Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Sand in my shoes

I just returned from a great visit to the Chicago area. The main reason for my trip was to spend some time with my friend, Jim Wilson, who was recently diagnosed with brain cancer. Seeing all of my friends and family was great, but the week with Jim was really special.

Here is some of the casual fun that has been one of the cornerstones of our relationship. If anyone deserves to live forever, its Jimmy.

Jimbo Wilson & The Cowles Brothers, Mickey Bob & Rock, Chicagoland, December 9th, 2010.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

All of you nonconformists look alike...

Biker. Anarchist. Thug. Hippie. Artist. Beatnik. Dope Fiend. Gangsta. Rebel. Wigger. Tattoo Junkie. Redneck. Goth. Skinhead. Hacker. Activist. Punk Rocker. Emo. Survivalist. Everyone of these "nonconformists" has an immediately identifiable stereotype that must be conformed to to be included.

"Look at me! I'm different. I'm terminally unique. Stand in awe. Be afraid. Tell your friends about me. Leave me alone!"

Yeah, I'm unique, just like everyone else. The system is broken, so I'm going to fight it by ostracizing myself into a smaller broken group. Makes total sense. Uh, what was I rebelling against again? A life of quiet desperation? The Machine? The System? The omnipotent "They"? Hey, lets smoke, party, overeat, and drink just to spit in the eye of those who foolishly believe in self preservation and the sanctity of life. We'll show them dumb bitches!

Who is the Ultimate Non-conformist? The Gray Man. The Survivalist's protagonist who blends in with the crowd and is both unnoticed and unmemorable. He who draws no attention to himself while going his own way. The guy who never makes a target out of himself while covertly working under the radar. The one who no one realizes is armed and dangerous (literally or figuratively) until its much much much too late.

There are two types of motivation in life; moving towards something or moving away from something. Both are goals, but if your goal is only to move away from something, you'll often find yourself lost. If you don't know where you are going you will probably wind up some place else.

I was recently wondering how many Doctorates I would have if I had applied to my education all of the time, energy, and money that I had put into smoking for over thirty years. Not that a formal education is worth more than 20% of what you invest in it. Who looks more ridiculous, the eight year old smoking a cigarette because it he thinks it makes him look cool and grown up, or the forty year old smoker who still thinks it makes him look cool and all grown up? FIIKLFO.

Well so much for today's meandering rant. I'm going to go play with my Barbies now.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Smoke 'em if ya got 'em.

Today is Day Seven without a cigarette. That will be 10,080 minutes when day is done. Great, only 82 gazillion and three to go. How did I find myself stumble down this path?

Should I blame my Uncle Sam who made smoking both a reward and a symbol that at least momentarily we were safe with the utterance, "Smoke 'em if ya got 'em."? I remember feeling sorry for the poor dumbasses who didn't smoke. They had nothing to look forward to! Actually I started swiping my grandmothers Trues when I was eight. (She later died of ovarian cancer years after she quit smoking). By the time I entered the Navy at age seventeen, I was smoking three to four packs a day of Camel non-filtered cigarettes. I wouldn't leave the house without at least two unopened packs on my person.

I got hypnotized in 2001 and quit smoking for three and a half years. I gained seventy pounds. I then lost seventy pounds and in 2005 started smoking again. I've put fifty of those extra pounds back on. I didn't need any of them.

Everyone wanted me to quit again, but the weight bothered me too much. A bit over a week ago, one of my best friends was diagnosed with stage 2 brain cancer (Gliamotses Cerebri). He's thirty eight, quit smoking three years ago, and has a nine year old and a two year old. That was what made me finally want to quit, rather than feeling like I should or had to.

Every day my friend has left is a precious gift. Well duh huh. Every day any of us has left is a precious gift! Why don't we get that until we see the gift taken away from others? I don't want to throw anymore of my gift away. Even if smoking didn't kill me, I have wasted so much time being unproductive, adversely affected my daily health, and easily blown a nice car payment each month.

The time is now. I don't think I'll need to be told again.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Not Yours To Give

I wish it was required for every political candidate in America to memorize this before they were allowed to run for office!

