February 17, 2019

Hardtack and salt pork

I have been reading Glory Road by Bruce Catton. I should more accurately write "re-reading it. I last picked up the Civil War history of the Army of the Potomac back in the mid to late 1980s. I had forgotten how readable a historian Catton was. His narrative style is the way I like history presented best. Catton paints a picture of the prime players and events that reads like a novel without straying from the facts. Like David McCollough, Bruce Catton proved writing and reading  history did not have to be boring

Even back in the 1860s the media had a decidedly east coast bias. The reporters covered the Army of the Potomac and ignored as much as possible the small and large battles fought on the other side of the mountains. Even today anyone who has rudimentary knowledge of the Civil knows about Pickett's Charge, few know about equally devastating advances at Franklin and Nashville later in the war. Six Confederate generals died at Franklin. An additional seven general officers were wounded. One was captured. Outside of the Napoleonic mega-battles, when last did fourteen generals become casualties at one battle?

One thing Catton emphasizes is the perplexing stupidity and politics that pervaded the Eastern Army. More than one campaign was ruined by backbiting, politicking, and leaks. It seems nearly every officer was scheming for his next promotion. The politicians in Washington participated fully using officers and the press to advance their own drive for political power. Catton describes a couple of officers who went straight to Lincoln to complain about their commander.

Underlings schemed with Cabinet officials, governors, and Congressmen to advance their careers (I'm looking at you Joe Hooker -- to name but one) only to prove at the expense of the common soldier that what the War needed was not political generals and leaders, but fighting men.

Foreshadowing an ugly war a century later, the Administration sometimes micromanaged the strategic plans with less-than-effective results.

Proving the more things change the more they are the same, we saw the Democrats do everything in their power to oppose the Lincoln Administration. They carved out a political position that everything Lincoln did was wrong and evil and defied him at every turn until they backed themselves into actually trying to subvert the war effort. I guess you might have said the Democrats were "for it before they were against it" when it came to ending the rebellion.

I once had a pretty impressive library of Civil War histories. Over time I donated, lost, and sold all of the books, including several rare personal accounts. I purged hundreds of books when we made the big move a few years ago. At that point my eyesight had deteriorated to where I could no longer read printed text.

Now that I can see again thanks to a couple of anonymous donors, I wish I had some of those books back.

February 16, 2019

This is not what I wanted to write about today

I cannot believe anyone could actually celebrate driving an employer and 25,000 jobs from your community. Every one of those 25,000 workers will buy food, go to movies, and patronize restaurants and bars.  The ancillary benefits to a community are remarkable. Sure, the cost to woo Amazon to Gotham were high: deferred taxes and incentives that did not take actual money from public coffers; it just kept some from going in. 

For the leftists, that is the real crime. As hard as it is to fathom, there are people who believe that wealth belongs to the state and that they, those in charge, let you keep a portion. Their position is clear when they utter phrases like "they have more than they need" and "you did not build that". I saw this phenomenon described recently as neofeudalism  and that characterization fits rather neatly.

Levellers claim it wrong that someone is hungry while another is wealthy beyond comprehension. I say by what moral right is the State entitled to 70% of anyone's income? I am confounded why anyone would oppose a flat tax? 10 or 15% of anyone's income hurts the same. Under that scenario the wealthy still pay more. You may owe $150. Your neighbor might owe $15,000 in taxes. In the same way I contribute more in road funding through gasoline taxes when I drive 40,000 miles a year than my neighbor who commutes a few miles each day.

Should Jeff Bezos pay more for a loaf of bread? Forget I suggested that, AOC will think that a good idea.

None of this was supposed to work this way. The Founders insistence that taxes were to be proportioned equally was on purpose.

By the same token, Trump's so-called emergency funding for The Wall is equally egregious. Whether needed or not, funding in this manner is not how it is supposed to work. Congress, specifically the House, controls the purse. Period.

It was wrong when Indiana Governor Oliver Morton used emergency powers to garner war funding over the objections of a Democrat Statehouse during the Civil War, and it is wrong for the President to pay for pet projects in the same fashion. Both executives may be correct in principle, but wrong in the method.

February 15, 2019

Huh?

Could someone, anyone, especially you of a liberal bent, explain how providing a "living wage" helps reduce emissions and promotes a "green" agenda? Even more, how does the so-called Green New Deal even help the environment? *

Maybe we should quit crouching communism as environmentalism. Who doesn't want a vibrant environment or clean water?

Lots of us do not want to live in a Marxist world.

The Levellers are counting on the mass ignorance of the average voter to sneak through their collectivist agenda. 


