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Filed under: prairie musings, family, friends, Ellsworth — Peg Britton @ 8:40 pm

The grocery store was doing a brisk business today with people loading their carts full of staples they may need for the next few days. Gene’s Heartland Grocery Store’s parking lot was full. I bought Brit some surprises, one being a couple of cartons of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream.

From the weather report, it doesn’t appear any of us will be venturing outside tomorrow except for emergencies. There is a coating of ice accumulating on everything with a lot of snow predicted to fall tonight. The combination of those elements make it miserable outside and best to stay safely inside.

Drew moved a cord of wood closer to the house. The last supply finally went up in smoke as the weather grew colder. Brit and I enjoy the warmth of a wood fire…and the occasional odor of it that wafts out when he adds more wood or goes through his poking routine. We’ve turned up the fan on our fireplace insert and the heat from it warms the lower level of our house and creeps upstairs as well. It’s very cozy and the insert was a good investment.

Ellsworth came in third in the junior varsity basketball tournament by overpowering the Russell Broncos 47 to 41 this afternoon. The Bearcats lost to Thomas Moore Prep-Marian Monarchs this morning 27 to 59. I don’t know what the outcome of the TMP vs Salina Central game was for first and second place as I didn’t stay for that game. It was getting icy underfoot and time to make the grocery run and head home.

Our hope of going to Alton faded as the day progressed. I doubt that Angela Bates and Barry Thompkins had their dinner theater. Those who had dinner reservations at the Midland canceled as the forecasts became more grim. Everyone wanted to be home and out of the elements. I hope the travelers get off the highway and find a warm place to stay. I know what it’s like to be stranded on a night like tonight and one gets very cold very fast no matter how many clothes and blankets you have.

We’re watching “Vertigo” on our new “expanded basic” cable service, whatever that means. Reminds me of the “limited lifetime warranty” mantra. It’s been a long time since we first saw this movie. “I come from Salina Kansas….”. That line just slays me.

Stay warm and stay tuned.



Filed under: Ellsworth — Peg Britton @ 10:32 pm

The EHS junior varsity team is involved in a tournament tomorrow at the high school beginning at 9:00 a.m. It might be a good day to go to the gym, mingle with parents and friends and give the boys a boost.


Filed under: prairie musings, Ellsworth — Peg Britton @ 8:31 pm

Brit and I passed the Craft World building tonight on our way to eat at Orozco’s and commented that it was the first time we’ve seen their lights burning in a very long time. It brought hope that someone some day will find a use for the building. I hope they pay taxes. They used to burn those lights night and day during the heyday of wiring harness manufacturing. Those days of 750 employees working around the clock are gone. Gone for good. There was a semi on the west side, possibly unloading light bulbs. That’s speculation.


Filed under: prairie musings, family — Peg Britton @ 7:50 pm

During cold weather like this, Brit never fails to talk about the winter of ‘44 when he was stationed in Sioux Falls South Dakota. It was one of the coldest winters in history in the Dakotas and Europe. The temperatures hovered at 20 below and colder.”

“Our quarters were tar paper shacks where the only heat was a small pot-bellied stove. The only way we could get warm was to almost sit on it. The smoke from the stoves just hung over the barracks like a dish. It never moved. It was always there. I remember so well what that looked like. Once I got in bed I could get warm. We were issued one blanket and one comforter.”

“We had flight jackets and coats, but I never remember wearing the coats.The flight jackets were like wind breakers. When we got to the flight line, we were issued our flight gear which were fur lined sheep skin pants and jackets, but they didn’t keep us warm. It was 50 to 60 below up in the planes where there was no heat. We couldn’t wear our gloves when we were sending Morse Code or writing. We were all miserably cold all the time. But it was better than what the guys had at the Bulge, the Ardennes offensive, digging fox holes in the frozen ground with those little field shovels……….”

