Goodbye, Neal Armstrong

We lost a legend yesterday – Neal Armstrong, the first human to step onto the surface of the Moon.

I still remember the grainy black and white TV pictures as he climbed down the steps of the LEM to step onto the surface of the moon.  It truly was “…one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.”

The entire landing on the moon fired the imaginations of kids and adults everywhere.  Space themed toys were sold, and interests in engineering, aerospace, and NASA soared.  Thoughts of colonies on the moon and beyond were imagined and planned, although the interest and funding have waned in the intervening decades.

Some quotes from around the news agencies:

“As long as there are history books, Neil Armstrong will be included in them.” From Charles Bolden, NASA’s administrator.

“Neil was among the greatest of American heroes — not just of his time, but of all time. When he and his fellow crew members lifted off aboard Apollo 11 in 1969, they carried with them the aspirations of an entire nation. They set out to show the world that the American spirit can see beyond what seems unimaginable.” From President Barack Obama.

“He was the best, and I will miss him terribly.” From Michael Collins, who flew to the moon with Armstrong.

“Even though we were farther away from earth than two humans had ever been, we were not alone.  Virtually the entire world took that memorable journey with us. I know I am joined by millions of others in mourning the passing of a true American hero and the best pilot I ever knew.” – Buzz Aldrin

“He had nerves of steel. If anyone ever had the ‘Right Stuff’, it was Neil Armstrong.  But he was a dignified, quiet man. He could have had the world at his feet but he went back to teaching, that was what was important to him.” – Space historian Roger Launius of the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.

“For those who may ask what they can do to honor Neil, we have a simple request. Honor his example of service, accomplishment and modesty, and the next time you walk outside on a clear night and see the moon smiling down at you, think of Neil Armstrong and give him a wink.” From the Armstrong family.

Thank you, Neal, for your quiet inspiration to us all.

The $50 Lesson

This was too good to let languish in my Twitter feed (originally from

Recently, while I was working in the flower beds in the front yard, my neighbors stopped to chat as they returned home from walking their dog.  During our friendly conversation, I asked their little girl what she wanted to be when she grows up.  She said she wanted to be President some day. 

Both of her parents, liberal Democrats, were standing there, so I asked her, “If you were President, what would be the first thing you would do?”  She replied…

“I’d give food and houses to all the homeless people.”  Her parents beamed with pride!

“Wow…what a worthy goal!” I said.  “But you don’t have to wait until you’re President to do that.”

“What do you mean?” she replied.  So I told her…

“You can come over to my house and mow the lawn, pull the weeds, and trim my hedge, and I’ll pay you $50.  Then you can go over to the grocery store where the homeless guy hangs out and give him the $50 to use toward food and a new house.”

She thought about that for a few seconds, then she looked me straight in the eye and asked, “Why doesn’t the homeless guy come over and do the work, and you can just pay him the $50?”

I said, “Welcome to the Republican Party.”

Her parents aren’t speaking to me any more…

All of us working stiffs get it, the girl in the above story gets it.  Why don’t the Liberals get it?

2012 Campaign Follies

Is anyone else disgusted with the candidates this year?

First we had “Romney-hood” followed by “Obamalony” with false and misleading ads from both political parties.  From a voter’s standpoint, it looks like we have a couple of five-year-olds vying for the highest political position in the country.  We no longer are focusing on the issues – we have a ringside seat next to schoolyard shouting match with all the name calling and insults as we would expect from elementary school bullies.

But in many regards, we’re getting what we’re expecting from such “stellar” candidates and the out of touch political machines backing them.

The President cannot run on his record nor the main promises he has made to the American people except for one, and then only with a caveat.  That one promise has been healthcare, and even then, that promise has been misrepresented to the American people.  Almost a trillion dollars was spent with the promise that unemployment would not rise above 8%, and it has been above 8% almost from the time the law was passed.  Our foreign policy is a shambles, our friends cautious & insulted, and enemies emboldened through our President’s gross mishandling of diplomatic courtesies and changes of policy.  Deficit spending is at an all-time high with a rising crushing national debt.  Failed loans to “green” companies just adds to the pain.  And Congress has not passed a budget as mandated by law – and our President sits idly by, playing golf & taking numerous vacations while the First Lady jets around the globe on shopping sprees.

Barack Obama ran on the campaign slogan of “Hope and Change.”  Any hope has gone, and 4-more years of this kind of change will be the end of this country.  Yet the Democratic faithful blindly guzzle the Kool-Aide and chant “Four more years!”  But then, they’re probably the ones getting tax breaks, or members of the 47-plus percent club that don’t pay taxes that the rest of us do to support them.

