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Filed under: print news — Peg Britton @ 9:28 am

Check it out!



Filed under: friends — Peg Britton @ 10:12 pm

Fulton Calvary has a web site devoted to Kansas musicians and he asked me for information on my Dad so he could do a story on the Big Band generation. I gave him Dad’s email and the two connected. Dad is the featured artist for the month of June. Check it out here.

Bernie Schulte


Filed under: prairie musings — Peg Britton @ 10:13 am


A long time ago, about as long ago as I am old, Dr. August Dvorak, an educational psychologist and professor of education at the University of Washington in Seattle, and his brother-in-law, Dr. William Dealey, designed a simplified keyboard to replace the familiar QWERTY layout. I thought I’d blog a little about this as few seem to know about it.

A friend relayed some of this information to me years ago. I guess the DVORAK system was widely hailed as a way to type faster and more easily, but it never really caught on. All the keys that you use most often are found on the second row, thus eliminating a lot of the up and down movement on the keyboard. I heard that the reason QUERTY had to be devised is that people learned to type so fast, the old manual typewriter keys couldn’t do their stuff and disengage fast enough not to get caught up on one another. I remember that happening. Even when typewriters gave way to electronic keyboards, typists and manufacturers remained faithful to QWERTY. That seems so illogical to me, but that’s the way it was/is.

People who have sustained hand injuries from typing, despite ergonomic keyboards, oftentimes switch to DVORAK. The strain of typing is reduced dramatically with Dvorak as 70% of all strokes on a DVORAK are on the home row (2nd from the bottom), while only 32% are there on a Qwerty.

20% of all digraphs (ch, th, gh, ie, — common pairs) are typed with adjacent fingers on Qwerty. This falls to 2% with Dvorak. Result: fewer mistakes.

Alternating hands is faster and easier when you type, yet many words can be typed with one hand in QWERTY. Not so in Dvorak. In fact, NO SYLLABLE can by typed by the right hand alone. I love to type the word qwerty in QWERTY.

Best of all, the Dvorak keyboard is already built into your computer. (It’s under Keyboard in the Control Panel [PC] or System Preferences [Mac].) No new equipment required! The computer also retains Qwerty in the memory, so it really is just the click of a button to switch between them.

Most keyboards also pop apart and can be reassembled into the new layout. If I were just learning how to type, that’s the system I’d learn.

They say it’s not terribly difficult to convert, although it does take a concerted effort. One study showed that 18 hours of practice will increase your speed 74% and cut out 2/3 of all errors.

One more stat: Only about 100 words can be typed on the row that starts asdf of the QWERTY keyboard. That number jumps to over a thousand on the corresponding row of the DVORAK. In fact “Thousand” is one of them.

There is a reason why all the letters forming the word TYPEWRITER are placed in the same line of a QWERTY keyboard. Of course they don’t with the DVORAK layout.

Here’s what the DVORAK keyboard looks like.

The Czech composer’s name was pronounced dvOr-ZAk, but his family in the U.S pronounces it dvOr-ak

The only real obstacle to our adoption of the Dvorak keyboard is that familiar fear of abandoning a long-held commitment. But if we were to overcome that fear, millions of our children would be able to learn to type with increased speed, greatly lowered finger fatigue, greater accuracy, and a reduced sense of frustration. That seems reason enough to end our commitment to QWERTY, a bad marriage that has long outlived its original justification.

Any, I find this all very interesting…maybe you will too.



Filed under: prairie musings — Peg Britton @ 8:57 pm


Twenty-two years ago the wacky adventure of Larry Walters really made my day. I couldn’t believe the news about him when I heard it. Of course, what I remember and what actually happened may not coincide exactly. It began at his girl friend’s house in San Pedro, California.

The news was filled with his wild adventure. The guy did something that just I found incredible.

“Larry Walters went to the local Army-Navy surplus store and purchased 45 weather balloons and several tanks of helium. He securely strapped the balloons to his sturdy lawn chair and anchored it to the bumper of his jeep and inflated the balloons with helium. Larry then donned a parachute and strapped himself into the chair as his friends helped him. He also took along a large bottle of soda, a portable CB radio to alert air traffic to his presence, and a BB gun to shoot the balloons when he was ready to come down.

Larry’s plan was to lazily float around the area and come back down in a few hours. But things didn’t quite work out for Larry. When the tether anchoring the lawn chair to the jeep snapped he streaked into the LA sky as if shot from a cannon where he leveled off at 16,000 feet! For several hours he drifted in the cold air. He eventually made his way into the primary approach corridor for LAX airport. A TWA pilot first spotted Larry. He radioed the tower and described passing a guy in a lawn chair… with a gun! Radar confirmed the existence of an object floating 16,000 feet above the airport. LAX emergency procedures went into full alert. Larry finally shot enough balloons to lower himself down safely. Although he was entangled in some power lines, he was uninjured.”

How he ever survived his flight, I’ll never know. I was glued to the news as his adventure unfolded.

“Since I was 13 years old, I’ve dreamed of going up into the clear blue sky in a weather balloon,” he said. “By the grace of God, I fulfilled my dream. But I wouldn’t do this again for anything.”

Unfortunately Walters killed himself with a shotgun blast to the chest when he was 44. His fantastic voyage took place when he was 33.

So next time your having a drink give it up to Mr. Walters.