Not Yours To Give

Col. David Crockett
US Representative from Tennessee

Originally published in "The Life of Colonel David Crockett,"

by Edward Sylvester Ellis

One day in the House of Representatives a bill was taken up appropriating money for the benefit of a widow of a distinguished naval officer. Several beautiful speeches had been made in its support. The speaker was just about to put the question when Crockett arose:

"Mr. Speaker--I have as much respect for the memory of the deceased, and as much sympathy for the suffering of the living, if there be, as any man in this House, but we must not permit our respect for the dead or our sympathy for part of the living to lead us into an act of injustice to the balance of the living. I will not go into an argument to prove that Congress has not the power to appropriate this money as an act of charity. Every member on this floor knows it.

We have the right as individuals, to give away as much of our own money as we please in charity; but as members of Congress we have no right to appropriate a dollar of the public money. Some eloquent appeals have been made to us upon the ground that it is a debt due the deceased. Mr. Speaker, the deceased lived long after the close of the war; he was in office to the day of his death, and I ever heard that the government was in arrears to him.

"Every man in this House knows it is not a debt. We cannot without the grossest corruption, appropriate this money as the payment of a debt. We have not the semblance of authority to appropriate it as charity. Mr. Speaker, I have said we have the right to give as much money of our own as we please. I am the poorest man on this floor. I cannot vote for this bill, but I will give one week's pay to the object, and if every member of Congress will do the same, it will amount to more than the bill asks."

He took his seat. Nobody replied. The bill was put upon its passage, and, instead of passing unanimously, as was generally supposed, and as, no doubt, it would, but for that speech, it received but few votes, and, of course, was lost.

Later, when asked by a friend why he had opposed the appropriation, Crockett gave this explanation:

"Several years ago I was one evening standing on the steps of the Capitol with some members of Congress, when our attention was attracted by a great light over in Georgetown. It was evidently a large fire. We jumped into a hack and drove over as fast as we could. In spite of all that could be done, many houses were burned and many families made houseless, and besides, some of them had lost all but the clothes they had on. The weather was very cold, and when I saw so many children suffering, I felt that something ought to be done for them. The next morning a bill was introduced appropriating $20,000 for their relief. We put aside all other business and rushed it through as soon as it could be done.

"The next summer, when it began to be time to think about election, I concluded I would take a scout around among the boys of my district. I had no opposition there but, as the election was some time off, I did not know what might turn up. When riding one day in a part of my district in which I was more of a stranger than any other, I saw a man in a field plowing and coming toward the road. I gauged my gait so that we should meet as he came up, I spoke to the man. He replied politely, but as I thought, rather coldly.

"I began: 'Well friend, I am one of those unfortunate beings called candidates and---

"Yes I know you; you are Colonel Crockett. I have seen you once before, and voted for you the last time you were elected. I suppose you are out electioneering now, but you had better not waste your time or mine, I shall not vote for you again."

"This was a sockdolger...I begged him tell me what was the matter.

"Well Colonel, it is hardly worthwhile to waste time or words upon it. I do not see how it can be mended, but you gave a vote last winter which shows that either you have not capacity to understand the Constitution, or that you are wanting in the honesty and firmness to be guided by it. In either case you are not the man to represent me. But I beg your pardon for expressing it that way. I did not intend to avail myself of the privilege of the constituent to speak plainly to a candidate for the purpose of insulting you or wounding you.'

"I intend by it only to say that your understanding of the constitution is very different from mine; and I will say to you what but for my rudeness, I should not have said, that I believe you to be honest.

But an understanding of the constitution different from mine I cannot overlook, because the Constitution, to be worth anything, must be held sacred, and rigidly observed in all its provisions. The man who wields power and misinterprets it is the more dangerous the honest he is.'

"I admit the truth of all you say, but there must be some mistake. Though I live in the backwoods and seldom go from home, I take the papers from Washington and read very carefully all the proceedings of Congress. My papers say you voted for a bill to appropriate $20,000 to some sufferers by fire in Georgetown. Is that true?

