Image result for straws are not the problem

The other night we dined at our local Red Robin. Each time, before walking through the door, I promise myself I’m not going to take them up on their unlimited offer of Strawberry Freckled Lemonade and accompanying straws. Because of all the calories each unit packs, inwardly I know that by partaking of this All-you-can-drink offer, I will die a premature death.

But as soon as I sit down and open the menu, I’m a dead man.

As a lifelong Mormon, I’ve tried to adhere to our faith’s Word of Wisdom. I know it’s a good thing since I’ve watched far more than one friend suffer and die because they let alcohol, tobacco or drug addiction take them down the road to the morgue.

I’m glad to have been raised in the church. Without it, I’m pretty sure I would have ended up on that same cold slab after trekking down that same long and winding road. There are also a bunch of other reasons that I’m grateful for my church membership. These are also usually dismissed in a split second without careful consideration.

When I walk into a Red Robin, all bets are off. The Word of Wisdom takes a back seat to unlimited freckled lemonades and the beckoning Whiskey Burger that is so beautifully pictured on the menu.

So against my better judgement last Thursday, I ordered the old standbys. However, when the first round of drinks landed, I noticed there was no straw.

I have to have a straw for several reasons. A plastic straw is essential to stir and pulverize the strawberries. It is also impossible to suck the berries off the bottom of the glass with your lips alone.

In fact, if you don’t have a straw, you shouldn’t be calling them strawberries. If the straw is missing, the berries don’t get strawed and just lay lifeless at the bottom of the glass. Since cubes of ice make up 90% of the contents of the glass, the berries never make it to the top. Unless I have a straw.

Another good reason for the straw is so you don’t have to stick your lips on the glass that may or may not have been washed clean from the germs and diseases of the hundreds of thousands of glass lickers before you. Without the straw, I might as well just walk around the restaurant and lock lips with all the other patrons, no matter what communicable diseases they are packing. Mustaches, cold sores, rotten teeth, lipstick, and other maladies have been present on those same glass edges.

I want my straw.

Since I couldn’t get the attention of our waitress, I got up from our table and went on safari for a straw. I finally trapped another waitress in her cash register cubicle and asked for a straw. She told me that they were no longer getting straws by the truckload and there were none available. She handed me a fork and told me to stir it up with that.

I sat down and tried to manhandle the forkberries. Didn’t work. It’s just not the same and I can’t suck the bottom-dwelling berries up with a fork.

About then our waitress appeared and I demanded a straw. She informed me that the reason for the sudden straw shortage was the libbers on the west side had passed a law that they could not longer give out straws. The Dems were trying to copy the California liberal kings who previously had passed no-straw laws.

In fact, according to her, the WA legislature has created a $60 fine every time a Red Robin or anyone else hands out a one-cent straw without being asked for one. It seems the oceans are getting filled with plastic and this is their way of cleaning up the problem.

I’m sure by fall they’ll have straw police running around watching everybody’s drinking glass.

However, on the very morning of our RR visit, I read that the US contributes a very small amount of the plastic in the ocean. Something less than 5%. And in the USA ocean-going plastic, a minuscule amount like .002% is made up of straws. As usual, they’ve totally missed the mark.

Straw hoax

And since I’m tirading, the liberals are way off on another one of their up-to-the-minute blame games. They love to affix every problem that pops up around us on global warming. However, the very policies they have pushed have created this firestorm.  I’ll say no more.

The real reason for so many fires




I’m a little hot. Who isn’t in July?

Every night on the news they talk about the weather like it’s never been this bad before. The world is heating up so badly we should elect liberals so they can cool it off.

Even the local news makes a big deal out of temps. Every night it’s like “We are approaching record temperatures across our area!!!!!” It’s just not true. Why don’t they just say “Well, it’s been another average day?”

Take our local weather man Tim Adams. I know he needs to make the weather exciting so they can sell ads. I guess in order to keep the ratings up, he has to shoot for the stars which must be located at the very top of the thermometer. Tim’s a nice guy. Too nice.