Filed under: prairie musings — Peg Britton @ 3:52 pm


May 15, 2004

The School of Engineering at Southern Methodist University in Dallas has awarded the Mark Shepherd Award in Engineering for 2003-2004 to Mackenzie Britton of Salina. The award, named for the former chairman of Texas Instruments, is given to the outstanding student within the School of Engineering at SMU each year.

Britton, a Salina Central High graduate, is president of Tau Beta Pi, the national engineering honor society at SMU and is a member of Mortar Board. In addition, she is a participant in the SMU honors program. She was selected by the National Science Foundation as a senior undergraduate research fellow with the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Washington, D.C., in 2003. Britton is currently an industry scholar and is sponsored by EDS Corp., headquartered in Plano, TX.

Britton will graduate in May 2005 with dual degrees in computer engineering and mathematics. She plans to pursue a doctorate degree in computer or electrical engineering upon graduation.

(Sorry I can’t include the picture of her…alas.)


Filed under: prairie musings — Peg Britton @ 1:17 pm


Yesterday, I appointed myself the official “Stand in the Middle of Main Street in Downtown Wilson and Point” official pointer as I had my friend, Jesse Manning, in tow. There isn’t any traffic as the street is closed due to construction so it’s a great place to stand and point, as I did and often do. Larry Marker, who is always kidding with me anyway, came out of Ollie’s grinning, and asked what I was doing standing in the middle of the street and pointing upward and around and about. He laughed when I explained my new title for the day and so did Amy Swart, a real city official, who wanted to know what I was pointing at. “I’m the official Wilson pointer-outer today”, I said. “Self-appointed pointing official for tourists”. I knew if I stood there long enough pointing and gazing upward, everyone would come out of their buildings and look upward as well. We gotta have fun. There is a lot to see in Wilson and I didn’t want Jesse to miss any of it.

We went into Ollie’s Antiques so he could meet Corkie Holloway and Glenna Stallo and look around. She had green bean and dumpling soup and some great looking pies. We stopped in La Shiro’s but LaVange was off in the back someplace and didn’t hear my “Yooohooing”. Jennifer said I should always look around, and down, when she doesn’t answer, so I will next time. She has a heart problem. The mountains of bolts of fabric didn’t escape Jesse’s attention and I kept my eye on him so he wouldn’t slip and fall in a chasm of goods.

We had the grand tour of Jennifer Kepka’s new addition in the basement where she has an exercise room, tanning booths and bridal accessories. It’s a splendid addition to the town and very well done. Jesse couldn’t see the Sportsman’s Lodge as she has street construction workers staying there. I’m sorry he missed that as I know he would have loved seeing it and Doc’s woodworking products. Her gift store has about any item you might want including kolaches. I love her greeting cards and usually buy several when I’m there.

I had Jesse in tow, (he’s such a willing tow-ee!) and Wilson is a great town for standing in the middle of the street in order to do 360s and point out all the history that is evident in the second stories of their buildings starting with the Schemmerhorn Lange building. I love the Coca Cola sign on the side of Al’s Bar and Grill. Wilson is a great little town with a rich heritage and wonderful people.

We had lunch at the Midland which was a treat to share with him as he had not been there since it was renovated. I took him on a tour of the rooms and Drummers Tavern. According to plan, he tried their famous chicken-fried steak with “smashed” potatoes, gravy, broccoli and salad…Kansas Explorer Club style. Knowing he loves chocolate cake (he’s easy to feed as he likes about everything!), I ordered the mile high chocolate wonder cake that has layers of rich, moist chocolate cake layered with lots of fudgy, creamy, chocolate icing. It’s the best. They serve it drizzled with chocolate sauce and cherries. Yum! Ally got to sit down and eat with us, which is a treat since she rarely has time to do that. She had a busy day ahead of fact she’s going to be from now on through Czech Fest which is the last weekend in July. I had their low-carb plate that is really good, if you haven’t tried it.

The Testicle Festival is this weekend in Wilson at Al’s Bar and Grill. That’s an all day affair gathering the fun goers.

Dave Criswell has started another straw bale duplex so I took Jesse by there to see the good things Dave does for Wilson. He’s moving to town with his family after he fixes up Peppy Joe Vocasek’s building that he bought at auction a couple of weeks ago. We also did wheelies through Corky’s Das Borell Haus driveway so he could see what a wonderful job she has done with her B and B. I pointed out the old water tower as well. We saw the old jail and drove by Linda Bushnell’s house that I find so charming.

Then we headed north by the XXX Adult Arcade, stopped to visit with Terry but he wasn’t there and whoever was, was very surly, but he did his job in carding Jesse (who is 21 or close to it) so we left as we weren’t interested in what they sell anyway. We think Terry is only there making a living and people should be nice to him. They pay taxes too. Besides, I’ve been told by several people that there are a lot of Wilson people, especially women, who shop there. Whatever floats your boat.

We stopped at Kansas Originals as Jesse hadn’t seen this one before. We browsed around and talked to Mayor Eleanor who was busy as usual doing another stint as a volunteer. She works all the time doing good things for other people and Wilson. I suggested we needed to do something to bring some recognition to Ellsworth County as we’re the self-appointed “Chicken Fried Steak Capital of Kansas” and maybe we could turn this into our “giant ball of twine”.

