My Work

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Introspection 2011

Lists, this time of year, are as plentiful as weeds in spring, so I will not add to the barrel.  That said, one should take a moment from time to time for introspection, and the new year stands as a beacon for one of those times.  My publishing career, with its major change from reporting and editing to that of writing fiction and poetry, and as the one doing the writing, is a change for the better.

Murder, political intrigue, rape, and incest are still the subjects at hand, but now, I can choose the characters, make them behave any way I wish, and see to it that the good guys win once in a while and the bad guys go down hard.  I can add flowery verse or doom and gloom, create fun characters, or evil, horrible ones at the click of a keystroke.  My choice.

None of that should put my long career as a reporter in a bad light.  I had the honor and pleasure of publishing and editing the Virginia City Legend weekly newspaper for more than three years, I had a grand time as senior editor at Nevada’s AdNews for several years, and most recently spent almost seven years as editor of the Nevada Observer, and being able to report on statewide events and happenings.

And, I can’t leave out my initial years in journalism as a broadcaster.  I spent many hours with McClatchy’s KOH in Reno, with DonRey’s KOLO in Reno, and with other radio outlets in Sacramento, Lodi, San Jose, and Watsonville.

I guess what that ends up saying is, I know murder, political intrigue, rape, and incest, and can have a grand time for many years to come creating fun, scary, hopefully interesting stories with totally fictional characters drawn from real life.

So, there’s my list, and may yours bring you as much pleasure.  Have a grand New Year, read good books, and stay regular.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Your Christmas Card

A Christmas Card from Jolly Old Johnny.  Please enjoy these tid-bits of poetic fun, have a wonderful, warm, safe Christmas, and may 2012 be one of the best years ever.

Each of these poems have my copyright, of course, but if you care to pass them on to others, just please also pass on the writer’s name.

by Johnny Gunn

Cookies and sweets, mixed, poured,
Baked and cooled, topped with sweet
Butter and more sugar, ready to be
Spread among neighbors and friends.

Tinsel, colored balls, lights and candles,
Hung, nailed, draped, lit and displayed,
While Bing and Ella sing of reindeer and elves,
and old Foggy himself tells about chestnuts.

Snow is swirling in a cold norther, leaves
Mixing in a jolly dance, icicles broken from
Eaves and floating in punch, it’s almost time
For a visit from Kris Kringle, the gift giver.

This season of joy and peace, warmth and love
Spread thick as a wool three point Hudson Bay,
Gives our hearts and souls a break from reality,
A reason to grasp and hug even some we don’t

Care to hug and grasp at other times.  Joy
To The World, the choir sings, voices swelling
In their glee, and our voices return the pledge, our
World, one day at least, safe, warm, peaceful.

Those Holly Jolly Blues
by Johnny Gunn

Here he comes,
            Dancin’ and shakin’ and laughin’ and givin’,
            Awash in the holly jolly mood, covered in
                        Wools and fur, reds and whites.

‘An here I am,
            Cryin’ and poutin’ and cussin’ and sad,
            Feelin’ sorry for me, not carin’ ‘bout nothin.
                        Ripped denim, dirty socks, not white.

In you walk,
            Dancin’ and shakin that bootie, givin’ me life,
            Prancin’ about in heels and net, covered in
                        Silks and gauze, reds, and sheer.

No blues tonight,
            Not with a princess in hand, Santa Claus smile,
            Santa Claus laugh, a holly jolly mood, us covered
                        In reds and whites and satin sheets.

by Johnny Gunn

            Plum pudding has no plums, while Yorkshire pudding has no
            little terriers swimming about in a sea of brandy.
            Actually, has no brandy.

            Why on earth would we work so hard to make something made
            from rendered beef fat and apples,
            And then call it plum pudding?

            Or work our little minds into a twit with flour and eggs and skim
            milk, baking the morsels to a golden bread,
            Only to call it Yorkshire pudding?

            Ah, glorious Christmas.  We kill trees and say we’re making them
            pretty, we create a gift giving elf, so in just a few years,
            We can tell children he doesn’t exist.

            Tradition!  Tradition!  Dance, ye merry gentlemen, and plunder the
            pudding, for in just a week, remember, Auld
            Lang Syne will prevail.

by Johnny Gunn

Snow flying wildly through the cosmos,
Santa facing heavy turbulence,
Cookies baking deliciously.

Offerings of nog and gaily striped canes,
A tree filled with garlands of color,
Oak burning brightly.

Friends and fellows and lovers gathered,
Singing of a coming, an offering, from above,
And believing.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

NTSB and Texting

The state of Nevada, along with others, passed a law making the use of electronic communication devices illegal to use while operating a vehicle, and now, the federal government is suggesting the same law.  This is one more example of government doing something that is best left to private enterprise, along the same lines as mandatory seat belt use, motorcycle helmets, and child seats.  It also proves a secondary point: private enterprise often prefers government intervention.

The use of seat belts, the wearing of helmets, the non-use of communication devices could all be handled with one very small statement on each insurance policy that is issued, if the buyer of that policy wished it.  All it would have to say is something along these lines.

“This policy is null and void if
(Seat belts not used, communications devices being used,
helmets not worn, child seat not used).”

If the owner of the vehicle had the opportunity to opt out, he or she would be doing so from a position of knowledge, not being bludgeoned by an overzealous government.  Like smoking, most intelligent people are aware it is a health hazard, and are equally aware that seat belts are a proven safety device, as are helmets and child seats.  The actual point of course has very little to do with whether or not Big Brother gives two hoots and a damn about your safety, the true concept is one more opportunity to fine you.

Example.  I flew as a private pilot for many years, actually owned a couple of pretty nice little airplanes, and there was not then nor is there now any law, state or federal, that mandates the pilot or passengers in a private aircraft be belted.  Why?  There are no air cops to pull you over and give you a ticket.

