Although there is a space below each post for your comments, readers may want to leave a comment unrelated to any specific post. For general comments, I suggest that you click on "Quick Comments" in the Label Section (right side of page) and comment at the bottom of that post. That will group general comments and make them easier to find.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Nifty Notebooks

I have always been a sucker for nifty notebooks. Ever since I was a little kid and received my first diary for Christmas in 1954, I was hooked. It was a little green pocket-sized diary and memo where seven days of my life could be chronicled on each double page spread.

The diary was for year 1955, I was ten years old and ready to become a journalist. According to my personal information, I began the year standing 4 feet 6 inches tall and weighing in at a strapping 67 pounds. The cash summary page near the back showed that I began the year with $1.04 cash on hand; I apparently went on a spending binge as my cash resources had been depleted to zero before February.

The longest week in 1954 was that week from Christmas to New Years Day when I was a kid and itching to write something in my new nifty notebook. The week crawled along while I read every information page several times. The little book includes Postal Rates; in 1955 you could send a first class letter coast to coast for three cents. It lists time zones and moon phases. Facts about the world, continents and climate. Weights and Measures. Distances between cities. Average weight for males and females and several pages on how to save a life.

I sharpened up my pencil and waited for the evening of January 1, 1955 to roll around. When it finally came, these are my words to describe that day: "We went out home and cleaned the house. Went to Granddad's and had a oyster supper. Butch stayed all night last night and tonight." Those words filled the allotted space and were printed neatly. "Out home" refers to the home of my boyhood on the Niobrara - the old house we cleaned still stands today and hasn't been lived in since we moved to Ainsworth, Nebraska a few months prior to my entry. "Granddad's" referred to my Emry grandparents. "Butch" was once the nickname of my cousin, the fellow who grew up to become Dr. Melvin Campbell, MD.

My entries continued daily for a couple of months. Then, although, I was still disciplined to fill the squares, I did so with much larger print. By April my enthusiasm was waning. The last entry for 1955 was on Monday the 4th of April when my entry simply stated: "Another school day. Really chilly."

My parents never gave up on me. A couple of years later I received a five-year diary that was much smaller than the one-year diary multiplied by five. Apparently I had decided early in the first year that there was no point chronicling my days in short phrases to fit even tinier spaces. Over fifty years later, the five-year diary is still substantially empty.

That didn't dampen my enthusiasm for nifty notebooks. I enjoyed the concept; I simply didn't like the confined spaces. When I was in high school and began to work for Morris Skinner and the American Museum of Natural History, I coveted his diaries and notebooks. His diaries had one page set aside for each day. His black, leather-bound, record books were filled with lined pages with no preprinted confinements. "What nifty notebooks", I thought. I inquired as to where I might get ones like his.

The one-year diaries were rather easy to find; I may have purchased mine in Ainsworth. The record books, however, were too exotic and wonderful to be found in Ainsworth, where merchants' shelf space was needed for essentials and not luxuries. Morris told me that he bought his in a store in Lincoln, Nebraska - on O Street if my memory serves me. He gave me the address of the Lincoln store; I quickly sent off for two nifty notebooks - a 4" x 7" and a 5 1/2" x 9" Record Book each with 180 lined pages.

I filled those books with important stuff like addresses; my budget and expenditures; the list of all US Savings Bonds that I had begun to buy and other financial records. My Private Pilot flying log was too restrictive to record my adventures in the wild blue yonder. I amplified each flight in these nifty notebooks including my first solo on 29 Oct 1965. "Soloed! Did 3 touch and gos. Rare experience!" is how I described those short fifteen minutes while my instructor, China Henderson, stood by the end of the Fort Collins, Colorado runway holding his breath. A few years later it amplified my USAF flying log and chronicled my combat experience in Vietnam including the names of my fallen comrades.

In my younger days, I had more things to memorialize in nifty notebooks than I do today: computers have taken the place of nearly every requirement for a paper log. Yet, I still enjoy the old ways. I have several notebooks that I've purchased, I suppose, more for their feel and look than anything utilitarian. After buying them, I find I'm hard-pressed to put them into service. The computer is better for nearly all record keeping - including financial records, logs and journals. I'll consider a use for my new purchase and then decide, "This notebook is just too nice for that mundane chore; I'll use a spiral or some index cards instead." With that logic, I have ended up with several notebooks lying fallow as they are just too nifty to use.