I did make an observation while we were at Kansas Originals. There were two customer cars, mine and one other and six other vehicles belonging to employees of Kansas Originals. But guess what? I counted 14 vehicles of one type or another…cars, vans, campers, trucks, etc….that were hovering around the Smoky Valley Winery building, the gas station next door and the KO parking area which, in my estimation, discounted the claim that no one will pull off that exit because of the XXX sign. That is nothing more than a ruse and red herring on the part of someone to blame someone else for a business that is having financial problems. Also, in case you haven’t heard, the county commissioners were approached Monday to come to the rescue of Kansas Originals because (this is an approximation of what was said) the XXX has ruined their business and some how the commissioners are responsible for allowing it to happen.They want the commissioners to use tax payer money to bail them out. Hello??? Don’t they have, first out of the box, an idea of the precedent that would set? Sorry, but I don’t want my tax dollars spend that way. There are a few people who are absolutely obscessed with the Adult Arcade’s presence. They need to forget it and go on with their lives…seems to me.

Becky Thaemert’s Stone Cottage Farm is such a delightful place that I wanted Jesse to see it and meet Becky. She is such a neat person…and as I might have expected, was tending her garden that had a beautiful stand of white daisies in bloom. Lots of things are growing there right now and there will soon be another addition to the farm’s inhabitants. She and John have made wonderful strides in restoring the farm and all the limestone barns and out-buildings. I wish her the very best as she’s sure a hard-working, charming young woman. She’ s heading the right direction.

We wheeled through all the development at Wilson Lake. The housing there is rather amazing to me, so many houses and varied in construction. Some, I’ve heard, are slipping downhill on the layers of shale. Of course there is no zoning. Kansans are an independent lot.

It was a delightful day yesterday, the weather was near perfect so visiting and touring around with Jesse was a real pleaure. He doesn’t get home as much any more and is working at the University dairy this summer, probably “shoveling”, but he doesn’t mind hard work. He taking a couple of courses too so he’ll have a busy summer and not be home very often. He’s a very good correspondent so we’ll always stay in touch. We’re going to have our customary breakfast at Orozco’s before he leaves and try to find Jerry Marsh on a free day to join us.

Now, I’m going to post this before I lose it and will clean up the misspelled words later, as best I know how. And I wish Jesse’s dad a very speedy recovery from his out-patient surgery Tuesday. He’s doing fine.


Filed under: prairie musings — Peg Britton @ 10:43 am


I spent the last hour on a blog and lost it! It is exasperating when that happens as it means I have to start all over. Dangit anyway. Later!



Filed under: prairie musings — Peg Britton @ 6:52 pm


The Stressless Ekornes chair we drove all the way to Wichita to buy is now ensconced in its special place in the living room. This one should last a good 20 years, just like the last one. Brit will then be almost 100 years old and by then, if he needs another new one, we’ll send the kids after one. Although well broken in, Tyler loves that old chair of his grandpa’s and quickly laid claim to it for his bedroom.

The new chair sort of matches the other leather chairs we bought at the same place, Dane Design. The base is lighter and not like mine, which is teak. We wanted to come home with a chair that he liked. All in all, we live a Wabi Sabi existence… the quintessential Japanese aesthetic. It is a beauty of things imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete that surround us. It all goes with the feng shui bent of our house…the Chinese art or practice of positioning walls and objects based on a belief in patterns of yin and yang and the flow of chi that have positive and negative effects. Actually, it all fits together although you might not think so. It all suits us, but would never make a Better Homes and Garden center fold.

I have the same chair as Brit’s much used one, both Ekornes types, only mine is navy blue leather. It’s still in very good shape and serves my purpose well. Brit’s on the other hand, has had the leather arm rests replaced two times, has gone through a sack of nuts and bolts that broke for some reason and the leather looks like it was run through a paper shredder. He uses his chair a lot more than I do, but I don’t know how there can be that much difference. It’s a guy thing, body oil, hanging on to the newspaper tight fisted…and he comes in hot, tired and sweaty from working in the yard and sits in that chair to cool down. That’s mostly the problem. Clifford said the leather can handle that…the sweat just goes through the leather, but after awhile, it starts migrating back out to the surface. No wonder!!! After Clifford the store owner got through explaining what happens to leather, I burst out laughing and suggested every time Brit wanted to sit down, maybe he should take a shower first. I couldn’t resist.

Which reminds me of a funny incident last summer. We have some ancient handcarved, Polynesian wine dippers from Bali hanging in our kitchen. We treasure them and they are irreplaceable. My good friend, Meredith, was looking around one day last June and suggested I get rid of “those things” and replace them with one of a wide selection of $25 framed pictures they had at ALCO. She’d like one of any of them better than my wine dippers. I hooted with laughter and let her continue. I did borrow her table cloth which I love and am trying to confiscate permanently.

We saw a field of wheat just south of Moundridge that surely will be cut next week. We noticed how much riper it got as we went south, but this particular field was quite far ahead of all the others we saw.

We had lunch at the Macaroni Grill, which was the last place in the world I wanted to eat. Say Macaroni Grill and all I can see is pasta. It just happened to be on the right side of the street as I was heading out of town and was desperate. Actually, the food was excellent and we both loved our choice of the chef’s special. It was broiled filet of salmon with lobster chunks and lobster sauce over it that was just outstanding. So was the rice on the side and I’m not a big rice fan. It was long grain, with chopped fresh spinach and red bell peppers in a butter sauce. The bread dipped in olive oil and fresh black pepper was great as well. We both enjoyed it very much.