Filed under: prairie musings — Peg Britton @ 7:26 pm


Filed under: prairie musings — Peg Britton @ 5:30 pm

As we head into another weekend of potentially severe winter weather, here are some ways that the public can get road condition information for the State Highway System in Kansas.Call 511:

-Offers road condition & weather information for Kansas State Highway System
-Updated every 15 minutes
-Callers can request specific routes of interest
-Accessible from all Kansas phones (except for Verizon cellular in KC metro & Cingular)
-Callers unable to access 511 directly or outside of Kansas can reach the Kansas 511 system with the following toll-free number: 1-866-511-KDOT
-Up-to-the-minute road condition information
-Reported by KDOT crews out in the field around the state

I just tried the 511 number and it worked very well. Follow the instructions, plug in the number of the highway you need conditions for and you’ll get the information you want.


Filed under: prairie musings — Peg Britton @ 11:07 am

Mountain lion email story a hoax
PRATT - This winter, the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks (KDWP) has received dozens of emails from people all reporting the same story, with slight variations, about a giant mountain lion being shot near Leon during our 2003 firearms deer season. Unfortunately, these folks were victims of one of many email hoaxes that circulate the web.
“The circulated photograph was actually featured in the fall issue of the Boone and Crockett Club’s magazine, Fair Chase,” says KDWP Information and Education Section Chief Bob Mathews. “The lion had been taken earlier in the year within an hour’s drive of Seattle, Washington.”
This email hoax first began when it was said to have been taken near Harrisburg, Penn., according to Boone and Crockett’s magazine. Since then, the KDWP website feedback email has received dozens of messages claiming it was taken in Alabama, Montana, Texas, and Wyoming, as well as Leon.
“Perhaps there is a lesson to be learned here,” Mathews adds. “Folks should check dubious email stories out before passing them around.”
Two email-hoax watchdog websites are and The following is an example of the recent email hoax, which was accompanied by the photo from Fair Chase magazine:

“Got this from one of my friends at [name a workplace]. This mountain lion was shot near Leon, Kansas. This guy is a friend of one of the guys who works with my friend. He was going deer hunting when he heard his neighbor’s cows making noise. He discovered this cat attacking some calves.
“He shot and reportedly the cat jumped 8 feet into the air, ran about 100 yards, and died. The man in the picture is over 6 feet tall and the cat weighed over 200 pounds.”


Filed under: prairie musings — Peg Britton @ 11:03 am

Bad news for budget-minded celebs: Melissa Gilbert wants you to stop shopping at Wal-Mart.

The “Little House on the Prairie” alum, now the president of the Screen Actor’s Guild, has sent an email to fellow actors, asking them to shun the discount store. “Wal-Mart’s low prices come at a tremendous cost,” Gilbert wrote, “not only to workers in groceries and retail but to thousands of workers in manufacturing whose jobs have moved out of the country as suppliers struggle to meet Wal-Mart’s demands for cheaper products. We all feel the pain of runaway production - so shop union, work union.”

J. Lo will, no doubt, be terribly inconvenienced.


Filed under: prairie musings, family, friends — Peg Britton @ 9:13 am

I’m hopeful I’ve found someone who may be able to fix my machine. At least he’s aware of some of my problems and will be here tomorrow to take a look. He’s very bright and in his senior year in college in this field. If he wants more business, I’ll let you know. I think he can take MSIE and Outlook off and reinstall them. Hummmm…. I didn’t think you could do that, but he should know. I’ve reinstalled MSIE at least six times to no avail.

I have mysterious problems so my computer will be a challenge…and has been a huge challenge to Dell and Classicnet contract techies who have been so willing to offer their expertise. I’ve literally spend hours on the phone with some of them while they walked me through tests and I can tell in a couple of minutes whether or not they know of which they speak. I have sorted through them and know the good techies pretty well by now. Some people claim to know about computers and offer their services for who know less than I do…and that’s not very much. I am wary. I can make things worse without help from anyone else.

My niece’s husband who is on the top rung of Net IQ security software and the borderline analytical genius type had a diagnosis that wasn’t encouraging. Puzzling problems. But, this is a Dell and they are great machines. I’d own no other. It isn’t the machine, it’s a conflict of programs I have on it…that and the fact Windows and MSIE and Outlook are virtually inseparable. Everyone says I need to scrub my hard drive!

