Tuesday, August 25, 2015


I've shown people this picture in the past and they always ask if I went to Vietnam.

The answer is "No".

This photo was taken at the entrance to Hope Village, near Weimar, California, in the early 1970's.

It was a camp set up to house Vietnamese refugees who had fled their country after the War came to an end. 

My photographer (the late, great Howie Shepherd) and I had gone there because John Wayne had offered some land of his in Arizona to house some of the refugees. We had heard that the former premier of South Vietnam, Nguyen Cao Ky, was at this camp and that he had been talking with Wayne. So we flew over to Sacramento (on a milk run that stopped in San Diego and Los Angeles before getting there), rented a car and drove to Weimar.

We arrived in the early evening, checked into our hotel, and then with nothing to do until the next day, looked at a map and promptly drove to South Lake Tahoe, about 100 miles away. 

Well? Isn't that what the network boys would have done?

Next day, after little sleep, we interviewed the former premier.

His wife was very pretty but he didn't seem thrilled to meet me.

Next we flew home to Phoenix, did our reporting and a few days later another photographer (Tim Terrific)* and I flew again to California where we interviewed John Wayne. Now THAT was a thrill.

The Duke was dressed in seersucker slacks and a camel hair blazer and was incredibly gracious with the two young guys from Arizona.

He offered us coffee and a great view on the bayside patio of his home in Newport Beach.

In spite of this photo where he seems to be about to say "isn't it about time for you guys to get outta here?" he was curious about Tim's camera and even invited us to go view his operation where he was trying to turn old discarded tires into oil. (There was a shortage going on then.)

We didn't scare him or Premier Ky off but the refugees never did settle on Wayne's land in Arizona and Ky ended up running a liquor store in southern California.

But it was a great week for some visiting newsmen from Arizona.

* - Tim is now a vice-president of a different television station, apparently still trying to rise to this level of grandeur.

Monday, August 24, 2015


Why do we love our pets? 

Ah, let me count the ways.


Yes, I do love my cats but Catwoman?  That's a different story.

This is my Blackwell, who follows me around the house and lies near me.  Even now he is under my desk right next to my feet.

He'll probably stay there as long as I am here.

Is that love?

It seems to be although it could just be because I feed him and he's ever alert for that.

Now Muggles, on the other hand, is more SWMBO's loyal companion.

While somewhat more independent, as cats normally are, she does stay close at hand wherever her mistress lights.

She will come to me at certain times for a bit of petting. A very little bit of petting.

But she's basically SWMBO's cat.

The BRD lives with her constant companions, three (yes THREE) cats and a dog. 

A few months back she, who is a talented artist in many media, began experimenting with photographs, turning them into art portraits.

She's done several in this semi-surrealist manner.

You might like one done of your pet.

If so . . .

So ends today's commercial message.


Sunday, August 23, 2015


You fellahs probably can relate to the following song as well as you ladies can.

As I am trying to simplify my life I began last night going through a huge collection of cassette tapes. If you can't remember (or never knew) what those were, here's a picture to help you.

I discovered one I had been seeking for years. I had the plastic case for it but the tape had gotten separated from it at some point in the past. 

But, surprisingly, last night I located it shortly after I began this project.

It's called "Songs From An Aging Sex Bomb" by K.T. Oslin.

Now, I've never been totally into country music but I loved the songs on this tape, which came out about 1987.  And especially the song that became the Country Music Association's Song of the Year for 1988 - "80's Ladies."

I found a video of it on You Tube so here it is. Enjoy, ladies (and gentlemen.)

It's a little melancholy but I can remember a number of those "80's ladies" myself.  Good times!

Saturday, August 22, 2015


I have my lifelong friend, Dr. Jim, to thank for alerting me to this video via a Facebook post. It's so amazing I decided to post it on Oddball.

And it's a great piece of music.

Friday, August 21, 2015


Yes, yes, they're back.

And just in time, too, I'd say, judging from what I see on the evening newscasts these days.

Reminds me of that old tune by the Kingston Trio - "there's hurricanes in Florida, and Texas needs rain" etc.

But forward into the battle we march!

And if you DO think of something funny, pass it along and remember, always remember . . . keep laughing!

Thursday, August 20, 2015


Today's Throwback Thursday post has two purposes. 

First, as always, is to show you some photos of lives in the past.

But this week it's also to offer some relief to those of you suffering in blistering heat this summer.

So we begin with a photo of my late father from many decades back as he handled a regular chore he was used to around our home in North Dakota.

Do you see how deep that snow is?

He had to shovel a path just so he could get out of the house!

(I'll bet you're feeling cooler already, aren't you.)

Okay, let's flash forward a couple of generations. Here's a photo of my nephew, Dr. Barry, as he descended into the Grand Canyon on a visit.

You undoubtedly have noticed two things.

There is snow there so obviously this little camping and hiking trip was undertaken in the winter!

And secondly, he's wearing shorts! 

Obviously hoping that the temperature will rise as he gets lower into the Canyon.

Now just to show you that Dr. Barry is not totally in control of his senses, here's another photo of him on ANOTHER winter vacation.

Those white spots are snowflakes. He's up in the Boundary Waters area of Northern Minnesota, or someplace like it, skiing.

In a snowstorm!

Now, I don't want you to get the impression that he's the loony one in the family.

Here's a picture of his brother, Tim.

He'd been out skiing in Washington.

Now I've had a little fun with these boys but I love both of 'em. 

I just can't figure out why neither one of them took after their dear old uncle, who knows what to do when the weather turns cold and snowy.

He heads for somewhere warm.

Preferably near an ocean.

Where the locals now how to fix a fine piƱa colada.