Instead of standing up to his boss and saying “For once, I am not going to tell our viewers that we are breaking all kinds of heat records across the Columbia Basin. I’ve been doing that since Obama got elected and it’s just hot air. No, I’m just going to do what’s right and say ‘It’s been another average day. Sorry folks, that’s all I’ve got.”

Like I said, Tim is a nice guy. I know this because he managed the college apartment complex I lived in back in 1976 called the Elms. 42 years ago never once did I hear Tim say “Well, Ben I can see we’re going to have another hot record breaking day today.”

Never once. Now I hear it every night.

Image result for tim adams weather

When I hear these doomsday predictions about the heat, I scratch my head. I remember the summer of ’68 when I just about bit the big one and it was hot. Bona Fide Hot.

I was in traction and a body cast all summer. You don’t know what hot is until you spend the warmest days of summer sweltering inside a cast from your nips to your toe tips.


I have no idea why I was smiling.

Maybe it’s because back then, the experts said we were in danger of global cooling.

Check out the record highs and tell me the high temperatures of July 6 and 7th. They were record breakers up to this very day. They occurred in 1968 while I was in the plaster straight jacket.

Sit ups were impossible. I was in a straightened-out position for almost two months. If my ankle was itched, I ran a hanger down my cast and moved the other end of the straightened-out hanger located at chest level. That was the only way I could get relief in the ankle area. Not only did the body cast make it hotter than a jalapeno but it also made it harder for a BM. And I’m not talking about Ben and Michele.


Date Average
Jul 1 59° 86° 48° (1955) 103° (1987) 0.01″ NA
Jul 2 59° 86° 43° (1962) 98° (1967) 0.01″ NA
Jul 3 59° 87° 45° (1962) 102° (1970) 0.01″ NA
Jul 4 60° 87° 48° (1976) 105° (1975) 0.01″ NA
Jul 5 60° 87° 47° (1964) 103° (1975) 0.01″ NA
Jul 6 60° 88° 45° (1962) 106° (1968) 0.01″ NA
Jul 7 60° 88° 42° (1971) 105° (1968) 0.01″ NA
Jul 8 60° 88° 45° (1981) 102° (1970) 0.01″ NA
Jul 9 60° 88° 49° (1983) 105° (1975) 0.01″ NA
Jul 10 60° 89° 47° (1972) 106° (1975) 0″ NA
Jul 11 61° 89° 50° (1973) 103° (1975) 0″ NA
Jul 12 61° 89° 46° (1950) 104° (1990) 0″ NA
Jul 13 61° 89° 49° (1974) 107° (1990) 0″ NA
Jul 14 61° 89° 50° (1969) 106° (2002) 0″ NA
Jul 15 61° 89° 46° (1982) 104° (1987) 0″ NA
Jul 16 61° 90° 45° (1982) 102° (1996) 0.01″ NA
Jul 17 61° 90° 49° (1949) 107° (1960) 0.01″ NA
Jul 18 61° 90° 49° (1957) 107° (1979) 0.01″ NA
Jul 19 62° 90° 45° (1966) 105° (1979) 0.01″ NA
Jul 20 62° 90° 52° (1950) 107° (1979) 0.01″ NA
Jul 21 62° 90° 50° (1949) 108° (1979) 0.01″ NA
Jul 22 62° 90° 49° (1952) 105° (1994) 0.01″ NA
Jul 23 62° 91° 48° (1948) 107° (2006) 0.01″ NA
Jul 24 62° 91° 49° (1964) 109° (2006) 0.01″ NA
Jul 25 62° 91° 50° (1952) 105° (1994) 0.01″ NA
Jul 26 62° 91° 49° (1969) 105° (1984) 0.01″ NA
Jul 27 62° 91° 52° (1976) 108° (1998) 0.01″ NA
Jul 28 62° 91° 48° (1954) 108° (1998) 0.01″ NA
Jul 29 62° 91° 47° (1954) 108° (1998) 0.01″ NA
Jul 30 62° 91° 52° (1969) 105° (1971) 0.01″ NA
Jul 31 62° 91° 50° (1953) 107° (1971) 0.01″ NA

Decades that daily July records were set:

1960’s – 4

1970’s – 13

1980’s – 3

1990’s – 8

2000’s – 3

2010’s – 0

As long as my Basin City experiences don’t get hotter than they did in the 70’s, I’m not going to buy into all the controls, lines, fines, taxes and fees the Warmers are pushing.