I would be willing to bet a lot of money, maybe not as much as Mitt Romney wanted to bet the other night, but a lot, that the insurance lobbies in Washington will be pushing for all they are worth to get that federal law passed.  It takes the burden off their shoulders, but it increases the overall size of government intervention.  If the insurance industry is really interested in keeping us safe, thereby not paying out for injuries and death, they would take a strong position on this, take the lead, and make the use of seat belts, the wearing of helmets, and the non-use of communication devices a part of their plans.

Then again, maybe this is just my Libertarian streak coming to the surface.  If the National Transportation and Safety Administration actually gets that law passed, the government then will have another hammer to use against the states, and in turn, us.  I would love to hear what Thomas Jefferson might say if the Continental Congress had passed legislation mandating the use of a safety belt in his carriages.  The guffaws from old B. Franklyn would be echoing today. 

Have a great day, read good books, and stay regular.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Good News For a Change

This is starting out to be a great month.  Rope and Wire, the fine western story e-magazine,, has published one of my stories, invited me to have a blog on the site, which I have started, and now has created a book store within the site.  It will feature, among many others, my book, a collection of western short stores called, Out of the West … Tales of the American Frontier.

And …

I don’t know if you’ve ever run into the series of humor called Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader or not, but the anthologies are often screamingly funny.  My short story, “Cold is My Love”, will be in the next issue out, which they are calling Uncle John’s Flush Fiction.  A note from the associate editor, Brian Boone says the collection is “Excellent.”  Don’t know the publication date yet, and will keep you informed.

I now have five Simon Sol Dorsey mystery noir short stories written and am furiously working on the first Sol Dorsey novel.  Dorsey is a private detective lost in the 21st Century, acting more like a private dick from the mid nineteen hundreds.  More on this as things develop.

Have a great day, read good books, and stay regular.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

What Civics Class?

I’m wondering if what we’re seeing in Washington right now isn’t fall out from a failure in our education system to teach civics, government, politics.  There has never been a time that “all or nothing” has worked in a political system unless that system was led by a dictator.

Many years ago, most educational systems gave up on teaching civics.  Why that happened is a mystery to most, but it has led to more than one generation not knowing how government works, and some of those uneducated in the practice are now serving in congress.  It has also led to many people only participating in elections during the presidential cycle.

There is a tremendous lack of knowledge on the three segments of our government, the legislative, that is, congress, judicial, the court system with the supreme court the last stop, and the president.  Less seems to be known of our constitution, the Bill of Rights, even the Declaration of Independence.

All of this can be seen in how many in the Tea Party movement feel about government and its workings.  As much can be seen by the Occupy people.  When our leadership consists of those uneducated in government leadership, we have our current situation:  All or Nothing.  A government that is supposed to represent the citizens of the country must be able to reach decisions by way of compromise, it cannot operate by decree or you have what is described as dictatorship.

Many in the ultra liberal wing of the democrat party believe strongly in socialism, want government to be the all knowing master of all things, but to have that, those representing the government must be educated in how government works.  Many in the ultra conservative wing of the republican party feel most government operations must be curtailed or ended, but again, without a full knowledge of how our government works, and why, simple decrees won’t work.

Leadership carries a heavy burden, which includes education, courtesy, respect for the opposition, and the ability to compromise, otherwise, anarchy and dictatorship becomes the law of the land.  We’re seeing a failure of leadership at most levels of government.  Police out of control because of a lack of leadership; states, cities and counties near bankruptcy from a lack of those in power willing to make the hard decisions; congress unable to see past their own political ambitions; and an electorate unwilling to make the smallest effort to know who they are voting for and why.

Our problems aren’t a failure of the free enterprise system or representative democracy, our problems are a failure of our educational system.  Personal responsibility, personal ethics, and respect for our fellow beings is not practiced in big business or politics.  It isn’t taught in MBA programs or law classes.  Government isn’t taught in grammar, high, or university schools.

If we don’t make changes to those systems, in the words of one Star Wars character, “We’re doomed.”

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Thanksgiving and Other Thoughts

A celebration of the harvest, a time set aside to say thanks for what we have, and to give some serious thought to what we want.  Despite the Patriot Act, we are still the one nation that prides itself on personal freedoms and our elections are not fraught with the corruption of so many other countries.  All, of course, is not rosy: an economy that is filled with danger from arrogant bankers and other Wall Street sharks; potential wars and conflicts in the Middle East; leadership, and a lack of, that is more prone to represent those that pay the most rather than those that vote; and a huge denial from too many that our world has been seriously damaged by the industrial revolution and our dependence on carbon based fuels.

Many of these problems have large fangs and are about to bite us in our posteriors soon, and others, with equally large fangs, will do their biting over a long period of time, but all can be corrected with proper leadership, education, and effort.  Congress and the president need to force oversight of banking, investing, and trading, for starters.  Those involved in those trades need to be forced into situations where simple ethics are the controlling factors. 

Remember when you got your first license to drive?  “This license to drive is not a right, it is a privilege, and as such, can be taken away.”  Or words of a similar nature were probably explained to you.  Trading, lending, developing are not rights, they are privileges, and the rules need to be re-written and enforced.  For the money industry to have imploded as it did indicates a complete lack of oversight by those in charge.  Was it accidental?  As is so often said in any investigation, follow the money.  Those responsible for the oversight were put in office by large amounts of money from the trading, lending, and development industries.

The Occupy Movement, while indicating an involvement by citizens is going after the wrong people.  How many of those throwing bricks and rocks at the cops have voted for a representative to serve them?  Those are the scoundrels, those in congress and other high political office.  The economic gurus are doing what they do because they can, because they bought the necessary representation.  To paraphrase: “it’s Congress, Stupid!”  Too few people take the time or make the effort to discover where the campaign money comes from.  Campaign finance laws and rules are written by those campaigning, so to follow the money has been made as difficult as possible.

