This is primarily a travel blog in which I write about traveling in our motorhome. Our travels have

Nacogdoches, TX, United States
I began this blog as a vehicle for reporting on a 47-day trip made by my wife and me in our motorhome down to the Yucatan Peninsula and back. I continued writing about our post-Yucatan travels and gradually began including non-travel related topics. I often rant about things that piss me off, such as gun violence, fracking, healthcare, education, and anything else that pushes my button. I have a photography gallery on my Smugmug site (

Monday, December 31, 2012

To Which Decade Would You Return?

This is New Year’s Eve.  The last day of 2012.  The years seem to go by much more quickly now.  Wouldn’t it be great if we had a time machine with which we could roll back the calendar to our younger years?  If this was possible I’m really not sure to what year I would wish to return. 

My teen years were a lot of fun, but I also encountered many problems and painfully unpleasant situations.  Certainly, it was a time of many fond memories, but there was just too much stress for a teenager.  I don’t think I would go beck to my teen years.

My 20’s began during my university years and gave me my first taste of freedom.  Yet those years were also extremely stressful and tough because I had a really hard time studying, resulting in some enormous pressures at exam times.  After graduation I discovered that I did not like being a community pharmacist.  I thought about going back to school to change my profession.  Fortunately, I was persuaded to give hospital pharmacy a try so I became a staff pharmacist in a 500-bed teaching hospital.  It was very rewarding and I felt that I had found my place in life.  Six months after starting on this new career path I was drafted into the Army and sent to Vietnam.  I don’t think I would want to go through those years again.

My third decade was one of indecision and change.  I had come out of the army a different person, but I went back to my old hospital pharmacy job after discharge from the service but was not quite satisfied with being a staff pharmacist.  I wanted to be the person making the decisions so I went back to school for my Doctor of Pharmacy degree, hoping that it would give me a career advantage.   Once I had received the degree I spent two years teaching in the pharmacy school.  However, I wasn’t satisfied with that job either.  Seniors were graduating and making more money in their first jobs than I was making teaching them.  I left academia and took a position as a Director of Pharmacy in a 325-bed hospital.  After 8 years I felt that I had accomplished all I could in that position and there was little hope of advancement.  I was very interested in home care pharmacy and began looking into the possibilities.  I landed a job with Abbott Laboratories as the manager of a regional home-care pharmacy.  There were plenty of good times during my 30’s; however, there was so much uncertainty and frustration that I don’t think I would go back to my 30’s again.

When I became 40 years old my father told me that I was entering the best decade of my life.  Those ten years saw me living and working for Abbott in Atlanta, Dallas, and Chicago.  I enjoyed working for Abbott.  I felt like it was somehow more “prestigious” than all of my previous jobs.  But, those years were also extremely stressful.  I was required to play the corporate game with 60-hour weeks, increasingly unrealistic goals, and working for a micro-managing boss.  I became clinically depressed and was prescribed antidepressants.  Although financially rewarding, those were some of the toughest years of my life.  No, I don’t wish to that again.

At 50 I was in Chicago at Abbott’s Headquarters and hoping that my father had been wrong about the best decade of my life!  At 55 years of age I took early retirement and left Chicago for Texas.  I was reminded how after being defeated for re-election to Congress, Davey Crockett famously said, “You may all go to hell, and I will go to Texas.”   Once in Texas, I spent the next 5 years doing almost nothing productive.  I began working part-time in a local hospital pharmacy to have something to do.  It’s a tough call, but I don’t believe I would like doing my 50’s over again.

I am currently in my 60’s and still wondering which decade was the best and which one I would like to revisit.  Since I can’t decide, I guess I’ll just stay where I am.

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

It's A Dreary Christmas Morning

I'm sitting up in bed - drinking coffee and reading the paper, which in itself is a little depressing with all of the recent killings. The weather, before last night, had been beautiful - sunny and warm. During the night the weather took a drastic turn and it has been raining since last night. At 10:30 AM it is still night outside the sky is so dark and the rain so heavy. There is a lot of thunder and a little lightning also. Dallas has a little snow forecast for this afternoon. We are too far southeast of Dallas to expect anything but more rain. Our daughter and son-in-law took our 5 year old grandson to England for Christmas with his other set of grand parents. Our son is in Sun Valley with his fiancé and her family. Carol Ann' sister and brother-in-law are in the same boat - all children and grand children celebrating Christmas out of town. They will come over to our house this evening for Christmas dinner. We don't use the front part of our house (too big) so it stays closed off all but a couple of days a year. Last Christmas we put our fake tree up in the living room. After Christmas we just unplugged the lights and closed the door. Today we will open the door and plug the lights back in. After dinner we will sit up there staring at it and probably drink a little too much wine in an attempt to have a merry Christmas. Perhaps I should take an extra dose of my antidepressant medication today! Bah, humbug!

Hope you all are having a very merry Christmas!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Where's the Anger?

To paraphrase Mario Piperni (


Statistic #1:  Since the beginning of the Iraq/Afghanistan wars on 3/19/03 (almost 11 years now), there have been 6,618 Americans killed in those wars.

