Monday, September 30, 2013

Grand Weekend ...

in Grand Rapids. The Missus and I went north this past weekend to Michigan. We left Friday morning and stopped for lunch and pie at Crane's Pie Pantry. If you've been reading this blog for any length of time, you know that I'm a big fan of pie. And since finding a decent slice of pie while traveling is becoming harder all the time, a detour to Crane's is well worth the trip. The main reason for our trip to Grand Rapids, however, wasn't just for pie but the PBR Bull Riding event on Saturday night.

The cowboys put on a good show. It was televised on Sunday night, so we got to watch it when we got home but it also set the schedule for the events on Saturday night with TV time outs and all that. They provided some real good entertainment during the breaks in the action and along with the bull riding, it was a nice way to spend an evening. 

Having boxed, played a little hockey and crashed a few two wheelers over the years, I'm familiar with getting banged around but there's no way in hell I'd ever consider bull riding. Those boys are the real deal. One tough bunch. But unlike a lot of professional athletes, they were all lined up against the fence signing autographs after the show with smiles on their faces and thanking the fans for coming out.  

We went to the President Ford Museum Saturday morning. The Missus and I have been to quite a few of the Presidential Museums/libraries/homes over the years and have been meaning to get to this one for quite some time.

It's a nice building and grounds and admission was free due to the Art Prize show that was going on in the town over the weekend. Ford was president at a difficult time in American history and never seemed to get a lot of respect while in office but he wasn't afraid to make the tough decisions. He was an excellent athlete in his day and he had a commendable service record while in the Navy. He had what it takes to do the job, just like those bull riders do. I think as the years pass and history puts things in perspective, Gerald Ford will be remembered as the right man for the right time even though he wasn't elected to office and he served less than four years.

While we were driving around we came across a gas station featuring $1.99 /per gallon regular.

They had a pretty good line of people waiting, as you might expect, but the promotion didn't last too long. It was back up to over three dollars later in the day.

All in all, a good time was had by all. The weather was terrific, the rodeo was too. Spent some quality with the Missus and all was right with the world. Now it's back to the old grind of having to work a couple of days per week. 

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Case Closed

I got the case for the Ducati all patched up the other day. Surprisingly enough, the broken bolt or what ever was in there came out real easy. I started with a 1/8" carbide end mill and it went down in there like nothing. I was pretty much dead nuts on center, so I switched to a 3/16" and ran it down in there and whatever was in the hole was all gone after I pulled the end mill out. Usually with a 3/16" mill or drill there will be some stock left over in the hole on a 6mm bolt that requires a tap to be run down in the hole very carefully to get the remnants of the treads out.  However, this time, after blowing the chips out of the hole, I could see good threads all the way down. I did run a tap down in the hole but it was more a formality than anything else. I welded up the cracks and then dressed them down a little - done deal.

If you notice the nice white light in the photo, it's because I changed out a couple of the fluorescent fixtures in the shop prior to starting on the case. I bought two new lights as direct replacements for two that were hanging from the ceiling. The new ones are supposed to be good down to zero degrees and with the T8 bulbs are supposed to save a little energy. They definitely look to be a little brighter but part of that is probably the fact that the other lights were pretty dirty. I'm thinking I should probably pick up two more and replace the others also. It only takes 5 minutes to swap one out and the lights were less than 15 bucks each at Menard's. That's a small price to pay to be able to see what you're doing. Especially when it's cold out.

I stuck the hoops in the SFG box with the peppers the other day as well. They look a little out of kilter due to the camera angle but head-on they line up nicely. It'll be really easy to throw a tarp or blanket over things when we get a frost warning. I'm going to make a cross bar of some type for the top. That'll keep them from racking out of shape as easily and give me something to hang a light from. If I cover the hoops with clear plastic and put a grow light in there, I might be able to keep things going until November or later. Just throw a blanket over things at night. The hoops were only 99 cents each. As well as they appear to work, I'll pick up a few more this upcoming week.

