Thursday, July 28, 2016


Back in the middle 1960's I was employed by a radio and television company in Bismarck, North Dakota.

The parent station of a combine that included several other radio and t.v. stations in other markets was KFYR.

I had worked my way up in the news department to where in 1967, I was an anchorman, the news director, a reporter, photographer and film editor.

News departments in the Dakotas were a lot smaller in those days.

At some point we decided to incorporate a nightly poll in our news coverage.

It became known as TVQ, Tonight's Viewer Question.

As I recall, we announced the question on the 6 p.m. news and the results of the call-in poll on the 10 p.m. news.

It wasn't real scientific but the above results proved that North Dakota voters apparently knew what they were talking about.

It was posed sometime in 1967.

In 1968, President Lyndon Johnson was nearly defeated in the New Hampshire primary by Senator Eugene McCarthy.

A few days later Senator Robert Kennedy entered the race.

There was also the segregationist governor of Alabama, George Wallace, in the mix.

Faced with massive voter discontent over the Vietnam War, Johnson saw no way that he could win.

Coupled with his concerns about his failing health, he shocked the nation when announced at the end of a televised speech on March 31st of 1968 that "I shall not seek, and I will not accept, the nomination of my party for another term as your president."

After the assassination of Kennedy, Vice-President Hubert Humphrey won the nomination and was defeated by Richard Nixon in the general election.

Whenever I look back at some of those days I realize that I have lived through some historic times.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016


This story is mostly true with some lies mixed in. That's called literary discretion.

The story was prompted, over the years, by people saying to me "You're moving where? Why? Aren't you afraid of the bandits? Are you going to learn to speak Spanish?"

(The less intelligent would ask if I was going to learn to speak Mexican.)

It goes way back, to 1972, when my wife and family and two cats headed out from Indianapolis to Arizona.

That was to be a first stop before leaving the land of Nixon.

(As it turned out he left long before we did.)

The year or two to get a writing career started so we could support ourselves as free-lancers actually lasted 14 years and we left to leave the land of Reagan.

To you Republicans reading this . . . sorry.

Judy (SWMBO) had begun making candles back in Indiana and we figured that would work just as well in Arizona.

We hadn't counted on triple digit heat that melted all the candles.

I finally found a job at a t.v. station that I held onto for 13 years until I couldn't take it any more.

After a pretty much failed career as video producers we realized we had enough money to live in Mexico.

We had a Volkswagen Quantum station wagon.

Judy had the bright idea to carefully measure the inside of it with the rear seats folded flat and make a pattern on the floor and wall of one room of the house we were renting.

Whatever would go into that space would go with us to Mexico.

Everything else would be given to the by-this-time scattered kids or sold.

When we scheduled our sale we found a thrift store company . . . let's call it Hard Wishes to avoid any lawsuits . . . to conduct it for us.

The agreement was that anything that didn't sell would be donated to their store.

And they would go through the house and price everything.

It was interesting to me to see how many items were sold at bargain basement prices to the people who came to run the sale for us.

And how much stuff went to the store after being unsold at their "fair" prices.

My advice if you're inclined to have such a sale?

As they might say in New York City, fuhgeddaboudit!

But the goods accumulated in 15 years of marriage was mostly all done away with and hauled away.

We had loaded the VW.

Twice, in fact, after we discovered that a friend who lived south of the border had a storage unit we could use for a few weeks.

But to get back to the subject of this post . . why we moved to Mexico.

Judy made a careful accounting of every peso, dollar and cent we spent in the month of March 1990, after we had been there for several years.

I'm only going to point out a few items to give you an idea of our living standard, with the Mexican price in pesos and the U.S. dollar equivalent.

Two beers: 1700  pesos, 63 cents
2 restaurant meals (with drinks): 31,000 pesos, $11.44
2 cartons cigarettes: 20,980 pesos, $7.74
Liquor: 168,400 pesos, $62.14
    (1 case of brandy, 3 liters vodka, 3-1/2 liters of tequila, 4 bottles of wine)
2 restaurant meals at each beach restaurant
   Charlies in La Manzanilla, 55,000 pesos, $20.30
   Charlies in La Manzanilla, 42,000 pesos, $15.50
   Corales in Barra de Navidad, 50,000 pesos, $18.45
Full tank of gasoline: 20,000 pesos, $7.38
Car wash: 5,000 pesos, $1.85
Doctor/stitches in leg/medicine: 235,550 pesos, $86.92
Groceries: 182,725 pesos, $66.83
2 months electricity: 266.713 pesos, $98.42
2 dinners at El Asador restaurant: 56,000 pesos, $20.66

As you can see by the above items, the dollar went a long way in Mexico back then.

In that one month in which we made trips to the beach from our home in Guadalajara, dined out in fine restaurants frequently and enjoyed our expatriate (pirate) life to the fullest, we spent a little over $1,500.

And if you examine the prices for beer and liquor and cigarettes you can see that Mexico was subsidizing our vices.

The doctor visit, which occurred on the busiest day of the year during the festival of San Patricio (St. Patrick), took place in the rear of a drugstore, where he had an operating table set up.

He spoke perfect English, my wife said he was very handsome and he took care of my wounds quickly and professionally.

I was carrying a 5 gallon glass water bottle when I lost grip, dropped it to a tile floor where it smashed and then fell into it, providing me eventually with a couple of nice scars on my leg.

If anyone asks about them I have two responses prepared: the first that I was gored during a bullfight; the second, that I got into a knife fight with a midget.

Our experiences with the medical profession in Mexico were unique to Americans used to quick in-and-out appointments.