I passed all kinds of stores for big girls and I need clothes desperately…but I hate to shop and all I wanted to do was get out of that traffic and find my way back to the peace and quiet of my home. It will take a very desperate situation before I will intentionally drive back to Wichita.

Brit has mentioned before that he’s never been to Marquette, so I wheeled in town, stopped on main street and pointed out what a great job they have done with their buildings. We went in the drug store, which I just love, and got a couple of fresh limeades to go. Two grade school boys were there getting their daily after school treats of snicker-oreo-peanut butter milk shakes. Those boys are heading for linebacker fame. They were so cute and polite. It was a busy place. We tried to buy come cookies in the store that said “OPEN”, but it wasn’t. I noticed the sign next door advertising the biker’s breakfast on “Saterday”. They have a good deal going by sponsoring motorcycles races one weekend a month. I drove by Alan Lindfors house so Brit could see what a beautiful job he’s done restoring it. I’ve been inside and it’s a real jewel. Marquette is a neat place and has outlived its history of the KKK building their city park. That still amazes me.

Finally the secret access code arrived for my Zone Alarm. It doesn’t work! Wouldn’t you know.

Tomorrow I’m taking Jesse and Josh, if he can swing free, to the Midland for lunch. Jesse’s home for a couple weeks before he returns to Manhattan to work for the summer. We have a lot of catching up to do. Josh is doing heavy duty work in the family vegetable garden and reports the tomatoes are coming right along and they are enjoying a bountiful harvest of okra, which he loves. Me too.

Two more days of school and the grandsons are off for the summer. They have very busy schedules. Drew has a full time job this summer at the bank plus two or three other part time jobs on the weekends and during the evening. Tyler is working too. They are both going to do kitchen work at the Midland as Ally needs extra help. They’ve worked for her before for a couple of summers in Abilene. They are going back to Hutch to basketball camp. Tyler said he’d go to KU next year. I’d like for him to do that so he can take another look at KU. He was there when he was younger and learned his way around pretty well.

It has been a day. That’s all the blogging for tonight, that is, unless something really important comes to mind.

The paper is off to Hays to be printed. The boys will get finished a little earlier addressing, sorting and sacking all of them tonight which is good as they both have finals tomorrow and need to study. And…Linda is stranded at the newspaper and needs a ride home. So, I’m off to catch up on the news of the day.

Stay tuned.


What topic connects Doppler Effect to Big Bang Theory?

Filed under: prairie musings — Peg Britton @ 8:14 pm


Yea! I got the right answer. Now to have them draw my name out of the hat that contains the winning entries. Gurunet is fun and it has a dandy dictionary. The convenience of it and all the resource material is worth the price of the program. I enjoy reading the daily material that Gil Reich posts.

The college kids are arriving home. I always like this time of year as they seem to revitalize our communities. And they help with a lot of our projects.

I spent some time working in Publisher today, making some awards. I always enjoy that even though I’m not very good at it. The finished project comes out all right and everyone seems pleased. I’d like some kind of program like Publisher that is easy to use but that will do more things than publisher. Maybe I need to go to school and learn something about graphic design. I like that sort of thing.

All the above has to do with Ellsworth County being the “Chicken-Fried Steak Capital of Kansas”. All five restaurants in Ellsworth County …Paden’s, KC’s, the Midland Hotel, Made From Scratch and Al’s Bar and Grill…serve CFS the Kansas Explorer Club way and have received awards for it. No other county in Kansas can come close to that record. I think that could be our own “ball of twine” tourist attraction. We need signs at all county borders, and on the interstate, that denote our notoriety. People love to eat and what better than the long time Kansas favorite, chicken-fried steak? That ought to draw them in.

You see, you have to prepare it a certain way: it has to be made from fresh meat purchased locally, hand-breaded and seasoned then pan fried or grilled. If it’s thrown in a deep fat fryer, it’s absolutely the worst and won’t qualify. If it comes frozen out of a box, the restaurant should be leveled for serving such stuff. The standards are high!

Brit and I are heading to Wichita tomorrow. It’s our first “trip” together in a long time. We don’t go anywhere, to speak of, because we like staying at home. There is no place we really want to go. We love our house and being in it. It’s comfortable and it’s home. That speaks to our age and the fact we’ve been fortunate to do a lot of traveling in our younger years. Salina and Wilson don’t count. So, a trip to Wichita to pick up a new, special chair for Brit should be a real treat! Isn’t that sumpin’? Maybe we can find a neat place to have lunch.

My friend, Ann, from County Durham wrote and said I was slacking on my blog and hadn’t written anything for five days. Something must be wrong with the air waves as I’ve written a lot since the 20th when she accounted for my last posting. I asked her to pound on her refresh button. Maybe that will do it.

Stay tuned.



Filed under: prairie musings — Peg Britton @ 3:18 pm


Another commencement. That makes about 52 of them since I moved here. I missed a few, but not many. They do them right now, a progression from years of doing it wrong…or not so right. Forty minutes right on the button and I was out of the gym. It was packed and hot. I was one of the last in, sat by the door for an easy out, and was the first one out of the parking lot. I know where to sit where there might be a slight breeze. The music was good, although not secular (and I wonder how long they will continue to get by with that in all their music programs), there were only 51 graduates that I counted, the student speeches were very short. There was no “commencement address” and that was a good thing. They get repetitious and are usually poorly delivered. Best to avoid them.