Have a nice weekend.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Baba Ghanoush

Been pretty busy around here lately but not much in the way of projects to report on. Unless you count my adventures in the kitchen, that is. I made up a batch of Baba Ghanoush using one of the eggplants from the garden. Probably the last one from the garden, since something trimmed off a few of the little eggplants and some of the pea vines - definitely going to have to fence the garden next year. I've only had Baba Ghanoush once before so I can't really compare it to anything I've had but it tastes good to me and it's pretty simple to make.

I picked up some pvc tubing to make a quasi-greenhouse over one of the Square Foot Garden boxes. I'm going to try and get something rigged up before the first frost so I can keep my peppers producing a while longer. If that works out, maybe do one more so I'll be ready next spring.

I did a little machining for a project they're building at the college. Nothing much to it, cut a piece to length, face, and then turn it to the proper diameter. Since they don't make things, tools and machinery are in pretty short supply at the school.

Likewise the power supply cabinet that goes along with the shaft and pulley job in the previous photo. I brought in my chassis punches for this job. The HVAC lab or maintenance people might have had something that would have worked but I don't see this as a regular occurrence, so no biggie. It is interesting the difference between college and high school teachers, however. A high school shop teacher thinks nothing of running to the hardware store for a couple of nuts and bolts or something similar. Many a professor, however, seems to think that someone else needs to do all the fetch and carry. As a lab tech, my job is to do whatever needs doing in the lab, obviously, but there's a discernible attitude with a few of them. Good to be king, I suppose.

Going to work on the Ducati case today. It needs a little welding and a broken bolt removed. I started on it the other day by attempting to mill off the top of the broken bolt. Someone had started repairing it before it came to me and they had either center punched it off center or started drilling it off center. Anyway, the bolt is so hard I couldn't cut it with a HSS end mill. It's almost like it's an EZ-Out stuck down in there rather than a bolt. I ordered a couple of carbide end mills and drill bits both to do this job and replenish my stocks. Hopefully, this won't end up as too big an ordeal.

Days are getting shorter and fall is in the air here. I put on some warm clothes the other morning so I could ride the Suzuki to work. Imagine my surprise when I went outside and found it to be only 40 degrees. Wasn't quite dressed for that but the day time temps have been most pleasant. I need to take advantage of it and get outside and do a little running. I'm scheduled for a stress test the middle of November and I'd like to do well. How many people "study" for a stress test? Hard to shake that Type A personality. I'm curious as to what the results are going to be what with the changes in lifestyle I've made. I'd be real pleased to find out the stents aren't closing up - be even more pleased if I found the changes were reversing the effects of the heart disease. They say it can be done. Maybe the secret is more Baba Ghanous. Find out in about 6 weeks.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013


I just finished reading Detroit: An American Autopsy by Charlie LeDuff. Great book. Not a happy book but an exceptionally good read. The last time I was in Detroit was in 2005 when my buddy Kevin and I ran The Detroit Free Press Marathon. We only did the half marathon but we had a great time for a couple of plodders.The night before the race we went to Hockeytown Cafe which is a real cool restaurant. During the race we got to run across the Ambassador Bridge into Canada and then come back into Detroit through the tunnel. They even gave us a time split for our under water mile time, ours was a blistering 11:11 by the way, and then we finished on the 50 yard line of Ford Field which was the site of the Super Bowl the following year. Big time fun - even more so for Kevin - I dropped him off on the way home so he could meet with another guy and see the White Sox play that evening in the World Series. So we had fun in Detroit but we don't live there.

I was also up there in Motor City a few years before that and I got a chance to look around and see a little more of the city - rough, to put it mildly. Lots of it looks like something you would see in the old news reels from WWII. Bombed out. In the book he mentions a gallon of gas costing around 4 bucks and a movie ticket going for eight so it's cheaper to buy a gallon of gas and set an abandoned house on fire and watch the firemen try to extinguish it while sipping a 40 than it is going to a movie. Helluva way to entertain yourself. And of course it's not just Detroit that's having problems. It's just the poster child for the decay of our cities. What causes things to get so bad? A combination of things but usually there's some corrupt or incompetent politician as part of the main story line, in this case it was mayor Kilpatrick. Michigan and Illinois politicians have been providing a lot of entertainment for us Hoosiers and it doesn't look like it's going to change much in the near future at least with Illinois.