It isn’t a case of not understanding science when politicians say that a warming of the earth isn’t really happening, it’s a case of who is paying them to say that.  There is no such thing as clean coal.  There is no such thing as a burning petroleum product not giving off tons of carbon dioxide.  As long as our major industries and life styles are based on carbon based fuels, we will continue to warm the atmosphere until there is another mass extinction.  It won’t be dinosaurs that will disappear, but well over seven billion humans, which then will create a new source of oil a few million years down the line.

The mess in the Middle East is so intricate and involved, it has to be a safe bet that we will have a standing military presence for many years to come.  It started following WWI when the British simply carved up nations, gave them names, and left.  That problem was exacerbated following WWII when the state of Israel was created.  And, actually, it all began back in the Crusades eras.  Between political Tomfoolery and religious zealotry, it’s more than doubtful that anyone alive today will see peace in the area.

At the Gunn household, there are many things for us to be thankful, among them good health, no wealth, warm fires, and a full pantry.  Our harvest this year didn’t match that of last year, but we have much canned and frozen, we have enough in the wood pile to reach what should be spring, we have children that we love and cherish, and most important, we have each other.  From us, have a happy Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Dishing it out

I have been under the opinion that cable providers were required to carry local programming when available, but apparently that isn’t necessarily so for satellite providers.  Dish Network no longer provides Reno’s KTVN, Channel two, and that is simply not right.  Yes, it is free over the air, but that isn’t what I pay for. 

KTVN is the one source in the morning that employs a professional weather person, not a weather reader, and is the first source during a storm to update their information.  Seems to me that I’m being denied because Dish can deny me.

On another note.

The Reno Gazette-Journal’s coverage of Nevada Day activities was the worst of any newspaper in the state.  A political commentary was the extent of their coverage, so once again, I’ve been short changed because I bought the Sunday paper to see some of the grand sights that took place during the activities.  The days of Warren Lerude and Frank Johnson are truly dead.

And yet another quick note.

Good news on the writing front.  My short story, “Three Fingered Jack”, has been published in the e-zine Rope and Wire.  Go to scroll down to traditional short stories and click on that.  Good way to start the month.

Have a great day, read good books, and stay regular …

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Frost nipped noses

It’s been a busy few days around the old homestead.  Winter’s frosty fingers have been brushing our necks, so the outside water pipes are all covered in warm fuzzy stuff and lined with heat tape.  No matter how hard I try, the animals will not accept the fact they can’t have fresh water because the pipes are frozen.

Talking to them is like listening to Barack Obama.  Lots of words, no flesh and bone.  Of course, it’s still difficult to accept the 9-9-9 theory.  At least some of those people are talking economics not bible thumping.

If we get the Wall Street sitters to force changes in corporate oversight law and election campaign finance law, and the Tea Partiers to force reductions in the federal spending and federal obesity, we might end up living back when living in this country was more than side-stepping poverty.

Patty and I have cut, split, and stacked slightly more than three cords of wood, which will force the propane dealers to look elsewhere for their tithe.  Heating an ancient (1978 model) when the wind blows and the thermometer holds steady at 20 below, ain’t exactly easy.  It’s become an art around here.  All our large windows, on the office, living room, and master bedroom face south, so on those nice sunny days we get lots of help.

Lots of help is what many of the politicians talk about, but rarely attempt.  Why should federal contracts mean more than existing businesses when what we’re attempting to do is create jobs.  Jobs in the private sector are far more meaningful, from a purely economic standpoint, than those created to rebuild infrastructure, which by their very meaning, end when the job is done.

Back to it now.  Corn stalks need to be cut and stacked, chicken coops need their annual cleansing, and the goats have knocked their water trough over again.  As always, read good books and stay regular.  Ta…

Monday, October 17, 2011

Our Next President? Who?

The question many of us will have to answer next November is whether or not we want a born-again Christian in the White House.  I’m of the opinion, at least at this moment, that I don’t, and there are several reasons for my thoughts.  Primarily, I think, it’s because I’ve never held a discussion with a BAC that the subject hasn’t been brought up.  Whether discussing a business proposition to planning a camping trip, every decision is based on that person being a BAC.

I want a president whose first thought isn’t from the stand point of a BAC, but rather, from the position of the leader of the republic.  I want the president to think first of the consequences of 1776, of the formation of the republic, and of the enactment of the constitution.

We see in the news pages everyday what happens when theology overwhelms rule or law.  We find it in Muslim countries in which their own Koran is deciphered in fifty different views to Christian countries torn apart by the exact same bible the two sides swear by.  Think Ireland.  Rabid Catholics, evangelicals, Shiites, and Jews all have the exact same philosophy; do it my way or you’re wrong.

The United States of America is not a Christian country.  Those that wrote the Declaration of Independence called on God, everyone’s God, for there were as many sects then as now, as many religions then as now, but all calling on the same God, just not the same church.  I believe that an Evangelical in the White House would be making decisions based on being a BAC rather than being an American, and that would bring as much chaos as we’ve seen in the Arab and Persian countries this year.

As the leader of one of the strongest and richest countries in the history of the world, his first responsibility must be to the republic, which is made up of many Christian sects, Muslim sects, Jewish sects, don’t forget Hindu, Buddhist, and on an on.  A polyglot of religions, sects, churches, beliefs, philosophies.  Oh, and there are some that simply don’t believe.

I believe our next president must be prepared to lead the republic as a whole, and not make decisions based on a radically narrow point of view as is often voiced by born-again Christians.  Using examples from the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights, the president should be able to do what is best for the republic.

And, while we’re at it, all the current crop of candidates and wanna-be’s, let’s start talking about the economy, about oversight of International Corporations, about fairness in the tax code, and about government programs that have become more than obese through lack of oversight, and get religion out of the debates.

Take a chance and read a good book, and always, stay regular.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Coming Together

Some of the polls being released dealing with the upcoming presidential election seem to indicate that, at least on the Republican side of the picture, the crazies are being set aside for those that want to talk about the state of the nation.  One thing that certainly needs to be discussed is the findings of a poll recently released that indicates that the vast majority of our citizenry has negative thoughts about where we are, where we are going, and who is going to get us there.

