Wednesday, December 10, 2008

I Rest My Case...


German zoo: Polar bear mom may have eaten her cub

Nuremberg, Germany (AP) Dec 10, 2008

The Nuremberg Zoo says that one of a pair of twin polar bears has died - and that it is possible its mother ate it.

The twin bears were born three weeks ago to Vera, who is also the mother of the zoo's celebrity polar bear - Flocke.

Flocke had been rejected by her mother, Vera, and was hand-raised by zookeepers.

Vera did not reject the two new cubs born in late November, but the zoo says that the twin cub died Monday.  The cub had not yet been named.

The bear can no longer be seen on a video monitoring the animal's enclosure.  The zoo said Wednesday it is possible Vera ate it.

The zoo says cubs typically have about a 50% chance of survival.  The other cub remains in good health.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press

P.S. From the Kernal:  The mother bear was recently overheard on FBI wiretaps talking to the Governor of Illinois about the chances of being appointed to fill the Senate seat of President-elect Obama.  The price discussed was one million dollars or one polar bear cub.

Rejected cub Flocke is currently under the protection of US Marshals sent to Nuremberg.



















Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Be Afraid. Be Very Afraid!


Hi, Guys!
Recently, the Washington Compost had a brief article about the fruit bats shown above.  They live on an island near Madagascar, in the Indian Ocean, weigh up to ten pounds, and have a wing span of four to six feet.  They are sometimes also known as fox bats.

Perhaps most interesting is that, although they sense the fruit they eat by vision and smell, not echoes like most bats, they choose to go out for dinner after dark, when presumably the fruit is harder to see...

In the daytime, when they sleep, they hang upside down in tall trees.  Because locals often like to kill them for food, they have discovered that selecting tall trees in cemeteries works best, since the natives don't like to go there.

Hmmm....  Large bats from the species Pteropus vampyrus who only hunt at night for things more easily seen in daylight and who choose to live in cemeteries... Sound familiar?

Such creatures have recently been having an unusual impact on my daughters, nieces and even the Queen.  They have been seen spending long hours reading hundreds of pages of what appears to be an advertising catalog for cheap beer.



Then, they have been going out at strange hours (12:01 AM) to see the infomercial made about this beer ad catalog, where they were joined by thousands of screaming female teenagers who had apparently been served this beverage before legally allowed.  The Queen went to see the infomercial at 11:00 AM, where she was joined by only nine other women.  The daughters went back for second helpings.

The basis for all this weird behavior is apparently some dude named Edward, a guy with slightly reddish eyes, pasty white skin and a really bad haircut.  One of my daughters told me that he was among the "Ten Sexiest Men of 2008", a title for which I have yet to be nominated, much less selected. 


Not unlike the Pteropus Vampyrus, this guy has some strange habits - and an inexplicable attraction for women who read beer catalogs.  Also like the huge bats off the coast of Africa, Edward seems to have a penchant for tall trees,  places where he takes his date?

Anyhow, I believe that all real men, not those who have been selected as the sexiest man of any given year, should look into this matter more closely.  It would be bad enough to lose your women to some cheap beer, but to then have them taken into tall trees, only to lose their balance and fall, would be a tragedy. 

Maybe that's why one of the follow-on catalogs was titled Breaking Down...

(Note:  this post was written by a polar bear and edited by a Beluga whale. Please do not complain to the normal author of posts on this blog.  Happy Thanksgiving.  Thank you.)

Saturday, November 22, 2008

This and That

Hi, Guys!

That's what a little friend of mine (age 2+) says whenever she sees the Queen and I.  Saw her during a short trip to Ohio last week.

Several items of interest, perhaps.  First, spent two hours on Animal Planet Channel last night, watching back to back episodes of "Polar Bears Uncovered" and "Whale Wars."  Began to think that this channel is designing its schedule just for me and my blog readers...

Learned that polar bears can smell food (alive or dead) 15 miles away.  They are slow in getting there because of their weight, but they keep following their noses until they find the food.  Also learned, to my disgust, that male polar bears often stalk female polar bears and their one or two cubs, waiting for the cubs, who do not yet have the several hundred pounds of blubber insulation, to founder.  The mother polar bear must then move on, protecting the survivor cub, while the male, not normally the father polar bear, then eats the foundered cub.  Only one in six polar bear cubs makes it to their second year...

Also learned that polar bears have occasionally come upon Beluga whale pods that have become boxed into ice pens.  The show reported that up to 40 whales had been slaughtered and eaten by polar bears in one such instance.  It turns out that polar bears can swim the 100 meter Olympic race 10 (ten) seconds FASTER that any human swimmer, including Michael Phelps!

So, how ironic, the Kernal's two favorite critters turn out to be joined at the hip on the food chain...

As to whales, "Whale Wars" was all about "the Sea Shepherds," a group of eco-loonies who attack Japanese whaling ships in the Antarctic, throwing stink and acid bombs onto the decks, and attempting to foul the propellors by throwing heavy rope lines under the ships.  Two of the "Sea Shepherds" leaped aboard the Japanese ship from a rubber Zodiac speed boat, and then wondered why the Japanese crew tied them up and sailed away.  The eco-loonies were looking for the chance to yell "hostages" to the eager international press...

On the cancer front, I recently had another PET scan.  Some unknown activity showed in my neck, so I now must have yet another CT scan with contrast for the docs to examine in early December.  I feel fine and I detected no urgency from the docs, so I suspect all will be fine.  Stay tuned.

Finally, someone threw this over the internet transom the other day and I ordered a case of this obviously needed drug.  I'll let you know how it works, ya think?

PUSHing for Gunnar, Kirk, Jean, Denise and others of you who need our prayers.  See you on the high ground.


Sunday, November 2, 2008

Recycling

Hi Everyone!

Just wanted to close this Halloween weekend with some thoughts on recycling.

If you go back to my January blogs of this year, you'll find the picture of me above.  It was the day I was fitted for my radiation mask, the one that mapped my head so that the IMRT radiation beams could be fired at exactly the right spot and at exactly the right millisecond.

You may recall that I was strapped down with this mask attached to the table and my hands and feet bound so that I could not move during the 35 hours of radiation therapy I had, one hour at a time.

My good friend, Lady Josh of Jean's Green and Pink Ribbons, is now undergoing the same sort of radiation treatment, although I don't think she has a mask.  Jean, I think of you and pray for you every day.  There's no reason why your therapy can't be just as successful as mine has been.

And, Brother Kirk, I think of you and pray for you each day as well.  Your chemotherapy has been, and will be, a lot tougher than the 288 hours of drugs in my body.  But your therapy can be, and will be,  just as successful as mine.