I’ll probably still keep watching Tim just because he’s such a nice guy.

Little Bits and Pieces are what I’m throwing into this post in order to get caught up. Little bits and pieces are also what happens to your car when you drive across Mesa’s Bermuda Triangle.

After my last post, I got a message back from a country commissioner that those tracks were not in the county’s jurisdiction and therefore not their responsibility. I also got a call from Matt the county road engineer that basically said the same thing. Isn’t it interesting how governmentors are much more adept at dodging the responsibility than solving the problem? Even when solving the problem is easier than doing all the dodging?

I look at this tendency as a sort of virus that you catch as soon as you go to work for The Man.

Matt also mentioned that he would have no problem posting some SLOW DOWN FOR TRACKS signs even though it wasn’t their prob. That’s all I’ve ever asked for. Why don’t they just do it instead of prolonging the agony and danger?

A few months ago one of my next-door neighbors named Tom got a brand new Tundra pickup. I was kind of surprised since his “old” Tundra seemed to be in fine shape. I figured he must have just wanted to upgrade and must have had a bunch of extra cash since that is always required whenever you upgrade.

Yesterday, he and I were talking and it came out that the reason he is driving a new Tundra is his “old” Tundra got totaled. Guess where? Yep, the Sheffield Road/Mesa railroad tracks.

Oh, the untold damage and pain that relatively small but deadly speed bump has inflicted!

Here’s what happens when innocent citizens turn onto Sheffield and head for Basin City: They kick their vehicle up to 30 miles an hour in hopes of reaching the posted limit of 55 miles an hour. Just before they reach the 55 mph sign, they get the surprise of their life.

And it is an ugly surprise.

Cops don’t get called because people can usually drive their bent and destroyed rigs home. The county doesn’t get complaints because the insurance company usually foots the bill. The owner of the wrecked vehicle figures it’s all his fault because he was driving and was stupid for going over the tracks at 20 or 30 miles an hour instead of 5.

My recommendation is y’all c’all the Franklin County Road Department at 509 545 3514. Ask for Matt. Matt is a nice guy but needs a little pressure from the tax payers. Ask him to post warning signs on both sides of the tracks on Sheffield. This little act of yours will save innocent individuals thousands of dollars on their auto deductible and thousands more as they will eventually have to buy a new car.

It will add years to their life that otherwise would be swallowed up in PTSDam, otherwise known as Post Track Sure Demolition at mesa. PTSDam will continue to run rampant until you call. It is also the word most people use after they hit the tracks.

Just before we had the nasty incident in Mesa, we were on a family reunion with our kids and their kids in Idaho. My son-in-law Todd, who was driving our van when it crashed on the tracks, thinks he’s the Candy Man. In fact, whenever he signs a check or a ticket for going over the railroad tracks too fast, he signs it The Candy Man. 

A few reunion highlights:

1st scene. Youngest grandchild wets his lips before going after the Candy Man.

2nd scene. The Candy Man

3rd scene. Oldest grand daughter got more candy than any of her cousins but was empty-handed when the contest ended. How’d she do that?


Another little bit for the blog:

Middle of the summer. Over 100 degrees. A WA DOT snowplow in my rear view mirror is out looking for a road to plow. Maybe he should head for Mesa and use that plow on the railroad tracks.


Another little bit for the blog:


Per my visiting mid-daughter’s instruction, I cranked the hot tub up. There was a bunch of nasty flakes in the water. Within a minute or two, the flakes had completely coated the filter. I cleaned it out and got the same result again.

I borrowed a woman’s nylon hose from my wife, pulled it over the filter and it worked like a champ! In one rinse, all the particles and flakes were gone. This hot tub filter will never be used again without my wife’s nylon stocking.

