Friday, December 30, 2011

How long can North Korea hold out?

The fact that North Korea has limited or no electrical infrastructure has bothered me from time to time. You see, I just didn’t understand why. Most every other country, rich or poor, has something like an electrical grid even if it doesn’t operate on a full time basis. Not so North Korea and I think I just realized why. It’s all about control.

It was the death of Kim Jon Il and the ascension of his son that finally made it clear to me that the leadership uses the lack of electrical power as a means of control. No electricity means no television or radios. The only broadcasts come from special state run programs in select locations. Not that the average citizen could afford either a radio or a TV, mind you. Not on an average $150 a month handout from the government they can’t. The lack of money and of even decent plumbing is designed to keep the people busy. Busy trying to barely survive while the central government skims just a little off the top of each and every citizen. Labor and goods, that when added up, lends to a pretty nifty life style for the few at the top.

What we have, then, is a socialist state carried to the extreme; an entire people who are under the iron fist of a despot ruling class. A society that affords a bare sustenance living to the old while simultaneously forcing the young to work for the state. A society that I believe may now be coming apart at the seams.

Take a careful look at the pictures; both the North and the South. To the north you see extreme poverty, starvation and hopelessness. To the south, you see a vibrant and energized populace with plenty to eat. Which side would you want to live on?

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Betty's Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes!

I've always had a soft spot for scalloped potatoes. The 'soft spot' is actually my stomach! (It keeps getting softer and bigger with every helping). That aside, I thought I would do a quick critique on Betty Crocker's Cheesy Scalloped potato dish that's ready in just twenty minutes!

I picked up this boxed product at the local grocery on a whim. The last time I'd eaten scalloped potatoes was over a year ago on Thanksgiving. At that time, I had made this dish from scratch to take over to a neighbors as part of a large layout of food. I seem to remember that it was quickly consumed.

This time, however, I wanted to just grab a box and cook it up in what? Only twenty minutes! Wow! (Is that like a selling point)? I was also advised on the box that I would be enjoying '100% real shin-on potatoes'! (Was there a possibility that I was going to get a substitute)? Not sure. As to the term 'skin on'! Hey, Skin on or shin off, it's no skin off my bloated nose!

Looking at the directions, I also noticed another item in the 'preparation section' that slightly bothered me. They call for 2 and ¼ cup of boiling water. Why that measly fourth of a cup? Why not adjust the ingredients slightly to allow this to be a man-sized half a cup. Another mystery of life to which I am not privy. Anyway, this is a pretty simple deal to throw together. Once it gets into a preheated oven, the timer gets sets for the twenty minutes or until done. Whichever comes first.

Even though this box cost me $1.75, and so, was quite a bit more expensive than the generic options sitting nearby. I still elected to grab for Betty, as I have become very aware that you get exactly what you pay for. Don't believe me? Then move over a couple of isles and try one of the Hormel 'Compleats' meals. That stuff costs just a buck and it's pure crap (in my modest opinion)!

As expected, this side came out and tasted near perfect! Be careful though as these taters pack a powerful calorie punch per miniscule serving! But, if you're careful you can have a nice meal like the one pictured above that comes in at 130 calories!

The Cold and Flu season is upon us!

As the year 2011 comes to a grinding close, I have begun to focus on the year ahead and what that means. What is means is the start of the cold and flu season for a lot of us! That thought occurred to me as I sat at my favorite watering hole and looked down the line of occupied bar stools. It was with a sense of growing unease that I realized most of the people there were sick! The one other guy I had thought was healthy, besides myself, had just started sneezing repeatedly. I watched him a moment and then quietly got up and moved down a few stools.

I'm pretty sure that no one there had the flu, mainly because I asked them. Each of them had the sniffles and sounded like they were congested, but all of them said no when asked about pulmonary distress. Still, colds all by themselves, can be nasty and miserable. They can also be very contagious and I wondered how many of the 'regulars' had caught this bug from each other? With that thought in mind, I quickly finished my beer and left.

As I am writing this post, the flu season has yet to have done very much damage. The Center for Disease Control or CDC shows little or no influenza activity in any of the fifty contiguous states as of December the 17th. Maybe this will be a year with little or no flu-related deaths. Time will tell. Right now, only the state of Louisiana has reported slightly elevated levels as the map above shows. Let's all hope it stays green this winter!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

How long until the rhetoric coming from Iran turns to war for the US?

Let the sparing begin! Over the past few weeks exchanges between the US and Iran have ratcheted up in a series of proclamations from such officials as first, Vice President Mohamed Reza Ramitupme, and then, naval Admiral Habiboilbutt made statements as to their intent to close the Strait of Hormuz if American doesn't start towing the line. This was quickly followed by a rebuttal statement from the 5th Fleet's Lt. Rebecca Rebarich who basically told the Iranian government that they could shove it.

Iranian media has ralso helped fan the flames by describing how Iran could move to close the strait, saying the country would use a combination of warships, submarines, speed boats, anti-ship cruise missiles, torpedoes, surface-to-sea missiles and drones to stop ships from sailing through the narrow waterway. Armadadickajad was said to be literally foaming at the mouth over the prospect of 'getting it on' with the 5th Fleet; a force comprised of 20-plus warships, with about 1,000 people ashore and 15,000 afloat, consisting of a Carrier Battle Group, Amphibious Ready Group, combat aircraft, and other support units and ships.

The rhetoric form both sides is escalating and this author is wondering how soon war will break out and exactly what event or series of events will occur to make that happen. Check out this video from Fox News.

Disclaimer: This post by the author is solely representative of his opinions and as such may not necessarily be backed up by facts. In addition, the author has taken great liberties with the spelling of the Iranian officials names because, in point of fact, he could care less what they think!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Ohio, there's no need to frack now!