Sometimes, a large majority can be upset by a single issue, but in the case of this particular poll, there was discontent with congress, with the president, with the courts, and with just about everything dealing with life in America today.  Taking a few seconds to think about it, it is completely understood.  Members of Congress no longer represent the people that elected them, the president, not just this one, mind you, is far more interested in personal recognition than leading those of us that can be led, and the courts seem rather busy making law.

Our schools rarely teach what used to be called civics, so too many people today are not aware of how our system of government works, or why.  Local governments have more control over your money than the federal government.  Taxes collected by county, city, and state far exceed what the feds take.  And, the president doesn’t have much to do with any of that.  Those that only vote in presidential elections have no concept of who takes most of their money.

In a recent city election in Las Vegas, less than fifteen percent of those eligible voted, meaning that just a couple of hundred people were able to decide who would hold the purse strings for a population of more than two million.

There is a tremendous uproar within the Republican hierarchy about the Teaparty and the new representatives in Congress who say they represent that party.  The liberal wing of the Democratic party, led by Pelosi and Reid, is incensed over the Teaparty, and those that voted for those representatives are delighted.  Those representatives elected as members of the Teaparty are among the very few that can call themselves representatives of the people that elected them.  While their political philosophy may be rather narrow in scope, it has resonated with force.

From a different angle, but with the same resounding force, are those that are marching on Wall Street and demanding that government once again represent them, not those that spread joy by way of dollars and power.  The two forces, Teaparty and Anti Wall Street, are political opposites working toward the same end.  One, wanting less government that represents the people, the other wanting less government intervention by big corporations, and more representation by the people.

And the leadership of both major parties isn’t listening.  Take the extreme out of the Teaparty and the Anti Wall Streeters, and you have a political force that could change the face of Washington, for the better.

Read a good book lately?  Please do, and stay regular. Ta.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

A National Religion? No!

Old Ben Franklyn fought most of his life to keep organized religion out of what became the constitution of the United States of America.  He and others, such as Thomas Jefferson, fully accepted the concept of God, but were adamant in keeping “churches” out of government.  Now, we have too many people demanding that this country proclaim a national church, which is forbidden by the constitution.  Sarah Palin is out, now we need to get Bachman and Perry out, along with others demanding a state church or religion.

The purpose of specifically denying a national religion is to give every religion an equal opportunity to exist; to give every citizen the right to his or her belief.  Freedom of religion means just that: our government cannot tell you which religion, if any, to belong to.  There are hundreds of religious sects in Christianity, and in Judaism, and in Mohamedism, and on and on.  The purpose of a religion is to draw people together, create a moral atmosphere that is designed to make one a better person, and to worship a god.  Those that believe should not be pitting their beliefs against all the others, and that is exactly what happens when a state religion is created.  If you doubt that statement, have a chat with your local, friendly representative of the Taliban.

Some people don’t believe in gods, others become raving maniacs during a discussion on religion.  In our country, both have every right to believe the way they do, and no government agency can tell them otherwise.  Let’s keep it that way.

As always, read good books and stay regular.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Thoughts on Elections

This will not be an election year to remember, I’m afraid, unless of course, you relish mean people spitting vitriol through forked tongues.  While many millions of Americans are looking for a leader, those coming forth as job seekers do not match the requirements as advertised.  One job applicant doesn’t believe in science and would rather lead a theocracy than a democracy, another, already in office, has proved a limited ability to lead, even within his own party, while others stumble about eschewing platitudes on everything except what’s important.

It’s the economy, stupid.  Those fabulously wealthy international corporations that spill their products across our mega box store aisles, most labeled “made in China”, are not led by average American taxpayers.  In many cases, they aren’t led by Americans at all.  The CEO and COO might be American, the but the board of directors would be multi national in most cases.

I don’t hear the president talking about this.  Instead, I hear him saying we can put people back to work by creating government projects.  I don’t hear any of the republican candidates talking about this, either.  It’s a government failure that created the economic melt down, we sure don’t need more government to correct the problem.

Which leads us back to the start of this circle.  Where are those that are leaders?  In Congress we have politicians that call themselves legislators.  What we need are men and women that call themselves representatives.  We don’t need more legislation, what we need is more representation.  In the Army, the first thing a young officer candidate learns is the phrase “follow me”, and right now, I wouldn’t follow any one of the people wishing to be our next president.

In any thorough investigation, one must follow the money, and in the case of political intrigue, money leads us to the leadership in Congress, state capitals, city halls, and local precincts.  The laws that exist at state, local, and national levels for supporting candidates are filled with enough loop holes that the International Space Station could flutter through with little difficulty, and our judicial system has seen to it that those loopholes remain in effect.

For instance: Corporations are looked on the same as an individual.  The courts have declared that corporation should have the exact same First Amendment privileges as individuals, so when a candidate recently said, “corporations are people,” he wasn’t far off the target.  The election laws are such that a non citizen cannot contribute to a campaign, but a multi national corporation with headquarters in hundreds of cities around the world can.

For instance: How many corporations are tied directly to the coal industry?  And how many corporations are tied indirectly?  You do the math, and then think other industries, such as nuclear energy, automobile manufacturing, banking, and on and on.  With that kind of money behind you, you can say, with a smile, “there is no warming of the atmosphere.”  But, like most in congress, you’d be more apt to just ignore the whole mess and talk about religion.

Politicians have been on the take from the time the word was first used, and for many, they are taking legally.  That doesn’t make it right, and it’s that point that needs to be changed.  President Eisenhower warned us a half century ago about the dangers of a military-industrial cabal, and he just didn’t go quite far enough.  The concept of incredibly strong and wealthy international corporations were just coming into view at that time, so while we ignored the warnings of the military-industrial marriage, we also never saw the dangers of international corporations.