Another little bit for the blog:


After making a deal with my son at Christmastime that I could get down to 200 lbs., I started riding my bike to work. Dogs chased me every time I went past a certain house. So I finally carried a large iron rod with me toward the point of attack.

The canines arrived at the normal point of attack and as usual, started nipping at my heels. I swung the rod, missed the closest dog, lost my normally excellent bike-balance skills and went down hard. The asphalt was unforgiving. Luckily, the wind was blowing away from me so the dogs didn’t pick up the scent of blood.

But next time I’ve got a surprise for them.

To make a long story short on the weight, Mike moved up the date of my weigh-in so I had to lose pounds fast.

I lost 24 lbs in 6 days. I did the Mixed Martial Arts diet and drank 2 gallons of water the first day. Then I tapered off dramatically. The last two days I went without food or drink. (This had the added benefit of less blood spilt in case of dog attacks.) I made it to 200 just before we headed for the airport on our way to my son and Phoenix.


Just to make sure, at the airport in Pasco when no one was looking, I hopped on Allegiant’s baggage scale. It weighed me at 207. I got a little concerned because if I didn’t hit the 200 lb criteria at PHX, I would be out $500. I walked down to the Delta counter and hopped up on their scale. It weighed me in at 193.

The last weigh-in made me feel a little better about my weight. It also made me wonder how much Allegiant makes from their faulty scales and the extra baggage charges they assess.

We got on the plane. I was borderline delirious from no nourishment. Allegiant had my wife and I sitting apart, hoping we would pay another bundle so we could sit together.

My wife is not a fan of my storytelling. I was bugged all the way to Phoenix because she was so enthralled by the stories of the guy she was sitting by. Check out her reaction! Never once have I gotten the kind of feedback this guy enjoyed all the way down.


And just by chance, the young man sitting next to the storyteller is the grandson of Ken Benson, a friend of my family from 1958 on. Ken was about the only neighbor we had during the first few years of my childhood growing up in the Basin.

Made it to Phoenix and was finally able to eat and drink. I’m sure by the time I walked out of this establishment, I was back up to 210, at least by Allegiant’s calculation.


The actual reason we went to Phoenix was for another grandchild’s baptism.


This is how my doggone knuckles looked in Phoenix:


But I’ve solved that problem. I decided to get some mosquito spray. But then I figured it might not cut the mustard.

So I thought about some pepper spray but then again was not quite sure of it’s potency.

So this is what I ended up with…


Image result for bear spray

Image result for bear spray

I can’t wait to get back on my bike.

Those dogs are toast.

There’s a little hamlet called Mesa located a few miles away from a big hamlet called Basin City. Mesa has been there forever. I went to kindygarten there. Burlington Northern Railroad tracks go through Mesa but the choo-choo train never stops unless they have a derailment.

They stopped there once a few years ago. It was a mess.

In 1982 I was working for my dad on the farm. Neither one of us was getting much job satisfaction from my efforts. I began looking for something else to try so I joined the sheriff’s reserve for 3 years.

One night I was riding with a deputy named Richard Lathim. There was an armed robbery at the Arco Mini-Mart on Court Street just around midnight. Richard and I were racing around dark streets trying to find the perp. We jumped out with our guns drawn whenever we found something in the dark that looked suspicious as we searched for the dude. I still remember the adrenaline pumping through my veins.

I would guess the pointy end of my 357 magnum was jumping around at about the same rate as Barney Fife’s empty one-handed musket used to do whenever he got in a jam. At least I had bullets in my gun. We came up empty that night.

I got off the shift at 3:00 am and headed home to grab a couple hours sleep before the farm day’s work began. I turned west at the Sheffield intersection in Mesa and as I crossed the tracks, I suddenly became aware that my Nova was catapulted skyward from the first railroad iron just before it slammed face-first into the asphalt on the other side of the tracks.

I remember that this demolition-type incident was the basic reason I traded the Nova in shortly after the Mesa landing. In the decades since, I’ve always slowed to a cautionary crawl of three inches per minute when attempting to cross the Sheffield chasm. The locals have averaged 1.0 totaled vehicles per capita as they have learned this same lesson. There is no doubt that this is strictly a one-episode learning experience.