* Just how is it we are going to ditch air travel in a country this size? That railroad bridge to Hawaii is really gonna be an engineering marvel.

It is more than Avocados

I never cease to be amazed at the number of American (and European) companies that operate in Mexico*. As our road trip wound through some of the industrial centers of he country I saw corporate brands you would deem exclusively "American", each taking advantage of the cheaper labor and costs in order to remain competitive domestically.

Much angst was generated locally and nationally when United Technologies planned to close its unionized Carrier factory in Indianapolis. The Trumpster even got involved. Lots of folks vowed to never buy a Carrier again. Of course they will forget this notion in fifteen or twenty years when they finally need a new furnace or air conditioner. More to the point, I read nothing about boycotts of Lennox, who, by the way, has a factory in...Mexico.

The big car companies are there and so are the tier one and tier two suppliers. The big trucks are made there too. Thus so are the suppliers for those plants.

Often these factories are supplemental to facilities in the States, offering components or sub assemblies. Sometimes the end products are sold within Mexico, or most often both.

And the US presence isn't limited to industrial products. Consumer goods can be found too. Your favorite Bic pen? I went past a factory wearing their brand. That recliner you are sitting in? They are there too.

The point is we are in an international business world. No amount of isolation rhetoric is going to change that.


* and China.

February 14, 2019

That's (almost) a Wrap

Here I am enjoying free airport wifi while waiting on my plane. You cannot beat $0.75 beer at the airport. I have nothing of interest to report. The whole point of the post was to gloat about the cheap beer.

Mission accomplished.

I will be home late. I eschewed grabbing some Cuban Cigars at the duty free store. At $75 for a five pack of Montecristos, it was far more than I was willing to spend.After all, I would just set them on fire at some point...

I kid you not

Adventures in travel continued today. This evening we enjoyed cabritos for dinner. We ate at the regionally famous El Rey del Cabritos  restaurant in Monterrey. if you do not know cabritos I will leave it to you to search your favorite Spanish to English dictionary.

Yes it translates to kid. As in baby goat. It was good. Better than ant eggs.

We are in our third city in three days. Moving from the south central part to the northern part of Mexico. Monterrey is in tne mountains, more than 6,000 feet above sea level, so the scenery is a little different than the flatlands of central Hoosierdom. I wing my way back to the good old US of A tomorrow.

I think I cannot wait to grab a hamburger.

February 12, 2019

I have pictures to prove it

Here we are, day 2 of the second leg of the Great Travel with the Bosses road trip. This week we are in beautiful Mexico. I ain't complaining about daytime temps in the upper 70s. You wouldn't either.  Humidity is low. The food is good.

Tonight I tried Mexican caviar. It was ant eggs. Yes, you read that right. Huevos de hormigas. I've eaten worse stuff.

I'm ensconced on the fifth floor of my no name hotel in Santiago de Queretaro, north of Mexico City.  We will visit customers in the morning before zipping off to Monterrey in the afternoon. Another customer visit and I wing home via Houston. Thursday.

I will offer further reports Wednesday provided the hotel has a good Internet connection.

Buenas noches, amigos.

February 11, 2019

A mountain of words.

In March I will have been involved in this strange blogging hobby for -- count the fingers, take off the shoes, add back the one -- 14 years (2019 minus 2005). Math is hard for history majors.

Saturday's post marked post 6,301. That means in the approximately 5,100 days I have been writing, I have gifted you with with my wit, humor, and insight an average of 1.2 posts a day.

If you consider there are probably a few hundred words in every post, that equals...lots of words. Maybe more than a million. I don't know.  Remember -- history major. I only have ten fingers and ten toes for cripe's sake.

You are welcome.


February 10, 2019

A pox on the DH

I went and got some donuts this morning. I'm drinking donut shop coffee -- the real kind. It was supposed to snow today, but so far it is just cloudy. I should go out and walk around the neighborhood before it starts snowing. I do need the exercise.

It is your fault I'm sitting in my recliner, drinking coffee, and belching donuts instead of burning calories. You clamor for more, more, more.

Oh wait, that is me and nookie.

Neither of us gets what we want.

I finished the older boy's taxes yesterday. He got whacked by the ObamaCare penalty. He says he can afford $600 from his tax refund than $200-300 a month for insurance. He just missed the exemption cut off.

Teams head to Spring Training this week. I'm ready. Now if we could just get the league to quit screwing with the rules. We don't need a pitch clock and we certainly have no desire to expand the Designated Hitter into the National League. If AL teams are at a disadvantage when it comes to playing under the real rules of baseball then they can scrap the DH.  Why is the discussion always that the NL must change? The DH is a plague. Anyone can manage a team with the DH in the lineup. It takes all strategy and planning from the game.