My favorite granddaughter just tells me this isn’t in her field! And it isn’t. How did she go so far astray? (smile)

My friend Linda from Pawnee Rock is coming today for lunch. A big Dutch oven full of veggie soup is mellowing on the stove, slowly infusing the flavors of fresh veggies, beef and barley. I made extra to take some to a friend. No, I didn’t make extra. That’s not true. I always make this much since I don’t know how to make less. I keep adding stuff until the kettle is full to the top. I’m compulsive about it as I really believe the more variety of ingredients, the better the soup. Some of it always goes out the door to family or friends as we can’t possibly eat it al.

Tomorrow we’re heading to Alton to lend support to Angela Bates and Barry Tompkins. They have produced a play, “The Buffalo Soldier”, that will be performed before what I hope will be a full house of 110 people. Before the play, Angela will be serving “Ernestine’s” barbecue and that is always a treat. “Ernestine’s” being her restaurant in Nicodemus. She said they’ll serve dessert during the intermission of the play. If you miss this showing, you can see it in Lincoln during their Lincoln’s Birthday celebration. It’s a good thing to support these efforts.

Speaking of Lincoln and their yearly celebration that brings in Lincoln look/act alike people from all over the nation. I find it just about the weirdest thing ever to be in a room full of men who look and think they are Abraham Lincoln. It gives me the willies. They talk with you like they ARE Abraham Lincoln…every last one of them. I find that very disconcerting. I was never into roll-playing and just can’t get with it with others who are very much into it. I have the same problem when my friend Calamity Jane is here as a house guest. I insist she can look and dress like Calamity but she has to talk with me as Joyce. She has to go change her clothes before she can do that!

Super Bowl Sunday. I don’t even know who is playing. It just isn’t my thing any more. At one period in our lives we regularly had Super Bowl parties for our friends. That seems like light years ago. Even then, I recall being more interested in the party part than the game. Food was a big element of the festivities. Tomorrow Brit will be glued to the TV calling out the action from time to time because he has to share exciting moments with someone. He hoops and hollers and Jack barks. Yeah!


Filed under: political musings — Peg Britton @ 8:45 am

There’s a great column in Time magazine this week about Bush and his quest to control the morals of the nation. He basically is using the government to tell people how to think and live.

I may pack my bag and go campaign for Kerry. There are some things that are just wrong, wrong, wrong.


Filed under: political musings — Peg Britton @ 8:34 am

Givers and Takers
Each of the Democratic candidates vying to replace George W. Bush has a serious electibility problem. The problem has nothing to do with their biographies or temperaments - and everything to do with a significant, but unnoticed, structural divide in American presidential politics.

Each year, the Tax Foundation, a nonprofit research group, crunches numbers from the Census Bureau to produce an intriguing figure: how much each state receives in federal spending for every dollar it pays in federal taxes.

For example, according to the most recent data, for every dollar the average North Dakotan paid in federal taxes, he received $2.07 in federal benefits. But while someone in Fargo was doubling his money, his counterpart in neighboring Minnesota was being shortchanged. For every dollar Minnesotans sent to Washington, only 77 cents in federal spending flowed back to the state.

Using the Tax Foundation’s analysis, it’s possible to group the 50 states into two categories: Givers and Takers. Giver states get back less than a dollar in spending for every dollar they contribute to federal coffers. Taker states pocket more than a dollar for every tax dollar they send to Washington. Thirty-three states are Takers; 16 are Givers. (One state, Indiana, has a perfect one-to-one ratio of taxes paid and spending received. As seat of the federal government, the District of Columbia has no choice but to be a Taker, and is therefore not comparable to the 50 states in this regard.)

The Democrats’ electibility predicament comes into focus when you compare the map of Giver and Taker states with the well-worn electoral map of red (Republican) and blue (Democrat) states. You might expect that in the 2000 presidential election, Republicans, the party of low taxes and limited government, would have carried the Giver states - while Democrats, the party of wild spending and wooly bureaucracy, would have appealed to the Taker states. But it was the reverse. George W. Bush was the candidate of the Taker states. Al Gore was the candidate of the Giver states.