The really memorable part was delivered by Jason Manes. I’ll see if he’ll part with a copy so I can post it. It was excellent. He’s a fine young man with a great future.

A good friend just called. She’s the first person I ever met on the internet and we remain good friends. She, her daughter and her daughter’s friend are coming the first part of June for a visit. The girls are in a dance competition in Salina on the 6th and I need to fill my usual role as grandma for Briana and stand-in grandma for her friend, Raven. That works for me. I’m Grandma Prairie to them.

Our dogwood tree is starting to bloom. Brit always looks forward to that as he loves dogwoods in bloom. He’s planted several, most have lived.

It’s time to go to the Denning residence for an after commencement party. I know what’s on the menu as we picked it up at Made From Scratch yesterday when we were in Wilson.

I’m upset the parole board, composed of three members on a 2-1 vote, let Thomas Bird out of prison. I’m sure you remember him as the Emporia minister who killed his wife, Sandy, in 1983 and solicited the murder of the husband of his church secretary aka lover, Lorna Anderson. He’s served 20 years for killing his wife. He pushed her car over an embankment of a river hear Emporia then put her body in it.

He was acquitted in 1990 in Geary County of the first-degree murder of Martin Anderson. Lorna, her husband Martin and their children pulled to the side of the highway as she said she was ill. She got out of the van and dropped her keys. Martin Anderson was killed by a “masked gunman” as he hunted for the keys. Both were cold, calculated murders.

Lorna is now going by her maiden name, Lorna Slater. She was denied parole in 2000 and will be up again in 2005.

I’m not sure twenty years is enough for either one of them for taking two innocent lives.

Kansas didn’t experience a single tornado yesterday, but Nebraska and Iowa were just riddled with them.

From the Connecticut Law Tribune: “The history of social progressivity is written in tumult, on parchment made of anger, dissension and incredulity. And yet, always our nation appears better for the changes. As a country founded on the notion of individual freedom, we are almost always improved by laws and court decisions that allow each of us to pursue happiness in our own ways, unfettered by social constraints. The change this week in Massachusetts will show the world that allowing same-sex marriage won’t harm our society.”

Andrew Sullivan in the New York Times: “Monday is not the day ‘gay marriage’ arrives in America. Monday is the first time that civil marriage has stopped excluding homosexual members of our own families. These are not ‘gay marriages.’ They are marriages. What these couples are affirming is not something new; it is as old as humanity itself. What has ended — in one state, at least–is separatism. We have taken a step toward making homosexuality a non-issue, toward making gay citizens merely and supremely citizens.”


Filed under: prairie musings — Peg Britton @ 12:09 pm


Our grandsons and several other Boy Scouts are really fortunate to have Steve Shepard as their scout master. The boys really like him. He goes out of his way to help them achieve their ranks, encourages their participation and takes them on exciting adventures. One of those occurred yesterday on the Smoky Hill River, a real Lewis and Clark expedition for 11 Boy Scouts.

I’m not exactly sure what their planned attack was for this trip, but it included going down the Smoky to Kanopolis Lake, a journey of about 25 miles, then across the lake to Horse Thief Canyon. As usual, they were well prepared for the planned part, but there is always the unexpected unplanned part that makes the trip more exciting.

They put their canoes in the water at 7:00 a.m. by the Boy Scout Cabin at the river bridge in Ellsworth. Despite recent rains, the river is low. It still had water in it for the most part, but the shallowness of some of the areas meant they were propelling canoes through the mud. It was hard work. They stopped for lunch along the way and ate their only food. The kids were starved at this point and expected to be home for a full meal at dinner time.

It wasn’t until 12 hours into their mission that they hit “the dip” at Kootz’s, and they still had a long way to go to get to the lake. A few of the scouts bailed out at this time as they had baseball practice. The remaining scouts had to drag the empty canoes behind their own.

All day they had been fighting strong head winds. After setting off again, they began to hit the back water coming at them from the lake. Pulling canoes behind them under those conditions was a real challenge. Along with that and the wind, those boys and their three adult leaders (Little Duke Ranker, son Todd and Steve Shepard) were just plum tuckered out. They didn’t get to the lake until it was almost dark. The white caps on the lake were high, the wind was blowing a gale and they knew they couldn’t cross the lake before it got dark. Pitch black.

They beached their canoes and trudged around the lake…I don’t know how far, but it’s a fer piece, several miles….in the brush and rough terrain until they reached Horse Thief Canyon. I guess they got home about midnight. Like my grandson said: “We could paddle 50 miles in 5 hours in the Canadian waters, but there’s water up there!”

They had fun and being exhausted is something those kids seem to thrive on. I imagine the adults are sore and tired today. They named the trip “Stevo’s Fun Adventure”. It was a good experience for all of them, one of many great times they have had together in scouting. Steve’s a great leader and sets a wonderful example for the boys. Thanks go to Duke and Todd as well.