Help me off this soapbox, will you?

Enjoy your Sunday. I'm off to read your blogs and then maybe, just maybe, I'll take a walk.

February 9, 2019

It is in the bag

Happy Saturday, Amigos. I'm practicing my six word Spanish vocabulary in advance of another trip to the land of tacos and sombreros. Dos cervases por favor. Gracias. I think I have it covered. This will be my third trip to Mexico since the start of December. Unfortunately, it is work, not vacation. On the bright side it will be near 80 degrees as opposed to 18. There is that. Warm sunny weather always helps brighten my attitude.

I had to get a new suitcase. The airline broke one "spinner" wheel when I went to China a couple of years ago. A second wheel was damaged coming home from Mexico in the days before Christmas. The trip last week demonstrated the bag just won't roll well with two broken wheels.

If I have learned anything in more than 25 years of travel it is that decent luggage is worth it. The last suitcase was not the cheap WalMart stuff, but it was the low-end model from a reputable company. The bracket that holds the wheels is plastic; thus the breakage. The new bag has the "skateboard" spinner wheels mounted in a metal bracket, a far more robust design.

I cannot really complain much about the last bag. It took me to China twice, Mexico twice, two cruises, a trip to Hawaii, and a couple of times to Florida on vacation in addition to countless miles throughout the country on ordinary business trips. In and out of trunks, backseats, overhead bins and bellies of airliners is rough. Trust me, those pavers in hotel entryways and the transition from floor to carpet and up and down curbs is hard on the little bearings in the wheels. It is amazing the suitcase lasted as long as it did.

Geez, just thinking about where that suitcase has been makes me reflect that I have travelled a lot more than your average bear. I cannot remember exactly when the wife bought it for me, but that bag has been to at least six countries and maybe 16 or 18 different states. I guess I shouldn't be surprised it is starting to fall apart.

The wife is not thrilled I will be travelling on the upcoming Hallmark Holiday. I better go get something nice this morning to have ready when I get back. I don't think a chocolate sampler is going to cut the mustard this year, especially since my Christmas gifts were a little lame*. Heck, I might even get a card.

Ah Joe, you romantic devil.



* see above, I travelled basically the whole of December for work. My shopping time was limited to pretty much the weekend before Christmas.

February 7, 2019

Do I not Entertain You?

Looking at my blogger dashboard I can only wonder what I have done to drive off the readership. It cannot be that my content is boring, my politics politically incorrect, my writing style soporific, my humor lame, my syntax trying, my editing nonexistent, or that blogging is on life support as an influential medium -- all of that has been true for years.

Seriously, where did everybody go?

You are still reading, but what about everyone else?

February 6, 2019

Humpin' through hump day

I'm ensconced here in my hotel. I'm not telling you where, but it is in the Mitten State. I think the Greeks are building a big ol' wooden horse across the street.

True confession time: I skipped watching the Trumpster's big speech last night. I opted to read a little Jack Reacher instead. I suspect my choice was more entertaining. My colleagues mostly watched the SOTU. They were amused. None hail from the US of A.

Don't tell anyone, but I'm becoming weary of the Big Road Show. Luckily I got out of the second leg today. The meetings were with Not My Account. There was no reason for me to go so I was dropped at the hotel with a couple of the not-needed others and the Very Big Boss took over driving duties. It's OK, it is the company van. It even has our logo emblazoned on the side.

We have one last meeting tomorrow in the afternoon. I will have the morning to kill. A little work will be on tap, I suppose. I will drop the gang at a hotel near the airport tomorrow evening then motor my way back to the Hoosierland.

I may make Friday a short work day. The bosses won't know, they will be on airplanes...

Don't rat me out.

February 5, 2019

I think Helen came from somewhere near here

I am ensconced for the night in my 9th floor suite room in a hotel in the greater Detoilet metro area. Day 2 of my great Travelling with my Bosses road trip is nearly in the bag. Dinner tonight, then I'm on my own until...tomorrow, when we do it all again.

Freezing rain and ice is on tap for the morrow. I only hope the roads are salted and clear by the time I have to chauffeur the gang around town.

Rinse and repeat for Thursday. I'm sure I will cry about it in these pages tomorrow.

In the meantime it is good to get e dress shoes off for an hour or so. I think I heard the boss say we were having steak, so I am good for that.

Your Pal,

Joe

February 4, 2019

And it is yet another punt

The latest Big Game was somewhat less than exciting. I half-watched while doing other stuff, like washing the pans from supper and running the vacuum during commercials. Yes, I skipped the commercials. Blasphemy. The wife sat raptured in mild lust as Maroon 5 star Adam Levine sang the half-time show. We munched on brownies and barbecued meatballs as a mid-game snack.