In spite of the so-called 'shale oil experts' like Phil Flynn of PFGBest, who are currently touting the feasibility of harvesting billions of gallons of oil and natural gas from states like Ohio through the use of a dangerous technique termed ‘fracking’. It is with thankfulness that the US GOVERNMENT has once again come to the rescue of an endangered economy.

It was just revealed that, for years now, the Administration has been dumping hundreds of millions of tax payer dollars into a small start up company known as ‘Solwindera’; an operation so secret that not even its location was known until recently.

Termed the ‘Solwindera Power Hat’, the company of the same name stated that this device (which is worn on the head) may solve the energy crisis. And, it will do so without having to resort to ‘dangerous and subversive oil exploration practices’ used by the greedy capitalist oil enterprises. Environmentalists everywhere were seen to be shouting with joy as news of this device broke! Gone also are the fears of 400,000 new jobs opening up across the country whose sole purpose would be to 'poison America's groundwater'.

According to a teaser poster (see picture above) put out by the company, the Solwindera is said to be able to catch energy from both the sun and the wind –AT THE SAME TIME! Heretofore unheard of in any one device, the Obama crowd is waving their hands and pointing at the Republicans. Developer and owner Danomanno Dingo remarked to one reporter that, ‘this will be a game changer both for America and my company!’ He went on to say that while the device's inner workings are proprietary, “that baby really cranks out the juice in a high wind!” When asked where all the energy went, DanOmanno hinted that it is transmitted to the ‘nation's energy grid’ via a special ‘Telsa Transmitting Antenna’ which is attached to the back of the hat.  He went on to say that once ‘hundreds of millions’ of these hats were in service, our energy crisis would be over! No response was returned when one reporter said it would make any man who wore one look like a prick.

No price  has been announced as of this post.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Merry Christmas from the Johnstons

Dear One and All!

Well, it's been a humdinger of a year for both of myself and Stella, I'll tell you that! Just getting my wife to pose for our Family Holiday picture proved to be a real challenge. She had been sipping eggnog the afternoon our neighbor came over to take this portrait, and as you can see here, she was a bit squirmy. Poor girl.

This year we had much to celebrate. Hoo Wee! Even though I was laid off from the job in August I've kept myself busy working at home. Stella really seemed to enjoy having me at the house 24/7 and gosh darn it, I was afraid I'd get in her hair! I guess those drugs she takes have helped out a lot also.

Seems our boy, Harold, manged to get himself arrested on a morals charge shortly before December and so was unable to come for our traditional Christmas dinner. Word is, he will be getting out sometime in March. We just love that boy to death, I'll tell you.

Great news came in the mail just last week. My Aunt Hedi is planning to move into Harold's old room as she has fallen on hard times due to the collapse of her business selling oven mittens on Ebay. Darn the luck. And, even though Stella has had a hard time getting along with her in the past, I'm sure the close living arrangement will change all that. (I just have to laugh, though, when I recall the way she snores at night)! Hope Stella is a sound sleeper.

Ho Boy! And are we both ever looking forward to the coming year. Stella, who is a devout Republican just barely tolerates the fact that I support President Obama to the extent we have a portrait of him over the mantle. He has been the cause of a lot of 'lively debates' so far and I expect that will continue through 2012. Ha ha!

Gosh, will you look at me. I've been rambling right along, haven't I. We hope everyone out there has a great Christmas and a wonderful New Year. Thanks to whoever sent us these swell Christmas sweaters. Stella just loves hers and we both plan to wear them on those extra cold days this winter.

By for now and love you all,

Conrad and Stella Johnston

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Media manipulation at its best!

With decreasing frequency, I still very occasionally watch one of the 'news' programs like Fox. And it's been with particular angst that, on some broadcasts, the talking heads have made remarks concerning the leadership board for the Republican Party.

Most recently, a lady whose name I've thankfully forgotten, was remarking on how well Ron Paul was expected to do versus the likes of fellow candidates Newt Gringrich and Mitt Romney. She blathered on an on about how even thought that Ron might sweep in and win that caucus and become a front runner would make the Democratic Party 'jump for joy'.

Please! I'm wondering how this same 'news journalist' will spin her poison when Ron is still doing well come February? In a similar fashion, MSNBC is almost 'creaming in their jeans' over the idea that someone like Ron Paul could ascend to become the choice of the GOP. A man destined to go against President Obama in November. In their eyes what a slaughter that would be! (Oh yeah, as if having four more years for a modern-day Pariah to lead us futher down the road to oblivion would be a good thing)...

Well sorry, I beg to differ! I propose that Ron Paul is exactly what we need right now. (He is a doctor after all, and this country is definitely not feeling very well). In addition, he is both a Centralist and a Libertarian; a position to which both more moderate Democrats and Republicans are increasingly beginning to flock.

Friday, December 23, 2011

McDonald’s Drive-thru!

For millions of Americans, those Golden Arches beckon one and all, every day right about noon time. Menus on billboards proudly display pictures of Super Big This with oversized bags of That for all to see and desire.  (Could heroin be any more addictive I wonder)? Endless lines of cars passing through endless drive-thru’s. Cars of every type with millions of out-of-condition, glutinous individuals (like me), safely and tightly ensconced within. Cars carrying men and women who are apparently more than eager to commit this form of dietary suicide on any given day.


It’s twelve noon as I pull up to the McDonald’s ordering grill thingy. It’s just below a large billboard that is cluttered with an enormous selection of food. From the time you are in visual range of the board to the time the speaker asks for your order is a matter of short seconds. My hands trembles slightly on the steering wheel. A metallic (yet authoritarian) voice greets my ears. “Thank you for stopping at McDonald’s! What would you like to order?”

“Yes! I think I’ll have the Big Mac and Fries Meal deal.” (My panic standby order for when I don’t have enough time to select something else). This selection flashes on the electronic board to my right. Dollar amounts appear to the right of each item.

“Thank you! And, what would you like to drink?”