"Well my friend; I may as well own up. You have got me there. But certainly nobody will complain that a great and rich country like ours should give the insignificant sum of $20,000 to relieve its suffering women and children, particularly with a full and overflowing treasury, and I am sure, if you had been there, you would have done just the same as I did.'

"It is not the amount, Colonel, that I complain of; it is the principle. In the first place, the government ought to have in the Treasury no more than enough for its legitimate purposes. But that has nothing with the question. The power of collecting and disbursing money at pleasure is the most dangerous power that can be entrusted to man, particularly under our system of collecting revenue by a tariff, which reaches every man in the country, no matter how poor he may be, and the poorer he is the more he pays in proportion to his means.

What is worse, it presses upon him without his knowledge where the weight centers, for there is not a man in the United States who can ever guess how much he pays to the government. So you see, that while you are contributing to relieve one, you are drawing it from thousands who are even worse off than he. If you had the right to give anything, the amount was simply a matter of discretion with you, and you had as much right to give $20,000,000 as $20,000.

If you have the right to give at all; and as the Constitution neither defines charity nor stipulates the amount, you are at liberty to give to any and everything which you may believe, or profess to believe, is a charity and to any amount you may think proper. You will very easily perceive what a wide door this would open for fraud and corruption and favoritism, on the one hand, and for robbing the people on the other. 'No, Colonel, Congress has no right to give charity.'

"'Individual members may give as much of their own money as they please, but they have no right to touch a dollar of the public money for that purpose. If twice as many houses had been burned in this country as in Georgetown, neither you nor any other member of Congress would have Thought of appropriating a dollar for our relief. There are about two hundred and forty members of Congress. If they had shown their sympathy for the sufferers by contributing each one week's pay, it would have made over $13,000. There are plenty of wealthy men around Washington who could have given $20,000 without depriving themselves of even a luxury of life.'

"The congressmen chose to keep their own money, which, if reports be true, some of them spend not very creditably; and the people about Washington, no doubt, applauded you for relieving them from necessity of giving what was not yours to give. The people have delegated to Congress, by the Constitution, the power to do certain things. To do these, it is authorized to collect and pay moneys, and for nothing else. Everything beyond this is usurpation, and a violation of the Constitution.'

"'So you see, Colonel, you have violated the Constitution in what I consider a vital point. It is a precedent fraught with danger to the country, for when Congress once begins to stretch its power beyond the limits of the Constitution, there is no limit to it, and no security for the people. I have no doubt you acted honestly, but that does not make it any better, except as far as you are personally concerned, and you see that I cannot vote for you.'

"I tell you I felt streaked. I saw if I should have opposition, and this man should go to talking and in that district I was a gone fawn-skin. I could not answer him, and the fact is, I was so fully convinced that he was right, I did not want to. But I must satisfy him, and I said to him:

"Well, my friend, you hit the nail upon the head when you said I had not sense enough to understand the Constitution. I intended to be guided by it, and thought I had studied it fully. I have heard many speeches in Congress about the powers of Congress, but what you have said here at your plow has got more hard, sound sense in it than all the fine speeches I ever heard. If I had ever taken the view of it that you have, I would have put my head into the fire before I would have given that vote; and if you will forgive me and vote for me again, if I ever vote for another unconstitutional law I wish I may be shot.'

"He laughingly replied; 'Yes, Colonel, you have sworn to that once before, but I will trust you again upon one condition. You are convinced that your vote was wrong. Your acknowledgment of it will do more good than beating you for it. If, as you go around the district, you will tell people about this vote, and that you are satisfied it was wrong, I will not only vote for you, but will do what I can to keep down opposition, and perhaps, I may exert some little influence in that way.'

"If I don't, said I, 'I wish I may be shot; and to convince you that I am in earnest in what I say I will come back this way in a week or ten days, and if you will get up a gathering of people, I will make a speech to them. Get up a barbecue, and I will pay for it.'

