Linda Upmeyer…

… Is proud that her (Iowa) state legislature operates the state in the black. Yet she said to me our soldiers are protecting our freedom. I asked her to explain how that is the case. She said she’d get back to me on that. Seems to me that when we owe someone something we are not operating in the black. Our servicemen deserve better than to be used as political cannon fodder for foreign governments and the defense [sic] industry. And those who survive the politicians deadly foolishness deserve better when they retire from that service. I was shocked, when Dawn’s Dad was sick, to learn that there is a means test for Veteran’s benefits. Our government is sick. 



French railway operator SNCF orders hundreds of new trains that are too big

SNCF’s failure to verify measurements results in cost of €50m to modify 1,300 platforms in one in six regional stations
SNCF train

SNCF’s new wider trains have resulted in the need to narrow 1,300 platforms throughout France at a cost of €50m. Photograph: Francois Guillot/AFP/Getty

The train due on platform one will not be arriving for the foreseeable future – because it is too big.

France’s national railway operator SNCF has ordered 2,000 new trains that are too large for many of the stations they are due to serve.

The train operator has admitted failing to verify measurements it was given by the rail operator before ordering its new rolling stock.

The costly mistake has sparked an urgent €50m operation to modify 1,300 platforms on the regional network. SNCF has admitted that one in six regional train stations is affected. In the worst cases it has discovered two trains can no longer pass each other on adjacent lines.

The new regional trains, known as TERs (trains express regionaux), are intended to upgrade the network and were based on measurements provided by national rail operator RFF. However, RFF sent SNCF the dimensions of stations built less than 30 years ago. It was then discovered – after it was too late – that the trains, due to go into service from now until 2016, were too big by several centimetres for stations built more than 50 years ago.

SNCF said only 341 trains – 182 from Alstom and 159 from Bombardier – were affected.

However, satirical news magazine Le Canard Enchainé insisted 1,000 of the trains had been ordered from Alstom and 860 from Bombardier, making a total of 1,860 trains that were too wide for many of the stations they are to service.

The French minister of transport described the situation as absurd and a “comic drama”. He blamed the previous centre-right administration’s decision to separate the rail network from the train network.

The rail farce was revealed in Le Canard Enchaîné, which said: “The clever engineers at SNCF forgot to verify the facts on the ground.”

Christophe Piednoël, spokesman for RFF, told France Info radio: “It’s as if you have bought a Ferrari that you want to park in your garage, and you realise that your garage isn’t exactly the right size to fit a Ferrari because you didn’t have a Ferrari before. We discovered the problem a little late … we are making our mea culpa.”

SNCF and RFF said in a joint statement on Wednesday: “Putting this network of new generation and larger trains in order to satisfy public demand will require the modernisation of 1,300 platforms out of the 8,700 in the French rail network.”

The economic newspaper Les Echos said: “It could have been an arithmetic exercise from the old days.”

Darn bad back

It hurts to sit, feels fine to work. Ha! Whatever I’m being influenced by could cure the world’s problems, eh?

I will reiterate how impressed I was with the workings of the Waverly Sale Barn where teamwork, from moving animals quietly and gently, the ladies in the lunchroom with their styled football helmet hairdoos brought my delicious chicken fried steak with a smile and a check awaited at the desk as we walked away from ten years of dedicated nurturing, passing it on to Lucas and the unidentified other buyer. We were free to outbid but accepted the price without outside influence.

Price discovery is a term I never heard in school. I don’t know that it is a conspiracy. Schools are run by unions. They have no incentive to expose a system where both parties agree to a price voluntarily. There doesn’t need to be economics classes in school. The kids should go to the sale barn instead. So they can learn something.

Thank you, Ron Dean, for your service.

A gift to the world

I don’t know if I’ve ever heard two musicians play together so simbiotically and the drums don’t exist except as an accompaniment, like piano should be and wasn’t, in the kids’ music contest experiences.

This might not seem to relate, but it does. My knee locks up sometimes and my back has been a constant agrivation. Dawn says slow down so…. we took our 34 best and proven calvers to the Waverly sale. Most of them were purchased by a young fellow with 5 kids. Imagine paying $2000 apiece for cows as a young man with a family. That’s confidence and commitment. I admire him very much and intend to visit to see how our girls performed for him. The weather was beautiful for a change and most farmers were in the field so we probably ate about a $300 discount. Hogs and hard work have given us a firm financial footing and we are glad Lucas got a bit of a break in a market that has not been kind to newcomers. This is the kind of free market that really works. How strange to feel so good about hitting a mildly down day but being thankfull for all that those cows did for us over the past several years.

We’ve got 23 calves coming our way from young stock if all goes well this spring. Starting over with genetics we planned for instead of accepted as good enough. Life is good even if my back feels like a General Motors product.

A Nation of Immigrants

Two weeks ago there was a letter to the Hampton Chronicle pointing out
the negative consequences of the increasing Latino population. In
response, there were four letters to the editor and a short editorial
by the publisher.

The lady who wrote about the bad side of our immigrant population
mentioned several examples of programs they supposedly shouldn’t
qualify for: “SNAP, WIC, EBT, Obama phone, healthcare, free breakfast
and lunches during school and through the summer, heat and rental
assistance and Christmas gifts.” Christmas gifts?

Is the problem invaders from south of the border or entitlements? I
say it is the entitlements that are degrading our community. They are
the reason we can’t simply be neighborly and explain to new arrivals
that an orderly and neat neighborhood is more in tune with our
standards. The stinking entitlements take the place of neighbors and
even families. In fact entitlements have been linked to declining
populations in several socialistic countries because where children
cared for elderly parents there is now social security. Where parents
cared for their children there is now government schooling.

Where I grew up in California we had a big wall around the back yard.
Everyone did. When I moved to Dumont to help my grandpa I would visit
Willard Weibke, who lived next door, as we hoed our gardens together.
We could look up and down the whole block full of neighbors and wave
and smile as we went about our business. We could share without a

I thought it was rather odd when I read the article, that may have
set-off the lady letter writer, about the expert who came to speak on
assimilation of immigrants. The whole article was full of mindless
catch phrases about accepting each other through this or that
initiative or program. This is more evidence that we need to ditch
these barriers and be friendly.

Language and culture are surmountable walls. It wasn’t easy in days
past when this country was settled by people from different cultures.
But the children helped the parents communicate and the differences in
cultures were one reason we flourished like we did. Do we want to
limit our potential, as a nation, because some people don’t think they
are capable of competing in the job market? The focus on abuse of
entitlements is very telling. The quest for special favors is trumping
the offer of an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay.

People need to be happy with who they are and happy there are others
with that same situation, even if it happens to be that they are happy
for different reasons.

The part of this whole discussion that really hit me was where a child
was declared to be worth $6291.00 worth of state money for the school.
A child begets special favors from the state so we don’t have to
nurture them on our own dime. What a bizarre way to look at children
and how sad it is widely accepted as normal.

My solution: Bring all the troops home from foreign lands to screen
potential immigrants. Phase out all entitlements because they
evidently lure disreputable immigrants and we know they are abused by
natives. Let immigrants contribute and the entitled natives move to
the counties that have not yet discovered the destructive nature of
the welfare state.