“I’ll have a Diet Coke, thanks!” I’m now getting distracted as I try to pull my wallet out of my back pocket with little success.  My seat, which years ago, provided ample room now seems somehow tight and cramped. A light sweat begins to form on my brow…

“That will be $6.01 sir”, drifts a female voice from out of the metal grill. “Would you like to die a little more quickly and Super Size that order today sir?” As I listened through the window of my car, I could swear I heard a very light, high pitched snickering in the background. (Perhaps it was just my hearing playing tricks on me).

“Uh no…I’m… on a diet,” I say in my most pious of voices. More snickering (static?) comes from the grill. I’m now fumbling in my pants pocket for some change. My wallet which I had wrestled from my rear pocket is now also now wedged in my lap. I manage to pull out a handful of coins, some of which fly off into the far seat. Damn!

“OK, sir, we have a Big Mac, a large fry and a Diet (snicker) coke. Will that be all today?”

Uh, yeah.” I mumble as I try furiously to locate a penny in my fistful of silver coins. Ah! I sigh, as I spot one lone penny. I deftly pluck it out of the pile, toss the other coins into the neighboring seat, and add it to a ten dollar bill I had fished from my wallet. I find myself clutching this money like it might somehow bring me salvation.

“Please drive forward to the payment window.” I look up and find my way obstructed. What!!

I want to go forward, but three cars block my way! Damn them! There we sit, each of us waiting in line to pay, not unlike a junkie with a handful of crumpled bills who cautiously approaches a dealer for his noontime fix. Finally! After what seems hours (but may have been only minutes), the payment is made! I toss the four singles into the seat next to me along with the wallet! What a mess! Just a few more agonizing minutes as my fingers impatiently strum the top of the steering wheel while waiting for that last damn car in front of me to exit the delivery window.

Ah crap, I think as I watch the meal deal going down in front of me! They must have ordered for something like twenty people! Look at all that crap they’re getting! My stomach rumbles in rebellion at the thought of a delay. The sweat on my brow now forms tiny rivets down my nose. I wipe them unconsciously away with a swipe of my hand.

After what seems an eternity, the car in front pulls away from window. I put my car in gear and eagerly pull up. As I come up even with the window a girl of perhaps twenty is standing there like she’s waiting for a bus. Her eyes travel first to me and then to the far seat where money is scattered all over creation. A slight smile forms on her mouth. Yes, she’s seen this before. Often actually. She glances at a computer screen to her right. “I’m sorry sure but there’s going to be a wait for your Big Mac. That lady in front of you cleaned us out. Would you mind pulling over to a stall and we’ll have someone bring your order out to you?”

What! I can’t believe this! But, like a good robot, I do as instructed. I pull over to an open slot and then watch that window through my rear view mirror. I can also make out a side door that hopefully will open soon and bring me my fix, my meal. Times passes oh so slowly.

At last the door opens and out comes a boy with my order! All is forgiven! I grasp my white bag and carefully place it on top of my wallet in the seat next to me. The coke stays in my hand as I drive the short distance back to my job.  I’d have to eat fast and it would also have to be at my desk as my lunch period was almost over. What should have taken ten minutes had taken twenty-five of my thirty minute lunch break!

Hurriedly, I exit my car leaving the wallet and change lying on the seat. No time to waste as my hot meal is getting colder by the second. Now, at my desk I open the bag to find… ah yes, an Egg McMuffin with no fries. Sighing, I take a sip of my coke and prepare to eat.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The OWS appeal for help!

Actually, I can see that both these kids could use some mental healthcare!

They finally have a name!

Has the avian flu virus undergone a significant mutation?

I recently came across an article printed in a paper called the Republic that gave me pause. It concerned the finding of a large number of seal deaths off the coast of New England that researchers now say was due to a flu virus similar to one found in birds but never seen before in seals. The virus identified as Influenza Type A H3N8 lead to a bacterial pneumonia that caused the deaths of the seals. While this virus appears to have low risk for transmission to humans at his time, scientists see this as a troubling event. Hon Ip, head of the Diagnostic Virology Laboratory at the National Wildlife Health Center, said since almost all animal influenzas can be traced back to birds, it's prudent to pay close attention when a previously bird-only virus leaps to a species that is also susceptible to human influenza strains.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

At restaurants, it’s the appearance of the staff that helps sell the meals!

I can say without hesitation that while a restaurant might put out great shrimp scampi or a dynamite hamburger, it's how the serving staff looks that really seals the deal in my book. And, that goes double for the cooking staff as they are the last ones to touch my food before I consume it.

Here in Forsyth Missouri, a small southwestern town that supports nine fast food and sit down emporiums, I’ve seen the entire range of what I consider to be acceptable and what I do not. There seems to be two schools of thought as to what is considered acceptable. Some establishments enforce nice logo-ed uniforms with black pants while others have employees wear just a t-shirt with the restaurants name on it. These places are pretty nice to eat at. Other eateries, however, don’t seem to want to bother with any form of dress code. The cooking staff at these locations are often completely disregarded. I’ve seen cooks working in kitchens that looked like they just got out of bed after working in a field all day. They’re unshaven and their clothes look like they need a good washing. When I see employees like this, I can’t help but wonder what’s happening to my food as they prepare it. I mean is anything noxious flaking off these folks? I don’t know. But, I do know I won't plan on eating there again.

Locations that properly outfit their staff need not spend a lot of money to do so. A pressed shirt and clean pants are all I’m looking for. The way in which people look while at a jobs speaks tons for how they and the establishment feel about their customers. Does that make sense? I hope so.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Scientists make killer Avian flu virus!

Apparently two groups of scientists who carried out highly controversial studies with the avian influenza virus H5N1 have reluctantly agreed to strike certain details from manuscripts describing their work after having been asked to do so by a U.S. bio-security council. The as-yet unpublished papers, which are under review at Nature and Science, will be changed to minimize the risks that they could be misused by would-be bio-terrorists…..