The boys who made the trip were: Simon Orozco, Drew and Tyler Britton, Kyle and Ryan West, Quentin Wacker, Brandon Doubrava and Lucas Ranker. Their adult supervisors were: Steve Shepard, Dwayne Ranker and Todd Britton.

Thank goodness for cell phones. They kept in touch with the civilized world and those waiting at home.



Filed under: prairie musings — Peg Britton @ 8:43 pm


I have thought off and on about China, the importance of family there, and the effects of China’s limit on family size. With only one child per family, the words brother, sister, aunt, uncle, cousin, etc. will no longer be in common usage. Along with the loss of the words will come a dramatic change in society. Blood may remain thicker than water, but there will be oh so little shared blood.

Marcy Robinowitz


Filed under: prairie musings — Peg Britton @ 5:23 pm


Smarty Jones was in Philly just warming up around a track and 10,000 people showed up to watch.

I had lunch at Ollie’s in Wilson. It was pleasing to look at and delicious. Corky served us chicken salad on a croissant, a wedge of bright red, sweet watermelon, chips, a bowl of loaded-with-noodles beef noodle soup and a little petit four-type thingy of raspberry cheese cake. Her coconut cream (with meringue as it’s supposed to be!) pie was wonderful.

Maurice Green just burned up the track in 9.86 seconds.

I had a nice visit with my friend John who called for a little advice on trend micro virus check. We grew up in the 800 block of Highland in Salina. That seems like not so very long ago. I always enjoy my contacts with friends from the old days. It feels good. He’s a nice guy.

My scanner is working again. Don’t know why it stopped but Luke got it fixed when he was here. I’m glad because I had occasion to use it to send a voucher to my recent houseguest. When she comes back, I’m putting a big box by the door so I can keep all the stuff they left behind. I say that with a big smile as I wish they were here now.

Dane was here the other day talking about a friend of his who bought one of those very fancy motor homes that has a starting price of well over a mil. This used one with 24,000 miles was a bargain at $750,000. Brit and I find that amazing. That price just floored us. In addition, why would anyone want to go to all that expense and trouble to drive one of those huge, long things trailering a car behind just to get someplace else? Especially the someplace else where you have to find a place to park it, pay a hefty rental parking fee and then have snoring, fighting people parked 10 feet away from you? That sounds like no fun at all to us.

Think about stopping at every small town on the way and filling those tanks with gas, at $2.00 plus a gallon. At the price for that rig you could stay in the Waldorf for years.

We even speculated as to how far we’d get down the road before we were at each other and calling the kids to come get us. We figured we’d make it to about Brookville before the trouble began. “Dane, we’re in Tupelo and your dad has just taken the roof off the Dairy Queen drive-up window. I’ve had it! Come get me. I’m coming home!” Dane then calls his brother. “Todd, it’s your turn this time. You go get mom. She at the Dairy Queen in Tupelo. Dad took the roof off the place and she’s not driving another mile with him!’” Todd : “Dane, it’s your turn to go get them. Ally and I went last month when they got mired in the sand in Mojave”. Dane: “That doesn’t count. If you and Ally are going to pair up, you have to double your trips.” Todd: “Okay, I’ll go this time, but you go get them next time! Why didn’t they have more kids?”

I’m know some people have a wonderful time on the road, but it isn’t for us. We enjoy our home and friends too much for that kind of moving around…and we need our space, a lot of it.

Well, I wonder what there is for dinner?



Filed under: prairie musings — Peg Britton @ 4:44 pm


There are no new members to introduce this period. I can assure you it is not a lack of effort. I am currently nurturing five potential candidates. Stay tuned. Our current membership count is:

71 Full….12 Friend….36 Associate.

We appear to have lost no members from 2004. That is really remarkable and indicates that the Chamber is apparently meeting the needs of the business communities and working diligently to continue to deserve your support. I express my personal gratitude for such loyalty to our Chamber. Any chamber would be proud of such a retention rate. In the future I will not include new member numbers from last year’s membership drive. Results will be reported monthly on 2004 only. Those figures to-date are: Full, 9 – Friend, 5 – Associate, 6.



Filed under: prairie musings — Peg Britton @ 4:28 pm


On April 1, 1999 David L. Smith of Aberdeen, New Jersey admitted to creating the Melissa virus shortly after his arrest. Smith said he named the virus after a female stripper he met in Miami, Florida.


If you want to test your computer for viruses, here is the site I used. It won’t work on Mozilla but works on MSIE:

You may have to download a plug in to make it work. Following that, you just check all the drives you want checked, click Auto Clean, then Scan. It takes awhile.

If anything shows up, you can delete it, or whatever you think you should do. It will tell you what the virus are, the scan results and the files that are infected. I just ran mine again and nothing showed up. Yea!!!!

Then go to the Ad Aware website and download it. It’s good free software. Run a scan and see what it picks up. Unless you are playing games on your computer, delete everything it detects.

That’s the way I got rid of my 11 trojans and worms and other assorted viruses. I seem virus free now…and to my knowledge, I’ve never had a virus before. I was invaded when I was vulnerable and without anti-virus protection.

Number one son requested I post this. I’m no guru so use at your own risk.


Filed under: prairie musings — Peg Britton @ 3:39 pm


The college girl was supposed to write a short story in as few words as possible for her English class and the instructions were that it had to include Religion, Sexuality and Mystery.

She was the only one who received an A+ and this is what she wrote:

“Good God, I’m pregnant, I wonder who did it?”