I’ve wondered why Franklin County leaves this road in this condition. I finally decided that maybe because the rails make a slight turn, maybe there needs to be a bank in the tracks. Without the bank, maybe the train might be less stable. If all these maybes aren’t the reason for the treacherous spot, then what is the reason?

So a couple of years ago, I called the head of the county road department. We’ve always been on good terms and he is a nice guy. I told Matt about the problem. He was well aware of the situation.

The bottom line to this local problem is that drivers from everywhere around the world except the 99343 zip code are unfamiliar with the topography of the asphalt/steel combination at this particular point. They should definitely be made aware of the hazard before steering down Sheffield Road. A simple flashing florescent billboard for vehicles going each way would be sufficient. Stick some lettering on a couple of signs like…


I told Matt he needed to get two signs up there. He agreed and said he would do it. I ended the conversation by musing about how many strangers to Mesa in the last 40 or 50 years have demolished their vehicles on this 10-foot stretch of road. I guessed it has been in the hundreds of vehicles and billions of dollars damage. Matt didn’t argue. Maybe billions is an exaggeration but hundreds probably isn’t.

I couldn’t and can’t understand why such a road hazard could be so overlooked by so many county road people. Maybe they can’t fix the road but they could sure make more people aware of the nightmare ahead.

The next year my brother Brent had a friend from Colorado visit him in his new 3/4 ton pickup and even newer fancy camper. Guess what? After crossing the tracks in Mesa and seeing just how fast his airbags could inflate, he limped into Brent’s place with a pickup that had a brand-new showroom paint job in places but overall looked like it had just completed the Baja 500. The camper was in even worse shape.

There had to have been at least $30,000 damage to the camper combo of this formerly proud owner. His cab was smashed down by the front of the camper. It was a twisted mess.

I called Matt. I told him about the incident. I asked him why he hadn’t erected the billboards. He had no answer but assured me that it would be taken care of. It was at this point that I began to have suspicions that perhaps Matt might be a stockholder in one or more of the local tow-truck or body and fender shops in the area. Maybe the signs I was requesting would put a damper on his investment portfolio. Thus, no florescent signs.

That was last year. So this year, we went to a family reunion in Idaho. My son-in-law Todd drove my van home from Idaho while I drove my pickup. As we approached Mesa, I told my relations in the pickup about the problem and the efforts I’d made to stop the carnage.  I wondered aloud whether Matt had erected the signage. And did I mention that the Todd-driven van was in front of the Ben-driven pickup by a couple of miles?

Because my wife was riding with Todd, I figured she would alert him to the treacherous ravine they had to circumvent. To my misfortune, she was occupied with grand kids and oblivious to the impending lifetime guaranteed 4-wheel misalignment and instantaneous bendage of the unibody frame this poor Honda van was about to undergo. Todd is from Mesa AZ and hadn’t yet experienced his Mesa WA 1.0 rig demolition per capita number. But he soon learned. On my dime.

Everyone in the van, including the baby-faced toddler that Michele had been attending to, was pushed down in their seats to the tune of at least six G-forces. A loud BANG! then sounded with an immediate Apollo rocket-like upward thrust affecting all occupants. I’m pretty sure every seat belt in the rig stretched a good 50% past Ralph Nader’s comfort zone. And what are all those head-shaped convex cones in the roof of the van?

Todd and crew limped home. I arrived home a few minutes later and was immediately greeted with the latest Mesa Tracks accident report. My weekend was demolished. I just couldn’t accept the fact that a public servant that makes a nice living didn’t do what I, HIS EMPLOYER, had asked him several times to do.

The damage? I’m sure my van will start wearing tires like crazy due to the severe impact and damage. A dog-gone sign from Matt warning Todd from Mesa AZ was sorely needed.

A watermelon in the back of the van will never be the same again. (See below)

Gosh, even if Matt had posted a couple of stakes with plastic flags fluttering in the breeze  Todd might have known something was amiss in front of him.

