A Drone May See You



It’s not a bird.  It’s a drone.  Chances are that’s it’s just another thing that will be soon be part of your life.

One flew over the Lazy Bee lawn recently filming a wedding ceremony.  Years ago, drones were common nearby as they flew through our valley sent by the government to film who knew what.

Data produced by these vision-system sensors is enormous.  There’s also ultrasonic listening, vibration, rain, light and other radar sensors, too.

In August a news source announced that the U.S. Secret Service was planning to test a special unmanned aerial device to track our President.  Those custom drones use a 360-degree camera to send secure data back to operators through a tether.

Drones provided security for the Boston Marathon this year four years after the terror attack to give law enforcement the perspective over crowds.

Cyphy Works, a Boston company, is putting drones on the battlefield to save lives of soldiers and civilians.

In Australia, a company called LittleRipper will monitor beaches for sharks because their views are superior to humans.

Drones are super-snoopers.  Discreet, inexpensive, upgraded easily, or switched out for maintenance, they can be tethered to a power source and stay aloft for days.

They offer solutions for law enforcement at prisons, asset protection, firefighting, border surveillance and special ops. operators.

I’ll never have one, but, then again, I didn’t think I’d ever have or use a smart phone or computer.  Once you have one, you wonder how did you ever lived without such a device.

How could you put a drone to work?  Hum.  For instance, if you were a detective, wouldn’t it be easier to work from home instead of collecting data from a car or up in a tree.  Maybe there will be a drone for attachment to a car to see where it goes.

(Thanks to PhotoPin for the above picture of a drone coming in for a landing.)


Sam’s a Hero

cow stuck in mud

Sam Fisher runs cattle nearby in the valley.  Once in a while there might come from that area their contented sounds.  But, early the other morning, cries of a cow in trouble pierced the air with its desperate pleas.

Was it a cow, or, it was it a cougar having a love feast?

No, it was one of Sam’s cows and Sam was head to toe covered in mud.  He and his wife and their parents who were visiting had struggled to push, pull and tug to try to get a 750 pound cow out of the mud from sodden, hidden spring.

Sam is a practical country farmer.  He ran to find boards.  Somehow he got them under the cow’s feet so she could get some “purchase” as he called it.  This is a good trick on it’s own if you can figure out how to do this under a terrified heavy animal.pulling out old carThanks to PHOTOPIN for this photo.  It depicts how tough some jobs might be for those of us who choose to live in the country.  Unfortunately, there were no pix taken of Sam or the cow.  We wonder: How did he manage get under the cow to put the boards under her huge feet without either hurting himself, or, getting both of them deeper in the mud?

An Expensive Hobby

Marlin fishing tournament

I know a guy who’s fishing; for the biggest White Marlin he can find l00 miles out in the Atlantic Ocean this week.

Oh, Porter Stansberry won’t be fishing alone.  He’ll have a professional team with him.  They’ve have won twice before competing in the white Marlin Open, the World’s most expensive fishing tournament every August in Ocean City, Maryland.

He’s an investment guru.  He wouldn’t waste money.  Perhaps he thinks he can win three million dollars in prize money when he brings the biggest fish to one of the tourney weigh stations where it will be weighed not once but four times.

“Obviously,” he tells me and others, “this is an expensive hobby.  It’s done in the big deep water canyons off the east coast.  That means the biggest and faster boats are required just to get to the fishing grounds.  Most of the winning teams have come from the professional fishermen from North Carolina.

“While you could get lucky on your own, it’s far more likely that a professional crew will win the big money.  Entrance wagers cost more than $50,000, plus there’s the cost of fuel, the crew, and gear.  This year more boats than ever are entering, some 400 instead of the normal 300.”

I wonder if the Marlin Open Tournament is catching on if more boats than ever are in the contest.  Or, is this contest something like marathon dance contests once were in the Great Depression, just specialty events in their time period.

However, Porter is a savvy investor.  He’s dedicated and has been practicing.  He and his crew were just out fishing in the Washington Canyon and caught five white marlins and a one-ton tuna.

You can follow the action this week by following TWO SONS on his community page on Facebook.  (And, thanks to Photo Pin for the above photo.)

Sweet Handwriting


A document written by hand comes rarely these days.  Other than a handwritten greeting in a Christmas card, can you recall the last time you received a letter written by hand?