Next week we've got a showdown at the national level. It will be interesting to see how that shakes out. The way things are going the whole U.S. of A is going to end up like Detroit unless the politicians decide to start remembering the Constitution and We the People. Probably not much chance of that happening but one can always hope. If they don't, read Detroit: An American Autopsy and you'll know how the story's going to end.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Not Gone Make It

"not gone make it today have test at u.s. steel what do i need to make up"

I received this e-mail the other day from one of my welding students at the college. My first response to his asking what he needs to make up was: Four years of high school. You would think that it would be a given that capitalization and punctuation would still be required when communicating with your college instructor. Coincidentally, an op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal on Tuesday addressed this very issue.

"A generation of students who are unable to write or reason bodes ill for liberal democracy."

"Many employers can attest, as college instructors will too if they're being frank, that many college graduates can barely construct a coherent paragraph and many have precious little knowledge of the world - the natural world, the social world, the historical world, or the cultural world. That is a tragedy for the graduates, but also for the society: Civic life suffers when people have severely limited knowledge of the world to bring to political or moral discussions."

Additionally, in last Friday's WSJ there were a few letters to the editor in response to the Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson's op-ed about education. One item that I thought especially relevant was the following by Jon Rush:

"Missing from Mr. Tillerson's briefcase is that top down federal intervention in the public school system that started with "New Math" back in 1960 and continued with "Goals 2000" and "No Child Left Behind" has been the reason that the nation that built the technolgical marvel that we live in today in the U.S. is slipping. Before the U.S. Department of Education we had exceptional public education, but not since, and these additional mandates will not arrest our slide." 

This topic was addressed in an earlier blogpost here, by the way.

Equally as relevant was this from a letter by Prof. Linda Karges-Bone:

"Teachers who would like to dig into those meaty standards need three things, none of which they currently possess and have little hope of securing: adequate time in the classroom, free from distractions, disruptions and trivial clerical demands on their time; abundant access to materials, resources, books and technology with which they might implement the standards and appropriate respect for and time to use their own creativity, ingenuity and life experiences as they differentiate those standards for our unique group of American public-school clientele."

So it still boils down to the same old thing. Tell the teachers what you want taught, give them the resources to do the job, then get out of the way. The more hurdles you impose on them, the less that's going to be accomplished - especially if those hurdles are imposed by the feds. If you were to do some type of cost benefit analysis, I'm sure you would find that once the federal government takes a hand in something, the money required goes up and the desired results go down. And with education? Not just down per dollar spent but down, period. Need some accountability without federal oversight? How 'bout the Baldridge Principles? That'll keep everyone honest.

It all seems so simple.In fact, I received an e-mail from the Department of Natural Resources announcing their upcoming education events and there was a link to the Flipped Learning site. I found this terribly amusing. Flipped learning is education that doesn't have the teacher standing in front of the class presenting the content everyday but rather the students learn much of that as homework and then classroom time is spent in small groups or one-on-one with the students. Just. Like. Shop. Teachers. Do.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013


The bag on the left contains my "bumper crop" of filberts/hazelnuts. Unlike the apples and peaches, I got the filberts started a little late in order to have a decent crop when I retired. I did have another tree but for some reason it died. I'm not sure why. They were planted in fairly close proximity, so same soil type, watered and tended at the same time - who knows? I do have a couple more planted but it will be a few years before they start producing much. When they get a little bigger, the larger tree will probably have better pollination which should make it a little more productive.