May both of you be blessed with strength and courage.   There are a lot of folks out here who are mentioning your name to the Lord each day.  He will watch over you, even on those days when you feel too tired to be strong.  Be strong anyway!

And, at the end of your treatment and after you recover, there are times when you will look back and wonder how you did it.  It was with His help and His strength when yours was not enough.

Plus, you will get to laugh again!  Like last Saturday when we took the local kids and grandkids to the Udvar Hazy Air and Space Museum for their Halloween Open House.  Guess what I wore as a costume?




Let me assure you that, although there were a lot of witches, the Queen and her sister Linda among them, and although there were plenty of Star Wars characters, there was only one guy wearing a radiation mask among the thousands in the place. 

I was asked by over 25 parents to have my picture taken with their children, who found me to be pretty spooky.  I even told a few parents what the mask was when they asked. 

So, despite my aversion to polar bears and whales, you can see that I'm really ecology friendly by recycling that which most would rather discard.

Jean and Kirk, save a souvenir for when you reach the high ground!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Stop Wailing!



Hi, Everyone,

It's been awhile since I've seen you all and the markets are still jumping up and down, so I think I'll pick another topic besides finance for this post.  You know my thoughts on polar bears, but where does the Kernal stand on whales?

Whales are NOT our friends.  Just ask the Digital Architect.  When he was still in high school we had an attractive but totally soaked young lady come to our door in a rainstorm and ask us to help her "save the whales."  We invited her in to towel off, and as she was doing so we explained several things about whales that she perhaps had not known:

1.  Whales are the dinosaurs that escaped into the ocean after that huge comet hit Earth.  They are one of only two fish-like mammals that live in the ocean, the other being dolphins.  By escaping into the water, they survived the extinction of their fellow dinosaurs.  This explains why they are so huge, just like their dead brothers were.

2.  Whales cause more international disputes than any other animal.  Brazil, Japan, American Eskimos, Russians, Iceland and others are continually arguing over which of them has a need and the right to "harvest" whales.  Add Greenpeace to that mixture and there is continuing strife at sea.

3.  Whales are the largest single polluters of the oceans.  Baby whales are born weighing one ton or more and they double their length in one year.  Adult Right Whales grow to up to 60 feet long and weigh up to 80 tons!  Now just how much do you think these beasts have to eat to support that kind of growth and weight?  The resulting waste products sink to the bottom of the sea, bringing forth our common expression, "lower than whale poop..."  Lots of it.

4.  Whales do not like humans.  Didn't you read Moby Dick?  Not only do they not like us, they are also involved in a plot to return to dry land now that the comet dust has cleared.  That's why you often hear or read about a bunch of whales who beach themselves on our shores.  Here is a picture of a platoon of them trying to sneak ashore. They're baaaack!

5.  Finally, whales provide the pretext for the ecoterrorists who wish to prevent the U.S. Navy from training and commercial shipping from doing its job efficiently.  Just last week, the U.S. Supreme Court was asked to rule on the NOAA regulation that says that all shipping arriving in this country must slow to 11.5 MPH within 20 miles of our coastline.  The "Save the Whales " crowd wants that limit moved out to 30 miles from the coast.  Why?

Because only 83% of the whale sightings occur within 20 miles from the coast, while 90% occur within 30 miles.  So, they asking for a 50% increase in slower, more inefficient shipping to gain a 7% increase in whale sightings.  Will this help "save the whales?"  Nope.

For two reasons.  First, since NOAA started the 20 mile limit in 2006, there have been a grand total of 3 whales who have been struck by ships and were killed.  Three whales in two years!  Now there's a crisis!  

Second, no one has yet shown that the ships struck the whales rather than the whales struck the ships.  Remember, whales do not like people.  Remember Jonah and remember Pinocchio! It is said that the whales are too slow to ram ships, yet we have pictures of these 80 ton ex-dinosaurs leaping out of the water higher than Michael Jordan ever could.  They don't look so slow to me.

On the West Coast, the Whale People want the Navy to stop training on the use of new sonar which will detect the very quiet diesel submarines which have been developed by the Chinese and North Koreans.  The Whale People claim that their huge friends become disoriented by the sounds of the sonar and head for the shore to become stranded and die.  That platoon you saw on the beach didn't look very disoriented to me - they were in an attack formation!

They obviously have forgotten that the whales are intentionally coming ashore, usually in the dead of night, to see how far inland they can get before dawn.  That also explains why you read about the occasional whale or two found swimming well upstream in someone's river.  They are the scouts, looking for a place where the rest of the whales can land, hide and rest while learning to walk again.  They're baaaack!

Perhaps the most telling comment to come out of the Supremes last week was from Justice  Stephen Breyer:

"I don't know anything about this.  I'm not a naval officer.  Why couldn't you work this thing out?  You're asking us - who know nothing about whales and less about the military - to start reading all these documents to try to figure out who's right... I think the whole point of the armed forces is to hurt the environment...On a bombing mission, do they have to prepare an  environmental impact statement first?"

Well, despite his proper concern with the weirdo arguments of the Whale People, I found the good Justice's knowledge of the military and its mission to be just a wee bit disconcerting.

Beware of people who want you to love polar bears and whales.  You'll be safer and glad if you exercise that caution.  And if you hear something big flopping around in your back yard, don't turn on the lights to take a look...

There is some high ground somewhere near you.  Know where it is.
 


Friday, October 3, 2008

Thank Goodness!

Today marks a milestone not seen since the elections of 2006:  the Congress of the United States  temporarily stopped their partisan rancor and childish bickering long enough to actually get done what was required for the good of the Nation.  Hooray!

After Monday's failure to pass the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, our legislators watched the markets erase $1.2 Trillion in wealth, the credit markets begin to tighten further, foreign governments and central banks pleading for American action, and small and large businesses throughout America begging for help.  The Commercial Paper market, the way firms borrow short term without having to float bonds or issue new stock, had doubled interest rates on those notes within two days.  A real wolf was at the door.

The legislator with the best name in Congress, Zach Wamp, Republican of Tennessee, said that he had "voted with his heart against the bill on Monday."  Today, Congressman Wamp made the decision to vote with his brain.  33 Democrats and 24 other Republicans who had opposed the bill on Monday today joined Representative Wamp in becoming "brainiacs."  What a pleasant change...

The President signed the bill this afternoon and SECTREAS Paulson promised to start immediately to implement the purchase and removal from the credit markets the toxic sub-prime mortgage securities as the law now requires.  This will happen over the next several months, not the next several days, so we must not expect that the disaster which has been building since 1977 will be swept away in the blink of an eye.