This January, while I'm attempting to organize some end-of-year records, I've come across various spirals, index cards, post-it notes, etc., that are now a meaningless puzzle of user names and password hints for various computer accounts. Some are current; some aren't. Some password hints are no-longer familiar. Some tidbits of other crucial information that I'd thought I'd lost forever have turned up in the most unlikely of places. I exclaim "eureka" but then realize that the sought after information is no longer relevant.

This paper chase convinced me that if I had used one of my nifty notebooks instead of relying on bits and scraps of less-worthy writing materials, I would have more quickly found what I was seeking. I picked up one of my nifty notebooks and vowed to use it for "inappropriate" things. My new logic is akin to Erma Bombeck vowing to never eat another black banana. She had learned that eating black bananas so they won't go to waste will reward you with a black banana the following day. Erma concluded, with her"waste not want not" logic she never got to eat a banana when it was at its prime.

Terry returned yesterday from New York City and presented me with another nifty notebook. It's a 2010 Calendar and Engagement Book from the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It's filled with Eliot Porter Landscapes and much too nifty to use. Yet, 2010 is only here for 365 days and about one month of 2010 has already sped into the past. There is no time like the present to put my pen to its pages. In eleven months it will be too late.

I have a complementary calendar from some fund-raising enterprise that until yesterday, was placed on my desk and enlisted to record my medical appointments and other routine stuff. It's not nearly as nifty as the hard-cover calendar that Terry gave me. I've decided that my mundane and unworthy words won't be anymore out-of-place in the fine book from New York City than the miles of graffiti on Big Apple subway cars. Today, the nifty notebook from the Metropolitan Museum of Art takes the place of the utilitarian "gimme" calendar.

If there is a moral to this story it might be this: If any of you good neighbors are thinking that "The Bunkhouse" blog is just too nifty for your unworthy words; forget that notion! If that were true, I would not have entered my first Post. Our Freedom of Expression is so important that our Constitution guarantees our most humble of thoughts. Please feel free to express yourselves. There is a shorter distance between "humble" and "bold" than you might realize.

Nifty notebooks are meant to be used.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Bunkhouse - Status Update

Good Morning Bunkhouse Buckaroos,

The Bunkhouse is off to a slow start; yet, I believe it may catch on. Charlotte Griffith posted a comment to the blog and mentioned its major drawback, ". it doesn't just land in your inbox, it is easy to forget to look." Charlotte mentioned that she bookmarked the web page to help remind her. Subscribing is another way to get reminders; you can do that with the subscribe buttons in the sidebar. I believe if the Brand Spankin' News was important to you, then it will only be a matter of time before you regularly go to the following link to The Bunkhouse in addition to your checking your e-mail.

There may some confusion about posts and comments.

Posts are the original contributions with titles that you see in the major column of the blog. Posts can only be written by me or the blog authors.
Comments can be left by anyone at the bottom of the Posts.
As I've explained, anyone can comment to any existing Post. If you enjoy reading the comments, then it may be a hassle searching back through all the posts to see if new comments have been posted. I'm attempting to get an application to work that will show you the latest comments in the sidebar. So far, I've had no luck. I'm probably not holding my mouth right.

For your convenience, I have written a Post entitled "Quick Comments" where you can leave general comments. You can easily find that post by looking for "Quick Comments" under "Labels" on the sidebar and clicking it. If everyone will write their general Comments to that Post, they will be easier for everyone to find.

Some of you may be having trouble leaving comments. I think that, with practice, it will become easier. The blog, like all WebPages, may get persnickety at times and return an advisory that you were unsuccessful - to try again or try later. Perhaps the BlogSpot server is being over-tasked at the moment. I'm just guessing. However, each time I've had that problem, I first made sure that I hadn't inadvertently made an error and then hit the "Post Comment" button again. Each time, I've been successful.

The new blog authors have yet to post; perhaps no one wants to be first. If you are unsure of the procedures, I will explain:

If you have completed the blog author process, when you visit The Bunkhouse, you should see an indication at the far right top of the page -outside the dark blog border - whether you are signed in. If you aren't, you first must click the words "sign in." It will then ask you for the e-mail address and password that you used to become a blog author. When you are signed in, that line should show this sequence: "(your e-mail address) : New Post : Sign Out" Click the words "New Post" and a window will open with a screen very much like an e-mail drafting screen.

Anytime you are ready to become an independent Bunkhouse author, let me know via e-mail and I will send the invitation:

Friday, January 22, 2010

How to Boil the Perfect Egg

This morning I was getting tired of my same old bachelor lunch and thought I'd boil a few eggs. For you strangers, I'm no bachelor, but Terry is off in New York City cuddling our new grand babies.