When my wife broke her arm and spent a couple of days in the hospital, her handsome (older) doctor visited her in her hospital room, massaged her feet while talking to her about her injury and later invited us to his home for dinner.

The vast majority of our time in Mexico was wonderful.

We found that the places we chose to live had many Americans and Canadians that we socialized with along with a few Mexican professionals who spoke perfect English.

So we never learned more than a modicum of Spanish.

(Though I did master a few Mexican curse words and phrases!)

With the increase in narco-crime, I'm not sure I'd go back now though I know there is still a huge norteamericano presence in places like Ajijic and Guadalajara, where we lived and in other cities like San Miguel de Allende and Puerto Vallarta.

By the way, the candle business never took off and, with the exception of what I write in my Oddball Observations, never did my intended career as a writer.

But our years in Mexico in the 1980's and 1990's were one of the highlights of our life.

Incidentally, Lori from Seattle, who faithfully reads this blog and supplies me with many of the items I feature on Friday Funnies was one of the lifelong friends we first met when we lived in Mexico.

I feel that living, or even just visiting, in a different country for awhile gives one a different view of one's native land as well as those places we call "foreign".

Tuesday, July 26, 2016


I went to the throwback machine for these Tuesday's Travels.

First to Miami Beach, Florida.

The year was 1968 and the event was the Republican National Convention.

While the Republicans battled over who would be their candidate, Nelson Rockefeller or Richard Nixon, I attended meetings of the North Dakota delegation which I was covering and spent idle afternoons at my hotel's bar on the swimming pool deck overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.

Not a bad gig.

And you can save your comments about the turtleneck and the Nehru jacket.

I've heard 'em all before and it was the style of the day.

I generally avoided the convention hall after the first day though I do remember standing at the base of the podium on the final day staring straight up at Nixon as he delivered his acceptance speech.

A couple of weeks later it was on to Chicago where protesters against the Vietnam War, poverty, Mayor Richard Daley and whatever cause turned the city into what they called "an armed camp".

These nicely-garbed young ladies were posing next to Michigan Avenue in front of the Conrad Hilton Hotel, which was de facto the convention hotel.

The Avenue did turn into an armed camp as the National Guard was called out to protect against riots.

In Grant Park, across the avenue from the Hilton, protesters were allowed to mass most of the time.

While they held rallies and made speeches and listened to music and waved their banners, all was peaceful.

When they tried to march to the hotel or the convention hall they were met by the Guard and the Chicago Police Department's "thin blue line".

I got a little too close while covering a confrontation one night and walked into a cloud of tear gas.

Some of the big names of the civil rights era were also at the convention, at one point driving a mule-driven wagon through the streets.

That's the activist priest, Father Michael Groppi of Milwaukee, and civil rights marcher Ralph Abernathy in the wagon.

Here was Abernathy and one of his colleagues, Andrew Young.

And who should appear in Grant Park one day but comedian and activist Dick Gregory.

Like this year's "Bernie" surge, there was a candidate favored by the youth, Senator Eugene "Clean Gene" McCarthy.

But like this year with Bernie Sanders, he went down to defeat as the convention nominated Vice-President Hubert Humphrey to be defeated by Nixon in November.

Chicago in '68 was a whole different scene from anything this boy from the plains of the Dakotas had ever witnessed.

Hmmm, I may not have to put up a Throwback Thursday post this week.

I think I just did.

Monday, July 25, 2016


The BRD (Beautiful Rich Daughter) at home doing what she does best - artistic creation.

Over the years she has worked in a multitude of areas, from painting to stained glass to ceramics with many stops along the way.

She has shown incredible talent in each field though the pressures of running her own dental laboratory have kept her artistic output at a low level.

Along the way she has always relied on a muse in the form of her "constant companions".

This feline, known as "Mister", had better not get too close.

He may get his nose painted.

Or tickled.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Friday, July 22, 2016


After last night's speech about America struggling with the apocalypse and the Orange Knight roaring to the rescue, I think we need a lot of humor today.

Let's get to it.

(Oops, sorry. heh-heh)

(Oh, darn it. I did it again. heh-heh.)

All right, Gentle Readers, maybe that daffy dozen will help you make it through a free weekend until the Democrats begin their free-for-all on Monday in Philadelphia.

Remember, there are only 109 days left until it's all over and always keep a silly grin on your face.

The next one is for those of you who are baking in record heat waves this weekend.

Here, kitty-kitty.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016


Well actually it wasn't Black Rock, it was Black Canyon City.

And actually it wasn't Black Canyon City per se but a sort of a "suburb" known as Rock Springs.

Wednesday in Rock Springs meant lunch at the famed Rock Springs Cafe, the home of myriad pies.

My dining companions were a couple of former colleagues at The Dozen . . . KPNX-TV Channel 12 in Phoenix.

Two legends in their own minds times, Steve Torbeck and Lew Ruggiero.

I worked with Steve as a young photographer from Tucson who arrived just a tad later than I did. He eventually worked his way into doing a feature called 12 Country where he wrote, photographed, produced and voiced stories from around Arizona.

As he once described it "a poor man's Charles Kuralt".

Lew came as an assignment editor but like Steve he took to the street becoming probably the best television reporter Phoenix had and has ever seen.

They're both long retired from The Dozen, as am I.

Come to think of it, I'm not sure why they even agreed to meet me for lunch.

But the sandwiches were great, as were the pies from this House of Pies (although Steve didn't have any) and the conversation was, as always, trenchant and acerbic.

Good time with old long-time friends.