Quick aside: the Sweet Baby Rays Sweet and Spicy sauce is my new favorite.

I can't help but think that while he deserved the MVP award, we should not reward cheaters. It was just a few months ago that the star receiver Julian Edelman was banned for part of the season for taking PEDs.

I admittedly have a lot of biases. I'm OK with the Chicago "Black Sox" ban from the HOF, including Shoeless Joe. I'm OK with Pete Rose's ban, at least until after he is dead and gone.

My bias doesn't end with sports. I distrust people with hyphenated last names. It strikes me as pretentious. Likewise folks who insist on using first middle and last names in everyday business dealings. I don't like face piercings from my waiter. I don't really like them at all. Even my son's nose piercing I find a little disturbing.

Get off my lawn. 

I'm not sure how we got to this point. This blog post I mean.  Not society. OK, that too, but not for the purposes of this essay.

I'm always interested in the creative process. For me, I just start to type and the post flows. I rarely edit for content (I know, it shows). What you get 99% of the time is free form writing. I don't know if that is the normal way or not. Perhaps a little planning and outlining might do a little  good around here. This sit and write method may explain why I have never been able to finish a work of fiction beyond a short story. It is too hard to maintain that method over tens of thousands of words.

Well, that and a lack of storytelling writing ability.

I wrote research papers the same way in college. I would research, take notes, think of the opening, and then just go. Once started, I usually wrote until the end. It worked. I nearly always got As on term papers. Here? You judge.

Maybe this is how everyone writes. I don't know.

Oh well, have a good Monday. I'm off to Detoilet later today to pick up my colleagues at the airport. Then it is off to a week of customer visits. I get to play driving Miss Daisy this week.

Didn't that story take place in Atlanta? That is where the most boring of Super Bowls was held. Lookie, lookie, we have come a full circle.

February 3, 2019

There's a lady who's sure all that glitters is gold

The view out my window is an ugly one this morning. The sky is a cloudy blue-gray, the ground a muddy, slushy mess. We got five inches of snow Thursday night and today's warm temperature has it all melting. it might, just maybe, perhaps, be warm enough for a small stogie on the soggy patio this afternoon.

It is Superbowl Sunday and I have little interest in the game. I hate the Patriots. I'm honest enough to admit my dislike is a result of the Pats keeping my local team from being a similar dynasty through the first decade of this century. Cheatin' bastards. Go Rams.

We went up and visited my dad last night. He is trying to hide it, but I think he is still struggling with the passing of my mom. Her birthday is in a couple of weeks and I know it will be hard. They were married 61 years. After Dad's we went to our friend's house for pizza and euchre.

It seems the plant on the cabinet needs some water. Needy bastard, I just gave some last week.

There you have another entry documenting the triviality of my life.

Have a great Sunday.

February 2, 2019

Insight to the Big Game, your best bets for Sunday

Another week has slipped by. Nothing remarkable impacted my life. I lived. I worked. I had minor travels.

Weather-wise, welcome to the Midwest. The bone-chilling cold of this week will be replaced with spring-like breezes next week. The lows midweek this week were in the environs of -15. Highs next will push 60: that is a 75 degree temperature change. At least the snow will melt.

All my bosses will be here next week. We will be making the rounds to customers. I get back home Friday. After a weeks' worth of laundry is done I get to pack and join the road show in Mexico the following week as the same merry group visits our customer's production plants South of the Border. Sombreros and serapes are optional.

I have no doubt I will be sick of all of them long before the second week ends. We will be quite the international contingent. There will be Germans and Austrians and Mexicans. I will be the lone American.

Long history demonstrates that most Germans don't get sarcasm, my stock in trade. I have spent a good chunk of my career working with and for Germans. I have heard a quizicle "Vy vould you say that, Joe?" on more than one occasion. I explain it is a joke. "Ah, ya".  A slight nod and puzzled expression follows. * I will have to be on my best linguistic behavior. Using proper English and diction and avoiding a lapse into my south-of-70 Hoosier dialect will also make me tired. Since I speak slowly and do not have that ear-assaulting New York /New England patois, I am easily understood. There is that. To be fair, all of my colleagues speak great English.

Still, I don't want to spend two weeks (8 days actually, spread over 2 weeks) with anyone from work.

*Don't fret, Snowflake Brigade, Germanic blood flows deep in my veins. Even my surname is from the Fatherland. I can criticize. It's like a guy from The Hood using the "N" word.
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