Several alarming things I have learned in this crisis.  First is that the children of the United States are no longer required to take a Civics Class in high school.  I learned this on the golf course, playing with a kid from the local school.  Now, Civics was not my favorite class in school, but at least I was once exposed to the mechanics of how a bill becomes a law. My golf partner had no clue.  Today's kids apparently only know what arrives as a text message on their phones...

Second thing I learned, to my dismay, is that a Congresscritter, once having voted with his/her electronic card and with the vote closed and the results announced, may then ask his/her party whip in the House to CHANGE THEIR VOTE for the record, as long as it does not change the outcome of the overall vote.  So those 58 brave Members of Congress who decided to vote their brains instead of their heart today, may well go home tonight and tell their constituents that they remained true to their heartfelt principles throughout the week.  

If there was a way for me to discover that my representative had voted one way and then said they didn't, that would seem to me to be an impeachable offense.  But, alas, those minor details are not public in accordance with House policy.

I hope some of you took the opportunity I mentioned in an earlier post to add to your financial portfolios during the Wall Street fire sale this week.  I think I said you needed to act NLT early Thursday, but I didn't explain why.  Wall Street has long embraced the mantra, "Buy on the rumor, sell on the news."  The markets went up on Wednesday and Thursday as buyers were reacting to the Senate's action and rumors that the House was coming around.  Today, when the House passed the bill (the news), the markets dropped off slightly as sellers took control.

I added Goldman Sachs and Apple to my portfolio this week at prices less than half of what they were several months ago.  There are still some bargains left after today's slight drop, but if you want to take advantage, I wouldn't wait much past early Monday.  

Normally, I am very much opposed to market timing as a strategy.  In this instance, I simply see a "bottom fishing" opportunity which I think will be fleeting.

Well, the storm clouds will clear over time and we have apparently dodged this bullet.  Now, let's take the time to relook how we got to this mess, so that "Wall Street Greed" is not seen as the only villain.  It seems to me that there is plenty of "Vote Buying Greed" that deserves equal billing.

Thanks for your many positive comments on my attempts to cut through the fog of this crisis.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Now What?

Dear Friends,

Today's post sets a new record for me - three days in a row you have chosen to look at what some retired Colonel has to say about the world of arcane financial jibberish.

I believe it was Thomas Jefferson who once said, "No man or his property are safe while the legislature is in session."  Yesterday was a really good example of the truth of TJ's statement.

 By 23 votes, the House voted down the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, meaning that we get to start all over again to save the economy.  Those 23 votes sent the markets into a 777 point tailspin, and $1.2 Trillion dollars of wealth was wiped out on Wall Street.

I know these big numbers are hard to grasp, but one trillion is a million millions.  Our entire annual economy is only 13 trillion.  Eliminating $1.2 trillion dollars worth of wealth in one day may not immediately affect you, but for those Americans now living off their hard earned retirement savings, the losses to their 401k's and IRA's, the continuing fall in the value of their homes, their inability to get a new loan to buy a downsized place , the lack of buyers to take their old, too large, home off their hands - all of these things are not paper losses. 

For those of you who see more homes for sale in your neighborhood, some from foreclosures, the value of your homes will soon decline even faster.  Smart homeowner's associations will have to start hiring landscape firms to keep neighborhoods from going to seed. 

For the small business who, for cash flow smoothing purposes, borrows regularly to make payroll or to purchase inventory, the growing inability to get credit at any reasonable rate may require them to close shop.

For those who would like a car loan or to increase a student loan, the ability to borrow is rapidly drying up.

No, the sky is not falling.  But the failure of the credit markets is not just a Wall Street problem.  It will affect all of us, some sooner than others, but ALL eventually.  One  retiree of whom I read said that the 30% loss in his IRA's over the last two months means that he will now have to plan for he and his wife to live for a 30% shorter period...

Another of my USMA classmates who is financially saavy  was spot on when he said, "If the die-hard liberals continue to stress Main Street and the die-hard conservatives continue to stress Wall Street, the result will be all of us heading down Die Hard Street."

Today's market has come back a bit, but on very thin volume.  Thank God for Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, which has given the Congress a chance to rethink their Monday vote and the markets to take a deep breath. 

I have told my family that today, tomorrow and early Thursday will be great times to buy those stocks and funds that they have been considering.  Once the Congress comes back to actually do their job, instead of pointing fingers and pontificating, the markets should show substantial increases and the "bottom fishing" opportunities will be over.  Whatever they do, I advised, DON'T SELL LOW now and then BUY HIGH later, paying brokerage fees on both ends.

Some who have read my earlier post have asked why we have to spend $700 Billion all at once.
We don't.  In fact, the plan before the House would have given the SECTREAS $350 billion to start buying the toxic securities immediately in order to get them out of the Credit Markets.  The President could then authorize another $100 billion, if he saw the need.  The final $350 billion would be authorized only if the Congress did not object after 15 days of the request.

What we most certainly DO NOT WANT is the Congress approving the spending of each dollar of this fund.  Talk about special interests and pork?  That would be a herd of gargantuan hogs!  

These buy backs will take some time, since all financial institutions cannot be done at once, prices have to be determined, perhaps a reverse auction held, and conditions of the buy backs, such as the issuance of non-voting stock to the government, have to be negotiated.

Once the Feds own the toxic securities, the government will still get the income stream from the mortgages that are being paid regularly and the value of the securities may rise over time, perhaps even making a profit for all of us to use in reducing the deficit.  Major point is that, although we have to pony up $700 Billion at the start, this program almost certainly will not cost that much once completed. 

How about oversight?  The original Paulson Plan tried to minimize it, but Paulson is an economic animal, not a political one.  The Congress was not about to give anybody that kind of money and authority without their management in some form. The final bill which was defeated had SIX INDEPENDENT oversight entities or processes to ensure the taxpayers were protected:

1. An independent oversight board appointed by bi-partisan Congressional leaders.
2. An independent inspector general to oversee solely this Treasury function.
3. The GAO to set up an office inside the Treasury just to monitor and audit this program.
4.  SECTREAS actions will be subject to judicial review.
5.  Any and all Treasury bailout transactions must be disclosed to the public within two days.
6.  Monthly reports to two Congressional committees and an additional report for each $50            Billion in assets purchased.

To my mind, not even a brilliant ex-Chairman of Goldman Sachs could pull unethical tricks with such supervision.  Yet, thankfully, the Congress was smart enough to keep themselves out of the daily details.