We need to take away the opportunity to purchase a vote in congress, in state legislatures, in city hall, county commissions, and local precincts.  That’s what a leader would be discussing in this coming election, because that would allow for the small business owner to once again hire needed employees, would necessitate mega corporations to do their business in America, not China, and would bring the economic crisis to a rapid end.

To Lead: To direct, as going before. (Webster’s New World Dictionary)  It’s past time for someone to stand up and say, “Follow Me.”

Until next time, read good books and stay regular.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Recent Doins

We had a great Labor Day weekend, and now, it’s time to get back to work.  I wrote a nice little short story called “A Soldier, Always,” and hope to get it in the mail soon to one of those wonderful publishers of literary magazines.  That’s a hint, my editor friends; watch for it.

We bought a new (slightly used) wood splitter and knocked out half a cord of wood Saturday morning.  I was afraid it would be too small to do the job, but this thing kicks ass.  In our area, to rent a wood splitter costs about $100 per day.  I paid $400 for the new one, and it will be paid for on our next trip for wood.  We make our wood cutting excursions into play days, with a picnic lunch, cold beer, and many rest periods.  We usually bring home one tree per trip, and need about three or four cords to make the winter.  The Peavine wood cutting area is less than ten miles from the ranchette, so it becomes a fun day in the woods.

July and August went by that quick this year.  No rain, no thunder storms, no nothing but lots of heat and some damn cold mornings.  We managed to go camping for one long weekend up Dog Valley, and one short weekend at Davis Creek, and here it is September already.  Picking beans, squash, cucumbers (not too many of those this year), and tomatoes.  We’ll have fresh corn on the table within ten days.  Everything has been very late this year because of the bitter cold early spring.  All the chickens are laying regularly except for the white leghorn.  She doesn’t understand the program and may end up as a late summer bar-b-que.

Went to visit a friend of a friend on Monday, Labor Day, and picked up two young goats, a doe that we’ll breed for next year, and a buck that I will wether and put in the freezer when he bulks up some.  I did a leg of goat in the Weber one year that would knock your socks off.  Maybe Christmas, eh?  Many years ago I raised La Mancha goats.  Those are the earless goats, and I love goat milk and meat.  We’ll get all the equipment back in service and start making cheeses and butter, probably late next year.

Back to the grind.  There are stories to be told and editors to read them.  Until next time, read good books and stay regular.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

An Interesting Summer

There have been numerous comments about the weather we’ve been having in western Nevada this year.  Well, dear friend, here’s another comment.  Patty and I have our little hobby farm, nee ranchette, in Cold Springs, about 20 miles north of Reno and very close to the 5,000 foot level, above the sea.  In the spring, our temperatures were on the cold side, not cool, and we weren’t able to plant corn and tomatoes until the second week of June.  While the corn has tasseled and tomatoes have made, it’s doubtful we’ll get much of a harvest.

Many of our mornings have been in the low to mid 40s --- not considered a growing day if the mornings are below 50 --- while the daytimes have been in the mid 80s.  These are very pleasant temperatures, but not if you’re looking to fill the freezer with corn and corn soup, or tomato sauce and stewed tomatoes.

This is far different than previous years, and there have been reports that the climate along the western most states has been altered because of colder waters coming ashore along that long coast.  It’s interesting that these reports are seldom published in the major newspapers.

Oh, silly me.  If it doesn’t happen along the limited coast near New York City, of course it isn’t reported.

Getting back to the subject at hand.  We spent four days in the high Sierra Nevada last week, and because of the very heavy winter and snow pack --- above 7,000 feet, it is just now coming spring --- wild flowers --- many have budded but not opened --- are in profusion, grasses are high and green, and the deer we saw were actually fat.  We jumped a covey of quail that looked more like grouse because of their size, and chipmunks weren’t the least bit interested in whatever crumbs were left on the table.

It’s been a very comfortable year for people and animals, just not so good for corn and tomatoes.

As always, read good books and stay regular.

Monday, August 8, 2011

We the People

Reading so many thoughts coming from so many different angles following the debt limit fiasco in Washington, I have come to the conclusion that too many people don’t seem to understand the concept of our democracy.  Sure, the tea partiers made their voices heard, that’s why they were elected in the first place.  Sure Harry Reid flaunted his power and demanded the liberal voice be the only one to be heard.  That’s why he was elected.

Those in Washington are there because they were elected.  How they got elected is the question that needs to be debated.  Were they there because of a grass roots, passionate campaign, or were they there because special interests bought them their seat?  If the latter, then shame on the voters.  Regardless, they are there because we put them there.

“We” may a majority of liberals, may be a majority of conservatives, may be a majority led by who-knows-what, but it is We the People that did the deed.  One pundit actually wrote “The tea partiers have stolen congress.”  He never once accepted the concept that those people were elected to do just that. 

If you think the tea partiers are ultra strong in their anti government beliefs, think back to the ultra liberal days of LBJ and company.  In both cases, then and now, those in congress got there because we elected them.

As usual, have a great day, read good books, and stay regular.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Rooster Cogburn, I presume?

The 18th was my birthday. I don’t usually celebrate such.  In many years past, I put a pig in the ground and invited many friends to enjoy. Did that last year and it was a heck of a party.  This year, it was just Patty, my son John, and I, and we celebrated quietly.

We only had one rooster, he was not quite six months old, and about as noisy a bird as I can recall.  He went out quietly, and we stuffed him with Patty’s fine oyster dressing.  Along with mashed potatoes and gravy, and fresh corn on the cob, it was a hell of a dinner.

I slow smoked Mr. Cogburn over apple wood chips in the Weber, put the corn in the last ten minutes or so, and all I can say is, Whooooeeeee.  No room for desert.

As always, read good books and stay regular.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

A Most Profound Offering

It's has been a pretty good week for this old manipulator of words and phrases.  I’ve written two new short stories and sent them out to potential publishers, sent out several other stories that have been sitting too long without the benefit of a good washing down in printer’s ink, and queried agents and publishers on a couple of my novels. 