The other baggies contain seeds from a couple of magnolia trees. I really don't need too many more ornamental trees around the place but I've got room for a couple and magnolias are my favorites. I've tried to get them started in the past but haven't had any luck. Through the magic of the internet, I think I've found the way to get the seeds to sprout. We'll see.

The days are getting noticeably shorter now. It won't be long and the garden will be done for the year. I picked my first eggplant the other day and made up a ratatouille. I cooked it up in the crock pot and I was quite pleased with both the taste and the fact that I actually cooked something that didn't involve frying, other than sauteing the onions and garlic, that is. I hunted down some tahini so I can make some baba ganoush. I'm trying things out to decide what I want to plant in the garden next year. A couple of eggplants will probably make the cut. I need to talk to my daughter-in-law and see what she's got planned as well. If she's planning on doing some more canning next year, see what she wants in the way of vegetables. I definitely need to get the seedlings planted a little earlier next year. That plus the removal of the tree that was shading the garden should boost the productivity quite a bit.

I'm a long way from being self-sufficient here but I'm putting in just about all the time I care to devote to the operation. Next year I'll expand the garden a little more and that should be about it. I'll have cherries in a couple of years to add to the apples, peaches and persimmons and with the small garden, that'll be plenty to take care of. Seems I still don't have the time to work on the projects like I want so I sure don't need to take on any more. However, with the way things are going in this country, having some fruit trees and a garden is looking smarter all the time.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Sooner or Later

"You put the Eiffel Tower in enough of your storyboards, sooner or later, your ass is going to Paris..."

The above quote courtesy of Autoculture

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Boxing Fundraiser a Big Success

The big boxing fundraiser went off well last evening. The photo above is from the opening bout with two Indiana Golden Gloves champions from our gym squaring off against each other. The majority of the contestants were people from the community that Jimmy had recruited specifically for the event - cop vs cop, fast food vs slow food, etc. - and they all did remarkably well for the little bit of training they had received. Our regular fighters from the gym looked more polished, of course, and put on some really good bouts. Jonah and Tim's bout was probably one of the best I've ever seen in all my years of being associated with boxing. We had a couple of our girls on the card, Brittany and Kaylyn, who weren't too far behind them. The Missus went along last evening to help out and she even commented on how good the girls looked. 

There was even a wrestling match on the card, complete with folding chair and garbage can. 

All in all, it appeared to be a success. We had a good crowd who seemed to really enjoy the action. The fighters all seemed to enjoy themselves. A couple seemed to be a little disappointed with their performances but for their first fight in front of a big home town crowd, they had nothing to be ashamed of. And lastly, it looks like the gym made a little bit of money off the deal. Through the generosity of quite a few people in the community, the expenses were held down and with the 50/50 raffle, silent auction and gate receipts, the gym should have done well financially as well as giving the community something good in return.

One last note for you fight fans, our referee last evening, Jack "Kid" Callahan, mentioned to me that he and his wife are planning on putting on a fundraising event April 5th of next year to help the Make A Wish Foundation. It will be police versus fireman and will take place at the Hammond Civic Center. I'll post more information as it becomes available but this can be the first event you put down on your next year's calender.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Boxing Show

Yesterday afternoon I helped Jimmy set up the ring for our big fundraising show this weekend. The ring's not the most portable of contrivances but you can't hardly have boxing matches without a boxing ring. Jimmy's put a lot of work and effort into this event, I sure hope it turns out well. Even though on paper I'm still a partner in all of this, since the heart attack, it's pretty much all Jimmy. Between my teaching schedule since retiring from the high school and trying to cut back on all of my activities, I haven't been all that much help at the gym. As much as I love boxing, might be time to retire from this too. Regardless, all the tickets are sold, there are 18 bouts lined up, and it should be an exciting night of amateur boxing.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Getting Close to the Answer

Here's some good news on the education front sent to me by my buddy Kevin. It's a small Indiana school that is going to start raising cattle to supply the hamburgers in the school cafeteria. Like most small communities, the school budget has taken a hit. This is a way for the students to help out with the budget, eat good beef and learn first hand about raising cattle. Check out the link - it's a short article but just exactly what I've been talking about lately.