There were also provisions to "punish" those greedy Wall Street executives, with options for the government to own non-voting stock, requirements for firms to pay into an insurance program for earlier purchases of mortgage-backed securities, elimination of "golden parachutes" for those executives who wish to depart rather than cooperate, and bonus payback penalties for those whose bonuses were based upon results which turned out to be bogus.  There were no provisions to "punish" those lawmakers who created these "sub-prime mortgages for everyone" programs.  Hopefully, someday they will answer at the ballot box.

Finally, there were provisions in the bill to help homeowners avoid foreclosure, help local community banks, give taxpayers an ownership stake in those firms being bailed out, and putting taxpayers first in line for the remaining assets of any participating firms that go belly up. 

But the bill failed by 23 votes.  When Congress comes back on Thursday, this problem will still be with us.  It will still be very serious.  As time passes the effects on both the credit market and the stock market will grow progressively worse and at alarming speed.

We need leaders and followers in Congress who will have the courage to apply First Aid.

Stop the bleeding, clear the airway, treat for shock!

The BLEEDING is the continual bickering and finger pointing between the "wing nuts" on both sides of the aisle.  They weren't elected to simply vote their email totals.  They were also elected to use their judgment on difficult and complex issues.

The AIRWAY is the constipation we have so graphically described earlier (and which many of you loved for its clarity...)  Cleanse the credit markets and the financial system of the toxic waste of mortgage backed securities...  And for those who asked that "some strings be attached to the enema to keep it from becoming diarrhea,"  there are plenty of strings in place as outlined above.

Fast, comprehensive and effective elimination of the blockages to the airway (or any other tubing in the body) will immediately treat the financial  and credit markets for SHOCK.  Lenders, borrowers, buyers and sellers will once again be able to value the financial instruments and corporate entities in which they are interested. 

The world will still be imperfect.  But there will be time to relook our regulation of the markets and to rethink some of our "social engineering" run amuk.  But we won't have done the very worst thing ------ nothing.  

Call your Congresscritter and tell him Kernal Ken sent you.  We only need 12 of those 23 votes to get this train back on the tracks...



Sunday, September 28, 2008


For Sparcam, other Lurkers, and Friends,

Several times over the past week I have been asked to explain the financial mess we are currently in, given my past experience on Wall Street.  Here is my attempt to make it as simple as I can, not to talk down to you, but to recognize that much of what you hear on TV either makes no sense, is hopelessly filled with Wall Steet jargon, or has a distinct political bias to it.

First, this problem is very serious.  The US economy does not run on cash; it runs on credit.  Our annual Gross Domestic Product is over $13 Trillion (the value of all goods and services produced by the economy); the amount of cash and checking accounts funding that is only about $1.5 Trillion.

The difference is made up by banks lending to each other, lending to small businesses to make payroll and to farmers to buy seed and rent equipment, you and I willing to lend money to corporations in terms of buying bonds or buying into those corporations by purchasing their stock, etc.  In other words, the free flow of credit is the backbone of our economy.

But, in order for the credit markets to work, the lender must be able to value the collateral put up by the borrower.  That's where the now-famous sub-prime mortgages enter the picture - they cannot currently be valued by the market.  How did this happen?

In 1977, the Carter Administration proposed the Community Reinvestment Act which became law.  The purpose of the law was to get banks to make more loans to those on the lower end of the financial spectrum so that they too could enjoy the American Dream.  Banks were pressured to create easier loans for those otherwise unqualified to get them.  The old notions of 20% down, not more than 25% of  your income going to housing, a sterling credit record, and even proof of income, employment and current low debt all started disappearing from the normal demands of mortgage lenders.

In 1993, the Clinton Administration wanted even more such loans to be issued, many with adjustable rates, interest only payments, other gimmicks and expectations of easy refinancing.  Attoney General Janet Reno actually went on record threatening banks who declined to increase their portfolios of risky loans with refusals to allow mergers, increased regulation and DOJ investigations.  One can only presume that the Democrats were especially interested in these loans because they were going to likely Democratic voters, including a large number of illegal immigrants.

In 1995, Republicans in Congress, to include John McCain,  saw a danger in this lending process and proposed much more stringent regulation of banks lending practices.  The bill never got out of committee, with complete Democratic opposition which they said, "would dry up affordable housing opportunities for millions of Americans."

To address the banks' growing concerns of the risk of the assets they held, Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac agreed to buy up their sub-prime mortgages.  The more mortgages held by these Government Sponsored Enterprises (GSE) the more their profits - and bigger their bonuses.

The GSE's then "sliced and diced" these mortgages into a "fruit salad" of many mortgages and sold the salad packages as securities known as"Collateralized Debt Obligations" (CDO's).  Those mortgage backed securities were bought in great quantities by pension funds, investment banks, commercial banks, foreign governments, and mutual funds, to name but a few investors.  In each CDO there were good mortgages, mediocre mortgages and some real rotten ones, but - these were all backed by Freddy and Fannie, so the US Government stood behind them, right?  Wrong.

The GSE's were chartered by Congress to provide mortgage lending, but their products were never insured by the "full faith and credit of the US", such as are Treasury bonds.

But home builders loved the program as much as the GSE's and Democrats.  Everyone could now afford a home, even if they couldn't...  And home prices were rising every year, so many looked upon house buying not just as a place to live, but as a quick road to easy riches.  This led builders to build as fast as they could to take advantage of increased demand and higher prices.

This is now known as "the housing bubble."  Soon, supply of homes exceeded demand, home prices began to fall and adjustable rate mortgages started adjusting.  Many of those less affluent folks who had been talked into buying much more home than they could actually afford discovered that the value of their home had suddenly dropped below the amount of their mortgage.  They were now "upside down" and defaulted on their loans.

The CDO securities spread throughout the economy were now deemed "toxic."  The value of those fruit salad securities, the collateral which many put up to secure new lending, could no longer be valued.  Credit began to dry up and the economy would soon grind to a halt unless those securities were removed from the system.

To think of it in simplest and gross terms, the lending markets became constipated and needed an enema fast, before the whole body shut down.  Enter "The Loan Arranger", Hank Paulson, SEC TREAS, and his sidekick, Ben Tonto Bernanke, FED Chairman,  with a proposal to have the Government buy up all the suspect CDO's to clear the system of that which could not be valued, then hold onto most of them, believing that most owners would continue to pay their mortgages, and the Government may eventually make most of its CDO outlay back.

But $700 BILLION isn't chump change, so the Congress has now jumped into the act to propose giving the Treasury one Milk of Magnesia tablet at a time, holding continuous hearings on how the credit market patient is doing, and claiming that they are watching out for the American taxpayer.