78 percent of Mr. Bush’s electoral votes came from Taker states.
76 percent of Mr. Gore’s electoral votes came from Giver states.
Of the 33 Taker states, Mr. Bush carried 25.
Of the 16 Giver states, Mr. Gore carried 12.
Juxtaposing these maps provides a new perspective on the political landscape. (Interactive moment: Color in the blue and red states - then you’ll get the full picture.) Republicans seem to have become the new welfare party - their constituents live off tax dollars paid by people who vote Democratic. Of course, not all federal spending is wasteful. But Republicans are having their pork and eating it too. Voters in red states like Idaho, Montana and Wyoming are some of the country’s fiercest critics of government, yet they’re also among the biggest recipients of federal largess. Meanwhile, Democratic voters in the coastal blue states - the ones who are often portrayed as shiftless moochers - are left to carry the load.

For President Bush, this invisible income redistribution system is a boon. He can encourage his supporters to see themselves as Givers, yet reward them with federal spending in excess of their contribution - and send the bill to those who voted for his opponent. It’s shrewd politics.

And it puts the eventual Democratic presidential nominee in a bind, should he try to rally those who believe they aren’t getting a fair shake from Washington. If the Democratic candidate won all 16 Giver states plus the District of Columbia in November, he’d collect only 254 electoral votes, short of the majority needed to capture the White House. The electoral votes of all the Taker states, by contrast, add up to 273 - two more than Mr. Bush won in 2000.

Is there a way out for Democrats? Maybe not. With Republicans holding the purse strings, it’s the Democrats who are being taken.

Daniel H. Pink, the author of “Free Agent Nation,” was the chief speech writer for Vice President Al Gore from 1995 to 1997.



Filed under: Ellsworth — Peg Britton @ 8:19 pm

Well, I guess we can stop hoping/worrying (which ever stance you are taking) about the prison expansion in the Craft World building. At least for now. It’s being filled with light bulbs from Phillips Lighting in Salina. A semi-load arrived today, according to several witnesses who were at Edie’s party, and the plan is, they say, to fill the entire building with light bulbs. That’s a big glow of light bulbs.

I don’t know what the plans are at Phillips that resulted in this happening as they vacillate from closing to expanding. In any event, they have leased the Craft World building for a year from Harvey Yokum. Prison expansion plans apparently are still on the table but down the road.


Filed under: prairie musings, friends — Peg Britton @ 8:10 pm

The party was a “surprise”, just as I predicted…dark room, door opens, light goes on, Edie walks in and everyone yells…(yeah, you know what!). It was fun. The basement of the Methodist Church was full of well-wishers, all connecting closely to George, Edie, their children and extended families. They are good people who do a lot of nice, caring things for people so it is no wonder they have a lot of friends.

I can’t count the number of times we’ve relied on them for wrecker calls….from down the highway to the usual “someone is stuck in our backyard….AGAIN”! They are just part of our family and always have been since they moved to town. I’m George’s “mom”, but I’ve not done a good job in that role lately. Alas.

And the food was wonderful. Murray Marsten was responsible for a lot of it, so Mary said. All the family was there helping, but it was easy because all the behind the scenes work was done before we arrived. The cake was exceptional and I had TWO pieces (small, of course). And a little tiny bit of chocolate ice cream. It was a very special occasion. About 80 people left with full tummies and happy hearts.


Filed under: friends — Peg Britton @ 5:15 pm

Brit and I are heading out to a surprise 50th birthday party for a friend. We haven’t been to a surprise party for a long time and we’re looking forward to it. You know…we’ll hide behind closed doors and when the honoree enters the dimly lit room, we’ll all spring out in unison like kangaroos, yell “SURPRISE” and scare the peewaddin out of her. That’s how it’s supposed to work.

The thing is, I’ve never known anyone to be surprised. After all, it’s a birthday that is supposed to be filled with surprises so one is never really surprised. It’s just a playful routine that everyone enjoys.

I know I’m not parking two blocks away in this frigid weather just to throw her off our intentions. I’d be frozen solid by the time I got to the designated party place unable to eat and be convivial…both are high on my list of things to do. More later on the event.