However, if you are a researcher with a good reason to want to know, they will be happy to provide you with all the details… more at:

One milk carton too many!

This morning I did what I always do; made breakfast. And while I was making breakfast, I reached into the fridge and grabbed a carton of milk to add to a glass sitting on the counter top. I then moved everything over to a small table leaving the now empty plastic milk carton alone on the counter by the fridge. As I ate, I glanced up and noticed that the carton was still there. ‘Got to throw that away,’ I thought as I worked my way through and egg and toast. Then a strange thought occurred to me. When this carton gets ‘disposed of’ what, I wondered would be its fate? I assumed that for this particular carton, it fate would be to end up in some land fill outside of town. Where is this supposed landfill? Got me! Not a clue. So began my investigation into what happens to the trash I so casually throw away.

Some time ago, I did a post on just how much and of what kind of kitchen related trash I produced over a week long period of time. At that time, it was about two to three pounds per week. What I neglected to cover, however, is what actually happens to all that waste after it left my house.

A call to a local trash collection company (Raintree) answered that question. I talked with a gentleman whose first name was Richard and he filled me in one destination in particular. First off, the trash they and most other companies collect go to the Branson Transfer Station located at 274 Buchanan Road. Their phone number is (417) 336-6589 and it’s best to call ahead to make sure they are open as their hours vary. Next, the waste makes a trip to the landfill located just to the northwest of Springfield, Missouri where it is incorporated in an immense landfill area just off Farm Road 34 north of the intersection of I-44 and Highway 13.

So, that will be the final resting place for this particular plastic jug. As to how long it will sit there before decomposing is open to question. I’ve heard everything from 500 to 1000 to even a million years! Now, if you elect instead to recycle, the time can be shortened down to weeks and months before it comes back to life in some other form!

Here in Forsyth, just in back of the City Municipal building (across from National Enzyme) you can leave paper, plastic and cans in designated bins. I've decided to make an effort to also get into the swing and recycle as much as I can.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Take your pick America!

Here's a recent satellite view taken of a slim section of China, North and South Korea during the night time hours. Three ideologies at work with three end results. Which nation would you like to live in?

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Male Bar Customer Likes and Dislikes

This tongue in cheek entry is in rebuttal to a post on the internet titled ‘From Your Bartender’ on Craigslist.


First off, us male customers like our bartenders to be both HOT and FEMALE (and not necessarily in that order).

When we walk in to a joint, we like to be hailed loudly with honorariums such as ‘Who da man? You da man! Or ‘My Gawd! Someone get this Adonis a seat!

We also like it when bartenders check out our ‘junk’ with an appraising eye, and yes, it’s definitely OK if they give us cute nicknames like Mr. Big Tree or Thor the Incredible.

When sitting down at the bar, we really appreciate having some ‘eye candy’ front and center. Bonus points are awarded for generous cleavage and dressing in a manner that suggests after-hours work on the street.

We also appreciate it when our drink of choice materializes immediately in front of us as we are just sitting down. (If the bartender breaks an ankle getting there first, then so be it). Then if (when) we change our minds and order something different, the bartender will sheepishly offer the one she brought for free while hobbling quickly off to get the gentleman’s newly preferred libation.

Real men also prefer that the bartender spend an inordinate amount of time chatting with us to the complete exclusion of other patrons in the bar. This shows everyone present that we are the one and only Alpha Male in the entire joint.


Never ever expect fugal men like us to be big tippers. We work hard for our money and only want to spend it on cheap booze, slow women and motels bearing the name No Tell.

Please do not challenge us when we search in our pants pocket for our wallet and come up empty. Really! We simply forgot to bring it! That’s why tabs were invented. Duh!

Lastly, when we are finally ready to depart, it would be much appreciated if the bartender scurries around to the door to hold it open and yells  'Elvis is leaving the building'.

Friday, December 16, 2011

A project worthy of government funding!

As I was hauling out the garbage recently, an empty half gallon milk carton fell out of the sack and landed on the driveway. I stooped down to pick it up and as I did so the thought occurred to me that something that is manufactured, used once and then goes to the landfill is a pretty dumb way to do things. That’s when it came to me that maybe there is a better way that manufactures could work! So here is my thought.

Why not sponsor a competition all across America to come up with food containers that can see a second life and or which can be reintroduced to nature in a non polluting manner. Let me take two cases in point; the ubiquitous milk carton and the 2 liter soda bottle.  Both items are purchased by millions of people each day. They use them and then, outside those who practice reclamation, throw them into the trash.

One company has, in fact, redesigned a new and better milk container which companies like Sam’s Club, Wal-Mart and Costco will be stocking in the future. In addition to be recyclable, the design of the carton eliminates the need to ship them in crates which have to be washing before putting being put back in service. They are stacked and then banded with plastic strips that can also be recycled. This eliminates the crate and all that water from the manufacturing and distribution stream.

When it comes to soda bottles, all that is needed for now is to make sure they get recycled. The plastic used to make them is polyethylene terephthalate which can be recycled to help make polar fleece, a material used in casual jackets, sweaters, gym clothes and the like. But, it would be great if some genius out there could come up with a new configuration that would not only be recyclable but which also be useful in some other way after the contents have been consumed.

In my mind, there are a host of products out there that could be ‘re-engineered’ to either have less of an impact on the earth or which could be extended in terms if their usefulness. Something our beleaguered government could get behind and make into a success story.

Ron Paul and his anti-war stand!

 "If anyone is to go into captivity, into captivity he will go. If anyone is to be killed with the sword, with the sword he will be killed. This calls for patient endurance and faithfulness on the part of the saints."