Problem is, if the credit markets don't get rid of the toxic mortgage CDO's quickly, then the markets will continue to parcel out needed continuous credit in little packets, a sure recipe for rapid economic slowdown, increased unemployment, further devaluation of the US dollar and lack of confidence that the US Government has the courage to take strong and immediate action.  What is need is a "high colonic enema," not Congressionally administered Milk of Mag tablets one small dollar amount at a time.

So, was this all about greed?  To a degree.  There were the "needy greedy" who wanted more home than they could afford and wanted it now.  There were the "politically greedy" who saw the chance to create a new government prograsm which would buy them votes and make the government more responsible for everything.  There were the " lending greedy" whose purchase of suspect mortgages created more volume for them and bigger paychecks.  There were the "building greedy" who slapped up houses like crazy and loved the increased demand and easy mortgages which made them rich.  And there were the "Wall Street greedy" who trafficked in CDO's and even built "insurance derivatives" called "Credit Default Swaps" which were designed to insure investors against their CDO's going bad by swapping out part of their portfolio risk for other risks in different investment areas - all for a hefty price, of course.  These were the demise of AIG, the world's largest insurance company.

So, there you have it.  It's a big problem requiring a big solution, not tentative measures.  But, knowing our Congress, they will never take any of the blame for the "failed social engineering" of the "affordable housing laws."  Instead, they will administer small doses of medicine and wonder why the patient isn't getting better.  And, of course, they will point their fingers at anyone except in the mirror.

Hope this makes some sense out of what is a very complex subject...

Saturday, September 27, 2008

The Back Country


Hi all,

I guess the title should actually be "Back From the Country."

The Queen and I recently travelled to Music City for a chance to visit with our friends Dan and Sandy McG.as well as to accomplish one of my cancer goals, to make it to the annual mini-reunion of the West Point Class of 1966.  For those possibly not "in the know," Music City is sometimes known as Nashville.

First good deal of the trip was that we got to try out my new Acura TL on the highways of America.  It got 30 miles to the gallon and accelerates like crazy compared to the Honda Accords that I have been driving for the last ten years.  A very comfortable, quiet ride with all sorts of extra technology such as hands free devices and XM Satellite Radio, a trip computer, tire pressure indicators and a whole lot more.  It was my birthday present.


Second good deal was to stay in Castle McG (last name omitted in honor of the Anderson Zoo who always reminds us about Personal Security).  Theirs is a truly beautiful home of over 9000 square feet, four garages, two full kitchens, a theater, a wine cellar, an elevator and rooms/baths to house the better part of an Army battalion.  Staying with them was like visiting with the real Queen in Windsor Castle.



Next treat was to reach my goal of hanging with my classmates around some great food and music as well as on the golf course.  My two best friends from West Point, Jim D. and Mike F., made it to this reunion, both saying that they wanted to see how I was doing. Mike brought his wife, Mary, shown with the Queen below, while Jim's wife, Jeanette, an ordained minister, had other obligations and couldn't join us.  Jim is the CEO of Action Ministries while Mike is the retired CEO of Sprint Local.

Golf with Dan was at the very exclusive Governor's Club, while Reunion golf was on a Tom Fazio course as well as a  Jack Nicklaus signature course.  All three places were what we golfers call "superb tracks."  My golf game was less so, but I can still hit the ball, something that was in serious doubt before my neck surgery.



My classmates who set this reunion up did a wonderful job, renting the entire Country Music Hall of Fame for a catered dinner, getting a top Nashville song writer and background player for our entertainment and even a private concert by Vince Gill.  We didn't pay all the freight for a lot of this, and the generosity of our local classmates underwrote much of the golf and entertainment expenses.  These guys are Great Americans!

Sorry I've been absent for a while, but thought you might like to know where I've been.
High ground indeed!  Thanks for your prayers and support.

Friday, September 5, 2008

One Year Closer To The Grave, Think Of All The Food We'll Save!

(I'll leave it up to you to explain to your dear readers about this title.)

Dear Daddy,

Hey there big guy! There are so many things I love about you, that I could start my own little blog about it called:

"My Dad Is Above Average In More Than Five Billion Ways".

You and I would enjoy that, but other people might tire of me telling you how truly fabulous you are day in and day out. So instead of doing that, I'm hacking into your blog to tell you just a few things I love about you, with supporting photographic evidence. (If you read this every day, it will be like I'd done that blog thing I mentioned above.)


Aren't you ADORABLE in this little jumpsuit snuggled up next to your mom?! What a good boy you were for staying right by her for the picture and letting her protect you from falling with her arm. You have protected me my entire life in various ways, and for that, I love you.


Hey there Lady Killer! Even though you look super serious in this picture, I am imagining that your hand we can't see is pinching this nice girl in the tush to get her to smile. (You would NEVER . . . ) My point is, I just love your wacky sense of humor! I love how we'll all hang on the edge of our seats to hear you deliver the punch line of a joke - even when it's no good - because you're so good at it. You make me laugh and sometimes that is just what I need.

I see in this young (handsome!) cadet, the face of a man who is dedicated to serving his country and fellowmen and who isn't afraid to work hard to reach a goal. You have given me a great pride in our country, our Armed Forces and the military heritage that is a part of our family as well as taught me the value of work and I love you for that, too.
I love the smile you wear in this picture. It makes me think of your friendly, outgoing nature. This is the look I love to see on your face. This is the smile you have when we talk with one another and share stories and it makes me feel so loved because I know you are listening.

Here you are with my beautiful mom. When I saw this picture again, I cried, because it reminded me of you suffering through something really hard. And even though I hated every minute of it, I can see now that it has made us closer. I have a new and greater respect for you and I love you even more after it than I did before.


So, dearest Daddy, I just wanted to wish you the happiest of birthdays and tell you how very grateful I am to have had yet another year with you. And I need to let you know I am counting on many, many more.

Love,

Samantha

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Twofer


Hello everyone,

It's not often that you can get a twofer, that is two fer the price of one.  That is, except when Billy Mays screams into your TV and offers to send you not just 25 but 50 of the whatever he's selling that day...  But here's a real twofer.

PETA, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, has decided that is no longer satisfactory for the Guards regiment at Buckingham Palace, London, to wear the same bearskin hats they have worn since Wellington beat Napoleon's French Imperial Guards at the 1815 Battle of Waterloo.