Filed under: prairie musings — Peg Britton @ 9:26 am


I’m amazed at how many people, including me, who didn’t know there were viruses that specifically attacked Norton and McAfee anti-viruses programs that disabled the ability to upgrade or connect to their websites. Who in the world would want to spend hours devising a program doing that? You’d think they’d want to concentrate on something that had a potential benefit, wouldn’t you? I know now what it is after days of anguishing over the problem. I lost about six months of useful Norton protection in the process. That has happened before for other reasons so I just switched to McAfee for a change. It was a little like getting fed up with a political party and switching “over”.

I wasted hours ridding myself of eleven viruses that were doing nothing to my computer, because it was running fine, and only caused frustration at not being able to install virus protection. It was something you don’t know about, or that it even exists, which is the way with computers. I just had to keep asking around until I found someone who had experienced the same problem…and that was Bob at Cebridge. So you all know now what I learned the hard way.

Anything new takes adjustment and the older you are, in the way I react, the longer it takes to learn a new program. I’ve installed McAfee and Zone Alarm and have them up and running. Even though I purchased both, there are little tricks to getting the upgrades. Zone Alarm, it says, is two years old and I need a key, which is supposed to come in email after you register the product, to get the upgrades. Of course that didn’t happen. Today I hope to figure that out. Nothing is simple or quick.

I’ve installed the 1000 Fonts and I’m trying to figure out how to get all my fonts in one place where they merge with all my other fonts so that I have easy access to 1,500 of them…or whatever. Jesse will be here next week and maybe he can help me figure that out.

I also haven’t been able to sort a list in Outlook, but I know an Outlook guru who might give me a lead with that. Outlook can be very frustrating at times, but it does a lot of things I want it to do so I stick with it. I’ve also used Eudora and Pegasus in my early computer days. All the programs have improved since then. Eudora still has a lot of pluses.

Our company left late yesterday afternoon and I wished they could have spent another night just so we could relax and visit about more things. They were lovely, interesting, appreciative house guests. They left me a bundle of The Kansas Traveler which I’ll start passing out today. I’ll take some to the Antique Mall so if you are in there, pick one up as the first edition is free. Pass it on to someone else after you finish reading it. It’s a great little publication and only costs $10 for four editions a year. It will be helpful to those of us Kansans who intend to do some exploring this summer to find all the “Big Balls of Twine” that are found throughout Kansas.

Graduation is Sunday. After being required to attend 18 of those when I was on the school board, the thought of sitting through another commencement speech since then has just been too much. I’ll go and look forward to the party afterward. Next year Drew and Mackenzie will graduate and I hope they aren’t scheduled on the same weekend as I don’t want to miss either one. It’s a little different when they are your own.

It’s going to be another hot one today.



Filed under: prairie musings, friends, Wilson Musings — Peg Britton @ 9:43 am


I’m amazed at the number of people who just love chicken-fried steak. There are times when I think I’m about the only one who doesn’t. Well…I like it well enough to eat it if it is placed in front of me, but I’ve only ordered it a few times in my life and each time it was the Explorer way which is “the best”. I’d just rather have something that wasn’t breaded and fried.

Which brings me to the point of this story: our house guests/friends love chicken-fried steak and have had it at the Midland and KCs since they have been here. They loved it both times and that is because it’s prepared the Explorer way…with fresh meat purchased locally, hand-dipped and breaded, and grilled or pan fried. No pre-breaded, frozen steaks tossed in a deep fat fryer for those folk.

You can see Karen’s CFS Explorer Club award at KCs hanging on the wall by the kitchen. Our guests last night ordered CFS and said it was excellent. Give it a try if you haven’t already done so as it is truly award-winning. Ellsworth County is the Chicken Fried Capital of Kansas. I opted to have the bacon cheddar cheeseburger with lots of extra onions, lettuce and tomato. It’s one of the best burgers going.

The final day of the 2004 Kansas Scenic Byways Conference ends today. The final list of presenters include Susan and John Howell who developed and maintain the Kansas Byways website; Martha Slater of First Generation Video of Hutchinson; Linda McCowan, facilitator for the Prairie Enterprise Project; Dollie Mathes of the Sunflower RCD; Dave and Mary Hendricks of the Smoky Valley Scenic Byway; Dennis Adams of the Federal Highway Administration, National Byways Program…and Marci Penner of the Kansas Sampler Foundation who will leave all the participants revved up and headed for home to meet all the challenges facing them with renewed vigor.

Participants reported that it has been very good conference. About 50 from across the state have attended. I think Connie Dougherty from Lucas was the engine that got the conference located in Wilson. That was a good deal. The Midland served lunch to the group two days (I hear Ally served warm homemade potato chips with the lunch yesterday that were a hit). Today she is serving Mexican taco salad buffet. Last night the group had dinner at the Sylvan Dollar Saloon so some of the local restaurants and businesses have profited from the presence of the group. They have several conferences scheduled to take place at the Midland this summer so that is a good thing. Ally has worked hard to make that happen.

Time to run some errands!



Filed under: prairie musings — Peg Britton @ 5:01 pm


Remember the other day when I went searching for fonts to replace the ones I lost in the reformatting endeavor? Well, my computer worked fine once I located what I thought was the culprit and removed it. But I never could connect to Norton to upgrade. It was exasperating since I also could not connect to any of their help websites. I found that very strange. My only alternative was to call them and that costs more that buying a new anti-virus program.