And, it’s been a fair year around the old J bar P Ranchette as well.  My book “Out of the West, Tales of the American Frontier” is available from your favorite book seller, I’ve had two short stories accepted for publication in two anthologies, and in October, The Storyteller Magazine is set to publish another short story.

I’m working hard to create a character I call Simon Sol Dorsey, a 1930s style private detective stuck in the 21st Century.  The stories are crime-mystery-noir, and I’m also putting together a novel length story based on his character.  He’s a gem.  Just for fun’s sake, here is a brief excerpt from the novel, currently titled “Blood of Many Nations.”

            “Die, you son of a bitch, die,” and the big man slammed the cleaver down, again and again, parts and pieces were spattered all over the kitchen, and the strong, muscular man finally wore himself out, sat down at what was left of his kitchen table, smiled to himself, and poured another cup of coffee.  “I hate telephones.”  His was now in a couple of hundred pieces, scattered all around him, but still ringing.  His booze fogged brain slowly told him it was his cell phone ringing.  “I’ll kill it too, if I knew where it was.”  Sunday mornings are hard on Simon Sol Dorsey, Private Detective.
Hope your summer is going smoothly, and as always, read good books and stay regular.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Happy Independence Day

With the rise of the Tea Party, conservatism has taken another step in the right direction.  More emphasis on fiscal responsibility, more thought as to what the Constitution and all its attendant amendments represent, and recognition of the importance of local government.  With those thoughts driving a large portion of the conservative movement, and coupled with the social section of the republican party, it is a distinct possibility that the White House will have new tenants in January 2013.

It would certainly be interesting to be able to stand next to a few of those that wrote the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution and engage them in a debate based on their concept of the good old USA, and our concept of it.  The Industrial Revolution had not begun when Mr. Washington took office and the arguments that were discussed had to do with how big and strong or not the federal government would be.

In other words, we would be debating the same issues; those from the 1780s being the same as these in the early 21st Century.  The Federalists then, the Liberals today.  They are from the same mold, and their arguments haven’t changed.  The answer, they say, to just about any question asked is, more government, more government spending, don’t look back, just spend, grow, spend, grow.

There may come a time when those in Washington actually remember they are supposed to represent the people in their district, may stop giving the illusion of being owned by special interests, and may take personal responsibility for their actions.  That will be followed by an open season on flying pigs.

Until that time, have a grand Fourth of July, raise a toast to those brave souls that put their lives on the line to create this beautiful nation, and vote.  As always, read good books and stay regular.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Writing Life

Ahh, the publishing business, or, why do I write?  After more than fifty years in the news business, I’ve seen my own name in print so many times, I’m sure as hell not doing this to see it again.

On the other hand, yes I am.  There’s a much deeper thought behind writing every day for two to three hours.  I just plain love it.  And I have for a long time.  Since June 1 of this year I have submitted queries on more than half a dozen short stories, more than five queries to agents on novels, and have written two short stories and two poems.  There’s a thrill to writing a piece, there is dread at starting a piece.

Here is a piece that I wrote for the Laissez Faire Electronic Times in November of 2002 that might explain part of this.  And, yes, I own the copyright.

Why I Write
by Johnny Gunn

So why am I feeling this way, and what does it mean?  My sensible self says, it means nothing, it’s just a part of life.  My paranoid self says beware, there are forces about which you know naught.  To which should I listen?  Maybe I should just go back to bed, pull the covers high, set the pillows on my head, and burrow, deep into an ostrich hole, protected from the forces of reality.  Ostracize myself?

When one can’t see, feel, or hear that which frightens, then one isn’t frightened, but right now, I’m frightened; I want to hide, I want to challenge that which frightens, I want to run away, I want to stand tall and win.  Win?  There is nothing to win.  This is life, and when life is through defecating and puking  and evicting, we die.  There is no winning.  Our bodies purge that which keeps us alive, our soul is farted into the ether, and we’re gone.

So why am I striving?  What am I striving to accomplish?  Is bashing one’s head against a theoretical wall that separates winning from losing, worth the war?  I could set all this aside, pack a bag, drive until the tank is dry, and walk into the high mountain desert to await the fate of the cosmos, which of course would be death.  And if I didn’t set it aside, continued battling my windmills, at some point, some morning, days, months, years from now, I wouldn’t awaken.

On the other hand, if I packed a bag, probably a couple of sets of underwear and socks, after all, I would want to be in clean underwear when I’m found, and did venture into these craggy old mountains, spread across what’s called the Great Basin, the first thing I’d find would be a Mountain Bluebird, all shiny and tiny, an antelope following along behind me, so curious and proud, and later that night, I’d be serenaded by singing from long nosed, bushy tailed, coyotes, and in the morning, I’d feel compelled to write about it, it being another day in my journey toward oblivion.

It’s just ‘round and ‘round we chase, oblique at times, with little insight or perception, just onward, floundering in our intelligence, proud of our wisdom, block headed in our understanding, until we reach that ultimate goal.  We die.  Is putting words together in such a manner as they are pleasing to eye and ear a noble effort?  Putting it another way; is it worth the effort?  A newspaper columnist once called me a wise person because of what I wrote.  An editor once railed against everything I stood for because of what I wrote.

Often the wise come in groups of three and seven.  The three wise men, the three kings of Cologne immediately come to mind, along with the seven wise men of Greece, the seven sages, the seven wise masters.  All astute, all sagacious, even referred to as being sensible.  And, along with those who bring wisdom and knowledge to light, there are those who bring so much joy and love through their own lack of sanity.  Did Mozart have a grasp of reality at any time in his short life?  What’s even more profound to think about, those who were considered to have a grasp of reality, were attempting to stop his efforts.  His mania was genius, his zeal and obsession, his legacy.