Whether it's tending cattle or a garden, every young person needs to have chores. Something they are responsible for. With livestock or plants, as the primary caregiver, it truly is a matter of life or death when it comes to doing your chores. I don't know of any studies to back this up but I'd be willing to bet that young people who've tended animals are better parents later in life. When I write my educational manifesto, you can bet there will be some type of small farm experience in there that the students can partake of. I'll also be looking to the Scouts and 4-H for ideas. I was in both, as well as FFA, way back when. From the official website of the Boy Scouts of America:
For over a century, the BSA has helped build the future leaders of this country by combining educational activities and lifelong values with fun. The Boy Scouts of America believes — and, through over a century of experience, knows — that helping youth is a key to building a more conscientious, responsible, and productive society.
How 'bout 4-H's contribution?
  • Nearly two times more likely to get better grades in school;
  • Nearly two times more likely to plan to go to college;
  • 41 percent less likely to engage in risky behaviors; and
  • 25 percent more likely to positively contribute to their families and communities.
Along the same lines, The Indianapolis Monthly magazine featured a slew of private schools in the last issue. One of them was promoting their STEAM curriculum. Not only Science,Technology, Engineering, and Math, but they were including Art as well. Nice. We definitely need more engineers but everyone should be exposed to the arts, also.

I was talking to a lady at the boxing gym the other night who is a first year teacher. She's teaching first graders and after one month it's already obvious to her who has parents that are involved with their children and who doesn't. If you're already behind when you're six years old, are you ever going to be able to catch up without someone stepping up to the plate and helping out? If you want those big increases in test scores, you better have mom and dad start getting involved by reading bedtime stories and running through the flash cards. Maybe the new educational model will include a mandatory class for parents before they can enroll a child in the school district. I put in a lot of seat time at parent teacher nights over the years and invariably, it was always the parents of the good kids who showed up. When I worked at the inner-city school, with the exception of the year we gave away free hot dogs and raffled off a television set, I was lucky to have two parents show up. If you're not working nights, what's more important than showing a little interest in your kids education?

There you go - the beginnings of the manifesto. It's as simple as hands-on studies with some exposure to art, the all important parental involvement, and making it fun. Toss in some well compensated teachers who have more than a little say in the daily operations and decision making process, and it should be a cinch.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

No Ordinary Passenger

Video From Here

Just can't get enough of those sidecars. If I was given the opportunity to start over, racing the Isle of Man with a sidecar rig would be right at the top of the to-do list. Second only to being a left handed relief pitcher. It's funny how the lack of talent steers you down life's path, however.

Monday, September 9, 2013

This & That

I got an e-mail from my buddy telling me he's got his Camaro all dialed in now. Those two four barrels look good under the hood, and he's sporting his US 30 Dragstrip tee shirt to go along with it. He used to pull the wheels off the ground back in the 70's when he was running it at the track. I tagged along with him a few times. The big block Chevy sounded real good through the traps on the big end. Nothing but weeds out there now, however. If you check the link, there's a nice then and now story. I spent just about every Sunday there one year with my dragbike. Good times.

Made the last batch of wine and a gallon of cider yesterday. Not much left to do other than siphon off the wine from one bottle to the next to git rid of the sediment and then bottle it up in a few months. I've got plenty of patience. We'll just have to wait and see.

A couple of things on the education front in the news lately. The NWI Times had a story on school lunches yesterday. Something like 68% of all students are on free or reduced lunches. Also an editorial in the Wall Street Journal by the CEO of Exxon-Mobil (can't be sure, I recycled the paper) making the case for the Common Core curriculum. While I can't necessarily agree with everything said, the gentleman made a very good case, as you would expect from a man in his position. However, I had breakfast Saturday morning with a few of my old colleagues at the high school, and a math teacher made the case that we don't really need stricter standards, but rather, more parental oversight and less electronics. He said if it weren't for his parents keeping an eye on him and seeing that his homework got done, etc, no way he would have been the student he was in school. I think he's right on the money. If all it takes to bring up the test scores is tougher standards or a more stringent curriculum, No Child Left Behind would have been an overwhelming success. For Common Core to be a success, other issues are going to have to be addressed at the same time. Maybe like looking into why 68% of the students are eating free or reduced lunches. Maybe some short term consequences besides poor grades if students don't do their homework. Something that involves the parents, perhaps. Maybe also a couple of viable alternatives to the conventional school model. 