So that’s what I did. I bought McAfee anti-virus and I also couldn’t connect with that either, or to any of the McAfee help websites. Mackenzie helped me go over my settings, those illusive ones I never remember to check, and all was well. She suggested I call Cebridge.

Well, Bob knew right away what was wrong, he thought, and set me on a path to correct it. It was a virus that had invaded my computer that was programmed to do just the very thing it was doing…keep me from registering, updating, downloading or connecting to the two major anti-virus companies.

Guess what? I had 11 trojans and worms at work that I found and after three hours of going to House Call and Ad aware and then getting McAfee registered and updated I was on a roll. But…I couldn’t get it to scan. Finally, after being persistent with the program, I must have overridden a glitch and got it to work. It found all 11 plus another. They are all out of the way now and everything, I think, is working fine.

That took too many days out of my life. I feel pretty good about getting it all fixed without having to call in a techie. I’ve found Cebridge very helpful when I’ve had a problem.

Our house guests arrived yesterday and we were their guests for a delightful dinner at the Midland. Later we had a lovely visit on our deck…getting better acquainted. It was a wonderful evening. I don’t know what is in store for us tonight as they haven’t returned from the conference in Wilson. There will be more deck sitting after it cools off. I think we’ll have dinner at KCs.

I made a quick run to Wilson this morning and after my errands, I stopped in to see Corkie at Ollie’s Antiques. She was getting lunch ready for the Wilson ECED committee. Corkie has very good soup and sandwiches, and homemade pies and cinnamon rolls. If you haven’t gone there for lunch, I suggest that you do. Her food is great.

It really warmed up today.


Filed under: prairie musings — Peg Britton @ 2:32 pm


IN THE SPRING of 2000, Vermont became the first state in the union not only to recognize same-sex partnerships, but to make sure that every single right outlined in the Vermont Constitution and Vermont laws applied equally to heterosexual and homosexual Vermonters. Every right but one. Gay and lesbian Vermonters do not have the right to call their unions marriage.

The fallout was the least civil public debate in the state in over a century, since the “wets” and “dries” battled in the middle of the 1800s. Death threats were made, epithets were used, not only on the streets and in the general stores but on the floors of both the Senate and the House, as the bill was being debated. Otherwise respectable church leaders railed against homosexuals and not so respectable ones organized political action committees vowing to oust any legislator who voted for the bill. Five Republican members of theHouse lost their seats in primaries. In the general election, Democrats lost control of the House for the first time in 14 years, as the Republicans piled up nearly a 20-vote majority. My own race, for a sixth term, was the most difficult in my career.

Four years later, we wonder what the fuss was all about. Civil unions were never an issue in Vermont in the 2002 election and will not be this fall. The intensity of anger and hate has disappeared, replaced by an understanding that equal rights for groups previously denied them has no negative effect on those of us who have always enjoyed those rights. My marriage has not become weaker. In fact, the gay and lesbian community has had to undergo a significant adjustment. Couples who have been together for many years have had to reexamine their commitments not only in the light of the full legal rights that married couples enjoy, but in light of the full legal responsibilities that also bind married couples.

Same-sex couples in Vermont pay the marriage penalty when filing taxes, and are entitled to equal division of property under Vermont law if they split up. The state and other major employers no longer recognize domestic partnerships for health and other benefits since those benefits are available for those in civil unions or those in marriages, no longer for those of either sexual orientation who are simply living together. Although a majority of Vermonters opposed the bill when I signed it, that is no longer true today.

Is there a lesson here for Massachusetts? Perhaps. The Commonwealth will not collapse today, and the prognosis, based on Vermont’s experience, is good. Just as the civil rights movement and subsequent integration began the process of removing painful stereotypes held by whites about African-Americans, so does the open declaration and subsequent demand for equal rights begin to remove stereotypes about the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered community.

Here are some facts about gay and lesbian Americans. Like straight Americans, gay and lesbian Americans are far more concerned about family matters such as jobs, education, and health care than they are about sexual matters. Gay Americans are patriotic, serve in the armed forces, and die in the service of their country. One of the most extraordinary people I met when I was running for President was an 80-year-old gay veteran who had served on the beach in Normandy during D-day.

From a medical point of view, there is a strong genetic component to being gay or lesbian. Despite the protestations of the right wing, there is virtually no scientific evidence that sexual orientation can be
changed, although we know that throughout history, sexuality both gay and straight can be repressed, often with disastrous results. While it is true that the Bible (largely the Old Testament) condemns
homosexuality in a few places, it equally condemns eating shellfish. Jesus never mentions homosexuality.

The bottom line is this: America is grappling with the discarding of old stereotypes about a group of
people who have been part of our country since America has been a country. This is a painful process. Massachusetts hopefully will not have as hard a time as Vermont did, but the struggle is a real one, and will be painful for institutions as well as individuals. All Americans are diminished when we allow stereotyping to dismiss the worth of fellow Americans.

All Americans are stronger, and the nation is stronger, when we judge people by who they are, not what they are.

By Howard Dean | May 17, 2004
Howard Dean, former governor of Vermont, is the founder of Democracy for America, a grassroots organization to support and train political candidates.

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