Michele had three musical instruments in the van that are now messed up. She just discovered today that her violin won’t stay in tune now. It always did before. These instruments cost far more than the signs Matt should have erected.

Matt! Why?

How much time does it take to write up an order for a couple signs with the word “SLOW!!!!” imprinted on them.

I imagine there’ll be more casualties discovered as we go along.


So this is Monday night. Tomorrow I’m going to call Matt and ask him to meet me at the Mesa/Sheffield intersection in his family car. I’ll bet it’s a late-model town car that’s never been off-road. I am then going to ask him to slide over and let me in the driver’s seat. I’ll mildly accelerate for 468 feet west on Sheffield as any stranger to this country will do, seeing nothing but open road. My speed in Matt’s rig, by the time we encounter the road hazard will be between 30 and 40 mph.

After we experience the very nasty change in terrain, take off and finally land again, I will hand him back the wheel to his now pretty much worthless beater. I will then ask him about the billboards he’s been promising.

Stay tuned for my oncoming Matt dialogue.

Seems like whenever I drive a Corvette, I end up in trouble. This was the aftermath from the other night…

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But before we get to that particular Corvette trouble, let me share this Corvette trouble…


I needed to go to town the other day. Since I like a challenge and the empty gas gauge presented one, I headed south for the 30-mile trip running on fumes. This was likely to be the first time in history that a Vette would end up on the side of the road with it’s 8 hungry pistons sucking air and it’s 8- fingered driver holding a remaining thumb out for a ride.

Made it.

A day or two later, we headed back to the T-Cities with a relatively full tank. We work a half-day every week in the LDS temple in Richland. It’s a time that helps me to make sense of everything else in this crazy world.

As we cruised home, I snapped a picture of a gorgeous sunset to the west. Because of the sunset and the fact that we had just stepped out of the temple, I gotta throw in a line or two about God. There is no doubt in my mind that we all have a Father in Heaven. He has made everything we enjoy and experience and yet so many of us spend no time or effort doing what He has asked us to do. None of us can, even for one second, escape the blessings that He has made possible to each of us.


Approaching the crest of the hill northbound on Taylor Flats where it intersects with Cypress Drive, we were snapped out of our religious reverie and greeted by 4 headlights. The headlights on our left were basically normal and not a problem. The headlights directly in front of us, oncoming at a  70 or 80 mph clip, were a big problem. I had a full half-second to react. Luckily, there was a fairly wide shoulder that we swerved on to to avoid a sudden stop with a driver who was suddenly on my bad side.

Usually when I make a sudden U-turn and begin a pursuit to teach someone concerning some Driver’s Ed tips, Michele doesn’t like it. However, she didn’t say a word on this turnabout. In fact, she told me later that she was in favor of the pursuit.

As I caught up to and passed the car that would have been involved in the wreck through no fault of his own, he gave me a thumbs-up signal and then a clenched fist. He was equally bothered at the idiocy of the driver just ahead and I could tell he was glad I was going to confront the problem.

I got behind the rig and started flashing my lights. I wanted him to pull over so I could give him the educational lecture I had suddenly prepared. He kept going, essentially cutting class. So I decided to call the principal.

I dialed 911 and explained the situation. By the time we pulled into the business district of Road 68, a Pasco cop had pulled in front of me and behind the offender.

After the lights were activated, he pulled off and in just a bit, a county mountie and another Pasco car showed up. I figured since I was the only one who saw the incident, they would do nothing but give him a lecture and let him go. In my vast experience, this is usually the outcome if the cops don’t witness the incident.

But this time was a pleasant surprise.

After a few minutes, one of the Pasco cops walked back and said he knew how I felt but I probably shouldn’t have tried to pull him over. The guy was drunk and he had a loaded pistol in the front seat.


I explained that that could have been problematic but if I hadn’t done something, the guy would have continued on his merry way. The cop said he understood.

As they cuffed and brought the guy back to the sheriff’s car, he and I shared a few choice personal feelings with each other.


We made it home intact but somehow missed the last few minutes of the beautiful sunset that night. Oh well, the flashing red and blues were almost as pretty.

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