"No, Colonel, we are not rich people in this section but we have plenty of provisions to contribute for a barbecue, and some to spare for those who have none. The push of crops will be over in a few days, and we can then afford a day for a barbecue. 'This Thursday; I will see to getting it up on Saturday week. Come to my house on Friday, and we will go together, and I promise you a very respectable crowd to see and hear you.

"'Well I will be here. But one thing more before I say good-bye. I must know your name."

"'My name is Bunce.'

"'Not Horatio Bunce?'


"'Well, Mr. Bunce, I never saw you before, though you say you have seen me, but I know you very well. I am glad I have met you, and very proud that I may hope to have you for my friend.'

"It was one of the luckiest hits of my life that I met him. He mingled but little with the public, but was widely known for his remarkable intelligence, and for a heart brim-full and running over with kindness and benevolence, which showed themselves not only in words but in acts. He was the oracle of the whole country around him, and his fame had extended far beyond the circle of his immediate acquaintance. Though I had never met him, before, I had heard much of him, and but for this meeting it is very likely I should have had opposition, and had been beaten. One thing is very certain, no man could now stand up in that district under such a vote.

"At the appointed time I was at his house, having told our conversation to every crowd I had met, and to every man I stayed all night with, and I found that it gave the people an interest and confidence in me stronger than I had ever seen manifested before.

"Though I was considerably fatigued when I reached his house, and, under ordinary circumstances, should have gone early to bed, I kept him up until midnight talking about the principles and affairs of government, and got more real, true knowledge of them than I had got all my life before."

"I have known and seen much of him since, for I respect him - no, that is not the word - I reverence and love him more than any living man, and I go to see him two or three times every year; and I will tell you, sir, if every one who professes to be a Christian lived and acted and enjoyed it as he does, the religion of Christ would take the world by storm.

"But to return to my story. The next morning we went to the barbecue and, to my surprise, found about a thousand men there. I met a good many whom I had not known before, and they and my friend introduced me around until I had got pretty well acquainted - at least, they all knew me.

"In due time notice was given that I would speak to them. They gathered up around a stand that had been erected. I opened my speech by saying:

"Fellow-citizens - I present myself before you today feeling like a new man. My eyes have lately been opened to truths which ignorance or prejudice or both, had heretofore hidden from my view. I feel that I can today offer you the ability to render you more valuable service than I have ever been able to render before. I am here today more for the purpose of acknowledging my error than to seek your votes. That I should make this acknowledgment is due to myself as well as to you. Whether you will vote for me is a matter for your consideration only."

"I went on to tell them about the fire and my vote for the appropriation and then told them why I was satisfied it was wrong. I closed by saying:

"And now, fellow-citizens, it remains only for me to tell you that the most of the speech you have listened to with so much interest was simply a repetition of the arguments by which your neighbor, Mr. Bunce, convinced me of my error.

"It is the best speech I ever made in my life, but he is entitled to the credit for it. And now I hope he is satisfied with his convert and that he will get up here and tell you so.'

"He came up to the stand and said:

"Fellow-citizens - it affords me great pleasure to comply with the request of Colonel Crockett. I have always considered him a thoroughly honest man, and I am satisfied that he will faithfully perform all that he has promised you today.'

"He went down, and there went up from that crowd such a shout for Davy Crockett as his name never called forth before.'

"I am not much given to tears, but I was taken with a choking then and felt some big drops rolling down my cheeks. And I tell you now that the remembrance of those few words spoken by such a man, and the honest, hearty shout they produced, is worth more to me than all the honors I have received and all the reputation I have ever made, or ever shall make, as a member of Congress.'

"Now, sir," concluded Crockett, "you know why I made that speech yesterday. "There is one thing which I will call your attention, "you remember that I proposed to give a week's pay. There are in that House many very wealthy men - men who think nothing of spending a week's pay, or a dozen of them, for a dinner or a wine party when they have something to accomplish by it. Some of those same men made beautiful speeches upon the great debt of gratitude which the country owed the deceased--a debt which could not be paid by money--and the insignificance and worthlessness of money, particularly so insignificant a sum as $20,000 when weighed against the honor of the nation. Yet not one of them responded to my proposition. Money with them is nothing but trash when it is to come out of the people. But it is the one great thing for which most of them are striving, and many of them sacrifice honor, integrity, and justice to obtain it."