None of this helps me in my efforts to understand what’s going on in my own mind.  Am I simply frustrating myself with my desire to put words together, to create beauty, to open doors to understanding?  Writing from fact, I’ve been published over and over, for almost a half century, but writing from invention - fabrication, I rarely  solicit a personal comment from an editor.  One of the people under whose tutelage I’ve progressed to this point, calls writing fiction the act of simply telling a lie.  An invention of one’s stimulated imagination, plotted and planned, characterized and surrounded by fiery narrative isn’t an obvious best seller, but coupled with a knowledge of the art, and a sincere desire to become a true craftsman on the part of the writer, should make the story one that would garner at least a gentle comment or two from an editor.

That would be my sensible self talking, wouldn’t it?  What would my more paranoid self say?  The powers that be in the publishing world are not interested in the kind of work that makes one think, nor are they interested in hiring editors who might tend in that direction.  Paranoid or not, the first part of that comment is probably the correct one.  Write to the masses, write to those who have already been dumbed down, who actually believe the characters on Star Trek exist.  That most families live as the Simpsons.  Homer, not O.J.

Once again, Johnny, sir, in your paranoid thoughts, read the Peter Principal.  Almost all publishing today is controlled by giant international corporations, and those corporations are headed by men and women who have risen through the ranks to their personal level of incompetence.  Editors too?  Taking the Peter Principal idea one step further along this journey to oblivion, maybe I have simply risen to my own level of incompetence, and those editors are aware of that.

Stick to what you know and understand, they say, and write from that perception, but I don’t want to be a reporter or editor.  I love fiction, but what I’ve discovered is, I love the old fiction, writers who probably would have their submissions rejected by today’s standards.  I like Hemingway and London, Kipling and Laxalt, and I find myself not fully understanding so many of the short stories that are being published in so-called literary journals and magazines, most put together in university MFA writing programs.

I participate in public readings on a fairly regular basis, offering poetry and short fiction, and am well received, by the general audience and my peers.  So, I think the best way to end this rant is to make a simple declarative statement of what the hell I’m doing with the time left to me. 

1.  I’m writing.  I will continue to write, poetry, short fiction, essays, free lance articles until there is no thought pounding my temples, no words flying through the vapors and invading my conscious and unconscious psyche.  No word shall be unused.

2.  When all the free flowing words and phrases are used up, misspelled, misplaced, broken and ruptured, I will die.

Monday, June 13, 2011

A Civics Lesson

It’s been reported recently that some seventy five percent of our eighth graders nation wide have little concept of what our constitution says, what the Bill of Rights mean, or even a basic understanding of democracy.  The report was issued by the National Assessment of Educational Progress, a non-profit organization that issues these national report cards on a regular basis.

Many school districts throughout the land have either pulled back or quit teaching civics, and we have a population of people under forty that are not knowledgeable about why we enjoy a way of life that is not known in many other areas of the world.  Many are graduating from high school without an understanding of the First Amendment, the Second Amendment, or even what the three branches of the federal government are or why there are three.

This probably answers why so many young people turn out for a presidential election but ignore all others, the opposite of what an informed and educated populace would do.  Without a full understanding of how our government works, why it works that way, and who is responsible for what, electing a president sounds like it should be important.  If asked, most people today actually believe the president can get something done, but little of what is done in the White House has an effect on wallets and bank accounts.

Members of Congress seem to be spending more time chasing skirts than working to once again enable an active economy, and again, the electorate rarely stands up and bites back.  The Tea Party Movement is working to change that, but it will still take years for those in congress to remember who they represent:  The People.

So, which elections are most important?  Those that put people in office that are responsible for taking the most money from you paycheck.  City Councils and County Commissions are responsible for most of the tax money that is raised in this country but elections for those offices are the ones in which the least number of people turn out.  In a recent city and county election in Clark County, Nevada, less that fifteen percent of the registered voters bothered to go to the polls.  Those that vote in municipal elections put people into office that are responsible for more tax money than all of the presidents alive today.

In the near east right now, people are fighting and dieing for the right to vote in a free election, for the right to voice an opinion in public, for the right to not be harassed by the police and military, and for the right property and personal dignity.  In Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Syria, and other countries, thousands have died fighting for those rights that in this country are deemed the cornerstone of our way of life, yet our educators don’t feel that our young people should understand why we are able to live the way we do.  Without an informed and educated public, we are open to armed rebellion by forces that don’t want us to be free.

What can you do?  Write letters to your individual school systems and demand they teach civics, make those letters public by way of letters to the editor of newspapers, and spread the word in everyway possible that without the teaching of civics, this country is in jeopardy.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Campaign Finance Reform

There has been some movement in the right direction in Carson City this legislative session as regards Nevada’s election laws, among the worst in the nation.  During the years in which I was editor of the Nevada Observer, we wrote often about the problem of campaign finance reporting, in reality, lack of reporting.

Candidates are required to file contribution and expense reports (C&E) regularly with the Secretary of State’s office, but there were few requirements to follow.  Some candidates actually filed their reports in pencil, most were hand written making it virtually impossible to follow the dollar.

We wrote often that the filings should be done electronically, that data base computer programs should be used, that the listings, at the least, should be alphabetical.  It appears that someone has been paying attention.  AB452, offered by Secretary of State Ross Miller, would require C&E reports be filed electronically, and Miller said he would then create a date base in order to follow the contributions.

Flaunting of the election finance laws in Nevada has been a game that should have been eliminated a century ago, but it’s so much fun to shove a stick in the eyes of the public by politicians that the corrections are just now being made.

The sticky part of Nevada’s election law is not being addressed.  As it stands today, an individual and a corporation are treated similarly.  When we speak of contributor, it could be a person, it could be a corporation.  The law says contributions cannot exceed $10,000, which breaks down to $5,000 for the primary election, and if the candidate is successful, another $5,000 for the general.  One would think, then, that an individual would not be able to contribute more than $10,000.  Not so, McGee.