Last week my brother, Joseph Packey, took the time and made a special effort to let me know he was thinking about me.  His two-page letter came so unexpectedly that I know I’ll remember the joy it brought when I saw his hand writing.

“Something has been bothering me for years now,” he wrote.  “Maybe you can help me out.   When Dad came home on Friday, he would leave you and me and brother Jack a one-dollar bill for our allowance.  Who got the extra quarter?

“Not much going on here in Los Angeles.  It’s been too hot to go outside.  Luckily we have A/C.  We put it in two years ago.  Prior to that a fan or two was enough.  Each year the temperatures get worse and worse.

“Our main activity is playing cards.  Jan and I each play bridge two times a week.  Jan and I play pinochle, gin, bridge and Kings in the Corner.  We watch a lot of movies with Netflix with both streaming and individual selections.”

E-mail may be fast and more efficient, but it can’t show the person’s handwriting.  And, that’s the key to communication: handwriting.  Because you can’t disguise it!

Admit it.  The first thing you really that notice of  is a person’s handwriting.  Subconsciously or not, you do.   The sad thing is that your penmanship suffers if not used regularly.  Brother Joe’s writing appeared the same as always.  Not a bit shaky, fine-tuned really.

Even sadder is the fact that grade school children aren’t learning to write cursive.  If a grandparent sends a gift with a handwritten note, they can’t read it.  It’s become a foreign language.  To them handwriting appears something like Chinese art or Egyptian hieroglyphs.

If you happen upon an old letter or a recipe written by hand, you remember the person and feel closer to them.

Technology has made the handwritten letter a thing of the past just like many fine things which have disappeared: ironed shirts, aprons, fine china and silver, antiques, and line-washed dish towels.

(Thanks Photo Pin for another fine photo!)


God at the Box Office

Movie Wizard of Oz

The film “Passengers” was reviewed in a novel way when Pastor Andy showed clips during services at the Church of the Nazarene in Colville, WA.

The plot is about a group of people leaving on a space trip.  They are shown encased in glass-topped boxes on a trip that is to take one hundred years.  Thirty years into the voyage, a man awakens to find that he’s the only one among the passengers or crew who is.

At this point, the audience feels his loneliness.  At the first week’s service,  details of how many people today are facing this emotion in America were given.  The next Sunday when I attended, the clips he showed were about how the man finds a way to awaken a woman he finds attractive.

The discussion is about selfishness.  Because when the woman discovers that he has purposefully brought her alive, she becomes angry and he somehow is out of the space craft and having trouble getting back.

People who take unique approaches to showing daily life lessons are to be applauded.  The folks over at the Nazarene church also had other great ideas for how to live.  Between Sunday School and Church Service, on this hot summer day, they offered root beer floats instead of coffee.  Trays of ice-cream filled mugs were a refreshing sight to see and to experience.

Thank you, Pastor Andy.  Your reviews of film are a fine way to show spiritual insights.  I’m sorry to have to miss your clips of “The Lion,” a video of how a five-year-old boy finds himself lost in a big city in India.  We found this movie an exceptional one with its intriguing plot, the charming little boy actor.  Sorry to have missed your thoughts about its spiritual lessons.


Summer Fun

Person SweatingI once lived in Iowa.  The summers were so HOT that they begged a person to take at least eight showers to cool down.  The major redeeming factor was sweet corn so fresh it felt like it had just rolled down from the farm into the kettle.

Now on a summer day recently in Laughlin, NV., where temperatures can reach 128 degrees, I had hair so frazzled that it looked electrocuted, and two red eyes like fried eggs.

What was memorable  was not only the HEAT but an unadvertised special.  Fillet mignon steak and four-ounce lobster tail at the Hickory Pit at the Edgewater are served on Tuesdays between 4 and 6 p.m.  Fortunately, I learned of this special when another Laughlin casino I contacted also said it wouldn’t cost $39 per tail but only $22 with an “access” card or more commonly known as a Player’s Card.  We were THERE.  Everyone was ordering the steak and lobster meal.

At the River’s Lodge, on a behind the scenes tour with mutual friend, Kim McMillion, assistant to the chief engineer, we walked miles around most of their 35 acres.  Said Kim, “I supervise 24 guys so you might say that I’m the ‘Mom’ for our ongoing renovations.”