I wish I had more time. I'd like to be able to sit down and write up a new educational model starting with a clean sheet of paper. I really don't think it would be that tough to come up with a good plan. Probably be next to impossible to implement, however. Inner city schools have different needs than country schools. Rich neighborhoods have different needs than poor neighborhoods. Everyone now wants a charter school or a voucher. Some for a better education for their children, some as a way to escape the  legacy costs of pensions and health care. And everyone has an agenda. Someday, maybe those in charge will start asking the gray haired 3rd grade teacher, or the old shop teacher, or the young history teacher, what really needs to be done. Education reform by fiat just isn't working.

New week and temperatures heading back into the nineties. I knew it was too good to last. 

Friday, September 6, 2013


Photo From Here

At least it's not this bad - that would be the Allis Chalmers engine block I looked at yesterday afternoon. A friend stopped by a week or so ago to see if I could fix the damage from a thrown rod on his old tractor. I had ridden the motorcycle to work, and being another beautiful day, I took a little detour home to check it out. Looks to be repairable. The hardest part is going to be getting the oil pan rail flat. The damaged section is a triangular shape that is still attached on one side but is bulging out and down. Looks like there are a couple of spider cracks also but no water jacket damage. He's going to be out of town for a few days, so when he comes back, I'll see what I can do.

I went to the high school this morning and welded up some light posts for our ring at the boxing gym. We need some additional lights for the upcoming fundraising show. Fortunately, I had the foresight to weld some angles onto the corner posts of the ring when we built it, so I just had to make some angles that would bolt on. They've got a smaller angle welded on the top for the lights themselves to bolt onto. Unfortunately, however, I couldn't find four lights alike. Menard's only had two in stock, so I went to Home Depot and likewise, they only had two in stock. So I got four all together but this morning when I pulled one of the ones from Menard's out of the box the frame holding the glass in was broken. So now I've really only got three. But I do have a week to come up with another one. The stool in the photo is also for the gym. My replacement took care of that for me. Shortened up the legs about six or eight inches. Appreciate that, of course.

Put some apples in the dehydrator later in the day and siphoned off the peach wine from the bucket into a bottle. One more go around with the apple grinder for some cider/wine and that should be about it for the apples and peaches for this year. Next up on the gardening front is to make some hoops to cover the Square Foot Garden boxes to keep things going when the frost rolls in and to get a head start next year. The peppers are just now starting to produce - cutting the tree down and getting more light has helped quite a bit. I've got a couple of empty sections that I could plant with something. Have to give that some thought. 

All for now. I think I'm going to try and whittle down the big stack of magazines and junk mail. 

Enjoy the weekend. Hope the weather is reasonable for you.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Hungry? Have an Apple

In a strange case of coincidences, I put a batch of apples in the dehydrator yesterday and later on while channel surfing came across a program on RFDTV about the Invest an Acre organization. The program featured a pair of Howard Buffets at the Nebraska State Fair promoting the Invest an Acre group in order to eliminate hunger in Nebraska. The previous evening while I was manning my station in the La-Z-Boy I opened up the AARP magazine and they had a little investing advice from Warren Buffet, who is worth something like $55 billion, and an article featuring Bill Clinton, his vegan diet and his foundation battling childhood obesity. The magazine also presented a couple of interesting facts:
The median net worth of Americans under 35 is now $3,662.
Ages 55 to 64? $162,065 in net worth.