Developers and gaming operators have been contributing hundreds of thousands of dollars, regularly, and legally.  If a man also was responsible for five corporations, he would be able to contribute $10,000 for himself, and $10,000 for each of those corporations.  Some developers in southern Nevada own and operate tens and more corporations.  Some legislators have been known to respond to large donations.

The law needs to be changed so that the officers of the corporations are listed in the C&E reports.  In that way, at the very least, we would know who is trying to buy their way into the warm and fuzzy hearts of our legislators.

It would be a good thing to separate individual donators from corporate donators, but that might be a lot to ask of those fine men and women in Carson City.  This first step by Mr. Miller is appreciated, but more steps are needed.  Our horse and buggy approach to campaign finance is deplorable in the 21st Century.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day

Many who served during the time I did, didn’t come home.  Bless each of you.  And thank you to all who have served or are serving.  The right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness comes with a price.  Bless the USA.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Obligation? Not!

To say that it is early in the next presidential election year would be a mis-statement of some size, yet there is a flurry of excitement within the mongrel press organizations that feed on politicians.  One of the items up for discussion by those that have never written a legitimate news story is whether or not a candidate has an obligation to make him or her self available to these wolves.  Reporters can be intrusive to a fault, often showing no regard to the personal nature of their questions, often showing no thoughts to the feelings of those being questioned.

As a retired reporter and editor, I think it’s safe to say that I am writing from a position of knowledge and understanding.  I have interviewed some who wished to be president, Mr. Reagan, Mr. Carter, Mr. Ford among the group.  I interviewed Mr. Reagan one on one, the others at specific press conferences.  At no time was it considered an obligation for the candidate to hold such interviews and conferences.

A reporter has an obligation to get a story.  This is the job.  Does a candidate have an obligation to make him or her self available to a reporter?  No.  The job is to make him or her self known and wanted by the electorate.  That is the quest. 

A candidate makes personal appearances before the public, a candidate releases information to the public through the press and advertising,  a candidate has no obligation what-so-ever to be available to members of the press.  For the first two centuries of our existence, American politicians rarely, if ever, spoke directly with reporters.  Press conferences were rare, and for a politician to speak to reporters at a public function in which the politician spoke to the public, was unheard of.

My work in newsrooms began in 1958.  I’ve worked through hot lead and iron heads all the way to editing an on-line news journal, and watched as reporting has grown more and more insensitive, from those being interviewed to those listening to or reading the reports.  Passion is an important part of reporting, but so should courtesy.

With the advent of almost instant information by way of electronic devices that most could never have conceived of less than a decade ago, there are many that feel it is important to know every single detail of a candidate’s life.  With some of the questions I’ve heard asked recently, I know for a fact that many so called reporters today would not work in most of my past editorial departments.

Some of those in the news business today feel they have the right to an answer, regardless of the question.  Too many of our politicians are under the belief that they have to answer.  A good friend of mine, John Oakes, a criminal defense attorney, has the proper answer right on his business card.  “Just say NO.”  It simply isn’t an obligation on the part of the candidate to answer every question thrown at him or her, or to make him or her self available to any and every reporter.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Good News on the Home Front

My satirical short story, Good Times on Rios Two, set far in the future but reeking with today’s mega corporation problems, will be published in the quarterly literary magazine, The Storyteller.  Set for the October issue.

The mag is edited by Regina Williams and is high on many shelves.  Take a look at

My friend Dave P. Fisher has had many fine stories published here.  His current offerings from Bottom of the Hill Publishing are doing well.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

A short bit of fun

I got a little note asking about my book, "Out of the West ... Tales of the American Frontier," and thought this would be a good time to talk a little about it.  It's a collection of 13 short stories dealing with the west, then and now.  Here's a brief excerpt from a story dealing with a chili cook off in the late 1800s.

            When the time came for the fires to be lit, and there was no sign of the Nevada Kid, old Jake Thompson was about to throw in the wild rag, when the wildest, meanest, mustang stud, right off the range, came buckin’ and snortin’ into camp, scattering cowboys, horses, cattle, workin’ girls, and card sharks in every direction, and sitting on top of that caballo loco was the Nevada Kid, dressed in his finest buckaroo Saturday night duds.  Ya just don’t see entrances like that at chili cook offs today.  It was grand in every respect, and he bailed off that wild Cayuse at the top of a four legged buck, took one turn in the air, and landed on his feet, right square in front of his own fire.  “What a show,” howled Thompson, and the Flying F boys sent up three mighty cheers for their Kid.

Those old time buckaroos knew how to have fun.  Some of my stories are humorous, some are down right sad.  Most are as historically accurate as I could make them.  Hope you enjoy.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Cut Off the Snake's Head

Chopping off the head of the snake does not stop the head from still being able to bite.  More than one hiker has learned this the hard way when dealing with rattle snakes.  That said, the head of the filthy snake known as al Quaida is dead and gone, but what he started is still very much alive.  Whether or not he made plans to continue the Saudi Royal Family’s financial support is another question.

Al Quaida has been financed by bin Laden from the start, his money coming from the oil the Saudi Royal Family allows the U.S.A. to buy.  If that money doesn’t continue to flow, the terrorist organization is likely to splinter into many factions, and watch closely for the Muslim Brotherhood to step into the void.  This extremist group is just as dangerous as bin Laden’s ever was.

The Muslim Brotherhood is trying to portray themselves as a political party in Egypt right now, but their plans include creating shia law in every government in the Middle East, and to destroy any attempt at democracy.  Their means are right out of every terrorist handbook that has ever been written.  This group is probably already bringing al Quaida supporters on board.

One has to believe that members of various government agencies in Pakistan were very aware of where bin Laden was at all times during the past decade, and there must be many middle and upper level management types that are supporters of dead man.  Pakistan isn’t like Egypt or Syria or Bahrain.  Pakistan has atomic warfare capabilities, and if radical elements of al Quaida or the Muslim Brotherhood get into leadership positions in the Pakistani government, the entire Middle East will be under nuclear threat.

The snake’s head is cut off, but that snake is still very dangerous.