My old, nearly perfect, egg boiling recipe was to cover the eggs in a couple of inches of water, heat to boiling, boil for two minutes, remove from heat and let set for about 20 minutes. This morning I stumbled into an easier solution - although it might have been one step short of burning down the bunkhouse.

I placed four beautiful brown eggs into a big saucepan and covered them with a couple of inches of water. I turned the heat on high and wandered off to do a couple of things on the computer while the pot came up to a boil.

Some time later - and the "some time" is a vague guess, I heard an odd bumbling, thrumming sound. I didn't think much of it as they are always working on the railroad track - probably replacing girders or ties down on the Onion Creek trestle, I thought.

As I scrolled through my e-mail, the odd sound puzzled me. Yet, it was sort of a peaceful little bubbling, boiling sound ...

Bubbling, boiling sound!! Ack! The eggs, the eggs! I had completely forgotten the egg boiling enterprise. I scrambled to the kitchen. The pot was bubbling furiously, the glass-top burner underneath was a cherry red. I turned off the heat and removed the pan. Hmmmm... how long should I wait on the eggs? I tentatively set a timer for five minutes - thinking that my distraction was probably at least 15 minutes. I then noted that about an inch of the two inch header had boiled away.

I could have used calculus - a differential equation that took in the diameter of the pot, the inch of boiled off water, the atmospheric pressure and a few other variables and calculated the time. Instead, I figured the eggs had endured about as much cooking as they could stand. I plucked them from the water, put them in a dish and placed them in the refrigerator.

When they had cooled, I tested one. It popped clean of its shell and was perfectly cooked.

Don't try this at home.

The Blizzard of 2010

I thought you might enjoy some dramatic shots of railroad snowblowers at work clearing tracks in Nebraska.

Snow Blower in Aurora, NE
Snow Blower in Trumbull, NE
Snow Blower North of Hastings, NE

Leona Ketteler sent me the links. I decided to use them for practice inserting links into a blog post. It's straight forward and easy; if you guest authors would like to try, just click the "Link" button on the menu where you are drafting your new post and fill in the squares.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Quick Comments

Here's a Post that might be useful to those of you who prefer not to be guest authors but who may on occasion have some information that you would like to share with the group.

You do not have to register to leave comments on any of the posts. Therefore, I am creating this post specifically as a comment drop box where you can leave your information in a comment at the bottom.

On the sidebar, near the top and below the search box, you will see a title "Labels". I have labeled this post "Quick Comments." Therefore, if you want to leave a quick comment or read those left by others, you can click that label to find this post when it is no longer open.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Brand Spankin' News - Crunch Time!

Brand Spankin' News
Crunch Time!

Good Morning Neighbors!

Okay, here's some more mind-numbing stuff regarding the blogity blog. The good news is that this will be the last. I'm attempting to answer all of your questions so I apologize in advance for being verbose and repetitive.

Here's my goal - pure and simple: Keep our group effort alive but without me being the middle man.

The Bunkhouse will only be an alternative to the BSN if others join me. If it works the way I anticipate, it will be your meeting hall where you can walk in at any time and get on your soap box or just sit there and take it all in - and all without waiting for me to show up, unlock the door and lead the discussion.

A few questions from you good neighbors can be paraphrased this way: "Why can't we just e-mail our contributions to you and then you can put them on the blog?"
First: That keeps me as the middle-man. It could possibly make it even more complicated than the e-mail BSN. There is no point going to all this trouble if it continues or makes worse the hassles that I'm attempting to eliminate.
Second: If I forwarded your contributions they would post as if they came from me. I would then have to edit them to make sure they reflect the correct author. And what if I err and post a personal note from you thinking it's for the blog? That's too much like concocting the BSN . No thanks!
There are exceptions. If I receive an urgent notice from someone who hasn't signed up and hasn't been a regular contributor in the past, then I'll post it. On those occasions, I will also e-mail the important message to my address list. If you become a "guest author" and receive something urgent from someone, you can do the same.

If you see a potential loophole, not so fast! I won't fall for the trick that everything e-mailed to me is an "urgent notice" or an "important message" and I won't mind posting it. I'm smarter than the average bear! If someone routinely has a lot of urgent and important stuff to share, then they will have to sign up and become a cog in The Bunkhouse sausage mill.

Here is a collection of other concerns boiled down this way: I don't want the hassle of signing up. I don't know anything about computers or blogs.
I am confident that anyone who has contributed to the BSN can complete the sign-up and learn how to send a blog entry in less time than it took me to concoct one e-mail BSN edition. If you are deliberate and already have a Google account, you can probably complete the process in only a couple minutes.
Okay, listen up!