I guess it must be something akin to our second nature that, as a species, we love to participate in war. Throughout the centuries, waging war has been just about the only concrete way to impose one system of beliefs by one country onto another country. In modern times, it’s been a ‘give them a taste of diplomacy, but be sure to carry a sword hidden behind your back’ kind of diplomacy. That same strategy seems to have held true for America for some time now, only we’ve dropped the facade of just talking and have substituted the harsh reality of sanctions. Iran is a perfect example of how not to handle, or should I say, mishandle a state. Ron Paul, during the Iowa debate of December the 15th had it exactly right. As a nation, we are in love with the concept of taking care of the world, even when the world doesn’t want or need it. We are addicted to spending trillions of dollars (money we no longer have) on prosecuting an endless series of wars that have only succeeded in alienating even our allies. And, as we head into 2012, the world will surely take notice. We're just not what we used to be. To our enemies, we may well look dented and old; squirting oil and smoke out of our seams as we try to maintain an image of robust health. Once again, I agree with Ron. What part of broke does everyone not get?

During the debate, Michelle Bachmann stated, that "we have an IAEA report that just recently came out that said, literally, Iran is within just months of being able to obtain that weapon." This statement is categorically false! While Iran may have the ability to produce a nuke or two at some point in the future, the fact is the IAEA doesn’t know anything for sure. Why Michelle would utter such falsehoods not once but twice was hurtful and petty and a good reason why she is not presidential material.

The point is that on just about every occasion I can recall, Ron Paul has been absolutely correct and I admire the manner in which her calls them as he sees them. He has the kind of strong moral fiber that this country is currently lacking in the White House. His desire to pull back in our military is correct as it his desire to work with other countries without trying to change them. As a case in point, yes Iran is certainly to be watched. Yes, they may develop a nuke. But, if they were to try and use one or if they were to block the Strait of Hormuz, this country has numerous options in which we could handle the situation. Finally, if Iran were to get too far out of line, then perhaps as Ron suggests, we could convene Congress for a formal declaration of war. Do it right and do it by the numbers! But, whatever happens, we need to stop with the pointless sanctions that only kill babies and start acting and looking like the super power we claim to be.

I’m not sure if Ron Paul has a chance to win the GOP’s nod or not. I keep getting the feeling that this is like the 1992 presidential race when we could have elected Ross Perot to lead this nation. Now, while I’m not sure how good a president he would have been, I can practically guarantee we would not be in the fiscal mess we find ourselves today. The same is true today. Ron Paul may be old and infirm, but beneath that frail exterior beats the heart of an individual who could lead America back to greatness if just given the chance. Can you say the same about the other candidates? I’m not sure.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Dr. Thomas Sowell and his thoughts on the OWS organization.

[here is a letter that was published concerning his thoughts regarding the OWS]

The current Occupy Wall Street movement is the best illustration to date of what President Barack Obama's America looks like. It is an America where the lawless, unaccomplished, ignorant and incompetent rule. It is an America where those who have sacrificed nothing pillage and destroy the lives of those who have sacrificed greatly.

'It is an America where history is rewritten to honor dictators, murderers and thieves. It is an America where violence, racism, hatred, class warfare and murder are all promoted as acceptable means of overturning the American civil society.

It is an America where humans have been degraded to the level of animals: defecating in public, having sex in public, devoid of basic hygiene. It is an America where the basic tenets of a civil society, including faith, family, a free press and individual rights, have been rejected. It is an America where our founding documents have been shredded and, with them, every person's guaranteed liberties.

It is an America where, ultimately, great suffering will come to the American people, but the rulers like Obama, Michelle Obama, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, Barney Frank, Chris Dodd, Joe Biden, Jesse Jackson, Louis Farrakhan, liberal college professors, union bosses and other loyal liberal/Communist Party members will live in opulent splendor.

It is the America that Obama and the Democratic Party have created with the willing assistance of the American media, Hollywood , unions, universities, the Communist Party of America, the Black Panthers and numerous anti-American foreign entities.

Barack Obama has brought more destruction upon this country in four years than any other event in the history of our nation, but it is just the beginning of what he and his comrades are capable of.

The Occupy Wall Street movement is just another step in their plan for the annihilation of America.'

"Socialism, in general, has a record of failure so blatant that only an intellectual could ignore or evade it."

Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell (born June 30, 1930) is an American economistsocial theorist, political philosopher, and author. A National Humanities Medalwinner, he advocates laissez-faire economics and writes from a libertarian perspective. He is currently a Rose and Milton Friedman Senior Fellow on Public Policy at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.

Sowell was born in North Carolina, but grew up in HarlemNew York. He dropped out of high school, and served in the United States Marine Corps during the Korean War. He had received a bachelor's degree from Harvard University in 1958 and a master's degree from Columbia University in 1959. In 1968, he earned his doctorate degree in economics from the University of Chicago.

Dr. Sowell has served on the faculties of several universities, including Cornell and University of California, Los Angeles, and worked for "think tanks" such as the Urban Institute. Since 1980 he has worked at the Hoover Institution. He is the author of more than 30 books.

On Global Warming and why we are so screwed!

“Global Warming is real! Its here now and its increasing at an alarming rate! The question is does anyone really care?”
I’m not sure where I saw that quote. But, to me it defines the real issue concerning the future of our species. Ask yourself this question. Does the average Joe on the street really care about CO2 emissions? Does he often get into heated conversations concerning methane levels at the office during a break? No, he or she doesn’t and that begs the question. Who really cares? I suppose some could point to their governments. Surely they would care. But, let me ask you this. If you ran a government that overindulged in the consumption of the planets resources, would you want to tell your people to cut back? (Good luck surviving your next election, fixed or otherwise). On the other hand, if you were the leader of an emerging nation that was just beginning to savor the offerings on the technological table what would be your stance? How would you feel about your relatively meager material resource consumption? Entitled I would venture to guess. So there it is. The ‘haves’ want to keep on having and the ‘have-nots’ want their fair share and no one in authority is going to tell them otherwise. Not a story with a happy ending I fear.

