People use alcohol and drugs for only one reason, to alter their brain chemistry so that they feel “better” than they did previously. Therefore, without exception, a person who is “under the influence” is suffering from chemically induced abnormal brain function, and is unable accurately to judge her own behavior. Continue reading




It’s Mother’s Day on the 13th, as we all know. It’s interesting — that’s two days after May 11th, which would be the 39th anniversary of the lovely mother of my lovely daughters and I, had we remained married. I’d like to have sent her a card or something. Unfortunately, her second husband, (to whom she’s been married for more than 20 years,) has never been able to tolerate the idea that his wife might maintain a cordial relationship with her ex. We’ve learned not to rock the boat, so she won’t be getting the thanks she deserves for giving me wonderful kids and, now, a grandchild as well — at least not in the first person. But this is my column and I can do as I please, so thanks, Suze. This bud’s for you! (Rosebud, that is.)

Then there’s My-Wife-The-Shrink, Continue reading

Moral Masturbation

I wrote this during the run-up to our current incursion into other people’s territory. I think it holds up fairly well in today’s market.

I’ve been reading all the stuff on the message boards about the coming–and seemingly inevitable–war with Iraq, and one thing stands out: no one seems to be able to do much but hash the same old arguments over and over. The pro-administration people (may their tribe decrease precipitously) say the same old stuff, and so do we liberal-pinko-fascist-loving unpatriotic peaceniks (may we breed lustily and well, and soon overrun the planet.) But NO ONE seems to have anything useful to say! Continue reading

“If God Was Here He’d Tell Y’ To Yer Face….”

Wednesday October 02, 2002


I’m really tired of people who think it’s their duty to make sure the rest of us behave properly.

I’m especially tired of vocal minorities who make a lot of fuss and manage to get far more than their share of air time and political attention by pressure tactics, and who are thus able to have a seriously disproportionate effect on the lives of the majority. But more than that, I’m really disgusted with people who don’t pay close enough attention to what’s happening in the country and world to discern the actions of such people and do something about it. They get what they deserve. Unfortunately the rest of us also get it. That pisses me off. Continue reading

Cracker Boy on Seat Belts

I’ve been a commercial pilot, and I was a cop for a lot of years. I’ve investigated well in excess of 2000 traffic crashes.* I’ve taught traffic investigation — as well as tactical driving — to rookie cops. I’ve scraped children off windshields — and also adults who should have known better. I’m a rabid believer in wearing seat belts.

There are a few basic arguments against them, including the “libertarian” position that I’ll deal with last. None of them have merit when considered objectively, but many are used every day as excuses by people who simply don’t want to be bothered buckling up. Let’s look at a few.

  • The “Officer Said I Would Have Been Killed” excuse. Continue reading
  • The Other Florida: HIGHLANDS HAMMOCK

    February 22, 2003

    The Central Ridge of Florida ranges from around 350 feet above sea level to (roughly) thirty feet. The highest point is near Lake Wales. Around the area of SR 70, which runs across the state from Ft. Pierce on the east coast to Ft. Myers on the gulf side, it sort of peters out into the lowlands. The coastal plain wraps around it northward on both sides, making the Highlands a sort of finger down the middle of the peninsula. The town of Sebring sits on the very western edge of the ridge. Center Street slopes down to Lake Jackson which, in turn, is at the edge of the plain. Immediately west of Lake Jackson and US 27, about 2½ miles down SR 624, lies Highlands Hammock State Park.

    A hammock, according to Webster, is “a fertile area in the southern U.S. and especially Florida, that is usually higher than its surroundings and that is characterized by hardwood vegetation and deep humus-rich soil.” As you can see from the photograph below, Webster missed out completely on the beauty part.

    The Big Oak

    This Live Oak (Quercus virginiana) was full-grown when the Battle of Hastings was fought in 1066. It was nearly as old as the United States is today when the Magna Carta was signed in 1215. There is no European-built building in the Western Hemisphere that is more than one-half as old as this tree. There's also no way to show the whole thing, so Shel and I decided to provide some scale.

    Highlands Hammock State Park has areas for primitive and mobile camping. Concessionaires operate a small snack bar where soft drinks and sandwiches may be purchased. A museum, with exhibits showing how the park was developed by the CCC during the 30’s depression, along with various nature exhibits, is across a grassy area from the concession stand. Abundant picnic tables and barbeque grilles are available nearby. Shopping is available in Sebring, only ten minutes away. There are no swimming facilities in the park, but Lake Jackson has several well-maintained public beaches within a few minutes’ drive. For further information, check here.

    The Great Sebring International Grand Prix d’Bicycle

    The town where I grew up had one claim to fame. No, wait, there were two. Almost three.

    First came the residency of an author rather well known in the early 1900’s. Rex Beach was the gentleman’s name, and he is probably best remembered as having produced The Spoilers, a book made into a movie in 1914, and remade 5 times after that, the last in the early 1940’s starring John Wayne and Marlene Dietrich. (I don’t remember having read it, but it must’ve been something!) Mr. Beach lived in Sebring, FL, during the last years of his life, dying in 1949. At one time the local lake was named after him, but he lost out to Ol’ Stonewall Jackson in the long run. (Lake Jackson works much better than Rex Beach Lake, in my opinion, although I’m sure Mr. Beach was much nicer to the local Indians than Gen. Jackson, so maybe he did deserve it more.)

    The other claim was the Sebring International Grand Prix of Endurance which was, during its heyday in the fifties and sixties, one of the dozen or so automobile races that scored points for the World Driving Championship. During the two weeks preceding the race and for a day or so thereafter the town was transformed from a sleepy little central Florida citrus and ranching town into quite the mecca for international glitterati.

    Needless to say, “The Race” captured the hearts and minds of small boys to a notable degree. And so it came to pass that, along about 1957 or so, Jeff and Lukey and the Fink brothers and I decided to hold the Great Sebring International Grand Prix d’Bicycle. Continue reading