Instead of picking and choosing invitees from my address list, I am inviting all of you to be "guest authors." The blog supports 100 guest authors and that's far more capability than we need for our group. Only about ten percent of my address list has contributed to the BSN. If only a few of you sign up now, others can be added in the future.

If you want to give it a go - and yes, that means you - then please let me know by e-mail and I will send you the sign-up link.
Note: When I signed up as a "guest author" pretending to be Terry, the step-by-step suggested that "Terry" could also start a blog at the same time. You need not have a blog of your own; just ignore those steps and accept the invitation to post on The Bunkhouse.
Note 2: If you do not intend to publish your own posts, you need not sign up. You are in like Flint to read and comment on existing posts without doing anything other than keeping this blog link handy:
Before you take the leap, please keep this final thought in mind: When you are considering whether you want to participate, please disregard all thoughts about my feelings or my expectations of you. If you do not wish to participate, then that's certainly okay with me - no explanation is necessary; I mean that sincerely.

In any case, The Bunkhouse is available and if I'm the sole occupant, I'll keep the latch string out and the coffee pot on.


Raleigh Emry

Monday, January 18, 2010

Brand Spankin' News - Gettin' Down to the Last Gasps!

Brand Spankin' News

Good Morning Neighbors!

I know . I know. For someone who has given up writing the Brand Spankin' News I've certainly had a flurry of activity to the contrary for the past few days. Although many of you are supportive of my terminating the e-mail and beginning a blog, my e-mail blizzard is driven by many notes that could be boiled down to this theme, "Well, what do we do now? Where do we go from here?"

After stringing you along for maybe fifteen years, I owe it to you to give you a lifeboat before I scuttle this old tub.

Perhaps there is someone else who will volunteer to captain the e-mail ship. I've heard rumors, but no one has stepped forward to say, "I'll do it." Until something better comes along, the blog "The Bunkhouse" is open for business as a meeting hall.

The blog is better suited to our purpose than Facebook and it's much easier on the host than e-mail; speaking from experience, that is for certain! Yet there is reluctance against the blog.

I asked Fara Lee Ignert, "Why do you suppose some of the good neighbors are either reluctant, totally turned off or maybe even fearful of the blog idea; I mentioned that Franklin Delano Roosevelt had opined, 'There is nothing to fear but fear itself.'"

Fara Lee said, "Well them years of FDR was a much simpler time. The only things folks back then had to skeer 'em was a BIG Depression, dust-bowls and droughts, dirty thirties, a stock market kerlapse, a World War Two or two, mushroom clouds, soup lines, bein out of work and maybe catchin' tyfloid fever 'er polio and wearin an iron lung fer the rest of yer borned days. FDR was only opinin' the oblivious, that none of that was skeery. But that was years before The Blog!"

I asked Fara Lee if she was familiar with a blog.

She said, "Alls I know is "The Blog" is only one letter away from that horror show back in the late fifties where Steve McQueen got his start in Hollerwood. That oozy goo that gobbled up everthing in its path was certainly skeery. I figger a Blog is nuthin more than a Blob with the tail draggin' on that last "b". Them blogs are out to gobble up our personal information and set us to runnin' in the streets without nary a stitch to our names. Bossman, the innernet ain't to be trusted!"

I said, "What if I told you that a blog is no different than any other webpage? You don't have to sign up to read a blog; you don't have to give out any personal information to read a blog or comment; you don't have to be a "Follower" or subscribe. In fact it's safer in that regard than Facebook where you do have to join.

The only ones who will have to register to use the blog are those who want to contribute independently and on a regular basis. Then it's only a Google account. Many folks may already have a Google account and not even realize it. If you use Picasa for your photos or use Gmail, you have a Google account. If you use Google Earth, Google Maps, Google Chrome or use iGoogle or Blogger, changes are you have a Google account. Google, in my assessment, is safer than, for example, some on-line greeting card services that collect e-mail addresses, etc., when people use them.

"Blog" is short for "Web Log" - a specialized webpage designed specifically for people who want to keep a log and then either keep it private, share it with a select few, or open it for everyone. A Web Log could as easily have been called a Web Diary or Web Journal but the designer called it a Web Log and it became known as a Blog. Sort of like the army's General Purpose (GP) vehicle becoming known as a Jeep.