Mitt Romney isn’t much better.  He’s just as out of touch with the common man as Barack Obama.  It’s hard to come down & know what it’s like for the majority of the population that’s scraping by while he’s had a silver spoon in his mouth from the day he was born.  Yes, he’s rich – richer than most – but I’m not holding that against him.  I’m not about class-warfare – there will always be the haves and have-nots.  Rather, I have a problem with this candidate (and for that matter, any candidate) stating that he knows our pain when clearly, he does not.

The Republican faithful aren’t happy with their nominee, but they are willing to overlook his shortcomings because he has promised at least one thing on his agenda should he be elected – repeal Obamacare.  And I think that the secondary reason is that he’s not Barack Obama.

Mitt Romney stated this morning that Paul Ryan will be his running-mate for the November elections  Ryan comes across as a no-nonsense person that places the interests of the country before himself – we’ll see if that is true in the upcoming weeks of media scrutiny and attack ads.  One of the issues that the Ryan pick will do is bring the state of the economy front and center.

From the economic standpoint, President Obama has failed miserably.  His recovery plans and historic spending have not resulted in a robust, growing economy.  It is instead anemic and weak, with high unemployment, underemployment, and many just plain giving up on looking for a job.  Ryan has a plan, placed before Congress, that would address many of these concerns, although it has been blocked along party lines.

The only thing that President Obama can point to as a success is the passage of a national healthcare plan for all, funded by taxpayers.  The problem is that instead of focusing on getting the economy back on track, the President and Congress enacted a government-driven health care program. They spent 16 months pursuing this disastrous law, ramming it through on a party-line vote despite warning after warning that Americans rejected this misguided plan.  And the more time passes, we’re finding out that this bright, shiny apple that President BO and Congress gave us is looking to be rotten to the core.

I fully expect that the mudslinging will look like a mudslide before it’s all over.  I’m only hoping that the voters will look at the substance of both candidates and their stances on the important issues instead of how much dirt each one of them can hurl.

Golf Stories–Walking Through the Weeds

We all need to sit back & relax once in a while.  It puts perspective, real perspective, on this journey we call life.

But I do wonder why the Olympics doesn’t include golf.  After all, there are a bunch of professional athletes running around playing basketball, tennis, and God knows what else.  Too bad the amateurs are pretty well locked out of those competitions…

Enough commentary – on to the story!

While living and working in Indianapolis, I belonged to a work golf league that played at the Brownsburg Golf Club every Thursday night.  Our competition was friendly, but we all were as serious as we could be.  But we did have fun, at least most of the time.

For most of the season, I was leading the league. On week 10 of a 16-week season, I found myself in sole possession of first place, with only a few percentage points separating me from second place. At least, until Week 11, when the wheels came off…

Hole #7 will always be remembered for both the good and the bad experiences.  A par 3, 145-yard hole didn’t seem like much with a huge green, but it was surrounded by sand and trees on three sides, and long grass in the front.  Left, right, or long, you were playing from the beach.  Short of the green, and you needed a weed-whacker just to find the ball.  The green was sloped back to front, which meant that you really needed to put the ball below the hole.  The usual Thursday hole location was right smack in the middle.  Last, it had an elevated tee box.

I was struggling that round, but holding in there, barely ahead of my competition for the night.  I lost honors on the previous hole, and was teeing off last.  Everyone else had landed their balls on the green, reasonably safe, but a long way from the hole.  Then I stepped up to hit, eyed the ball and the green, wound up and just starting on the downswing…

…a chipmunk popped up out of his hole from the side of the tee box, ran full speed across the tee box three feet in front of me, and (presumably) disappeared down another hole on the other side of the tee box!!!

I caught sight of the little bugger out of the corner of my eye midway through the downswing, and of course, was startled by the flash of brown as he streaked right in front of me.  Totally rattled, not knowing what I had really seen, I promptly lost control of the swing.

Blading the ball is never good, and the bottom edge of the 8-iron caught the ball just above the middle of the ball, giving it an over-spin.  The ball took off, bounding off the front of the tee box once, hitting a sprinkler cover.  The ball shot up into the air, making a nice arc as it disappeared into the tall, tall grass halfway to the hole.  I’m standing there absolutely befuddled as my partners laughed their asses off behind me.

It took me two strokes to get out of the grass, with the second swing (stroke 3) landing the ball in the back bunker.  A chip rolled the ball past the hole almost to the front of the green.  Two putts coming back ended the misery…a 6 on a par 3…AAAAARRRRRRRGGGGGGHHHHH!!!!!  Steaming mad

Needless to say, I lost that match, and everyone had a pretty good laugh in the bar that night.  Looking back at it, I had to laugh too, but only after we all got off the course. 

But that was the beginning of the end…I finished fourth in the league, which isn’t bad considering the harassment I got for the rest of the season.  All someone had to say, “Is that a chipmunk?” and my concentration went to pot.  Bastards…

I miss all of them.