The real driving force behind most of the world’s problems is in plain sight for all to see. It’s us. There are simply too many of us running around the planet, consuming, defecating, reproducing and literally making more us’s all the time. Today Mother Earth is supporting about seven billion mouths which need to be fed each and every day. Right this moment, the balancing act to accomplish that feat of engineering is growing precarious to say the least. All that’s missing, for a true global disaster, is for something to go wrong and mass starvation could quickly become a reality. Some trigger to set things on a course to damnation....

[I'm thinking hard]

Let me see... What could upset the current balance or status quo? Wait a minute! Why yes, climate change could just be that trigger. Even as I write this post, America (a civilization that has it pretty darn good compared to the rest of the world), is facing new challenges to keep just three hundred million fed in a reasonable way. Have ya been to Texas lately? In addition, world wide drought has taken a serious hold in areas that used to be reliable producers of food for the world. No more. Other locals like Mexico and Eastern Africa are in the midst of the worst drought in over sixty years! Millions are starving in Somalia and millions more have picked up their belongings to do the one thing they can do for survival…move!

Make no mistake. I’m as optimistic as the next person and I know my country has a can-do attitude. It’s just that the problems we face are huge and, like the National Debt, aren’t going anywhere soon. If history is any example, it will take a huge disaster to finally get us moving on the right track. Then, just maybe, can-do will become will-do.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Fat Daddy's BBQ in Forsyth Missouri!

Here I am, back at Fat Daddy's BBQ located in Forsyth Missouri for yet another breakfast. 'Hey Mikey! I think he likes the place!' Well, yes I do! This venue has a lot going for it, and while not perfect by any means, it does meet the four criteria I feel are most important in any good eatery:

In this post, I'm going to dissect one of their menu items right down to some of its nutritional elements. And yes, I'm also going to touch on pricing. Because, let's face it...

'If a food joint ain't beating up the competition, then the competition is beating up on them!'

On this visit, I decided to order the Lil Pig Platter; a combination of a single egg (your way), toast, hash browns and choice of meat (ham, sausage or bacon). With coffee, this entire order comes to only about five bucks! I'm not sure how they do it, but wow what a deal! The picture tells a thousand words, don't ya think?

Now a brief word about nutrition. While some people get all hot and bothered about calories and sodium levels and such, the main thing is to make sure and eat a balanced choice of meals each day. That means you can possibly over-indulge at one meal if you're careful to maybe under-indulge at the next. That said, here is a partial nutritional panel for a meal that would be similar to the Lil Pig Platter. (I would have had to weigh the food prior to eating which I did not, so I just eye-balled it):

Only 391 calories! And, even though the sodium is a little on the high side, it's still within dietary limits. And yes, the fried egg is very high in cholesterol! However, if you are reasonably healthy and limit yourself to eating them only every so often, you should come out OK. It's worth remembering that eggs provide the highest quality protein found in any food out there mainly because they provide all of the essential amino acids our bodies need in a near-perfect pattern. So, as Thoreau put it so well, 'moderation in all things, but in all things dabble a bit!' Right! (Well, he never put it exactly that way, but you get my drift).

The bottom line with Fat Daddy's is a great tasting breakfast offerings which can be had on the cheap, in a clean venue, with some nice staff around to take care of whiny old people like myself. So, what's not to like?

Update: August 2015 - Fat Daddy's continued to be a very popular venue. You can visit their site at

Disclaimers: All the material presented in this post is based solely on opinions made by the author of Forsythbiz. References made to food content, quality, nutritional value and cost to the consumer were done on a best guess basis and as such, may not be absolutely correct. All prices mentioned were valid at the time of visit in early December 2011.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

That old bridge over Bull Shoals!

It’s been quite a while since the east 76 bridge over Bull Shoals was first built. That was way back in 1931 when gasoline cost ten cents a gallon and a new car purchase would set you back $640. Since that year, lots and lots of traffic has crossed this bridge and now in 2011, some eighty years later, its due for a face lift. The problem is corrosion and the number its doing to the metal truss bars that support the roadbed. They need replacement and the work will require quite some time to complete; as many as nine months, weather permitting.

The work, which was scheduled to start in 2013 was put off for a number of reasons. For one thing, MoDot officials felt that refurbishment repairs that were completed in 2009 would allow them to extend the time frame and secondly, nobody could quite figure out how to shunt traffic around this bridge during its repair without causing major headaches.

Every day, as many as five thousand vehicles cross the bridge as commuters go to and from work from areas like Cedar Creek to business communities like Branson and Hollister. Closing the bridge would mean a long detour on down 160 to Route 65. A process that would increase the congestion already present (as many as ten thousand vehicles travel Hwy 160 daily) and which would force some to arise at ungodly hours just to make it into work. Businesses like the National Enzyme Company would be severely affected as it has operations on both sides of the river! Also in the mix would be the added cost of gasoline and Diesel for everyone. No wonder then that MoDot along with other officials decided to put off the work until 2014. (Now, I hear they are even talking about 2015 and beyond….)

So, what’s the solution? Does putting this work off make the process any better once we arrive at 2015? What will be the cost of travel at that time? I dunno, but it will be interesting to watch won’t it?

As I see things now, there are three courses of action that will take place and I’ll outline them here:

1)      Close the bridge, do the work and hope people can find their way to work and home.
2)      Build a pontoon bridge across the river adjacent to the existing bridge.
3)      Keep kicking that old can down the road.

Closing the bridge with no way across!

We’re talking detour and it won’t be pretty. There will be two groups of people. Those on the Hollister and Branson side and those on the Forsyth and Cedar Creek side. Stuck in the middle will be people like myself who, though retired, would like to make trips into Forsyth to go shopping, etc. Now, even I will be looking at a long drive into Hollister just to find a grocery store! For commuters, I’ll guess that the detour will take a minimum of an hour for some of them to get to where they need go. Businesses in towns like Forsyth will more than likely suffer. People will be forced to quit their jobs and move. The list goes on and on…

Build a two lane pontoon road!

