Friday, March 28, 2014


EDD'S is the name of the crop fertilizer business that my dad, Ed Swartzendruber, had a hand in founding and running for 50 years.  Most folks are under the impression that EDD'S was named after Ed, but that is not the case.  EDD'S Supplies has a relatively new website and in the About Us Section there are nice bits of History, and here is the correct version of how EDD'S got its name:

Edd’s Supplies, Inc., was started in 1960 by Ellsworth Fanning, Ed Swartzendruber, and Dick Leckler. Despite the popular belief that it is named after Ed - Edd’s actually stands for the three men’s names: The “E” is for Ellsworth, the “D” for Dick, and the “S” for Swartzendruber. Ed’s with one “d” was already taken, so Ellsworth said, “Just add another D on it!”

Some of you may recollect that EDS was already taken by Electronic Data Systems, a small little electronics business in Plano started by H. Ross Perot that HP bought in 2008 for $13.9 billion.

Here is one of my favorite pictures of Ed the corn farmer - a man out-standing in his field! 

It's interesting that over the years, the corn has been selectively bred to be much shorter so that more energy can be put into the ears rather than the stalks.  In 1962, Ed was the first to go with irrigation on 'the sand' south of Goshen, and now nearly every corn farm in the area is irrigated.  Check out the news photo on the EDD'S site and note the cinder block walls surrounding the below-grade irrigation pump - I helped with building that gem!

Here's a picture of Ellsworth and Ed at the fertilizer mixing apparatus - the old hand-mixing system has been replaced with computer-controlled systems.  Nice hat Ed!!

EDD'S Supplies is still rolling along, and if you are in Shipshewana, stop by to say Hi and maybe even get a tour.  Ellsworth's son Steve is now in charge and Ed's position has been ably filled by Jimmy Young.  Although Ed often joked "We are just a service to the community", which indeed they were, EDD'S also managed to make a profit along the way.

Monday, March 24, 2014


At various and sundry places, I have read about the sorry financial state of a significant percentage of baby boomers - folks born between 1946 and 1964 and thus including yours truly.  Rather than being prepared for a stable and long retirement, the cartoon below sums it up for millions:
So, here are some of the data from a recent article in the AARP Magazine and other sources:

*  Boomers have set aside approximately $21.7 trillion - problem is, it's not nearly enough considering that 1 in 5 boomers are already retired and many will live another 20+ years

*  Nearly 50% of boomers are not on track to be able to afford the basic expenses in retirement

*  Contrary to claims by some investment firms, research shows that the typical retirement account for a worker nearing retirement is only $42,000.  Worse - 55% of current workers do not have any employment-based savings at all

*  For workers between 55 and 64:
                  60% have less than $100,000 'socked away' for retirement
                  75% have less than $30,000 saved for retirement
                  46% have less than 10,000 saved

*  The typical Social Security check is now $1,230 - which leaves most boomers about half a million dollars short to fund their retirements at a level of around 70% of their current lifestyles

*  Many [most?] baby boomers will be less well off then their parents.  The median net worth for U.S. households headed by people aged 55 to 64 was almost 8 percent lower, at $143,964, than those 75 and older in 2011.  Some claim that 'boomers have all of the money' but tend to forget that wealth is relative, and a fairly small percentage of boomers control a very large percentage of the wealth

*  A bit of good news - About 80% of boomers own their homes.  Of the 14.5 million 65+ households that own their home outright, the typical homeowner reports having an average of roughly $150,000 in home equity. The 6.5 million 65+ homeowners with a mortgage reported higher home values than owners without a mortgage, but their mortgage debt reduces the reported equity to an average of around $93,000.
And in typical boomer fashion, 70% believe that they are doing a good job regarding retirement saving!!!  When I compare our retirement finances with those above, I feel pretty good.  Then I have to wonder, why are we [and most of our friends and relatives] better off than most folks - some important components: we generally did not purchase everything that came to mind, we did not splurge on extravagant vacations and other money sinkholes, we have been fortunate in the real estate market, we have generous parents and decent employment retirement plans, and we actually believe in savings!