Robbie LeBlance, spokeman for PETA, says that their campaign against the traditional black bearskin hats, "is hugely significant for our campaign to save North American bears."  At their upcoming meeting with Baroness Taylor, the Minister for Defense Procurement, LeBlanc states, "If she has a heart and can see the PR nightmare of the MoD continuing to support the Canadian bear slaughter, she can wield her influence and push the MoD to scrap the bearskin caps sooner rather than later."

It should be noted that 50-100 new bearskin caps are needed each year and it takes one bear's skin to make one cap.  There are an estimated 600,000 black bears living in North America, a number thought to have fallen from two million.  How the two million estimate was produced is questionable.  Perhaps the bears were asked...

Now the good part of the twofer.  Governor Sarah Palin of Alaska and the state legislature are appealing the Department of Interior's declaration that Polar Bears are a threatened species, deserving extra protection.  In fact, Governor Palin, the DELIGHTFUL new VP running mate for John McCain,  has pointed out that polar bears represent a direct threat to the human population living near their habitat, which is the North Slope of her state.  

In Alaska, PETA means People for the Ethical Treatment of Alaskans, in this case allowing them to protect themselves from the largest predator on land.  Alaska wants the Interior Department to lift the limits on killing predatory polar bears which threaten humans.
Who, me?


So here's the deal:  we support PETA England in their desire to cease using black bears for the traditional bearskin hats and we switch to polar bear fur, thus supporting the Alaskan PETA.  Besides, since the polar bear is about three times as large as the black bear, we only need to use the skins of 16 - 33 polar bears each year, vice the 50 - 100 black bears.  It's a win -win!

This politics of compromise stuff is easier than it looks.  Try to find you own twofer, and propose it to our ever-vigilant Congress, whose latest approval rating has peaked at 9 %.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Berlin and Georgia


Dear Readers,
I am today officially announcing that I will no longer commit to posting on this blog every Friday.  However, I will also commit to not dropping off the face of the earth, as some of my blogging friends have done recently.

I do have something to say today concerning last Wednesday, 13 August.  On that day, 47 years ago, the Communists erected the Wall in Berlin, splitting families who were apart that day and destroying the economy of half of one of the world's great cities.

In the summer of 1964, a West Point classmate and I visited Berlin after our summer duties with US Troops in Germany.  With the Wall only three years old, and still quite crude, we sat at an outdoor cafe and watched an elderly woman on the street corner look at her watch and look through binoculars, across the Wall.  Soon, an elderly man, several blocks into East Berlin, leaned out of his window, with binoculars, and waved at his wife.  The meaning of Freedom has never been made clearer to me.

When I arrived in Berlin as a new second lieutenant in December 1966, I again visited the Wall and wrote the following poem, published in the Berlin Observer, the local command newspaper, and picked up in most of the Berlin press.  

"Freedom's Outpost" is its name
And concrete blocks its living shame 
But yet this half stands tall.
For here have many people died
While trying to regain hope and pride
By traversing the Wall. 

The enemy has tried to prove
A city cannot live by love
From those in Freedom's lands.
And so they halted trucks and trains,
But Liberty relied on planes -
And Free Berlin still stands.

The other side's a different place
Where sentry dogs walk silent pace
Among the towers and wire.
Where escapees are shot on sight,
And yet they try, both day and night,
Rekindling Freedom's fire.

So we who guard the precious light
Commit ourselves to keep it bright,
Remembering those who fall;
For someday this will no more be
The city split by tyranny,
The city with a Wall...

The Wall came down on 9 November 1989, as many of you remember.  But it had been a tough and bloody 28 years for the people of Berlin.

In 1994, when President Clinton retired the Berlin Brigade colors, I was in London, retired from the military for two years and working as an investment banker.  The Army tracked me down, and the Berlin Observer asked if my poem of 28 years earlier could be read at the ceremony.  Although I could not attend the ceremony, I was honored to consent.

Today, the Russians are back at their old tricks again, claiming "breakaway provinces" never actually belonged to the little country of Georgia in the first place.  Can it be long before they once again start building walls?




Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Another Missed Post...


Dear Readers,

Yes, I have once again missed my usual Friday posting date and have heard from several of you about just that event.  Here are the lame excuses.

First, unlike all the women in my family, I have NOT been reading the book shown above.  As far as I have been able to figure out, Stephanie Meyer is a female astronomer whose first three books (Twilight, New Moon and Eclipse) concerned her educational love of the universe and how celestial things work.  Then, for reasons unknown to me, she altered her book style on the heavens to write her latest, Breaking Down, which apparently deals with either automotive problems or is her attempt to enter the world of psychiatry in which her credentials are suspect.

In either case, she once again has tried to cause all productivity to cease in my home  as shown below.  However, Ms. Meyer has failed this time because her book was released just in time for the Huge, Unscheduled, Best -Ever, Carlson Family Reunion!  Well, most of the Reunion was previously scheduled, but parts were not scheduled until the last possible minute...  This is an inside joke.

At any rate, we had all the kids in one place at one time for the first time in years!  And, when the Reunion ended at Hershey Park in Pennsylvania, we managed to get this picture of most of the grandkids and the proud Papa and Granny.

High Ground, indeed!






Thursday, July 31, 2008

Happy, happy, happy, happy, happy...

Does anybody know a word 
That sort of rhymes with "quint?"
In English, is there such a word?
If so, please give a hint.

'Cause we all want to celebrate
The birthday of the Five;
So rhyming "quint" is needed
And a goal for which to strive.

If such a rhyme is possible,
Perhaps we'll have to squint,
And search through scads of volumes
For a word that sounds like "quint."

Or have a steel trap-like mind
Or knowledge sharp as flint;
Else wise it is impossible 
To rhyme a word with "quint."

So happy birthday, ALL of you,
Each one of you a "quint."
We hope you get a bunch of gifts
And loot that fills the Mint!


Your Faithful Super Hero,

Kernal "Batman" Ken


Friday, July 25, 2008

Verizon on the Horizon


Well, today is my day to "out" Verizon.  This will be progress for me.

You see, here in beautiful downtown Brambleton, we are an "all Verizon Community."  All of our phone service, TV and computer hookups come through Verizon FIOS, their fiber-optic network that comes to each house, and here in Brambleton, to each room of the house. We have been called "the most wired community in America." It's lightning fast and usually very reliable... But not this week.

On Wednesday, I called our "special Verizon Reps here in Brambleton," the ones who are to provide us with "concierge service" since the whole community has opted for Verizon FIOS.  I wanted to upgrade my cable box to HD so that I could see every bead of sweat at the Olympics coming up.

"No problem, Mr. Carlson.  We'll have someone out tomorrow between 1 and 5 to exchange boxes and set up your new high definition service."  Great.

