent.

I consider Runzas to be the Nebraska State Food.

Do you have
a Runza story?

Monday, January 23, 2006

Where were you?

(What is this all about?)

Thirty-three years ago . . . (from yesterday)?

A lot weren't even born! I was in law school at the University of Houston. I was also working 50 to 60 hours a week as an aerospace engineer at the Johnson Manned Space Center in Houston.

I was in church from 8:15 till 10:30. I taught (?) my Sunday school class at 9:30. Mrs. Jim was there from 7:30 until 11:15. The orchestra was playing this Sunday. She also took time out to donate a pint of blood at 9:30. A lot were on the streets, rallying their forces.

What is this all about? Thirty-three years ago the Supreme Court decided Rowe vs. Wade.

I'm not political on this blog; please, if you comment today, keep your political comments short.

I love our Constitution of the United States. I support it. I have sworn to uphold it. It is a wonderful document. I believe it descended from God. (Some day I will try to retrace its heritage to the Ten Commandments, not today.)

Rowe vs. Wade?
(1) My political stand is that this situation is a women's issue and should be worked out by women.
(2) My constitutional interpretation is that the Supreme Court should never have been decided it. For 195 years, the Preamble to the Constitution had never been law. It had not figured into any Supreme Court decisions. We were taught that in law school in 1972.

Then in 1973, the Supreme Court dug into the Preamble and in general, all over the Constitution. They could not site any Section or Article or Amendment, but putting them all together found there had been hidden a right to privacy. This is the heritage of Rowe vs. Wade and you know the rest.

Had the Court not found any federal constitutional law basis for deciding this case, it would have been sent back as the federal government having no jurisdiction over the subject matter.

What then? The right to have an abortion would have to have been decided in each state, under the police power of the state, to establish and protect health, safety, and morals of each of the states's subjects.

(3) I always kept this area light in my law class. Any student would have the right to speak his or her feelings. We would then study how this right to privacy for women (and men) developed.

Sometime in this discussion I would tell this classic Aggie (link) joke about Rowe vs. Wade, right after stating that I felt the subject of abortion was not a joking matter. Academic freedom, you know.

The joke goes:
Aggie law professor: "Who can tell us about Rowe vs. Wade?"
Class: Silence.
Professor: "Well?"
After another long silence, one Aggie student: "I guess it depends upon how deep the water was."

We can't forget this matter. History is not finished on this yet. Sixty-seven years from now, probably yes, it will all be decided.

And I will be mum on my stand. Mum for this blog. In person, and when asked, (remember I think women need to resolve this issue) I am not meek at all!

Hint: Psalms 139.*

*Psalm 139:13-15 (New International Version) (NIV)
Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by
International Bible Society
13 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Guys, we've been had!
An extra tidbit
Texans set to
Hire Kubiak

... Big Brother is at it again.

I just saw this in the reasoning for why Google stock is plunging. (There were other reasons too.)

Per a Yahoo News article: "Wall Street's jitters intensified Friday as the market mulled the possible fallout from Google's rebuff of a Justice Department subpoena seeking a list of its users' search requests for a one-week period. U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales filed a motion in San Jose federal court earlier this week seeking to force Google to hand over the requested information."

Are you worried? Have you been searching for naughties? The Justice Department will find you out! I have been thinking of looking up the recipe for--whoops, can't say those words, I will be found out when Mr. Gonzales finds this post!

I wonder how many searches are made on Google in a week's time? Will they use a computerized search or will this be 'full employment' for Internet snoops? Get your resumes polished up.

p.s. (1) Google isn't foolproof. Spell checker for their Blogger here doesn't know the word 'Google.' That alone scares me.
p.s. (2) Is Mrs. Jim in trouble with the feds now? After a Web recipe search, she is at the store getting some ingredients for a
'Potato Veggie Soup' she had made before. This is for a friend recovering from surgery. The Houston Chronicle has a wonderful recipe data base. It is very easy to do a search here.

Set your VCR or TiVo Learn more...

for PBS tonight, January 22, at 8:00pm EST, nine Central Time.

Masterpiece Theatre on PBS [
PBSC] is starting a six episode of"Bleak House" This is a fun book by Charles Dickens. A wealthy man is entangled in a long, difficult lawsuit over a disputed will.

Guess who wins? (Don't read any more if you want to wait until the last episode to fine out.) The court costs and lawyers eat up the entire estate. Way back then in Dickens' time, but it seems a more familiar theme yet today.

Sometimes in Business Law classes we would discuss this book. It fit into the topic for the day, but I can't remember now how or what.

You can live in Montgomery, Texas, where ...

8. There is no state income tax.


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