Not Yours To Give

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


"Inside every fat person is a thin person struggling to get out. Sometimes as many as two or three." - Dave Cowles

This little observation I wrote in 2003 was printed in a local paper and a Mensa bulletin. I am proud to say it was also used by a high school English teacher to demonstrate how to write a good article! Its still fun food for thought.

©2003 Dave Cowles, All Rights Reserved.

I am stout, good sized, bigger than a breadbox; Ok, female Grizzly Bears bat their eyelashes at me! I am a fat guy. Actually, I am pretty new to it. You see, I wasn't born this way. I have had almost twenty surgeries in recent years that have lead to a pretty sedentary lifestyle. Since I quit smoking back in early '01, I have also put nearly everything that was unfortunate enough to get within arms reach of me that would fit in my mouth in it. I think I am finally getting the hang of this fat business.

I never realized how many conspiracies there were against fat people. Restaurants, movie theaters, churches, doctors offices, and of course the furniture and automobile industries; they are all in on it! They have made seats smaller and taught them to attack and cling to fat people. Upon standing, I have had numerous chairs latch on to me and refuse to let go.

I think the worst perpetrator is Wal-Mart. Fat people just love Wal-mart. Visit any of them, night or day and you will see them bursting at the seams with us rollie pollies. Like flocks of Emperor Penguins we waddle from aisle to aisle, deal to deal, searching for instant gratification and more and more, now now now! You would think they would cater to us, being their biggest customers and all, but NOOOOOOOO! Totter over to the Men's Clothing Department and on a typical shirt rack you might see ten or twenty each of small, medium, large, and extra large shirts. 2XL? 3XL? If I am lucky there is one or maybe even two and usually the ugliest thing some drunk who spent too much time at Mardi Gras could come up with. Also, now this is really annoying, they charge us more for being chunky! Usually about two bucks a pop. Now why are they allowed to discriminate like that? Surely a small uses a lot less fabric versus an XL, than an XL does compared to a XXL. Do they really expect us to believe it is some giant inconvenience to set the machines up "special" to make the big ones? They are mass produced just like the rest. I guess they figure if we were so smart we wouldn't be so fat.

I've tried dieting. Currently, I am eating the Jenny Craig stuff. And the Weight Watchers stuff. Plus a SlimFast a few times a day. And some Atkins stuff around meal time.

There is an old saying; Inside every fat person is a thin one trying to get out. In my case it might be two or three. I dislike the Internet personals' recently popular phrase; BBW: Big Beautiful Woman. It's not really an oxymoron, but it's few people's preference either. Being fat is not a reason for condemnation, but it is no reason to dance either. On second thought…

Thursday, March 4, 2010

For All US Veterans

For All US Veterans

Below are web-sites that provide information on Veterans benefits and how to file/ask for them. Accordingly, there are many sites that explain how to obtain books, military/medical records, information and how to appeal a denied claim with the VA. Please pass this information on to every Veteran you know. Nearly 100% of this information is free and available for all veterans, the only catch is: you have to ask for it, because they won't tell you about a specific benefit unless you ask for it. You need to know what questions to ask so the right doors open for you -- and then be ready to have an advocate who is willing to work with and for you, stay in the process, and press for your rights and your best interests.