While I like this idea the most, it will be very expensive and could pose problems all on its own. The logical place would be somewhere close to the existing bridge as topographical considerations would make it difficult to place a bridge elsewhere. But, what if the river goes to flood stage! What happens then? Can they build a road structure with a thirty or more foot adjustable elevation capability? I’m not sure. In any case, there will be some congestion as a result of all the activity in that area which will make traveling a chore. And remember, this mess will go on for a long, long time!

Kick that old can down the road!

This is the ‘solution’ that I think is most likely. We’ve seen it in action on the nation’s capitol and I think it just might work in this case also. The thinking will be to just keep putting it off until something bad happens. Then point fingers at everyone else and finally fix the damn thing at five times the original cost. In other words handle the bridge in the same manner we are handling the national debt. Ignore it and maybe it will go away.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Critique: A Healthy Choice Meatloaf Meal throw down!

With all due apologies to Bobby Flay, I went out and bought myself a Healthy Choice Meatloaf Meal in an effort to see why the sky high price of $4.15 makes this TV dinner so much better than an identical Banquet version I reported on earlier in the year, and which cost only a buck to boot! I mean who is jacking who? While the Banquet meal tasted like a dream, for three bucks more, this one had better taste like a ‘wet dream’! Let the TV dinner throw down commence!

First off, I wanted to take a look at and compare some key nutritional items between the two meals. They have, after all, pretty much the contents; a serving each of meatloaf, mashed potatoes, corn and in the case of HC a desert! Here’s what I found:

Meal             Weight      Calories       CFF       Cholesterol    Sodium (mg)
Banquet         269            280          150                40                  1000
H.C.                349            350          80                 35                  550

OK then, some interesting numbers here. Remembering the cost differential was three bucks, I figure that the were it not for the desert I'm good to go with Banquet. That is, for the same money, I can get three of the Banquet meals. HELLO! Anyone argue with that? OK, so what if I'm getting hosed with sodium!  But, I mean is that difference really worth worrying about unless your old and hypertensive like myself? I dunno, you be the judge! Let’s move on to taste, shall we?


All things being equal, the overall taste is what I remember the most. Sure, the salt may pickle me and the cholesterol may clog my arteries, but the thing that really counts is taste! Healthy Choice doesn’t let you down on this count. The meatloaf was just the right texture and had a great aroma. The corn and mashed potatoes were also good, but the real seller was the desert. Anytime you serve apple bits in a sugary syrup you got my attention! I’ll also venture a guess it was the Apple Cranberry Crisps that added all the extra calories, but it did help make the meal, so it’s forgiven. High marks also for overall smell and texture.

This meal gets a solid 8 in my book and the old adage is evidently true; you do get what you pay for! While I would still buy the much cheaper Banquet product (mainly because I am cheap), people who can afford to spend the extra money should opt for Healthy Choice version.

Low men indeed!

In the movie by Stephen King called 'Hearts in Atlantis', a kindly old man named Ted cautions a young boy named Bobby to be on the lookout for 'low men'. Mysterious figures who are seeking Ted so they can take him away and place him back under their control. When Bobby asks Ted what they look like, he tells him that 'they move in groups and drive loud cars. That they cast long shadows and communicate with strange signs'.... ah, I thought to myself, Ted's talking about Democrats!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Don Imus and his depressing ads!

After going for a long time without my morning does of Don Imus, I recently purchased a smart phone and was able to stream his show via a radio app. At first, I was excited to once again hear those pearls of wisdom that both Mr. Imus and his associates impart over the waves each weekday morning. And, don't get me wrong, I still love listening to this sour grape and his views on the political train wreck that has become the Federal Government...

But, there is a worm in his his off-channel programming! I’m talking about the horrendous junk that passes for advertizing during the seemingly innumerable breaks he takes. Talk about getting depressed! In a thirty minute period of time I was informed about rape, lupus, cancer (numerous times), and countless commercials that inquired; 'Do you find yourself a little tired these days? Then perhaps you’re about to have a stroke or, or maybe you’re going into a diabetic coma or, or....!!! Give me a break!

I’m wondering if ads like these are driving away other viewers and listeners? It sure did me...

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A meaty (and cheap) spaghetti sauce!

With a pound of hamburger costing close to $4, a good spaghetti sauce is a flavorful way to spread it around!


1 lb ground beef, browned
2 28 oz cans of spaghetti sauce
1 tsp each dried oregano and basil

I generally like to brown up the meat and then toss it into a slow cooker with the other ingredients. I leave this on low for a few hours and then apportion out seven ounce servings which I keep in small containers in the freezer. Then, when I’m ready for a nice plate of spaghetti, I just boil some pasta and I’m all set to go.

You’ll get about eight seven ounce servings that will cost under a buck each!

Random thoughts going into December...

I want my park back!

OK you OWS people thingy's. We get it! We're the ninety nine percenters. Most of us are poor and a tiny fraction are not. You made your point and now I'm bored with the lot of you. Just more talk like those guys in Washington when what we really need are men and women with solutions Now, go pack your things and get out of my park you losers!.

Look in the mirror...

What do you see America? Maybe a little too much flab here and there? Men, is it getting harder and harder to see your penis? Actually, many of us Americans personify our government to a tee. Way too many are overweight to the point of being obese. The solution for both is to stop consuming, burn off the excess fat and start embracing the term frugality. The thing is, this will require we get off our butts and get down to some real work. Are you up to it America? Or, should I just order us up another box of Zingers and Twinkies?

What neighbor?