Come 6PM yesterday, no cable guy from Verizon.  One ringy dingy... "Oh, thank you for your call. Just a moment while I check on that work order number."  10 minutes pass.  

"I've found the problem, Mr. Carlson.  Let me connect you with a dispatcher who will verify a time tomorrow morning to have a tech visit your house."  5 minutes pass.  "Hello, this is Bonnie with Verizon.  How may I help you?"

Well, Bonnie, what time tomorrow will I receive my new box?  "Mr. Carlson, I have no idea what you're talking about.  May I have you phone number and the amount of your last bill?"  Bonnie was apparently the default pickup when I was otherwise cut off.  Start back at square one with Bonnie and, no, I don't recall the amount of my last bill.

"No problem, Mr. Carlson, I'll have a dispatcher call you in the morning with your appointment time."

One PM today.  One ringy dingy.  Hey, Verizon, no one has called as promised on this work order number.  "Let me check on that, Mr. Carlson, and thank you for copying down that number - it will make this go much faster." 

 15 minutes pass.

"Are you still there, Mr. Carlson?"  Yep, but I wouldn't be if it weren't for speakerphones.  "We'll have this done in just a moment.  Thank you for your patience."

Five minutes pass.  "Hello, this is Bonnie with Verizon.  How may I help you?"  Bonnie, this is Mr. Carlson, amazingly the same guy you promised last night that I would get a call this morning.  Remember?  "I'm sorry , sir, I wasn't here last night.  You must have gotten another Bonnie."  Start back at Square One with Bonnie #2.

"Mr. Carlson, we are tracking that order # that you gave.  But let me give you a special number to call for our valued customers in Brambleton."  I think I've already done that, Bonnie #2, but go ahead.  And I get a new number, not the one Verizon had provided before for our Brambleton "concierge service."

One ringy dingy.  " Mr. Carlson, we've checked your work order number but it is not in the system."  Why not, I asked, since for the last two days everyone has been referring to the same number?

"Well, it appears that our system for new orders and order upgrades is down."  And how long has that been the case?  "Sir, it's been down for over a week, but we're working overtime to fix it."  

So, all these people at Verizon who have been promising me that I would shortly receive a call as to the appointment time??? "Sir, I don't know how that could happen, since we haven't been able to process orders for the last eight days.  Just a moment, let me check one thing..."

Five minutes pass. "Hello, this is Bonnie with Verizon.  How may I help you..."  Agggggggh!

I need some high ground to send smoke signals to Verizon.  The stuff burning is my hair...


Thursday, July 17, 2008

Kirtland, K&V and Kooks





Thanks for giving me a week off from blogging duties.  Last weekend allowed me to escape the area for the first time since last November.  Getting away with the Queen was good for both of us, and I certainly felt more like a person than a patient, which, as Martha would say, is a good thing.

We drove West at a leisurely pace to Kirtland, Ohio, near Cleveland on Lake Erie.  It is a place that the Queen has long wanted to visit, since a significant chunk of history from her faith, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, occurred there.  The Mormons left Palmyra , New York in the early 1830's and were directed to Ohio by divine inspiration.  In Kirtland they built a thriving community and their first temple, which was dedicated by the Prophet Joseph Smith in 1836.

Smith had no engineering training yet produced plans and blueprints for the temple which was built of wood, stones and stucco, yet stands today.  As an engineer, I found it to be a pretty remarkable piece of work.

At the temple dedication, many witnesses saw the appearance of heavenly personages and felt their temple had been approved by God.

And, as many of you can probably tell, I'm way over my head in Mormon theology, so I'll just continue with the history.  By 1838, over 2000 Church members called Kirtland home, but lawsuits and the failure of the Kirtland Bank caused serious community discord and the Mormons were threatened until they agreed to leave.

Within a year, only 100 remained.

The rest of the LDS community began their movement westward, first to Northern Missouri, a state where the governor declared it legal to kill them on sight, and then to Nauvoo, Illinois where they established a city larger than Chicago.  Eventually, Joseph Smith and his brother were assassinated in the Carthage, Illinois jail and the Mormons were again driven out, this time led by Brigham Young.  After much hardship, they arrived in the Salt Lake Valley, where they made the desert bloom like a rose and the Olympics succeed in 2002.

So, after taking care of me for seven months, the Queen deserved a chance to see some of her heritage and I enjoyed it as well.  We even met some LDS missionaries who are from the same congregation in Saint George, Utah as the Queen's brother and sister-in-law.

And, we got the chance to see other neat stuff in northern Ohio, including flea markets and the really quaint town of Gambier which is home to Kenyon College, a small liberal arts school whose campus looks like a movie set from the 1930's.  Great fun!

On a lighter note, on the way back to D.C. I was very concerned as we saw our first set of large scale wind turbines.  In one case, there were eight of them on Pennsylvania hilltops, in another set there were 13.  So why the concern?

Wake up, folks!  The earth turns clockwise, right?  That's why the sun comes up in the East and the weather patterns generally come from the West.  So, if all these new giant wind turbines are facing West (and they are), the turbine blades must be doing more than just spinning electricity - they must also be producing a propeller-like force which is, depending on how the blades are configured, either pushing the Earth to turn faster in a clockwise direction or, alternatively, causing the earth's rotation to slow.

With enough wind turbines facing West, will will eventually spin the globe so fast that days and nights will be only a few hours long OR we will bring the globe to a halt.  In the latter case, you don't want to be either on the dark or the light side, one of which will freeze and the other turn to desert.

Another example of the Law of Unanticipated Consequences!  And, the turbines will eventually take up all the high ground,meaning there's no where for us to go while trying to escape the polar bears!

Get to the high ground quickly, before it is all filled with wind turbines.  I'll see you there.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

July 3d


I swear I must be the only blogger on the planet who gets harassed by his readers if not exactly on schedule each week.  Some folks must set their sun dials by me, it seems.

Well, I was busy on Friday - remember it was Independence Day. We had a Chris Lee All Star baseball game and dinner at Spy Mommy's, followed by Leesburg fireworks which were great.  And Saturday, I got roped into doing the VA side of the Carlson War Memorials Tour, so I was pretty whipped when I got home.
 
So, today I am going to rewind the clock and talk about the
 3rd of July, another day we Carlsons celebrate.

On 3 July 1967, Miss Victoria Nelson agreed to go on a date with me for the first time.
She and her boyfriend had recently broken off and my girlfriend had gone home with her parents, so both of us were unattached in Berlin, at the height of the Cold War.
I asked if she would like to join me for dinner at the French Officer's Club, where I would demonstrate my French language proficiency and my general savoir faire.
She accepted.