Thursday, March 20, 2014


I certainly did not know Bunny Mellon.  Although the Mellon name is fairly well known, I was only vaguely familiar with her involvement with politicians such as John Edwards.  Then I met Darrel Worthly and suddenly it was the Bacon-esque 6 degrees of separation.  Darrel and his wife chose Shipshewana, IN, as their retirement community, and it did not take long for Darrel and my father Ed to become acquainted - Shipshewana is a very small town!  And when we visit Indiana, I almost always take Ed over to Shipshewana to have breakfast with Darrel.  Turns out the Darrel worked for the Mellons for many years, and thus knew Bunny quite well.  Darrel has many stories to share over mush and head cheese, including some related to Mellon's financial support of Edward' haircuts and mistress. Some of these are in Mellon's obituary found here.  Because of the circle of Mellon's friends, Darrel got to meet a variety of well-know folks, one of whom you may recognize below with Bunny.,7,2399,1698/20140318Obit-Rachel-Bunny-Mellon-JP-1-1.jpg

Tuesday, March 18, 2014


In 2012, I posted an NCAA basketball tournament bracket based on who would win according to Academic Progress Rate. i.e. graduation rates, class progression, etc. So here is the 2014 bracket, found here:

Monday, March 17, 2014


Been a while since some music has been added here, but I recently saw this on a friend's blog - so I 'stole' it for Planet Boulder.  Enjoy.

Friday, March 14, 2014


For the past couple of years, I, like many others, have honored this day, March 14, as Pi Day, as in 3.14 - so if you don't like math, eat pie!!

Friday, March 07, 2014


Mierda de perro -  الكلب القرف - merde de chien - 狗屎 - well, you get the idea....  As you might expect, Boulder has an ordinance stipulating that pet 'guardians' should pick up the poo.  Many do, but there is an attendant phenomenon that I simply do not understand, shown below: 

What the .....??  What are these people thinking?  It is a bit better than letting the doo-doo on the trail, but who on earth do they think will come along and pick it up?  Indeed, virtually all of the parks around here have trash receptacles.  Out getting exercise but too lazy to carry a bag to a trash can....sheesh!!!

Thursday, March 06, 2014


Some of you may be familiar with the Little Free Library, a national project as described on the LFL website:

It’s a “take a book, return a book” gathering place where neighbors share their favorite literature and stories. In its most basic form, a Little Free Library is a box full of books where anyone may stop by and pick up a book (or two) and bring back another book to share. You can, too!


There are several LFL book boxes around Boulder, so I was inspired to build one for our neighborhood.  I found a cheap cabinet and some miscellaneous shingles at Resource-Boulder, a place for reclaimed materials.  The base is made from a planter that we found after the September flood.  The moose heads are actually pasta/salad servers, and the little books and door handle came from a resale shop.  The outer wood was recovered from a sauna.  So, it cost a whole lot less than some of the box kits that you can purchase here.  e.g. $999.95!! Here is our neighborhood box.


Wednesday, March 05, 2014


This is from the cartoon xkcd - a nerdy and insightful commentary, and I guess that's why I like it!  This is both informative and discomfiting, especially the data regarding Wild Animals.

Land Mammals

Monday, March 03, 2014


In February of 2013, I wrote a post Born to Run - Caballo Blanco & The Tarahumara. On the Blogspot version of this blog, it is the fourth most visited page, having over 650 page views.  On the WordPress version, it is also among the highest visited pages.  There have been numerous comments, but the most interesting just arrived at WordPress from Tony Gross.  Because Tony gives a unique perspective, his comments are worthy of a separate post here:

I am sure I was the last one to speak to Micah True. We were staying at the Gila Hot Springs bed and breakfast and got to know Micah a bit. He was not quite the mysterious person documented in Born to Run. Seemed like the usual ultra long distance type I had seen during our support of the Leadville 100 at Hope Pass with our llamas. Maybe a bit more knowing and less outwardly hard headed. One word would be peaceful. I did not know of his celebrity status and he did not project as such. The owners of the bed and breakfast were gone to Silver City for a movie and left Micah in charge. He prepared for his evening run by talking to his dog gently asking us to make sure he did not follow. I can not remember the dog’s Spanish name but it was “the crazy one” in English. No routine of stretching and other runner’s antics I had seen before. I asked how far he would run. He said he did not know and it dependent how he felt maybe 8 to 10 miles. The sun was nearing its wonderful afternoon warmth and glow that New Mexico is famous. He began to trot off and I said “Have a good run” and he said “Yeah”. It got dark and we noted his absence. Later we contacted a neighbor and she contacted the B and B owners on cell phone. The next morning the search was on and it was days of following the story until we knew his demise. 

Later I read Born to Run. We thought he was a nice guy. Very within his self.  Peaceful. From my brief 2 days of contact before he left on his last run.