Monday, May 30, 2011

Free Thinking and Frisky

What's the song title, "Too Much Time on My Hands"? I get bored and have this compulsion to share my thoughts with anyone we can tease into reading the Blog. So random thoughts, it is.

Folks, And BTW, I'm gonna run down a rabbit trail right now. Why do I use the term "folks" often as I do? In my day the general personal pronoun was he, him. English does not have a gender specific term. Suggestions are welcome but I HATE the awkwardness of "he/she" even when I have to use it in say drafting rules.

First time in too many years, I went to a Chili-cookoff yesterday. I had forgotten how much fun that can be. Predictably got drafted as a judge, believe it or not had an adult beverage or three, and contributed to the charity de jour. Another BTW, retired San Angelo Fireman Mark Harrison is now running the Terlingua Ghost Town Saloon beerjoint, he'd love to see old friends if you go there. For those who keep up with such; I will boldly go forth into Republican/Democrat/Libertarian politics, but I ain't touching chile cookoffs with a pole!

Stray thought: when you park on the street, look back before you open the door. I have come too close to taking a door off a car three times in the last two weeks. Guess what, if I had, I (or my insurer) am NOT going to buy you a door. You (or your insurer if you have one) will buy me a new headlight, grill, front quarterpanel.

What's the price of gas today? Over $4 and steaming towards $7? I don't really keep up, outside the lawnmower, I don't use the nasty stuff, still paying about $2.50 for Propane on the pickup. Still, I seem to have seen a $3.55 sign, looks like price is coming down just as we head into high use season with many refineries shut down due to flooding. How can this be?

Federal mandates, that's got to be it, nothing else could outweigh the economic might of the oil companies! Oops, forgot, the feds are still figuring out which conspiracy to sue for what. Now there is this niggling little detail: gasoline consumption has dropped over 10% over 4 months. No mandate, no rationing, nothing out of DC, we, the free consumers, decided we would drive fewer miles, buy less gas and the mighty oil companies were brought to their knees by nothing more than our individual free choice.

The concept has been called a "free market". Not to get too radical, but one might want to look at the idea.

Memorial Day

I have shamelessly neglected this space since my last post, my apologies. Let's try to make today interesting.

First, I checked on the final return of Shuttle Endeavour's final return flight. Great news for those of us who don't sleep much! It is scheduled for a "pre-dawn" return to Florida. Been done before, the actual landing is scheduled for 2:35 AM Wed. which will have it directly overhead about an hour before that here. I've had the luck to see this a few years ago, it is a spectacular show, well worth getting up for.

First time I saw a predawn return, I didn't know what it was at first, I was on a delivery truck. Looked up and saw this huge contrail, arcing from west to east really fast. Mind you, this contrail goes from west horizon to out of sight east in maybe three minutes, I'm thinking this has to be supersonic, where is the "boom"? Well, the sonic boom, actually a "double boom" comes about the time the contrail goes over the eastern horizon and it finally comes to me, has to be the shuttle, nothing else is high enough for that delay.

For background, I just thought, old fart that I am becoming, I'm talking to (I hope) two generations of people who have never heard a "sonic boom". When an aircraft breaks the "sound barrier", about 720 MPH, the airflow over the wings becomes a shock wave. In the 50s it was an awesome thing to design planes that could do that and not self destruct. I was living in eastern NC then, heard them all the time. Supersonic flight is now banned over most of the US, but it was a fact of life then. That shock wave literally broke window panes, scared the hell out of livestock and people would sue the military for damages. I recall the response: "Citizens, that is the sound of Freedom"! Really. Got to remember, the Cold War was at full throttle shall we say. The Russians were coming!

NASA loves early landings, they usually keep the crosswind problem minimal. Remember, this over-priced, under-used, but still beautiful piece of machinery is on landing, an overweight ungainly glider! It has no power, there is no wave off and approach again, this mother is going to land once approach is started, only question is whether it lands here or there and in one piece or not. Ain't the way I'd have designed a railroad, but our tax dollars at work. Whatever, we've already paid for it and it is a good show if one is awake for it. Time is tentative, everything depends on a 12 MPH crosswind limit in Florida.

On to more planet-bound concerns. I have had my sanity questioned on account of my recent divorce. No, I did not go nuts and get married again, but after many years, I have formally divorced the Republican Party, and taken up with the Libertarian hussy.

Why Ryan, I'm asked, why go to a Party with no chance of winning, why waste your vote? People, look at the Republican Presidential field. It isn't even a good joke. The Democrats are saved from similar embarrassment only by having an incumbent. I leave it to the reader whether that is a joke.

The man who recruited me into active Republican politics started the county Republican Party in 1952, the year I was born. Back then, the Republicans could hold a county convention in a phone booth and not inconvenience a caller. The Democrat Primary was the effective election. With a few exceptions, his vote and effort was "wasted" for nearly 30 years, in fact the obituary of Gov. Bill Clements today brings to mind a huge turning point in Texas politics, 1979. Anybody care to look at the state officeholders today and tell me Bob "wasted" his time?

I may rave about Constitutional shortcuts, but we still live under a government that moves incrementally, it was so designed and still limits the passions of the day. As it should be. I don't want "Change" to happen overnight, I know full well I will spend the rest of my life nudging this country in my small way in what I see as the correct direction.

At my age, I will be worm-food before we see a Libertarian President, and shortly after that, another political insurgency will rise up against the Libertarian abuse of power, I leave the naming rights to a future generation, BUT unless we have cratered as a civilization, the wheel will turn, something like this will come to pass. Ask the ghosts of the Federalists or the Whigs. Seen them on a ballot lately? They used to run the country.

The late William F Buckley is remembered for his declaration in the 50s "I stand athwart history and proclaim 'STOP'".

We are on the trembling verge of bankrupting the greatest nation in history. If America collapses, a Dark Age we cannot imagine will be our heritage. The Middle ages only had rats and plague, our world has nuclear weapons. It is time to holler "STOP!".