How many times have you dropped over to a neighbor's house recently? None! OK then, how many of your neighbors can you name by their name? Wow! Well then, perhaps that's a hint. Put down the smart phone, close the laptop and turn off the TV. There's something waiting outside for you right now! It's called a community. You know, people talking directly to people. Something that's been missing in Washington for years. Or, am I wrong? When was the last time you talked face to face with your representative in Congress? Well, what about over the phone, then? Have they even sent you an Email for chrisakes? I rest my case.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

The last domino!

As a society, we can’t say we never saw this coming. And, please don’t crank up the blame machine. It wasn’t the Democrats or the Republicans that brought down the Republic, it was us. We the People. It was greedy, crooked men and women who all took a turn at the helm of the Good Ship America and who each in their turn, made sure she was headed towards the rocks. I can’t see any other way of looking at this. Both sides ended up spending 300 million into the poor house and as of this writing in late 2011, they are still hard at it.

Now, when there is little left to be done, the People are beginning to stir. Perhaps it was the loss of a job or getting kicked out of their home or even being unable to afford food that has captured their attention. I don’t know. What I do know is that for all extents and purposes, it’s all over but the shouting. America is destined to fail and when she does, so will much of the civilized world. What will be left will be something similar to the Dark Ages where life will once more become brutal and brief. Where strength and not intellect will rule and where just a few will continue to live in grand style on the backs of billions.

Slow Cooker Bean Soup with Cubed Ham!

Make what fun you will of beans, those magical fruit! They still deliver a hearty taste along with good basic nutrition at cheap cost every time. This slow cooker version is one I’ve made for a number of years now. I happen to like it and hope you will too.


  • 8 oz. Great Northern beans, soak over night
  • 4 cups of water
  • 2 8 oz cans tomato sauce or one 16 oz. can
  • 1 cup ham, diced
  • 1 med. Russet potato, peeled and cut into cubes
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 2 stalks of celery, chopped
  • ½ medium onion, chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced or sub garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp basil or parsley
  • 1 dash of cayenne pepper
  • Salt and pepper to taste (hold off til the end)


Soak the beans overnight as per package instructions. Drain off old water and place in a 3 quart pot. Add 6-8 cups of fresh water and bring to a brief boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 to 45 minutes. Drain once again and move to the slow cooker. Test the beans at this time. Note: They should feel somewhat soft.

Combine the beans with three cups of fresh water along with the rest of the ingredients. (Note: do not add salt until the beans are done as this will only toughen them)! Cook on low for about 4 hours. Test for doneness and add salt towards the end of the cooking cycle. Serves 6-8.

Cooks Log:

Following is a real time log of the cooking process for this recipe;

11/25/11 - Soaked beans overnight.
11/26/11 – 9:00 AM - drained & rinsed beans. Added fresh water and brought to a brief boil, then reduced heat.
9:15 AM - Simmered for 45 minutes!
9:50 AM - Rinsed the beans again and added them to the slow cooker. Added warm water and tomato sauce. Beans were beginning to feel somewhat soft. Also nuked the veggies & ham for 20 seconds to warm them after taking from the fridge. Left the slow cooker on the high setting to bring the contents up to speed quicker.
10:45 AM - I turned heat to low setting. Smells pretty good at this point.
12:15 PM – Checked slow cooker – everything on track to finish about 2 PM.
1:48 PM – Checked and beans still a little undone!
3:30 PM – Checked and potato still a little al dente. Total time is now 5 ½ hours in slow cooker.
4:00 PM – It was done to a tee!


This is a great dish to make anytime of the year! I also like the fact of how inexpensive it is especially if you grow your own vegetables. Sure, the cost of smoked ham has skyrocketed as of late and that’s why I only use a small amount in this recipe.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Critique: Hormel Compleats Turkey & Dressing

Somewhere in the dark recess of my addled brain, I can remember eating something from this line of products called Hormel Compleats; but what the word ‘compleats’ means I’m not sure. (Possibly a word taken from the Greek compleare meaning dire intestinal distress).  It’s also not a frozen entrée, so I have to guess that whatever meat (turkey??) is in there must be swimming in a sea of preservatives. Perhaps Hormel has discovered how to preserve stuff in the same manner that the Egyptians learned to preserve their mummies (sic).

According to the directions, it can be ready in just ’90 seconds!’ Wow, the last time I saw something ready to go that fast, I was hormone filled teenager….but, that’s a story for another time. Ninety seconds huh? Ah, yes, I can see now that the microwave will be involved. You have to slit it and then nuke it. (Optionally, you can also place the entire plastic container (un-slited?) into a pot of boiling water and simmer for 8-9 minutes). So, let me see now, that’s 90 seconds versus 9 minutes. Think I’ll just go ahead and nuke this bastard into submission!


How does this entrée stack up? All categories here are on a scale of 1= disgusting to 10 = multiple orgasms.

Pkg art:      7    Nifty package design. Gosh, this does look inviting!                    
Reality:      4    Reminds me of my college biology dissection class! And this is the bile gland...
Cost:          3    @ $2.95 in Nov 2011 – very high for an entrée!     
Smell:        3   MRE’s smell better than this sh**! Or, at least they smell...               
Texture:     2    Very little that was pleasant…rather like gruel with meat chunks!
Taste:        3    Gag me! I think I’ve been assaulted here!         
Avg:           3.7 Words fail me! Someone please call a toxicologist!


Looking at the nutritional label is a telling experience. The serving size is 283 grams for a caloric content of 290 calories. (Warning: Anytime I see a packaged food that delivers a calorie per gram, I’m a little cautious). The cholesterol is also high at 45 mg. (remembering folks that this is an entrée and not a full meal). Likewise, you are being asked to ingest 960 milligrams of sodium or about 40% of the recommended daily intake!

Bottom Line:

Nuke it, inspect the remains for yourself, then chuck it into the garbage can uneaten! That is the last of anything from this company I plan to purchase. Wait I take that all back! I will keep a couple of these on hand for those occasions when relatives come to visit! 'More stuffing Aunt Edna?'