I'm not sure where exactly I'm headed with this post but indulge me for a minute or two while I get my thoughts in order. The Buffets are trying to ensure that everyone in Nebraska is food secure (Apparently they tried to go national at first but it was a little more than they could effectively handle). They mentioned that as many as 100,000 children could be going to bed hungry tonight and every other night just in Nebraska alone. Bill Clinton is trying to curb childhood obesity and all the medical issues that brings along with it. I realize you can be food insecure and overweight, so the two are not mutually exclusive. It's a lot more complicated than skinny kids and fat kids. 

According to the AARP magazine, the median net worth for those under 35 is less than $4,000. After a quick internet search it seems as if in 1968 dollars, I would have been worth more than that when I was a senior in high school - at least until I bought my Sprint. How can you get to that age and have basically nothing? It's no wonder people are going hungry. And apparently, things aren't much better on the other end of the spectrum. How are you going to retire at age 66 when you're only worth $162,000 at age 64. Social Security can't be looking too secure or social, for that matter.

Is this where education  comes into play? I've got a good education and I'm a skilled craftsman. I also feel it's incumbent upon me to take care of myself and my wife. I also feel I need to provide for her if I should leave this earth first. So yesterday, I was picking apples off a tree I planted and popping them into the dehydrator. I also started another batch of peach wine from a tree that I planted myself. I also had a big fat juicy tomato out of my garden for lunch. Education, or just the way I was brought up? We never had much when I was a kid. I never went hungry but it was probably closer than I realized. Mom always had a garden and canned and the Old Man hunted - more for enjoyment than food, but it never went to waste. I took 3 years of voc-agriculture in high school but I don't remember any particular instruction about feeding ourselves in time of need. I do know my grandmother lived through the depression and when she was an older lady living on her own after grandpa passed, I'd get the call to take her to the store long before the cupboard was bare. She didn't really care about possessions but she didn't want to go hungry. I'm not in any danger of going hungry but I do feel the need to take part in feeding myself.

In addition to teaching the skills necessary to make things, should we be teaching people how to feed themselves? Schools used to offer Home Economics classes. Some still offer Family and Consumer Sciences but I don't know what the curriculum covers, to be honest with you. Is all this hunger due to the breakdown of the traditional family? Are student loans the reason so many young people have basically a zero net worth? Many of them might be happy to have zero, actually. I don't see the Common Core or STEM classes being the cure for the hunger problem. Likewise, I don't see the Buffets or the Clintons eliminating the problem either. I'm sure what they're doing is very worthwhile and necessary but what's the real answer? Is everyone just too far removed from the food source? Can't find an app for growing green beans on the Smartphone?

I don't have an answer here but education has to play a part in it someplace. There is no reason that in a country with more than 5 million millionaires, any kid should be going to bed hungry - that's assuming he has a bed someplace, of course. Somebody, some place needs to take a good hard look at what's going on in this country and change a few things. Do we need more algebra in the curriculum or would we be better served by a class in canning and food preservation?  Maybe look to the Alvin C. York Institute in Tennessee as a model. Every kid needs to learn some skill that they can support themselves with and a few life skills that they can feed the family with. In the meantime, don't forget the food pantry.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Labor Day

Here's Merle with his Working Man's Blues for all you hard working folks out there. I hope you're all enjoying the day off. And for those of you who don't have the day off, you have both my sympathy and appreciation, especially those of you in the military, public safety and the medical fields.

I'm going to spend the day just putzin' around the shack. I got another batch of peach wine started yesterday and I think I'll try to get some apples in the dehydrator today. The back yard needs to be mowed and the mower needs an oil change. Maybe wash the bugs off the motorcycle and the face shield on the helmet. It's supposed to be both cooler and dryer today so whatever I decide, it'll probably take place outside now that the weather is decent again. I've got a couple of welding jobs for people lined up, so I want to get a couple of things done on the home-front. Be nice just to lay around or go fishing, though. We'll see how the day unfolds.

You, however, should just relax and enjoy the day with family and friends.