Board of Veteran's Appeals

CARES Commission

CARES Draft National Plan

Center for Minority Veterans

Center for Veterans Enterprise

Center for Women Veterans

Clarification on the changes in VA healthcare for Gulf War Veterans

Classified Records - American Gulf War Veterans Assoc

Compensation for Disabilities Associated with the Gulf War Service

Compensation Rate Tables, 12-1-03

Department of Veterans Affairs Home Page

Directory of Veterans Service Organizations

Disability Examination Worksheets Index, Comp

Due Process

Duty to Assist

Electronic Code of Federal Regulations

Emergency, Non-emergency, and Fee Basis Care

Environmental Agents

Environmental Agents M10

Establishing Combat Veteran Eligibility


See also, Depleted Uranium Fact Sheet



Forms and Records Request

General Compensation Provisions

Geriatrics and Extended Care

Guideline for Chronic Pain and Fatigue MUS-CPG

Guide to Gulf War Veteran's Health

Gulf War Subject Index

Gulf War Veteran's Illnesses Q&As


Homeless Veterans

HSR&D Home

Index to Disability Examination Worksheets C&P exams

Ionizing Radiation

Iraqi Freedom/Enduring Freedom Veterans VBA

M 10 for spouses and children <

M10 Part III Change 1

M21-1 Table of Contents

Mental Disorders, Schedule of Ratings

Mental Health Program Guidelin es

Mental Illness Research, Education and Clinical Centers

MS (Multiple Sclerosis) Centers of Excellence

My Health e Vet


National Association of State Directors

National Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention

Neurological Conditions and Convulsive Disorders, Schedule of Ratings

OMI (Office of Medical Inspector)

Online VA Form 10-10EZ

Parkinson's Disease and Related Neurodegenerative Disorders


Peacetime Disability Compensation

Pension for Non-Service-Connected Disability or Death and,


Persian Gulf Registry

This program is now referred to as Gulf War Registry Program (to include Operation Iraqi Freedom) as of March 7, 2005:

Persian Gulf Registry Referral Centers

Persian Gulf Veterans' Illnesses Research 1999, Annual Report To Congress Persian Gulf Veterans' Illnesses Research 2002, Annual Report To Congress

Phase I PGR

Phase II PGR

Policy Manual Index

Power of Attorney Project 112 (Including Project SHAD)

Prosthetics Eligibility

Public Health and Environmental Hazards Home Page

Public Health/SARS

Publications Manuals

Publications and Reports

Records Center and Vault Homepage

Records Center and Vault Site Map


Research Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans Illnesses April 11, 2002

Research Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans Illnesses

Research and Development

Survivor's and Dependents' Educational Assistance

Title 38 Index Parts 0-17

Part 18

Title 38 Part 3 Adjudication Subpart AAcAc,A!"Pension, Compensation, and Dependency and Indemnity Compensation

Title 38 Pensions, Bonuses & Veterans Relief (also A,A 3.317 Compensation for certain disabilities due to undiagnosed illnesses found here) Title 38 PART 4--SCHEDULE FOR RATING DISABILITIES Subpart B--DISABILITY RATINGS

Title 38 A,A 4.16 Total disability ratings for compensation based on unemployability of the individual. PART 4AcAc,A!"SCHEDULE FOR RATING DISABILITIES Subpart AAcAc,A!"General Policy in Rating

U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims

VA Best Practice Manual for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

VA Fact Sheet

VA Health Care Eligibility


VA Life Insurance Handbook AcAc,A!" Chapter 3

VA Loan Lending Limits and Jumbo Loans

VA MS Research

VA National Hepatitis C Program

VA Office of Research and Development

VA Trainee Pocket Card on Gulf War



VAOIG Hotline Telephone Number and Address

Vet Center Eligibility - Readjustment Counseling Service

Veterans Benefits Administration Main Web Page

Veterans Legal and Benefits Information

VHA Forms, Publications, Manuals

VHA Programs - Clinical Programs & Initiatives>

VHA Public Health Strategic Health Care Group Home Page http: //

VHI Guide to Gulf War VeteransAcAc,A!(tm) Health

Vocational Rehabilitation

Vocational Rehabilitation Subsistence

VONAPP online

WARMS - 38 CFR Book C

Wartime Di sability Compensation

War-Related Illness and Injury Study Center - New Jersey

Welcome to the GI Bill Web Site

What VA Social Workers Do

WRIISC Patient Eligibility

Twisted Faces - Caricature Art from Rock Cowles

Twisted Faces - Caricature Art from Rock Cowles
Twisted Faces Web Site

Kowulz on Facebook

Dave Cowles's Facebook profile

Caricatures by Rock Kowulz