Unfortunately, I had failed to check with the French to see if their club was open that evening, which it was not.  So much for savoir faire...
Well, we were stuck in the French Sector of Berlin,so we went
to the French Volksfest, a bit overdressed, 
but what the heck.  We had a great time, and I even spoke a little French.  And that was 41 years ago, last Thursday.

We got engaged in Hawaii in 1969, while I was on R&R from Vietnam and were married in December of that year at Fort Douglas, Utah.

And it's been a wild ride ever since.
                                                                                       


Special prayers this week for my dear
friend, LadyJosh, who has contracted breast cancer after successfully having fought renal cancer several years ago.  You can follow her story at http://jeansgreenandpinkribbons.blogspot.com.  She is a nurse and former police detective, so be prepared for the truth about cancer, not the pablum I have fed you as I have become a Leatherneck.

Next week, the Queen and I are taking a weekend trip to Kirtland, Ohio to check out some Mormon historical sites.   So, no blog from me this Friday.

Jean and friends, I'll see you on the high ground! 

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Legacy

   

        



It's only Sunday and already several of my readers have reminded me that my normal Friday/Saturday post is late!  I suppose I should be honored that some need their  fix of Kernal Ken on time, although I'm sure most can live without my weekly rant for a day or two.  There is a reason for this week's delay.

Tomorrow, 30 June 2008, is a special day for our family.  It has to do with the legacy that has been left for us.

First, the Queen Vee and Compound Eye of a Dragonfly will represent us at the funeral of Victor J. Nelson.  With most of his family at his bedside, Victor, 90 years old,  graduated with honors from this life on Thursday, 26 June and went home to live with our Heavenly Father.
 
 A Utah State graduate with a degree in zoology, a World War II Navy veteran,  a master builder and craftsman as well as teacher in the building trades, and a 27 year member of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, Victor's greatest accomplishments were in the lessons of life, of love and of kindness he left for his children and grandchildren.

And here is the impact.  Victor leaves behind seven children, two step-children, 35 grandchildren and 78 great grandchildren.  That's 122 people who know PERSONALLY of the skills, the character, the faith and the kindness of this one man, and countless more who will hear his story in years to come.  Well done, Dad, extremely well done...


























Monday, 30 June is also a special day on my side of the family.  It is the 100th birthday of my Mom, Helen Mabel Christine Johnson Carlson.


Known as Moline, Illinois' "Fastest Woman" (for the right reasons), she was a track standout in high school and at The Chicago Normal School of Physical Education, where she earned her teaching degree and lots of championship trophies.


Her wedding to 2LT Gunnar Carlson was covered by cub radio reporter (later President) Ronald Reagan, but the glamour of a military wedding was quickly eclipsed by the cold of Northern Wisconsin where her husband commanded a CCC Camp, the scorpions and floods of Panama, the continuous moving in the pre-war Army and her husband's departure for the war in the Pacific.

May brought her two sons to occupied Japan on the first ship to carry "MacArthur's Pioneers."   Later, she and I travelled to South Vietnam to join my Dad who was one of 85 Americans in that country in the mid 1950's.  With my brother and I both returning during the war, the Carlsons  are one of the very few who can say that the entire family, Mom included, served in Vietnam.

An inspirational, devoted mother and a loving, generous grandmother, May passed her earthly test and peacefully departed in  2001 at age 93.  Her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren, although not as numerous as those of Victor Nelson, have been left with her inspiring story and example of duty, sacrifice and love of Country.  Her life, as that of Victor, will remain legend.  Well done, Mom, and Happy Birthday!

And as for you anxious readers, I'll see you on the high ground!


Saturday, June 21, 2008

We Interrupt This Program...

Hi, there!  No guest blogger this week, just your regular Kernal Ken.

Things, as usual, are hectic around here.

Brother-in-law, Kirk Nelson, visited this past week for two days.  I asked him when was the last time he was here and he reminded me that it was last Fall.  Well, I told him, not much has changed since then, given the title of this post, "We interrupt this program..."

I got my "interruption" in mid-November.  Ever since then, my program has been interrupted by cancer.  Even the interruptions are interrupted, such as "you might not have to have the neck dissection...we interrupt this thought to bring you the following truth - they are going to cut you open anyway..."  

You've seen the scar and the staples, which are now out, and I am starting to recover from the surgery which interrupted my recovery from the radiation and chemo.  Thankfully, every thing is clean - so far.

Next we had the funny blog interruption where The Digital Architect demonstrated our previous lack of a discussion on sex by likening his own preferences to those of his three month old daughter.  What a hoot!

Then , on Thursday, the Queen Vee got the sad news that her Dad is deteriorating rapidly, so our program was interrupted by her departure this AM for Salt Lake City where she will be for some indeterminate period.

I think the message in all this is that John Lennon was right:

"Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans."

Perhaps equally to the point is the saying of the noted Japanese warrior, T. Sakurai:

"In the moment of victory, tighten your helmet strap..."

There are more "interruptions" ahead for all of us.  I hope all yours are good ones.

I'll see you on the high ground!




 

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Who's Your Daddy?


I (The Queen Vee) am sneaking onto Ken's blog today to wish him Happy Father's Day. Of course he's not my daddy, that would be Victor Nelson, but he is the the daddy of my children.

So Ken, thank you for being my partner in parenting. Your children are blessed to have you for their dad. Like all good fathers, you have carried the responsibility of fathering on your broad shoulders now for over 36 years and you have done it exceedingly well.

Yes, once you were younger and could hold two kids on your shoulders.


Then those kids grew up and soon you found yourself standing with them shoulder to shoulder.

Now they stand with you en masse, fathers themselves, pushing shoulder to shoulder marking the goal for their families. (What cute guys!)



So today I honor you and I honor our sons for taking on this mantle of fatherhood. There are no perfect fathers, just as there are no perfect mothers, but I think you guys are all up there at the very top of the fatherhood pyramid.



This young, good looking man is my father who is now well into his 90th year. Last week he went into hospice care as he is getting ready to graduate and take the big journey. I love him and I honor him this day. His posterity is now over 80 plus direct descendants. The influence my father has had can now be seen in my grandchildren. That's the impact a good dad can have. If you would like to know my father better you can check out my sister's blog where she has posted a fitting and perfect tribute to a man who sang in the Mormon Tabernacle Choir for 25 years.

Happy Father's day to all these special men in my life. I'm fortunate to be on the high ground with these guys.