Fara Lee thought for a moment, "Well maybe it ain't so skeery afterall. I tell you though, bossman, If'n Blog is short fer "Web Log" then I can see why the inventer din't call it a "Web Journal."

I asked, "Why?"

Fara Lee opined, "Then one of them innernet nerds woulda giggled and called it a We-Urnal and that's what we'd be callin' it today!"

This is what happens at the bunkhouse when the Fair Bride is not around to keep order.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Tips on Commenting.

The block below the area where you type your comment has a drop down menu of several suggestions entitled "Comment As." You can access the menu by clicking the little down arrow at the right side of the adjacent window.

All of the selections are probably confusing to folks who don't do this too often. If all you want to do is have your note say it's from someone other than "Anonymous" you can select the "Name / URL" field in the drop-down menu and place your name in the "name" field and ignore the "URL" field.

You need not use your full name; you can even use a nickname. For example, Dale Coleman, responded only with "Dale." and so his comment reads "Dale said ..." instead of "Anonymous said ... " Of course you can leave that field blank and simply put your name within the comment field as did Annie Johnson. Her note is from "Anonymous" but she shows her name in her note. Either way will let readers know who you are.

If you prefer to be Anonymous then that's okay; however, I might think it's spam and not allow it when screened.

Confusing but amusing.

Invitation to Guest Author - Test

Here is how it will work if I invite you to post directly to "The Bunkhouse" blog. I sent an invitation to Terry at her e-mail address. I then went to Terry's computer, found my request in her inbox, and responded as if I were her. To do so, you click a link. To post a blog, requires that you have a google account. If you don't have one already, I recommend opening a Gmail account before you respond to the guest author request. (Gmail is a handy and free e-mail service.) If you open your google account prior to responding to the invitation to be a guest author, your user name and password will be fresh in your mind when you proceed.

You then follow the on-screen directions.

As soon as the administrator of the blog (that's me) acknowledges your request, you are then free to post as frequently as you wish and 24/7. I'm now at Terry's computer and creating this post.

This might be intimidating at first but the learning curve is fast. I also uploaded one of Terry's flower photos as and experiment; it was easy. I simply clicked the "Add Image" icon at the top and selected a photo.
You will notice that the lastest post will take the place of the previous one at the top of the post screen. "Change of Pace" will either show below the new post and/or at the blog archive link in the right column.
Some of you e-mailed me that you had attempted to comment but ran into difficulty. Check out the three comments at the bottom of the "Change of Pace" posting on hints about how to comment.

Friday, January 15, 2010

A Change of Pace

I recently informed the readers of my e-mail newsletter, The Brand Spankin' News,that I had decided to call it quits. My decision is disappointing to some of you "neighbors" - it was not an easy decision for me. We've been together for a long, long time. It wasn't the writing as much as the format; the years of enduring e-mail glitches, manually updating birthday, anniversary and address lists, the cutting and pasting, the working under my self-imposed schedule and deadline, having to split my address list into smaller portions to keep from exceeding the sending limit of my provider, resending e-mail to recipients who hadn't received it, etc. It seemed that the more I tried to streamline the process, the more it tended to encroach on the rest of my day.

E-mail is an good way to communicate; I'm hoping that this blog will be even better. We never learn until we try new things - so this is my change of pace and I invite you to join me.

I don't intend to publish on a schedule but only as the urge hits. I can post to a blog whether I'm at home or traveling and I don't have to keep an everchanging e-mail address lists current on more than one computer. It seems that it will be easier for all of you to keep track of one of me than for one of me to keep track of all of you.

When I add new posts, I welcome you to add your comments below them. You need not comment on the original topic, but may ramble as you please. If you neighbors accept this format, I will invite additional authors (for example, the regular contributors to the Brand Spankin' News and other volunteers) to post original contributions directly to the blog. That way it can keep active without my involvement.

Although I haven't tested it, I understand that if you subscribe to this blog then an alert will be sent to you when a new posting or comment has been published.

If you look on the lower right column of this blog, you will see this link "My Bunkhouse Website." It's a website that I began long ago but never got around to improving. Nevertheless, it includes all of the "Story Writing 101" assignments that we wrote several years back. Click around and you should find them if you want to reread them. There is also a link at the website to get you back to this blog.

If you would like to comment about this new proposed approach but have difficulty leaving one below this post, please contact me via E-mail.

The Brand Spankin' News was not about me it was about us. If there is anyone who wants to take on the challenge of being "bossman" in an e-mail newsletter, I will certainly encourage them to give it a go. A fresh approach is always a good thing.