Statistic #2:  In the year 2011 (1 year), there were 8,583 Americans killed by firearms in the US.

Question:  Why are we not AT LEAST as outraged by the second statistic as we are by the first?

Friday, December 14, 2012

Guns May Not Kill People, But People WITH Guns Certainly Do!

In a Newtown, Connecticut, elementary school this morning, 27 26 innocent people, 18 20 of them children, were shot and killed.  An unknown number were wounded.  Apparently there were two adult shooters, one of which is dead and a manhunt is on for a second shooter.

This was a most horrible and cowardly act.  It was not the first mass murder of school children nor was it the worst to have happened in the history of this country.   There have actually been 128 school shootings/bombings recorded in the past 150 years.  

On May 18, 1927 in Bath Township, Michigan a disgruntled school board treasurer set off 3 bombs in the Bath Elementary School.  There were 45 people killed, including the bomber himself.  At least 58 people were injured and 38 of the dead were elementary school children.  This was the deadliest mass murder in a school in U.S. history.

The Virginia Tech massacre on April 16, 2007, was the second largest school shooting with 32 killed and 17 wounded.  It is the deadliest shooting incident by a SINGLE shooter in U.S. history.  The Columbine High School massacre of April 20, 1999, in Littleton, Colorado involved 2 shooters who killed 12 students and 1 teacher.  An additional 21 students were wounded.

The best records of school-involved killings worldwide show that 77 such incidents have taken place since the year 1966.  Of these 77 school murders, three-quarters (58) of them have taken place in the U.S.  The weapons of choice most often (approximately 75% of the time) have been semi-automatic handguns and assault weapons.  Revolvers and shotguns makeup the remaining approximately 25%.

The killings are not limited to our schools.  But, hopefully, today’s tragedy will give one pause to think about how the US has become such a shooting gallery.  Why are Americans so quick to pull the trigger on fellow Americans?  If this question could be answered, perhaps a solution could be found.

The United States does not have the worst homicide rate in the world, far from it actually.  However, if one only considers the “first world” countries, which we tend to regard as modern and civilized, the US homicide rate is 3 to 4 times that of the other “first world" countries.  Here are some examples as reported by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC):

Homicides per 100,000 population from 1960 to present:

US                  4.2
Canada           1.6
UK                 1.2
France             1.1
Australia         1.0
China              1.0
Italy                 0.9
Germany         0.8
Spain               0.8
Switzerland     0.7
Austria            0.6
Japan              0.3

It is impossible not to bring up the topic of Gun Control in this discussion.   There is actually less gun control now than in the past.  In the past four years, across 37 states, 99 laws have been placed on the books making guns actually easier to own, carry in public, and harder for the government to track.  These laws have caused dramatic changes.  Here are some examples:

Concealed carry is now permitted in 49 of the 50 states.  That in it self is not so terribly bad.  It’s the conditions under which one may or may not carry a weapon which seem to have gone too far.

Although 21 states have an outright ban on concealed weapons on campuses, there are 7 states that allow concealed weapons on college campuses.  These states are Colorado, Mississippi, Oregon, Utah, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Virginia.

The other 21 states have taken the easy way out by leaving the question of concealed carry on campus up to the individual universities and colleges to decide.

In addition to college campuses, some states even allow concealed carry in bars and restaurants serving alcohol. 

In Missouri, a “law-abiding” citizen can even carry a gun while intoxicated and can even fire it if “acting in self-defense”.

In Kansas, permit holders can carry concealed weapons inside K-12 schools and at school-sponsored functions.

In Utah, a person under felony indictment can buy a gun, and a person charged with a violent crime may be allowed to retain his concealed weapon permit.

In Louisiana and 19 other states, permit holders are allowed to carry concealed weapons inside houses of worship.

Virginia law states that weapons are allowed in churches unless a service is taking place, in which case they are only allowed if there is “good and sufficient reason.” The law does not go on to list possible reasons a gun might be needed during a church service.

Virginia has also repealed a law that required handgun vendors to submit sales records.  In addition, the state also ordered the destruction of all such previous records.

More than a dozen states now allow people to bring their guns to work, however, usually on the condition that they remain stored in their vehicle.  The Governor of Indiana signed a law that bans employers from telling their employees they can’t have guns in their cars on the job only two weeks after an Indiana employee was given fifteen years in prison for attempting (and failing) to shoot his boss after a meeting concerning his subpar performance.

There are nearly 300,000,000 (300 MILLION) firearms in the US.  At 88.8 firearms per 100 people, the US has the highest rate of gun ownership by civilians than any other country in the world.  Second place is held by Yemen, with 54.8 per 100 people.  Then there is Switzerland with 45.7 and Finland with 45.3.  No other country has a rate above 40 firearms per 100 people.

We love our guns.  We enjoy shooting our guns.  But should we have so many?  Especially the semi-automatics and assault weapons?  How do we keep Americans from shooting and killing other Americans in such alarming numbers?  I think these questions must be seriously considered by civilized people if we are to remain a civilized people.