Stay warm.


Filed under: prairie musings, friends, Ellsworth — Peg Britton @ 4:48 pm

Our Pride of the Prairie Youth Leadership Class from Ellsworth High School is in for a real treat…and a wonderful experience with a great guy and friend of ours, Ivan Weichert. If you are on your toes, you’ll remember that I have blogged Ivan on several occasions. We go back a long way.

The most recent blog related to the state’s pool of cars and the action the Governor took regarding what appeared to be an excessive number of them sitting around in parking lots seldom being used. Ivan has amazing technology at his finger tips to gather that type of information.

Ivan is the State Geographic Information Systems Coordinator for the Kansas Information Technology Office. You can hardly get all of that on a business card.

On Wednesday Feb 4th, the “Pride of the Prairie” Youth Leadership Class will be in Topeka to tour the Information Technology Division of State government…and Ivan will be giving them a demonstration on Geographic Information Systems Technology. I’m betting they’ll see an aerial view of our house and the high school and learn all kinds of neat things that his kind of technology can unfold…like whether or not I am home or engaged in criminal activity, or maybe both if I’m having a good day. He’s great at explaining what he does and the technology involved. It is possible he may open that same door to one of our students who possesses an inquiring mind.

Meagan Gray, Jim’s daughter, just graduated from Ft. Hays State U. with such a degree and landed a job in Kansas City in a flash.


Filed under: prairie musings — Peg Britton @ 2:42 pm

I trashed over 9,000 files last night. That is only a small percentage of the number I have on my computer, but at least I’m getting rid of stuff I probably won’t need. And…the good news is, I may have a computer guru coming on Saturday to do some magic on my machine. I hope he has a big bag of diagnostic tools.


Filed under: political musings — Peg Britton @ 2:00 pm

Now. There you have it. “Biological changes over time…”, a euphemism for “evolution”. That ought to appeal to a segment of the membership of our State Board of Education. Or maybe, as has been suggested, we’ll eliminate the State Board of Education and return to an appointed Secretary of Education.

Everything makes a huge circle, as you shall see if you hang around long enough. We just keep reinventing the wheel. That has a special meaning if you think about it. It’s like talking to a parade.


Filed under: prairie musings, political musings — Peg Britton @ 11:56 am

yesterday I was appointed to an advisory board to advise one of our major organizations in this part of Kansas. I guess my dissing of some of their work over the years settled in and I’m now expected to step forward and put my mouth where my foot has been, or however that goes. I’ll do that. I’ve tried through their board members to make suggestions and have gotten nowhere. Finally, I think they realize they are only spinning their wheels and are in a stalemate. Maybe as members of a large advisory board of twenty or so we’ll have a forum for suggestions for improvement. I don’t have all the answers, that’s a certainty, but I do know what isn’t working and where there is opportunity to make things better. It’s a good idea to reach out for ideas from others, I think, no matter what you’re doing.


Filed under: political musings — Peg Britton @ 11:48 am

K-State is sponsoring an event that features Drs. Frank and Deborah Popper, and former Governor
Mike Hayden.
When: Wednesday, February 11 at 2;30 to 4 p.m.
Where: K-State Union Forum Hall in Manhattan
Price: free and open to the public
Anyone who would like to come in early and visit with me about community development
assistance is encouraged to make an appointment.
From David Darling
Dept. of Ag. Economics
Web site:
Phone: 785/532-1512
Fax: 785/532-6925

Facts and memories fade, but the Poppers are on the faculty of Rutgers University who wrote the paper/book about the fate of Kansas…drying up, depopulating and returning to grass and buffalo. There are times when they convince me that will inevitably happen. There are signs. I’m standing square center in front of the onrushing herd of buffalo trying to prevent that from happening.. Anyway, I know where I’ll be February 11th at 2:30.

David Darling does many very good things for Kansas. I’ve never met him, but hope to while I am there.


Filed under: political musings — Peg Britton @ 11:14 am

I’ve learned that Ken Parker, who works at the ECF, is the new city appointee to ECED… errr the “Ellsworth Housing Board” that is. He’ll be a good addition.

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