She pointed out art work of a Hollywood artist who makes concrete look like wood or great scenery like the real-life mine site with places for kids to pan for gold.  We marched between several the “Dotty” locations featuring free snacks, art work and their own bartenders who makes food items for these Asian, Mexican and Burgundy Street  locations.

We marched right past a cushy lounge area filled with large sofas and leather chairs.  You won’t find people just resting at other casinos, just the River Lodge.  The new café just opened was in a huge restaurant with table-clothed dining in front of huge windows overlooking a lovely view of the river.  Try Eggs Benedict.  It arrives on a huge platter.

Comps at the River Lodge are called ‘Rewards.”  I gave a copy of Rusty Springs, my contemporary novel, to Kim for forwarding to the ‘reward’ boss.  Maybe it will become a PRIZE for someone in the future.

\(Thanks Photo Pin for this drawing of someone who looked just like me after a few days going between casinos in Laughlin either walking or being shuttled around in the super fast water taxis.)


Some People Love Golf

Chinese Golf Courses

The Chinese sure do.  They build Mega courses.  Consider Mission Hills Club where there are 12 courses all in a row on the mainland across from Hong Kong.

John Bender, a Florida videographer, said, “I was there to film for the Golf Channel.  To see these U.S. designed courses all in a row at Mission Hills, is unbelievable.”

According to a couple of Australian golfers who commented recently on Trip Advisor about Mission Hills in Shenzhen: “Played 8 rounds in 11 days.  Favorites were the Olazabal, Norman and Osaki but the Sorenstam/Rose/Poulter night course was just as good and an incredible experience.  Also played the Faldo, Peter Dye, World Cup and Zhang Lei Wei courses”  Chris R. also said about cost: “It depends upon the course but expect at least $200 Australian dollars.”

Gloria, also from Melbourne, said: “I went to Mission Hills for one week and played five different courses.  I booked through China Golf Experience.  Everything was organized and trouble free from the transfers from Hong Kong airport to . . . ”

Another golfer said on Trip Advisor, “216 holes of golf.  Unbelievable.  The condition of the course I played was very impressive.  The whole experience is one I will never forget.  A great day out for golfers of all abilities.  A must if you have the time and money.”

Thirty years ago there wasn’t a golf course in China.  Chairman Mao called it a sport for the bourgeois.  However, when President Carter greeted Chinese leader Deng Ziapoing in the U.S. in l979, Deng knew that if Americans were to invest in China they’d need to travel there and would need a course.

So when Carter introduced Deng to Robert Trent Jones Jr., a world top golf course architect, Deng asked him, “What is golf?”

“It’s a small ball hit over a big field into a hole.  People gamble about it and buy each other drinks.”

“Of perfect,” pronounced Deng.  “Chinese will love it.” and went home to build the first course.

On Bender’s visit to film U.S. business men who work in China and play golf, he met the man who invented the sweat-proof grips for tennis rackets and golf clubs.

When Chinese build a golf course, or any other type of project, the workers all move to live on the site just as is expected to happen with projects coming up on their New Silk Road.

Now the Chinese are thinking differently about golf.  Many were built were on valuable farmland and others used too much water in parched areas of the country.  Most were private, exclusive to businessmen who often invited local government officials to play.  As a result says Rob Schmitz as heard on NPR’s Main Edition, “The government has shut down 111 courses, one fifth of all courses in China and is banning construction of new ones.

This becomes challenge for Chinese players.  Party officials in one province are forbidden from playing during working hours.  Government official inspection squads show up at clubs to look through computers to check day by day how much a player spent and who they were playing with.

The rise of Chinese golfers such as Feng Shanshan, one of the best women players in the world who won a bronze for China at the Rio Games, leads the way for other young Chinese golfers, who play not to complete a business deal, but because they enjoy hitting a small ball over a big field into a little hole.

“If you have a golf academy, a pro shop, a golf course, you need to promote, do some marketing.  But at the same time, you have to stay under the radar and not promote the fact that you’re in the golf industry,” says Gareth Winslow, head coach at Shanghai’s Junior Golf Academy.  “Promoting golf in China can be tricky.”