Or at least where he can grab a cerveza in the sun.

(Now, don't you go makin' fun of my beads. They might be sacred.)

Wednesday, August 19, 2015


My friend, the Rufous Towhee, was back at the bird bath catching a drink recently.

My California Hoosier pal, Tom C., noted with a name like Rufous Towhee, he sounds like a blues man from Memphis.

He certainly drinks like one.

And his distinctive call sounds like one, too.

This morning I got a couple of better pictures of him.

When he knows (somehow) that I'm photographing him he doesn't stick around long.

Here he's about to depart.

Up at the hummingbird feeder, I caught one yesterday but his wings were moving so fast he's pretty much a blur.

Back at the birdbath it's a constant parade in the mornings and evenings.

The goldfinches, who nearly always come in pairs.

A damned dumb dove.

And an interloper of a different species.

Oops, just spotted this fellow on the flagstone beneath the birdbath.

Waiting for spillage, no doubt.

Never a dull moment in Catalyst's back yard.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015


Yup. Those are the Alps.

Innsbruck, Austria. April '85.

The beer elevation may have contributed to my gaiety.

Monday, August 17, 2015


This is kind of like forcing you to sit through our vacation pictures.


How often do I get to show off a photo of my great-granddaughter?

Confronted with a cake on her first birthday, Alexis did what anyone would do. 

She piled right in.

And if you're wondering where she got that bright red hair, take your pick.

Here she is with her mother, Kayla, and dad, Russell.

I think you can see why I couldn't resist nicknaming him Rusty when he was about the age of his daughter.

Sunday, August 16, 2015


A quiet and restful day.

Alternating between the Diamondbacks game and the PGA Golf Championship on the t.v.

S-l-o-w-l-y reading the New York Times.

Probably a nap somewhere in the afternoon.

Watching the clouds and hoping for rain. Fruitlessly, probably.

Day dreaming.

It's what a Sunday should be.

Saturday, August 15, 2015


Since I've moved my desk over a couple of feet, I now have an unimpaired view of our bird bath. It gets a variety of visitors: goldfinches (nearly always in pairs), house finches, a rufous towhee (who likes to bathe as well as drink), the damnable doves, a rare robin, and this guy - a mountain jay.

He seems to be very nervous, jumping around, chirping, and not staying long.

To date, this is the only picture I've been able to get of him. He likes to jump from twig to twig in the tree just above the bird bath and then he moves down the trunk.

He seems to defy gravity, sometimes perching on the side of the tree with his head down, then quickly moving to another position. I mentioned my amazement at his tree-gripping ability to SWMBO the other day.

She said "He doesn't clip his toenails."

Hmmm. Why didn't I think of that?

Friday, August 14, 2015


In this space I normally have the Friday Funnies, a collection of cartoons I've picked up (stolen) or had donated from various friends. But this week, I've got something different. You may have seen it on CBS News or on Facebook but whether you have or not I think you'll appreciate a story about a boy who just wants people to smile.

The regular Friday Funnies will be back next week but in the meantime, just keep a smile on your face. 

It's addictive.

Thursday, August 13, 2015


Back we go, into the time machine once more. 

Back to the 1970's. 

The scene is a room in the supposedly-haunted old Connor Hotel, above the Spirit Room, in Jerome, Arizona.

Before the hotel was boutiqued.

In an unbearded moment.

Back when people still smoked cigarettes.

Back when men wore love beads.

And long hair.

And sideburns.

Pretty battered look, isn't it?

Here's a much more attractive one from roughly the same era.

The young and lovely She Who Must Be Obeyed, enjoying a glass of wine at a cabin at Kohl's Ranch.

High atop the dread Mogollon Rim.

Ain't she a looker?

Ah, the 70's.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015


As often as I visit the local library, you would have thought that I would have noticed this earlier.

But I only noticed it recently as I was driving away. I came back a few days later and snapped these pictures.

It's quite a nice sculpture and it couldn't be more appropriate as a welcome to a public library.

There's a plaque identifying the sculptor and the donor in front of the stack of books.

Rock solid charity.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015


Today marks the last picture of the Shorts Tour from Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico, to Boissevain, Manitoba, Canada in the summer of 1988. Unlike the others, this photo was not taken at a state border.

No, Gentle Readers, this was one unscheduled stop when I spotted this sign at an intersection in South Dakota. 

As you will soon realize, I just had to stop.

White, South Dakota, is a city (?), population 485 in the 2010 census, named for an early settler, W.H. White. Thirteen-and-a-half miles away is Bruce, South Dakota, a city (?) with a population of 204 in the 2010 census. It was originally called Lee but was renamed in 1883.

Now most people probably wouldn't find that interesting but for a white boy named Bruce that intersection was nigh unto irresistable for yet another photo opportunity.

(Special thanks to the photographer for this series, the incomparable Judy, a.k.a. She Who Must Be Obeyed.)

Monday, August 10, 2015


Here's a street name in my town that may be due for a change one of these days.

The street is named for the Arizona Sundogs, a hockey team that played out of Prescott Valley. It captured the championship in only their second season in the Central Hockey League in 2007. 

But days turned dark last season as team officials announced they were suspending their 2014-2015 season for a variety of reasons including slower than expected off-season revenue.

There was talk of a team being formed to join a different league but so far nothing has come to pass.

Incidentally, the team played their home games in Tim's Toyota Center. The arena and building has lost its sponsorship and is now known as simply the Prescott Valley Event Center. It's been hosting events such as a gun show, a dog show and a bridal show.

But Mannheim Steamroller is bringing their annual Christmas show to the Center next December. Maybe the street name can be changed to Mannheim Drive!